Tuesday, June 29, 2010

3D printers

By the way - I've gone ape over 3D printers - see iwanta3dprinter.wordpress.com

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Why does BlueRay go slower?

A couple of Christmases ago I bought a flat TV screen (like everybody else). I took care to pay extra for a geniune 1080p full HD version. The intention was to wait until DVD-HD or BlueRay became the preferred standard. That fight is over, so I recently invested in a BlueRay playback unit.

Two surprises. Of the two BlueRay DVDs one wouldn't play. I won't bore you with the details, but I needed to
(a) download new software for the unit.
(b) download and install ISO->CD burner software
(c) burn a CD with (a)
(d) insert the CD and reboot the BlueRay player and hope nothing happened that would "brick" the unit (power glitch while it upgrades flash memory)

I mean - how many ordinary purchasers of that unit are willing to do that - or do they just throw the unit in the cellar and go back to "plain" DVDs?

Second surprise: It takes the unit a good 100 seconds to turn on. I turn things off when I don't use them. It doesn't need to be in "standby" all the time, as I only watch movies once a fortnight or so. Inserting a BlueRay disc until the menu is ready takes another two minutes (varies with the disc) or so.


The "good old" VCR turns on in less than 2 seconds. It takes only 3-4 seconds to load the tape.

The "good old" DVD player takes less than 1 second to turn on. Loading the disc is about 5 seconds.

I am getting more and more convinced that things are going backwards! Yes, I get a bit better resolution with the newfangled stuff, but that is not related to the long startup - or what?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Digital TV is lower quality ?!

We have a normal TV. Slightly old fashioned these days, it uses a glass tube CRT to display the image (i.e. it is not a flatscreen TV). The designers of the TV made a very nice rounded plastic covering, which means you can not use any "set top" addons, i.e. I can't place anything on the TV without it sliding off.

I fixed that by making a nice light weight wooden frame that has 4 legs of different length and skew feet, the end result being a flat horisontal surface on top of the TV, where the Video, DVD, and "Digital Tuner" can be piled, with just a hint of doublesided tape on the feet to avoid it slipping. OK, back to the subject in hand:

The "Digital Tuner" or the DTT unit, converts digital TV signals now being broadcast in my area (Denmark) for a few channels to an analog signal on the SCART kabel for the TV.

Again - technological life has take a step backwards. I now have one more remote, which I use to turn the Digital unit on/off and choose between the 3 channels it delivers. If I use the TV remote to switch channel, nothing happens as the digital SCART signal overrides. Well, it is a passing stage, as the next TV will have this stuff built in.

But - and the reason for this entry - is I am appalled at the digital quality! The good point is that the digital signal is crisp. No "shadows" or echos due to a bounced analog signal. But someone, somewhere was bit skimpy on the number of bits they allocated for the colours. There is lots of "colour banding" The digital coding (compression) is very evident is the dark scenes, night time. You can see a number of squares dancing around in the near-black areas, the squares having one of two different shades of black. The other place where this is visible, is where the picture used is "quiet", it more or less static, and has large areas of similar color (a blue sky f.eks.) You can then see that the digital picture has to choose between two shades of blue, and the boundary becomes evident.

I am quit relaxed about the problem of the digital channel as the signal gets very weak - picture freezes, or portions of t go "Pixelated", as the equivalent analog signal would show a "snowy" picture where the actual signal would be sensed rather than shown. But I am p***** off at the loss of colour quality due to high compression.

Well, I did buy the cheapest decoder I could find, just to taste the new technology, so I will go around an enquire if a more expensive unit does a better decode job, or if these limitaitions are inherit in the supplied signal. If so, I am disappointed. The digital system gets us more channels in the same bandwidth ... by giving us lesser quality (and I am not taking about content here, just the picture quality, dont get me started). OK, ok, I realize that if you want more channels, something has to give, but this is too much.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

More features - lesser reliability

Things may differ in your part of the world, but here in Denmark, Europe, I have noticed that things seem to go "the wrong way".

Take telephony. The good ol' landline telephone is reliable. I have not heard of people loosing their connection in mid calls. A loss of a central switch is so unusual that it even makes the news, as in "residents of the xxx-area are temporarily without phone services." It usually adds that emergency calls still get through (some special redundancy circuits for the emergency number - clever stuff).

With the mobile phone we routinly accept that a call is broken for no reason (and going into a tunnel/elevator is a reason) . We also accept a lower quality of sound. Of course the mobile phone has one huge advantage over the old phone - it is mobile. I just question if people are aware that we accept the lower service - and as long as we accept it, there is no reason for the phone companies to improve.

Yesterday my ADSL internet connection went down. That is the 3rd time this year. A couple of hours outage. What made me ponder, was that I could switch to the old analoge modem (I have kept mine - for this type of fallback option). It never occured to me the analoge line might be down. And it has been reliable all the time. Yes - slower, but a connection at least. My internet provider wants extra money if I want both ADSL and modem. Fortunatly, there are still free Internet providers via analog/modem which I use in this case. (Which makes some minor technical challenges as I then cant do mail, as mail relaying from a different domain is prohibited, but there is the Web-version of the mail....)

So, todays BLOG entry's "moral" or conclusion is - beacuse of new features (mobile, faster bitrate) we seem to accept a lesser service or quality. Hmmm...

Monday, October 10, 2005

A good start is half the job ... NOT

Some thing are very easy to start and then very hard to complete .. or progress at least. As with this Blog. (Notice the gap to the previous post)

I keep going round all day thinking "oh yes!, now that really has to go into the blog", and then the thought, the point, the message mysteriously evaporates by the time I get to the keyboard where I do not have some other more urgent things to do (like work)

This entry is just to test that I can make a quick add-edit

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

50 years

I am 50 years old. That isnt much, and yet ...

I have been a techno interested person, and earn my living around computers. So I muse over technology development in general, and personal computers in particular.