Thanks to last Fall's update to the TiVo OS, there was an undocumented way to telnet commands to your TiVo that Dave Zatz describes in this post. It was a bit of a hack and not much more than a proof of concept but it looks like a few enterprising developers have created TiVo remote control apps for linux and the iPhone.
While nothing compares to a real TiVo remote in terms of functionality and ease-of-use, having an iPhone backup might be nice in the off chance you lose your remote or it's in need of repair. Cooler still is the idea of automation applications that could take advantage of of the telnet port and do away with the buggy IR blasters. I could imagine a future version of the Slingbox that could issue command over the network and confirm with a TiVo OS directly that the action took place, rather than set up an IR blaster and hope it changed the channel correctly.
Seeing people build whole apps based on discovered hacky interfaces reminds me that there is still indeed a healthy hacker culture around TiVo boxes and that if TiVo wanted to make some bold moves and document this kind of thing and any other APIs developers could use to control/tweak their TiVo devices, we'd see a nice array of innovative applications and products spring up to further enhance the TiVo experience.
If you've got a Nintendo Wii, Wii Media Center X looks like a new way to stream various media to your console and onto your TV.
Reader Shane wrote in with detailed instructions on how to get the newest TiVo Desktop running in Windows Vista (which is unsupported at this time):
As you know, 2.4 came out the other day without *official* support of Windows Vista and Windows Server 2003 (both of which I had 2.3a installed). Well, using Orca and a simple tweak of a setting in the TivoToGo 2.4 .MSI installer, I've got it running on Vista.
Here's how I went about it on Vista
Download and install Orca - http://www.pek.com/projects
Download TivoToGo 2.4 - http://www.tivo.com/126.96.36.199-2
Run the TivoToGo installer with administrator privileges
When the installer gets to the point where it says it can't continue due to an invalid operating system, DO NOT click ok.
Point Windows explorer at C:\Users\<YOURUSERID>\AppData\Local\TempSort the view by date so that the latest files appear at the top
Find the file with a .MSI extension with a random name consisting of alphanumerics with the time and date near when you launched the installer.
Right click on the file, copy.
Paste to your Desktop and rename to TivoToGo24.msi
Click OK on the Tivo installer.
Open TivoToGo24.msi with Orca.
Left click to select the LaunchCondition row in the left window pane.
Remove all entries from the right window pane.
Save the file, exit Orca.
Launch TivoToGo24.msi, install and enjoy.
A few months back, I got an elliptical trainer in order to get some exercise indoors during the cold winters. I found myself barely using it (it's quite boring) until a friend mentioned that he could balance a laptop on the top of his and surf the web. Once I heard that, I knew what I should try on my own elliptical trainer. I could kill two birds with one stone, getting 30-40 minute workouts while also catching up on the previous night's programs on my TiVo.
It's pretty easy to do. As you can see by the picture, I've got an elliptical trainer, a laptop perched on the vertical grips, and I'm running a full-screen slingplayer that's talking to my TiVo downstairs. It helps to enable the 30 second skip, so jumping through commercials only requires 5 or 6 clicks to jump back to the program.
I never seem to have time for late night comedy programs and I don't like taking time out of my workday to sit on the couch watching them, but with this setup, I can get through the previous night's Daily Show and Colbert Report shows in about 35-40 minutes together. It's the best of both worlds: I get my exercise out of the way (sweating) and I get to watch TV (laughing) doing it. When I'm finished, I'm amused and slightly exhausted, but it feels great for the rest of the day.
Last night I had a dilemma: a friend in Germany missed a segment of the Oscars featuring a friend of ours (long story) winning an award. I had it on my Series 3 TiVo, but there was no way to get it off, thanks to TiVo not allowing show downloads.
That's when I remembered my Slingbox. In researching how to record a slingbox stream, I could only find this old product for the PC, but it only worked with the original Slingbox with the old firmware. Turns out the Slingmedia folks started encrypting the streams so people couldn't dump the video to their computers.
