Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Think Your Cellphone Conversation is Safe?


Computer hackers this week said they had cracked and published the secret code that protects 80 per cent of the world’s mobile phones. The move will leave more than 3bn people vulnerable to having their calls intercepted, and could force mobile phone operators into a costly upgrade of their networks.

Monday, December 28, 2009

On Line Manufacturer Outlets

There are some good deals to be had online from the manufacturers direct.  Here's one example from the Harman group.  There are others...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

US House Passes CALM Bill to Lower Television Ad Volume

The U.S. House of Representatives, in a voice vote on the floor, has passed the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (HR 1084) and sent it to the Senate. The bill would require the FCC to create a loudness standard preventing broadcast commercials from being louder than the program material into which they are inserted. Several other countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil, France and Russia, have already established such legal standards.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Roy Disney Dies

Certainly changed things up at the Mouse... ushered in the Eisner era and tolerated the Iger era.

In retrospect, did quality suffer when as the company expanded ten fold?,0,5129215.story

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bosch Meltdown Continues

Midas and Klark Teknik are offloaded, presumably for the cash.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

California Approves New Standards on Energy-Hungry TVs

From the LA Times...
The California Energy Commission votes 5-0 in favor of the nation's first efficiency regulations for televisions of up to 58 inches sold in the state. The stricter rules take effect Jan. 1, 2011.

Starting in 13 months, new TV sets will have to meet energy-efficiency standards that slash the amount of electricity they consume. The regulations also will lower owners' monthly electric bills.

The first-in-the-nation criteria, approved unanimously Wednesday by the five-member California Energy Commission, is aimed at cutting the amount of electricity used by new high-definition TVs of up to 58 inches by a third starting Jan. 1, 2011. More stringent rules that take effect Jan. 1, 2013, would create a cumulative 50% power savings.

The standards don't apply to any of the approximately 35 million TV sets currently in use in California or units sold in the coming year.

"It's absolutely undeniable the benefits that this has for the people of California," said Commissioner James Boyd, an economist and former chief executive of the California Air Resources Board. "Efficiency is the cheapest and simplest way to save our citizens money, to provide a good quality of life and to drive our economy."

Since the sale of flat-panel televisions began to rocket early in the decade, TV-related power usage has more than tripled to 10 billion kilowatt-hours per year, accounting for nearly 10% of residential electricity consumption, said Commissioner Arthur Rosenfeld, a nuclear physicist and UC Berkeley professor.

Opponents called the new rules unnecessary and overbearing, and California consumers gave them decidedly mixed views Wednesday.

Many buyers say they welcome rules that would allow them to enjoy super-sharp pictures without feeling guilty about contributing to global warming.

"It saves energy, which saves the bottom line for the consumer, and for the big picture it helps save the environment," said Younger Hong, 35, a Web developer and teacher. Shopping at a Best Buy store in West Hollywood for a 40-plus-inch TV, he added, "TVs are one of the biggest energy consumers in the house; it's a good start."

But John Mayberry, an audio-video control systems engineer in San Marino, questioned the commission's priorities. "Their prioritization of what to do seems askew," he said. The state could find much more energy savings by going after waste in the antiquated electric transmission system, he said. Other critics have denounced the TV regulations as just one more instance of meddling by "nanny government."

The new regulations were fought by the Consumer Electronics Assn., a leading trade group based in Arlington, Va. "Simply put, this is a bad policy: dangerous for the California economy, dangerous for technology innovation and dangerous for consumer freedom," the group said.  In a statement, the association argued that the regulations would lead to higher prices, lost retail jobs and a decline in state tax revenue.

Full article:,0,4027697.story

Movie Popcorn Standards Upheld

In these trying times, the health freaks are even going after movie popcorn.   Fortunately, some stalwarts have maintained the old standards.... as it has been since the beginning of time, popcorn remains great nutritional value, chock full of life giving calories...

 "A medium-sized popcorn and medium soda at the nation's largest movie chain pack the nutritional equivalent of three Quarter Pounders topped with 12 pats of butter, according to a report released today by the advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest.",0,4003634.story

Apple Start Up Memorabilia

Interesting link:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Need a Good Chuckle Today?

