Results tagged “TiVo” from kwc blog

Death to TiVo


tivoThe Netflix disc for my Playstation 3 arrived this week, so, for the first time in over eight years, my TiVo has gone silent. When I got the Apple TV, it was clear that my love for the TiVo was waning. Almost a decade ago the TiVo was a symbol of all that was good with consumer design in products. I even went to a talk by their UE director to try and soak up all the wisdom that went into the product.

Fast forward to the present, and the TiVo Series 3 doesn't seem that much better than the Series 1 I first used. Sure, I was excited when the Series 3 arrived, but it really was about HD and nothing more. Anything else they added to the TiVo was done half-assed, like the Amazon and Netflix video on demand, as well as TiVoToGo.

Although the Apple TV has a laughably bad remote that requires an iPhone app to rectify it, I at least enjoy using it, whereas the Amazon store on TiVo filled me with rage, so much so that I had trouble spending $10 free credit on it. Similarly, TiVoToGo was such a chore that I gave up on ever watching my TV shows on my iPhone. The Netflix integration with TiVo seemed passable until I used the Netflix disc on the PS3 -- sure it sucks to have to stick a Blu-ray disc into the PS3 to use it, but at least I feel like I'm using a modern system. Add in Hulu, and we've got plenty of TV to keep us busy M-F.

No one has solved live sports, yet, and for that I'll be sad. Cycling is moving more and more online and I hope to see the day in which all sports are streamed and can easily be viewed on a TV -- that will be worth the next upgrade.

Free NBC on Amazon Unbox + TiVo


I just downloaded my first episodes from Amazon Unbox. When they first launched I had a $15 credit, but I honestly couldn't find anything that I wanted to buy. NBC, partly as a screw-you to Apple, stuck the pilots for this season on Amazon Unbox for free. The presence of NBC also means that Battlestar Galactica has made its way over.

The episodes look really good, even on a high-def TiVo Series 3, and they downloaded a little bit faster than real time. I can also re-download whenever I want, a huge bonus over iTunes. The only bit of strangeness is that all the shows go in an "Amazon Unbox" folder on my Now Playing List, instead of being grouped by TV show. It seems like this could get annoying pretty fast.

Update: I again tried to buy something off of Amazon Unbox only to discover that the shows I wanted to buy are not TiVo-compatible. iTunes may not support my TiVo, but at least it doesn't frustrate me out of a purchase.

Amazon Unbox + TiVo: No PC required



Now you can "Buy from TV" to get Amazon Unbox videos onto your TiVo. Now, I've tried to use my free Amazon Unbox credit to buy/rent a TV show or movie, but there were issues of... selection.

(via TechCrunch)

Two bits of TiVo news today:

1) For $299 you can transfer your lifetime service to a new TiVo Series2 Dual-Tuner (DT) model. Sounds like a pretty crappy deal to me, given that your original lifetime service probably cost $299 or less. It's also a pretty bad deal: I'm paying only $6.95/mo for my Series 3 TiVo using the 3-year plan, which is 3.5 years... and I can sell my old Series 2 TiVo with lifetime service.

2) Comcast has 'accepted' TiVo's software. I don't know what that means, really, but it sounds good.

TiVo Series 3: It's Here!


tivo.jpgIt's definitely the most nicely packed TiVo I've ever received (similar to getting a MacBook). I rushed as quickly as I could through the setup process so that I could watch the NBA Finals in HD glory, and now there they are -- Tony Parker is kicking some butt.

  • New remote has a nice button snap and light-up buttons, but the shiny surface is a finger-/hand-print nightmare.
  • The new display with clock and recording info on the front of the TiVo is a very nice touch, as are the button controls so you don't have to find the remote.
  • Having a THX logo sequence at the end of setup is pretty cool.
  • Menus are much, much faster -- though I'm sure future TiVo service updates will slow them down.
  • Although it will play them, the Series 3 seems to have no idea what 7-1, 5-1, etc... (i.e. the HD channels) are on my analog cable. They don't show up in the channel guide and there is no program information. I hope this will change when I get CableCards, but, for now, recording channels is going to be a pain as I have to use the manual record options.
  • Comcast wanted $15 to come and install the CableCARDs now, but it's free if I wait three weeks: they waive installation fees when you transfer your service when you move. Go figure.
  • Comcast also wants $1.50/mo for the CableCARDs, which isn't much, but it's a bit of a crock as I am paying for their content protection.
  • Unanticipated cost: $50-100 for an HDMI switch as my TV only has one HDMI input.

TiVo Series 3: ETA 3 days


I gave in and bought a TiVo Series 3 from Amazon -- after rebate it should be $406.95. Why?

Plan A: Save up TiVo Reward Points and get a Series 3 for free. I already had 25,000 referral points, so I thought it might be a good bet. I started about a year before the Series 3 came out, expecting it to debut for about $500, but was blown away when it ended up cost $800. I was going to need a whole lot more reward points.

Plan B: Get more points. I figured it couldn't stay $800 forever and discounts were quickly showing up that priced it at $600. Eventually they would lower the number of reward points required, and whenever that was I would have even more points. TiVo did reduce the number of points required by 10,000, but then Plan B was shot: points expire after 2 years.

