Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Why don't people use the technical mains?

This is a picture from a facility that shall remain nameless! We did their technical infrastructure wiring a couple of years ago - fibre, mains, as well as data and video and audio. They ran out of cash and so wanted to do the internal cabling within the rooms themselves. So - on all the 16-amp C-form mains outlets (carrying the technical mains supply) I had the electrician leave a male cable-end connector in the Commando socket so it would be easy for them when they came to do the internal wiring. Imagine my surprise when I noticed that they hadn't bothered with the tech mains, preferring to use the domestic 'cooking' supply! So, I went for a walk around the place and guess what - the whole building has every edit suite and grading room running on domestic rather than tech! That's why people get hum bars....

Anyway, it's a perennial problem and I bang on about it often - see here, here, and here.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Ben Davison's wedding

Sarah and I had a great day out in Croydon (really!) at Ben and Judith's big day - bride looked lovely etc. and the food was excellent! The dude in the right hand picture is Jayson Chase - salesman at Avid and old colleague who'd I'd not seen for a while - nice to catch up.

links: St John the Evangelist, the reception venue.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

100 Gigabit Ethernet

We're just getting to grips with ten-gig ethernet (and the plethora of copper & fibre connectors and standards!) and I notice the Ethernet Alliance are talking about the road to one-hundred gigabit. They have an interesting paper here and if you need a catch-up on where ethernet came from look at the slides of their history presentation.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Crystal Vision & TV aspect ratio

I like Crystal Vision - like MurrayPro and Quartz (though for how much longer with them is anyone's guess!) they are small English technology firms that pay attention to detail and care about their customers. You can generally speak to the developer or designer and know you'll get sense (try that with Avid!).
This is a brilliant illustration of the three aspect ratios used in standard def TV.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Macavity - The Mystery Cat; a poem by T S Eliot

Macavity's a Mystery Cat: he's called the Hidden Paw--
For he's the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He's the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad's despair:
For when they reach the scene of crime--Macavity's not there!

Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
He's broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity.
His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare,
And when you reach the scene of crime--Macavity's not there!
You may seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air--
But I tell you once and once again, Macavity's not there!

Macavity's a ginger cat, he's very tall and thin;
You would know him if you saw him, for his eyes are sunken in.
His brow is deeply lined with thought, his head is highly doomed;
His coat is dusty from neglect, his whiskers are uncombed.
He sways his head from side to side, with movements like a snake;
And when you think he's half asleep, he's always wide awake.

Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
For he's a fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity.
You may meet him in a by-street, you may see him in the square--
But when a crime's discovered, then Macavity's not there!

He's outwardly respectable. (They say he cheats at cards.)
And his footprints are not found in any file of Scotland Yard's.
And when the larder's looted, or the jewel-case is rifled,
Or when the milk is missing, or another Peke's been stifled,
Or the greenhouse glass is broken, and the trellis past repair--
Ay, there's the wonder of the thing! Macavity's not there!

And when the Foreign Office finds a Treaty's gone astray,
Or the Admiralty lose some plans and drawings by the way,
There may be a scap of paper in the hall or on the stair--
But it's useless of investigate--Macavity's not there!
And when the loss has been disclosed, the Secret Service say:
"It must have been Macavity!"--but he's a mile away.
You'll be sure to find him resting, or a-licking of his thumbs,
Or engaged in doing complicated long division sums.

Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macacity,
There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.
He always has an alibit, or one or two to spare:
And whatever time the deed took place--MACAVITY WASN'T THERE!
And they say that all the Cats whose wicked deeds are widely known
(I might mention Mungojerrie, I might mention Griddlebone)
Are nothing more than agents for the Cat who all the time
Just controls their operations: the Napoleon of Crime!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Virgin Media, cable modems and bad tech support

I had my cable go down on Wednesday - it would stay up for half an hour after resetting the cable modem. So - a quick call to their tech support only to be told that it had to be my wireless router - hmm, I began to wish I hadn't blogged that Dilbert cartoon on 12th May! So - I tried another routers and even hooked the ethernet out of the router directly to a couple of computers. Of course when I called back the guy was on his break and I had to start the whole procedure with another person. Anyhow - today I had the tech support visit and the engineer showed me how bad the feed from the cabinet in the street was; -27dBuV - he said he'd normally expect to see -6dBuV! So - at the box end he discovered the port feeding my house was faulty and replaced it - nice signal level at the house. But, when he drove off the ping I was running fell over and the link was down again. I got straight back on the 'phone and this time got a representative who actually knew what he was talking about. When I told him the story and the half hour business he knew exactly what the problem was. A couple of days ago Virgin pushed out a firmware upgrade to the Scientific Atlanta cable modems and it corrupted the data rate sync settings so the buffer in the modem would over-run after n-minutes of use. See these screenshots if you're similarly troubled!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Apple, Amazon may hold future of DRM-free music

