600-Series Receivers – Software Update

If you own a HDDSR 600, HDDSR 605, or a HDPVR 630, your receiver should have downloaded our most recent software, version 08.26. To check if you have received the download, you can go into your Options menu > 4 > 7 and look at line H. If this says 08.26, you are good to go with the below changes!

While the overall look and feel of your interface will remain the same, we have added in some new features and have dramatically changed your On Demand experience!

For all 600-series models, you should notice the following changes:

Shaw Direct On Demand Interests Menu Revamp

  • We have completely redesigned our Interests Menu to make it even easier for you to browse through our 4000 + titles available through Shaw Direct On Demand. This is a direct result of user feedback!
    • Now, in the first column, you select whether you’re looking for Movies, TV shows, Music or your Premium subscription titles.
    • In the second column, you are now able to select the channel or network the title is provided by.
    • With the third column, you are still able to search by genre or other filters.
  • This layout separates content in a more logical manner, providing you with the results you were looking for in less keystrokes.
  • Be sure to check out the hundreds of titles that are available at no extra cost with your subscription! Any titles that are included with a network that you are not subscribed to will appear grey, just as you’re used to in your guide.

Other Shaw Direct On Demand Enhancements

  • Other improvements have been made to your Shaw Direct On Demand experience, such as faster rewind and fast forward response, connectivity improvements, more consistent display of season and episode information under a specific TV show, and the ability to order in both HD and SD.

Multi-Audio Selections

  • Some specific TV programs have additional audio tracks available, such as descriptive video (DVS) or another language. This is used to ensure accessibility for all of our customers. When available, you will see the headphones icon (as shown) in the info banner.
  • To select a different audio track, simply hit the ‘Source’ button on your remote and select from the list displayed in the top left hand corner
  • Your default audio preference (as set in Options > 4 > 1) will be restored once you change the channel.

For HDPVR 630 users:

External Hard Drive Support

  • You are now able to connect an external eSATA hard drive to increase your HDPVR 630 recording capacity by up to 2.0 TB! That’s equivalent to over 1000 SD hours, or 300 HD hours!
  • External hard drives must be connected via eSATA, must be externally powered, and cannot be over 2.0 TB. For the most reliability, the drive should also be rated for PVR/DVR usage.
  • For complete information on adding an external hard drive to your current HDPVR 630, please take a look here.

If you have any questions about this recent update or about your receiver in general, feel free to leave us a comment and ask!


Seasonal Breaks

If you’re a customer with Shaw Direct satellite and will be away from your home for an extended period of time for any reason – be it a vacation or otherwise – we offer a program called Seasonal Break that may be of great benefit to you. Whether you’re wanting to refresh your memory as to the exact details or whether you’re hearing about it for the first time, we want to ensure all customers can take advantage – let’s break down how it works so you can use this program to suit your needs best.

If you want to put your Shaw Direct account on Seasonal Break, there is a minimum and maximum timeframe to do so. You must have the service suspended for no less than two weeks (14 days, to be exact), and it can be put on hold for no longer than 180 days (approximately six months). During the time that your services are suspended, your account will not incur any further charges until the date of reconnection. The balance of your bill will be pro-rated for the number of days of service you’ve used up until the date of suspension. Any balance owing previously will still be due (so, if you ordered a movie through Shaw Direct On Demand the night before you contacted us to go on a Seasonal Break, the charge for the movie will still be outstanding).

As service will automatically be restored after the last day of the Seasonal Break, it is important to select your reconnection date (unless you decide to go the full 180 days – in this case, you will be advised of the reconnection date). If you are unsure of exactly what day you will be coming home, you can provide an approximate date (for example, Mr. Swanson knows he’ll be back in January, but is unsure of the date. To be safe he provides us the date of January 30 for reconnection). If at any time you then find out the exact date that you will be back, you can call in and change what was initially scheduled (so, if Mr. Swanson finds out he’ll be home earlier than anticipated, he could call before then to change the automatic reconnection date, or call on the day he gets home to have his services restored. Alternately, if he found out that he’d be gone longer than expected, he could have the date pushed back, as long as it doesn’t push him over 180 days). If no changes are made to the reconnection date, then the date originally chosen will be the date services return and charges begin again.

