Posts Tagged ‘Tech’

Sky+ bug

January 24th, 2009 No comments

Sky PlusWhile Sky+ works well most of the time, I have found a bug in the software when faced with a dual recording.

Normally if you have a concurrent recording set for channels A and B but are watching channel C, the box will pop up with a message saying that you have to cancel a recording to continue watching channel C – fair enough as it needs both tuners to do the recording. If you do not respond to the pop-up it will assume you are not there and record both programs, switching away from channel C.

Having two young daughters, Sky is often still tuned to CBeebies when they go to bed. CBeebies closes down at 7pm. If Sky+ now has two recordings set it still displays the pop-up but doesn’t time out meaning that one of the recordings fails unless you come back, switch the TV on, see the pop-up and respond to it, which normally results in missing the start of the one of the recordings.

It would seem that if the channel C in the example above is a channel which is not currently broadcasting, Sky+ fails to time out and you lose one of your recordings.

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12 Month Countdown to Winter Hill Switchover begins

December 2nd, 2008 No comments

Winter Hill MastOne year from today, Winter Hill will cease to transmit analogue television signals. The two dates to remember are 4th November and 2nd December 2009.

On the first date, BBC TWO will cease analogue transmission which will free up space for more digital channels, while on the second date all analogue transmissions will cease and more digital channels will become available.

More details here.

Winter Hill Changes for Digital Switchover

October 19th, 2008 No comments

Winter Hill Changes - click for larger Anyone who lives near to the Winter Hill transmitter will have noticed that it has undergone a few changes in the last couple of years.

In preparation for the digital switchover in Autumn 2009, new antenna arrays have been installed, while the arrays installed as a temporary measure during the concurrent transmission of analogue and digital TV are being removed. Click on the image on the right for a larger version.

There are also pictures of ongoing work on the mb21 site including the sections of GRP shroud that have been removed.

Tape Storage vs Flash

February 12th, 2008 2 comments

While clearing out some old gear, I found some of my old backup tape cartridges: DC2120 and TR400.

DC2120 Backup Cartridge
Travan TR400

66 DC2120 = 1 8GB SD CardWhat’s interesting is the storage capacity compared to today: 120MB and 400MB respectively. This was sufficient at the time to make a complete backup of my hard drive, but today would be very quickly filled with a few sets of digital photos. Compare this with an 8GB SD Flash card available for £16.99 today.

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Sky+ Series Link

January 22nd, 2008 No comments

Sky PlusSky+ is one of those rare killer apps that has actually been well designed, however there are a couple of weaknesses in one of its most useful features – Series Link.

Sky+ Series LinkFirstly, the EPG (and hence series link) can only ‘see’ 7 days in advance. As often happens on the BBC, a programme gets postponed for a week. A prime example is Doctor Who making way for something like the Eurovision Song Contest on a Saturday night. Series Link cannot see two weeks ahead, so the link gets broken, and unless you spot this, you start to miss episodes.

Secondly, and more importantly, the series link information is provided by the individual broadcaster, so whether you get the correct information about the next episode is entirely down whether the broadcaster can be bothered to provide the information in the first place, and if it does, is actually competent to do it correctly (or at least understand what constitutes the next episode).

What is really annoying, is when the broadcaster does provide information, but it is wrong. In some ways this is worse than no information at all because you are trusting them to get it right. Again, the BBC seems to be the villain here for two distinct types of false information:

Often a new series is repeated a couple of times a week (especially on BBC Three), so for example Episode 1 could be shown on Sunday, Monday and Thursday. If I record Episode 1 on the Sunday and set Series Link, I expect the next recording to be Episode 2 on the following Sunday, but I often find that the Monday repeat is the next to be recorded. Why the hell would I want to record the same thing again? Obviously someone at the BBC doesn’t understand what series link is for and is just setting the next time that ‘programme name’ is shown. The problem here is that if I cancel the rogue recording, it breaks the link, so I need to set up the Sunday recording again.

