An Evening With Ken Burns

Heather and I went down to UT Arlington tonight to see Ken Burns speak. We stopped at Prince Lebanese Grill for dinner beforehand and really enjoyed the food. It was one of Guy’s stops on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, and was well worth the trip.

The setup for Mr. Burns’s presentation wasn’t a lecture so much as an interview, conducted by one of the local PBS radio personalities. He was a pleasure to listen to, very well spoke and intelligent. I really enjoyed listening to his insights on baseball, war, American history and culture, and more. There was a short Q-and-A session afterwords, followed by a chance to go up and get something signed. I got my copy of The Civil War book signed, which was nice…

Yay Verizon!

After a long-ish call, bouncing around between a couple departments we got it all sorted out. I’ve now got a residential FiOS TV account along side my business FiOS Internet account. The channel line-up looks perfect, the cost is OK, and the TiVo’s happily recording off-the-air and FiOS sources.

Crazy Not So Successful FiOS TV Install

Well, the installation is done but it’s not quite right. There’s still a bit of a knowledge gap between the business and residential sides in the ordering center so I was not provisioned with what I was told I was going to get. That means I’m missing a ton of sports and HD channels. The good news is that at least here in North Texas we’re getting multi-stream CableCards so I didn’t need two of them for the TiVo. I’m going to call Verizon in the morning and see what I can do to get the programming issues resolved…

Moving to FiOS TV And A New Tivo

I have FiOS, the business class service because I wanted static IPs so that I could host things like this blog. In mid-December Verizon had me change netblocks to allow us business customers to take advantage of new products and/or services. Well, it turns out that one of them is FiOS TV. I called them today and spoke to some very helpful people who answered my questions and set me up for an installation. Soon enough I won’t have rain fade during severe weather and the borked up guide data that doesn’t mark repeats as repeats.

After I scheduled the installation I went over Tivo‘s site and ordered a Tivo HD. Why a Tivo? A few reasons. First, I’ve been totally spoiled with the DirecTV one I’ve had for years. Second, I like having the ability to add more storage, and third, having known people with Verizon’s DVR, lets just say I didn’t want to have to deal with those issues!

The installation is set for a couple weeks from now, which should give me time to get the Tivo in and set up. Anything to make the installer’s life easier!

Another 10% Off!

I found a 10% off coupon that I’d gotten with the Vonage rebates and went back over to the store to see if they could apply it. It turned out that they could and I saved another 10% on the purchase price, which I’m not going to scoff at.

New Surround Sound Receiver

When I signed up for Vonage, Circuit City was doing a pretty sweet deal with rebates and such. They paid for the adapter, the signup fees, and left me with a gift card to put towards an upgrade of my receiver. The only problem was that the card had a rather short expiration date.

So, that being said, since there was a sale going on today, I picked up a Sony STR-DE898. It does component video switching so I can run the TV on component input and have the receiver do all of the video switching. I’ve got everything running now and it’s working well. Even got the Harmony remote reprogrammed.

Starving Artists?

I’ve been seeing a lot of commercials for those so calledstarving artist sales coming up here in the metromess and started to do a little digging. Well, here’s some info from someone with a Ph.D. in art that helps set the record straight.

Personalli, these sales fall under the “if it sounds too good to be true” category.

Hacking My Tivo

Today was the big day. I finally got fed up with 35 hours on my Hughes SD-DVR40 and upgraded it with The Zipper. I had two 60 gig drives laying around and decided to put them to good use. The Tivo came apart easily and after a few missteps with burning the CDs, I got everything going. I’ve now got a 100 hour unit with networking, but the only problem was that the USB Ethernet adapter I bought, a Linksys USB200M Version 2, wasn’t supported until I could log in. That needed a serial cable, and luckily I had some parts laying around to make one.

I’ve got everything running now, the channels are all back, the season passes have been re-done, and it’s all working again. Next step is to replace the drives with bigger ones when money permits.

DirecTV Series 2 Tivo + Vonage

There’s a lot of problems with getting Tivos to work with Vonage and DirecTV made it worse by disabling the USB ports, which means that we can’t hook up an Ethernet adapter. After digging around for a while I foind a combination that worked for me and my Hughes SD-DVR40 Series 2 DVR.

First, connect a DSL filter in between the DVR and the phone jack. Then go in to the configuration settings and set the dialing prefix to “,#096,12122773895”. This will make the Tivo dial out to the New York number and will force it down to 9600 bps. I didn’t bother changing my area code or dialin number because what’s in the prefix is what gets called. The test call worked and it’s got a scheduled call planned for overnight, so hopefully it will work.