Fiction L
A Fake Internet Presence,
since 1994

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Silly Tivo Tricks

While I was playing with the new AV setup, and my Ipod Touch, I started thinking about grabbing videos off of my Tivo for various reasons. I played with the Tivo Desktop, and I played with Galleon. They were nice and all, but not quite what I was looking for. Tivo Desktop will only downconvert videos for portable video devices, and is rather limited in terms of automation, and I didn't want to run my windows box all the time anyways. Galleon had more options, but still wasn't quite what I wanted. So, I wrote my own... or started to. I haven't done much more than just archive a bunch of shows, but I figured I'd release the python module I wrote to allow me to script archiving the video. I uploaded it to a project on Google Code Project Hosting (ugh, long product name):


Its got my current ridiculously simple I've got plenty of ideas, but I mostly decided it wasn't all that important. It was useful to be able to pull the video off from some important NHL games.

One idea I considered: having my computer maintain an ipod format copy of all of the videos currently on my Tivo. This makes it as easy as possible to just drag what I want to watch onto my ipod before running out the door. Well, easier would be if it synced magically... or I just used my slingbox to my TreoCentro instead. I could probably write an Android app that watched for the device being on my local wi-fi and synced the videos down, but even over wi-fi that'll take a long time, probably not great for battery life. And assuming Android devices will have wi-fi.

While working on this, I wasted another couple days trying to get "good" video conversion. Quicktime requires a paid plug-in for mpeg2, and supposedly can't handle the Tivo mpeg2 stream anyways (looks like Tivo uses some allowed by unusual features of mpeg2). I wanted to convert the mpeg2 stream to an h.264 stream to save space and to make it possible to play the videos in FrontRow. You'd think "same quality" conversions would be easy... not. Using ffmpeg's -sameq flag generates an h.264 video that's almost 2x the size of the mpeg2 video, and isn't as good. Interlacing is the enemy there, I think, but in general, the best I could do was a "pretty good" copy using mpeg4 (h.263) and getting about 80% of the space of the mpeg2. Didn't seem worth it, another reason I haven't really finished this project.

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