Dan's Data letters #126Publication date: 24 September 2004.
Last modified 03-Dec-2011.
I have about 7000 Australian dollars (about $US5000) and want to buy a big TV.
I looked around, and the sales guys are giving me all sorts of conflicting info. With this amount here I can get a very good low res plasma (106cm Fujitsu) or a decent high res plasma (106cm Sony) or a smaller LCD.
I'm wondering what would be the best bet be? I hear that plasmas eventually die... But if what they say is true and I can watch 8 hours a day for 10 years, I can live with that.
I don't know what to go for, and it would be a lot of money to waste, don't you think?
Yes, plasma screens wear out. All things die.
Plasma screens, however, ought to last longer than CRTs. Lifespan really shouldn't be an issue. Neither, in case you're wondering, should "burn-in" effects caused by display a lot of stuff that doesn't match the aspect ratio of your screen (16:9 screen, 4:3 TV, wider aspect ratio movies...). Current plasma panels compensate for burn-in effects (as I've mentioned before), and the rate at which it happens shouldn't be much of a problem anyway.
But, as you say, it is a lot of money to waste. Personally, I wouldn't buy any kind of plasma screen today, but I can see why people do. Good image quality, hangs on the wall.
LCD is right out, though. I can't really figure out why people buy them. So very, very expensive, for such underwhelming screen sizes. OK, you can get them up to 80cm or so these days (32 inches), but that's six grand Australian, and piddly little 33cm (13 inch) LCDs still cost as much as 68cm (27 inch) CRTs. CRT TV sets that match most LCD screen sizes aren't that unmanageably big and heavy. You've got to be really short of space to need one of those things, I think.
There are some other options you might like to consider.
One: A big-ass rear projection set. Huge piece of furniture, image quality not up there with plasma, but rather lighter than you'd think (there's a lot of empty space inside), and you can get more screen area for your money, and rear projection sets today have much better image quality than they used to; no longer does the picture go completely to hell if you're not right in front of the set.
$AUD6000 (probably more like $AU5500 street, delivery included) will buy you a 142cm widescreen Sony RP set. 1.8 times the screen area of the plasma option, baby!
(And, yes, easily two and a half times the weight, but a hundred kilo rear projection set looks light as a feather when you consider that a CRT TV that size, if anyone was mad enough to make one, might well weigh more than four hundred kilograms...)
Two: A cheap CRT set for most TV watching (because who needs to see a newsreader larger than life size), and a projector for big stuff (I've explored this idea before, and meditated on big TVs and resolution, too).
Again, this gives you more screen size for your money (that $AU850 screen's a 234cm widescreen...), you can hang just a screen instead of a whole TV on your wall, you can hook every half-decent projector up to a computer for big screen gaming, and many projectors are highly portable. So you can take it to a friend's house, or point it at the ceiling for parties, or whatever.
Sony's upcoming "dark screen" technology, which uses a screen overlaid with narrowband red, green and blue filters that only allow it to reflect the colours the projector's spitting at it, looks likely to greatly reduce the current need to lower the lights to use a front projector. Until then, pennypinchers can use a cheap second hand slide projector screen. Or ye olde white wall or sheet, of course, but a proper screen really does make a huge difference.
I got myself the Koss "The Plug" headphones after seeing them mentioned on your site some months ago. I'm fairly happy with them, although I found out that I already had achieved a pretty good isolation and a similar effect overall by cramming my previous Sennheiser MX 300 earbuds deep into the ear - you get used to the pain.
Do the Koss headphones qualify as canalphones, or are they limited in some severe way? I'm wondering because at ~40 Euros, they apparently were on the cheap side when compared to the canalphones you mention. Also, I wonder if you can use the replacement pads available for Etymotic canalphones on the Koss ones - the size seems about right.
Yes, the Plugs are canalphones. They are, of course, not terribly good canalphones, but they pretty definitely offer better sound quality per dollar than the far more expensive Etymotic options.
A few people have been beavering away on "poor man's Etymotic" mods for the Plugs (including making various new earpads for them). Read all about them here.
I recently was given a DGTEC DH-2000B Standard Definition set top box as a gift. The unit itself works fine, but some functions on the STB's remote do some random things to my S4 Midiland 8200 receiver. For example, when I push the "info" button on the STB's remote, it changes the speaker configuration on my receiver. A few other buttons do a few different things as well.
I contacted DGTEC's customer support and they basically know of no fixes. They think the remotes are operating at similar frequencies (or overlapping) and that is why it is causing problems for me.
My question is - is there something I can do to fix this (easily)? Or will I have to use the set top box on a different TV away from my home theatre setup?
There's not much you can do. Well, you could try angling the two components away from each other, sticking little paper blinkers on one side of each one's remote receiver, and sticking out one arm to use one remote and the other arm to use the other, but that's not the most elegant of solutions. Similar gimcrack ideas involving lengths of PVC tubing, and such, also suggest themselves.
