Day Eight

I am currently starting day eight of my fourteen day self-isolation. My first day in this position, the very day after BJ announced these conditions, was my birthday. I had a new TV delivered. It didn’t seem so bad, I had time to sort out the entertainment room while also keeping in touch with my duties at work. The new TV was precisely the fault of me “popping” into Richer Sounds and seeing an advert for a Philips Ambilight television on one of their brochures. The price seemed good and I do have a Philips lighting system at home. Along with 4K [I’m skeptical] and HDR it didn’t take much for me to decide to get it delivered.

Blank Wall For TV
Blank Wall For TV

The TV was placed up and the 4K system tested. Now, it turns out the AV Amp and HDMI switch doesn’t pass through the 4K and HDR signal. This is a touch annoying. I devise a work around where HDMI cables go straight to the TV and then sound is returned to the Amp via ARC. That didn’t work, I couldn’t get the ARC signal to send. Not sure why but it was probably one of those tiny settings somewhere deep within the menu system. I must have looked through the TV menus over twenty times. It’s a terrible menu system by the way. So, next option was to use an optical cable to output 5.1 sound from the TV to the amp. I didn’t have a cable long enough so had to wait. For one evening I had to watch TV and have the sound come from the TV’s own speakers [horror].

Next day an optical cable was delivered and the sound signal was tested. Now I would have 5.1 sound output by the TV to the Amp. This seemed livable with. Except it wasn’t. My Amp is 7.2, the PS4 outputs 7.1 and two of my speakers would now be redundant. I tried. I honestly tried. The convincing factor that I wouldn’t cope with this was the sound delay needed adjusting for all inputs. This meant changing the AV-Sync settings whenever I switched TV source. There were too many little bits in between the sight and sound signals. What a disaster.

I went searching through all the instruction manuals [in PDF format on my computer] and sought a solution. I couldn’t find one. What I needed [ha, “needed”, what an interesting word] was an amplifier that would throughput 4K and HDR along with separating out the sound signals keeping my home system as it is. It didn’t take long to find what I wanted. So, I ordered the Sony STR-DN1080.

When it arrived I reckon it took two hours to unplug the entire old system and then wire up the new amplifier. I left the auto-calibration for another day when it wouldn’t be so un-neighbourly and just set up the basics. I checked the inputs worked, check the TV signal, checked the 4K throughput and HDR rendering. It worked and there was no sound delay, or if there was it was consistent between all modules to make the settings consistent.

Gran Turismo looks bloody gorgeous in HDR, can’t believe I’ve been missing this.

I Parish

The lounge is now fully equipped although no longer 3D compliant. The system works well and I have been really impressed with all aspects of it. The ambilight system is very impressive. I can even link the TV light system to existing coloured lights in the house and I did this with a LED strip I had. The strip is on the ceiling in the lounge and looks really nice. But, when connected to the ambilight on the TV it floods the whole room with changing light that is, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, too much. I disconnected that system. Maybe if my lounge was bigger than its current form it would be less overpowering. Can you believe I actually turned a TV feature off!

Entertainment Corner [asymmetric]
Entertainment Corner [asymmetric]

Above is nearly all of entertainment corner. There is a Sonos unit just hidden to the top right, it uses an optical cable to send signals to the amplifier, you can just see two wires top right, one is white [power] another is grey [optical]. So, here we have from the top; a BluRay player, PS4, Shield TV, Amplifier, PSVR unit. Yes, the cabling is a mess. No, I am not going to sort it out – I’m lucky enough that this all fits in this space. If I had rear access I might get in there and fiddle around. Yes, the USB Gran Turismo back up memory stick looks terrible. Yes, the USB hub needs sorting out, I have a plan. Yes, it is asymmetric, but I really like that so I don’t care. Yes, they are Lego bricks separating each unit for heat flow purposes and no, I won’t change that.

Entertainment Centre
Entertainment Centre

This is not a blank wall anymore. I’ve got quite a nice TV along with a decent sound system and games console. All I have to do now is avoid buying the PS Turbo or whatever it’s called. I think I can probably manage to do that.

