Daily Archives: Sunday, 6th Jan 2008

Primeval is coming back!

You might recall me getting quite enthusiastic about Primeval last year – that was the show with the strange sparkly things anomalies, a nice collection of prehistoric nasties and one future nasty. The whole thing was great fun and featured some of the best clichés ever seen on British television. Anyway, the good news it that it’s back! :bouncy: :bouncy:

It starts next Saturday on ITV. More information on the official site.

Virgin Media – V+ Box

As I hinted on Friday, I have a new toy from those Virgin Media people. V+ is the latest name for what used to be called TV Drive (or something like that). It’s a replacement for my old digital cable box with some rather tasty extra features. The key one is that it’s a hard disk recorder, with capacity for up to 80 hours of TV.

Virgin V+ Box

Virgin V+ Box

New toy....

Readers with long memories may be wondering about my existing hard disk recorder. Well, that’s still working just fine, but it does have a quite severe limitation. It can’t control the cable box, so if I wanted to record something on a cable channel, I had to make sure the box was correctly set first. And of course, it couldn’t record a different cable channel from the one I was watching, which has occasionally been annoying. But it did work, which is why I hadn’t been in any rush to upgrade to the V+ service. The price of it has changed several times, going from a relatively low installation cost plus a monthly service charge to a higher initial cost with no service charge, so long as you subscribe to one of the bigger TV packages. Towards the end of last year, the cost was £150, but as that was a one-off charge, I was vaguely considering it. But only vaguely.

Then, I got a call from Virgin. They’d noticed that I’d had to reset my old cable box several times, and were most apologetic about the inconvenience, and err, would I like to upgrade to V+ for the £25 cost of an engineer visit? At that price, I couldn’t resist, and we agreed an installation date, which was Friday. And on Friday, the engineer turned up and performed a painless installation, gave me a quick demo and left me to play with my new toy.

The V+ box gets around the problem of picking cable channels to record quite nicely. It can record up to two channels while I watch a third one. It’s not often that I need to do that, but it’s nice to know I can. The dual record thing means you can safely allow a margin around the start and finish times of programmes even if you need to follow a recording with one on another channel starting immediately afterwards.

Not only that, but it has that nifty “pause live TV” thing. This is clever stuff. As soon as you start watching a channel, the box starts recording it. You can press the pause button at any time, go away and do something else, and resume when you’re ready. If you’ve been away for a while, you’ll have the added benefit of being able to fast forward through ad breaks.

It does the expected things like recording a whole series of a programme for you and warning you if there’s a clash in your recording settings. The quality of recorded programmes is, on my 26″ LCD TV, indistinguishable from the original transmission.

And as an added bonus, the box can output in full HD. So when I get an HD TV, and Virgin have some HD content[1], I’ll be all set up.

So far, it’s working nicely. I’ve seen some reports of people having issues with the V+ service, so I’ll be keeping an eye on it.

One final detail – the remote control is much, much better than the old one. That one was getting a bit old (six years? seven years?), and the buttons were a bit spongy. I sometimes had to hit the “1” button a few times to make it register. This one has nice, positively clicky buttons and it’s gently curved to fit comfortably in the hand.

Update: Click here to see how I’ve been getting on with the box.

[1] At the moment, they just have the BBC HD channel. Mind you, that would give me Robin Hood and Torchwood in HD, so it’s probably worth it…

Weight Report – 6 January 2008

Ahhh, the usual weekend rise strikes again. After a moderately relaxed Saturday, I’m not surprised to be a wee bit heavier today. Still, never mind and all that. This will improve. Soon. Well, fairly soon. Probably.

Doctor Who – Timelash

This story, starring Colin Baker as the Doctor and Nicola Bryant as Peri, was first shown in March 1985, and enjoys its reputation as being one of the worst ever. But is it really that bad? Well, to be honest, no.

The story involves a monstrous deformed mad scientist (deformed by his own sinister experiments, naturally), a time tunnel (the Timelash of the title) used as a means of disposing of undesirables, a screamingly over the top performance from Paul Darrow[1], and….

For me, the best bit was the accidental stowaway the Doctor brings along. A young nineteenth century Earthman named Herbert. Who’s quite impressed with the Doctor’s Time Machine. Inspired, you might say. Yes, as 99% of the audience probably guessed, Herbert was indeed Herbert George Wells. Silly, but fun.

As I said, it’s not all that bad, but does suffer from budget restrictions making the effects a bit weak. Still fun, though.

This release is a bit light on extras – the only major item is a new documentary on the making of the story, accompanied by the usual production subtitles.

[1] Yes, Avon from Blakes Seven but with a seriously bad haircut


This is another picture from my visit to Cardiff Bay. Torchwood fans will of course recognise the water tower thingy, seen here in close up with a strange person[1] reflected in its shininess.



That's me, reflected in the Cardiff Bay water sculpture.

I seem to be settling down to using Lightroom on the Mac now, and now I’m making more of an effort to remember some of the numerous keyboard shortcuts that Adobe have provided.

[1] Me, in case you’re wondering