Note: This column represents the opinions
of the writer and as such, is not purported as fact|
TV tuner cards are an increasingly common component of many home PCs
the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook
are revealed for all to see!
They cost little more than a regular video card but offer the ability
to tune in to the same VHF and UHF free-to-air (FTA) broadcasts that
a regular television can receive.
Another attractive feature of these cards is that they allow you
to use your camcorder (even the old analog one) as a digital camera -- you
just play back the tape and capture whatever frames you want to use
as a still image.
However, there are other things you can do with that clever little card --
watch Sky's UHF pay TV channels for instance -- for free.
Coming Up This Week|
In response to reader demand, I'll be publishing and archiving an updated
version of my guide to website promotion and online marketing. If you've
got a website that needs more traffic, or if you're trying to sell
products or services online then this is the type of information that
you can pay big money for elsewhere. Don't miss it.
Over the past few years I've seen various pieces of software on the web which
claimed to decode the VideoCrypt system and I've always wondered whether they'd
actually work on a Sky TV signal here in NZ.
Well, according to one Kiwi (who, since this column was published has
pulled the relevant webpages from his site -- for obvious reasons), they do.
Yes, if you'd prefer to pay a few dollars extra for a video card with tv tuner
capabilities (preferably one that also has a TV-out connector so that you can
plug your large-screen TV set in rather than rely on your PC's wimpy little
monitor), you can get a lifetime of access to NZ's largest pay TV service
at no extra cost.
Now don't get me wrong -- I don't condone this type of theft for one minute --
I'm simply citing this as yet another example of just how difficult it has
become to protect intellectual property in the 21st century.
I believe that there has been a very small black market in special VideoCrypt
decoders which don't require a smart card for some time -- but the number
of people who have access to such devices is extremely small and unlikely
to threaten Sky's bottom line at all.
A software-based solution that can be downloaded anonymously from the Net
and installed on a regular PC is perhaps a whole different story though.
Given the choice of handing over a fist-full of $10 notes to Sky each
month or downloading a piece of software -- what do you think that many
students and young people will do?
Hey, now little Johnny can watch Sky sports in his bedroom on his PC while
mom and dad watch the movie channel, so who (apart from Sky) is going to
bitch about that?
How long, I wonder, before Sky just turns off its UHF service, relying instead
on its satellite-based digital broadcast? I guess the existance of this
software is extra incentive to do so.
Have you tried this software? Did it work for you? What do you think
about the ethics of using this software to watch another channel in the
bedroom if you've already paying for a Sky subscription?
Note -- I feel it worth reminding readers that downloading software from the
Net and installing it on your PC always involves an element of risk. You
don't know what "hidden features" may lurk within and there has been a growing
trend for some packages to include spyware or adware products. I have no
idea whether this is the case with the software referred to here.
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