So last night I tried this crazy thing where you just watch whatever's on TV at the moment.

(See more cartoons at Noise to Signal)

Update: This post is now 12 years old, and I have no idea how current the information is in it. So please take it with a grain of salt.

So — now that the service is available in Canada — you succumbed to Travis’s blandishments, headed to the States and returned with a brand new TiVo.

(You’ve probably said one of two things at this point: either “TiVo service is available in Canada?! Saddle up the moose, Shania — we’re headin’ to Detroit!” or “TiVo… that’s those sandals that were so big in the 90s, right?” If the latter, here’s the scoop: TiVo is a box you hook up to your TV. Inside is a big hard drive and various electronic wizardry that allows you to scope through the next two weeks of TV schedule, point and click on the shows you want to record, and then watch them at your leisure. With a few clicks, you can record the entire season of Grey’s Anatomy with the amazing Sandra Oh. Better yet, you can pause, fast-forward and rewind… ahem… live TV. Yeah, I’ll wait while you bring the moose around front.)

But now you’re starting to have problems. You’ve checked out the Canadian instructions, but they don’t really spell out what you do after the first few steps.

Please: let me spare you our pain, and tell you how we finally figured it all out on our Shaw-powered TV. Make yourself comfortable, though; this process is straightforward, but it takes a while.

  1. Follow instructions, up to the point where TiVo starts asking pointed questions about your TV connection.
  2. When you’re asked what kind of connection you have, answer “Antenna.”
  3. Enter the 82327 Wyoming ZIP code and carry through the next few steps, up to and including its phone call.
  4. TiVo asks if you want it to scan for stations. Sure, let it.
  5. You’ll see a screen of stations you don’t recognize and can’t receive; don’t sweat it. Choose one, then click “Done”.
  6. TiVo will make another phone call. Let it.
  7. A cool animated fanfare announces you’re “done”. Ha. Once TiVo says so, press the TiVo button at the top of your remote.
  8. From the main TiVo menu, choose “Messages and Setup”, “Phone and Network Setup,” Connect to the TiVo service now”.
  9. TiVo will connect for about an hour, downloading new software that will let you enter a good old Canadian postal code. Your Canadian postal code. Everything you have done so far has been leading up to this point… because you’re about to start alllllll over again.
  10. Once it’s finished, choose “Messages and Setup”, “Restart or Reset System”, “Restart the TiVo DVR”.
  11. TiVo will take a while to chug through the new software (about 10 minutes in our case). Then it runs its fanfare again, and dumps you to the main menu.
  12. Choose “Restart or Reset System”, “Repeat Guided Setup.” This time, when you’re asked for your ZIP code, press “Enter” (on the lower right of your remote). You now get to key in a Canadian-style postal code. (We left out the space in the middle. It worked fine.)

To recap: completely set up TiVo as though you were living in Wyoming. (Yeah, really.) Connect to the TiVo service, which downloads new software. Restart TiVo. Redo the setup process, this time entering your real Canuckoid postal code. And you’re home free.

(Still having trouble? Check out this thread on the absolutely invaluable TiVo Community for help.)