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Comcast DVR Comcastrophe

November 14, 2005

Over at “KGB Report”, Kevin Barkes details his woes with a brand new Comcast DVR…

What a Comcastrophe.

It took three visits from the installer and two different DVRs to get the service working right- well, not right, but at a level which did not invoke rage when attempting to watch anything.

Ah, where to begin? The digital cable box/digital video recorder itself: a hideous, silver, retro-styled device manufactured by Motorola which throws out more heat than a toaster oven and sports a hard drive that sounds like a fully loaded, out-of-control freight train going downhill through a tunnel.

It goes downhill from there…

Ah, Kevin, Kevin — Comcast is a Cable company — you’re supposed to use those for cheap high-speed Internet; you don’t expect them to provide a working TV experience too, do you? 🙂

He also brings up one of my pet issues — bad guide data.

Unfortunately, the programming guide Comcast uses isn’t compatible with their own DVR software, which means the DVR can’t tell the difference between new shows and repeats. I discovered this when I checked the DVR after I returned from a two-week business trip and discovered I had recorded not eight new episodes of The Daily Show, but had nearly filled up the device by recording every episode Comedy Central had aired during my absence. And they re-run The Daily Show a lot.

Unfortunately, this isn’t just a Comcast thing. Some programming providers just seem to have hideously bad metadata, and Comedy Central appears to be one of them. I have the same problem with The Daily Show using both MCE 2005 and a Dishplayer 942, which each use different guide data providers.

Apparently whatever Comedy Central provides the guide data people, they don’t seem to manage to produce a unique show identifier, so the DVRs can’t tell whether they recorded a specific episode or not.

On MCE, I deal with this by telling it it can keep a maximum of 3 episodes of this show, regardless — this keeps it from turning into the “All Jon Stewart, All The Time” channel…

There are a few other programming providers who seem really bad at this too — BBC America, for example…

C’mon people — fix your guide data, wouldya? DVRs aren’t going away or representing a smaller portion of your viewers each day — quit making it too hard to watch your stuff, or we’ll start watching something else…

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