Playing with EyeTV and my DVDs

Posted by Chris Green on Friday December 30 @ 10:15 pm

EyeTV running on the Mac Mini

This evening, as I write this post, I have a PC humming away at one side of my desk, as Windows XP slowly reinstalls itself on the PC’s 300GB hard drive.

Above the desk, my trusty Mac Mini is almost silent, as usual, as it checks my mail and does my usual day-to-day computing. However, over the last 24 hours, I have found a new task for it to undertake.

Yesterday, my latest purchase from the Apple Store arrived – an Elgato EyeTV for DTT, or put simply, a Mac-compatible USB Freeview digital TV receiver.

It’s rather different to most of its PC counterparts. It has no MHEG support and makes next to no use of the Freeview broadcast 8-day electronic programme guide (EPG), instead using a web-based EPG service called TVTV (for which you receive a free 12-month subscription, £14.99 thereafter). From here you can browse what shows are on over a 7-day period (though the service is a little behind the times, with no listing for ITV4, E4+1 or More4+1). You flag on the site what you want to record, and the software on your Mac periodically syncs with the site to pick up new recording requests (you can of course force an update).

This is great as it means you can set recordings remotely (assuming your Mac is on). Also, if you set a recording that is subsequently downloaded to the Mac, and you then switch the machine off, either the software or the USB adapter (we haven’t worked out which yet) will power up your machine at the appropriate time and engage the recording (although it falls foul of the login screen if you have a password or multiple accounts set).

And it gets better – as well as being a pretty good receiver and recorder (although the complete lack of MHEG is a real loss – no red button interactive services, no BBC Parliament video, no Sky Text, no BBCi etc etc), the software also includes the ability to easily export your recordings in either of two iPod supported formats, MPEG4 or H.264.

The results are excellent, but the process is VERY slow on my Mac Mini (I link to the US page as both my Mac Mini’s were bought in the US, rather than here in the UK). I am sure it will work better on a G5, and hopefully much better on a multicore G5 or one of the forthcoming multicore Intel-based Macs coming in 2006/7.

In any case, I have so far exported two recordings (a movie I recorded from Channel 5 last night, and a 30-minute chunk of Sky News) and transferred them to my 60GB iPod Video. Both play perfectly and look really good!

New Sky Digibox installed

Posted by Chris Green on Friday December 30 @ 2:48 pm

Just a quick photo post to show the new Sky Digibox installed and running:

Sky Digibox installed on the rack

New Year (almost), new Sky Digibox

Posted by Chris Green on Thursday December 29 @ 7:24 pm

Pace DS430N Sky Digibox
On Boxing Day I decided it was time to replace the Sky Digibox in the study.

For some time now the Digibox has been struggling to cope – it’s an old box and technology plus the demands of the Sky Digital service have long since moved beyond what it was actually built to cope with.

The Pace 2200 dates back to when Sky first launched its digital satellite service. In that time much has changed with the service – the number of channels has exploaded and Sky has done a great deal of development on the platform, enhancing and bug fixing the Digibox firmware and adding new features. This development and expansion of the firmware on the box coupled with the volume of channels the box is being asked to manage adds up to more than its old and, by today’s Digibox standards, slow processor can cope with.

So, a quick wander on to eBay and £100 and two days later, we now have a brand new Pace DS430N (the very latest non-Sky+ Digibox) in the study.

And it runs like a sports car compared to the box it replaced.

Of course, this is just our secondary box, we still have the mark two Pace Sky+ box in the lounge with the hacked 160GB hard drive upgrade fitted.

Merry Christmas

Posted by Chris Green on Sunday December 25 @ 11:09 am

Ruislip Christmas
Merry Christmas!

A quiet Christmas Eve

Posted by Chris Green on Saturday December 24 @ 2:15 pm

I was surprised to find the roads and shopping areas in and around Ruislip to be almost empty today.

Expecting to spend half the day trying to find a parking space in Ruislip High Street, the place was very quiet and a parking space found in the main High Street itself. The shops were also quiet for a Saturday, let alone a Christmas Eve Saturday – Woolworths, Superdrug, WHSmith, Iceland were all quite empty. This strikes me as strange considering that economically, we have had a better year than 2004.

Similarly, the A40 motorway was deserted, as was the rubbish dump when I dropped off the pre-Christmas garden and household trash.

There was one exception to all this – Argos. The recently-opened South Ruislip branch was packed, which provided some economic encouragement!

Computing Podcast – Number 2

Posted by Chris Green on Wednesday December 21 @ 11:55 pm

If you find yourself at another loose end with another 30 minutes to kill, you might fancy downloading the second of my podcasts for Computing Magazine.

This is the second part of my documentary looking at podcasting and portable digital media, and features a keynote presentation from the Podcast and Portable Media Expo by Robert Spier of US public broadcaster NPR and an interview with Rob from Podcast411.

You can download it and subscribe to the RSS feed for this and all future episodes at

Computing Podcast – Number 1

Posted by Chris Green on Wednesday December 21 @ 11:45 pm

If you find yourself at a loose end with 30 minutes to kill, you might fancy downloading the first of my podcasts for Computing Magazine.

This is the first of a two part documentary looking at podcasting and portable digital media, and features interviews with the vice president of communications at and with UK journalist and podcaster Ewan Spence.

You can download it and subscribe to the RSS feed for this and all future episodes at

UK TiVo becoming a must-have at last?

Posted by Chris Green on Wednesday December 21 @ 11:38 pm

TiVo Logo
It is a surprise, considering how spectacularly TiVo flopped in the UK, that used and refurbished units are going for upwards of £300 on eBay at present.

For those of you who have not experienced TiVo, it is a similar form of digital video recorder to the Sky+ which currently dominates the UK marketplace. Unlike the Sky+, it has no built-in DVB satellite tuner, and instead connects to your existing Sky box, Freeview box, analogue aerial, VCR etc.

It was and is technically better than the Sky+, supporting predictive recording and over-the-air recording set-up.

Anyway – do a search on ebay UK for TiVo and prepare to be shocked at the prices. Just remember that you will still need to spend £10 a month for the TiVo electronic programme guide subscription (the service still operates in the UK and accepts new signups) in order to get the full benefit of the device.

Site now fully operational (fingers crossed)

Posted by Chris Green on Wednesday December 21 @ 5:44 pm

OK – that took far less time than expected.

The new WordPress installation on the Hostgator hosting is now fully configured and updated to match what we’ve just left. All the bizarre text glitches have been ironed out, so it should all be fine.

Suffice to say, if you spot any glitches I have missed, please mail me and let me know.

Normal service has ‘hopefully’ resumed

Posted by Chris Green on Wednesday December 21 @ 12:37 pm

Just to let you know that is now running on a new server, hosted by Hostgator. This will hopefully mean that both this site, and my email will once again be reliable.

However, please bear with us over the coming days while we work out some of the glitches caused by exporting the WordPress site and database to a new server. It appears to have been fairly painless, except that some of the posts have gained a few � symbols in place of the £ and ‘ characters.

We will be cleaning these up over the next few days. Suffice to say, if this is the worst problem we have to deal with following the move to the new server, I will be very happy!

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