Fri. Dec 28, 2007
TiVo Made My Head Explode
When you step outside the arena of computers and cameras, our home is surprisingly lacking in high tech devices that are common in many homes. We have not even one iPod between the two of us. No PDA’s or iPhones or smart phones or bluetooth ear bugs. We don’t “text message” anyone. No GPS devices or mobile navigation systems. Technologically, we are in many ways virtual Neanderthals.
And, for the most part, we’re fine with it (though I foresee an iPhone or two in our future when our current cell phone contract expires next spring). But Susan had
been whining for expressed a wish for a TiVo. And she did it long enough ago that by Christmas morning, she had forgotten about it. So it was a very good gift.
Until I had to set it up.
I had a vague recollection that the three RCA-style video/audio inputs on our TV failed to work when I tried to set up the DVD player using them, and I had to resort to using a coax connection. And I mentioned to Susan, it is possible this thing may not work with our TV.
I hate it when my vague recollections are correct. Sure enough, Ye New TiVo and Ye Olde TV conspired to generate a blank screen when I tried to use the proper inputs. Having already consumed a chunk of my time, and a reasonable portion of my wallet, TiVo was about to bite off a big chunk more.
I already knew that our 25 inch analog tube TV was a dinosaur verging on extinction as the world converts to digital and HD broadcasts. And thus, I knew a new TV was in our near future (my brain defined “near future” as “maybe for next Christmas”). In fact, I’d already done some research into this new world of 720p and 1080i and all kinds of other new terms. I’d even picked out a well-reviewed current model, knowing it would surely be replaced by the time we were ready to actually buy one.
But suddenly, that new TV was not “near future,” it was damn near “present.” All it took was about a 45 minute trip to Best Buy.
Oh, yeah, and $700.01. Happy Birthday, honey.
If you haven’t bought a TV in the past five years or so, well, the technology has changed immensely. Our old 25 inch TV was about a 70 pound load, but the new 26 inch TV weighs about as much as a box of cat litter. Beyond that, on the back is a huge array of connections for every kind of device you can imagine. Including not one but two sets of AV inputs of just the type I needed. So I plugged the as yet uninitiated TiVo into AV1, and turned the TV on.
You see, the TV has its own setup routine, which includes searching for channels from the available inputs. Of which there was currently only one, an uninitiated TiVo. So, it managed to find one channel of snow on the stubby connection to which an antenna might normally be connected, and that was all it would show us. AV1 showed me the same blank screen our old TV had. So did AV2 when I tried those plugs.
Seismographs in California are set off and record the rumblings beginning inside my head.
I’ve now realized that trying to go through the setup of two brand new connected devices at the same time was a very bad idea. So, I unplug the TiVo, plug the cable into the TV, and try to find the menu item that will allow me to rescan the channels and get the TV setup properly and “stable” (yep, TV technology sure has changed).
I spend the next half hour trying to find and activate this menu item. It doesn’t help that I am constantly interrupted by phone calls from California, in which seismologists ask if I am OK.
Finally, after much cussing, the TV deigns to import all of our cable channels, including a whole set of HD channels our old TV did not acknowledge even existed. Kewl! The rumblings calm … for a moment. Then I go back to the TiVo, plug it into AV1, switch the TV over to that input … and get more blank screen. No signal. AV2, same thing.
Susan runs from the room to get a mop and bucket, as my brains have spewed out of my head like a two liter bottle of Diet Coke that’s been filled with Mentos, and I have otherwise dissolved into a puddle of wrath.
I rip the AV cord from the TV and TiVo, run the cable to the back of the TiVo, run another piece of coax from the TiVo to the TV … and we see the TiVo Welcome screen.
Which, I realize now, would have also worked with the old TV, coax to coax, just like the DVD did. Susan now runs out of the room again, this time to get an army of maids with mops and buckets.
This TiVo has now cost me nearly a grand, an afternoon of my “vacation,” and my brain cells now line the walls of our living room. But wait, there’s more!
The TiVo setup requires it to be connected to the Internet. No problem, I’ve got an extra Ethernet cable and a free plug for it on our router. But Mr. TiVo can’t seem to have a proper conversation with our router’s DHCP server. It claims there is no DHCP server, yet the router is happily handing out IP’s to our wired and wireless computers. We get caught in a circular menu hell, in which it fails, and then returns us to the same choices.
Finally, out of desperation, I choose to let it use a static IP. It throws a number up on the screen, I recognize the first three as our network, and it has a “10” at the end. Fine. Whatever. Go for it. And we finally get TiVo setup.
However, all those kewl extra HD channels are now gone. Because the coax now points to TiVo, rather than the preferred AV connection. Just like the old TV. Grrrrr.
And then … our other computers start saying, they, too, are having a problem getting an IP from the DHCP server. Best I can figure, I had the router set up to issue IP’s in a range that ended with 100-149. And when the router then had to deal with the TiVo being outside that range, well, it appears it barfed and started refusing all connections. I had to reset the whole router and reconfigure the network to get everything back online. That was about 11 o’clock last night.
It was much much later when I got what brains I could scoop off the walls back inside my cranium. And there was a point yesterday where I was ready to toss everything that used electricity, including the Christmas tree, off our third floor balcony.
I’m a little better today. I’ve decided we can keep the light bulbs.
But everything else may have to go. I only have so many brain cells left.