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Television Media

Program Tivo over AOL 149

mynametaken writes: "Saw this article about AOL and Tivo partnering to offer services. The gist: Terms of the pact call for San Jose, Calif.-based TiVo to integrate AOL features like instant messaging (IM) and live chat into its new TiVo Series2 DVRs, which were introduced earlier this year. Also, both companies are working to provide AOL members who are also TiVo subscribers with the ability to schedule recordings on their TiVo from the AOL service. I know that being able to program a PVR remotely is a big request. It looks like we'll have to have AOL to do it, though."
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Program Tivo over AOL

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  • by lingqi ( 577227 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @01:16PM (#3452185) Journal
    AOL program introduces a small bug (probabbly something to do with calendar) (see previous story) and all the Simpsons we want to record turns out to be "Dawson's creek" instead...
  • by Marx_Mrvelous ( 532372 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @01:16PM (#3452194) Homepage
    Hmm.. if it's programmable via AOL, couldn't someone develop another application that does the same thing? How hard would it be to fugure out the protocol?
    • Re:No OS equiv? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ajs ( 35943 )
      There will likely be no protocol.

      Or, to be more correct about it, you will talk to AOL, AOL will talk to TiVo and your TiVo box already calls up TiVo WCHQ each night to report on your recent service to the overmind, so the schedule changes from your AOL service will just be added into the mix. Presumably this will mean that you can only cause things to be recorded from AOL that are 24 hours or more out (or they can tell you to "force a dial in" after you submit your info to AOL). I can't imagine how else they would do it, since your TiVo only has access the outside world when it dials in anyway.

      TiVo Web is a much better way to go.
      • [Y]ou will talk to AOL, AOL will talk to TiVo and your TiVo box already calls up TiVo WCHQ each night to report on your recent service to the overmind, so the schedule changes from your AOL service will just be added into the mix.


        I can't imagine how else they would do it, since your TiVo only has access the outside world when it dials in anyway.
        The new Series2 TiVos have the ability to use USB-Ethernet adapters to obtain guide information over the 'net. At the moment this is an announced but offically unsupported 'hack', but it's been fairly clearly implied that it would eventually have a sanctioned use.

        Given that the announcement mentioned instant-messaging, it seems far more likely that the AOL service would require a broadband 'net connection and such an adapter, as having to dial in to retrieve messages makes them a tad less 'instant'. So it may be possible to back-engineer the protocol and use this service without going to AOL. I hope.

        Damn the Emperor!
  • Or just use TiVoWeb (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jack Porter ( 310054 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @01:16PM (#3452196)

    I use it to schedule recordings while I'm at work all the time.
    • TivoWeb doesn't work on Series2.. also it requires you to add a tivonet or setup PPP over serial. Once 3.0 is rolled out, let's hope TivoWeb is made to work on 3.0 and Series2 units. Easy USB ethernet should increase demand for web-based tivo access. Maybe then we'll get a more in-depth and user friendly solution. Heck, I'll use AOL to program my Tivo if it is a good comprehensive interface.
    • A little warning if you want to use TivoWeb: it made my Tivo lock up periodically, I eventually quit running it. YMMV.
  • by G0SP0DAR ( 552303 )
    Will it work with Trillian? www.trillian.cc AOL has been a prick lately about third-party clients...
    • by Da w00t ( 1789 )
      No, AOL has been picky about nasty [trillian.cc] clients, not good [sourceforge.net] clients. Throughout the entire trillian fiasco, all gaim users using the oscar or toc protocol did not have any problems. AOL was directly targeting trillian.
      • And before Trillian AOL was targeting Gaim specifically.. Once AOL realized that Gaim wasn't going to give up, they backed off.. Same with Trillian, they havn't messed with Trillian in months.. I don't see why Trillian is "Nasty". At least it comes with encryption so you can talk to other people using trillian over an encrypted connection. With Gaim you need a seperate plugin, and when I tried it, it didn't work for shit.

