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Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

La Long Weekend

It’s been one hell of a weekend – week, even– I’ve been in meetings since Tuesday through this afternoon (yes, on a Sunday) with only a few hours break in the middle and I’m completely exhausted. I got home tonight and Maureen and I started to catch up with “Falling Skies” (series 2) – I say catch up – thanks to the miracle of fast-forward, I managed to start almost at the beginning and as of 20 minutes ago I’m now bang up to date – Maureen could not quite keep up the pace but I’m sure she’ll catch up this week.

OllieTomorrow I’ve a horrendous backlog of tasks, emails and phone calls but I plan a day or so with a friend catching up on gadgets by way of relaxation mid-week – that’ll be nice. Expecting a new solar panel and controller coming over from China in the next few days – lets hope I don’t have to wait to go abroad to test it!

Meanwhile my old pal Ollie (on the right) is taking the opportunity to spend some quality time with his dad – it’s not obvious from the photo but I’m frantically typing here and his head is bobbing up and down according like a yoyo – he’s complete oblivious to it!

If you have a half-decent PC and you have the urge to kill – I suggest checking out “Alliance of Valiant Arms” – but beware – the kids out there are heartless – I’ve managed to last out 8 minutes tops up to now.

One of Those Days

I thought yesterday was bad enough… the twin car batteries I use for handling mains drop-outs here in Wark had been acting up for some time and I’d been getting unexplained drop-outs where our broadband router would just drop out for no reason – but it wasn’t until yesterday I put it all together – the batteries were dry as a BONE. I’ve refilled them but I’m thinking it may be too late for them. But today has been FAR more interesting.

It certainly has been one of those days. The Merc collapsed last night – front legs gave up altogether. Maureen woke me up to announce that it was sitting on the front driveway with the front wheels buried in the wheel arches. Merc in their usual “make a mountain out of a molehill” manner managed to come up with a bill of around a grand to fix this. Can you imagine… you could buy a brand new motor scooter in Carrefour for that amount of money.

tmp6C97Fortunately they’ve come up with a loaner – I say fortunate as I have 3 days of meetings ahead of me and I desperately need a car. I’m sitting here late at night writing because I was just enjoying a superb episode of FRINGE on Sky (if you’ve not watched this excellent sci-fi, you are missing out) and I noted some upgrades for the iPad (not, sadly the eagerly awaited 4.2 operating system upgrade which is now looking like Friday depending on who’s rumour-mill you read) but an upgrade for a long-forgotten program called SharePlus.  If you’re familiar with office systems, I’ll just say that this seamlessly handles SharePoint – no matter what kind of authentication you use. I’ll leave it at that as this is not really a technical blog.

So an expensive start but at least an interesting end. And now I think a book. I’m trying to see if the iPad will really work for reading books so I have one of the few Arthur C Clarke books I’ve not yet read ready and waiting. Now here’s the trick… had I bought a Kindle – I’d have been stuffed because Maureen is already asleep and turning the light on is not an option. Stanza on the iPad on the other hand is backlit and a simple slide of the finger turns the brilliance up and down – a soft glow is all I need to read with (practiced as a kid, my mother always wanted my light turned off so I must’ve read thousands of DC comics by streetlight).

I’ve been getting to grips with Apple TV having bought one of their miraculous new black units this week. Essentially you plug the black box into your TV and Bob’s your uncle – streaming videos for rent, streaming video, sound and pictures from any of your PCs which have iTunes on them and from this weekend, fingers crosses, streaming directly from your iPod/iPhone/iPad to the TV… I can’t wait. May as well relax how, I have 3 very busy days ahead – and at the weekend it’s upgrade time for the gadgets. Add the Apps called StreamToMe into the mix which lets me watch my PC-based movies etc. on the iPhone or iPad… and I’m just about all set… been trying to get a setup like this for years with the PC and never quite made it. Marvellous.

(Update – car’s all sorted…. can’t use Apple TV until Apple get their finger out with the iOS 4.2 updates.

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TV Tax

Today, I bought my TV Tax.  Maureen’s been stuck in America for a while now as you can imagine thanks to the volcano and the post has been piling up so this morning I decided to go through and sort out anything urgent.

