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Updated

Smart TV the easy way

Internet enabled smart TVs let you watch your favourite films and shows on demand but If you don't yet have a smart TV but want to make use of all the new services a TV streamer is all you need. You can get services such as the BBC IPlayer, Netflix, Amazon, Demand 5, Now TV, YouTube and many more without splashing out on a new TV. A TV streamer plugs into your TV and allows you to add smart TV features to your existing TV set at a fraction of the cost of upgrading. You connect them to the TV through the HDMI socket and use your WI-Fi or a cable to connect to your router. Make sure that the TV streamer you chose can receive all of your favourite programmes as some don't receive all the programmes or services that are available. For instance if you want all the services provided by Amazon then you should try the Amazon Fire TV streamers, Apple fans can select the Apple TV streamer Google have the Chrome Cast or Nexus player while Roku have an excellent little stick that plugs directly into the HDMI socket of your TV. You will enjoy many hours of entertainment at a fraction of the cost of buying a new TV to get all the new services now available.

For Radio listeners many streamers also have a radio app than can connect to your favourite radio station. I've listened to Radio Caroline and many other stations using my Roku streamer and it works very well.

Changing face of TV's

Ten years ago a 32inch CRT TV would have cost you well over £1000 and it was so big and heavy you could injure yourself moving it around your house. Now you can buy a super slim, super light TV with a similar size screen for half the price and better still not only High Definition but now 4K TVs are becoming readily available. that is four times higher definition that traditional HD (also known as Ultra HD). Large and extra large curved screen TVs can also give you a cinema like experience. There are some good bargains available with HD TVs but if you want to be ready for the future then you could buy one of the new 4K sets that are now coming down in price. 4K content is fast becoming available and it brings with it stunning pictures and more striking colours with smoother motion especially noticeable with sports and action films. Also make sure you get a smart TV so that you can take advantage of even more channels and features now becoming available. Smart TVs can get the extra channels now becoming available of Freeview.

Windows 10

Well I did it, l downloaded the new Windows 10 onto my laptop. Someone told me that I was brave as my laptop was under a year old but that was the main reason that I did it as it was still under the first years warranty and if all went wrong I could get it repaired. I had already clicked on the little icon that popped up in my taskbar a few weeks before saying, "Get Windows 10" and on the morning of the release I clicked on it again and the message told me that Windows 10 was ready for me to download.

 

I have a couple of older computers that still work ok, an HP on Windows 7 and an even older Dell on Vista that still works although its now running very slow. I also have an even older Windows XP that refuses to give up. I sat here for some while pondering with my finger on the button, shall I leave it for another day, then just like the guy on the end of a bungee rope I jumped, or should I say hit the button, Now it was too late, an icon was on my screen telling me how far I had got. 1 %, 2 % and so on. It took well over an hour with a few re-starts and on several occasions I thought it had all gone wrong.

Eventually to my relief Windows 10 appeared on my computer, but I wasn't celebrating yet, I was eager to try it to find out if it was all working ok. To my surprise all my programmes including my older ones seemed to be working. Surprisingly Windows new browser, Microsoft Edge wasn't working but when I tried it the following day it was working, probably because I had cleared out all my previous browsing history. Now the big question is, do I like it, once I get used to it I think I will.

TV Streaming Devices

 TV Streamers are a small handy way to add smart TV features to almost any TV. You connect them to your TV, normally to a spare HDMI socket and as long as you have a reasonable broadband connection you can download programmes from the TV I Players, Netflix, Now TV, play games and check your social media. Some come with a remote control and some are controlled from your mobile device.

 

Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast and Apple TV all come supplied with lots of apps but I chose to test a Roku device. With over 1,400 channels and counting, Roku offers access to streaming entertainment from top channels like BBC iPlayer, Netflix®, NOW TV, Sky Sports, ITV Player, Demand 5, YouTube, BBC Sport, and many more. With lots of great films and TV shows available, you can find the perfect title to match your mood. It has up to 1080p HD support, English subtitles, profiles, and an Instant-Start the Roku 3, the new Roku 2, and Roku® Streaming Stick® should have something to suite your taste. Roku Search allows you to search across top channels by title, actor or director using the simple remote, or the free Roku mobile app. So it's easy to see what’s on, what you can watch for free, with a subscription, or options to rent or buy There are no recurring fees to maintain your Roku account but some channels charge a subscription or other fees to access their programming. Others make it easy to rent or buy but hundreds of channels are free to enjoy, right out of the box. You choose what to you pay for and what you don't. It comes with a remote control and the streamer itself is about the size of a large USB stick and when plugged into your HDMI socket behind your TV it is well hidden. Picture and audio quality are decent and the whole package is cheap and easy to use. With Google selling its Chromecast in the UK for just £30 and Now TV offering its box at £30, this Roku Streaming Stick looks expensive at £50. But if you have the money to spare, it's the best buy of the three. The remote is great and worked on RF which means that you don't need to have a line of sight between remote and stick for the controls to work.

 

It was surprisingly easy to set up and I unpacked it and had it working within minutes, so if you want to turn your older TV into a smart TV then this may be for you.

Avast Security warns smartphone users...

Security vendor Avast has warned smartphone owners to be extra careful when they are selling their devices, after recovering a hoard of personal data form used handsets which were subjected to a ‘factory reset.’

To prove that traces of deleted data could still pose a security risk, the company staged an experiment in the US. It purchased 20 smartphones online, and managed to extract hundreds of old photos, texts, emails, contact book entries and even a complete loan application.

Avast said it was entirely possible to establish the identity of up to four previous device owners using simple, off-the-shelf data recovery solutions.

“Images, emails, and other documents deleted from phones can be exploited for identity theft, blackmail, or for even stalking purposes. Selling your used phone is a good way to make a little extra money, but it’s potentially a bad way to protect your privacy,” warned Jude McColgan, president of Mobile at AVAST.

A hard bargain

After buying 20 second-hand smartphones from various online vendors, researchers at Avast got their hands on more than 750 emails and text messages, more than 250 contact details and at least 1,000 Google search queries.

Windows XP support is ending..

Microsoft is to end support for Windows XP in April and there will be no fixes or updates available after 8th April, This will leave millions of users vulnerable to security threats. They have made it clear that there will be no further security updates, hotfixes, free or paid for support or technical content updates. This includes the XP edition of its security essentials software. Individual companies may continue to provide support for their software but they will eventually set their own deadlines and begin to end support. If you, like me have a computer using XP then you have to make a decision whether to take a chance and continue with XP, buy a new computer or look at the possibility of upgrading your PC to Windows 7 or 8.

Unfortunately your computer may not meet the requirements.  XP will still work and you should be able to find anti virus software for a while yet but it will be risky and you should make sure all your files are transferred to a safe storage. Around one in three computers around the world still run Windows XP so there could be a lot of computers being dumped, many of them like mine still in good working order. I remember when flat screens replaced the old CRT Cathode Ray Tube TVs and computer screens a few years ago and everyone wanted to replace their old computers and TVs with posh LCD models, it looks as though it will happen again and many working models will be destined for the scrap yard. The recyclers will be busy. I have three working computers using XP and I will keep them working for as long as possible.

"Smart" televisions

A "Smart" television is either a television set with integrated internet capabilities or a set top box for television that offers more advanced computing ability and connectivity than a contemporary or basic television. The term is also used to describe devices such as mobile phones that have these capabilities. You can stream content from video on demand services such as Netflix, catch up services from BBC IPlayer, watch web sites such as YouTube and stream live TV and radio. You can have a full HD picture watch Freeview, Freesat, have USB connectivity to watch files stored on your computer. But what if your existing set is working well and you don't want to change it? There are some options for you. You can buy a Freeview or Freesat  box to give you many more channels and some are very cheap, you can get a dish with a Freesat box with all the instructions and gadgets you need it fix it up if you don't want to call a satellite dish installer all for about £70.


If you already have a Sky dish on your house then you can use that. You can buy a sound bar to improve the sound quality or you can buy an Internet streaming box to connect your old TV to the internet. The following devices are designed to add "smart" features to your old TV for a fraction of the cost of buying a new one. These come with all the connections you need to plug them into your old TV. The Roku LT for approx. £50 connects to the internet via your Wi-Fi and can stream content from video on demand services such as Netflix and catch up TV from the BBC IPlayer. You can also listen to internet radio stations. Apple TV costs about £100 and has similar features but no BBC I Player so make sure they do what you want them to do before buying. Sound bars can be connected to your old TV and can make a significant difference to the sound quality, the price range is from £100 to £200 and some can be connected to your MP3 player. Blu-ray players now have wireless connectivity and can also access a range of TV services and some have full internet browsers. So now you don't have to buy a new TV to get all the latest "smart" services and you can save  money. Smart TVs and Internet streaming boxes can also be used to listen to Radio Caroline on your TV or through a Sound Bar. So no excuse to miss out on your favourite station.

Smartphones do's and don'ts

The mobile phone has now become a mini computer. We use it to do much of our day to day business including banking and paying bills and all this personal information about us is stored in the phone. We upgrade our phones regularly and are invited to send our old phones for recycling but is this safe? as well as this, many phones are mislaid or disappear out of our pockets and never seen again, so as Identity theft is big business these days should we be concerned?

Many phones have a 'restore to factory defaults' option that will delete data, but in many instances, it has been shown that this does not always work. Apps are available to "wipe" the devices clean if they are lost or stolen, but the technology is still relatively new and these apps leave some data behind. Also, if you lose your power supply or it has broken down you can’t delete anything unless you can somehow start it again. If you intend to never use the phone again, the best option is to physically destroy it. Deleting everything manually could be another option but if it's flash memory, that could mean that only the links are deleted, the information itself is probably still in there.

For 99.9% of these kinds of situations, that's probably sufficient. It would take a moderately sophisticated snooper to find the data and if they get a high volume of phones to deal with the chances are they have easier targets to spend their time on. However, if you want to recycle the phone, your safest option may be make sure it goes to a company that removes the data before selling it on but how do we make sure that they are going to do that?

Eliminating personal data from personal computers kept at home is relatively easy and the real problems lie with mobile devices. Probably better to be careful of the personal data you put on your phone if you intend on recycling it or use your home computer if not you may have to smash your old phone into pieces with a large hammer!

