Cutting the cable cord has turned into a summer project

Posted by Gina Rosenthal in hacking my TV | Leave a comment

I’m probably too annoyed to be blogging, but here I am.

I finally cut the cable cord a couple of weeks ago. I’m pretty impressed that I can get so many TV channels over the antenna. I get over 40 channels. Ok, a bunch are church channels. A bunch are in Spanish, but we leave that on sometimes to help us have a bigger vocab in Spanish! But I get local TV stations and PBS, plus some cool channels that show old game shows, movies, and tv shows.

I have an Amazon Prime subscription, which gives us “stuff” to watch. My daughter has taken over my Netflix subscription because honestly, she has totally corrupted my queue (couldn’t have more than one queue on my Panasonic, more on that soon). I have Hulu plus too, but I’m going to be cancelling that very soon because we don’t use it.

But Brianna wanted the Cartoon Network. And I wanted to be able to watch sports. So we also got Slingbox.

And this is where the project starts to take shape. I have a 42 inch Panasonic tv that I bought about four and a half years ago. The software on it is not supported, and I can’t updated it. That means tons of apps I used to have won’t work, like YouTube (completely gone). I can’t update Netflix so we can only use my original account, which my daughter ruined with her crazy viewing habits (that’s why she pays that bill now). And there’s no way to add apps like Slingbox.

So, I got a Roku3. I got the latest version so it would have the most features and hopefully it will last longer. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to watch any shows or movies on Slingbox on the tv via the Roku. I chatted with Slingbox, they asked me to reboot the Roku to clear the cache.

This in and of itself annoyed me. I’ve had the Roku 2 weeks. Everything works except for non-live shows on Slingbox. And I’m PAYING for Slingbox, twenty bucks a month. The jury is still out on me keeping their service.

But I went ahead and power cycled the Roku, because that seemed like a reasonable troubleshooting step. When I plugged the Roku back in, the Panasonic couldn’t see it. I changed the HDMI ports. Nothing. I rebooted the TV. Nada. I reset the TV to the original factory settings. No good.

I get on support chat with Roku. They blamed it on the TV.

I know they are right.

I plugged the Roku into an old TV I had. It worked. Freaking Panasonic useless cable monitor tv. 🙁

The obvious next step is to root my Panasonic. It’s not even 5 years old. It’s ridiculous that the software wrapped around setting up the ports, and controlling apps, is not supported and is basically useless at the point. And as I started trying to find an easy route to getting to the OS of the tv, I found out the Panasonic software is incredibly insecure as well.

A couple of years ago at Defcon I attended a session on hacking your TV. I should have paid more attention. Maybe someone will do a session like that again this year.

I’ll try to blog about what I do. The most frustrating thing is trying to figure out what to do about the multiple tvs in the living room situation. Y’all know you’ve seen this before….our tvs are just too skinny to stack anymore. 😉

Episode 2 coming soon!

two tvs old school



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