Monday, November 20, 2006

Why no new reviews?

Apologies for the fact there have been no reviews for a while! I blame Google (who now run these blogs - aaarrrrggghhh!)

I'm migrating all the DVD reviews over to their new "Home" - but it's taking a lot longer than it should. If you post more than a certain number of entries in a day a "spam" filter kicks in and it becomes impossible to post.

The idea is that this blog really will become what was originally intended (ie a personal blog, with comments on books, movies, theatre, whatever's happening in life that has nothing to do with work) while all the DVD and HD-DVD stuff will get their own separate blogs over at and

Alas, there are a lot of problems because Google have a "new" set of beta blogging software (why is everything at Google called beta even months after it's gone live? Could it be because they never finish their software properly and so are attempting to explain this by having all their stuff permanently displayed to the public as "beta", as if it's something sexy and cool and that we should be proud of?) The help pages often bear no relation to the reality of the software as it performs, the problems you're having, or the fact you're locked out of posting. Which makes setting up a new blog a complete pain in the derriere.

I guess they'll update the "How do I?..." FAQ pages after they've squashed the many bugs with the new system that users are reporting over on the public blogger forums (am I overly-optimistic, or what?!! ;-)). In the meantime other bloggers are trying to help each other over on the public forums, so it's not all hopeless.

But needless to say I am NOT going to be in a rush to migrate THIS blog to the new format any time soon, despite the constant nagging every time I log in, telling me I really should migrate this forum to the "new" format. No thanks! Unlike the new software this "old" stuff still works (kinda!) - a bit like me, really!

In the meantime, the DVD watching has suffered a little because the flagship DVD player is still with Toshiba's official repair company. The "We'll phone you at the start of the week with an estimate to repair" turned into me phoning them at the end of the week to ask why nobody had phoned, only to be told "We're talking to Toshiba and will call you tomorrow" - they didn't! So I'm reviewing new DVDs on a noisy old XBox that gives a pretty good picture on a 50" plasma - "pretty good" considering the cheap price of the XBox and the fact it was never really meant to be a main DVD player - but frankly it isn't great when there's a lot of motion and it's hard to use it as any sort of measure of DVD picture quality.

In the meantime Toshiba have much egg on face owing to the fact that their high definition format (HD-DVD) players that were due in early November are now "officially acknowledged" as being delayed. It seems only a handful of lucky people will get the early basic player (Toshiba are launching two models) this side of Christmas. The expanded model with more features that was due at the end of November is now rumoured to be slipping to February - at the earliest! Way to stop Blu-Ray, you morons!

Blu-Ray have already won the media marketing war about new hi-def formats. Despite players that are broken and cost six times what anybody's prepared to pay, and disks that look rubbish despite the supperior technology because of the crappy codec and lack of software authoring tools Blu-Ray marketing is everywhere in the media! This is only the battle for what will take over after DVD in the average living room, so why should Toshiba care about their technically inferior format actually winning by having any sort of quality control? Or have customer support that has ANY kind of clue what it's talking about?

Maybe I shouldn't rant at Toshiba so much - after all, they've only had seven months since the US launch (where they started as the underdog but appear to be "winning" the great hi-def war at the moment) to get this right?! The whole of the European market for the next 10 years? Pah! Like I said, Way to go Toshiba!

The excuses from Toshiba for the delay have been hilarious and left right until the very last minute, varying from "They're here, but stuck in customs" (the same excuse used when their new LCD TVs were late back in May) to a final press release that announced "there's a very minor problem with one of the chips from an outside supplier but we care about quality blah-blah-blah". The signs were all there when they were trying to tell people at the What Hi Fi? show the player would be out in 2 weeks and had a 'smoke and mirrors' display that showed shells of the new players seemingly hooked up to the TVs on display. Behind the scenes the older American first generation players with big transformers to convert the voltage to UK 240 volts were what was actually being used.

It's enough to make you want to jump ship and deal with arrogant Sony and their seriously broken Blu-Ray format, if not for the fact that Microsoft seem to have come to the rescue with their HD-DVD add-on for the XBox 360 (albeit one in limited supply - thank God for Amazon pre-orders!)

Sad fact: I now have over 30 HD-DVD disks waiting to be watched/reviewed and still nothing to play them on. There's an important message in there about why you should NEVER become an early adopter!

Oh, and while I'm on the subject DON'T ever buy any UK-released HD-DVDs - there's no region differences any more (all HD-DVDs play on all HD-DVD players regardless of country) so the only reason for buying a UK-issued HD-DVD is (a) because you like paying twice the price for each film (b) you like cases that take up twice the room on your shelf and have annoying empty extra prongs for a non-existent booklet added to them (c) you don't care about getting vaguely decent films to watch (d) you are happy for the UK distribution companies to take off all the interesting extra's on the original US releases to make space for foreign language stuff instead just in case you ever decide you want to watch the film in any one of over 20 bizarre Eastern-European soundtracks at some point in the future. Enough said!

Anyway, as is usually the case with these mini-rants, I have digressed from the subject at hand: new DVD reviews! So here's the position....

I have a stack of NEW DVD reviews piled up waiting to go "Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest" (lousy, lousy movie, great, great extra's), "Joyeux Noel" (wonderful World War I film), "Balls" (good feel-good 'gay football' comedy - who knew the Germans had a sense of humour?!! ;-)), "Pet Shop Boys - A Life in Pop" (great for fans, dull otherwise), and a few others I prefer to be a surprise waiting to be published. I guess they'll be appearing one-per-day on the new blog over the next week or two once I've caught up with moving the old reviews across.

I'll make a new post here when the new blog is ready!

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