Premier XL4 box hangs frequently & other bizarre behavior

Discussion in 'TiVo Premiere DVRs' started by Pete Moss, Jun 12, 2020.

  1. Pete Moss

    Pete Moss Member

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    Nov 26, 2015
    We have 2 XL4 boxes connected to a Comcast cable. For several years, they worked more or less as advertised. Over the past several weeks and especially the last few days, one of them seems to have lost its mind. The other box is working normally.

    Here are some of the bizarre behaviors:
    • It will frequently hang or freeze. The screen goes blank (black) and the only button that works is On/Off. The 4 red recording lights go on and off and I think it is working behind the black screen because when I force a reboot, shows will have been recorded. I have waited 12 hours or more to see if it will come back to life, but it rarely does. I end up unplugging it and then letting it restart. This would happen once or twice a month, then 2-3 times a week. It just happened 4-5 times in the past day or so. It is in that state now.
    • Sometimes, instead of freezing, it will spontaneously reboot. This happens less often that freezing, but still a few times a week.
    • When I delete a show, sometimes it will continue to be listed with an "X" next to it. This can last for up to a day or so.
    • Sometimes, a show that I know was recorded will not show up in the list. Then sometime later, especially after a reboot, it will be back.
    It there anything I can do about this?
     
  2. ThAbtO

    ThAbtO TiVoholic by the bay TCF Club

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    Possibly a failing hard drive.
     
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  3. Pete Moss

    Pete Moss Member

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    Nov 26, 2015
    That's what the TiVo tech tried so hard to convince me of so he could sell me a new Echo system. Clearly their "lifetime" warranty isn't worth crap.

    However, I have found the problem. There is a bug in the TiVo software. It cannot handle some complex Wishlist searches.

    The TiVo Suggestions feature had become pretty much useless. I diligently rated programs with thumbs up or down, but most of the shows in the Suggestions list were total junk. Maybe 1 out of 50 was marginally relevant.

    So I created a Wishlist for movies with actors I like. I started with about 10 actors. This worked really well. From time to time I would add an actor to the list when one occurred to me. I also added 3-4 directors. As the list got longer and longer, I discovered another TiVo bug or design flaw. The list is not sorted or sortable, so it's very difficult to tell if an actor is already in the list. This is just one of so many human factors flaws in the TiVo design -- many of them simple to correct.

    About the time that the list started to grow, I started to get system hangs. At first, they were fairly infrequent -- maybe once or twice a month. Then they steadily got more and more frequent. I didn't connect it to the Wishlist at first because there were no hangs when I first created it. Then one day, after adding an actor to the list, I selected View Upcoming Shows. The system hung immediately. After rebooting, I tried it again. Same result. So I turned off the auto-record and the system hangs stopped.

    I think this is conclusive evidence that there is a software bug.

    I have now deleted all but 10 actors and all of the directors and reenabled auto-record. So far, no hangs even when asking for upcoming shows. I'll leave it this way for awhile and see what happens. Then I may add more actors or start another Wishlist with other actors.

    It would be nice if they would fix the bug, but I doubt it.
     
  4. ThAbtO

    ThAbtO TiVoholic by the bay TCF Club

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    What lifetime warranty? You only get 3 months parts/labor and up to a year on parts. What the lifetime is for Tivo service. Tivo does not provide lifetime warranty.
     
  5. HerronScott

    HerronScott Well-Known Member

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    As ThAbtO mentions, there is no lifetime warranty. I'm assuming you are referring to your lifetime service which is for the life of the device (they now call that All in as people were assuming lifetime meant their lifetime and not the device)

    How many names were on the list? It's possible you just reached a limit related to the processing power of the Premiere and your Wishlist. How long did you wait to see if the Premiere recovered from the hang?

    Scott
     
  6. Pete Moss

    Pete Moss Member

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    Nov 26, 2015
    The list got up to 70 actors and 4 directors. The first few times, I waited anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or two. One time, thinking it might be related to processing power, I left it that way overnight -- over 12 hours.

    During that period, I noticed that the red record lights on the front of the unit continued to go on and off and when I rebooted it, the scheduled shows had been recorded. So it seems that the TiVo was working. It just was not able to process any remote signals other than On/Off and, I think, volume control. But those go to the TV, not the TiVo unit. In light of that, the term "hang" is probably not appropriate. Maybe if I had left it for a day or two it would have eventually completed the search.

