Friday, December 24, 2004
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Monday, December 20, 2004
Monday, December 06, 2004
Friday, December 03, 2004
Thursday, December 02, 2004
I remembered when I was working in the maintenance workshop in BBC News in the late eighties - we were just starting to look at CCD-based cameras and although all the "gurus" were banging on about how they'd never catch on and never match the look of a tube'd camera the maintenance manager told me he couldn't wait for solid state monitors . I thought at the time it was a vain hope, but the promise of less-frequent line-up, more stable colourimetry, no 27Kv danger during maintenance, 5Kg monitors, true 2k resolution for a quarter of the price of the £24k BVM-HD models etc. etc is a great one.
Monday, November 29, 2004
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
- A file that big?
It might be very useful.
But now it is gone.
- You seek a Web site.
It cannot be located.
Countless more exist.
- Chaos reigns within.
Stop, reflect, and reboot.
Order shall return.
- ABORTED effort:
Close all that you have worked on.
You ask way too much.
- Yesterday it worked.
Today it is not working.
Windows is like that.
- First snow, then silence.
This thousand dollar screen dies
- With searching comes loss.
The presence of absence.
"Deadlines.doc" not found.
- The Tao that is seen
Is not the true Tao
Until you bring fresh toner.
- Windows NT crashed.
The Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.
- Stay the patient course.
Of little worth is your ire.
The network is down.
- A crash reduces
Your expensive computer
To a simple stone.
- You step in the stream
But the water has moved on.
Page not found.
- Out of memory.
We wish to hold the whole sky,
But we never will.
- Having been erased,
The document you are seeking
Must now be retyped.
- Serious error.
All shortcuts have disappeared.
Screen. Mind. Both are blank.
Friday, November 19, 2004
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Monday, November 15, 2004
Sunday, November 14, 2004
"Is that combination door lock Y2k compliant?"
"No - it's a mechanical gadget that has no notion of the date"
"That's not good enough - if you guys are going to get BBC/Channel 4/etc etc millennium certification you're going to have to provide me with manufacturer documentation to show it is compliant"
Anyhow - I noticed some interesting trends in the run up to 2000 - aside from the hundreds of books by doom-mongers like Mr Wiles (have these people ever been taken seriously since?) there were well defined attitudes in all the people who wanted the world to end by the close of 1999
- Once people had woken up to the fact that programmers had been addressing the issue for most of the nineties and databases are used to badly formatted input the danger turned to "embedded systems" - everything from your car's electronic ignition to nuclear missiles were going to go wrong. All the people I spoke to wouldn't accept the fact that most microcoontrollers know nothing about large time periods - your engine management operates over hundreds of milliseconds (or at most months for the service interval). The view of engineers who dealt with embedded controllers on a daily basis counted for nothing over the views of the doom merchants.
- By mid-1998 it was fashionable for the Y2k industry to imply that although the USA would be OK all those Johnny foreigner countries would cause the trouble - racism was everywhere! In the end Italy spent less than 1% of what the UK spent on Y2k preparedness and they suffered less than our modest amount of pain!
- In the aftermath of new year 2000 I read lots of online comments from people like Gary North claiming that the US administration was covering up the nature of the problem and we'd see the collapse of society etc etc soon - perhaps he is still holed up in a cave in Montana living on beef jerky and listening to his clockwork radio!
So there you go - a real trip down misery lane!
Friday, November 12, 2004
The only slightly insulting thing is how it describes people who haven't touched the keyboard for a while!
Friday, November 05, 2004
It is here for desktop viewing as a DivX file or on your SmartPhone as a low-bitrate MPEG1 file.
Sunday, October 24, 2004
Did you by any chance make a recording of the final episode of season 3 of "The Shield" that went out this last weekend - 22:50 on Five. Is it tucked away on your Tivo or Sky+ box? Is there a VHS I can borrow? The reason for this woe is that the PC I use to capture TV programmes did a wobbler and I missed the finale of what has been the best series on TV this year!
If you could furnish me with a copy I'd be eternally grateful and will always be available to fix your PC/TV/Video (why didn't I use mine on Saturday night?!) until I retire from this broadcast engineering caper!
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
You've got fools here spending �4k on a cocktail glass so that the talented Mr Hirst can be a bit richer.
Friday, October 15, 2004
Thursday, October 14, 2004
I'm really enjoying the new series of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on Radio 4. One of the funniest things so far is Bistromathics - the advanced number theory that powers spaceships:
Bistromathics itself is simply a revolutionary new way of understanding the behaviour of numbers. Just as Einstein observed that time was not an absolute but depended on the observer's movement in space, and that space was not an absolute, but depended on the observer's movement in time, so it is now realized that numbers are not absolute, but depend on the observer's movement in restaurants.
The first non-absolute number is the number of people for whom the table is reserved. This will vary during the course of the first three telephone calls to the restaurant, and then bear no apparent relation to the number of people who actually turn up, or to the number of people who subsequently join them after the show/match/party/gig, or to the number of people who leave when they see who else has turned up.
The second non-absolute number is the given time of arrival, which is now known to be one of those most bizarre of mathematical concepts, a recipriversexcluson, a number whose existence can only be defined as being defined as being anything other than itself. In other words, the given time of arrival is the one moment of time at which it is impossible that any member of the party will arrive. Recipriversexclusons now play a vital part in many branches of maths, including statistics and accountancy and also form the basic equations used to engineer the Somebody Else's Problem field.
