IceTV Forum

IceTV Guide for IceTV enabled PVRs => Topfield => Topic started by: boomerangirl on February 07, 2011, 06:38:52 PM

Title: How often should Topfield 2460 interact with the IceTV website?
Post by: boomerangirl on February 07, 2011, 06:38:52 PM
Hi Everyone,

I've just wasted a day getting my shiny new 2460 setup and online via my airport base station.  This is my first PVR and I'm trying to get my head around how the whole system is supposed to work, so perhaps someone out there can enlighten me...?

I know from tech support that during the first 30 mins after switch on the 2460 will download the EPG and recording data from IceTV.  Then, during the next 30 mins it uploads confirmation (or not) data back to the IceTV site.  Hence, after about an hour, the PVR and the website should be in synch -- among other things, all the hollow 'queued recoring' icons in the My Week listing change into filled 'recording' ones... assuming the wireless network link hasn't gone down in the meantime.

The question is, what *should* happen next?  Should the 2460 keep talking to the IceTV webserver hour by hour, or do I have to force a synch by hitting the 'Resend All Recordings' button in the My Account section?

Also, does anyone out there have any tips for keeping the wireless link stable?  I have a Macbook and an Xbox that both use the basestation without any problems, but the 2460 has seemed reluctant to connect at least a couple of times after powering up.
Title: Re: How often should Topfield 2460 interact with the IceTV website?
Post by: prl on February 07, 2011, 06:58:48 PM
...
The question is, what *should* happen next?  Should the 2460 keep talking to the IceTV webserver hour by hour,

Yes.

or do I have to force a synch by hitting the 'Resend All Recordings' button in the My Account section?
...

No. That would be a right pain.
Title: Re: How often should Topfield 2460 interact with the IceTV website?
Post by: boomerangirl on February 07, 2011, 07:07:52 PM
Yep, it's a real pain.  Any suggestions other than doing (another) factory reset and crossing my fingers...?
Title: Re: How often should Topfield 2460 interact with the IceTV website?
Post by: prl on February 07, 2011, 10:30:03 PM
Yep, it's a real pain.  Any suggestions other than doing (another) factory reset and crossing my fingers...?

Which bit? You shouldn't need to force synchs. As I said in my post.
Title: Re: How often should Topfield 2460 interact with the IceTV website?
Post by: markb on February 08, 2011, 12:01:21 AM
When I bought my Topfield 7100+ and set it up with ICE a few months ago I was also shocked that neither Topfield or ICE publish a description of how and when the ICE EPG and timer polling is performed. They would probably try and argue that it all "just works" but they are wrong, as for example, a user needs to know the minimum time before a program start at which you can set a remote timer (and what if your PVR is in standby etc). I have picked up an understanding of how this all works now, but only by trawling around this and the Topfield forums. Why this is not all stated clearly in an FAQ etc on the ICE site just perplexes me?
Title: Re: How often should Topfield 2460 interact with the IceTV website?
Post by: prl on February 08, 2011, 09:05:26 AM
There's an FAQ about what's known of how Topfield PVRs interact with IceTV (http://www.itopfield.com.au/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=710&title=how-ice-tv-works) on the Topfield forum. It's based on a similar FAQ (http://www.beyonwiz.com.au/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?p=73625#73625) on the Beyonwiz forum.

I agree that IceTV provides very little information about how IceTV is intended to work, and some of what they do provide is misleading, especially when the web page says "Note: it may take a few minutes for scheduled shows to appear" after a recording is created. On Beyonwiz recorders at least, it can be up to 30 minutes, and is an average of 15 minutes. I think that's a bit different from a "few" minutes. IceTV could definitely do better.
Title: Re: How often should Topfield 2460 interact with the IceTV website?
Post by: Daniel Hall at IceTV on February 08, 2011, 09:14:57 AM
There is also this one:

http://www.icetv.com.au/cgi-bin/websupport.cgi?op=show_faq&cat_level=3&faq_id=115&faq_cat3_id=110

As for the few minutes message, this is purely for the website to go through and mark the rest of the episodes in the series as scheduled to record (but as queued ready for sending to the PVR).
Title: Re: How often should Topfield 2460 interact with the IceTV website?
Post by: markb on February 08, 2011, 10:06:54 AM
There's an FAQ about what's known of how Topfield PVRs interact with IceTV (http://www.itopfield.com.au/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=710&title=how-ice-tv-works) on the Topfield forum.

