Virgin Media fights for more Zebra’s in Zoo’s

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Susan has gone crazy, she’s now jumping up and down, screaming at the TV for being all tied to silly content providers.

logo-virgin-media.pngUnlike a lot of people in the UK we get our TV via cable. I stress unlike, because from what i’ve always gathered, cable TV is a lot more prevalent in the US than it is here. Over here the 1 satellite carrier (sky, owned by rupert murdoch) is by far the biggest provider of “pay tv”.

But yeah, many years ago our pavements around here in sheffield were dug up and cables strewn underneath them and we ended up signing up to “Yorkshire Cable”, mainly I think, because my folks didn’t like the idea of having a satellite dish on the side of the house.. Some time afterwards Yorkshire Cable became Telewest. And now, just this month has become “Virgin Media”. It’s a merger of NTL and Telewest, who between them took over Virgin Mobile, for no other reason than to be able to market themselves under the Virgin brand. We’ve ended up with a TV service with one heck of an identity crisis.

Actually there’s more than just TV, we get from cable both phone and broadband too. Virgin have overhauled their tarrifs, naming them all after clothes sizes. ‘Cept, the actual meat of these tarrifs are sod all different from what we were getting from Telewest. They’ve been going around shouting about how its a brand new company with bold new ideas. Yeah right.

Today the funniest thing happened. Carreige rights for Virgin Media to show Sky’s general entertainment and news channels are due to expire next month so they have been in negotiation. Sky have been asking Virgin Media for double the price per customer for their channels and Virgin have declined. This now means that come next month we as virgin media customers will no longer be able to watch “Sky One”, once the hallmark of the multi-channel age.

But sheesh, soooo freaking what!! It’s one of the laziest waste of space TV channels around! Not a single piece of original programming, just american imports, which us with broadband can watch at will anyway.

So I say, good on you Virgin Media. You may not be offering us anything new, but out with bad rubbish is a good start.

This is their statement about the whole ordeal. Quite an oddity, because earlier today it was a standard texture page, now all the text is a bitmap for god knows what reason.

Sanguine

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Scatter Cushion Affair again today. Strange Capitalisation there, S.C.A. What could it mean?

VIRGIN MOBILE DIGITAL TV (or VMDT) Our Telewest STB gave up the ghost the other day, a faint duvet covered mass floated up into the nether. So, today came the cable guy and it wasn’t Jim Carry, thankfully. The box had to be replaced, but he replaced it with the exact same model, bastard, it really is a crummy piece of crap that thing, slow as molasses, whatever molasses is. The strange thing is though, the guy rang on the doorbell again some 15 minutes later my first thought being that yet another telewest employee had misplaced something because a year or so ago a telewest engineer lost his test modem and came to our house panting desperate that it might have been left here. lol. But no, he said that he had just done a test and my cable modem’s signal was too strong. Wha? The mind boogles, how did he test that from outside? Well, I haven’t had any stability issues with my internet access at all for god knows how long, but I let him do it anyway, he attached some kind of extra screw on thing to the CAT5 screw on thing. But now i’m wondering, have I just been bugged? Have MI5 requested that I be spied upon? Eek, its so Veronica Mars.

ETCO AT MY BASTARD FRIEND Has anyone figured out how to add MT 3.3.1 style Tags to entries from within ecto yet?

WORDunimPRESSed I’m going to change my website for the new season… sometime. I want to take longer over it this time, unlike what I usually do which is suddenly think to myself, “Hey! I fancy changing my website” and then spending less than a day on it, including both the illustrator nonsense and the coding up. I do have some dandy (that’s a hint) ideas for it already. Anyway, one of the things I was going to do as well was to migrate from Movable Type to WordPress because that seems to be the IN thing these days. But after reading Dave2′s experience I’m not sure there’s any point. Ah well.

