Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Is Blu-ray Already Dead?

Several tech writers seem to believe that Sony’s Blu-ray disc technology and high definition movie recordings are on their way out before they got much of a foothold in the market. Although Sony had predicted a 50% market share by this year, their sales presently account for only about 5% of video discs sold. With up-converting DVD players selling at a much lower price and only a minimal difference in high definition quality, there is little incentive for the consumer to pay big bucks for a Blu-ray player or over $25.00 for a Blu-ray movie disc. The conclusion appears to be that “if Hollywood expects to be selling DVDs in five years, they need to make Blu-ray an affordable standard.” There is even some speculation that movies will no longer be recorded on discs, but on flash drives.

Rather than chance making nonsensical blunders or embarrassing myself with misinterpreted statistics, I will refer the reader to some very recent original articles and the discussions that go with them:

Blu-ray ix-nay?

Blu-ray is dead – heckuva job, Sony!

Pioneer ups Blu-ray discs to 16 layers, 400GB capacity.

SlySoft cracks Blu-ray BD+ encryption. forum discussion.

Many people like Blu-ray and it is certainly their prerogative to purchase and use whatever equipment pleases them. I freely admit to a strong bias against Sony since two undisclosed rootkit implants on their DVDs seriously damaged the computers of people who even attempted to make an archival copy or record the DVD to their hard drive. This potential development only serves to reinforce my decision never to buy another Sony product (regardless of how good they are and how much I might want them.)

Peace, Doc

Copyright © 2008, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.

“There’s a sucker born every minute.” – Usually erroneously attributed to P. T. Barnum but much likelier stated by Mr. George Hull, a hoaxer and Barnum’s competitor.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Voting Early

Do you plan to vote early? I do. It has been said several times on the TV news that it indicates that you have already made a firm decision about your candidates and nothing much beyond this point is likely to change it. OK. I’ll buy that, as it definitely applies to me. As of yesterday morning, over 213,000 citizens of Kane County, IL, had cast early votes. Illinois voters may determine times, locations, and requirements for their counties here.

In 31 states, one does not have to be out of the country or have any reason other than wanting to vote early or absentee to do so. Google provides an interactive map that will lead you to the laws in your state by clicking on it. A measure of certainty is also added when voting early. What if you’re sick or injured on November 4th and can’t get to the polls? What if you live in an area where your transportation is not assured? What if you die? (Not that it would necessarily disqualify your vote in Chicago politics.) What if you just want to quit listening to “erratic,” “socialist,” “unqualified,” “moose murderer,” age and health issues, and all the other accusations and counter-accusations being thrown around for the next two weeks? Truly, I am absolutely sick of it, while smaller issues like, oh say the Iraq/Afghanistan wars, international relations, a chaotic financial crisis, environmental concerns, have seemingly been put on hold.

Following my early vote, I will again concentrate on tasks I urgently need to accomplish. I have discerned at least one of those tasks from the very recent experience of Bittle becoming frightened by “something,” (almost anything can do that) climbing my chest, and leaping over my right shoulder. His rear claws absolutely need trimming, and as a result of this experience I know that I will never, ever consider having a nipple ring installed. I will, possibly, try to return to a more socially acceptable diurnal cycle. It is also possible that I might throw away a few more objects from “the room that must be entered with great caution.” I may or may not go into survivalist mode, or maybe just more than I am already.

I have tried to avoid being particular partisan in advocating for early voting, but I will ask residents of Illinois to strongly consider a NO vote on the proposed call for a State of Illinois Constitutional Convention. Illinois residents have already received a mailing outlining the pros and cons of the vote (and a .pdf version is available) so I won’t go into detail, but it is my opinion that it is unnecessary at this time and has a strong potential of being quite destabilizing to the state in several sectors.

Peace, Doc

Copyright © 2008, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.

“I have said there that when Europe gets a ruler lodged in her gullet, there is no help for it but a bloody revolution; here we go and get a great big, emetical ballot, and heave it up.
- Mark Twain - Interview Dec. 1889

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Recycle, Research, Refurbish, Rejoice!

Most of my readers know the extent to which I will go to recycle, when possible. Getting a carload of aluminum cans to a recycler was part of a previous post. I still recycle everything that will be accepted since moving into the apartment. I believe I have just been rewarded for being an environmentally conscientious old coot.