The music industry-- struggling with one of its worst-ever sales slumps--will be closely watching how Amazon and Apple fare. If they are successful in moving a lot of songs, then that might convince the other three major record companies to strip DRM from their music. If sales are lackluster, then that might spur the labels to wrap songs in even tighter copy protection, say industry insiders.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Neutrik OpticalCon Chassis Connectors

I'm looking forward to trying these chaps on a job next week. Here is the sales guff from the Neutrik website.
The chassis connector acts as a "feed-through" allowing simplified installations by connecting a conventional LC-Duplex on the rear. It is built in the standard D size shell and features an automatic sealing cover for maximum dust and dirt protection and a Push-Pull locking mechanism for safe connection. Colored labeling plates are included to identify the fiber mode.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Schubin Report with Mark Schubin

Mark Schubin is one of those well known engineers who has columns in various technology publications and for the last year has been producing a superb podcast. The most recent has a good round-up of test equipment that was shown at NAB this year. The Harris OFI-20B Optical Fibre Identifier seems nothing short of miraculous. It flies in the face of a few of the obervations I made about optical link hacking - I really wish I had a chance to see some of these developments.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Making PDFs from any app in Vista

Convert to PDF from any application by simply 'printing' to the PrimoPDF printer - it couldn't be easier! Within minutes, you can create and append high-quality PDFs by converting from Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and virtually any other printable file type.

The only downer is that files inherit the properties of the original file that was used to generate them! So, with AutoCAD (which under Vista you have run as admin) all output PDFs are viewable by local admins only - so (even though I'm a domain admin) I have to adjust their properties before they are usable! Anyhow - in the absence of Adobe making Acrobat work properly with Vista this is a good solution.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Test - apres some hacking!

I woke up this morning (have I turned into Muddy Waters?!) and discovered (thanks to an email from my good pal Kevin Cade - First Person Show podcast, see the light-hand panel) that my blog had a bunch of spam posting to it. I can only assume that my Blogger/Google account has been compromised - time to change that password!
While walking to the bus-stop my eldest said how stupid I was to use the same password for forums and my eBay account - ¨...everyone knows forum moderators are the most dishonest people in the world!¨ - well duh!
He's right - and I think I've just changed the last one that needed changing!

Ah - found out why!

I noticed that there were a couple of extra bits of blog-spam later in the day. After an initial flurry of anger I thought a bit more about it and remembered the Blogger feature that allows you to email blog posts.
Of course - that email address has wound up on some spam-bot list. So - I unchecked the publish box and watched a few more drop into the draft folder. So - if you run a blog that lets you email posts keep an eye on it!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Flashing STOP button in Sony VTRs

If (on a DigiBeta DVW-A500 or similair) you enable menu item 105 - Ref Alarm - the stop lamp will flash under several conditions;

  • The reference signal is solid and the input video is locked but there is more than 43 video lines offset between them - the a longer period than the VTR's pre-read system will tolerate,

  • The reference signal is solid and the input video is unlocked.

  • The reference signal is solid and there is no input video and the deck is locked to video rather than ref

  • There is no reference
Most folks assume it's down to a loss of reference - that's only the case in a minority of situations. I've been back and forth to one particular facility where they fail to understand this it's getting tedious!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Everybody wants prosthetic foreheads on their real heads

They Might Be Giants - accept no substitutes!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Webcam privacy

Sarah got annoyed that the webcam was on 24-7 on top of the computer monitors so I pointed it out of the front door - the blue car top-left is our Mitsubishi.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Bye bye Strongbox

I've been using acoustic enclosures in numerous projects for many years - until two weeks ago Strongbox was my weapon of choice - but no longer! A recent set of badly missed deliveries and poor quality finishes drove me to look for another builder of isolated bays. I came upon Cab Tech - link in the title.
I've just put in one with a Terrablock and it seems to provide better sound dampening whilst having a smaller footprint - the cooling unit is in the roof.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


The processing key for all previous HD-DVD movies. This key, in combination with some other title-specific information, allows any HD-DVD movie to be decrypted. The 16 bytes were already on several websites (such as in February 2007, but when the number was posted to digg on March 30, 2007 it became the second most digged article ever. The article was then deleted, along with related articles. This attempt at censoring the number, along with letters sent from AACS LA to remove the number from other websites, lead to a massive spread of the number in Slashdot, digg, reddit and Youtube. The number is now on over 20,000 pages indexed by Google.

I had to join the fray!