Friday, July 6, 2007

The Trouble Report (Box #2) (until 7/10/07)

  • The Update log will from now on be posted at the Ground Control page. The Usage and Performance section moved to its own page

    Problems not happening with this box (so far)
  • I am happy to write that Problem #3 of Box #1 is not happening with this box. There are no fast-forwarding issues with this box!
  • The Motorolas had occasional audio/video hickups. I have not seen any of those with the Pace so far! (knock on wood)


    Box #2 Problems and Solutions
  • Problem #1: Crashes/Freezes almost daily during DVR operations. This happens with user-initiated actions. So far this is the only scenario that caused a crash with the exception of Crash #1 below which was the only time it crashed while being "on its own". Solution: None so far. (This is the same as Problem #5 of Box #1)...Untested hypothesis: One more thing I observed is that the program next to it in the DVR listing has its position adjusted to the end of the program (same position as the program that the machine crashes on). I'm not an expert, but it's starting to smell like some sort of a memory leak or memory/structure corruption issue. But that's just my guess!... I am now trying to see if the combination of actions at the end of problem may be what causes the crash. More on this tomorrow...
  • Problem #1b: I observed this is a similar scenario to Problem #1 (switching/transitioning from one program to another). The DVR hesitated and slowed down, but did not crash. Instead a blue pop-up window came up twice with the message along the lines of "cannot delete file while in use, Code: CIU". Pressing OK/Enter got the pop-up window to disappear and the DVR continues to operate normally. This also had the same side-effect as Problem #1, the program next to it had its "program position memory" (aka "tape counter") changed to be at the end of the program, instead of where it was before (it was somewhere in the middle)... Because of this I think these two problems are related. Perhaps this is a sign that the crashes are fixed. Only time will tell...
  • Problem #2: The front display does not show the time or the channel number, even though that option is available in the Setup Menu. Clearly the display does not have the capability to do that, but the Comcast software does not realize it. Solution: I don't think there is one. (This is the same issue as Problem #4 of Box #1).
  • Problem #3: After a crash, and if there was a scheduled recording in progress in the current tuner before the crash, the recording does not restart after the reboot and the program is no longer listed in the schedule. This was observed a number of times after Problem #1.
  • Problem #4: Three crashes so far when left unattended and happening at the start (twice) or finish (once) of a scheduled recording. See Crashes #1, #10, and #11 below
  • Problem #5: After deleting some programs (perhaps the ones affected by a crash/freeze), their space is not always reclaimed. It usually takes 2-3 reboots for the space to be completely reclaimed
  • Problem #6: Sometimes after a reboot, a scheduled program disappears from the list of scheduled programs (and I checked, the program was not escheduled or changed names). This does not happen every time. This may also be linked to Problem #3 above.