In all my patient waiting, I didn't notice that some of my initial 25,000 points were going down the tube. In the rewards e-mail that TiVo sends you, it reports # of referral points (A), # of credit card points (B), and total (C). Without taking the time to notice the total, everything looked normal. My referral points were stable, my credit card points were going steadily up, and within months I would have my Series 3. As it turns out, A+B is not equal to C. TiVo deducts them from the total without adjusting the other reports. By the time I had noticed, 10,000 points were down the drain. By the time I had built those 10,000 points back up, more than 10,000 would expire. In other words, Plan B failed.

Plan C: eBay! With the TiVo Series 3 available for $406, I can actually get one for 'free' by cashing in my reward points for other items. In fact, with the number of points I have, I can get two Bose Sounddocks and an iPod shuffle, or plenty of other items worth more than a TiVo Series 3. (many thanks to m for loaning me eBay Karma). If all goes well, I might even have some dough leftover, or I might keep one of those extra rewards for myself ;).

So, not exactly according to plan, but a long-held desire fulfilled.

Cheaper HD TiVo on the way?


In its first quarter earnings call yesterday, TiVo CEO Tom Rogers complained that the high price of the Series 3 meant that the company has "not been able to meaningfully participate in the HD wave in retail," but indicated there is hope on the horizon. TiVo will have "a mass appeal priced HD unit... later this year," according to Rogers. He did not expand beyond those comments.

ArsTechnica: TiVo prepping a "mass appeal" HD DVR priced below Series 3

Cheap TiVo Series 3 for Father's Day


While I continue to join others in ranting at TiVo for various corporate policies (I'm being hit by the expiration of my TiVo Reward Points, just as I was close to getting a Series 3), I will, nevertheless, pass on this Fatwallet post that Ray was kind enough to send along:

TiVo is offering a $200 rebate on the Series 3 for Father's Day

Rebate is good ONLY from 5/27 to 6/16 --don't buy before then!

Costco: (YMMV on Rebate, as listed as unauthorized reseller)
$599.99 (linked)
-$200 Rebate

-$200 Rebate

use E/A coupon and DPA discount to make even hotter!
-10% EA (-66.90)
-2% DPA (-12.04)
-3% FatCash (-17.70)
-200 rebate
(feel free to correct my math if I'm wrong!)

Also, may want to [try Amazon][amazon]: (confirmed as people receiving rebates from TiVo after buying from them in the past)
[406.95][amazon] (no tax/free shipping)


TiVo Series 3 from TiVo for $500


TiVo has a Welcome Back offer where you can get a TiVo Series 3 and a free TiVo wireless adapter for $500. The only gimmick is that you have to sign up for at least a one-year commitment. Given that they still insist on listing the TiVo Series 3 at $800 (Amazon's price is $630), this is a pretty good offer. You can also get a Series 2 instead with similar savings and free wirelss adapter. Offer expires soon -- April 30th.

TiVo Welcome Back offer [via Gizmodo]

Unbox + TiVo


Unlike many of TiVo's other vaporish announcements (e.g. Netflix, Comcast), the Amazon Unbox + TiVo integrated service has hit the market quickly. I don't care much for renting/buying online video -- especially movies -- but the occasional missed TV episode or BSG fix has made me more appreciative of the medium. The main reason I'm going to give it a try is you get a free $15 credit -- that should cover any remaining episodes for this season. Of course, with no Battlestar Galactica, The Office, Heroes, Lost, or pretty much any other current popular TV show, it might taken even longer to spend it all.

TiVo + Amazon Unbox

Big TiVo features tomorrow


PVRBlog points to a the "hold for release" newswire that indicates that TiVo will be expanding it's Internet video offerings, including:

  • ability to setup private groups with other TiVos to share videos
  • makes it easier to transfer downloaded videos onto a TiVo
  • select CBS programming downloadable to TiVo (probably not different from what CBS is currently putting on YouTube)

I'm not terribly excited by all of this. I feel that TiVo has either been vapor-ish with its announcements (Netflix, TiVo download trial, Comcast) or has under-delivered (TiVoCast, TiVoToGo) or has been an outright nuisance (the KidZone update that has significantly slowed down my TiVo).

Bad TiVo rate increase


Update: zonereyrie has analyzed the new plans and came to the conclusion that if you sign up for at least 2 years, you actually save a little money with the new pricing; for 3 years, you really save money; for 1 year, things get much more expensive. I've read through his analysis twice already and still have trouble grokking it all, which is another way of saying that box fees + monthly pricing bundles + pre-paid bundles + monthly service only + multiservice discounts + prepaid service only = where's the TiVo financial planning plugin for Quicken?

TiVo is doing its best to make its rates at difficult to understand as possible and making it all more expensive at the same time. As a current user, the rate increase that hurts the most is that multi-service discounts now having a more expensive and confusing structure: instead of $6.95/month, it is now $13.95/mo for one year, $8.95 for two, or $6.95 for a three year contract. New users are hurt even more, with the one-year contract rate now priced at $19.95/month. You also have to calculate in the box fee they added with the previous rate restructuring, though you can currently get an 80-hour TiVo with $0 box fee.

I liked the previous TiVo. I liked the TiVo that allowed me to buy a box and pay lifetime on it, so that when I was finished with the box I could give it to my parents to play with. I don't like this new TiVo that wants $800 for their latest product and wants to charge me $100/year on top of that.

