Saturday, October 11, 2008

Yes! We have the technology!

Yeah, ok, I likes me some Brit TV.

(BTW, is it odd that Blogger's "profile" thing asks your favorite movies. music, and books, but not TV programs? I understand leaving out theatre (although, being a theatre critic on the side, I do have favorite plays and musicals) but TV? Dude. The masses watch TV.)

ANYWAY, I like, and watch, a reasonable amount of British TV. (Thank you, BBC America.) But an hour-long program (programme?) in the UK is not an hour-long program in the U.S., as our hour-long shows are about 40 minutes, thanks to commercials. Meaning that, if you want to watch an entire British TV show, as it was intended to be seen, you probably need to get your hands on some DVDs and the right technology.

I have both. Thanks to what is, absolutely, the best customer review in the history of Amazon, I could acquire, for a reasonable price, a DVD player that plays British DVDs on an American TV. (Because, y'know, region coding normally makes it impossible to play foreign DVDs on a domsestic player.) Thanks to Amazon's UK Sister, I can acquire said British DVDs. Life is awesome.

But, let's just suppose, hypothetically, that I wanted to share my love for these British TV programs with a few of my friends. Historically, this has been possible only by bringing said friends into my living room. But let's suppose that I'd like to share my love for these British TV programs with my friends in their own living rooms. Historically, this has been possible only by giving said friends a code-free DVD player. (Which I've actually done. Honestly, I should just buy those things in bulk.)

A couple of months ago, I purchased a DVD Recorder. The purpose of said piece of tech is to act much like a VCR -- it records stuff to DVD (for personal use, of course). My cable TV DVR comes with a "record to VCR" feature, by which it sends a copy of any program (saved on the DVR) to the VCR on the receiving end. The beauty part is that the cable DVR box has no idea what the machine on the receiving end happens to be. So, if I plug the DVD Recorder in there, I can now make copies of stuff I've recorded off television. (For personal use.)

Which leads me to last night's journey into ... well, into the web of cables hiding behind my TV (which is now, in case you've lost count, hooked up to: The code-free DVD player, the DVD recorder, the cable DVR box, and a Pinnacle ... thing that functions like a slingbox). Suppose I wanted to, say, personally use a DVD of a British TV program over at a friend's house, when my friend (sadly) does not own a code free DVD player? Can I play the damn thing on the code-free player but have the audio and video feeds go not to the TV, but instead to the inputs of the DVD Recorder? Thereby making an American DVD copy of a British DVD. (For personal use.)

Why, yes. Yes, I can. (Joy!)

The DVD player only has one set of outputs. So I attach the outputs to the TV, crank up the British DVD, go through the menus, get it to the first screen of the actual program, pause it, change the outputs to go to the inputs of the DVD recorder, and hit record on the recorder while I un-pause the DVD player. I'm flying blind, but I can do it.

And the unexpected bonus of this was that, I wasn't flying blind. Since the DVD Recorder has outputs to the TV, I can actually watch what I'm recording, as it just passes the signal right out through. Score!

(Do you know what this means? I can now show people what the original Life on Mars looked like, rather than just saying, "No, really, it's better than the one on ABC.")

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