BWAAAAAHHHHH!!!

King of the Hill memes are a wonderful thing and this is no exception but it led me to notice something ridiculous

The internet is only an imaginary construct to the Hills. Please note the shadowed gray circle to the left of center on the back of the iMac G3.

That is the IEC power jack.

I cannot think of any point in the show at which a power cord was seen plugged into that jack.

In addition, when Peggy’s iMac was first seen, it was a “Bondi Blue” tray-load model. Later, as seen here, it became a slot-load model (the 400 mhz through 1.2 ghz models at the end of the iMac G3’s run used the same physical chassis). This model is one of the later “flavors”, either Blueberry or Indigo.

This suggests that the Hills were so strangely attached to this imaginary technology that they UPGRADED at some point, still without plugging power into the iMac.

In addition, well… let me point out how few games were ever released for this platform, making Hank’s playing “Pro-Pain” a very unlikely detail.

Thank you for your attention to my silliness. If you stick around, I may also go into a fun explanation of how ridiculous Channel 84’s technical operations are…

So as for Channel 84… I always laugh inappropriately at the scene where Nancy drives the news van into the active wildfire in “Gone With The Windstorm”.

This van is seen equipped with, well, the usual equipment in electronic news gathering/live broadcast vans, with an extendable mast on the truck roof that has a microwave transmitter on it to send the live video and audio back to the station.

At the time this episode was produced (May 2005) it is doubtful that any modern video over bonded cellular systems like Dejero (gah!), LiveU, or TVU (just give me back the Dejero! ARGH!) existed, so I’m going to rule out the possibility that one of those was in use.

Generally these trucks are sent out with at least two people onboard – a reporter and a trained technician/photographer who will set up the microwave link once on scene, and the reporter.

The microwave link is HIGHLY directional and only works line of sight. You have to aim it right at the receiver that leads back to the studio and this usually requires a little game of hot and cold talking to a tech back at the studio until you get the signal peaked. If you don’t have the mast raised, which takes several minutes, it’s unlikely you will get this clear LoS and be able to send back usable video. The dish is in a stowed position when you’re driving the truck around, which basically aims it at the truck roof.

The trucks also have a generator onboard to power the video processing equipment, switcher, and microwave transmitter, and if you don’t have this running, you’re not getting a shot in.

The camera that Dale puts on his shoulder is likely one with manual focus, white balance, and iris settings. At first I thought it’s unlikely that he’d be used to dialing these in to get a good picture, but I couldn’t rule out that he’s used this type of camera before to make his weird conspiracy theory videos and stuff.

That being said.. they pull up, Nancy jumps out of the truck, Dale aims the camera at her, and POP— they just appear on a monitor back at the station and are punched up live on air as Nancy’s eyebrows get torched off.

The switcher setup looks really undersized and terrible for a live news operation, but then again, it IS implied that Channel 84 is kinda rubbish, considering that they pass off an air conditioner on the roof as a Doppler weather radar.

Some kinda freaking magic.

Also, I always wonder what happened to the new weather guy. Did he just… die of laughter or something and thusly disappear as a character, never to be seen again?

Well, somewhere, engineering was attempted

Here’s a supermicro that pissed us off this week. It’s from 2015 and clearly got dumped on us as the result of a certain “text-that-gets-scrolled-on-the-bottom-of-the-news” vendor cleaning out back stock when my workplace ordered a new system.

Blaarffff. It literally seems like the bios doesn’t like certain monitors, and you have to fight it for hours to get video. You’d think with a vendor like Supermicro you’d get a board built with better parts but this thing looks like a damn Soyo. Remember Soyo? They drove themselves out of business by delivering dumpshit. This Supermicro sure looks like overpriced dumpshit complete with “hey look it’s 2001 again” capacitors.

More folderol to follow

Read more “Well, somewhere, engineering was attempted”

Snap, Crackle, Pop! Triax Crispies.

I’ve always found the old school triax connections used for some studio cameras….. charming. Triaxial cable looks mostly like a RG-6-ish coax with another dielectric layer and another braid over it, with the end result looking a bit more like RG-11… until you see the freaking WEIRD connector it terminates into. It’s like a ginormous shell around a BNC. Trust me when I say you do not want to be coiling this cable up and have the connector fly over and smack you in the— uhhh— output spigot and terminating resistor. OW. But anyway—

Cameras hooked up by triax can be powered over the triax. To do so, the Camera Control Unit (CCU) sends a high voltage – 120-170 vdc I think, down the cable, between the outer and inner braids. A DC/DC converter inside the camera powers it and any ancillary equipment like lights hooked up to the 12v output it provides. It works great, but you MUST ensure that the voltage has been removed from the cable before unplugging it. On some systems, it seems like powering down the camera tells the CCU to stop sending that voltage (or it drops to just a few volts – just enough for it to power whatever onboard the camera tells the CCU that the cam is connected and requesting to be powered up?). Anyway— at my old station I had a few instances where someone would unplug the cable hot and it would make the camera mad or even carbon-track the plastic inside the connector.

