Thursday, July 13, 2006

Travails with Tivo

I love my Tivo very much, as anyone who knows me well should be aware of. Like many of my other passions, such as:
  • Bollywood,
  • Haayo Miyazaki movies,
  • Doctor Who,
  • Ballroom Dancing,

I am prone to evangelistic fervor. I want everyone to share my enjoyment of said entertainments.

Well, I have been having difficulty with my TiVo of late... ever since I switched to the ridiculously cheap Vonage phone service which runs over my cable modem, I have had problems getting my TiVo to successfully dial in to download updates. Because Vonage can't seem to work with the phone wiring in my apartment, I have had only one functioning phone in my living room, with a very thin 20 foot phone line running across the floor from the phone router under my desk, through the sliding door, onto the porch, and back in through the bedroom porch door. This line is for my TiVo; I watch more TV in my room than I make phone calls.

So I've had the Vonage for a few months now, and was able to get the TiVo to dial in successfully overnight most of the time. Since it stores 2 weeks of upcoming programming data, it's not been a real problem, but a couple of days ago it started warning me that it would run out on Saturday the 15th. I tried everything to get it to dial in and download - called Vonage, tried their online help tips, etc. - nothing worked.

Then I went online and did a search for work-arounds, and found a vast sea of discontented and frustrated former Vonage customers who had found out which I was just learning - Vonage does not play well with TiVo. By typing in a ridiculously long string of dialing prefixes and forcing it to dial a NYC #, I was finally able to get it to make one download. However, the TiVo in the living room, which is newer, still can't get through. It gets halfway into the call and then gets interrupted; by what, I do not know!

So I'm now on the phone with BellSouth (as I have been for over 45 minutes) switching my service back to them. Just a few days ago they sent me the 3rd or 4th "Please please please please come back to us... we'll give you low rates/cash/our first-born child" Letter of Desperation, and so last night I dug it out from under some rotting raspberries and various gooey things in the trash can. They will drop my rates to almost half of what they used to be, which is pretty darn good for the various difficulties Vonage has caused me. The rates will go back up in 12 months, but who knows what advances in technology will happen by then!

Bottom line: If you love your TiVo, don't get Vonage unless you have TiVo with broadband or wireless service.


MegaZone said...

I take it you have DirecTiVo units so that you couldn't just use a network adapter? It is possible to hack the DirecTiVos to add networking, which would give you some more features as well.

Susania said...

No, it's just 2 ordinary dialup units on regular cable (a series 1 and a series 2) - never tried to hack them although one's already been altered to increase drive space.

If you know of any good instructions on how to add networking to my Series 2 (the old one will have to stay on dialup; I don't have ethernet in that part of the house) I'd really appreciate the help! I may work with computers for a living, but there are some alarming gaps in my knowledge base :)