Internet Radios

I’m surprised that Internet Radios are not more popular in the shops. As long as you have a reasonable broadband connection you can listen to an incredible amount of radio stations from home and around the World and you don’t need your computer. I thought that £130 plus was a lot to pay for a radio but this one has Internet Radio as well as DAB and FM and if you shop around you can find it a lot cheaper. It was very easy to set up and will run from your homes WI-FI or it has an Ethernet connection so that you can plug it in directly to your router and when you switch it on it connects to the station as quickly as DAB. It has 8 pre set buttons and its easy to find other stations. The 105 model is mono and cheaper.
The STREAM 205 is available in black and white and offers Wi-Fi in addition to DAB and FM enabling you to listen to thousands of stations from home and around the world. This stylish and compact Wi-Fi internet radio is completely portable too, either use it with the mains adaptor (included) or 6 x LR20/D size batteries although they won’t last long in DAB or Internet mode. The STREAM 205 supports MP3/WMA/FLAC/AAC playback via USB

Free software updates are also available to all Stream 205 users to add a range of new features to the radio. The new software allows the radio to be remotely controlled using the ConnectR app for the iPhone and iPod touch. The update also adds support for the Windows 7 "Play to" feature and compatibility with other UPnP control applications as well as multiple language options for the radio menus. Radios that have been recently purchased may already have the new software installed.

Features include-

  • WiFi/DAB/FM RDS

  •  USB socket

  • Intuitive menu system

  • Listen to over 10,000 radio stations from around the world

  • Listen to previous broadcast material using Listen Again

  • Listen to Podcasts

  • Stream your music collection from your PC

  • Wired or wireless connection

  • 15 station presets

  • Clock with 2 multi function alarms

  • Audio formats: MP3/WMA/FLAC/AAC playback via USB

  • Auxiliary input socket for iPod or MP3 play playback

  • USB socket for software upgrades

  • Headphone socket

If you have any questions about WI-FI radios please contact me at rolandbeaney@tiscali.co.uk

Mobile Phone Broadband

Technology is moving at a very fast pace these days especially mobile phone technology. Its difficult to keep up with all the changes as its not that long ago when people only used them for calling a friend for a chat. Now you can use them for almost anything including taking photos, listening to the radio and even watching TV and if there's nothing on the TV you can use them to help you find a restaurant.


Today they are increasingly being used for surfing the web when you are out and about and cannot use your home broadband in fact many people are also using the technology in place of their home broadband by plugging a mobile dongle into the USB socket of your computer. The dongle contains a mobile phone SIM card and is used to connect your computer to the mobile network. Things have moved on even further now and you can buy a gadget called a MiFi that can turn your whole house into a mobile phone hotspot. I've been testing a Huawei R201 Vodafone Mi-fi MiFi 3G 7.2Mbps Hotspot Mobile Broadband Router in my house and have been pleasantly surprised with the results.


The Voadafone R201 from Huawei is a remarkable little device. With it you can share the internet of your mobile phone with up to 5 WiFi enabled devices. IPads, Laptops pretty much anything that is WiFi enabled. Sit on a train perusing google. lay on the beach and stream a DVD to your laptop, the sky really is the limit thanks to this amazing little innovation.


The R201 doesn't stop at just sharing internet though, it does more than that as. It features support for a micro SD card. Simply slide one in and whatever data is on that card will be shared across everyone connected to it. Imagine being able to hold an office presentation on the train or in the pub on a working lunch you and your colleagues all seeing the same data at the same time, without being tied to a desk.


Ask your mobile phone company for details or buy one from various outlets and just slip your data SIM card into it and place it on a high shelf or near the window, switch it on and connect from your computer the same as you do when you connect to your WI-FI router and make your own mobile hot spot. Make sure you use a SIM card with a decent data plan on it though.

4G Mobile Spectrum Auction

Ofcom has today published final regulations and a timetable for the 4G mobile spectrum auction – the largest ever sale of mobile airwaves in the UK. This new spectrum will be used to deliver superfast 4G mobile services to people in cities, towns and villages across the UK and will almost double the amount of airwaves currently available to smartphones and tablets that use 3G networks.


The rules set out in detail the process involved in the auction – from applying to take part, through to bidding and finally issuing the licences to use the spectrum. Ofcom has also today confirmed reserve prices for the different lots of spectrum on offer and outlines the timetable for the auction process.


Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: “Today marks an important shift from preparation to the delivery of the auction, which will see widespread 4G mobile services from a range of providers.


“The entire industry is now focused on the auction itself, with a shared goal of delivering new and improved mobile services for consumers.”


Reserve prices :-Ofcom has confirmed the reserve prices for the spectrum that is being auctioned. The combined total is £1.3 billion.


Application date set :-Ofcom has also announced 11 December as the provisional date for the submission of applications by prospective bidders. Ofcom will confirm the date in two weeks time, once the regulations have come into force.


Chronology for auction


11 December: The application day :- Prospective bidders submit their applications to Ofcom together with an initial deposit.


December: Qualification stage :-Applications are reviewed to determine who can go on to bid in the auction.


January: The principal stage :-Bidding begins. This could take a number of weeks. Bids will be placed online over secure internet connections, using software that has been developed specifically for the auction.


February/March: The assignment stage :-Bidders informed what they have won and its cost.


February/March: The grant stage :-Licence fees are paid and licences granted.


May/June: New 4G services launched :-New 4G services expected to go live from a range of providers.


What to expect from 4G :-4G services should make it much quicker to surf the web on mobiles – speeds will be nearer to what is currently experienced with home broadband. Because of this, 4G is ideally suited for high-bandwidth data services such as streaming high-quality video, watching live TV and downloading large files.

For the typical user, download speeds of initial 4G networks could be around 5-7 times those for existing 3G networks. This means a music album taking 20 minutes to download on a 3G phone and just over three minutes on 4G. This is based on existing 3G speeds being 1 Mbit/s on average and 4G speed being 6 Mbit/s (on average between 5 and 7 times faster).

Sky Wars

According to the ASA, waiting a minute for a movie to start is not instant. Unbelievably, Sky have been told to withdraw a press advert for the Sky Store when BT complained that it "exaggerated the capabilities" of the internet-delivered movie rental service because it promised consumers that they could "rent movies instantly" through the store. BT challenged whether claims in the ad misleadingly exaggerated the speed with which consumers could actually use the service on a Sky+ box.The ASA has upheld BT's complaint, after finding that Sky did not make it sufficiently clear that consumers may have to wait around a minute to watch selected movies due to their internet connection. The ASA said that most customers would not view a delay of a minute or more before the movie starts playback as being an "instant" service, and so the ad was misleading. So no time to put the kettle on, open the popcorn packet or even to return to your chair the movie has to start as soon as you press the button.

Sky Anytime Plus

Anytime plus was launched in October 2010 to Sky plus subscribers with Sky Broadband connections but now it has been made available to everyone regardless of who provides their broadband. Customers need to connect their Sky plus HD box to a broadband router and then they can access a range of on-demand content.


Programmes available include content from Sky's own channels, such as Sky one and Sky Atlantic, along with partner channels including MTV, Discovery, FX, History, Disney, UK TV and National Geographic Channel. Earlier in 2012 Sky introduced the ITV Player catch-up TV service to Anytime plus and the BBC have promised to join in the Autumn with the BBC I Player .


Sky Movies subscribers can choose from up to 450 films every week, as well as hundreds more on the Sky Anytime plus component of the Sky Go multi-platform service. Anytime+ plus also enables non-Sky Movies subscribers to access a range of films to rent, including new releases and classic titles.


Customers can connect their Sky plus box to the internet either via a wired Ethernet cable, or they can purchase a wireless set-up from Sky with a dedicated Wireless Connector, at a cost of £60, a useful facility if your router is a long way from your TV.


Once I connected my router to the Sky HD box and answered a few questions on the Sky web site all the extra content became available to me on my Sky plus box with an easy to use display. You will need a reasonably fast connection though if you don’t want a long wait before you can view the programmes and make sure you don’t go over your download allowance.

Music on the move

It seems hard to believe now that many years ago we had no way of playing music in the car. Then car radios began to appear and we could listen to our favourite radio station while on the move. Then I can remember going on a coach journey in the early 1960s and the driver had a record player fitted but they never became popular as the records kept jumping every time you hit a bump in the road. When music cassettes were invented a car player to play them on was soon introduced and we had our first car music system where we could play recorded music while on the move with no jumping or interference to spoil our pleasure.


Now we have digital music, Internet radio stations and smart phones and we have to find a way to play all our music, Internet radio and phone calls safely through our car audio systems. Mini audio transmitters can transmit the music from your audio device into your car stereo system through the FM radio, its not easy though and it takes time to set it up and shouldn't be done whilst driving. Many car stereo systems have the facility for an audio lead to be connected to plug into your audio device, this is safer but the trailing leads can get in the way.


Recently I had the "iO PLAY" fitted to my car and it opens up the world of Music streaming & Mobile Phone Hands free possibilities. iO Play is fully installed into your vehicle and integrates into your existing Audio System. You can now enjoy listening to your Music on the Move, however you store it. Whether you keep your music on an iPod, iPhone, mobile phone, MP3 player, you can now play it through your car’s audio system using iO Play, with great sound quality. It also acts as a hands free car kit, and can integrate with your sat nav voice instructions too - you control it all from one easy to use console. According to the manufacturers the iO PLAY is an innovative, in-car audio streaming device that connects and integrates any of your mobile devices simultaneously and wirelessly using Bluetooth® technology. iO PLAY is suitable for all Bluetooth® enabled MP3 players, Mobile Smart Phones and Sat Nav Systems, and can even connect devices that are not Bluetooth® enabled using a universal plug-in Bluetooth adaptor. Fully compatible with the iPhone and the new iPhone 3G. With iO Play installed you can play all of you iPhone music into your car speakers as well as using iO Play as a fully integrated hands-free car kit to make and receive phone calls.


I've been using the system for a couple of months now and I am very pleased with the results, once you have paired your phone up with the iO PLAY as soon as you enter the car it connects automatically and you just select the radio station or music track and press play. The Radio Caroline app works well and you can listen to Radio Caroline safely while driving your car and if you receive a phone call the music stops and you can talk safely on the phone via the mic fitted to the sun visor.


