Tuesday, 28 September 2010

IBC - International Bug Catching


The tradition is that every year, a goodly percentage of the broadcast industry comes back from IBC having caught something. Not in an entertaining and frankly worrying manner in the Red Light District, you understand, but simply as a function of spending time in air conditioned halls with 48,500 other people.

This year's has been a bug and a half too. Never mind high definition, this year's post IBC lurgy has gone straight for the Super Hi-Vision resolution, 22.2 channel cough-o-rama. All of which is a roundabout way of saying no, I haven't put anything new up on the blogsite recently and no, I'm not about to either. In fact, I'm going to escape down to Cornwall for a week and hope that a decent amount of Atlantic stormfront barrelling in from the ocean can clear the tubes.

And after that, maybe, there may be some updates...

Two things that are worth talking about from IBC that aren't stereo 3D in the meantime: connected TV and Super Hi-Vision. The first has got way more implications in the short term; the second will be the way the industry lurches once 3DTV fails to take off (and yes, I am still banging that drum).

And yes, there was going to be a complicated, multilayer metaphor using the picture of the Amsterdam bridge. However, it seems to have had a beer too many and fallen in the canal...

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

IBC


Yes, the interminable summer of work is finally over, and all the hard work and preparation pays off today as we jet off to Amsterdam and the start of this year's IBC. Will be ensconced in Room E108 (Room P as was) for the duration, so feel free to pop by and say hello.

Afterwards life returns to something resembling normality for, oh, at least a couple of days. Should be an occassion for slightly more regular blog postings at least...

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Wedding Day – Las Vegas 07/05/10, 06.00

[Slightly belated post]



Too excited to sleep so I get up and take a stroll about. Inevitably there are people still in the casino – some starting early some finishing late. You can normally tell the difference between the early and the late shift depending on whether they’re drinking coffee or booze. Usually...Vegas is not so much the city that never sleeps as the one that got thrown out of school for Attention Deficit Disorder.

I head outside where gardeners are starting to hoover the grass (seriously – it’s all artificial nowadays) and mosey amidst the joggers and stragglers over to the nearest Starbucks to buy a couple of lattes. The sky’s an azure desert blue, the wind’s died down, and it’s a beautiful day in Sin City. A beautiful day, in fact, to get married.

The ceremony’s fabulous. Nice, simple and uncluttered, with the photographer – a cycling nut – as a witness. A lot of couples get married at The Chapel of the Flowers, but the place did a very good job of making us imagine for a minute that we were the only ones. And, as far as we were concerned, we truly were – the only two people living and breathing on the planet for those moments. Kate looked heart-wrenchingly beautiful and the ceremony and photo shoot afterwards was full of love and laughter. Brilliant, utterly, utterly, brilliant.



The only way to top it was with landscape, so we got changed and headed off to the Valley of Fire, about 60 miles north of Vegas. It’s a stunning place; a desert ecosystem dotted with giant red sandstone formations (it doubled for Mars in Total Recall) on which the Ancient Pueblo Peoples drew petroglyphs on the rock whose purpose and meaning remains elusive to this day. More than anything though, there’s a real feeling of age and gravity to the place; a timeless, brooding ancientness which makes it as different from Las Vegas as it’s probably possible to get while remaining in the same universe.



From there we headed up the Stratosphere to the Top of the World restaurant. It’s not, of course, but the views from the windows as the restaurant slowly revolves 800ft above The Strip are pretty spectacular – lines of neon and light stretching to the desert horizon in petroglyphs all of their own. Food, wine, more food, more wine, and a significantly wallet-lightening bill later, and our wedding day was pretty much done.

It was, of course, only the start of the journey though...



Defining Vegas moment: in a bar where a giant volcano that took up the size of a standard English semi erupted, spewing out a girl in a bikini who promptly slid down a waterslide and into a giant margarita mixer, whereupon she began dancing Esther Williams style while people on stilts stalked around egging the crowd to clap along. Mad. And it wasn’t just the margaritas talking – promise.



