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For a deep, meaningful moment, watch this dialogue
(needs a video player) or for something which plays with your
perception, check out this picture. Try moving your eyes around - are
those circles rotating???
Pledged my first ever Kickstarter, a whole US$75!, to the hobbyists at Star Trek Continues, who make in their spare time eerily authentic additional episodes to the original 1960s Star Trek (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/trekcontinues/star-trek-continues-2015-kirkstarter-20). Lighting, sets, dialogue, mini skirt uniforms and 1960s crazy stories are all very close to the originals. Acting isn't bad, especially amongst the principals, I think the only major deviation is the audio quality where the use of modern sound equipment is very obvious, plus occasionally the set creaks noticeably and they missed it during post production audio filtering. Anyway if you're into classic trek (I never much cared for anything trek after the first season of TNG), you'll definitely want to watch the three episodes they've made with the last Kickstarter at http://www.startrekcontinues.com/episodes.html. I challenge you to not be impressed by the end of the second episode - and I challenge you not to be also pledging Kickstarter funding after you've watched the third episode!
Just learned about 4chan /b/ (https://boards.4chan.org/b/catalog) for the first time - I knew about 4chan, not about the /b/ isn't that weird? Yes the randomness of the content burned my old tired brain. And yes I am very, very old and out of touch for not knowing it has been around for like a decade now (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4chan#.2Fb.2F_imageboard). I genuinely feel like how I think my father must feel like right now. Definitely bed time.
+ I can actually see the screen now compared to the 24" monitor. - I can now easily tell the difference between standard and hi def, and most of Freesat is still low quality standard def and despite the TV's postprocessing to make it not quite so crappy, you just get a fuzzy soft image instead. If I'm at the kitchen table (i.e. closer) I can also see 1080p vs 1080i now, it's really noticeable on Freesat HD which is all 1080i.
+ It's a full PVR now I've added a USB hard drive, and it records series perfectly from the UK Freesat. - It doesn't understand series link for Saorview, plus it won't record from both satellite and aerial simultaneously for absolutely no good reason. Both are deliberate firmware limitations for no good reason.
+ I've found the smart TV stuff far more useful than expected. It automatically found itself RTE Player and the other Irish video on demand apps, and even better meshes all their content onto a single screen saving you having to bother entering each app. The voice search is particularly useful here e.g. "show me last week's late late show". - Where the smart TV stuff falls down it really falls down. It auto finds all my XBMC content from the internal internet, yet won't index it and won't let you search it, forcing you to trudge through deep nestings of folders to find stuff. It's just easier to flip over to XBMC.
+ The user interface is generally mostly intuitive and quick to use. - Except when it really isn't. For example, switching between the Aerial and Satellite is an unbelievable pain. For no good reason the two tuners don't present a unified guide and schedule, you have to manually switch using a very awkward set of non-obvious nested menus.
+ The smart wand remote is great when it works. - Except it's half baked and reminds me hugely of when BlackBerry "added touch" to their phone UI. You could point and click, but it was so hacked in as an afterthought no one actually ever used it that way. Same goes with the wand remote - you end up ignoring the pointer and using the up down left right as with a traditional remote.
+ The 3d works quite well, and XBMC happily outputs in 3d including its UI. - The active 3d glasses really hate LED and CFL lights and make them flicker in a headachey way. So you have to turn off all the lights when you use the glasses. Oh, and we have a real lack of 3d content here, and I'm still not sure if it's worth the hassle for the limited benefit.
+ If an app is Adobe Flash based, there is a very strong chance it is available for your Samsung TV (which also kinda reminds me of the BlackBerry PlayBook). - Some of the more useful apps like Skype and the Fitness app require the purchase of an expensive dedicated USB webcam, and it has to be their specific Samsung model. For past TVs which didn't have the CPU power to encode h.264 in realtime I could forgive that, but the F and H series TVs are all ARM Cortex A15 Exynos CPUs and have no shortage of number crunching power, plus they have dedicated h.264 encoding hardware offload units. No excuse Samsung, except you want more money!
