Frequently Asked Questions for
Accessing your TIVO in One Step


Stephen P. Morse , San Francisco





1. What can I do with this tool?

TIVO provides a web interface that lets you look at your Now Playing list.  But their display has several deficiencies.  For one thing, it does not tell you what percentage of your disk is full, so you have no way of knowing how close you are to running out of space.  This tool let's you view the Now Playing list, but with many enhancements not provided if you viewed the list from the TIVO interface directly.  See the answer to question 5 for a more detailed discussion of the enhancements.

But before you can use this tool, you need to configure your router so that your TIVO can be seen from the Internet.  See question 2 for details on how to do that.


2. How do I configuring my home router so that my TIVO box can be accessed from the Internet

To configure your router, you need to know your router's IP address.  And to make your TIVO visible to the Internet, you need to know your TIVO's IP address.  The steps for obtaining this information and for configuring the router are described below.

a) Obtaining TIVO's IP address

Go to TIVO Central by pressing the big TIVO button at the top of your TIVO remote.  From TIVO central, click on "Settings & Messages," then click on "Settings," then on "Network & Phone."  A screen will appear that Network Connections across the top.  One of the lines on this screen will say "IP Address."  That line will give the IP address of the TIVO box.  It will probably be something like 192.168.1.103.

This IP address can potentially be changed each time you reboot your router.  If that happens, you'll have to repeat this step to get the new IP address, and then repeat the following steps that utilize this IP address.  To prevent that, you can specify that you want the TIVO address to remain constant.  You do that by going through the steps leading to the "Network & Phone" screen as described above.  From there you want to select "Change Network Settings."  You will then be directed to re-enter your network information and will eventually get to a screen asking if you want to have the IP address assigned automatically (DHCP) or if you want to select the IP address yourself.  Choose the latter and select a high IP address that is beyone the range of addresses that are assigned by your router.  For example, if you router had previously assigned your TIVO the IP address of 192.168.1.103, selecting the address of 192.168.1.200 will probably be safe.

b) Obtaining Router's IP address

From a windows machine, go to the START menu and select RUN.  Then type cmd.  A black DOS box will appear.  Type ipconfig in that box.  This will cause several numbers to be displayed.  The one you want is the one that says Default Gateway.  It will probably be something like 192.168.1.1.  Now type exit to close the DOS window.

c) Configuring the router

The TIVO box communicates over port 80 (for http) and port 443 (for https).  You need to make these ports visible to the Internet.  You will do that by a process called port forwarding.

Enter your router's IP address that you found in (b) into the address field of your browser.  This will bring up the router's web interface.  The next steps will differ slightly depending on the router that you have.  The steps shown here are for two specific routers -- the Linksys E1000 router and the Motorola NVG510.  But they should be similar for other routers as well.

LYNKSYS E1000 ROUTER

From the router's web interface, select the Applications& Gaming tab.  Then select Single Port Forwarding.  This will allow you to forward specific external ports to specific internal ports for a particular internal IP address.  You want to forward external port 80 to internal port 80 of the TIVO IP address and external port 443 to internal port 443 of the TIVO IP address.  The TIVO IP address is the value that you found in (a).  For example, if the TIVO IP address is 192.168.1.103, you would enter the following:

Ext Port
Internal Port
Protocol
To IP Address
Enabled
80
80
both
192.168.1.103
checked
443
443
both
192.168.1.103
checked

MOTOROLA NVG510 INTEGRATED MODEM/ROUTER

From the router's web interface, select the Firewall tab and then select NAT/Gaming.  Click on the button that says "Custom Services."  You will be presented with a form to fill out.

Enter the following values and then press the ADD button.

Service Name: TIVO-80 (or any other name that is meaningful to you
Global Range: 80-80
Base Host Port: 80
Protocol: Both

Next enter the following values and again press the ADD button.

Service Name: TIVO-443 (or any other name that is meaningful to you
Global Range: 443-443
Base Host Port: 443
Protocol: Both

Now click on the button that says "Return to NAT/Gaming."  On the NAT/Gaming page you will see a dropdown list of services.  Somewhere in that list will be "TIVO-80" and "TIVO-443."  Select TIVO-80.  You will also see a dropdown list that says "Needed by Device" and in that list you will see the TIVO IP address that you found in (a).  Select it.  Then press the ADD button.  Repeat this for TIVO-443.

d) Vonage

If you have a box between your modem and your router, such as a Vonage box, you will have to do port forwarding through the Vonage box as well.  The procedure is similar, but the specific steps will not be described here because most people will probably not have this problem.  The IP address of the Vonage box is 192.168.15.1.  If you have any other box, you'll need to check your manual to find out what the box's IP address is.


3. How do I use this tool

To use this tool, you need to fill in the following information and then press the NOW PLAYING LIST button.

a) External IP Address

This is the IP address that identifies your presence on the Internet.  You can determine that address by going to http://stevemorse.org/ip.php

b) TIVO IP Address

This is the value that you found in 2a.

c) Media Access Key:

This is in essence your password.  By keeping this value secret, you will prevent others from making unauthorized access to your TIVO box.  You can determine your Media Access Key by going to TIVO Central (press the big TIVO button at the top of your TIVO remote), then select Messages and Setup, then select Account & System Information, and then select Media Access Key.   The resulting page will display your Media Access Key.

d) Disk Size

I can't help you with that one.  You either know the size of your TIVO disk or you don't.  But I can give you a guideline.