Most amazing non-wedding Vegas moment: 250 miles away or thereabouts at the rim of the Grand Canyon. The seminal horror writer HP Lovecraft used an interesting literary cheat in his works, saying that Cthulu and his ilk were ‘too horrible to describe’...and so, he didn’t. As a writer myself I can only admire the cheek (while, being paid by the word, decrying the potential lost income). But Reader, to paraphrase the man himself, words truly cannot convey the majesty and the wonder of the Grand Canyon. Go there, see for yourself.

Dumbest Vegas moment: Anything involving a fruit machine and beer for a dollar.



Weirdest Vegas moment: The last exhibit at The Atomic Testing Museum. The museum is great, chronicling the Nevada nuclear tests from back in the day when the mushroom clouds could be seen towering over The Strip, but then it gets to the point where it justifies the continued funding of the testing facility (even though the Test Ban Treaty remains in force). So, you end up with lots of stuff about terrorism, some bits about rogue states and nuclear suitcases, and then a chunk of I-beam girder from the World Twin Trade Towers in New York. And you end up touching it because you can .



Most equestrian Vegas moment: Riding through Red Rock Canyon on the back of a couple of ponies. Inevitably, Kate (experienced rider) got a perfectly behaved horse called Stagecoach, while I (second time ever in the saddle) got a stubborn-minded git called Big Joe who wanted to stop and try and eat every single bit of vegetation that came under his hooves. About half-way through I started calling him Evostick...

Foodie Vegas moment
: Vegas does a lot of food blandly in portions that would make Jabba the Hutt blanche. That said though, the corned beef hash at Tiffany’s 24-hour Diner & Pharmacy (you can picture the clientele for yourselves) was pretty spectacular in a ‘That’s really unhealthy but I’m glad I’ve eaten it’ sort of way. Plus we got to say we’d eaten breakfast at Tiffany’s afterwards...We really did eat in all the best places.

Wedding Day – Las Vegas 07/05/10, 06.00

[Slightly belated post]



Too excited to sleep so I get up and take a stroll about. Inevitably there are people still in the casino – some starting early some finishing late. You can normally tell the difference between the early and the late shift depending on whether they’re drinking coffee or booze. Usually...Vegas is not so much the city that never sleeps as the one that got thrown out of school for Attention Deficit Disorder.

I head outside where gardeners are starting to hoover the grass (seriously – it’s all artificial nowadays) and mosey amidst the joggers and stragglers over to the nearest Starbucks to buy a couple of lattes. The sky’s an azure desert blue, the wind’s died down, and it’s a beautiful day in Sin City. A beautiful day, in fact, to get married.

The ceremony’s fabulous. Nice, simple and uncluttered, with the photographer – a cycling nut – as a witness. A lot of couples get married at The Chapel of the Flowers, but the place did a very good job of making us imagine for a minute that we were the only ones. And, as far as we were concerned, we truly were – the only two people living and breathing on the planet for those moments. Kate looked heart-wrenchingly beautiful and the ceremony and photo shoot afterwards was full of love and laughter. Brilliant, utterly, utterly, brilliant.



The only way to top it was with landscape, so we got changed and headed off to the Valley of Fire, about 60 miles north of Vegas. It’s a stunning place; a desert ecosystem dotted with giant red sandstone formations (it doubled for Mars in Total Recall) on which the Ancient Pueblo Peoples drew petroglyphs on the rock whose purpose and meaning remains elusive to this day. More than anything though, there’s a real feeling of age and gravity to the place; a timeless, brooding ancientness which makes it as different from Las Vegas as it’s probably possible to get while remaining in the same universe.



From there we headed up the Stratosphere to the Top of the World restaurant. It’s not, of course, but the views from the windows as the restaurant slowly revolves 800ft above The Strip are pretty spectacular – lines of neon and light stretching to the desert horizon in petroglyphs all of their own. Food, wine, more food, more wine, and a significantly wallet-lightening bill later, and our wedding day was pretty much done.

It was, of course, only the start of the journey though...