Today I found out what happens if the cable ITSELF gets angry:

tri-axial foaming cable

From top to bottom: The outer jacket with subtle black mark from the fault within, the middle dielectric and inner braid, and the outer braid, which frayed then burned in half at the fault location.

The ridges are from the connector’s strain relief. This fault occurred right behind the connector, where the cable was getting flexed a lot.

The CCU reported the cable was shorted out, and this was confirmed by a resistance reading of about .15 ohm at the connector on that end as measured by the onboard multimeter on a Tektronix 2236

All three elements of the cable – the center conductor, inner braid, and outer braid were shorted together.

I was able to lop off the end of the cable and remake the connector. The connectors we had in stock were circa 1996 and were made by Kings about, oh, two corporate umbrellas ago. Currently they’re under Winchester Interconnect and Winchester has no documentation on the connector including what the strip lengths are for the layers of the underlying cable. Canare and Cinch have different takes on the same thing. I managed to get it back together with new parts for the center.


The center is pretty much a crimp type BNC. Not shown, the….. ridiculous oldschool clamp thing used to hold the outer braid to the connector body, nor the giant ball-bonker connector body itself.


Not sure if it’s the world’s most perfect installation, but hey, it passed the Smoke Test and the camera’s back up on it and in service.

dave what are you doing DAVE STAHP

I installed this board a couple years ago in Redding and then I see this on Facebook

Congratulations, you win a free upgrade to this shitty old Arrakis 1200 I dragged out of the e-waste bin.

That being said, You Can Decrease The Likelihood Of Damaged Consoles With This One Weird Trick: use consoles with a vertical front surface. Here’s an SAS like that, I stole the pic off someone else’s post and forget where it is but it’s slick.

Many early consoles had this layout, using big chunky rotary faders.

SAS has also replicated this with the Dees Digital, designed to meet Rick Dees’ desire to have a modern board with digital routing but with the classic rotary pots and vertical panel. It’s a beauty.

And now, additional folderol

Join Hands, Let Go

When browsing Facebook or other places you may have come across this GIF of a guy having a ketchup bottle go all Old Faithful on him and wondered just what’s going on here.

via GIPHY

Sorry (not sorry), but you’re about to take a trip down the rabbit hole here. Bear with me, this is a strange tale.

A few of you may also seen the most perplexing piece of film that this came from, most likely by way of RiffTrax. But what actually is this? Why was it made?

Amazingly, RiffTrax seems to be the only place I’ve found the video online. It’s worth paying them a dollar for what they do to gaze upon this… weirdness… and ponder along with all of us.

The reactions to most people after having seen it are similar to mine – see this Facebook thread for lots of mass confusion.

After being suitably confused by this and the fact that it was apparently produced and distributed (where?) by Encyclopedia Britannica, I reached out to them for the mysterious background behind this film.

Much to my surprise… I got an answer from them. Here’s the story:

Hi Tom,

 

Thanks for asking about the Britannica film “Join Hands, Let’s Go” (1969). This film was part of a series called Magic Moments, which was produced for elementary-school classrooms through the Encyclopaedia Britannica Educational Corporation.

 

More information about the concept behind the series can be found in this blog post, about a different film in the series: http://blogs.britannica.com/2013/09/britannica-classic-videos-magic-sneakers-1969. Essentially, Magic Moments films were “designed to be ambiguous in order to promote thinking and provoke discussion among elementary students.”

 

The following text, from a 1970s print ad, may give you an additional idea of what the series was aiming for:

 

“Today, we helped teachers hear from the silent minority. You’ll be delighted with the way even the ordinarily withdrawn child will respond to our imaginative Magic Moments film series. And your entire language arts class will react to these full-color 16 mm sound films with enthusiasm you never believed possible! Minds become unlocked. Verbal skills are encouraged that help develop reading and writing skills.  And children are eager to accept assignments. An ideal supplement to our Language Experiences in Reading program. Magic Moments should be seen to be fully appreciated. Twenty unique films in all—send for one film to examine at your leisure. You’ll see why Magic Moments makes the silent minority want to be heard.”

 

No doubt, these films are rather…odd. But hopefully, this context makes them a bit less baffling.

 

Best,

 

John M. Cunningham

Manager, Audience Engagement

Encyclopaedia Britannica

Well, if the goal was to be ambiguous and stimulate discussion, this worked— perhaps a little too well, along with a colossal air of mystery. I have to wonder how many language arts classes were filled with confusion and laughter by these film reels…

There shall be cuddles

There is no such thing as personal space when you have an extremely cuddly cat. Sorry for the blurry images here.

Also, Comcast seems to have stepped up their irritating deep packet inspection and munging that makes WordPress hard to use, but more on that when I don’t have a cat on my shoulder