Friday, March 24, 2006

Supper Cantenna Psycosis

There I was talking to my darkside inner companion, and he says to me (in the voice of Gary Busey) you need to go up to the top of the hill that overlooks your subdivision and scan the hell out of the place for networks. Having learned over the years that darkside inner companions can be cranky little bastards if they dont get their way, I lugged my fat ass up the hill. Cantenna and Thinkpad (SuSE) in hand I found a comfortable (sarcasm) rock and scoped out the hood. Sevnteen unencrypted networks I say to myself. Yes seventeen unencrypted networks says my darkside inner companion (hensforth refered to as Spanky.) Spankys curious if I can get into the router of any of these networks, and talks me into poking around. Two of them let me into the router using the clever password "admin" and one just let me in without a password prompt. These people aren't very bright are they Spanky tells me. No Spanky, I say, they really aren't.

Monday, March 20, 2006

A new irritant...

Got a new camera, a Kodak C330 for a cheap $149.99. Bought that specific camera based on a CNET review. It has increadable image quality, is in the 4 to 5 megapixle range I wanted, and has good battery life. This camera had every feature I wanted, but with one draw back. This camera requires Kodak software to use it. Now I reasoned that I could run this under WINE and everything would be OK, and it was. I also know that I plan on getting a Mac laptop (whatever the new Intel version is called) later in the fall, and the camera's software will work on the Mac. So everything is fine. But given my nature, and the lack of nearby medication, I get worked up about these little irritants in my life. Why would any company take a well reviewed product and make it difficult to use? I could understand a piece of junk getting tied to software that would force to to buy another product or license. But a good product will sell better if it also has a great user experience. Look at the ipod or the Xbox 360. People are raving about the great user interface, and last I checked these products enjoy sustained demand. This little camera just proves to me that some companies, even with a great product, don't know anything about the average consumer. It would seem that some executives live in a bubble impervious to any information about consumer habits. Kodak, you made a good camera at a great price. Why did you have to annoy your customers with silly software requirements? As it stands I would only recomend this little camera to Windows and Mac users. It just runs to slow under emulation. For the Linux photographers out there stick with the Olympus Stylus 600 or 800, Linux will see it as a thumbdrive (you will pay a little more for those cameras, but they do compare nicely in image quality and are a little higher resolution.)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

XGL and Kororaa Live...

Xgl was created by Novell to make a point to the world. You don't need the muscle of Apple or infinite wealth of Microsoft to create a new groundbreaking 3D GUI (graphical user interface.) And after they created it they did two important things. First they made a demo movie of it running, that was so in demand that it crashed servers trying to host it. Next they released it to the world as one hell of a gift to the open source community. As of this writing, the only way I could get my hands on it was the Kororaa XGL Linux live CD. So without further delay.

Review: XGL and Kororaa Live

The first thing I noticed is the clean crisp looking Kororaa version of the Gnome environment. I tried opening a few windows and found they now have a certain snap to them. And they bend, as if against a current, when you move them. There are Multiple tranperancy and opacity settings for your windows making reading several windows at once a little easier. And at any time you can hit a keyboard shortcut that will spread and resize all windows so you can select the one you want quickly. Thumbnail images of movies now can play the movie within the thumbnail, and given a reasonable graphics processor you can play several dozen thumbnail movies at once in a single window. Aside from these productivity features and the general clean look of the XGL interface, the real showstopper comes when you change from one desktop to another. Your desktops are in reality the sides of a giant polygonal cube. You can hop from one desktop to another with the click of a button or by grabbing the desktop with the mouse pointer and giving it a twirl. You can stop on and edge and test the power of this new environment by putting a window running a movie on that edge. The movie will play just fine in a bent perspective at any size. The bottom line is that this really is fun. Kororaa seems to be an outstanding breed of Linux, and the XGL interface makes simple tasks fun again. The real power of the XGL interface will come when it is incorporated into its creators brand of Linux. SuSE enterprise will get it first from Novell followed by the next full version of Open SuSE.

Hell of a day...

Well, Let's see...I got DVD Decrypter to run under Linux, but I need to edit something in Wine cuz it only sees the DVD Rom and not the DVD Burner. Spent another few Quality hours on the Kororaa Linux XGL Live CD, damn that's good. I'll Write a review later today. Tried to reconfigure my firewall to allow both Kpgp and Hamachi to run freely while locking everything else down, without success. May just have to turn it off (or find another firewall.) Don't know why this impresses me, but I burnt two different ISOs at the same time using K3B. Didn't mean to do it, but it never crashed (took a long time though.) Well thats all, I'll have a combined and comprehensive review of Karoraa Live and the XGL Linux environment in a few hours.

