Sunday, 10 May 2009

TiVo Or Not TiVo - that is the question...

Today I decided that I would finally tackle setting up the TiVo box. And it feels like a big deal. Why? Because me and my TiVo box have a bit of history.

The only place that you can buy TiVo boxes in the UK (due to the rampant success of Sky+) is on eBay. I bought mine over three years ago, with a Lifetime subscription and a 250Gb Hard Drive, for the princely sum of £350.

And it was wonderful. It recorded everything I wanted it to record, plus a million other things that I didn't want it to record. Keeping up with the TiVo recordings became the main event of every evening - thumbs up, thumbs down, keeping films to watch at a later date, catching up with every episode of every drossy soap opera transmitted via terrestrial TV. Even though I only had 5 channels at the time, it was amazing how many hours of viewing I could amass on my 250Gb hard drive.

It was probably for this reason that the Universe decided enough was enough. Whilst watching a particularly gripping episode of Home and Away during a rather hefty thunderstorm, my house was struck by lightening, and the TiVo expired with a loud pop. It had ceased to be. It was no more. If it hadn't been plugged in to all of my other appliances, it would have been pushing up the daisies. It was an Ex-TiVo. And this was only four months after I had bought it. I was bereft - not only for the loss of viewing hours, but because in the UK TiVo only supply a helpline and not a maintenance or repair service, so I was rather gutted at paying £350 for a glorified doorstop.

Another six months passed, and a friends neighbour came home with a standard TiVo box that had been left outside the local charity shop. He had a TiVo of his own and so asked if I wanted it. I willingly accepted and went home to set it up, getting excited when I discovered that it too had a lifetime subscription, and although it only had a 40Gb hard drive, something was better than nothing. I would just have to watch more TV on a daily basis to keep up with the recordings, perhaps.

But halfway through the setup stage, the process simply hung. It looked as though this TiVo box didn't want to play ball either.

Then a conversation with the Unix guys at work brought positive news. They loved TiVo themselves and one of the guys assured me he could fix it, re-installing the boot script and swapping out the hard drives so that I had a working, lifetime subscription box once more, with a 250Gb hard drive. I handed over both boxes just as I was taking redundancy from work, and went off travelling safe in the knowledge that I would be in TV heaven when I found a place to live on my return.

When I did returned home and found somewhere to live, the box wasn't fixed because the chap fixing it was rather busy on completing a loft conversion. This didn't worry me because I had, by now, got out of the habit of being glued to the next episode of Neighbours. So I waited. And waited.

During this time I started to feel ashamed over my work situation until it got to the point where I was reluctant to email him because I didn't want him (or any of my old colleagues) to know that I was still out of work. And so time passed until a couple of months ago, when the boxes were rediscovered, fixed and returned.

So today was the day where I finally decided to face my TiVo fears. Despite there being no connection diagram for a TiVo connected through a Virgin cable box, I thought positive and started pulling out cables, connections and appliances.

And I hit a few stumbling blocks. I couldn't get two skart plugs in to the back of the TiVo, until I realised that all I had to do was swap them over. I thought that I didn't have the right cable for the phone line, but then I found two. Every block I hit, I took a deep breath or a short break, and the answer came to me.

With everything finally plugged in the way I hoped it should be, I flicked the switches, turned on the TV and selected the AV1 input. And I received a message: "Just loading. Please wait a moment". I punched the air in celebration and said a silent prayer of thanks. Get In!!

And then I looked back to the TV and it was displaying No Signal. Bollocks. What now? I switched the Virgin box off - no change. I noticed that the TiVo box 'receiving' light was no longer on. I switched it off and back on again and watched the screen. Again, "Just loading. please wait a moment". I waited. Then another message appeared which I had previous missed during my premature victory dance: "Please press the TiVo or Live TV button on your remote to turn on the TiVo"

I grabbed. I pressed. I pressed again. No little red light. No sign of life. The f$*king remote isn't working. And yes, it has new batteries.

So here I am, in a room strewn with cables with everything good to go, and a duff remote.

*sigh* Right, what's next on the list? Clean the bathroom..... I guess...


  1. I hate the fact that we've become so dependent on all this tech stuff.
    You have so much more patience then I do.
    How's the bathroom?

    Oh, that reminds me....I have a house guest coming in 2 days, better go clean the bathroom!!

  2. so funny! you have more patience than I do, that's for sure. would love to write more about your inordinate technical skills...but I'm off to watch Tivo. Sorry