The third and most mysterious piece of non-absoluteness of all lies in the relationship between the number of items on the bill, the cost of each item, the number of people at the table, and what they are each prepared to pay for. (The number of people who have actually brought any money is only a sub-phenomenon in this field.)
The baffling discrepancies which used to occur at this point remained univestigated for centuries simply because no one took them seriously. They were at the time put down to such things as politeness, rudeness, meanness, flashness, tiredness, emotionality, or the lateness of the hour, and completely forgotten about on the following morning. They were never tested under laboratory conditions, of course, because they never occured in laboratories - not in reputable laboratories at least.
And so it was only with the advent of pocket computers that the startling truth became finally apparent, and it was this:
Numbers written on restaurant bills within the confines of restaurants do not follow the same mathematical laws as numbers written on any other pieces of paper in any other parts of the Universe.
This single fact fact took the scientific world by storm. It completely revolutionized it. So many mathematical conferences got held in such good restaurants that many of the finest minds of a generation died of obesity and heart failure and the science of maths was put back by years.
Oh, and they have made it available in 5:1 audio on the website - and jolly good it sounds!
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Monday, October 11, 2004
Sunday, October 10, 2004
Friday, October 08, 2004
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
Monday, October 04, 2004
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Saturday, September 25, 2004
This machine is designed for a more subtle version of HD cinema (Compared to earlier attempts!) The luma (Main bulk of data) is stored using analog methods on FM carriers. There is no color burst or color subcarrier, so the resulting image is 'cleaner'. The analog information is digitally time- aligned, ensuring it lines up perfect with previous and future fields. The chroma channel uses MPEG style compression. On playback, the chroma and luma channels are carefully digitally time-aligned to eliminate problems with chroma jittering in relation to luma. The data rate of the chroma alone is about 3 Mbps. Seperate heads are apparently used for luma, and chroma/audio. There is spectrum left in the chroma and audio channels for a substantial amount of metadata. The format has not been popular at this time.
Friday, September 24, 2004
Sunday, September 19, 2004
Now I'm not a Microsoft basher but I wonder why it has taken ten years of people hooking up Windows machines to the Internet for XP SP2 to actually have a safe configuration as default? I'm a geek and know how networking works - I pity people who aren't as in to it as me when they attached to always-on connections.
Saturday, September 18, 2004
I have a Neo35 car MP3 disk system - thirty gigs of MP3s in the boot and a wired remote on the dash - very nice - all my CDs in the car! Anyhow - about a year ago (and a few days outside the warranty period!) it developed an annoying fault whereby the back key would randomly press itself (sending the song back to the start). Once this started it was like it until you reset and sometimes you had a few minutes grace, sometimes half an hour. I was is a logic issue as it does it whether the wired remote is attached or even if the disk is in the USB caddy you use to download into it on the PC. Ho hum - then, along comes the Open Neo Project where the company has opened the firmware to the wider programming community and they've produced a version that allows you to re-map the keys - nuff said! I'm back in-car-MP3-nirvana!
Friday, September 17, 2004
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Sunday, September 12, 2004
I wish I'd waited a few days between upgrading the machines on my network at home! Despite Joel's reassurances AND the promise of a working Bluetooth stack I took the cautious route and upgraded the media machine first - all seemed well - I then (after only an hour of thinking about it!) upgraded the main family machine - here are a few observations:
1. DivX codec is affected by the new Data Execution Prevention schema - bummer! You can disable this by changing the following parameter in boot.ini
/NoExecute=xxxxx with /Execute
2. Pop-up blocker in IE is no better (and I'm getting the feeling it's worse) than the Google toolbar.
3. The firewall's config is so simplistic as to be unusable.
4. Even though I have a current version of Norton AntiVirus (updated an hour before the SP2 upgrade) it can't verify if it is working.
So, I've disabled all four of these features on all machines - I do have an industrial firewall/proxy between my LAN and the Internet and so I still feel as safe as I ever did - if you have a lone machine attached to the web maybe leaving the firewall on would be preferable.
Saturday, September 11, 2004
Back in December I blogged on about using a G4 kyboard with XP - well although I was quite pleased it was never just right - position of quote marks in relation to the pound and dollar symbols. Anyhow - I came across this brilliant Microsoft utility that allows you to build new keyboards - none of that messing around with scan-code mapping (although that is useful to put a "print screen" key on an used key on the Apple keyboard). Anyow - here is a layout for a UK G5 keyboard (pained as I am to admit, it is the best keyboard around!) - I have no dead-keys defined as I don't like them - get it here - extract and run the .msi file.
Monday, September 06, 2004
Sunday, September 05, 2004
Friday, September 03, 2004
Thursday, September 02, 2004
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
Monday, August 16, 2004
"But I got the postcode from the Post Office - surely they are the people who do post-codes?"
"Sorry sir - it's not the one engineering have on file for that building"
"OK, to avoid this happening again can you please tell me what post-code engineering have on file so I can re-schedule the job and be confident it won't get bounced back again?"
