Thursday, January 30, 2014

Australia Day 2014 fireworks display at Parramatta

Immediately after Jessica Mauboy finished her concert, the fireworks display marked the official end of the festivities with a bang or two.






Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Australia Day 2014 concert

As usual, Parramatta had booked a first class act to conclude the local Australia Day festivities. After performing in the city earlier in the day, Jessica Mauboy headlined the traditional evening concert at Parramatta Park.

Jessica Mauboy in concert at Parramatta Park

Jessica Mauboy

Jessica Mauboy

Jessica Mauboy and backup singers

Jessica Mauboy

And the cops kept a close eye on proceedings
Cops at Jessica Mauboy concert

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Fixing a Topfield PVR

How to fix the Topfield TF7100HDPVRt – sort of.

According to the internet, this Topfield model is prone to malfunctions, and my unit is no exception. Granted, it was working mostly fine for a couple of years, with only the occasional glitch stuffing up a recording or so. But lately, things started to come apart hard and fast, with symptoms ranging from random freezing or re-booting during live TV, recording, or playing back recorded programs to hanging (and freezing) during the start-up process.

The same internet that assures me that these are common issues with this model also informs me that there's no reliable cure; and worse, no Topfield customer service that deserves to be called that, at least not in Australia.

With my machine, it started with the occasional crash, escalated to frequent refusal to start up at all, and eventually got to the point where the machine wouldn't boot, ever, without exception.

Considering that things couldn't possibly get any worse, I had the brilliant idea of "having a look at it" myself. Granted, I'm hopeless with mechanical stuff (of which a PVR has none, unless you count the read/write head of the hard drive, or the control buttons on the front panel), and even worse with electronic components. But no matter; perhaps it's as simple as dust buildup interfering with the delicate interiors; after all, the casing is littered with holes (presumably to prevent the thing from overheating).

Anyway, with all that in mind, I got to work:

1) Remove power cord, unplug RF (aerial), HDMI cables, and anything else you might have connected.

2) Unscrew all screws (1 on each side, and heaps at the back)

3) Make sure there's no one else in the room with you. If you're as technically challenged as I am, you're likely to look like a tool, and there's no need for anyone to see that.

4) Slide off the case

5) Notice that the interior of the recorder, the motherboard, and all other components, are surprisingly clean and dust-free

6) Check the hard disk connector. No, it's absolutely firm; no wobbly plug, not a chance of a bad connection

7) Switch on your best I know what I'm doing look and stare at all the components.

8) Connect power cord (and plug it in, duh)

9) Press Power button

10) Observe display at front of unit

11) After a few breathless moments, the word run (which indicates that the machine is booting) disappears, and the name of the last used TV station appears

12) This indicates we've come further than we did in any recent attempts to start the machine. Leave the recorder on for a while, just to be sure

13) Press Power button to turn recorder off, wait for shutdown procedure to complete

14) Unplug power cord

15) Re-attach cover (it's a tight fit), screw all the screws back in

16) Connect recorder to RF outlet and TV

17) Connect, and plug in, power cord

18) Start up the recorder, closely observe boot progress

19) Enjoy your working Topfield recorder, record shows, and finally watch all the stuff you had recorded ages ago but haven't been able to watch yet.

Yes, it's slightly more complex than Turning it off and turning it on again, but not by much. How simply opening the bloody thing, looking at it very seriously, and closing it again actually resolved the issue may forever remain a mystery, but at least for now, it seems to have worked.

Inside the Topfield TF7100HDPVRT

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Rubber Duck

Finally, a duck face worth writing about. As part of this year's Sydney Festival, Florentijn Hofman's Rubber Duck is visiting Parramatta.

So, here are some pics from said Duck at Parramatta Park:







And just because it's an art festival, here's Rubber Duck in an artsy fartsy black and white setting, making it all profound and deep and meaningful and shit...