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The Coolness That Is TiVo

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I just bought my wife a TiVo for Valentine’s Day (*giggles like a little girl*). No, she’s definitely not a geek like me, but I seem to have passed along the “Electronics and Gadgets Virus” to her. I am absolutely stunned by the coolness that is TiVo.

Pausing live TV? Record anything you want by saying “Record this show whenever it happens to be on.” It actually came in handy tonight when we were watching 24 tonight. A couple of friends of ours were going to come over to watch it with us, but were running about 10 minutes behind. Never fear, TiVo is here! We simply paused TV and waited for them to get there. Brilliant.

TiVo is better than a VCR for a number of reasons. First, tapes suck. And they get old and dusty. And they suck. But with the coolness that is TiVo, there is no tape—it’s all digital. TiVo can also record shows for you that it thinks you might be interested in. Right now it doesn’t seem to be guessing that well, but we’ve only had it for a couple of days. I’m sure it’ll get better.

We can record the entire seasons of 24, Alias, and American Idol with only a few button clicks. Granted it can’t hold three entire seasons of TV shows at once, but it can hold a few weeks at a time so that I don’t have to worry about getting home late from work or going on vacation.

Right now I’ve got it plugged into my phone line while I wait for my wireless adapter to get here. Actually, I’m waiting for a second TiVo (for our bedroom), a wired ethernet adapter (for the one in our bedroom), AND the wireless adapter to get here so that I can connect them to my home network. I’ve read that I can pull recorded shows from my TiVo onto my computer. Since I haven’t heard anything other than that about the networking abilities, I’ve got some questions:

  1. What format/codec are the shows recorded in?

  2. Since I’ve already got Nero 6.6 Ultra, do I really need to buy that other program listed on the TiVo website to burn them to DVD?

  3. Is it true that there are traces of DRM in the recorded TV shows? Any way to strip it?

  4. How easy is it to compress the video into a computer-friendly format like QuickTime, MPEG, DivX, or Windows Media?

  5. How long does it typically take for a 1-hour show recorded on “Best” to transfer from one TiVo to another?

  6. All I’ve seen are 802.11b wireless adapters. Any 802.11g adapters known to work?

  7. Any other nifty-cool things I can do with TiVo with or without a network?

To be honest, I’m not really a TV person at all, with the exception of the 3 previously mentioned shows… I typically watch movies. But being able to sort through all the TV in the world and watch only the interesting things when I’m home is a fantastic opportunity. It’ll also allow me to watch shows that I like, but haven’t gotten into watching yet. I used to watch Veronica Mars before the holidays, but never got back into it. I also hear that J.J. Abrams other show LOST is really good too (J.J. is also the creator of Alias).

Although historically I’ve never really liked TV, I’m beginning to see some awesome possibilities here. Has anyone got any other TiVo-related thoughts or ideas to share?

Ryan Parman

is an engineering manager with over 20 years of experience across software development, site reliability engineering, and security. He is the creator of SimplePie and AWS SDK for PHP, patented multifactor-authentication-as-a-service at WePay, defined much of the CI/CD and SRE disciplines at McGraw-Hill Education, and came up with the idea of “serverless, event-driven, responsive functions in the cloud” while at Amazon Web Services in 2010. Ryan's aptly-named blog, , is where he writes about ideas longer than . Ambivert. Curious. Not a coffee drinker.