The other situation I have seen is when the person setting the series link information ignores my wishes and seems to think that I would like to record a related programme rather than the one I asked for. Typically this would be a ‘behind the scenes’ programme (BBC Three) or another programme in the ‘season’ of programmes (BBC Four), rather than what I had asked for, namely the next episode of the same programme.

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CDs cheaper than Downloads

September 9th, 2007 3 comments

CDs cheaper than Download?I went looking on iTunes for an old album I used to have on tape, and sure enough – there it was for £7.90. Hmmm a bit pricey, so I looked on and there it was for only £4.99.

So for almost three quid less, you get:

  • a real CD in a case with professionally printed cover notes. For iTunes, add the cost of a case, CD and printer ink;
  • no crippling DRM;
  • full bitrate recording instead of high compression;
  • you can still rip the CD onto your iPod;
  • if you get fed up of it (or wasn’t to your taste) you can still sell it on.

Most CDs are available from and for around £7.99, so even at that price it’s still better to get the CD.

So what, apart from satisfying your impatience, is the attraction of downloading music?

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Thinking of buying a DAB Radio? – Wait

March 12th, 2007 3 comments

DAB Radio LogoWait until spring that is.

According to, current DAB receivers will be obsolete within a few years as DAB+ is introduced and the existing DAB services are switched off. The new DAB+ standard uses the AAC+ codec, while the existing services use MP2. Receivers capable of receiving the new services will only be available from spring.

That’s if you really want a poor quality alternative to FM. DAB is capable of so much more, but even the BBC has gone for content over quality. If you’re listening at home, stick to Digital Radio via Satellite or Freeview.

Categories: Misc Tags: ,

Declutter your desk

February 20th, 2007 No comments

Here’s an interesting article about getting rid of the unwanted ‘technical clutter’ from your desk, such as power supplies, routers etc.

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Sky Launches Remote Record on Sky+

July 8th, 2006 No comments

Sky PlusSky have finally got around to launching their Remote Record functionality on Sky+.
Basically there are three ways to remotely set your Sky+ digibox to record a programme.

  1. via Sky by Mobile, a small app running on your compatible mobile phone.
  2. by text message “Programme title. Channel. Date. Time.” to 61759
  3. and finally via sky’s web page, although this is not yet live

So far, I have only tried the first option. You need to register in the Customer Zone on Sky are then supposed to send you a wap push message to your phone including the address to download the mobile app to your phone, but nothing arrived, even when I tried resending it from the customer zone services area. I found a post on Digital Spy’s forums, which gave the download address for the 156 kbyte app. (the messages did eventually arrive about 2 hours later)

Sky Mobile TV Guide on a Sony Ericsson k750iYou then have to register your mobile number via your Sky digibox. Press the interactive button on your Sky+ remote and choose ‘Sky Active’. Then go to ‘My Sky’ and select ‘Remote Record’. Enter your mobile number and you should be set up. Note this step requires the phone connection on your digibox as it needs to dial in your registration.

The TV Guide has the same look as on the Sky+ EPG, however you cannot skip forward by typing the channel number as you can on the EPG. This makes finding higher channels a bit of a chore as the data is downloaded for each page.

When you set a program to record, a message says that it will be sent to your digibox in the next thirty minutes, but in practice it’s only a couple of seconds.

Not sure how well the text messaging option will work. What happens if you don’t get the programme name or channel number exactly right? Will the system guess? Also, this option atttracts an extra 25p charge for the confirmation text from Sky.

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How Gadgets have changed

May 7th, 2006 No comments

Here’s an interesting article looking at gadgets now and then.

Regarding the removable storage, I always find it scary how today’s removable storage (USB disks in your pocket for example) compare to internal storage say 15 years ago. Most files nowadays (digital camera jpegs for example) won’t even fit on a 3.5″ floppy.

To be honest, I found the older video games much more addictive. You switched it on and started playing. Today, you have to spend a significant amount of time either learning all the various controls, or setting up the game environment before you even start. I get bored and switch it off.

Looking forward to part 2…

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