"I'm sorry sir, engineering won't disclose that information"
Eventually I did get the line installed and the day it was livened up I found myself sitting on the floor of the client's comms room with my laptop connected to the new router and no return pings from their end - I could see a carrier on the line, but no data. So, I called BT again and gave the various job numbers etc. and got the reply:
"I'm sorry sir, that line isn't due come on line until 2099"
He honestly said that without a hint of irony!
Thursday, August 12, 2004
I had a worried couple of hours yesterday with one room that had huge hum over all the signals - running cables around the corridor in case the wiremen had run signal cables a long way along a mains tray made no difference - measuring earth discepency to the 16A C-Form connector on the wall showed no standing earth current yet when everything was plugged up the monitors looked like they didn't know the tune (humming!). Eventually I found an earth-neutral reverse in the Olsen block and the problem was solved.
Now, this client have their own substation, so I was even more suprised there was so much potential difference between neutral and earth, but was glad to have found the fault none the less.
Monday, August 09, 2004
Sunday, August 08, 2004
Saturday, August 07, 2004
When building TV facilities there is often the requirement to include an RF ring main of some sort so that office dwellers can see off-air channels and even channels modulated on in the building - it's good to know that channel 6 (for example) on every TV or VHS in the building is seeing the output of the studio (for example).
Having trained at the beeb I'm very familiar with the old method of having a launch-amplifier that sends RF on a passive distribution, typically sending initially at 100dBuV and using attenuators whenever a TV or VHS is connected to the "ring". This system is robust and once implemented is cheap to scale - all you need at each TV is a passive attenuator. The only design consideration is that you keep track of the attenuation introduced by the co-ax and use local attenuators to feed the TVs.
The only down-side to this method is that in the last twenty years everyone has a domestic VHS on their desk as well as a TV and even the best designed modulator input stages leak signal back out of their inputs - you'll see a tiny amount of the tape output of a VHS on it's RF input - not a problem at home because that tiny signal (typ. less than a dBuV) stops at the antenna. In an RF ring main it all accumulates and the overall ring gets a bit noisier. Go to any aging BBC facility and the engineers will tell you how noisy the RF is and it's not down to the quality of the components - it's all those VHS machines (and now PC TV cards, PlayStations etc.) leaking a tiny bit of signal back up their inputs.
And now I will show you a better way!
Hotels tend to use multi-output RF DAs that have individually isolated outputs - it by-passes this problem. The issue is that now you have to run RF cable to every desk or room but you can abuse the system a lot more with no impact on the quality of the RF. Since we've moved away from 10Base2 to 10/100/1000BaseT (or even fibre) networking we're used to running cables per person rather than big rings you tap off I don't see that (at install time anyway) it is such an issue.
Suffice to say I use the latter (at our current MTV install as well as every other facility I've built).
Friday, August 06, 2004
Ben Davison and I were installing a dual-server Avid Unity rig at MTV (it's the fail-over config with two Media Managers seeing the fibre array) - both servers, once rack'ed up would boot once and then never boot again (couldn't even see the BIOS screen) - if we extracted the machine from the bay it would boot fine - back in the rack and it would boot once then nada. Very frustrating - the fault was found to be the little PS/2 breakout adaptor - the SR2200 has only one PS/2 socket on the back and the breakout for mouse and keyboard isn't marked - if you get it the wrong way round (keyboard plugged into mouse hole etc.) it does the above - crazy considering the server clearly sees the keyboard and mouse on that first good boot!
Thursday, August 05, 2004
Saturday, July 24, 2004
Friday, July 23, 2004
Yesterday I had to set up a edit suite based around FinalCut ProHD (v 4.1) - what a painful experience. No extra internal hardware on the G5 - plain vanilla machine with a fresh install of Panther and 1gig of RAM. The first four attempts at opening the capture tool resulted in the machine throwing a kernal panic and me having to re-boot (if it were really Unix I could have fired up a command prompt and KILL'ed the process - but that's another story!). Apparently this is well known if there is no video input but I intentially made sure there was stable video on all three inputs!
- This typifies "Mac people" - I was having an online discussion with someone about Tiger (the latest instance of OS-X) and they mentioned that if you Apple-K on the keyboard during boot you see all the "ugly Unix stuff" (the messages from various modules as they start). This obsession with the style and look of things blinds them to the real underlying power. It is how Apple managed to run all the way to 2002 with an OS (v.7 to v.9) that was technically ten years behind Windows (OS9 compared very well with Windows 3 - cooperative multi-tasker and memory management that needs to be disabled for any sensible apps to run!) and twenty years behind Unix. Never mind the quality - feel the anti-aliased founts!
- OS-X is Unix - it isn't! Nobody has regarded BSD as a proper Unix since the early nineties! That and the fact that The Open Group (see the story on C/NET) is still litigating, and not for the reasons Apple suggest - they really want all OSes that claim to be Unix to be submitted to the tests that confirm performance & compliance.
- Apple break all hardware standards they adopt - RS422, SCSI, PCI, need I say more?
- Linus Torvalds (who knows more about OS design than me or you!) says OS-X is a piece of crap.
- Apple would turn us all into consummers of their digital "stuff" - iTunes comoditises music in a way I don't like - why engage with an artist when you can cherry pick their greatest hits? Take no risks, buy only songs you've heard on the radio or seen on MTV and we'll turn into a society that only has place for Christina and Britney. Corporate America will have won.