    And the "hangs" did not happen only when viewing upcoming programs. It would also happen at random remote actions like clicking Play or Fast Forward. In retrospect, I think the hangs might have occurred when the box just happened to also be doing a search in the background. It was not able to do that and process any new commands -- just like when it was "hung" doing a View Upcoming Programs.

    I think this is more than just a limit on processing power. I have now created a new Wishlist with just 10 actors. It has been operating for a couple of days with no hangs and View Upcoming Programs completes in a couple of seconds. If a 10-actor search takes 2 seconds, a 70-actor search should not take 12+ hours.

    But even if it is related to processing power, that does not excuse the TiVo programmers. Software that is well designed and well tested would have limits that would not allow users to exceed its capabilities. It would also have code to sense if a process is taking longer than expected and perform some type of recovery -- not to mention logging the event so the developers can see where the problems are and fix them.

    Searches of sorted lists can be performed in a fraction of the time it takes to search unsorted lists and the savings grows exponentially as the length of the list increases. So if they were not too lazy to sort the actor list, the searches could be much faster. The list may be sorted internally, of course, but then they are just too lazy to make it available to me.

    And any competent undergraduate CS student knows how to process information so as to make searches very fast. I am confident that I could write code that would process the TV schedule database right after it is downloaded each time to create a linked and sorted list of shows and actors that could be searched very quickly.

    There is no excuse for this kind of sloppy programming. TiVo has been around for years. They ought to know how to do this by now.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2020
  7. Pete Moss

    Pete Moss Member

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    Nov 26, 2015
    I just discovered another bug in the Wishlist software. Create a Wishlist and wait until a few programs have been recorded so that it appears in the list of shows. Then edit the Wishlist and change the name. The name that is displayed in list of shows will not change until the list is empty.
     
  8. powrcow

    powrcow Active Member

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    The software that runs the Premiere, called TiVo Experience 3 or TE3, has been put into maintenance mode. I doubt TiVo will fix any of the above issues.

    TiVo has been changing how they package guide data updates and it seems to be impacting TE3 devices from time to time. For instance, the clear guide and todo list option will 'brick' your Premiere. Only a special kickstart code will bring it back.

    It's possible you have a failing hard drive, but it's also possible updates from TiVo are causing it problems. I too have a Premiere and I noticed yesterday that simple operations like going to TiVo home or playing a recording took a little longer than normal.

    The Premiere has been out for 10 years, which is an eternity in electronics.
     
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  9. Pete Moss

    Pete Moss Member

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    Nov 26, 2015
    I'm not holding my breath.

    That is gross incompetence or greed.

    I have resigned myself to the fact that tech companies do not stand behind their products for very long. Some are worse than others. But it is unforgiveable for them to do things that break older units. If they need to change the format of the guide data in a way that older devices were not set up for, then they need to send out a patch to work around that.

    TiVo, like so any successful tech companies, started off treating their customers well. Now we are just cash machines. Corporations, especially large corporations, are running amuck and we are paying the price.
     
  10. powrcow

    powrcow Active Member

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    10 years is a long time in tech world. I don't think I have any other item of consumer tech that's 10 years old and I tend to keep things a long time.

    The DVRs business is not growing and most likely dying so TiVo doesn't have much motivation. And don't forget that people with Lifetime or All-In aren't cash machines at all.
     
  11. Pete Moss

    Pete Moss Member

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    Nov 26, 2015
    Planned obsolescence. Another tech cash cow.

    For what? Certainly not maintenance? The tech I talked to was highly motivated to sell me an Echo.

    Obviously, you never worked in marketing. That's exactly why they are motivated to motivate me to buy the latest unit. And making my old unit fail more often is a strategy (tactic?) well within the ethics of many (most?) marketing types.
     
  12. mattyro7878

    mattyro7878 Well-Known Member

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    I am experiencing hang and lag and restarts and no response at all to button pushes. Just bought this Premiere cheap. Funny thing is it didnt act this way the first month or so. Whoever sold it had good timing
     
  13. ThAbtO

    ThAbtO TiVoholic by the bay TCF Club

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    If it happened once or twice, then there should be no issue. More than that, then the drive could be failing.
     
  14. mattyro7878

    mattyro7878 Well-Known Member

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    It seems like if I use it regularly it's fine. A day or two goes by and its uphill all the way.
     
  15. mattyro7878

    mattyro7878 Well-Known Member

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