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TiVo Upgrade Isn't

michael posted more than 13 years ago | from the updating-.NET,-please-wait dept.

Upgrades 374

creff writes: "TiVo's new software, version 2.0, disables features on recorders that do not have a subscription to their service. I would like to pose the question of ethics and legality of this move to the slashdot readers. Do they have the right to modify an item that you own? I don't remember clicking on any EULA..." Another reader submitted a long thread about this "upgrade".

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If you don't subscribe, don't plug in the phone! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#169969)

For non-subscribers, the only reason to have the phone line connected is an expectation to get something for free. Pull the phone cord out and you get what you paid for--a device that can record TV when you program it to.

It is unfortunate that TIVO chose to update unsubscribed units to 2.0.1, and they should allow you to revert, but the griping seems a little strong.

I love my Tivo, am glad I paid for the lifetime sub, am generally happy with the improvements in 2.0.1, and don't care that they take statistical info (it's more anonymous that what the credit card companies are selling, folks)

Re:I think I smell a rat! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#169970)

How can not using the advertiser's intellectual property infringe copyright law? You are not duplicating it, selling it for profit, quoting it without attribution etc. Surely this is like an author saying, "I want a royalty from you because you skipped past my book on the library shelf."

They almost had me, too.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#169971)

After resisting for a long time in the face of many positive reviews, I was just about ready to throw in and buy one of these things, and now this. Forget it, there's no way I would buy from a company that pulls this kind of stuff.

Many of the comments are about why TiVo is economically motivated to do what they did. That's fine -- but it's all about setting expectations. Tell people what they can expect, and they'll put up with an incredible amount. Don't tell them, and do what they would not anticipate, and you can easily expect to lose them as customers. Is it economic to aggravate many of your hard-core users? In the long run, I doubt it.

Software upgrade (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#169976)

I am a Tivo owner and just wanted to point out to any who are interested that the upgrade is incredible. There are a ton of new features, most notably the season pass manager which allows you to prioritize shows so that conflicts will be automatically in the event of two shows being on simultaneously. In general, the interface is great, there are tons of options, and Tivo has totally changed the way I watch television. I can't recommend it enough, if you haven't seen it working go find someone who has it and check it out. I don't work for Tivo, I am just a very satisfied customer. I bought my Tivo for about $1000 when the first were coming out (the 30 hour model) and shelled out $250 or so for the lifetime subscription (which apparently only goes along with my unit, don't know if they offer that anymore) but I don't regret one cent of that. I've had the thing for well over a year now and I've never had a single problem with it, and many of my friends who have seen it have gone out and bought one just because they didn't like going back to regular TV after seeing Tivo. Anyway, wave of the future man, check it out. Tivo rocks my world. Everyone at Tivo, keep up the great work.

Re:No sympathy, yet a suggestion. (1)

emerson (419) | more than 13 years ago | (#169980)

(*nod) Ah yes. Forgot about that. Still, if you expect to use your Tivo for more than two years, this is still a bargain.
--

Re:No sympathy, yet a suggestion. (1)

emerson (419) | more than 13 years ago | (#169981)

Nope, no privacy loophole. The only 'gotcha' is that the 'lifetime' refers to the lifetime of the recorder, not of the subscriber. If it goes up in flames the day it gets out of warranty, you're screwed.
--

Re:No sympathy, yet a suggestion. (1)

emerson (419) | more than 13 years ago | (#169982)

> Problem is, that doesn't do any good for a normal non-geek. The issue is that Tivo is
> breaking something that people bought after purchase. What about the technophobes of the
> world? Their big breakthrough this year was understanding what a digital recorder can do for
> them -- can't expect them to get right into hacking!

The average technophobe would never get the idea to try to run the thing without the subscription in the first place. For the most part, it's the hacker mentality that would ever say "what if I just didn't pay for the service?"

In any case, read the avsforum thread referenced above -- Tivo themselves have said that the record button change was not intentional and that it will be fixed in the 2.5 release. I, for one, accept that -- I wouldn't expect Tivo to do a lot of QA testing on how their software reacts on machines that are not subscribed and so shouldn't be dialing in anyway....

(*shrug) I'm not trying to be an apologist for Tivo, but I find it pretty amusing that someone would buy the device, use it in an unsupported way, and then complain when it doesn't work. That's what 'unsupported' means -- if it breaks, you get to keep both parts.


--

Re:Who Fucking Cares? (1)

emerson (419) | more than 13 years ago | (#169983)

Preach it, brother....
--

No sympathy, yet a suggestion. (4)

emerson (419) | more than 13 years ago | (#169985)

I really don't have much sympathy -- even if you don't want to pay for the guide data, plugging the thing into the wall to use Tivo's dialup to access Tivo's network to sync to Tivo's NTP servers means you're using their service and therefore are going to get the upgrades and other such things, and rightly so. If you don't want to take part in the Tivo process, don't plug it into the phone jack -- Tivo doesn't owe you a free clock sync if you're not paying them to use their network.

That aside, there's a couple of options. One is that Tivo offers a 'lifetime' subscription to the guide data for a flat fee of $200. Sounds expensive, but just think of it as a full-featured Tivo for a one-time cost of $600.

Failing that, you still have your old 1.3 version on there in a separate partition. Tivo upgrades load the new OS onto an alternate root partition, then when it's successful, resets the boot sector to boot from the upgraded partition. The old one is still there, as the new 'alternate,' waiting for the next upgrade.

There's a holy MESS of information in the Tivo Hack FAQ (start at www.tivocommunity.com) about how to get a serial console on your Tivo box and change around your boot partitions as well as a bunch of other stuff. Unplug your Tivo from the wall so you don't get any MORE upgrades (therefore blowing away your 1.3), and start reading. You can get your 1.3 back, although there are all SORTS of caveats and readme's about doing a revert like that. Stop complaining and start reading and learning.


--

Re:No. DMCA. (2)

strredwolf (532) | more than 13 years ago | (#169986)

That would mean that the Tivo itself is illegal under the DMCA, since it "decripts" a video signal producing a MPEG stream, and is marketed to the United States. Sorry, already violated, all bests are off the table.

--
WolfSkunks for a better Linux Kernel
$Stalag99{"URL"}="http://stalag99.keenspace.com";

It was just a bug. (5)

jelwell (2152) | more than 13 years ago | (#169993)

Calm down already, from TiVolutionary's response in the forum:
"For the record...

In our next release we are reinstating the use of the record button (the only thing that changed between 1.3 and 2.0.1 for customers who bought units that shipped with software prior to 2.0. We did not really mean to change that functionality. We do apologize for the inconvenience this caused for the time it takes to get the new software out.

In 2.5, with no service, on boxes that were purchased with a software release prior to 2.0, pressing the record button will record for 30 minutes, and then stop. Nothing else should change in the no-service-state."

Joseph Elwell.

Re:Yes, here's a paste from the FAQ (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 13 years ago | (#169995)

Frankly I agree. Although I appreciate the fact that doing so will harm the environment that the Tivo exists within - DVR manufacturers et al will be less prone to make their systems easy to get into - if someone is still interested in doing so, it's their right to and it's perfectly reasonable.

If Tivo wants people to use their service, they need to make it worthwhile. Not effectively manditory.

Gripes aside... (1)

shutton (4725) | more than 13 years ago | (#169998)

As I understand it, TiVo (the company) gets very little in return for the hardware you buy. Their bread 'n butter comes from selling the listing service. To boot, they give you upgrades once in a while.

