Thursday, March 28, 2002

Artificial Intelligence

I just rented this one and I gotta admit, I really liked the story. I can however see why it didn't do very well in the theaters, too brooding, too dark and a bit too moralizing. Great movie for you who are avid Science Fiction genre readers/fans though. Sort of a modern/futuristic Pinoccio (did I spell that right?) meets Gataca meets Wizard of Oz. The DTS soundtrack was also terrific.

One disappointment though was that there were many (too many, like greater than 20 in the whole movie) visible MPEG artifacts in shots that didn't look like they were that complex or fast moving enough to give an MPEG encoder pause. Perhaps they were just using too low a video encoding rate? Or maybe it's my older Sony DVD player showing its age? If you watch this DVD, let me know if you are seeing as many MPEG artifacts on your DVD player and let me know what model player you're using. Just kinda curious if my stuff is getting stale...


P.S. Still haven't gotten around to watching the SuperBits yet, but seeing these MPEG errors makes me want to look at a few key sequences in these SuperBit DVD's really closely.

P.P.S. Updated the previous post about the Home Theater Hi Fi site, they ain't perfect, but a nice resource none the less. As with anything offered to you as advice from anyone, always take it with a grain of salt and realistic skepticism even if there are alot of pretty pictures and numbers to go along with it.
Another really good Resouce

I don't think I've mentioned this one before, but the Home Theater HiFi web site has some of the best written, comprehensive and informative articles I've come across on the internet. They do get very technical and their writeups far surpass the level of detail I've seen in MOST print Home Theater/HiFi rags. Best of all, they are free.
Here are 2 really good ones to check out for starters:
  • Understanding DTCP (and it's implications for the HDTV buyer/viewer, a must read)
  • Progressive Scan DVD Players (perhaps the most detailed and intelligent article I've found discussing how progressive scan DVD players work and don't work. Many myths shattered, new problems revealed, another must read!)

The only downside I can see is that they are occasionally prone to endorsing extremely expensive solutions and miscellaneous strange "tweaks" (example here) that make absolutely no sense from a scientific standpoint. I suppose all high end HiFi magazines are a bit prone to these types of excesses though. I personally fall on the pragmatic side of things (see for some interesting counterpoint and criticism AND great information on making good MP3's) and REFUSE to pay like $2000 for a pair of interconnects and I also can't hear the difference between two good quality optical and coaxial digital conections no matter what anyone says (and I have the engineering papers and data to back it up too!! :). Save your money for what'll really matter folks.

So much good reading, so little time.


Thursday, March 21, 2002

Back in Town, Snowboarding and stuff about Spam

OK, no new Aconda or HDTV news with this posting. Well, actually, just one: Watched "Blow" on DVD yesterday, quite a good movie but the DVD transfer had quite a few mpeg encoding artifacts during fast panning sequences. Maybe the way to go is with those "Superbit" DVD's I haven't gotten around to looking at yet...

I was just in Colorado Snowboarding (yeah, I know their snow sucks right now, CA is going off however and I'll be going up to Mammoth next week). Luckily, we were checking out some Snow Cat operations and the new Silverton Mountain operation. The snow wasn't the best to show off these areas but if you like steep trees check out "San Juan Snowcats" operating out of Purgatory ski resort. I personally liked the terrain served by "El Diablo Snowcats" for snowboarding. Both operations are run by really mellow, nice guys that'll let you do much more (ie. less handholding) than anything you'd find in Lawyer saturated California. If you REALLY like steep expert only terrain, you've got to check out Silverton. Sure you have to hike a bit to really get to the really good stuff, but believe me, they have perhaps the BEST lift accessed terrain I have ever skied in the continental U.S. "Powder" magazine had a few writers skiing there when we were there, look for a write up there soon. WARNING, NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART or ABILITY. It is truly lift served backcountry terrain and you'd best know what you're doing. I like their slogan: "Skiing for CORE skiiers/riders NOT real estate buyers."

BTW, for those of you sending me e-mail, you will notice that I've removed the original e-mail address and changed it to an anti-spam version "at" instead of "@" and "dot" instead of "." I've been forced to do this b/c my poor e-mail account is innundated with 100-200 spam messages in a 24 hour period and I'm pretty sure that the spammers have been harvesting my address from this web-page. Just edit the e-mail into it's correct syntax in your e-mail program and you can get through to me just fine. I have even begun to use a e-mail filtering program Spam Eater Pro which is highly reccomended. It has given control of my e-mail account back to me, successfully getting rid of 98-99% of all spam. Maybe I should set out a Spam Bait Trap like these guys did too? (Don't follow the link unless you want to see a never ending loop of randomly generated links and e-mail addresses designed to screw with automated e-mail harvesting programs. Why make their job easy eh? :) Too bad it's come to that.

OK, I promise, a "Superbit DVD" review soon. Hmmm...wonder if I should just convert this page into a Snowboarding/Backcountry Skiing page? : ) just kidding.