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Re-Re-Tune (when the crowd say Bo Selecta?)

Hopefully it won’t have escaped your attention, but Freeview watchers will need to retune your freeview box/TV tomorrow afternoon/evening (Wednesday 30th).

The BBC have put together an excellent overview of what’s happening:-

What’s happening and when?

On Wednesday morning, 30 September, the Freeview service is being updated. Some TV and radio channels will move position. If people don’t retune their equipment they will no longer receive them. The move involves around 25 million Freeview TV sets, set-top boxes and digital recorders, including TopUp TV and BT Vision boxes. It doesn’t affect satellite or cable systems such as Sky or Freesat or cable.

Why is the change needed?

To make channel Five available in half a million more homes and to prepare for high-definition broadcasts.

What happens if I don’t retune?

On the affected channels, you’ll see a message telling you the channel has moved and asking you to retune. Anyone who needs help can find it at www.tvretune.co.uk or via a telephone helpline – 08456 01 11 22.

Which channels are mainly affected?

Five is moving, and so are ITV3 and ITV4. There will also be a new TV channel called Quest.

Some BBC radio stations will be affected in areas that have already gone through digital switchover. Listeners in the Border TV region, the West country and some parts of Wales will lose these stations unless they retune.

Will some channels disappear altogether?

Around 460,000 homes – which get their TV signals through relay transmitters – will no longer receive ITV3 or ITV4. That means they will lose some European football matches and classic TV dramas such as Cracker and Poirot.

The Community Channel will no longer be available on Freeview in areas that have gone through switchover.

Can all Freeview equipment be retuned?

Around 22,000 older set-top boxes may no longer work.

If you’re not sure how to retune your Freeview, there is an excellent website www.tvretune.co.uk which has instructions for many devices – its something to make a note of as you should be doing a retune every couple of months to make sure you get the latest channel changes, especially in the run up to Digital Switchover.  And tuning digital equipment is much easier than the days of analogue – its usually a case of selecting an option from the on-screen menu and letting it run through.  Plus, a reminder to Cable and Satellite viewers (including Freesat), you don’t need to retune those set-top boxes.

Dress less for the Environment…

The weather forecast for this week is warm warm warm (upto about 32c, not a heat wave as the media suggest) and perhaps it is time that we start following the Japanese example to keep cool AND save the environment.  Their Government has issued an edict to employee’s of the nation’s companies to stop wearing ties, long sleeve shirts and coats, and dress for the summer.  In turn, Government departments are being told to turn UP their air-conditioning to 27c (82f) rather than the more common 25c (77f). It doesn’t sound much, but is forecast to save 81 million barrels of oil per summer.  In THIS article from 2005, it shows a certain amount of resistance from what is stereotypically seen as the straight laced Japanese worker.  But by issuing guidance on how to dress ‘smart-casual’, this resistance is waning slowly but steadily.   Its a clever approach by the powers that be to cut consumption by a decent margin, and its idea’s like this that will gradually reduce our demand for fossil fuels.  I suspect it also means that power stations aren’t running at full tilt and means that spare capacity is available, unlike many forecasts that say some countries will be required to enforce switch off’s of regional area’s to prevent brown-outs due to the demand for energy from air-conditioning units.

Officially Adult…

Well, it had to happen at some point, I think I’m now classing myself as an Adult.  A number of events recently, culminating in my ordering of a subscription to National Geographic Magazine, and switching from Moyles to Wogan in the morning.  I shall have to fetch out a pipe and slippers soon.  Anyway, this list will help you identify if you’re no longer ‘of the youth’.

  • You have friends who have kids.
  • Naps are a good thing.
  • You actually buy scarves, gloves, and sunscreen.
  • Driving a car doesn’t always sound like fun.
  • The only thing in your cereal box is … cereal.
  • Your idea of the best Friday night out is one out in the Garden with a nice beer/glass of wine.
  • The local supermarket no longer asks for ID when you buy alcohol.
  • When snacking out, you choose Starbucks over McDonalds because it has a much calmer atmosphere.
  • Your parents treat you as an equal.
  • Financial matters consume several evenings a month.
  • You look in the surveillance camera monitor at the convenience store, wonder who that guy is standing at the counter with the bald spot, and then realize it is a shot of you from behind.
  • Its not a surprise that politicians philander.
  • You use the term ‘The Youth of Today’.

Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments box below – I’ll try and look out for them on my own meandering journey through life.

Universal Phone Charger Plan

Good news from the MWC today reported by the BBC:-

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7894763.stm

The world’s biggest mobile phone makers and network operators have backed plans to create a universal phone recharger.

Most manufacturers now produce chargers which work only with their own devices.

The re-charger will consume 50% less stand-by energy than today’s cables, the GSM Association (GSMA), an umbrella group for the industry, said.

Firms to back the plan include Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, LG, T-Mobile, Orange, 3, AT&T and Vodafone.

The majority of new handsets will support the re-charger by 2012.

"This is a broad agreement that will move the industry to a single, energy-efficient charger for all mobile phones," said Michael O’Hara, marketing director for the GSMA.

In a statement, Mitti Storckovius, director of environment, devices at Nokia said: "By supporting this industry initiative on common charging solutions, and enabling consumers to choose if they need a charger with every new device or can re-use existing ones, we can contribute further in improving the industry’s environmental footprint."

The mini-USB connector will be used as the common charging interface.

Manufacturers had been under pressure from the European Commission to produce a standardised charger.

EU Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen told German radio station Deutsche Welle last week that there were more than 30 different kinds of charger in use across the 27-nation European Union.

The GSMA estimates the new charger will mean the potential elimination of up to 51,000 tonnes of duplicate chargers.

Tis the Season…

I love this time in mid February when all the mobile phone manufacturers get together in Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress,  their ‘trade fair’ where they get to demonstrate their lovely new wares for the year ahead.

My favourite manufacturer HTC held its press conference this morning, and as ever, they’re certainly setting an example to the other manufacturers. 

htc-touch-pro-2-ofc

First off is the HTC Touch Pro2 featuring 3.6" 800×400 screen, 512mb ROM, 288 RAM and a 3.2mp camera.  One feature which sounds cool, but we’ll see what its like in operation, is the Speakerphone, which automatically turns itself on when you flip the phone whoops upside down its head.  This seems to be the flash business phone,  where as the

htc-touch-diamond2-1

HTC Touch Diamond2 – an evolution of the existing Touch Diamond.  This time around, its got a 800×480 screen, 5mp camera and the same 512mb ROM/288mb RAM as its bigger brother, the Touch Pro2.

Which is annoying, because Id decided on the HTC Touch HD, but now I can’t see how that model fits in with the current lineup.  I’ll have to wait and see which one, T-Mobile (my current phone vendor) offers in the next few months.

Also coming up this afternoon from the MWC is the Windows Mobile 6.5 official announcement (hopefully).

Birthday Belly Buster..

As part of the Birthday tradition where the celebrator treats his or her fellow colleagues to some excess foodstuffs, so today it became my turn to gift upon them, some lovely lovely breakfast.

IMAGE_397 IMAGE_398
IMAGE_400 IMAGE_399
IMAGE_401 IMAGE_402

All from Busters in Darlaston, THE place for breakfast in the Wednesbury Area.  We’ve not taken any statistics, but its likely that the BMI of the office has risen several factor points this morning.

 

Sir, You appear to have dropped your Jaw.

Tomorrows World appears to have arrived!   I paid a visit to a nearby Curry’s on Friday evening to see what its flagship store was like (I’ve not dared to venture after it opened to much hullabaloo in October).  Its all a very nice setup, with ‘islands’ of products nicely clustered together, a bit like a department store of old.  Amongst the rows of Computers, Printers, Mobiles, MP3 players and washing machine, they have their TV section.  The section is against the back wall, and is wide enough to fit about 50 42″ plasma’s along it, plus all the floor based ones.  However, their Pièce de résistance centred right in the middle of the display is this:-

BFT

Yes, its a 103″ Telly!   That’s 95″ x 55″ and with a depth of just 5.6″!   The screen area is 89″ wide by 50″ high, so that’s two 42″ plasma’s next to each other, and a 50″ turned on its side.   This thing is VAST!  It was like a wall and in fact would take up a wall on my house.   Now, I’m used to big pictures – I use a projector to watch movies which is a similar size,   but the crispness, clarity and scale of this behemoth just takes your breath away.  I stood there for about 5 mins looking like a slack jawed yokel admiring this beast of technology.

The only downsides?  Well an RRP of £69,995 and the requirement for a specialist installation team to come and fit it.