Am I happy with the purchase? Yes. It's a very polished platform 80% of the time, and it's definitely a mature platform - I haven't found any bugs yet, just some occasionally very bad design choices like how difficult it is to switch between tuners - hardly an uncommon action, and to be honest it should unify the tuners into a single EPG presentation anyway. The picture quality is good (though contrast isn't as good as I had been expecting), compatibility is excellent, power consumption low and Megan and Clara are both very pleased to have a real TV instead of Niall's hacked together contraptions made out of old and spare computer parts. I also think for less than €500 all in that it's good value for money for what it provides. It's also been trouble free to set up after I converted into a UK localset, a rarity. RTE Player and all the other video on demand just works - funnily enough, I could watch RTE immediately after opening the box over wifi before plugging it into any aerials!
That said, it's biggest problem, as with all smart TVs, is that the smart stuff is still being tacked onto the TV from the outside and it's obvious. Supposedly LG's WebOS smart TV platform is different on this, if so I welcome it. I also remain surprised none of these smart TV platforms don't just start with XBMC/Kodi as their UI :(
New TV finally turned up, the photos show after and before. I do wish it were bigger personally, but of the much reduced price German quad core six series Samsung's I had the choice between only 40" and 48", and the latter would add three inches to each side which unfortunately wouldn't fit. Anyway I got it converted from German to UK with a bit of work, to get access to the sufficiently privileged service menu had to program my Logitech Harmony remote with a special factory settings IR code found on the internet. But once changed it's the same as a UK model complete with built-in Freesat, just for two hundred quid less. I am pleased!
My very clever fiancé found this beer whilst in the States - it's one of my favorites from our time in Canada, a spiced Quebecois triple fermented ale, which unlike what the mediocre stuff Americans call "Belgian style", I think any Belgian brewery would be proud to call this their own. And it's called La Fin Du Monde for a good reason ... anyway we drank a lot of this, and other Quebecois crazy beers during our time in Canada. And the excellent Ontario wine of course. Canada is underappreciated for its fermentations I think, this Christmas was my very first to Megan's home town where the stores actually had decent beer, actually some very decent beer. Until this year the very best you could could find which wasn't piss was Blue Moon which is not bad. Anyway, happy belated birthday celebrations to me, sickness disqualified me from earlier this week.
Wednesday 14th January 2015: 9.17pm. I think I know why I didn't sleep well recently, today got sore throat, drippy nose and swollen breathing passages, and of course a headache. Must have caught it during Sunday shopping :( The annoying thing is I only was just being to feel normal again after whatever I caught during the flight home from the States which knocked all the energy out of me for two weeks. January looks like it's going be a lean month for income :( - at least I got an accountant sorted, he gave me a fair price too actually. Let's hope the work is of good quality.
You know the Nexus 5 camera on Android 5 is really remarkable if the camera app allows it. Below is the rare Irish snow to stay settled outside at midnight using RAW image capture by the L Android camera app. Exposure time was 0.8 seconds, ISO 400 for the front images (the orange ones), ISO 1000 for the back. As a comparator, the last photo is the best the standard Android camera can do i.e. pathetic.
Tuesday 13th January 2015: 11.00am. Last night was one of those annoying nights where you go to bed at a good time expecting to sleep well, and then for absolutely no good reason you don't sleep until 3am and you wake up exhausted. I wish I could say there was a cause, but no there is none, not even Clara or a rich dinner. Poo.
Just dropped €500 all inclusive on a new 40" Samsung UE40H6470 television, which oddly enough is only the second TV I have ever bought in my life. The 6470 is essentially a 6400 with additional satellite and cable tuners and it's a Central European model, and therefore for some reason €150-250 cheaper than the closest UK/Irish equivalent which is the 6500 despite being better specced. In theory with the smart TV stuff it's also a PVR for Freesat and Saorview once you add an external USB hard drive (I have several spare!), and that will finally hopefully please Megan who has long complained about the lack of working TV! The 6400 F series was the biggest selling individual model series of TV in 2013, I guess we don't have the stats for 2014 yet but everyone seems to expect it'll be the same for the 2014 H6400 series. The general consensus seems to be that this particular model series is a big reason why Samsung is the world's most popular TV manufacturer, see the link I've attached. Let's hope their somewhat inflated prices (a good 25% more for the same spec compared to say a LG) pay off with a trouble and problem free experience, I have little appetite for fiddling with a subtly broken product! The only bad news with this I suppose I'll have to start paying the TV licence now :(
Friday 2nd January 2015: 2.04am. Ok, here's hoping that the Google Plus to Facebook post conversion is working again after many months of being broken. Meanwhile, despite waking at 8pm after twelve hours of sleep I am feeling exhausted, so about to eat something and go to bed. Maybe tomorrow I return to a European body clock at last?