Yes, I know about that but that FAQ is on the community forum and created by public contributors as a "compilation" of observed and guessed information. It is not really authorative and certainly not in a place likely to be found by non-technical users.

There is also this one:

http://www.icetv.com.au/cgi-bin/websupport.cgi?op=show_faq&cat_level=3&faq_id=115&faq_cat3_id=110

There is not enough detail there Daniel. E.g. There are EPG polls, and there are timer polls. What is the relationship/timing of them? What happens when your device boots? What if your network is down? In particular - what if you PVR is left in standby? Now you and I know what happens but a newbie won't have a clue and will probably assume the ICE client still polls while in standby. After a few years trawling around the various forums it is clear to me that very many people avoid ICETV because they think it is too complicated. You can improve that by documenting things a little better on your site.
Title: Re: How often should Topfield 2460 interact with the IceTV website?
Post by: Daniel Hall at IceTV on February 08, 2011, 10:15:02 AM
Definitely documentation and FAQ's are one of our focuses this year, and hopefully over the next couple of weeks you should see a lot more information being available on the website itself.
Title: Re: How often should Topfield 2460 interact with the IceTV website?
Post by: prl on February 08, 2011, 10:40:39 AM
There is also this one:

http://www.icetv.com.au/cgi-bin/websupport.cgi?op=show_faq&cat_level=3&faq_id=115&faq_cat3_id=110

As for the few minutes message, this is purely for the website to go through and mark the rest of the episodes in the series as scheduled to record (but as queued ready for sending to the PVR).
Thanks, Daniel. I hadn't seen that one about how long it takes for the timers to be sent. But there's a lot more detail (mostly from observation or deduction) about how the process works in the FAQs on the Topfield and Beyonwiz forums.

But I still think the message you get when you set a recording on the Web page is very unclear about just what the "few minutes" refers to.
Title: Re: How often should Topfield 2460 interact with the IceTV website?
Post by: boomerangirl on February 08, 2011, 11:29:01 AM
Thanks to prl for the link to the explanation.  To quote:

"Currently, (Dec 2009 FW), the 2400/7100HD+ PVRs take half an hour after turn on before contacting the IceTV server. This will hopefully be fixed as this long waiting period was instigated as a means of circumventing a bug which led to loss of IceTV connection."

FFS talk about a hack!  I'd probably think this was hillarious if it wasn't still being used in the 2460.  I get impatient just waiting for the thing to boot up, never mind waiting 30 minutes for updates to come through.

Anyway, it's now clear that my 2460 and my Airport extreme don't get along.  Is there, by any chance, a similarly detailed FAQ on wireless networking specifically for Topfields?
Title: Re: How often should Topfield 2460 interact with the IceTV website?
Post by: boomerangirl on February 08, 2011, 11:44:00 AM

What if your network is down? In particular - what if you PVR is left in standby? Now you and I know what happens but a newbie won't have a clue and will probably assume the ICE client still polls while in standby.

Yep, this newbie initially assumed it was smart enough to do this in standby mode.  It is, after all, smart enough to wake up when it needs to record something... isn't it!?
Title: Re: How often should Topfield 2460 interact with the IceTV website?
Post by: prl on February 08, 2011, 12:14:04 PM
...
Yep, this newbie initially assumed it was smart enough to do this in standby mode.  It is, after all, smart enough to wake up when it needs to record something... isn't it!?
Even if the delay in doing the first fetch on the Topfields wasn't there, would you really want to have it starting from standby every 30 minutes to check the EPG and recordings? There's no way of knowing ahead of time whether an EPG or timer fetch will do anything useful.

