bathrooms the size of coffins

Applies to the tech tag, or something.
You’ll have to excuse the terse entries this week – daily writing is competing with travel arrangements and the probably-getting-too-much-love “best of 2005” entry. On the bright side, I think I’m still on track to publish that next week, so it won’t be sucking all my resources. Be ready, it’s bound to include luminary passages of prose unparalleled by any other “best of 2005” list; oh, and it has little pictures of album covers, too. Seriously, wait for it.

In preparation for my trip this weekend, and ultimately to my dismay, I sat down today to review my flight plans. I knew the trip to India wasn’t just a hop, skip, and jump – but I guess I wasn’t really aware of just how abysmal it really was. I began adding up the time: four hours to Chicago, wait an hour and a half for eight more to Frankfurt, wait two and a half more in the terminal for another eight and a half in the air before landing in Bangalore. All told it’s twenty-five hours of travel, not counting the time getting to the airport and awaiting the initial flight. The way back is worse, courtesy of mean headwinds and a tacked on trip to visit my folks in Oregon: twenty-eight hours. That’s a lot of flying and sitting and pooping in bathrooms the size of coffins.

Ever since I decided to kill our landline phone, my DirecTV TiVo has been nagging me daily with a warning that it’s not made its daily call in X days. Back when I was researching adding an extra hard drive to my TiVo, I remember reading about a way to hack the thing to work wirelessly – and in the process enable all sorts of cool features like extracting recorded programs to your PC for archive purposes. Back then, I was paranoid enough about just adding another drive to increase my recording capacity – I didn’t want to brick my beloved TiVo – so I stuck to just the drive upgrade. However, the daily call nagging got me interested again and I began hunting down information on hacking my box to enable all the cool features that standalone TiVos have: networking, USB, recording extraction, and thankfully – no daily call nag.

So, I proceeded to scour forums and pages on hacking my particular box and software version. Turns out it’s dead-simple, or at least it seems to be from the various guides out there. I was super impressed with the ease of the hard drive upgrade – the hackers are extremely industrious and have spent their own time making their labor-of-love tools really user-friendly and pretty idiot-proof for someone with a modicum of PC skillz. So, I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised when I found a detailed website showing exactly how to do exactly what I wanted to do to my TiVo in a few relatively simple steps. I downloaded the utilities I need, bookmarked the step-by-step instructions, and plan to call my TiVo-hacking alumni buddy Erik over when I get back from India to actually take apart the beast.

I am curious about what happens when DirecTV rolls out it’s next software upgrade to the box, but considering that it took them years to rollout 6.2 I guess it’s not a huge concern. I also briefly considered upgrading to the new R15 model of DirecTV DVR – which no longer requires a “daily call” – but was somewhat dissuaded when I found out it’s not based on TiVo software but the same guts that run the Dish DVR. Dish’s DVR may be good, but since I’m so accustomed to TiVo, and I already have a working box I enjoy – I figured I may as well try my hand at hacking what I’ve got. Either way, the R15 is a $100 upgrade even if I do somehow manage to brick my current box – and I have an old vanilla receiver I can hookup in the meantime should the worst happen. So, like you care, I’ll keep you updated on the progress.

That’s it then folks, I think that’ll cap off the week; not sure I’ll be writing anything for Friday as I’ll likely be busy Thursday night packing and readying for the big trip. So, if no Friday, I’ll catch ya all in India. Peace out.


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