At the moment they are quite expensive and it will need a professional fitting but if you want to play your music and favourite Internet station while taking your phone calls completely hands free then its worth every penny. For more details go to http://www.my-io.com/ 


1.Stream Music from any of your portable devices wirelessly into all your existing vehicle speakers using Bluetooth® technology


2.Simultaneously make and receive phone calls while streaming music from a 2nd portable device


3.Design that will easily fit your vehicle and its existing audio system. iO Connect has its own amplification so the installation doesn't have to depend on your vehicle having an AUX-in facility


4.Enjoy auto-connect when you enter your vehicle by storing up to 5 portable devices in iO PLAY memory

Southampton could get local TV.

Ofcom is proposing 20 specific sites for consultation where local TV is "technically possible and where there is interest in providing a service". Ofcom said that the towns and cities were selected to cover a range of locations across the UK and a variety of different scales of local TV operation. The areas are: Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton & Hove, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Grimsby, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Plymouth, Preston, Southampton and Swansea. More could come later including: Aberdeen, Ayr, Bangor, Barnstable, Basingstoke, Bedford, Cambridge, Carlisle, Derry/Londonderry, Dundee, Guildford, Hereford, Inverness, Kidderminster, Limavady, Luton, Maidstone, Malvern, Mold, Salisbury, Sheffield, Stoke on Trent, Stratford upon Avon and York. Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has long held an ambition to create a network of sustainable local TV services across the UK, which he says will improve local democracy and provide a viable alternative to the BBC's local coverage. He also believes that the UK towns and cities should be able to offer vibrant local TV services similar to those seen in America and other countries. The government hopes that the first local television licences will be awarded by Ofcom in summer 2012, with the first stations expected to be in operation within the next two years.

Is it still necessary to defragment a computer with a Windows 7 operating system?

With my Windows XP and Vista computers I run the built in defrag utility on my computers about once a month especially when I've been doing a lot of work such as installing and un-installing applications and when they seem to be getting sluggish. I also run a a "Disk Clean-up" which deletes all my unnecessary temporary Internet Files and Temporary Windows files. Once these files are cleaned up the computers seem to run faster and I have more storage space. I also run a quick check of my Start-up Programs running in the background using MSCONFIG, to eliminate programs that may be slowing my computers down. Now I have a Windows 7 laptop I do a regular defrag check but it never seems to need it. With the more efficient OS's like Windows 7 I am wondering if defragging a hard drive is a task that I still need to do. Unfortunately, there seems to be no definite answer and I don't think this topic will ever be settled, while defragging is necessary for hard drives to keep the systems running efficiently, it isn't required as often on new systems. You can either set the system to defrag on occasion, or check manually to see how fragmented your drives are and run it when you feel it is necessary. Some say that solid-state drives (SSD) do not need defragmenting and thy may be damaged if you keep doing it.


Certainly you need to defragment your hard drive a lot less because the files don't quite get as jumbled up. But even with this you still need to check occasionally.

Radio Seagull aerial work

 

For a six week test period, starting October 1st, the Continental Electronics transmitter on board the lightship Jenni Baynton will be broadcasting on 1395AM. During the test the radiated power will vary and also the ship will try various locations to broadcast from, in order to determine what location generates the best and most economic signal. Work on the aerial can be seen in the three photos HERE

Phoning Home - June 2011

Why is it that we pay lots of money to go on holiday to far off destinations to have a break from our daily routine and then spend lots of money to keep in touch with home? As soon as you get off the plane you see people on their mobile phones ringing home or sending e-mails. Its now so easy to phone or e-mail from anywhere in the world that for many people its the first thing they do when they get off the plane. For many people though when they receive their bill it can be quite a shock unless they plan carefully before they leave home and check the "roaming" costs for using their phone in the country they are visiting. It can be very expensive especially if you use the internet on your phone. The EU have stepped in and asked networks to cut their charges and to cap data charges when roaming and you should get a warning from you network when you are getting near to the limit but your bill can still mount up. Before you go, check with your network to find out what the charges will be for the countries you are visiting and and ask them what special deals they have. Your network may have an arrangement with a particular company in the country you are visiting so make sure that you use that network. Remember that some phones automatically access the internet to check for such things as e-mails or the time clock. If you need to access the internet then try to use an internet cafe rather than use your phone but if you must use your phone then find out if the hotel has free Wi-Fi. You can also use this to call home via Skype.

Jack FM now on the South Coast

Celador Radio’s The Coast regional station in Solent has been rebranded as Jack FM, following approval from Ofcom for a format change to play rock music. Former Capital and Kiss presenter Bam Bam do the breakfast show on the station which launched on 4 July 2011.

Bam Bam will be joined on air by Producer Justin Waite, formerly the Creative Producer known as ‘Welshy’ on Johnny Vaughan’s Capital Radio, Breakfast Show. Steve Simms, previously Programme Controller – Heart North West and Wales, joins as JACK fm Station Producer also based in Southampton.

The station started life as Original 106 in October 2006 and was run by Canwest who’d won the regional licence from Ofcom the previous year. Following its sale to Celador in summer 2008, it was relaunched as The Coast.

There are already three stations using the Jack brand in the UK – in Oxford (run by ARI), Hertford (run by Shadow Radio Holdings) and in Bristol (run by Celador). Coincidentally, all four Jack stations in the UK are on frequencies between 106 and 107 FM.

In a major re-organisation of the Celador Radio business to account for the new station, consultant Richard Johnson (formerly Managing Director of Tomahawk Radio which Celador acquired in September 2010) has been appointed to the board of Celador Radio Broadcasting. He takes the role of Group Creative Director, with full responsibility for all programming output across the group, with immediate effect. He will also continue to co-present and produce the JACK fm Breakfast show in Bristol.

Consultant Andy Turner, previously Programme Director for the Gold Network, has been appointed permanent Programme Director for The Breeze across the group, based in Southampton

Sky TV  & Freeview latest

Sky have announced that they are to merge Sky Player and Sky Mobile TV. The new services are due to launch later this year with Sky also taking over public Wi-Fi operator, "The Cloud". Sky also released figures showing the fastest growth in broadband subscriptions for 2 years.

YouView have announced that a venture aimed at bringing video on-demand and web services to Freeview will trial later this year ahead of a full launch in 2012. Technical specifications are to be announced soon but YouView CEO Richard Halton said: "Our focus has always been to deliver a product to consumers that is right, but not rushed. "Creating a truly open TV platform that will bring consumers increased choice and innovation".

The Government is looking for broadcasters to run up to 20 local TV channels on Freeview. This comes after ITV reduced its local news output and many BBC radio stations face severe cutbacks. Additional spectrum should become available after the digital switchover is completed.

Sky 3 has now become Pick TV. with a line up of repeats of old shows from Sky's entertainment channels

Press Release

Contact: Fanny Podworny, pressoffice@drm.org 

DRM+ Trial in the UK

For the first time, the technical capability of the DRM+ digital radio system in FM band II is going to be tested in the UK. This four month long trial, organised by the DRM Consortium and its partners, will take place in the Edinburgh area of Scotland from February 2011. The DRM+ transmission will operate into an existing antenna that is shared with two FM services via a combiner. Those services cover more than 500,000 people in urban, suburban and rural terrain. This will be a closed technical trial with no direct involvement from the public. DRM provides many features to allow user-friendly, high quality radio to be broadcast, including use of station names rather than frequencies, consistent digital audio, additional text and visualisation, an EPG, alternate service signalling, and automatic service following to DRM, DAB, FM and AM services. More details can be found at www.drm.org  The purpose of the trial is to measure the coverage of DRM+ operating in various transmission modes (lower capacity, higher ruggedness; higher capacity, lower ruggedness). There will also be a comparison of the coverage of FM and DRM+ in terms of transmitter power. Other objectives include being able to assess the impact of DRM+ on FM and vice-versa; demonstrate the performance of DRM+ in a range of environments, for example, urban, suburban, rural, etc., and therefore provide an analysis of performance against the challenges of these environments. The pattern of the antenna will also be measured, in order to correlate performance in different directions with the expected performance. This trial should also provide suitable measurement data to international regulatory bodies, such as CEPT and ITU. The trial transmissions will carry audio material consisting of both programme and test sequences. At least two modes will be tested to allow planning parameters to be determined for different scenarios. DRM Chairman, Ruxandra Obreja said: “ After recent trials in Sri Lanka, Germany, Italy and Brazil this will give us a chance to test the DRM standard in its DRM+ extension to an extent never done before in a complex and challenging environment. We hope that by the early summer we will have accumulated additional data on the robustness and flexibility of DRM+”


About DRM Digital Radio MondialeTM (DRM) is the universal, openly standardised digital broadcasting system for all broadcasting frequencies up to 174MHz, including LW, MW, SW, band I and II (FM band). DRM provides digital sound quality and the ease-of-use that comes from digital radio, combined with a wealth of enhanced features: Surround Sound, Journaline text information, Slideshow, EPG, and data services. DRM on short, medium and long wave for broadcasting bands up to 30 MHz (called 'DRM30') provides large coverage areas and low power consumption. The enhancement of the DRM standard for broadcast frequencies above 30 MHz ('DRM+') uses the same audio coding, data services, multiplexing and signalling schemes as DRM30 but introduces an additional transmission mode optimized for those bands.

Sky TV changes

On February 1, Sky launched the biggest single update to its channel line-up in over a decade as part of efforts to "make it even easier for customers to discover and enjoy the best in pay television". it will include new channel slots for MTV and Syfy but It has also decided to scrap long-running cable channel Bravo acquired by Sky last June as part of the £160m deal to purchase the Living TV Group - as it serves a similar audience to Sky 1. It is also believed that Channel One, previously Virgin1, will shut down during this year. On January 1, the Bravo channels ceased broadcasting on all digital TV platforms, including Sky and Virgin Media. Also on February 1st Sky started a new channel called Sky Atlantic

The biggest change is the new HD 'channel swap' for Sky+ HD homes, which will see selected HD channels swap places with the standard definition channels. Some channels have opted out of the change, including all the main terrestrial networks, along with Discovery HD, Eurosport HD, MGM HD and MTVN HD. Some of the programmes previously shown on Bravo, including Spartacus and Blood And Sand will be transferring to Sky1.