Defining Vegas moment: in a bar where a giant volcano that took up the size of a standard English semi erupted, spewing out a girl in a bikini who promptly slid down a waterslide and into a giant margarita mixer, whereupon she began dancing Esther Williams style while people on stilts stalked around egging the crowd to clap along. Mad. And it wasn’t just the margaritas talking – promise.



Most amazing non-wedding Vegas moment: 250 miles away or thereabouts at the rim of the Grand Canyon. The seminal horror writer HP Lovecraft used an interesting literary cheat in his works, saying that Cthulu and his ilk were ‘too horrible to describe’...and so, he didn’t. As a writer myself I can only admire the cheek (while, being paid by the word, decrying the potential lost income). But Reader, to paraphrase the man himself, words truly cannot convey the majesty and the wonder of the Grand Canyon. Go there, see for yourself.

Dumbest Vegas moment: Anything involving a fruit machine and beer for a dollar.



Weirdest Vegas moment: The last exhibit at The Atomic Testing Museum. The museum is great, chronicling the Nevada nuclear tests from back in the day when the mushroom clouds could be seen towering over The Strip, but then it gets to the point where it justifies the continued funding of the testing facility (even though the Test Ban Treaty remains in force). So, you end up with lots of stuff about terrorism, some bits about rogue states and nuclear suitcases, and then a chunk of I-beam girder from the World Twin Trade Towers in New York. And you end up touching it because you can .



Most equestrian Vegas moment: Riding through Red Rock Canyon on the back of a couple of ponies. Inevitably, Kate (experienced rider) got a perfectly behaved horse called Stagecoach, while I (second time ever in the saddle) got a stubborn-minded git called Big Joe who wanted to stop and try and eat every single bit of vegetation that came under his hooves. About half-way through I started calling him Evostick...

Foodie Vegas moment
: Vegas does a lot of food blandly in portions that would make Jabba the Hutt blanche. That said though, the corned beef hash at Tiffany’s 24-hour Diner & Pharmacy (you can picture the clientele for yourselves) was pretty spectacular in a ‘That’s really unhealthy but I’m glad I’ve eaten it’ sort of way. Plus we got to say we’d eaten breakfast at Tiffany’s afterwards...We really did eat in all the best places.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Word neglect

It's not that I haven't been meaning to post, I just have not had the time. The intervening months have had to accommodate:

Work - lots.

Weddings - two (one of which was mine)

Holidays - two (see above)

Visits to places of jaw-dropping natural beauty - one (that'll be the Grand Canyon)

Website launches - one

Press releases - loads

World Cups - one

Cricket matches - five

It has just all been a tad hectic and now IBC looms large for the next two and a half months, so that's me off the radar and nose to the iMac grindstone until mid September basically. Still, must at least write a bit more about a couple of events mentioned above in the next week or so...

Friday, 9 April 2010

NAB - Need Another Body

Despite not making the trip out to Vegas myself, NAB has had the usual cripplingly distortive effect on the local space time continuum. Been working on a four pager for Broadcast about studios for next week's issue, plus loading content onto - and tweaking the results thereof - of the new TVBE website that's due to go live at 18.00 later today. The sheer deluge of press releases at this time of year has made that an interesting task as I want to make sure it's as shiny and new as possible, and pretty much every hour I'm having to upgrade the triage program to make sure more fall by the wayside for the moment at least.

Oh, and then I've got to write some press releases myself. It seems that I'm part of the problem...

Anyway, www.tvbeurope.com from this evening on, or even @tvbeurope on Twitter. Looking nice...

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Oxfordshire start-up to introduce radical new Smell-D™ technology at NAB


London, 1 April 2010 – With 3DTV in the home rapidly becoming a reality, a new Oxfordshire-based start-up, InHalE, is planning to revolutionise home entertainment by introducing radical new Smell-D™ technology at this month’s NAB 2010 show in Las Vegas. What’s more, the technology, that promises to add a whole new dimension to the home viewing experience, will be available to viewers via a simple firmware upgrade to most set-top boxes (STBs) and gaming consoles.

