Archive for October, 2006

What’s Wrong with Western Digital

Now that my old Tivo has new life, I decided to turn my attention to the hard drive that failed. It was a Western Digital 250GB Caviar PATA drive. I ran the manufacturer’s diagnostics which turned up multiple errors. So time for a warranty lookup. And here is what the website tells me …

“No Limited Warranty. Product was originally sold to a system manufacturer. Please contact the system manufacturer or the place of purchase for warranty service.”

So a hard drive that may have had a two or three year warranty becomes subject to the shorter one year warranty provided by Tivo? Hmmm. Kind of makes you wonder if WD sold the drives to Tivo at a substantial discount since they KNEW they would never have to replace one under warranty. This is just another reason why I no longer recommend Western Digital hard drives.
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“I Can’t” – “You will need to” – oh, but wait

Called DirecTV @ 1-800-494-4388. Less than 5 minutes to talk to a live body – not bad. So what does she tell me? “You’ll have to order a new access card – it won’t let us reactivate the card you have. Let me see if my supervisor can reactivate it – if not – you’ll have to order a new card.”

10:00 minutes in – still holding.

Now she tells me that, “… because the access cards have been used before – they can not be transfered to a new box.” I requested customer retention – they sent me to Susan on the access card team.

20:00 minutes in – I have relayed my entire story to Susan

She thinks it should be possible to fix this. She just needs to type up the information I gave her and then work on switching my service around.

21:40 – she asks if she can put me on hold for 2 to 3 minutes

25:07 – Off hold. The old card will not reactivate (they will have to Fedex a new one). I asked about using the current card from the H20 and transfering it to my HR10-250. She said that should work. Her system allowed the transfer, and we are now booting the 10-250 with the card that was being used just 30 minutes ago in my H20 box.

29:10 – Time check

35:45 – Things are working on the 10-250 now (or so it seems – I reserve judgment until I have used it for a day or two). We’ll tackle the billing disputes another day.

Well now – after watching less than 5 minutes of TV, the picture went away and it tells me the following …

“Sorry, the Recorder must re-acquire information from the satellite. As soon as the Recorder is done, you will be able to watch Live TV again. Meanwhile, you can press the DIRECTV button to watch the Now Playing List programs.”

Since I don’t have anything in now playing, I’ll just sit here and watch it aquire satellite signal again ….

Okay – it is back working again. Wonder if that will happen again. Very strange.

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It’s Alive

So I talked about fixing my old HR10-250 DVR in my post this morning. I went out to the web and paid the $20 for a copy of InstantCake (a tool that sets up a hard drive for use in almost any Tivo system – including the base software image). To my pleasant surprise, it was easy and worked perfectly. I booted up and repeated the guided setup process as was indicated in the instructions. So far, so good. Now I just have to deal with DirecTV support again in order to transfer my service back to the appropriate access card (yucky). I’ll post again later ….

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Bye Bye DirecTV

Today was the day. After battling it out with DirecTV and waiting almost a month, my appointment for installation of the new HD DVR was scheduled for today. The install tech arrived at the appropriate time, but the first words out of his mouth were, “We have a problem.” It seems that the new 5 LNB dish is nearly 3 times the size of the old dish and is REQUIRED for the new box to work. Problem is that my dish is mounted to the railing on my balcony, and there is no way it would support the weight of the new dish. So roof mount it you might think. I actually live in a condo complex that allows for roof mounting, but the install tech says his company won’t allow them to do that kind of work in a multi-dwelling unit (liability reasons).

So I sent the tech on his way – no new dish – no DVR. Now think of it from my perspective. Even if my old DVR was working (which it isn’t), why would I stick with it? The MPEG2 technology is being phased out, and MPEG4 is taking its place. I have an MPEG4 receiver, but it does not have a DVR. I see few options. I could repair my old DVR and ride it out for a while. Or … I could switch back to cable TV and purchase a Series3 Tivo.

In the interest of time – I might go with the repair option in the short term, but in the long run it is going to be “bye bye” for DirecTV. One unhappy customer. One unhappy installer. He doesn’t get paid since he didn’t do the install.

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“Miss Teacher Bangs a Boy”

Eric Cartman (R) of South Park has added yet another feather to his cap this week.  Eric parodied “Dog The Bounty Hunter” as he served as the school hallway monitor (carrying “bear mace” no less).  Too funny!!  Before you ask – the title of this post is the name of the South Park episode I am talking about.

The real Duane “Dog” Chapman (along with his brother and son) face their extradition hearing on November 16th.  The Mexican government wants them in connection with the 2003 arrest of convicted rapist Andrew Luster in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  They are considered fugitives in Mexico because they failed to appear on kidnapping and unlawful detainment charges in conjunction with the Luster case.

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Odds and ends … I am back

So it has been a little while since I last posted to the blog.  To be quite honest – I just haven’t had much to say lately, so I figured it was best not to write anything at all.  That should be a good thing – feeling comfortable with saying nothing.

Took a “Vegas Vacation” recently.  Since these were my first days off since April – it was a welcome break.  Besides just being with friends, the trip included a visit to Delmonico Steakhouse, Cirque du Soleil’s “O” at the Bellagio, and fun at the craps and blackjack tables.  So what if I left money behind at the Luxor – it was fun and entertaining.  And the low value slots are back in fashion – saw lots of nickel, two cent, and penny slot machines.

In local Dallas news – our city still has the highest violent crime rate in the nation.  And right downtown – a block from where I work is a nightclub at the center of the crime debate.  The area surrounding the late night “Club Blue” has the highest crime rate in all of downtown Dallas.  The city has revoked Blue’s dance hall license, and the club has filed suit against the City for $12 million.  I’ll be keeping an eye on this one.  It wouldn’t hurt my feelings if the place disappeared forever.

In technology news, Microsoft is ending support for XP service pack 1.  So the message to everyone out there – upgrade or stop getting security patches.  Now in fairness – SP2 has been out for a long time.  Our company had not pushed the update because SP2 is a huge install that can take over an hour to complete.  We tried pushing it with WSUS, but users started rebooting their PC’s during the update (due to the slow performance).  So our crack scripting guru wrote a custom install script and we emailed it out to our users with instructions on how and when to launch the update.  It seems to be working well – we have over 60% of our machines updated now.  So get to patching crazy kids, and be sure to deploy WSUS if you haven’t done so yet.

Sticking with the Microsoft theme … I decided to give Vista RC2 a try.  I grabbed a second hard drive for my laptop and did a fresh install.  First impressions are pretty positive.  The install was painless, and I was joined to AD in no time.  The interface has some good enhancements – including thumbnails of apps on the taskbar and while application switching.  I also think the Vista “scoring” system is going to make things easier for the average customer to know what apps or games their system will handle.  Unfortunately, my Sprint EVDO card install software does not yet work under Vista.  So with no mobile broadband – my evaluation has been cut short.

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