About Gizmo Lovers

Hi, I’m MegaZone, maintainer of the GizmoLovers.com site and TivoLovers LiveJournal community. I thought it might be nice to capture the history of the community and site, and how I came to be the maintainer.

The Site

GizmoLovers started out as a LiveJournal community, TiVoLovers, back in August of 2002. The first post is here.

I didn’t join LJ until November 3, 2002, and it was sometime that month that I found the community. And my first post was on 12/3/02. I was selling my Series1 TiVo. TiVo had just released HMO (Home Media Option) and I replaced it with a second Series2.

I was just another community member for a year. Perhaps a bit more active than other members. I started posting all the TiVo news I found and generally trying to drum up some activity. It was a fairly quiet community – just the default LJ style, nothing on the community info page, etc. In January 2004 I decided to see if the community owner would allow me to co-maintain it and put some of my ideas into action, and she said yes.

Shortly thereafter she told me she wasn’t really interested in running the community any longer, so she just handed the reins to me and I became the sole maintainer. I started using the community info page as a place to link to TiVo resources. I was already posting more TiVo news. I wanted to make the community a place where someone could get all of the latest TiVo-related news without having to scour the net for it.

The community was just the community for another year. http://community.livejournal.com/tivolovers/ was the URL, and still works. But I was commenting a lot in other blogs, etc, and that just isn’t catchy or easy to remember. So I registered TiVoLovers.com and pointed www.tivolovers.com at the community in December, 2005. And that’s how it ran until August 22, 2006.

I was tapped to review the Series3 before the release, and that kicked into high-gear some plans that had been in my head for a while. I’d been thinking of starting a ‘real’ website under TiVoLovers.com, to add more content aside from the LJ community. And when I was asked to do the review, that was the last straw. I wanted a site to host the review, FAQ, photos, etc.

So I changed DNS to point blog.tivolovers.com at the community, and www.tivolovers.com to a web server. And I pulled together some content I’d had scattered around to start the site off, adding the Series3 content when it went public. I’m still working on content as I find the time, and I have more ideas I want to implement.

On March 22, 2008 the site was renamed from TiVo Lovers to Gizmo Lovers, including changing the URL to www.gizmolovers.com. The reasons for the change are spelled out in this post.

Free time isn’t something I have a lot of, especially with all the activity I do as above.

The Maintainer

As you’ve probably figured out by now, I’m a geek. I went to Worcester Polytechnic Institute. I entered in 1989 as an Aerospace major, and graduated in 1994 as a double major in Technical Writing and History. Along the way I did most of the Mechanical Engineering/Aero program and about half of the Computer Science program. I also worked for the Campus Computing Center, and when I graduated I got a job in the networking industry.

I’ve bounced around from startups to corporations like Lucent and GTE Internetworking. I moved from MA out to Berkeley and back to MA, where I live today, back in Worcester. I’ve been a support engineer, network security specialist, systems administrator, web developer, editor, and I forget all the other titles. These days I’m Director of IT Operations for a small company, after starting out as a software developer here. Basically I like tech and I’m easily distracted, so I drift into different areas as my interest leads me. Along the way I also worked on the HTML 4, CSS 2, and WAI specs as part of the W3C.

I started following DVRs in 1999, when TiVo and ReplayTV both launched. It was interesting, but the early products were very expensive, and didn’t really do much. The high cost and limited features were enough to keep me from buying one, despite the ‘cool toy’ impulse. I’d just picked up a fancy VCR with cable box control and such, and it worked fairly well.

Sometime around late 2000 or so some friends of mine got a TiVo. In 2001 more of my friends had TiVos, and one had a ReplayTV. I was still following them and they were maturing into solid products, and the prices were coming down. I did a lot of comparison between the TiVo and ReplayTV, and while RTV had some nice features, I thought that the core DVR functionality – scheduling recordings – was far superior on TiVo. TiVo’s simple priority system and the combination of Season Passes and WishLists really out-shined RTV’s theme system that still confuses users.

By late 2001 I’d decided to buy a TiVo, but around that time they announced the Series2. I decided to wait and see what the Series2 would be like. At the time there were also promising a few cool things that were never delivered – games from JellyVision, video from Radiance, music from Real Networks (though I suppose that finally arrived with the Rhapsody deal). When the S2 went up for ordering on TiVo.com in February, 2002 I ordered mine immediately.

Of course, a few weeks later, after listening to the two friends I was living with at the time complain about me keeping the TiVo to myself (I’d put it in my room), I picked up a used Series1 on eBay to put in the living room. Shortly after I got them, I upgraded the drives in both boxes.

(One of the housemates got himself a TiVo a few weeks later, the other one bought himself one after we split up and no longer lived together later that year.)

So I’ve been using TiVo since February 2002, and following them fairly closely since they launched.

To make the community a useful resource, I scour the net and consolidate the news I find. Or, rather, I mostly use technology to do it for me. I follow a number of blogs – ZatzNotFunny.com, TiVoBlog.com, PVRBlog.com, PVRWire.com, AllPVR.com, Gizmodo.com, DVRPlayground.com, the TiVo corporate blog (blog.tivo.com), ReplayTVBlog.com, TiVoToday.com, WeaKnees Blog (wkblog.com), Zeigen.com/blog, TiVoCommunity.com, and more.

If you look at my LJ profile the RSS feed section is full of the blogs I read. (And a lot of web comics.) I use LJ as a convenient web-based RSS aggregator so I have all my feeds from any browser. I find it much more useful than a desktop RSS reader.

I also have CNet alerts set up for ‘TiVo’ and related terms, as well as a Google alert. I’m signed up on TiVo.com to get email every time they have a press release, and I also have a subscription from PRNewswire with alerts for any PR with ‘TiVo’ in it. I also listen to their quarterly conference calls and the like. And I read the alt.video.ptv.tivo and alt.video.ptv.replaytv USEnet groups, amongst others. I’m also on a slew of TiVo/DVR related Yahoo groups, and I recently started co-maintaining the tivocentral group there – the most active TiVo-related Yahoo group.

As I learn more tricks and sources, I add them to my resource pool. And as I’ve established more of a reputation, I’ve had people – from within and without TiVo – tip me off to some things. Though I have a policy of not being a ‘leak’, so I don’t spill TiVo news if I don’t think it should be public – not without checking first.

In addition, I monitor all of LiveJournal for mentions of TiVo – mainly to jump in and help random strangers when they have TiVo questions or problems. I’ve had a couple of people get annoyed over the years, but I generally get thanks for popping up out of the blue to help out. I do this by (ab)using Google Blog Search. I setup an RSS feed that auto-searches LJ for me.

I also set one up for blogs in general. However, so many blog spammers use ‘TiVo’ that it got to me too much to keep up with regularly. So I don’t check on it as much now.

I’ve attended CES for five years now, 2004-2008, and my primary visit is with TiVo. I generally go to them first and spend most of the day getting photos, checking out all of their demos, asking a lot of questions, and catching up with the various people that I only see at the show.

So I hope you find the site and community useful.

March 23, 2008