What is an "app"

The term that has become part of our vocabulary since the iPhone made it famous. The term "app" is short for "application" which refers to a piece of software that works on a computer and a Mobile phone and produces a link which sits on the desktop of your computer or mobile phone. One click from your mouse or tap of your finger opens up a programme that sometimes can be very useful and sometimes completely useless. Its nothing new as they were around long before the I Phone was invented but it was the I Phone that made it "trendy". There are all kinds of apps around now, currency converters, mini browsers, games, calculators, social networking, recorders, maps, or even an app to open up your favourite radio station. In 2007, Apple launched an online store where you buy all sorts of these mobile phone applications specifically designed to run on the iPhone. They sexed it up a bit by referring to them as "apps" and the rest is history. So now when people talk about apps then most of the time they are referring to small programs specifically made for mobile phones but applications have been in everyday use on our computers for years. There are now lots of "App" stores that sell them and some are offered free. Make sure you use the correct store though as an I Phone app won't work on other makes of phones so if you have an Android phone there is a store just for you.

Radio Caroline have recently launched an app to listen to the station on the Apple's iOS platform for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. It has a built in 'live' programme schedule to keep you up to date with any changes to the advertised programmes. You can also browse the presenter's profiles at your leisure and email them if you wish. Anybody with an iPhone or iPod Touch will want the Caroline app which is available from Apple's App Store. (You must have iTunes installed on your computer). An app for Android/Nokia phones is expected soon.

The latest app for Nokia Internet radio is now available for a much wider selection of phones in the Nokia range and now works for the Nokia 5800. Download it and you will have 1000s of Radio stations from all over the world to chose from including Radio Caroline in excellent aac Plus quality or 64k and 32K mp3 depending if you are listening on a wi-fi or mobile connection. A very posh Radio Caroline logo also comes up when you connect to the stream.

YouView

Internet Televisions will be in the shops soon and you will be able to chose between watching Coronation Street or your YouTube on the same TV. Many programmes can be watched on the Internet via your computer already but now it will be possible to watch Internet channels sitting back in your favourite armchair. The new service will be called YouView, a partnership between the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, BT, TalkTalk and Arqiva and its aim is to combine the digital Freeview platform with internet-connected services when it launches. The project also plans to create a set of common technical standards for companies making YouView branded set top boxes and connected TVs. Virgin Media and IP Vision submitted complaints to Ofcom that the venture would potentially breach the Competition Act 1998. Ofcom also received submissions from 11 other parties, including Sky. Despite having the power to refer the case to the Competition Commission for further investigation, Ofcom opted to dismiss the complaints, noting that there is "little evidence" at this stage that YouView partners the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 plan to restrict access to their video on-demand content. Ofcom plans to keep the policies of the YouView partners under review.

Audio Recordings

Recording

The traditional way of recording audio was with an analogue tape or cassette recorder. With the introduction of digital technology came the mini disc recorder. For a while the mini disc recorder became the favourite recording format for high quality recordings but most people continued to use cassette tape recorders as you could buy the machines and tapes very cheaply. As most families now have a computer these can now be used to record radio programmes or to transfer your favourite music tracks from tapes or records to CD. With the old tapes, quality deteriorated when transferring recordings to tape but with digital recording there is little or no deterioration of quality and near perfect quality recordings can now be made.

Recording audio streams.

There are various types of software that you can download from the internet to turn your computer into a recorder. Real Recorder, Polderbits and Audacity can be used with most Windows systems and there are others that can be used but make sure they are compatible with your operating system. Some of these charge a fee but many are free. Once you download the software you will find a recorder on your computer screen and the buttons will look very similar to the old tape recorders showing fast forward/reverse, play, record and usually a recording level meter. The difference from the old recorders is that you have to save your recordings onto your hard drive and I would recommend that you record using CD quality and save them as an MP3 file of at least 128Kbs. If you are saving as a WAV file you should bear in mind that they will take up a lot of space on your computer but they will give you the highest quality.

Streamripper for Winamp

This little programme used with the Winamp player gives you the best possible recording quality for streaming radio and automatically saves your recording in its original quality as an MP3 file. If you want to record your favourite radio programme from the internet then I would recommend this.

What is High Definition TV

Are you are thinking about buying a new TV and wondering what High Definition is all about then the following article may help you.

HD or high definition is the latest in a long line of major improvements in television technology. We've moved from black-and-white analogue to widescreen colour digital over the years and now HD brings us exceptionally clear, crisp pictures with vivid colours and up to five times more detail than standard definition. A high definition picture contains more information in digital form and has up to five times as many pixels in each picture as standard definition TV. The improvement over a standard definition picture is particularly noticeable on our modern flat-panel LCD and Plasma televisions.

Televisions carry the 'HD Ready' logo when the display screen has enough pixels to be able to display a high definition picture properly. To qualify they must also be capable of displaying pictures with either 720 or 1080 horizontal lines. The logo also means they can be connected to an HD digital box through an HDMI (High Definition Media Interface) cable. The screen must also have sufficient resolution to display high definition pictures. Programmes made in HD, will provide the viewer with the best possible quality pictures on current equipment. Only a high definition television, high definition digital box and high definition broadcast used together will provide high definition viewing, so remember buying a new HD ready TV does not mean you will be watching HD TV as soon as you plug it in, you must have an HD digi box plugged into it using an HDMI lead before you can experience these stunning HD pictures.

I am impressed with the pictures I have seen with a Sky digi box connected to my HD TV and the sound quality was very good too. I also found that the best viewing position was about 1 Mtr away from the picture.

Some technical terms

1080p is the Standard HDTV resolution, used by Full HD and HD ready TVs such as high-end LCD, Plasma and rear projection TVs,

P for progressive scanning or i is for interlaced scanning which is a technique to improving the picture quality of a video signal and to reduce flicker without consuming extra bandwidth.

The Freeview HD service contains 3 HD channels and is now rolling out region by region across the UK in accordance with the digital switchover process.

High Definition Television

55% of British households have spent hundreds or thousands of pounds on new high definition television sets but are missing out on watching high definition pictures because they have not purchased the right equipment to go with them. According to the British Video Association (BVA), 6.5 million people in the UK assume that they have HD programmes or films on their TV sets, when actually they have not connected equipment compatible with the advanced picture quality.

Many households still have not bought a set top box, games console or Blu-ray player capable of running high definition programmes and films on their television sets, meaning that they were still watching standard definition pictures through their High Definition TVs..

"In the run-up to the World Cup even more people will be looking to invest in HD, but they need to be aware that a high definition television alone does not mean that they are watching content in high definition," said BVA spokesman Simon Heller. "You are only getting a high definition experience if you are watching content via a bolt-on high definition set-top box, a Blu-ray player or a PS3 console."

If you are thinking of splashing out a lot of money on a new High Definition TV make sure you have the right equipment connected to your set. Sky TV have a lot of HD channels but you will need a new box and extra subscription to receive them, Freesat have some free HD channels but you will again need a new box and a satellite dish. Freeview currently are testing with new channels.

Dormant satellite TV dishes

According to a study by Harvard International, the distributor of Grundig and Goodmans digital television equipment, around 600,000 homes currently have an inactive satellite dish. Harvard director of communications John Edwards said that these dishes can easily be re-connected to subscription-free satellite TV via the Freesat service and went on to say that it would be particularly simple for homes to enable Freesat or Freesat+ if they already have a satellite TV dish connected to their home. The digital switchover is well under way. Many regions have already had their analogue TV signal switched off. By 2012 everyone will need to access TV via digital equipment. For households that already have a satellite TV dish connected to their home, there's little reason to remain digitally dormant. However, any former satellite TV subscribers with equipment still under warranty should contact their original installer to check whether taking a new service affects their warranty terms.

Digital Cameras

Thinking of buying a new camera and wondering how many megapixels you will need or are you just wondering what it all means? then read on because megapixels rarely make a difference for the average person who only prints 6 x 4 pictures. They only really make a difference with large poster size prints and cropping. There are other specs that are more important than more megapixels such as the sensor type, zoom capability, video capability, variety of settings, performance in different lighting situations and these have more of an impact on the quality of the photo than the megapixels. When shopping for a digital camera don't rely on the manufacturer's hype, read all the reviews. You can find them just about anywhere and don't just go by numbers or star ratings.

There are great 10 MP cameras and bad ones. If you are looking for something for leisure, you surely don't need more than that and could even go lower. Just do some research, go to local stores to see the cameras and try them with your own memory card.- most use SD cards, take some shots, download them when you get home and compare) and you'll have a much better idea of what is right for you than by going purely by numbers.

My first digital camera was less than 3 megapixel. It has always taken very nice photos but if you want better photos, sensor size counts for a lot more. You will find that cameras with larger sensors cost more, and for good reason. They produce better photos, no matter how many megapixels you have. By the same token, lots of megapixels with a smaller sensor will not give impressive results. So remember, you can't automatically assume that more pixels will necessarily give better image quality.

