Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Do I ever preach ‘Never assume!’?

Yup – I think there are quite a few posts in this blog that include that warning.

It’s probably the only thing I ever brought away from one of those useless company training days hosted by a ‘Facilitator’.

A ‘Facilitator’ is someone (over)paid hundreds (probably thousands nowadays) of pounds to stand in front of a white board and nod in agreement with, and write down, employee statements while they come up with ideas and do all the work during a training day.

Only one ever did anything useful, and that was the one who wrote something on the white board which DID not come from the audience…


There’s a lot of qualification that goes along with that, but use it as a starting point, and your life WILL be better.

I just found a classic example of this (although I’ve probably got loads of examples).

For the past few years I’ve suffered with unreliable preset recording from Freeview – and it really got bad during 2018.

I began to long for (and even looked at setting up) some VHS recorders to record the audio and video via timer recording, as this can be tweaked manually and is not dependent on any signals embedded in the digital signal.

But I ended up catching a bargain on what should have been a great PVR, and this almost seemed to solve the problem – for a while.

After a period of stability, it started randomly missing series recording too.

But, even worse, it failed – the microcontroller seemed to have a nervous breakdown (it just did stuff at random), and the hard drive seemed to go nuts as well.

That said, it may NOT have been at fault. Read on.

I reverted to my old PVR/tuner, which had become so bad it was the reason I bought the replacement.

It seemed to be even worse than before though. Playback of recorded material just kept breaking up, and dropping audio – I think there was more garbled material than viewable.

However, when I then found that direct viewing (ie not recorded material) had become just as bad, this was a clue – the problem was NOT the box(es) or recording!

I’d previously checked the signal from the aerial, with one box showing 100%, and others showing 80%.

Now, however, I couldn’t really even read the level as it was jumping up and down so much, from below 50% up to 70%, and completely unstable.

I’d altered a cable route, and changed a cable recently, so that was all checked – nothing wrong, and no improvement or change if the cables were replaced either.

The rotten weather was no help, as it can affect the signal at my location, but I doubted if it would be as much as I was seeing.

I pulled apart the wiring and connections at the aerial, and the amplifier, cleaned and refitted, but made no difference.

There was only one thing left in that signal route that was active, did you spot it?

The amplifier, just after the aerial output (these are all indoors, so no weathering to worry about).

I bypassed the amp.


The signal became stable, and returned close to its usual level.

Watching the TV for an evening (actually 2 minutes was more than enough) confirmed I had a picture that seldom broke up or showed any interference, and the sound was fine too.

So, I had ASSUMED the amp was fine as it had been purring away for years, but in reality had gone noisy.

The noise is probably the reason for my recent years of rubbish recordings from Freeview, as it gradually got worse over time, and corrupted the data. I’m not sure how the data is picked from the stream, but I’m sure it probably has some sort of error correcting, and might try to recover lost data with a ‘best guess’. This probably works fine for tiny errors, but breaks down for horrendous levels of noise or signal breakup.

I’ve stuck another amp up there, just to prove it works, and that the incumbent was at fault, and the replacement seems to be fine, and giving a nice healthy signal. I do need the amp, just to tidy the available signal, as we’re shaded from a direct path by a bit of a hill. I used to have a higher external aerial but decided a very high gain internal aerial with an amp was a better option, as it would be accessible, and not be battered by the weather.

I’m really ticked off now, if that was really the problem, and I returned a perfectly good top end PVR I got for £45 (legit warranted return item) that retails for £145!

I suspect the ‘faulty’ amp is not faulty as such, but has suffered from living in a damp atmosphere, which I can’t avoid under my roof.

Condensation could have formed inside the case, then evaporated many times, leading to contamination of the PCB, which includes a mains voltage power supply, so there could be tracking if the board stayed damp (I’m not sure if the board is well-designed, having never looked at it), or deposits formed. Or just a bad solder joint.

It’s on the bench, but won’t get looked at until the weather improves, and my fingers defrost!

