Jim's Inchoate Weblog

link dump blog at inchoate satellite

a modest Flickr portfolio

hits since 18th June 2002

oxford blog >

Search this site powered by FreeFind


email me

archived entries

guest book


links, of old

consumer electronica

improve the world!

Oxford Music Agency - book a band


We live in litigious times, so I should say that content reflects only my opinions!

Saturday February 22 2003

Boring cream PC?

So stick it in the toaster - that'll larn it.

Posted at 8:51 pm by Jim Woods

Technick is a good site for "hardware information". Amongst the delights on offer is this rather fine section explaining batteries. Yep, there's more to it than just sticking them in your Walkman and strolling in the park...
Posted at 2:31 pm by Jim Woods

Friday February 21 2003

Samsung FTA satellite receiver
Here's a review of some Samsung home cinema kit which includes a review of an excellent low-cost free-to-air satellite box. The beauty of this little beast is that you can hook it up, ideally to a motorised dish, and get masses of free content. The principal advantage over a Sky Digibox is that the Sky unit is very limited in terms of satellites other than Astra.
Posted at 3:59 pm by Jim Woods

Thursday February 20 2003

Now that's a hobby!

I've just found the Euronaut site. Seems that for want of a better way to spend his weekends, Karsten Standfuss has built a U-boat. A fifty footer. Working. Quite extraordinary...

Site is in German, but just look at the pics!

Posted at 4:07 pm by Jim Woods


There's a new beta version of excellent free browser MyIE2 out - there's a permanent link to the site in the right-hand column here ->

No dramatic changes or novelties, but a few fixes...

Posted at 5:01 am by Jim Woods

Millennial angst

Just spent virtually the whole of Wednesday (which is why there was no blogging) trying to remedy a number of annoying glitches on a friend's computer running Win ME. And people, whatever you do stay with 98 or XP. ME is a weapon of Satan.

Posted at 4:28 am by Jim Woods

Tuesday February 18 2003

Double barrel
The Pacer Farm site is beast! Not only is there a wealth of stuff on the late 70's AMC Pacer (vile looking IMO) car, but a large tract on the I-400, a secret Japanese aircraft carrying submarine. The sub is vast and sinister (hooray - best sort), and the Pacers are, well, still running. And there are cat pictures too! What a site, what a site!
Posted at 2:01 pm by Jim Woods

Russian sub has left Dover

Irritatingly, the Russian submarine which was on display at Dover has left - and before I managed to get a look at it. Bosh. I wonder where it's going? Not, I trust, up any of my plumbing. That would be all I need.

Next most accessible Russian sub (from Oxford) is therefore the 1960 B-143 at the Maritime Theme Park in Zeebrugge; moules et frites, anyone? If you have a good dig around on this site there's a lot of information both about the sub and about the maritime history of Zeebrugge in general.

Posted at 1:10 pm by Jim Woods

Monday February 17 2003

Another Sat TV toy

Oh yes indeedy, this is rather a neat one. It's a little gadget that plugs into the back of your Sky Digibox and "turns your Video recorder into a PVR".

Basically, to record a slew of your favourite junk from the TV via Sky, you need your Digibox to be switched to the appropriate channel, and your VCR to record it at the correct time. The Sky software will cheerfully Autoview, a simple facility to allow unattended channel-changing. The Digibox changes to programs which you have flagged from the on-screen Electronic Program Guide You SCART your Sky box to your trusty steam-driven VCR and tell said VCR to record at the same times as your selected programs are on, and Bob will be your elderly male relative. Historically, this is a pain. It involves the separate programming of two separate devices. Bad news. Much pain. PVRs (TiVo and the like) just take it from the top once you do the EPG selection of programs. Much less sweat.

The little toy we're talking about here (link to the manufacturer) gets you round that. Plug it into the Digibox and off you go. It just puts the VCR into record mode at the appropriate times. Elegant and cool both. For thirty quid I reckon that if it works well it's a real winner.

Posted at 6:46 pm by Jim Woods

Nathan, an enterprising gent, has hacked the PC-side software for his Philips Streamium - an internet based mini-hifi which streams net radio or plays your MP3s from your PC - to get around the limitations of the Philips software. The upshot is that, unlike the unmodified unit, his will now play ANY net radio station, and is no longer tied to Windows PCs. I'm slightly puzzled as to why anyone would dive in with both feet at this point and buy something like the Streamium in the first place though. I mean, unless you really are desperate to be an early adopter of this sort of device what are you actually getting? Another mini-hifi to add to the pile of them under your bed, capable of doing a few (limited) net tricks which you can already do on your PC. Can't see it myself. What you really need in order to wire up your house for multimedia is a few small, cheap, quiet and pretty PCs networked together and maybe a DreamBox or something like one to hook TV in. The big advantage that the PC offers us is the ability to alter facilities via hardware and software upgrades without throwing the silicon baby out with the bathwater. No matter what media you want to play - audio or video - there is a simple means of doing so via a PC. And newer satellite boxes (wake up, people, other types of TV are markedly less use except in special circumstances) will cheerfully sit on a home network and stream yer video sources all around. So - anyone fancy buying a mini-hifi* with the ability to play CDs (can't you already do that???) and stream compressed rubbish? Thought not. I'll buy one off someone next year for thirty quid to p around with when the next "big thing" comes along... *spit - get down to Richers and get a cheap, modular, upgradeable separates system which will sound ten times better.
Posted at 1:54 pm by Jim Woods

Satellite bore is relentless

Here's a couple of useful links for the satellited. Astra and Eutelsat both have huge amounts of information for the European satellite viewer. Of particular note is that this is where you'll find authoritative, up-to-date channel lineups for their all birds. I foresee a lot of twiddling with the trusty Sky box coming soon.

Posted at 2:32 am by Jim Woods

Sunday February 16 2003


Saarland University in Saarbrücken (Germany) lads have come up with an interesting Linux-PC based convergent home entertainment device. What this really means is that they have produced a hardware/software combination that can do the TV and hard disk video recording thing, as well as playing CD, MP3 and DVD formats. I've mentioned other efforts of this nature before here, but given that they are the way of the future in home entertainment I feel I'll just list 'em as I find 'em.

Use the search feature on this site if you want to find my previous ramblings and links on the topic of miracle set-top boxes and so forth...

Since TiVo have been forced into retreat here in the UK, something like this is needed to prevent SkyPlus being the only choice of PVR available. Mind you, the tenner a month I pay for my TiVo listings service is debited from my bank by Sky, so I guess Rupert has had the ball all along really. I can personally live without MP3 (sounds crap) or playing CDs or DVDs on my pc (sound crap again, crashes all the time in the case of DVD) but the idea of having a network to distribute submarine documentaries around my house is genuinely thrilling. I'm still designing my own solution, because I'm a techno-pervert with strange requirements, but it's nice to see these home-brew solutions coming along.

Posted at 10:45 pm by Jim Woods

A decent mapper and routefinder

Being very interested - to put it mildly - in maps, I have a look around from time to time to see what there is in the way of interactive ones. I'm very impressed with Map24 these days. I don't remember it being this good, but I guess they've done a lot of work on it while I have not been paying attention. There's a moral there; always check the sites for your core applications and so forth to see if they've been updated!

Posted at 12:42 pm by Jim Woods

Indexed by the FreeFind Search Engine