Television Development

Figures released recently by the TV Licensing Authority to mark the 40th anniversary of the start of colour television revealed that there are still 28,000 households in the UK using old black and white TVs. Colour programs started officially on November 15th 1969 with a Petula Clark concert broadcast from the Royal Albert Hall in London at midnight although there had been test transmissions for a while. Dixon of Dock Green, the Harry Secombe Show and Match of the Day were broadcast in Colour. By the end of 1969, 200,000 colour TV sets were in use across the UK. and in 1976 colour sets began to outnumber black and white. There have been many milestones of television over the years, the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1952 when the few that had televisions invited their neighbours in to their houses to watch it with them as there were very few TVs in use. The start of commercial TV in 1955 when adverts started to split programs into several parts, the first satellite broadcast across the Atlantic in 1962, the start of BBC2 in 1964 when there was a power cut in the studio ruining most of the first nights programs and the introduction of video cassette recorders in 1974. It was a few years before they were mass marketed and then video rental shops opened up on almost every high street renting the latest horror movie. The majority of them have closed now. In 1982 Channel 4 was launched and soon after in 1983 breakfast TV started. Back in the early days of TV, daytime programs were very limited, Listen with Mother and a housewife's program were just about the only offering from the BBC. Some sad people watched the test card and listened to the music that came with it. Gradually the daytime hours were increased, mainly with sport at first. Yes, we could watch sport and the test card during the day but very little else. Eventually the start of breakfast TV completed the full day and at last we could watch TV in bed in the mornings. Sky was launched in 1989 with the start of multi channel viewing and Channel 5 in 1997 became the last terrestrial channel when many of us had to have our sets adjusted because the channel used the same frequency as our video recorders. Now we have the start of High Definition services and the big analogue turn off has started as we go all digital. Do you remember your first colour TV set? or you are one of the few people still watching in black and white please let me know. I would love to know if you manage to get it repaired when it breaks down. Tell me your memories and send your pictures to-. rolandbeaney@tiscali.co.uk 

Storing your important files

I have a hard drive that is now several years old and I am wondering if it is living on borrowed time. Hard drives are mechanical devices with platters that are spinning at thousands of revolutions per minute so I suppose its not a question of if they will fail but when. Is it possible to predict when a hard drive is about to die, does it start to run warm or make funny noises? Multiple backups are so important as the average life of a hard drive is typically thought to be about 5 years. Many factors such as handling, temperature and just plain luck of the draw can result in failures at anytime. Reports state that the average age for a laptop drive is about 3 years and desktop drives about 5. External Hard Drives don’t seem to last nearly as long, perhaps users drop or mishandle them more or it it could be poor cooling, or just plugging and unplugging them incorrectly. As far as maintenance goes, other than keeping the drive defragmented and always using the “Safely Remove Hardware” icon before unplugging your drive, there doesn't seem to be much else you can do except avoiding any sudden shock to the drive, especially while it is turned on. You should treat an external hard drive very carefully and always have additional backups. Drives are much cheaper now and I think I will replace mine every few years.

Be very careful if you upload your files to the internet and expect them to be there in a years time. Some sites do have problems at times and files can become corrupted. I've now had reports from people who have now lost all their favourite files on http://www.mediafire.com/  The latest news is that if you don't access your files on Mediafire for a month they disappear. I would be interested to know of any other problems like this.

Also remember that data on CDs can disappear or become corrupted in time especially if you write on them with a marker pen. Perhaps we should go back to storing data on old fashioned cassettes. Apparently they are now becoming popular again and manufacturers are having difficulty in keeping up with requirements. Recently I've been given lots of old cassette recordings that were made in the 1960s and I've been transferring the recordings to CD. The quality of some of them is surprisingly good considering how long ago they were recorded. Even some old reel to reel tape recordings are now being found with decent recordings on them. Who said tapes wouldn't last very long and CDs would last forever? So much for modern technology.

Wherever you store your files remember to have a backup. 

Printer Ink Refills

I see lots of offers and adverts for printer ink refills, refill kits and cheap ink cartridges. Two years ago I bought a new printer and when the manufacturers cartridges ran out I started shopping around for replacements. I was surprised to find how expensive they were and decided to buy a cheaper set of ink cartridges for my printer. These seemed to work well for two years and then I got a message on my printer telling me that the head couldn't be cleaned. I took the printer to a servicing centre and was told that the head was damaged and it was cheaper to buy another printer than to get it repaired. The technical guy asked me if I had been using cheap ink cartridges and told me that I should have used the manufacturers cartridges designed for the printer. I've now purchased a new printer and have to decide what type of ink cartridges to use in it. I have to admit with the high relative price put on genuine manufacturers ink cartridges, it is tempting to save some cash and try and use cheap cartridges again.

Refilling the cartridges is another option but many cheaper refill kits are of inferior quality compared to the original manufacturer's cartridges. Some low-quality brands can cause the print head to clog and the quality varies widely among brands. In some cases the colours can be slightly off and the ink may bleed slightly more, reducing the sharpness of text and images. Some do not offer the same 'lifetime' guarantee on printed works. Thus, they are not ideal for printing photos or archive-quality documents. Nevertheless, the quality for day to day print jobs is more than suitable.

Now, I don't use refill kits but I would like to purchase cheaper cartridges and would be interested to hear from other people if they have had problems with their printer heads due to the use of non manufacturers cartridges.

Some things to take note of when refilling cartridges-

1.) Most printers remember ink levels and will report an empty cartridge, even after you refill it, preventing you from printing! Thus, you may have to 'trick' the printer into resetting the ink level, which usually involves covering specific contacts on the cartridge with a piece of tape or cycling 3 or more cartridges through the printer. (You can search for specific instructions for your make/model online.) Many Canon models actually ask if you want to override the setting, making 'tricking' the printer completely unnecessary, though it will be unable to report the actual ink level if you do so.

2.) Always refill the cartridge before it becomes empty and the remaining ink in the print head, interior hardens.

3.) You will still have to replace the cartridge eventually. The print head will start to fail after extended use and most ink cartridges have an expiration date, after which the printer may refuse to use them. However, you can typically refill a cartridge 5times times before it needs replacing saving yourself lots of cash in the mean time.

Of course, purchasing third-party ink cartridges eliminates those three issues, and the hassle of refilling the cartridges, but increases the cost without increasing performance and quality.

Cleaning up Windows

I've tried cleaning up my computers with registry cleaners but do they do anything worthwhile or do they do more harm than good? I cannot say that I have tried every single one but I do wonder if our time and money would be better spent on a good antivirus software, firewall and anti-spyware program. If your registry really needs cleaning then why not simply reinstall Windows every now and then or restore Windows from a previous saved image. You might think that reinstalling Windows is too big a job, but it can be fairly easy and fast if you plan ahead for it and especially if you start with a previous clean image. In the meantime a few good tips

1. Uninstall any programs that you no longer or never use.

2. Disable any unused Internet Explorer Tool bars such as Ask, Yahoo, AOL, Google.

3. Remove temporary files.

4. Use a Spyware and malware remover.

5. Disable any unnecessary startup items using "msconfig. "

5. Run the Window disk defragmenter.

Don't use software that does not have someone you can call if there is a problem and always call a company before loading a software program.

Mobile Internet Radio - April 2009

Wi-Fi has been a big disappointment. At one time it was expected to be the new way of accessing the Internet on the move. Its widely used within the home to connect computers and Wi-Fi Radios to a broadband connection and it has expanded into public places such as airports, shopping centres, hotels and some restaurants but plans to expand it to cover towns and cities have been limited. Now that mobile phones companies are building up their 3G networks, (which is the new mobile broadband) it looks as though this will be the new way to surf the Internet when you are away from your home or office. I've been using a mobile phone 3G dongle on my computer for a few months and even though there are many places where 3G is not available, it is still a lot easier to access the internet from the Mobile phone networks than trying to find a Wi-Fi "Hot Spot" Coverage has been quite good although it can be difficult to set up your e-mail programme and the screen is very small but it was fairly easy to find web pages. One interesting aspect of this is that you can now listen to Internet radio on your mobile phone and you can tune in to your favourite radio station, even your local station can be heard if you are away from home. I tried it in the car and reception was good in areas covered by 3G but in some areas the signal dropped and I had to restart it. Remember you should not try operating a mobile phone while you are driving, get your passenger to operate it for you or stop the car. Using the earphone supplied the stereo sound from the internet was good and you can get an adaptor to connect the phone to a Hi Fi or even your car radio, I used a mini transmitter through the car radio and the sound was surprisingly good. If anyone remembers the pocket transistor radios back in the 1960s then its a bit like having one of those in your pocket again. If you have any questions about Internet radio and how to set it up please write to me at rolandbeaney@tiscali.co.uk 

Roland

New National DAB Radio Stations to Launch in 2009

Digital One, the company licensed to broadcast DAB digital radio across Great Britain, has today launched a process that could see more national radio stations on DAB digital radio within a matter of months.


The move comes after the publication of a report from the Digital Radio Working Group to the Government last month (December 2008). The report highlighted how new national radio stations could act as a key catalyst to boost the take up of DAB digital radio.


The Acting Chief Executive of Digital One, Glyn Jones, commented: “We’re turning the ideas set out in the DRWG’s report into actions. That includes looking hard at how Digital One can offer lower carriage costs. In turn we’re expecting that stakeholders involved in the Working Group, and other companies with the ambition to launch new national radio stations in 2009, will step up and engage with a view to adding compelling new choice for consumers.”


The process, launched with an advertisement in the national press, invites successful, established brands and innovative new stations to broadcast across Britain. Capacity is available for mainstream stations as well as more specialist channels. For example, proposals based on Plays/Books/Comedy content would be welcome as well as other speech or music formats with consumer appeal.


Digital One confirmed that it is reviewing its charges for capacity. Glyn Jones commented: “We’re expecting that prices will initially be set below Digital One’s 2008 rate card. One reason for that is to help provide an incentive for people to invest in high quality services. But, over time, companies providing new services will be expected to contribute to the costs of a transmitter roll-out plan which was something also identified by the DRWG as important.”


Digital One operates the national commercial multiplex with a network of over 100 transmitters providing coverage to over 100% of the population of Great Britain. Current customers include Absolute Radio, Classic FM, Planet Rock and talkSPORT.

 

DAB Radio Latest

If you have a DAB radio then you may be in for a surprise soon because the system will eventually be replaced by DAB+. A few years ago the UK decided to use the DAB standard for its new digital radio service. The system was soon dumped for the new DAB+ standard by most other countries and the UK has now been left behind. DAB in the UK is not up to FM quality. Basically the new DAB+ allows you to get twice as many radio stations in the same amount of spectrum with the same audio quality that we got with DAB and approx 50% more stations with far better audio quality. Some new DAB receivers may support both the old and new compression standards but the old radios won't work and they are still being sold.


DAB+ is based on the original DAB standard but uses a more efficient audio codec. Whereas DAB today uses MP2 technology, DAB+ uses MP4 or AAC+. This allows equivalent or better subjective audio quality to be broadcast at lower bit rates. The increased efficiency offers better spectrum efficiency with lower costs and a wider choice of stations. Many countries around the world have acknowledged the benefits of DAB+ for their individual markets. Australia, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Malta, Malaysia and China have also expressed their interest in rolling out commercial DAB+ services. Tests and trials are being carried out around the world. Manufacturers are also ensuring DAB+'s quick roll out with an increasing number of DAB+ receivers in the market.