“In much the same way that the current developers in the broadcast and film spaces have rehabilitated 3D, so we are presenting a very 21st Century solution to the age-old problem of coordinating olfactory stimulation with entertainment,” says InHalE MD, Tristan LeNez.

LeNez is not the only one excited by the prospect, and the company hopes to announce several deals with major Hollywood Studios and international broadcasters at the show. “3D is great, of course, but to really immerse the viewer you have to make them believe they’re in the actual location, and scientific research has proved that the olfactory sense is the most powerful way of doing that.”

The technology works by passing discrete voltage increases via different parts of the STB or console’s electronics. “This is completely safe and doesn’t harm the electronics one bit,” explains LeNez. “What our researchers found was that by increasing the current minutely that flows through different parts of the unit’s printed circuit board (PCB), we could generate different olfactory experiences. A rheostat with a 0.5V increase emits a different odour, for example, to a flux capacitor with a 0.1V increase. The odours are very basic initially, but by playing ‘olfactory chords’ and triggering several at once, we’ve found that we can recreate many well-known smells, from cut grass, through to strawberries and out to a very convincing smell of burning.”

Visitors to the company’s booth at NAB will be able to experience the technology directly in sync with a specially shot new video for the classic Talking Heads’ song ‘Burning Down the House’, as well as receive a free ‘I InHalEd’ t-shirt.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Upconverting


Some interesting views from Den of Geek on the 2D - 3D conversion of Clash of the Titans that, well, seems to be a bit of a porridge to say the least.

Also includes a good quote from that august purveyor of sage wisdom, Michael Bay: "Studios might be willing to sacrifice the look and use the gimmick to make $3 more a ticket, but I'm not. Avatar took four years. You can't just shit out a 3D movie."


Clash Of The Titans: 3D conversion comes in for heavy criticism - Den of Geek:

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

NAB - Not Attending Basically



With all due thanks to the scores of PRs who've sent me invites to various events at NAB, I'm sorry but I'm not there this year. In fact, I'm not there every year: the simple economics of funding my own trip out there as a freelancer when every magazine has already sent their own editorial staff to cover it (and sit in front of the advertisers) simply don't stack up - especially given the amount I'm involved with IBC.

Respect though to Snell for their 'The Kahunaverse is expanding' line. I'll be watching from afar...

Friday, 5 March 2010

The science news cycle

How the media helps the world get hold of the wrong end of the stick and give it a damn good tug...

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Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Grading Gear...


An article I wrote about grading the BBC's Top Gear for High Definition magazine. Not often I get to quote AA Gill twice in the same piece. You'd think he might return the favour sometime...;-)

WELCOME | High Definition magazine

Grading Gear...


An article I wrote about grading the BBC's Top Gear for High Definition magazine. Not often I get to quote AA Gill twice in the same piece. You'd think he might return the favour sometime...;-)

WELCOME | High Definition magazine

The end of advertising

Interesting presentation to say the least...

Faster Future: Publishing possibilities now and beyond: Time to end the failed experiment of advertising

The end of advertising

Interesting presentation to say the least...

Faster Future: Publishing possibilities now and beyond: Time to end the failed experiment of advertising

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Confessions of a 3DTV skeptic


And so we gallop relentlessly towards the 3D future. NAB is going to have stereo 3D absolutely everywhere, consumer electronics manufacturers are rushing to release sets, dedicated OB trucks are being built, broadcasters are laying plans for 3D channels, post facilities are investing with 50% of attendees at BVE saying they expect to work in 3D this year...Hell, there’s even a chance that some form of standard for TX might emerge sometime this year. And everyone is pointing to the Brobdingnagian bucketloads of cash that Avatar has raked in on its 3D screens and congratulating themselves on picking the wave early and riding it over the breakers to the shore.

I confess I have a bit of a problem with this. First of, it’s too technologically deterministic. You can see why the industry vendors in particular are leaping on to this – it’s a new technology that requires yet more kit to be sold to upgrade the production chain and everyone pretty much has HD capability now. But the ‘build it and they’ll come’ approach is a remarkably na├»ve one in a culture that tends to focus group things to within an inch of its life in so many other areas.

