Oooomph!

R13-018

© PJ Croft 1992, 2017

Pity about the giant bunny that died on a flight from London to the USA. Well, there’s no mystery – it was being sent to O’Hare airport. It would have been mortifying for any self respecting bunny.

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A few days ago I said how much I liked the movie Passengers. I was even toying with the idea of buying the Blu-ray version. It would be a bit silly, but there ya go. I said it was speccy even as a normal standard def DVD.

So I was browsing in JB yesterday and looked at the shelf for 4K Ultra-HD Blu-rays. There it was, Passengers in 4K, and you get a normal Blu-ray disc in the box as well, two discs, $45.

Well, I haven’t got a 4K player, even though my TV is 4K, and this is a powerful incentive to buy one. As well, the waiting is over for Planet Earth II, the remake of the BBC series with David Attenborough. That’s on the 4K shelf too, unfortunately at $75, but …

4K players have halved in price in the past year, so I’m countin’ the pennies. The Samsung is $395 and the Panasonic is about the same. Hmmm.

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What is this 4K? Skip this if you know already.

When we changed from analogue to digital TV in 2000, the number of pixels in the vertical edge (the picture height) was set at 576 for Standard Definition. That’s because the number of visible lines in analogue was about this number (625 lines minus some lines which were used for other purposes and were hidden on the old tube TVs), so digital TV was designed to look about the same.

The traditional aspect ratio of standard def was 4:3 or 1.333 width x height. That made the number of horizontal pixels 576 x 1.33 = 768 approx. That’s SD.

When we changed to digital and flat panel displays, suddenly it was possible to fiddle with the parameters, and the aspect ratio was widened to 16:9 or 1.77:1, nearer to movie aspect ratios. A wider picture just looks a lot better, as well. That’s the standard used for normal DVDs, which even though they’re not HD, look pretty damn good. That’s because the techniques of video compression have improved tremendously in the last 15 years or so.

Digital transmissions are also capable of multiple data streams, usually one high data rate for High Definition and three at Standard Definition. These data streams fit into one 7MHz channel width, formerly used by one analogue channel. Nice, eh? Four channels where there was one, and because it’s digital, “no snow”, no ghosting, and stereo sound, all much higher quality than analogue.

So with a high data rate stream, we can have more pixels on the screen. The next step up was to increase the vertical pixels from 576 to 720. Multiplying that figure by 1.777 (for 16:9 aspect ratio), we get 1280 across. This is mid range high def. I’ve just made a short 9 minute video segment for Vimeo and that’s what I used: 1280 x 720 pixels. This has been used for broadcasting on the Seven Network, who rather misleadingly called it High Definition for some years. It sort of is, but it’s not Full High Definition.

That’s the next step up, where we have 1080 pixels picture height. Again, applying the 1.777 16:9 aspect ratio, the horizontal pixels number 1920, and this is called Full HD, 1920 x 1080. This is as high as broadcast TV goes and is the resolution on Blu-ray discs.

Manufacturers being what they are, wanting to make us buy new TVs and so on, needed a new selling point, so they came up with “4K”. They doubled the number of pixels both vertically to 2160 (2x 1080) and horizontally to 3840 (2x 1920).

That means the screen is now 4x the number of pixels of Full HD, and it’s called Ultra HD or 4K. This is roughly the screen width in pixels – 3840 is roughly 4000, yes?

But the data rate for this is far too high for broadcast, over-the-air TV reception and this is not likely to change. Therefore there’s no 4K free-to-air TV and probably never will be. The only way to get it is a high speed internet connection, i.e. fibre optic, or the new 4K Blu-ray discs. You need a new 4K Blu-ray player for this. At the moment, only Samsung and Panasonic make them, but Sony is bringing one out soon, and in a year or two they’ll be selling them at $99 in Coles. Ha!

So that’s what 4K is all about. So endeth the lesson.

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Another bad night last night. I’ve been using Phenergan and it works, but the hangover effect, even at the minimum 10mg dose, lasts for hours after I get up.

I’ve been recommended to try a different one, so last night I took a prescription melatonin pill. I went to sleep quite quickly, but woke again after 2 hrs and even though I felt totally relaxed and half asleep, I still couldn’t get back to sleep. I was still awake at 3am. I lay there until 4am but gave up and got up. Worked on a book project, had a hot milk cocoa and a bit to eat and went back to bed at 7.45am, but only dozed for an hour. I feel reasonable now, so I’ll keep going.

The recommendation is to try Nature’s Own Complete Sleep >>Advanced. I thought it might just be valerian, but it has ingredients I haven’t seen before – Lactium (hydrolysed milk protein, oh yeah); Ziziphus jujuba (what??) aka Spine Date; and Humulus lulupus (hops). What bullshit. At least it’s gluten free.

I’ll try it tonight. At $25 for 30 tablets, it had better work.

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I’ve had an email from Air Asia – I’ve accumulated enough bonus points for a free flight. That’s unexpected and a nice surprise. I have to make a booking on Monday 1 May, that’s just choosing a flight date, not actually travelling. I haven’t been considering a trip, but here’s a kick along. I can’t consider anything until after the cataract problem is fixed, whenever that is, and my visitor at the end of May has departed back to Bali. I like planning, though. I don’t have to go to Bali, although that’s probably the only choice.

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Another nice surprise. I’ve been reading up on what you need to do when you connect to the NBN, and one thing is that your house phone sockets need to be rewired to work with the NBN modem. The NBN company don’t help you with your normal phone. That becomes a VOIP phone and it needs to be configured.

Anyway, I read that Telstra normally charges for the phone socket rewiring, but it’s free for Age Pensioners. Wow! I’m glad I saw that. otherwise the charge is $240.

This is not a simple changeover. I’m fairly smart about techo stuff, but I was left bamboozled after reading this article. I might have to get a company to do it for me.

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I need fibre! I’ve edited together a 9 minute video segment of an event in Bali last year. The resulting file was originally 14 mins and 1.2GB in size! I had to go back over it, cut 5 mins out and reduce the quality. That got it down to 440KB, but even that is taking 5 hours to upload to Vimeo. I’m doing it for this one, but it’s unacceptable. I need fibre.

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