BetaNews | TiVo Raises Rates, Pushes 'Free' DVR

As I constantly and annoyingly complain, $799/85,000 points is a bit too much to pay for HD TiVo, especially when you have monthly service charges added on top. It now appears that the price point is beginning to crack: Gizmodo has a link and special offer code that knocks $119 off the list price. Hopefully the Christmas buying season will see more special deals and even more price reduction.

Dealzmodo Supplemental: TiVo Series 3 $680 - Gizmodo

I'm gonna need some more points


I'm happy that TiVo has put the TiVo Series 3 up in the rewards program, though there is a bit of sticker shock: only 85,000 points. Given that 1 point = $1, you can see why that might be a difficult level to attain even with 20,000 points from referrals. I think I'll just cash in on another prize, eBay it, and figure out a plan from there. Time to start using an Amazon credit card instead.

Another reason to wait for my TiVo Rewards


Apparently plasma TVs are causing problems with the new TiVo Series 3/HD. The TiVos aren't properly shielded from the interference plasma TVs send off, which is causing the TiVo remote to not function properly. It seems like a simple enough problem to fix: some users are reporting they have fixed their boxes with six-to-eight squares of Glad Press 'n Seal. As a plasma TV owner, I'll cross my fingers and wait for TiVo to fix the problem as well as announce that you can use TiVo Reward points to purchase the $800 box o' sweet HD.

Engadget: TiVo Series3 + plasma TV = big problems

Day of the Video: TiVo


Update: m sent me the link for the $199 lifetime service transfer option. You need to do it before the end of 2006. I'm hoping that I can get one before then with my rewards points.

It's here! Series 3 TiVo, or rather, TiVo HD. It looks like everything you could want in a TiVo -- I especially like the new front panel that tells you what programs are being recorded -- but there is one glaring omission: no TiVoToGo and otherwise incomplete TiVo Desktop support (mp3s, but no high-res photos). They hint that they might fix this, but after taking so long to push this out the door, I'm disappointed. I've always planned to keep the old 140-hour Series 2 around, but its silly that I can't get everything in one box.

There's no word on whether or not it will be available using TiVo Reward points, but the list price is the expected $800. Instead of lifetime, they're offering a new 3-year prepaid plan for $299 -- in other words, the same price as lifetime, but a whole lot shorter. Granted, 3 years is a long time for an electronics device with a hard drive and is close to its actual product lifetime -- my series 1 died after 5 years -- but my opinion is that TiVo wants to cut into the folks selling their lifetime TiVos on eBay. There is no confirmation yet of the "transfer lifetime service for $199" ad screenshot that made the rounds.

Engadget has an early review and some videos. site is currently slow due to the plethora of tech announcements

Gearing up for Series 3 TiVo


TiVo's been a bit weird about the Series 3 release. They setup a page on their Web site that allows you to signup for news on the Series 3 release. I of course signed up, but have yet to have a single e-mail from them with any details. But that doesn't mean there isn't news leaking from TiVo Corp into the wild. They ran an ad in a industry trade magazine talking about the upcoming release, they announced the $800 price to Popular Mechanics, and the ad to the right reveals good news: current users will be able to transfer their lifetime service to the new units, though $199 isn't exactly cheap, but neither is the $800 unit.

The rumor mill has the release of the TiVo Series 3 pegged at September 17, so I'm crossing my fingers that news holds true. It's football season time and I've been looking forward to being able to sleep in instead of waking up at 10am to watch the morning games. I'm also hoping that they offer the Series 3 on their TiVo Rewards page; otherwise I have 50,000 TiVo Reward Points that I've been building up for nothing ;). If I have to spend real money on the Series 3 I might be in trouble -- September 12th is an Apple media event and a video-streaming Airport or a Video iPod might eliminate my disposable income.

Silver lining


Time Warner Cable in Raleigh is apparently refusing in install CableCards in Series 3 TiVos. Their argument is that they offer their own DVR service, so they shouldn't be forced to support their competition. By similar argument, they could sell their own TVs, and refuse to offer cable on yours.

The silver lining? I don't live in Raleigh, nor do I have Time Warner, so I'm not affected, but more importantly, Time Warner has provided another real world example of why DRM and DRM-like technologies aren't about protecting copyright, they are about protecting business models and technologically barring competition.

Update: Time Warner has changed their policy and will support the Series 3 TiVo.

Elsewhere on (part 6)


I've already done some Comic-Con prep posts here, but over in my cycling blog I wrote about how I'm going to attempt to watch the Tour de France remotely with my TiVo. It shows how TiVo doesn't quite have place-shifting down just yet, but it's mostly a backup plan as littlestar/parakkum have informed me that I should be able to watch the Tour on TV where we're staying in San Diego.

TiVo Desktop 2.3


TiVo Desktop 2.3 is out with the long promised features of being able to transfer video to your PSP and iPod. This is a cool upgrade to have, but for me, the coolest thing has been the ability to auto-transfer and auto-convert videos in general. It's nice that I can then stick the converted videos on an iPod, but one of the major features of TiVo Desktop that has been missing for me is the ability to reasonably archive footage that I am interested in. I would like to keep around videos of cycling races that I know will never be put on DVD or available via BitTorrent, but with previous versions of TiVo Desktop the size of the .tivo files are often over 2GB. With TiVo Desktop 2.3, I've been able to autotransfer all my favorite cycling races and have them compressed down to about 400MB/hour. Even better: the conversion removes the .tivo DRM, so you can actually play the video in something other than Windows Media Player, like QuickTime on a Mac. Before anyone cries, "Piracy!" let me note that pirates already offer much higher quality video at the same file size than TiVo Desktop produces. TiVo Desktop 2.3 is a tool that lets you watch your video on your devices much more than ever before.

