remote

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The TiVo "Peanut" remote, flanked by Logitech Harmony 890 clones

The TiVo “Peanut” remote, flanked by Logitech Harmony 890 clones

My wife’s satisfaction with the new TiVo Roamio OTA tuner/DVR allowed us to cut the cord earlier this month. The peanut-shaped TiVo remote played a key role. The “Peanut” fits the hand and is easy to use.

The lone downside is that only one Peanut is included. While I consider the den TiVo to be her fiefdom, I also need a remote in my self-appointed role of “TV butler”: assisting with any difficulties, pointing out new features, and skipping the commercials in “General Hospital” while she is cooking.

I could have simply bought an extra Peanut, or used the free TiVo smartphone app. (Personally, I like a physical remote, but it’s always nice to have the app on your phone, even if you have to wake it up.) However, I went a third way.

I have extolled the virtues of Logitech Harmony remotes previously. I have used an 890 in the theater room for several years. The 890 is an older model that handles up to 16 devices and 15 activities.

When the TiVo Roamio OTA arrived, I still had room on my trusty 890 for both TiVo and the den TV as Devices. Since I already had Roku and an A/B switch as Devices for the theater room Activities, I could add them all to a new Activity I called “Den”.

Adding TiVo as a Device assigned the standard functions (Rewind / FF / Pause / etc.) to the 890’s standard buttons in a very natural way. I assigned the special TiVo buttons (Live TV / TiVo / Zoom / Back / A,B,C,D) to “soft” buttons on the 890 (buttons labeled by the blue screen; photo at top).

I then had a complete working Peanut clone! But I didn’t stop there. On a second screen, I added soft buttons for an antenna A/B switch and the den TV. On the third screen, I added Roku controls. One Harmony can do it all.  Well, I still keep the X10 learning remote handy for turning on/off lights, and as an alternate TV and Roku remote. (See the next post, Teaching TiVo to the X10 universal remote, for an update.)

By the way, when you pair the Peanut with the TiVo Roamio, it uses RF (radio frequency) to control without the need to point; otherwise it emits IR (infrared light). The Harmony 890 is able to do both IR and RF, but I use it strictly in IR mode. The TiVo Roamio recognizes both.

When Logitech was threatening to sell off their remote line in 2013, I got worried that the new owner might force new users to either smartphone-only control, or a more expensive option (ultimately, they didn’t sell). So I picked up a used 890 on eBay with no battery or back cover, and put it aside as a backup.

So, rather than schlep the Harmony wonder remote back and forth between the den and theater room, I ordered a battery and back cover for the backup 890. Then I attached it to my PC and cloned my clone.

Now I keep one in the den, and one in the theater room’s charger base. When the den 890 batteries run down, I swap them. Everybody’s happy.

Bulb in net-wrapped plastic globe under ceiling fan in Tiki room

New remote-controlled multi-mode bulb in net-wrapped globe under ceiling fan in our Tiki room.

Yesterday, I replaced the failing, years-old LED bulb in our Tiki room ceiling fan with this $17 product in the TTM Amazon Store: LJY E27 10W RGB LED Light Color Changing Lamp Bulb AC 85-265V with Remote Control.

With the netting and translucent globe I added, it looks like a Japanese glass fishing float, a popular Tiki decor item. The included remote still works even with the globe covering the bulb.

LED Color Changing Bulb w/ Remote Control

LED Color Changing Bulb w/Remote Control: $17

Our Tiki lounge

Our Tiki lounge

The IR remote selects on/off, color, and brightness. There are also 4 cycling modes, from a fast strobe to a languid pulse.

I was able to teach the commands to my Logitech Harmony remote in the adjacent theater room. Now I can change both the mood and the music from the comfort of my Laz-E-Boy.

Should you wish to do likewise, add a Home Automation/Light Controller device to your Harmony, mfr: Magic Lighting, model: E27. You will get the main buttons of the credit card-sized remote on your Harmony as custom additional (soft) buttons.

I found that I still had to teach each command (the IR codes in the Harmony database didn’t match my hardware), add a few more soft buttons, and delete several. But now I can control this light, our other X10 lights and devices, and home theater components all with the Harmony remote!

Read about Tulsa’s Tiki past on these TTM pages: Tulsa Tiki.

Visit Tiki Central to correspond with Tiki-minded people around the world.

Our custom lineups

Our custom lineups

In a previous post, Android home theater and automation apps, I mentioned the Titan TV app:

“TitanTV – Free. Displays a channel guide for the Tulsa broadcast stations we watch, my wife’s preferred digital cable channels, or the analog cable channels, The latter is particularly useful, since the only on-screen analog channel guide is the super-slow-scrolling, half-screen Channel 3.”

To create these custom lineups, sign up at titantv.com.

Once you log in, create a New Channel Lineup. Base it on the broadcast and cable services in your area.

At left: our three custom lineups.

For the broadcast list, I simply deleted the channels we don’t watch, including shopping, religious, kids, and a few that are outside our service area.

We use the analog listing exactly as TitanTV has it.