I did have the issue of what to do with the old TV. I’m not really a TV in the bedroom kinda guy. Bedrooms are for few purposes and watching television is not one of those. I used to find it frustrating with an ex when she watched Tv in bed and all I wanted to do was sleep. The TV programmes were very poor too. I think that’s the first time I became aware of Gillian McKeith, she was presenting a TV show called “You Are What You Eat” which is true but not in the way she meant it. I remember her talking about eating raw seeds and how the whole plant’s energy entered you. It was a seed. Just a seed. Fucking dangerous bullshit.

So, the older television is now on the wall in the dining room. I’ve connected a Roku device to it so I can stream the audio-visual medium to the screen. I have plans to buy a Raspberry Pi and use that as a information screen type thing or possible to have live plane details on the screen. I’m not sure yet what to do with it. Putting this TV up did require some drilling etc but it was fun. When looking at the TV there is an issue where it doesn’t look horizontal but it is, the problem is the ceiling coving which isn’t level. If I had the uber-PS I could place the current PS4 with the dining room screen but I won’t be doing that.

Dining Room Black Mirror
Dining Room Black Mirror

My current project is to build a display onto the DR screen. My Shield TV already has Dakboard running as its screen saver and I quite like that but I don’t really want to pay for the full version so I am looking into using a Raspberry Pi and either a browser running on that in full screen with a self refresh timer or some software that will run a display board. I guess there are plenty out there. So, wait for the news on that.

Lights

Before all this madness I decided I would buy a new TV. I kinda figured that most screens are similar and so it was other features I wanted. I went for a 4K HDR screen [I’m not fussed about the sound, I have a separate system for that] and also Ambilight. Philips make TVs with the Ambilight system. There are LEDs around the back of the screen and they project colours onto the wall matching areas of the picture on the TV. This is what it looks like:

I do have some sound issues at the moment because my current amplifier won’t pass through 4K signals. I’m in the process of fixing that. But the screen and picture are great. The colours on the wall are pretty amazing. I did have the signal linked up to an LED strip but it was too overpowering! I had to turn that one off.

Untruth

There’s been quite a bit of moral outrage recently at the Jeremy Kyle show and that it should be removed from television permanently. I haven’t really paid attention to what has happened, as I understand it someone died and the show has been stopped from broadcasting for a while. Newspapers and social media have been very loud about how the show should be pulled completely.

Why does it take something bad to happen for people to be open about what they think is right and wrong? All of this moral outrage wasn’t there two weeks ago when the Kyle show was still on television. There wasn’t anyone loudly calling for it to be stopped. It took the death of someone for the media to declare that they thought it was a bit shit all the time. They did fuck all for many years.

This is strange. This effect that it takes a large news cycle for the media and opinion makers to declare something as bad even though it’s been around for years. What sort of behaviour is this? Where was all the complaining before something terrible happened? I’ll tell  you what, it wasn’t bad enough for the media t give a shit, but that someone died before they spoke was terrible.

I have, in the past, watched a lot of Jeremy Kyle. I used to think it did some good. I thought that it helped people to talk to each other in a safe space when the rest of the world didn’t give a shit. It allowed the chance for people to communicate. I was probably wrong to think this. We shouldn’t forget that Kyle is a television show. It’s there to entertain and make money at a basic level and it probably did little to help its stars.

My biggest problem with the Kyle show was the use of a lie detector. Here was have a television show with a purported “helping people” theme and they relied on the utter bullshit that is a lie detector. The polygraph doesn’t work. It’s incredibly difficult to tell when people are lying. The TV show used the lie detector to try and solve family issues, people’s future relationships relied on the results of a flawed piece of equipment. Families will have been broken up because of the reliance on the polygraph and its results.

The idea that the show declared the truth or lies as fact was an appalling use of a bullshit piece of theatre – the polygraph. It doesn’t work. I guess the show tried to disclaimer the use of the detector with an on-screen caption saying that “it doesn’t work but some people believe it”. That’s what religion does. It’s horrific the hurt and separation using this device caused.

Do you know why polygraph results aren’t permitted in UK courts? It’s because they don’t work. It’s incredibly difficult for humans to tell when other humans are lying. I’ll let you into my reasoning.