The iPod integration is a bit better than the PSP integration, which is more the fault of Sony than the fault of TiVo. I've converted many videos, but transfer very few of them to my PSP because I don't want to spend the time plugging in my PSP, navigating to the MP_ROOT directory, and then copying in videos manually -- which includes having to manually rename the files to MPxxxxx.mp4 (unless something has changed). iTunes made me realize that I've become far too lazy for that. The PSP has no iTunes equivalent to make it easy for third-parties to deliver content, unless you count the software that Sony expects you to shell out an extra $20 for, and why would any company ever spend money to support that? The fact is, no one can save the PSP from Sony.

TiVo Desktop still lacks the polish of TV TiVo, but TiVo is relinquishing a bit of control over your video and that's a very good thing. Is it worth $24.95? I would say a qualified yes: $24.95 is cheap for video, but I expect more polish out of something I pay for.

TiVo Desktop 2.3



TiVo has announced the launch of TiVoCast, which is the same thing as vodcasts (video podcasts), except that TiVo has signed deals with specific content providers such as the NBA, New York Times, CNET, and iVillage. I've been subscribing to RocketBoom on my TiVo for six months now in the hopes that a launch like this would come about, though I am of mixed impressions on the specifics. TiVo seems to be taking the approach where they select the vodcasts that you get to view and those get added to the TiVo Showcase. What the announcement leaves out, though, is any mention of the thousands of other vodcasts on the Internet. I want my Strongbad E-mails and my NOVA!

Matchmaking, TiVo style


TiVo has sent out invites for a "Singles Mixer" that matches you up based on your TiVo profile:

Ever wish your TiVo� WishList� or TiVo Suggestions could score YOU the perfect match? Come flirt with the possibility of finding your own special someone, "TiVo-style." PLUS get 2 free drinks AND be automatically entered in a raffle for one of 14 brand-new TiVo boxes with product lifetime subscription! Must be present to win.

I tried to take their 'matchmaking quiz' for more laughs, but it appears that the event has already filled up. I'm betting that most people signed up for a chance to win a TiVo box.

Yes! HD TiVo!



I bet the farm on this one, just about. I got my TiVo credit card so that I would have enough TiVo reward points. I bought a new HD TV and put it on my TiVo card. All because a couple years back TiVo said they would deliver a CableCARD-based HD TiVo in early 2006.

I've been glued to this year's CES coverage just waiting for a TiVo logo to appear. If they were going to keep their early 2006 promise it had to be announced by CES. My mood was getting down when there was no news throughout the first day of the expo. Finally, the news is rolling in on the new TiVo:

There's also some hot screenshots from the TiVo Desktop 2.3 client. The one I like the most is this one showing PSP and iPod video export. There's also this one showing a more TiVo-ish TiVoToGo.

All photos courtesy of

Farewell Mr. Sony



comparison pic 2

Three years ago, all of the remotes on my coffee table were Sony: TV, TiVo, PlayStation 2 and VCR. Now all that remains is that ancient device, the VCR. The PS2 remote has been surplanted by a Panasonic DVD remote, the Sony TiVo is out on loan, and now the TV will end up on Craigslist.

By the way, a lesson to all of you trying to get HDTV from Comcast, you don't need to pay the $5 for the set-top box or get a CableCARD or switch to digital cable or do any other nonsense. If your HDTV has a builtin tuner, then you should be able to get any broadcast HD channel by plugging in the cable to the back of the TV. You'll get HD ABC, Fox, etc... You won't get ESPN HD, Discovery HD, or any of the other pay channels, but you won't pay extra either.

Book: Design of Everyday Things


meta warned me that when I read The Design of Everyday Things, I would learn very little. This is a compliment to the book, rather than a criticism. We both worked at PARC at the time and much of what is in the book is ingrained within the PARC culture. Thus, to say that I would learn very little is to say how influential the ideas of this book are. According to the Director of User Experience at TiVo, the book is somewhat of a bible. You'll find my own attempt at being Norman in "Affordances of a Seven-Foot Egg."

Another compliment I will pay this book is, in retrospect, the ideas presented seem like commonsense. As Norman dissects bad doors and light switch arrangements, the criticisms are intuitive, yet we must wonder, if this truly was commonsense, why is it so easy to find examples of bad design in everyday things? It's not hard to find a doors with "push" or "pull" signs taped on because the wrong type of handle was used. It's not hard to remember being confronted with an array of light switches and not knowing which light went with which. Sometimes the explanation is that someone was being cheap. Or lazy. But we also see simple principles violated in expensive, intensively designed products like airplanes and cars. Bad design comes with any price tag.