Being a programmer myself, I can see how and why some of this functionality disappeared. The new OS/app improved the record-button functionality by allowing you to pick up the current buffer, but it needs to know when the program started in order to do that. When you've got a project manager breathing down your neck, you've got to cut some corners. If I were looking to cut a corner or two, I'd drop support for the freloaders.

I sympathize with the time-setting issue, though. There should be an option to manually adjust the time, and I don't think they should have upgraded your unit if you hadn't subscribed to the service (heck, they wasted even more dial-up time on you to send down the bits).

On the other hand, they're still stuck supporting the OS when people call in (regardless of whether they paid for the service or not). It's expensive to support multiple versions of a product. Plus, they probably want to drop support for transferring data to units with the older app at some point.

For what it's worth, I'm a happy TiVo owner. My VCR is collecting dust, and I never worry about racing home to catch a program that I really like. There's something to be said for that, "don't be a slave to your TV" campaign they ran. Then again, I spend a lot of time saying, "Ack! I have to watch this soon or it's going to disappear!"

Play...watch TV for hours...grow more fat...

Okay, so maybe I'm still a slave to the tube. But it's more fun now.

Re:No sympathy, yet a suggestion. (1)

Lightn (6014) | more than 13 years ago | (#170000)

You can not revert to 1.3 from 2.0. While the old 1.3 software is on an alternate set of partitions, the database format has been changed and 1.3 will definetly NOT work with it. His only option is to restore from a backup or possibly exchange it for a another tivo with 1.3 on it.

Re:It was just a bug. (1)

Lightn (6014) | more than 13 years ago | (#170001)

You are obviously talking out your ass. TiVolutionary IS an official rep for the company and has posted to the AVS forum a lot and been very helpful to TiVo users.

Re:2.0 Changes (1)

Lightn (6014) | more than 13 years ago | (#170002)

Hahaha, nice use of whois. Fortunately that number is not mine anymore, so your troll won't work very well.

2.0 Changes (5)

Lightn (6014) | more than 13 years ago | (#170003)

Being heavily into the TiVo underground scene (tivo.lightn.org), I thought I'd share some information about the situation.

While I am generally a supporter of TiVo, I have to agree with this guy. TiVo stated that TiVos that upgraded from 1.3 to 2.0 would still be able to manually record shows (boxes that ship with 2.0 are limited to the 30 minute buffer period). While this was technically true, they certainly downgraded functionality that people paid for.

The one touch recording was supposedly removed because it was causing confusion since it would just automatically start recording that 30 min block. So it wasn't too useful to begin with, but certainly useful in certain situations.

I think the now playing changes are the most significant, as they represent a direct effort to remove functionality from 1.3 software.

The "nag screen" is not new. Few people on the avsforum new about it in the beginning when everyone subscribed, but when it came to people's attention, there was some heated debate, with me against TiVo. I never felt they gave an adequate responce to how having a nag screen makes the subscription to the service completely "optional."

The backdoor to the 1.3 software is known and the method to set the clock is also, although it is certainly not user friendly. Check tivo.samba.org (I think the input format is the same as the date command arguement).

Downgrading is impossible short of a complete backup of the Tivo harddrive. The database format and structure has changed and there is no easy way back. Although a lot of people did backups when they upgraded their tivo's hard drive. Just don't restore from an image from another brand or to a lesser version of software than the tivo shipped with! And some people are working on being able to do a complete drive setup on any sized disk from scratch.

There is a EULA in the manual, but I think it only applies when you subscribe to the service. The same debate about loss of functionality was made when people saw of the changes in 2.0 as negative (no matter how minor). The general consensus was that TiVo couldn't support multiple versions economically, so if you subscribed to the service you had to accept the changes in functionality that came with software upgrades. This situation is certainly less clear...

Also, it is general held that until recently (and maybe still), TiVo paid manufactures a certain amount of money for each box sold. And they certainly spend a lot to obtain each user (advertising money, check the financial reports). Most of their income comes from subscription fees. To some that just indicates a bad business model and they won't care, others might.

Re:This is surprising how? (1)

Moonwick (6444) | more than 13 years ago | (#170004)

But in the meantime, TiVo is one of the only companies (as well as one of the first) to deliver such a product. Thanks to my TiVo, I can watch decent TV whenever I want, instead of being tied to a schedule. I tell it what I want to watch, and it records it, in return for $9.95/mo.

I'm more than happy to pay for this service, and TiVo is more than happy to provide it. Why do you feel compelled to be so vengeful against TiVo? If you think it's a bad model, more power to you. Noone forced you to buy it.

If someone comes along and cobbles something together that grabs TV listings off the net, then more power to them. But in the meantime I'm glad that TiVo exists to provide me with this service.

Re:No. DMCA. (1)

MbM (7065) | more than 13 years ago | (#170006)

The TiVo doesn't allow access to the MPEG stream though, it's played out through an analog connector and stored on a proprietary filesystem. No DMCA issues there, although those folks that insist on finding a way to offload the MPEG streams will probably be making slashdot headlines.
- MbM

Re:LinuxPPC on TiVo? (5)

MbM (7065) | more than 13 years ago | (#170007)

Yes, but much of the information is stored on a proprietary filesystem known as MFS (media file system). It's complicated by the fact the standard scripts only allow upgrades, not downgrades (hence why TiVo refused to reload the 1.3 software).

The proceedure for restoring the old software isn't easy, it's still on the disk but you need some means of accessing it. For those not familiar with the TiVO it goes something like this:

The tivo has a connector on the back for interfacing a DSS satellite system, with the addition of a null modem adapter a user can access the PROM menu and change configutation data like the kernel bootup params. The 1.3 startup scripts used to have a backdoor -- bash would be run if you added the variable shondss=true (sh on dss port) to the kernel commandline. Unfortunately that's one of the things they remove in the new software. Bugger.

Ok we'll boot the 1.3 root partition, just a change of root= right? nope. The UI is loaded on the MFS and the supporting applications on the root filesystem, mixing and matching them can cause real trouble. Ok, let's not start the UI, let's set 'runmyworld=false'.

So now we've altered the root=, added shondss=false and runmyworld=false and we finally have a bash prompt. What now? well now we have to remove the new version of the software via tivosh (a convoluted shell built around tcl).. I won't even get into that mess.

Oh.. one other thing, the database format used on the MFS partition has changed between 1.3 and 2.0. I'm not aware of how much has changed, it may only be portions used by the subscription in which case you could revert.

At any rate attempting to revert the softare would void your warranty and possibly screw up your tivo. Fun huh?
- MbM

Re:No sympathy, yet a suggestion. (2)

pen (7191) | more than 13 years ago | (#170009)

If you don't want to take part in the Tivo process, don't plug it into the phone jack -- Tivo doesn't owe you a free clock sync if you're not paying them to use their network.

The posts on the linked BBS seems to imply that TiVo units' clocks lose a minute a month if they are not synchronized with the NTP servers. I highly doubt the possibility of this just being a bug that escaped TiVo's QA testing, especially given what they just did with the 2.0 upgrades. It all seems very underhanded.

--

Re:So who wants to write a program (3)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 13 years ago | (#170012)

There are some timeshift programs out, and some cool projects, but nothing close to a Tivo in functionality.

