Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Trouble Report (Box #3) (updated 9/17/07)

  • The Update log will from now on be posted at the Ground Control page.

  • Observation #1: This I am only mentioning in case it might be helpful. I am not sure if it is an issue. This happened with all the Pace boxes I have had so far. When a recording ends or when playback ends, and the live buffer picks up, the green PLAY arrow on the front display is on, even though I have not touched the remote. This also happens when going to the background tuner. Pressing the LIVE button makes the green PLAY arrow on the front display disappear, although the picture continues to play without jumping ahead.

    Box #3 Problems and Solutions
  • Problem #1: Unable to handle transitions from one program to another, or from one channel to another. Similar to the transition freezes/crashes of Box #1 and Box #2. Solution: Get a different DVR.
  • Problem #2: After the reboot following Crash #6, there was no audio coming from the RCA red/white outputs. There was sound coming from the RF output. Solution: Rebooting the box once again fixed the problem.

    Crash Log
  • Crash #1 on 7/14 I was outside and came back and the only thing I did was change the channel from 4xx to one of the music channels. And the box froze. No response to any buttons, no nothing. So I had to unplug and replug it in. This is not good!
  • Crash #2 on 7/15 This time I changed from an ADS channel [2-99] to a music channel. The box froze right away. At the same time tuner #2 had just started recording from another 2-99 channel... The freezes of this box are a bit different from the other two boxes. It freezes right away, both picture and remote input. The previous two boxes would first freeze the picture, but would allow you to use the user interface, but once you changed the picture (eg tried to change channel) it would freeze/lockup.
  • Crash #3 on 7/18 And we have our first "transition" freeze/crash with this box, similar to the daily freezes/crashes I got with box #1 and box #2. I would really appreciate it if both Pace and Comcast came out clean with the file system bugs of this. It would earn them a lot more credibility and trust with the customers struggling with this POS. No wonder it was given away at $1 per month (or even free), and no wonder they are no longer renting it out to customers. Memo to Pace and Comcast: Please be grown ups and take ownership of the problem instead of the usual blah blah blah.
  • Crash #4 on 7/18 Similar as Crash #3. What a P O S !
  • Crash #5 on 7/18 Similar as Crash #4. One crash attracts another. Cascading crashing/freezing. Lovely!
  • Crash #6 on 7/19 One more transition crash, this time starting playback of a previously recorded program.
  • Crash #7 on 7/21 The box had been behaving erratically for about an hour (sluggish remote response and such) and sure enough at the end of playback of a pre-recorded program, it froze and crashed again.
  • Crash #8 on 7/30 The first crash in nine days (excluding the self-reboot). And the funny thing is I had a feeling it was going to happen: I watched a program, pressed STOP to exit it, then deleted it and then started playback of another program from the hard disk. And that's where the [code ACC] crash/freeze happened. So if the problem is indeed file-system related, this makes perfect sense since stopping/deleting/starting playback all involve the file system.
  • Crash #9 on 8/1 On Wednesday night I caught up with a number of programs I recorded during the last week. So I used it a lot more than the average day of the last few days. And guess what? A typical [code ACC] freeze/crash happened. I am starting to think that perhaps this happens every X number of transitions (eg after every 5 or 7 or 10, or something like that). Added as Crash #9
  • Crash #10 on 8/6 Froze at the end of playback of a program. Back to POS mode it seems. Earlier on it self-rebooted during playback. See Self-Reboot #5 below.
  • Crash #11 on 8/9 All I did today was change the channel. And it froze/crashed. Needless to say the only reason I am keeping this is because it is $1/mo. Otherwise it would have been returned a long long long time ago. It is sad really because this would have been a really nice SD DVR. But the unreliability and unpredictability of the freezes/crashes during use ruins it.
  • Crash #12 on 8/13 I turned it on, played a one-hour previously recorded program, and when I pressed STOP at the end of the program, it froze/crashed! This is just sad.
  • Crash #13 on 8/13 Two programs after Crash #12, guess what, this POS crashed again at the end of the program, same thing. One crash attracks another it seems. Usually you don't even want a product in beta testing when it has such a horrible bug. Let alone install it in the field!
  • Crash #14 on 8/17 It only took three hours of watching to cause a crash. How unpredictably predictably unreliable this freeze/crush bug makes this DVR box! And this time it crashed while I was trying to restart playback of a program I was just watching, before even exiting playback. Before that, there were jitteriness in the fast forwarding. I'm not sure what the technical term for it, but it was sort of mechanically instead of organically fast-forwarding (not sure if that explains it)
  • Crash #15 on 8/20 This bug is so embarassing. I watched two previously recorded programs back to back and guess what happened at the end of the 2nd program? It froze/crashed again!
  • Crash #16 on 8/22 New Bug? This morning I turned it on and found the picture frozen and none of the remote buttons responding. This is the first time I have seen this twist with the Pace box
  • Crash #17 on 8/24 I went through the TV Guide and selected about 6-7 programs to recover over the next seven days (individual recordings, not series, not manual), then I started playback of a previously recorded program, fast forwared a bit, decided it wasn't interesting and stopped it (first 10 minutes or so). And there it froze/crashed! This may be interesting, in terms of a pattern of actions that may lead to freeze/crash?
  • Crash #18 on 8/24 Traditional end of playback freeze/crash.
  • Crash #19 on 8/28 And no surprise, I started watching programs, at the end of playback of the third program in a row, guess what? A crash/freeze!
  • Crash #20 on 9/4 Classic code ACC at the end of the 2nd program I was playing back. The reason you are not seeing as frequent crashes is because I'm rarely using it. In my estimation if you use it for about four hours per day you are very likely to get at least one freeze/crash.
  • Crash #21 on 9/5 This time it froze as it attempted to start recording a scheduled program. Arggggg!
  • Crash #22 on 9/8 Just like the script, when ending playback of the third program in a row being played back, the classic freeze/crash occured.
  • Crash #23 on 9/8 No surprise that stopping the next program after the reboot also caused a freeze/crash. As I mentioned before, the freeze/crashes usually come in pairs. This is such a nasty bug made worse by the denial of the people that can fix it.
  • Crash #24 on 9/10 Classic end of playback freeze/crash.
  • Crash #25 on 9/10 Classic second freeze/crash following the previous Crash #24.
  • Crash #26 on 9/13 Classic "code ACC" freeze/crash. Playback ended, DVR froze. In this instance I did not even touch a button. How sad!
  • Crash #27 on 9/16 Another traditional freeze/crash. I think this DVR does not like it if you delete programs or schedule new programs while in playback or within a few minutes of ending playback or something like that. It's hard to really verify this since I only have one DVR and I cannot test these side by side. But not deleting or scheduling new programs while in playback mode seems to have reduced the freeze/crashes a little bit - perhaps.
  • Crash #27 on 9/17 Froze/crash at the start of playback of a previously recorded program. No deletions and no scheduling during the playback operations. So the problem is not just with deletions or scheduling. Argg :-) :-(

