Some time ago I bought a thing called a Slingbox. Then I sold it. Never used it much and it was too fiddly to make it control the TV. And if I did do this I got into terrible trouble with the family for switching channels from a hotel room in India. (I didn't want to watch anything, I just wanted to prove I could do it).
The underlying idea (get at your recorded programs from anywhere in the world) is a great one, but it relies on fairly kludgy technology, with the Slingbox digitising an incoming video signal before sending it off down the network.
Things are a lot easier now I've got my Sony media PC sitting under the PC, with a hard disk full of recorded TV. Because everything is networked I can navigate my way to recorded programs and view them over the network. But it is a bit of faff to find the program files, and I still have to go to the Media PC itself to set up my recordings.
That is I did, until I installed Webguide. This is a smashing little program that runs on the media centre and serves out web pages that let me set up recordings and stream media around the house (and onto the web if I open up the firewall and sort out IP address discovery).
It even works to mobile devices too. The idea is very simple and it works a treat. There are versions for Vista PCs and also Windows XP Media Centre edition machines.
If you have got a media pc you should (or even must) get a copy of this program. The installation is a tad fiddly, but it does most of the hard stuff for you automatically.
The price for this is only 18 dollars, or less than ten pounds. Well worth it.