The Chinese are suing Microsoft over software Intellectual Property rights....

Assuming of course someone in China actually paid Microsoft along the way...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How to Save $12k on Your System Cost

In these tough economic times, the MIT Oracle V1.3 Biwire cables at $29,999 per eight foot pair may seem a bit over the top. 

Perhaps you could go to their economy model, the V2.3. These list for only $17,999 per 8 foot pair for a twelve grand savings.

I don't make this up.

Nice Overview of Pico Video Projectors

Thursday, November 12, 2009

UN to RIAA- Stop with the Downloading Fines!

Hillary Rosen must be so proud today...  her legacy lives on...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Altec Lansing Name Sold Again

Plantronics dumps the name for $18 million.   The sad saga continues.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Where Did That Shot Come From?

Shotspotter.   GPS tracking for gunshots.  Just the thing for the innercity.

Friday, November 6, 2009

ESS AMT-1 Speaker Anniversary Production Run

I was down at the manufacturer a couple of weeks ago and they're planning a limited production run of 500 pairs of ESS AMT-1 speakers in Jaunary, which featured the Heil Air Motion Transformer.

The Heil driver was an electrostatic type kind, is based on the principle "which makes air compress and emit and reproduces sound", and was developed by Dr. Oscar Heil of the Heil science laboratory in the United States.

This unit has about 5.5kg ferrite magnet and structure which placed the element into the magnetic field constituted by lamination pole piece. This element is the shape of accordion pleats which the covering with the optimal dumping characteristic of a macromolecule can expand and contract freely.

The electric conduction belt is embedded on the pleat, the pleat which faced each other when signal current flowed pays well, and air in it is compressed and emitted. The next pleat spreads conversely and inhales air from the opposite side. As for the remaining half-cycle, this motion operates completely conversely in a half-cycle.

This pleat is summarized to 17, when it is made into area, it is large in 2 and about 230mm, and it has acquired efficiency higher than a horn loudspeaker by operation which moreover compresses and emits air.

The characteristic in which the heil driver was excellent with this structure has been acquired, and also sound was diffused by the pole piece from which the front and the rear surface are completely symmetrical structures, and have become a wide angle, and the extensive directivity near indirectivity is realized.

Moreover, the element part has realized 20 microseconds and a very early standup at 5kHz on the structure by the covering (0.012mm) of a low-mass macromolecule.

Ouch! $200 to Use Your Apple Mini DisplayPort Input?

So you've spent $2k to get a fancy quad core 27" iMac with that new mini DisplayPort input connector.

If you want to use the display with an external source it'll cost you.  Turns our you need to buy an Atlona DVI to Mini DisplayPort adaptor to use it- add another $179.   If you use an AppleTV you'll need a scalar as well.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Microsoft Mission Viejo Store Opens- Over 1000 Wait in Line

"I like it," Percillia Chuajai, of Glendale, said. "All the music, all the colors – it's very exciting."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Foul Polling

Foul Polling

by John Mayberry

Recently we enjoyed a baseball game with seats near the third base line foul pole. For those of you not particularly enthralled with baseball, there are two tall upright foul poles mounted in professional baseball stadia (one per side) to judge whether a ball hit by the batter is either a home run or a foul ball hit into the stands. Sort of a vertical dividing line.

None of us have likely spent much time pondering foul poles before, but somewhere during the fourth inning it struck me that this was an extraordinarily useful low-tech device, with 100% reliability over its entire operating life cycle involving nearly 40 years. These foul poles have always performed their job to the complete satisfaction of thousands of users, in every imaginable weather condition and often under high stress situations. I suspect the foul pole’s only maintenance has been an occasional repainting. If only the equipment our industry offers could offer similar performance.

A more careful observation of the foul pole revealed a large number of dents in the perforated metal screening attached to the foul pole. Each dent made was clearly the result of an enormously powerful hit. Now some hits were more enormous than others, but there was clearly a higher concentration of dents near the pole bottom. There were a few dents in the middle section, and none towards the top. In over thirty years of use, not one single dent on the top twenty feet of the pole.

