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August 25, 2003

"TiVo Hacks": Good News for TiVo Addicts and Other TiVo Fans

Sebastopol, CA--Google the phrase, "TiVo changed my life," and you'll come up with, well, enough references to make you wonder what the commotion is all about. Unless you're a TiVo owner, that is, and then you know. TiVo owners often speak about this appliance with a degree of emotion that the uninitiated find baffling. TiVo, likened to a "tapeless VCR," achieves things that no VCR can even contemplate. But it may come as news to many TiVo owners that there's more to TiVo than even the biggest fan might expect. TiVo Hacks by Raffi Krikorian (O'Reilly, US $24.95) shows users of all levels how to get even more satisfaction out of their TiVos.

Why hack your TiVo? As Raffi Krikorian explains, the TiVo has proven eminently hackable, to the point that there are communities of TiVo hackers springing up all over the Internet. "You can think of the TiVo as a carefully tweaked desktop computer with a television tuner card," Krikorian says. "Everything the TiVo does, save the channel tuning and video encoding, is done in software. Everything you see on the screen, all the interactivity through the remote, and the recording scheduling is all defined in code."

Just as TiVo offers viewers personalized control of their TVs, "TiVo Hacks" gives users personalized control of their TiVos. The book includes various types of hacks: hardware hacks, which require you to pop the top off your TiVo and fiddle with the innards, and software hacks, which require a little less manual dexterity but no less a sense of adventure. And for the faint of heart, there are also remote control hacks that they can do from the comfort of their favorite armchair.

The high-powered tips and tools in "TiVo Hacks" explain how to:

  • Use your remote control to activate the 30-second skip to blaze through commercials, enable advanced wishlists, push fast-forward to the limit, and open the backdoor to further hacks

  • Upgrade your TiVo's hard drive for all the recording time you want

  • Log in to the TiVo command line for access to programming data

  • Display caller-ID on your television, present digital slide shows, and play MP3s

  • Use TiVo on your home network to schedule recordings, access lists of recorded shows, and display your preferred programming on your web site

  • Write your own TiVo programs in Tcl and C

  • Access TiVo's Media Filesystem for programmatic access to show details--actors, directors, Thumbs-Up ratings, and more

Additional Resources:

TiVo Hacks
Raffi Krikorian
ISBN 0-596-00553-9, 226 pages, $24.95 US, $38.95 CA, 17.50 UK
1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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