Friday, May 14, 2004

Friday night, Ellie's gone off to bed and I'm just doing some reading on Tivo hacking. Apparently someone has figured out how to hack the Series2 Tivo without soldering in a new PROM (a chip inside the Tivo that contains information that tells the Tivo how to start up), and that was a step I didn't want to take.

Back when the Tivo software was version 3.1 there was a software vulnerability that allowed a person to gain "root" access to the Tivo. Basically once one has "root" access there are all kinds of special tricks and tools one can do (like making the Tivo into a web server, or directly extract video from it without having to rerecord it through a camcorder). The folks at Tivo patched this bug with version 3.2, which was long ago now (Tivo is on to version 4.0 now).

Someone far more familiar with Linux (the operating system on the Tivo) than me figured out a way to get the vulnerable version of the Tivo software to start to load, avoid a step in the boot process that prevents users from modifying the software, and then load a later version of the Tivo software. They call it "The Tivo Monte" after three card monte. Perhaps when my warranty finally runs out I'll try hacking the Tivo. I really do like my Tivo and would hate to cause it any injury. At the same time I'd really like to backup the drive in it so that if it ever fails I can simply fix it with my backup rather than having to drop $300 on a new one. I really think I would have to get a new one too, I don't think Ellie and I would want to go back to watching TV in the conventional manner. I guess I'll have to do a bit more reading if I really want to do it. Perhaps by the time our warranty runs out (December 2004) there will be a good guide on how to do it.

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