This would imply to me that there was not a significant amount of engineering or statistical sampling involved in the design of this particular set of foul poles. Clearly the poles could have been made twenty feet shorter and accomplished all of its original expectations. Yet I doubt anyone has ever complained about the poles being too tall. Some batters may have even felt complimented.

OK Mayberry, what wonderfully insightful parable are you pulling now? My point is that our industry is humbled in many ways by the lowly foul pole. These babies get the job done day in and day out. Even a baseball novice can clearly understand their functionality. They get the job done without any unnecessary aggravation.

The foul pole system never requires revised software, continual rebooting or recompiling. It does not require an operations manual, installation manual, training class, single line diagram, GUIs, user interfaces, detailed labeling, extensive commissioning or detailed reconfiguration. It is a simple and elegant device, devoid of unnecessary complexity and endless software, firmware, and hardware revisions. It is easily understood by all.

Take a moment and stare at your own designs or any piece of hardware on your desk right now. I’m looking at brand new telephone station. Just installed this week, along with dozens of other systems in a new building. I suppose if you write a column on Telecommunications, you should be able to figure out a simple desk phone. I get most of it, but there’s a couple of buttons I’m unsure of, and one that downright frightens me. It’s the one little red button labeled RIS. I had no idea was RIS meant unless I looked at it a second time and realized it was Rls. I’m presuming this means Release, as in drop someone from a conference call. I doubt I’m the only one with this confusion. No manual within miles to be seen. Truly a silly design effort not worthy of the multi-billion dollar telecom supplier from which it came.

Are we doing the same thing to your our clients? Is there a way to simplify your systems to make them a better overall product? Can the end user walk up to the system and intuitively operate it without a momentary panic setting in? Not too many years ago, changing the volume meant turning a knob, not some massive effort involving a pesky PC.

Try to remember the lowly foul pole. Sometimes low-tech can indeed be cool. And it may be entirely possible that an over-designed low tech system may be the right answer for your client’s application, regardless of your need to impress them with your technical prowess or expertise.

Sony Adds NetFlix Streaming to Playstation 3

A year after Microsoft, but with no annual fee...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Too Much Surveillance?

What happens when the perception overwhelms the public?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

First Application of Smart Grid for Resort Area

Worth a read...

Apple Vs. Dell

As you may already know, there's a long rivalry between Michael Dell and Steve Jobs.  It would appear that Jobs is winning...  read on...

Tired of Buying the Same Content on Different Formats?

Which version of cloud computing do you want- Sony's or Disney's?  I'm guessing Steve Jobs being on the board of Disney might influence the outcome.  Read on...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Treatment for Stopping Sound- 1/8" Thick, STC 27

The numbers claimed speak for themselves...

54 inches wide.
Available in full rolls 20', 30', 60'
Weight: 1 lb. per sq. ft.
Thickness: 1/8”

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mayberry to Start Writing Again

Frankly, I took a hiatus after writing for Live Sound International two years ago.  It was a disastrous experience.   A great example of what not to do in one's career...

I made the mistake of leaving a quality magazine (SCN) and joining a new magazine two months before the publisher and editor were fired- and replaced by a kid in order to save money!  Roughly five articles I wrote weren't published or paid for, and oddly I was blamed for following the terms of in our contract.

I'm not sure why they haven't renamed it "Line Array Magazine" yet, but it does seem the magazine should be delivered with a chain hoist.    My personal "tipping point" was when they published a piece involving Jutland and included a photo of a WWII Japanese battleship... The disconnect was utterly complete.

Anyway, I'll be using this forum to publish my works from now on.  The plus side is that "names can be named"- something not possible in an industry magazine.  The negative that I don't get that check at the end of the month any longer.   Hopefully our other endeavors will help cover the costs.  I may add some ads on the side column one day and you'll have to click a few to help me carry on.

Wish me luck,


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Android Mobile Operating System to Dominate

Google backed Android mobile phone system poised to domiate cell world...

Dell to Shut Down Winston-Salem Plant

Just opened four years ago.   Laying off 905 folks.

