Raspbmc

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Neighbor cat Albert on our couch, royally symbolizing the importance of the WAF (wife acceptance factor) in home theater

Neighbor cat Albert on our couch, royal symbol of the importance of the WAF (wife acceptance factor)

This is a more technical post about a problem I had with the Raspberry Pi computer I use as a Plex client, and frontend to a Windows Media Center PC. But I will sweeten it two ways.

One, here’s a cat picture. Two, the takeaway will be presented upfront so you don’t have to read any farther.

To wit: I have truly learned a lot from working with the Pi (originally intended as an educational computer), and had a lot of fun (all posts related to the Pi).

But to maximize WAF, the Pi must remain my own little project in the theater room. There are just too many updates, tweaks, and fixes needed to keep it going. For my wife’s den TV, I must use more stable and user-friendly ways to record TV shows, and play our own TV and movie content.

The Plex channel on the Roku box is working well for the latter purpose. For recording and watching TV shows, a TiVo is likely the simplest and most user-friendly solution, though there is a service fee of $15/month.

Windows Media Center does a high WAF recording job. Connected to the TV via Extender (e.g., an Xbox 360), it incurs a fee of $0/month. I’ll try it when I am able to borrow or buy a used Xbox. Rather than go to the expense of wiring the house for Ethernet now, I just bought a 100′ CAT6 Ethernet cable to test with.

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The Pi would not boot today. Could have been several things.

I had the Pi “super” overclocked as a way to speed up the interface, and thus more prone to corrupting the SD card that holds its operating system. However, in July, I altered a file on the SD card to make the Pi bypass it, and instead use a USB drive with the OS (RaspBMC). This sped up the Pi and made it less susceptible to corruption. (Great writeup: Transfer SD Install to USB Install).

But the SD card was an immediate suspect. It was also possible that the overclocking had fried the Pi (har har). Or maybe the USB drive had gotten corrupted.

I had another SD card with the Raspbian operating system on it, so I tried booting up on it. It worked. So apparently the Pi hardware was OK.

Next, I used free software (USB Image Tool) to restore to the SD card an image I had saved when I moved the OS to USB. Tried to boot up on it, but still no good.

I saved the Raspbian image to my PC with USBIT, then restored the RaspBMC image to that SD card. It booted OK. (Was the first SD card bad? I restored the Raspbian image to it, so I can try it later.) Then I set the Pi overclocking down to merely “fast”.

Just another day in the life of Pi.