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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Wednesday August 27 2008

Last night I set my TV hard disc to record the cricket highlights.  One of the features of these hard discs is that you can change the timings, and what I always do when recording something is add time on at the beginning and the end, to make sure I get all of it.  Thus, last night, I changed 00.00 to 23.55, or thenabouts, and 01.00 to 01.05, or thenabouts.  Later, if I want to keep this recording, I edit out the bits at the beginning and the end, and all adverts, and then shove it onto a DVD. 

However, what I forgot was that the date had not changed.  By the time I had made my adjustments, I had ordered my hard disc to record the stuff on Channel 5, starting at 23.55, on the 27th.  I.e. not last night, but tonight.

Had I not been actually watching these highlights as they happened, I would have missed them completely, because I would also have failed to record them.  Which would have been a pity, because England bowled South Africa out for 83 and won by 10 wickets.  As it was, I did watch the highlights as they happened, and, noticing that the recording function was for some mysterious reason not functioning, I started that in the nick of time, by hand, so to speak, and recorded everything, apart from the regular opening sequence and a tiny bit of the jabbering at the beginning by the commentator.

Later, I discovered that my machine still had it in mind to record an hour and a bit of irrelevant nonsense on Channel 5 this evening, starting at 23.55, and the penny dropped.

I knew you’d be excited.

Not a sound about the cricket here today. Not even a column inch in the morning paper. And it certainly finished early enough to make the presses.

Fortunately for Fatty Smith, everyone is more worried about the rugby and the dreadful showing at the Olympics (one solitary silver medal).

Plus, of course, it’s horrible for them to see KP doing well.

Posted by 6000 on 27 August 2008

> I knew you’d be excited.

About as exciting as when I discovered the joys of “taping” (I’m not quite as old as you, but in the same ballpark) BBC Radio Three’s classical music streams on the internet, and was disappointed to find I was programming my recorder in Central European Time but the BBC was broadcasting in some other time zone.

Posted by Alan Little on 27 August 2008

Although it occurs to me that my mistake was entirely my mistake. Whereas you being able to put in an end date for your recording that is before the start date, is somebody else’s incompetent software design.

Posted by Alan Little on 27 August 2008

You don’t simply select the program directly from the Electronic Program Guide?

6000: Only one silver? In Australia, everyone is disappointed about a mere 14 golds (also 15 silver and 17 bronze). This genuinely is a little below expectations (although in truth it is only three gold worse than Athens and two worse than Sydney), but the truly shocking thing is falling below Britain on the medal table. Nobody saw that coming. The swimming team disappointed a little (six Australian world record holders failed to win gold in individual events, most of them after swimming times in the semi-finals that would have easily won the finals), but the strange thing happened in cycling.

Despite this, the interesting thing is that the reversal in the medals table between Britain and Australia is almost entirely attributable to the sport of cycling. Australia got six golds and Britain two in 2004, and Britain got eight and Australia none in 2008. Between 2004 and 2008 Britain poached pretty much Australia’s entire team of cycling coaches, the effect of which does make you wonder about certain things, including just how much in the way of taxpayers money is being wasted on hiring cycling coaches. In Australia, this was seen as rather bad form. After all, we had gone to considerable trouble to poach the coaches from East Germany at the end of the Cold War.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 27 August 2008

I do select from the TV guide, but the timings are often wrong, because (e.g.) concerts over-run or things start a bit late or a bit earlier than the guide predicts.  I change the time to be sure of getting it all.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 28 August 2008

It’s a user interface problem.  It’s actually quite tricky to get this type of user interface right: I know because I’ve worked on software that does it.  Add in daylight savings and it gets even more interesting.  The best thing to do is represent time as some kind of ribbon, rather than as separate numbers for days, hours and minutes.

Posted by Rob Fisher on 28 August 2008

Surely the only two sensible ways of measuring time are the number of days since January 1 4713 BC, measured as a fraction, or althernately the number of seconds since January 1, 1970? (For non-nerds, the first is the “Julian day”, which is used by astronomers, and the second is “Unix time”, which is used in the sort of way Rob is describing).

Surely though, the user interface we want is selecting the program rather than the time. If the program start and/or finish time are changed, the television network should alert the electronic program guide, and the hard disk recorder should be monitoring the EPG and should respond. The actual time is something that the user should not have to input. I think my Sky Plus box works like this, at least some of the time.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 28 August 2008

I now have no problem with this software, now that I know about this particular and rather odd problem.  Next time I’m recording anything just after midnight, and switching the start time to just before midnight, I’ll switch the date back a day, which is easily done.  My only problem was not knowing I had a problem.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 28 August 2008

I guess this is the benfit to Sky plus. Its the one reason why I stay with them.

Posted by olly on 31 August 2008
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