Thursday, July 22, 2004
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Monday, July 19, 2004
Sunday, July 18, 2004
I have to go and visit customer sites to quote for installation work regularly - some are as nice as pie (and it isn't just down to the coffee!) and some are stand-offish and disinterested (even though you may be subsequently spending tens of thousands of their cash). It costs nothing to be pleasant and those customers who've made me feel welcome always get seen to first subsequently - if I'm passing and they have a problem I pop in that day and fix it for free - but the rude ones....! They can wait!
You get the best out of people when you treat them well. I may be the hired help but don't behave like I'm a servant!
Thursday, July 15, 2004
Friday, July 09, 2004
Thursday, July 08, 2004
Image adjustment (Pan & Scan, aspect ratio correction, overscan compensation)
High quality subtitle display in windowed and full-screen mode in any player (including Windows Media Player).
DivXG400 supports almost every known subtitle format: SubViewer 1.0, 2.0, SubRip, MicroDVD, SAMI, Sub Station Alpha 3.0, 4.0, JACOsub, DVDSubtitle, VobSub
3.0, 4.0, TMPlayer, SMIL-RealText, AqTitle. Additionally, MicroDVD INI-files are accepted as a wrappers to real subtitle files.
Subtitle output to TV in DVDMax mode (of course, all "classical" modes are supported, too)
Near to 24fps clip playback at 25fps
Thursday, July 01, 2004
Wednesday, June 30, 2004
The rep coils (between the XLR panel mounts and the phonos) are from RS - part number 210-6419 and are mounted on double-sided pads. The coil has a high i/p impedance (typ. 10k) and so doesn't load the balanced signal but it ensures that the Avid (or whatever) is also available as an unbalanced feed - very neat when fitted in a Kelsey wallbox.
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Monday, June 28, 2004
Sunday, June 27, 2004
This was taken from Omnibus's "System G3" website - broadcast automation. Now, I've been doing this broadcast engineering lark since the late 80's and this means nothing to me!
Friday, June 25, 2004
- Wardour Mews in Soho, W1 - SSID - 3Com, Internet-facing IP - 220.127.116.11, DNS enabled - yes, 192.0.168.x
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
- The modem initialisation string mentioned in the first column on page two didn't scan too well and so cut'n'paste this:
- The USB modem driver is on the E200 CD, but I've posted it here - USBMDM.INF
- VPN into Root6 doesn't seem to work
- The 230kBits it reports is not accurate!
Thursday, June 10, 2004
Wednesday, June 09, 2004
I'm laughing myself silly, and now I know why my kids keep shouting "think of the germs"!
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
Monday, June 07, 2004
Friday, June 04, 2004
I was in a Thai restauraunt in Camden last night with my good chum Richard Drake (he is Mr Clublets!) and at one point the music stopped abruptly and after a few minutes the familiar "ding-ding-dong-ding-dong" preceeded the music starting - nice to know people are using MP3 jukeboxes, but it's a pitty they crash!
Thursday, June 03, 2004
- You have to keep everything scrupulously clean - if you leave even fragments of glass on the cleaver (for example) you get a ragged cut and it never splices properly.
- The fusion splicer has a low power mode for cleaning the end of the fibre before you join it - but if you do it more than once before you fuse it seems to close the end of the fibre and you get a weak splice.
- You need to space the ends of the fibres by about ten microns before you fuse - any closer and you get a 'bulge' and any further and the joint is clearly tapered - in both cases the join is weak and breaks once it's out of the splicer.
- Slowly does it - the 204 micron strip tool for the bare fibres rarely breaks the fibre but the one for stripping the pigtails needs a bit of getting used to - I found (after working on some offcuts) that you need to make a determined cut and then as you pull allow the coated end of the fibre to slide through you fingers a bit (to avoid it snapping with the lateral tension).
Now I need a quiet evening - I believe I'm going out for a spot of supper with Rick (he runs Why? clublet - see my blog links right).
Wednesday, June 02, 2004
Tuesday, June 01, 2004
Saturday, May 29, 2004
I wish I'd came across this FAQ before I started re-installing my Hauppage PVR250 card - merely running the uninstaller, re-booting, re-installing the current card driver and then the application ain't good enough! The page on their site doesn't seem to be linked off of the support section and has a couple of dead links - the link to the PVR application (for example) - you can snag that file from their Digital Asia site.
This aside I think it is a killer product - I'm increasinly using it instead of my VHS.
Thursday, May 27, 2004
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Monday, May 24, 2004
- Start Menu / Run... / gpedit.msc / ENTER
- Local Computer Policy / Administrative Templates / Network
- QoS Packet Scheduler / double-click Limit Reservable Bandwidth / set to Enabled
- Change Bandwidth limit % to 0
Friday, May 21, 2004
- The enthusiast is either impressed or easily impressed by cool technology - they really get into the demo and have loads of insightful questions - they want to understand how it works and fits into what they do.
- The cynic takes a pride in never being impressed - they can't in any way see how anyone could have a use for the software/hardware you're showing and a minor option missing is the most important thing in the world to them. I used to work for a guy who I was embarassed to go to trade shows with for exactly this reason and that lack of joi de vive was mirrored in every other area of his life.
