Catching up with VDR

For the past four years or so, we’ve been watching TV from a PC. Well, not exactly. It is hooked up to a TV. Only a TV… It’s what’s known as a media center. In our case it’s just a glorified Tivo-like contraption – it doesn’t have Windows installed, and not even a keyboard or mouse connected. It does just three thin

  1. Capture digital satellite and terrestrial TV, with recording facility and multiple parallel stream capacity.
  2. TV watching (that is, we can see live TV, recorded material, or DVDs); we can even watch a recording in catch-up mode, as it’s being recorded, skipping commercials along the way.
  3. Manage our files – the box is also our central filestore, with over a terabyte in total space.

I think I’ve already written about this earlier. It has revolutionized our relationship with the TV. However, it has also meant (being a homebrew system) that we’ve been playing catch-up with software in development. Every so often, a new “feature” crops up.

The latest is a bug in xineliboutput (oh, didn’t I mention that it’s hooked up to the TV in full digital mode through a DVI-HDMI cable, at the TV’s native resolution?). Nothing big, just that since the latest upgrade of the packages I’m using, every time we play a DVD the subtitles are enabled and the language is simply the first on the disk, rather than the default english.

As there is no menu option to choose the subtitles, we ended up watching Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with english subs. Pretty annoying. So today I vowed to sort it out. It does seem to be a bug in xineliboutput, and the best work-around has simply been the definition of ‘#’ and ‘*’ on the remote to bring up the subtitles and audio menus respectively. Now I can just take the subs off without much fuss. Would have been nicer if it did so automatically, as it used to… oh well…

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