The fact is that there’s no real body of evidence suggesting that consumers really really want this. Or at least if there is I’m not aware of it. That 3D works in cinemas is a given, but these are controlled environments designed for immersive experiences, they are not the living rooms with all their chaos, clutter, and sleeping greyhounds littered about the place (okay that last one might just be me) that we are used to. Even at IBC last year, examining the output of the conferences suggested that the industry is divided still, with definite camps of enthusiasts and skeptics forming.

So, currently I’m firmly in the latter camp, unless anyone can prove to me otherwise. Do people really want this and, of the surveys that have been done, has the enthusiasm for the new technology overtaken the rigour of identifying genuine demand? Phone me up and ask me if I’d be interested in rocket pants and I’ll say yes immediately. Come the decision to buy them I might be a bit more worried about scorch marks...

Friday, 19 February 2010

Virtual work



Got a fairly nice piece in this week's Broadcast about virtual studio technology. A slight poisoned chalice of a commission, in that the first person I lined up to interview told me that no-one was really using it in the UK outside of election night. Hmmmm...try getting 1300 words out of that. But examining the problems and looking at the development of the technology over the years yielded the requisite number of words in the end. Not only that, but it actually turned out to be rather interesting too.

Now delving into website copywriting again and the joy of testing SEO keywords for a week or two.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Vegas here we come

Well, here some of us go anyway out to NAB. And probably not this particular us, despite Muse playing the Saturday night at the Mandalay.

Anyway, congrats to Tektronix for sending out the first NAB preview across my desktop. I shall happily highlight the VQNet Video Service Assurance Manager and IPM400A Network Probe wherever possible as a result.

[Update: and even more impressively, someone at Tek is sitting there monitoring such frivolous blog posts and following them up with emails. Tight operation!]

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Another brief interlude...

Off working at ISE next week and, to make up for the lack of recent activity, thought I'd stick this up - a short story written for a New Scientist competition to write something about life in the future in 350 words or under. It didn't win, but I'm still quite fond of it.

Border Point

The border point was along a quiet, non-electrified B-road in the middle of the countryside. It was secluded and there were guns. Richard held Jeanette’s hand.

“So, you want entry into Rutland?” asked the Guard.

Richard swallowed, but stuck to the plan. “Citizenship actually....Refugee status even,” he added, seeing the look on the Guard’s face.

Don’t babble, he thought to himself. Be strong. You’re the one with the power here.

He babbled.

“Look, we’ve been on the move for a year now, ever since Surrey enacted the Native Wealth Laws and threw us out because Jeanette was born in Kent. We work where we can – we work hard, we’re science teachers – but no-one wants us. Lincolnshire has given us a five-day transit visa but it runs out today and if we’re caught we’ll be Interned.

“And,” he concluded in a whisper,” I can’t let that happen.”

They stepped off the road to let an oil-burner go past. Richard coughed from the stench of its exhaust. There had even been a driver behind the wheel. What sort of Godforsaken backwater was this?

“Look, mate,” said the Guard. “There’s not a lot I can do. Unless, of course, you have special reasons for me to look into your case...”

He left the sentence hanging. Richard sighed.

“Bananas?” said the Guard. “Tea? Coffee? We’re landlocked here and trade negotiations aren’t going well.”

“I’m sorry,” said Richard. “We’ve given away everything just to get here.”

The Guard leaned in and whispered earnestly. “Can you fight? It’s starting to look mean over Leicestershire way.”

Richard shook his head.

“Well, then, be off with you,” the Guard shouted. “We have no use for your type here.”

“But where can we go? We’ve tried all the borders!”

“Have you tried the sea?” the Guard sneered, and stalked off.

Richard went to leave and reached for Jeanette’s hand, but she took a step forwards.

“I can show you how to make mustard gas,” she said.

The Guard turned.

A brief interlude...

Written for a New Scientist competition to write a short story about the future in 350 words or under.

