2013 — 14 February: Thursday

Long before I retired from IBM, I treated myself — chaps need regular treats, after all — to my first Dell 24" monitor which was regarded by many, at the time, as the bee's knees. It was certainly better than the crummy 20" CRT monster that IBM was irradiating me with daily at "work". And a couple of chums bought them too, on my recommendation. Fast forward the best part of a decade. For nearly a year now I've been using a pair of 24" screens (the venerable Dell and a slightly less venerable Samsung SyncMaster) as my double-width Windows desktop and can only wonder why it took me so long to cotton on to the numerous advantages of such an arrangement.

But (for the technical reasons touched on a while ago to do with what my graphics card regards as "legacy" video connections [VGA, DVI, or HDMI]) I've yet to succeed in adding the 60" Kuro plasma screen into the mix. So I've decided it's time to equip myself with a modern, matched pair of Dell screens, not only while they are still making full 1,920 x 1,200 pixel panels, but also because both will have that all-important non-legacy DisplayPort connector. I shall then have one final crack at getting video from BlackBeast to the Kuro. Hence this morning I now once again find myself stuck in and awaiting Ms Van Person:


If the Kuro still adamantly refuses1 to play nicely, what's the worst that can happen? With just a few minor derangements of desk position and current clutter I have a cunning fallback plan that should leave me with a three-screen Windows desktop. In the meantime, I'd better treat myself to some breakfast before all the heavy lifting.


The sun is streaming in through the open patio door, the barometer has twitched only a little downward, it's a balmy 21.5C, the music is grand — time for an early 'lemonses' methinks. Then I can busy myself unpacking and installing the two new arrivals. This may take a while... [Pause] Not that long, actually. I'm back in twin-screen business with two beautifully-matched screens with identical colour balance and ClearType settings. Now for that delayed lemonses. After updating the AMD graphics software to Version 13.1 and noting (yet again) the truly ghastly nature of the various games that have helped drive the development of the PC's graphics subsystem.

In search of...

... the lost leads, inter alia. I'm taking Brian back down to Richer Sounds this afternoon as they've asked him to bring his A/V kit along to try to demonstrate his Denon A/V amp's misbehaviour to them (presumably before they give in, and ship it back to the maker, having failed to detect the fault themselves). Better than returning it unfixed and just saying "No fault found, sir."

Meanwhile I need to obtain my first-ever DisplayPort to DisplayPort lead to use with one of the two new Dell screens. And I also need to re-equip myself with a fairly long HDMI to HDMI lead that's currently gone walkabout somewhere. This is to connect BlackBeast either to my little HDMI switchbox, or possibly directly to the second HDMI input on the Kuro. Careful and close re-reading of the AMD Eyefinity FAQs suggests that there will then be no reason / excuse for the two 'legacy' ports on my graphics card not to work at the same time as the DisplayPort. Yielding, in theory:

Dell #1, DisplayPort
Dell #2, DVI
Kuro screen, hdmi

all working together in perfect visual harmony. Or something. Watch this space.

Interestingly, the...

... Soton branch of Richer Sounds just happens to have, in its little display room, one of only 20 or so examples in the UK of LG's 84" 4K resolution screens, with a loop of some native 4K material playing. The basic technology is an enormous LCD panel backlit by LEDs. The level of detail is outrageously good and withstands inspection from unfeasibly close. But I have to say the black level is still not up to the Kuro's standard. Of course, I also don't happen to have the oddly necessary £22,500 or so in loose change.

Be that as it may, we couldn't replicate the fault, because the input device that demonstrated the problem (Brian's Freesat Humax box) couldn't be plumbed in to a satellite feed. And the Freeview Humax box they used was, of course, faultless in its behaviour. So he's retrying it at home in the hope that a service technician tweaking and fiddling with it for an hour may have been enough to persuade it to sort its act out.

Now that I've been...

... gerrymandered out of the Eastleigh constituency2 and into Winchester's not quite adjacent (nor quite to my taste) Tory Heart of Darkness, I can only observe the upcoming byelection from afar (ridiculous, considering my house is part of a continuous urban sprawl into Eastleigh town centre, but separated by several miles of rolling green fields from aforementioned Tory Heartland). Anyway, this amiable chap is standing as the Labour candidate:

Suddenly, I feel really lucky to have an outlet for the profound sense of outrage I feel about this coalition government. This is the most important and interesting byelection for years, with the bizarre situation of Liberals and Tories fighting each other for the right to vote for exactly the same terrible policies. How could I not want to get in and help Labour stop both of them?

John O'Farrell in Grauniad

I enjoyed the three books I have by him, "Global village idiot", "Things can only get better", and "An utterly impartial history of Britain". But I can't vote for him. I shall just have to settle for an evening meal instead :-)



1  I have a very dark suspicion that the Kuro is subject to some deep-seated hdcp-related incompatibility. When it accepts signal from a piece of kit it "likes" all is sweetness and non-flickering lights. If it takes against a piece of kit I'm lucky if I even get a uniform green Pioneer screen of death.
2  Quite why Nigel Farage (the MEP for Eastleigh) recently wasted time, money, and paper, addressing me directly on the issue of those 29,000,000 Eastern European immigrants just massing outside the borders of Eastleigh also puzzles me. But that's a different matter.