Let us know before your next vacation so we can help get you setup with Seasonal Break!


The Shaw Direct and Xplornet Anywhere Bundle

One of the great things about Shaw Direct satellite service is how accessible it is; whether you live in the city, on a farm, or in the furthest reaches of Canada, you can enjoy your favourite show or a classic movie.  While you can still enjoy television living outside of an urban centre, high speed Internet can be another story altogether. This is why we’re so happy about our recent partnership with Xplornet!

As you may be aware, Shaw Direct and Xplornet began a partnership in May. Anyone who subscribes to Shaw Direct is eligible to receive a 5% discount on their Xplornet services. So, you can get crystal-clear HD along with high speed Internet regardless of where you live in Canada with the Anywhere Bundle. If you’re interested in finding out more or signing up, you can fill out this form to request a call from the bundling team.

A bit of background about Xplornet: Like Shaw Direct, Xplornet Communications Inc. is a proudly Canadian-owned and -operated company, headquartered in Woodstock, New Brunswick. They’ve been around since 2004 and were originally named Barrett Xplore Inc. Their belief is that everyone in Canada should have access to broadband-speed Internet, and we agree!

Xplornet is also Canada’s first national 4G network provider. This means that by the end of this year, they’ll be able to provide speeds of up to 100 Mbps! You can check out their current 4G coverage areas here.

So, what happens if you wind up opening an account with them? The installation process is actually pretty similar to ours; in fact, a lot of Xplornet installers are also Shaw Direct installers!

When the installer gets to your home, they’ll find the best location install the dish (with a clear view towards their satellites, so no trees or buildings in the way). Once their assessment of your property is complete, they will mount the dish, and align it to ensure you’re getting the best signal possible. They’ll ground the dish, run cables, and seal any holes. Once this is done, they will hook up your modem, make sure everything is activated, and test your system. That’s all it takes!

You’ll still get two separate bills from Xplornet and Shaw Direct, and if you need to troubleshoot your Internet, or change anything with your Xplornet services, you will have to contact Xplornet. We are happy to get the ball rolling if you want to open an account with Xplornet, though! Just let us know, and we’ll help out.

Question of the week: 

Some people are computer gamers, while some love their tablets; what’s your favourite online activity?


Shaw Direct On Demand – Movie Reviews

As you likely already know, Shaw Direct On Demand has an amazing line-up of movies that have a wide variety ranging from family friendly movies, romantic comedies, suspense thrillers, and much more. In case you and your household are planning a movie night on the comfort of your couch, we’re here to help give you some ideas of what’s out there so you can make the best decision for your evening of leisure.

Are you in the mood for something thrilling and dramatic? Cleanskin (2012) might just be what you’re looking for. This movie is something unique in comparison to your regular “007” type movie. Not only do you get the chance to know the role of the secret service agent set out on his journey to eliminate a British-born suicide bomber – you also get a peek into the story of the terrorist himself, reflecting on what has brought him to make this decision. It’s fast-paced and entertaining while allowing viewers to experience a glimpse into the dark reasoning of terrorism.

Alternatively, if your household is looking for something more fun and witty, with the drama known to “slice of life” genre movies, we’ve got you covered with What to Expect When You’re Expecting (2012). It covers several different perspectives of new parents trying in their own ways to adjust to not just having a baby, but the pre-baby jitters. Each couple comes from varying backgrounds and have started a family with either specific expectations in mind, or came across child rearing without any plans at all. The men of the family even create a support group where new fathers get to tell it like it really is. This comedy opens your mind and your heart to real-life facts and humours associated with becoming a first-time parent. The highs, lows, unexpected joys and totally expected pains of pregnancy get a comprehensive going over in this consistently funny, warm-hearted ensemble comedy.

Something with a lot of mystery, suspense and horror is also on the menu for our
customers. The Cabin in the Woods (2012) is a gore-filled, seat-clenching movie designed to keep you jumping while you continue questioning the mystery behind the many surprises in store. It starts off with a group of five friends who merely wanted to take a break and chose a remote cabin in the woods as their destination; however they got more than they bargained for in doing so. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods. This movie was designed to keep viewers on edge all the way until the very startling end.

