Friday, April 29, 2005
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Thursday, April 21, 2005
The fact that Microsoft are ploughing money into it is interesting - to quote from Microsoft's Leigh Day "My belief is that open-source software is going to help drive the acquisition cost of software down toward zero," he said, a shift that will require software companies to move "over to a maintenance and support model."
People who continue to dis Linux because they've bought into the Microsoft mindset may find themselves out in the cold!
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
What is it with corporate IT folks?
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Saturday, April 16, 2005
Monday, April 11, 2005
Sunday, April 10, 2005
Sony PVM monitor remote connectorI spent all day searching for this and my old colleague (from Oasis TV days) Darren Tucker (now chief engineer at Lip Sync) dug it out for me. The part is a HiRose HR10A connector - the RS part number for the twenty-pin male cable mount is 779-734. Sony have since moved on to using RJ45 and D-9 connectors for remote control. Before the 20-pin they used to have a square HiRose connector so it pays to look it up before you buy the ends (which are expensive!).
Friday, April 08, 2005
- Looking into the unit's RJ11 connectors I spotted that only two pins are populated - now I'm assuming that this is an American gadget where they don't have the same practise of stripping off the 48v ring tone at the master socket and presenting it on pin 3 with an earth on pin 4. With this in mind I crimped up a couple of RJ11 - bare end cables and took my master socket off the wall. I routed the single twisted pair incoming 'phone line into the unit and took the output ("TEL") back to the master socket (so as to strip off the 48v ring tone) and plugged my DECT base station into the master socket. It all works!
They'll have trouble selling these as cracking open your master socket breaks your BT/Telewest/Telco's domestic agreement and without having access to the twisted-pair incoming line you can't get ring-tone into the box - it only has two pins on the RJ11 in and out. If you take the BT output of the master socket it has already had the ring-tone stripped off the pair and it is presented as a 4-wire.
- Skypemate hooks into the Skype API and if you don't uninstall any previous versions the slug-trail prevents Skype from ringing the 'phone's bell when a Skype call comes in - you can kill these only registry entries within Skype by going to the control which other programs can access Skype entry in prefs.
- Performance is everything - I origionally hung this off my aging server (dual 500Mhz P2s) - not pokey enough - very jerky sound quality and often missed the calls. When I moved it on to the media PC (single 1.6Ghz P4) there were no problems and the speach quality improved no end. I made a few calls while that machine was playing back a full-screen DivX without any frames fropping.
So, I am a huge fan - now if someone produced an embedded client that you could hang off your aDSL or cable router (i.e. ethernet in, telephone socket out) then they'd be on to a winner. Chatting with friends in Thialand for an hour and a half for no money in the middle of the day is very liberating and having a 'phone number that none-skype people can call means I really can be rid of my regular telephone line and all the associated line-rental costs (oh, and did I mention Skype calls are free or nearl-free!).
Adam Harris of VOIP Interactive gave me a load of advice - he's a good guy.
Thursday, April 07, 2005
A lot of the standards we adhere to in television today have their origins in the methods established in the dark days of early colour in the sixties. Back then there were no digital pictures, all images were sourced through analogue tubed cameras, telecine and slide scanners. Our world was either RGB (the red, green and blue colour component signals that came out of a camera) or composite (typically the output of VTRs and studios and what was sent to the viewer at home). The relationships were well defined and the graceful behaviour of analogue electronics meant that keeping pictures within the range that the VTR (and hence the transmission chain) could handle wasn't hard.
In the mid seventies the digital framestore started to make an appearance making possible digital video effects (DVE), electronic caption generators and painting systems (Paintbox, Matisse etc.). By the late eighties Silicon Graphics et al ensured that a lot of what we saw on screen was digitally originated rather than coming from 'real world' pictures. Now - properly designed digital systems are more than able to capture the full range of analogue colours (the gamut of the system) but a lot of strange un-analogue things can go on in the digital domain if care isn't taken. A digital signal can go from zero to full level in the space of a single pixel which could never happen in the analogue domain - the size of the scanning spot on an analogue telecine or the spot aperture in a studio camera ensure a more graceful response. You can also get very bizarre combinations of colours in the digital domain that would not equate to colours that came out of a camera. If you consider that the majority of the permutations of the ten-bit digital Y, Cr, Cb colour component signals that most contemporary TV systems store give rise to illegal colours then the pervasive nature of the problem becomes apparent. Add into the mix prosumer DV cameras where the pictures haven't had the caring eyes of a racks engineer looking at them as the were acquired and you'd be forgiven for thinking that getting your master tape past the broadcaster's QC department was well nigh impossible. Well there are two kinds of gadgets that allow us to avoid the pitfalls of bad gamut - waveform monitors and legalisers. With a waveform monitor you can keep an eye on the various parameters that make up a video signal. The best of breed come from Tektronics who have devised various display modes that make gamut errors very clear. The Diamond and Arrowhead modes are only found on Tek units and show clearly when pictures are getting near to gamut limits. The newer rasterised models allow several displays to be shown on screen simultaneously. They will also keep an automated eye on dozens of aspects of your video (and audio) and record them to a log file for later reference. Go for lunch and glance through the tape log when you get back!
If you mention legalisers to those online editors who remember the early models from fifteen years ago you'd be forgiven for imagining such devices only exist to make pictures look bad! It is true that initially they dealt with gamut errors in a very brutal 'digital' style but the last decade has seen much more subtle methods and now a lot of broadcast television (particularly fast-turnaround shows with lots of DV or other domestic content) goes via a legaliser before transmission. They hardly ever effect the looks of pictures (so long as you don't go for particularly garish red captions!) but your pictures are now guaranteed to be 'street legal'. The models we've found to be most effective are from Eyeheight whom we sell for.
Root6 has spent time researching both legalisers and waveform monitors and we believe we offer best-of-breed examples of both at standard and high definition. Please call for details, a demo or advice on both of these.
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Are you a year out of Ravensbourne (or similar) and looking to move on?
Root6 are looking to recruit an assistant for the head of systems integration. We're after someone who's committed to broadcast engineering (this isn't a stepping stone to being an editor or DVD author) and is excited by all the future is bringing us (HD, SANs, IP networks etc).
Although the bulk of our workload is installations we need someone who's happy to end off cables or bolt together bays as well as marshalling the wiremen and making sure diagrams are up to date. In return we'll provide lots of training in a really friendly environment and lots of new technology to get to grips with.
We've just finished London's first 2k/4k capable SAN for uncompressed film DI work and spent the latter half of last year building MTV's new post centre in Camden.
If you're interested or know someone who is then email phil at root6 dot com - I'll ask you about common mode rejection as well as other electronic things so you're probably doing this already! It's not a job for a runner who wants to move on.