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Had a great weekend!

(Repost from my old blog, accidentally posted it there first, and wondered why it didn’t show up on LJ, lol)

The fiance who was coming up for the weekend didn’t get here (he’s got a 2.5 hour drive from Concord) until around 2:30, so I had time in the early afternoon to record the feed for John Barrowman’s “Best Of Tonight’s The Night” off the BBC website. Will have to edit that down and add it to my JB website, but just didn’t have time over the weekend to do it. Read the rest of this entry »

The new TV season thus far…

Another fluff post, but why not. :)

The start of the fall tv season is when our DVR (which thankfully has two tuners, otherwise we’d never keep up) gets a workout. We tend to watch nearly everything new at least once, then eliminate the crap shows from the schedule and end up with a reasonable number of shows to watch.

The only problem this fall? Not a whole lot of crap shows to speak of. LOL. We skipped H8R right off the bat, as well as The Playboy Club and Charlies Angels, plus a couple of other shows on the CW that just plain did nothing for us. And no, are not watching X-Factor. But have tried pretty much every thing else so far, and most shows are pretty good. So have started dropping show that are okay, but not great. Definitely deleted off the DVR’s on screen scheduler: Pan-Am (bummer, that’s the airline that flew me to Europe in 1984! :) ), Two Broke Girls, and Up All Night. Not sure about (we’ll watch for a second week and then decide): Unforgettable and Gifted Man. New Girl was supposed to be THE new comedy of the season, and jury is still out on that one too. It was cute and quirky, but it may lose out just due to the sheer volume of other good shows airing.

What’s funny is the number of shows that we thought we’d just watch to see just how awful they were, and they turned out to be pretty good. Didn’t think I’d like Ringer, or Revenge, or Whitney. I’d heard Whitney was supposed to be funny, but the previews looked kind of obnoxious, so we only tuned in to see how bad it would be, and found ourselves laughing several times in just the first couple of minutes. So definitely giving it another go.

A few more new shows that I’m liking right after the first ep: Persons of Interest and Suburbitory. Prime Suspect is pretty good too, although, if they don’t make the cops a bit more likeable, may drop it. Life’s too short to spend an hour with people on TV you don’t like. LOL.

Between old shows and new shows, the busiest night for the DVR has got to be Wednesday. There’s something on nearly every network that night. CBS has Survivor and Criminal Minds. ABC has their 2 hours of half hour comedies (The Middle, Modern Family, Suburbitory, and Happy Endings), plus Revenge at 10. NBC has Harry’s Law, and Law&Order SVU. Plus for 4 weeks BBC America has season 2 of Luther. Have all 4 eps saved on a hard drive from an internet download, but it’s been so long since it aired on BBC, not sure which drive it’s on. LOL.  So Wednesday, we usually end up with the DVR recording on both tuners AND our older DVD burner recording a third network to RAM disc (just like a VCR, only on an erasable DVD vs tape).

Then there’s all the returning favorites: Good Wife, Castle, Parenthood, Mike & Molly, Big Bang Theory, Fringe, The Mentalist, Blue Bloods, Supernatural. Haven on SyFy is still running from the summer season, soon to be replaced with Sanctuary after this week I think. And Doctor Who is just finishing up, to be replaced I guess with Bedlam (which naturally, we’ll have to try, along with American Horror Story on Fox). Just got hooked on a couple of the BBCA British comedies, Friday Night Dinner and Outnumbered, hope those are coming back.

Whew. Yeah, kind of sad how much TV we watch. Not everyone here watches every one of them, but we kind of split the difference.

And still find ourselves with enough time to watch Jeopardy every night. 😀

DVRs, Aquariums, Doctor Who, and Bluebirds

BLUEBIRDS FIRST: Here we go again. First there’s a new nest, then eventually 1 then 2 then 3 eggs

Bluebird Eggs Part 2

As of this morning, we are up to FOUR eggs. She will most likely lay one more, then we wait 15 days for them to hatch. Hopefully. That’s what we thought last time, and the whole lot turned out to be duds apparently.

