When DVRs Go Bad

Folks, I have an interesting little piece of advice today. {Well, at least I find it worth talking about… whether you find it interesting may be another story.}

Those who know me, know I’m all about automating my life wherever possible. In fact, just this past week, I set my Mac up to automatically open and close my “work” apps when I’m at work. {It’s the little things…}

Naturally, a DVR was a lifesaver for me. My main reason for getting one was so that I could concentrate on more important things like schoolwork instead of whether or not I’d miss a show. {Pretty good excuse to tell my parent back in the day. Don’t you think?} What really happened is that I got lazy. I stopped keeping track of what shows I watched. I had no idea when they came on. I didn’t have to worry about recording them. It got to the point where I’d just come home, turn my TV on and watch a show or two that was recorded and go on with life. {On the bright side, I did stop watching TV as much.}

That all changed this weekend when I heard a strange noise coming from my TV area. Turns out, my DirecTV receiver decided to up and die. The noise was the fan trying to kick on over and over. Even better, thanks to the wonders of DirecTV tying DVR content to the receiver, I quickly realized, the 30% of space holding movies and TV shows from the past 3 years was gone. Thankfully, I am fairly good at staying up to date on the shows I watch, but I did face a few realities:

  1. I had started to rely on my DVR so much that I didn’t even know which shows I watched anymore.
  2. I certainly didn’t know when shows came on.
  3. I had no idea what shows I was going to be missing or had already missed.

My first plan of action was to start rattling off shows and recording them as a list in Evernote. {DirecTV only lets you record 50 series, so how hard could it be to remember the ones I scheduled, right? – WRONG} Thankfully, the internet came to the rescue and a quick Google search brought me to The Futon Critic where I spent an hour or so browsing the A-Z section of TV shows filling in the list. I’m pretty confident I haven’t missed anything at this point. {If I did, oh well.}

The replacement receiver was supposed to arrive by this Friday (the 14th) {It came yesterday :)} so I wanted to know which episodes I had missed or would be missing. My Evernote list therefore evolved into a Google Spreadsheet where I started noting whether each show was currently running and if so, when it came on, what channel it aired on, whether I’d actually watched the most recent episode, etc. This sort of worked, but it was too much work keeping it up to date.

Eventually, I decided this fiasco couldn’t happen again {and it inevitably would whether the receiver failed or I got a new one}.

In the end, I revisted a site I had used a few years ago, Episode Calendar. I signed in to my account I had made already and added the shows I watched. Now I have a list of what I watch, when it comes on, and I can also note which episodes I’ve watched updated by all the fine folks that keep the lists up to date. It even has a calendar feed so I can add my TV shows to my Google Calendar! {Bonus feature: it keeps track of when shows are cancelled so should I ever hit that 50 show cap on my receiver I can know which ones to delete.}

Lessons learned:
– DVRs cannot be backed up.
– They will fail or need to be replaced.
– More importantly you cannot rely on them to remember which shows you like, when they come on, and what you’ve watched.

From now on, I’ll be tracking my shows with Episode Calendar. As for the movies, thankfully I’ve been making a task in my to-do app any time something’s set to record so I could make sure it actually recorded {smart thinking, Andrea!}, so I had a record of all the movies I had recorded. All I had to do was figure out if I had actually watched them or not based on whether I rated it in Netflix. The ones I didn’t watch got added back to Netflix.

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