Go to TIVO Central (press the big TIVO button at the top of your TIVO remote), then select Account & System Information, then System.  The resulting page will contain several pieces of information, and among them will be something like "Recording Capacity: variable up to 21 hours HD or 184 hours SD."  So now you have to convert the recording capacity to disk size.  As a quick rule of thumb, the number of GB is equal to the number of SD hours for TIVO series 1 and 2.  For series 3 it is about 10% less, and for series 4 it is about 20% less.

If you want a better answer, you can consult the appropriate table shown in wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TiVo_digital_video_recorders.


4. Does TIVO provide something similar to this tool?

TIVO provides a similar interface for you to view the Now Playing list on your PC.  And it doesn't require any changes to your router setting.  To use their interface, you simply enter the following in your browser's address field (make sure you type https and not http):

   https://xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx/nowplaying/index.html?Recurse=Yes

where xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx is your TIVO's IP address that you obtained in question 2a.  For example, if your TIVO's IP address is 192.168.1.103, you would enter

   https://192.168.1.103/nowplaying/index.html?Recurse=Yes

At this point you will be asked for your username and password.  Your username is tivo and your password is the Media Access Key that you obtained in question 3b.

So now you are probably wondering why you would want to use this tool rather than using the TIVO-provided interface directly.  See question 5 for the answer to that.


5. What are the specific advantages of using this tool rather than using the TIVO-provided interface?

There are numerous advantages, as listed here.  For instructions on how to access the TIVO-provided interface, see question 4.

a) Disk Usage Indicator (Pie Chart)

The TIVO-provided interface does not give any indication of how much disk space you have used.  This tool presents a pie chart showing what percentage of the disk is used and for what.  That is, it shows how much space is used for recordings that never expire, how much for those that have an expiration date, and how much is free space.  Note that TIVO will not delete a recording when it expires.  Rather it flags that recording as a candidate to be deleted when all other space is used up.

The pie chart even subdivides the recordings with expiration date further.  It has a separate segment for recordings that have already expired, for those that will expire in the next day, and for those that have more than a day before they expire.

And the pie chart shows addition types of recordings as well.  Specifically those that are are currently being recorded, those that are being transferred from another device such as another TIVO, and those that were recorded as TIVO suggestions.

b) Better Icons

Both this tool and the TIVO-provided interface display icons in the Now Playing list.  These icons indicate the type of each recording.  These are the same types that I enumerated for the pie chart above.  But the TIVO-provided interface never tells you what these icons mean.  This tool has a key alongside the pie chart showing the pie chart color for each type and also showing the icon for that type used in the Now Playing list.

Furthermore, the TIVO-provided interface is missing one icon.  Specifically for recordings that have more than one day before they expire, their Now Playing list shows no icon.  This tool created a special icon (a yellow circle with a # sign in it) that it displays for such recordings.

c) Correct and improved date/time display

The TIVO-provided interfaces shows the month, day, and day of week that each recording was made.  But it does not show the year.  This tool does show the year.

The TIVO-provided interface shows that month/day for Greenwich Mean Time.  For recordings made early in the day (in the US), this will be the same day in Greenwich, so the month/day will be correct.  But for recordings made late in the evening, the day in Greenwich will be one day later than the local day that the recording was made.  This tool reports the correct month/day for your local time zone.

The TIVO-provided interface does not show the time that the recording was made.  This tool shows the correct local time.

d) Channel display

The TIVO-provided interface shows an icon indicating the channel (source) from which the recording was obtained.   But it never gives you the channel number.  This display indicates the channel number and the channel name.

To keep things clean, this tool does not display the channel icon.  But there is no need to display the icon since the name gives the same information.  And it is sometimes difficult to determine the channel name from the icon.  For example, the PBS icon is almost illegible.

e) Compactness of recording

To get an idea of how compact your recording is, this tool shows the number of GB per hour for each recording.  This is useful because it identifies which recordings are very wasteful of disk space, and could you a clue as to what setting you might want to consider changing so as to be more efficient with your disk space for future recordings.  The TIVO-provided interface does not show this ratio.

f) Transferred recordings

The TIVO-provided interface shows only those recordings that were made by the TIVO box.  It does not show recordings that were transferred to the box from elsewhere, such as from another TIVO box or from the TIVO Desktop program.  This tool shows all recording, including those that were transferred.


6. Are there other tools that display a pie-chart of TIVO disk usage?

There is a very good tool called TivoPlayList that also displays the pie chart.  The official website for TivoPlayList used to be tivoplaylist.dyndns.org, but that site no longer exists.  However you might be able to locate an installer for it elsewhere on the web.  One such place that I have been made aware of is http://tvreviewer.com/tivoplaylist.

There is one main advantage to using TivoPlayList instead of this tool.  Specifically TivoPlayList runs as a program on your PC so you don't have to configure port-forwarding in order to use it.

There are several advantages to using this tool instead of TivoPlayList.  Some of them are the same advantages that this tool has over the TIVO-provided interface (see question 5), so they will not be given in as much detail here.

a) Disk Usage Indicator (Pie Chart)

The TIVO box classifies the disk usage into eight different categories.  TivoPlayList shows only four of the categories in their pie chart whereas this tool shows all eight.  Specifically, TivoPlayList does not show recordings in progress or transfers in progress.  And TivoPlayList combines four of the other categories into two.

b) Better Icons

The same comments made about better icons in quesion 5 apply here as well.

c) Channel display

TivoPlayList shows the channel name from which the recording was obtained.  But it never gives the chanel number.  This tool shows both the name and the number of the channel.

d) Compactness of recording


TivoPlayList does not show the number of GB per hour for each recording.  This tool does.  See question 5 for more details.


-- Steve Morse