Windows
1. Asus Digital VCR
2. Cyberlink PowerVCR II - My favorite.
3. ATI Raedon Digital VCR

Some Unix ones I found.
1. WebVCR - needs Video4Linux
2. vcr - needs Video4Linux
3. FFMpeg - Comes with a software vcr

Re: Oh no my car has been upgraded! (2)

Jack9 (11421) | more than 13 years ago | (#170018)

I dont see anyone bitching when someone builds a better birdhouse and it isnt what you think is better.

Are people going to complain BMW is infringing on their rights when they come out with a combined muffler-catalytic_convertor, that you have to replace as a large (read:expensive) single part...and this part will be standard issue for all future BMW's and you wont be able to buy the old part from BMW anymore? "But I used to be able to replace the muffler and convertor separately...and my dad says you used to be able to pull the platinum plate from the convertor so you didnt have to replace the whole convertor either."
BR It's rediculous to say that something you pay for is forever yours if it doesnt exist in a vacuum. You use their service, you know they can change your software, you live with that. Or you could always try to install an old catalytic convertor and muffler separately in the sanctuary of your own garage. Just dont let the smog guys test it.

Often wrong but never in doubt.
I am Jack9.
Everyone knows me.

Re:Don't upgrade. (1)

Stace (11857) | more than 13 years ago | (#170019)

Um, no. If the unit is unsubbed, it's not calling. You think an unsubbed unit should be calling in and tieing up lines and downloading software if you're not paying for the service? I don't think so. If you're not paying for the service, unplug it from the phone line and don't expect any software upgrades. It's not too hard a concept to grasp.

Re:Think again (1)

Stace (11857) | more than 13 years ago | (#170020)

There is a terms of service agreement with the TiVo units. Just because the story submitter says he didn't remember clicking any EULA doesn't mean there wasn't one.

Read the manual that came with it and you'll see TiVo was and is within their rights to do this.

Re:Who Fucking Cares? (1)

Asmodai (13932) | more than 13 years ago | (#170027)

I find this whole debate funny as it is so typical for the USA. To illustrate, I have a (digital) TV from Thomson [a French TV manufacturer] hooked up to a Sony VCR through means of a SCART cable. My TV supports showing the TV guide as well, but it grabs that from the CEEFAX/Teletext/Teletekst pages [which you can manually set/configure]. Aside from this it also gets the clock synced with the clock from the Teletext. When you're looking at the programmes' overview you can select one and opt to record it, the TV and VCR will work out the details through their SCART link. Also, if you change config on your TV wrt channels it will sync this with the VCR. Who needs a TiVo when you got set-ups like this?

Re:No. DMCA. (1)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 13 years ago | (#170044)

Don't you just love how the DMCA answers all these confusing legal questions? It's so convenient.
--

Re:Think again (2)

Unknown Poltroon (31628) | more than 13 years ago | (#170056)

Exelent. So when I sell you a pack of gum that has a license inside that lets me break into your house to take a piece whenever I want, is that ok?
I mean, im within my rights if I decide that you initally paid to little for the pack of gum, and I want to remove 5 sticks by your logic.
I figure youre a troll, but what the hell. Trolls like gum.

Not the greatest solution... (2)

Raetsel (34442) | more than 13 years ago | (#170065)

But at least a way to get back to the original software...

From reading this, it seems that he just bought the thing. (Sort of... it's not entirely clear.)

If it was still within the n-days return period, I say take it back, complain it doesn't work as advertised. Then buy another one if you still feel like it.

THEN (now that you've learned your lesson), do some of the hacks described [avsforum.com] , and don't plug it into the evil phone line.


Personally, my view of Tivo, Inc. just went WAY down. They just scored a major win with the award of their patents, they're inches away from smacking Microsoft & Ultimate TV with an ugly stick... and they still feel they need to do this to their customers?

Bad Tivo. (Whack!) No stock options for you! Go sit in the corner until you learn to play nice!

(Still, just to be fair... didn't UltimateTV do some silliness like inserting ads while you're fast-forwarding? This was a change from out-of-box functionality... but not nearly as invasive as what Tivo has done!)

LinuxPPC on TiVo? (2)

macdaddy (38372) | more than 13 years ago | (#170072)

Maybe I'm mistaken but I thought what was running on TiVo was LinuxPPC, or at least a variant of LinuxPPC. Wouldn't it be fairly simple to hack around this problem, write a replacement package to replace these missing features, or downgrade to the older version of code? I don't own a TiVo myself but I'd love to get one. Someday...

--

Sheep (5)

tmoertel (38456) | more than 13 years ago | (#170073)

In any case, your whole argument goes out the window if they state in the terms that come inside the Tivo packaging that they reserve the right to change the software on the box.
Companies can print whatever they want inside the packaging, but if it ain't legal, it ain't legal. If the packaging claimed that the manufacturer "reserved the right" to take stuff from my house, would that legitimize stealing?

Compainies do this kind of thing because many people are sheep and will actually fall for bogus claims of "reserved rights" and disclaimers for things that can't legally be disclaimed. The people who belive this garbage are throwing away their rights by being dumb enough to believe that those rights don't exist, simply because A Big Corporation told them so.

My advice: Don't be one of the sheep.

Isn't it funny that... (1)

Scouras (43171) | more than 13 years ago | (#170074)


...Tivo and Thinkgeek have an advertisement which is paying for their own defamation. ;)

Or maybe there is no bad publicity?

Yes, here's a paste from the FAQ (1)

xixax (44677) | more than 13 years ago | (#170077)

From the TiVo hacking FAQ:

--
1.4. Why is the TiVo hackable?

The biggest reason for this is that TiVo used Linux for their Operating System. Linux is an open source OS that is widely
available for many different platforms. The other reason is that TiVo uses standard off the shelf IDE hard drives. This
makes the hard drive upgrade easy since you can go to any computer shop and buy an IDE drive.
--
1.10. Can I hack my TiVo so I don't need a TiVo subscription?

NO NO NO. This is something that will NOT be explored. TiVo has been very gracious in not coming down on all this
hacking described in this FAQ and we will do nothing to harm that. Nothing will be looked at to get around the
subscription service so don't ask! Regardless your TiVo will function as a VCR already with manual record mode.
--

If you want the TiVo FAQ, it's not that hard to find (let's not Slashdot them with idle click-thrus). :o)

Xix.

Re:Virus, per 18 USC 1030 (2)

cyberdonny (46462) | more than 13 years ago | (#170078)

> damage without authorization, to a protected computer;

Looks like the word "protected" will let Tivo an easy way out. They could argue that if the user really was concerned about the integrity of his Tivo, he could easily have "protected" it by not plugging in the phone jack. He wasn't using their service after all, so then why would he need to be connected to the phone at all?

Re:You're supposed to pay for listings?! (2)

Keeper (56691) | more than 13 years ago | (#170091)

The one touch recording depends on you having guide data.

When your subscription runs out, a message will appear saying "hey, your subscription ran out!". This will appear for ~1 month if I remember right. During this time the tivo still functions and is downloading guide data.

After the month, the TiVo goes into boat anchor mode (ie: the unit is pretty useless; always has been, always will be when in this mode). It stops updating guide data and other related information until the subscription is removed.

After about two weeks your guide data will run out. So what's the point in having the recording function work when it's going to stop working in 2 weeks anyway?

Before you could record a half hour while watching tv. You can no longer do this. Whoppie do. Somehow I fail to see the severity of this loss.

You can still have manual recordings for an arbitrary length on arbitrary channels.

