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September 07, 2003

Fixing EyeTV

I have and like my ElGato EyeTV. I very much liked the interface when I first used it, but now, after a few months, I realize that it's one of those programs that demos well, but doesn't deliver when you really use it every day.

It's very easy to set up one-time or recurring recordings, and almost trivial to edit the recordings to chop out commercials once you've got them. The software has been pretty reliable (there have been a few times I've found the application unexpectedly closed, and missed recordings). The CyTV project (which I haven't set up yet) reportedly lets you stream video from EyeTV to remote machines.

The central weakness of the system is what the program does with MPEG movies once it captures them. Each program and each recording are given random names. My folder holding Simpsons captures is '000000000437c2f8', and the most recent capture inside of it is '00000000050bfe05.mpg'. After using the program for a while, I've gotten fairly adept at figuring out what's where by checking timestamps, but I can't imagine it would have taken a good developer more than a day to come up with a human-readable scheme for naming the files and folders.

Since it's unwieldy to manage the raw data in the Finder, the only way you can easily manipulate the movies is from within ElGato's software, which knows how to associate your programming to the raw data files. Unfortunately, every single recording you make stands completely alone. It doesn't group your recurring programs (in a "The Daily Show" folder, for instance), and doesn't let you shift-click to delete multiple recordings.

When I came back from vacation, it was a major pain to delete old shows, and transfer others to DVD. It should be a single click and drag operation to eliminate all the recordings of a given show or to delete a contiguous block of shows (for instance, everything recorded before last Thursday).

There are also a number of auxiliary files that share space with the recordings. Each recording has 1 '.eyetvi' file and one '.eyetvr' file associate with it, and each program has a '.eyetvp' file.

If I were creating a sensible structure for EyeTV's data, I would give each program a folder with a name taken from the title the user gives it or adopts from the associated guide program, like "The Simpsons". Directly inside the folder would be the movies, with a title + date stamp name like "TheSimpsons090703". The auxiliary files would be in another folder, possibly called "EyeTV files".

If I wanted to get really fancy, I would also create a folder called "By Date", which would contain aliases to the MPEG files of shows recorded on that date. This would make it much simpler to go grab last night's episode of "The Daily Show" to transfer to my iPod, or transfer a show to a different computer so Sophie can watch it.

By letting the user manage files through the Finder, parts of the EyeTV program would become a customized Finder browser, which would encourage users to store files around the entire filesystem, not just in the EyeTV archive.

Ideally, of course, EyeTV would also support a client and server, so that a) remote machines could schedule recordings, and b) the server could notify users of scheduling conflicts, and c) the server could stream shows to the remote clients.

September 7, 2003 in Apple - Software | Permalink

Comments

An awful lot of trouble to go through to watch TV . . . .

So I assume you've sent these comments to them? It all makes sense to me: iPhoto does a lot of the same kind of sensible organization (metadata-type stuff) that you describe and once you realize it, you rely on it.

Posted by: paul at Sep 8, 2003 12:39:17 AM

a) shedule recordings remotely:
check eyetv RPM at: http://www.macware.be/eyetv

Posted by: mr10 at Oct 26, 2003 8:08:19 PM

Have you found solution to this? I would like to use this with my KISS DP-500 Divx Ethernet player..

Posted by: OK at Jul 10, 2004 5:45:39 AM

Also try

http://www.lucid-cake.net/cytv/index_en.html

for streaming

Posted by: gretver at Oct 1, 2004 5:59:34 AM

I hacked together a script that does just what you're looking for. Check out my link if your curious.

Posted by: Joshua at Mar 3, 2005 10:35:13 PM