The most valuable aspect of the book for me is that it provides a vocabulary for being more specific about evaluating design. Norman once said something akin to, if it has poor usability, it probably got a design award. We don't do a good job separating out aesthetics and usability when we use the term design. The iPod is cited again and again as an example of "good design," but there are many usability problems. It's mappings are poor: press the center button and the next menu scrolls in from the right; press up and the previous menu scrolls in from the left; pressing left or right changes the track that's playing; rotating the scrollwheel wheel moves a linear menu up and down. The visibility is also poor: two weeks ago I taught two long-time iPod users that you can fast-forward/rewind, rate songs, and view album art if you press the center button while a song is playing.

I look forward to reading Norman's Emotional Design. I'm sure it will provide a vocabulary for discussing the good aspects of the iPod design, and then at last I can make my $billions.

Partial/ongoing notes in the extended.

Rocketboom on TiVo


rocketboomWhen I first found out about Rocketboom (their Firefox or Internet Explorer video), I had the hardest time trying to figure out how to automatically download their video content and get it onto my PSP. The two videolog programs I tried, FireAnt and Videora, both crapped out when I tried to get them to convert the video into PSP format. They both also had many other small, annoying errors that made the effort exceed the value of the content -- I'm not going to spend 10 minutes downloading 4 minute videos. So I gave up.

Now that Rocketboom is on TiVo, I'm back on the wagon. It appears on my Now Playing list, no stupid error messages, no maintenance time required. I initially subscribed to support the general idea of being able to download video off the Internet, but Rocketboom itself has some gems. Granted, I think it's still hit or miss. Monday through Thursday is generally done in a mock news format that I can best describe as four minutes worth of Moment of Zen clips from the Internet. "Casual Friday" rounds out the week and is my favorite. No news, usually their own cheap music video.

I'm still going through the archives online, but the favorites I've marked so far are:

All of the videos come with links to the source footage if you want to know what you just saw.

And now it's here


tivobeta.jpgThe TiVo beta features I posted about yesterday are now being released to the general public. Either I'm getting slow or TiVo is getting fast, but as davextreme points out we're all still waiting for our high-def TiVos (their online FAQ still claims early 2006). You can signup at the Online Services Priority Request Form to try and jump ahead in line to get your TiVo updated with the new software.

TiVo beta stuff


I'm excited to see some of the TiVo Beta photos out on the Web. It looks like TiVo is partnering with Yahoo to link in weather, traffic, and photos into your TiVo. There is also podcast, Live365 radio, and Fandango support.

I see a lot of exciting potential here. Why watch the weather channel for your forecast when your local weather could be streamed to your TiVo and accessible on demand? How about watching trailers for movies to help you decide which movie to buy tickets for? To be clear, I don't think the first generation of these TiVo apps will do this, but they are a start towards erasing the divide between Internet content and TV content, combining instant access with easy viewing.

TiVo Download Trial experience


I watched my free TiVo download of Red Trousers last night. TiVo is experimenting with letting users download video over the Internet and this free offering was either a beta test, publicity, or both. Red Trousers wasn't exactly the best video to judge the new technology. It's been awhile since I've last saw it so I don't know if some of the poor video quality was because it is a cheaply shot documentary about Hong Kong stuntmen or because TiVo compressed the heck of it.

The video quality is akin to VCDs -- it doesn't really look like the Best/High/Medium/Basic settings that you might be used to. It doesn't have the big blocky jumbles that you really notice on Medium and Basic, but it is clearly lower resolution than Best. Text is bit harder to read and there were a lot of edge artifacts. There were also spots in the video that seemed jerky and the color levels seemed off (blacks weren't right), but I don't know if that was the compression or the way Red Trousers was shot.

There is a blue recording icon when you are downloading the video. Unlike streaming video from other TiVos, you have to wait until the entire video downloads before you can start watching it, which probably means they don't think they can transfer it enough to show it in real time. I have no idea how long it took, but it doesn't matter too much as you can still record other shows at the same time. It would probably be more annoying if you were trying to have people over to watch the video and you were all sitting around waiting for the blue icon to go away.

It's hard to rate the overall the TiVo download technology as this wasn't the full experience. How much will it cost? Will you get to keep the video? Is this targeted at movies or TV shows? How will I choose what video I am downloading? I'm a bit annoyed at the lower video quality, which is probably enough to make me pass this up for movies, but for the right price the sit-on-your-butt convenience might be worth it.

Yahoo and TiVo


I just setup Yahoo TV to work with my TiVo, which restores some of the usefulness of My Yahoo homepage. I can now click on any program in the Yahoo TV listings and have it record on my TiVo. It was surprisingly easy to setup and Yahoo even detected that my TiVo had a different schedule listing and offered to switch to that. About the only hiccup was that I have two Series 2 TiVos -- one in Berkeley and one in Mountain View -- and it isn't quite smart enough to deal with that oddity seamlessly. It would be nice if I could set my Mountain View TiVo as my default TiVo and if I could also easily switch between Mountain View and Berkeley channel lineups (or have Yahoo manage the difference).

Quick thoughts


No time, no time, some rapid fire rants and praise:

The good

Zimbra: I just check out their demo of their Web-based e-mail/calendar suite and it has some great stuff that makes me think, "why haven't more companies done that?" If there's an address in an e-mail you can mouse over and it pulls up a Google Map and if you mouse over a date reference ('tomorrow', 'Aug 20') it shows your schedule for that day. It's all about saving that extra step. The rest of the UI is pretty fancy and desktop-like, but I'm no longer sure why desktop-like is a plus.

