Windows Media Center Envy

It’s been a hell of a long time since I’ve tweeted or blogged anything. Heaven knows why, I just haven’t found the time as I have been busy all evenings lately, but I thought I would drop my head in the door just to say hi with this one.

Since my last writing, a lot has been going down in Microsoft town: Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 RTM announcements and Windows 7 RTM being available to Partners and MSDN and TechNet customers by August 6th (yes please), Office 2010 Technical Preview, updates for Windows Home Server, Silverlight 3.0, Expression Studio 3.0 and more products to cover in numerous blog postings.

In this post though I wanted to mention my envy for Americans. I’m not normally one to think the grass is indeed greener on the other side but this is a bone of contention for me – TV.

In the UK we have quite a few choices: Freeview, Freesat, Cable (Virgin Media) and Satellite (Sky). Freeview and Freesat are working their way as integrated components on modern HDTV’s. Virgin Media only allow you to use their equipment because you are leasing it, and Sky use encryption and other techniques to force you to use their equipment.

Jump to the other side of the great lake and you get things like this:

I’ve looked at the features in Windows 7 Media Center previously however I’ve never spent too much time on it because the UK market doesn’t warrant its use unfortunately.

As the review states, Windows Media Center in Windows 7 is the best PVR you can get and has some excellent features which make Virgin and Sky’s offerings like pre-industrial revolution, however due to the lack of support by UK product vendors we get the raw deal.

My request to anyone at Virgin or Sky reading this?

Make your own TV tuners and charge over the odds for them, give us the option to use MCE officially and explain how we can do it without CAM’s and modules and hacks or whatever, just let us use a superior product please.

Sure I could use Freesat or Freeview with MCE but what really is the point?
We have Sky in our home and we don’t get the premium packages (like Sports or Movies) except for the Eurosport bolt-on for MotoGP but the channels available with the package we do have still outweighs the idea of going back to Freesat.

Virgin Media and the Advert of Untruths

I’m uploading a file to our FTP server as I type this. And I’m doing so at about 90 KB/s which I am pretty happy with. Especially being that our connection supposedly has a 768 Kb/s upload speed.

NOTE: Pay attention to the uppercase and lowercase KB and Kb here. KB refers to Kilobytes and Kb refers to Kilobits.

I decided to take a look at Virgin Media’s website in-case as a friendly gesture they increased all 20 Mb customers to 1 Mb upload speed, but they haven’t therefore I guess it’s just my lucky day huh, but I digress. While on their site, I saw the advertising for 50 Mb and I would love to be able to have a 50 Mb pipe in my house I must admit, so I was looking at the details – 1.5 Mb upload is very nice I must say, but then I saw this:

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Virgin Media Give Great Service as Usual for Christmas


Virgin Media Broadband: The Mother of all Broadband Size: XL Half Price Broadband

So I wouldn’t expect anything less from Virgin after the failed to manage to install our broadband and telephone after three attempts and extra delays because they forgot to submit work permits or something to the council, but this just takes the biscuit.

So We got our first bill from Virgin today, and I opened it up and guess what? It’s totally wrong?

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Long Time No Post, but PDC Rocks

So it’s been a while since I wrote anything on here since my latest outbursts against Virgin Media due to their inability to provide us with broadband, and low and behold we still don’t have our super fast 20MB internet.

Virgin rescheduled us for late October and the day before the appointment called to cancel because there is no T-Piece outside our property and they need to get council planning permission to install the piece so we are now going to be waiting until November 14th.

Why on earth they couldn’t have just seen in advance that they needed this piece and that they could have done the work in the three weeks between our first and most recent appointments I don’t know! Bless their little cotton socks.

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More Lies: Revenge of the Stupid

So after the post titled Why Do People Lie, I continued to phone Virgin to chase them and on my final call of the day I got put through to the installation manager for our area, although he was actually quite possibly the tea boy in the office.

He gave me some story that the first guy should have done the cabling inside the house and left the outside part for another crew: Contrary to the engineers comments that if he did the work he would have to mark the install as completed hence making it very difficult to get someone out to finish the job.

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Why Do People Lie?

So the guy from Virgin Media just came to install our 20MB broadband and phone…..hang on a minute I said to him: You shouldn’t need to do anything to the phone as the old BT line is being converted.

In response the guy tells me that actually they will run two cables to the house – One for the phone line which converts at the socket from the fibre/co-ax cable that Virgin put to POTS cabling for regular telephone lines and the other cable they run is for the broadband.

So if this is the case, why did the person at Virgin I spoke to tell the that they old run one cable and that all of the existing BT cabling is used and simply converted over? Why? Lack of knowledge and understanding.

Is a good job that the telephone master socket in the study is in the same place as where the cable modem will be going otherwise I wouldn’t be a happy bunny at this point.

As it happens the guy was very friendly but said he couldn’t do the installation because the person who came from Virgin on Saturday to inspect the existing cabling at the house didn’t actually tell anyone that they would need to run a new cable to the house and he doesn’t have the tools or the kit to perform the installation – Nice work Virgin.

Lets see if they can mange to install the broadband and the phone this afternoon with a new crew without managing to screw up Nicky’s work phone line in the process and let’s see if they manage to remember to bring the NetGear wireless router with them – I’m not sure about that one either!

Wish me luck x