Humans learn from toddler age that lying works. The individual will receive rewards for lying, as long as they can keep that lie going. Humans have spent their entire lives lying at times. This behaviour is learnt and used almost constantly. Little lies are easy. Larger lies are more difficult but they get easier with time. It’s amazingly easy to convince yourself that something happened when it didn’t. Human memory is terrible. Eye witnesses shouldn’t be allowed in courts but that is for another time.

I’ll give you an anecdote, which isn’t evidence, but it personalises the story and allows you to connect rather than just concentrate on the plain facts.

Years ago I ran over a pothole on a bend in the road near my village. The weather had been incredibly poor and there were potholes all over the place. The sudden compression on my left front suspension broke the spring and by the time I got to work the other spring had broken through excessive weight on it.

I tried to make a claim through the local council for the damage, claiming that the road was in poor condition. However, I didn’t want to take photographs in the road where the pothole was, it would not be safe to take measurements on that corner. So, I took photographs of a pothole just inside the village, it was of a similar size and depth and along a route that I drive. To ensure that, if questioned, I referred to the nearer pothole I kept going over the story in my head. I also visualised my driving the car over that pothole over and over. I talked through the story while walking the dog and basically formed a memory of me breaking the car by driving over the pothole near the village.

Even now, after more than ten years, if asked I would immediately respond that the pothole was in the village. I would then question myself and remember what had actually happened. With just a little understanding of human memory it is easy to adjust what we “know”. Memory is fascinating and terrible. Humans are terrible.

Being Dutiful

A short while back I finished watching the television series called “Tour Of Duty“. There were three seasons and I enjoyed all of them. I thought it was well acted and well written. It was a good series to watch. It also reminded me of watching it while I was at university but I doubt I watched the whole series back then.

I really did spend some time worrying about what to watch next. It seems weird to settle down in front of the television and not know what to watch and as I have got rid of all live decoding equipment I must have something that I intend to watch, I can’t just scan through the channels until I find something to numb the mind. I would probably find this an annoying waste. I try to make sure that my time is employed productively and staring at something I don’t care about would bug me.

I’ve got Brooklyn 99 on the go as a kind of filler, it’s about 25 minutes and so is easy to watch now and then when I want to fill some time. But I needed something serious to watch as well. I spent two years watching Babylon 5 and enjoyed it all. I’m kinda watching Star Trek Voyager on Netflix but only now and then when I want something else to watch. I might spend the next few years working through all of the Star Trek stuff, that should be fun.

While I was out for a run about a week ago I listened to Skeptics With A K, a Merseyside based podcast about science and skepticism, and Marsh mentioned the early 2000s series Farscape as an alternative to watch while Dr Who was off the air. Some other shows were mentioned but that struck a chord with me and I was desperate to remember that series to search for it once I got home.

Farscape reminds me of watching the television when I lived in Brentwood. I shared a house with some other reprobates and I think we got a digital TV box which was quite exciting back in the day. The actual house was horrible, there was a split down the entire front centre of the house and the windows in my bedroom didn’t shut properly which is fine in the summer but I had two duvets and extra blankets over me in the winter. I think I lived there just over a year before I moved back to Kent.

Anyway, when I remember Farscape I remember the lounge in that house and the people I lived with. Well, I can remember two of them particularly but some others I can’t even remember faces. I worked not far away in Brentwood at the time and our immediate neighbour was a pupil of mine.

Anyway, I have found Farscape on Amazon Prime and have started to work my way through that television series. I am enjoying it so far. When it premiered I remember it being hailed as an Australian series with Jim Henson puppets and the market was definitely there.

There are four seasons and a spin-off series I think. Let’s see how long it takes me to get through this!

Watching

Here’s a boring list of the things I am watching at the moment on the television screen. By at the moment I don’t mean right now or all at once, I mean separately and over a period of time.