    • Trillian is not an AOL client. Trillian is an AOL-Instant-Messenger-capable IM client. There is a major difference here.
  • by saintlupus ( 227599 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @01:17PM (#3452199) Homepage
    I can hardly wait to fill other people's TiVo drives with dreadful Cinemax softcore porn.

    "So easy to exploit, no wonder its number one!"

  • I love how EVERYTHING has to be hooked up to the Internet now. I don't want to turn on my TIVO and see that some Hax0r has told it to record 60 hours of paid programming and Dawson's Creek. Yes, the TIVO connects to the Internet anyway, but this is a potentially huge problem. I'm hoping one day that my oven connects to the Internet so that hackers can use it to burn my apartment down.

  • by jimmcq ( 88033 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @01:18PM (#3452209) Journal
    I know that being able to program a PVR remotely is a big request

    That capability has been available for quite some time from ReplayTV [replaytv.com]... and you don't even need AOL to do it! :)
    • Dang it, you said before I did! For non-subscribers who want to see the front door to this, see http://www.myreplaytv.com/
    • Well, from the way I understand it the way this works is it will change the programming data next time it calls in to sync. So it's only useful if it's something for the next day (since those calls usually happen in the middle of the night). With TiVoWEB the changes happen right away. So if you're at work and you find out something is going to be on at say 4pm, and you get home at 5pm, and you have TiVoWEB installed, you'll get it, but with the replay service you won't.

      Of course TiVoWEB is a something you have to hack onto the TiVo, but it's still cool.

  • I think they're missing their target audience here. I mean sure, the techno illiterate (AOL users) will be able to use a TiVo, but are they really going to be the ones that want this functionality? They need to make this service available to everyone who uses the "real" internet.

    Just my $.02
  • Look no further than Replay TV and their separate site (http://www.myreplaytv.com). I have been using it for about a year now.

    Good luck to all you Tivo owners who start to get stuck with AOL services. Didn't we all run as fast as we could away from AOL's proprietary everything a couple of years ago? Don't we all make fun of every AOL user we come across.

    I'm embarassed for every Tivo user, especially the /. folks.

    • Yeah, we all thought back in 1995/6 that AOL was doomed: "As soon as people get their sea legs with the 'net, they'll branch out." Guess what? They didn't. AOL has succeeded brilliantly in making their walled garden proprietary service a great solution for the vast majority of netizens who aren't /. folks.

      A partnership like this is going to be very helpful if Tivo is going to make the jump from being a product for the people who read this site, to a product for the 99+% of consumers who don't, and don't want to. AOL knows how to sell to those folks with an easy-to-use, and more importantly EASY-TO-EXPLAIN solution. Tivo's biggest problem has not been getting people to pay for the service once they understand it (there's a lot of "You'll take my Tivo from my cold dead hands" out there), but rather getting people to try it.

      The most interesting potential here would be if AOL decided to throw some serious marketing $ behind this, and increase the inherent subsidy in the hardware prices, then penetration for these boxes could really take off.
    • Don't we all make fun of every AOL user we come across.

      I know I do. ;)
  • by printdevil ( 203882 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @01:22PM (#3452227)
    I program my Replay over the internet all the time. http://www.myreplaytv.com/

    Even when I'm sitting in front of the TV, it's a lot easier to type in names of shows, search, etc with a full keyboard and mouse than with an on-screen keyboard. I can also download the show to my laptop's hard drive and watch it on the plane. And I don't have to be on AOL.
  • In January 2001, AOL and TiVo expanded their relationship to include an enhanced multi-million dollar marketing and promotional campaign across various AOL Time Warner online, print and television media properties. The campaign focused on educating consumers about the TiVo personal television service.

    As has been mentioned before, the hardest thing about a PVR is trying to explain it to other people. I've had mine for 1.5 years now, and I still have a hard time explaining what it is to people. But once I show it to them, they understand (and usually think its pretty neat). Haven't gotten any hooked on it yet, but I keep trying.

    • I know 2 people who have TiVo. They don't know each other, but they've both made the same comment, independently: It changes the way you watch TV forever.

      I've never actually used one and I want one!

