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Tivo Hacks by Raffi Krikorian

Book Review Team
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Joined: Feb 15, 2002
Posts: 943
<pre>Author/s : Raffi Krikorian
Publisher : O'Reilly
Category : Other
Review by : Jason Menard
Rating : 7 horseshoes
</pre>
Tivo is a software service, coupled with a digital video recorder, which changes the way one watches TV. O'Reilly's "Tivo Hacks", part of their outstanding "Hacks" series, explores how to tinker with these magical little boxes. "Tivo Hacks" follows the same format as the other titles in the "Hacks" series. Each chapter is an enumerated series of tips and tricks that will have your Tivo doing summersaults by the time you're finished going through all of them.
The first two chapters describe hacks which will be of interest to the majority of Tivo owners, with the first chapter explaining a dazzling array of tricks that can be performed using only the remote control, and the second chapter carefully detailing the steps necessary to add more hours to your Tivo. Tivo is essentially a Linux box, and the remaining chapters offer hacks which exploit this fact. The later hacks are definitely for the more technically minded. The author does a fine job throughout in making each hack clear and understandable. If you fancy yourself a bit of a hacker, then after reading this book you should feel comfortable undertaking any of these hacks.
Is this book for you? If you have a Series 2 Tivo, really only the first two chapters are of much interest. The Series 1 boxes are much more "hackable" than the newer Series 2 boxes, and as a result the majority of the rest of the hacks will not work on the Series 2. This book, certainly beyond the first chapter at least, requires a certain level of technical ability, and as such is not for your average Tivo owner. In other words, I probably wouldn't purchase a copy as a gift for Uncle Irwin and Aunt Martha to go along with their shiny new Tivo. On the other hand, if you fit the target audience and want to get the most out of your Tivo, particularly if you want to expand the number of hours in your Tivo, this book will certainly come in handy. While you can certainly find most of the information in this book on the Internet, there is definitely something to be said for having it all in one place so that you may easily flip through it and reference it.


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Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
Here's a slightly more indepth review:
==========================================
Tivo is a software service, coupled with a digital video recorder, which changes the way one watches TV. O'Reilly's "Tivo Hacks", part of their outstanding "Hacks" series, explores how to tinker with these magical little boxes. "Tivo Hacks" follows the same format as the other titles in the "Hacks" series. Each chapter is an enumerated series of tips and tricks that will have your Tivo doing summersaults by the time you're finished going through all of them.
It is the first two chapters that the vast majority of Tivo owners will find the most useful. The first chapter explores hacks that may be performed with the remote control. This includes such hacks as the indispensable "30-Second Skip" hack, the powerful "Enabling Advanced WishLists" hack, and the why-would-you-ever-want-to-do-this "Italicizing Everything" hack.
The second chapter carefully details how to add more hours to your Tivo. This section carefully walks the more intrepid souls through removing and installing the necessary hard drives, backing up your original drives, and making your new drives Tivo-friendly. "Tivo Hacks" carefully explains each task step-by-step, as well as detailing the tools and materials you will need. The book certainly makes what may seem a daunting procedure very doable.
Tivo is essentially a Linux box. The remaining chapters offer hacks which exploit this fact, and these are definitely for the more technically minded. Herein we find out how to work with Tivo's shell, how to install software on Tivo, how to get Tivo speaking to other computers, how to bring the Internet to Tivo, and many more things that expand the capabilities of your Tivo. The book concludes with a chapter on writing and compiling code for Tivo. As in the first two chapters, each hack is carefully explained and due caution is clearly noted where applicable. Example code for hacks is given in Perl, Tcl, and C.
The author does a fine job throughout in making each hack clear and understandable. If you fancy yourself a bit of a hacker, then after reading this book you should feel comfortable undertaking any of these hacks.
Is this book for you? Well, if you have a Series 2 Tivo, really only the first two chapters are of much interest. The Series 1 boxes are much more "hackable" than the newer Series 2 boxes, and as a result the majority of the rest of the hacks will not work on the Series 2. This book, certainly beyond the first chapter at least, requires a certain level of technical ability, and as such is not for your average Tivo owner. In other words, I probably wouldn't purchase a copy as a gift for Uncle Irwin and Aunt Martha to go along with their shiny new Tivo. On the other hand, if you fit the target audience and want to get the most out of your Tivo, particularly if you want to expand the number of hours in your Tivo, this book will certainly come in handy. While you can certainly find most of the information in this book on the Internet, there is definitely something to be said for having it all in one place so that you may easily flip through it and reference it.
[ January 11, 2004: Message edited by: Jason Menard ]
 
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