Archive for the ‘Hardware’ Category.

How to tranfer a TiVo recording and watch it on FreeBSD?

I broke my TiVo remote to my TiVo series II.

I wanted to watch a TiVo recording on my laptop…running FreeBSD. I had never done this, so I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen.

Gratefully, I succeeded. Here is what I had to do.

Step 1 – Find my media access key.

You can find this on your TiVo, but since I didn’t have a remote, I couldn’t look on my TiVo.  So I went to, logged in, and sure enough under My Account, there was a link to see my Media Access Key.

Step 2 – Download a video recording from your Tivo

  1. Connect to you Tivo using your favorite web browser using https.
    Note: I wasn’t sure of my Tivo’s IP Address so I had to connect to my Wireless router and look at its DHCP leases.
  2. Login using these credentials:
    User: tivo
    Password: [your media access key]Once in, you will see a list of recordings in a table and you can download them as you desire.
  3. Download your recording.  Your recordings are .tivo files.

Step 3 – Install tivodecode

When I tried to play the .TiVo file with mplayer, it failed. So I looked at how to convert it.

Turns out there is a port called tivodecode.  Install it as follows.

# cd /usr/ports/multimedia/tivodecode
# make install

Step 4 – Decode the .TiVo file

Run the following command to decode your .TiVo file.

tivodecode “Some Video.TiVo” -o “Some Video.mpg”

And now you can play decoded video in mplayer.

An interesting Artic: Unix's Revenge

The article is titled Unix’s Revenge and it was quite a good read.

Here is a quote:

Now we’ve entered a new decade of devices where Unix(-like) operating systems will, on a CPU basis, probably out-install Windows. Not only is iOS based on Unix, but Android and MeeGo and even Bada are based on Linux as are QNX and WebOS. Google, Apple, HP, RIM, Samsung and Nokia are all now betting heavily on Unix or Unix-like implementations. The success is so overwhelming that there are really only two hold-outs: Microsoft and the rapidly depreciating Symbian.

Read the full article here:

Comments on 7 Reasons to Switch to the Dvorak Keyboard Layout

Ok, so I recently read an article that had seven resason to switch to the Dvorak keyboard layout

I will list the authors reasons and comment on them.  Please see the original post for the complete detail:
7 Reasons to Switch to the Dvorak Keyboard Layout

Reason 1 -QWERTY was designed for the typewriter, not the typist.

This is true.  But I am not a typewriter or a typist.  I am a developer.  While the Dvorak keyboard is probably faster for a typist that writes normal words and text, is it faster for a computer programmer ? Maybe.  Is it the fastest possible layout for a programmer?  I doubt it.

Also, a semicolon is common for programming languages and in QWERTY, it is on the home row.  In Dvorak, it is not.  Dvorak makes some common programming keys harder to reach.

So no, Dvorak was not designed for a programmer.

There is a programming version of the Dvorak layout: Programmer Dvorak layout.

This may address some of these issues.  Is that what the article intends? I don’t think so, because I couldn’t find an option on Windows 7 64 bit to use that layout.

Reason 2. Dvorak increases your speed.

Also, you forget about people who don’t really type that much, or that type the special keys of a programming language often.  Think of all the keyboard shortcuts.  CTRL + C, CTRL + P, CTRL + A.  WIN + E, WIN + D, etc…

Look at this quote from the article:

70% of keystrokes are on the home row; 22%, on the top row; 8%, on the bottom.

Does a programming language have the same the percentages?

So really, shouldn’t there be a separate keyboard layout for programmers than for typist?

if (keyboardLayout == sucks)

Reason 3 – Dvorak lessens your mistakes.

I have to agree, that having the most common keys on the home row might decrease mistakes.

However, many of my mistakes are usually due to the really far away keys, such as _ – + | \ } ] ~ ` ^ and both layouts leave those characters in the same place.  What if there was another button, like Caps Lock or SHIFT or CTRL or ALT, that moved those characters to the home row.

Reason 4. Dvorak is more comfortable and better for your health.

I think I agree with this.  I wonder if people with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome could be prevented or lessened by this.

I do have to say that a natural keyboard helps but is not enough.