Looking for a recent remake of an old-time classic favorite? Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)puts a new perspective on old folklore we all knew growing up. With the same storyline of our childhood fairytale, this movie puts you in Snow White’s shoes from the beginning; the joy of a child in her youth, the sorrow of losing a father, and the horror of growing up under the rule of the wicked witch. Her many encounters with the characters along the way are given much greater depth than in the original story, as well as the shocking twist as to who her shining prince actually is.

These are just a few ideas of what’s in store with our Shaw Direct On Demand options. Our movie line-up is an ever-growing list of movies and series, so be sure to check them all out!


Sun Transit

You may have heard the phrase “Sun transit” before regarding a twice-yearly natural phenomenon that may cause temporary signal loss. But, what exactly is Sun transit?

Sun transit is also known as a “sun outage,” or “sun fade.” During the Spring and Autumn each year, the Sun lines up with all satellites in orbit, which can cause interference with services down here. This happens due to a massive amount of thermally generated radio frequency noise from the Sun. The interference can range from a bit of snow on your screen to a complete loss of services. Some people might not even notice any issue.

Sun transit impacts every satellite in orbit, so all satellite service providers and even cable providers may experience issues while this is happening. Because we currently have two satellites, the estimated interference times are different for each satellite, so you might lose signal on an English standard definition channel at a different time than on a high definition or French channel.

Here are the estimated times for possible Sun transit interference on both satellites across the country (all times are approximate and local):

Anik F1-R (English standard definition channels)

Location Start End Duration
Vancouver, BC 11:44 AM 11:54 AM Oct 8 – 13
Whitehorse, YK 11:41 AM 11:51 AM Oct 10 – 16
Calgary, AB 12:47 PM 12:57 PM Oct 8 – 14
Saskatoon, SK 12:50 PM 1:00 PM Oct 8 – 14
Yellowknife, NT 12:47 PM 12:57 PM Oct 10 – 16
Winnipeg, MB 1:54 PM 2:04 PM Oct 8 – 14
Resolute Bay, NU 1:51 PM 2:01 PM Oct 11 – 17
Toronto, ON 3:03 PM 3:13 PM Oct 6 – 12
Montreal, PQ 3:05 PM 3:15 PM Oct 6 – 12
Fredericton, NB 4:07 PM 4:17 PM Oct 6 – 12
Halifax, NS 4:09 PM 4:19 PM Oct 6 – 12
Charlottetown, PEI 4:09 PM 4:19 PM Oct 6 – 12
St. John’s, NL 4:40 PM 4:50 PM Oct 6 – 12

Anik F2 (All HD, French standard definition channels, Galaxie, radio stations, and Pay Per View)

Location Start End Duration
Vancouver, BC 12:01 PM 12:11 PM Oct 8 – 14
Whitehorse, YK 11:57 AM 12:07 PM Oct 10 – 16
Calgary, AB 1:04 PM 1:14 PM Oct 8 – 14
Saskatoon, SK 1:07 PM 1:17 PM Oct 8 – 14
Yellowknife, NT 1:04 PM 1:14 PM Oct 10 – 16
Winnipeg, MB 2:11 PM 2:21 PM Oct 8 – 14
Resolute Bay, NU 2:07 PM 2:17 PM Oct 11 – 17
Toronto, ON 3:20 PM 3:30 PM Oct 6 – 12
Montreal, PQ 3:22 PM 3:32 PM Oct 6 – 12
Fredericton, NB 4:24 PM 4:34 PM Oct 6 – 12
Halifax, NS 4:25 PM 4:35 PM Oct 6 – 12
Charlottetown, PEI 4:24 PM 4:34 PM Oct 6 – 12
St. John’s, NL 4:56 PM 5:06 PM Oct 6 – 12

If you want estimated times more specific to where you live, Telesat offers a sun transit calculator on their website. Just make sure you’ve selected Anik F1R and Anik F2 for your satellites, “Ku” for your frequency band, and 1 metre for the antenna diameter so you get the most accurate results. It’s not exact as our satellite dishes are smaller than a metre in diameter, but it will give you a pretty good idea of when to expect interference.