    Self-Reboot Log
  • Self Reboot #1 on 7/23 Self-rebooted while I was playing back (chase play) a recording in progress in the background tuner. This was preceed by slowness and sluggishness. Perhaps those are signs of an upcoming freeze? I'll try to pay closer attention to them. I'll also try to pay closer attention to the time of the reboots. It seems that prime time maybe a factor, but I don't know if it is because of frequency of use (eg more likely to record and/or watch during primetime than other times).
  • Self Reboot #2 on 7/27 Apparently the box self-rebooted when it started recording a previously scheduled recording (not a series). I was not present or using the box at the time. I found this later. The program in question was broken in two, with the first half lasting 1 minute, and the rest of the program, minus 3 minutes in a 2nd title. So two minutes were lost during the reboot. How do I know it rebooted? Because every time it reboots the position of the iGuide both on the bar and the main menu screen are reset to the Home and On-Demand positions respectively.
  • Self Reboot #3 on 8/3 Short power outage. Not the DVR's fault. Came back okay after the power returned.
  • Self Reboot #4 on 8/3 I accidentally pulled out the power cord instead of the USB cord that I used for the fan cooler. Again, not the DVR's fault!
  • Self Reboot #5 on 8/6 A self-reboot during playback of a previously recorded program on the hard disk.

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

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