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Category Archives: Tivo

The TiVo® is Back!

We are a geek household – no way around it. Today the TiVo® arrived after surgery to replace the hard drives at Weaknees. Scary to admit, but we have come to depend on the TiVo® to arrange our TV watching. We have our favorite shows but they are often broadcast at inconvenient times. Catching them during this past week has turned out to be quite a nuisance and some we just missed. It’s also much faster to watch shows when you can fast forward through commercials. It’s very nice to have this creature comfort back in our lives.

Speaking of Weaknees, they provided the best customer service I have received from almost anyone. Weaknees sells TiVo® boxes with larger hard drives installed than the standard ones to allow for saving more recorded shows. We bought the TiVo® several years ago from Weaknees with a large hard drive. One of the hard drives was failing (it made loud noises, a bad thing for a disk drive, and playback would sometimes freeze). So we sent it off to Weaknees to replace the hard drives. We also ordered their copying service where they take all the data off the old hard drive(s) and copy it to the new ones.

The day the box arrived at Weaknees, I got a call from the technician letting me know it was there. A little while later, I got another call to clarify what I wanted since I had ordered one large drive as replacement, not knowing that our box needs two drives and only one can be large. We changed the drive selections and the technician told me to expect a call the next day when the data copying was done. He volunteered that if it didn’t work the first time, he’d try it again. Later that same afternoon, he called back again to say it was done and he would get it shipped that night. Sure enough he did. Even with ground shipping both ways, the box was gone exactly a week. Everything is working perfectly now that it is back. If only more companies understood how valuable this kind of service is to keeping customers and getting positive press.

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Tivo to your Mac for free!

Thanks to the April, 2007 issue of Macworld, I learned of TivoDecode Manager, a free piece of software that enables you to transfer and watch programms from your Tivo on your Mac. TivoDecode Manager provides an interface to integrate several pieces of open-source software to decrypt, transfer and translate programs recorded on your Tivo into MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 files on your Mac. MPEG-4 files can be played with QuickTime or iTunes. The author, David Benesch, has created a simple interface and packaged all the pieces into a single download that unzips to a single folder that you copy to your Applications folder. You need a Mac running a current version (Tiger or higher) of OS X, a Tivo Series 2 and both of them connected on your local network. Grab your Media Access Key from the Tivo site under Manage My Account, start up the program, enter the Media Access Key and TivoDecode Manager will use Bonjour to find your Tivo box or boxes which can be selected with a pulldown. As soon as a Tivo box is selected, the Now Playing list appears in a pane and you can select one or more programs to transfer. Transfers are slow – Tivo transfers are slow and Tivo Series 2 boxes typically have USB 1.1 ports. The speed of your network between the Tivo and the Mac and the speed of your Mac will also affect how fast transfers occur. Other activity on your Mac will slow down transfers even further especially if you are doing anything that requires network bandwidth (any active connections to the Internet for web browsing, e-mail or other activity). I just started transferring a 3-hour segment of a bicycle race, so I won’t get to watch it until tomorrow. So stay tuned for part two of this post, on how did the process work and what did the program look like on my Mac.

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