5 Things I Did to Prepare for the Fall TV Season

by Paul William Tenny

Not much news today and I've been thinking about doing this little filler post, because hey, maybe it might interest somebody other than myself. What did you do to get ready for the fall TV season? Probably not enough! I was caught off guard with the insanely good Heroes the first time around and as a result, I only had the last half of the season saved on my DVR. Since you can record stuff off TV and save it on video tape (legally, you just can't give it to anybody or sell those tapes) it goes without saying that capturing stuff with a DVR and then burning it to DVD is perfectly legit - if it's only for personal use.

Here's what I did to be ready this time around.

  • Google Calendar
    There are 40 new and returning shows coming during premier week, and keeping track of them can be a bit of a nightmare. I spent a few hours gathering a list from publicly available resources, and filled my websites Google Calendar with every single premier. Now I have no excuses for missing a program I want to check out, it's all right there on my list. Now that we're so close, all I had to do was reference that calendar while scheduling recordings on the DVR. Cost: free.

  • Blank DVD's
    My DVR has a Hauppauge PVR-150 capture card in it that records in DVD-compliant MPEG2 by default. All I have to do to get them in shape for burning is cut out the commercials, which I can quickly do with Womble MPEG Editor. Since I was running low on discs, I went online and bought a bulk package of 50 blank DVD-R's for about $14, with free shipping. DVD-R is more compatible with older players than DVD+R is, and there really isn't a burning need to buy dual-layer discs right now. Since these were a bulk package with no jewel cases (not even a spindle) I needed another item. Cost: $14.50.

  • CD Wallet
    While you can get these things the size of a very fat wallet, I'm opting for portable mass storage with a notebook-sized soft case that has 216 sleeves on the inside along with a handle and even a shoulder strap (even my 96-disc wallet is pretty hefty, and it's 75% empty.) I figure that if I use this wallet only for television shows using nothing but single-layer DVD-R's, I should be able to fit about 36 seasons worth of discs in this thing (4 eps per disc.) Cost: $16.

  • Fall Cleaning
    My DVR has two hard drives in it, but the software is only capable of storing video on a single drive. For now, the 80GB ATA100 drive it boots from stores the OS, programs, and DVDs ripped into h264 (about 1GB per movie) for quick and easy home-theater style viewing. The video drive is a 160GB SATA which has been for most of its short life about 50% full. There were the final 9 episodes of 24 hanging around that I hadn't seen, along with many other programs. Those episodes of 24 were taking up nearly 16GB all by themselves.

    With all these new shows coming, I had to schedule some of them at odd times during odd days to avoid conflicts. For example, Heroes and K-Ville both air at 9PM on Monday nights, so I put a season pass on K-Ville on DirecTV's national Fox west coast feed to nab it at 11PM, when nothing else is on. Because of this, a lot of programs will be saved before I get a chance to watch and delete them, so I need as much empty storage as I can get my hands on.

    After watching and cleaning, the drive has about 105GB free out of 150GB total (soon to be a couple GB more) which translates to about 52 hours of space at normal recording quality, and nearly 90 hours at a lower setting.
I invested some time and a little bit of cash, but now I'm ready and won't miss a single thing if I have anything to say about it. The second season of Heroes will be recorded and stored in batches of four, then burned and deleted. Other shows may stick around, I'll have to see. I know I'll probably record+store Pushing Daises until I either decide to start burning, or cancel it.

What did you do to get ready for the new fall TV season?


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