Microsoft Max: A Microsoft product that I actually had fun with, though I have no idea why I would use it on a regular basis and the UI is confusing in all its modalities. I can't think of any other Microsoft product that I thought of as fun -- most just cause me to break DVDs (others agree). The feature I most enjoyed was the mantle, which arranges your photos in 3D space. (Examples: my nephew, Pinnacles, Red Bull). It looks great and it also lets you view more photos in less space. You can rearrange the clusters that it creates, but the ones it chose seemed intereresting. Side note: are the clusters in the mantle view randomly assigned? Some of their clusters are great, some make little sense, but overall it's a nice new spin on things.

iPod nano: strap one of those to the back of my cellphone and another to the back of my PSP. Slide another into my Elph case and ... oh, now I'm getting greedy.

Lost: is there anyone in the 18-35 demographic not watching this show? Everyone at the wedding was either watching the new episodes or catching up with the DVDs.

The maybe good

PSP + TV: The head of Sony says that soon you'll be able to watch video using the wireless capabilities of the PSP and sync with your DVR. Sounds pretty cool but I won't jump for joy unless I hear "TiVo."

The almost good

Google Desktop ate my CPU: I had to uninstall because the new Google Desktop decided that 99% of my CPU was quite nice to utilize, even when instructed to pause indexing. Rather unfortunate as there were some aspects of the sidebar I liked, even if it was ugly. You can tell that it's paying attention to what you're doing and trying to help and with a couple iterations I could imagine it becoming a great product, but not quite yet.

The probably ugly

Google Reader: davextreme pulled me aside during the wedding reception to let me know that Google had released a feed reader, news that I have been waiting to hear for a long time. Less than 24 hours is not enough to evaluate a feed reader properly -- for now I'll say that it's slick, but who wants to read through your feeds one entry at a time. BoingBoing alone has 20-40 entries a day -- even with keyboard shortcuts that means I have to hit 'j' 20-40 times to read just one site, at which point I want to rent a helper monkey to break up the monotony.

The ugly

iTunes 5.0 (Windows): can't seem to play a song without skipping and the 'streamlined' UI makes me wish for ole' big and bulky.

Flickr + Yahoo: the extra year of service plus two free giveaway accounts were nice presents, but Flickr still goes out for massages all the time and I don't want my Flickr ID linked to my Yahoo! ID.

TiVo: what the hell are they up to? I love my three TiVos, but their current directions have been entirely pro-broadcasters and anti-consumer. It's a very capable platform that they try to do less and less with every day. Why can't I play shows on my PSP? Why can't I share episodes with friends? Why is TiVo Desktop so buggy? Why why why?

PSP: Partial Results


I've had more time to play with the PSP now that I got a 1GB memory stick for it. I succesfully downloaded some episodes of Battlestar Galactica that I had missed and re-encoded them for my PSP. Most of the setup was painless, but there is a lot of waiting between steps. At least I have several episodes now so that should hold me for awhile.

I had a much worse time trying to get TiVo programs onto my PSP. It appears that either you're lucky and it works or you're unlucky and you have to add some extra time-consuming steps and software. I'm an unlucky one so I'll have to re-experiment with my other options to see how they work out. I'd rather it not take 10 minutes for me to load 45 minutes worth of programming to watch on the train; at that point I'll just go back to reading books.

I dream of the process as simple as iPod + iTunes, though we as consumers have much less control over our video as we do our music. If Sony were consumer-friendly, they would have released a program for the PSP that would let me transfer my DVDs onto it painlessly. Instead, they want me to pay $21 for a UMD version of Kill Bill even though the DVD version is only $15. Go figure. The only comparison that comes to mind would be if Apple had released the iPod and told it's customers that it would only play $20 albums from the iTunes Music Store.

Things getting good with video


It looks like the latest TiVo beta will allow you to transfer video from your PC to your TiVo. This feature was glaringly lacking from the first releases of TiVoToGo and it will be exciting to finally have it. It should mean that: 1. You can use your PC as extra storage for your TiVo 2. You can download video over the Internet and transfer it to your TiVo.

At least I hope it means these things. It's already been revealed that TiVo will be doing some video-on-demand in the near future (direct downloading of shows onto your TiVo over the Internet), but the ability to transfer any digital video would be a great plus. Just this past week I discovered that my recordings of the first four episodes of the new Battlestar Galactica channel were junk because of a misconfiguration, so I downloaded those episodes off of the Internet. I'll be watching those on my laptop and (hopefully) my PSP, but I look forward to the day where I can sit back on the couch and watch it on TV instead.

Time to get back to figuring out if PSP Video 9 and my TiVo will play nice...

TiVo 7.2 allows PC to TiVo transfer | PVRblog

Yet-Another TiVo


TiVo has a deal for rewards program members where you can get a 140-hour TiVo for free if you pay for a 1-year or lifetime subscription -- naturally, the TiVo-hoor that I am, I was on the phone within minutes ordering one. My little 40-hour was getting strained w/ four people using it, and my other 40-hour unit is still out on loan to a friend. Besides, now I should be able to keep an entire season's worth of MythBusters, no sweat.

There isn't enough room in my TV stand to store two TiVos, so I'm am offering my Series 2 40-hour unit out as a lender to friends with one condition: two weeks only (otherwise, I can't lend it to someone else).

