Sunday, August 28, 2005

Hold your cell 'phone in the air like you just don't care!

I love bank holidays!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Linux on an iPod?! sounds like a pretty crazy idea, but these guys are on the way to doing it, even porting Doom to run on those stylish little boxes.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Shield is my current favourite show - Channel Five are running series four on Saturday evenings at the moment. I missed the first couple and then being in Mexico didn't capture a couple of others and so went to TorrentSpy (a great Bittorrent tracker site) and found a few people posting the whole of series four in HiDef! One overnight download later and I'm catching up on Vic's antics in better resolution than I could ever get from C5 - Television is dead! Long live Bittorrent!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Isla Guagalupe, Mexico, part 2

After a couple of days in San Diego having meetings about parking links trucks etc. I finally got to go to Mexico - our fixer took us as far as the tiny military airfield in Encelada (an hour south of Tijuana - the border town near San Diego) where we got on a Cesna 104 that flew us the two-hundred miles to the island. We made a couple of passes of the airstrip and noticed the wrecked remains of other aircraft at either end! It is a very basic facility - just a dirt track big enough to land on. On landing we were met by some folks who work as conservationists (the Mexican government recently declared the island a nature reserve). We borrowed their truck and went about five miles inland (it took an hour! Very rough terain). Then we had to hike across very rough terrain (it is a volcanic island) for a couple of hours. Fortunately the Mexicans had come around the other way with a quad bike and so I was able to make it to within a few hundred metres of the beach.

Once on the beach (half an hour down a very steep ravine) I was able to take a couple of GPS readings (you gotta be able to see the bird if you're going to get pictures back to London!) and take a few photos.
If you want to see a few more pics from the day look at my photo blog (link in the right hand bar). What an adventure - I hope the show all comes together now - it'll be called Shark Watch on Channel Five in October.

I have to say I really enjoyed being with the various Americans and Mexicans - incredibly hospitable and friendly - they wanted to talk about Manchester United and Arsenal! I have been on other recces in the UK and found them to be lonely, uptight experiences but these guys made it a joy.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Isla Guagalupe, Mexico

So, I have to go away this weekend to recce this location for a show that will be on Channel Five in October - it looks really remote - 250 miles off the Mexican coast with only goats for company! I'll be going to San Diego on Thursday and then heading down Mexico way to get a light plane to the island. I'll post a load of photos on my picture blog (see the right hand links bar).

Guadalupe Island on Wikipedia
An Oceanic Wonder

This is a nice pic that Sarah found online - I'm quite looking forward to it!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Impressed but annoyed!

These are the pics that Transport for London took of Sarah not getting out of a box junction quick enough on Archway Road! However, paying the fine was about as painless an e-commerce transaction as could be! Their website is superb with you being able to confirm the fine with both reference numbers and the image shot at the time.
Now I think that £100 (with a £50 cash-back if paid promptly - these guys are across modern retailing!) is steep for lingering in a box juntion for too long but I do like the idea of automated penalties for speeding etc - several times more people are killed by sober people speeding that by drunks - and maybe it'll mark the start of better behaviour on the roads.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Why do people have to have their say?

Last weekend was Sarah's fund-raiser for our medic friends who work for Hand in Hand for Asia and it was a great night - brilliant music and comedy and we raised a good sum. I was doing the PA - and if I say so myself it sounded very good! Outboard compressors and feedback killers as well as me riding the parametrics to find the sweet spot on every instrument! It's that old BBC training! Anyhow - one of the bands manager's kept sidling up to me to say things like "his guitar could be a bit brighter" and the like. On each occasion I'd just touch the knob and say something like "is that what you're after" and he'd say "yes, much better" even though no adjustment had been made.

It reminded me of when I used to spend a lot of time racking studio cameras. I'd make a point of making sure they were all colour-matched consistently and it used to annoy me when the director or the lighting guy would say something like "camera two looks a bit blue in the blacks" - I'd stare at the monitor, flick between the cameras - touch the OCP (making NO adjustment) and they'd say "ah, much better"! Talk to any racks engineer and they'll report the same.

All this put me in mind of an occasion when I worked at a facility where they had a studio and an audio department. I used to work a split shift across maintenance and studio operations and I got on quite well with the studio sound guy. One day during a coffee break I was in the studio's sound control room chewing the fat and one of us knocked a cup of coffee into the mixer - panic! It was one of those Soundcraft Venue models with the removable channel modules and so we quickly removed the three or four modules that the coffee had spilt into. While we were mopping out I noticed that the half-dozen op-amps on the channels were TL071s - I mentioned to the sound supervisor that there was a low-noise Mil-spec version of the chip, a TL061 which might buy us eight or ten dBs of better noise performance (which in the days of analogue recording was worth having). "Tell you what" he said, "buy a bag of them and whenever I'm quiet I replace a channel's worth and when I'm done you can put the Lindos on the mixer and see how better it sounds".

After a couple of months he'd finished and when I did squeak the signal path I reckoned we did have an extra eight dBs in hand - very nice. Later that week the dubbing mixer (who worked in the audio department) came to me and said "I heard what you did with the studio mixer - I've booked you in for maintenance this weekend and you're going to do the same with mine" - he had a similar model of desk. I was less than keen to sacrifice another weekend and so on the Friday evening when he'd left I went up to his suite and burred up a few screws on the removable modules and left a couple of the old TL071s out of the studio mixing desk littered about.

On the Monday morning he came to me and said that the mixer sounded so much better - in fact "night and day" was the expression he used! By the end of the week several of his client had come to congratulate me on how much better the suite sounded.

So, I concluded that some of the most senior people really have a limited grasp of technical quality and Lord Kelvin's quote (see the right-hand column) is as ever, very relevant.