Thursday, September 16, 2010

Even leaving Virgin Media was painful!

I got my Talk Talk line run in yesterday and now have a nice aDSL2 connection and new 'phone line. I've ranted about Virgin in the past, but in a nutshell they are expensive (because I don't use the TV service), unreliable (it's gone down for days at a time) and their tech support is awful.
So - I called them to discontinue and start the number-port process and got the following torrent of lies!
  1. "You won't get more than two megabits per second out of Talk Talk" - well I ran several times yesterday and averages 22mBits/sec - faster than my Virgin cable.
  2. "We can arrange for you to never have to talk to a foreigner again" - honestly, they said this before I'd told them how poor I thought their tech support was. This is implied racism; I don't mind talking to someone from India (they tend to be more polite and better informed than someone from Blighty - that's just because they're probably a graduate on decent money in India and not a minimum wage worker in a UK call centre).
  3. "Talk Talk won't let you bring a number with you" - well they were kind of right here - the dirty little secret Virgin don't tell you is that they don't have number-porting agreements with other service providers (unlike the rest of the industry who follow OfCom's recommendations) - so you can take a number to Virgin but never away from them.

So - I'm pleased to be rid of them and their trail of lies and broken promises! Take some time to read my other entries on them before you sign up to an expensive, unreliable service.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Things at IBC 2010 that tickled my fancy

Dolby PRM-4020 Monitor - five years ago I went to see a demo of a monitor by Brightside Technology and was amazed to see such dynamic range on an LCD display. However - to get that degree of black detail they had to drive the whites at many hundreds of Cd/m2 which pretty much knocked it out of the water as a grading display. Given that most TV graders like to run their monitor at 80Cd/m2 and film guys even colder at typ. 60Cd/m2 it is a miracle that Dolby (who acquired the technology) have managed to tame it and without sacrificing dynamic range. I sat watching film & video cameras sourced material on this for maybe half an hour and was blown away how good it looked. However - as I often say it isn't about how 'good' it looks, rather how faithful it is to standards. In the case of film it's the only monitor you can buy that conforms to the P3 colour space (as specified in the DCI specs). 709 (for HD tele) is a subset and when it's being fed with video I couldn't find fault. Although the source the same LG domestic panels as other manufacturers they have the advantage of the whole modulated LED panel/correction matrix that allows them to 'zero' each monitor at the factory so that inconsistencies in the backlight and panel are got rid of. They also have a funky calibration procedure that involved covering the monitor's front with a (supplied) blanket and the software then drives all parts of the backlight and an internal set of sensors measures the illumination so track any changes in the LEDs. This means the panel should be good for 50,000 hours (unlike the 10,000 for others).
This is a very high-end product that will only be bought by people who have £30k to spend (the kind of folks to used to buy BVM-D series CRTs) - let's hope some of the innovations make it into the sub £10k broadcast LCD panels that declare themselves as 'grade-1'!

Evertz - router and monitoring technology, XLink is a system that now lives in the backplane of Quartz (they're keeping the brand) routers and exposes all of the inputs for upstream use in the their facilities monitoring multi-display products. Very cool - it means you can deploy big panels in your MCR / switching centre and have them driven directly off the matrix without having to sacrifice any i/o on the router itself.

Omneon - Media Asset Server etc