/ media

TiVo Upgrade

A while back I posted a tearful tribute, in song, to my dear departed TiVo. I still don't know what happened to it, but it was an old Series 2 with the "40 Hour" capacity. She served her owners proud for almost four years, and I decided it would be cheaper and certainly faster to replace it with a new box rather than try to fix old blue. The "80 hour" Series 2 TiVos are now yesterday's news, and apparently there was a big promotion through TiVo's website recently so there was a glut of those babies available on eBay. After losing several auctions by a buck, I finally scored one for eighty bucks and the seller was nice enough to ship it to me via FedEx.

The fun stopped there.

Actually, it wasn't so bad, but I was forced to read a lot of idiotic posts in various TiVo user forums trying to get to the bottom of my concerns about doing a fresh setup on my new TiVo, and thought I'd throw this up here for anyone in the same boat; hopefully I'll save someone a few hours.

Here's the deal: most of the older TiVos (certainly all the Series 1s and many of the early Series 2s) required you to do the initial setup of a new TiVo over a landline telephone. This was not a problem four years ago for me, but I have since dumped my copper landline because among other things Quest is a horrible company run by crooks. Anyway, suffice to say I had no landline in the house. My old TiVo had since been upgraded to connect to the TiVo service over my wireless internet connection, but as I mentioned the initial setup is supposed to be done with a landline.

So I started surfing around, found quite a number of posts claiming that you can do this, and the posts were for the most part incoherent and loaded with all kinds of special dialing prefix codes you were supposed to enter, etc. Every post seemed to say something different. Frustrated but hopeful, I saved a few of the tips and hooked up the new box. And the cursing began.

At first, I thought it would be easy, as I had a menu option to use the internet to connect, but every time I tried logging in to my router I was denied access. I eventually turned off all encryption and broadcast the SSID again, to make it as open as I could. My router would show up, I could feed it a password, but then it would say it couldn't find the DNS server. This same router is providing IP addresses to my laptop and Brenda's laptop, so this struck me as odd. Some more cursing ensued.

Out of desperation, I even bought a USB wired network adapter and tried it that way, mistakenly believing the advice from some lunatic in one of the TiVo forums. When that didn't work either, I finally tried my last resort, last-ditch, house-is-on-fire, plane's-goin'-down option: I called tech support, something Brenda had suggested I do a couple days earlier.

Surprisingly, they were very helpful and were able to confirm that I had version 7.2 of the TiVo software pre-installed from the factory, and that this version does indeed support connecting to the TiVo service and performing the initial setup over an internet connection. Bolstered with that knowledge, I tried once more to connect, but with no luck. Same error, couldn't find the DNS server that I knew to be functioning. But now, armed with the knowledge that this was supposed to work, I simply roamed around and found an open wireless router that one of my neighbors had set up, and I was in in five seconds. It seems that I often assume the worst about a situation and when I do, I overcomplicate the planned "solution". Had I poked around the airwaves for an open router the first night, this would have all been over with in a very short time. Oh well.

Connected to my neighbor's router, TiVo was able to phone home and get itself all configured. A day or two later, TiVo had performed an upgrade to the latest software version (v9.??) and I once again tried to connect to my own router, and this time it worked! I re-enabled WPA encryption and it still works! We are now scrolling through pages and pages of movies owing to the doubled hard drive space and the fact that all the old stuff I had saved on my old TiVo is now gone forever.

Long story short, if your new Series 2 TiVo is giving you a lot of guff about connecting to your router, try yer neighbor's, let TiVo upgrade itself, and then try again on your own LAN. Happy surfing.