Monday, May 16, 2005

TiVo TiNo

TiVo TiNo

My chaotic existence of life without my TiVo has finally been restored to order. After weeks of not having TiVo, my life is back on track and I'm getting regularly scheduled broadcasts just in time for season/series finale month.

It all started weeks ago when TiVo pushed out a major firmware update to give users something called TiVoToGo - a feature that let TiVo users download programs stored on the unit to watch on their desktop or burn them to CD/DVD for transport. The problem is when my TiVo unit received this update, it would crash daily. It wasn't specific to time of day or what it was doing at the time of the crash. Sometimes I would be watching TV, not recording anything and my picture would go black. The unit crashed while I was watching it.

After combing the forums, some people noticed the new firmware suddenly made a lot of wireless adapters that used to work, no longer work or at least they noticed some new issues. So I unplugged my wireless adapter and sure enough, the crashes quit. Once every couple of days, I would plug the adapter back in, get my update, then unplug it again. I didn't mind having to do this, as long as they were working on an update that would get rid of the problem it had to begin with so I don't have to be plugging/unplugging my adapter every few days for the rest of my life.

So this method was acceptable for now and things were great for weeks until the TiVo started crashing again without the wireless adapter even being plugged in. Now what? When it would crash, I would unplug the power, let it boot up but within hours, it crashed again. This made the unit very useless since it required constant monitoring on my part to do its job. If I had the time to monitor, I have the time to watch the program it's supposed to be recording for me.

Desperate times called for desperate measures. I wiped the software on the TiVo; the firmware, season passes, recordings - the whole enchilada went out the window and I started from scratch. When you do this, you have to go through the setup process again to get the unit working again. It's just as if you bought the thing and pulled it out of the box.

As with most TiVo units, including the one I have, you need a phone line to finish the setup. The problem is, I got rid of my phone line a year and a half ago, but I do have a VOIP phone. That should work since a VOIP service works with all standard phones. Since it works with all standard phones, I don't see why it can't work with a modem. Well it didn't. It never could contact the TiVo service to finish setup and the call always timed out.

I went back to to see what I could find. It turns out many users were having trouble getting their TiVo to work with their VOIP. I tried their suggestion of changing baud rates on the TiVo modem, but nothing worked. Then I came across another possible solution, one that supposedly bypasses the requirement to use a phone line. If you have a USB adapter, you can plug the TiVo into your Internet router and it will connect that way. So I borrowed a USB adapter from a friend, put the programming in that tells the TiVo to not use the modem but instead use the USB connection (that code is ,#401). No success. It would timeout also. I can't finish the setup on my TiVo to get it working again.

I need to take it a location that has a bloody phone line to finish it. I take it to work, with a 13" television. I have my TiVo and a small television at work, I have it plugged into my desk phone which thankfully is not on a PBX, and finally, I am able to finish the setup and the TiVo is ready for programming.

I haul it back home, plug it into my 54" television, plug in the wireless adapter that started this whole mess, and I was back in business. I setup all of my season passes again. It's been running for three days now with no problems, things are looking good but I will continue to hold my breath until the day it decides to check out again.