One fairly common trick on Beyonwizes is to set a "view-only" timer to fire once a day to force an update of the IceTV information on machines that aren't heavily used. Our main machine, the DP-Lite, is on regularly enough, for viewing or recording, that it keeps itself reasonably up to date. Our DP-H1 is used much less frequently, so it has a view timer that runs it for 5 minutes at 5am each morning to refresh its EPG and timers. I'm pretty sure that Topfields have a similar facility, though because of the delay on the first IceTV fetch, they'll need a longer view timer. You can set these timers to run as often as you want.

For a PVR that gets a reasonable amount of use, though, you'll probably find that it all actually works reasonably well except for last-minute recordings. We set those up on the PVR itself.
Title: Re: How often should Topfield 2460 interact with the IceTV website?
Post by: boomerangirl on February 08, 2011, 01:49:33 PM
Even if the delay in doing the first fetch on the Topfields wasn't there, would you really want to have it starting from standby every 30 minutes to check the EPG and recordings? There's no way of knowing ahead of time whether an EPG or timer fetch will do anything useful.

I'd want it to do something sensible, like power up once every 12-24 hours just long enough to synch with the web server (which would only take a few seconds if the PVR wasn't burdened with the 'wait-30-minutes' hack).

BTW thanks for the tip about setting a daily viewing timer, but again this is a nasty hack at best -- assuming it's even possible with a 2460.  I'm gobsmacked that the Topfield doesn't check in regularly even in stand-by mode, likewise that the only way to force a synch is to power up and wait.  Clearly, any claims about being able to control your PVR from anywhere should come with small print: provided you leave it on 24/7 or resort to trickery.
Title: Re: How often should Topfield 2460 interact with the IceTV website?
Post by: prl on February 08, 2011, 02:29:39 PM
...
I'd want it to do something sensible, like power up once every 12-24 hours just long enough to synch with the web server (which would only take a few seconds if the PVR wasn't burdened with the 'wait-30-minutes' hack).

BTW thanks for the tip about setting a daily viewing timer, but again this is a nasty hack at best -- assuming it's even possible with a 2460.  I'm gobsmacked that the Topfield doesn't check in regularly even in stand-by mode, likewise that the only way to force a synch is to power up and wait.  Clearly, any claims about being able to control your PVR from anywhere should come with small print: provided you leave it on 24/7 or resort to trickery.

Setting a daily viewing timer (or two for twice-a-day) does very close to what you demand in the first paragraph. A small set of viewing timers is probably far more flexible than any special mechanism that the manufacturer might like to supply for the specific task. The only problem with a view timer on the Beyonwiz is that it forces the selection of a service, even if the device is running, which is a pain if you're watching something else live. That's why the update timer I have on the H1 is at 5am. "Power-on-only" timers that don't change to a specific service have been suggested in the Beyonwiz forum, but the idea never made it to the forum wish list.

Topfields appear to have a similar facility as the Beyonwiz view timer (I only looked at the TRF2460 manual). You just set the Record option in the timer to Off, and it looks as though it will do the same as a Beyonwiz view timer. You just need to make it a longer-running timer than you would for a Beyonwiz because of the differences in the way the two interact with IceTV on startup. The Topfield version of the view timer will also force the selection of a service, so it sufferes the same drawback if the timer fires when someone is watching live TV.

As for your being "gobsmacked that the Topfield doesn't check in regularly even in stand-by mode": for Topfield and the Beyonwiz PVRs (and many others) "standby" really means "turned off except for the front panel". It's nothing like a PC being in Standby or Hibernate mode. It's like a PC when it is in Shut down mode.
Title: Re: How often should Topfield 2460 interact with the IceTV website?
Post by: markb on February 08, 2011, 06:43:59 PM
As for your being "gobsmacked that the Topfield doesn't check in regularly even in stand-by mode": for Topfield and the Beyonwiz PVRs (and many others) "standby" really means "turned off except for the front panel". It's nothing like a PC being in Standby or Hibernate mode. It's like a PC when it is in Shut down mode.