I have intermittently mentioned wanting a new PC, but finding that everything that I configured or found on special sale were well above my budget. I continued to search until I made my way into the land of the used and refurbished. I tend to do that sort of research for several months before making my impulse purchases. I saw many PC’s that “looked good” online, but I did not know the seller, in what condition the computer really was, and that gut feeling that whenever something that looks too good to be true, it generally is. I began to search more deeply into the offerings of companies I do trust and found some good offers on factory refurbished PC’s. I didn’t see anything quite close enough to what I wanted to be willing to part with actual money. I finally found that Tiger Direct advertised good refurbished deals, but concentrated on the ones that they believed would be the best sellers. That’s reasonable for any business advertising, and admittedly I wanted something a bit out of the mainstream. Then I discovered that I should be looking at the related deals in the sidebars. Different versions of the same basic model were there. Then I saw it.

In case the link to the ad is discontinued, it is a factory refurbished HP m8467c with an AMD 2.2 GHz, quad core Phenom processor with 5 GB of RAM, 640 GB hard drive (2 x 320 GB drives,) NVIDIA GeForce 8400HD, DVD+/-RW/RAM Dual Layer burner with Lightscribe, Wi-Fi LAN, a 15 in 1 media reader, a wireless keyboard and mouse, and 64 bit Vista Home Premium OS. I was pleased. Even the hard drive(s) would seem to lend themselves to dual booting the PC with my beloved XP Pro OS. I ordered it at about 3:15 a.m. Wednesday. My first credit card was refused (the company was protecting me) but a second one worked fine. It was processed at 6:55 p.m. Wednesday and arrived today, Thursday, at 1:57 p.m.

I have not yet “fired it up” as I want to make certain that I do all possible to make the dual-boot setup as easy as possible. I can see absolutely nothing that I have inspected to have anything whatever wrong with it. Not even a surface scratch. The only bit of data on the spec sheet that concerns me is that it has only a 300 watt power supply. It would only cost $40 or $50 to replace it with one double that wattage. Oh, did I mention this PC lists for $1,999.99 and I bought it for $649.99. I thought it would be a good idea to buy it while the dollar is still spendable.

Peace, Doc

Copyright © 2008, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.

Woot! Woot!” – Doc

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Monday, October 06, 2008

Agitated Grumpiness

For about the past week I have been in a series of states, somewhere between moderate crankiness and full-out, “I’m madder than hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.” (Except for the fact that I don’t have much of a choice other than to take it.) I began to rearrange my financial affairs about three months ago such that they were so conservative as to be laughable – at that time. At least I was correct in doing that, although I had hoped I was just being silly. For all concerned, I hate the reasons I felt it necessary to act in that manner, but the simple perceived need for self-preservation took over. The Senate and the House lived down to my expectations when a three-page refusal to financially patch the economy, on a temporary basis, turned into a 451 page bill, laden with “pork” which, of course, passed today. The tactics were the same. Scare the hell out of us so that we were afraid not to act. This time, however, it seems that they scared themselves more than the citizenry. Deficit spending became so blatantly evident that hardly anyone could miss it. I’ve heard that roughly 90% of average citizens polled were against the bailout. That sounds a little high to me. I believe that we have more than 10% stupid citizens. It also becomes clear that our elected representatives do not follow the expressed mandates of their electorate, but do what they say is “necessary” and “in our best interest.”

I spent a good deal of time writing to assorted State and Federal Legislators and Agency Heads. All, from my State senator and representatives, Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates, Federal Reserve Board, Speaker of the House, and so on up to President Bush, received the same two-word message.

I started to research the Federal Reserve Board to write a post about it, but it appears that one can only get so far “in” before a wall of fog is encountered and names are not there. I’m sorry that I cannot be more factual, but as Carlin said in my last post, we are owned, and it becomes very difficult to determine by whom.

Rum tax relief? NASCAR subsidies? Wooden arrow shaft tax breaks? At least the shaft part sounds accurate when connected to the $110B of pork that was added by the Senate to the $700B to bring it up to even more monumental proportions. I can’t comprehend the enormity of that amount of money, but we are warned that this is likely to be just a beginning and that we can expect further spending and hardships.

I do have one tiny suggestion for Governor Palin that might generate some revenue for Alaska. The road to the bridge to nowhere has already been built but is not being used. Turn it into a Dragstrip.

Peace, Doc

Copyright © 2008, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.

“Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.” - Mark Twain

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