If you bought an expensive DAB radio then it will still work for a long time to come but for the future consider buying a radio that can use the new technology.

 

ProSound Radio

If you are bored with listening to Radio stations on your car radio you can now buy a mini transmitter to attach to your MP3 player or IPod and play your own selection of music through your car stereo. Just find a spare frequency on the dial and then tune your mini transmitter into it and you can play what you want to hear through your radio and not what someone else wants you to hear. These mini transmitters now produce a much better sound and are easily tuneable to any frequency on the dial. I've been testing a 1 GB ProSound MP3 player bought from Maplins for under £30. It has been designed for a car but can also be used to play through any radio. It has a built in rechargeable battery plays for over 5 hours on one charge using the FM Transmitter, it supports MP3 and WMA files and also records through an internal mic saved in WAV format. Connect it up to your computer and you can charge it and store approx 700 songs onto it. It also has 6 equaliser modes, multi play modes and a fast data transfer speed to transfer your tracks from the computer using drag and drop. It can also be used with stereo earphones as a normal MP3 player and you can also use an audio lead to plug it directly into an amplifier. I found the quality was quite good with the internal transmitter through the car stereo and the aerial also adjusts to improve signal quality.

 

Microphone recordings

The tape recorder has been around for many years. First we had reel to reel recorders back in the 60's and then the cassette recorder made it possible for portable Walkmans and mini units for cars. Most tape or cassette recorder had a microphone input so that we could make a good quality voice recording. Now that these machines are becoming rare we have to look elsewhere. As digital technology has now taken over from analogue I have been looking at ways to make recordings using this new technology. Mobile phones have a voice recording option and portable voice recorders are available everywhere but they don't produce high quality recordings. They are ok if you just want to make a memo recording when you haven't got a pen or piece of paper available but they are not suitable for a good quality recording. The best options seem to be the computer which would produce a good quality recording but is not very portable and the Mini Disc recorder which is portable but has now become another piece of technology that is disappearing. When buying a Mini Disc recorder you have to make sure it has a microphone input as many of them do not have this option. I bought a Sony MD Walkman MZ-R70 from e-bay and tested it out. Some MD machines I find difficult to operate but this one has a mic. input with a recording slider control on the front. It was easy to use and produced a good quality recording for a small machine which fits neatly into your pocket. Its a shame that these machines are becoming rare now but there seem to be a lot still available on e-bay. For portability I still think the MD recorder is best and the Laptop or Notebook computer would come second but make sure your batteries are topped up before doing an important interview. 

Power To The People

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between unregulated and regulated power supplies? Most of us have seen the label on the little mains adaptors that we buy to plug our radio's, cameras, portable games, PDA's and other electronic products into. I use some to power up a pair of speakers to save on batteries. We have to be careful because the units marked "unregulated" have a higher output voltage than stated on the rating label when there is no device or load attached. The "regulated one's have one or multiple output voltages that will stay constant irrespective of the device or load that they are powering up. I would recommend buying a "regulated" device but if you have already bought one like me that is "unregulated" I suggest that if it has a variable voltage control then you use a lower voltage than that recommended for the device that you are running with it. Always read the instructions carefully before using any device as you may cause un-repairable damage to it.

Wi-Fi Radio

Have you ever tried to listen to Radio from the Internet with your computer? The first Internet "radio station", Internet Talk Radio, was developed by Carl Malamud as long ago as1993 and WXYC (89.3 FM Chapel Hill, USA) was the first radio station to announce broadcasting on the Internet on November 7, 1994. Its only recently that this form of "broadcasting" has really taken off using MP3 and AAC PLUS technology. Many Radio Stations now put out their programmes on the Internet and you can listen to them around the world. Go to the stations website and you can usually find a 'listen' button to connect you to the station. Until recently the internet was an unreliable way to listen to your favourite station but with modern 'streaming' technology it has become more reliable and quality has improved greatly with good quality stereo now being used widely. Sometimes the stream will "buffer" and you will notice short breaks in reception but they don't usually last for long.


Now, If you have a Wi-Fi Modem you can listen without even having to turn on your computer. Wi-Fi radios are now available in the shops. You just enter the WEP or WPA Key number from your Wi-Fi router into the radio when prompted and thousands of stations are available to you. Press the select/menu button on the Radio and you can choose your station by genre, location and country. Scroll through and you will find stations from all over the world. You can also register the radio on the internet and chose your own stream and you can even play the music from your own computer.


The simple plug and play device links to any Wi-Fi network (requires only broadband internet connection with wireless router) to stream both live and listen again internet radio content. Channels are listed alphabetically and the easy to use multi-function control knob makes choosing a station simpler than an FM radio! The AE Wi-Fi radio brings all the benefits of internet radio to the kitchen, bedroom or even the garden and can also play music stored on your PC.

Tevion Wi-Fi RadioThe model I tested was a Tevion (pictured) it cost £64.99 from Aldi and was the cheapest that I have found for an Internet radio. Once set up, the radio played well. The radio came with detailed setting up instructions but it can be a bit difficult for the beginner. You must have a Wi-Fi router/modem. Unfortunately this set does not have batteries so you need to set the clock every time you switch it off. It worked well in all parts of the house but it does take a few minutes to initialise again after switching it off. It was also in stereo. The Reciva web site used to add new stations or streams was easy to negotiate and adding streams was easy. The radio updates its list of stations regularly and you can add your own. Sound quality was ok for the cost and size of the set and there is an output plug to connect to separate speakers. The radio also comes with an FM tuner.

Other more expensive models are available. The Acoustic Energy Wi-Fi radio costs £159.96 and is available through the www.radiocaroline.co.uk  website with a 20 per cent discount. It is the world’s first radio capable of accessing over 99% of internet radio stations broadcast anywhere in the world. Compatibility with all three major streaming formats gives the AE Wi-Fi radio unrivalled choice of content from London’s BBC Radio1 to Sao Paolo’s Radio Calypso! Wi-Fi enabled PC in the home. Radio will never be the same again

.

Wireless Speakers

Wireless Speakers

Connected Essentials

I have been testing a wireless Stereo Speaker System by Connected Essentials, code CES10. being sold on http://www.radiocarolineinnovations.co.uk/  According to their website this system is specifically designed for use anywhere inside the home or office and especially for anyone looking for a low cost alternative without compromising on performance. Don't get in a tangle with piles of wires - get crystal clear sound from these great looking cordless speakers.


They are great for use with surround sound TV and audio systems, iPod, MP3 and other portable music players. Also ideal for hook up to your PC, both in the home and office. This pair of UHF cordless speakers gives you all the features and performance you'd expect from top quality wired speakers.

The official specifications is as follows.

● The Wireless Speakers have a range of up to 100 metres in ideal conditions. However this can be reduced by things such as walls.

● Power: 3W RMS x 2

● Band-width: 13-20000 Hz

● S/N ratio: < 50 dB

● Distortion: < 1.5%

● Speakers measure 20.1 x 15.6 x 6.7cm

The package arrived a week after ordering from the website. All the items were well packed and came with an instruction leaflet clearly explaining how to set them up. The speakers looked smart with a modern black face. They were flat with a swivel stand so that they could be placed on a shelf. They can also be fixed onto a wall. There was a transmitter and 3 AC adaptors to plug each speaker and the transmitter into the mains supply. Although the speakers have a battery compartment that take 6 x AA batteries for short term use it would be better to site the units near electrical points to avoid having to keep changing or charging the batteries. There was also a 6.3mm stereo adaptor and 3.5mm left/right RCA phono plugs. I put the transmitter unit upstairs and plugged the transmitter into a Worldspace satellite radio. and fitted the speakers to a wall downstairs. I then turned on the system. After pressing the scan button on each speaker they burst into life. The sound was good and steady with no interference. Pressing the base boost button produced a good base response. The power/stereo LED lights on the front were supposed to change from red to green when a signal was received but one of the lights refused to go green although this doesn't make any difference to the sound. Compared to my old Ross wireless speakers these have a longer range, unlike the old Ross speakers there is no charging facility for the batteries. Also the controls on the side of the speakers are difficult to access especially the on/off switch. Also when you switch off the speaker the speaker volume and balance has to be re-adjusted when you turn them back on again.

In summing up the speakers looked smart and produced a good sound from various sources including my computer, my radio, my MP3 players and my mini disc player. The system was easy to set up and use and the sound was steady when I walked around the house with the speakers. The cost £49.99 with a 10 per cent on line saving.

 

 

DAB Radio

Tevion DAB RadioI recently bought my first DAB radio. I had resisted the temptation up to now because I have lots of FM radios around the house. I also have Digital TV a Worldspace satellite radio and a computer where I can get thousands of radio stations from all over the world. This gives me the opportunity to spend hours finding obscure radio stations but unfortunately my wife doesn't share my enthusiasm and complains bitterly about the strange noises coming out of my radios. Digital Audio Broadcasting or DAB is supposed to provide me with near FM quality reception to a whole host of local and national radio stations. I repeat near FM quality because they have decided to reduce the quality to give us many more stations. DAB has been under development since the early eighties and has been adopted by around 20 countries worldwide. It is based around the MP2 audio codec. DAB receivers are selling well especially as the cost of them has tumbled recently. An announcement was made in November 2006 that DAB would be adopting the HE-AACv2 audio codec. which is also known as AAC+. Also being adopted are the MPEG Surround format, and stronger error correction coding. The update has been named DAB+. and receivers that support the new DAB standard were to be released during 2007. Unfortunately this means that all the DAB radios that have been sold up to now will not be able to receive the new AAC+ transmissions and presumably the original DAB broadcasts will not last forever making these radios redundant.

My new DAB/FM radio works well and my wife seems to be pleased with it. It has replaced her FM radio in the kitchen and surprisingly picks up a stronger signal than the FM radio ever did. She finds it easy to operate and uses it regularly. I purchased it for under £30 and I thought it was a bargain especially for a stereo model. It has a clock and a date on the front. It also has an alarm facility to turn it into a clock radio for the bedroom. It has a scrolling text facility and press buttons to store your favourite stations. You can also get the FM band. With the new broadcasting standard starting I wonder if I will get as many years service out of it as I have with my old FM radios, one of them a cassette radio purchased in the early 70's and still working well. 


