Tag Archives: Sky

Getting Used to Sky+

Sky+ Box with Anti-Vibration Measures

It’s surprising how quickly we’ve got used to having the Sky+ around. Certainly we’ve recorded a lot more stuff than we ever did before, mainly because it is so easy to do. We’ve also programmed in the programmes we watch regularly using the series link feature, which, combined with the ability to watch a programme from the beginning whilst it is still recording has allowed me to forget that a programme has started without missing anything! We’ve also made pretty extensive use of it on evenings like the current Saturday nights where both Strictly Dance Fever and Doctor Who which air one after the other on BBC1, and both have companion shows that directly follow the main programme on BBC3. Time wise we’re able to watch both Strictly Dance Fever and Doctor Who and their companion shows, and then the Strictly Dance Fever results show.

Having said that, programming a sequence of recordings as we have done on a Saturday does highlight some of the limitations of the box. Firstly, by default the box adds some extra minutes to the beginning and end of a recording, however it doesn’t take these into account when looking for clashes. The box has two satellite decoders, so if one programme finishes at 10pm on one channel, and another begins on a second channel at 10pm, the box will use the two decoders to put the extra time on each recording. This is fine unless you’re taking advantage of the feature that allows you to record two programmes simultaneously, as the software doesn’t highlight that the changeover at 10pm can’t be performed if a second programme is being recorded. Indeed, it doesn’t spot the problem until it tries to do it, at which point you get a message pop up on screen asking whoever is watching at the time to choose! What is slightly more annoying is that it seems to not be clever enough to spot when adjacent recordings are on the same channel, for example the arrangement we have on a Saturday night with recording successive programmes on both BBC1 and BBC3 usually produces a warning that one of the programmes has only been partly recorded, implying that it is trying to use both decoders to overlap the recording of successive programmes on a single channel, rather than being able to record the same channel to two separate recordings.

Despite the annoyances, it still is a great purchase, and a lot more flexible than the humble video recorder. It’s popularity is certainly indicated by the decision by Sky to only supply Sky+ boxes for their new High Definition service Sky HD.

First Impressions of Sky+

Sky+ Box with Anti-Vibration Measures

Yesterday, after a good deal of pontificating, we finally had Sky+ installed, having only ordered it on Sunday afternoon. We also took the multi-room option, where they relocate your existing box to another room, and give you an additional card programmed with the same channels as your subscription – mainly because if you took the multi-room option the Sky+ box was subsidised down to £89, and they didn’t charge the £60 installation fee, working out at half the price.

In terms of the installation, the Sky+ and multi-room option is quite involved, as in addition to the obvious new cable needed for the new room, the existing cable from the dish to the box needs to be replaced as the Sky+ box uses twin tuners so needs two connections to the dish. As a result the installer had to take out the current cable that runs from the dish at the front of the house, through the garage and round to the back wall of the house where the TV is located, and replace this with a new dual core cable, and then put in a new cable into our bedroom where we have the other TV in the house.

The cable into our room proved to be the more complicated though. When the installer arrived, his initial suggestion was just to take the cable in the back wall of the house into our bedroom – and run it through the back of the fitted wardrobe to the alcove with the TV. He then looked into the wardrobe and changed his mind… This then threw up a different problem, as although the wall behind the TV in our room is theoretically an outside wall, the garage is alongside – specifically, the roof line runs diagonally across the wall. Working out exactly where the roof line sits is pretty difficult, but I was fairly certain by following the line from the window sill in the bathroom along, that putting the cable through at just above baseboard level, and close to the wardrobe in the bedroom would come out under the roof-line in the garage. When I left for work, the installer was just debating whether there was any other way to do it, although in the end he did drill out from the bedroom – although apparently it comes out pretty high up the wall in the garage (I haven’t been up into the rafters of the garage to take a look though.

So first impressions. Firstly we have a much better picture upstairs now, and also the right local news bulletins. Because of the location of the house, the only transmitter we can clearly pick up is Crystal Palace, so we get London local news, with the box upstairs, we now get a good picture, plus the local news for the South. With the Sky+ we gave it a good workout on our first go as we were out at Church all evening. It recorded Eastenders, and Grand Designs for us, and I was even able to watch back Eastenders whilst it was still recording Grand Designs. As it is all integrated, there wasn’t the risk of messing up the recording either as there is with a standalone video recorder.

In fact the main criticism we have of the box currently is nothing to do with the operation, but with the noise. It uses a hard drive for recording, which will make some noise, however on top of that the top cover of the box vibrates. As all of this is sitting on a hard floor it was really noticeable. My solution was just to stick a box on top, but as you can see from the picture above, Beth has gone for an altogether more visually appealing solution…

24 Day 5 Gets Started

So last night we kicked off the fifth day of 24, with Jack living incognito and working on oil rigs, Tony and Michelle back together and running their own business, and President Palmer writing his memoirs. As you can see, unlike last year when there was an almost totally new cast, we had a lot of familiar faces.

However it doesn’t last. Within the first ten minutes three of the familiar faces are taken out of the story. Palmer is shot and killed, and Michelle is killed by a car bomb that leaves Tony unconscious in a hospital bed and fighting for life. Chloe, the one remaining person involved in faking Jack‘s death quickly realises the connection, and gets in contact with Jack. The evidence at the scene of Palmers shooting quickly shows her hunch to be right as the CCTV footage appears to show Jack going in to the building.

Jack of course needs little encouragement to get back into action, and within minutes is rushing back to LA to help Chloe, although matters are complicated by him having to bring his new girlfriends teenage son along for the ride.

Of course Jack is just being used to divert attention – Palmer being the true target as he had found out about a planned terrorist attack designed to coincide with the visit of the Russian President. With the staff at CTU distracted and confused they are left playing catch-up as Jack puts some of the puzzle together and ends up in an airport terminal when it is taken over by an armed gang.

Certainly the first two episodes shown yesterday were the usual hectic start. As in previous series the need to resolve the end of the previous season and get Jack back on the move results in the believability with regards to the realtime element being subject to a good deal of artistic licence, with one or two noticeable timing goofs within the first hour. However as before I expect it will settle down. The CTU team is largely familiar, as are the politicians, both being basically the ones left at the end of last year. Of course quite who will make it to the end nobody knows, and of course since Jack ‘died’ to escape the Chinese last year, I’m sure that plotline will resurface before the end of series five.

In terms of the equipment tallies, in the first two hours Jack has picked up and lost three different vehicles, and a helicopter, however he is still on his first mobile phone.

Sky showed the first two hours last night, however they also appear to be showing two hours back to back next week too. So we should be well and truly hooked by then!

24 24: Series 4 24: Series 3