Tivo done me wrong.

Every time Tivo inexplicably fails to record a program and I have to resort to torrenting it, I think, "Come on baby, why you gotta treat me that way? You're gonna miss me when I'm gone."

Then the torrents are all shiny and HD and arrive in 15 minutes, and Tivo's sitting there all SD and mopey and I'm all, "Wow, really? Is the magic gone?"

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44 Responses:

  1. Jamie, you need to date more.

  2. Is your projector not HD? or do you not have HD programing?

    • jwz says:

      Projector is HD, PS3 is HD, feed from Mac to projector is HD, but Tivo/DirecTV service is not. There apparently does not currently exist a Tivo-based HD DirecTV receiver that still works, though they say one is coming "real soon now". (The HD DirecTV DVRs are not Tivo, and their interfaces suck.)

      • Wow, what the hell is taking them? They should have done that ages ago.

        • jwz says:

          They had one, and it was crazy expensive and was discontinued, and doesn't work with current systems (I think). Then DirecTV and Tivo broke up, and DirecTV started shipping these non-Tivo DVRs. DirecTV and Tivo recently made nice again, and apparently that sent them back to the drawing board or something?

          It's starting to feel like Palm all over again over here. Oh, except there's no iPhone to switch to, just Windows Mobile and 30 flavors of Linux.

          • scullin says:

            I have the original HD DirecTivo still. It gets about six HD channels these days, including two ESPNs. Woo.

          • ckd says:

            The non-Tivo DVRs suck somewhat less than they originally did, but I'm still eagerly awaiting the day I can ship them this one and get an MPEG-4 compatible DirecTiVo.

            (DTV gave me this one as a freebie upgrade from the older HD DirecTiVo, which I still have as a second receiver...works great for SD.)

          • ppezaris says:

            I had the same set of issues that you did Jamie, and held out until the last possible moment to give the new DirecTV receivers a try (which, for me, was when my old DirecTiVO died).

            And I have to say, I'm very pleasantly surprised at the non-TiVO unit. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that it's a wash. You might not get quite as much polish, and may have to hunt through an unfamiliar menu system a little at first, but it's much faster to set up recordings and performs about as well in the most-important "pause/ff/play" daily use playback functionality.

            - easy search for a program if it's blacked out on that channel (think: NFL Sunday Ticket)
            - *much* faster setup of season passes
            - a 4x FF mode (opposed to TiVO's 3x)
            - skip 30 seconds without having to enter magic codes to enable
            - universal remote with easy setup
            - RF remote

            - call me sentimental, but "wakka wakka wakka" is missed
            - when going in and out of FF mode the audio is in sync immediately, but video lags a second
            - ergonomics of the remote not as good as the peanut-shaped TiVO remote
            - menu system isn't quite as intuitive (seems to be more feature-based, rather than intent-based)

            But again... it's a wash.

          • mhoye says:

            The Popcorn Hour C-200 is the iPhone you're looking for.

      • seminiferous says:

        I recently switched from Tivo to the new DirecTV HD DVR (HR 22). It's not that bad. The interface is fairly responsive, and there isn't much head-scratching involved when you need to perform typical DVR tasks. It's completely worth it for the HD, in my opinion. Then again, I suffered under Time Warner's nearly unusable HD DVR for a while, so maybe I've lowered my standards.

  3. giantlaser says:

    The TiVo you are looking for is here:


    And no, you don't even have to register to use ShowRSS. You can generate feeds of each show, rather than make one feed for all your shows. In HD.

    • mark242 says:

      Browsing the Miro site, I'm unable to see how I can watch TV without using a mouse.

      • giantlaser says:

        With Miro, you can't. If you want that, consider XBMC + an RSS-capable BitTorrent client. Have XMBC monitor the download directory of the client, job done.

        I'm not aware of any good remote-control- or keyboard-driven interfaces that have built-in RSS+torrent, however.

        • mark242 says:

          I'm not aware of any good remote-control- or keyboard-driven interfaces that have built-in RSS+torrent, however.

          Azureus "Move Completed Torrents to X" + pyTivoX for transport + Tivo Series 3.

          • giantlaser says:

            Yes, multiple hacky ways exist. But none that are *built-in*.

