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Thread: Hacking the TiVo Book

  1. #1
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    Smile Hacing the TiVo Book

    OK, I admit that is partially ego-stuff, but my book on "Hacking the TiVo" just came out and I'd appreciate feebdack. I'm more of a lurker than a participant, but I think that you'll find the book useful - plus which, this is a Linux box and I've been doing that for 10 years or so. Feel free to contact me at "vonhagen@vonhagen.org".

    As I mentioned elsewhere, flames may be answered more slowly than questions ;-) This book discusses hacking TiVos up through version 4.0 (MONTE rulez!), and thus should be useful to almost everyone.

    Bill

    PS: I'm sure that other TiVo books, such as Jeff Keegan's upcoming TiVo book, should be equally useful. Buy them all!

  2. #2
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    Sure thing...

    Let's see...
    A book from an unknown that has terrible grammer and can't spell hacking or feedback. Sure thing, sign me up ;-)

  3. #3
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    Smile

    You got me! I apologize for the lack of spell-checking. I am indeed a random - a lurker, not a generator - let me know. Or perhaps that should be "hV'z fbeel gb unir bssraqrq lbh!" Perhaps we can discuss grammar offline? Let's let the book stand for itself?

    Bill
    Last edited by wvh; 08-27-2003 at 11:27 AM.

  4. #4
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    How about...

    A discount for DD membrers?

    A free copy for the moderators? From what you said it appears that most of your info for your book you gleaned from this forum. A free copy for the moderators of the forum would (IMHO) be a good gesture at giving back....

  5. #5
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    tivomaster - I don't have the power to define discounts for the book (though I agree that a discount for forum members would be a nice idea), but I'd be glad to provide you with a copy. Please PM me with your address. I've only gotten one copy myself to date, but should receive more at some point.

  6. #6
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    Originally posted by tivomaster
    How about...

    A discount for DD membrers?

    A free copy for the moderators? From what you said it appears that most of your info for your book you gleaned from this forum. A free copy for the moderators of the forum would (IMHO) be a good gesture at giving back....
    And considering I'm a moderator of this forum... I agree !



  7. #7
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    Originally posted by wvh
    tivomaster - I don't have the power to define discounts for the book (though I agree that a discount for forum members would be a nice idea), but I'd be glad to provide you with a copy. Please PM me with your address. I've only gotten one copy myself to date, but should receive more at some point.
    Thanks, but I am not really worthy of a "free" book. I would rather you offer such to someone like mrblack51, jdiner, jjbliss, rc3105. I would be happy to buy a copy with their "expert" opinions.....
    Four Hacked HDVR2's,
    One Still slightly confused Hacker,
    4 dogs, 8 cats, and 1 wife that is happy as long as I don't screw up her TiVo ...... Oh yeah two grandchildren that are the light of my life!

  8. #8
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    My only reservations about buying such a book is that this hobby is in a constant state of flux. With the lead time required for editing, publishing, and distribution, the data contained in the book has to be at least several months old by the time it hits the streets. BTW, did I mention that I'm a technical writer by trade and am intimiately familiar with the entire publishing process?

    Don't get me wrong. There's a lot of basic hacking info that has remained pretty constant over the long haul so you should have a fairly strong database to work with. It's just that a lot of the info, especially with regards to extraction and DVD authoring (you do cover this, don't you?) is old hat after a few months time with all the advancements that jdiner and the TyStudio crew are making all the time (or at least jdiner in olaf's absence). I'm not sure there's enough info to fill an entire book unless you plan on giving a course in Linux as a primer.

    I'd be curious to see the book and see what it contains. It might be useful to have around as a reference, although I've probably already amassed all the info I'm interested in. I print out pertinent posts that provide procedural steps for performing any hacks I'm interested in and keep them handy for reference. The search button may be useful but it doesn't always repond the way you'd like to the keywords you input.
    Please don't PM me or any other members looking for personal assistance. You'll do better by posting (after you've exhausted the search feature, of course) and taking advantage of the collective expertise of the membership instead of a single individual that may or may not be able to help you. Thank you and enjoy your stay at DDB!

  9. #9
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    Talking People in glass houses...

    Sure thing...
    Let's see...

    A book from an unknown that has terrible grammer and can't spell hacking or feedback. Sure thing, sign me up ;-)
    Perhaps you should have learned to spell grammar before you cast your stone.

  10. #10
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    Re: People in glass houses...

    Originally posted by Sandstorm
    Perhaps you should have learned to spell grammar before you cast your stone.
    You'r right. But then I am not claiming to be a writer.......

    And........ It only took 300+ views to chatch it.....

    I would really like to hear from some of the experts on this forum as to the validity and worth of this book. I recomended to him that he get them a copy so they could tell us if it was worthy of our hard earned cash.

    So far it has been silent and that may speak volumes....
    Last edited by tivomaster; 09-09-2003 at 08:34 AM.
    Four Hacked HDVR2's,
    One Still slightly confused Hacker,
    4 dogs, 8 cats, and 1 wife that is happy as long as I don't screw up her TiVo ...... Oh yeah two grandchildren that are the light of my life!

  11. #11
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    In case anyone is interested, I posted a review of the "tivo hacks" book:

    http://www.dealdatabase.com/forum/sh...440#post116440
    Last edited by mrblack51; 09-14-2003 at 03:27 AM.
    Step one: search button!
    Silly Wabbit, guides are for kids

  12. #12
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    Thumbs up Hacking the Tivo review

    I have to say I originally was pretty critical of this book from a standpoint of the author being an unknown. Well I had an chance to get a copy and review it. I have to say the book changed my mind.....

