Wednesday, September 17, 2003

So -- I'm in a new house in CA and don't yet have connectivity. Nor do I have an airport base station.

As mentioned in the previous article, my TiVo's modem port is dead but I do have an Ethernet<->USB bridge through which the TiVo is able to download scheduling information from the central servers.

Now, how to make this all work?

Since I have an Apple powerbook, it is rather trivial:

1. configure powerbook for dial-in access to provider of choice

2. turn on Internet sharing

There is no step three. Thanks, Apple. It is nice to not have to lie through my teeth to sing the praises of my employer's products -- Apple products generally kick ass (official marketing term, btw).

The TiVo sees the open airport network and it "just works" (thanks, TiVo).


I was chatting with a friend of mine who works in an office full of PC users. They have an 802.11 network setup for convenience's sake -- easier than running wires and a lot of folks have laptops.

The PC user's are still struggling to make the wireless networking work correctly from their systems. If they get it working in the office, it breaks at home. If they make it work at home, it breaks in the office. Sometimes it just breaks for the heck of it.

All the while, my friend's PowerBook 17" happily connects to the wireless network at home, at work, in Bryant park, wherever.... remember passwords as needed.... re-routing and sharing when appropriate.
9:35:40 PM  pontificate    

I have said it before and I'll likely say it again...

TiVo Rocks

The TiVo has to be one of the best engineered embedded computing solutions ever built. It just works. And TiVo-- the company-- should be rewarded mightily for giving their engineers the freedom to add easy-to-implement (because the system is built on a very versatile Linux core) features that only a handful of their customers will ever use.

But that handful will-- and does-- appreciate it mightily.

A while ago, I mentioned that my old house had been struck by lightning and that one of the victim's was the modem in my TiVo series 2. Fortunately, my unit had recently downloaded a software update that enabled USB<->Ethernet bridges. As I wrote before, it just works.

When you move a TiVo from one service provider to another, you have to repeat the guided setup. The guided setup collects information about your location and the kind of cable/broadcast content you now have access to. It then correlates this with a central database to download the correct set of scheduling information for the TiVo (and, now that I have the Home Media Option, I can go to and schedule recordings remotely).

The guided setup implies that you must have a phone connection to make it work. This freaked me out.

Turning to my favorite technical reference, I looked up TiVo Guided Setup Broadband and the first hit was in TiVo's customer support database.

After following the instructions, my TiVo is now setup for our new home. It just worked even though it was struck by lightning.

The TiVo reminds of the computers produced by NeXT and, now, Apple.

I had a NeXT cube that was struck by lightning once. Blew out the serial port and conducted enough current through the motherboard and out the ethernet port to also take out a hub and an HP-PA Risc box on the same LAN. The only damage to the NeXT was the serial port and the system remained in active production 24/7 for over six years total (and was only taken down because I didn't need it anymore -- not because of any system fault).

In any case: a huge "thank you" to the crew at TiVo. Good engineering is a rarity in this world and that is a crime -- it is a joy to work with a product from a company that refuses to accept mediocrity as a "marketable feature". Count me as a customer that appreciates all the extra effort and polish that went into the TiVo!
9:20:07 PM  pontificate