Eventually I plan on using the 40-hour TiVo for testing the experimental Home Media Engine. Last time I played with this feature, my TiVo got extra slow and was more crash-prone, so it will be nice to be able to play with Google Maps and Flickr on my TV without worrying about stability.

Woohoo (I think)


Comcast and TiVo seal the deal | PVRblog

Not sure how this one affects my life -- I do use Comcast and TiVo, but I'm not a fan of digital cable, so my current analog cable + TiVo works fine for me. Perhaps this will mean better HDTV options than the ghastly expensive DirectTV HDTiVo. I'm still wondering where that whole NetFlix + TiVo thing is.

Flickr + TiVo


I got the Flickr Central plugin for TiVo running on my TiVo now. It's fun -- it's cool to think that my TV is just scrolling through my photos and my friend's photos on Flickr -- and you can even get the source code if this sparks any ideas for you. I await future versions which will hopefully let you tweak the viewing modes (currently there is only a slideshow mode with long title pages inbetween each photo).

Warning: either the plugin or the TiVo itself is unstable while using this feature and things can hang.

TiVoToGo: First Impressions


My grand first impression of TiVoToGo: Great, but it's not TiVo.

TiVo is, above all things, a UI for watching TV: predictive fast forwarding, a great remote, simple menus, saving your paused location, etc...

TiVoToGo, on the other hand, is a mechanism for transferring recordings of TV shows onto your laptop. There is no TiVo UI. In every way, shape, and form, it reminds you that you are using a Windows PC, from the look-and-feel of the application, to the fact that the movies are played using Windows Media Player; you are made aware that each TV recording is a file on disk, and the TiVo program even lets you know up front how large these files are. Most annoyingly, in keeping with the Windows PC experience, there is even a window that pops up that asks you for your password everytime you want to play a show.

It's not that I won't like TiVoToGo; I am quite certain that I will enjoy it very much. In addition to being able to time-shift, I am now able to space-shift my TV watching. I don't have to worry about clearing off my TiVo some random night because it's running out of space. I can even shift recordings that I have been saving for a long time over to my PC for long-term storage.

I am disappointed, though, because without the TiVo "experience," it doesn't stack up very well against the alternatives. If I download the TV shows off of BitTorrent (getting a little harder to find a site that hasn't been taken down these days...), I have these advantages: * higher video quality at much smaller file size * quicker transfer speeds (I can use my faster 802.11g connection, instead of the 802.11b connection that TiVo requires for wireless) * no annoying password prompt * can store recordings anywhere, rather than just in My Documents\My TiVo Recordings

There are some disadvantages, such as having to try harder to track down less popular recordings, or the occassional super-slow BitTorrent download, or not having the list of recordings already narrowed down to those that you've selected on your TiVo, but if I am going to have a "Windows PC experience" rather than the "TiVo experience," I'd like to at least get control and versatility: there are already several recordings that I was going to transfer to my desktop that I nixed because it would be more efficient to just get them off BitTorrent.

It's sad to think that Microsoft's own Media Center probably wipes the floor with TiVo when it comes to PC playback.

TiVoToGo: It's here


My TiVo informed me yesterday that it's downloaded the update that lets me give TiVoToGo a go. My once productive Caltrain/BART trips full of book reading and work-related programming will now be filled with Daily Show, Lost, and Alias.



Because I haven't had enough free TiVo stuff this week: Who feels like going to TiVo HQ with me to collect a free TiVo on Friday? (Comcast customers only)

Talk: Tivo


Revolutionizing Consumer Electronics: Welcome to the TiVolution�! Paul Newby, Director of Consumer Design Margret Schmidt, Director of User Experience (UE), TiVo

I went to the TiVo talk at BayCHI/PARC. The best part of the night, perhaps, was that I have a bunch of great TiVo schwag: a TiVo doll and two new TiVo remotes -- one to replace honeyfield's remote, which has been mistaken for bunny food, and one to solve the problem we had last week of, when you lose the TiVo remote, there's no way for you to watch TV. The second best part of the night is that I learned a new TiVo feature that didn't exist on the Series 1 remote: if you press advance (the ->| button) in a list, it will jump to the end (very useful for Home Media Option).

I have detailed notes, but it's hard for me to put the effort into transcribing all of them, mainly because I've heard most of what she's said having worked at PARC for two years (big human-computer interaction focus) and having owned a TiVo for two years. As metamanda put it when I asked her if I should read Don Norman's Design of Everyday Things, she said it was good, but I've already heard everything in it multiple times. Seeing as Norman's book is somewhat of a bible for the TiVo User Experience team, I think the same applies here.

It's also hard for me to transcribe my notes because much of what was said has already been said in this interview Schmidt did for PVRBlog

There was an interesting semi-anecdote on TiVo's "overshoot correction" feature (where it jumps back a little after a fast forward). Many people think that TiVo is actually "learning" this (even across multiple users), i.e. when they fast forward and it doesn't jump to the spot that they wanted, they assume it was because they must have deviated from their normal reaction time (it's actually a hardcoded number based on the fast forward speed, derived from research).

My last thought before this switches into notes is that I wonder if TiVo is going to put an Apple-style clickwheel on the remote to replace the direction pad. The problem with navigating long lists was mentioned multiple times by them, and Margret did even mention a scrollwheel as a possibility, and it seems to me that the newest clickwheel comes the closest to carrying the TiVo direction pad concept forward.