Thursday, May 20, 2004
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Only one thing Mark - the "Unix powered" badge may have to go if the Open Group get their way! (see here).
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
Friday, May 14, 2004
FFDshow filter from AfterDawn.
Thursday, May 13, 2004
- The cable (particularly the four-way stuff) has a mind of it's own - you can figure-8 it but with care.
- You can pretty much always see if a joint is good but you get a slightly different view looking down the microscope compared to viewing it on the monitor - the monitor seems to show up problems with the exterior of the joint whereas the microscope shows problems on the inside of the "pipe"
- Applying a bending strain so that the fibre makes a 360 hoop about fifty mil in diameter will break the joint if it is bad.
I'll post some video-grabs from down the microscope to illistrate these points.
Saturday, May 08, 2004
I'm currently trying to get them into using Avid ExpressDV because it's the industry standard.
Friday, May 07, 2004
Thursday, May 06, 2004
Tuesday, May 04, 2004
Friday, April 30, 2004
Thursday, April 29, 2004
IDC to 9-pin (male)
1 - 1 -> DCD (red-stripe on ribbon)
2 - 6 -> DSR
3 - 2 -> Rx
4 - 7 -> RTS
5 - 3 -> Tx
6 - 8 -> CTS
7 - 4 -> DTR
8 - 9 -> RI
9 - 5 -> GND
Andy Vasey of AMC does a lot of server integration for us - here is his solution to having proper '422 out of the back of an Intel 2u server case - very ingenious.
It is the board mounted on a half-PCI back plate and then the header from the motherboard's serial connects to the other side.
Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Monday, April 26, 2004
The BetaSP format that was typified by the BVW-75P was THE format when I was at the Beeb and consequently I did in excess of 100 head drum changes - kinda akin to replacing the engine in a car! But when the 500 came along the drum change routine was a joy by comparison. Although Sony are moving on to better things with IMX and eVTR support I'll miss the DVW-A500!
Friday, April 23, 2004
I've played with Media Composer Adrenaline on both Mac and Windows and there is a real performance difference. Are you making the Mac version run slower?
Of course not, we optimise for both platforms. At this time we are seeing significantly higher real-time performance on current Windows-based workstations than G5 workstations from Apple.
So now we know!
Thursday, April 22, 2004
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
I had to wax lyrical about video compression paying particular reference to this image recognition codec that is produced by Atvisican. Their codec writer (and all round good-geek!) Uve was also over yesterday - I enjoyed spending time listening to his explanation of a laser-based hi-definition projector they currently have in prototype. I hear many people described as geniuses but I think Uve is a real one!
I showed him AtomicLava which he seemed quite tickled by.
Monday, April 19, 2004
Friday, April 16, 2004
Thursday, April 15, 2004
Wednesday, April 14, 2004
Monday, April 12, 2004
CWShredder gets rid of ActiveX controls and returns your browser to a good state.
Home Search Assistant is a similair thing that seems to be more resistant than CWS.
AdAware catches Trojans etc and is the best around.
BHODemon gets rid of malicious Browser Helper Objects.
MVPS updates HOSTS file exploits the Windows HOSTS file to re-direct known advert sites to your local socket - you don't have to get the content of the most popular add-hosting services. Works well and I've noticed a huge difference (and you save bandwidth!)
The good thing about these solutions is that they are open source/free for private use and they don't insist on running all the time and sucking your cycles.
Aside from these I also think Norton Antivirus is still the best - but configure to avoid all that active and continuous nonsense.
Saturday, April 10, 2004
Tuesday, April 06, 2004
Morale of the story - always enable USB keyboard support in the BIOS!
Monday, April 05, 2004
Sunday, April 04, 2004
Friday, April 02, 2004
Monday, March 29, 2004
Saturday, March 27, 2004
Although this site sells batteries in the states it is very handy for identifying those unusual or old types.
Friday, March 26, 2004
Thursday, March 25, 2004
First - lift pins 11 & 15 on IC1 (a DG611 video switch) so that the black 'hole' and white insert signals are stopped - short pins 6 & 7 of the same IC to ensure the black and burst goes straight through. The VITC is added later - see transistor Q1.
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
Seems like the EU are getting all shook up with Bill and the boys. I have to say I think coming from the European Union this is really rich - the organization that (via it's protective, non-competitive practices) keeps third world farmers in poverty while obliging the average British family to contribute approximately a grand a year to keep wealthy European farmers in inefficiency is complaining that Microsoft in an "abusive monopolist" - clearly the crew from Redmond haven't oiled the wheels of the gravy train sufficiently!
Now I don't defend Microsoft as a point of faith (as some of my colleagues do!) - I'm a fan of Linux because in lots of situations it is the better option, but it strikes me that companies that behave like Microsoft should be encouraged - they don't do deals with third-world despots, they don't pollute and they don't use sweatshop labour. Microsoft is the most egalitarian company in the Fortune 500 - the wealth is spread more evenly than anyone else you could work for AND Uncle Bill is now the most charitable individual that has ever lived (these are quantifiable facts - the kind I like!).
Just imagine a world where Apple had been as successful as Microsoft - we'd be using machines very modest hardware but at least it would be in lovely translucent plastic and have a pretty GUI - I would have changed my name to Zak and I'd be listening to The Chemical Brothers!
