This is a long post - sorry for the length, but I have some important information.
I have determined there is an extremely simple solution for our clock-set problem. In brief, just one line of the DHG's software needs to be changed. ONE SINGLE LINE !!! No changes to the user interface will be necessary. There can be no simpler solution! The effort to implement the solution likely can be counted in hours, not days or weeks.
Some may say that Sony does not have access to the code, or that they only have partial access. Such speculation may be interesting, but is not useful to solving the problem. Sony provided the 2009 update which ROVI complained that it had not been given to test, so apparently Sony had access to the code. Until Sony says that it does not have the code, it is reasonable to assume it does.
In addition, by releasing their Recording Time Calculator app as a solution to our problem, Sony implicitly recognized that their product does have a problem which they need to address. Several people have been told the Recording Time app is the only solution available at this time. Sony has not said it will be the only solution made available. Until Sony explicitly says that it will not provide a software update we should continue to ask for one - we will not get it by not asking!
I think all our pleadings have gone unanswered because there are not many in Sony who are familiar with the product or with how the loss of TVGOS has affected it. As a result, our requests for a fix probably fall on deaf ears and do not reach anyone capable of recognizing the need. With the feasibility of a solution and its costs unknown, Sony management is unlikely to address our needs. Approaching Sony with a well defined solution and a rough idea of the effort involved is more likely to produce results than just complaining that Sony needs to do something. The problem is getting our request to the right person.
So, I have sent Sony a letter asking for a clock-set fix and detailing how it can be achieved with little effort. To make sure anyone at Sony evaluating my request has enough information to properly evaluate its feasibility I included a 5-page attachment outlining the background of the DHGs and comparing them to other Sony DVRs that used TVGOS but which also provided clock-set capabilities. I described the problems produced by the loss of TVGOS and why Sony's app is an inadequate solution. I gave the details of the simple solution I propose (as much as is possible without having access to the software), as well as how to implement and test it. I also provided some basic technical details that may be helpful to anyone not familiar with the DHGs.
I sent the letter at the beginning of April to Sarah Kepler (a supervisor in Sony's esupport group) at Sony's Support Center in Fort Myers, FL. I have had no reply. I do not know if my letter is being ignored, is lost, or is being passed up to higher levels as I requested. I would like to think it has been sent to San Diego for evaluation and implementation or that perhaps Sony is working on a more thorough solution. Lacking a reply, I just don't know what is happening.
I am confident in my solution and believe if enough DHG owners ask Sony to implement this solution, Sony should take notice and seriously consider it. Please read my letter below and the 5-page attachment I sent with it. I don't think I have the status to post the 5-page attachment here, so I have made it available until mid July as a PDF download (52,286 bytes) from the following secure web page:
I urge you to tell as many Sony contacts as you can that you want this simple solution implemented. If you belong to other forums/communities/threads that are concerned with the Sony DHGs, please inform them of this simple solution and urge them to also contact Sony about it in any way possible - email, letter, phone. The more of us who contact Sony, the better.
People are buried in emails nowadays, so I think letters are better for detailed matters. Phone contacts may be useful to persuade people to review and act on more detailed written information. Our problem is to get this simple solution in front of someone at Sony with enough technological knowledge to realize the simplicity and minimal cost involved.
If you know of such Sony personnel who may be able to evaluate this simple solution or pass it on to someone else in Sony who might, please contact them with this proposal. Or, if you prefer, let me know names and mailing addresses and I will send them a printed copy of my letter/attachment.
Feel free to borrow from my document in spreading the word. Thanks.
So here is the letter I sent 3 weeks ago:
Dear Ms. Kepler:
I am asking Sony to provide a new firmware update for Sony's DHG-HDD250/500 DVRs. The functionality of the DVRs became severely limited when Sony's partner ROVI stopped providing the TV Guide On Screen (TVGOS) program guide and clock information - data that was essential to the operation of the DVRs. The recorder's internal clock now drifts and becomes inaccurate, especially after a power outage. Unfortunately, Sony provided no way for users to set the internal clock manually - apparently never expecting ROVI to discontinue providing data.
Sony, recognizing that an inaccurate clock complicates scheduling accurate recording times, has tried to solve that problem by providing an android app to determine recording times - a solution that most users find unsatisfactory.
I am proposing a better solution that will allow users to set the internal clock. The cost of implementing the solution will be extremely minimal. It will take more time to assemble the materials needed for the fix than the small number of minutes needed to actually implement it.
Implementing the solution is simple, requiring little expertise or prior knowledge of the recorder and its software. Only a few lines of the recorder's software need to be changed, potentially even only one line. No changes to the user interface will be needed. Many of your San Diego office software engineers could easily complete this project in little time. It might be an ideal learning project for an intern familiar with Linux and the C programming language.
Please forward my request for implementation of this simple solution to appropriate Sony personnel who have sufficient technical expertise to evaluate the proposal, confirm its feasibility and the minimal effort needed to implement it.
Several pages are attached to assist your technical team in understanding the issues and evaluating the feasibility of implementing the proposed solution. These pages provide:
1) Background information on the DVRs and the effects of the loss of TVGOS data
2) Descriptions of: problems with the DVRs, Sony's inadequate solution, and desired fixes
3) Details of a simple solution allowing users to set the recorder's clock and its implementation
4) A procedure to verify the implementation
5) Pertinent technical information about the hardware & software
It is in Sony's interest to invest the small effort necessary to implement this solution. Most users of these DVRs are high-end users, often owners of many pieces of Sony equipment who influence purchase decisions of family, friends, and co-workers - just the kind of satisfied customers Sony should want to keep happy.
Please inform me of what action you take on this matter. If it is more appropriate that I contact someone else in Sony with my request, please let me know. I look forward to your reply.