EyeTV, Linux, MySQL and Seinfeld

Since I wrote earlier about my television woes, I’ve secured the use of an EyeTV unit, and have been using it for a couple of days.

In case you missed my earlier note: EyeTV is a $199 US little box that you plug into your cable TV and into your Mac (it takes about 35 seconds to set up). Then, using the included software (which you can download hereif you want to try it out), you can do any of the following:

  • watch television on your computer’s screen
  • record television as you’re watching it
  • record programmes on a schedule, one-of or things like “every Wednesday night at 9:30 a.m.” or “weekedays at 10:30 a.m.”
  • do “instant replays” on live television as you’re watching it
  • edit the programmes you record to remove commercials (or other bits you don’t want)
  • see the results of all of this on an actual television if you plug your Mac into a TV (which takes a cable that sells for about $30)

In other words, EyeTV is a super-charged “digital VCR” that works with a Mac.

Installation, such as it is, is literally painless. There are no drivers to install, no switches to switch: you plug things in, install the software and you see television on your Mac. It really is that simple.

The user interface is quite elegant — it’s hard to make mistakes and record the wrong program. Watching live television is, well, like watching live television. There are two options for recording, “regular” and “high quality;” watching recorded programmes in the “regular” mode is a little watching television through a sock (or watching television in 1974, take your pick). The “high quality” setting is very good; not “DVD” but certainly better than a video tape.

The one downside to EyeTV, for Canadian users, is that the companion television listings website, TitanTV, doesn’t contain listings for Canadian cable systems. The EyeTV FAQ mentions this, and suggests that some users have had success using U.S. border cities as an alternative. In our case, as there are no U.S. border cities in the Atlantic time zone (and because there are many stations we watch that are Canadian), this wasn’t an option.

Fortunately, Jevon, one of the readership, reminded me of XMLTV, an open source project designed to assist with automated scraping of television listings from websites. XMLTV has no trouble scraping Eastlink’s listings (Eastlink being our cable provider) from Zap2It, and using those listings I was able to create a web-based system that displays my local television listings and lets me record programmes with a simple click, just like the canned TitanTV system allows.

I’ve not had enough use out of the system to know how it will affect my television watching habits. Oliver was able to watch Blue’s Clues at its not regularly scheduled time this afternoon, and that’s something. Stay tuned.


Jevon's picture
Jevon on January 24, 2003 - 15:45 Permalink

Now, was it worth the money?

Alan's picture
Alan on January 24, 2003 - 15:47 Permalink

I am wondering why you are not stepping on anyones toes with what you are doing but perhaps you are not. Effectively, you are mimicing the capabilties of the 600 buck Bell Express Vu receiver with the addition of viewing use on your computer. I take it this is all in-line and not a modification to their black box physically.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on January 24, 2003 - 16:19 Permalink

Well, the simple process of digitally recording television shows is no different than recording the same shows on a VCR. This is what the EyeTV is designed to do, and in that way is no different from the Bell unit, or a TiVo or a ReplayTV.

Jevon's picture
Jevon on January 24, 2003 - 16:33 Permalink

I am going to dive in and try to build a MythTV box as soon as I have the time. Having the on screen display will be worth it for me, as well as not having to have my laptop in the loop.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on January 24, 2003 - 17:58 Permalink

You’re right, Jevon — it would be nice to not have to involve the laptop.

Alan's picture
Alan on January 25, 2003 - 19:27 Permalink

Somewhat related. Is there an application out there that allows me to run my digital tv feed into my computer where I run an app allowing me to watch it elsewhere via the intranet live or delay on an extranet?

Jevon's picture
Jevon on January 25, 2003 - 21:21 Permalink

Media servers can do that, yes.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on January 25, 2003 - 22:13 Permalink

The problem, Alan, is that there aren’t [yet, I don’t believe] PC-based systems that can control the proprietary digtal boxes. I face the same problem here — I can feed the analog output from Eastlink into my EyeTV, and I can feed the analog output from my digital box into my EyeTV, but I can’t “change the channel” on the digital box in the same way I can from the analog feed. This means that if I want to record digital-only channels, I need to set the digital box to the desired channel in advance.

Steven Garrity's picture
Steven Garrity on January 25, 2003 - 23:04 Permalink

Have you seen the Windows Media Center stuff yet? Impressive interface for the tv/remote interaction. There’s a demo model at the FutureShop in Charlottetown.

Jevon's picture
Jevon on January 26, 2003 - 03:03 Permalink

Perter: You can get hardware that will emulate a remote in order to interact with digital boxes on behalf of your computer.

Mark's picture
Mark on January 10, 2005 - 21:04 Permalink

The link to your experiments with xmltv is dead. I’d appreciate being able to read what you’ve done as I attempt to get xmltv and my new eyeTV unit to work together!

Cheers, Mark

sjk's picture
sjk on January 22, 2005 - 02:32 Permalink

I’m also interested in any info that might help integrate XMLTV with EyeTV. TitanTV has improved but it’s still lacking some key scheduling convenience features that I’d like to try implementing with a different interface.

Kevin Jaques's picture
Kevin Jaques on January 30, 2005 - 22:23 Permalink

I too want help with XMLTV and note that your link to your efforts is dead.

Wesley Konrad's picture
Wesley Konrad on July 14, 2005 - 17:29 Permalink


I am in the same boat as you. I live in Winnipeg and am cheezed that TitanTV doesn’t cover Canada. I am very interested in your solution but the link is dead. Can you send any information on how you did it?


knuterik's picture
knuterik on July 23, 2005 - 06:22 Permalink

hi, I just googled my way in here hoping to find some details on using xmltv with the EyeTV for oneclick scheduling as i’m planning to buy one of those — if I can figure out how to make it work (elgatos partners don’t supply any listings for Norway). I found some useful info on setting up xmltv on osx here: http://hublog.hubmed.org/archi… , and following those steps, i have a working tv_pick and ical-export going, but I don’t know how it would work with the EyeTV software.

David's picture
David on March 19, 2006 - 04:15 Permalink

Hey there. Do you know what database format the EG is stored in in EyeTV 2.0.1? /Library/Application Support/EyeTV/EyeTVEPG.db I think it’s propriatory as a hex editor doesnt give away any clues. Best wishes from the UK!

Stephane's picture
Stephane on June 26, 2006 - 21:27 Permalink

It’s not a perfect integration but MacProgramGuide is a great free app that will automatically program a show from its downloaded schedule into EyeTV.


Stuart's picture
Stuart on August 18, 2006 - 07:59 Permalink

EyeTVEPG.db appears to be an encrypted SQLite3 database. This is a commercial variant of SQLite designed to protect the database contents from snooping by AES encrypting the entire database (apart from the 8 bytes starting at offset 16). Even if you had the encrypted version, you would need to know the encryption password…

Guillaume Boudreau's picture
Guillaume Boudreau on September 15, 2006 - 00:31 Permalink

EyeTV EPG Proxy takes either Zap2It or XMLTV EPG data, and convert it into TitanTV format, which EyeTV can understand. Using this, you can get a complete EPG in EyeTV, just as you would if you lived in the US.
See EEP website for details: http://eep.pommepause.com/
It works best for Canadians (with Zap2It) but other people from Australia and UK had some success using it.