TiVo Frustration

For the past few weeks I’ve been having all kinds of problems with my TiVo Series 3.  The problem is only happening on the HD channels.  At least once a day, I’m getting a heavily pixelated picture, video stopping and starting every couple of seconds and audio cutting out.  Sometimes the picture will be lost completely and I’ll get a gray screen, even though the signal appears to be good according to the TiVo diagnostics.

Here’s a video of what all of this looked like earlier today, including a look at the Diagnositcs screen.

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I’m taking some comfort in seeing that I’m not the only person who is experiencing this issue. Here’s a recent thread on the TiVo Community forum. I’m still trying to piece together what’s going on but this is what I’ve gathered so far from that thread:

  • Several people claim that this issue was introduced with the 11.0 software release
  • Some people who have spoken to TiVo customer service are saying that TiVo has acknowledged that this is a software issue but they’ve given no timeline for a fix.  Another person heard that the fix could be at least a month away
  • People are *really* pissed
  • Many people have suggested rebooting every couple of days to minimize the problem

I will try to update this post periodically as I work my way through this issue.  Feel free to leave a comment if you’re experiencing similar issues or if you have any suggestions.  I’ve been a huge fan of TiVo over the years and, I have to say, this is the most frustrated that I’ve ever been with their equipment.


Feb 19 – Here are the recent developments:

  • I spoke with Comcast customer service the other night and they sent a few signals to the cable cards that were supposed to help with reception issues.  The problem didn’t go away.
  • I wanted to rule out the cable cards as the source of the problem, so we went to the local Comcast office and swapped out the cable cards (at no charge).  I popped the new cards into the TiVo but the problem didn’t go away.  Every HD show that I tried to record tonight was heavily pixelated with audio cutting out.
  • I called TiVo customer service and explained the problems that I’m having.  The CSR that I spoke with had me check the signal strength on the two cable cards.  When I told him that the signal strength was 95-100 he told me that installing an attenuator on the line would probably solve the problem.  It’s counter intuitive but apparently the Comcast signal is too strong for the TiVo Series 3 and is overwhelming the TiVo tuner.   According to him, the optimal signal strength for the TiVo Series 3 is 83-88.
  • I came across this very helpful thread on DSL Reports, which confirms that the pixelation problems that I’m experiencing are due to a “hot” signal.  One of the posts included a link to a popular attenuator carried by SmartHome.  I ordered it ($12.99 + $12.75) and should be receiving the attenuator this weekend.  Hopefully the attenuator will do the trick.

Feb 24 Update:

  • I received the attenuator in the mail and installed it on my cable line (following these instructions).  At first it looked like the problem was solved but a few hours later the pixelation returned with a vengeance (see below for a photo).
  • I’m rapidly losing all of the brand love that I had for TiVo.  I’m not really sure what I’ll do next.  I’ll probably go back to the Comcast DVR (made by Mororola) or maybe even go back to DIRECTV.


What Happened to the Daily Links?

The handful of people who follow this blog might be wondering what the hell happened to the Daily Links. You may or may not be aware that I’ve been using a feature of Delicious.com called Blog Posting. If you have a Delicious account you’ll find this on your Settings page. This is how they describe it:

Experimental feature that can automatically post entries to your blog every day containing your latest links.

Well, ever since Yahoo! launched Delicious 2.0 (which I really like), this experimental feature has stopped for working for many, many people, including me. This explains the lack of activity on this blog for the past couple of weeks.

So what happened? I did some digging around and found this thread on the Delicious support forum. From this thread it’s pretty clear that the Blog Posting feature was not much of a priority for them because only a small minority of Delicious users used this feature. Here is a recent (5 days ago) update from Delicious staff:

Hi everybody – let me explain a little bit about the status of this feature.

First, it turns out we messed up. We intended to just reproduce the old functionality – so the additional [delicious.com] was never supposed to be there, and neither was the apparent 50 posts limit…or the timestamp problems, or these errors.

This is a tough feature, with a disproportionate amount of complexity in it compared to it being a smallish part of Delicious (and used by a smallish number of people). It produces output that gets interpreted by several different kinds of endpoints (WordPress, Movable Type, etc.) – all with their own unexpected inconsistencies – and by individual servers with varying configurations. We rewrote a lot of this feature in order so that it could work on the new Delicious platform, and it seems that we didn’t do it quite right. This is frustrating for all of us.

Daily blog posting also contains a long-standing security issue: we ask for your blog password and we store it. We take security very seriously and we carefully safeguard those passwords, but we’d rather not even know that kind of information about systems that are external to Delicious.

So, we plan to try to shift toward encouraging community-maintained third-party plugins for this functionality, instead of having people depend on us to push updates from a central point. Sonnoprofondo has very helpfully pointed out Postalicious, which is a great example of this for WordPress: http://neop.gbtopia.com/?p=108

We’ll be trying to fix daily blog posting, though. The [delicious.com] thing should be gone soonish. I don’t have a schedule for when the whole thing will function properly, since it’s weird and we do have a lot of other things to work on, but we want to make it work. The people who use this are a minority of Delicious users, but I know you guys are some of our most devoted. Thanks for as much patience as you can muster.

If their estimated timeframe of “soonish” goes another week or so, I will be looking at some other ways to share links on this blog – e.g. Postalicious. Or maybe I’ll actually get off my butt and write some real content for a change.

So Stay tuned. And thank you for your patience – all twelve of you. In the meantime, you can keep up with my links on Delicious, or better yet, follow me on FriendFeed.

If anyone from Delicious is reading this, please fix this soon. There are a few people who were making use of this feature.

San Quentin Screws Up

This story infuriates me. Back in May, officials at San Quentin released a “high control” inmate two days early in the wrong area (San Rafael instead of Southern California) and without any meeting with his parole officer. He took a bus to San Francisco and ended up a few blocks from where I live, where he proceeded to brutally stab a 15-year-old girl who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He also severely injured one of three good Samaritans who came to her aid. Luckily, the three men were able to apprehend the attacker and he was arrested. The girl surely would have died if these men hadn’t gotten involved. Today, the California inspector general issued a report saying that the officials at San Quentin failed to follow several policies, resulting in this tragic event. Whenever I hear about this story I can’t stop thinking about how easily that could have been me or my wife getting in this guy’s path and suffering the brutal attack. I am also grateful that I have neighbors who put their own lives at risk to help someone who they don’t even know.

KTVU has video of the Police Commission recognizing the three heroes who helped the girl and an update on the girl’s recovery. According to this article that appeared in the Chronicle last month, the family of the 15-year-old is considering a lawsuit against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

3/28/2008 Update:
The family is now suing the state of California.