Apple Shuts Down iPhone Jailbreak

Apparently it's to shut down drug dealers, not increase their bottom line (and if you believe that whopper)...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Is Harman Abandoning the US Market as an Afterthought?

Read on and decide for yourself...

If you do nothing else today, read this!

Engineering to the rescue...

America is not going to bleed its wealth importing fuel. Russia's grip on Europe's gas will weaken. Improvident Britain may avoid paralysing blackouts by mid-decade after all.

The World Gas Conference in Buenos Aires last week was one of those events that shatter assumptions. Advances in technology for extracting gas from shale and methane beds have quickened dramatically, altering the global balance of energy faster than almost anybody expected.

Oops- Bad Day For Microsoft (And Cloud) Following T-Mobile Sidekick Snafu

By Chad Berndtson, ChannelWeb

9:20 AM EDT Mon. Oct. 12, 2009 Microsoft (NSDQ:MSFT) and T-Mobile have egg on their faces and it's another dark day for cloud-based services following word from T-Mobile that users of Sidekick -- the T-Mobile smartphone that gets software and online services through Microsoft's Danger subsidiary -- would not be able to recover personal data following a week's worth of Sidekick service outages.

T-Mobile confirmed over the weekend that user data such as contacts, stored photos and other information is probably gone forever, due to a technical glitch with Microsoft's servers. In a message posted to its Web site Saturday, T-Mobile admitted that any data not stored locally on users' Sidekicks has "almost certainly" been lost.

"Our teams continue to work around the clock in hopes of discovering some way to recover this information," wrote T-Mobile in the statement. "However, the likelihood of a successful outcome is extremely low."

T-Mobile didn't confirm how many of the 1 million or so Sidekick users have lost data in the outage. A T-Mobile spokesman told The Wall Street Journal that "we don't think it's a majority of the customers." A Microsoft spokeswoman further told the newspaper that it is an "extraordinary situation" and that Microsoft and T-Mobile "understand that and are working to do everything they can for customers."

Email Becoming Obsolete?

Hmmm...  going the way of Telex?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Whatever Happened to Global Warming?

Facts are facts... 

The warmest year recorded globally was not in 2008 or 2007, but in 1998. For the last 11 years we have not observed any increase in global temperatures.

Laser Microphone Unveiled at AES

David Schwartz's Laser Microphone to be unveiled at the Audio Engineering Society convention in New York this weekend.

According to his research, traditional microphones have a physical diaphragm that colors the sound recording and a laser accurate microphone can detect particle movement that usually hinders the quality of the captured sound.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Virgin Plans 200 Mbps Service in UK

Fiber optic networks are offering faster broadband speeds

Virgin Media is piloting broadband speeds of 200Megabit per second (Mbps) for a small group of users in the UK.
Following successful trials in the lab, 100 "lead adopters" in Kent will have access to the high speeds, believed to be among the fastest in the world.
Virgin will be using the high speeds to test applications such as 1080p high definition TV and 3DTV.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tired of Changing Projector Lamps?

Finally, a solution... from DP naturally...

Harman Opens Chinese R&D Office

And Paliwal's answer is:

Less Northridge, less Mexico, more China...

Stocks up 57%

Question of the Week

So what do Telefunken microphones, the Zimmerman telegram, the sinking of the Lusitania, and the cyclotrons that built America's atomic bombs in WWII have in common?

West Sayville, NY (on Long Island) would be a good place to look.

Mayberry Quoted in LA Times

Not your average hotel deals

In this economy, the hotel industry is coming up with unusual promotions to try to lure guests: Stay a night, get a tattoo or rent a Porsche.

At the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, some guests get a $75 voucher that can be used for a massage at the spa. Other hotels are also offering limited-time promotions instead of cutting room rates.
By Hugo Martín

October 3, 2009

Hoping to keep its 119 rooms filled, Hotel Erwin on Venice Beach is offering an unusual promotion for its countercultural clientele: an Ink and Stay package that includes $100 toward a tattoo and a bottle of tequila to numb the pain.Down the coast at the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego, guests who get the Hard Rock and a Hog deal can roll through the All-American City on a Harley Davidson motorcycle that comes complimentary with a two-night stay.

