News from the House of Skelton

Charlie Skelton (of Space Cadets, London News Review, Once More, with Feeling, etc) has dropped me a line to say hello and to let everyone know about his latest projects and some of his current favourite links:

Hi Rob…

…I thought you might be interested in:

i), which is a ‘Pooterpedia’™ that Alan and I are putting together.

ii) one of the funniest things I’ve ever read on the web is: – I’ll blog about it when I have the time. Between sneezes. (See if you can find the post about the German guy who’s put films of his girlfriend sneezing on YouTube.)

iii) I’m about to show L* S* [Charlie’s spoof food critic: I’ve removed the name to preserve the mystery] to the Observer Food Monthly, to see what Nicola Jeal thinks. Once I’ve posted up a thing about how you should use the spinach water and throw away the spinach.

Happy Easter,


Charlie was also very flattered by one of this blog’s regular readers including Once More, with Feeling in her top seven list of books. To preserve some sense of mystery and a regular readership, I won’t say who it was yet. Keep reading and maybe I’ll reveal all.

PS: If you’re interested in what happened between London News Review and Paul Carr there’s a detailed explanation by Sean Walsh available for all to see. And then sue for libel.


PVRs may be the future, but the business models aren’t here yet

Simon Waldman has a good article on Personal Video Recorders, although I disagree with his conclusions about why they haven’t taken off yet.

Why don’t PVRs dominate the market yet? Simple. Too many technologies and too much cost. TiVo, which dominates the US market, tried to crack the UK market a while back and pulled out when it couldn’t make money.

I’d be a natural for a PVR. There’s all sorts of programmes I’d be watching if I didn’t have to set a video and I didn’t have to remember to tune in at a specific time. Yet I don’t have one. Why? I’ve been a Sky subscriber for over a year. That means I can’t get Sky+ installed for free: it’ll cost me £150 to buy a Sky+ box. If I ever move house and switch to Freeview or NTL, it’ll be completely redundant since it won’t work with those providers. Then there’s the £10/month extra I’d have to pay to get the programme guide (without which it’s useless), since I don’t subscribe to any of the premium channels. That’s a whole lot of money just to have a video with built-in VideoPlus numbers.

It’s not much rosier on the Freeview side. Getting a Freeview receiver with built-in hard drive costs £150 or so, although I suspect costs will come down thanks to the competition among vendors on the Freeview side (no such thing on the proprietary Sky+ side). NTL and Telewest don’t have PVRs yet.

But Freeview has only a small selection of Sky’s channels so I’m reticent to switch; and in a first floor flat on a shiny new development, cable isn’t really option. So, ultimately, I’m PVR-free and that’s the way it’s likely to be for some time – unless Sky change their Sky+ pricing and installment policy or Freeview get a few more channels.


Batman to kick al-Qaida’s head in

Frank Miller is apparently working on a new graphic novel in which Batman chases after al-Qaida and kicks their collective butts. Marvellous. I’m not sure how tongue in cheek Miller is being, particularly given that Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again was such a blatant piece of anti-Bush propaganda. Could be entertaining kitsch, could be arse, particularly given how poor The Dark Knight Strikes Again was. It may even put a dent in the “Batman as serious, realistic hero” bubble that’s been forming in the last 15 years or so, as everyone realises that a man dressed as a bat is not the best option for fighting crime, terrorists, rent arrears, etc. I wait with great anticipation, though.