Most US cable boxes have firewire, which by law should be enabled, which will allow you to record over the air channels, including local HD. However if you wanted to record HD HBO, you have to spend more for some really experimental equipment. Pretty much all of the non-over air, over 100/analog, are 5C encrypted. Basically you need a HD PVR to connect to your STD's component out. If you don't have component out, then you need to get a DVI to component converter (cheap). If you only have HDMI, then you need an HDMI to component converter (not cheap, and may be blacklisted). And if you want to record two streams, you have to double all the equipment. That will get you close to functionality of the HD TiVo.
Basically if you have basic analog cable, MythTV is the way to go. If you have digital cable, with HD packages, and want non-over air HD channels, then TiVo is the way to go. That is unless you want to mess with a lot of stuff. I just wanted to watch TV.
I used to get a daily call from AT&T pushing their Uverse, DSL, etc. Even though I told them no, they would call back the next day. So my only course was to forward my land line to my Google Voice phone number to block them. Soon after that I received a postcard asking if I was having problem with my land line.
Stage 3 tarballs
When I ran Gentoo, I could do a full install in less than a half hour.
I forward my AT&T land line number to my Google Voice number in order to block the constant AT&T telemarketers that call me.
I battled with my cable company to get them to enable the firewire on my cable box. After a long battle, they did. However only the over-the-air channels were not encrypted. The rest, including the HD channels, were 5C encrypted.
Instead of playing their little game, I purchased a HD PVR from Hauppauge. It's a component (Y,Pb,Pr) input recorder. Now there is no way to block me, except by disabling the component output on the cable box.
You can sell and have a big pay off, however you don't get to walk away. Oh no, no no. You become an employee of Megacorp, and depending on the size of Megacorp, an employee with no power. Megacorp will most likely have a bunch of managers who will call the shots, and you'll have to follow them even if they are 100% wrong. You'll have to put up with that for the next three years while they have the golden handcuffs on you.
Plus everything they promise you will change. A change of direction, and suddenly everything they told you to get you sell is out the window. Megacorp will have all sorts of wonderful policies and procedures for you, like time tracking, horrid ticketing system, an IT department that will force locked down, Window desktops/laptop that belong to a domain (say goodbye to any Mac or Linux desktops), monitored internet, and tons of HR crap like employee ranking, personal development plans, blah, blah, blah. Also they might install badge security and cameras on all your door, so they can track you, if they don't make the entire company move. And if they don't move you, they will entice a few employees to move and grow a local branch and kill your branch via nutrition. Again, you're not sitting on a beach enjoying yourself
Been through two buy outs, and watched both companies torn to shreds. And watched two boss struggle watching it happen. It's pretty painful to watch people destroy what you spent time to create.
Simply, when you sell, you become their bitch for a few long years. Could you have made it without them?