This is a transcript of a speech I gave at the Westminster eForum in London about the future of television in the home. I thought I should share it…
On the BBC Internet Blog, Andy Quested has discussed the various issues around the addition of a test signal to BBC HD. It makes for very interesting reading, well worth it for anyone wanting to better understand their television and get a better picture.
I actually emailed Andy about one part of his article:
“The audio is actually two blocks of wood being banged once a second – nothing to beat the real thing!“
I emailed him to say that in college one of my much respected lecturers (Morgan Jones) proposed using a spark gap as a syncronisation source. Few things in nature are more instant than a spark and the correlation between the light and the light is absolute (subject to the speed of sound, etc).
His response was that he would look at it but he also raised another issue, how do you deal with the fact that an audio compression system based on the psycho-acoustic model might ignore such a short spike of audio? Frankly I don’t know, I am not sure I know enough about compression systems, but it seems worth a look.
I hear Heroes is a really good series and it looks along my lines. I think I'll give it ago.
On the other side, for those that don't know my girlfriend and I don't own a TV. This confuses the TV Licensing authority a great deal, after I contacted them to tell them I didn't own a TV they wrote to me to thank me for informing them but that they didn't believe me. Great!
So, now I have moved jobs and moved house (the one caused the other), and I am presented with a challenge. I work for a company which makes LCD TVs, STBs and PVRs; so my boss said I should take home our current PVR model and try it out. I pointed out to him that it would be difficult because I don't own a TV and he suggested that I take a TV as well. This now places me in a dilemma: I deliberately don't own a TV not on some moral grounds but on the basis that we tend to find better things to do than to fall into the trap of falling onto the sofa, switching on the box and mindlessly watching whatever is on.
I think I will end up taking a TV, however we are tempted to resolve not to watch live TV. By using new features such as "Freeview Series Link" I hope that we can just pick things that we hear about or read about and tag them for watching. Then we can sit down, look at the list of programme content and pick something we actually want to watch.
I recall when I was in college, in my first year I was one of the few people who owned a computer and that was fine. People used my computer occasionally and that was fine. Then in my second year I moved into a new halls of residence and more people had computers. I found myself being called upon to fix these machines and it began to get a bit tedious. Luckily a friend of mine was studying computing and had a machine of his own. He had learnt a lot quickly and when we lived in halls together in the third year I vowed to play dumb. Whenever anyone asked about computers I pointed at my friend and let him deal with it. I would follow along and when he got stuck he would look at me and I would step in and offer my sagely advice. It was like a plot from some modern Kurosawa film.
I have continued in this vein for some time now, despite knowing a heck of a lot about IT I choose to avoid IT responsibilities. I offer advice, I step in where required but as I put it to anyone who from my childhood who said they had expected me to go into IT:
"I want computers to work for me, I don't want to work for computers."
I started at my new company two weeks ago exactly, it is a small branch office which co-ordinates a great deal. But there are less than a dozen people here. IT is co-ordinated from greatly afar and this arrangement has so far just about worked. The guy who sorts things out does his best, but there is only so much someone can do when they aren't on the same land-mass as you and it isn't really their job to do IT. The result is that things here aren't as slick in the IT domain as they could be. So I have stepped up and said that for the time being I will gently increase my responsibilities and improve the services here.
My hope is that I won't get stuck as "the it guy" and I will be able to get on with my real job as the technology expert for our products. Sometimes I hate computers and sometimes I enjoy them, so I have to be in a position to say 'no' and thus I have promised no SLA for this task I have undertaken. The advantage, however, is that I think I can build it in my image and get things working right!