I also created a list with my wife’s go-to digital channels.

2014-11-25 08.02.242014-11-25 08.02.462014-11-25 08.03.06
(Click each image for a close-up.)

Titan TV is the best app I have found, but it has a problem every month or two: it forgets to let you be logged in.

Whenever this happens, I use another app called Android Assistant.

AA lets you Clear Data for Titan TV, which restores your ability to log in. It’s a pain, but Titan TV is too useful.

If anyone has a better app, I would love to hear about it.

(11/19/2015: This post has been revised to include newspaper clippings and new verbiage.)

The short answer to the question is found in this 1977 Tulsa Tribune clipping:

From the November 25, 1977 edition of (courtesy of Nick Abrahamson, Tulsa Library Research Center)

From the Tulsa Tribune, 11/25/1977, courtesy of Nick Abrahamson, Tulsa Library Research Center (RCAskUs) (Click to enlarge)

Thus, “Q” was Tulsa Cable Television’s 1977 term for their premium subscription channel (or channels).

But what exactly was its content?


David Bagsby said:

“…and then there was this thing with channel 5 (same 10 movies for infinity) and Q (the saucy channel)

The channel 5 David mentions was likely Tulsa Cable’s early Movie Channel, a 24-hour presentation of “classic” movies (pre-1969) via an automated tape cassette system. It offered 14 different movies per week. For more detail, read the Feb 1975 article “Tulsa Cable: The Making Of A Super System” (PDF format) from previous Cord-Cutting Blog post, 1975 article on Tulsa Cable in national mag.

Also according to that article: “Tulsa Cable began operations on January 18, 1974.”


I found this 2008-9 thread on the TulsaNow forum:

A question for “old skool” people about cable tv..

mrburns918 said:

The Delman Theatre in 1950, courtesy of the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa

The Delman Theatre in 1950, courtesy of the Beryl Ford Collection.

“My question is… ‘Was HBO ever called the “Q” channel?‘ It seems like I remember it being called that. I also remember the channel showing a lot of foreign films, including a short they always played about a pigeon dropping his load on people. I also remember being traumatized by the movie that was a rip off of ‘The Exorcist’ called ‘Beyond the Door’ Anyone else remember the type of shows on “Q”? If that was what the channel was called.”

Nick@RCAskUs via email:

“A June 1, 1975 Tulsa World had an advertisement for ‘Beyond the Door’ showing at a theater at 15th and Lewis.”

(This would have been the Delman Theatre.)

So Nick’s research establishes the date of mrburns918’s recollections as no earlier than later 1975.

The recency of “Beyond the Door” from a mid-to late-70s perspective corroborates David Bagsby’s memory that the automated Movie Channel and “Q” were two distinct entities, since the former showed only older movies.


The November 25, 1977 article at the top of this post stated that there were 25.000 subscribers at that time, 8,000 of whom also subscribed to “‘pay cable’ or ‘Q'”.

This February 1979 Tulsa Tribune article quoted TCT President Mark Savage in that year as saying that back in November 1977, there were 23,000 cable subscribers, and 7.000 of them were “Home Box Office subscribers”:

2/22/1979 Tulsa Tribune

From the Tulsa Tribune, 2/22/1979, courtesy of Nick Abrahamson, Tulsa Library Research Center (RCAskUs) (Click to enlarge)

The subscriber numbers quoted for November 1977 in the two separate articles are close. This suggests that Mr. Savage was using the then-currently available “HBO” product name in 1979 to retroactively describe what had been called “Q” in the 1977 article.

Stacy Richardson (former Tulsa radio newsman) on TTM@Facebook said of Q: “It was a movie channel — $10/month, I believe — which, within a short time, was replaced in the cable-box channel lineup by HBO.”

I asked: “I wonder if it was a locally put together venture?”

Stacy replied: “I’m reasoning it was locally originated, because the only national source would have been the embryonic HBO. And I am not sure HBO was even being distributed nationally when Q started.”

I’m not sure either. According to Wikipedia’s HBO article, HBO didn’t begin to be available nationally until late 1975 at the very earliest. I believe the year for Tulsa is more likely to be 1978, since the 11/25/1977 article is still talking about Q. (Unless “Q”, after all, was a term meant to refer to more than one pay channel.)

At any rate, Q was not mentioned in the 2/1975 article, was already well-established as of late 1977, and had apparently been replaced by HBO by 2/1979.


Later in the 2008-9 TulsaNow thread, “patric” said of the Tulsa Cable channel changer:

“It was the size of an encyclopedia with a long brown wire that tangled and frayed easily, and some of the channels were letters (like “Q”) instead of numbers. HBO was A, Cinemax was B, Escapade C, etc.”

(Above: early version of the Tulsa Cable changer with letters and numbers.)

Could “Q” have referred to the Q button on this remote?

David Bagsby answered on TTM@Facebook: “Q was what Escapade became I think… it was not the location on the changer box.”

However, Escapade started up in 1980 (“Cablevision’s Brash Maverick“, NY Times, 1981), and Q had apparently been superseded by HBO before this.

