Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Every time I'm home on a break, there's always a little something new to see. When I came home for winter break, we had a new back porch. Last summer, we got a DVD player for the first time. And last spring I discovered that my mom had bought new toilet seats for the upstairs and downstairs bathrooms. This time, it's TiVo. Well, almost TiVo. They switched from Cablevision to DirectTV, because it's cheaper, and DirectTV came with a TiVo-like digital video recording system, and even the TiVo remote control that the New York Times lauded a few months ago in an article I'd link to if it wasn't too far in the archives to make it cost money (but you can find it on Lexis for sure). I like TiVo (and I'm going to call it TiVo instead of DirectTV, because that's who makes it and it's really what it is), but I thought I'd like it more. I have some friends who have it, and love it. I'm intrigued by the ability to pause live television, and then come back and watch it about 10 minutes behind so you can fast forward through all of the commercials. The ability to record a "season pass" of every new episode of a program is cool. The ease of use, to set up recording, or to play something back, is fine -- although I'm okay with programming a normal VCR, so this isn't really doing all that much for me. And, as the Times promised, the remote control is nicely contoured and easy to use (although the TV-power-on button is really hard to find if you don't know where it is, and flummoxed me for a good three or four minutes). What I expect is sort of cool is the TiVo recommendations, where it gives you programs based on what you've already recorded. My mom turned that feature off because it was giving her stuff in Spanish for no reason she could come up with. But I've turned it back on while I'm home, because I'm curious what it will give me, now that I've recorded The Apprentice, a "freeview" concert on the "music choice" channel, and a few episodes of a show I read about on the Sundance Channel called Tanner '88, a fictional behind-the-scenes "documentary" of a presidential campaign, that initially ran on HBO in 1988 and is written by Garry Trudeau (Doonesbury) and directed by Robert Altman (famous movies I can't name). They had 4 episodes back-to-back (-to-back-to-back) on yesterday and I recorded them. I've watched one and it was okay, but didn't compel me to immediately watch the rest, although I'm sure I'll get to them before the week is through. But it strikes me that there's nothing *bad* about TiVo -- they've done a very good job creating a set of features no one can really dislike. It's not like a computer, where you have to learn stuff and buy stuff and plug stuff in, and do all sorts of time-intensive activities at the start that can make it prohibitively painful to start -- although obviously computers have enough benefits that many, many, many people have decided it's worth the initial investment to become able to use one. But TiVo presents none of those problems, and although the upside isn't like what you can get out of a computer, it's reasonably cool. So I expect this will become standard stuff pretty soon. Man, this post isn't funny at all except for the gratuitous toilet mention up top. Oh well, yesterday's was hopefully funny, and maybe something later.