      Especially the ability to program via the Internet. Would be sweet to be on vacation, see that something I wanna watch/have is on and go program TiVo to get it. (However, I'll probably end up with Dish's PVR instead of TiVo - less useful, I know, but I wanna get rid of AT&T and it's the only other game in town. Well, besides DirecTiVo, but for whatever reason Dish seems like the better deal....)

      • I would do some reserch before I make the Dish/DirecTv decision. From some of the stuff I've read in rec.video.satellite.dbs [satellite.dbs], there are some quality issues associated with Dish. The common consesus is that DirecTv has better equipment and a better picture (unless all you are worried about it cost)

        You should be able to go to some stores and check out the picture difference between the two and see if you notice anything. Frankly, I'm happy that I lucked out and got DirecTv. The picutre is much better than what I got from Cable before (I got lucky because I hadn't done my reading before hand, just knew that I wanted a DirecTivo unit)

  • Is this useful? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by phoenix26x ( 245359 )
    Disclaimer: I do not own a tivo. I have seen them in use, though.

    I fully understand how remotely updating your preferences would be useful. Say you are at work, a coworker tells you about a certain program thats on an hour before you get home. Log on to AOL (sigh) and update your prefs! In contrast, would anyone really want IM and chat capabilties in their PVR? Can anyone think of a good use?
  • AOL in trouble? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by billnapier ( 33763 )

    At the same time, TiVo will return to AOL $48 million of a $200 million investment made in June 2000 because "the new product offering will not require the subsidy payments contemplated at the time of the original agreement," TiVo officials said in a statement. AOL in turn will return 1.6 million shares of TiVo preferred stock to the DVR concern.

    With all the talks about AOL-TimeWarner having some financial trouble (with AOL's stock dropping in the toiliet), I wonder if this has anything to do with AOL needing their money back?

  • by gklinger ( 571901 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @01:25PM (#3452258)
    Let me get this straight. AOL-TimeWarner owns Turner Broadcasting. Turner Broadcasting says PVR users are thieves [slashdot.org] and yet AOL is making it easier for me to use my PVR?
    • Don't worry, the Senator from Disney will clear it all up with his next bill.

    • this is comparable to sony's music division suing p2p companies for contributing to copyright infringement while sony's electronics division tries to make money off mp3 players. i'm waiting for media conglomerates to get so huge that their subsidiaries sue each other without even realizing they're owned by the same company.
    • That's simple.

      They get you using their remote programming service, and then you realize you ONLY get the commercials shown during the show, not the show itself!


    • The real irony with yesterday's story [slashdot.org] about the Dallas Morning News opposing 'deep linking' the technological retards at the dallas morning news had invested heavily in a startup company whose only product [kent.edu] "...instructs your Web browser to go directly to a page within a Web site, eliminating the need to go through several links."

      Geez. Even when every other critic in the world had pronounced the CueCat a stupid idea and a failed business effort, the Dallas Morning News kept supporting it. Now they've turned a 180 and want to force people to click through as many pages as possible. What gives?

      I can understand how a mega-goliath like AOL-TimeWarner might be at opposing ends of an issue. Sort of like how Sony makes CDRW drives and also finances the RIAA in battling piracy. But the Dallas Morning News people who are running their website (and presumeably the CueCat debachle) probably all sit in the same building.
  • by zaren ( 204877 ) <holdthis@mail.com> on Thursday May 02, 2002 @01:26PM (#3452261) Homepage Journal
    Turner Broadcasting thinks PVR users are theives, though [slashdot.org]... and AOL owns Turner Broadcasting!

    Maybe they can set up their system to skip recording anything that's on a Turner station...

    Uncle Bernie has left the building! [cafepress.com]
  • Looks like AOL-Time Warner needs to get their story straight. I mean, first PVR users are theives, and now the same conglomerate wants to add functionality to their PVR?

    It doesn't make sense to me unless they're just dying to insert pop-up ads over actual TV shows.
  • It looks like we'll have to have AOL to do it, though.

    /me thinks it will be less than a few hours before a few linux apps can do it. at least until the next "upgrade".

