Monday, 17 November 2014

So what’s all this about 4k TV then?

Early in the twenty tens, we all went digital and were forced to upgrade because the TV services could not be bothered to make it a dual service in the way they had during the introduction of colour. Then you could still use your old Black and White TV until you decided to change to colour in your own time. With the digital changeover, because they had greedily used up every single terrestrial TV channel available, they forced us to jump to their new system with no molly coddling. ‘Buy or don’t get TV sucker!’ they told us grinning evilly. ‘We are going to sell you digital TVs regardless of what you want.’ Whilst we were still reeling from this new system they decided to upgrade the signals to HD TV and although this was, thankfully, optional because they ran the HD service on a parallel channel, it was something else they wanted to get you to go out and buy. Now it is 4k TV.
4k TV, sounds good doesn’t it. Even clearer pictures in greater detail than ever and in close-up we will be able to count the embarrassing hairs on the news reader’s face, where they have not plucked them all. In crowd scenes we will be able to make out the guy right at the back giving the camera the finger and recognise all those people at the footy match who have signed in sick that day. Wonderful. But why so soon? Not only that but, where do you get 4k signals? You can buy a 4k player and some Blu-ray disks claim to be 4k, also you can stream 4k from the Internet if you have fibre but, we have not all changed from DVD to Blu-ray, or afford fibre and they cannot broadcast 4k signals, no room, all the available channels are in use with normal SD and HD TV… Uh Oh!
So, not so much a maybe as a when they shut down all those old SD channels and force us to buy another new and fully compatible 4k TV, fibre Internet, 4k player and upgrade all our movie media once again. So the question now is, how long it will be before the original digital SD service is switched off and we all have to go HD/4k? And it will be a another case of ‘Buy or don’t get TV sucker!’ for a second time. This seems all the more likely, because now, they are pushing 4k TV so damn hard. So what is 4k anyway?

Note; most of what follows is about the UK TV services.  There are a number of differences in other national standards.  In many countries the majority of viewers use cable unlike the UK wherer the majority use broadcast signals

Well a long time ago we had 405 line TV, which was better than the original 1920s Baird blur but not special, it just seemed it at the time. 
Then in 1964, it got better when we upgraded to 625 lines and 1969 to colour. With the introduction of digital in the 2010s the basic service, SD TV, became 576 lines, which sounds as if it is a little less than the old 625 line system. Actually on that old analogue system you only had a little over 300 lines in practice so SD looks sharper than the old analogue signal. Almost immediately they introduced HDTV. HD comes in two flavours, 720 lines and 1080 lines. There is also the option for interlace, i or p, which is not worth worrying about here. 720 HDTV is the kind of picture you get on an ‘HD ready’ TV and is a kind of poor man’s HDTV, whilst 1080 lines is full HD and only displayed properly on a full HD TV, but will show 576, or 720 pictures if that is all it gets. So, if full HDTV is 1080 lines, just over one thousand, then you may assume that 4k TV is going to have four thousand lines. Wrong.
If you look at the full HD picture, it is one thousand and eighty lines down the screen. You could count them if you have a magnifying glass. HD televisions have a wide screen, making the width of the picture wider than the height. This means that on a picture that has 1080 lines down, there is room for approximately two thousand image picture elements (pixels or dots if you prefer) across the screen and so 1080 HD could be called 2k. Now I bet you have guessed it! 4k is not four times the definition of full HD, it is only twice as good and has around two thousand vertical lines and four thousand pixels across, hence the deliberately misleading 4k. What a disappointment, I bet you won’t be rushing out to get a new 4k TV after all.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Autumn again

I do like see the trees change colour in autumn and try to get some pictures but, this year they all went autumnal very late and quite suddenly for just a few days and then a gale took off most of the leaves before I could get any good pictures.

 As usual, we spent Halloween with The Granddaughter (TG) and carved some pumpkins. For some reason, some weeks before, The Son In Law (TSIL) had bought a medical teaching skeleton, which he has named Bob, as a kind of macabre ornament for the house. 
Bob sits on the settee in their living room and looks quite relaxed there, but is not a great conversationalist.
I wish he would not keep doing that

For Halloween, TSIL wanted Bob to sit it in a chair just inside the doorway, but there was only room for him to stand on his support in their narrow hallway.

The kids that arrived begging for treats with threats and menaces were not at all concerned that a full sized skeleton, wearing a hat was revealed when the door opened, being brought up on video games that are much more horrific. The Daughter (TD) and TSIL usually grow their own crop of pumpkins, but this year they only had two which were both very small, kind of pigmy pumpkinetts. They had bought two big ones and I am usually invited to carve at least one and so I created a rather sad looking pumpkin with the intention of making it look as if it had been sick, but thought better of making a mess with its erstwhile innards and just left it as it was. TD had a slight accident with hers and its lower set of teeth got cut off during carving, making it look more like it had a moustache than vampire teeth as intended. The tiny ones were to be left, but in an idle moment I hollowed them out and made a standard scary face on one, whilst TG carved ‘lol’ on the other. TG went out with her mother and The Better Half (TBH) and came back with a bucket of obesity fodder, which got reduced a bit by a concerned mother.

Barrow is set in some wonderful country and although it is dominated by the shipyards, you do not have to go far to get out into real countryside.

The shipyard towers over most buildings

On the other side of the water the proper countryside begins
The weather was not brilliant most days so we did not go out much other than to visit the original Lakeland store at Windermere, where we bought a few items we needed for the kitchen and of course we took our traditional visit to the zoo. The South Lakes Wild Animal Park is growing and there are new enclosures being built for more kinds of animals. This wildlife park is strongly focused on maintaining species and has been responsible for returning more than one species to the wild which may otherwise have died out. They also take animals that have been mistreated and give them as good a life as can be provided inside an enclosure.

Of the new animals there were some wolves. These have a large area to range in and seemed quite at home compared to some I have seen in captivity that are obviously distressed and constantly pacing. These seemed right at home and at one time they set up a chorus of howls, which was amazing. This is another sign they are feeling at home, because unlike a domestic dog that howls when distressed, wolves declare their territory this way.
In the aviary, there was a cockatoo that was strolling up and down one of the walkway hand rails asking to be stroked under its wings. It tended to peck threateningly at children if they tried to touch it with an extended finger. Considering they can take the end off an adult’s finger if angry, they were simply a warning to them to keep away. No doubt it had had children poking it none too gently in the past. If you offered it the back of your hand, it would then raise a wing and let you stroke it or scratch it gently underneath.

Once you had done this for a short while, it decided you were a real pal, it would then try to follow you along the railing wanting more petting. Naturally several people petted it during the time we were there. Some of the birds there had some very exotic plumage and this one made me think of an old fashioned Mexican bandit from 1930s Hollywood.

The bandit
On the roof of the aviary, a pair of storks had made a nest
The one above sees all
I feel sure Johnny Morris would have been able to caption this one
I know it is not a hampster but, why does this make me think of the movie Bolt?

We stayed until the Monday morning to see TG off to school and then drove home. The journey home was unremarkable other than the fact that we were a good half hour shorter than the usual six hours it generally takes. On practically any trip to or from Cumbria you can guarantee a holdup somewhere along the M6 and sure enough we had one at J18, but despite this we were home much sooner than usual.

Finally a puzzle.  Can you spot the two leopards?