Usually, remote code clashes like this are only an occasional annoyance (it's not actually a frequency issue; all infra-red remotes use the same frequency band, and are differentiated only by the flash-patterns they emit, which is why you can't use two remotes at once). The usual way the problem manifests is that one time out of fifty, doing some particular thing with Remote A will activate some feature or other of Component B, especially if you just told Component B to do some other thing and it's in an "alert" state for more commands.
If the problem happens all the time, though, because of a real code overlap, I think you're pretty much screwed.
I bought a Luxeon Star LXHL-MW1D. It has a forward voltage of 3.42V, and a current rating of 350mA. I used a resistance calculator, and using 4 AAA alkalines, it suggests a 3.3 ohm 1/2 watt resistor. So... I hooked it up, it's dim as hell. The batteries are new. I hooked it up without the resistor for a fraction of a second, it looked like a small bright sun. What gives?
By the way, I'm using 18 gauge speaker wire, about eight inches long.
I think you may have made a mistake with your resistor calculation, but in the wrong direction.
Assuming 1.5 volts per series-connected cell, that's 6V, and
(as explained in my caselight piece)
so R should actually be in the vicinity of 7.4 ohms (and the resistor will be dissipating about 0.9 watts, but that'll be fine for a half-watt resistor for short periods, or if you just blow on the thing).
However, 350mA is a pretty solid load for AAA alkalines, so you can expect their output voltage to sag a bit. It probably won't sag all the way to one volt per cell, at least not at first, but if it did then you'd be looking at
...for a resistor value below 1.7 ohms, and resistor power dissipation a long way below half a watt.
Since LED current and voltage specs are a moving target - as the LED warms up it'll pass more current - I suggest you just pick up a few more dirt cheap half-watt resistors, and a basic multimeter if you don't already have one, and experiment. The internal resistance of the AAA cells comes into play as well (the wire you're using should have negligible resistance), so it's best to just fiddle and measure the voltage across the resistor after it's warmed up with each resistor value. When you get something close to the rated value, you're done, and will have a few spare resistors with which you can stick things to a corkboard.
I quickly cancelled all paperwork connecting me with said company, but am still in the process of organising an event for them, as the Lighting Designer. I now plan to invoice them for work done and get the hell out of the deal ASAP!
I knew I had heard about Adams Platform from you, so a lightbulb went off in my head as soon as my client told me about the connection he has. He is the other half of the company. THANK YOU DAN for keep me so well informed!
I don't wish to have any connection to Media World Communications or Adam Clark, as I work in both the entertainment and IT industries and don't feel their current track record would enhance my own image. LOL
Anywho, in my research *cough5mingooglecough* I came across the "Holy" Tolly report (PDF) on the Adams Platform, dated October 2003. It seems to claim that it WORKS! I was just wondering if you'd seen it; what do you make of it?
It looks legit to me, except maybe for the bar graphs!
I then came across this PDF, dated 1st September 2004, which almost suggests they're about to come clean.
What you make of it all?
Lighting design for Adam Clark? No problem - set up one 40 watt bulb and tell him to decompress it!
The Tolly report's a bit of a puzzle. They apparently took reasonable steps to avoid getting swindled in the way that similar DVD-video-down-a-phone-line hucksters have cheated testers in the past - Ethernet cables concealed in power cords, for instance.
Still, though, the Adams Platform continues to violate basic information theory, and the fact that the story has dragged on and on for years and years and years, without the magical invention being patented, makes it extremely implausible.
The last not-particularly-official claims of a real live commercial product coming out said we'd see it in April this year; we're still waiting.
The Australian Stock Exchange document you mention was the subject of a Slashdot story; as often happens on Slashdot, though, they didn't quite describe it right. Yes, the MWC board said that it couldn't "sign off on the performance capabilities of the Adams Platform Technology", but what that actually meant wasn't very clear; maybe they were just trying to decide whether it does 1,000,000:1 compression or 1,010,000:1. And the statement goes on to say that they expect to be able to sign off at some point.
People who know even a little about information theory never thought it did in the first place, of course, and neither did at least some journalists, but Clark still managed to attract non-trivial amounts of investment capital over the years, a substantial quantity of which he socked away personally. If I were him, I'd be considering investment in Spanish real estate and bribable physicians in the very near future.
I just acquired a hilarious documentary called "Free Energy - The Race to Zero Point", which is a compilation of Free Energy types jabbering about their inventions. I'm sure most of the machines they're talking about have been long debunked, but I've never seen such a collection of desperate failed academics and scientists. It's an early 90's production, but that can't be the only explanation for every single interviewee looking like stars of "America's Most Wanted Sex Offenders". My favourite part so far is the classic "They laughed at Galileo - BUT HE WAS RIGHT WASN'T HE!?" argument. Highly recommended viewing.
Carl Sagan's frequently-offered response to the "They laughed at Galileo, they laughed at Columbus..." argument was "but they also laughed at Bozo the Clown."
Tapping zero point energy will, of course, be totally and amazingly great, if we ever manage to do it. Right now, though, and despite the claims of people for whom merely discovering infinite energy seldom seems to be enough (they often also claim to have invented antigravity, at the very least), ZP devices seem to work a lot better on TV (though the Stargate ZPMs are more like Very Very High Capacity Batteries than like real generators) than they do in real life.