SANTA MONICA, CA—According to waiter and aspiring writer Ian Shortridge, his friend Dan Stavers has only one piece of advice: "Get TiVo." "You could program a Season Pass so that you never miss the business report," Stavers said, after Shortridge complained that he couldn't get a mortgage. "I'm telling you, TiVo will change your life. Hey, I was right about the iPod, wasn't I?" Since purchasing a digital-video recorder in 2002, Stavers has urged Shortridge to buy one so he can "spend more time writing instead of sitting through all those commercials," "tape some fitness shows and find out how to get in shape," and "catch some funny movies" to help him get over his father's death.