            • mark242 says:

              "Built-in" to what? The client? Nobody cares about the transport mechanism. As long as you get the bits to the TV, the way you're moving those bits is so unimportant you might as well be talking about the MTU size of the TCP frames.

              When I sit down on my couch, with a cold stout in my hand, I would like to watch (insert recorded or downloaded show here) with the minimum amount of interaction possible. That's what TV is. For all of these home media servers, and all their talk about what they're doing is so utterly revolutionary, they still don't get that I need to press a maximum of three buttons in order to watch anything I want that's stored on my Tivo. The Tivo button, the down arrow on the d-pad, and the select button.

              Having to move a mouse in order to watch a TV show is an absolute abomination of usability.

              • pmb7777 says:

                You and I should build the next TiVo. We would win.

              • giantlaser says:

                Built in to the UI. With Miro, you see your feeds, see what's available in them (in case you choose not to auto-download), and see them download with a progress meter and projected time before you can start viewing. Anything that uses an external fetch mechanism won't show you any of that, nor give you any way of editing it in the UI. You'll have to break out and use an external tool to do so.

                Using a small wireless keyboard/touchpad - not a mouse, and which is about the size of a large book - from my couch has proven no difficulty and is a perfectly acceptable interface. It also lets me use Firefox or any other app I'm familiar with. If all you want to do is watch shows and listen to music, I can see why you would prefer a remote control device. But not if you want to do anything else with your media PC.

      • leolo says:

        Maybe what you want is a whamberry? http://www.whamberry.com/

        • mark242 says:

          Here's how I can tell you don't own a Tivo: you are suggesting that I replace what is generally accepted as the greatest remote control ever created, with... I have no words for this thing.

          The mere thought of having to fight Fitts' Law in order to pause, 8-second-rewind, or 30-second-skip gives me hives. Between $249 for the Tivo or $49 for this thing (and the overhead cost of all of the aspirin for the migraine headaches from the frustration of actually having to use it) I'd pick the Tivo any day of the week.

          • leolo says:

            From your post it is unclear that you are using a Tivo. It sounds to me like "oh, I'd do that, but I don't want to use a mouse from the couch." Hence my suggestion. No need to get in a huff.

  4. fantasygoat says:

    The magic was gone 4 years ago. My poor Tivo now sits on a shelf collecting dust and I get wistful mailers from my former cable provider, while I bask in the joy that is HD TV via http://www.tvtorrents.com and Automatic+Transmission+XBMC on a Mac Mini.

    The Tivo interface is still King, though. Nothing even comes close to its magnificence. I would call XBMC's interface "tolerable". Three steps forward, one back.

    • andrewducker says:

      Yeah - Tivo crashed and burned in the UK and nowadays I have torrents and XBMC on an Apple TV. I'm looking forward to Tivo coming back (later this year, through my cable provider), but I'm not sure if that's just nostalgia.

    • inoshiro says:

      We need something as easy as Tivo for RSS + torrents. I'm surprised no alpha-nerd has gone to write out the steps simply, with screenshots, and posted it somewhere to help people adopt the new standard.

    • jered says:

      Agreed. I got a Series 3 a few years back and it was nice to have the "good" interface with HD content, but the whole utter lack of innovation (I second the Palm comparison) has been dreadful.

      jwz's big problem is the DirecTV dependence. Closed system + oppressive DRM = no options. There is literally nothing we can suggest here that doesn't involve HDCP-stripping (illegal) plus Linux (painful for DVR). It's a big box of fail.

      I have cable and thus have the illusion of choice, and last month finally gave up on Tivo in favor of Moxi. They were bought by Arris a few months ago, who manufacturer most of the head-end equipment, so I figure it will both be compatible and around long-term. The price is the same (more or less) as a Tivo, and you aren't raped monthly for program data. ($18/mo? Plus $12/mo for additional rooms? Really? Really?)

      It's nice, and slicker in some ways than Tivo, but still manages to be irritating at times... and not just because I'm used to Tivo. On the other hand, they're still adding features... you can get an add-on box for $200 that lets you live stream recordings between rooms. Imagine! Tivo could have done that years ago, but never has.

