Sunday, October 18, 2009

Is this a joke?

We decided to upgrade the hard drive on our Tivo Series3, since the stock 250G drive only holds about 30 hours of HD video.  I studied the various Tivo upgrade boards and selected a hard drive that had been recommended by some, the WD 1.5TB "EADS" Green drive.  The upgrade process is simple: crack the tivo, extract the drive, move the data from the old drive to the new, "expand" the new drive (updating the partition table so it uses the extra space), and replace the drive.

Attempt 1: 1.5TB drive, using trusty Unix tools -- put the drives into a Unix box, copy data with dd, then do the expansion with 'mfstools'.  This is the approach I've used several times in the past, with good results.  Put the new drive in, turn it on, and it gets stuck forever in the "Wecome, powering up" screen.  Back to Google. 

 Turns out that the S3 can't see a partition bigger than 1TB, and mfstools expands the partition to the whole rest of the drive, yielding a too-big partition.  Turns out mfstools doesn't support limiting the size of the partition, but the Windows version (winmfs) does, so I'll use that instead.  (Its good to have lots of spare computers around when attempting any sort of upgrade.)

Attempt 2: 1.5TB drive, using winmfs.  Put the drives in the windows box, run winmfs to copy the data, and let winmfs expand the partition.  It asks me "should I limit the partition to 1TB", I say yes, good.  Put the drives back -- same problem.  More Googling.

So I discover that "some versions of the drive I was using (WD15EADS) are 'not compatible' with Tivo Series3."  Its been years since I've heard about incompatible (system, disk) pairs, and this is a standard SATA drive, but OK, I guess I bought the wrong drive.   RMA time.  Sorry, NewEgg.  The Tivo Upgrade FAQ ( is telling me I should favor the WD EVVS drives instead, so I buy a 1TB drive (WD10EVVS) from Amazon. 

Attempt 3: 1TB drive, winmfs.  I repeat the process, copying the 250G drive to the new 1TB drive, and put the drive back in the Tivo.  (At this point I've learned to try it before I fasten all the screws.)  Same deal -- stuck on the "Welcome, Powering Up" screen.  More Googling.

I found this update, which was added after I'd bought my drive:

The WD10EVVS was removed from the list on October 10, because there is a new
batch of that drive, manufactured on September 20, that is not compatible
with the TiVo.   These incompatible drives are labeled as follows:

MDL: WD10EVVS - 63M5B0
Product of Thailand
DATE: 20 SEP 2009
DCM: [b]HAxxxxxxxx
R/N: 701640
LBA: 1953525168

I looked at my drive, and sure enough, I had one. 

Is this an elaborate joke? 

Next up: RMA redux, ordered a WD 10EVDS drive.  Stay tuned.


Update: installed the WD10EVDS, worked fine.  Fourth time's the charm!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

You've been scammed!

I got an odd e-mail from PayPal the other day, telling me I'd paid EU250 to something called "Skype Business Panel."  My first thought was that it was a phish, but careful examination suggested it was real.  I logged on to my PayPal account and indeed I'd been charged EU250.  What the hell is "Skype Business Panel", anyway?  Turns out it is a skype feature where businesses can allocate credit to the skype accounts of their employees and thereby manage their telephone spending. 

I have spent about $10 with skype per year, recharging my skype account from PayPal when it ran low.  Somehow (don't remember) I had authorized skype to charge my PayPal account when my balance got low.  And this was the vector through which I was scammed.  Someone must have gotten a hold of my skype password (don't know how), logged on, and billed EU250 to my PP account (which didn't require a PayPal webflow), and then allocated it to some bogus accounts. 

First stop: dispute the charge with PayPal.  They were completely unhelpful, pointing me to the authorization and told me to work it out with skype.  Fortunately skype was more helpful, and they reversed the charge immediately. 

I then logged on to my Skype Business Control Panel (now that I know such a thing exists), and found several bogus accounts linked to mine, which I deleted.  After all was said and done, including the refund, I still somehow had a EU100 balance on my BCP, meaning somehow the scammers gave me  EU100. 

To see if you have any such preapprovals on file: login into your paypal account, click "Profile", and click "Preapproved Payments."  You can delete them from there.