Monday, March 22, 2004
I find it unlikely that there were 12 people on Mrs. Stewart's jury who could whip up a seven-course meal and a decorative centerpiece unique to the event in an afternoon."
Sunday, March 21, 2004
Friday, March 19, 2004
Thanks to Rupert we traced this to QT and further discovered that QT 6.3 is OK - what do you know - I'd have thought DV, DVCam and DVCPro were the ones they'd get right - currently they look v.blocky and useless. Why do people even bother with Apple and their "standards"?
Thursday, March 18, 2004
I've been working at a facility that has a studio and does travel and holiday shows. The vision mixer died and we got another comms board for the control out of Snell - however, while diagnosing the problem I had to Hyperterminal into the beast to discover what IP address it thought it had (control panel talks over ethernet) and the RS232 port of the back of the panel is a male which (according to the IEE RS232C standard) defines it as a DTE (lit. Data Terminal Equipment) - so, to connect to a PC you need a female-female cable that is null modem (i.e. Tx and Rx cross over) - but no - it is a DCE (Data Communicaing Equipment) and doesn't need a cross-cable. The guy at Snell & Wilcox seemed unrepentent that they'd got it wrong - I dunno - why bother to mention the standard and then not conform to it?
Also - the mixer chasis has two ethernet ports - one for the panel and one for the LAN - if the tub doesn't see a panel on one port it goes looking on the other, taking the IP address that the tub knows about to the LAN port - talk about making life difficult!
As the studio director said - "You don't get this trouble with a Sony".
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
Monday, March 15, 2004
Sunday, March 14, 2004
Saturday, March 13, 2004
Friday, March 12, 2004
Thursday, March 11, 2004
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
Wow! if it's made it to BBC online it must be here!
i know in advance how stupid this was..
Ok, i just did the dumbest thing i could possibly do updating the firmware on this dvd-rom. First off it is a pioneer 500m. I have no floppy drive on this box so I burned a dos bootable cd and put it in the pioneer drive and rebooted. I put the firmware update on the bootable cd also. So when i booted to dos, i ran the firmware update. It deleted the old firmware fine, and then just froze, since then it could not read the cd in the drive, since no firmware. So right now I have a dvd drive that has no firmware and I can not boot with it installed on my machine. If i try, the light stays on on the drive and the machine hangs 'detecting IDE devices..'
I am not able to get into my bios set up or anything. I have no idea how to fix this. Any ideas?
I hope I don't make too many mistakes as fundemental as this!
Tuesday, March 09, 2004
Monday, March 08, 2004
I've not tried Yellow Dog, but I like the idea of running a proper OS on a Mac (and don't try and tell me OS-X is Unix!)
Sunday, March 07, 2004
I found that when I had Media Player running on my main machine my server would suddenly not allow access to network shares etc due to it running out of licenses - looking on the active shares on the server showed a dozen or more MP3s being accessed - turns out Media Player will take as much as it can get if you point the monitor folder at a server!
Friday, March 05, 2004
Why I prefer the look of interlaced video
I’ve been engineering in television since the eighties when I started at the Beeb working in television news. All the training efforts of the good folks at Wood Norton (the BBC’s own college!) were to turn out staff who could maintain the fidelity of pictures and audio from acquisition to transmission. As the nineties wore on and TV stopped being staffed by people who earned their chops and became the domain of “meeja skool” graduates the practice of film-looking increased – trying to make pictures acquired on tape look like they really came off film. It rarely works – making video look jerky and messing about with its colour grading is more an insult to people who work in proper film than those of us who think video looks better than film on television. One of the areas where video out-performs 35mm is in motion rendition, and so why spoil that?
The reason production types indulge in this kind of behavior is to do with the perception that film-produced TV looks more expensive than the kind that comes out of a studio. For my money I find clean, well lit video to be more engaging than film because it looks a like the world does. When I watch “Casualty” I can believe it a bit than, say “ER” because with the latter I can never quite loose the feeling that it has been shot on a sound stage and has gone through a much more elaborate post-process. Video seems more true, more honest.
Now me venting my engineering spleen about all this came about because of the “Give it the Bullet” article in a recent edition of Creation – “Make your cheap-skate DV production look like Super-16” or some such! My answer to this is the two episodes of Dad’s Army that Steve Roberts at the Beeb restored a couple of years ago. They discovered these missing episodes in a shed on reversal 16mm from a tele-recording (ask your Dad). Being aware that these gems would have gone out as video Steve set about finding a way of making them look like interlaced video again (it’s the honesty thing!) and he discovered VidFire – an AVX plug-in that turns film into video – it fills in the temporal blanks. It really does work – it produces smooth motion from jerky old film. Now that is a fashion I could support – video-looking film. If someone could produce a real-time unit and build it into my TV set then I’d be happy!
Wednesday, March 03, 2004
Tuesday, March 02, 2004
Monday, March 01, 2004
Friday, February 27, 2004
Although the drive updates and cooling works well one problem we hit into when installing them into the client's facility was that initally we racked the computers with the DVD drive on the left hand side (and hence the motherboard upside down). After about thirty mins of operation the Pyro firewire cards (see entries from Jan 2004) got very unreliable under the Avid application (which uses it's own 800mbits protocol called flame thrower) but from Windows all was well. Eventually we flipped a machine and all came good - must have been the additional vibration of the drives and the fact that the card had gravity working on it.
