Evolution's third replicator

Evolution's third replicator

We humans have let loose something extraordinary on our planet - a third replicator - the consequences of which are unpredictable and possibly dangerous.

The first replicator was the gene - the basis of biological evolution. The second was memes - the basis of cultural evolution. I believe that what we are now seeing, in a vast technological explosion, is the birth of a third evolutionary process. We are Earth's Pandoran species, yet we are blissfully oblivious to what we have let out of the box.

This might sound apocalyptic, but it is how the world looks when we realise that Darwin's principle of evolution by natural selection need not apply just to biology. Given some kind of copying machinery that makes lots of slightly different copies of the same information, and given that only a few of those copies survive to be copied again, an evolutionary process must occur and design will appear out of destruction.

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Dracula's Drycleaner must Die

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stupid tivo.

So, my Tivo started freaking out, and in a weird way. Playback of already-recorded stuff was fine, but new recordings and live TV were stuttery (going black for 1 second every 6), and sometimes it would seem to momentarily forget that the crypto card was plugged in. Since this sounded a little more like a hardware problem than a bad drive, I took a chance and bought a new (used) DirecTivo of the same hardware vintage off eBay (it was only $60 including shipping, so what the hell). But, when I moved my old drive into the new box, it didn't boot. Just sits there at the "Tivo is powering up" screen forever.

Which leaves me with some options.

  1. Use the drive from the new tivo. This will probably work, but the downsides are: A) I lose all the old recordings I have not yet watched, B) it's a smaller drive, C) it doesn't have any of the hacks installed like the web server or the ability to talk to ethernet instead of a phone line.
  2. Get a new drive and re-hack the new tivo from scratch. Downsides: A) lose my old recordings, B) Doing this is hellaciously complicated. It took two of us days to figure it out last time. I'm really not looking forward to doing that again. Is there some dead-simple way to do this that involves only using a Mac, and does not involve lugging home and tearing apart some random PC, and does not involve digging through a dozen years-old, wrong, un-cross-referenced pages on that despicable "Deal Database" site?

  3. Cancel my DirecTV subscription and just torrent everything from now on. Downside: it's not very automatic. I liked being able to just give Tivo a list of program names and have the new, unwatched episodes just show up with no manual intervention or record-keeping on my part.

What are your recommendations here, oh Lazyweb?

Update: For the record, to move a drive from one Tivo to another of the same hardware vintage, you have to: A) pay DirecTV $20 for a new access card (you can't move them) and then B) run the 51killer.tcl script to tell the Tivo app that it's ok that the crypto key has changed (without this, it will give an error #51 every time it wants to record a program, even though crypto is turned off.)

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