If I was designing an internet connected PVR I would make "standby" mode shutdown all the analog outputs and harddisk etc but keep the firmware running merely to maintain the ICE service polls. In such a state the PVR would consume an insignificant power and generate insignificant heat, and ICE would work much better!
Title: Re: How often should Topfield 2460 interact with the IceTV website?
Post by: boomerangirl on February 08, 2011, 08:26:11 PM
I agree with markb.  Aside from the potential inconvenience of a locked tuner, powering the entire unit up for 90 minutes a day just to make sure IceTV is in synch is a waste of electricity.  Integrate over the average lifetime for a unit and multiply by the number of units sold, and the waste becomes significant.

If the hardware is active enough in standby mode to power up when the time comes to record something, I can see no reason why the firmware couldn't be modified to wake up automatically 12-24 hours (or the user decides the interval) after the last power down and then synch with the IceTV web server.  That way you could go overseas for a week or three and leave the PVR in standby, but still send it stuff to record via the web.
Title: Re: How often should Topfield 2460 interact with the IceTV website?
Post by: Daniel Drysdale at IceTV on February 08, 2011, 08:27:06 PM
Sadly as it stands at the moment there are no PVRs designed around IceTV, we are always added to existing machines and have to work within the limitations of the platform.

We feel your pain on this issue and always do our best to encourage our partners to "do the right thing".
Title: Re: How often should Topfield 2460 interact with the IceTV website?
Post by: prl on February 09, 2011, 10:40:34 AM
I agree with markb.  Aside from the potential inconvenience of a locked tuner, powering the entire unit up for 90 minutes a day just to make sure IceTV is in synch is a waste of electricity.  Integrate over the average lifetime for a unit and multiply by the number of units sold, and the waste becomes significant.

If the hardware is active enough in standby mode to power up when the time comes to record something, I can see no reason why the firmware couldn't be modified to wake up automatically 12-24 hours (or the user decides the interval) after the last power down and then synch with the IceTV web server.  That way you could go overseas for a week or three and leave the PVR in standby, but still send it stuff to record via the web.
A way of using the front panel timer to wake up the recorder once or twice a day to update the IceTV EPG has been described to you. In detail, including the shortcomings. With the current state of the Topfield firmware, it would still need to run for more than 60 minutes to get the update even if there was a specific mechanism for timed IceTV updates.

I agree that having to turn a PVR on for 90 minutes to update the EPG when it should only take a few minutes is a waste of electricity, but that's largely down to a firmware fault in the Topfields, not something inherent in the IceTV mechanisms. A Beyonwiz updates its EPG and IceTV Interactive data within a few minutes of restart, so it clearly can be done. Both the Beyonwiz and Topfield could improve this mechanism by having a "power-on-only" timer type.

As for the kind of "active standby" you describe, there are PVRs like that. The TiVo is one (The Foxtel IQ another, IIRC). Their "standby" power is normally very close to their power when fully running. So you trade the waste of 90 minutes a day to the waste of the time that the PVR isn't being used.

A major reason for the way that IceTV works (the PVR initiates the exchange) is to get around the fact that most home networks don't have a fixed network address/port for any IceTV server to connect to. That's because ISPs share out a relatively small number of IP addresses from the  amongst all their customers, using Network Address Translation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_address_translation) (NAT).

My experience is that for PVRs that are in regular daily use, this is close to a non-issue, or at least wouldn't be improved significantly by using an update timer. I only have an update timer on the PVR that's not user on a near-daily basis.
Title: Re: How often should Topfield 2460 interact with the IceTV website?
Post by: boomerangirl on February 09, 2011, 03:51:31 PM
A way of using the front panel timer to wake up the recorder once or twice a day to update the IceTV EPG has been described to you. In detail, including the shortcomings.

