Friday, September 30, 2016

Modern Fossils

Stepping out of my office the other day and found this on the sidewalk.  I've monitored it for several days - nearly a week now and the things are pretty much permanent.

What are they, you ask? (That's a very good question...)   It appears that someone has dropped a few birthday candles (pink, blue and green) and between the heat (yeah, it's the South, remember?) and people stepping on them, the wax and wicks have been embedded into the brickwork there on the sidewalk. They look like fossils, Modern Fossils.  (Go with it, ok?).

I would imagine that someday in the future, the maintenance people from the building will clean the sidewalks with a high pressure cleaner and these modern day fossils will be gone, but for the moment we can all enjoy them. I only hope that whoever had the birthday didn't miss them. 

Yeah, been a slow week for me.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Tivo Tango

Tivo Series 1
In this blog, I don’t usually spend a lot of time on subjects that have little to do with The South (requisite capital letters) and only rarely do I write a lot on Tech.  This last couple of weeks, however, got me in touch with my home Tech on a new level.  You see, I’m not one to constantly have L&G (Latest and Greatest) when it comes to Tech. You know, TV's, stereo, even my home computers are older than most. If my old tech is working, and working fine, then there is no need to replace it with ‘oooo new and shineyyy’ tech.  If it ain’t broke, don’t replace it. 

Case in point: My Tivo.  (For those not in the know, the Tivo is the original DVR.)  My Tivo is a Series 1, which means it came out in 1999. (We’re talking old tech here.  Imagine, if my Tivo were a kid, he would be able to drive now.) There are now 6 series of Tivo.  (I, II, III, 4 Premier, 5 The Roamio & 6 The Bolt)  The Tivo was a gift from my brother (no, not Brother Bubba, my other brother who is also not Southern, but he is generous.) The Tivo S1 also came with a Lifetime Service Guarantee (very spendy- even by today's standards) again thanks to the generous Brother. The Tivo has worked beautifully for 16 years.  I have it attached to our home network where it calls in daily to get guide information.  Let me reiterate, it is working PERFECTLY. 

About 2 weeks ago, a rather official message popped up on my Tivo saying a lot of nothing, but in effect, telling us that the Tivo (Series I, II, and III) would no longer record after September 29. The reason for this is that the people who write the code for the guide (that’s the information that the Tivo downloads every day) are changing the guide and the older series would not be able to read said code.  (Cue much internal screaming and cursing.)  My wife and I use our Tivo every night.  There is just no way to see all the shows we want to see without conflict, so nightly I sit down and go through and set up the shows on the Tivo, usually getting them all recorded thanks to cable shows being shown more than just once a night.  (Thanks Cable TV Channels!)  Without the Tivo, our TV watching just about ends!

So, of course, I call Tivo. They have a special 800 number for Series 1 users to call.  The first person I talked to told me that my Lifetime Service can be moved to a new unit, if I purchase a new unit. So, my wife and I begin perusing the Internet looking for the best deal.  I call back the next day, ready to complete both the purchase (they had the best deal) and said transfer only to be told THIS time that I CANNOT move the service to a new unit because it was purchased after some arbitrary date.  (Again cue internal screaming!)  He offers to transfer me to a supervisor, but I really didn’t see the use of that.

Time Passes.  A week goes by and my ire has bubbled over. The Lifetime Service Guarantee was not purchased paired with the S1 unit and even if it were, MY unit is working fine. The only reason it’s not going to be working is that as of Septemer 29, Tivo will stop supporting it. No Lifetime. No Service, no Guarantee.   I decide to call in a third time, and Yes, I will speak to a supervisor, thank you very much!  So, I was halfway through my oral dissertation on the dictionary meanings of ‘Lifetime,’ ‘Service,’ and ‘Guarantee’ as they pertain to Customer Satisfaction and he stops me to say that they WILL transfer the new service to a new unit.  So, we complete the purchase, during which I ask him at least 6 times to say again that the unit will come with the Lifetime Service Guarantee.  He says yes, all 6 times. 
The Tivo Bolt

Though the shipping is ‘standard,’ we get the our new Tivo Bolt in record time, 1 day.  We open and begin reading and discover that, before we can make the Tivo work, we need something called a Cable Card.  It's Friday night, but we know the local Comcast office is open so we run on over only to discover they have no Cable Cards in stock and don’t expect any until at least Tuesday. (We could order one to be mailed to us, but I want to get the thing working NOW!) On a whim, the next morning, I find out that there is a Comcast office across town open all day (even on Sunday!) so across town we go and we get the cable card and after a long morning shopping, we head home to install said Cable card  Which. Doesn't. Work!  I even called Comcast tech support who assesses the problem immediately (the store gave us the wrong type of card) and thankfully the office is still open so across town I go again, where they each look at the card I was given and shake their heads because, yeah, they knew by looking at it that it was the wrong card. (Thankfully, the guy who gave us the wrong card was out, or he might have gotten an earful.) Home again, Home again and the card is installed and the Tivo makes its first call. 

But –

As fate would have it, now that the Cable Card is installed, we can see that the Tivo had no service attached. The Lifetime Service Guarantee that I was told (6 times) would be with the new Tivo was not transferred.  I check the website and find that there is a page to transfer service, but it won’t work, probably because it’s a S1. Too late to call Saturday, I call Sunday. I'm transferred around a bit, but finally get someone who agrees, that the service will be transferred. They promise me that Yes, the Service is set to be transferred and it will be transferred hopefully by the end of the day.  TWO DAYS LATER, the service is transferred and all is well in Marvinator's Tivo-Land.

In fact, it’s more than well.  The new Tivo has things on it we hadn’t really expected.  The old Tivo had one channel recording. There New Tivo has 4 Channel recording. It also has Netflix, YouTube and several other streaming apps!  Lastly, just the other day, I was browsing shows and found myself on channel 1207, which is HD.  WHAT? (Yes, I said this out loud, which startled the cat.)  That’s right, the new Tivo allows us to get all the HD Channels we’ve been unable to get with our Standard Definition Cable box!  (Yes, more exclamations!)  This means our big flat screen TV no longer has a black border around it.  The picture fills the screen! I will now do the dance of JOY! 

Ok, no dancing, not at my age. 
Nothing more to see here….move along….I got shows to record.....

Added 09/29/16 WHOA!  There buckaroo.  Not so fast.
Seems we were a bit fast there on the uptake.  It's been a few weeks with the Tivo and I'm discoving things I never knew they could do.  (You can set up recordings online!) BUT we found one more problem. 

We rarely watched Xfinity Video OnDemand because their interface was so slow and clunky and the videos disn't always load properly.  In attempting to find a NEW show that we had missed the first episode, the Tivo found it available OnDemand.  BUT when I pressed the button to play said video, we got this error:
Grey Lines obscure personal info. 

A quick search on the internet showed that this may be because the Cable Card is not properly "Paired' with the new Tivo.  There is a special number to call just for this error.  I call.

I ended up calling three times because each time they'd tell me that the information is showing correct and they re-enter it and yet we still get the above. 

The third time I call, I finally get transferred to Tier 2 Support and - as soon as he picks up the phone, I again call up the VOD show so that I have the error in front of me, and - THE TIVO STARTS TO WORK PROPERLY!  I was actually speechless. You see, I'm a computer tech and I can't tell you the number of times someone has called and when they try to duplicate the problem, the unit begins working properly.  I explain this to the guy and we both have a good laugh.  What probably did happen is that the first two calls did not properly input the information or click the finalization button to actually PAIR the card with the Tivo. 

Either way, be sure you check all streaming services before you say things are set right.