2014 — 12 May: Monday

I recorded a film from a Freesat channel1 yesterday afternoon (at Mike's request) to see how he manages at his self-imposed task of extracting the captured transmission stream digitally. It's a trick he can manage with ease from his own terrestrial Freeview Humax since he fitted a dongle in it that lets him switch the PVR's hard drive over to his PC. We neither of us know if the satellite recording formats are going to allow that particular approach on my newer model Humax. Or, to be exact, on its hard drive.

Not that my Humax is all that new; I bought it in 2009, shortly after all the dust had settled following my change of plasma screen with my move into the wacky world of 1080p and Blu-rays. The Humax feeds its output directly into the back of my Oppo Blu-ray player to benefit from that device's Qdeo video processing chippery. Well, it does when I switch it on, which is only very rarely nowadays.


... there's breakfast and some supplies shopping to be pondered, not necessarily in that exact sequence. The sun is shining this morning, too. A Good Thing. [Pause] Nearly time for some of that "lemonses" refreshment. The brilliant sun making everything in my back jungle grow at a rate of knots is somewhat at odds with the black clouds visible from the front of the house. I thought it prudent, therefore, to pop the Yaris back on its covered nest.

Meanwhile, if anyone knows the trick to getting Peter's quilt back into the topological conundrum that is his newly-washed quilt cover before his g/f next gets a chance to express amazement at various aspects of my domestic befuddlement, be sure to let me know. [Pause] I've just been browsing (over the web malarkey) the set of media files on a chum's Humax, courtesy of its hacked firmware. Amazing what you can do these days.

Given the way...

... we're constantly being assured "the future is digital", I found it instructive to dig out and compare the Fortune 500 list of Top 10 multinationals by sales (all expressed in billions of US dollars) for 1978 and for 2013 respectively, to see how much the world has changed in 35 years:

  1. General Motors — $63.2 / 2013: Royal Dutch Shell — $481.7
  2. Exxon — $60.3 / 2013: Walmart — $469.2
  3. Royal Dutch Shell — $44 / 2013: ExxonMobil — $449.9
  4. Ford Motor — $42.7 / 2013: Sinopec — $428.2
  5. Mobil — $34.7 / 2013: China National Petroleum — $408.6
  6. Texaco — $28.6 / 2013: BP — $388.3
  7. BP — $27.4m / 2013: State Grid Corp of China — $298.4
  8. Socal (Chevron) — $23.2 / 2013: Toyota — $265.7
  9. National Iranian Oil — $22.8 / 2013: Volkswagen — $247.6
  10. IBM — $21.1 / 2013: Total — $234.3

It hasn't, if petrol and cars are any guide. But whatever happened to poor old IBM, I wonder? (I further note that Apple's profit in 2013 was twice IBM's turnover in 1978. Not that Apple has much to do with computing, of course.) Does IBM?! (Link.)

If the typo in the URL gets corrected, it should end in "steroids/", of course.

Today's snailmail...

... demonstrates, yet again, that the best way to get a bank loan is not to need (or want) one. I have been sent a "personalised quote" offering me £5,000 over 60 months at 7.4% interest. I neither know nor care whether this is 'competitive' or 'good value' but the outfit making me this offer2 is supposed to be keeping an eye on my little piggy bank of savings and (I assume) feels it would rather I paid them than vice versa). If I sock away £5,000 with them, they pay me a heckuva lot less than 7.4% interest, that's for sure.

Not only have I long known I will never understand the dismal science of economics, I've long known I have not the least interest in making any sustained effort to do so.

Far too long...

... since I last played the Eurythmics (unused) soundtrack music to the Richard Burton and John Hurt version of the film 1984. Long time since I watched it, too, for that matter. [Pause] I was staggered to find it's not even in my little collection... but it soon will be.

You think?

That recent ATC failure at Los Angeles airport:

ERAM began spitting out error messages and then entered an
endless reboot loop, which is a non-optimal state for a
piece of critical equipment

Software in a death spiral? Unfortunate turn of phrase. There's an unedifying tale of a similar software death spiral with the recent "Update 1" to Win8.1, erm, fiasco. It took me 48 hours and five attempts before I finally managed this update, and mine is a fully-patched vanilla system, dagnabbit. And it told me it had failed at the 77% complete point. I just ignored that and rebooted a couple of times. Did I but know it, that's actually one of the officially recommended work-arounds! Still, at least my deadline for installing it has now been pushed back by another 30 days. (Link.)

The original KB article is apparently on its 20th refresh. You know what? It can, at times, be hard to remain an enthusiastic advocate of Microsoft's "flagship" OS. Knowing that the various alternatives are all equally bad in so many different ways is peculiarly cold comfort.

"Acting on information received"...

... (from Brian, in this case) I'm currently copying that recorded transmission stream directly off the Humax Freesat box and on to a little USB stick. So now I know what the previously never-used "Opt+" button on the remote can be used for. If it works. Which is to say, if the 2GB stick I'm using is big enough to hold a feature length film in standard definition. [Pause] It seems to have worked perfectly. I now have a 1.42GB .ts file that reports a running time of 1 hour, 59 minutes and 59 seconds and VLC is happy to play audio and video. Cool!



1  I'd been unaware of one called "True Movies" on Freesat 302. Talk about "niche" :-)
2  Reading the 'small print' on the back of their letter (just before I shredded it) it says their lowest possible rate is 5.9% APR regardless of the "Personal Loans Price Promise" they make to beat any eligible high street competitor rate. Can we say "cartel", I wonder? Is that kosher?