  • Tour Of Duty – current DVD box set. Episodes tweeted when watched.
  • Brooklyn 99 – it’s OK.
  • Black Mirror – when new episodes are released.
  • NFL – all the time until mi-Feb and then I feel lost for eight months.
  • Cats Does Countdown – just the perfect mix of maths and humour.
  • Terrible science fiction films – I think I’ve watched all the good ones but I do like a space film.
  • Star Trek Voyager – I’ve seen plenty of Star Trek but not much of this one. Working my way through before doing TNG or something similar.
  • Preacher – lovely comic book small screen translation.
  • Killjoys – when it comes back.
  • The Expanse – when that comes back also.

Also, here’s a photograph of a building I’ve been to recently:

REM Gillingham
REM Gillingham

Now, there’s an idea for a series of communications – a picture of the front of each building I enter. Could be fun! But I think I’ll wait until the album review series is complete.

Killjoys

While I wait for my brain to remember the important communication I keep thinking I should write I thought it worthwhile to add a little nothing to this site. So, recently I have been re-watching the TV series Killjoys. I think I’ve seen only the first series before, although it was packed with so much story I thought I may have seen two, and there are three series available from various content providers.

So, the plan is to watch season 1 and 2 on Netflix and then search around for a free(er) version of season 3. If I don’t find one I’ll pay Amazon for the privilege of being entertain for about ten hours. That seems reasonable to me. I’m happy to pay if the services are worth it.

Let’s just point out that Netflix content isn’t free as I pay a monthly subscription. But it is a “watch what you can” subscription. I’m reasonably sure that live TV will disappear soon. I don’t watch it. Why should I? I don’t want to have to sit down at an allotted time to watch a live show which could contain adverts to spoil my viewing. I watch everything on catch up.

Radio may just about survive. I still listen to Radio 4 for news and documentaries but only if they are on while I am in the kitchen. I don’t observe the timings sheet to make sure I tune in for a particular show.

President – Season 45

The ebb and flow of the tide continues as I watch the latest season of President, the virtual reality television show. This ground breaking production has, over 44 seasons, had its ups and downs. Here’s a small review:

I first became aware of the world of President during season 39. The scriptwriters had been slogging out the device they called the Cold War but the ratings must have dropped so they decided to fill the lead role with someone who was a washed up actor, it was considered as good as the genius of Birdman in its day. Hollywood just loves stories about Hollywood and actors.

Season 40 saw a thawing in the Cold War story and, when viewing figures dipped, the writers orchestrated an assassination attempt, borrowing from some of the highlights of seasons 16, 20, 25 and 35. As a brave turn the writers wanted to include a line about the decay of mental abilities in old age, raising awareness and so had the development of a President in early stage dementia. In a meeting about diversity the writers had created a strong female character but had her only as a senior world leader elsewhere, they didn’t believe the viewership was ready for the idea of a strong woman in the main part of their story. Using the internal rules of the series developed somewhere around season 33 they had to change lead actors and so the next President Season 41 was produced.

A war abroad wasn’t enough of a revolutionary choice to keep Season 41 alive but their special effects of burning oil fires encompassing a whole desert deservedly won awards and helped create a new industry. The audience was tired of wars overseas and the ratings dived. The woman leader of a small island was replaced by a grey, dull man and there didn’t seem to be anything special in the pipeline.

A change of writers saw a new team take the helm of USS White House [the studio’s nickname for the show]. What happened during Season 42 was the creation of a few long burning story lines to arc over many seasons. These initial moves were complete sideline plots. A story about banking regulation and development of a terrorist organisation from the past highlights of secret CIA funding in a sandy country.

These slow fuse stories were kept ticking over while they used the salacious details of sexual abuse of power in the White House to keep the ratings up. They even had 42 in court and accused of lying. Another peace keeping mission in a foreign country kept the gun-nut viewers happy with newsreel shot showing camouflaged men shooting.

The genius of this season was to place the lead character as a caring democratic fan while at the same time writing in an economic boom giving the opportunity for easing of the financial rules and sucking up to big business. The internal struggles of the writers to create a person who could brag about helping and caring while ruining the regulation that keeps the populous safe and licking the dicks [and clits] of rich people showed as they tore themselves apart and a team of new writers was brought in.

The original writers moved to another studio and set up the show “PM” where they created a leader of a small island who, during a financial boom, broke down regulation to allow more financial flexibility for business. Brilliantly, being Hollywood, they created a vain man obsessed with his image in the media. As I said earlier, Hollywood loves stories about Hollywood.

