Ok, one thing at a time, in this case the term "firmware" refers to the operating system that comes with the Replay, it's not burned into a ROM chip, it's on the hard drive. RTVPatch let's you backup and restore that firmware, it also let's you patch the firmware so that you can use larger hard drives. The firmware on your RTV is undoubtedly very out of date, so the first thing you need to do is restore the drive using a backup image of the latest firmware, which we have here
. Of course, while you're at it, you might want to replace that tiny 40gb drive with a larger one if you can still find an IDE drive on ebay.
Next up, it appears that you think the "Wi" in "WiRNS" means "wi-fi", but it doesn't, WiRNS stands for Windown Replay Network Server, so if your reasoning for not considering WiRNS is because you don't have wi-fi, you can re-consider. But, if what you really meant to say was you don't have internet, that's another story. Though I would also be curious to know how you are posting here on this internet forum.
Next up, the channel guide. You can do VCR style recordings without any channel guide data, but you still need to at least have an empty channel guide, otherwise you won't be able to say "record from channel 5 at 6pm" because you won't have a channel 5. So what you would need to do is sign up for the free 1 week trial with LaHo in order to get a channel guide, then even when the data runs out, you can still do VCR style recording.
Next up is the OTA converter box, are you really using an OTA antenna or are you using a basic package for cable TV? Either way, you will need to program the Replay to work the converter box if you want it to be tuned to the right channel when you record, so you will almost certainly need to load some new IR codes into the RTV. And if you really are using an antenna, you will need a box that Replay can force to tune to the digital sub channels, and there aren't many that work with Replay.
And finally, LaHo is only $42/year, and it would give you a full channel guide so you could do proper PVR style recordings. If you do have internet in your house, you should also consider WiRNS and Schedules Direct as SD is just $25/year and you can archive your recordings onto your computer hard drive and you can still play them back on your Replay. So, if you have lots of old recordings that you want to keep but you don't want them using up space that you could use for new recordings, that's the answer.