Border Point

The border point was along a quiet, non-electrified B-road in the middle of the countryside. It was secluded and there were guns. Richard held Jeanette’s hand.

“So, you want entry into Rutland?” asked the Guard.

Richard swallowed, but stuck to the plan. “Citizenship actually....Refugee status even,” he added, seeing the look on the Guard’s face.

Don’t babble, he thought to himself. Be strong. You’re the one with the power here.

He babbled.

“Look, we’ve been on the move for a year now, ever since Surrey enacted the Native Wealth Laws and threw us out because Jeanette was born in Kent. We work where we can – we work hard, we’re science teachers – but no-one wants us. Lincolnshire has given us a five-day transit visa but it runs out today and if we’re caught we’ll be Interned.

“And,” he concluded in a whisper,” I can’t let that happen.”

They stepped off the road to let an oil-burner go past. Richard coughed from the stench of its exhaust. There had even been a driver behind the wheel. What sort of Godforsaken backwater was this?

“Look, mate,” said the Guard. “There’s not a lot I can do. Unless, of course, you have special reasons for me to look into your case...”

He left the sentence hanging. Richard sighed.

“Bananas?” said the Guard. “Tea? Coffee? We’re landlocked here and trade negotiations aren’t going well.”

“I’m sorry,” said Richard. “We’ve given away everything just to get here.”

The Guard leaned in and whispered earnestly. “Can you fight? It’s starting to look mean over Leicestershire way.”

Richard shook his head.

“Well, then, be off with you,” the Guard shouted. “We have no use for your type here.”

“But where can we go? We’ve tried all the borders!”

“Have you tried the sea?” the Guard sneered, and stalked off.

Richard went to leave and reached for Jeanette’s hand, but she took a step forwards.

“I can show you how to make mustard gas,” she said.

The Guard turned.

Alcohol map


One from Strange Maps-

"It matters where we are, for it helps determine who we are. Or, as the quote often attributed to Napoleon states: Geography is destiny. That destiny extends to drink, as demonstrated by this map. Where we are determines to a statistically significant degree what kind of alcohol we prefer. Or is it the other way around: the kind of alcohol preferred is determined by the place where it is produced?

This map shows Europe dominated by three so-called ‘alcohol belts’, the northernmost one for distilled spirits, a middle one for beer and the southernmost one for wine. Each one’s existence and extension are a mix of culture and agriculture."

442 – Distilled Geography: Europe’s Alcohol Belts - Strange Maps

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Today's tasks

1. Update blog (man, that was easy)
2. Sort out TVBe email
3. Sort out BVE email. Actually, perhaps even get ahead and sort out two BVE emails
4. Deal with facetious PR people
5. Check over Broadcast 5.1 feature
6. Go see Wolfmother
7. Really get to grips with Liferay CMS this time round
8. Walk dog/buy food/cook/remember to breathe etc.
9. Amend list of recommended PRs (see 4)

Friday, 15 January 2010

Time Traveler Essentials


This is quite simply brilliant: a cheat sheet for mad scientists to hang in their time machines so that they can fundamentally rebuild civilisation (or at least make serious amounts of money) if they end up stranded back in the past. Have to admit to thinking about this in the past, probably as a result of a boyhood collision with some L Sprague de Camp book or other, so there's definitely a market for it!

Would presumably also work in advent of nuclear war, asteroid impact, or any other chance to rebuild civilisation. Nifty


TopatoCo: Time Traveler Essentials Print

Thursday, 14 January 2010

12 Trends to Watch in 2010

The Electronic Frontier Foundation's list of a dozen things that could affect electronic civil liberties in 2010...

12 Trends to Watch in 2010 | Electronic Frontier Foundation

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Meanwhile...

It has come to my attention that, after a two week layoff, tomorrow is Monday the 4th of January and it's time to start being economically productive again.

So, today = copious cups of tea and looking out the window at the birds, listening to the cricket from Cape Town and wondering if it's going to snow again later.

Tomorrow = steadily increasing amounts of judicious panic while listening to the cricket from Cape Town. It's going to be a busy January...