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About a year ago I took our cable box back to the office because something I don’t remember wasn’t working right and I didn’t want to wait a week for repair people to show up because a week without Barney Fife or a premium-cable series with naughty words is not a world I want to live in. After installing the new cable box I noticed that it made a lot of noise, even when it wasn’t on. I called to see what the annoying noise was and was told that it was the fan for the DVR. It looks exactly like the old cable box, which didn’t make any noise and was DVR-less. I don’t pay for DVR service, but kept putting off the hassle of taking the noisy cable box back.

One night months later while watching TV I pushed a button on the remote and something happened. Wow, look at that, the picture paused. Apparently, the box was doing DVR stuff for free (for what we pay for the total cable TV and Internet package, the box should be doing the washing up while we sleep). I didn’t test it any further because any show I might want to watch but miss will be on at least four more times in the next two weeks (although our on-demand options are severely limited). Last night we were going to be gone and I wanted to watch the usual Thursday night NBC lineup, so I thought I’d experiment to see how much of the service I don’t pay for worked. We got home, I searched around the menu, and figured out how to see if it had done what I thought I’d told it to do, which was to record three shows. But there was a whole list of recorded shows. Shows we’ve never watched and have no interest in ever watching. Shows from 2007. So many shows, in fact, that a message said that it was 79% full. All this time I haven’t been paying for the DVR-part of the box or the service and it’s been recording without telling me. It’s a magical time we live in.