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Discussion Starter #1
This is my first post in these forums in 8 years; I was an active participant, most notably in the Assassin Guide (HTPC build) forum.

I have been running WMC on a home built HTPC since 2008. I rebuilt in 2012 (Asus H87 mobo, i5 Ivy, 2x4 GB DDR stix, modular PS, 128 GB SSD OS Drive + 3TB internal storage for .wtv files all in a Silverstone case). I kept is simple, no complicated plug ins etc. It has been running almost maintenance free ever since.

I also have 2 Cisco/Linksys DMA 2200 extenders (end of life, 12 years old) which I stream all my content (DRM included) to two other TVs in the household (Herein lies a major problem). I would like to replicate these capabilities for the WAF (wife acceptance factor) as it is easier/cheaper to upgrade hardware/software than her.

I use 2 Silicon Dust HDHR Prime boxes, 6 tuners all day... we record NFL, HBO etc The SD tuners have been hands off and I would like to continue using them. But, I do not know how. What hardware, what OS etc. I need to be able to record DRM and stream it to clients in the house. I have absolutely no desire to break the law.

The HTPC still runs quite smoothly (I overbuilt for this exact reason) and has by and large been on autopilot for years. No software tweaking in years, no hardware additions (same green button remote which is worn down, but works fine). DMAs have problems... they appear to be end of life. TVs are from 2008, both Sharps, purchased same day, probably not DNLA. I have a hardwired and robust MESH network. Whatever I do I would like to do so with 4k in mind (not imperative, but why not?)

I've been to/posted in the Kodi forums, communicated with Silicon Dust and have come up empty in so far as the WAF requirement.

Ideally, I would like to phase out my current machine (it still runs smoothly and has no stress on the hardware as it an overbuild which may outlive my dogs) while I put new hardware/software in place.

I have spent dozens... perhaps hundreds, of hours over the last 4 years (more off than on again) trying to figure out how to do this and waiting for SD to tackle the DRM issue so I can record HBO (and my cable company tags everything Copy Protected, CNN, NBC etc) on my TV room PC and watch in the bedroom (where my wife's office is).

This is my latest crazy idea (and I have several per week):
Get/Build a Super Duper Mini Box (SDMB)... like a NUC with an i7/9 (8 core, for a reason), 16 or 32 GB fast mem, small SSD for OS (which one???), large internal SSD for interim storage/encoding... decoding whatever it is called. Add an NAS (which would have multiple purposes, including backing up family devices, probably no RAID but those decisions are further on down the line). What software (Kodi + Plex... blah blah) are also subsequent to network design.

Once the initial components are in place my (feeble?) thought is currently:
Record on my Win7 MC PC as I am currently doing. Copy the recordings (ethernet) to SDMB once recording is finished. (I can tailor that code), 'rip', encode, decode whatever it is called using handbrake or something similar/better/faster (any suggestions, maybe I don't need SDMB - handbrake is extremely CPU and i/o intensive) and save to NAS in mp4 container (or whatever). From there stream throughout my house. Again, no desire to move these recordings outside the domain whiere I can legally watch them.

Any help/insight is greatly appreciated... even (especially) those which are critical of my dinosaur ways (I read the thread on what is an HTPC, and I, too continue to feed to preserver the species, but perhaps extinction is inevitable).

Thanks,
Mattie
 

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For DRM content you basically have three options: Continue using WMC, get a Tivo, or get a DVR from your provider. No other currently available option can record and play DRM content that I am aware of. I believe SiliconDust may now have the ability to watch DRM content using their software, but they still can't record it.

Personally, I have one primary Windows 7 HTPC with WMC and EPG123 that I use to record DRM content. I have individual Intel NUCs with Windows 7 and WMC at each TV that can watch and record DRM content, but they can't share it so you need to watch it on the PC where it was recorded. I currently use Channels DVR for most of my recording chores and Nvidia Shields for playback as well as streaming from Netflix, etc. The Channels DVR engine is installed on a Windows 10 HTPC that is primarily used with JRiver Media Center for playback of archived moves and other video content stored on an unRAID server.

Since your provider likes to flag everything as copy once it limits what you can use other than WMC for recording. The one option that comes to mind is to subscribe to several streaming services that provide the content you like to watch and just use Nvidia Shields for viewing the programs. If there's content that you watch and/or record from OTA sources then you have lots of options for recording said content, such as the aforementioned Channels DVR (Channels requires SD networked tuners for receiving OTA channels and a SD HDHR Prime with a cablecard will allow you to record anything from cable or FIOS as well).

Dealing with DRM content for recording is a sticky wicket for many of us. You are in the unfortunate position of having a provider that likes to flag everything. If you have another provider in the area that does not flag every channel then I would strongly suggest switching to them.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hey Captain... long time... Thanks for the response.