TiVo-workalike? (1)

Shadowcaster (58728) | more than 13 years ago | (#170094)

So, I have hardly even looked around for alternative TiVo-like recorders.. I don't own one, and don't want one of *theirs*.. but I would like to glom onto one which is a bit more free (in the FSF sense if possible).

Does anyone know of any good places to start looking? And no, goatse.cx is *not* a good starting place, even if that guy could hold eight nonremovable drives in there. :P

Re:TiVo-workalike? (1)

Shadowcaster (58728) | more than 13 years ago | (#170095)

heh actually that's one of the things I was expecting to hear about..

The important question would of course be, 'Does it run Linux?' ;)

Dangling a carrot... (1)

doormat (63648) | more than 13 years ago | (#170100)

Although some might contest this is a bait and switch (albeit delayed a bit), its probably legal, although unethical. The idea that they got you to buy a tivo when a subscription wasnt required, and then took the features away after you had paid for it just another example of the American Way(TM) of doing things. Get people addicted to it, then rape thier wallets, because its not the consumers that matter, its the shareholders.

Re:So who wants to write a program (1)

TPx (64118) | more than 13 years ago | (#170101)

Well go on. Nobody is stopping you and we'll all cheer from the sidelines. But don't send me betas, I'd like the 1.0 (1.1 would be even better) version.

So? How long could it take? Hours? A weekend?

Re:TiVo-workalike? (1)

Tsar Ivan IV (73505) | more than 13 years ago | (#170116)

Actually, does anybody know of software that would allow me to have TiVo-like functionality on my PC with, say, ATI all-in-wonder card? It seems that such a thing should not be terribly difficult... to motion-capture and write to disk the decoded image.

Cheap idiots (2)

u2mr2os2 (81332) | more than 13 years ago | (#170121)

As for the "can't justify spending $10 a month for program data that is free on the web and comes in the Sunday newspapers", I see once again evidence of idiocy. YOU PAY FOR THE NEWSPAPER. YOU PAY FOR WEB ACCESS. NOT FREE. Sure, these are certainly cheaper ways of getting that information - the Web access by virtue of you using it for many other things. But do either of them automatically integrate the program info with the tuner? Allow you to record by show title - not caring about the time and channel? Link the program descriptions with all your recordings so that you don't have to label everything? No. The $10 per month is for the value added service to that information - not the information itself. I certainly feel it is worth it, and have the lifetime subscription, so I have no monthly fee - I just have effectively paid as much for my TiVo as I would have for a Replay unit. Replay sucked.

Don't worry, there will soon be many plain digital recorders that don't have a service, but are just like a manual VCR with a hard drive instead of video tape - probably some models with integrated tape for archiving. There will be a need for the sub $400 market using digital recording. There will likely be a price war with the subscription units which will almost be given away to keep customers from going with the non-subscription units.

I'm also so sick of all the ragging on TiVo's $10/month by people not wanting to pay it who then went and bought Replay because it didn't have a monthly fee. These idiots don't realize that the extra they paid for the Replay could also have bought them the lifetime TiVo subscription.

When will companies learn (1)

Vicegrip (82853) | more than 13 years ago | (#170122)

It is a _very_ bad idea to ship a product with certain features and then afterwards attempt through subterfuge to take it away.

Even if your lawyers find a way to make it 'legal' the bad press it generates ALWAYS really hurts a product. Not to mention that the product Tivo is trying to push is something very new in concept. You're going to have a real hard time getting new customers after pissing off all your existing ones.

Or in caveman talk: If give.. cannot take back.. ugh... if pay for, mine! not yours! You want change? ask Ug first! No smack him on head while he sleep and do anyways!

Re:When will companies learn (1)

Vicegrip (82853) | more than 13 years ago | (#170123)

take them (the features that is) away.

There should be a way after 02:21 to do a grammar/spell check in the preview before submitting...

*sigh*

So who wants to write a program (3)

Ryu2 (89645) | more than 13 years ago | (#170133)

that would give TiVO-like video recording functionality (live pause, etc.), using a commodity PC with fast HDs, and video in, but without being hobbled to a subscription service? Hmmm...

Re:No sympathy, yet a suggestion. (3)

jacobito (95519) | more than 13 years ago | (#170141)

I'm responding to this post and to another below...

First, it is untrue that using the Tivo without the service would only occur to the technically inclined. I think it has been made pretty obvious that the service entitles the user to program listings, and that the unit itself functions independently (or ought to).

Second, I think it's disingenuous to assert that the poster was somehow leeching off of Tivo's network because he was using it to set his clock. If I understood the post correctly, that is the only way to set the clock; it cannot be set manually. If the clock cannot be set, then the device is useless -- its use is to allow for the time-shifting of television viewing, and for this a clock is needed.

Finally, the 'lifetime' subscription ought to fill any consumer with skepticism. After paying that $200 for an already expensive consumer product, imagine the sting you will feel when Tivo invariably goes out of business, unable to sustain itself because it couldn't convince consumers to fork over $120 yearly for television listings.

-jacob

Re:Don't upgrade. (1)

niekze (96793) | more than 13 years ago | (#170142)

Did you read from the linke?

Paying for the service isn't the issue.

This guy bought the Tivo unit and it has functionality that works in both the subscription and non-subscription scenarios. So, this guy has function X without the subscription and now function X has been disabled.

Look at it this way. Say you buy Microsoft Visual C++. But not the professional version. After a year of use, a new *upgrade* disables 'saving' and tells you that you need to upgrade to Professional or subscribe to TechNet. (or whatever the hell it's called) Clearly that is *unethical*.

Now if you download shareware (you hanv't paid them a dime) and they want to disable features after a certain amount of time, then no problem. But this guy BOUGHT the tivo and now it less functional than when he bought it.

It doesn't matter at all that they are a business with the interest of making money. The change is bogus. If i were him, I'd buy another Tivo unit and do the old swap/return deal, then figure out a way to mess with the unit so that shit doesn't upgrade. The swap/return idea isn't ethical either, but sometimes one must fight fire with fire :)

Do it yourself [tm] (2)

forgoil (104808) | more than 13 years ago | (#170145)

Sounds like it would be a better idea to get hold of a GFX card with grabbar functions and write some good software for it.

Besides, with digital TV/HDTV you really do want to get the original MPEG2 stream instead of decoding it once, and then encoded again when you record. Any set-top boxers/satellite recievers with firewire out? ^_^

Hack your own future!

Re:Cheap idiots (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 13 years ago | (#170146)

If you want evidence of idiocy, look in a mirror: you just basically tried to tell someone that having the data integrated is worth $10/month to them. Not even Clea with her tarrot cards is that good.

You completely missed his point, which is that he evaluated the capabilities of Tivo *without* service, and found it did what he wanted. He bought it on that basis. They retroactively changed it to take away those features. Note that since he is not using their service, there is no reason for his unit to have the latest software.

The right way to design a product like Tivo is to make updates part of the service. For people who do not want the service, Tivo would then would be like regular VCRs...what comes out of the box when you buy it is what you get, and it continues to work like that until the hardware breaks.

Re:Virus, per 18 USC 1030 (2)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 13 years ago | (#170147)

Taking snippets of law out of context rarely gives a useful result.

You could just as easily argue that by letting his Tivo call up and get the upgrade, he was pirating the Tivo software.