But for hotel perks, it's hard to beat the deal offered at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, where your stay comes with a free rental of a Mercedes, Porsche or BMW convertible.

As the U.S. hospitality industry struggles through one of the worst financial crises in more than 20 years, hotel managers are moving beyond the usual discounts and offering a wide range of creative promotions to attract business. Some deals offer big savings for guests, and others are simply meant to generate publicity.

If this all sounds desperate, it's for good reason. Occupancy rates nationwide have been hovering at below 60% this summer, the lowest levels since the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Hotel revenue per available room has dropped nationwide by nearly 20% this summer, to less than $60, the steepest dive in 22 years, according to industry reports. Even worse, hotel analysts don't expect the industry to rebound until 2011 or later.

Experts blame the slump on a "perfect storm" of conditions, including the recession, an increase in new hotel openings in the last two years and a dramatic drop in business travel as corporations cut budgets.Promotions and package deals have long been a staple of the hotel industry, particularly during slow periods. But industry experts say more hotels are relying on them to survive the recession. Not only are the deals more common but many are more creative than ever before.

But special promotion packages that include free dog toys and discounted tattoos don't work as well on business travelers. John Mayberry, an executive with a San Marino engineering company who travels for business nearly 20 times a year, said limited-time discounts and gimmick deals don't appeal to him. When he travels, he said he looks for a low rate, free Internet and complimentary breakfast."The rest of that stuff is worthless to a business traveler," he said.

Hotel managers defend such promotions, saying extreme tactics are needed to keep hotels open and workers employed."We don't feel like we gave away the farm, but we felt like desperate times call for desperate measures," said Marc Loge, a spokesman for the Wilshire Grand Los Angeles, who added that the Beat the Heat deal helped increase occupancy by about 10% this summer.At the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, general manager Bill Doak said discounts and special packages, such as the Grrreen Dog Package for pet owners and the Rejuvenation, Restoration deal that includes a $75 voucher toward a massage, accounted for about 20% of guest sales in the last year."

Everybody is out to save money," he said. "We need to respond to that if we want to stay in business."
Copyright © 2009, The Los Angeles Times

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Blaupunkt Fitted Its First Car Radio to What Model Car?

A Studebaker in 1932.

Now you know.

Our Most Viewed Post of All Time

on the Emmaco blog was...

The Splash Mountain Boob Cam article...

11,051 hits. Way to go guys!

Confused About "LED" TV's?

Not hard to understand why... the ones on the market are LCD TV's that replaced the old flourescent lamps with LED lamps...

A bit deceptive, actually- and the picture still doesn't really compare to plasmas. Nice article:

Apple, AT&T iPhone Weirdness Continues

Fear of lawsuits? Profound Incompetence? Got caught with their pants down?

Voice over IP seems to be winning...

Sirius XM Radio Update

Truly struggling...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

CBS Outdoor UK Head Resigns

Presumably over the botched London Underground digital signage system...

Should have let Emmaco manage it...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Cisco Buys Tandberg

$3 Billion in cash... congrats to an "old" audio company...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

140 dB LRAD Clears Out Pittsburgh Protesters

Say what you want, the thing works...

In this Thursday Sept. 24, 2009, photo, a Long-Range Acoustic Device is seen mounted atop a law enforcement vehicle on the streets of Pittsburgh during the G-20 Summit. Police dispersed protesters at the Group of 20 summit last week with a Long-Range Acoustic Device that emits a beam of earsplitting alarm tones that the manufacturer likens to a "spotlight of sound," but that legal groups called potentially dangerous. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Yet Another Video Connector?

Apparently Nokia, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba, and Silicon Image are working on a new 1080p connector for mobile phones- their "Mobile High-Definition Interface Working Group" claims they're coming up with an open standard.

And I thought they'd go with a 4k picture on my mobile phone...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Intel's New Superfast Light Peak Connector

Is Intel\'s super-fast Light Peak connector Apple\'s idea?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Radio Shack to Change Their Name

To "The Shack".

Must have been decided by "The Stupid".

