Monday, October 09, 2006

Useless Technology (aka Monday Morning Rant)

Like Gareth I like my technology, however I am starting to despair at some of the items I have bought over the last five years.

Minidisk... Waste of money! It was handy for about 6 months and then it was just too much hassle to use it. I suppose it could be used as a Dictophone as it has a microphone socket, but generally made obsolete by MP3.

DVD Recorder. We suffered VCR problems just before Christmas and our Sky+ was out of commission so I bought a DVD Recorder from ASDA. Now I didn't pay a huge amount of money for it and you generally get what you pay for, but ours is just crap! The menus are unfriendly. It is unreliable. It has a habit of corrupting disks that were working fine when you tried them last week and I can't get it to work with anything but rewritable disks (as it corrupts every DVD-R + or - that I have used in it). I can't even be bothered to EBay it! It's one redeeming feature is that it is small and multiregion, so I reckon it will end up in either the bedroom or kitchen as a DVD player.

PDAs. In theory my Dell Axim should be in use every day... But instead it sits on its charger at home and pings at me when someone's birthday gets close. It is too bulky to be used for the purpose I need it for... (address book / diary / plus other bits a bobs). I could even use it as a mobile media player (MP3 and MPG) but the in build audio device is shockingly bad that it just isn't worth it, and the battery life means that 30 minutes of video is your limit! I think I may invest in a decent smart phone, once whatever new job takes off, as it makes sense to me to have diary and address book linked to your phone. I'll let Gareth bamboozle me with smart phone science as that is one of his pet topics!!!! I'll also leave the mobile media player to a decent Laptop and MP3 player as they do the job so well!

What else... Hmmm... How about the switch over to Digital TV?
I think this is both needed and being handled disastrously.
The key points that no-one in power seems to have picked up are as follows:

1/ The majority of people in the UK will need an new aerial to get Digital TV, unless they seriously boost the signal. I am in a really good reception area and I still can't get freeview through our roof aerial. Your average granny is going to get ripped off if they don't get proper assistance!

2/ Going back to your average person on the street who never bothered with Sky/Cable TV (and I am thinking of my Mum here)... The concept of keeping your TV on one channel whilst you change channels on the Digibox will be new (even though they could have been doing that on their VCRs for years - but they just didn't). The fact that they won't be able to easily watch one programme and record another is also a factor and will be complicated even further if they need to either (a) leave the digibox on the correct channel whilst they are out or (b) remember to program the digibox to change channel! Don't even go there about trying to record Eastenders and Coronation street whilst they are away for 2 weeks! (With most digibox guides only being 7 days and not having a "series link" option.)

I really want to get my parents onto Digital TV, but I am lost at the best way of implementing this! (Don't even mention the old TV in the study that doesn't even have Scart sockets!) If I could get them on Sky I would but they aren't allow a dish on their house! Maybe in the loft?

Sigh... Rant over!


GF said...

I read this post over an hour ago, but had to go away and give it some thought before my entry - mind you, that doesn't mean this is a long thought out reply!

Firstly, I have absolutely no idea how you train your parents regarding the correct use of TV and why you can't record different channels and stuff.

I always think that an understanding of how the technology does something makes me understand it well. What I mean is if someone tells me you can't play the music off your iPod through the PC by connecting it's connector cable that's not enough for me. I need to know why I can't, and want to understand the technical reason for it - I mean after all, iTunes can see the songs. Anyway, you can - you just have to convert the iPod to run on disk mode (like any other USB drive).

In the same way, if I know that the receiver of the freeview box is picking up (and displaying) a single signal how can it possibly record a second signal, without having a second receiver (which it doesn't)?

I love technology and I feel that by immersing myself in it, I get great use out of it - but also by taking the time to understand how it works I get to use it better and so on.

I mean, come on (and I know you understand this too), but a few years ago we were stripping VOB files, editing IFOs, re-building Program Chains, VTS Sectors and so on. How many people out there when they put a DVD in their player understand how the data is encoded, how the structure of the disc sits and so on?

So back to your original comment....yes technology outdates doesn't it? Mind you I've been kinda lucky with respect to things like MiniDisc (as in I didn't buy one) and so on. The one I'm fighting the resistance of is buying a new iPod, even though the one I have is just over a year old and was part of my 30th Birthday present from my Mum!!

Video? Never use it - ever. I have tonnes of videos in my loft and I just don't do anything with them. I'd love to have the time to convert them to DVD I told myself over the years, but never did. Of course, I have all these DVD-Rs which are becoming obsolete as I'm putting things in DivX AC-3 format and storing them on the Media Center.

Of course in a year or so I'll maybe have to change that as it'll be in some wireless format that allows me to watch my films in different rooms and will need to be encoded differently!!

Thinking of that, and my earlier VOB comment. Why do we need DivX, AVI, WMV, XviD, MPG and so on? That's the problem with technology, not the speed it evolves.

OK, equivalent rant over. :)

GF said...

Come on mate, are you going to comment on my entry - I'd love to know your thoughts.

Or post something else it's boring here...

Jase said...

It's funny I didn't think your comments needed feedback as I thought it was pretty much to the point and spot on!

Now all I need is your secret of getting the AC3 codec to do 5.1 surround sound and I am sorted! :P

PS The Amp I want has a function to deal with lipsyncing errors... How cool is that!

GF said...

Why thankyou! It's nice to hear that you think they're spot on though.

How does an amp no it has a lip-sync error? It's not like it's watching the picture!!.....

Secret? Ah yeah, secrets cost money....

Jase said...

I beleive it is a manual correction that you can apply in jumps of 1/10 of a second.