    Overall impression:
    This book is a GREAT book for a newbie! It contains a wealth of data/information that is very useful to a first time hacker in a clear concise easy to read format. I wish I had a book like this when I started. It would have saved me a lot of searching/posting/getting flamed for asking newbie/loop questions.
    It is a good reference book for an experience user. While I am not what I would call an experienced user I am not what I would call a newbie. I learned a lot from reading this book.


    Likes:
    Excellent writing style. I really like the flow of the book.
    Embeem who has a known history was sited as the Technical Reviewer so I can say that I would trust it's content.
    The book is interspersed throughout the book with many "Tips". I like this format. I found quite a few of these to be very good and thought provoking. There were a lot of questions that I never thought to ask but are good to know like "where did the TiVo come from?". This book answers many of the "not asked" questions.
    It is relatively Up to date considering the "internet age" we are living in. For example the monte kernel mod is discussed in detail. Additionally, the author has set up a web site that he says he will maintain that will contain updates/new information. This web site exist's right now but is pretty much empty.
    The book comes with a CD that has a bunch of stuff on it and is a good series1/2 boot disk. Good and handy stuff to have around.
    I like not havint to search though 1000 posts to get to the data. I know that most posts such as the monte post is cluttered with a bunch of "I can't get it to work" type of posts. Just having the data without having to filter out all the noise is GREAT.


    Dislikes:
    I can't say there was much I didn't like about this book. There was really only one issue I had with it. The CD that comes with the book does not match the book 100%. For example it describes smb mounting and says the smbfs.o module is located in the hack_dirs/smb directory. There is no such directory. Bill said he would find out why and post an update on the web site.


    Recommendation:
    I would buy it.
    Four Hacked HDVR2's,
    One Still slightly confused Hacker,
    4 dogs, 8 cats, and 1 wife that is happy as long as I don't screw up her TiVo ...... Oh yeah two grandchildren that are the light of my life!

  13. #13
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    I agree. wvh's book is great for newbies and recent-newbies.

  14. #14
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    Well, I couldn't be biased and just have the one review, so here is my review of vonhagen's book.

    Title: Hacking the TiVo
    Author: William von Hagen
    Publisher: Premier Press

    Rating: Newbies - 9/10, Intermediate - 7/10

    This book covers the same basic material as the "Tivo Hacks" book by OReilly, but takes a different aproach. The book is divided up into sections similarly to the OReilly book (stupid remote tricks, figuring out what unit you have, hd upgrades, getting bash, etc). Some pleasant additions included the "Know Your TiVo" section which includes an interesting segment on the history of digital video recorders, information about the basics of the tivo service, who tivo is partnered with, etc. While the OReilly book chooses to present the material in the form of 100 'tips', this book uses the more traditional chapter and paragraph approach, which seems better suited to the material.

    Another notable difference is that this book is relatively thorough in its explanation of the various ways of doing basic tasks, such as backing up and restoring your drive. Time is taken to discuss the various options of mfstools, for example, and a number of use cases are presented.

    The biggest thing that impressed me about the book was the inclusion of the techniques for getting bash on series 2 units (bash_env and monte). While the OReilly book and Keegan's book both skirt past these topics, scared of DMCA reprocussions, von Hagen was willing to embrace the techniques and tools as fair use - bravo. In addition, the cd included has a number of great tools included, though I haven't tried it myself as of yet. There is mention of the inclusion of cross compilers for both series 1 and series 2 units, which is a nice addition.

    The book concludes with some links to various community sites which host tivo information. While I applaud this effort as thorough, I thought there was way too much time discussing the semantic visual aspects of the various forums. In addition, the author includes descriptions of the various posting areas on the sites. This would seem logical, but he took what I thought was way too much time talking about the fact that deal database is a deal site. Also, he included descriptions for forums that weren't tivo related, such as the xbox hacking area and the hp media center area.

    Finally, as with any book there are some errors. Though they were relatively few, the ones I noticed could cause problems for new users. For example, on pages 12 & 13, von Hagen states "DirecTiVo units contain two seperate tuners, so that you can watch one show live while you record another, but can only record from non-DTV sources." This is obviously backwords, as we all are aware that dtivos can ONLY record from DTV, and nothing else since they lack an encoder. While this is a relatively minor wording issue, it could definitely cause somebody grief.

    Overall, the book was quite good. I thought the discussions were in depth, but didn't get too terribly bogged down in the details (other than the final section about the forums). The CD is a nice though, and the inclusion of s2 hacking info is great. I would recommend this book for pretty much any newbie out there, as it is a good basic reference and would get you up to speed for the forums. As we already know, all the info included is online, but having it in one place is nice. Intermediate users could also benefit from it as a reference for old hacks they forgot how they did, or for information on areas of tivo hacking they haven't explored yet. The inclusion of the tools on the CD should have something for just about everyone, from the basic boot disk functionality to the cross compilers.
    Last edited by mrblack51; 10-31-2003 at 04:13 PM.
    Step one: search button!
    Silly Wabbit, guides are for kids

  15. #15
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    DMCA vs. Authors

    Nice review, mrblack51. I just picked up a copy of Jeff's book, and I think I'll get this one as well because of the monte section. Actually, I'm a close friend of Jeff's in the real world, and I can tell you that he tried like hell to get the monte hack into the book. At one time, I believe it was going to be included, but his publisher got a bit scared due to legality issues with some Xbox hacking book (which I think got cancelled altogether). So, instead of risking anything like that, they simply omitted the info, but Jeff does still mention its existence, and hopefully enough info for people to find it on their own.

    On a related topic, there was also a struggle to include video extraction, which he did manage to put in.

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