Legendary Speaker Designer Jim Thiel Dies

More Bankruptcies

Nortek, the parent company of brands such as Sunfire, Panamax, Speakercraft, Xantec, Furman, Litetouch, Omnimount, Niles, Elan and other AV marks, announced yesterday at the CEDIA tradeshow in Atlanta that they would be filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wilma Fine Dies

If you've ever heard a Mercury Living Presence record, you'll understand the loss...

Great lady.

Monday, September 21, 2009

LCD with True Black?

Has the biggest flaw in LCD displays been addressed?

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cell Phone Radiation List

Some are better than others....

Samsung does well...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The South Shall Rise Again...

Assuming that the soliders are from Bentonville, Arkansas...

Officials OK Walmart near Va. battlefield

Walmart near Civil War's Wilderness Battlefield wins final approval in central Virginia
By Steve Szkotak, Associated Press Writer
On Tuesday August 25, 2009, 8:27 am EDT

ORANGE, Va. (AP) -- Officials in central Virginia approved a Walmart Supercenter early Tuesday near one of the nation's most important Civil War battlefields, a proposal that had stirred opposition by preservationists and hundreds of historians.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to grant the special permit to the world's biggest retailer after a majority of more than 100 speakers said they favored bringing the Walmart to Locust Grove, within a cannonball's shot from the Wilderness Battlefield.

Historians and Civil War buffs are fearful the Walmart store will draw traffic and more commerce to an area within the historic boundaries of the Wilderness, where generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee first met in battle 145 years ago and where 145,000 Union and Confederate soldiers fought and more than 29,000 were killed or injured. One-fourth of the Wilderness is protected.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Monday, July 6, 2009

WDW Hall of Presidents- Adding Obama

John Huntington's blog has a great entry... watch the videos...

WDW Monorail Crash Video

Sadly, a ride operator died over the weekend near the TTC. This shows the impact of the crash and not the driver...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Great Interview with Larry Levine of "The Wall of Sound" Fame

You didn't seriously think that Phil Spector did all of it, did you? Read on...

Chinese Web Filtering Finally Questioned

You may not have heard this in the "conventional media", but read on...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

End of an Era- Nortel Liquidates

Well, Nortel is gone just like the old AT&T. Nortel was formed from Bell Canada, and twenty years ago was the largest company in Canada, dominating the stock exchange.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Blu-Ray Interest Waning?

Not too surprising, considering the general state of the economy and the relative lack of interesting content available... the discs are perceived as too expensive.

The good news is that Snow White is coming out on Blu-Ray in a couple of months from the Mouse, which should motivate a few crack their wallets open. Amazon is selling Snow White preorders for the two disc set at $25.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Monday, June 8, 2009

China Ups the Mind Control Ante

BEIJING -- China plans to require that all personal computers sold in the country as of July 1 be shipped with software that blocks access to certain Web sites, a move that could give government censors unprecedented control over how Chinese users access the Internet.
The government, which has told global PC makers of the requirement but has yet to announce it to the public, says the effort is aimed at protecting young people from "harmful" content. The primary target is pornography, says the main developer of the software, a company that has ties to China's security ministry and military.

Customers use computers at an Internet cafe in Changzhi, Shanxi province, on June 3.

China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology didn't respond to requests for comment.
The Chinese government has a history of censoring a broad range of Web content. The new requirement could force PC manufacturers to choose between refusing a government order in a major market or opening themselves to charges of abetting censorship.

The software needn't be preinstalled on each new PC -- it may instead be shipped on a compact disc -- giving users some choice. But if installed, foreign industry officials who have examined the software say, it could transmit personal information, cause PCs to malfunction, and make them more vulnerable to hacking. It also makes it difficult for users to tell what exactly is being blocked, officials say.

A spokeswoman for Hewlett-Packard Co., which has the largest PC market share of any U.S. vendor in China, said the company is "working with the government authorities and evaluating the best way to approach this. Obviously we will focus on delivering the best customer experience while ensuring that we meet necessary regulatory requirements."