Four birdie eggs

Don’t worry Mom and Pop! We promise we won’t drop them or turn them into omelets! :)

Mom and Pop

THE NEW AQUARIUM: IE: The new 10 gallon guppy tank. Well, we TRIED to set that up today, moved a bookshelf to make room, measured everything out to make sure there was enough space to put the new tank, and was all set to take it outside to hose it off as suggested, when *bum Bum BUUUUM* I discovered a chip and a crack in the side of the tank. Ugh! Had to put everything BACK in the box, and we’ll take it back to the store sometime this week and try to set it up NEXT weekend instead. Guess the guppies will be free to breed for another week. *sigh*

New Favorite show: Doctor Who! Never watched it before, but got hooked on its spinoff show “Torchwood” back in September. And with all the fuss and bother about there being a new Doctor this season, AND the fact that we finally got digital cable in the house, which finally allowed us to have BBC America, thought I’d go ahead and give it a look. So watched the 1 hour special that was on earlier this week “Doctor Who – The Ultimate Guide” to try to get me up to speed at least a little bit, and liked what I saw well enough to check out Episodes 1 and 2 on BBC America On Demand. Very cool show. The Doctor, with his sonic screwdriver, reminds me of MacGyver and his Swiss army knife. Mac was never quite THAT wigged out all the time, but between having one tool that did everything, and not being one to want anything to do with guns, there ARE certain similarities. And they way they go to different times and places in the universe is very Stargate SG-1. They just travel through wormholes in different ways: one show goes through a big metal ring, the other, well, a phone booth. LOL. Will definitely be watching more of Doctor Who, just as soon as the summer reruns kick in.

And the latest on the DVR. Turns out that we DID have to call the installers back yesterday to come and replace the DVR, since as expected, the one that he left with us did keep losing signal sporadically. So call the installers yesterday morning, and they get someone out about 12:30 that afternoon to replace the box. However! About a half hour or so before they get there, it suddenly occurs to me that if they pull the DVR to put in the new one, we’re going to lose about 10 hours worth of recordings that we’ve set it up for since Tuesday night: About 7 hours of regular weekly tv, plus three hours of the movie “Pulp Fiction”, which we’d never seen. Tried once before but had so much audio drop out that it was unwatchable, so thought getting it on AMC-HD would solve that problem. Found out that if we didn’t mind paying the extra $7 to rent a second DVR, they’d go ahead and install the new and improved box, but we’d be able to switch back to the old one to watch everything we needed to watch to clear up the box, then we could take it back to Time Warner ourselves. So between yesterday and today, got all the weekly shows cleared up, and just deleted Pulp Fiction (it’s on SOME network pretty frequently, so we’ll just catch it at a later time). Then I unhooked the defective box, swapped out all the cables into the new box, shoved everything back into our entertainment center, and have the old box ready to go back to Time Warner tomorrow. Hoping that since we’re getting it back so quickly, and the fact that we only had to have a second box because there hadn’t been a better box on the installer’s truck originally, that they won’t charge us for having it one day. We’ll see.

Guppies and Other Technical blah blah blah…

This WAS going to be a tweet, but I realized that I kept typing and couldn’t shut up, so decided to make it a blog post instead. :)

Brought back the Tivo box back to Best Buy tonight, and made a pitstop at PetSmart on the way, to pick up the new 10 gallon aquarium that we’re buying to put in the living room this weekend. Or as I like to refer to it, “The Guppy Birth Control Device”. Once it’s set up, I’m fishing out all the male guppies from my 20 gallon tank downstairs and putting them in the 10 gallon upstairs, leaving just the Fertile Myrtles in the tank downstairs. Guppies really should come with a warning label, that when you buy two you’re really buying 30+ of them. In any case, separating the males from the females should put a stop to the population explosion my aquarium has been experiencing since the first batch of babies was born during the opening ceremonies of the winter olympics. Of course the fun really begins when I actually try to fish out JUST the males from the tank. YeeHAW! Fish rodeo! 😀

Then finished hooking up the rest of the video stuff tonight. Stole the HDMI cable from the Roku box to put on the DVR, bought new component (the red/green/blue ones, one step down from HDMI, but better than s-video or RCA) cables when I took the Tivo box back to Best Buy, for the Roku box, but then had to pull the Wii’s component cables from the back of the TV to give the Roku a place to plug in (the other component jacks are being used by the Panasonic VCR/DVD burner combo, and the other HDMI cable is hooked to the Toshiba HD dvd player), so switched out the components on the Wii back to the RCA composites (the red, white, yellow ones). I didn’t notice a whole lot of difference on the Wii when I upgraded from composite to component before, so no great loss there, really.

