Photography, Cycling and the Internets


Outlook is Taunting Me

Outlook doesn’t want me to click on the block that highlights when the mouse moves over it.   I really don’t understand what this message is trying to tell me other than “Try me!”



Poor Performance – My initial thoughts on Tivo

So my Tivo arrived, and I am disappointed. I can’t help but compare it to my old ReplayTV. To give it credit, the setup process was very simple, and the wizard was very easy to use. However, it did take quite a long time and the status indicators had a tendency to lie. For example, it would count up Loading from 1-100% only to be switched to Organizing. I don’t really care what it’s doing, I just want it to be over at 100%.

Anyways, to understand my real disappointments, you have to look to the usability. Now I was really hoping for quite a bit. The ReplayTV had a very utilitarian UI. It did what it was supposed to do, and not much more. It did require you to learn a bit, but it worked great. After seeing Tivo menus at my friends’ houses, I always admired the great looking UI. The animations, sliding effects and nice colors were great. I used to think that maybe Tivo had an edge that ReplayTV didn’t.

My initial thoughts were wrong. The first thing I noticed when I started using the Tivo is it is really slow to respond to remote commands. I constantly find myself overshooting my target position because my commands get queued up and executed slowly. I even tried to add my Yahoo ID to the little weather app. After 10 minutes of moving the cursor to the various characters to type in my ID and password, I overshot the submit item and ended up back at the opening screen somehow. It didn’t cache my previous information. I am not about to sit through that anytime soon again.

In addition to the slow remote response (which is why I am now convinced is the reason why all the cutesy little noises are required) the channel guide (especially when in grid mode) feels really clunky. I am surprised by this behavior, especially in the Series 2 with all of the software updates that should have happened since it released ages ago.

I know some things that I really liked are gone forever, such as the automatic commercial advance. But simple little features like jumping to a specific minute of a show is great for moving to a specific point in an educational show that you want to re-watch is something I expected to be available and isn’t.

I realize that I do need to acclimate some to the new box and I am sure I will find the right groove. The dual tuners is nice, and I don’t have to be creative about my recording strategy. Now I can record the real news and the Daily show at the same time.

The navigation model is interesting, and I am sure I will have some comments on it after using it for awhile.

No DVR, No Way

I tried a full week without my ReplayTV DVR. In the end, I think the Comcast navigation drove me more crazy than the billion ads. I now hold the menu system up as a great example of a poor user interface. Seemingly very simple actions, like looking at the channel guide during playback of an on-demand show pulled you out of the show entirely and back to live TV. In order to get back to the on-demand movie, it is necessary to click through 4 different menus. Ugh. Needless to say, I ordered a Tivo Series 2 DT. I am anxiously awaiting an end to my navigation frustration.

Passing of the 4508

It never pays to speak of, or think positively about the longevity of any electronic device. Last week I was thinking of how much I love that my ReplayTV 4508 is still kicking after several years. Two days later, it went brain-dead. I was left with a device that just has a pulse; a little red blinking light.

A hard drive transplant to was not able to restore its ability be a productive member of my sparse entertainment center. It just sat there and blinked at me. Oh how I am already missing my automatic commercial advance. I also was looking forward to my two kids having a commercial-free viewing environment.
It is hard convincing myself I that watch enough TV to buy a Tivo. However, the bit of TV I have watched since the Replay died has been painful. With all the commercials, it is no wonder that the broadcasters are having trouble getting people to continue to tune in.

Is paying $20 a month (or prepaid for 3 years with a big initial investment) worth it for a Tivo? I’ll have to find out if I continue to watch TV, or just resort to watching everything a year later on DVD.

I guess the moral is never to have a positive thought about any piece of electronic equipment that you own. It will probably fail shortly thereafter, and even sooner if it’s out of warranty.