So, what are some things that could help you during Sun transit?

  • If you are experiencing any loss of signal, wait until the estimated time for interference is over before trying any resets or calling in for troubleshooting.
  • Wait until after the estimated interference time for your area is over prior to activating any new receivers, or adjusting your dish.
  • If you are a fan of Pay Per View movies, it might be a good idea to order something that isn’t during the estimated interference time so that you don’t miss part of your show.

If your service interruption continues after the estimated time (give or take about 10 minutes), please contact us for assistance. On that note, if you have any questions regarding Sun transit, or anything else, feel free to leave us a comment!


Big Brother Canada – Calgary Open Casting

The line at 7 a.m.

With a line that wrapped around the block, a man in a green lycra suit, and countless hopefuls bundled together in sweaters and blankets in the autumn chill, the Calgary open casting call for Big Brother Canada was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Hopefuls were already arriving at 6 a.m., although the line did not officially start until 7 a.m.; by that time, there were almost 400 waiting in the darkness outside of the Sheraton Eau Claire.

The excitement was palpable at 8:30 a.m. when the first 120 were let into the building to make their way up to the holding room. Pat, the man who wore the green lycra suit was enjoying the warmth there while waiting for his chance to audition.

“I wore it to make everyone laugh and wanted everyone to find me more interesting,” he said.

Melissa and Pat in the holding room.

Pat was discussing possible strategies with his fellow hopefuls when we found him.

“I’ll play it nice and cool, and all of a sudden, half-way through, boom! I’ll start knocking around everybody.”

Melissa was waiting with him, and mentioned that she would take a more organic approach if she made it to the final 14. “I think I would be good because I am me… I’m out-there, I’m crazy and fun, and I’m going to rock the Big Brother house.”

Sarah (far left) and Chris (far right) lament waiting.

Back outside, another group was being let in. The line stopped just before Sarah and Chris could make it through the doors. “It’s like coming in second playing ‘Hungry, Hungry Hippos,’” Chris said of the disappointment of having to wait longer.

Waiting was the theme of the day for Sarah, however. She and a friend left Edmonton for Calgary at 3 a.m., and had been waiting outside the hotel since about 6 a.m. As soon as she got close to the building, she’d tried to huddle close to the doors for any warmth that might escape.

Topics of conversation were as varied as the hopefuls in the line, but generally seemed to centre around Big Brother. One of the topics overheard was about who everyone’s Big Brother idol was.

For Dion, who wanted to try-out because it was a “chance to shine,” that idol was Dan.

“He pulled off the biggest moves in Big Brother history,” Dion said.

Chelsea, on the other hand, was rooting for Frank in the last house.

“I really liked Frank this last time because he was honest, and that’s how I’d want to play my game. He’s the one I wanted to win. I was devastated when he got back-stabbed.”

Dreaming about what could be done with the prize money – a cool $100,000 – was another hot topic.

For Dion, it was a chance to take care of his family. Chelsea thought of it as a chance to help those in need.

Chelsea coordinated with the cat on her shirt.

“I actually visited an orphanage [in Honduras] that’s run by an American couple. In Honduras, if you’re a baby born out of unfortunate circumstances, you’re not allowed to be adopted by the state, so they house unadoptable children. They have to do it all on their own, so I would go and donate some money to them.”

One thing that everyone did seem to agree on was that getting cast for Big Brother Canada would be a life-changing experience.

The line continued to grow later in the morning.

By the end of the day, 885 hopefuls auditioned for the Calgary casting call. Big Brother Canada is scheduled to start in winter 2013, and will airing exclusively on Slice (562 Classic, 278 Advanced).

There are three more casting calls – Halifax and Montreal on October 7, and Toronto on October 14. If you think you’ve got what it takes to be part of the first season of Big Brother Canada, make sure you go! And, as an extra bonus, we’re running a contest to give away VIP passes to get to the front of the line in any of those three cities.

Question of the week:

Who is your favourite Big Brother competitor, and why?