Jungle TV

Look under the TV in most houses today and you will see a large selection of boxes all connected up to the TV with lots of cables and wires making it all look very untidy. Many years ago I was told by a TV engineer that soon everything will be combined in one unit. This has not happened and in fact the mess is getting worse. I have just spent a considerable amount of time trying to connect up a Video recorder, a DVD player and a Freeview box to a TV with only one scart socket and at the same time trying to make it all look reasonably tidy. There are so many options today that it would be very difficult to get everything combined in one box. I recently received an e-mail from a reader who asks, "I am about to sort out my lounge and am sick of all the different TV boxes. I have found a DVD & VCR combi box with Freeview, the downside is it can't get top up TV. Do you know of a box that does this or am I ahead of the technology?" Personally I would rather have separate boxes and if one part of my system goes wrong then I won't lose the whole system while it goes in for repair. Recently a friends TV had to go away for repair because the DVD player built into it wouldn't work. If they had a separate DVD player then they would have been able to continue using the TV. With a combined DVD and VCR box you would lose both if a tape got stuck in the VCR section. Many TVs now come with a DVD player and a Freeview box including Top Up TV built into them. You would then just have the VCR to connect up separately. Unfortunately if your existing TV is working ok you won't want to change it.
 

Why not consider one of those new PVR boxes, Sky recently revealed that over 2 million of its customers now have its personal video recorder, Sky+. which is a Sky box and a hard drive recorder combined. You can also get a similar system with a Freeview box. This is an ideal way of making a temporary recording of your favourite TV programme, the picture is better than a VCR recording ever produced. You will still need a separate DVD player at the moment though. Everyone has different requirements and a box with everything will be expensive to produce. With careful planning we can cut back on the amount of separate boxes but we will still need them so make sure that when you buy a new TV it has more than one scart socket.

 

Bluetooth Devices

Mention Bluetooth to many people today and they will tell you its an earpiece that you stick into your ear to connect you to your mobile phone so that you can talk on the phone while you are driving. I am not too sure whether it is any safer to use while driving but that is what most people use it for. Actually it has many more uses and it is also capable of not only transmitting voice but also data quite fast. It can transfer data from your computer to many other devices up to a distance of 32 feet or 10 meters without the use of cables. It is also very secure so you don't have to worry about anyone else picking up your transmissions. With its encryption system and pin number technology interference from other sources is highly unlikely. All products with the Bluetooth logo interoperate with products from other manufacturers otherwise they will not be able to use the Bluetooth logo. It has a tremendous potential especially in the office and you can even connect your mouse and keyboard to the computer wirelessly with it. You can transfer your pictures from the camera, unlock your garage, turn your lights on and transfer e-mails and messages between your computer and your mobile phone. Although a decision is still pending whether you can use it on a plane you can still write your e-mails on the laptop and as soon as you arrive at your destination and turn on your mobile phone they are sent automatically. Coming soon, I look forward to playing all the tunes from my MP3 player through my hi fi system without a cable and perhaps I will soon be able to turn the kettle on and operate the central heating all with Bluetooth technology.

 

 

MP3 and MP4's

What's the difference between MP3 and MP4?

MP3 is a digital music format that allows you to squeeze more music into a smaller space without a substantial loss of quality. You don't have to make a decision what tracks to carry with you to the gym as you can carry a lot more music around with you wherever you go. An mp3 with a memory of 128 Mb can store up to 32 tracks. 256 Mb stores 64 tracks. 1Gb can store 256 tracks and 2 Gb up to 500 tracks. A 4 Gb player can store 1,000 tracks which means that you can take your entire music collection with you.

Now MP4 technology can provide many of the audio benefits of MP3 technology but with the added attraction on Video images. You can now store hours of video footage on a small portable player. MP4 is short for MPEG-4 which is a technology developed to provide DVD quality video and sound in a very small file. You can now take everything from video clips, films or TV shows with you to watch on the bus or the train as well as your favourite music. Some players can even record from the TV, Satellite box or video player. 1Gb can usually store 4 hours of video, 30 Gb can store up to 130 hours of video while 40 Gb can store an amazing 160 hours of video entertainment. Can anyone say they are bored now?

Years ago Johnny Walker invited all the girls to take their transistor radio to bed with them to listen to his show under the covers, now you can take your MP4 player to bed and watch your favourite personality under the bed cover.

 

Battery Power

Once upon a time when we went to a shop to buy a battery it was an easy choice. Now there are so many different types of batteries available. Whether you choose AA, AAA, PP3, C and D types you have to decide between alkaline, Lithium, Nickel-Cadmium, Nickel-Metal Hydride and Hybrid NI-MH. Do you know the difference between that lot? Remember, if you buy the wrong type of battery you could be wasting your money. Now when you go shopping for a battery look carefully at the details on the side of it before deciding what type to get. Many manufacturers put the capacity of the battery on the side especially for rechargeables and you will see there is a large difference in how long they will last or how long they need charging for. In general the cheapest disposables will only be suitable for remote controls or similar low consumption equipment. For high drain or high usage items you can go for Lithium disposals or even rechargeable batteries.

Disposable Batteries:-

Alkaline

Alkaline batteries have been around for years and provide good all round performance. Alkaline batteries can be split into two distinct groups, premium and standard alkaline. Premium alkaline are better for high-tech devices and provide about 20% more power than standard alkaline batteries which are ideal for everyday household devices such as remote controls and smoke alarms and provide dependable long lasting power. Alkaline batteries are much longer lasting than ‘heavy-duty’ zinc carbon batteries and alkaline batteries have longer shelf lives.

Lithium

Not to be confused with lithium-ion which is rechargeable technology used for mobile phones and digital camera battery packs. Disposable lithium provides amazing performance in high-drain devices. Disposable lithium batteries last up to seven times longer than standard alkaline batteries in a high drain devices, such as digital cameras and MP3 players. They are the best performing of all the disposable batteries, and work well at extreme temperatures

Rechargeable Batteries:-

These will save you money and will out perform some types of disposable batteries. They cost twice as much as disposable batteries but you will save money many times over.

Nickel-Cadmium (Ni-Cd)

These are good value for money and are most suitable for mid drain items such as radios and torches. As they suffer from memory effect they should be run right down before you recharge them to maintain their performance.

Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH)

These are most suitable for high drain appliances and can last four times longer on one charge than alkaline batteries in a digital camera. These don't suffer from the memory effect and don't have to be run down before they are recharged. They do lose some of their charge when not in use so they are not suitable for smoke alarms and remote controls.


Hybrid Ni-MH (Hybrio)

The latest generation of rechargeable battery. Hybrio batteries offer all the advantages of rechargeable while performing like alkaline batteries in many ways. Hybrio come charged up and ready to use out of the pack, like alkaline. Hybrio batteries hold their charge for much longer than ordinary Ni-MH batteries when not in use. This means they are much better for low drain uses such as remote controls and clocks than any other rechargeable battery. Hybrio is the first truly multi-purpose rechargeable battery and because it comes charged and ready to use, it offers the ultimate in convenience and long term value for money.

 

MP3 Explained

MP3 players are the new "Must have" for the younger generation and also for many older folks as well. You can download tunes from the internet or transfer your CD collection onto a player to listen to on your way to work or while in the gym. There are a wide range of MP3 players and  IPods on sale in the shops or on the Internet. This is a guide to some of the terms you might find.

What is an MP3?

MP3 stands for MPEG-1 Audio Layer III and is a music compression format that reduces the amount of space needed to store songs digitally.
MP3 files can either be downloaded from the internet at a fraction of the cost of purchasing a CD, or you can convert your current CD collection into MP3 files via a PC. The music is compressed by removing frequencies that are beyond a humans hearing; also the frequency spectrum is sampled at 128kbps not 44,100 as used on a CD. Although this leads to a slight loss in quality, the human ear is very forgiving and using a number of other mathematical tricks, the sound quality is more or less the same.

What is a WAV file?

WAV files store digital music data in a lossless format, meaning the file will be digitally identical to its source. However, the result is a very large, uncompressed file and not suitable for an MP3 player. You must convert your WAV files to MP3 before transferring them onto your player.

What is an MP4?

This is a compressed video version of MP3, designed, so that you can play  movie/video files on your player. New players are increasingly coming onto the market that play movie/video files, its like MTV on the move.

What is DRM?  

Digital Rights Management Copyright protection is used on many authorised downloading sites to prevent unauthorised users from freely distributing content. It helps to ensure the publishers of electronic media will receive the appropriate revenue for their products and to make sure that their digital content is only used by those who have paid for it. The record company's usually insist on this protection before allowing tunes to be downloaded.

How many songs can I play on my MP3 player?

MP3 Player Memory
Size

128Mb

256Mb

512Mb

1Gb

2Gb

4Gb

20Gb

Estimated
number of MP3 files

32

64

128

256

512

1024


 

RDS Digital Radio, DAB Digital Radio

and DRM Digital Radio.

RDS stands for Radio Data System. It's a digital technology developed 25 years ago for traditional Analogue FM radio so that you don't have to retune car radios when driving between different transmitters on different frequencies. It also allows broadcasters to supply some text information alongside the audio, display the name of the radio station you're listening to, and has applications for broadcasting travel news. Like Teletext and Nicam stereo for television, RDS was a pioneer in using digital technology for broadcasting. These technologies are becoming out of date now but they were early examples of the use of digital technology for broadcasting.

DAB digital radio was developed using all the experience gained from RDS. Everything about it is digital, not analogue. It uses technologies including COFDM and MPEG audio coding to allow listeners to hear more stations, and all in digital sound quality. Alongside those benefits, DAB digital radio opens up a huge range of new possibilities in terms of the text information that can be carried. Unfortunately in the UK the sound quality has been compromised to allow more stations to use the spectrum so that the old FM signal is still better quality. Even so, the new DAB digital radio's still produces interference free sound with a good selection of stations.

