Monday, May 4, 2009

Second Life Comes First: The TiVo Saga

Written 22 April, 2009

Second Life Comes First

The TiVo Saga

When I trashed my desktop computer a month or so after I started Second Life [I was trying to update the video drivers and accidentally uninstalled my motherboard drivers (well, in my defense, I DID see the words nVidia before I pushed DELETE!) and then fried all my RAM], I rushed out to Fry’s big box electronics store and bought a Sony VAIO, extra RAM, and a 512 mb nVidia video card. I couldn’t afford it, but hey! I was back in world.

After all, Second Life (and Sweetie!) were all that counted!

Now comes the untold part of the story.

Once I connected with the internet, I sort of stopped the installation process.

With the old computer I had been online with a router. I never bothered to reconnect the router to the VAIO, so for more than two years it sat on the floor behind my desk, unplugged.

It was the thunderstorm that changed that. Friday before last, a huge weather front rolled through Atlanta. There were tornadoes to the west of me. I wasn’t worried, they tend to hit in Alabama—all those mobile homes attract them.

I was in world with Sweetie as the storm passed over. Thunder was rumbling in the distance, nothing close. Suddenly there as a flash and, simultaneously, a terribly loud crash of thunder; I knew lightning had hit the house, or perhaps a tree in the yard.

Back when I was connected to the internet with DSL, a rumble of thunder in Mississippi would knock me offline—but this time, on cable, I stayed in world. I thought all was fine.

But the next morning my phone was out. So, it seemed, was one of the wall outlets in the kitchen. I found this out when my bread didn’t toast. Hmm. Looked like the outlet, one of those with a circuit breaker, was fried. I put a volt meter on it. Yep. But so, it seemed, was the 20-amp circuit breaker that powered the outlet. And when I tried to turn on the VCR in the kitchen, it was dead. Dead as in really dead. I wasn’t even able to get the tape out of it.

Okay, first priority is the phone. But I’ll have to deal with it later; Second Life beckons and Sweetie awaits.

On Sunday morning I unplugged every phone in the house (that would be six of them) and then plugged in a land phone. No dial tone.

Since the IT people at work frown unreasonably on me using the cell phone they provided me to call 800 numbers, that afternoon I asked Sweetie to call the phone company and ask them if they could verify a signal at the entry bridge of my house. She did. They could.


After a while it hit me: it might be my TiVo.

The TiVo can pull in its program information via the internet, but since I got the VIAO in 2006 I’ve had a telephone line stretched all the way across the floor of the living room so the TiVo could dial in the wee hours and download the television schedule and I could stumble over it every time I went in or out the front door. Could it, I wondered, be the TiVo that was killing my phone system?

I unplugged the phone cord from the TiVo and plugged in a handset. Dial tone. I plugged the cord back into the TiVo. No dial tone. I unplugged the line from the TiVo. Dial tone

I unplugged, replugged, and restarted the TiVo several times, but the problem wouldn’t go away. It seemed the TiVo was picking up its virtual receiver even when it wasn’t supposed to (meaning its phone modem had been damaged by the lightning)

Oh, well, at least the phone is working again. Back to Second Life.

Now it’s ten or so days later. The TiVo is running out of program information. In four days it will stop recording my shows.

Stop recording my shows? Disaster!!!

And no, not soap operas. Rescue Me, Medium, Lost, Sons of Anarchy, Legend of the Seeker, NCIS, The Unit (I know it’s way right wing but I like it anyway), Southland, Castle, The Closer, The Unusuals, the occasional old movie from TBS, and, for some reason I can’t fathom, The Ghost Whisperer. My shows.

There being no money for a new TiVo, I understood it was time to hook up my router. But I don’t need to worry yet; hey, there are four whole days of programming left! So back to Second Life.

It had been years since I had installed my router, so of course I had forgotten how to set up the network. After Sweetie went to bed, I fiddled with it. No luck. But hey, why persist in this? I can get in a good hour of SL before bedtime!

Luckily, I’m compulsive about program manuals (I scan and save them as PDFs in PaperPort, or did before I started Second Life). I copied the router’s manual to my flash drive so I could peruse it at work (it would give me something to do besides actually work, and besides, time at home is better spend in Second Life).

Yesterday I managed to get my computer online through plug-in connection to the router. I sent an instant message to Sweetie at her work! Wooo hoo! I’m online though the router! She swooned at the sheer geekiness of her girlfriend.

This morning I actually missed out on Second Life so I could configure the TiVo to use its wireless capabilities to download program information. Connecting… Negotiating… Downloading!


In the very nick of time (program information had just run out and it would no longer record my programs) I was saved. Saved!

Whew! That was close!

Too close!

Finally, after two-and-a-half years, I have finished configuring my system with my new computer.

I suppose I must now turn my attention to the old computer, which has sat on the kitchen table these past two-plus years waiting to be put back together.

Although that CAN wait. After all, my Second Life is upstairs, waiting for me.

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