Yup, This TiVo Tweets

Dave Zatz —  February 3, 2009

While we haven’t yet arrived at Todd’s (cybernetic) activity stream vision, mere days after our post, Darren Cloutier has answered the call:

I saw the post about this on Friday night and thought it would make a great weekend project! From my old PC in the basement, a PHP script logs into the web server on each TiVo box and grabs the XML file with everything that is currently on the box. This part was written by somebody on the community forums back when TiVo2Go was first released as a way to translate your now playing list to an HTML document. Since I already run this script every hour to update my website, I simply added some more code which looks for recordings that have a start time greater than one hour ago, format the text as a nice Tweet and then redirect these to Twitter via the Twitter API which is easily accessible in PHP.

A little imagination and some PHP elbow grease is all it took to give Darren’s TiVos a voice. Again, not quite as interactive as what Todd envisions. But a cool project, nonetheless. And, if you’re feeling voyeuristic, those TiVo recording tweets can be found here: http://twitter.com/TwiVo

In other Twitter automation news, Macworld’s Jason Snell documents a variety of ways to script or filter tweets. But, wait. There’s more! The Twitter team recently documented the incubation and evolution of their 140 character service. Plus, yours truly has been anointed as a top tech tweeter by Jason Hiner of ZDNet.

14 responses to Yup, This TiVo Tweets

  1. Nice work, Darren! I know Todd is hoping you’ll share your code somewhere… :)

  2. This is an amazing hack, but quick question. Why a start time of greater then 1 hour instead of say 1 or 5 minutes? Do you not want it tweeting whats in its buffer all day Darren?

  3. Hmm.. am I the only one who doesn’t care about what the TiVo is up to? Am I missing the point? I guess the good news is I don’t have to follow Twivo. But seriously- automated tweets irk me. It’s all a bit spammy.

  4. I think the idea is for the owner/family/immediate friends to be able to follow the tweet and thus know what’s been recorded recently.

  5. @Dave Zatz – Thanks! I am hoping to post the code somewhere this weekend. I want to take a little bit of time to clean it up and try to find the person on TCF who wrote the first part to make sure it’s OK. Stay tuned!

    @Ben – I decided that since most programs start at the top of or half past the hour, that this would be the least intensive way to accurately document what these TiVo’s are up to.

    @Lacy Kemp – It is kind of neat to receive text messages when your tivo is recording something. Although I can totally understand where you are coming from. It is a bit strange to broadcast my recording habits! I should put some CNN in there or something. Everybody must think I’m either 5 years old or have a serious PBS/Noggin habit!

  6. @Lacy – agreed. can’t really be bothered with something like that, in my work I have enough alerts and system messages to keep me busy 24/7. when i get home to finally have a moment i’ll see what’s on my DVR by turning it on and browsing the list.

  7. @DarrenCloutier
    DaveZatz can vouch for me, I’m gonzotek on twitter and the TCF, and you’re welcome to post the code. Share and enjoy!

  8. Yep, Cassidy’s a good dude and was instrumental in tearing apart some of the early TiVo XML stuff and such back in the day. Maybe this will motivate him to get back to work on some of those ideas I sent him years ago. ;)

  9. @Stacy Kemp, all others with questions

    Ryan Rose’s washing machine ( @pimpy3wash ) and Mr. Cloutier’s excellent implementation with his TiVo are fun, interesting examples of what can be done today – but the implications are profound.

    In order to answer your question “Am I missing something?” I only have “long format” references to cite.

    One being, of course, Professor Gelernter’s book Mirror Worlds, specifically what he called “personal information beams”. I encourage you to read this prophetic work and come to your own conclusions.

    Another, is Jyri Engeström, who has a PhD in Sociology and is noted for coining the term ‘social objects’ to refer to photos, bookmarks, and other shareable Web content, and his talk at Web and Beyond. I think he explains very well the importance of washing machines and TiVos tweeting.

    “Only” an hour long :) the video of the talk is here:

  10. I’m thinking this could be done with Media Center, SageTV and BeyondTV as well. Interesting stuff!

  11. Source code should be posted somewhere this weekend for those who are interested.

  12. Any idea when a script might be available online for this?

  13. I love this hack! I want my tivo to tweet my conflicts! But the 1970s washing machine that tweets still is my fav!

  14. Was the php code ever posted somewhere? I think this would be fun to setup.