04 July, 2011

Thoughts on the Cloud

I hope you are all enjoying the celebrations of our nation's founding!

(jet laggin my way back to home time zone)

The buzz for a year or more now is "keep it in the cloud"

There is some rational for this although I'll confess having lived through the old mainframe with terminals through having it all on your desktop PC and now (almost) full circle back.

There are a few differences though - back in the old mainframe days there was a room where all of it was kept (hopefully secure) but it was within the main office with the usual level of corporate security and limited outside access ("on-line")

These days, the cloud is likely a server in a wire cage in a nondescript highrise in a business district with often the only physical security a card reader for the front door and the key to the cage (and the cages are not secure over the top of the wire) so physical security is - shall we say - minimal? and with the daily announcements of on-line security breaches...

And on a purely personal note, I find my discretionary "TV" viewing time limited, had a window before my last trip (late at night) went to log into netflix, only the PS3 needed an update - that took 45min - then Netflix needed to update, that took another 40min and by then it was well past midnight - so much for "on demand"

13 June, 2011

More Green Math

another does not quite add up article on Solar Power

Ukiah Daily Journal

... will provide a $55,000-per-year return on investment - of $750,000 - (with $47K still outstanding)

08 June, 2011

better pay that student loan

Dept of Education breaks down Stockton mans door

words fail me

link down (should have grabbed a screen shot) - here is the text

STOCKTON, CA - Kenneth Wright does not have a criminal record and he had no reason to believe a S.W.A.T team would be breaking down his door at 6 a.m. on Tuesday.

"I look out of my window and I see 15 police officers," Wright said.

Wright came downstairs in his boxer shorts as the officers team barged through his front door. Wright said an officer grabbed him by the neck and led him outside on his front lawn.

"He had his knee on my back and I had no idea why they were there," Wright said.

According to Wright, officers also woke his three young children ages 3, 7, and 11, and put them in a Stockton police patrol car with him. Officers then searched his house.

As it turned out, the person law enforcement was looking for was not there - Wright's estranged wife.

"They put me in handcuffs in that hot patrol car for six hours, traumatizing my kids," Wright said.

Wright said he later went to the mayor and Stockton Police Department, but the city of Stockton had nothing to do with Wright's search warrant.

The U.S. Department of Education issued the search and called in S.W.A.T for his wife's defaulted student loans.

"They busted down my door for this," Wright said. "It wasn't even me."

According to the Department of Education's Office of the Inspector General, the case can't be discussed publicly until it is closed, but a representative confirmed the department did issue the search warrant at Wright's home.

Wednesday morning, inspector general spokeswoman Gina Burress provided the following statement:

"The Office of Inspector General does not engage in the collection of student loans. Our mission is to conduct criminal investigations related to the programs and operations of the U.S. Department of Education, which include the student financial aid programs. We can confirm that we executed a search warrant at the residence, however our policy is not to discuss details of our on-going work."

The Office of the Inspector General has a law enforcement branch of federal agents that carry out search warrants and investigations.

The Stockton Police Department said it was asked by federal agents to provide one officer and one patrol car just for a police presence when carrying out the search warrant.

Police officers did not participate in breaking Wright's door, handcuffing him, or searching his home.

"All I want is an apology for me and my kids and for them to get me a new door," Wright said.

21 March, 2011


Emergency Broadcast System

just had the 3rd (unusual for NorCal) tornado alert, gotta love the lack of local knowledge, from pronunciation of the areas affected to "the safest place is in a basement" er, this is California - doubt if even 10% of the homes in this state have a basement! the next best advice is to be in an inside hall and if outside, in a car or in a mobile home (after seeing the aftermath of both tornado's and earthquakes on mobile home parks I figure who ever controls things does not like mobile homes) is to "lay down in a ditch and cover your head" now think about this for a second, tornado's are spawned by severe thunder storms and the ditches tend to be filled with cold water?

25 February, 2011

End of a era or The CRT is dead!

After 11 years (the first two traveling around the world as part of a matched set for trade shows) the 350lb, 36” Sony Wega (last of the great standard definition CRT televisions) stopped going “BOINK” when the power button was pressed.

As someone who has been looking at “HD” video for well over 20 years and participating in some of the initial trials one of the early “take a ways” was;

“at living room distances, with appropriately sized displays it is difficult (if not impossible) to “see” the difference between 720p and 1080i”

-and even between standard definition and high definition the difference is just not that much (this assumes the SD source is 16:9, “clean” and keep in the component domain during the entire chain). This is not so much an indictment of HD as much as it is approval of just how good a job the NTSC did back in the 1950’s!

