Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Now don't get me wrong ... there is some great US tv and some dire UK stuff.

But when it comes to some things the BBC and some other UK broadcasters truly excel.

At the moment I am really enjoying a number of police procedurals; Messiah, Inspector Lynley, Foyle's War, Daziel & Pascoe ... need I go on? I also like documentaries, in particular the Horizon series.

Then there is stuff like Dr Who, Torchwood, Life On Mars, again ... etc ... etc.

A lot of this stuff does turn up on US tv, particularly on PBS and cable channels such as HBO. But often you have to wait, and even then it might have been re-branded or had a US commentary dubbed on, had advert breaks inserted, edited for content/language/nudity and to fit schedules, etc, etc.

But mostly you have to wait.

I hate that. But for a while there has been a way around it. It is possible to download British tv and watch it within hours of it appearing in the UK. If you have to ask how to do this then you shouldn't be doing it ...

Anyway, it's quite easy to replay the resultant video files on your computer, but rather more difficult to watch the shows on your tv.

Until recently, I've been using a disc player I bought in England, to play cd-roms I burnt with the files on them. This isn't as simple as it sounds, since you need a player which will also read .avi/.divx files - not so easy to find here in the USA. However, I bought such a player from Maplins and not only does it play computer video files from cd-rom, it is also region-free so it will play dvds from anywhere. In fact it claims to play virtually anything which can be put on a disc ... photo albums, cds, .mp3s, etc. And I can confirm that it's a verifiable claim. Further, the device was dual voltage (110v/220v), PAL, SECAM and NTSC. I think it cost about usd100.00/ukp50.00!!! Try and find something like that in BestBuy!!! *The image isn't the same as my player, but it gives you an idea of what's available.

Unfortunately, my particular model pre-dates dvd-r and dvd-rw so files are restricted to about 700Mb, but since a lot of shows are now coming down in the 1Gb+ range, files have to be split before being burned - not always easy - and quality suffers.

But now I've found this; the SanDisk TakeTV. Basically it's an 8GB usb memory stick which will play back video files directly through your tv. What more can I say? For me, an exiled UKtv addict, it is one of the best peripheral devices I have ever had. It is excellent.

In practise, downloaded shows are copied onto the memory stick from the computer. Transfer the memory stick to the adaptor which is already cabled up to the tv and there you go ... what more could you want?

Look out for soon: Doctor Who, Ashes To Ashes.

*See my hifi / media index here.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Fish 'n' Chips

Mmmmmmm ... Fish and Chips!!!

What could be more Bri'ish? Well, apart from tikka masala ...

I have been lucky enough to live near two great British fish and chip shops; Mike's Plaice (geddit?), a Welsh/Italian takeout in St Anne's, Bristol - fantastic haddock ; and West Hoe Fish Fryers in Plymouth, neither of which I can find a link for.

So you might think that finding good fish and chips in the USA might be a hopeless task, but not necessarily so.

Nearby New York City has A Salt & Battery (another geddit???), a real Bri'ish fish and chip shop in the Big Apple, but a couple of bars also have a good try, notably The Parlour, on W86th Street.

Amazingly, the fish and chips in the fast food restaurant at the Statue of Liberty were rather better than I've had in some British outlets ... hard to believe, I know ...

Meanwhile, Triumph Brewery*, in Princeton serve very good fish and chips, as well as brewing their own English (style) IPA which is served through a beer-engine at 55F. Nice. *Beware; this website is totally Flash orientated.

Lastly, you can always cook your own. Cod here, is less expensive than back in the UK, and there is an even cheaper alternative called tilapia, which is very good. I've not seen haddock anywhere here at all. You can find loads of batter recipes on Google.

In fact, the bigger problem is finding good chipping potatoes. There are no King Edwards here. So far the varieties I've tried have been very starchy and tend to taste okay, but come out looking rather brown and not very crispy. Until I sort this out I'm resorting to frozen fries ... sorry.

And while tartare sauce is easy enough to find, mushy peas are proving a problem to source here ...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

2007 - 2008

Ah ... my first article of the New Year.

And what a year last year was!!!

Did I mention it? But yes ... I got married!!! To the most wonderful Linda.

And what a day it was!!!

Click here to read about it on Linda's blog.

That's me ... hiding behind the lilies; then Linda's daughter A; Linda and the deputy mayor of Belle Mead.

As it turns out this is more than a step on life's journey. It's the start of the US immigration trail too.

We filled out the forms - which seem to require a degree level education; we sent in the application bundle - now I didn't count the number of bits of paper, but if it was a hundred sheets I wouldn't be surprised; I went to have my finger-prints done at the local application support office ... and now we're waiting ... and waiting ...

As for this picture? Don't ask!!!

Anyway, back to the blog ... more stuff soon.