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Tuesday,  June 3 12:01 AM EDT

Tivo Debuts Get-A-Life Feature

By Brian Briggs

Alviso, CA - Tivo proclaims that their product is a "Life-changing TV experience" and their latest Tivo Get-A-Life (TivoGAL) feature exemplifies that motto.

"Tivo has revolutionized TV viewing habits, and really made watching TV enjoyable and easy," said Tivo CEO Kelly Treadwell, "so much so that some of our users are watching too much TV. The TivoGAL feature aims to stop that, and really make a difference in these people's lives."

Go for a walk, tubby!

She continued, "If a user reaches a preset limit for "too much" TV in a week the "TivoGAL" will turn off the program you're currently watching and offer you some suggestion for alternative activities. It monitors local weather and if it's nice outside it'll suggest you do some outdoor activities. If it's raining it may suggest you read a good book. If you watch a lot of country music videos then TivoGAL may suggest you go get a six-pack and sit on the porch."

A user can bypass the TivoGAL system three times, but after three bypasses the TivoGAL will disable a home's electrical system for 12 hours. In extreme cases the Tivo will telephone the user's mother and report how much TV you are watching.

Initial reactions to TivoGAL have been mixed. Parents have embraced the new feature as another responsibility they can abdicate to technology. Roy Haversham, father of two, expressed his joy for the TivoGAL, "With the parental controls and TivoGAL I don't have to monitor my kid's viewing habits. They can't watch HBO and the Tivo will tell them they've watched too much TV. Responsibility-free parenting, I love it!"

Conversely, Simon Chee, a Tivo user for a year, wasn't thrilled with the new feature. He explained, "I just want the damn thing to record programs, and let me pause live TV. I don't need it to tell me I'm a loser. My dad already calls to tell me that every night."

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Cindy Fox was also disappointed. "I used to love my Tivo, but the other day it said, 'Instead of watching mountain biking on TV why don't you go out and do it, lard-ass.' I cried for two hours," reported Cindy.

Treadwell admits that TivoGAL has some bugs which might cause some users to be offended, but that will be ironed out for TivoGAL Version 2.0.

The newer version will add some features like one which would help singles with similar viewing habits connect. For instance, TivoGAL might notice a particular affinity for a program and display, "Our logs indicate that Sylvia Jackson at 576 Mill Road (0.2 miles from your residence) also has a strange obsession with gardening shows."

Bill Doty contributed to this story.

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