I have been silent lately about the great HDTV/CableCARD/Tivo/Comcast Mosh pit, mostly because it has been working fairly well for me for over a year or so. For more on the past, click here.
I have had problems on and off with CableCARDs in my Tivo Series 3's. Most of those issues have been with Comcast, I believe. They simply don't have adequate control of their network, or provisioning, or … oh yeah and THEY HATE CABLECARDS. Once in a while one Tivo will stop getting some part of my service plan, like HD – or ESPN or something. A good percentage of the time you can just pop the card out and when the card reboots it starts working again. Sometimes they insist on sending out a monkey-boy that basically calls a special phone number and proxies questions and answer between you and Major Tom "the wiz with CableCARDs" back at launch control. Monkey-boy is in the loop simply because he understands how to insert a PCMCIA card into a hole – the singular talent each of the 10 guys I have had in my house at one time or another have possessed.
Sunday, I had a bad feeling when all three of my Tivo's (that's 6 Cablecards) all stopped getting HBO at exactly the same moment. The bad feeling - was knowing - exactly what was going to happen next.
This afternoon, I called launch control and told them that my HBO had stopped on all 3 devices.. The woman was very nice and said she would "hit the cards" again. I'm not sure what that means, but I know it's some kind of signaling that happens between the cable head-end and the end device that says something like "here's your new encryption and service keys – insert this new brain and continue".. I also know from experience that sending a "hit" can take hours sometimes because they get "backed up". Whatever the hell that means. In any case – it didn't work – like I knew it wouldn't.
Wait for it….here it comes…wait for it. "Sir, I'm going to send out a technician to check your Tivo's"..
KAAAAHHHHHHHHNNNNN -- Who here thinks that this is a problem with my Tivo, or more specifically all three of my Tivo's at the same time? That's like calling public service about a power failure and they want someone to come out and check your lightbulb.
I begged her to connect me with "Major Tom" directly. She said he would call me, I know he won't – knowone can have access to Major Tom.
She then went on to predict the end of CableCARDs. I tried to explain to her the new legislation that basically requires even the cable providers to use CableCARDs on their own stuff to promote fair competition. She didn't like the sound of that. She was concerned how "Major Tom" was going to scale into this brave new world.
I am too. Thankfully HBO is between shows and I have the required 6 weeks to figure this out.