Archive for December, 2009


So Father Christmas brought me a Wii!! Thank you :-)     Among the reasons I really wanted one was (a) because I wanted to get better at the games (or at least as good as the average 7 year old seems to manage!)  and (b) because I wanted to find out more about what iPlayer is like on another platform – preferably a platform that is, well, my TV.  It was announced in November that iPlayer would be available on the Wii and there is more info on the BBC Internet Blog.

So I downloaded the iPlayer app from the Wii Store.

And I have to say, it’s really very good.  If it sounds as if there is a sense of surprise in this,  that is because I am still rather sceptical about Internet-over-TV propositions for a variety of reasons;  But iPlayer does seem to be having a good attempt at cracking them.  It all seems to work pretty well and on the Wii I even seem to get better performance that I get on my desktop PC or any of my laptops when using iPlayer.

One of the weird things about the Wii, though, is that it doesn’t have an ethernet port.   If like me (or most of the British population) you rarely get more than 2MBPS over your broad(ish)band, then squeezing the most speed out of it is the key: and I still maintain that the best option for performance around the house is, I am afraid, ethernet cables.  And before you start banging on about Powerline Home Plugs (that send data around the electricity main), yes I know all about them thanks and have written about them here. And yes, I’ve also looked at wireless range expanders. All of the options have pros and cons, but frankly, if you want the best and most reliable performance, wire in ethernet around the house would be my advice.

But anyway, as long as your router is quite near to the Wii you should get good iPlayer performance. Doctor Who was a bit pixelated in places but I guess compared to some of the programmes around where pixelation should be increased as much as possible (I refer to X-Factor of course) it’s still watchable I think.

Anyway, back to Wii Sports Resort…

There is no doubt that shopping – especially around christmas, and more especially in electrical stores is like coming into contact with a pack of rabid dogs. I refer of course to the shop assistants who – fulled by commission – seem to behave as if they are acting out scenes from ‘Wall Street’.

“Oh you have an iPod, Sir?” said one particularly agressive specimin while I was looking at iPod Cases (Yes. I would hardly be looking at iPod cases if I didn’t have an iPod now would I?). “Yes – I have an 80GB classic”. In an instant he grabbed the case I had been looking at and started walking to the pay desk. “Well that one will be fine sir. Now if you’ll just follow me is it cash or debit card sir? Will there be anything else?” “Errr well, actually, I haven’t finished looking yet…” “Oh sorry sir – well just give me a call if you need any more assistance”.

I have now discovered that the way to keep them at bay is to just pick something up – anything – any walk around with it. It could be a packet of replacement vacume cleaner dust bags. It doesnt matter. What matters is that they see that you are going to buy something and then they leave you alone. More importantly you get spared the dangers of their “assistance”.

A classic example of this “assistance” came – amazingly – shortly afterwards in the same store. Another customer was looking at portable PC hard drives (actually a good christmas gift idea).”You might be better off looking at Trillobyte drives sir”..

Trillobyte drives??? Hummm.. (For the non-technical among you, well. Trillobyte drives don’t actually exist). Trillobytes (or more accurately, Trillobites) did exist of course, a while back. So presumably the assistant was talking about a disk drive where data isn’t stored on magnetic media but on fossilised arthropods from 540 million years ago (seehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trilobite for more..)… Terrabyte drives on the other hand are definately worth looking at.. They even have a USB port these days.

We have our Christmas party soon, so I did what I am forced to do for it every year – I bought a new shirt. It’s the least my colleagues deserve. When I went to pay, I saw a notice on the pay desk (in fact 4 notices) saying along the lines of “Product recall – Trousers”…. You expect Product Recalls in a Ford dealership or on dodgy washing machines, or of course – on Trillobyte drives. You don’t normally associate ‘Product Recalls’ in Next, though. Apparently certain types of trousers have unusally high levels of a particular type of dye which is toxic and dangerous to the skin.

So there you have it. An official recall on dangerous trousers. Just as well I only bought a shirt for the Christmas party or heaven knows what else might happen.

A couple of hours shopping – and with mobile phone shops (previous post refers), Trillobyte drives and dangerous trousers, it makes you realise the world is going mad.

Oh, and by the way. If you think you are getting away with it through the smug safety of shopping online, forget it. I think it was Polly Toynbee in the Guardian a while back that said along the lines of “You know the world is collapsing when you order Lemons and get Lemon-scented rubber gloves delivered instead”.

Going into Mobile Phone shops, since you ask. I am looking again at getting an iPhone and also trying to find out what happens after your 1-year of free internet access runs out. No-one seems to know (or nobody I know anyway, since they have all ‘just got them’). Although the concerns about mobile phone safety seem to have died away, its quite clear that what gives you brain damage isn’t the phone itself, but the act of trying to understand the various tariffs and offers…