  • ...that a major "content provider" like AOL/Time Warner would have anything to do with a "theft machine" PVR. I bet the folks on the Time Warner side know nothing about this.

  • This is Great! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Qwerpafw ( 315600 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @01:27PM (#3452275) Homepage
    Well, maybe not great, but I think that this turn of events is properly termed a "Really Good Thing!"

    After they finish with napster (if ever) the media companies seem to have set their sights on TiVo as their next target. What with the "PVR=illegal" comment [slashdot.org] by Jamie Kellner, and the disapproval in general of being able to record and store media, its not a wonder the lawsuits haven't already begun.

    Having AOL Time Warner throw their weight behind TiVo (if only partially), will at least make most companies think twice before going after TiVo, not to mention add a veneer of legitamacy to the whole PVR movement.

    Plus, since Jamie Kellner is CEO of turner broadcasting (owned by AOL Time Warner), maybe his superiors will get him to shut up :).
    • Are you saying this because you are an AOL subscriber? I noticed your email address is at AOL.
      <ponders, while scratching chin>
    • The FCC has already said that the end consumer will be allowed to "timeshift" programs off air, so PVRs are not illegal in any way when "used as perscribed" 8-)
    • Agreed... what's humorous about the other thread [slashdot.org] is that while this one exec may be foaming at the mouth, a large amount of the industry has embraced TiVo and uses it, particularly the news people.

      Why? Because in the broadcasting industry there may be shows on that are at inconvienent times for you to watch. If you have a 6 am TV show, you're up at around 2 am to get to work, get makeup, get briefed, etc. before going on air. That means you don't get to watch Nightline, or 60 minutes, or even the 11 o'clock news. And while some anchors are just talking heads, not all of them are. So they want to be able to watch other shows and form their own opinions.

      I really suspect that Mr. Kellner accused over half of CNN's anchors of being thieves. Bet that'll go over nicely.

      Even outside the news industry it's well liked... again, because the TV business (and entertainment in general) results in odd hours where you may not be available to watch whatever shows you like for weeks on end. TiVo/Replay can handle that. A VCR can't.
    • not to mention add a veneer of legitamacy to the whole PVR movement.

      I swear I thought that read "add a weener of legitamacy".

      AOL: The company with the legit weener.
  • ...on-demand downloads of AOL-TW owned programming?
  • by m4g02 ( 541882 )
    Your future records will be full of AOL promotions and adviserments...
  • You have stolen property [slashdot.org]!!!

  • [slashdot.org]
    Here we have the CEO of Turner (part of AOL Time Warner) saying that PVR users are theives and yet his same company are embracing them for profit.

    Good to see AOLTW have their departments in sync... the whole gnutella thing is ringing in my head too.
  • First before I say anything, I would like to say I'm a proud owner of a 20hr TiVo and it's great!

    TiVo has been also a great company to work with, very responsive.

    However, I don't think it's a good idea to team up with AOL. Maybe it's time to start looking at these video cards that are getting closer and closer to providing a TiVo like service--- ie, ATI's All-in-Wonder 8500 128MB & TV/Capture Card [anandtech.com] and the titantv service Now, before you assume that this is just another post claiming "you could build it yourself and play Quake on it too", check out the link. You can now schedule stuff, have it do time shifting, etc etc. I linked to the page that begins to talk about the tv recording like services. The actual review starts a few pages back. Anyways, word on the street is the TiVo on your pc isn't far away at all.
    • by kindbud ( 90044 )
      However, I don't think it's a good idea to team up with AOL.

      Oh no, getting access to 23 million+ naive consumers who have at least $20 disposable income per month is usually the death knell for any fledgling business. Yessirree.
  • Gee, and they're just now realizing the AOL/TimeWarner alliance was a bad idea... I feel so sorry for all you Tivo owners. "Now there's a new way to spam Tivo users! It's AOL 7.0!" You don't think so? It's coming...
  • Think about it. AOL, 1/2 of AOLTW acknowledging that PVRs are actually legitimate consumer electronics and trying to get its foot in the door by adding services to them. That not only discredits that stupid TW executive because who the hell is going to take her seriously when half of AOLTW is taking PVRs seriously, it also may mean that AOLTW will find a way to get around the "theft" issue of PVRs.