MANTS! Gabi is ill :-( She’s been ill for about 4 days now, I’ve given her some medicine each day and at first she seems better, but then the next day she’s fallen back ill again. It’s so sad. She’s my girlfriend in Animal Crossing and I love her to bits. It’s eating me up to see her suffer like this.

No photo’s sir

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Make it stop, make it stop! I’ve completely lost the ability to write on this damn thing. I had such great ideas! I was going to unleash my plan for world domination: phase 2. Ah well, maybe tomorrow.

My brother’s PC imploded the other day, actually it’s the second time its done this. Months ago it blew the psu out, smelly, so I gave him a spare that i had kicking around. Now the same thing has happened to that one. lol well I think that was the last straw ‘cos he’s thrown it out on the street and bought an iMac. Well, you’d be mad to replace a PC with well, another PC these days wouldn’t you.

Unfortunately his first day of mac ownership hasn’t gone exactly to plan and he made damn sure that I suffer along with him by making me stay on the phone all god damn day as if i’m some toll free mac support line.

Turns out there’s a bit of a snag with some of the core duo iMacs. The airport cards are going all freaky as per this discussion. You get atrocious speed from it, we tried everything, tinkering with the router, trying different encryption modes, all sorts, took hours. In the end the only fix we came across, if you can call it a fix, is to drop the router down to 802.11b only. Hmm, nice.

Funny thing is, as I was helping my brother out, searching the net for answers I discovered that things at my end were downloading freakily fast. Turns out my line has finally been upgraded to 10mbit! Woohoo! Now thats what I call a pleasant surprise. Telewest have been upgrading everyone who was on the 2mbit or 4mbit tarrif to 10mbit region by region since the new year. I’d almost completely forgotten about it it’s taken this long to reach me. Not that id complain, it’s a free upgrade.

God these downloads are fast, i’m surprised at how stable it is as well. Yikes. What was phase 1?

UPDATE:
Apparently it’s sorted now and he’s got it working on g. He moved the router, i guess the iMacs airport is just a little bit sensitive (or should that be un-sensitive). Still, there are a lot of ppl having problems with it over at apples discussion site.

A Portal for Tele’s?

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Telesausage (soon to renamed “Nelle the TeLe”) have finally finished rolling out their Teleport service. Which is true-video on demand, or IPTV, whichever you want to call it. It’s fair to say it’s taken a long time, as seen as true-video on demand was trumpeted as the advantage cable has over satellite since it was first rolled out in this country over 10 years ago. Any why is south yorkshire always the last to get software updates? Anypoop, its pretty good, when you select a show it only takes 4 or 5 seconds to begin playing (I was expecting it to spend aaages pre-buffering) and the fast-forward/rewind is impressive as they pretty much kick in straight away, although it only seems forward at about 4 or 5x.

Film wise the catalogue is exhaustive, with a lot more movies than front-row/sky movies have at any one time. But the TV shows on offer are less useful, I expect this will improve. There are some complete seasons (select a show, and then select an episode) but the list is a bit lacking, there wasn’t anything I personally would watch. The catch-up what you missed on Tv last week, type section is problematic in that they only have BBC channels, with a few flextech (bravo, living) channels thrown in). It also seems to take 3 days for shows to find their way into the list after their initial air-date. So at the moment teleport cannot match a PVR kit, but it will probably get closer with time.

Negatives, the picture quality is noticeably worse than live tv, I wouldn’t mind knowing what the bit-rate is. It would be better if the STB’s were a bit more modern so that they could use a recent format such as MPEG4. MPEG2 (which i’m sure it will be using) isn’t really idea for streaming bit-rates. But hey, it certainly is watch-able, its only the fast moving scenes that it gets a bit muddy. It’s the STB that causes the other problem too, telewest’s standard STB’s are cranky and slow in the GUI department, navigating around menus is painful, and a service like teleport requires quite a lot of nested menu’s so progress is slow.

Fireworks and Teeth

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I haven’t much to write today and i’ve had a few bevvies. Hmm, where does bevvies come from?

Another mixed bag entry for today.