A better shape for a keyboard would be if the keyboard were cut in half and the two piece leaned together like this: /\

Or maybe some type of ball with keys:  ( )

Reason 5. Switching to Dvorak is easier than ever.

Really.  I think it is harder than ever.  I agree that some of the features mentioned make it easier in ways, but other features, such as keyboard shortcuts make it harder. When I switch to Dvorak, does my keyboard shortcut keys switch too?  Unfortunately no, they don’t.

Until that is fixed, it is going to be difficult to move.

Also, I have used QWERTY since i was 7.  Yes, in 1983 my family had a computer and a digital typewriter. Both were QWERTY.  So after 26 years of using QWERTY, it is not easy to switch to anything.

Everybody has a computer.  Sometimes you use a friends computer. Of course they use QWERTY, so you have to remember how to use that.  Or if you have to fix someone’s computer.  Or worse, you remote control someone who is using QWERTY but you are using Dvorak.  How would that work?

Reason 6. Dvorak is cool.

Is this really a reason?  This is an opinion.

And this quote is just silly.

You’ll also be in the company of some cool people, including Bram Cohen, inventor of BitTorrent; Matt Mullenweg, lead developer of WordPress; and Barbara Blackburn, world’s fastest typist.

Yeah, but if I use QWERTY, the company is even that much better since it encompasses 99.99999% of the English typing world, right?

Reason 7. Using Dvorak is a noble cause.

Ok, so digging wells in Africa is a noble cause.  Manning a soup kitchen in your spare time is a noble cause.  But using a different type of keyboard than everyone else is just annoying. Sorry.

My Experience

Ok, sorry to rag on this article, but I tried Dvorak for a while and I am less than impressed.

Lets get down to what we really want.  We want to be faster at typing whatever it is we type. We want to have more comfort when we type.

My Keyboard Gripes

  1. Why is the spacebar so frieking wide. Why can’t it be half the size, so my thumbs can be used to push CTRL or ALT or the Windows key or SHIFT. Why do both my thumbs need access to the space bar?
  2. My hands do not fit well on a keyboard. Not even an ergonomic or natural keyboard. A better shape for a keyboard would be if the keyboard were cut in half and the two piece leaned together like this: /\I can’t find one.
  3. There should be a mouse pad, like on laptops, but directly below the space bar. Why do I have to have to separate interface devices that are both inefficient.  Taking my right hand away from the keyboard to use the mouse is one of the biggest faults of keyboards.Oh…there is:

    But is there an ergonomic version? I guess so.

    But they are expensive.

  4. As a programmer, I want to be able to have one key for these three keys: ();Most the improvements in speed for programming are in the IDEs and so the keyboard layout is becoming insignificant.  Especially with IDEs with Intellisense.

Maybe you like Dvorak and maybe you have never heard of it.  Either way.

All right.  I am done rambling.

Move over 3G phones, 4G is coming! For some, it is already here.

Many people have jumped to buy smart phones but as of yet I am not one of them. The iPhone, the HTC with Google’s Android, the Blackberry Storm, all are smart phones using 3G technology now. In fact there are few phones purchased these days that don’t have 3g capability.

According to Wikipedia, here are some interesting bits of information about 3G

The first pre-commercial 3G network was launched by NTT DoCoMo in Japan branded FOMA, in May 2001…

By June 2007 the 200 millionth 3G subscriber had been connected….

So yes, many people have moved and are going to move to 3G.

Why I don’t have a 3G phone yet

  1. While 3G is nice, it is too slow to meet my needs. I have wireless internet access at my house, and at my work and rarely have a need for internet while driving my 10 minute commute to and from work.
  2. It is too slow for serious browsing and downloading (which I do a lot of) and nowhere near fast enough to use when gaming online (which I don’t do a lot of).
  3. The phone companies charge way to much for this poor performing internet access. It costs more than my much faster and much more reliable home internet access.

So when will I move to internet access on my phone?
When my phone can replace my home internet access, I will move to wireless internet on my phone. Imagine having a laptop without an AIR Card, yet having internet access where-ever I am. Whether I am home, away, at a hotel. In fact, such a feature could change the industry in that places like a hotels and coffee shops no longer need to be “hot spots” because everyone’s phone is their own “hot spot”.