Thursday 1st January 2015: 9.38pm. Just woken after another twelve hours of sleep, and unfortunately I am still on US time :(. Now accounts and taxes are mostly done and new year celebrated, next step is clearing an enormous email backlog. I expect this to take all of today :(
Tuesday 30th December 2014: 6.02pm. It's 6pm and I have just woken up after 16 hours of continuous sleep. Obviously I was very tired and much more so than I had realised so this isn't a bad thing, but today was supposed to have been a work day as I have to run end of year accounts and payroll :(
Also, weirdly, lots of things are aching. Teeth, muscles, hands, eyes and I'm very stuffy. Maybe I caught something on the transatlantic flight over???
You always forget how tough it is driving distance after a transatlantic flight eastward, it's oddly much easier the other way going to the States from Europe. Currently as far as Cashel, so two thirds done and stocking up on coffee and cake before the final push home to bed. Gorgeous day though, sunny but icy and cold, and it's a Sunday so traffic is okay. I didn't have too good an internet states side, so below are some highlights of our time in the US, mostly Clara of course who lit up our time there. No idea why anyone would ever not want children when you have a baby like that! And thanks to +Peter Maloy for her Christmas dress, she was a real hit at Christmas Mass in that! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!
Friday 12th December 2014: 3.15am. Last day of work for me in 2014 is tomorrow, and this Monday we depart to the States for Christmas. Despite not getting many paid hours in these last few weeks (Megan is sick so I get extra Clara duty, and I'm not feeling particularly well myself either, I have a sore throat and I haven't been able to breath well through my nose for some weeks), I raised a comprehensive build test matrix for Boost Thread this week. No less than thirty build targets out of ninety have problems currently, though it's only a few causes appearing repeatedly. As much as it feels like I haven't accomplished much in December other than spending an awful lot of money on annual bills like insurance (multiple kinds) and waste collection, I think maybe that build matrix may well prove very useful in the long run, not least that I think it is probably reusable for any Boost library. And that is very interesting long run ...
In my spare hours I tried integrating proposed boost concurrent_unordered_map into AFIO and was quite shocked to find it halves the performance despite being totally mutex free, and therefore AFIO's core engine becomes usually lock and wait free. I reckon it possible to raise that to maybe a 25% performance drop, but seeing as I had expected it to go faster I was quite disappointed. The weird thing is that concurrent unordered map is within ten percent of std unordered map single threaded, so where the half performance comes from is currently a mystery, and I can only assume it's cache line contention somewhere. I may yet be able to pull a rabbit from the hat though because with the new concurrent unordered map you can detach and insert items without destroying them, and I'm thinking one could therefore recycle items and avoid a good deal of memory allocation and object construction/destruction. I'm also thinking that some spinlock spin count tuning might be a wise idea as I'm currently using the old spin count tuning. All that said though, a quick run through valgrind callgrind showed most of the cycles going on scanning the bucket for entries, so I may need to tweak the bucket count and density in memory. I'm currently setting equal performance to a spin locked std unordered map as my gold standard goal! It's certainly not a bad thing to do while watching TV at night, debugging involves a lot of tedious trial and error made a lot better by a not too involving TV show on in the background.
Sunday 7th December 2014: 11.56pm. Just paid €351 to Allianz for next year's car insurance for me and Megan, fully comp, full NCD protect (60% discount!), can drive any car, but no windscreen, no breakdown, no personal insurance and an excess of €500 on a 14 year old car barely worth €1000. It came down to between AIG and Allianz who were about equal price wise, but AIG required you to install their app on your phone and always take it with you when driving. That put me right off AIG ... my phone is slow and laggy enough with some crappy buggy motion tracking app sucking down my battery life still more :( BTW, highest quote was FBD at €569, Aviva €480, Liberty €444, AXA €429, RSA €401, and the lowest possible insurance in Ireland this year for TPFT is €280, so €71 above the absolute minimum is I think is okay.
Saturday 6th December 2014: 3.02pm. A funny thing, reliability. After my first full month of Magnet Business Broadband, my xDSL reliability has shot up to 99.51% up from about 83% on the residential service. Guess at which point the Business Broadband SLA pays out compensation? Yep, < 99.5%. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to have a working internet, but it's still annoying when it drops out on me, though in fairness I can now safely ring somebody with a good expectation the call won't get cut off.