Note: This column represents the opinions
of the writer and as such, is not purported as fact|
Some time ago I published a column titled
Sky TV's UHF Service Cracked
which produced a mass of feedback from people wanting to know where the software
described could be obtained.
Unfortunately, the local webpages I initially referred to in the column were
quickly pulled by their author so the results of his experiments were no
Well this weekend I did some experimenting of my own to determine the effectiveness
of the software which effectively (to a greater or lesser extent)
circumvents the VideoCrypt encoding used by Sky's UHF service.
Since I'm not advocating that anyone steal Sky's intellectual property by
using this software, I won't provide a link to it. However, it is called
hVCPlus so I'm sure most Aardvark users could use the search form at the
bottom of this page to find it if they really wanted.
On Saturday, and purely as an experiment to verify the claims made for the
software, I loaded it onto my aging and slow PII/400-based system for a quick
Suffice to say that if I had wanted to, I could have watched the Saturday
night feature movie "The Red Planet" without much difficulty.
Most scenes were decoded surprisingly well at 25fps, although those involving
a very dark background or lots of action tended to break up somewhat.
Another side-effect is that the picture appears quite "grainy" -- but this
maybe a side-effect of my slow CPU, something that requires running the
capture card and display at the much lower resolution of 360x288. It's
possible that a faster CPU would produce better results.
Installing the software is very simple -- just unpack the ZIP file into a
directory -- no install program to run and no registry changes that I've
noticed. You can even get the full source code if you feel brave and want
to poke around.
Is it worth the effort?
Well given that the software is completely free, I don't think it could be denied
that it represents great value ;-)
If you're a Sky TV addict then it probably won't be a viable replacement for
paying a subscription -- but if you're prepared to flout the law (which I
couldn't possibly endorse) then it's probably the type of thing you'd find
useful to watch the occasional movie, documentary, sports broadcast or
As a possible component of the Kiwi Personal Digital Entertainment Centre then
its utility will be reviewed again when more horsepower is available.
For the record, the configuration of my system is: PII/400, 256MB Ram,
ASUS V3400 TNT video, Miro PCTV card, Windows 98.
And, for what it's worth, I no longer subscribe to Sky TV and -- believe
it or not -- I don't miss that slow digital programme guide, the endless
repeats of old, old films on the premium "movie" channel or any of the
other lacklustre content that the service has degraded into.
Those of you who do still have Sky TV will however, be pleased to know
that it's rumoured they'll be adding another great channel soon -- the
home TV Shopping Network that currently screens overnight on Prime.
Are you really going to pay good money to have people sell you stuff?
My comments as to the lack of quality found in floppy disks purchased in recent
times seems to have struck a real chord with readers.
I received an armful of email from other PC users who have found that
modern 3.5 inch floppy disks are just rubbish.
Several readers report that they're encountering several bad disks per
box and others confirm that most disks are only usable for a few months
before they develop errors and will no longer reformat or hold data
So, if you're tempted to not bother using a whole CDR or CDRW to back up
that little file -- don't! You might just find that when you go to read
that floppy it will be corrupt and your file will be gone forever.
Perhaps someone involved in the manufacture, distribution or sales of
floppy disks might like to comment on why we're seeing such a poor
performance from modern media?
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