You heard it here first (5)

John Miles (108215) | more than 13 years ago | (#170148)

Excellent. Reminds me of the Windows/Office XP registration bogosity, where you have to get permission from MSFT to continue running the software you (most likely) paid for if you ever upgrade your motherboard or hard drive, or if BillG just feels like making you say "Uncle."

This momentous event has inspired me to coin a neologism (note 1) describing software or hardware products whose vendors exercise an inappropriate, unwarranted, and unsolicited degree of remote control over its post-purchase operation:

Tetherware.

Google doesn't find any occurrences of the term on either WWW or Usenet, so I hereby claim all proprietary IP rights to the word "tetherware" and all variants thereof on an exclusive worldwide basis.

Happily, a license to propagate this meme is available for only $1 per use, payable via PayPal to jmiles@pop.net [paypal.com] . Use of the term "tetherware," in public or private, without remittance of the license fee will result in the remote disabling of your personal communications apparatus via techniques previously employed by Vader et al., Imperial Business Software Alliance, c. 1977.

I've even come up with a tres trendy slogan for my new invention:

"Tetherware: Where do you want to be dragged kicking and screaming today?"

(Note 1: If you don't know what a "neologism" is, see http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?neologism [m-w.com] and choose the meaning that most clearly applies.)

Re:Don't upgrade. (1)

-brazil- (111867) | more than 13 years ago | (#170151)

The question is, what if you forgot to check the weekly listings, or couldn't do it for some other reason? Maybe you don't think you have to safeguard against that, but obviously, a lot of people think that the conveniente is woth $10 / month.

Re:No sympathy, yet a suggestion. (1)

e7 (117450) | more than 13 years ago | (#170165)

Tivo offers a 'lifetime' subscription to the guide data for a flat fee of $200.
I assume they must have a loophole, perhaps in the form of an even deeper privacy gotcha. Does anyone have access to the agreement?

Virus, per 18 USC 1030 (4)

Animats (122034) | more than 13 years ago | (#170169)

18 USC 1030 [cornell.edu] , which criminalizes the transmission of computer viruses, includes the following:

knowingly causes the transmission of a program, information, code, or command, and as a result of such conduct, intentionally causes damage without authorization, to a protected computer;

There's a $5000 damage requirement, but you get to aggregate that over all the victims.

And trying to use such an act to sell a service may be extortion.

Note that in this case, the user did not agree to some shrink-wrap license which might be said to justify the act. He didn't subscribe to the service.

Somebody with a TiVo and this problem should file a criminal complaint.

And Tivo offering to fix the problem if you complain isn't a defense for this crime.

Think again (5)

GCP (122438) | more than 13 years ago | (#170170)

He had to connect to the phone to set the clock, because Tivo wouldn't let him manually set it. While connected to the phone, the unit called "home" in the middle of the night, and downloaded a new OS -- one that removed features that had existed previously, features that he had paid for.

When he bought the product he made a choice to trade a certain amount of money for certain features. Tivo, after the fact, disabled some of those features. He didn't get to unilaterally retract some of the money he paid them after they delivered his Tivo, did he? Why should they be able to unilaterally retract features?

"They're a business" is not an answer. Busineses don't get special treatment under contract law. They're just parties, like individuals are.

No. DMCA. (1)

yerricde (125198) | more than 13 years ago | (#170174)

Besides, with digital TV/HDTV you really do want to get the original MPEG2 stream ... Any set-top boxers/satellite recievers with firewire out

No. The transmissions are encrypted, and manufacturing a device producing cleartext digital output and marketing it to United States customers would violate DMCA. Sorry.

No key == no DMCA (1)

yerricde (125198) | more than 13 years ago | (#170175)

That would mean that the Tivo itself is illegal under the DMCA, since it "decripts" a video signal

Decryption brings the DMCA into play only if the decryption involves an "effective access control," that is, an 8-bit or longer key. An unscrambled analog signal enters the TiVo unit, and an unscrambled analog signal leaves. The TiVo system circumvents no access control at any point during its normal operation.

My original point refers to the decryption of a digital stream. In the eyes of the law (ignoring for a moment constitutionality and other aspects of "good law"; to some politicians, any law lobbied for with dollars spent on products for which Americans voted with their wallets counts as good law), digital + decryption + key + no specific contract with copyright owner == DMCA violation.

Can't set the clock without calling (2)

yerricde (125198) | more than 13 years ago | (#170176)

If the unit is unsubbed, it's not calling

If the unit is not calling, its clock is potentially hours or days off, as there is NO menu option to set the clock without calling TiVo's servers. Read the longer thread.

No. DMCA. (3)

yerricde (125198) | more than 13 years ago | (#170180)

Heck, we could even get the listings from the net and provide those too. Reverse engineer the protocol and enable whatever features you want! ;).

No. If you try to reverse engineer them but find out that the protocol is encrypted, you just violated the DMCA because you published your results on a site accessible to United States viewers. Sorry.

Re:Don't upgrade. (2)

jchawk (127686) | more than 13 years ago | (#170181)

First I would like to comment that you should actually take the time to read an article that is posted rather then start on a rant.

If you would have read the article you would have noticed that he did not download and install any software on his own. The unit needs to be plugged into a phone line in order sync it's time. They offer this time-sync for free. Now if Tivo offers these units as stand-alone/no service needed to operate. You can still:

1. Rewind/Record Live Programs.
2. No need for a tape
3. No need to label a video tape
4. One touch delete.
5. One touch record.

This is advertised on the box. Now Tivo has disabled such features as:

One Touch Record
Labeling no longer works right.
Very annoying subscribe screen.

Now it is hardly fair that they change your unit because you do not want to subscribe to they're service. They offer the devices for sale without a need for their service. Now it appears they have changed their mind. Well just because they created a product that didn't actually need service to be useful is not the customers fault.

Imagine you have a Palm VII. You love it but did not sign up for the palm.net service, then all of a sudden palm decides that you can no longer use your organizer without subscribing to they're internet service, you would be pissed!

I promise you there will be a class-action lawsuit over this, and I would whole-heartedly support it.

We are now controlling the transmission. (1)

theancient1 (134434) | more than 13 years ago | (#170187)

Any service that can update itself is potentially a cause for concern, because the user is no longer in control of their hardware. Do you really want to buy something that may start to behave differently after you bought it?

When I read about the "time bombs" that were to be built-in to SDMI, this is exactly the sort of thing that came to mind. For those of you who might not be aware, the SDMI group proposed that the SDMI restrictions be implemented in several phases. They would first roll out "phase 1" to get the technology in the market, and then upgrade those players to "phase 2" when a better watermarking technology was ready. When a phase 1 MP3 player detected a phase 2 watermark in the audio, it would ask the user to install new firmware. Some suggested that when this so-called "millenium time-bomb" was activated, the player could refuse to play MP3s until the upgrade was installed. (I'm leaving out a lot of the details here. This information was revealed at MP3.com a few years ago, but I cannot locate the articles now.)

The same thing might be in the future for all of our software, if the "software as a service" model takes off. There were mumblings that in the future, different components of Microsoft Office could be licenced individually. (If you don't want the spell checker, for example, you don't have to pay for it.) Also note that Microsoft wants people (or at least corporations) to start paying yearly subscription fees for their software, instead of purchasing it outright. What happens if they change their pricing scheme? Or decide that they're going to start renting the spell checker, grammar checker, and thesaurus as a bundle, instead of offering them individually?