In the middle of it all were two extremely nasty letters from the Television Licensing Authorities or TITS for short, looking more like something I’d imagine coming from a bailiff…. “Enforcement officers have now been authorized to visit..” blah blah from a certain Michelle Tunstall of the TV Licensing Authorities.

You know what REALLY annoys me the most about this – there are countless channels out there, all supporting themselves with advertising or in the case of Sky with advertising PLUS a monthly fee (which I pay as Sky’s channels in general are infinitely better than the BBCs IMHO) the TV licence is nothing more than a TAX to support an archaic, TINY SEGMENT of the TV scenario – i.e. the all-pervasive BBC.

To ensure the continuation of jobs for the luvvies, they have positioned themselves so that it is impossible to buy ANY TV system WITHOUT being able to watch the BBC and hence be eligible to pay the licence. So if you rip up your aerials and ONLY have a Sky receiver, it is IMPOSSIBLE for you to permanently REMOVE access to the BBC so that you could legitimately claim to being UNABLE to receive BBC.  WORSE, because of the I PLAYER, if you have a computer with Internet access they can ALSO claim you can watch it that way. What other system other than something the CCCP or Chinese government might have come up with, could possibly be so all-pervasive as that.

If you think the iPlayer is good – I suggest you get someone to set up a VPN to the USA so you can see their equivalents… top quality USA sci-fi can be had in exactly the same way and THEY don’t pay a TV licence!!

The result of this is that the BBC is not SERVICE but a MONOPOLY and the TV license is not a license but a TAX. We are FORCED to pay £145.00 a year whether we want it or not – OR become a hermit with no radio, no television, no computer, no console…in short, no incoming communication at all.  Are the British public REALLY happy with this? 

Every now and then I try to imagine what it would be like to be stuck in a hospital ward or old folks home with only BBC and ITV to chose from. It fills me with HORROR. You have a choice of sport – in which I have ZERO interest, or soaps about boring people making boring conversations in pubs or working man’s clubs… or you can watch doctor who, in which a succession of testosterone-challenged men wandering around in cardboard cut-outs proving just how BAD acting can be and as for the co-stars – can’t they at least get hold of someone who doesn’t look like they’ve recently been run over by a BUS? We could not produce science fiction in this country if our LIVES depended on it and yet the BBC continues to pay, year in your out for this absolute RUBBISH. The only time they got it right was way back in the 60s when they took on Star-trek and they could not even manage that for very long.

£145 quid DOWN THE TOILET – just another tax, nothing more – it would have been better used contributing to my SKY bill. I hope this upcoming generation has the balls to get rid of this antiquated and unfair mechanism to extract more money from us – let the BBC stand along with the rest on it’s own two feet – they’ve had their share of public support – enough is enough. We should pay for what we want to watch – nothing more.

BBC Website Cuts

Apparently “The BBC will cut spending on its website by 25 per cent and cut back on the number of webpages on the site by up to 50 per cent, it has been announced. “

That’s a shame because as a long-term SKY user I’ve always maintained that the BBC is a waste of space apart from a small number of quality programs they produce or import…. and the ONLY thing I personally find to be extremely useful – is their excellent WEBSITE.

I do hope that the cuts will be in the less important areas and that the NEWS and iPLAYER sections are left fully functional!

Joe McElderry – is he good enough?

We both watched the finale of the X-Factor – and both contestants were excellent, with Joe McElderry winning in the end. No doubt about it, he’s good… and it’s great to see a Northern lad win – especially if that means seeing more screenshots of Cheryl Cole…..  but… his debut track, though put together nicely and with good singing from Joe – simply isn’t that great a song. The other track he sang was a “Journey” number which Simon Cowell thought was “not a well known number” – I’m not sure who he was kidding but it was very popular in it’s time and Journey are a fabulous band several leagues up from anything we’ve seen on the X-Factor… BBC played it on the radio this morning –the original is WAY better than last night’s version.

I suspect young Joe will be the darling of the TV for a few weeks and then fade into the crowd. Nice singer, but not terribly special.