For awhile, I've wanted to try my hands at writing a gadget for the Windows Sidebar in Vista, but I could never come up with a project idea that was small enough to accomplish and useful enough to justify. Since we recently added two TiVo HD units to our home network, I thought it'd be handy to expose their Now Playing lists. I knew the data was available over our home network, because the TiVo Desktop software displays a lot of it. Turns out, the TiVo Developer Resources section of their site contains just enough to get going.
Without going into too many details, recent versions of the TiVo software on certain units (TiVo HD and TiVo Series3 HD, I think) contain a small web server that can be issued requests. These requests are passed via the query string and return their results as XML. For example, our downstairs TiVo unit has an IP address of 192.168.1.104 (you can find the IP address of your TiVo by navigating to Messages & Settings, then Settings, then Phone & Network). If I open my web browser and navigate to https://192.168.1.104/TiVoConnect?Command=QueryContainer, I'll receive an XML response that includes information like the title of the unit and a URL to obtain the current Now Playing list.
If you try this same request with your own TiVo (using the correct IP address, of course), you will first run into a security certificate warning. If you decide to continue, you'll then be asked for credentials. The user name is always tivo, and the password is your media access key. Your media access key can be found in the right column by logging in to your TiVo account online or by navigating to Messages & Settings, then Account & System Information, then Media Access Key on your TiVo. For a more "friendly" Now Playing list, you can also navigate to https://192.168.1.104/nowplaying/index.html using a similar procedure.
When I started writing the TiVo gadget, I could not successfully complete an XMLHttpRequest for the XML data because of the certificate warning (which I couldn't see, since this was all happening behind the scenes of the gadget). I soon figured out that the actual certificate is issued to the service number of the TiVo unit, but since the requests are being made to an IP address instead, the mismatch causes the warning. It's kind of like saying that I trust Mike Swanson, but I don't trust Swanson, Mike (same person, but represented differently). Ideally, then, I would want to issue my request to the service number of the TiVo so that the certificate would match.
On most networks, you can reach a machine by its IP address and its name; that's because the machine shares its name on the network. Unfortunately, the TiVo doesn't share its name (the service number) on the network like other devices. To resolve this issue requires a few steps, and if you decide to download and try the TiVo Now Playing gadget, you'll need to perform them:
Whew! Sorry that you had to go through all of that, but I'm not aware of any other method (short of possibly installing a custom ActiveX control) to get around this certificate issue. TiVo could solve the issue by broadcasting its service name on the network. Perhaps they'll do that in a future version of their software.
Assuming you've made it this far, you can download the TiVo Now Playing v1.0.1 gadget (182KB) and install it on your Windows Sidebar. Click the little "wrench" icon to configure the gadget. Enter your service number in TiVo address(es), and your Media access key. If you have more than one TiVo on your home network, you can enter multiple service numbers separated by semicolons. Note that all TiVos in a single household share the same media access key, so you only need to enter one of those.
This post is already rather long, so I'll quickly summarize the current gadget features:
I'm sure there's more I could say, and I'll probably say it in a future post. Please enjoy the gadget, and pass along any comments, suggestions, or questions via e-mail or by leaving feedback.
Update: If you downloaded version 1.0 of the gadget and you're not seeing any of your programs listed, please try version 1.0.1. Hopefully, this will fix the issue.
I couldn't get it to work, until I realized that I should be using that long service number in the configuration.. I was using the IP address
I have tyred everything said here. entered my service number but still just say (unknown) 0
I can connect to my tivo through firefox and IE8 on win7.
Confirmed working on Windows 7 64-bit - thanks for the really cool gadget!! (Installed version 1.0.2)
I'm getting an error when I try to download. And where is the link for 1.0.2?
@Peter: Thanks for the heads-up. My hosting provider migrated me to a new server, and one of the settings didn't move over. I've added it back, and the download should work fine now. Also, 1.0.2 can be found here: http://blogs.msdn.com/mswanson/archive/2007/12/22/tivo-gadget-v1-0-2-enables-video-download.aspx
Thanks, but I still can't get the gadget to work. I tells me (unknown)(0).
I have my Tivo service id entered in the Address field. It works fine if I go to the site manuualy, ie, http://652-0111-8076-ee3e/TiVoConnect?Command=QueryContainer. I did all the certificate stuff when I first went there. Now, I can go there with no errors. But the gadget still shows nothing.
For the record, I was able to get the Tivo Diskspace viewer working - http://peterkellner.net/2008/01/18/tivospaceviewerwithlinq/
Excellent gadget. If you need to get a list of tivos on your network, just listen on udp port 2190. All tivos are announced nearly every minute. the data returned is in plain text and includes the service number of the tivo. using the beacon, you can make a drop-down list of tivos and already have the service number available.
I'm running version 1.0.2 but I'm having a small issue.
I recently upgraded the hard drive on my Tivo HD to a 1TB drive and now have over 300 programs saved on it.
However, the gadget seems to max out at 128. So, it's not showing all my programs anymore.
Thanks for this gadget! I downloaded it a while back but never got it to work. I thought it was because I was on using a Premiere. I decided to revisit it and now that I actually read your instructions it works like a champ! RTFM!