Eddie 5 Months Dinning Room Poses - 3I give telewest, the cable provider that services Sheffield quite a hard time, and it’s true they are a mixed bag. My current gripe is that they aren’t carrying ITV4 yet, and this is happening time and time again, they hold off carriage rights to get the best deal, and they think they call the bluff the channels but their bluff is always called and the channels launch on all platforms but for telewest. They even resort to such tricks as not renewing contracts and allowing whole channel packages to expire expecting the networks to perspire in anticipation of hitting a golden deal. It happened with MTV 2 years ago, all MTV channels (about 7 of them) went black on telewest because they couldn’t reach a deal, and even funnier was Nickelodeon, they couldn’t reach a deal last year and for a week running up to the channels going black they ran adverts on the nick channels telling kids to get their parents to ditch telewest and go with sky, and we all know how persuasive incessant kids can be. Anyway, i’m only saying this because a lot of people that i know who get their internet from adsl providers seem to have almost simultaneously run into problems. Bulldog famously have fouled up well and truely. And even plusnet, who were once the the pin up’s of good isp-man-ship have started a practice known as bandwidth shaping, where they give preference to port 80 above all else, so p2p advocates are discriminated against, even usenet speeds are now slow on plusnet. Whereas in terms of policy i’ve never been able to fault blueyonder (telewest’s isp), they run a quality usenet service with no limitations, they don’t berrate anyone who hogs bandwidth, in fact quite the opposite, if you complain to them about download speeds they show some genuine interest. They have had problems with email blacklisting however. So I guess in some ways they do act like cowboys and pretend that all their users are angels who do nothing wrong. But in that respect I like to think of them as loveable rogues.

Eddie 5 Months Dinning Room Poses - 6 copyEddie’s first firework season hasn’t past stress free I’m afraid. It was very unfortunate in fact. 2 Days ago whist I was playing with our beloved puppy in the garden a neighbour decided to let off a few bangers (it was still freaking daylight!) and eddie jumped like never before and ran inside to cower. I ended up holding him in my arms stretched out on the sofa for over 2 hours whilst he shook :-( The poor bean! Then, apparently the day of guy fawkes my parents took the wee soul for a walk in the park (I was busy wrestling with the windows installer) some eejit decided the afternoon , whilst dog walkers were merrily passing by, would be a great time to test some rockets with his impressionable son by his side. Giggling away in the daylight he let these loud fireworks off… Illegally might I add, in a public place with poor pooches walking past. Apparently there were yelps and barking going off all around and my Dad went up to have a word with him, he ignored him and let some more fireworks off. Then the police were mentioned and the guy scuffled off. Shit, despite my shyness issues I think had I been there I would have grabbed one of his Chinese wonders and let it off in the twats face. Suffice it to say, Eddie was not best pleased with these goings on and ran yelping and shaking and no doubt scarred by the memory for life.

Eddie 5 Months Dinning Room Poses - 9Eddie lost a tooth today, actually this is nothing new but it was the first tooth that he thoughtfully placed on the carpet for me to find. Damn strange looking tooth it was too, i had no idea that baby teeth were able to affix to gums with barely no roots. It was a rear tooth and almost flat, apart from a slight indentation and a bit of blood. To be honest I was a tad disappointed, I wanted something evil looking. I’m a freak, we all know this but I also have freakish teeth to go with my freakish nature. When i was a wee blighter I had a tooth taken out, but not after being taken to the nhs dentists to have root canal surgery, the most painful thing you can possibly have done, and as a child! Shit. Yeah, they gave me root canal sugery and then took the tooth out anyway, talk about a bunch of complete arse holes. Anyway, this tooth had dracula, no frankenstain qualities, the roots were distended and one of the roots was in the shape of hook. Yes that’s right, the tooth was hooked into my gums, meaning the dental surgeon had to wiggle and fight to set the tooth free. My gum was almost cut to ribbons.

My god was my mouth sore.

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