Well, 3G made the “personal hot spot” a possibility though it cannot deliver this itself, the next generation, 4G, will come closer. However, it has taken the better part of this decade to get a point where 3G is the norm. How many years will it take until 4G is the norm?

4G has some strong requirements according to Wikipedia:

The 4G working group…has defined the following as objectives of the 4G wireless communication standard:

* Flexible channel bandwidth, between 5 and 20 MHz, optionally up to 40 MHz.[2]
* A nominal data rate of 100 Mbit/s while the client physically moves at high speeds relative to the station, and 1 Gbit/s while client and station are in relatively fixed positions as defined by the ITU-R,[6]
* A data rate of at least 100 Mbit/s between any two points in the world,[6]
* Peak link spectral efficiency of 15 bit/s/Hz in the downlink, and 6.75 bit/s/Hz in the uplink (meaning that 1000 Mbit/s in the downlink should be possible over less than 67 MHz bandwidth)
* System spectral efficiency of up to 3 bit/s/Hz/cell in the downlink and 2.25 bit/s/Hz/cell for indoor usage.[2]
* Smooth handoff across heterogeneous networks,[7]
* Seamless connectivity and global roaming across multiple networks,[8]
* High quality of service for next generation multimedia support (real time audio, high speed data, HDTV video content, mobile TV, etc)[8]
* Interoperability with existing wireless standards,[9] and
* An all IP, packet switched network.[8]

At 100 MBit, 4G can replace my home internet access.

However, according to this article, 4G might not really be there: AT&T, Verizon and Sprint 4G: Not so fast

Where is 4G available
I didn’t take to much time to look at all the carriers, but 4G is available in some cities already through Sprint.

This is a flash web site and you have to let it load, then click near the bottom where it says 4G cities.

Baltimore, Chicago, Seattle, Denver, Boise, Austin, and many others already have it.
Houston, San Francisco, DC, New York are others are on the list to be getting it soon.
Alas, Salt Lake City was on neither list.

I could not find if this was true 4G or if it was not. According to Wikipedia,

The pre-4G technology 3GPP Long Term Evolution (LTE) is often branded “4G”

So is Sprint’s service really 4G or is it only a mis-branded pre-4G technology?

AT&T announced that its 4G network won’t be available until 2011 and I am not sure which cities it will roll out first.

What are the market repercussions of 4G?
Well, I already mentioned one. Many of the common “hot spots” will no longer need to exist.

However, that is not where the repercussions end. The biggest repercussions are to companies that provide DSL or Cable internet, or more generally, wired internet. They will suffer the same way that land lines have suffered: the user base will decline. Why would I pay for internet access for my house if I have fast internet access through my phone that my computer can leverage. There are still reasons for home internet access, such as families that need access to the internet when a 4G phone is not home. But when both parents and one or more kids have 4G phones, that might not be the case. There will almost always be internet around. So companies like Comcast or Cox could see a slow decline in users.

However, this is not going to happen for at least a decade, because first, 4G has to deliver on it’s promised speed, or we have to wait for it’s successor. Then 4G or its successor has to become the norm. And then it will take users a few years to get used to not using home internet access. So don’t sell your stock in wired internet companies yet. 🙂

Untapped Markets

  1. Docking Stations for phones – A computer docking station for the phone. Lets face, most people use a computer for email and browsing the internet and occasionally writing documents. If you had a docking station for an iPhone or an HTC, it would sell. However, I am not sure that the iPhone or the HTC could handle the video display yet, even if the docking station had an on board video card. This technologies is years away.

    A similar feature would be a laptop like apparatus that wasn’t a computer but just an LCD and keyboard that is run by your smart phone, but it drastically cheaper than a laptop, it might sell.

    Though this wouldn’t be for a gamer but the average home and small business user would adopt such a low cost solution to email and internet access, which is the most common user type. Using cloud tools such as Salesforce as a CRM and Google docs instead of MS Office are already happening todya and since a phone is powerful enough to use these applications, a phone-based docking station might meet many employee’s business needs today. Take away the license costs for Windows and Office, take away the help desk and IT costs of managing such windows-based PCs and a phone with a docking station that replaces a computer becomes an extremely attractive option.