The first I remember of Escapade (later, The Playboy Channel) was at channel 16 on a later changer, which is at the same location as the C button on the earlier one.

The Q button would become channel 30 in the next issued version of the remote, the more familiar Jerrold Starcom II Cable TV Converter.

So the answer to this question is again “we don’t know”, but probably not.


Hazarding a pure guess, could “Q” have derived from the word “quality”, as in “quality programming”?

More speculation: Or could “Q” have been a marketing name, created as a sound-alike to QUBE?

QUBE was an experiment in interactive TV that launched in Columbus, Ohio on December 1, 1977. Later on, it was made available in several major cities including Dallas, Houston, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Pittsburgh. QUBE was much written about at the time as the future of TV, but was gone by 1984.

Stacy Richardson commented on TTM@Facebook: “QUBE was a Warner Cable service. But Warner never owned the cable system in Tulsa. ‘QUBE’ and Tulsa Cable’s ‘Q’ were two entirely different things.”

Did Tulsa Cable ever have any ambitions in that direction?


 The True Q channel: All Q, all the time.

Or maybe this is the True Q channel: All Q, all the time — for all eternity


(PS, the lead actor of “Beyond the Door”, Richard Johnson, was considered for the role of 007 before Sean Connery was tapped. Watch the whole movie on YouTube. That’s how far media has come since the 70s.)

Also see related blog post Spicy cable in the 80s.

jerrold

From GroupBlog 274: Jerrold Starcom II Cable TV Converter, issued to Tulsa Cable subscribers in the 80s.

The sumptuous woodgrain plastic finish complemented my woodgrain plastic finished TV.

Tulsa played an important role in the development of cable TV. Here is a good article from Tulsa People magazine: The cable guys: How two Tulsans changed the course of TV history, by Bob Haring. The two guys were Ed Taylor and Roy Bliss (see TTM@Facebook to watch 1984 C-SPAN interviews with them).

Help me remember the 1980s Tulsa Cable basic lineup. (There was no “extended” cable until into the 1990s; the price in 1990 was $16.95/month).

Notes:
KGCT had been carried since its inception in 1981. It was dropped by Tulsa Cable in 1986 after a federal court declared the FCC’s must-carry rules unconstitutional. What channel was it?
Religion included programs produced by Rocky Stegman with Clayton Vaughn and Dr. John Wolf.
Showtime/The Movie Channel were not included as of Mark Savage’s C-SPAN interview, 9/26/1984.

(Updated 9/16/2014 from archived Tulsa World articles by Rita Sherrow and others, Facebook correspondents Geej McAbee, Tom Alexander and Kenny Bolen, with DolfanBob filling most of the remaining gaps. It may look confusing, but there WAS shifting around from the early 80s through the early 90s.)

What about KXTX-Dallas. Tempo Television/SPN, CMT, Religion? What else is missing? What is in error?

  2 – KJRH
  3 – KTVT-Ft. Worth?; VH-1 full-time as of 12/1989; E!/High school and college sports, UHF simulcasts, 3/1992
  4 – KSHB-“Kansas City 41”
  5 – TNT; KOKI, 3/1992
  6 – KOTV
  7 – Maybe KXTX-Dallas? (KWHB, 3/1989?)
  8 – KTUL
  9 – USA until Lifetime, 3/1992
10 – The Family Channel
11 – KOED
12 – Nickelodeon
13 – Electronic Program Guide
14 – Home Box Office (pay)
15 – Cinemax (pay)
16 – Escapade->Playboy (pay); Encore, 3/1992
17 – The Disney Channel (pay)
18 – Tulsa Public Schools
19 – Tulsa Junior College
20 – BET/VH-1 as filler until 12/1989, when Movietime became the filler
21 – WGN-Chicago
22 – WTBS-Atlanta
23 – KOKI until C-SPAN II/Bravo, 3/1992
24 – Headline News until TNT, 3/1992
25 – ESPN
26 – MTV until USA, 3/1992
27 – Tulsa Public Schools as of 9/26/1984, later Nostalgia/Home Sports Entertainment Network thru 12/1989, then The Travel Channel/HSEN until CNBC/HSEN, 3/1992
28 – Tulsa Public Schools as of 9/26/1984. A & E as of 3/1992
29 – The Weather Channel then AMC, 3/1992
30 – America’s Shopping Channel until QVC on 12/1989, then HLN, 3/1992
31 – CNN (was the City Government Channel in 1975)
32 – The Discovery Channel; CMT in wee hours as of 12/1989
33 – AMC, later KTVT until 12/1989 when dropped; later Nostalgia Channel/AMC, then VH-1, 3/1992
34 – SportsTracker as of 9/26/1984, later CNBC, then MTV, 3/1992
35 – Lifetime until QVC, 3/1992
36 – C-SPAN
37 – Showtime (pay), probably some years after Mark Savage’s C-SPAN interview on 9/26/1984

And FM service: KLON – jazz from Long Beach, CA, WFMT – classical from Chicago…