Saturday, July 14, 2007

Sky+ kills the video star

I vividly remember the first video my dad bought. It was not a VHS, it was not even Betamax format; it was a Grundig with big clunky keys and tapes as big as house bricks.

He brought it home one evening, Nationwide was on the TV and he tested that everything was working by recording it; a car driving over a bridge. Like all major technological breakthroughs the sheer mundane nature of the subject made it more special.

Emma’s parents’ first video came much later; Emma assured me that it was state of the art and the most expensive one in the shop. It probably was, a purchase born out of fear of the technology. Despite this, it didn’t have a timer function – I was told. So you couldn’t preset the video to record; you basically had to put a tape in at least four hours before the end of the show you wanted to record. So they had tapes and tapes of rubbish in order to catch the Eastenders Omnibus. It wasn’t until, some five years after they bought it, I found it did have a timer; they just didn’t look at the manual, probably for fear of being seen to doubt the machine’s omnipotent power – if angered it might have had their souls exhumed.

My Grandpa also couldn’t get to grips with his video; he was convinced that you had to have the TV on and tuned into the channel you wanted to record. His basic understanding was that somehow the video was recording directly off the TV screen and if the TV was off, then it would record a blank screen. He was worried that if he left the TV on when he was out it would blow a fuse and burn the house would to the ground.

SKY+ came this week; a technology from another planet. The temptation is to use all the functionality all the time, but I figured it should be introduced naturally, y’know, when something significant comes along. So what have we christened this new wizard with? The release of a political prisoner after 30 years? Capture of a long chased Saudi dissident? The winning of a major world sporting trophy after many years of hurt?

Nope, the first thing we’re recording is Neighbours on series link.


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