    1. Cloud Computing for phones – Those jumping on the cloud computing bandwagon have in my opinion made a big mistake in thinking that its market is for the home computer and the Operating System. The market is for remote applications.

      The remote applications market is perfect for the future phones and future docking stations that replace the computer completely for some users. The apps and processing are offloaded to a web server somewhere in the could, so a device as simple as a phone doesn’t have to be in charge of the space required or the processing power for apps.

    2. Cloud Gaming Market – Not all users replace their home computers. The PC gaming market wouldn’t touch such a device until it was powerful enough to play today’s best games, which require some of the best computers and best video cards. However, PC gaming is in the decline as gaming systems have become more and more like computers themselves.

      You may think there that are already online games both simple and complex: simple, such as flash games; complex, such as World of Warcraft. Flash games require flash to be installed on the client, and a lot of processing occurs on the client. World of Warcraft has a very large installer and doesn’t completely run on the cloud, it is very resource intensive to the local computer. If a game ran completely on the cloud and all a gaming device had to do was display and pass input, a future generation of the smart phone could handle such a game.

Tivo Desktop fails to open in Windows 7 with this error: Element not found

So I couldn’t get Tivo Desktop to open. It kept crashing with this error: Element not found

Naturally, I checked for a new version as I was on Tivo Desktop 2.7 and Tivo Desktop 2.8 was out. However, an uninstall and a reinstall did NOT fix the issue.

Turns out I just had to delete this file:
C:\Users\Jared\AppData\Local\TiVo Desktop\cookies.

How to configure Tivo Series II Remote to work with a new Proscan 40LD45QC LCD TV?

Ok, so I bought a new Proscan 40LD45QC LCD TV and even though it had a list of codes in the manual, they didn’t seem to work.

So I searched online and all I found were a bunch of a couple of complaints that it cannot be done.

So I set out to try and quickly found this post:

This says:

  1. Cover the end of the TiVo remote control with your hand.
  2. Hold down the TiVo and TV POWER buttons simultaneously until the red light on the remote control remains on.
  3. Remove your hand from the end of the TiVo remote control.
  4. Enter code 0999.

    After you enter the code, the red light will flash three times and then remain on.

  5. Press CHANNEL UP once every two seconds. This will test hundreds of codes, one by one.
  6. IMPORTANT: Do not go any faster than this or you may skip over a code that works.

  7. If you press CHANNEL UP and your TV turns off, press ENTER to select the code. Press the TV POWER button to test the code. If your TV turns on, you have successfully programmed the remote.
    • If you cycle through all the codes, the red LED will go off, indicating that you have tried all the codes. If this happens, or if you selected a code but the TV does not respond to the test, try again, to make sure you did not skip over your code by going too fast.
    • If you cannot find a code that works, your current remote may not be preprogrammed with the code for your TV. If you have a TiVo HD XL or Series3 HD DVR, you have a learning remote that can easily be “taught” to control your TV. For instructions, go to Using the Learning Feature of the TiVoGlo or Series3 Remote.

      If your DVR did not include a learning remote, you can purchase a TiVoGlo Premium learning remote at the TiVo Store.

I gave it a try and the first time I pushed the Channel up button, it turned my Proscan LCD TV off, but the TV Input button acted as a mute button. So I tried again.

The second time I tried this, my TV turned off again on the first Channel up press, but I continued pressing the Channel up button until somewhere between the seventh to ninth time. I selected this one and sure enough it mostly worked:

TV Power button Works
Volume Up button Works
Volume Down button Works
Mute button Works
Mute button *Opens the TV Input screen

* Ok. There are two problems left.

  1. The Input button loads the input screen, but unfortunately it then needs the Up and Down arrows from the original remote to select an Input so I cannot change input.
  2. The sound button only moves one step. I can hold down the sound buttons and the sound continues to move up or down. But holding down the sound button on the Tivo remote doesn’t continue to change the sound.