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More on Free Sky TV 15 July 2002 Edition
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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 longer available.

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.

Feature: Promoting Your Website
Dont' forget to check out the series of hints on how to promote your website which will be regularly added to throughout the next few weeks.

New this week: The Importance Of Branding

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 trial.

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.

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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 news item.

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 TVSN, 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?

Floppy Feedback
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 reliably.

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?

Have Your Say
As always, your comments are welcomed. Please remember to select "For Publication" if you want them included on this site.

Have your say.

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Security Alerts
PGP Outlook plugin has major hole (TheReg - 12/07/2002)

IE scripting flaw uncovered (TheReg - 12/07/2002)

Microsoft Reveals Still More Security Flaws (NewsFactor - 28/06/2002)

OpenSSH Hole Uncovered
(CNet - 28/05/2002)

Apache Web Servers at Risk - Patching Urged (NewsFactor - 23/06/2002)

Virus Alerts
Kowbot worm targets Kazaa network
(VNuNet - 01/07/2002)

Worm exploits Apache vulnerability (Computerworld - 01/07/2002)

Soccer World Cup Virus Detected (iNetNews - 07/06/2002)

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