Right, and it's a hack -- hence the shortcomings.

With the current state of the Topfield firmware, it would still need to run for more than 60 minutes to get the update even if there was a specific mechanism for timed IceTV updates.

Right, and that's because of another hack.


As for the kind of "active standby" you describe...

Whoa there!  I never mentioned "active standby", and I certainly don't want something like a TiVo guzzling power 24/7.  I was referring to the current capability of the 2460 -- the fact that it can already wake up from it's (hopefully low-power) standby mode for scheduled recordings.

My experience is that for PVRs that are in regular daily use, this is close to a non-issue, or at least wouldn't be improved significantly by using an update timer. I only have an update timer on the PVR that's not user on a near-daily basis.

Fair enough, you're happy with the functionality of your PVRs.  I'm not entirely happy with mine, but I guess I'll get over it -- especially in light of Daniel's comment about the difficulties of working with hardware vendors on a post hoc basis.  To be fair, following a call to tech support, both the 2460 and my IceTV subscription have been working in harmony for the last 24+ hours and I'm impressed by the overall functionality.  Here's hoping I won't have to come back into this forum begging for help again.
Title: Re: How often should Topfield 2460 interact with the IceTV website?
Post by: tonymy01 on February 10, 2011, 04:19:09 AM
I think you are missing something.   In standby mode, the unit is not capable of operating *anything* on the main motherboard.   The only thing powered up is the front panel, it has enough smarts in it to know the time, and to know the next time it should fire up the power line going to the main motherboard to get the motherboard software booted.
You can help that along on a regular basis by creating a view timer, this is not a hack, this is a way of ensuring that on a (in Peter & mine and many many other's cases) daily basis, the unit wakes up (i.e. boots up!) in order to download the timer information from ICE.   Not a hack in any way, just a smart thing to do.    The unit goes back into standby at the end of the view timer, and you have perfect power saving compared to a TiVo like "standby" which merely turns off the video output (i.e. no power saving whatsoever compared to complete motherboard shutdown which the Beyonwiz and Topfield and I am sure most PVR models do).
Regards
Title: Re: How often should Topfield 2460 interact with the IceTV website?
Post by: prl on February 10, 2011, 09:40:25 AM
...
You can help that along on a regular basis by creating a view timer, this is not a hack, ...
I think it is a hack, though perhaps workaround would be a gentler way of describing it. You definitely don't want it to fire while you're watching live TV, and it can conflict with recording timers. Which is why people normally set these timers for times when the PVR isn't being used. The correct way of implementing this, IMO, has already been discussed on the Beyonwiz forum - a "power-on-only" timer that starts the PVR, but does not change services at startup, and does not conflict with any view or recording timers. That would not be a hack or workaround in any sense, and would allow the full flexibility of the timer mechanism to be used.

The fact that the time to do this on a Topfield must run for 60 minutes+ is not because this is a workaraound, or a hack. It's because of a problem in the Topfield firmware. My understanding is that that problem exists no matter how the Topfield is turned on: by hand, by a view timer or by a recording timer.magic.

Anyway, I think I've exhausted my useful contribution to the topic. Boomerangirl has been given a mechanism that does, I in my opinion, 90-95% of what's she requires. The fact that the timer needs to be longer than should be necessary is a problem in the Topfield firmware and is a better topic for the Topfield forum (http://itopfield.com.au/forum/). It's entirely up to her whether she uses the hack/workaround or not.
Title: Re: How often should Topfield 2460 interact with the IceTV website?
Post by: boomerangirl on February 10, 2011, 10:41:37 AM
I think you are missing something.   In standby mode, the unit is not capable of operating *anything* on the main motherboard.   The only thing powered up is the front panel, it has enough smarts in it to know the time, and to know the next time it should fire up the power line going to the main motherboard to get the motherboard software booted.