Thursday, February 26, 2004
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
We have several world-class software developers here at Root6 - our tech director James Clarke has done a real job on logging for reality TV shows in his Ultra application. He's extended it to take in mobile picture blogging and if you go to Atomic Lava (link in the right hand column) you'll see the application being used to blog the engineers thoughts and pictures snapped on their 'phone cameras. If you click FunkyWorm you'll see what I've started to blog, and if you click the photos from my SPV click you'll see the Flash viewer that another colleague Nick Ridley has written. All very good stuff since the photos appear on the blog within minutes of you clicking "capture" on the 'phone.
Monday, February 23, 2004
Friday, February 20, 2004
Thursday, February 19, 2004
Tuesday, February 17, 2004
Monday, February 16, 2004
Petra asked me to write a little note re the cheaper Avid products and IDE drives.
Chris was integrating an ExpressDV machine last week with the intention of having the media drive (250gig IDE model) on the same IDE channel as the system drive. The BIOS on that machine would only allow for one DMA device on an IDE channel and so the media drive chugged away at 33Mbits per sec (shows up as a PIO device in the device manager). Performance with 25Mbits DV media was somewhat jerky!
Now I know it will often work (on motherboards that support multiple DMAs on the same IDE channel) but it isn't best practise to try and get away with it and since another IDE/PCI adaptor (ATA 133Mbits spec) from Lindy (including cables!) is only £19 to us it seems that is the best way to go.
If the motherboard of the machine in question has Serial ATA ("SATA") then an SATA drive as the media drive would avoid this problem. However, SATA drives are currently about £100 more expensive than the same sized IDE drive and so the Lindy solution still saves us a bit.
The Lindy part number is 70642 and there is a price break at three pieces. I have put three cards in Pete's cupboard in accounts,
Friday, February 13, 2004
We have to supply nine of these top-end dual P4 machines to a client who needs 300gigs in each - the new 15k Baracudas from Seagate are out and so four 73gig Ultra320 drives seemed the answer:
Move the system IDE drive to the same bay as the DVD drive - you need a bay-adaptor (Lindy part number: 40545) and then mount the drive cooling fan kit on the side of the four-way drive bay (Lindy part number: 40517). Finally you need to remove one of the onboard SCSI ports from the back of the machine and run a terminated Ultra320 cable to the new drives from the mobo SCSI adaptor - Adaptec part number 1490826-00.
A few cable ties to tidy and a few hours of burn-in testing to ensure coolness and stability and it looks like we're good to go!
Thursday, February 12, 2004
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
Suggested by my colleague Rupert (see his dead blog in the right hand column!) - of course proper engineers like me do dB calculations in their heads!
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
Monday, February 09, 2004
Chopper joined us later and we had a jolly time getting it all talking! SPV pics here.
Oh, Graham and I did spot what was clearly a production model of a Blue-Ray disk recorder (50 gig re-writeable disks) - clearly a domestic gadget from the far east - all composite video i/o (on phonos) and unbalanced audio. There are a couple of bad pics of it on the previous link.
If you're comming to the show then swing by the Sony stand and get Graham to give you the Xpri/HDCam religion - I'll be there on Wednesday.
Friday, February 06, 2004
Press and hold the following:
- Home key - brings up a menu that allows you to disable the more battery hungry protocols!
- Hang-up key - locks the keypad
- Left & Right key while in Inbox - moves between SMS and Email folders
Wednesday, February 04, 2004
Monday, February 02, 2004
The 1604 is a popular mixer in Avid suites because it has loads of facilities (lots of channels, auxes, four groups etc.) but they cross-talk between the two track return and the mono input channels. Today I was in a suite and there is a lot of bleed at only 35dBs below if you are using the 2TR return button to listen to the output of the Avid and at the same time digitise via the mono-channels and stereo bus you get an awful lot of cross-talk. Putting a balancing box in line with the 2TR return sorted the problem so I assume the bleed is back out of the 2TR input.
Saturday, January 31, 2004
Wow - watch the clips! Using strong non-fluctuating fields they make various small organis objects fly! If you scroll down there is a very funny spoof letter from a cult type church who want to install the machine under their pulpit! Thanks to my friend Rowan for sending me this one.
Friday, January 30, 2004
Today I didn't bother to make a packed lunch and wished I had! This banana looked pristine but was rank inside! No wonder the guys here describe that particular emporium as "filthy McNasty's sandwiches"!
Thursday, January 29, 2004
We sell for these guys and this is the best video waveform monitor and analyser I have seen in my sixteen years of broadcast engineering BAR NONE! I've probably QC'ed more hours of broadcast TV in the last decade than anyone else in London and have had my fair share of Tektronics/Hamlets/VideoTeks and this system kills them all.
The new killer feature is a time-shift capture based on any error condition - you can set it to hold a defined number of frames either side of (say) a CRC error - no other 'scope can do this! Call me for a demo.
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
We have upgraded at work to the newer E200 model SmartPhone and these are the things I can't do without!
- PocketTV - Just the best MPEG player - do a search (right hand menu) for occasional MPEG-1 files I upload encoded for the 'phone - you'll also find the TMPGenc template that I use.