Unfortunately I have no other provider (VZ stopped laying fiber literally at the intersection of our 'main road' and my dead end street in 2009). Nor do I get anything OTA. Those websites which tell you what signal/strength you get show 3 red signals and they are local yocal public access... even then, reception is snowy at best.

What do you think of my 'brilliant' idea of keeping Win7 alive and rendering (or whatever the correct term is) to a different container on a NAS via Super Duper Mini Box? (I'm thinking Z490, i7, 16G @3200....) The reason I 'like' it, it sets up the network I will grow into.

The issue I have with streaming is the controls are sub par. For example, in the morning I record an hour of some news (CNN, Fox, whatever mood I'm in) and CNBC. Over a 40 minute period I watch/FF/play at 1.5 and get my 'world' news and markets, no commercials... to me FF through commercials (and I'm not Buddy ing them out) is priceless.

I guess I should have brought my predicament to Trump's attention while I still had time. Oh well.

Good to see you respond again, and again, thanks.

Mattie
 

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Discussion Starter #4
PS, the $15/month for Tivo totally doesn't work for me. Plus, I hear their hardware is weak and software is relatively bogus.
 

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Unfortunately you can't convert/copy DRM recordings over to another system. There aren't any editing/converting programs that can read the DRM protected WMC recordings. Even just copying them over is prohibited.

I had been using WMC for many years, finally gave up on it this year. Canceled my FIOS TV services once sports was put on hold this spring since sports are really the main reason I still had cable. Verizon had started flagging all the Fox owned channels as copy-once but I had lived with that even though it meant being able to watch stuff only on the HTPC where it was recorded. When sports came back, I made the move over to YTTV. Still getting used to it and there are certainly things I miss about WMC but there's no going back now.
 

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You can get lifetime service on some Tivos, or at least you used to be able to do that. You should be able to find one used on ebay with lifetime service at a decent price. Just be aware that Tivo will not activate and older Series 2 or Series 3 models, but if they have lifetime you shouldn't need to get them activated anyway. If this option interests you then you might want to wander over to the Tivo Community Forum and ask any pertinent questions. I used them for years and never had any issues with them other than maybe a hard drive dying of natural causes. They were always pretty reliable and so much better than the DVRs my provider had to offer. They'll allow you to share recordings across a home network to other Tivos or Tivo minis which basically act like extenders. Aside from using WMC with extenders, this is the only workable (and legal) solution that I can think of that will allow you to record and share DRM content to other TVs in your house.

I'm not sure what issues you've had with streaming. I use my Nvidia Shields and they work great, although I have to admit I record most everything I watch from FIOS and OTA and don't do a lot of streaming. However, when I do stream, the Shield has worked great.

I guess my main question is this: If your current hardware still works for you and does what you want, why replace it? In other words, if it ain't broke, why fix it? I've been running 1st generation NUCs with Windows 7 and WMC on all of my TVs except my primary Home Theater setup for many years and I see no need to ever replace them unless they just outright die. They work great as a Small Form Factor HTPC and display 1080p video with no problems.

One other option that hasn't been mentioned is DirecTV or Dish. I'm pretty sure their DVRs will let you do whatever you're trying to do and it will allow you to get the same channels as your provider as well as the local OTA stations in your market.
 

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If your happy with what you have then I would suggest that you simply replace your linksys extender a with xbox360s and call it a day. Adding xboxs will give you a few additional options like hulu, amazon, vudu, and Netflix. I think a lot of people move away from cable/wmc because the content is a little better with OTT services like netflix. Also be aware that wmc doesn't work on win 10 and newer mobos won't let you easily install win 7 on them but it is possible
 

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If your happy with what you have then I would suggest that you simply replace your linksys extender a with xbox360s and call it a day. Adding xboxs will give you a few additional options like hulu, amazon, vudu, and Netflix. I think a lot of people move away from cable/wmc because the content is a little better with OTT services like netflix. Also be aware that wmc doesn't work on win 10 and newer mobos won't let you easily install win 7 on them but it is possible
Actually, WMC can be installed on Windows 10 with some tweaking, but I believe it needs to be reinstalled when Win 10 gets updated so it's a mixed bag.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I am definitely not doing Win 10 as a media server/WMC. I want maintenance free.

As far as capitulating to the cable satellite companies... that would be a defeat of epic proportions for me.

XBOX replacement is on the radar as my son, who has a gen 1 (???) is looking for the new one.. X series or something. His old box I believe runs xbmc natively but will learn once he retires it.

