2009 — 25 February: Wednesday

It's already (somehow) 00:46 or so. Time therefore for tonight's picture of a smile (of course) from Christa in the Old Windsor living room in the late 1970s:

Christa in the Old Windsor living room

I actually had this slide blown up into a poster many years ago now. Dr Joey admired it one time when she was checking up on me while Christa was in hospital. In fact, it's behind me right now, hanging from one of the bookshelves in the study. You may even have spotted it here.

Here's hoping the new toy gets delivered later today. G'night...

As others hear us... dept.

Since the demise of one of my satellite receivers I no longer have NPR on tap all day long. I make do with their range of podcasts (though, I admit, the stack is currently growing rather high). Oddly (perhaps) I don't like listening to "talk radio", and I hate phone-ins.

Even better than NPR as a listening experience is the BBC's Radio 4 ... which almost always had something interesting to say on the 90-minute drive from Heathrow to my hometown. One current feature is "America, Empire of Liberty," a thumbnail history of the U.S. for British listeners. The show's viewpoint is entirely conventional but pitched just right for a middlebrow radio audience.

John Derbyshire in The American Conservative

What would he make of the "Freak Zone", I wonder? It's 08:11 and sleep fled quite some time ago. But it's unhealthy having a night cap, it seems. I guess you can either give up alcohol, or give up reading reports about it. Oh, and avoid Facebook while you're at it.

I think I'd better raise my blood sugar level.

Progress, of a sort

Next crockpot is stuffed and simmering gently. Breakfast is half-loaded. A cold-calling lady who promised to save me money on my (trivial) phone bill has received a not over-long piece of shrift. I find I still miss Christa, but the world seems to be wagging on regardless. It's 09:57. On with the endless domestic round. What's next, Mrs Landingham?

Lunch — that moveable feast that so often sneaks up on me before I've given it much thought — will be slightly delayed this afternoon as those terribly nice chaps from TASS are about (it's 12:57) to show up with the new toy (and, just as important, they are going to remove its older cousin, too). Or, at least, that's the plan. I love a good plan! I have the Dyson all plugged in and ready to suck 'n' roll.

Ol' square eyes

Well, it all fits neatly in place. I must say, it's large, but not overwhelmingly so. All I've done so far is plumb the Panasonic Freeview PVR directly into it via hdmi, and set its output to 1080p. There's an interesting discussion to be had on the best place to perform video upscaling. The young engineer was more or less convinced, for example, that the DVDO scaling engine I have is probably the most capable device (of the A/V amp, the three items of hdmi-capable kit, and the display screen itself) even though the scaler is now five year old technology. I still hope to get away with just the one video signal cable going into the screen, but since the only cable I currently have that's long enough to reach the thing is a 3 metre hdmi that's my current choice. (The scaler has DVI-D output.1) I have yet to persuade sound to make (as it were) an appearance, but I shall work on it.

It's 15:59 and I'm taking a small break. Where's that Kit Kat?

Laurie Taylor has just made me laugh out loud. As he signed off (and I was only half-listening, by then) he talked of someone who said he was totally baffled by the phenomenon of "child molesters" — pronounced "mole stirs".

Good news, bad news... dept.

Well, the bad news is that there's not all good news. But the good news is that the bad news isn't too bad. The Panasonic Freeview PVR upscales nicely, as does the Oppo DVD player. With Joe Kane's Digital Video Essentials I can adjust black level (including blacker than black) and contrast to perfection. Colour and picture geometry are already spot-on. I've just disabled the (rather silly) room light sensor. But the Humax HD satellite receiver insists on delivering sound that comes and goes, despite the gorgeousness of the BBC HD picture. This may be a glitch in the setting of the third hdmi input on the Onkyo A/V box.2 I've yet to try feeding in the output from the DVDO scaler into hdmi #4 because (at 18:31) I need some food first.

Right. Inner man is satiated, rest of the delicious crockpot is chilling down, and it's time to bring the DVDO scaler into the picture. I've also unearthed a 3 metre DVI-D to DVI-D lead so there's now scope to put everything else "upstream" of the DVDO. This is harder work than work, dammit. But Mike Harding's folk programme is entirely devoted to the late, great John Martyn, so I have good music while I work.



1  And analogue RGB via a 15-pin D-sub, though that would rather defeat the purpose of using a digital signal path.
2  More sinisterly, perhaps it's because I'm trying to convey a higher-than-standard definition video signal via an hdmi lead when said signal doesn't also carry the abominable hdcp "protection".