I knew there had to be a way though, given that the video was playing on my computer and a computer is a pretty flexible tool. And that's when it hit me: why not try a simple screen capture utility? On my mac, the excellent (but horribly named) Snapz Pro X offers motion capture of anything on your desktop, along with the audio. I launched my slingplayer, started a high bitrate Snapz Pro X capture, saved that to my drive (700Mb file!), converted to compressed quicktime (10Mb file), then uploaded to youtube.
Here's the result, which I sent to my friend in Germany, and he got to see the less than 2 minutes of the Oscar show that really mattered to him. This method isn't useful for long captures, since the filesize of the video capture get really big really fast, but for grabbing a minute or two here to demonstrate a point or share a moment, it works great.
Jon at jonsthoughtsoneverything.com has a number of interesting plugins to allow Flickr on XBOX Media Center and Tivo Media Center as well. If anyone can get these to work, please post your impressions here or at Jon's site.
To me, it's clear that the companies building "media center" platforms need to enable their users to tie in data (in the case of flickr, it's photos) from other platforms that have open APIs in a simple and easy manner. This is a great way to extend the platform of whatever "media center" you might purchase and would be a clear differentiator.
TivoTool is a pretty cool new app for managing your TiVo video on the network through a nice OS X GUI application. There aren't a lot of TiVo tools for macs so this is a nice new development.
It's not for the faint of heart -- it does require some fairly sophisticated hacks to be running on your TiVo in order to download and stream video unencrypted, but if you've gone that far with your TiVo, this app gives you a nice TiVoToGo-like interface on a mac (there is also a command-line version that works with both mac and linux).
Check out the screenshots of it in action. The integration with iTunes is very impressive stuff and being able to transcode video or send it to iMovie is an added plus. Hopefully when TiVo releases an official TTG mac client, their app approaches the usefulness of this package, allowing users to save and view video directly in iTunes (and transfer video to future video ipods).
The new version of OS X from Apple includes Dashboard, a sort of API using simple web scripting to build widgets you can manipulate on your desktop. There are hundreds of them available already to do all sorts of things, but one noteworthy new dashboard widget is the TiVo Now Playing widget.
It works with standalone TiVos with the 7.1 OS and TiVo Desktop, showing you what's available on your TiVo in real-time. It also looks pretty cool.
Google Maps was released a few months ago and quickly took the online world by storm due to the ingenious way you can drag around inside the maps.
But cooler than all that is a HME hack that puts Google Maps on your TiVo, complete with dragging, zooming, and both satellite and normal map views, just like in a web browser. Also worth noting is that it was created by none other than the founder and CTO of Strangeberry (
currently TiVo's lead engineer for TiVoToGo, HME, and other new TiVo technologies whoa! He just left TiVo).
liquidice recent wrote in describing a pretty crazy PSP hack, reportedly using it as a wireless controller for his entire entertainment system, including his TiVo. Without a PSP and his code, I can't verify that this is real and it's possible it may be a hoax, but I'll reproduce his post in full and let you decide, because it looks like a really cool hack:
I have not seen anyone else do something like this with the PSP, so I am posting it in hopes to inspire others to do something cool with their PSP. The closest thing I have seen is a controller page for XBMC, but it was just some text links, and did not impress me.
I've taken it a step further. I now have the ability to turn my lights on and off. Have full control (Play, Stop, Pause, Menu) of my DVD player, TIVO, and High Def TV, all wirelessly from my PSP. I did this in a few hours using Photoshop to make some graphics. I put an image map on the graphics and created some HTML pages which are hosted on my WACI NX server. The links are crafted so that when the PSP highlights and clicks on a spot on the image map, it instructs the WACI NX server to send an IR signal to my A/V equipment or triggers it's relays to cut power on the lights.
Apologies for the blurry pictures. The PSP is not very photogenic.
My next step is to add some temperature monitors, and more integration with my PC and some AV switching equipment to stream video signals around the house. Hopefully there's a way to embed a little video clip or live stream in the new browser.
I hope that Sony realizes the potential the PSP has. If firmware update on May 1st adds a browser that resides in flash that can be called from the 'start' menu, I will be able to quickly surf to my control page and start controlling things throughout my house. Currently, I just leave Wipeout in browser mode and put my PSP to sleep. Wipeout has so many menus and loading screens to get to the web browser.
Also view the original post here: