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Why does DirecTV push reboots during active recordings?

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74 replies to this topic

#26 OFFLINE   tonyd79

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 03:46 PM

So because they were still "doing stuff" you contend it's impossible to know whether a receiver is active or not? As for how to know, that's why customers bring up issues and hopefully they get taken back to DirecTV to determine what, if anything, can be done. It's really a very simple thing.


I said that they were still responding in some ways to outside requests in response to you saying "if the box doesn't respond" because that told me that it may very well respond to a question of "are you recording." But, as many were reporting bogus recordings, there is no way of telling if the recording is legitimate or not. Therefore, if you ask the box if it is recording and it says "yes" and you hold off on reboot, then you may never get to the reboot if the recording was not accurate (at least until the drive fills up which could be a very long time).

And you need to reread the thread....

You said: "If it does respond though, then it's highly probable that a reboot isn't needed right that instant, and it can be delayed."

Did you miss the part about the recording status may be a symptom of the problem in this case?
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#27 OFFLINE   prospero63

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 03:50 PM

How does the box respond? There is no communication back to the head end that sends the reboot command.

Given that they can reboot boxes that are locked up I suspect they are using some sort of very low level reset. If you are going to have some sort of fail safe like this you want it as basic as possible. Ideally a hardware mechanism so it doesn't depend on any software that might be messed up but I don't know that they can do that. If the "fix" requires normal running software then there is no reason for the fix.


I'm with you. I'm not trying to design the thing here, just conveying the idea. I think it's entirely within the realm of plausible functionality. I'm not trying to say it's easy, but there's plenty of conceptual ideas I can think of in the context of "is it possible".

#28 OFFLINE   prospero63

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 03:51 PM

I said that they were still responding in some ways to outside requests in response to you saying "if the box doesn't respond" because that told me that it may very well respond to a question of "are you recording." But, as many were reporting bogus recordings, there is no way of telling if the recording is legitimate or not. Therefore, if you ask the box if it is recording and it says "yes" and you hold off on reboot, then you may never get to the reboot if the recording was not accurate (at least until the drive fills up which could be a very long time).

And you need to reread the thread....

You said: "If it does respond though, then it's highly probable that a reboot isn't needed right that instant, and it can be delayed."

Did you miss the part about the recording status may be a symptom of the problem in this case?


Gotcha. You are flagged in the "it can't be done" category. Duly noted.

#29 OFFLINE   richiephx

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 03:54 PM

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#30 OFFLINE   Doug Brott

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 04:12 PM

Is it better to design, build and test the "decider" function or just send out a "let 'er rip" signal?

With primetime only 5 hours away from when the trigger was pulled and the majority of customers not home anyway, it kinda seems like "fire in the hole" was the right answer for this one. They typical downtime was ~15 minutes .. It wasn't a perfect solution, but it was a speedy solution and allowed DIRECTV to move from reacting to cleaning up.
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#31 OFFLINE   prospero63

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 04:14 PM

Is it better to design, build and test the "decider" function or just send out a "let 'er rip" signal?

With primetime only 5 hours away from when the trigger was pulled and the majority of customers not home anyway, it kinda seems like "fire in the hole" was the right answer for this one. They typical downtime was ~15 minutes .. It wasn't a perfect solution, but it was a speedy solution and allowed DIRECTV to move from reacting to cleaning up.


Yep, I agree with you on this one. I'm more concerned at this point with the next one. :)

#32 OFFLINE   tonyd79

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 05:35 PM

Gotcha. You are flagged in the "it can't be done" category. Duly noted.


No, I am in the "you are over-simplifying and not using logic" category. I fix problems like this for a living. Without all the informaton yet gathering what I see, I can see where they did what they did today. I have been impressed with some of the technical decisions and problem fixing DirecTV has done lately, especially their response to today's issue and how they handled the D10 amelioration.
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#33 OFFLINE   prospero63

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 06:00 PM

No, I am in the "you are over-simplifying and not using logic" category. I fix problems like this for a living. Without all the informaton yet gathering what I see, I can see where they did what they did today. I have been impressed with some of the technical decisions and problem fixing DirecTV has done lately, especially their response to today's issue and how they handled the D10 amelioration.


You must be the only guy here that does. I guess I don't get impressed by how a company responds to problems they create, I get impressed by how they prevent the problems from happening in the first place. You continue to miss my point though, which is fine. Keep it over-complex. :D

#34 OFFLINE   DogLover

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 06:43 PM

In simple terms, if they don't send a "reboot now, no matter what" signal, they open up the possiblity that some boxes won't reboot and get the fix. There's just no reasonable way around that.