Whew! Confused yet? LOL Lucky I do this for a living, among other things. Didn’t have time to test either the Wii or the Roku out yet, by then “The Middle” and the rest of the Wednesday night shows were coming on, but things LOOK like they should work now, nothing is left hanging out in the room anymore, and even the cables that were hanging along side the TV while we were testing things out have been run down the back of the entertainment unit and out of sight. So HOPEFULLY everything works, I’d hate to have to try and move anything now.

Of Bluebirds, Tivo, & John Barrowman

Noticed that I wasn’t getting a whole lot of hits on the blog recently, and it occurred to me that maybe it was because I hadn’t posted anything new since April 28th or so. 😀 So a few updates to some prior posts to remedy that. You can do a search on some of the main terms to see the original posts on each one.

THE BLUEBIRD EGGS:

Bluebird Eggs And then there WEREN’T five. Apparently those five bluebird eggs were defective. Last weekend we checked the nest, which was supposed to have hatched by then, and there were only four eggs left in the nest, and none had hatched yet. We were told to wait another week or so, and then if they hadn’t hatched by then, to get rid of them and the nest, clean out the box, and let the bluebirds start over. Took a peek today. ALL the eggs were gone, and Ma and Pa bluebird had already started building a NEW nest over the top of the old one. So apparently they figured out that the eggs weren’t going to hatch, cleaned house all by themselves, and are starting over again. So we may still have baby birdies to watch yet. Yay.

THE WHOLE TIVO SITUATION:

Aaaaand, it’s OUT OF HERE! The wireless N adapter that I bought at Amazon arrived Friday afternoon, so I figured I’d take a couple of hours on Sunday to get the Tivo up and running. HAH! After banging my head against a wall with the thing for FIVE hours on Sunday, 3 of which involved another online chat on the laptop with their tech support folks (you know you’re in a bad spot when even the guy at Tivo technical support is at a loss as to why the adapter – which connected to the network just fine, but refused to connect to the Tivo box – refused to connect), I said enough of this crappydoodle stuff, and we decided to ditch the Tivo and just call Time Warner to have them set us up with digital cable and one of their cable box/DVR combos.

As much as I hate getting beaten by anything electronic, which almost never happens, I’m not all that heartbroken about getting beaten by a dinky little Tivo adapter. Didn’t want Tivo in the first place, and between coughing up $300 for the box, another $100 for the adapter, and $100+ for a years worth of service, I’m more than happy to send everything back, get my $500 back, and let Time Warner, who we’ve been happy with 99% of the time handle our DVR needs for a while.

So packaged up the wireless adapter and printed out the postage paid return label from Amazon, that will go back out in the mail tomorrow. Boxed up all the Tivo cables and connectors and will be bringing THAT back to Best Buy tomorrow. And called Tivo proper last night, and got the $120+ credited back and the account canceled (Had to laugh, when he pulled up my account to see my tech support info, he’s all “You’ve got 12 PAGES of chat here from yesterday!” And I’m all “Tell me about it!”). DID find out something of interest though, assuming the customer support guy wasn’t just feeding me a line. Apparently Best Buy was selling first generation Tivo boxes, and with most first generation things, there are bugs. And the wireless N adapters are pretty new (the only two local sellers selling Tivo wireless adapters were Best Buy and CompUSA, and both were still only selling G, not N). And apparently, one of the bugs in the first gen boxes is that they don’t tend to like those newfangled wireless N adapters. So had I bought a Tivo box from someone else, I probably wouldn’t have had a problem. And for my trouble, since I was taking the Tivo box back to Best Buy anyway, Tivo would sell me a box direct, for $100 off the price. I told them thank you but no thanks, I already had the appointment for Tuesday with the cable company.

