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Letters We discovered this week that you, our dear readers, are really quite keen on your TV watching. How did we find this out? Well, call it an educated guess, based on the volume of letters we had in response to Kewney's column about the horrors that have befallen him and his Virgin TV account:

Guy, If you really can't cancel your Virgin account after ten minutes on the telephone do it by letter. Send a recorded delivery letter to the company secretary at their registered address. RD letters can be tracked on the Post Office website, hence proof of time of delivery.

The existence of the company's registered address and of the company secretary are required by the Compnies Act so if, as is quite likely, your letter is ignored the problem is Virgin's not yours.

The staff at registered addresses are unacustomed to dealing with low level administration and will either forward your letter marked "do it now or else", or put it in the special file that the office cleaners empty every night.

Either way you win.

John


Of all your complaints the issue with the poor quality of DVR recordings is the one I can relate to most. I find it increasingly frustrating that DVR technology is so poor, and it seems to me that the technology is fundamentally flawed.

As for the broadband quotas they're imposing, I sympathise and agree they're ridiculously low. It appears no one working for Virgin is aware of the current everyday uses for internet connections, let alone what will almost certainly become mainstream in the near future.

But to blame these quotas on people using the connections they've paid for is absurd. If you buy a 4Mbit connection why can't you use that connection as much as you want? Do Western Digital come into your home and swap out your hard drive for one half the size; saying you’ve stored over 20gb, and you’re abusing the service we sold you.

To cut people’s internet connections in half because they decide to make use of them during the hours they're awake and not at work seems to be grounds for trading standards investigations. So quitting your service and looking for someone that doesn't blame their inadequate investment in infrastructure on everyday internet use seems to be a good move to me.

And it can be done. I live in Alaska for God’s sake, yet I pay about 150 quid a month for TV (including the equivalent of Sky Sports, 3 movie networks, SF and so on), telephone services, mobile phone services and unlimited downloads on a 4Mbit cable modem connection. I don't live in a street by myself. I live in a city of close to 250,000 other broadband internet users, and my local cable company doesn't seem to have a problem delivering modern day internet services as and when I need them.

No one buys the bandwidth capacity to cover 100% usage of the services they sell, but most analyse what they currently need, allow for expansion and then make their investment. They don't look at what we did in the 90s and say anything more is abuse of service.

How is Virgin going to cope when video conferencing, peer to peer distribution of business application upgrades, IPTV and the distribution from Hollywood of movies to HDTV owners the same day they’re delivered to cinemas becomes as normal as VOIP is today?

I can’t really see them lasting that long if they can’t cope with a few gigabytes of data being downloaded during normal usage hours. They will have to actually go out and buy the bandwidth they need to support the services they’re selling at premium prices – or they will have to go out of business. Andy


Don't just blame Virgin - Sky is on its way out at our home for many of the same failings. I think we're going to try Homechoice again, even if it has been polluted by Tiscali!

Tim.


The sorry state of affairs is that your worse off with SKY. I left sky because of how appalling they were, Now ive left Virgin because of the spat with the channels. I dont see why you should pay a premium service charger for what is basically freeview!

I was on Telewest, it wasnt that bad. Since the whole NTL/Virgin Media disaster its been getting worse. I dread each firmware upgrade on the box, wondering what new machevelian nightmare awaits me when I open the Guide.

It looks like the best bet is a freeview box and Bittorrent. Many people would happily pay for Heroes etc, but the official downloads are normally slower and worse quality than the HDTV rips that come in from the USA.

Why does the TV industry think we will pay through the nose for poor quality service? And then get forced to watch their adverts too.. Oh and dont forget its pay-per-view for any recent movie/sports event on top of the adds and subscription.

The more people that leave Virgin the better, but they better stay clear of SKY too. When they all buy a freeview box maybe both companies will get a clue.

Jason.


Well, as for the Sky thingy, it would probably have had to change to £100 per month to cover Sky's increased demands. That they didn't knock off the £30 or whatever Sky standard subs included in the package is despicable.

As for me, I'm dropping down the broadband speed. If they say they can't move me to that scheme because I'm a current customer, then I'll become an ex-customer.

Mark


I guess you did not search on Google for "Dear Cretins" before signing up. I suggest you do now to understand your chance of successfully unsubscribing yourself.

And don't you dare cancelling the subscription "because it does not work". You will have the collection agency right up your street next month. It is a consumer service, it is not obliged to work all the time.

