Archives For Hacks

As Best Buy is wont to do, new inventory sometimes ends up on shelves and available for purchase before a manufacturer may have intended. As such, several have been tinkering with TiVo Bolt for a few days now. And, the good news is, internal hard drive replacements are a go.


While Bolt may only be offered with only a 2.5″ 500GB or 1TB WD drive, we can go larger and there’s enough clearance in the enclosure for models taller than 9.5mm. Having said that, I still worry about power consumption and heat dissipation given the new form factor … and would probably recommend this 2TB Samsung ($94) — it’s a proven product at a reasonable price point that will provide sufficient DVR storage for many. Continue Reading…


Given periodic tuner conflicts with my Premiere XL4/Elite, due to recording duties and Mini streaming, and a desire to periodically offload DVR-ed shows, something the devalued Slingbox cannot offer,  I’ve been quite pleased since taking TiVo up on their 10 year customer deal last month for a 6-tuner Roamio. Indeed, while TiVo’s “Stream” functionality isn’t currently as robust or reliable as Sling’s, I downloaded several episodes of Arrow onto an iPad for two recent flights. Even with the more frequent drops or need to restart a stream as the 5PM news flips to 6PM, given TiVo’s need to initiate a recording prior to streaming, it’s still far more efficient and pleasant than Sling for “watching TV” at the dinner table. My only real issue since upgrading TiVo has been storage capacity…

My Lifetimed Premiere XL4 provided 3TB for recordings. And while we’re probably watching less “cable” television these days, we’re hoarding much more content as we accumulate seasons and half-seasons for binge viewing, sans commercial interruption. TiVo had offered me the Roamio Plus (1TB) for $500 or the Roamio Pro (3TB) for $700, both with Lifetime service. I figured I’d give the smaller drive a shot to potentially save a few bucks… and knowing I could upgrade on my own down the road, for less than TiVo charges for the drive delta, should 1TB prove insufficient.

Fast forward a few weeks… Continue Reading…


While we’ve seen the TiVo experience running on Amazon Fire TV, there’s no telling when or if the company will ever make this feature available to retail customers. However, with Android streaming in the bag, Roamio Pro/Plus and TiVo Stream owners can take matters in their own hands by sideloading the TiVo APK onto Fire TV or Fire TV Stick… as recorded here.

Getting your TiVo-ed shows onto Fire TV does require a small amount of elbow grease. First off, you’ll need a method to navigate the touch-centric TiVo app interface on a television. Fire TV ($80) owners can get by just fine with a mouse. However, the portless Stick ($40) requires other means of control such as this wireless Android gaming controller or the Wukong app should you happen to have an Android smartphone or tablet available. Then, you’ll need to track down the TiVo Android app APK file. If it doesn’t end up hosted somewhere, the APK can be retrieved via something like Raccoon from a computer. Lastly, Continue Reading…


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.

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.


Accessing Roku’s Secret Menu

Dave Zatz —  September 23, 2014


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

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


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…