Of course, I'm probably just paranoid. :-)

Re:No sympathy, yet a suggestion. (1)

theancient1 (134434) | more than 13 years ago | (#170188)

The best option, of course, would be for every TiVo owner and non-subscriber to raise such a fuss that they back down. If normal mortals can't restore v1.3, the best bet is to make sure those features are re-implemented in v2.1.

Even if you aren't TiVo subscribers, you are TiVo customers. It might be hard to get TiVo to pay attention, but not all corporations are necessarily evil -- they might just need "encouragement," in the form of negative publicity. Or class-action lawsuits, if this is indeed illegal. (And it should be, IMHO, unless there was a clear warning that TiVo reserved the right to change the feature set at any time.)

I think I smell a rat! (2)

overlord2 (136876) | more than 13 years ago | (#170191)

Is it just me, or does it seem that just maybe the networks/studios/MPAA, et al called up Tivo and said:

  • "You're allowing our viewers to skip through our advertising. This is a violation of the DMCA. Pay us royalties or face the fate of Napster."

After reading articles like the one that idiot Dvorak penned (http://www.forbes.com/2001/04/16/0416dvorak.html [forbes.com] ) I don't think it's too far fetched to think that Tivo may be getting pressure to pay for the "privelege" of allowing users to use these features.

I smell a class action lawsuit by Tivo purchasers coming...

Re:TiVo-workalike? (1)

ngc1976 (137363) | more than 13 years ago | (#170193)

Actually, you just named the right card. I'm pretty sure all of the All-in-Wonder cards by ATI can do this (i've only tried 2, the radeon aiw and rage 128 aiw). And the Radeon All-In-Wonder even has the guide+ so you can set record times and whatnot. MPEG-2 is limited to faster machines, but it is very good at mpeg-1 on something even as low as a celeron 300. That and it only cost about $200.

Re:Think again (2)

dgulbran (141477) | more than 13 years ago | (#170207)

When he bought the product he made a choice to trade a certain amount of money for certain features. Tivo, after the fact, disabled some of those features. He didn't get to unilaterally retract some of the money he paid them after they delivered his Tivo, did he? Why should they be able to unilaterally retract features?

Actually, you have the details right, but the consequences wrong.

When he purchased the Tivo, he did agree to exchange money for features, but he also agreed to subscribe to the Tivo service. Tivos are not sold irrespective of the service. When you purchase a Tivo, you are agreeing to use Tivo's service as well. Yes, they give you a grace period to sign up, and you can pay monthly, yearly, or buy the "lifetime" service (which I'll admit, is hokey). But regardless, part of the contract you are entering into is that you will purchase the service .

So, when you decide that the service isn't worth the money, and stop paying for it, Tivo is fully justified in taking away any feature they want: YOU have broken the contract, not them.

Now, you might not think that's a good way to do business, but consider that Tivo doesn't make a single dime from the unit sales, their model is entirely software/service driven. Therefore, I think it's completely fine for them to disable their software for people who violate the service contract they agreed to when purchasing the unit. You don't like it? Fine, buy the Philips or Sony unit and write all the PVR functionality yourself. Otherwise, don't buy the unit if you don't agree to the terms.

This guy gets no sympathy from me. You want it all free? Build your own Linux box! It can be done... But don't agree to purchase software, renig on your payment, and then cry foul when the developer shuts you off.

Re:Who Fucking Cares? (1)

mheckaman (149644) | more than 13 years ago | (#170212)

Actually sir, you are quite misinformed. There is one big difference: You do not own a directv smart card. It is clearly marked as the property of NDS, thus they can do whatever the hell they want to it. This is why you cannot sell a card unless it is sold *with* a receiver.

Furthermore, as one of those "H card hackers", I resent your "cheap assholes" statement. I live in Canada, directv does not sell its services in Canada, thus I am *not* stealing from directv by way of a lost sale. The supreme court of Canada agrees with me, and this "hacking" is LEGAL in Canada.

Verify your facts before you make yourself look like an ass.

Matt

Disclosure: I do not own a TiVo, and have no interests in the company.

Re:Who Fucking Cares? (1)

mheckaman (149644) | more than 13 years ago | (#170213)

PS: Look up the defination of "theft":

1. (Law) The act of stealing; specifically, the felonious taking and removing of personal property, with an intent to deprive the rightful owner of the same; larceny.

Since Canadians watching directv in this manner are not depriving them of anything, it's not theft, don't call it stealing. It would be theft if they sold their services in Canada since I would be depriving them of a lost sale, but this is not the case. Directv cannot legally operate in Canada due to our broadcast laws, it's not my problem that their satellite signal penetrates my private property. The courts seem to agree, as they have lost most every court case they've ever brought to Canada.

Re:No sympathy, yet a suggestion. (3)

Boone^ (151057) | more than 13 years ago | (#170214)

That $200 lifetime fee expired at the end of April, I believe. It's now $250.

LEt me help (1)

slashdoter (151641) | more than 13 years ago | (#170215)

I haven't seen anyone post this informative E-mail so here it is

suggestions@tivo.com

Fire away.

Re:LEt me help (1)

slashdoter (151641) | more than 13 years ago | (#170216)

opps, I forgot the text that went with this e-mail, This is pulled right from thier site

Suggestions - We are always open to your ideas! Send us an email and let us know how we can serve you better.

serve you better. Posting to slashdot gets you karma and the exposure to geeks, E-mail your post right to the source. Maybe it will do some good

The REAL news here... (3)

Cryptnotic (154382) | more than 13 years ago | (#170225)

Here are the facts:
  • TiVo is losing money. For last year they posted a 100 million dollar loss. Their income was only 3 million dollars.
  • TiVo PAYS Sony and RCA to manufacture the boxes. Yes, that's right. It's not the other way around. TiVo actually has to subsidize the cost of manufacturing the boxes.
  • The ONLY way that TiVo makes money is through its subscription service.
Hopefully TiVo won't continue to make the boxes less and less functional, since they might soon be out of business.

Cryptnotic

Re:No sympathy, yet a suggestion. (3)

IronChef (164482) | more than 13 years ago | (#170235)


Problem is, that doesn't do any good for a normal non-geek. The issue is that Tivo is breaking something that people bought after purchase. What about the technophobes of the world? Their big breakthrough this year was understanding what a digital recorder can do for them -- can't expect them to get right into hacking!

I was sort of on the fence between ReplayTV and Tivo a while ago. I chose Replay eventually, partially because there was no monthly fee. I am even more glad I did now.

Too bad RTV is out of the hardware market now... I think all you can get right now with their tech inside is the Panasonic ShowStopper. It's a poorly designed device... it will block the *display* of any Macrovision-encoded program. Not just the recording -- the display. Forget about viewing your DVDs with the Panasonic as a pass-through device... and apparently some cable TV signals fool the Macrovision circuit, and it will black out normal programming on occasion.

Panasonic has been called to task on this but they won't back down. There are a lot of angry users out there.

The Psi Corp can have my ReplayTV model 3030 when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers! Best $300 I ever spent. My first unit was DOA (classic RTV quality control) but the replacement is flawless. Too bad you can't get them anymore. I wouldn't eBay for one either, the QC is poor any you sadly need that factory warranty.

Re:It was just a bug. (1)

ddent (166525) | more than 13 years ago | (#170237)

I don't think so. I more got the impression that they realized they couldn't push that on people.

emulate them? (3)

ddent (166525) | more than 13 years ago | (#170238)

How hard do you all think it would be to emulate their servers? Intercepting the phone call would be dead easy. Heck, we could even get the listings from the net and provide those too. Reverse engineer the protocol and enable whatever features you want! ;).

