TiVo – you amaze me

Today an ex-employee stopped by my house.  He said he was moving, and found something in his garage that wasn’t his.

What he carried in from his trunk was two very, very, very dirty TiVo boxes.  They had been in his garage for almost three years.

These were development boxes that TiVo sent us while we were helping them develop WiFi USB drivers.  Before I moved back from Florida, I sent the boxes back to San Antonio, and asked they be shipped back to TiVo.

Somehow, in the confusion of closing a remote office, this fell through the cracks.   The employee that returned them to me found them by the dumpster the last day the office was open.

The kids wanted to play Halo2 Online tonight – on the big-screen in the Living Room.  Since I was “just doing work” anyway, I told then I could work from my bedroom.  So they are out there watching my new bigscreen, and I am in my bedroom, watching a lessor bigscreen.

And I remembered the TiVo’s.  I took them into the garage, and used my air compressor to blast three years worth of dirt off them, and out of them.

I brought them into my bedroom, and hooked the first one up.  I hooked my Time Warner Digital Phone to it.  (The reason I haven’t had a TiVo in two years is because the last one I bought wouldn’t work with my digital phone (and the phone config had to be done before I could set up the wireless) – so I returned it.

The TiVo booted up, smiled it’s TiVo smile at me, and did it’s normal setup.  It asked me who I was, set the channels up, downloaded new firmware (since what was on their was old as could be – I am surprised they could update it even), downloaded the channel guide – and it works.  The subscription is obviously still alive – probably an internal “never die” subscription.

So, if I have what appears to be “free TiVo” for life, why am I blogging about it?  Won’t that cause them to kill the account (I did sign on with all of my real data)?

Well, first, it wouldn’t be right.  It would be stealing.

Second, I don’t want a 3-4 year old TiVo – I want an HDTV TiVo.  And now that I know it works here, I’ll get one.  And I hope to finish what I started about three years ago, when I tried to send these units back to TiVo.  I want to give them back.  There is no way I could throw them away – they are not mine.  I couldn’t sell them, they are not mine.

So someone from TiVo will read this, and tell me how to return them.  The only person that I remember from TiVo right now (it has been a long while!) is Karl Glynn.  So if you work at TiVo, and know Karl, or know who replaced him, please give them this link.  Contact info is on the Consulting page above.

But the real point of this post is not just that the hardware worked – but that the software update worked flawlessly with a machine that has been “off the grid” for three years – THAT is impressive.

Some time ago I listed TiVo as a company I would work for.  This is an example of why.


  1. Hmm… That’s cool! I wonder when they’re goanna tap into the “600 million households with TV” market in India…

    Because, here, either most of the programs suck, or are set in the night, or set in conflicting times in different channels…

  2. Yuvi – TiVi is a box, like a VCR, but it doesn’t use tape. It records TV onto a hard drive – so you can watch something whenever you want, instead of just when it is being broadcast.

    TiVo is a lot more than that though, because over time it learns what you like, and just starts recording things it think you might enjoy.

    So if you see there is nothing on at this minute on TV, you can see what TiVo selected for you – chances are it made a few good selections.

    I love TiVo – the company was fully of really bright, dedicated, hard-working people when I worked with them. I doubt it has changed much – those employees really loved the company they worked for!


  3. I have a single question: What is TiVo?

  4. I stand corrected, probably should have put more thought into my comment, and explained myself better. There are many companies out there who do cool stuff in regards to updating .. AND .. it has to be a good customer experience, not magically updating itself with all the bugs the new patch brought πŸ™‚ heh heh.

    Anyway, hope you get the new TiVo sometime soon Rob.

  5. @Deannie – true, it does run Linux. But I don’t agree with the comparison on upgrading an old Windows boc. TiVo has a very well controlled hardware platform – they designed it. With the exception of a WLAN USB NIC plugged into it, they know exactly what the environment is. A Windows box, of course, could have a number of components mixed and matched – and this increases the complexity a huge amount.

    But yeah – the fact that there were no incremental upodates for three years, and that they were able to apply the latest image is pretty damned cool ❗

  6. My understanding of Tivo is that it is running a specially sytlized version of Linux. What I thought was more impressive was not that it asked for the updates but that they were successful after a three year hiatus. Apparently the updates weren’t so massive or radical that it blew away the box…which isn’t always the case with Windows these days. πŸ™

  7. These are actually Second Generation Boxes, so they aren’t ancient :smile:. But I get you point.

    And I don’t like my software updating without me knowing what it’s going to update first – the cable box is a good example – overnight you get an update and suddenly features you liked are gone, or work differently. Or you get annoying “new” features that just get in your way πŸ™‚

  8. Chances are that IF someone from Tivo reads this, they will probably politely ask you to please NOT send that old crap back, but dispose of it properly.
    And I don’t quite agree with Stu, that the concept of updating is lost on the software world: I have plenty of (new) stuff that regularly updates itself (Windows, Ubuntu, Virus checkers, Corel Paint Shop-Pro, WL Messenger, TurboTax and plenty of other stuff, including my cable box).

  9. Man alive!

    Now see, reading this brings me great joy. The concept of Updating seems to have been lost on the software world at large.

    Games, Business, Family software .. I like it when they obviously put time into the user experience. I want my software to check when it starts, tell me it’s got a new update, and just automatically go away and do it while i get myself a fifth diet coke from the fridge.

    So yeah, nice going TiVo. Although we don’t really have it over here (the wonderful land of Kangaroos and Koala Bears), I’ve always loved the idea.