Category Archives: Tech

Biased for neutrality

Now that Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, is agreeing to pay cable TV providers what I consider to be, in essence, protection money, he’s feeling free to criticize the deals. And he should, because the problem has nothing to do with Netflix using up a lot of ISP bandwidth. It’s the inherent conflict of interest that cable providers have by also being Internet service providers.

Cable TV companies collect the money for HBO subscriptions but they don’t collect the money for Netflix subscriptions. That’s what is driving them crazy. Their extremely profitable business model is falling apart and they’re desperate to force Internet video to be part of the old model. They want to sell the Netflix channel to their customers the same way they sell premium cable TV channels. Well, that just shouldn’t happen, because if the argument is that Netflix is using their bandwidth then they will have to charge every Internet service an additional fee for using the bandwidth, whether or not they compete with their cable TV business — bandwidth that their customers are already paying for.

The glory of vinyl

This 1956 educational film from RCA explains the process of recording, producing, and manufacturing vinyl records. Stereo recording was a very new innovation at the time, and stereo records as we know them weren’t available until 1958. Note that 12″ LP’s were introduced by Columbia, not RCA, which developed the 7″ 45 rpm format for singles.

Jimmy Stewart’s Swank apartment

I had lots of fun calibrating the video projector. Assuming my consumer-grade colorimeter is reasonably accurate, the test numbers indicate that the picture is now just about perfect. Fifteen years ago, when I bought the Sony 32XBR100 TV, which is still working fine by the way, after first adjusting it I watched the then newly-restored “Vertigo” on LaserDisc. I watched it again today, but streaming from Amazon.

“Vertigo” is now at the top of some lists as the greatest movie of all time, beating out longtime champ “Citizen Kane,” and I have to agree with that assessment, on the basis of the premise that a man’s obsession with a woman is inherently more interesting than a man who is obsessed with himself. At the more trivial end of what makes “Vertigo” interesting is a magazine in Jimmy Stewart’s apartment. There’s a copy of Swank, which was one of the many periodicals published by Martin Goodman, Stan Lee’s boss at Marvel (then Atlas) Comics.

Vertigo Swank

By coincidence I happen to be reading an excellent book, “The Secret History of Marvel Comics: Jack Kirby and the Moonlighting Artists at Martin Goodman’s Empire” by Blake Bell and Dr. Michael J. Vassallo, which goes into detail about the creation of Swank to compete with Esquire, only to fail in competition with Playboy.

Follow-up: The authors of “Secret History of Marvel Comics” tell me that the magazine does not appear to be a legitimate issue of Swank — “The cover doesn’t match up to either any of the Martin Goodman issues, nor any of the earlier incarnations. So it seems it was a mock-up for the movie.”


I’m in the middle of an extremely “First World” sort of project, re-calibrating the video projector, now that it has more than 500 hours on the lamp. Grayscale tracking is done, and tomorrow I’ll tweak the color gamut. The next thing after that will be figuring out what to do with the tangled mess of A/V cables.


HTML5 Agony

For Christmas I gave the missus a Kindle Fire HDX 7″. Couldn’t resist the $179 special price. The picture and sound are amazing but, like all Android-based products, Adobe Flash isn’t supported, and this site relies on Flash plugins for audio and video. So here I’m testing an HTML5 plugin for MP3 and MP4.

I’m very fond of the Flash audio player plugin, but the old, old WordPress theme that I’ve used lo these seven years causes it to conflict with the HTML5 plugin. I tried a workaround that doesn’t work, and now I’ve switched themes to accommodate this, and I’m still hitting a problem — two in fact — so now I’m disabling the plugin and going with the HTML5 media support that’s built into WordPress, which has fixed one issue but introduced another. Aaugh! Everything was running so nicely for such a long time, that this sort of frustration was inevitable.

Video support is also rather limited compared to the Flash plugin I’ve used, which can be adjusted to fix an incorrect aspect ratio, and smooth out a picture when it isn’t run in its original resolution. Both problems are apparent here.

For a long time I have been intending to restore a lot of video clips that were taken offline when I changed web hosting services, but now I also have to contemplate converting them from FLV to MP4. What a painful undertaking!