Unfortunately you can't convert/copy DRM recordings over to another system. There aren't any editing/converting programs that can read the DRM protected WMC recordings. Even just copying them over is prohibited.
I have, on numerous occasions copied .wtf files onto external usb drives (as a matter of fact, I have 2TB of Shameless on one right now). Handbrake can convert these to an MP4 container, however, my Win7 machine doesn't have the cpu/mem to do this efficiently and I do not want to overload the Princess who hosts WMC. But I did run a test on a one hour Shameless two days ago. File was originally on a back up USB, ran on the SSD OS drive and saved to the internal '.wtv' drive. So, it clearly moved the recording around, the original remained on the back up usb. However for the hour and half it took.. well as Bob Dylan Sang:
The Fans they were ablazin'.. the Princess was way overworked.

I have a Win 10 laptop with a Pentium (not kidding, it was free and has a 17" screen, wife uses it for pictures) and I may test the waters with it. Record 20 minutes, move to USB, install handbrake and give it a shot. Do you think this is even worth a try??? On a Pentium with 2GB mem rendering the 20 minutes could be a serious task, and I have a lot to learn about handbrake... they have a great forum which I've toyed with over the last few weeks.

Here is why I ask. If I build/buy Super Duper Mini Box I (kids) can probably run VR off it. If I went with a decent Z490 with a 'low end' 8 core (handbrake maxes at 6, so I would want to overbuild to not overstress, would need to do my homework in a VR forum... January at the earliest). Then I put a 2 bay non raid NAS in, put 4 or 8 TB in one bay (I have never personallly administered an NAS so there would be a little learning curve).

So, for a similar amount of $ over the next two years that Tivo (+$550 lifetim or $360 for 2 years), Cable Company (Optimum) hardware (at least $40 per month) I could build a pretty decent multi-purpose box... the addition of a NAS would push the cost over the two year mark towards the three year mark but also with added benefits of device backup (2xMacbook air 3/4T total, one MacBook Pro 1/2T, 5 Phones, 1/2T all day and a tablet or two) and if I converted to mp4 in batch from 00:01-09:00 the box's resources would effectively be idle 15 hours per day, say 12 as device back up would also need to be scheduled. Would need to do more multiplatform NAS research, but they are out there on AMZN for <$200 (WD and Syn... something or other). I would still use my main box for my daily routine and only use the plex server for recordings which were worth of such (so, CNBC wouldn't make the cut).

So, if my 'brilliant' theory works, and SDMB becomes a plex server as well (or whatever, but I see Assassin is selling boxes with Kodi/Plex... again subsequent decisions) I'd have a sexy little home network which also serves as a VR server and whole home device back up.

But, if my idea is so brilliant, why isn't anyone else doing it? (because it is moronic???)

Any opinion is greatly appreciated, I have thick skin,
Thanks,
Mattie
 

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My first question would be what are your wife's expectations. You would want to define these as use cases. What kind of programming does she watch? Be specific (shows vs networks). Does she record ad hoc (hitting the record button in front of the TV)? What device/remote is she used to? How does she locate/play recordings. Stuff like that. When we cut the cord, we did not think we needed a DVR, but, within a few weeks, I was shopping for one as I quickly discovered that DVRs do more than time shift.

What are your expectations for recordings? Playon/Playlater records anything you can watch in a browser at resolutions up to 720p. You can read more about Playon here...

PlayOn Review 2020 (Pros & Cons) | Watch TV Online (internettvdotcom.com)

I like TiVos, but with cablecard requirements going away and ATSC on the horizon, I would be reluctant to invest in expensive hardware at this time.
 

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I guess I misunderstood, if handbrake can open your recordings then they are not flagged as copy once. So I'm not sure why the comment about waiting for Silicon Dust to support DRM? If you can move them around and watch them after copying then you have a lot more options. I tried moving recordings over to a centralized NAS repository but it just wasn't worth the effort in the end. I just I realized I didn't watch enough content to justify it.

Definitely would not need to re-encode them though (which sounds like you may have been doing), just converting WTV to MP4 or MKV container shouldn't take very long.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I'm not defining use cases, as a software developer I have people for that:), but let's take one.. record a series, set it once and it records year after year, say Homeland on Showtime (definitely flagged as Copy Once, or as it appears in Media Center 'Copy Prohibited').

Shameless is definitely copy once, or, copy prohibited... as are NFL programs. I'll take a 20 minute snapshot of one of those this weekend if I think about it.

I may not be using handbrake correctly, although I first used it a decade ago, I've only used a handful of times.

When are cable cards becoming extinct? That could be the game changer I've been waiting for...
 

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I understand your reluctance to go with satellite TV, but based on your requirements it seems like it might be the only solution that will work for you with regards to the ability to share content across your home network. I had DirecTV for about 10 years and dropped them like a hot potato the minute I was able to connect to FIOS.