      I want to say that eventually the consumer will revolt and change will happen, but given that most people are happy with the Aptiv Passport Echo shit that comes on the Motorola boxes out there, I know that I'm sadly wrong.

  5. gryazi says:

    In all srsness...

    ...has there been some new development in Torrentsville other than massive blacklists to avoid publishing your address to any media_industry_subcontractor peers that happen to connect? Or is it just that the overly-centralized nature of it means the tracker operators absorb the wrath while consuming peers of older-than-0-day* content just get a C&D form-letter at the worst?

    I've never understood this. Of course, I've also never understood why TV hasn't been able to grow a pair and permit the sharing of most shows provided the commercials are kept intact. What advertiser wouldn't want their message to live forever, in a culture that actively demonstrates commercial-nostalgia and the ability to make bank on 'retro' trends?

    [Also, wasn't off-air TV - which actually has better bandwidth than most pay services for HD - supposed to lose the 1950s content restrictions now that there are no operative television receivers without the 'V-Chip?' Station owners on the right coast sure as hell can't figure out how to fill the 4 streams they begged the FCC for - all the majors are wasting theirs on weather and infomercial channels, if they've got anything more than dead air on them at all. At least "my9" added that awesome spanish movie channel. With all the catfighting about cable/sat asking channels to pay for distribution, maybe it's cheaper to actually use the rabbit ears (although you'd have to remind everyone who believed they had to switch to cable in the transition to put them back up).]**

    *Apparently a FoaF just got bit for participating as a peer in the torrenting of a Very Popular Movie before it was released. So they do seem to prioritize like that.

    **I have no real hope for Internets TV as long as every broadband ISP remains in the TV business. Ain't no one providing a fat pipe alone for less than their "triple-play."

    • mark242 says:

      Of course, I've also never understood why TV hasn't been able to grow a pair and permit the sharing of most shows provided the commercials are kept intact.

      What do you think Hulu is? That's the networks dipping their toes in the water.

      The reality is that there's always going to be a market for AwesomeTvShow.S01.E11.No.C0mm3rc1als.REPACK.31337-Gr0up.ENGSUBS.mkv or whatever such crap -- those will almost universally be greater torrent throughput, because by default people don't like commercials.

      • elusis says:

        I have found myself getting very irritable about networks that refuse to use Hulu.

      • gryazi says:

        I'd agree with that *except* that targeting one massive wave of legal bullshit at the "No.C0mm3rc1als" crowd would enforce the social contract, and the networks themselves could run the trackers for the commercial'd torrents at low bandwidth cost (making up for the continued complete failure of IPv4 multicast) if they want to maintain some control.

        Which... is pretty much Hulu, yeah, but it's annoying how content vaporizes there and the Flash player continues to suck syphilitic donkey balls on *NIX. (It's been getting there, but roughly around the time the economy tanked, Adobe decided to start whining about Linux rather than actually developing for it. The amd64 player has been in alpha or beta or gamma or whatever the fuck for more than a year now, just because there are 3 audio APIs that mostly all work equally well?)

    • badc0ffee says:

      Also, wasn't off-air TV - which actually has better bandwidth than most pay services for HD - supposed to lose the 1950s content restrictions now that there are no operative television receivers without the 'V-Chip?'

      The puritans don't want 'smut' broadcast on the public airwaves at all, even if kids will never see it.

      Also, network TV is rebroadcast on analog cable, which you can still watch with a 1980s tuner containing no v-chip.

      • gryazi says:

        Goddamn, you're right. I have another reason to hate cable.

        Absent that it'd be a reasonable argument to finally disenfranchise the puritans, because it's not like their 3-streams-of-Worship-and-Qubo channel is going away.

  6. allartburns says:

    I broke up with DIRECTV a few months ago. I was using a standalone DIRECTV receiver (the same one I had in Mtn View!) with a TiVo S2 DVD-RW box but couldn't justify keeping it on after Verizon SHINY FIOS showed up in my neighborhood.

