Saturday, February 23, 2008

Galaxy of Emptiness

You want the portrait of an empty life? You come to me.

My television is the one thing that makes my tiny studio apartment—and perhaps my fucking life—livable. My little porthole filled with stories. It is devastatingly sad that this electronic box props up my life. No argument there.

Which makes it all the more painfully sad when the box betrays me. Again and again.

I write this entry for the sake of anyone GOOGLING this problem, so forgive me, Constant Lurkers, for getting a little technical up in this piece...

Time Warner Cable, New York City.

Cable box: Scientific Atlanta 8300HDc (Hi-Def DVR)

Long-time readers will recall that I had to swap out my cable box TWICE back in December:

The first was when my longtime SA 8300HD box (which I'd had for a good TWO YEARS) died without warning.

The replacement box they gave me was an SA 8300HDc. A newer model with new software—which I'll get back to...

It lasted a few weeks before it started fucking up a few days before Christmas. Failing to record programs that I'd set for it to record.

I carted that box down to the Time Warner Cable center on 23rd Street, where they gave me another SA 8300HDc box...

Which was okay for a little while. Till it too started fucking up. Specifically, it had trouble recording two channels simultaneously, which these DVR boxes are built to do. Again, this box was using the new software...

Again, I swapped it out on 23rd Street.

Again, they gave me another SA 8300HDc box.

This one seemed better than the previous two. Not missing programs. Fine with recording 2 channels simultaneously. It was still the new software which was still a lot clunkier than the older software, but I was wearily getting used to it.

Until, last night when it completely crashed.

Wiping out all my saved recordings. (Partially-watched "Children of Men", a few "In Treatment" episodes, a handful of odd things...)

So, here's a little information about Time Warner and their Scientific Atlanta boxes and the switch-up in software. I'm pulling this information from some forums and I'm not the techiest kid on the block, but I'll try to relate it the way I understand it...

The software on the older SA boxes was/is called "Passport". It's reliable. It's what most of my friends have installed on their cable boxes.

The software on the newer SA boxes is called "Mystro". When you boot up your box for the first time (and all the times you'll need to reboot your box), you'll see Mystro on the opening boot screen, along with a fucking Java logo. Mystro is unconscionably buggy. It's much, much slower to navigate through the menus, or change channels, or do ANYTHING.

So... why switch to inferior software?

I read somewhere that Time Warner and/or Scientific Atlanta was trying to save some money by NOT re-upping to the next gen of the "Passport" software, so they went for this crappier "Mystro" build. I swear, it's worse than going from "XP" to "Vista". (That's bad.)

Word on the street is that a revision of the Mystro software is supposed to be coming down the pipeline sometime soon, but there's been no public acknowledgment of the problem on Time Warner's end. (Big surprise.)

For the sake of anyone who's stumbled upon this entry via GOOGLE, here's what the LCD screen showed when I tried to reboot my SA 8300HDc box early this morning:




then it began flashing:

(or something that looked like this)

after a while, it flashed:


after which it continued the long, laborious process of reloading up. And then it refused to record any programs, without any further error messages.

Anyway, I ran the box down to 23rd Street this morning, explained the situation. That this was the third SA 8300HDc box I was returning.

After some consideration, the wonderful young lady who was helping me decided to give me an older SA 8300HD box. When I asked her about it, she said that a lot of people have been having trouble with the the "new boxes".

Back at home. Plug it in. And we are back to the classic "Passport" software.

Hallelujah. Hallelujah, motherfuckers.



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