Friday, July 21, 2006


I mentioned Tivo in my last post. Just to expand on that a bit, Tivo Rocks! I've had some sort of PVR system for 5+ years. First it was the PVR offered by Dish Network. Not a bad product at all. Nice as an introduction machine. When I got pissed off at DN for screwing around with their contracts and using thier customers as pawns, I got DirecTV. DTV offered a Tivo based PVR system integrated with thier satellite receiver. It didn't take me long to figure out the Tivo is the way to go.

It's been a couple of years now since I got my Tivo and recently we began having trouble accessing recorded shows. Uh-Oh, that's a sure sign that the HD is going out. We were faced with a choice: Get a new PVR or fix the Tivo. After a little research, I confirmed what I had already heard - DirecTV no longer uses Tivo based PVR and has switched to a proprietary system. The choice became obvious, fix and upgrade the Tivo.

The nicest thing about Tivo (from a technical standpoint) is that it runs on the Linux OS and is open source. What that means is that it's pretty easy for Joe Anybody to hack/upgrade. What I was able to do is get my hands on a nice 300 GB drive (your average computer hard drive) and copy the OS from the old Tivo drive. I was skeptical at first, thinking it really couldn't be as easy as people make it out to be. Well, if you can swap out HD's, you can upgrade your Tivo. I went from a 40 GB drive (about 27 hours of recording time) to 300 GB (~265 hours)!!! All this for the cost of a drive (less than $100 if you shop around). Wow! No brainer!

The next thing I want to do is hack the system. Tivo offers something called HMO, Home Media Option. This allows you to show pictures, movies and play music from your computer through your Tivo box on your television. Unfortunately, HMO isn't enabled on the DirecTV system. So, you have to go in and hack the kernel to enable the USB ports and enable HMO. But, once this is done the Tivo box becomes another device on my home network, addressable from any workstation. Niiiiiice!

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