While the anti-climactic ending of this season developed the writers went for familial connections and had President 43 be the son of President 41. He came along to finish the work his daddy had started in season 41.

Only a few months into Season 43 the writers, with the stable old white man in the big job, went brave. They destroyed a group of iconic buildings on the New York set. They killed thousands in a highly rated episode for its terror and horror. These scenes would be played over and over raising so much money for the studio. At the same time they embedded their lead in the place of innocence, a primary school. This superposition garnered many awards, especially with the written reaction of the President, we can see his brain unable to cope with the news that his country is under attack. This story line had started with Season 41 and the war in a sandy place. His daddy’s war.

Now, the audience seemed ready for a long and messy overseas war. The writers worked hard on creating the evidence from past seasons but they just didn’t have the excellence in the team and they fell short. None of the claims made by the lead characters in President or PM [now running a joint storyline] held up to scrutiny when looking at the back story. The public were annoyed that new plot lines just appeared and hadn’t been developed within the franchise. Hollywood was accused of making-shit-up. This is, to be fair, their job but the public still moan about the lies told within the President universe and the way many smaller characters were written out of the series through deaths in those wars in more sandy places. Filming in deserts seems easy enough.

The last ditch attempt to overcome this viewer anger was to create unrest in the President universe by using a new plot device on the actions of financial de-regulation of earlier seasons. A western world financial crash towards the end of Season 43 caused massive personality hardships for the lead characters and a new approach was needed to get the ratings back.

Season 44 was ground breaking. A black actor was cast as President. The writers had discovered a seam of pure viewing gold. Having 44 working tirelessly and seeming to do good in the world, balancing intelligence and humour while being photogenic helped. They even created a lasting, genuine bond between 44 and his second lead, who, to keep the racist viewers happy was white. Keeping the soap opera theme going they brought back the wife of 42 giving the senior characters oestrogen along with colour. Every now and then the racist-side characters would mimic the accusations of some of the viewers and pipe-up in the calling for proof that this man was eligible for the main job. They kept this theme running using ingenious plot devices of stupid business leaders and a dodgy news channel called Fox, because it’s one letter away from Fux, created as an internal joke a couple of seasons ago.

The writers plan was to have the economy improve over time and the wars to end slowly. There was still some torture and wrongful imprisonment, but they figured that it would only raise the viewing figures as people wondered whether the new black demi-god would fall from grace. Unfortunately the viewers don’t like characters being nice, they don’t like stable. The audience wanted scandal. The writers tried to raise figures by killing the leader of the terror attack from the beginning of Season 43 but the studio declared it wasn’t enough.

There were hints of the crazy to come as Season 44 marched towards the now standard season ending climax when the next lead character is revealed. All along the discussion process they had placed a well qualified woman against a fucking moron of a woman-abusing racist. This person had been a low, rarely occurring character during previous seasons best known for excluding black people from his properties during Season 38 and then more recently as an horrific television host with a glamorous wife whose show was glimpsed on the screens in the background of family discussions moving forward the main story line. He had even had some role in the undermining of 44’s leadership as a habitual user of the newly developed plot device of social media.

Only history and the release of minutes of meetings will determine who the fuck ordered the JUMPING SHARK. Someone ordered the writers to appeal to the dumbest arseholes in the viewership by having the orange monkey win the competition to be the next lead in Season 45.

The whole world of viewers, followers, and critics alike raged at the placement of an idiot in charge of the USS White House in the current season. Suspicion is abound that the writers had been meeting with the rival team over at PM and had used their idea of a shitstorm of plots where the small island votes to leave a community and club worth much in financial and social terms to themselves but they were too short-sighted to see it. The PM writers had gone with a script of chaos and the ratings just leapt.

So, now we have Season 45. After jumping the shark the writers are working hard keeping the crazy going. Now, the whole world is watching and the viewing figures are higher than ever. All the talk around the world at the water-cooler, or shared kettle, is about what will happen next in this crazy universe of President Season 45.