OpenTivo? (1)

buckminster (170559) | more than 13 years ago | (#170240)

I think what we really need is an OpenTivo system. Seems like it would be possible to either modify an existing Tivo to call an alternative service provider (an OpenTivo server) or better yet, a standard distribution that could be used to build OpenTivo boxes.

Tivo's a great idea, but it's clear that PVR's are going to be a commodity item in the next few years (video tapes are dead media). Someone needs to start working on a standardized open program guide as well.

Of course OpenTivo should have built-in ethernet and P2P filesharing ala napster. We all need to start sharing Junkyard Wars and Tenchi with our friends.

Hop to it! What are you waiting for?

Re:Cheap idiots (1)

loraksus (171574) | more than 13 years ago | (#170241)

you don't pay for the newspaper, your local advertisers do. Subscription pays the delivery boy and getting it from the box pays for the land the box sits upon.

Still. . .

The slashdot 2 minute between postings limit:
Pissing off hyper caffeineated /.'ers since Spring 2001.

Re:The REAL news here... (1)

core10k (196263) | more than 13 years ago | (#170259)

They only have 30,000 customers, after all this time? And they still practically get covered on Slashdot whenever someone that works at Tivo coughs?

Why couldn't I have chosen a better addiction than /. Why?

Exists (1)

Cabana (206257) | more than 13 years ago | (#170263)

There already is, buy the Radeon AIW. No monthly fee.

That's just for subscribers! (1)

phr1 (211689) | more than 13 years ago | (#170264)

If you're not a subscriber, how can the subscriber agreement be binding on you???

What the TiVo Manual Says (2)

Preposterous Coward (211739) | more than 13 years ago | (#170266)

I have a TiVo and I do have the lifetime sub, so this problem doesn't affect me personally, but I thought I remembered clearly that subscribing to the service was supposed to be optional. But here's wording from the TiVo Viewer's Guide that came with my unit:

Without the TiVo Service, your Recorder will have extremely limited functionality. The TiVo Service is required for proper operation of the Recorder. (page 70)

The TiVo Service Agreement itself reads:

TiVo may, at its discretion, from time to time change, add or remove features of the TiVo Service or change the terms and conditions of this agreement. (page 76)

So even people who subscribe can have features removed at TiVo's discretion. That doesn't strike me as a good sign. On the other hand, anyone who hasn't subscribed to the service wouldn't be bound by that agreement now, would they? So this doesn't really shed any light on whether what TiVo did for non-service users is legal. (It's certainly pretty unethical if you ask me.)

oh, the irony (2)

Preposterous Coward (211739) | more than 13 years ago | (#170267)

As I read the /. front page I noticed that the banner ad at the top of the screen was for TiVo, making a big deal about how it runs Linux. Clearly trying to appeal to some of the folks in this audience. Hah -- wait 'til they get a load of this thread.

Re:LinuxPPC on TiVo? (1)

jackaroe (224777) | more than 13 years ago | (#170276)

So if its based on Linux, shouldn't I be able to get the source? Anyone have a link? Couldn't find it my brief search of their site...

Re:LinuxPPC on TiVo? (2)

jackaroe (224777) | more than 13 years ago | (#170277)

nevermind, here it is: TiVo Linix source [tivo.com] . Thanks Google...

Privacy. (1)

clinko (232501) | more than 13 years ago | (#170282)

This is great... From the first story the guy is obviously angry that Tivo can get his information:

"they download all sorts of information, like what you watch, how long you watch it, even the buttons you press on the remote and the amount of time between each button press!..."

Then he follows this up with:

"I will be posting a log file that was saved on the TiVo to be sent to them over the phone line. Check back soon... "

Hmm I never thought about using it without subbing (1)

minus23 (250338) | more than 13 years ago | (#170291)

Wow... the idea of using the TiVo without the subscription plan is a good one. I never thought about it and I was happy paying the service fee. But I'll be even happier probably not paying the service fee. Heh.. this is just like hearing all about the Napster lawsuits... then going out and trying Napster to see what it was all about. The rest of that story is written in the stacks of burned CD's on my desk.

Re:No sympathy, yet a suggestion. (1)

Sarcasmooo! (267601) | more than 13 years ago | (#170295)

I'll at least agree to one thing; it's time to turn off the TV, people. I lost my cable for two weeks when I moved, and now I barely watch TV at all. I just didn't miss it. I get my news online or on NPR if I'm driving. If I want news on TV, I watch the Daily Show, because it has just as much integrity as any of that other tripe. Other than that, I only turn it on to watch the House or Senate when I'm following a bill or politician. As cliche as it is, that idiot box really does rot the minds of the population. Knowing I'm surrounded by people who consider "Survivor" to be stimulating entertainment is depressing. The country would be better off if people pulled the plug and started thinking with their own brains more often. And I'm not saying "read a book, be intellectual like me" -- I'm a movie buff, myself. I'm saying 99% of TV is garbage or commercials trying to sell you garbage, provided by companies like TiVo and Time Warner who monitor your taste in garbage so that they know what other brands of garbage to offer you.

*ahem*

FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY, YOU CAN GET FREEDOM, ON SALE, AT THE LOWEST PRICE EVER!!! YES FRIENDS, IT'S TRUE! I'M NOT PULLING YOUR LEG! JUST TAKE THAT TELEVISION OF YOURS, PUSH IT OUT TO THE CURB, AND WA-LA! RAISES IQ! SAVES MONEY! COULD POSSIBLY RESULT IN YOU PRODUCING A CURE FOR LIFE THREATENING DISEASES, AS A RESULT OF INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY! ACT NOW!!!!'

Re:Virus, per 18 USC 1030 (1)

tuxlove (316502) | more than 13 years ago | (#170306)

I still haven't seen anyone explain what the fine print in the manual says regarding their right to change the software on your box... Might have just missed it. In any case, your whole argument goes out the window if they state in the terms that come inside the Tivo packaging that they reserve the right to change the software on the box. It just might well say something to that effect.

You're supposed to pay for listings?! (2)

tuxlove (316502) | more than 13 years ago | (#170307)

I don't own a Tivo, so I don't know for sure, but aren't you supposed to *pay* for the directory listings? It's no wonder the Tivo folks made that go away for non-paying customers. As for the one-touch recording going away with version 2.0 of the software, that does sound a bit draconian. Can't see why that would require a data subscription.

I have a friend who's a project manager at Tivo, and she tells me that they make no money on the hardware itself. They depend on subscriptions to the service to make money, which probably explains why they're starting to crack down. I've got to ask her about the other issues, now that my curiosity is piqued.

Re:TiVo-workalike? (1)

_ZenZagg_ (317179) | more than 13 years ago | (#170308)

The video quality on that I suspect would be lacking. I have a voodoo 3500 AGP/TV and it only makes 320x240 mpegs at ~30fps. Unless a better way of utilizing the capture card is made (it works great in real-time, even at 1280x1024 from Composite/S-Video, why cant it capture at anything higher than 320x240? :/) I don't see this as a feasible means of reproducible TV-quality playback. The idea is nice however, and with the upcoming videocard technologies, it seems like an eventual possibility, if not inevitability.

Re:Don't upgrade. (2)

Regolith (322916) | more than 13 years ago | (#170310)

Read the story before you post.