Susan Stevenson, spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, said the embassy was studying the new rule to assess its impact. "We would view any attempt to restrict the free flow of information with great concern and as incompatible with China's aspirations to build a modern, information-based economy and society," she said.

The software's Chinese name is "Green Dam-Youth Escort." The word "green" in Chinese is used to describe Web-surfing free from pornography and other illicit content. Green Dam would link PCs with a regularly updated database of banned sites and block access to those addresses, according to an official who tested the product for a government agency.

The May 19 Chinese government notice about the requirement says it is aimed at "constructing a green, healthy, and harmonious Internet environment, and preventing harmful information on the Internet from influencing and poisoning young people."

The software was developed by Jinhui Computer System Engineering Co., with input from Beijing Dazheng Human Language Technology Academy Co.
Bryan Zhang, founder of Jinhui, said Green Dam operates similarly to software designed outside China to let parents block access to Web content inappropriate for children. Some computers sold in China already come with parental-control software, but it isn't government-mandated.

Mr. Zhang said his company compiles and maintains the list of blocked sites, which he says is limited to pornography sites. He said the software would allow the blocking of other types of content, as well as the collection of private user data, but that Jinhui would have no reason to do so. He also said the software can be turned off or uninstalled.

His company plans to transmit new banned addresses to users' PCs through an Internet update system similar to that used by operating-system software and antivirus programs.

The software requirement was outlined in a notice that was issued by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on May 19 but that hasn't yet been publicized by state media. The notice, a copy of which was seen by The Wall Street Journal, says PC makers must ship PCs to be sold in China as of July 1 with the Green Dam software "preloaded" -- pre-installed or enclosed on a CD.

The notice says PC producers will be required to report to the government how many PCs they have shipped with the software. The notice doesn't mention any punitive action for noncompliance.

Sales of PCs in China neared 40 million units last year, second only to the U.S. Chinese company Lenovo Group Ltd. had the largest market share, with 26.7% of units shipped in the first three months of 2009, while H-P had 13.7% and Dell Inc. had 8.1%, according to research firm IDC.
Manufacturers have more than just sales in China to consider when the government asks them to do something: Major PC companies also have investments in factories and research facilities in China.

Dell declined to comment on the software. Lenovo said, "We review all legislation relating to our business," and didn't comment further.

Foreign industry officials say companies have been given little time to properly test Green Dam.

"The lack of transparency, the shortness of time for implementation, and the incredible scope of the requirement that is not matched anywhere around the world present tremendous challenges to the industry," said an industry official who has discussed the plans with several major PC makers.

China already operates an extensive Internet filtering system, commonly called the Great Firewall, which blocks access to a range of content, from pornography to politically sensitive sites. Such sites have included those promoting Tibetan independence and the spiritual group Falun Gong; in specific circumstances the government has blocked access to foreign media sites.
But that system blocks content at the network level, and many users circumvent it. The new method could give the government a way to tighten its control, say foreign industry officials who have examined the software.

Having one universal application that opens a link into every computer could also make those computers more vulnerable to cyber attacks. Mr. Zhang said that the software is no riskier than other programs that are updated periodically through the Internet.
Moreover, Green Dam, which is designed to work with Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system, could also conflict with other applications, causing glitches or even system crashes, industry officials said.

Wu Weiwei, an official from the government's China Software Testing Center who oversaw testing of the software, said extensive tests of the software have shown no problems.
U.S. Internet companies have for years grappled with demands from the Chinese government to censor content or share potentially private data with police.

Several of the biggest -- including Google Inc., Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft -- joined together last October to announce a set of guidelines for how they would comply with censorship requests from countries such as China, including a promise to be transparent about the requests they receive. But the effort, known as the Global Network Initiative, was criticized by some civil-liberties groups as being short on specifics and not doing enough to fight censorship laws. No computer hardware makers are members of the group.

A Yahoo spokeswoman said that the company would "continue to analyze international developments that may impact our industry." "We strongly support the free flow of information and the right to freedom of expression," she said.

