Critical Section

Archive: November 18, 2004

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If you don't want commercials, tell Tivo!

Thursday,  11/18/04  04:59 PM

If you are upset that Tivo is considering displaying commercials while fast forwarding, call them and tell them!

877-367-8486 between 8:00 AM - 8:00 PM Pacific.  Ask for "live agent".

The other day I noted that Tivo is considering displaying commercials when you fast forward.  In the meantime this meme has spread and people all over the 'net are discussing how horrible it would be.  I'd said "if this is true, it is the beginning of the end for Tivo", and others were more succinct: Scott Shinn commented on Matt Haughey's PVRblog: "Tivo has jumped the shark!"

Today I was ruminating on this, and it seemed to me that this would be a betrayal.  Tivo was founded to help consumers, and in that regard they have succeeded brilliantly.  Everyone I know who has one loves it, in fact everyone I know who has one actively tells everyone they know how great it is.  Companies don't often get that kind of love from their customers.  But if Tivo really did this, then they'd be turning toward the dark side.  They're a business, and a business has to give their customers what they want.  Displaying commercials while fast forwarding is giving advertisers what they want.  So this would be a clear sign that you and I are no longer Tivo's customers.  And that would, indeed, be the beginning of the end.

But there is hope!

I decided to try to call Tivo to tell them how I felt.  I found the Tivo support phone number on this page, it is not easy to find.  I called and had to fight my way through a bogus automated attendant.  Once I finally had a human, I explained to her why I was calling.  Amazingly, she said Tivo is considering this change, but they're getting a lot of complaints.  Maybe they're still listening to us?

So - if you are upset that Tivo is considering displaying commercials while fast forwarding, please call them and tell them.  If enough of us complain, maybe they won't do it!  And that would be a good thing.

[ Added later... ]

Save the 30 second skip!

A bit later I called Tivo again and fought my way back through the phone system.  I ended up with another support rep, and she, too, indicated that Tivo is only considering this change.  Of course support reps are not product managers, but two out of two is an encouraging sign.

The reason I called back was to warn Tivo that I really wanted them to keep the 30 second skip, too.  What?  You mean you have a Tivo, and don't know about the 30 second skip?  Okay, here's what you do; grab your Tivo remote, and while it is playing a recorded program enter:


Tivo "advance" buttonIf all goes well you'll hear three beeps from your Tivo.  At this point you have activated 30 second skip.  Now whenever you hit the "advance" button (see picture at right), you'll get a 30 second skip ahead.  Once you've tried this I promise you will never go back to fast forwarding.

[ Added even later... ]

Another way you can contact Tivo; send email to  This is ostensibly the email address for the Tivo newsletter editor, but it appears to forward to Tivo customer support.  Remember, be nice.  We want their help, so don't flame the poor reps :)


Thursday,  11/18/04  11:20 PM

It's all happening...

North Korea in the news:  Powerline says there's something happening here.  Conrad reports strange doings in the hermit kingdom.  And Glenn Reynolds links The Age: North Korea's dear leader less dear.  "Analysts are debating whether Mr Kim is losing his grip on power, or, more likely, quietly downsizing his own personality cult."  Anyway North Korea may be easing stance on nuclear talks.  What does it all mean?  Can't tell.  But as Hindrocket notes: "North Korea is one of the places of which it can truly be said that things can only get better"...

Have you been following the case of the marine who shot the "unarmed wounded man" in Fallujah?  L.T.Smash ponders the rules of engagement.  I totally agree with him, and not just because my daughter's in the Navy.  There's a great discussion on Powerline about Kevin Sites, the reporter who shot the movie.  LGF has a more aggressive take: they're called security rounds.

Saturn's ringsBigwig predicts there's life in Saturn's rings.  Interesting!  and surprisingly plausible...

Wired: Stem cells feed brain tumors.  "Researchers have identified stem cells in brain cancer tumors that replenish the tumors and keep them growing.  Snuffing out these cancer stem cells could lead to a raft of new treatments for various cancers."  Excellent.

FuturePundit reports Sonic hedgehog gene triples brain stem growth.  No, I am not making this up, and yes, that is "Sonic hedgehog" as in the video game character.  Guess you'll just have to read it.

a little water, but good fishing...A little water, but good fishing... 
Oops.  I hate when that happens.  [ via Joi Ito ]

So I was typing really fast and somehow the letters came out wrong and I typed "connectino".  And I thought, of course, the elementary particle exchanged during socket connects!  Probably massless but definitely has spin and charge :)

Matt Haughey posts more information about the Tivo's fast forward plans.  I still think you should call them and complain.  They just might be listening.

when your coworker is away...This is just too funny!  When your coworker is away...

Here we have the Chief Blogging Officer.  Aka Rageboy.  Excellent.

Handbrake iconHas anyone out there used HandBrake?  A multi-threaded DVD to MPEG4 ripper/converter for OSX.  Looks like exactly what I need, if it works...

This is awesome: hack your way out of writer's block.  "Write five words - Literally.  Put five completley random words on a piece of paper.  Write five more words.  Try a sentence.  Could be about anything.  A block ends when you start making words on a page."  Sounds like great advice for coder's block, too.  [ via Mark Frauenfelder ]

gridlock!I just re-discovered gridlock.  What a great waste of time!

(not the way out of coder's block :)



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