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TiVo Hacks by Raffi Krikorian

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Hack #47. Running PPP over TiVo's Serial Port

Make a PPP connection over that serial cable plugged into your TiVo [Hack #33], and make your daily call over the Internet.

In this age of broadband cable and DSL connections, it may well have been a while since you heard the squawks of a modem. Cast your mind back a bit—circa 1994 through 1999 should about do it—and try recall how it all worked. Your computer was connected via serial cable to a modem, which was, in turn, connected to your phone line. To get online, your computer instructed your modem to dial your Internet Service Provider (ISP). The call was answered by a modem at the other end. After a few seconds of whistling and screaming at one-another, a connection was established between your computer and your ISP and, by association, the Internet. Primitive, but effective.

The language spoken between your computer and the ISPs was the Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP).

PPP is also used by your TiVo to make its daily call over its internal modem to TiVo, Inc. to download programming information, software updates, and other assorted bits. Surely your TiVo (a computer) can be coerced into making a PPP call to somewhere other than TiVo, Inc? Indeed it can—sort of. While getting TiVo's modem to make its daily call to another modem would be a neat trick, it's not particularly useful, is it? What we're actually after is using a spare PC as an intermediary for fulfilling your TiVo's needs over the Internet via your broadband connection and taking the phone call out of the equation.

Thankfully, TiVo has built-in functionality for making a serial PPP connection to another computer. Plug the TiVo serial control cable into its serial port. We'll get to the other side of the equation (your PC) [Hack #48] in just a moment.

Navigate TiVo's menu system to Messages & Setup Recorder & Phone Setup Phone Connection Change Dialing Options under TiVo OS 3.x. Under OS 4.x, that's TiVo Messages & Setup Settings Phone & Network Setup. Set your Dial Prefix to ,#296 using the numeric buttons on your TiVo remote control. Use the Enter button for # ("pound" or "hash") and the

image with no caption

button for , (comma).

Tip

Your TiVo unit, version of the TiVo operating system, or remote control may use different buttons for special characters. Consult the onscreen instructions for the appropriate buttons to press.

A dial prefix of ,#296 instructs TiVo to establish a PPP connection at a speed of 9,600 baud over its serial port each time it makes its daily call. (No 9,600 baud isn't exactly speedy.) Table 4-1 provides a list of dial prefixes and their associated baud rates. It behooves you to try the slowest speed first and work your way up as you get this hack working with your PC.

Table 4-1. TiVo dialing prefixes and associated PPP connection baud rates

TiVo dialing prefix

PPP baud rate

,#296

9,600

,#238

38,400

,#257

57,600

,#211

115,200

Go To

You won't get very far without configuring your PC [Hack #48] to accept the PPP connection from your TiVo.

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