Why I Can (Usually) Enjoy Hollywood’s Take on SF

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In my work with SF authors, and as an avid reader of SF, I run into a lot of concerns about how Hollywood “does” SF. In this post, I offer a few thoughts on that for your consideration.
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Kenwood and Yaesu, where are you?

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ICOM’s IC-7300, r8500, IC-7610 and the currently upcoming IC-9700 are making huge impacts on AROs everywhere. This is no surprise to those of us familiar with SDR technology; older analog methods simply cannot offer the kinds of performance advantages a good SDR design can.

However, one thing these radios from ICOM have in common are some poor design choices; spectrum span choices are crippled compared to a center/demodulator tuning scheme; spectrums and waterfall displays that are insufficiently adjustable; noise blankers in the least useful portion of the signal path; insufficient “knobbiness”, so that the user interface of the radio is a great deal more clumsy than it actually needs to be.

The opportunity for Kenwood and Yaesu is clear: there’s an opening here to step in and knock ICOM off the hill they climbed up on.

Imagine a stand-alone SDR transceiver where:

  • You could conveniently place the spectrum/waterfall anywhere
  • You could adjust the amplitude/level of the waterfall and spectrum separately
  • The noise blanker reduced the noise on the display as well as in the audio
  • The display was capable of high resolution output to a monitor
  • Transmit pre-distortion provided very high quality TX
  • Important controls were given their own front panel placement
  • Full mouse/trackball integration was standard
  • Broadband IQ output was available for external use
  • Multiband EQ and compression / limiting for TX audio was provided

These are just some of the obvious places where ICOM’s radios, thus far, have fallen woefully short.

Yaesu? Kenwood? Where art thou?

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Walking for your Lunch

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I spend some effort managing my weight. One of the things I do, that most people can also do, is walk. Walking can buy you a free lunch, calorie-wise. Here’s the deal…
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Magic Mouse 2 – A Terrible Design

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So, I’m an Apple user. I have issues with Apple – I imagine most users have issues with them – but I like to think they don’t often make outright stupid design errors.

But.

This time, with the Magic Mouse 2, they did. Really.
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Something for the photo-oriented OS X user

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I have released the beta of DTank, a non-destructive image manipulation system. It’s free; if it sounds interesting, by all means check it out.

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New SW station in West Australia up and testing

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A new SW station is presently running test transmissions between 11:00 – 14:00 UTC. The transmitter is located near Perth, Western Australia, on 5,045 kHz, and is running 75 watts (300 PEP.) You can send listener reports to 77400fm@gmail.com.

At present, the station is ghosting the audio from sister station http://www.77400.fm/, so you can use that to confirm what you’re hearing.

It’ll likely be a tough catch here in the USA, but that’s the fun of it!

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On the likely inevitability of AI and AC

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We can (if we are honest) observe that progress, and the potential it unleashes in many cases, is not all that closely linked with what’s commercially available or common around the time of the fundamental invention. In the first decade after lasers were invented, for instance, there was no significant commercial application. When the integrated circuit was invented, it wasn’t much to look at and functionally speaking, for decades, it was outright pitiful compared to ICs today. We’re still dealing with developing a full understanding of how neurons do what they do. In laser parlance, in 2017 we are yet pre-laser, and in my opinion, anyone who tries to tell us that lasers, figuratively speaking, can’t do X at this point should be considered, at most, a hand-waver in the grips of a fit of profound hubris.
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2009 Mac Pro with DVI and HDMI displays – restart problems

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So I bought a new (old) Mac Pro; late 2009, 12/24 core, 64GB, NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 512 MB. It’s running macOS 10.12.3 Sierra. I hooked up one monitor to the HDMI port, and one to the DVI port. Seemed to work fine.

Until I rebooted the machine.

Then it refused to show the mouse pointer (Apple magic mouse), although It would warn of the mouse’s disconnect and reconnect if I powered the mouse up and down. Likewise, there was no response to the keyboard. It just sat there showing login options for me and a guest; it wouldn’t respond to anything at all I did with mouse or keyboard.

After trying power downs, pulling the plug for a while, pounding on the keyboard, powering the mouse up and down, I finally thought to pull a connection to a monitor. Specifically, the DVI-connected monitor. Immediately the mouse pointer showed up, and I was able to log in.

Up to this point, I had the machine set up so that the HDMI monitor was on the left, and was my home (boot screen) monitor. That’s the one you drag the menu bar to in the Prefs / Displays panel. But I noticed when the machine booted, it showed up on the DVI monitor first, then the HDMI monitor, and then it locked up.

So, still booted up after all this screwing around, I swapped monitor cables, then set the DVI monitor to be the home monitor, as the left monitor was now my DVI-connected monitor instead of my HDMI-connected monitor.

Now the machine restarts cleanly, or at least, it has a few times in a row.

So if you’re having this kind of problem, after the login screen shows, try pulling one or the other or both of the monitor cables to see if it will unlock the mess. And make sure the DVI monitor is your home monitor once you get things running again.

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