Posts Tagged ‘vdr’

Following twitter hashtags on TV

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

DSC06104As a lot of other people, I’m watching the debate of the Digital Economy Bill on BBC Parliament tonight. I’m also trying to follow along with some of the #debill back-channel on twitter.

With such a heated and interesting commentary on twitter, it reminded me of Roo’s “Second screen” idea of having tweets with a specific hashtag next to the TV during live TV events, when following the twitter backchannel during ‘The Apprentice’.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a spare laptop kicking around to show tweets on. But I do have a hackable TV. 🙂

With that in mind, in just a few minutes I hacked together the following script to flash up tweets with the #debill tag on the TV:

# run me using:
#       python debill 1

import twython
import subprocess
import sys
from time import sleep

twitterKeyword = sys.argv[1]
twitterSearchRateLimitMins = int(sys.argv[2])

twitter = twython.core.setup()

showOnTVCommand = ['svdrpsend', 'mesg', 'messagetodisplay']

lasttweetid = 1

while True:
    search_results = twitter.searchTwitter(twitterKeyword, since_id=lasttweetid, show_user=True)

    numtweets = len(search_results["results"])
    for tweetnum in reversed(range(0, numtweets)):
        lasttweetid = search_results["results"][tweetnum]["id"]

        user = search_results["results"][tweetnum]["from_user"]
        tweet = search_results["results"][tweetnum]["text"]
        showOnTVCommand[2] = user + " : " + tweet


    sleep(twitterSearchRateLimitMins * 60)


It’s a quick-and-dirty hack, but I wanted to get something that would work before the debate was finished. 🙂

And it seems to do the trick.

Using my mobile as a TV remote control for vdr

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

remote controlsI can never find the TV remote.

Whether it’s slipped somewhere in or under the sofa, or been hidden by the kids, I’m often at a loss to find it.

A mobile phone, on the other hand, is rarely too far from my hand 🙂

So I’ve hacked together a quick app to put a TV remote control interface on my phone. It’s definitely a quick-and-dirty chunk of code, but it does now mean that I can work my TV from my mobile if I can’t find the real remote.

On the off-chance that this is useful to other vdr users, I wanted to share how I did it.


Why I use vdr for TV

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Both here and on twitter, I’ve mentioned a few of the things I’ve done with my vdr-based media computer. In this post, I want to quickly take a step back and explain what made me go for this setup in the first place.

By way of quick background, we’ve now got an Asrock Ion 330 living under the TV as a set-top box, connected to the TV via an HDMI cable, and receiving a digital freeview signal over USB from the twin tuners in a Sony Play-TV. It’s quiet, has reasonably low power requirements, is small and pretty, can be controlled by a remote control using a small infra-red receiver plugged into a USB port, and has plenty of storage between it’s own hard-drive and the 500 GB on the Western Digital My Book attached over USB.

This isn’t a “why I use vdr instead of MythTV (or any other open-source HTPC software” post. Mainly because I don’t know enough about the alternatives to talk about them intelligently.

Instead, I wanted to explain why I went for setting up a Linux computer with a TV card instead of just buying another set-top box appliance when ours died last year. It’s not as simple (set-top boxes pretty much set themselves up nowadays) and certainly wasn’t cheaper (largely because I was starting from scratch – if I already had a server to use, that’d be different). So what was the incentive?

(more…) for television

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

One of the social network sites I’ve been using the longest is

(If you know what is, bear with me teaching you to suck eggs for a few paragraphs… it gets more interesting – honest!)

The idea of is that a background service captures (or “scrobbles“) the music that I listen to on my computer at home, on the mp3 player that I use in the car, and on my laptop in the office.

This means that I now have a large record detailing the music I’ve listened to over the last three years.

I do this for a few reasons, including:

  • The data is made available to me through a rich API, which means I’m free to play with it, as well as take advantage of the creations of others, such as the wonderful visualisations generated by lastgraph
  • I can see what my friends listen to, which is interesting, as well as being a good way to come across new music
  • use this detailed history of my music-listening tastes to make automated recommendations of other music that I might like

This is all a long-winded way of saying that I like I find it useful and interesting, and want the same for all the media that I consume – not just music.

I went looking for an equivalent for the books that I read in August 2008, and started using goodreads.

But what about the television that I watch? Could I create a scrobbler to capture what I watch on television? And then try and come up with a few examples of how I could share and visualise the data?

This question is where I started at Christmas… and after a few evenings of hacking some Python together, I’ve come up with: for television

Please go take a look. (needs Flash – sorry)


Tracking my location on TV

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Location tracking on TV

This is what you see if you press the “Find Dale” button on my TV remote control.

(Well, actually the “Teletext” button… cos I wasn’t using it, and there isn’t another button that makes any more sense!)

The on-screen-display adds a message at the bottom of the screen for a few seconds, saying my last recorded location and when I was there.

People following me on twitter may have noticed me talking about setting up a new home media server: a small Linux server that has become our Freeview box, PVR, home photo album, and music server.

And now it’s set up, it is surprisingly easy to do amazingly useful, and not-at-all annoying things like this! 😉

In my defence, I stopped just short of making the script poll for my location and display an on-screen message whenever my location changes. Which would’ve been very cool, but probably drive my family nuts. So I compromised with a script that runs when you press a button on the remote.