    Crash Log
  • Crash #1: On Day 1, I had the first crash (with the Pace models) that I was not involved with. The recorder was scheduled to record a 1-hour program on a digital channel, programmed via the TV Guide (not a series) with a 3-minute start/finish headroom. The DVR was frozen at the point where it was supposed to start recording. I was nowhere near the DVR at that time :)
  • Crash #2a, 2b, 2c on Day 1: Similar problem as Box #1, crashing/freezing at the end of a program. One more thing I observed is that the program next to it in the DVR listing has its position adjusted to the end of the program (same position as the program that the machine crashes on). I'm not an expert, but it's starting to smell like some sort of a memory leak or memory/structure corruption issue. But that's just my guess!
  • Crash #3 on Day 2: Same as before, crashing in the transition between recordings in an end-of-recording situation.
  • Crash #4a, 4b on Day 3: Same as before, I am starting to see a possible pattern: Tuner is recording a program, then I start playback of a pre-recorded program. During playback, the tuner finishes the recording. Then playback finishes and I attempt to either delete the program or change to another pre-recorded program. At this point the DVR freezes/crashes. I'll be on the lookout for this for any future crashes. Again this is only a possibility at this point.
  • Crash #5 on Day 4: Similar as above, the pattern is end of program and/or transition to another program. It doesn't happen every time, which makes it harder to pin-point.
  • Crash #6 on Day 5: Similar as above
  • Crash #7 on Day 6: Similar as above. This happened after Problem #1b happened for the first time.
  • Crash #8 on Day 6: Similar as above. More specifically I was at the end of a digital program (100+), pressed the STOP button, returned to the live tuner that was recording from an ADS channel (2-99), pressed MyDVR, and tried to start playback of the program that was being recorded in the live tuner. Then it froze as usual.
  • Crash #9a, 9b on Day 7: Similar situation, in transition/end of viewing of a pre-recorded program
  • Crash #10 on Day 8: Crashed overnight while trying to start recording a program. This is only the 2nd time that it crashed/froze on its own. The first time I saw this was Crash #1 above. All the other crashes had a similar pattern as described above.
  • Crash #11 on Day 8: Transition crash (same as before, see Problem #1)
  • Crash #12 on Day 9: Crashed on its own (unattended) at the end of a scheduled recording. Now created Problem #4 for this bug.
  • Crash #13 on Day 9: Transition crash (same as before, see Problem #1)
  • Crash #14 on Day 10: This was the easiest crash to describe. When I turned on the TV for the first time today I started playback of a previously recorded (digital/100+) program on the DVR. I did not do anything else to the DVR, did not change channels even on the live tuner. Right after playback started, I went to the DVR "My Recordings" list and deleted a couple of older programs from the disk. Then I pressed the Info button to bring up the bottom menu and chose the restart playback option. And that's where it froze. This didn't even reach an end of program, or went back to the live tuner. Simply restarted playback of the program I was watching.
  • Crash #15a, #15b on Day 10: More of the same... I am starting to think that maybe it crashes after x program switches or program deletions. It doesn't make sense!
  • Crash #16 on Day 12: Similar freezing with pop-window with code "ACC". This happened when I accidentally exited a program by pressing the [B] button (default action is STOP), instead of pressing upper arrow (PAUSE function). I was really hoping to have a 2-day non-crash streak, but sadly no :-(
  • Crash #17 on Day 15: Crash #17 happened while the DVR was on its own. Not sure what it was doing at the time of the crash.
  • Crash #18a and #18b on 6/2: One crashed when I reach the end of the program, the other crashed when the DVR finished recording a program on its own and failed to return to a live tuner at the end of the recording. The recording that caused the freeze was started by me by recording an in-progress buffer of a 30-minute 2-99 channel. Grrr!
  • Crash #19a, #19b on 6/3: Both crashes were the typical end of program/transition to another program crashes. Oh Comcast what have you done???
  • Crash #20 on 6/10: (There were a few more crashes in-between that I forgot to record). There was only one crash, and now I have a new theory I will be testing: The crash happened at about the same time as the tuner(s) was/were transitioning as well. So perhaps the issue is affected/caused not only by an end of playback/transition situation, but also with what happens to the tuners. I'll keep a watchful eye out on it... In a couple of other occasions the recorder staggered a bit during the transition, but did not freeze or crash, also good news :-)
  • Crash #21a and #21b on 6/12: There was a crash yesterday around 9:40pm, when I was switching from watching a previously recorded program from a digital channel to another episode of exactly the same program. The device froze, the green remote button remained on on the front panel display, and the message box with the "ACC" error code came up. This is #21a. What was interesting is that after the reboot and a couple of hours later, I tried to play the program that caused the crash. And guess what? The device crashed again! Coincidence??? Hmmmm....
  • Crash #22a and #22b on 6/15: I wrote all the details for this one! Here we go: I was watching programs on the DVR and scheduled a few upcoming recordings using the TV Guide (not series or manual recordings). Then I started playback of a program that finished recording about 30 minutes ago on the background tuner.. At the start of playback the picture froze and soon thereafter the whole DVR froze. After I rebooted, I started playback of the same program. The position had jumped at the end of the program (almost always happens after a crash). I was able to watch the program until the end. At the end of the program I selected "YES" to delete it and guess what, the DVR froze again. Coincidence? I think not!
