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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Joining the 21st century

Recently we moved to Wiltshire, a beautiful county, but one which has only recently discovered electricty (and some of the locals still arent convinced). With a bit of effort we managed to find an ISP with telephone wires at least nearby, but it has taken us a lot longer to sort out our television reception. Our house has a television arial the size of the Eiffel tower on the roof which provides us with a fuzzy four terrestial channels, but no digital TV reception, and the cable channels dont have cables long enough to reach us.

So last week, with a heavy heart, I ordered Sky Satellite installed - although its the vegetarian FreeSat version, which means that I only paid Mr Murdoch for the equipment and installation (no insiduous running costs for me, thanks!)

It's been a bit of a culture shock; as students we had basic cable, and in our first place we had FreeView (that is early freeview, with just a few extra channels + a couple of those shopping channels where they try to sell you some tatt and hope you've never heard of eBay). So when it took me nearly half an hour just to flick through the ruddy things on Sky I was a bit taken aback. Now I'm frightened to look again, in case I get lost in some horrible US import, or become mesmerised by one of the cheap music channels with those inane phone in polls running at the bottom (how compatible are you and your pet?)

To make matters worse I finally invested in a Flatscreen Digital LCD Widescreen HDTV. Since the last time I bought a TV none of those words actually meant anything in the context of television it has also made a dramatic difference (if only because I can now move the TV without using a forklift truck). Next I was faced with the challenge of getting it all working with my PVR, VCR and Wii - something that the guy who installed it really couldnt be bothered with (he managed to get the output of the PVR running into the output of the Sky box, which probably caused something of a bit war somewhere in the middle of the lead).

My father-in-law went through this process recently, and unhappily reflected on the fact that his first TV had one flick-switch on the side that selected between BBC and ITV, and that was about it. Now he has to worry about widescreen flags on scart leads, alternative TV resolutions, and multiple channel sources. He's an experienced engineer, so you can imagine what the experience must be like for the less technically adept amongst us.

Anyway, I think that's all sorted now, so I can finally enjoy the best entertainment the twentieth century can throw at me. Sadly, this turns out to be on those four channels that I started with, although at least now they arent fuzzy :-(

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