In fact you are not entitled to complain until it is totally dead for at least a week or more (except possibly the phone). This is by the way the opinion on the subject of Trading standards (at least in Cambridge).

In a hindsight, I should have recorded that, shows how much help you are going to get from the consumer watchdog.

Anton


Next, we have a particularly prickly response to news that snow in Antarctica melted quite a bit in 2005. Almost as if we'd said we'd seen a yeti out on the ice cap with a blowtorch...

Scare mongers are us. You obviously don't get out much.

When science becomes politics, science is cooked. More and more prominent scienstist are saying destroying the US economy won't do anything accept make socialsit Europe happy in their lounge chairs and hammocks.

NASA blows whistle to get funding, what's new about that ... One socialist talking to socilsits everywhere to get the masses to buy socialism hoax.

Look to the sun for answers and pay attention to all those signs with "grape, vine and wine" in their names, and ask -- I wonder where those names came from. History is your friend.

If all else fails you can always try running around naked screaming "we are all gonna die". Because we are.

John

Nice try, but we're not going to fall for that "naked" ploy...


Cambridge University Library has put Darwin's letters online. This is a wonderful resource, to be sure, but you, in common with most of Team Reg, were more interested in Darwin's confession of stinky feet:

"Stinky", particularly in a 19th century context? "Smelly" please, and kick the sub-editor's arse (which he or she would probably call an ass) from me if you have a moment to spare.

Kit

The writer has only herself to blame for that particular stink. But we'll see what we can arrange for the sub, anyway.


The demise of the Medical Training Application Service probably sent champagne corks off popping across the country. We imagine that even proximity to a medically qualified person would have a discernable happy effect, due to psychic leakage. Er...never mind. But anyway, the point is, that doctors really didn't like this system, and are not especially keen on dear old Hewitt either. As this letter makes abundantly clear:

If journalists were selected according to how well they can tell a story in 150 words, the technique might have some validity.

To do the same with doctors because it can be done cheaply was the product of some Lord Birt-like blue sky thinking, and is a sad reflection of the poverty of thought in the Department of Health. Sometimes blue skies should be left alone to be blue.

Barrington

We need to explain here that journalists are actually selected according to how quickly they can write 150 words and head to the nearest pub. Speeling is optional.


Now for some feedback from the last letters round up, in which we discussed beer. Oh yes we did.

Luddites 1 Science (and common sense) 0

If I may quote Grandpa Simpson: "The metric system is the tool of the devil! My car gets forty rods to the hogshead, and that's the way I likes it!"

The trading with America argument is bogus anyway, they just make up their imperial as they go along. Try comparing their gallons to ours. Also what the hell is a "cup"?

Fraser

Well, a cup is 8 fluid ounces or 240ml. With you on the rest, though. Except that we like pints. Of lager, if you're buying. Thanks.

I suppose given that we're no longer in the 1970s, it is possible to find good lager in Britain and some of it is very fine beer indeed, but really... That's the kind of thing to send shudders down the spine of long-standing CAMRA members like me.

But the reason I wrote this is to mention that the US gallon is an English gallon - the old Queen Anne wine gallon. The imperial gallon is a different English gallon - the UK ('cos it was the whole UK dealt with when the current imperial system was introduced in the 19th century) and the USA just standardised on different versions of English gallons, that's all.

Oh yeah, and 40 rods to the hogshead, eh? Right - well, one hogshead is apparently `about 50 imperial gallons' and a rod (or pole or perch) is 16.5' or 1/320th of a statute mile.

So 40 rods is 1/8th mile and even bloody main battle tanks manage better than 1/400th of a mile per gallon...

Thing is, did anyone ever see any sign that Homer can do arithmetic?

Yes yes I know but I don't care.

Rowland.


And that would be a perfect place to sign off for the weekend, except that we also had this arrive in our inbox this week. We've discussed this with our lawyers (the imaginary ones) and all we're saying is "No comment":

I'm not sure to whom on the register staff I should be sending this. So I'm sending this to you as you had a byline on a Letters column. If you're not the appropriate addressee, I'd appreciate it if you'd forward it on to the proper individual.

My question is: Why is the Register messing with a body farm here in the lovely state of Texas?

"Vultures pick off human body farm"

We're just trying to practice some science. And chain saws will (probably) not be involved. What gives?

Respectfully yours, Glenn M Austin, TX

Well, we've got to eat, right? Enjoy the weekend. ®

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