    If AOLTW figures out how to make a profit on broadcasting and PVRs that is a good thing. It means that we will have one less company that is sympathetic to the unproductive whiners whose state-enforced monopolies have made them into lazy little shits unable to move faster in a rapidly changing marketplace than a T-Rex caught in a tar pit.

  • Imagine, how instead of just flaming AOLers for stupidity we can just reprogram all their Buffy and Angel schedules with the Discovery Channel or CSPAN. Come back from a week on vacation and you got a full disk of ranting from Sen Hollings, or endless house debates over that House Bill 602P (internet email taxes).
  • by eyeball ( 17206 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @01:51PM (#3452435) Journal
    Just wait till Turner Broadcasting CEO Jamie Kellner figures out that instant messenging distracts the viewer from watching commercials during ad-supported basis. That project will be dead quicker than you can say "what a freakin jackass."

    Seriously, I could see television executives, using legislation or lawsuits, require all set-top boxes to freeze up during commercials and not allow the user to do anything but watch.

    • how is skipping/fast forwarding thru an ad any different than taking a poop during a commercial break?

      semi off topic.... sue me...
    • Like when Disney makes you watch a preview for their new movie every time you watch the DVD you bought, and you can't fast-forward through it or skip it or whatever...

      • Like when Disney makes you watch a preview for their new movie every time you watch the DVD you bought, and you can't fast-forward through it or skip it or whatever...

        That forced feed preview feature of DVDs represents a theft of my time.

        I'm sure that DVD preview section is only going to grow larger over time, until it starts to dwarf the 7 previews and 2 advertisements that take up the front end of most VHS rental tapes.

        "Honey, put on the DVD and the mute button so after dinner we can watch the movie!"

      • Like when Disney makes you watch a preview for their new movie every time you watch the DVD you bought, and you can't fast-forward through it or skip it or whatever...

        If you had an Apex AD600A, you'd just hit "PBC Off" twice and then go straight to the menu. (It's good for skipping "FBI warnings" on other DVDs...can't say that I've tested it against any Di$ney stuff as I've never bought or rented any Di$ney DVDs.)

  • I may be wrong, but doesn't AOL/TW own Turner Broadcasting whose CEO recently called PVR users thieves. Such irony.
  • ReplayTV (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    ReplayTV already has the capability to program the DVR from the internet.
  • So, if I understand this correctly, AOL is complicating their services after touting to the entire planet how simple their services are... I know that I am not the only /.er here who doesn't think that programming a PVR may be outside the realm of AOL users....

    The massive security holes in this will be hilarious to read about... heh, heh

  • I think what they mean is using AOL in the sense that MovieFone.com is part of AOL. AOL would own a website that would have a guide on it. Users would go to that site already for program guide information, and there would be an option to set a recording for the TiVo. Just a guess though.
  • This morning we got the "PVR users are thieves" message from Turner's CEO. And now we see AOL making it easier to use TIVO? Turner is owned by AOL-Time Warner. Doesn't this seem strange that they say it's bad but make it easy to use?
  • Integrating IM with TiVo... sure would make it easy to send ads to individual people, eh?
  • Doesn't this mean that AOL is promoting [slashdot.org]

    If PVR use really is theft, as Turner Broadcasting would have us believe, it's interesting that AOL Time Warner would take measures like to to encourage it.

  • At least that way it'll be Open....and not controlled by AOhEll
  • Isn't this a little conflicting with the interview [slashdot.org] on Slashdot this morning? Sounds like AOL-Time Warner needs to get their story straight!
  • This is GREAT!!! Now AOL can see what I watch as well as where I surf!!!

  • Does it strike anyone as odd that on the same day Ted Turner calls users of PVRs "thieves" and a story about TiVo being programmable over AOL-TW?