According to the article, TiVo (the company) executed a forced/push upgrade on TiVo (the unit) during a nightly download of user information which disabled useful features that were previously available on a nonsubscription consumer electronics device. This isn't installing a buggy Service Pack XX (R) and complaining. This is a spam listserv without an opt-in/opt-out feature.

-----

Can't sympathize too much (5)

koreth (409849) | more than 13 years ago | (#170312)

At least one of the complaints this guy has is in fact due to an improvement in the new software; the one-touch record now includes as much of the beginning of the show as exists in its rewind buffer. No program guide equals no way for the unit to know when the current show started.

Now you could maybe argue that TiVo's engineers should have accounted for that case and fallen back to the old behavior so as to not break their legacy non-subscriber users. But you know, as someone who wants his TiVo service to keep running as long as possible, I can't work up all that much enthusiasm for the idea of TiVo spending engineering and QA resources supporting customers who're costing them money (they were losing money on every unit sold for a while, maybe still are, and making it back in subscription fees).

Then again, the idea of using a TiVo without the program guide is strange to me to begin with, so clearly I just don't get it. The guide is one of the nicest things about the unit; I have stopped knowing or caring exactly when most of the shows I watch are downloaded to its disk, and network schedule shuffling doesn't mess me up unless it's so last-minute that the listing service doesn't get notified. If you want to manually set your record timers, a VCR is cheaper.

Frankly, I consider the fact that the unit works at all without the service to be an unexpected bonus; the box was clearly designed and intended to be used with the service, and doing otherwise, it seems to me, is just asking for this kind of thing to happen over time.

Re:Don't upgrade. (1)

Hostile17 (415334) | more than 13 years ago | (#170317)

Geez, the company that made my VCR seems to be doing just fine without requiring me to subscribe to a service, or stiffing me for a monthly fee...I guess TiVo's business model must suck the high hard one.

Have you ever tried to call the company that makes your VCR and ask them to record a show for you, because the time changed and you forgot to reset the timer ? Chances are good they would laugh at you. For that $10 a month fee (which is hardly stiffling), my TiVO records the TV shows I like and even knows when they have been prempted so I don't miss the last 15 minutes (I hate that). I can set it up to record shows with certain actors or directors. It makes some pretty good guesses about shows I might like to watch and records them, based on what It knows I like to watch. It use to be I paid $65 a month for 200 channels of Digital cable and nothing was ever on. Now with TiVO there is always something waiting for me when I get home from work. This works so well for me I bought the lifetime subscription. I highly recomend the TiVO, because once you've had one you never want to go back.


Re: Oh no my car has been upgraded! (1)

Astral Jung (450195) | more than 13 years ago | (#170321)

At least in your scenario, you're allowed to keep driving the BMW until it breaks down for whatever reason. This is a case of the company (TiVo) enforcing the changes on whoever it could connect to, in order to milk more money from those who refuse to pay for something you get in your daily paper or the Internet. That would be like BMW sneaking mechanics into your garage at night to take out your muffler and converter, and then forcing you to buy their new integrated part...and if you stop paying them ten bucks a month, they sneak the mechanics in and take it out.

Re:Don't upgrade. (1)

maxpublic (450413) | more than 13 years ago | (#170322)

Actually get something back? You mean, like the hundreds of dollars it costs to buy the thing in the first place? Geez, the company that made my VCR seems to be doing just fine without requiring me to subscribe to a service, or stiffing me for a monthly fee...I guess TiVo's business model must suck the high hard one.

And as for paying for entertainment, I believe that's called the 'cable' bill. On top of that are 'commercials', which I have to suffer through even though I pay the 'cable' bill, and even though there are *more* of them now than there were in the pre-cable days when every channel was broadcast over the airwaves *for free*.

(And you KNOW you'd be better off without the internet. Just ask your Grandma whether you should screw around on the net or read a book, I doubt she'd direct you to your computer).

Max

Re:Don't upgrade. (1)

maxpublic (450413) | more than 13 years ago | (#170323)

Well, by golly! I already have those options with my VCR. It involves two steps: - checking the weekly listings - setting my VCR to record I don't watch enough TV to actually need 6 hours of tape, so I don't even have to swap casettes during the week. All this takes 5-10 minutes. Guess I don't need a TiVo after all. Max

Did you 'buy' these features? (1)

Dutchie (450420) | more than 13 years ago | (#170325)

What I'm wondering is if you had these functions to begin with. From what you write it seems you did have them. In that case, this would be like buying a CD player and then later having the salesguy drop by at your house and forcibly removing your 'program' button and telling you you can only get this now for a nomimal fee.

Personally I am not sure whether this is legal, since you have purchased this equipment, along with the original features, and as long as they're not bugs but real functionality that isn't replaced in the upgrade with something comparable then it seems to me that is just plain simple theft, no matter if they break into your frontdoor, your window or through your modem or network connection.

  • Imagination is more important than knowledge.

Re:Who Fucking Cares? (1)

Dutchie (450420) | more than 13 years ago | (#170326)

'suck it up'... ? I thought you don't do that with BULLshit like this, but with other shit. Then again, I'm Dutch, so what the hell do I know. Anyway, it is truely refreshing to see such a vulgar product of the indoctrination of the consumer society actually stand up and defend rip offs as if they are 'normal' and should be 'sucked up'.
  • Imagination is more important than knowledge.

Money loss (1)

SilentChris (452960) | more than 13 years ago | (#170334)

Doesn't Philips have to do this to avoid money loss? I thought the Tivo was like consoles in that the company initially loses money in the sale.

By the way, totally offtopic: in respect to consoles, pick up a Gameboy Advance. It rocks. I'm spending more time with it than I spend with my Playstation 2.

Re:This is surprising how? (1)

m08593 (455349) | more than 13 years ago | (#170337)

I'm more than happy to pay for this service, and TiVo is more than happy to provide it. Why do you feel compelled to be so vengeful against TiVo?

I'm sorry, but what exactly is "vengeful" about my message? Predicting the demise of a company because the market they are in doesn't have a high barrier to entry may be uncomfortable for the company involved, but otherwise, it's simply factual. To me, TiVo doesn't seem any different from a lot of other recent startups in that regard. If you disagree on my conclusions, maybe you can explain why.

BTW, I don't own a TiVo. I had digital TV recording available to me years before TiVo came out, but I hardly ever watch TV anyway.

This is surprising how? (2)

m08593 (455349) | more than 13 years ago | (#170338)

Well, it wasn't hard to see the writing on the wall: margins on the hardware must be small and the technology is pretty trivial (all the hard parts are embodied in the components they use: video compression, software, high capacity hard disks, components available to everybody else at similar prices).

The only way they could justify any decent stock valuation is with a profitable "subscription model". Sooner or later, more consumers are going to figure out that they just don't need the company.

I think you can expect a flood cheap, hardware-only TiVo-like devices in a year or two from Asian manufacturers, in addition to a lot of PC-based recording. There will probably be free, simple, non-proprietary web-based lookups of program information and broadcasters and cable stations will increasingly make that information available in a standard format. That will be followed by a lot of huffing by TiVo about how their "innovation" isn't properly rewarded and some nuisance patent suits by them that they probably shouldn't win. In the long run, TiVo will likely just disappear. If the investors are lucky, some generous or desparate consumer electronics giant will pick them up.

Great Idea. (1)

opnotic (458165) | more than 13 years ago | (#170340)

Wow.. this is a great idea to not use the TiVo service with a recorder...
Glad I thought of it ;)
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