Wednesday, August 04, 2004

My TiVo

Yes, I have a TiVo, I love it. It is one of the greatest TV enhancements invented to date.

I want to get more into hacking my TiVo. I'm a little concerned about voiding the warranty and/or the unit no longer working (ok more about the unit no longer working) but I think it is worth it, plus I've done stuff like this lots of times (removing IDE hard drives I mean). The benefits? Well, upon successful modification I can telnet/ftp/http to the box and run commands, and modify it further.
One pretty cool hack I saw somewhere online was a program that displays the caller ID of a phone call on your TV screen when the phone rings (provided you have caller ID and your TiVo hooked up to a phone line), but I don't think that particular hack will work with my model; it was for a DirecTiVo and mine is a standalone unit.
There are other benefits as well, such as adding extra hard drives for more recording time, adding a web interface, and a few other neat tricks.

Side note on TiVo: a really great feature of TiVo is not turned on by default. [See the TiVo Remote picture below] The yellow button close to the middle is pause; to the right of that is fast forward; below that is a button with an arrow and a line on it. By default this button skips to half hour increments when playing back a program, or sometimes (usually) right to the end of the recording. IMHO not very useful. However, by doing the following you can make it much, much, much more useful:
  1. Bring up any recorded program. (You have to be watching a recorded program rather than "Live TV" in order to enable the feature.)
  2. On your TiVo remote, key in the following sequence:
    [SELECT] [PLAY] [SELECT] [3] [0] [SELECT]
  3. If you've successfully entered the code, you should hear three "bings" in succession to inform you that you've successfully enabled the 30 second skip.
Now that button skips forward by 30 seconds instead of to the end of a program. You can almost instantly skip through commercials in about 10 seconds or less. I love it. Everytime the power goes out or I have to reset my TiVo, you will need to do this. I usually forget until the first commercial break of the next show I watch, but I figure it out pretty quickly.

What I really wish is that there was a feature that would just automatically skip commercials. I know that this feature got ReplayTV into trouble (a now defunct TiVo comptetitor) but it should be able to be "secretly" turned on like the button sequence above. Maybe it can already? I guess we'll find out sometime...


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