Which I did. When I called THEM Monday at lunch, they were actually able to schedule an installation for between 5-7pm tonight. The guy came before 5:30, and was done in less than an hour. And now we’ve got a DVR that will record two different channels at once, and more channels than we know what to do with (I’ve FINALLY got BBC America! Yay! And while I’m not ready to jump into watching the new Doctor Who quite yet – never seen a Dr. Who ep in my LIFE – they actually had a Doctor Who Primer episode on at 10am tonight, which will hopefully give me an idea of whether I want to waste time trying to get up to speed on the show or not.) Alas, we’ve already had a scheduling conflict with having the new channels now. Already had both DVR tuners and my RAM disc recorder programmed for the main three networks tonight at 10pm, what’s a girl to DO? Why, pull up Doctor Who in the onscreen programming guide and see if the episode is going to be airing again at a later time. Why yes, yes it is! 1am tonight. Selected it from the list, hit record, and whambam, it’s programmed. Just that easy. Tivo WHO? 😀

I will say though, in comparison to the customer “support” that I received from Philips when I contacted THEM for help, despite the fact that the whole Tivo thing didn’t work out, the Tivo customer support was actually pretty impressive, IMHO. So they get some points for that.

JOHN BARROWMAN:

Just a webpage update, if you Barrowfans haven’t found it yet without a blogpost to point the way. 😉 After not being included in the Desperate Housewives episode LAST week (which was a good thing, since locally, the whole first half of the show was pre-empted due to tornado activity in our viewing area), JB’s 3rd episode aired Sunday night, so I finally added his 2nd and 3rd DH episode clips to the site.

The clips can be found here, as usual. Enjoy, all you Johnettes and Barrowboys! 😉

Danny: “Heeey, double cappuccino, extra hot. Need anything else?”
Patrick: “Inspiration.”
Danny: “Sorry, we just have muffins…” 😀

Patrick: “…I’ve had an exhausting couple of days, what with searching your house looking for firearms, and running over Dudley Douche-bag…”

A smidge perturbed at the TV networks…

What IS it with some of these networks? Well, I know what they’re trying to do, stop the piracy of their TV shows so they don’t lose syndication and/or DVD revenues later, I’m sure.

But we were trying to get caught up on some earlier programming that we recorded this week on the DVR (Castle, Justified, & Parenthood), and figured we’d go ahead and record tonight’s shows (Flash Forward and Supernatural) on the RAM disc on our other recorder, a VCR/DVD burner combo.

So set the RAM disc to record ABC on digital 11.1, hit record, nothing happened. Tried again. Nothing. Got right up to the unit, and hit the record button on the front of the machine. STILL nada. So switched the TV over to the recorder channel so I could see any onscreen messages, and hit it again. Onscreen message? “Cannot Record”. ABC is apparently playing their “anti-piracy” game again, when they somehow flag the signal that they send out that while it can be recorded once on a DVR, you can’t burn that resulting recording to DVD. Nor, apparently, can you record it to a RAM disc – which is what we use instead of the VHS tapes on the other recorder, since we get a much better picture with the digital channels vs the analog channels on VHS tape. We just record, delete, and reuse, just like a tape, only better quality. Unless the networks flag it, then the disc just will not record. >:( *grrr* So to get Flash Forward recorded, I had to switch over to analog channel 9 and record it that way. Not my first choice, but since analog ABC isn’t too bad to watch, I ran with it.

Would you believe I ran into the same thing with the CW at 9, when I tried to record Supernatural on digital 22.1? Ugh! So I switched over to analog channel 2, prepared to record from that channel instead, but the picture on analog CW has been just borked since the digital transition, awful reception. So rather than record it at that quality, we ditched Justified, which we were about 10 minutes into, and switched over to 22.1 on the DVR and watched Supernatural live (relatively speaking, the show was all about zombies and the not quite live tonight. LOL).

But that whole thing about the networks setting up signals to just plain NOT record like that really irks me. Usually it’s a non-issue, we record to DVR usually anyway which works fine, and just watch then delete the show. But to be forced to record and watch a show in crappy analog, when we’ve got equipment perfectly capable of recording it in digital (which looks even worse played back on our hd set), just because the network is afraid that we’ll put it on disc and sell it or something just bugs the hell out of me. And it’s not just ABC and the CW either, CBS does it too – the night the local CBS affiliate aired all of its Thursday and Friday night programming back to back in the wee hours of Saturday morning due to local basketball games they aired during prime time *ptthhtt*, every single one of those was set to “record once” as well. Worked on the DVR, but had I tried to record them to RAM disc, we would have lost the whole lot of them. And forget about duping any to DVD-R disc, not that I’d planned to anyway.