If they create a "reboot when you are not recording signal", then the box that is broke may be too broke to correctly know or respond to that signal. It may lock up between the "am I recording?" and the "I'm not, so I must reboot" instructions.

Even if there was some practical way to have a 2-way communication to DirecTV, you would be suggesting that a program individually send a signal to each box, wait for a response. If they get a response saying the box is free or get no response, they send another signal to reboot. If they get a response saying the box is recording, they wait and try again later. Do they try every 1/2 hour? How long do they try before they assume that the box is responding in error and reboot anyway? How long does all this communication take. Does this mean that some people at the end of the list have to wait days for a fix, because it hasn't gotten to their box yet?

I'm not saying that one day, someone might find a way to make this work effectively. But from where I sit today, I see no way to reliably reboot 100% off the boxes that need fixing, without forcing a reboot. And in a case like this, I don't think that less than 100% reboot is acceptable customer service answer.
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#35 OFFLINE   prospero63

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 07:11 PM

In simple terms, if they don't send a "reboot now, no matter what" signal, they open up the possiblity that some boxes won't reboot and get the fix. There's just no reasonable way around that.

If they create a "reboot when you are not recording signal", then the box that is broke may be too broke to correctly know or respond to that signal. It may lock up between the "am I recording?" and the "I'm not, so I must reboot" instructions.

Even if there was some practical way to have a 2-way communication to DirecTV, you would be suggesting that a program individually send a signal to each box, wait for a response. If they get a response saying the box is free or get no response, they send another signal to reboot. If they get a response saying the box is recording, they wait and try again later. Do they try every 1/2 hour? How long do they try before they assume that the box is responding in error and reboot anyway? How long does all this communication take. Does this mean that some people at the end of the list have to wait days for a fix, because it hasn't gotten to their box yet?

I'm not saying that one day, someone might find a way to make this work effectively. But from where I sit today, I see no way to reliably reboot 100% off the boxes that need fixing, without forcing a reboot. And in a case like this, I don't think that less than 100% reboot is acceptable customer service answer.


Again, you've fixated on the design. Two way communications, etc. I merely presented a set of requirements. Whether that's done through two way communications, through having flags set in the receiver, through having separate hardware isolated from the receiver software, etc. is for DirecTV to figure out. There's all kinds of OoB mechanisms that exist in all kinds of products today that can accomplish this kind of task. That's all I've said here. I think it can be done and I think DirecTV should invest time determining if there's a feasible way to make these kinds of things even less of a burden on their users. Nothing more, nothing less.

#36 OFFLINE   Stuart Sweet

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 07:13 PM

Bottom line, they've only had to pull this trigger a couple of times and hopefully they won't have to again.
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#37 OFFLINE   prospero63

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 07:15 PM

Bottom line, they've only had to pull this trigger a couple of times and hopefully they won't have to again.


That would indeed really fix it. :lol:

#38 OFFLINE   DogLover

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 07:56 PM

Again, you've fixated on the design. Two way communications, etc. I merely presented a set of requirements. Whether that's done through two way communications, through having flags set in the receiver, through having separate hardware isolated from the receiver software, etc. is for DirecTV to figure out. There's all kinds of OoB mechanisms that exist in all kinds of products today that can accomplish this kind of task. That's all I've said here. I think it can be done and I think DirecTV should invest time determining if there's a feasible way to make these kinds of things even less of a burden on their users. Nothing more, nothing less.


Actually, I wasn't fixated on a design, just giving examples of some designs and why they wouldn't work. I had a programmer friend say that "nothing is impossible given enough time and money". But obviously time and money are limited resources.

And I would hope you'd agree that they should spend more time and money working on ways to make sure the problem doesn't happen again that would require this reboot.
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#39 OFFLINE   prospero63

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 08:05 PM

And I would hope you'd agree that they should spend more time and money working on ways to make sure the problem doesn't happen again that would require this reboot.


Yep, no doubt on that point.

#40 OFFLINE   Dradran

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 08:35 PM

You must be the only guy here that does. I guess I don't get impressed by how a company responds to problems they create, I get impressed by how they prevent the problems from happening in the first place. You continue to miss my point though, which is fine. Keep it over-complex. :D


I am wondering how many problems DirecTv has prevented? Since they were prevented, we would never know they even happened.

