And now… the television works again.

by the other theo

One of the many wrinkles that required smoothing in the last few weeks involved our television.   The Missus and I are both admitted TV junkies of one sort or another.   She likes to watch DWTS and the TGIT line up on ABC (with some Real Housewives of The Garden State on another network for good measure.)  I’m more of a PBS man: Antiques Roadshow on Monday, Finding Your Roots on Tuesday, and the This Old House hour on the weekends.

We pay dearly for the privilege as well.   Our service includes a DVR and a ton of HDTV channels.  Our cable bill is high enough I’m tempted to about once a week to “cut the cord” and go completely to Internet streaming services (we are subscribed to a few,) but I never quite do it.   The Peacock Cable Company must love me for this.

The DVR began to malfunction a few weeks ago.   Sometimes it would be there, and others it… wouldn’t.  After calling the Peacock Cable Company on the phone, giving my name, address, and the last four of my social three separate times, and being assured that a visit to the house might cost us money but wait no it won’t, I arranged for a company employee to investigate.   His prognosis was fairly quick: after seven years, we needed a new cable box.

So that’s what we got.  Being the gadget geek that I am, I like to immediately look up the specs of such devices online for less than well advertised features.  This box, like many of the cable boxes used by the Peacock Cable Company, had a pretty neat one that I’d never heard of: there’s an eSATA port on the back and you can connect a DVR Expander (an external hard drive) to it that triples the amount of DVR space.  Of course, the Expander the Company approved is made by a hard drive manufacturer that has a “not if it will fail, but when it will fail” reputation with me.   Fortunately, a more reputable maker also produces a unit that seems to fit the bill.  I ordered one.

Problem is, it didn’t work.  The cable box recognized that the Expander was connected, but kept asking that the drive be disconnected and reconnected.  At first, I thought this might be because of the different manufacturer.   So, I got the approved unit as well and no change.   I consulted the online forum that discusses such things.  After about a week, there eventually was a verdict: we needed to swap the cable box.

We did the box swap on Saturday.   Setting up or resetting a cable box effectively takes about an hour because the thing wants to download new schedules, etc…  I hooked it up and had the cable company authorize it.  An hour later, it didn’t think we had a DVR.  After ten minutes on the phone with the Peacock Cable Company, a reset signal was sent.  An hour later, it thought we had a DVR but was really skeptical about this whole DVR Expander business and didn’t want to recognize the drive at all.  Before wading through another ten minute phone call, I figured that I should just power cycle the box because that’s what the company suggests about half the time anyway.    An hour later, that worked because we had a DVR with three times the recording space, even with the non-approved Expander.

Since then, it’s worked without complaint.  I’m sending the approved unit back… with the hope of using the refund for a related project.