Classic Dishes...

My Tivo Weekend

First and foremost, a quick shout-out to my man Jesse over at Gestalt Circus, the newest member of the blogging scene. Give him a look, he has some good stuff to say, and we’ve apparently gotten him at least interested in Survivor (and at just the right time!)

Hope everyone had a fine and filling Thanksgiving. or whatever you might celebrate around your neck of the woods.

First, some quick housekeeping: the commenting is gonna stay as-is for now. I just don’t like how Blogger does it. In fact, I need to remember to give Haloscan a few bucks so they’ll turn my archives back on.

The big project this weekend was upgrading my Tivo. A little bit ago I took advantage of a great deal on to pick up a 160 gig drive for $50 (after rebate, of course, but that rebate seems to be fast in processing), with plans to replace the current 80 gig drive and possibly add the various and sundry hacks to the Tivo kernel that allow me to extract video and what not.

I ended up wussing out on the hacking, for a couple reasons: one, I had heard that the hacking method I was going to use was obsolete, and I wasn’t 100% sure of the technical aspects of what I was doing anyhow. The Tivo hacking community can be somewhat elitist, and it’s damn hard to find any kind of step-by-step guide to getting these things set up, prolly because nobody wants the trail of bread crumbs to lead back to them if someone gets litigious. Moreover, I’d learned that Tivo plans to roll out their Tivo ToGo service before the end of the year, and part of that service should allow me to download programs to my machine and burn them to DVD and such, which is really all I was interested in with the kernel hacks in the first place. So, best to keep it simple, and just worry about upgrading the drive.

The folks at have a fine guide on upgrading pretty much any kind of Tivo to any kind of drive configuration you could like, but it doesn’t go into detail as to any kind of time investment. So let me present a timeline of my Tivo upgrade:

Earlier in day, Saturday: Downloaded and burned MFSTools 2.0 CD image, and attached target Tivo drive to a spare drive tray. (My desktop PC has a neat hard drive mounting system where the drives are secured to these little trays with rubber grommets in them to prevent vibration, and then they slide into the drive rack and snap into place with a spring latch. Makes it a cakewalk to swap out drives. In fact, thinking about it, I should dig up an old drive and stick Fedora on it.) Took about five minutes.

4:00P: Moved storage cubes that double as a speaker tower (a greatly simplified process now that I’ve figured out how to do it without having to pull out a hundred or so Dreamcast games) and gained access to back of television set. Detached all connections from back of Tivo. Was pleased to find that power cord was detachable as well, as this made extraction of unit from component stack that much easier.

4:10P: Tivo extracted from component stack, sitting on work (coffee) table. My computer toolkit just happened to have T-10 and T-15 Torx bits, so according to the instructions I’d printed out, I was ready for whatever they threw at me.

4:15P: Top cover of Tivo removed. Most things I’ve read on Tivo hacking repeatedly hit upon the point of not dislodging the ribbon cable that connects the Tivo motherboard to the front panel of the unit, but I can’t see how you would unless you were being pretty careless…mine’s in there pretty tight.

4:30P: Six screws later, the Tivo hard drive (a Western Digital) has been disconnected and removed from the Tivo. Tivo drive is brought to desktop machine and secured to other spare drive tray.

4:45P: Spent a few minutes making sure that I wasn’t gonna need the desktop machine for however long this was gonna take. Shut down PC, swapped PC drives with Tivo drives.

4:55P: Booted from MFSTools 2.0 CD and issued backup command, as given in upgrade instructions.

5:00P: We’re rolling. Fortunately, it counts the megabytes as they are transferred, so we have some idea of progress made. Unfortunately, it’s an 80 gig drive, which means there are 80,000 or so of them. And since we’re going from one drive directly to the other, we’re transferring about 200 MB per minute. Which means we should be done…around 3:00a. Oy. Gotta wonder if it woulda been faster if I’d backed up to a spare drive first and then restored from the spare drive to the new one, but this was more convenient.

Rest of evening: Spent with laptop. Periodic checks of desktop machine indicate that 3:00a seems to be an accurate estimate. Eventually go to bed.

4:30A, Sunday: Get up for bathroom run, and in so doing check in on PC, which is indeed finished and indicates my drive is ready to go at 140 hours and change. Kickass. Swapped PC drives back in, returned to sleep.

1:00P, Sunday: Attach new drive to Tivo, return the cover, replace in the component stack, and plug it all in.

1:10P, Sunday: Wait with lump in throat…Tivo screen changes from initial boot to “Just a few minutes more”…and there’s the welcome animation! And my old programs still play!

1:15P, Sunday: The information screen reports that I now in fact have a 150 hour Tivo. Success!

So you get the idea. Negligible actual work on my part, but if I knew it was gonna be a ten hour wait for the transfer to the new drive, I would have timed things so that happened during an overnight. So maybe I’ll save one of The Four Of You from the hassle one day.

That’s a full lid for now. I may have a Survivor post later.

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