#41 OFFLINE   johns70

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 10:52 PM

Let's just give up trying to answer this one. I don't think prospero63 is going to be happy with anything we say. :nono:

No matter when they do it people will complain.
Why do they do it during the day ?! :mad:
Why do they do it during the night ?! :mad:
Why do they do it at 3:00am ?! :mad:
Why does it ask me when it can reboot ?! :mad:
Why did it reboot while I was watching a recording ?! :mad:
Why did it reboot when it was recording something ?! :mad:

WHY ?! WHY ?! WHY ?! :mad: :mad: :mad:

#42 OFFLINE   prospero63

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 07:08 AM

Let's just give up trying to answer this one. I don't think prospero63 is going to be happy with anything we say. :nono:

No matter when they do it people will complain.
Why do they do it during the day ?! :mad:
Why do they do it during the night ?! :mad:
Why do they do it at 3:00am ?! :mad:
Why does it ask me when it can reboot ?! :mad:
Why did it reboot while I was watching a recording ?! :mad:
Why did it reboot when it was recording something ?! :mad:

WHY ?! WHY ?! WHY ?! :mad: :mad: :mad:


Yes, why seek any improvement. By golly, as long as DirecTV can claim to be better than Comcast, why that's good enough!!! :rolleyes:

#43 OFFLINE   Carl Spock

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 07:11 AM

Prospero, no doubt you asked a valid question. You even accepted Doug's best-of-bad-options explanation upthread.

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#44 ONLINE   sigma1914

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 07:13 AM

Yes, why seek any improvement. By golly, as long as DirecTV can claim to be better than Comcast, why that's good enough!!! :rolleyes:


Let's be real...Directv isn't going to care what us satellite TV dorks think about why they push reboots when they do. ;)
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#45 OFFLINE   Stuart Sweet

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 07:28 AM

That's a bit of a harsh way of putting it, but not totally inaccurate. Probably 99% of people took a more passive approach than we did yesterday, and the push reboots were the fastest way to get all of them back up and running.
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#46 OFFLINE   RunnerFL

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 07:47 AM

The time of day is irrelevant though. Let's do this with 2 outs in the 9th inning of the last game of the world series with the tigers down by 1 with bases loaded and a full count. Is the risk of upsetting the people that are waiting to see if the Tigers win their first world series since 1984 outweighed by fixing as many issues as possible right now? Keep in mind, it's happened in the past during prime time. 1? 2? years later and there's still no mechanism to prevent that? Just seems odd to me that there's not been any apparent progress made there...


And what about those customers trying to watch the World Series that can't because their DVR is locked up and they don't know a reboot/guide flush will fix it?
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#47 OFFLINE   RunnerFL

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 07:48 AM

How about allowing people to decide when to take a new software update? Put a option in the box that says to confirm yes to update. That way people who know what they are doing can have a bit of control over it. I could run this update tonight when I'm home so I can be there to do damage control. Now I am at work and my system has rebooted once or twice and I have no idea if the stuff I set to record tonight will work and I won't be home until after the recording starts.


Yesterday's issue had nothing to do with a firmware update, it was bad guide data that needed to be flushed. The fact that DVRs were upgraded that same night is pure coincidence.
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#48 OFFLINE   RunnerFL

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 07:56 AM

Bottom line, they've only had to pull this trigger a couple of times and hopefully they won't have to again.


This brings up a thought I had yesterday during all of this. My HR24 wasn't affected by the issue. That brings up the question of whether or not there is something new in the 24's that is not in the other units that can "self repair" this guide data issue.

So maybe if everyone had HR24's the issue wouldn't have happened. :D
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#49 OFFLINE   prospero63

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 08:04 AM

That's a bit of a harsh way of putting it, but not totally inaccurate. Probably 99% of people took a more passive approach than we did yesterday, and the push reboots were the fastest way to get all of them back up and running.


And that's a real problem with DirecTV. They've got so many customers willing to roll over, they have zero incentive to actually do anything to improve their customer service. It goes right back to why I think it's the responsibility of the consumer to wield the only influence they have, and seek credits for situations like this. I mean, you have folks outright saying there's no oversight of guide data, that no one is responsible for content, etc. All these little things add up to the failures of yesterday (and beyond and the future).

#50 OFFLINE   prospero63

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 08:13 AM

And what about those customers trying to watch the World Series that can't because their DVR is locked up and they don't know a reboot/guide flush will fix it?


What about them? What part of what I have said implies that DirecTV shouldn't push reboots ever, in any circumstances?





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