TiVo subscribers looking to offload DVR recordings were caught by surprise when TiVo Desktop and other methods of transfer inexplicably failed. As it turns out, TiVo To Go has been crippled by an expired server-side cookie of some sort. Of course, you probably aren’t so concerned with the reason and are more interested in a resolution. While one TiVo support rep tried to pin this on a recent Microsoft update and suggested waiting 24-48 hours for a Redmond fix, we know better. And the simplest workaround is to merely set your computer clock to an earlier day, week, or even year. Assuming that approach doesn’t negatively impact other applications, like local email. Other options including constructing your own replacement cookie, should you be sufficiently geeky and motivated, or swapping out TiVo’s antiquated software for kmttg and updating the default curl download method to Java.
As to how this happened (and when it may be fixed), one can only guess. But we’ve seen it before from apps like Rhapsody and even prior versions of TiVo Desktop. And we suspect it’s related to contracting out a significant amount of what you might call non-core DVR functionality, as we see with the existing (and exceptional) TiVo iOS app developed by Duff Research. So while TiVo wisely contracts out the skills they need, without being burdened by long-term overhead, projects without champions have a way of failing via entropy. In this case, maybe it’s a simple oversight, maybe a preoccupation with a TiVo Desktop successor, or maybe the ship really is rudderless. Regardless, I imagine they’ll get it corrected in due course.
Update: The cookie in question expired 2/16 and, as we’ve yet to hear anything through TiVo’s social media team or via an online support note, we’ve been tracking TiVo’s support responses.
- 2/16 – TiVo unaware of issue and suspects users have issues due to Microsoft patches. While this could be conceivable on Windows machines, it doesn’t cover Mac transfer failures. (Open source TiVo desktop replacement kmttg updated to work around the issue and without requiring Java.)
- 2/17 – TiVo realizes there’s a problem and begins taking bug reports.
- 2/18 – TiVo tells callers that they’re aware of the issue and engineers are working on it. When service is restored, they will send a notice to TiVo DVRs. Asked if a fix would be in this week, the rep I spoke to believed it was possible but said it could also be next week. (Hybrid TV Australia posts a support note, while TiVo, Inc maintains radio silence.)
- 2/19 – TiVo Support web chat reps are now providing customers a canned reply that has also been posted on their support forum. Here’s an excerpt, “As of February 16th 2013, the TiVoToGo feature of the TiVo Desktop application for Windows PCs is temporarily unavailable and no longer allows transfers from the DVR to the PC. All TiVoToGo-compatible TiVo DVRs are affected. We are aware of the issue and apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused. We are working to restore this feature as soon as possible.” When asked for more detail on timing, the agent replied “it may take up to a week.”
- 2/20 – TiVo support rep posts, “We are actively pursuing a solution which would bypass the need for a workaround, but until that solution is developed, a workaround will be required if content needs to be transferred. As soon as I learn more about a permanent solution, I’ll be sure to share it.”
- 2/27 – Stock TiVo Desktop still broken and no official support note has been posted. I reached out to an online support rep who said engineers are working on the issue but they haven’t been provided a timeline on resolution.
- 3/1 – TiVo web support rep didn’t know the status of an updated TiVo Desktop package. I asked if there is a way to register for an email or DVR alert once a fix is in, and he thought the TiVo webpage would be updated when it’s ready.
- 3/5 -A TiVo support representative has posted a new update… without any sort of ETA. However, it sounds like the short term fix will be an updated TiVo Desktop software package, probably using a hack similar to morac’s approach, followed at some point by software updates to TiVo Series 4, 3, and 2 DVR hardware.
- 3/8 – After three weeks, a TiVo Desktop “patch” has been released as a stop-gap (using morac’s method) until TiVo DVRs can be updated and presumably until a fully supported Windows 8 version of TiVo Desktop is prepared.