Prattling about Profound Productivity

I’ve been really productive lately… Witness the complete success of my pulled pork experiment, fixing the sinlaws DirectTivo (I think I fixed it, at least), sprinting towards deadlines at work with reckless abandon, and traveling all over the place to be with family and friends.

I made a mad dash to get my project to Alpha release by the end of June, and managed to demo it at our weekly development meeting on the 30th. I think I impressed everyone in on the demo, I’m pretty sure several of the people who were doubting whether or not I could deliver on my performance and compatibility claims were put in their place. And really, while I referred to this as an Alpha release, imho it is Alpha-in-name-only. While it’s the first release to grace the hands of the testers, it’s feature complete and has been pretty well beat-upon by me and my fellow developer. Hopefully they will beat the hell out of it and track down anything I missed, but I feel great about the quality as it stands now (not quite shippable, but definitely branchable).

The pulled pork has been going over like gangbusters (with everyone besides , that is, who isn’t a fan)… I brought some coworkers home for lunch and each had a few sandwiches… For my entire life I thought Barbeque was some kind of voodoo art which required tons of specialized equipment, but it turns out you can make the real deal with stuff most people have access to.


I am borrowing a Tivo for the weekend from Matt Girard, who doesn’t have cable yet. I definately want one now, and I have determined that it won’t be that bad in conjunction with my ghetto cable. Basically, I won’t be able to “tivo” any of the movie channels, but pretty much everything else is fair game. Perhaps I will pick one up in a few weeks, but we will see.

Tivo Part Deux

Ok, So I investigated the Tivo thing a bit more, and it turns out that a while ago it was advantageous to get the Sony unit because it was cheaper, but this is no longer true. The feature set between the two brands is almost identical, the Sony has a lousy remote compared to the Phillips, and the Sony is more expensive (although not that much more).

A bigger problem is that Tivo doesn’t support my ghetto A/B cable system, and won’t ever. I would have to jump through all kinds of hoops in order to get it to work, and it simply isn’t worth it.

I am now thinking about getting a DirecTV receiver with built in Tivo, and just get rid of my shitty cable service.

There are two problems with that:

  • Placing the Antenna – I am supposed to get my landlord’s permission, which I will attempt. If he doesn’t give me permission, I can always invoke FCC law which “…prohibits restrictions that impair the installation, maintenance or use of antennas used to receive video programming.” and “Effective January 22, 1999, the Commission amended the rule so that it also applies to rental property where the renter has an exclusive use area, such as a balcony or patio.”. So the “Patio of Doom” may very well be my ticket to DirecTV.
  • Having the Right Sky – I am not sure if my sky is good for DirecTV… I will try and figure that out tonight… I see other people with dishes on my block, but I think they are all Dish Network.

There are a couple of advantages however:

  • Cost – Believe it or not, this whole operation will be cheaper overall. The 35 hour Tivo-ed DTV receiver is $399, but there is a rebate bringing it down to the same price as the normal 30 hour box. The DirecTV service, even with HBO and the like added comes to around $50 a month, which is $10 a month cheaper than my cable bill, with more channels.
  • Second Tuner – The Tivo’ed DirecTV receivers have two tuners built into them, so you can record a program while watching another, or record two programs at once. This is a great advantage over the normal Tivo receiver.
  • Get Rid of Ghetto Cable – My cable system blows, and it would be great to get rid of it. Of most annoyance is the A/B setup, where I have to press a button on the remote to change the switch, allowing me to view the second half of my channels.

I know that some people reading this have experience with DirecTV, so I was looking for some feedback. I am particularly concerned with rain and stuff like that affecting the picture quality. Is there anything I should know? I am aware of the “local channel” stuff, and DirecTV offers local service in this area, so that shouldn’t be a problem.


What are the differences between the different brands of Tivo units… I am thinking of getting a 30 hour unit, but I don’t know whether to go with the Phillips or Sony models. Sony’s is traditionally more expensive, but they are rebating them now so they are like the same price…