FWIW, the only channels that are flagged on FIOS that I'm aware of are all of the Fox network channels and HBO. You just got the short end of the stick by getting a provider that flags everything so that sucks.

Is there any way to receive OTA channels with a tall mast antenna or are you just completely out of range to get anything?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Years ago when I lived on the beach, with an open bay (so, much better reception than I have here, 4 miles away in the woods) I tried all the OTA solutions, really nothing. You can get decent reception on one channel, TV55 Riverhead. OK reception on one of the networks out of New Haven (but I hear that is gone now that digital is the norm). I don't know anyone who uses OTA out here.

VZ is laying fiber again, but they have some deal with Comcast (they have been maintaining the lines ever since they stopped laying cable in 09/10), but I have no idea what, if any, ETA there is. Even satellite reception is not great here. I bike all over these neighborhoods and I have not seen a satellite dish. I will pay closer attention now, but so close to the coast is tricky with satellite.

I am going to stick with what I have, upgrade extender to xbox when the time comes.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I just looked up the ATSC map, and I am just outside of the 'target market' (which is 3rd on the list of rollouts, probably several years). But, I doubt we will even get OTA out here. Drive 20 miles west and you get reception, 30, NYC reception. Here, nothin'
 

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Be careful about assuming you can copy your recordings from any tivo box as I believe this functionality is broken in their newest software versions. Also it is TECHNICALLY possible to strip drm from a wmc recording but it gets technical and it's manual one file at a time process. Come to think of it there are actually a few ways but each one is pretty different from the next. If your just looking for a container swap than any pvr that uses ffmpeg should help your new computer easily process those files. Almost everything uses ffmpeg now and it might even be a part of handbrake. Also I think assassin's is under new ownership and way overpriced so make sure you do your research there as well
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I have little/no desire to go after Tivo, and I doubt you can legally copy off it. When I did my initial research on them I felt as if you were paying but you and them were sharing the box.

I was just checking out Assassin to see what they were up to. Was actually looking for some guidance as to what to do upon first boot (BIOS) of you new machine if I decided to build. Still thinking about, but will probably coast with what I have now at least for the next several months. I'm slow and deliberate that way. I'll weight this and that and learn what I need (more about Plex, handbrake etc) before proceeding... I have a ton of questions if I build (if I want the box to be VR capable for multiple headsets, do I need a GPU and if 'yes' how $$$????). I hate graphics cards, love the onboard. So that could steer the decision... right off a cliff.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Interesting... I just tried to copy a DRM file and run on the newly handbraked Pentium Win10 machine. No go, grey preview only.

So, I went back to the Shameless I did the other day on my win7 box... saved to pathway C://Users/i5/Videos (still the default save location in HB).

Videos is no longer there, My Videos is there and I can't find Videos, but the free space on C indicates that 1.6 GB file is there somewhere.

Anyway, I tried the same thing with an episode of Billions (too kinky for me) on the Win7 box, same thing, no go, log stops writing, it finds a problem preview screen only shows grey. Trying to play on Win10 in Media Player just shows the default 'blue note' screen...plays, but no sound or video.

No problem with wife's recordings of Rachael Ray (she not important enough to Copy Protect).

I'm baffled by the disappearance of Videos (and yes, I'm showing hidden folders). I hate Windows. I know it is some bone headed mistake I'm doing as I don't normally work in a Win Environment other than to attach to Unix boxes, but, now I am SOL as everyone stated, my brilliant idea is moronic.
 

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That sounds like what happened when I tried opening DRM recordings. I use VideoRedo and a DRM file would just give me a green screen and error message. Sorry to ruin your dream scenario. :(
 

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Probably not helpful, but I'm gonna chime in anyway as I had a similar home-built HTPC which ran trouble free until lightning took it out Labor Day 2018. In the early going, I had a Ceton tuner with a CableCARD. Once Bright House decided to flag every channel, that ended. I moved to DirecTV and an Hauppauge capture box. Sure, it's component (with optical audio), but for most cable channel recordings, the quality hit is really minor and WMC would see it and control it. The result is DRM-free recordings that are totally portable. I had this setup on two computers with two DirecTV boxes until the lightning hit. Now, I'm down to just one on the non-HTPC. It's Win 7, as well, but uses Hauppauge's own software to record. Clunky, but worth it for the DRM-free recordings. I'm technically down to one DirecTV box, but, with east and west feeds, it's pretty easy to juggle things so two shows that are on at the same time get recorded. (I do still use WMC for OTA). Anything I miss is usually streamable, often with equal or better quality than DirecTV.
 
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