  7. mark242 says:

    Our TivoHD is pretty much just a conduit for pyTivoX and episodes of Sesame Street for the kid. It's somewhat distressing that Azureus search is better than Tivo's search. Similarly it is distressing that given a season pass for a show, when that show is broadcast on SD and HD channels simultaneously, the season pass grabs the SD version without fail. So I'm supposed to go through and delete all of the channels where there's a comparable HD network now?

    • disconn3ct says:

      Every tivo I've ever had (s1-dtivo+turbonet, several hacked s2dtivos, s3-standalone) has associated season passes with channels, for better or worse. (Mostly worse.) So if you get it 'without fail' its behaving as intended - its recording every ep of 'foo' off the SD channel you selected it on. (And I don't know of a way to simply change the channel in the SP - you need to open it, view upcoming shows, pick the HD ver, and 'get season pass' all over again, then wipe out the old one.)

      That said, I agree with most of above - dtivos are a pita, dtv lost out to FIOS here also, s3 (or thd if you have a budget) does hd nicely (esp with a 1T drive) and xbmc has come a long way (esp compared to myth) but tivo still beats everything interface-wise.

      Oh. And to the original point - you can ask it why it inexplicably failed to record, just scroll backwards in the todo list to see recording history.

  8. luserspaz says:

    Maybe the FCC will get their shit together and give us the ability to buy non-shitty cable/satellite boxes from third party manufacturers at some point:

    We can dream...

  9. dr_memory says:

    At this point, I'm convinced that all of Tivo's "partners" are gaslighting them. "Don't buy a TivoHD/S3, we'll have the tivo software on the comcast set-top box Real Soon Now!" "Don't switch to cable and buy a TivoHD, we'll have a new DirecTiVo Real Soon Now!" Years pass, crickets chirp, customers resign themselves to the crappy first-party DVRs, Tivo's market cap goes the way of the polar ice.

    "No, Mister Bond, I expect you to die."

    For what it's worth, if you've got cable, the TivoHD is still pretty awesome. But I suspect I won't be talking anyone out of their DTV receivers.

  10. I love Dragonette.

  11. pmb7777 says:

    I've had a TiVo for ten years now! My S3 is awesome, but Comcast can't even get the program data correct for their own Comcast Sports Net channels. Not TiVo's fault... but... After ten years, I'm pretty disappointed that TiVo hasn't expended every effort to make their device bulletproof. TiVo should be trying to be the premium DVR, the one where everything works no matter what. If they want to justify collecting a monthly fee on top of everyone else's, they should be providing a service that improves everyone else's. I don't want feature-creep, I want constant polishing so that my TiVo is so shiny it blinds the unbelievers who gaze upon it.

    • mark242 says:

      I want constant polishing so that my TiVo is so shiny it blinds the unbelievers who gaze upon it.

      Part of the problem is that Tivo has screwed up the shiny part and has ignored the very reason that they got popular in the first place-- the shows you want, when you want them. I'm sure you've tried Swivel Search, and the "re-branded" Tivo Search; those are completely useless because the UI response is so godawful slow compared to the native menus.

      I understand that Tivo is trying creative new ways to get revenue, but for gods sake, "More information about this program"?!? On by default?!? And can't be permanently turned off?!?

      There is precisely one -- ONE -- feature that Tivo should have been working on within the past five years. Video on demand. Free, advertiser-supported VOD for TV shows; download the h264 stream from Tivo's content delivery network. Have you just recently started watching Top Gear? Want to watch seasons 1-13? No problem. Want to go back and watch Battlestar Galactica again to see the inconsistencies between the "final five"? No problem. You like David Tennant, but long for the days of Tom Baker? No problem.

      This ONE feature would have basically blown away every hardware maker and every cable network's crappy VOD offering, and my mind reels at how much time Tivo has spent on the home media "apps" and search and stupid movie rental options.

      • dr_memory says:

        VOD only works as a product if the rights-owners will let you into their libraries.

        Three guesses what the rights-owners think about TiVo. I'll give you a hint:

        "No, Mister Bond, we expect you to die."

      • captain18 says:

        My pie-in-the-sky dream is to be able to do that with sports.

        Suddenly have the urge to watch the game where Dennis Rodman hit all those 3-pointers? Want to relive the Fridge catching the TD pass against Green Bay? Or some random Yankees game from 1962?

        Sadly, this too will never be.