Headed to Comic-Con/My TiVo remote video setup

I'm going to the San Diego Comic-Con, which I enjoy very much but always falls directly during the Tour de France. I'll still get to see tomorrow's morning stage, but I'll miss the final time trial and crowning in Paris. Usually I impose a media blackout on myself and my friends try to assist with blocking out views of newspapers and such. One friend even helped with a Firefox/Greasemonkey script to block any Web pages with Tour content. Then, when I get back home, I rush through four days' of stages in a 24-hour TiVo binge.

This year is a bit different. The house I'm staying at should have the Tour on TV, though I may have to miss the ends of certain stages or other snafus may occur. So, just in case, I've upgraded my TiVo:

  • 120 hour TiVo: 5 hour mountain stages at high quality fills up a TiVo pretty quick. I had a 40-hour TiVo before, which would work, but I had to record the stages at lower quality, which sucks on my brand new HDTV. TiVo doesn't make the 120-hour version anymore, but you can get a 180-hour version instead.
  • TiVo wireless G adapter: the TiVo-brand adapter is the only 802.11g adapter you can use with TiVo. It's about five times as fast as the 802.11b adapter that I previously used, and it supposedly saves your TiVo some processing overhead. I find that TiVo Desktop gets more unreliable the longer it takes to transfer a file, so there's the added bonus that the transfers don't fail as much.
  • TiVo Desktop 2.3 Plus ($25 upgrade): the Plus version of the TiVo Desktop includes the most important feature for all of this to work: it can automatically convert the videos for display on an iPod or PSP. I'm not planning on watching the video on either, but there are two important reasons to do this conversion: the file is four times smaller and it will play on any computer, not just ones with your specially configured TiVo Desktop software.

Here's how the process works. First, the preparation:

  1. Setup a season pass on TiVo for 'cycling' (this is the name OLN uses for all cycling broadcasts, including the Tour)
  2. Setup an autotransfer on TiVo Desktop 2.3 for 'cycling'.
  3. Configure the TiVo Desktop 2.3 preferences to automatically convert transfers to PSP and also to automatically delete files after transfer (otherwise they fill up your hard drive).

If all goes to plan, here's what happens: 1. TiVo records the Tour de France stage in the morning, which finishes at about 9am 2. At about 9am, TiVo Desktop starts transferring the program. This can take five or more hours. 3. Somewhere between 2-5pm, TiVo Desktop has hopefully started converting the file into PSP format 4. Connect to my home computer from San Diego in the evening, hopefully the file has finished converting. 5. Start downloading the file 6. Go eat dinner 7. Watch the stage

This may or may not work. TiVo Desktop is a bit buggy and there are many things that can go wrong, from failed transfers from the TiVo to failed downloads to San Diego. This is the backup plan, so hopefully I won't need it.

I should probably just get a Slingbox, which allows you to stream video directly from your TV/PVR/etc..., but I went with the devil I knew -- I like my TiVo for other purposes, and this is the best I could squeeze out of it for watching the Tour while on travel. Maybe if I started travelling more, but this only happens once a year.

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Comments (2)


beware! my tivo has been picking the second run of the tour a few times.. this sucks because it's a condensed one that's only like two hours and they just litterally goto commercial, come back and you are 60 miles further with no updates! blast!

i had the same thoughts on what to do because at my own place i'm OLN-less right now, the tivo at the girl's is just humming along but i can't get out there every day. i tried downloading over the web but those dang files get up to like 5gig - over slow wireless from the tivo to dsl, and the slow uplink from dsl to the internet, would take forever.

next time... slingbox for sure. or a homebrew tivo that can take care of compression and what not with my own scripts?


J: The TiVo Desktop solution compresses the files down to about 1GB each, though it costs you about $20. 1GB is still huge when you're travelling, though, so a Slingbox may be in my future if TiVo doesn't come up with a better solution. Thanks for the warnings about the recap shows. My TiVo has been good about recording the morning show, but I forgot to check before I left to make sure it stays on good behavior. I think I better place a call home right now for someone to check on my TiVo ;)