Beware falling satellites

I wouldn’t have mentioned this, only I had the pleasure of listening to some salesperson’s pitch about how reliable and dependable Sagem’s kit had to be, since they “Made all the electonics used in satellites”, and I had to appreciate “how dependable” that had to be.

Way back in the dim and distant past, when set top boxes were a novelty, I picked up a Goodman’s box. Our local trade cash & carry got a batch early on, the price was good, and it had all the extras, including an RS232 connection (which was to come in useful later on). Normally, I wouldn’t touch Goodman’s kit with a 10 foot pole. It’s typically built of painted cardboard, and the insides are made of chewing gum and string, but this appeared to be a standard box, just badged for them to resell, so it seemed worth the risk. Of course, I got my fingers burnt, but was able to make good, thanks to the web.

The Goodman’s box was was joke from first switch on: while there was no doubt it worked as a receiver, operationally it was a (bad) joke. The thing basically had a mind of its own, and would change channel or pop up menus and switch itself off and on whenever it felt like it, and frequently locked up altogether (at least it had a proper Reset button). Eventually I worked out that the infra-red receiver was the culprit – just about anything that emitted any sort of infra-red signal, or a reflection, could be used to make it do something random. I was close to junking the thing when it proudly announced it had had an overnight software revision one morning, and to be fair, things were considerably better after that, however, after another couple of these had arrived, things started to deteriorate again (that shouldn’t really happen with official software).

The bin was looming for it again, then I came across a web site with all the Goodman’s software available for download, including an update with extended functions. Downloaded and installed (remember the RS232 link?), it seems to have cured most of the ills, and added upgraded programme guides and other toys. The only problem being that the box itself is so early, the processor is really too slow to handle them. Still, saves it from the bin.

The Sagem connection?

When the Goodman’s box decided to play up again, a nice, shiny new Sagem box was added to the inventory, in the expectation that it would be hassle free.

Of course, it’s not, and goes through phases of very occasionally resetting itself, or enjoying its favourite party piece of accepting new channel numbers as entered on the remote, displaying them on screen to confirm they’ve been accepted, and then promptly igonoring them and staying on the current channel – and that just gets frustrating.

Don’t fancy having that happen while a lump of junk is having its orbit reprogrammed!

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