Friday, March 17, 2006

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly...

The Good:
1. Got a new Sony Ericsson cell phone that I like. A little bit smaller than I normaly like, but overall a good little phone.

2. The new XGL linux GUI, Oh Yeah! Now Apple and the Open Source community have both beat Micro$oft to the 3D desktop. Oddly Micro$oft still brags about the "inovative" 3D desktop in their upcoming (winter '06) Windows Vista. At least microsoft will allow users to use their software outside of administrative mode. As the resident "computer guy" for my neck of the woods, I will be gratefull if that muffles the cries for me to get spyware and adware out of peoples PCs.

The Bad:
1. Over the air HDTV. Not the quality of the signal, I'm talking about the quality of the actual material. I've been suffering through everything from the "History of American Spinach Farming" to a detailed documentary on "Greek Sheapards." OK everybody, a broadcast licence is a privelage not a right!

The Ugly:
1. The Blogger inerface is due for an update guys! This baloony Windows XP style crap has to go, yuck!

2. Most of the manufactured PCs (Dell, Gateway, HP, etc.) that I see on store shelves look so bland that they are nearly invisible. Can somebody do more than just build black and grey cubes? No wonder Apple is gaining market share, they are to only people with a different color paint. What happened to the brushed aluminum cases and bright automotive style paint jobs we used to see just a few years ago?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Another HDTV Tidbit...

With the amount of information available to digital TV, I wonder what good (and bad) ideas will emerge after digital TV becomes mandatory.....

Digital TV signal can carry 20,000,000 bps of data

Full HD (1080p) requires up to 18,000,000 bps so not much wiggle room

Standard definition (480i) requires 4,000,000 bps so plenty of room to work with, and if your HDTV can upscale well you will have near HD quality anyway.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

HDTV Q&A

Q: Isn't it a law that all the broadcasters will need to brodcast in high definition soon?
A: NO! In 2009 all broadcasters will be required to broadcast a digital signal. High definition is only one type of digital signal.

Q: So my TV will quit working right?
A: NO! The TV's "tuner" will stop working, and you will need to use cable television service, satelite television service, or buy a digital tuner to get TV reception.

Q: The government statements are contradictory and confusing. Why are we really making this switch?
A: Three reasons...
#1. HDTV or Multicasting. TV reception is limited to 6MHz of bandwith that was designed around the needs of our current "analog" signal. A "digital" signal can be compressed to one quarter that bandwith without any data loss. All that extra bandwith now available can be used to make a larger image with up to 600% more detail (that's HDTV) or it can be used to add extra features like web-browsing or additional streams within a signal of the same quality as we are currently used to (that's Multicasting.) A good example of Multicasting would be a news channel setting up 4 studios with 4 newscrews in 4 different languages all on one channel. Just tune in and pick the language you want. And there would still be room to let you surf the news channel's web page while the news ran in the corner of the screen.
#2. Money. All of that signal space that was delivering your TV signal through the air will be auctioned off by governments around the world. The united states government alone could make hundreds of billions of dollars.
#3. DRM. That is "digital rights management." That's the method used to prevent you from copying movies or music from one media to another (copying a music CD for example.) In televisions current analog state the courts have ruled copying television is legal as long as no money changes hands, but digital media (like digital television) is not legaly copyable under the law. And the content WILL eventually be protected, count on it.

Q: Will the cable and satelite services have to change to digital content?
A: No they don't have to, but as digital content becomes cheaper than analog content economics will force the change. (satelite content from dish rental services claims to be 100% digital already, and cable providers are at about 25% on average.)

Q: Is this post done?
A: Yes.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

It seem I assumed too much.....

OK, it seems I jumped the gun with my HDTV posts. I have been asked a couple of times "what do the numbers mean?" So here is a brief description of what it all means.
The number refers to how many lines the picture is made up of. It's like a piece of notebook paper, the image is made up of horizontal lines, and naturaly more would mean more image information.
The "i" stands for interlaced. that means as the still pictures are changed to create the moving image that is a "motion picture" only every other line is changed at a time. This can lead to blurring on buzy analog images and distortion on some digital images. It's worse on action movies where there are explosions and quick movements. However it is less of a problem at higher line counts because these TVs tend to be driven by more powerfull internal hardware.
The "p" stands for progressive, and that is when all lines of information change at the same time between each frame of the video.


480i: this is standard definition (what you have been watching all these years)

480p: enhanced definition (an improvement on a standard definition signal)

720i: lowest quality signal that can be called high definition

720p: mid level high definition signal

1080i: high level signal, things start to get real pretty here

1080p: full high definition, creme' de la creme' of TV signals. shame nobody is taking advantage of it yet.