Grrr. Hate trying to second guess what the networks are going to do to make sure it’s something we’re able to record to the RAM disc. And if it IS something I’m thinking I’m going to want transfer over to DVD and hang onto, I’ll usually record it analog to backup VHS tape, JUST in case they switch that “no duping” flag onto their broadcast, I can at least burn it from VHS to DVD and save it that way. The picture isn’t as good, but it gets the job done.

Grumble. Stupid networks.

Philips Electronics Customer Support STINKETHS!

Now I think I know why Philips doesn’t bother to include any sort of remote adjustment so that people who own multiple Philips units won’t have problems with one remote trying to control the wrong unit… I’m guessing that people who buy one Philips unit never actually BUY a second one. Grrr. The Philips DVDR that I have was my first ever Philips purchase, and you guessed it, it WILL be my last.

Ask them for technical assistance due to the DVR picking up stray remote control signals from another house in the neighborhood, and first they send me to the PDF owner’s guide on their website (the one that I told them in my first email that I’d already READ before I emailed them), and then since the unit was out of warranty, to look in the Yellow Pages for a service center. For a unit that isn’t actually BROKEN, just needs to be set to some sort of other IR frequency. (Something that Panasonic units have done for years; fixed it when we had two Panasonic units at home, and we have three Panasonic DVD burners at the office, all sitting on the same shelf, all with their own remotes, and given that they’re programmed with three different remote control numbers, NEVER have a problem with any cross-remote control issues. Cannot believe that a company like Philips couldn’t pull off a simple fix like that. Doh!)

But I’d have been less irked at them had they first NOT just passed the buck when it came to support. If they know their units cannot have the remotes tweaked like that, they should have just said so. And then when I emailed them back to get at least a simple yes or no answer, my 2 follow up emails were completely ignored.

Then when I tried to send a fresh email to them last night, their entire email support area was broken. >:(

Yep, that’s some SWELL customer “support” they’ve got going there. *pththththt*

I DID manage to find a website, AllExperts.com, who have knowledgeable volunteers answering questions on every imaginable subject, and I found someone to ask in their Audio/Video/Stereo section. Gave him all the info, and within two days they got back to me. Wasn’t all that happy with the answer, they didn’t know of any way to tweak the remote settings like I was able to do with the Panasonics. But they DID suggest once we had something programmed that we didn’t want to lose due to the stray IR signals coming in, to slap on some thick black tape over the IR port on the front of unit and see if that didn’t block the unwanted IR changes from coming in and screwing up the recording.

So giving that a go this weekend. One advantage of working for a video company, there are always multiple roles of thick black gaffer tape lying around so I borrowed one from the office today. And tonight, reset the clock on the unit again (I’d reset it again last night, but during the day the interlopers from outside changed it again), then after we got done watching one of the shows on the HDD, used the gaffer tape to tape a square of cardboard over the IR port. Figured that rather than putting the tape right on the unit, this way if we need to move it, all we have to do is loosen the bottom tape, and flip the whole thing up and out of the way like a door, then tape it back down when we’re done.

At last check the time was still correct. Will see what channel it’s on when we get up in the morning. If it’s Disney or Golf or MTV we’ll know that gaffer tape and cardboard combination didn’t work.

What a pain. We may end up switching to digital cable sooner than we planned (if we were going to switch, it would have been in September, when our two year price lock deal expired), if for no other reason than to get one of Time Warner’s DVRs and then we can get rid of our now completely unreliable, completely unsupported Philips DVR.

EDIT – the next day – Found the DVR with the wrong time and sitting on the golf channel again. :( Before I give up and admit that the unit might actually be broken, I slapped another few layers of gaffer tape on it, and ran it across the whole display area instead of just in front of the IR port, in case stray signals are sneaking in from the side. We’ll see if THAT works. Think we may be in the market for a new DVR though.

My More Movies weekend continues…

Watched a LOT of movies this weekend, starting with Julie & Julia from Netflix on Friday, Fantastic Four – Rise of the Silver Surfer on Saturday off the DVR. Streamed Race to Witch Mountain on the PC via Netflix until the wee hours of Sunday after that, followed by Fight Club yesterday afternoon, and finishing up with Serenity off the DVR from when it aired on the SyFy Channel last night. Very odd listening to author “Rick Castle” speak, off and on, in that space western twang that he had. LOL.