If you want to come visit it, be sure to checkout Curry’s, J9 Wednesbury or if you have a spare £70k to throw down, visit the Panasonic Website for more tech specs.

Why Twitter Rocks!

I’ve been speaking with people recently about twitter and its pretty save to say I’m becoming an addict!  I tweet in the morning, tweet at lunch, and tweet in the evenings, and I love seeing what others are upto. 

The applet I use (TweetDeck) has a feature to monitor the most popular words being tweeted on the wire (pun intended), so when I saw the words Hudson, Airplane, Crash, United and Airlines appearing in large words, I knew something had happened.  Those updates started appearing about 1/2hr before the UK news services picked up on the plane crash which, given the seriousness of the incident, I can’t believe that not one person expired.  The Pilot – He has Skilllz.   Hero of the Year?  Certainly so far,  but Obama takes his seat in office next week.

WeekEPG 3.1b

Note, this was originally published at satellites.co.uk, however all future updates will be posted here first!

This is a short post from me (really for my later reference) on what settings are required for WeekEPG 3.1b to be able to fetch the skyEPG into its repository. Its here because I really messed up my settings, and was only getting now/next data (circa 3000 titles) and no summaries, but with these settings I get 59000+ titles and 57000+ summaries.

My Setup:
DM600 running Gemini 4.50 for that Box, with WeekEPG 3.1b plugin activated.
So:-

Configuring WeekEPG

Make sure you’re in Radio Mode, tuned to ‘Hip Hop’
The service for Hip Hop for me reads as the following data, but of note, I don’t receive any audio:
Provider:BSKYB
Video PID:none
Audio PID:0d2eh (3374d)
PCR PID:0d2eh (3374d)
PMT PID:0132h (306d)
Transport Stream ID: 07d4h
Original Network ID: 0002h
Service ID: 0fd1h
Namespace: 11a0000h
Satellite: 28.2 Sats
Freq: 11777v
FEC:2/3, Symbol Rate 27499.

So Once you’re happy you’ve got the channel set:-
Yellow/WeekEPG.
From the EPG listing, press exit, then Setup.
Settings as follows:-
10 TStart Offs 10 TEnd Offs
0 , Local Time Offset Unticked
Font Size 20/18
Show Current Channel Ticked.
Use Offline Data Ticked.
Offline EPG Storage Path
/hdd/weekepg

Then press RED to choose the channel, and select Hip Hop.
Set Language to UK if necessary.
I would then press Save (blue)
Then back into setup
Finally Green to run the Log, and Yes to Confirm.
It takes about 30 seconds to grab the titles, then perhaps a further minute to grab the Summary Info.
As previously stated, you should get 50,000+ titles. If you’ve only got 3000 is, and no summaries, somethings not working.
So in summary, it seems that the EPG data is currently being transmitted on this channel, rather than on Sky1, sky News and sky Movies stated elsewhere – at least, thats how it seems on my system.
Hope this helps both myself and someone else.
Now to figure out how to get the WeekEPG data into MV

Windows Live Writer

As I alluded to the other day,  I have found a great new blogging tool from a little software company going by the name of Microsoft (Bah, nothing will ever come of them) called ‘Windows Live Writer’.   This software is a free download which is part of the Live Toolset @ get.live.com

So, you’re probably asking,  what’s so good about it?   Well, its basically a MS-Word for blogs, so everything is WYSIWIG.  You can add text, pictures, links, maps and video all from the main edit screen and they will all be automatically uploaded when you post your blog, so no faffing around with uploading and linking.  Its also aware of the style sheets and templates active on your blog, so there’s no worry that what you type won’t appear correctly when its live.

A useful feature is that you can compose your thoughts ‘offline’, then publish them when you have a network connection, meaning that as and when 5 minutes allow, you can add a paragraph here and there, and once you’re happy, make it live.   Plus, with the spell check feature, your SPAG should be a little better :).

But the killer feature for me is the ability to publish to different blog services.  For example, I have configured my WLW to access my sharepoint blog on mysite, and my external blogspot account meaning that I can publish similar stories to one, either or both.  The only thing that I will have to be careful about is making sure each post is suitable for its target audience, e.g. revealing sensitive corporate information to the outside, or putting profanity on the Internal Site.   However, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem, and I try to keep things fairly anonymous anyway.

In conclusion, anyone keeping multiple blogs upto date should checkout this software,  its actually one decent tool to come from the house of Gates.