Tivo Geek

August 29, 2009 at 9:37 pm | Posted in Off the Wall, Personal, Technology | 1 Comment

I will admit it publically — I am an Official Tivo Geek.  The other night, I hacked a sample Tivo HME “Hello World” app so it would put my son’s name and “Go Ravens!” in big purple letters on the TV screen.  I now have a basic idea for a Tivo version of the Weatherbug app, hosted on the low power server box that I built for the primary purpose of hosting movies to stream to the Tivo.  The family already uses the Tivo to listen to our digital music collection of ripped MP3s, and I hope to do the same with our DVD collection.

I think the Tivo has changed our family’s media habits more than any other device since I first installed an Ethernet hub.  We watch what we want to watch, when we want to watch it.  Looking for something on TV?  Take your choice of one of the two hundred or so of our favorites we have on tap, plus any one of the dozens of movies and episodes we have selected to stream via Netflix.  Commercials?  Skip over them.  Miss the begining of the Ravens game?  The Tivo is already recording it, so you can start at the opening kickoff and skip past commercial breaks until you catch up to the action.   Phone call?  Pause the show, then pick up right where you left off.  The Tivo will handle the rest.  Tivo is the new doughnut.

With the server, the Tivo also organizes and displays photos and home movies.  It provides a comprehensive TV guide, and you can even use it to order a pizza.  The dual tuners support HDTV and CableCard, so it handles the new digital formats without a hitch.  I really don’t see why anyone with a TV set doesn’t log on and buy one.

But true Tivo Geekdom requires taking things to a new level.  Hence Bopo, the Windows XP server that my sons and I hacked together out of a HP T5710 motherboard and some cheap parts from China.  The name comes from my son’s hamster — I’ve taken to naming our various computers after our household pets.  Bopo is small and cute and … well, so is Bopo.  It fits nicely in a wooden jewelry box that ended up in our possession a ways back.  I was planning on having Bopo sit on the shelf next to Tivo, so it had to look nice.  But, I abandoned that plan and just put it down in the basement utility closet with the rest of the network stuff.  Bopo still looks cool, and it runs cool too (if you leave the lid open), since it only sucks down 18 watts, which is about as much as the hallway light that my kids leave on all the time.  The main storage drive is 160 Gb, which I figure should hold about 100 DVDs worth.  I plan to upgrade it to a 1Tb drive after Christmas, if I can find a good sale.  The Tivo’s warranty also expires around then, so I’ll look at upgrading its internal drive as well.

But a good server needs good software, and I’ve been able to scrounge that off the Web.  I’m using Tivo Desktop for music and photos, though I may try Galleon as an alternative.  I crunch DVDs down to mp4s with Handbrake, then serve them up with StreamBaby.  I’m also playing around with KMTTG to archive Tivo’ed shows — I found Tivo Desktop Plus to be seriously disappointing in this area.  And now that I’ve got my hands on a .NET library for HME programming, I can write my own apps.  A Weatherbug client will probably be the first, but the sky is the limit from there.  Hmmm, what about an Atari 2600 emulator…..  Or maybe  — Space Ace!


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  1. You’re my hero!

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