Never learn II


They're never on our side, are they: TiVo Will No Longer Skip Past Advertisers

First TiVo referral


I got my first TiVo referral today, which qualifies me for an exciting set of TiVo coasters, a limited edition remote, or a USB network adapter. I'm really hoping to get up to 4 referrals, which will qualify me for a brand-new iPod. I figure by the time that I actually get 4 referrals, there will be a brand-new uber-iPod out by then with every dream feature I've always wanted.

Update: according to my login menu, this entry is 1337

TiVo good news


Woohoo, some good TiVo news: The FCC has approved the TiVoToGo feature, which allows users to share TV shows with friends and family (who own TiVos), as well as transfer programs to your home computer. The feature requires that you buy a bunch of dongles that you and your friends/family plugin to your TiVos. I'm not a fan of the dongle solution, but I am a fan of the actual feature, as the current requirements on the Home Media Option are overly constraining (TiVos have to be registered under the same name and have to be on the same subnet). The home computer feature will be launched first, followed by the friends and family feature at some indeterminate time.

An interesting consequence of this feature is that it would allow pooling of cable connections. For example, some of my friends don't get Comedy Central, but would like to be able to snarf my recordings of the Daily Show. This feature would allow them to get these recordings without having to pay the absurd $41/month that Comcast wants for analog cable with Comedy Central. I can see cable companies being angry about this, but I have no sympathy for them seeing how poorly they are treating analog cable.

It also allows storage pooling. We are experimenting with this right now with our three Series 2 TiVos (40/40/80). Each person participating could be responsible for maintaining a particular set of shows, which means that you could build a massive catalog of TV series to watch from. It also means that a person with a ton of storage could act as a storage service for everyone else.



DirecTV delt a big blow to TiVo by announcing that they are going to use DVR boxes from NDS, starting in 2005 (both NDS and DirecTV are owned by News Corp.). This pretty much explains why DirecTV hasn't updated their TiVo boxes to use Series 2 features (despite having the proper hardware), and perhaps explains why their HD TiVo option is overpriced and un-enticing.

I'm disappointed in the move because it demonstrates how anti-competitive the TV market is. Cable broadcasters have kept TiVo out of the digital cable market, which requires proprietary decoders, and instead have released their own branded decoders, and now both the DirecTV and Dish offerings will be no better.

To me this is akin to having to purchase a VCR from your cable company. I would like to stay with analog cable forever, but it probably isn't long before Comcast eliminates this offering entirely.

TiVo dented by DirecTV move - News - ZDNet

TiVo is now giving the Home Media Option, which allows you to view photos, play music, and schedule your TiVo over the Internet, for free. This should eliminate some of the price/feature disparity that TiVo had with ReplayTV, now that you don't need to pony up $99.

Now I'll have to debate between a new Series 2 TiVo or a DirectTiVo (possibly with High Def). Darn it.


I thought about this a little bit more, and my current theory is that one big reason TiVO is making HMO free is because of the online scheduling feature. When they do launch the movie/program download service, I think it will be an important part of their model to allow people at work to select a couple of movies, and then have those movies downloading into the TiVo and ready for them when they get home.

Of course, with no TiVos currently coming with built-in ethernet, who knows if the combined Home Media Options will encourage people to purchase add-on hardware.

One clarification: the HD DirectTiVo does not have Series 2 capabilities, according to what I have read.

tivo to go


I'm posting this b/c I would love for TiVo to add in DVD burning capabilities over ethernet without having to hack the TiVo. If you want these features, you should fill out this survey.

<bitter>I'm also posting this for a cryptic reason, similar to the cryptic reasons I've posted links in the past. </bitter>
- TiVo New Features Survey, February 2004

Boo Comcast


For a couple of months I had digital cable with Comcast, but I quit using it because the Motorola digital cable boxes managed to decrease the quality of my TV viewing experience. Comcast had an opportunity to improve this by going with a TiVo DVR, but instead it looks like they are going to try and do their own DVR using an upgraded version of the crappy Motorola platform.
Comcast takes on TiVo | CNET

Dell = Sony?


Now Dell is trying to pull a Sony it seems. In addition to announcing it's first LCD TV, Dell is now planning on selling their own DirectTiVo. I'm mostly excited about the latter because there's so much uncertainty about the future of DirectTV + TiVo, and this puts more confidence in the relationship continuing. These announcements come on the heels of Dell announcing a Dell-branded music service, mp3 player, and home-centered PDA.
Dell turns on satellite TV | CNET

Time to get ethernet for my TiVo


Found this article link to on PVRBlog: Video Extraction from a Tivo. All you need is a Series 1 TiVo and ethernet hacked in and it looks like you can extract video to mpeg fairly easily. Given that everything is in reruns right now, this would be a good time to get my TiVo upgraded.



This is copied from an e-mail I sent this morning. It's in response to a dad describing how his 5 year-old who couldn't grok the fact that his grandma's house didn't have TiVo. I agree with the kid - watching TV without TiVo is like living among Troglodytes. Am I the only one that finds himself subconsciously trying to hit an instant replay movie when I see a cool scene in the movies? (only to be disappointed that movie theaters don't have TiVo)

Other things that need TiVo-like functionality:
- radios
- people (what was that again?)
- snowboards

Follow-up: others have since suggested cars, guns, and sex.