At one time it and a early RCA 38” HDTV (also a 350lb CRT beast but unlike the Sony had a curved screen making it less usable during daylight) dominated the living room here at Sanatorium Sanctum (much to the dismay of the wife unit) initially they were feed from engineering IRD’s for evaluation over the satellite of the then new HD encoders. Once that project was done there was no longer any HD programming available out here in the boonies (other than DTH) and after getting it for free had no desire to subscribe for the little amount of HD programming then available.

A few years latter during the initial over the air ATSC broadcasts I was renting a small cottage in the San Francisco bay area and maintained a ‘Air Check’ set up for the weeknights that I was stuck there (back when there were no commercials and producers were hyper critical of the look and sound of their primetime programming) shows like CSI, Law & Order and even The Simpsons would provide a few more pithy observations;

“once the bowtie antenna was properly positioned, I would come to accept the (nearly) defect free image in short order – but the well done audio was a constant pleasant surprise”

And one that will cause every “home theater technician” – and sales schlep – to cringe- is that, unless you have a large room and many thousands of $’s of disposable income;

“a properly setup (which does not amount to much more than proper speaker placement, levels and phasing) modest system is fine” (Audio system was a "Fry's $79 special - AC3 decoder, DVD player, 6 channel amp and speakers - adequate for a dorm room or 200 square foot cottage)

Fast forward to the present
Now, faced with the decision on what to replace the CRT with (and a more limited budget than I’d of liked) not really being “blown away” by any of the current consumer display technologies and having spent my entire professional life critically evaluating video images I was in a bit of a quandary.

OLED showed promise but doubt much will come of it.

Plasma still has burn-in and stuck pixels (much better than it used to be but still it only takes 1 stuck pixel or a game left on for a few hours to ruin the display)
LCD (even the 240Hz) still exhibit some lag, gray scale, blacks and dynamic range still leave a bit to be desired.

- both technologies have less than ideal color rendition but I’ll admit to being a bit hyper critical on that.

Once you are in the 50” plus range DLP does provide a larger screen for the $’s than either of the two above but suffers from anything less than the proper viewing angle and until the very recent advent of reasonable cost consumer replaceable lamps was an expensive service call waiting.

Front projection – depending on the “lamp” with proper setup and screen about the best you can do – if you like to live in a theater with the lights out.

And the real question is; what are you going to watch on it? Unless you can limit your viewing exclusively to HD content - and while there is more all the time the brutal fact is you’re going to be watching good old standard definition – wither its been upconverted and aspect corrected or not (and don't get me started on aspect ratio!) – the real world evaluation criteria of “…how does regular TV look on it?” needs to be weighted with all the above factors.

And the sad part is, after finding the compromise display “last month’s discontinued” (and discounted!) XBR (and paying an extra $200+ above the sticker solely for the privilege of living in NorCal) I tried the local cable Co’s heavily promoted “HD” package only to return it a few days later as there just was not that much that anyone in this house would watch! - blue ray rentals, on-demand along with the odd NOVA or Frontline are about the extent of HD that is viewed here.

03 January, 2011


way back when we were all warned about the dangers of flashbacks

Jerry Brown was just sworn in as gov of CA - again

who knew the flashbacks would take so long

the 100watt incandescent light bulb is now verboten in CA but somehow we're going to plug in a fleet of electric cars? how many more avian Cuisinart forests will we need?

ban Mercury in thermometers but mandate Mercury in light bulbs? - oh, and now that the incandescent bulbs are no longer available the subsidies for the Mercury Bulbs will be ending soon - and all of them are made in China

somehow this feeble excuse for a blog has managed to exist for 5 years now

the FCC decides that it has the power to regulate the internet after both Congress and SCOTUS said no? shades of Eric Blair its under the guise of "Net Neutrality"

Al Gore admits Ethanol subsidies were just for votes yet EPA is allowing more to be blended with gas - ADM is still smiling

speaking of go juice for the auto, last time gas was $3+ a gallon it was time to "release the reserves" two years later we're being told to expect $5/gal "soon"

Global warming - we were told that snow in winter would be a rare event and that the oceans would die, our current science adviser's mentor predicted massive starvation and collapse - years ago? remember the ozone hole? (better named "...our patent is running out on Freon...") Alar? Acid Rain? the Great Lakes dieing? Counsel of Rome?