Friday, March 25, 2005

Wow, couple of weeks since I blogged - it has been a very busy time at work (in fact 2005 has been full-on so far!). Anyhow - I've just finished an installation that had a couple of Final Cut Pro workstations as well as a TerraBlock SAN - The TerraBlock I love and blogged about previously - a real pointer to the future of affordable SAN solutions in the face of Avid etc. Final Cut Pro I am indifferent to - I know some folks love it but I have to say that next to Avid it isn't yet a mature product and seems a strange mix of very antiquity (reminds me of a mid-80's VTR editor) and the new. BUT - the thing that really annoyed me is the DeckLink Extreme video cards we integrate into the G5s - on paper they look great - SDi with embedded as well as analogue component and analogue audio, but when you try and use the thing in a multi-format environment you soon realise they should have used a couple more FPGAs.
  • If you capture SDi video it will only capture embedded audio - not great if you are converting a UMatic (or VHS) to digits - you need an additional embedder.

  • It randomly swaps the colour component inputs - sometimes it's Y, Cr, Cb , sometimes Y, Cb, Cr!

  • During capture the only audio o/p that is live is the SPDif - you are obliged to use yet another converter!

So you wind up with a very reasonably priced $895 card but you invariably have to spend twice that on converters.

Friday, March 11, 2005

BBC NEWS | Technology | Warnings on woeful wi-fi security - Joel and I were chatting about WiFi security and he told me he happily leaves his access point at home open. He's got a hippy attitude for "sharing the love"! Anyhow - having set up another friend with a wireless card last week (she is leaching off someone else's connection - she can see five networks from her flat, three of which are insecure!) I thought about the ways I (obsesivley!) secure my access point.
  • WEP - they all do it! Apparently 128-bit isn't as secure as it should be, but it's a start

  • Authenticate on MAC address - again, they all do it and it isn't hard to set up. I don't knwo how hard it is to spoof MAC addresses?

  • Wind down the TX power so that you can't leach from the pavement outside - I've placed my access point so that I can cover the house but not outside

  • Exploit the radio-scheduling your AP may have - my DLink allows you to define what times of the day the wireless is active - why spill your network when you're not at home. My AP also allows you to set a "time out" on your wireless - mine times-out every seven days so if I forget to turn it off when I go on holiday it will de-activate itself.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

World of Warcraft is the big hit in our house - but why, when you've spend £30 on the game and a cheeky £9 a month on the subscription do they charge you 25p a min for tech support? No trouble I thought - hit them over Skype - but no, number unavailable. I did notice that all of their European support numbers route to their call centre in Paris and since in some countries it is free you can Skype to those numbers - Finland's number is the best - SkypeOut to +35800 115 268 and save that call cost! Turns out we'd created out account while their database was being backed-up.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Upgrading disks
Due to the arrival of World of Warcraft in our house I had to stick a bigger hard drive in the main PC - in the past I'd have used Ghost or somesuch to clone onto the bigger drive and then make the primary partition bigger with Partition Magic. However - the guys in tech support at work use this groovy little disk cloner called Disk Jockey that does it in a few minutes - it also promises to not even touch the source drive so that results are good for forensic analysis.
Anyhow - it did my 160gig perfectly! Let battle commence!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

CD Times - the shape of the future? - I've been subscribing to since it launched at Christmas - since I'm a huge fan of ex-Vigilantes of Love frontman Bill Mallonee I've really been enjoying the slightly left-field content on this (modestly) paid-for website. "...Maybe after the last few years of litigation, a solution may be emerging that will make both musicians and fans happy with the added bonus of snookering major record labels. Now that is what you call disruptive technology..."

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

There was Asbestos at Fame Academy back in autumn 2002 when I was technical supervisor on that show. Endemol - the production company - have known about this for a year and even if they have contacted their subcontractors Resolution (who I was working for at the time and did all the post-production) haven't thought to contact any of their current employees, freelancers, or ex-employees about this. I found out via BBC News online (link above). So, I've contacted my union, my institute, the HSE and all my old colleagues who worked on the show and I intend to use this blog entry as a means of keeping abreast of the process for all of us. I'm putting the permalink for this entry in the side-bar (permalink URLs can be so unwieldy!).

Here is the first reply from my old employers, Resolution, their reply text is in italics:

Thanks for the prompt reply - I'll reply to your points individually:

1) They consider the risks to be minimal given the period of exposure but not negligible.

I'm told by a close friend (Dr. Onn Min Kon, MBBS MRCP MD - St. Mary's leading respiratory consultant - Google him to see his published record) tells me that it takes only one fibre to cause mesothelioma twenty years down the line.

2) They have asked me to confirm if any of our staff were involved in drilling into the fabric of the building as it is asbestos in its disturbed state, dust, that is of greater concern. Phil, can you answer this for when you were there.

Although we didn't do any drilling ourselves pulling bundles of cables through voids and holes kicks up an awful lot of dust

3) Did our guys do any work in the basement? If so can you give me an idea of the period/level of exposure you feel they were subjected.

We ran many cables through the basement over a period of several days.

4) When you say "register" what do you mean? Peninsular were not aware of any requirement to register anywhere you will need to explain further.

I know when I was at the Beeb they discovered asbestos at BBC Glasgow and all staff who'd worked there went on an HSE register so that in twenty years when they might need to seek compensation their potential exposure had been documented.

5) I will be speaking to Endemol about this generally and see what service they are prepared to offer, the only one Peninsular could come up with was an xray. I am not currently aware of them offering any scheme. I will however keep you informed.

Here are some links furnished to me by Mr. Tsuyoshi Kihara at the IIE (link in the right-hand bar):
What are asbestos-related diseases?
HSE's circular on the subject