- Pocket Music - again, search for SPV items to find my previous posts on this excellent pocket MP3 player.
- SmartExplorer - like Windows explorer but on your 'phone! Now works over IR and BlueTooth for file transfer.
- Task Manager - you'd be suprised how much stuff Windows leaves running!
Monday, January 26, 2004
Sunday, January 25, 2004
See the right hand bar for the link to subscribe to this site.
Thursday, January 22, 2004
Tuesday, January 20, 2004
Monday, January 19, 2004
1. The old-style password control panel - allows you to define autologons etc.
2. The classic search tool (not the hideous "hand holding" thang in XP!)
TweakUI powertoy and go to Explorer - scroll down and set "classic view for search in explorer" - bliss!
Sunday, January 18, 2004
Having spent the best part of a day last week with my colleague Rupert (see his blog in the right hand column) trying to get a Win2K HiDef storage system to talk to a Linux film grading system here are a few observations regarding the efficiency of different network protocols.
1. NetBIOS (using the v 2.2.7a Samba server on Linux) - over TCP/IP runs at about a tenth of the speend of FTP under exactly the same conditions. I'd heard that Windows networking copying was inefficient but I was suprised how badly it did. Before you point the finger at Samba, it was actually a tad worse going between the Win2K and another XP computer.
2. Going between 100-BaseT and Gigabit only produces an improvement of about five-fold. This bears out the observation that most GigE implementations (over twisted pair) don't yet run duplex.
3. Cables count! Even short cat5 cables won't handle GigE - you need proper cat5E.
4. Win2K (unlike every other flavour of Windows) won't recognise unencrypted passwords. You have to tweak the registry to enable it:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\lanmanworkstation\parameters Set the key: enableplaintextpassword to a "1" to enable plain text passwords
Saturday, January 17, 2004
Friday, January 16, 2004
The first year I was at the Beeb (1988) they closed down the last of the 405 line relays and someone calculated that the cost of buying everyone who was still using a 405 line set a brand new Sony 28" TV was less than the cost of running those transmitters for another week - amazingly that's what the BBC did - anyone who could turn in a working pre-1955 TV (and B&W license) got the new set! One of the few times they spent money wisely (while I was there, anyhow).
Thursday, January 15, 2004
To rig and babysit three Media Composers and a LanShare server with a daily playout of the finished piece (for C4/ITN) in cooperation with the ENG/links engineer. You should be good with Avids and a strong broadcast engineer generally. You'll have a spare Avid and VTR (because the job is abroad) but you should know your way around the software and hardware as well as the networking between. £300 per day with all expenses covered. Send me an email!
Wednesday, January 14, 2004
I have a Cyberhome DVD 302 which has been just a fine DVD / VCD / CD / MP3 player for the last couple of years but wouldn't read the disks I was burning in my new Sony DVD burner. I eventually found a reference on a German bulletin board to a firmware upgrade that doesn't seem to be linked off the main site at all! Anyhow - new firmware and the player is happily reading all the flavours of DVD I can throw at it (+ and - as well as R and RW). BUT the only software I've tried that makes video DVDs that work consistently is Ulead VideoStudio 6 DVD edition. Everything else (Nero 6, Pinnacle DVD-Studio) just makes disks that either go no further than the menu OR won't read at all. Curious.
Tuesday, January 13, 2004
Avery Lee's genius in creating one of the best tools for manipulating digital video is only matched by the fact that he makes the source code freely available and extensible - the build I use is fccHandler's MPEG version here. Anyhow - a couple of the pluggins I use a lot are Flaxen's VHS restorer and the DeLogo filter which does a pretty good job of removing station idents.
Monday, January 12, 2004
I'm a big fan of the look of video - 50 field motion for me looks a lot better than 25 frame jerky motion of film. People who "film look"(!) video to make budget video productions more professional show they know nothing about TV! Anyhow - Steve Roberts at the BBC (who resores old Dr Who episodes - see the website he runs wrote a bit about VidFire, a pluggin for Premier that makes the "missing" fields from film-recordings of video by motion vector estimation - see this uk.tech.broadcast thread from 2001.
Sunday, January 11, 2004
Saturday, January 10, 2004
Friday, January 09, 2004
Oh dear - I've just been working in Bermondsey for the week doing the editing facilities (suites and SAN) for "Spooks"- the BBC spy drama by Kudos Productions - all went in well and the wiremen made a superb job of the cabling (as always). However we supplied the three editing workstations (Avid Adrenaline) and forgot that when they are on a gigabit SAN you have to install an additional 64bit PCI 1394 card for the video hardware. The recommended one is the Pyro.
Tuesday, January 06, 2004
Monday, January 05, 2004
Sunday, January 04, 2004
Friday, January 02, 2004
I've been working on a project recently using an Adrienne Timecode capture card (see November's page for their details) to synchronise several encoders and servers to a TV-standard timecode signal. Now, you look at the Micro$oft implementation of NTP and imagine they have done the decent thing and used the Unix protocol (port 123, UTP etc.) but no - it is Unix NTP with Windows authentication (but only if used on a LAN!) - so when you're testing it - pointing it at your favourite Internet NTP server it works fine, but as soon as you install the TC card and start pointing other machines on the LAN at it (but before you've authenticated mapped drives etc.) it throws errors. What can you do?