Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Going fully digital

Phew! It was with a sigh of relief that I finally bagged up our VCR and carted off all my old VHS tapes to the local charity shop. Yes, there are a few tapes that I wish I'd had time to digitise via the PC onto DVD, but the vast majority can be picked up on DVD at some point in the future, if ever. The replacement? We're now fully digital, having picked up a budget (but stylish) PVR. For the unitiated, this stands for Personal Video Recorder, although I hate the name and prefer HDR or Hard Disk Recorder. Anyway, it means that we can record directly from the built-in digital TV receiver to its hard disk, watching one channel while recording another and generally cherry picking programmes from the week ahead and letting the HDR do the rest. Really, really, cool, and no more clunky VHS tapes to take up space and let us down with poor recordings and chewable media!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Watches alive and well?

I'm staggered that the humble wrist watch is still doing so well in 2006. With the time (and Calendar reminders) on every phone, I haven't worn a watch since about 1990. Clunky, restrictive things. And yet a friend of mine runs TikTox and is making a go of selling wrist watches to the millions. Clearly there are messages of style and general 'coolness' here - and I've never been considered 'cool' by anyone who's not themselves a geek!! Do you wear a watch? And if so why, if you also carry a phone? Interested in any comments!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Crowded Shopping Malls

Yes, yes, these are probably a teenager's dream - to have retail opportunities AND the ambience of loads of other excited shop-worshippers. Meanwhile, for a grumpy old man like me, there comes a point in each shop's capacity where there's so much gridlock in the aisles, so long queues at the checkouts, such a wait to get into (and out of) the car parks, that it's not worth actually being there - it's just such a colossal waste of time. My best tip is to get to the shopping mall at 9am sharp, when everything's opening. Most people are generally lazy and won't be as organised, so you'll have the place more or less to yourself and will have no traffic or parking problems. Or, even better, shop online!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Pets - Who needs real when you can have FurReal?

I'm staggered by the realism of some of my daughter's electronic FurReal pets. The premise - she really, really, really wants a puppy. Or a kitten. etc. I really, really don't want the mess, the hassle, the smell. etc. Solution: get her a FurReal pet. She's just as happy, maybe even happier, as these pets can be cuddled all you want and never complain or scratch back. Highly recommended!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Games, games

I've been waiting and waiting for decent games to come along for my chosen smartphone platform (Nokia S60), but back in the real world I've discovered that convergence isn't always the best path - shock horror. To my chagrin, I've been bewitched by the quality of some of the games on my daughter's Nintendo DS Lite, specifically Touch Golf, which knocks spots off any other golf sim I've ever played, on any platform. OK, so it's another box to pack when going on holiday, but it's worth it....

Greedy restaurants

Look, this is how it's worked for hundreds of years: you eat your meal, ask for the bill and then pay it, adding a little extra as a tip if you've had good service. But restaurants have obviously decided that people aren't being generous enough and have started being very sneaky. I went to Ma Potters in Reading today and, in a bit of a hurry, glanced at the bill and then paid it, adding roughly 10% in my head. The bill seemed a bit high, but I didn't want to cause a fuss because the restaurant was crowded, so I left before examining the itemised bill in more detail. They'd added on 10% automatically, INCLUDING it in the final bill total. So they'd sneakily managed to get two tips out of me. Grrrr.... The moral: examine the bill more closely before you pay. And I'm going to protest by deliberately removing the 10% from restaurrant bills that include this 'optional' extra - and not returning to any of these establishments.