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Thursday, February 05, 2004

Uh-oh. I agree with Michael Powell on something.
Apparently the spawn of Satan who runs the FCC has a TiVo and loves it. Me too. But I no longer subscribe to their service. I'll confess that I did it mostly to save money--not only did I drop the $12.99 per month TiVo fee, but I was able to cancel my landline phone service entirely, saving me another $22 a month. But from an Orwellian perspective, there's a very good reason not to subscribe to the TiVo service: They use it to spy on you. CNN reports that the Janet Jackson thing during the Super Bowl was the most replayed event in the history of TiVo, something TiVo knows because the machines send information to the service. TiVo's have a built-in modem which you connect to a landline jack. They phone home every night to download the latest program information. But they also upload information about what you're watching, and apparently even how often you replayed it.

If you have or are considering getting a TiVo, you should know that you don't need the service to get most of the benefits from the machine. If you want to record every episode of 24, for example, you just have to set it to record Fox every Tuesday at 9, as opposed to just picking 24 from the listings as you would do if you had subscribed to the service. But you can still pause live TV, replay, fast forward, etc., and record any channel at any time. And if you would prefer to watch what you like instead of what's on, and would rather not watch commercials, a TiVo or other digital video recorder is fantastic. They are much easier to use (no tapes) and more flexible than VCR's. But they should really stop trying to spy on us!