If you’ll recall, there was a lot of industry flap when DVRs were becoming available because of the effect that automatic pre-recording of programming would have on TV advertising. Automatic commercial-skipping features introduced the possibility that viewers could watch TV for the rest of their lives and never have to see another ad. ReplayTV, an early and promising competitor to Tivo, was basically destroyed by industry legal action over its automatic commercial-skipping feature. The fact that you have to fast-forward through commercials on your Tivo today, using that clunky pop-goes-the-weasel scan routine, is basically a concession to TV advertisers who would not abide a system that didn’t require you to at least watch the ads on fast-forward.

But there is an easier and better way. And while it may be old news to some of you, it was a revelation to me and all my Tivo-using friends when we discovered that there’s an unadvertised instant-30-second-advance feature built into the Tivo that can be activated by a simple “cheat code” from the remote.

While playing a recorded show, press select-play-select-3-0-select. If you do it right, you’ll hear three chimes from your Tivo indicating success. From then on until the Tivo reboots, your forward “chapter skip” button will instantly jump forward 30 seconds, which is the length of a single TV commercial. If the announcer says “we’ll be back in 90 seconds,” just punch it three times and they’ll be back right now.

This article at Lifehacker describes the process, and includes similar tricks for Comcast and DirecTV DVRs. Thanks to Melody Klingler and Benjamin Bagnaschi for helping me verify that it works.