The sort of pixelation seen below is what I started of seeing only on recorded material (with sound dropout), but not live viewing, which is what threw me previously, and had me thinking of the recorder as the problem, rather than the signal.

Like I say, assumption = ASS!

But not having the visual problem on live reception for so long really did throw me off the right track.

Then it looked like this nearly ALL the time recently.

THAT was a clue.

FreeView signal fail

Freeview signal fail


30/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Beware ‘Bottom Burps’ if it gets REALLY cold!

Wish I’d had this earlier, when I made the -40°F = -40°C cat post.

Still, at least we don’t usually have to worry about -30° here (whatever scale, probably °F since American).

-30 degree frozen gas

-30 degree frozen gas

30/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

Faces of defeat

Employees of the first McDonald’s in Moscow, 1990.

People once able to defeat Hitler.

Sadly overwhelmed four decades later.

Moscow McDonalds

Moscow McDonalds

30/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Lost | , | Leave a comment

Chilly, but at least we don’t see that -40°C really does equal -40°F

It always pays to double check anything a cat tells you, so when I saw this oft quoted equality I thought it was time to check it.

And it’s true!


Don’t really know why I never bothered to check this before, since I used to a lot of work related to temperature measurement, but to be fair, most of the places involved were working with higher temperatures, rather than cold.

Speaking of cold…

I took another look at how our local temperature had gone since the nice days we had recently, when it hit +10°C for a couple of days.

Not warmly.

Recent outside temperature

Recent outside temperature

Current forecast shows we’ll keep falling below 0°C at night, but go a few degrees positive during the day until the end of the week.

But from then on it looks like the negative nights stop, and the days settle around +7°C and the nights at +3°C, which is much nicer.

30/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

New Partick-Govan footbridge over the River Clyde revealed

Yet another new bridge is going to appear over the River Clyde, a footbridge connection Govan to Riverside, the Museum of Transport.

DESIGNS Revealed For New Pedestrian Bridge Over The Clyde

New footbridge at Riverside

New footbridge at Riverside

Work is expected to begin on the foot and cycle bridge in 2021, and it restores a long lost connection which was provided by ferry years ago.

Money for the infrastructure and development of new homes and public spaces is coming from the City Deal pot, which is funded by the Scottish and Westminster governments (but don’t tell anybody that – they like to complain about lack of funding, especially if joint).

A new quay extension will be built on the north bank to service the crossing, and it has been designed to avoid obscuring views of Riverside.

I did recently mention concerns that some opponents (the usual whining naysayers who automatically just say ‘NO!’ to anything) had to such projects, on the basis that they prevent vessels from travelling further along the river.

They’ll be going home sad tonight, as this bridge can open.


There’s ALWAYS one.

You may have noticed this is part of a larger project, hinted at above with “Money for the infrastructure and development of new homes and public spaces is coming from the City Deal pot“.

It seems that it is not popular – with ONE family.

“The development plans are good for Govan – but we live in Govan and they’re not good for us,” says one long-time resident of the Water Row site

Govan showpeople community speak out over £57m development at Water Row

Oh dear…

Could we be building up to another showdown like the one we saw in Dalmarnock, as the place was cleared for the dopey 2014 Commonwealth Games er… ‘Legacy’?

Not that I am suggesting the 2104 farce has any similarity to improvements at Govan.

30/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Me, still waiting for Christmas

I came across an unused pic, and it really sums up my run of luck with just about everything since the middle of December.

I made the fatal mistake of thinking things were looking up – and got the usual kick in face for my stupidity.

Made me think of Nikola Tesla’s last days too, when he went and sat in the park with his only remaining friends, the pigeons.

If it wasn’t for the fact that it serves as a diversion, the hassle I get from some people visiting this blog would have seen it disappear recently, but Illegitimi non carborundum is keeping in alive for the moment.

Apologies for offloading.

Waiting for Christmas

Waiting for Christmas

30/01/2019 Posted by | photography | | Leave a comment


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