A locus for eccentrics (hopefully)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Clapton shreds

Funny y/n?

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Televised Revolution

On El Jefe's request, here are my thoughts on how to piss a shitload of money away on a high-definition television:

(in progress!)


Technically, there are four different types of HD TV: CRT, DLP, LCD and plasma. CRT TVs have the same picture tube as a traditional television. This means that they're heavy as hell and only available up to ~30" screen sizes, and have been surpassed in price-to-performance for even those smaller displays. DLP is a dark-horse candidate; it has good picture quality and scales much more readily to large screen sizes than either plasma or LCD. However, it does take up quite a bit more real estate on account of not having a flat screen; it also produces visual artifacts for some users (a twirling, "color wheel" effect). That issue has become less salient as DLP sets have moved onto LCD mirrors.

While DLP certainly has its applications, most potential HD TV consumers want to bring the sexy back with a flat screen, which means plasma or LCD.

LCD screens typically cost a bit more than plasma, but they also tend to have higher resolutions. They also, historically, have higher latency between frame updates. This means that, for applications with fast-moving objects (sports and video games), you might see "trails" or some smearing. Some name-brand LCDs, such as Samsungs, have a discrete "game mode" that will reduce that latency. LCDs trail plasma displays in contrast ratio, or the ability to show bright colors vs. dark colors in the same environment. They also are immune to "burn-in," or artifacts produced by static images over long periods of time, which brings us to...

Plasmas, which (in my experience) do a better job of producing bright, vibrant color, but at the expense of the risk of burn-in. The two big name-brand plasma developers, Panasonic and Pioneer, produce displays that--if the Intartubes are to be believed--are no more prone to burn-in than traditional CRTs. That said, it's still a possibility, and unfortunately it's a possibility that is extremely hard to estimate, particularly over the lifespan of a $1500 investment. They do better with sports, but then video games frequently have the static displays you'd be most worried about in terms of burn-in.

For what it's worth, when I faced this decision myself I ended up going with a 42" Panasonic plasma, purchased from CostCo (model TH-42PX6U). For me, plasma consisently produced a better image than LCDs in all the store displays I saw. I've had it for almost 9 months and haven't seen any evidence of burn-in; at the same time, I always worry about it in the back of my mind when I watch letterboxed content.


1080P, Sony tells us, is the One True HD specification. The reality is that the standards bodies define three HD standards: 720P, 1080I and 1080P. The number in each refers to the lines of vertical resolution. Since HDTVs nowadays are all shaped on a 16:9 aspect ratio, this equates to resolutions of 1280 x 720 and 1920 x 1080. I and P refer to interlaced versus progressive-scan output; progressive-scan writes all of the lines of resolution to the screen at the same time, while interlaced writes odd- and even-numbered lines in alternating cycles. For this reason, 720P content is usually more visually attractive than 1080I, even though the latter technically displays more information.

Your choice as a consumer, then, is whether to buy a 720P or 1080P native resolution display. Panels with 1920x1080 pixels are, of course, more expensive. It's not clear whether or not that expense worth it. HD television programming is only available in 720p / 1080i, and HD video game consoles render internally at 720p. Furthermore, for most room dimensions you won't be able to perceive the difference in resolution -- see this comparison.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Happy Trails

This will likely be a most unpopular posting, given the loyalties of the individual members of this site, and I will no doubt be accused of knee-jerk Yankee sycophantry (is that a word?), but the plain truth of the matter is that despite what you may think of his owner or his players, Joe Torre is a fine baseball manager and probably did not deserve to be shown the door. He has presided over the most successful team since the advent of free agency, a team that has been to twelve consecutive postseasons, and I always admired his tendency to not outthink himself when managing a game. He trusts his players and bench coaches and gets the fuck out of the way. None of that Lou Pinella blustery bullshit or Bobby Valentine getting thrown out of a game and then reappearing in the dugout disguised as Groucho Marx. Say whatever you will about his team, but Torre inspires loyalty, and his accomplishments speak for themselves. And if you still think I'm full of crap, note that no less an authority than the Sports Guy agrees with me:


Let the nasty comments fly.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Something you always needed-but didn't know you did


This blog is totally awesome. Every day, he explains the Marmaduke comic. Since Marmaduke often makes very little traditional sense, it becomes humorous very quickly.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Pander (intr. verb): "To cater to the lower tastes and desires of others or exploit their weaknesses."

We won't do anything about the ongoing genocide in Darfur, armed suppression in Burma or open political assassinations in Syria, but by golly we can--and will!--make sure that System of a Down sees that justice is served.

Never Again.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Fucking Yankees

I cannot express how happy I will be if/when the Yankees do not keep A-rod for his lack of competitive fire. Despite the fact Derek Jeter sucked so much major ass in this series it isn't even funny. See firejoemorgan.com for more analysis, but I will giggle.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Comcast, Part II

While I have nothing but solidarity with Steve's ongoing struggle with Comcast -- indeed, our sum total of struggle against cable companies that rely on their municipal franchises to take us for the proverbial "ride" -- I finally got Comcast to agree to sell me HD programming.

If anyone wants to stop by for the Cubs' playoff games, you should totally grab a sixer and come on over.

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Monday, October 01, 2007


So Radiohead are releasing an album in 10 days. If you buy it online, and go to the cart, apparently it just tells you "whatever you think is right" in the price department and lets you put in whatever you want. Huh.

For me, I think what I was looking for from the download revolution was just a significant reduction in prices for CDs, like 5-8 dollars each. I'm not sure this is really much a solution to the problem. Though it is a beautiful "fuck you" to the music industry which I certainly appreciate.

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