Take Control of Apple TV, Chapter 11: Do More with Apple TV
Feeling mischievous? Just a little geeky? In this final chapter of “Take Control of Apple TV,” Josh Centers shows you how to take your Apple TV beyond what Apple intended, in three ways: playing video from otherwise unavailable sources via the Plex media management system, recording live TV to your Mac with an Elgato EyeTV HD and then showing it on the Apple TV, and getting around DNS-based region restrictions.
I found the EyeTV HD IR blaster to be unreliable with my cable box. Fortunately it is possible to program my cable box just like a VCR and that is very reliable.
It took quite a bit of trial and error before I got it to work reliably with my Comcast box. The trick is that you have to fine tune every aspect — blaster position, timing, leading zeros, etc, and then tape the components in place.
It's admittedly a pain, and the fact is that IR blasters are an ugly workaround.