Nope, not missing anything there.  That's pretty much what I figured was going on -- hence my suggestion that this minimal functionality could be used to schedule daily synchs with the IceTV webserver even if the unit is not otherwise waking up for any reason.

You can help that along on a regular basis by creating a view timer, this is not a hack.... Not a hack in any way, just a smart thing to do.

On the 2460 at least, this process involves doing one thing (reserving a 90 minute block of tuner time) in order to achieve something totally unrelated (getting updates from the web server).  So it's a hack.  Call it a workaround, or a 'smart thing to do' if you like... but its still an inelegant solution to the problem, and like most hacks it has unintended side-effects: locking up one of the tuners and (on the 2460 at least) guzzling electricity for 630 minutes each week, every week of the year.

That's 'smart' in the same sense that Microsoft bugs are 'features'.
Title: Re: How often should Topfield 2460 interact with the IceTV website?
Post by: boomerangirl on February 10, 2011, 10:53:21 AM
My partner in crime emailed tech support around the same time I started this thread -- they took a while to respond (so I'd recommend phoning instead) but here's some more information related to the original topic of this thread:

<paste>

- The 'resend all recordings' does not need to be clicked on each time you make a change. It's meant to be used after you do a factory reset, or delete all your channels. Both those operations cause the recordings to be removed and need to be resent. That's what the resend does.

- Make sure that if you do click on 'resend all recordings' that you first delete all the upcoming recordings (reservations page) on your Topfield. If you don't delete those first, the Topfield will get confused with the resend and show you errors on our website.

- The 2460 talks to us like it's a 2400. Unfortunately we can't tell the difference. So when you see 'Topfield 2400' on our website, it is definitely your Topfield 2460 talking to us.

- The "Last EPG Fetch" should update hourly while your Topfield is on. This entry basically tells you the last time your Topfield talked to us. If the box is on, and doesn't talk to us, then that indicates usually a network problem, or there's some corruption on the box stopping it from working properly. In that case, probably the best thing to do is to get in contact with us again.

I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions or problems.

</paste>

Thanks to David Peterson for this.  I hope the thread helps other newbies out there in the future, but I hope even more that the IceTV staff get around to working up some additional documentation as promised earlier in the thread.
Title: Re: How often should Topfield 2460 interact with the IceTV website?
Post by: Shadow on February 14, 2011, 09:22:11 PM

- The "Last EPG Fetch" should update hourly while your Topfield is on.
It's a good thing they say "should"

If you are lucky it will do the first fetch after one hour of running.

With power prices there is no way I am leaving it running 24/7 just to get IceTV data.

To make dummy startups and leave it running for over one hour just to fetch is a joke.

No info if the show is a Repeat is also fairly poor.

ICETV data fetching is one place where my Beyonwiz DP-P1 really shines, the first fetch is done when it is starting up.

It also has Repeat flags.

All down to poor Topfield firmware.
Title: Re: How often should Topfield 2460 interact with the IceTV website?
Post by: IanL-S on November 30, 2011, 02:10:12 PM
November 22 2011 firmware for 2400/2460 is now available. A version is also avaiable for the 7100+. It seems to have fixed all know IceTV related issues. No EPG corruption, no mysterious disappearance of reservations, more frequent downloading of EPG data and reservations (I understand this now happens every 15 minutes). Update of EPG data and reservations can be forced by putting the Toppy into standby for a very short time (turning it off and turning it on again).

Update 6-1-12Unfortunately it has its own issues; After a while downloading of both timers and EPG data stalls. In most cases, this can be rectified by powering down the Toppy for a short time. If that does not fix it, the quickest solution is to Rest service list (which can be found under System recovery. Then do a service rescan. Once this is done, go to IceTV Interactive and resent timers to the Toppy. Now, you need to reactivate IceTV (need to re-enter user name and password) and shortly all should be well with the world.