    To quote Safety Monkey of Penny Arcade:
    "I call bullshit."
  • This was a cover story for the fact that AOL pulled out of joint devlopment of an AOLTV\TiVo box for Time Warner cable subs.

    Think about it, how would you IM with without a keyboard?
  • It seems kind of disturbing to me what this partnership could ultimately lead to... If I recall correctly earlier today a Time Warner executive labeled all users of PVRs "theives" for breach of contract with the carriers for not watching the ads we "agreed" to watch in payment for the show. Now AOL is going to know what I'm watching with my TiVo. They'll know when I'm "stealing" television from them (and probably jump to the conclusion that I skipped the commercials, which of course would be true). What kind of implications might this have with Copyright Law/Intellectual Property Laws being the way they are today?
  • Please..gimme a break. A PVR does not need an IM function. If I wanted to talk to someone, remotely, WHILE WATCHING TV, I'd do it on the phone. Not trying to divide my eyeball time between the show that was sooo important I just HAD to record/timeshift, and an AOL IM window.

    So when the AOL/AIM client gets hacked (again), your TiVo is tits up. Nice.

    Everything should not be merged with everything else.
  • Tivo just got shut down. There are only 3 companies that wanted to _partner_ with Tivo as much or more, and they all have "B" as their middle initial.

  • Given what Turner Broadcasting said, perhaps they're using this as a way to figure out what you're "stealing", and bill you accordingly. :)

    They could also use the data they're sure to keep to as a way to target ads and to watch viewing patterns.

    Read that user agreement VERY closely, kiddies.
  • ...does that mean that AOL (of AOL Time Warner, remember?) is now trying to infiltrate the PVR market in order to destroy it [yale.edu]?
  • If AOL can not be easily avoided/turned off, they just lost my money. I have been looking into TiVo type devices for a while. When I fould out about the new series two units from TiVo, I've been getting ready to buy one. But if my TiVo is going to be slow and crash because of AOL software, I don't want it. If I'm going to get IMs from people trying to send me viruses during my favorite shows, I don't want it. If I get a single piece of spam on my TV, I don't want it. I sure hope TiVo will keep a VERY tight rope around AOL.
  • you can already do remote record through the beta of Ultimate TV. That plus picture in picture was what sold me on it instead of Tivo.
  • I can already program my TiVo remotely, and even watch what's showing (well, sorta). It didn't involve any modifications to TiVo, either, such as those required for TivoWeb.

    However, it did require a bunch of equipment and a bunch of work. Basically, it looks like this--

    The video output of the TiVo goes, via a switcher, to a PC that has an ATI All-in-Wonder card in it running, gasp, Windows 98. Software on the PC is my own program, and with a very long VGA cable, it acts as the TV & information appliance in my kitchen. Also on this PC is some basic webcam software that my program can start and stop.

    I have a second PC dedicated to home automation running Linux. Connected to this PC is a box called an Ocelot, which, among other things, can send arbitrary IR commands. I use Xantech products to distribute the IR to the various pieces of equipment.

    Finally, on the Linux box is a custom home automation server that manages all the home automation components, including the Ocelot. PHP-based web pages can talk to this server and cause it to send IR commands to my TiVo.

    So, with a web page that includes the webcam output and some buttons to command the home automation system, I can interactively view and control my TiVo. It's a bit of a rube goldberg solution, but it only uses the "official" input/output (i.e. IR and video) capabilities of the TiVo, so it will work without mods and is largely immune to TiVo system software changes.
  • Have you all noticed the earlier slashdot story involving Turner CEO [slashdot.org] where he accuses all PVR owners of being theives? Did you then notice AOL partnering with TIVO? Did you happen to link the fact that Turner is a part of AOL Time Warner? Just a thought to brighten your day with the stupidity of others!! ;)
  • It looks like we'll have to have AOL to do it, though.

    The way this is put so non-chalantly by a slashdotter conjures images of hoardes of hackers using ill-gotten AOL accounts to program their Tivo's so they can watch pirated [slashdot.org] TV.

    sig, nah...

Just because he's dead is no reason to lay off work.