To list all the crazy so far would be impossible but having a lying, sexual abusing, bullying racist as their lead means the writers can do whatever they want. The only limit is their imagination. They’ve had the President say that racists are fine people, the President accuse his accusers of lying, a whole range of actors brought in to some senior roles, a dick-size battle played out internationally, collusion and collaboration with a foreign power, speeches of ramblings and unintelligence, bragging of power and general fuckery.

Whatever follows in the next season is going to be a downturn. They can’t maintain this level of crazy for ever. The viewers will get tired of it and this critic looks forward to the next season of President being humdrum and quiet with a return to social caring.

Babylon 5

Babylon 5
Babylon 5

Babylon 5 is a space station 5 miles long. The adventures of this ship are chronicled in the TV documentary Babylon 5. Using interviews, memoirs, video messages and data harvesting a company managed to recreate what life will be like on Babylon 5. There are some stark warnings from the future for the current political elite.

So this tweet was dated 4th April 2014. That’s when I started working my way through Babylon 5. If I had paid more attention to when I started watching this then I would have tried to tweet the following two days earlier:

So, it took me three years and 2 days to complete the series. I don’t think that’s too bad. There’re 120 or so episodes and that averages out at one episode every ten days. It was a damn enjoyable experience. Jase gave me the box set a long time ago and I’ve been using them as a way of stabilising thoughts and also watching sci-fi. I haven’t stayed exclusive to this series and I have watched others along the way.

The stories are excellent and this show deserves the accolades it gets. I really enjoyed it. Obviously some episodes aren’t as good as others but overall this was a great TV show.

I am currently working through the spin-off series, Crusade, but there is only one series of that. Then there will be the B5 films.

If you want to see when I watched all the episodes of B5 then look at my offline-online twitter archive and search for “Babylon 5”.

Psych

I recently completed watching the entire run of Psych. That might make it sound like I did a complete binge-watch of eight seasons but I have completed the show over seven years. I watched some on terrestrial TV, I recorded some from ITV4 and I also bought the DVDs when I got to the last four series.

I have enjoyed the show thoroughly. It is well acted, written and photographed. I consider it a good use of my time. Like many of the TV shows I have loved it mixed developed characters with fun, jokes and seriousness. I even sat on my sofa and laughed out loud on occasions. Dulé Hill and James Roday were perfect in the lead roles and this is the second series I have watched with Dulé Hill, the previous being The West Wing, a show that left me with similar feelings to this one. Anyway, Mr Hill responded to my message:

So this was a nice touch from someone who I assume is a nice person. However, I would also add that I have no wish to meet my heroes as they would all too easily disappoint.

In other news, but not new news, as this happened ages ago I got followed on Twitter by John Forbes Nash. Yes, that John Forbes Nash. I have no idea why he followed me or how he found me on Twitter. I was quite excited by this. I was also very saddened when he died in May 2015.

Trap Door

Amazon have upgraded their Prime membership [and charge more at the same time]. I think this has something to do with them buying LoveFilm and then rebranding the who shebang. Fair enough.

The streaming video service is now called Prime Instant Video. If you have a Prime subscription it now includes a number of free films and videos over the internet to a device with the right software. My television has the right software and so I can now watch this streaming service using the following devices in my house [if I wanted]:

  • Television
  • Tablet PC
  • PS3
  • PS4
  • iPhone
  • Tablet

It seems ridiculous that so many devices can be used to bring entertainment to me. What a wonderful world.

I’m not sure I’ll spend a lot of time watching streaming video, but if I do I will let you know. My boys, however, will watch this and we found ourselves browsing the free kids’ section over the weekend. The usual kids stuff was there:

  • Peppa Pig
  • SpongeBob Squarepants

We also found that the programme Trap Door was available. This was good news for me. I can remember watching it when it first came out. It was, for a while, my favourite programme and I really enjoyed it.

Trap Door

I have just checked and this show first came out in the mid-80s and so this fits in where I thought it did in my life [I was slightly worried that it might have been an early 90s thing, which would mean that I loved the show when I was at university, quite likely but worrying].

This show is worth watching. It’s short. Funny. Well scripted. Apart from the resolution I don’t think it has aged.

Give it a go.