Archives For Hacks

roamio-6tb

While the TiVo Roamio line may officially max out at 3TB of recording capacity, licensed reseller WeaKnees has offered 4TB drives nearly since launch. And, should that 637 hours of HD content not be enough, WeaKnees has just unveiled 6TB drives – a TiVo upgrade good for a whopping 960 hours of high def content. The WeaKnees 6TB DIY kits clock in at $450 while preconfigured 6TB Roamios start at $700… which is a far more practical solution for most than the ridiculous $5000 TiVo Mega.

roku-credit-card

While Roku remains our go-to streaming player, gifting still leaves something to be desired. And, as the company eclipses 10 million units and pressures streaming partners, Roku continues to solicit credit card information for the small number of apps that require it and to take a cut of every M-Go video rental or purchase. Of course, this isn’t unusual given Apple and Amazon streaming devices that also have credit cards on file. But, for whatever reason, it seems out of place on Roku and not everyone is comfortable or capable of complying. Whereas the company once suggested folks that object create fake PayPal accounts, they now direct customers to a non-publicized link. Instead of registering new Roku boxes via the standard workflow, by going through the link below, customers are provided a convenient “Skip” button to bypass the payment form.

https://owner.roku.com/signup-nocc

Accessing Roku’s Secret Menu

Dave Zatz —  September 23, 2014 — 4 Comments

roku-secret-screen

While I’d been vaguely familiar with a prior version of Roku’s service menu, I hadn’t yet stumbled upon the one associated with their newer user interface… Until a co-worker mentioned he’d had some issues resulting in Roku support directing him here. While there’s not a whole lot of interest for most of us on any sort of regular basis, I do believe it’s my digital media civic duty to document its existence. So, to bring up the Roku Secret Screen:

  • Click the Home button 5 times
  • Click the Fast Forward button three times
  • Click the Rewind button twice

It’s not Konami Code difficult, but remember to use the transport controls versus the directional arrows. And I should probably warn you that selecting the wrong option in this menu could possibly brick your device… although I doubt that’s likely.

(Thanks Keith!)

How To Update Toyota Entune

Dave Zatz —  August 7, 2014

entune-update4

Coming upon the two-year mark of Prius ownership, I began searching for updates to Toyota Entune – the automaker’s app platform. Originally designed to be a revenue generating service, Toyota took it fee-free in 2013. It seems a number of usability quirks and connectivity issues have been improved since taking possession of my Prius. Unfortunately, my local dealer is either uninformed or doesn’t take action unless prompted, as our Entune system was never updated during numerous routine servicings. And, it turns out, my car may have been three revs behind.

Fortunately, the community has stepped up and documented a DIY manual upgrade. Of course, your mileage may vary and you risk breaking something by going down this path. But I was willing to roll the dice with the procedure, versus visiting my local Toyota service center given their apparent unfamiliarity with Entune and now that my two years are up as I’d be paying out-of-pocket for maintenance. Also, keep in mind, this platform update won’t refresh your maps. Lastly, you don’t have to be on 3.1 or even 2.1 to upgrade to the current 3.2 (which is several months old), as the updates are cumulative.

  1. Format a USB thumb drive using FAT32 and label it 14A
  2. Download and copy these files to the USB drive
  3. Insert the drive into your car’s USB port and turn the engine on
  4. Follow on-screen prompts to install update

entune-update1

The process is super simple and relatively quick. Sadly, my wife still can’t browse our uploaded contacts from the passenger seat while I’m driving and Android devices provided greater Entune capabilities than iPhone – primarily related to Apple restrictions, versus Toyota shortcomings.

Some items corrected via the ~300MB 3.1/3.2 updates:

  • Call volume through speakers is very loud upon first-time phone pairing
  • iPod® and iPhone® autoplays when connected via USB
  • Bluetooth® (BT) devices (in Bluetooth audio mode) autoplays when connected to the system
  • Roads flash on and off in certain zoom levels (when Entune is in use)
  • Discolored bands appear across the screen (when Entune is in use)
  • Map area on the screen is black and only buttons are visible (when Entune is in use)
  • Navigation freezes (when Entune is in use)
  • When Bluetooth is the last audio mode selected in previous ignition cycle, audio source switches back to Bluetooth when another source is selected immediately after the engine starts

Fellow tech enthusiast and DC neighbor Joel Ward continues his role as a Features contributor here at Zatz Not Funny. Beyond ZNF, Joel can be found at Joel Explains It All and @joelsef on Twitter.

In our crowd, just a few years back watching OTA and cable on your computer was all the rage. Platforms like Windows Media Center, SageTV, and SnapStream BeyondTV allowed you to attach a tuner to your PC, watch and pause live TV and record shows. I was all about Windows Media Center, and with the advent of Windows 7 it was available in every edition of the OS (well, except Home Basic). Instead of needing to buy a “Digital Cable Ready PC” like with Windows Vista, Windows 7 allowed WMC to view encrypted cable via a CableCard with the right tuner attached to any PC. Who needed a cable box anymore?

Continue Reading…

Banish TiVo Pause Menu Ads

Dave Zatz —  July 25, 2014

Next up in our buy more TiVo series are steps to hide intrusive pause menu advertising. While TiVo produces arguably the best DVR, beyond consumer sales and service, the company augments revenue by leveraging their userbase for advertising and analytics. The vast majority of these initiatives are applied with a soft touch, but pause menu ads clearly cross the line by layering paid promos atop television content. As TiVo says, Continue Reading…

Waterproofing Your Gadgets

Dave Zatz —  March 24, 2014

waterproof-kindle

The Digital Reader is out with a post covering yet another waterproofing coating. While I wouldn’t roll the dice with aftermarket “nano” coatings on devices not designed for immersion and I don’t trust Lifeproof after evaluating two cases, the broader hope is that major manufacturers would directly integrate water resistant technologies… as we’ve started to see from Samsung and Sony tablets and smartphones. Of course, an obvious use case would be taking your Kindle to the pool or tub. And protecting your device from minimal splashes and the occasional, accidental dunk may not require a significant investment of money or cutting edge technology… as both I and the Geek Tonic household have been using inexpensive Zip-loc sandwich bags to protect our “books” in moist environments for years. However, I will tell you that wiping away “screen” condensation (in that steamy shower) works way better with non-touchscreen Kindles since the plastic transfers touch pretty darn well.