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

Thursday February 2 2006

Just had a rather lengthy TiVo scare.

Okay, anything that has been sat there churning away with a hard disk in it 24/7 for more than three years is probably getting to the point where the odd senior moment might be expected, but this was different. The hard drive was doing its thing, as evidenced by the ability to play back the content already recorded on it. What was not happening was that nothing new was being recorded, and the facility to watch the Sky satellite box through the TiVo live had failed. Basically, the TiVo was not seeing the sat box. I went a-grovelling behind the rack, poring over the rat's nest that is my home entertainment setup's interconnections. I approached things logically.

I powered down and rebooted the TiVo and the satellite box a few times. Still nothing.

I checked that everything was configured correctly in the menus.

I checked that all the connections were present and correct. I resolved to shoot the designer of the SCART connector for designing something bulky enough to pull itself free under its own weight but without any kind of locking mechanism on the connector; a stay of execution, though, as this had not happened this time.

At this point, something odd became evident. When I hit the pass-through button on the TiVo, Sky was perfectly happy to come up on my TV. Only when buffered via the TiVo's hard drive did it not work. So I knew that the drive was playing back old content, and the cabling was all fine. I therefore had to logically assume that there was something screwed up in the TiVo circuitry, and that it was whatever took care of actually sticking the broadcasts onto the drive. I was within an ace of painstakingly dismantling it all, and making the move to a Freeview box with a hard drive if all else failed. I then, for the hell of it, changed the SCART lead which connects the sat box to the TiVo. It resumed proper functioning. This is a mystery.

If the lead was stuffed, then how was it displaying Sky directly via the pass-through? There is no difference between the pins that are used to send Sky straight through the TiVo or via the hard drive. Obviously changing the cable reset or disturbed or otherwise gingered up something, but logic does not lead me to any proper conclusion. It's all very odd. Just a ghost in the machine I suppose. There does seem to be a lot of fluff hanging around the fan vent on the TiVo, which means I really ought to take it apart and clean it out. I know it's held together by some sort of weird proprietary screws though, so if they aren't ones I have a weird proprietary screwdriver bit for this will be a big challenge. At least I don't have to buy any new kit right now, which is a relief as I have just bought a high-def LCD 32" TV and that's this years home entertainment budget spent already.

Perhaps I'd better conduct a post-mortem on the old SCART lead to see if something has come adrift. Unlikely though, as the SCARTs on my rig are all wired specific to the tasks they perform, and are therefore knocked up to a rather higher standard than average. Technology, eh?


Posted at 8:48 pm by Jim Woods

Tuesday January 31 2006

I don't usually do this kind of thing,

and I am a little unsure of the protocol, but Steve has passed the sword (or something) so I'll honour the meme...

Four jobs I've had

Bicycle mechanic

Record Producer

Book shop sales assistant

Network engineer

Four places I've lived





Four places I'd like to be right now





Four things I've done to impress a member of the opposite sex

Walk on my hind legs.

Play in bands with other stinky white boys. Not just white boys though, and not just to impress girls. Darlings, I'm an artist.

Attempt wit, with at least partial success.

Be very dissolute. This kind of stops working when all parties are over twenty-five, though the dissolution remains, as ever, rewarding.


Four films I could watch again and again

The Truman Show

Blade Runner

Lock, Stock and...


Four things I'm on the verge of learning

That creative thinking also requires creative doing to evidence creativity.

That I should, long since, have dressed up warm and stood up straight and bent over to sort out the f*cking garden before spring is upon me.

That my steadfast refusal to have anything to do with London is a major obstacle to my visiting the Tate Modern, which I must do.

That I hate supermarkets.

And a bonus fifth: That there is a bug in Blog that prevents me correcting the erroneous italics of some of the above.

Four nationalities I've been mistaken for

German. Moustache and big square head. No offence, Germans.

Dutch. See German.

Australian. Mad landlord. Really mad.

English. But I am. Not mistaken then. Makes four, however.


Four Websites I visit daily

BBC News

Boing Boing

Hoopty Rides



Four people I'd like to continue this meme

With apologies if it's an imposition...

Notes from Spain

But she's a girl...

The Podchef


But I bet none of them read this on a regular basis. I wonder who does? I should check.


Posted at 10:01 pm by Jim Woods

Monday January 30 2006

If I could get my snout out of

my new TV (large, hi-def, rather recklessly expensive but wtf) for long enough I'd be writing profound stuff here. But when I approach the computer my mind is full of art and architecture and podcasty urges. Much though I would love to go on and on about all the neat stuff I've been reading I am very well aware that there is little utility in just linking loads of stuff here and telling you that you should take a look at it. I mean, that's what got me into this mess in the first place. Curse you, Metafilter. Et tu, Boing Boing. Once one has found a source of good surfing it's really hard to let it go. I would like to think that the result of ignoring the web for a bit would be that I would get loads of other worthwhile stuff done in real life - and I do have one - but sadly this is not the case. It is cold and horrid out, and I can only force myself out here and there at this time of year. I am reconciled to a great orgy of vegetation, therefore, and so will make no apologies.

I'm thinking of implementing a sidebar here for currently interesting links. It's an idea I've nicked - well, it's hardly rocket science - from some of the server-side blogging service templates, but it does have the advantage of being quick(ish). We'll see if this materializes. It's been a long time since I tweaked my template, vicar.


Posted at 3:21 am by Jim Woods

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