The best of the bunch actually turned out to be Fight Club, the one that’s taken me 10 years to finally see. Still amazed that after all this time, I’d never actually read anything that would blow the ending for me. Very unusual, usually when it takes me this long to see something, someone SOMEPLACE manages to blow the ending. Like War of the Roses. Still haven’t forgiven the Mercury News movie reviewer for giving that one away. And just recently the DVD review for Paranormal Activity in our local paper gave away a few of the major plot points AND the ending. The WEEK the dvd came out, no less. *pththt*

So after watching Fight Club through to the end, I was very impressed by the fact that for once, I didn’t have the ending figured out, something that doesn’t happen very often.

Have NO idea what Netflix is going to send next. Given the status of most of the top 10 movies in my queue, I’m thinking we might end up with another couple of episodes of Torchwood this time. Which is fine by me, I love that series.

My Current Netflix Top Ten

My Current Netflix Top Ten

Still tinkering with my @Team_Barrowman webpage…

… THIS is why I brought my laptop to work to work on the website at lunchtime. I figured I’d get a late start on the computer tonight with the return of good TV to primetime, now that the Olympics are over, watching Chuck, Life Unexpected and recording the Big Bang Theory. And this was after watching two more hours of Torchwood. Is it just me, or did season two take a really REALLY dark turn compared to season one?

Didn’t sit down here until after 10pm. Then found a zillion messages in my email from the new newsgroup I signed up for yesterday, so had to sort through those (and change the format to daily digest, there were so many individual messages, I couldn’t find my SPAM! lol).

So now, by the time I sorted through all my usual after work online stuff, it’s already almost midnight, and I don’t have a braincell left in my head to continue working on my JB webpage. Figured I’d still be tinkering tomorrow anyway, so left the laptop at the office. I’ll fiddle with it more at lunch tomorrow…

Future reminder to self: When bringing purse, bookbag, and laptop to work, do NOT put all three in the passenger seat. The overly cautious Prius thought someone was sitting there without a seatbelt on, and 5 minutes into my drive to work started to *ping* at me to tell me someone wasn’t belted in yet. Doh! Love the way it starts to get frantic after the initial slow *ping….ping….ping…* After a few of those, suddenly it switches over to *PINGPINGPINGPINGPING!* just in case I couldn’t hear it the first 10 times it pinged at me. And then it stops suddenly, like it thinks “Oh well, it’s YOUR life! Don’t buckle up if you want to!” LOL. It’s like the backup alarm that goes off when you put the thing in reverse. Does anyone hear it OUTSIDE the car? Nope! Just the driver, in case they’ve not actually figured out that the car is going backwards yet. I say again: DOH! 😀

But at least both my gas and brake pedals work. Apparently 2007 was a decent year for Priuses. Unless you count headlights going out unexpectedly. Hasn’t happened to me yet, but there have been some complaints from drivers of 2007 Priuses. :-O

Help! Anyone know anything about Philips recorders?

Anyone know how to change the remote code on a Philips DVDR so that it won’t pick up stray signals from outside the house? Twice now, we’ve turned the unit on and found it sitting on MTV, which I’ve not watched in YEARS! And Thursday night, right in the middle of the DVR recording of Flash Forward, it suddenly switched over to one of those Pirates of the Caribbean movies that was apparently on USA Network that night. :( I like Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow as much as the next person, but NOT when I’m right in the middle of watching Flash Forward.

This has happened before, with one of our Panasonic units, but Panasonic is really good, in case you’ve got multiple Panasonic units, you can change the remote frequency code to either a 1, 2, or 3, so that each remote only works for a single unit and doesn’t affect the others. And we’ve used that on two other occasions when apparently a neighbor bought a new unit, and suddenly we found OUR recordings changing over to the wrong channels at really weird times. We changed to a different frequency, and problem solved.

Don’t find ANY instruction on how to do that in the Philips manual for our DVDR unit. I’ve sent tech support an email, but since it’s the weekend, don’t expect to hear back from them any time soon, so thought I’d use the power of Twitter and Facebook to see if anyone has run into this with a Philips unit, and how to fix it.

Help? Anyone? Anyone? BUELLER? 😀