Monday, March 29, 2004

Benq dual-layer DVD writer - is it the end of the tape drive for DVD authors? I hope so - and at $129 why wouldn't you?

Saturday, March 27, 2004 find a Laptop, Camcorder, Notebook, or Cell Phone Battery
Although this site sells batteries in the states it is very handy for identifying those unusual or old types.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Headphone breakout for the SPV - you can get the bits here and here!

Thursday, March 25, 2004

MurrayPro Timecode Stamp is a fine little gadget for inserting VITC, BITC and genarating audio code from a video input. I had an application where I had to insert VITC into the black reference for an automation system to read. To disable the BITC I did this mod - see the video output stage schematic here.
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

Maplin are doing the Yamanda range of MPEG4 DVD players! Go to their website and type L20AU into the search box. These boys do DivX, XVid and loads more besides - less than a ton!

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Microsoft faces 'record EU fine'
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

"In the United States, we are guaranteed a trial by a jury of our peers.
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

MPEG1 format just for your SPV! This is a very funny Star Wars spoof - the events surrounding the start of Episode 4.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Quicktime 6.5 has broken it's DV codecs
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

Snell & Wilcox Golden DaVE
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

ProgPlayer Radio scheduler
I'm implementing a scheduled audio playout system for a client and this little app looks like the business - I'll blog as the project moves on.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Win2k and a USB - PS/2 conundrum! I has to put together a video encoder which had to have Win2k - I only had a USB keyboard/mouse combo to do the install but when I got it into the rack the KVM was a PS/2 model - the machine wouldn't get as far as detecting the keyboard and mouse because it never got past the logon prompt. Had to go and fetch the USB ones and all was well. Who'd hae thought that Windows only installs PS/2 support if it needs it!

Monday, March 15, 2004

Reseller Update March 2004.pdf
Ha - three months of us bugging Avid with this one and they come up with this! See my previous post here.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Shrek 2 trailer
MPEG1 format just for your SPV!

Saturday, March 13, 2004

The Sect of Homokaasu
Not sure what I think of this but it looks fun!

Friday, March 12, 2004

computer displays -v1.pdf
2nd article for the tech section of the Root6 catalogue.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

AtomFilms Hi-Def
Wow, the guys at Atom Films go Hi Def in a WM9 stylie.
Take care, they insist on you installing their own download manager to get the files - not great! I may snag the files and post a link to grab them directly.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

BBC NEWS | Technology | Log your life via your phone
Wow! if it's made it to BBC online it must be here!
serial comms -v1.pdf
First stab at an RS422 & 232 reference for broadcast engineers and wiremen for possible inclusion in the technical help section of the new Root6 catalogue.
I felt sorry for this chap - I culled this entry off

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

We Can Put an End to Word Attachments - GNU Project - Free Software Foundation (FSF)
Rupert showed me this and I LIKE (said in Chris's Hasan voice).

Monday, March 08, 2004

Why I Ditched MacOSX for Linux - A Yellow Dog Linux 3.0 Review -
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

Windows Media Player killing my Win2K server!

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

I had to write the following for someone!

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

Fraunhofer IIS - Audio & Multimedia - MPEG Audio Layer-3 - This is what you need if you are interested in audio compression.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004