  • Crash #23 on 6/16: I deleted an older program but it's space was not reclaimed (sounds like reclaiming of someone's water in Dune?). At the end of the program I was watching (guess what?), the video picture froze again, but I was able to navigate the menus for a few more seconds before it froze completely. This time however I wrote down the error messages! The first one said [Unable to process request, code: CDIN], and the second one said [Cannot delete while file in use, close file and try again, Code: CIU]. (I added the square brackets to denote the message content)... These sound like file system related issues, unfortunately the cable company CSRs either want to reboot the box, exchange the box or send a technician over. None of these approaches will fix a software/firmware problem however. If anyone at Comcast/Pace is reading this and knows what the real problem is, please feel free to chime in or fix it! Thanks :-)
  • Crash #24 on 6/19: I found it frozen in the morning. It frozen while preparing to start recording a program that I set to start 3 minutes ahead of time. This was not a series recording, but one I preset from the TV Guide. I was not touching/using the box at the time. This is only the 3rd or 4th time the box froze on its own. All the other times happened while I was using it. However all the crashes share the same pattern: they happened during the transition from one program to the other... After the crash, I watched and then deleted the next program recorded after the crash. Upon its deletion, it's space has not been reclaimed. So quite possibly the next cycle of cascading file system issues will start again? Stay tuned!
  • Crash #25 on 6/25: Just when I was starting to think the freezing would go away, another transition freeze/crash. I don't know if has anything to do with it, but both tuners were pointing to the same channel.
  • Crash #26 on 6/26: The wheels are falling again. After Self-Reboot #2, the silly box froze at another transition point (end of a recording). Unplug/re-plug was the only way to bring it back. Grrrrrr!
  • Crash #27 on 6/26: It looks like it is saved all the crashes for today. This time it crashed when I pressed STOP during playback of a previously recorder program. This is very disappointing. I am tempted to call this DVR a POS, but I won't :-) Grrrr!
  • Crash #28 on 6/27: One more transition crash/freeze, similar circumstances as before.
  • Crash #29 on 6/28: One more transition crash/freeze. What a POS!
  • Crash #30 on 6/28: 20 minutes after the previous crash
  • Crash #31 on 6/28: Same as above. A three-peat of crashes in one day!
  • Crash #32 on 6/29: Same as above, end of playback crash. This time I did not even touch the box. It died on its own when the playback ended. It's not my magic touch :)
  • Crash #33 on 6/29: It looks like one crash attracts another. This time I attempted to exit playback by pressing the EXIT button. Yet another bird-brain-freeze!
  • Crash #34 on 6/30: One more crash, more of the same.
  • Crash #35 on 7/4: One more crash, more of the same. One thing to note is that the recorder program was from the same channel the tuner was on. The freeze/crash came after I pressed STOP during playback. Lovely!
  • Crash #36 on 7/4: Interesting. Coincidence or not? It crashed when I started playback of a program that was currently being recorded in the current (foreground) tuner.
  • Crash #37 on 7/5: The Pace is completely innoncent in this crash. The power went out and came back. Must be this heatwave with everyone cranking up the fans and the AC!
  • Crash #38 on 7/6: Power outage in the middle of the night. The Pace is completely innocent in this case!
  • Crash #39 on 7/6: This POS of a DVR crashed again at a transition point while I was trying to start playback of a previously recorded program. Coincidentally the program recorded on the live tuner was from the same channel as the previously recorded program. Coincidence or just another random POS crash? No wonder Comcast is no longer installing these lovely devices. An exercise in frustration is not worth $1 per month or even free! Grrrrrrrrr!
  • Crash #40 on 7/8: One standard playback transition crash (crash #40) happened. After the reboot, the DVR kept giving me a CIU (error deleting file) error every time I changed the channel, but functioned for a few minutes. Then it refuses to switch to the background tuner, and would not play any program from the hard disk. The only way to recover was the usual thing, unplug and replug...
  • Crash #41 on 7/9: When it rains, it pours is the theme song of this box. It seems one crash usually causes a series of cascanding problems. The box froze yet again during a playback transition. Then two minutes later the box rebooted on its own. See Self Reboot #3 below
  • Crash #42 on 7/9: About 2 hours after the previous boot, guess what, the box froze again! Arggg!
  • Crash #43 on 7/10: One more transition crash, this one with the popup window "code ACC". Lovely!



    Self-Reboot Log
  • Self-Reboot #1 on 6/21: Box rebooted (not crashed) on its own while I was playing back a previously recorded program. The reboot happened about halfway into the program. As far as I recall this is the 1st self-reboot I had. From what I recall, the Motorolas had some very very occasional self-reboots as well. I would call these "mental health reboots" :-0)
  • Self-Reboot #2 on 6/26: The box rebooted on its own, however this was initiated from the cable company as the direct split off the wall also lost picture. I do not think the DVR is to blame for this one.
  • Self-Reboot #3 on 7/9: Two minutes after Crash #41 the box rebooted on its own.


  • The operational content in this post moved to its own post here


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