Shortly DRM digital radio's will be entering the shops. This is a very interesting development which puts digital radio onto the AM bands. Shortly you will be able to listen to stereo digital radio on the old Medium Wave and Short Wave bands. DAB only uses the FM band. As AM signals travel further we should soon have many more stations and this is a development I am looking forward to. I have had the opportunity to listen to a DRM broadcast on short wave and it sounded excellent but when the signal faded there were gaps or dropouts. This shouldn't affect MW as much.

I would be pleased to hear from you if you have any questions. Write to rolandbeaney@tiscali.co.uk

 

Luxembourg Memories

If you were a teenager in the 50s and the 60s then you would have fond memories of Radio Luxembourg. The “station of the stars” as they used to call themselves broadcast on 208 meters from the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and for a long time in the 50s and the early 60s it was the UK's only pop music station. The BBC had a very restricted offering of pop music, usually amounting to a few hours of Saturday Club or the Chart show on the Light Programme. At that time the BBC provided us with such great offerings as Workers Playtime or Music While you Work. Until the pirate stations started in 1964 Radio Luxembourg stood alone in broadcasting pop music with English DJs playing the top chart tunes. It had its problems though; because the transmitter was situated in Luxembourg the signal across the UK was not very good even though they used one of the most powerful transmitters in Europe. The signal faded badly and sometimes disappeared completely. It was also only a night time service so we were still stuck with the BBC's music while you work as a day time offering which was a collection of classic tunes played by the BBC's own orchestra.

At the time the BBC couldn’t play much chart music per day due to the “needle time” restrictions that was imposed upon them. Many of Radio Luxembourg’s programmes were sponsored by record companies. Much of the music played was controlled by these companies and some smaller artists couldn’t get their music played at all. Also many of the programmes were 15 minutes long and this meant some of the records were badly chopped and we were lucky if we heard half of the tune. It was still a much loved station though and I have many great memories of it. My interest in radio stations made me take a detour to Luxembourg during a holiday in Europe in the late 60s. We decided to try to visit the studio. After asking for directions we were directed into a park and we thought we had been sent the wrong way. Eventually we found the studio and there was a mean looking man guarding the main entrance. “No you can’t come in today” was his stern reply. We walked away feeling very disappointed. Then one of my friends decided to have another go. He returned to the entrance and tried a bit of persuasion. “Look sir, we have come all the way from the UK to visit the studios and we are big fans of the station”, “Ok, you can go in but keep out of the way.” We were allowed to find our own way into the studio and a guy told us to sit down and be quiet because they were doing a live interview. This was my first visit to a radio station to see how it was done and we really enjoyed it. We asked for a request to be played for our friends back home and were surprised to find how difficult it was to pick up the station back in the car. Yes, you could get better reception back in the UK than you could in Luxembourg.

The station broadcast for a time on the Astra Satellite but with the amount of radio stations increasing all the time over the UK found it difficult to get the sponsorship to continue. Eventually the English service closed and although there have been attempts to start it up again they have failed. Perhaps one day the sounds of Radio Luxembourg, or Luxy as it was called at different times will grace our airwaves again but for now we have the memories.

 Now  Online! Listen To Radio Luxembourg

Internet Radio

Many people ask me why I am called the Anorak Man. It is a name for someone with a passionate interest in radio and It was given to me by Chris the web master of Woodley Net because I wrote articles about radio on his web site.

Today the term is used for anyone with a passionate interest in anything and not just radio. I have been a radio anorak since my early days when I found an old crystal set in my gran's cupboard and rigged up an aerial on the washing line. These sets had been redundant for many years but the joy I had when I rigged it up and suddenly I could hear music coming from it. I could only get two stations, the BBC Home service and the BBC Light programme but to me then that was wonderful. I soon had wire all over the house, up the side of the house connected to the gutter, up the line pole and up the garden to my shed. My parents weren't too pleased because they kept tripping over the cables, even the cat got tied up in the cable, have you ever heard the noise an angry cat makes?

Soon I had electricity in the shed and I was given a very large valve radio to play with. I found myself listening to stations from all over the world on short wave. From Start Point to Berlin and beyond the stations and strange noises kept coming from my shed at the top of my garden. Soon it was Radio Sweden, Athlone, and then Radio Canada and I found a station from Australia on short wave.

It all came to an end though when I connected up a wire to something I should not have connected it to. There was a loud bang from inside the house and the look on my mothers face running up the garden told me that I was in serious trouble. I had blown all the fuses in the house and the fuse board had a strange smell coming from it. I then realized the dangers of electricity and after that I was given a battery transistor radio which was a lot safer and I continued my hobby in safety.

Today we have so much more on our radio's to listen to. It was a sad day when the police messages left the FM band but they were replaced by many more stations. The fun of being an anorak though is not listening to the local station but finding a station from further afield. This is why I have started listening to Internet radio. There is an endless list of stations from around the world. If you live away from your home town then you could try to find your home town station. Try the stations web site and there should be a link there somewhere.. You may have to download a player but that is not too difficult. Media Player, Real Player and Winamp all work well and you adjust the controls on your monitor screen just like an ordinary radio but with a mouse. If you have a big memory on your computer then download all of them because some work better with different stations. There is no cost unless you want the premium services. I was listening to a station in Edmonton Canada recently and it came in really well. Sometimes you get gaps called buffering but that is due to the speed of your connection or Internet conditions. If you have broadband then you can go for high quality stereo but for an ordinary dial up service go for the basic audio. i.e. 25 - 40 Kbps. I think its as good as AM quality and you will get less buffering. You could try listening to the commentary of your favourite football club but most clubs make a charge for this now. Try www.live365.com or an Internet search engine for a list of stations and you could become an anorak yourself. Things have certainly changed since the days of the crystal set

TV Around The House

Do you like watching TV wherever you are in your house or do you have kids or other members of the family that want to watch MTV in the bedroom while you sit down to enjoy Eastenders? With all the equipment involved with the reception of TV, distribution of the signals around the house is becoming big business. You may want to watch the portable in the bedroom, conservatory or kitchen and the set top aerial does not produce an acceptable picture or you may want to distribute the signal from the Digi, video recorder or DVD boxes around the house. You could erect another aerial in the loft or you could split the cable but unless you are close to the TV transmitter you would have a marked loss of signal on both sets. You could also use the second outlet provided on some Digi boxes but this does not solve the problem of distributing the signals from the other equipment. This can be done with a distribution box or a video transmitter/sender.

The distribution box. - These boxes are freely available from your local DIY shop and they contain a UHF input and multi UHF outlets. They cost between £20 and £40 depending how many TV sets you want to distribute the signal to. These are fairly easy to connect up but you will have to fit a coax cable from the outlet to the second or third set and this could involve drilling through a wall especially if you want to run a cable upstairs. A good drill long enough to go through your cavity wall would be necessary and it is normally not too difficult to drill through these walls but you must be careful of water pipes and electricity cables in the wall and you must make sure that all electricity to the boxes is turned off to avoid getting a shock. A wire coat hanger opened up will guide the coax cable through the hole in the wall. Run the lead neatly up or around the outside of the house and drill another hole into the room where you have your second set. Always make a loop with the cable outside so that the water drips off the cable and not into the hole. Normally the UHF cables would be connected as follows - Outside aerial to Digi box, (Sky, Freeview etc), Digi box to Video Recorder, Video Recorder to input of distributor box. Output 1 from distributor box to main TV set, output 2 to a portable in bedroom and so on. You will have to buy a remote control extender with this system if you want to change channels from the bedroom and these can be purchased from TV outlets or from Sky.

Video sender/transmitter - This is the best option if you do not want to drill holes through the walls. The latest models can be bought for as little as £89.95 and are now legal in the UK. These units plug into the DVD, VCR, Digi box or cable box and convert the signals to radio frequency 2.4 GHz and send the signal to another room where another box converts the signal back to their original format for connection to a TV. These units also allow you to control your viewing from the remote location using your existing remote control. The new systems have a far superior performance than the original illegal video senders and transmit the signals up to 20 metres around the home.

Now you can go and settle down with your candy floss and popcorn and watch a good movie on the main set while Gran and the kids watch MTV in the spare room.

If you have any questions about fitting or buying these systems then e-mail me at rolandbeaney@tiscali.co.uk

 

Digital TV FAQ's

Have you changed over to digital TV yet or have you considered changing over in the near future. Are you confused with all the different systems and are you wondering what it is all about? I will try to explain the basics of it for you so that you can enjoy the multi channel experience with your Christmas dinner.
Digital is a new way of transmitting television or radio signals so that more information can be compressed into the broadcasting band. This means more channels, better pictures and CD quality sound. There are channels dedicated to sport, films, music, documentaries, news, comedy and lots more.
There are three systems to choose from,  Sky Digital, Freeview  and Digital cable.  Two of the systems have email and interactive services through your TV (Not terrestrial Digital). Cable have internet deals and a special phone deal. Cable and Sky Digital systems allow you to order such things as Pizzas and play games. Sky digital have an amazing selection of radio stations and music channels to choose from and have lots of TV  channels.
 

Sky Digital - advantages, Lots of channels and available nearly everywhere.   Disadvantages, must have a dish fitted.

Freeview -   Advantages, Use your own aerial, no fitting just buy and plug in.   Disadvantages,  Fewer channels than the others but all free, not available in some areas, May have to upgrade the aerial.

Digital Cable - Advantages,  Lots of channels and special deals on the phone, no aerials or dishes.

Disadvantages,  Not available in some areas.
 

Free Channels on Sky Digital?

I have been asked by people that have bought or are thinking of buying Sky digital systems without a Sky subscription if they can get Sky channels on it. The answer is that you can get quite a few free to air channels especially news, shopping, all the BBC channels, and lots of Radio stations but most of the Sky channels will be scrambled and you will need a Sky viewing card. It is possible to get pirate viewing cards but this is illegal and you could get prosecuted or have your card cut off at any time. If you are considering buying a system then buy it with the Sky subsidy and take out a minimum subscription for one year then cancel the subscription and the system will be yours for less than the price of buying one without the subscription. Sky will probably give you some special offers too, like extra channels free.

And Finally....

You have to decide which system suits your requirements best. I will try to answer your questions if you email me at my contact address at the top of this page.. Digital TV is here to stay and you should take advantage of all it has to offer.