Don't Touch That CableCard! Oops, Too Late

Woke up Saturday morning, toddled to the TV to see what English football matches were on Fox Soccer Channel, only to see the error message: “CableCard failure. Please remove and reinsert CableCard to continue.”

Knowing, from my reading of Todd Spangler, that CableCards are firmly secured in the box, I got my screwdriver out and proceeded to remove the two screws on the plate securing the little darling in the back of the Scientific Atlanta HD DVR. I also had to remove a piece of green colored tape that covered the bottom screw.

The card was in snugly, with a little cap holding it in place. It was hard to get out, so I called Time Warner Cable customer service to make sure I was doing it the right way. In the meantime I used needle nosed pliers to remove and reinsert the card. The TV screen went a shade of maroon, then went through the set-top’s all-too-familiar several-minutes rebooting phases. (It happens spontaneously or by manual command quite frequently.) After booting up, my cable was back in business.

By this point, Time Warner Cable customer service was on the line. And finally got to the trouble. I explained what I had done.

“No, don’t remove that CableCard,” the person on the other end of the line was saying. If you touch it, it’ll likely short out and there won’t be anything more we can do until a technician arrives, he said.

Then your error message should have said call customer service, not remove the CableCard and reinsert to continue, I replied.

What you’re supposed to do is what you get used to doing with these HD DVRs: push three buttons (select, volume up and volume down) on the front of the box to re-boot it.

Gee, I said, this box needs to re-boot a lot. We realize the HD boxes have issues such as that, the technician replied, and we’re working on a software solution.

That’s good news. Hope it works and soon. And don’t worry, next time the box tells me to remove its CableCard, I’ll do something else instead.