February 2007

Humax PVR

I don’t know how I lived without this incredible box of tricks. It was invited into my life when my video recorder died just before Christmas after over a decade of providing televisual entertainment. Though expensive, it’s the business ! I can pause, rewind and move around in live TV; record two programs whilst watching a third; start watching a program that’s recording before it’s finished; one-press recording programming.. the list goes on. I can even download the recordings via USB to the PC and run a conversion utility to burn them to DVD.

It does everything bar make the tea, and when I need to do that I simply press pause and it’s ready to play when I get back – and not a second missed.

It’s not just junk food, fizzy drinks and expensive toys that we need to worry about them targetting kids with in TV adverts.

Just last week I was explaining to J that I was always skint because I was paying off debts, but that hopefully by April this year I’ll have paid them all off. “Have you ever considered consolidating all of your existing debts into one easy monthly payment ?” came the sage advice from this savvy six year-old. My jaw dropped. “Or you could get a One Card and reduce the payments on your mortgage,” she continued.

I dropped her bedtime storybook and nearly fell off her bed. “Where”, I sputtered, “did you hear THAT ?”

“It’s on Nick Jr all the time when I watch it at Mum’s”.

For once I’m glad I only have terrestrial telly ; if they’re manipulating the minds of kids so that they grow up believing that debts are nothing to worry about , then the future generations are going to be in hock forever.

Pity your poor kids in their middle-age.

It’s amazing just how much technology moves on in the space of a few short years. Just a few years back, a 1Gb microdrive for a digital SLR was hundreds of pounds and the storage capacity seemed incredible.

Move forward to a few days ago, when I received a package containing a 2Gb pen drive which cost me the quite staggeringly small sum of £10.99. That pen, which is 3cm long and 0.5cm thick, contains half of the space available on the hard drive of this antiquated laptop which I’m using to type up this entry.

How on earth did we store all of our information and data before the advent of cheap flash memory ? I remember when a box of 10 full floppies was considered excessive, and they were only 1.44Mb each. Now they’re relics consigned to the dustbin of technological history, and we’re each probably carrying gadgets in our pockets capable of holding a combined total up to 60Gb: mobile with 1 or 2Gb miniSD memory, pen drive on a keychain and an iPod or mp3 player.

Where will it all end ? How much data do we each need to keep, personally ? What happens when a format becomes obsolete – will we spend our lives accumulating terabytes of data which we need to continuously transfer onto new formats to keep the data available ? Will we need counselling and feel a sense of loss or bereavement if we lose huge chunks of our stored lives through theft or media breakdown / failure ?

I think I’ll start reverting back to using the good old pen and a pad of paper, so that hundreds of years from now whatever I write might still be available without needing the requisite antique technology to extract the data in the first place. Your eyes will do just fine, and hopefully in a few hundred years we won’t have replaced them with something electronic !

OK. It’s been a while. In fact, it’s been a very long while. There’s no excuse for it other than laziness…. well, in fact the truth is I’ve been a busy boy with lots of other things and so I’ve been neglecting poor old Waterside Tales for too long.

What’s been happening in the intervening months, then ?

  • Well, the cycling has continued throughout the winter months, except for the days when it would have been suicidal to attempt it (like the days I’d have been going sideways with the gales). I’ve clocked up another 400 miles since the last picture, even with almost four weeks off over Xmas and New Year with the festivities and the Winter Virus. The fact that the temperatures have remained on the mild rather than the brass monkey side has been an added bonus !
  • The little one has lost two front teeth and become acquainted with the Tooth Fairy and her monetary reward scheme for baby teeth. At her age I was almost yanking them out with pliers, lured by the promise of free cash, but she’s been rather reluctant to part with them. Hell, she’s not even seen that little lassie that sang ‘Grandma’ with the St Winifred’s School Choir back in the 70’s, so she can’t have been scared off with the fact that she may end up looking like an OAP who’s had a false teeth crisis.
  • Talking of teeth, Grandad lost his down the toilet after being sick with the Winter Virus. Poor old soul (who’s registered blind with his macular degenaration) didn’t even notice they were gone for a full half-hour. He’s had to make multiple visits to the dentist to have a new set made, so hopefully he’ll be smiling again on Saturday rather than sucking his cheese toastie to death with that horrendous, sunken-faced grimace that a lack of top teeth has endowed him with.
  • I was given a free laptop last week, which I am sitting with in the living room typing this as I wait for Mock The Week to start on BBC2. It’s an old brick of a Compaq, with a 4Gb hard disk and 64Mb of memory, but it does what I want it to, albeit at a more leisurely pace. I’ve managed to create a network to that I can access the files on my PC, though the laptop is cabled in rather than wireless. I’m trying to retain the ‘free’ vibe here, so buying a wireless adapter would spoil things.
  • I aim to be debt-free for the first time in over 6 years by April. I’ve cleared a large chunk with a generous January bonus, and with some share options and savings I’ll clear the rest soon. It’s like a huge, oppressive weight has been lifted and I intend to live my life from now on withing my meagre means.
  • My video died just before Xmas and I was embarrassed in the shops by an officious young man who told me that VCRs were no longer sold, as “they’re antiques now, Sir”. I ended up treating myself to a 180Gb Humax PVR with twin Freeview tuners, which is brilliant and I don’t know how I’ve managed up until now without being able to pause the TV whilst I nip to the kitchen to make a cup of tea ! Of course, it does MUCH more than that but I can’t be arsed listing it now as I’ve paused the telly and want to watch it before it gets too late.

So that’s a quick summary of what life’s been like for the last wee while. Hopefully I’ll be back again soon and thereafter on a much more regular basis. I know there’s podfade in the podcasting community, but is there such a thing as blogfade ?

Fear not though, I’ve not succumbed.