Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cheeky cheeky!

I've just been finishing off a studio build at The Law College - I chose a Yamaha 01v96 as the audio mixer - it has loads of ins and outs and very controllable. They didn't want to go for a full-blown talkback so I used a couple of ins for the director's open and switched mics and a couple of the spare Aux'es to feed the wallbox foldback feeds (the interviewer's earpiece and the floor foldback wedge). For the director's desk I had the metalwork dept at Bryant make me a panel with a mic on it and talkback key so that the director can key the mic and talk to the whole studio over the floor foldback but the interviewer's earpiece always gets the feed. You could also send a mix of the playback out of the wedge so that the studio crew get in the mood(!).
Anyhow - a combination of a mic that wasn't very sensitive and the general noise in the control room meant that the earpiece feed was a bit noisy and possible distracting to the interviewer.
The solution - the 01v96 has a noise gate and compressor per main input channel - I stuck a gate set to -50dB on each mic input (the open and switched feeds) and all was good. On one hand it seemed a bit naughty to use a noise gate but on the other hand it worked brilliantly!

Sorry to not be blogging so much at the moment - I'm working late most nights to stay on top of my day-job.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Nice cat5 SVGA extender

I've used several SVGA over cat5 extenders to send Tektronix rasteriser displays around buildings (typically the unit sits in the MCR and the display is in the suite). This is the best little combo I've found so far for the job - good quality (the Tek is only 1024x768) and it has a DA built in so you can have a local display (for the tape op) and the remote display hanging off the small unit.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Burning DVDs for TV replay

For the longest time I've been using Nero Vision Express v.3 (it used to come with v.6 & 7 Nero Burning ROM) as it is a very simple way to make menu-driven DVDs and not bad at transcoding whatever files you throw at it. In the case of .dvr-ms files (the MPEG2 transport stream container format used by most PVRs including MediaPortal and Microsoft MCE) it would only re-encode the video packets if they were non-compliant (i.e. ITV or Channel Four!). My only criticism is that it's pre-set templates look poor compared to iDVD (for example).
For menu-free DVDs I used DivXtoDVD (which despite the name does many formats) to create a VIDEO_TS folder. Very clean transcoding.
For manipulating ready-made DVDs (either off the disk or from a VIDEO_TS folder on your HD) I find DVD Shrink to be superb.
Anyway - WindowsXP SP3 kills Nero Vision Express so I've been looking around for an alternate and I think I've found the answer - and it's open source! DVD Flick is where it's at (link in the title).

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My birthday and the LHC gets booted-up!

...and the BBC's programmes were superb - click the title link.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Wrekin and other transmitters

ON Wenlock Edge the wood’s in trouble
His forest fleece the Wrekin heaves;
The gale, it plies the saplings double,
And thick on Severn snow the leaves.

I few years ago I took the kids climbing up The Wrekin in Telford. When we got to the top we found the Wrekin transmitter which serves Shropshire and a lot of the Welsh borders. I remember as a teenager being puzzled that the picture on my parent's new TV was so bad when I could see this mast from my bedroom window. It wasn't until (having unplugged the Belling-Lee connector from the back of the TV) I tried a small PO-1 screwdriver and got perfect pictures I discovered how demodulators in TVs can be over-driven! A 24dB RF pad sorted out our problem.

Anyway - although I only did a couple of weeks in transmitters during my BBC training in the eighties I did find it immensely interesting and so you can learn a bit more at the MB21 website.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Jailbreaking & unlocking v 2.0.2 iPhone

What a jolly kind fellow Kevin King is - The product manager for ContentAgent (the encoding machine made by Root6 - the firm I currently work for) - his blog and Flickr - donated his v.1 iPhone to Joseph (my eldest) and of course I had to re-pave, update, jailbreak and unlock (for use on Orange).
So - don't pay for this service. There are numerous companies offering to do it for twenty or even thirty quid and it's all on the web. The tool you need is WinPwn (it easiest if done from Windows) and I've packaged it all into a ZIP archive here along with a PDF explaining it all.

The official Apple firmware (which WinPwn modifies for your handset) is here.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

London at night, aerial pictures

Not technical - but some great photos of my beloved home town!