Jinhui's Web site said it has a long-term "strategic cooperative partnership" with a research institute of the Ministry of Public Security on image-recognition technology, as well as long-term "technical cooperation" with the People's Liberation Army's Information Engineering University.
Mr. Zhang said Jinhui has only worked with the Ministry of Public Security on issues concerning pornography.

The Web site of Dazheng, the other software company involved in developing Green Dam, says the company works with the Armored Engineering Institute of the People's Liberation Army, and that it helped the PLA in 2005 produce a system to intercept "confidential" documents.
Wang Jingcheng, deputy general manager of Dazheng, said the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has "strict regulations and forbids all software companies from collecting any personal information." He added that the software will block content "according to the law."—Kersten Zhang, Justin Scheck and Nick Wingfield contributed to this article.

Write to Loretta Chao at

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Don't Cut That Wire!

Near Washington, D.C., construction crews watch for mystery 'black' wire

A Metrorail extension risks hitting communications lines, including some used for top-secret government intelligence operations.

By Amy Gardner June 7, 2009

Reporting from Washington -- This part happens all the time: A construction crew putting up an office building in the heart of congested Tysons Corner in McLean, Va., hit a fiber-optic cable no one knew was there.This part doesn't: Within moments, three black SUVs drove up, half a dozen men in suits jumped out, and one said, "You just hit our line."

Whose line, you may ask? The guys in suits didn't say, recalled Aaron Georgelas, whose company, the Georgelas Group, was developing the Greensboro Corporate Center. Georgelas assumed that he was dealing with the federal government and that the cable in question was "black" wire -- a secure communications line used for some of the nation's most secretive intelligence-gathering operations.

"The construction manager was shocked," Georgelas recalled about the incident in 2000. "He had never seen a line get cut and people show up within seconds. Usually you've got to figure out whose line it is. To garner that kind of response that quickly was amazing."Black wire is one of the risks of the construction that has come to Tysons, where miles and miles of secure lines are thought to serve such nearby agencies as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the National Counterterrorism Center and, a few miles away, the CIA. With work underway on a Metrorail extension, crews are stirring up tons of dirt where the black lines are located.

"Yeah, we heard about the black SUVs," said Paul Goguen, the engineer in charge of relocating electric, gas, water, sewer, cable, telephone and other communications lines to make way for Metro."We were warned that if they were hit, the company responsible would show up before you even had a chance to make a phone call."So far, so good, Goguen added. But the peril remains for a project that will spend $150 million moving more than 75 miles of conduit along a three-mile stretch.

The Tysons corridor is also home to part of MAE-East, one of the nation's primary Internet pipelines installed years ago by the government and private companies. Most major telecommunications carriers link to the pipeline, meaning there's a jumble of fiber-optic wire under the new rail route.Moving utilities quickly and cheaply is a big part of any construction work. But the $5.2-billion rail project, which will extend service to Dulles International Airport, is particularly complex.

Construction crews have been digging for more than a year to shift the wires of more than 21 private utilities out of the path of the rail line -- and they have another year to go.And they have snapped, accidentally, dozens of those carriers' lines, because even not-so-secret commercial lines sometimes don't show up on utility maps. Goguen, the utility manager, estimates that the rail project has already hit three dozen lines.

Such issues are likely to resurface this summer, when tunnel construction is scheduled to begin. Above the tunnel's path is a giant microwave communications tower operated by the U.S. Army. And if you want to know what the 280-foot tower is for, too bad. "The specific uses of the system to which this particular antenna is attached" are classified, Army spokesman Dave Foster said.

Other government agencies near Tysons also had little to say. A CIA spokeswoman would not comment. And Mike Birmingham, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, would say only that if a communications line used by the agency was cut, the nation's intelligence-gathering would carry on uninterrupted."No particular project puts us at risk -- highway construction, building construction," Birmingham said. "We don't have a single point of failure. Our systems are redundant."

Georgelas, the developer whose company was overseeing the work when the Chevy Suburbans drove up, said he figured the government was involved when an AT&T crew arrived the same day to fix the line, rather than waiting days. His opinion didn't change when AT&T tried to bill his company for the work -- and immediately backed down when his company balked."These lines are not cheap to move," Georgelas said. "They said, 'You owe us $300,000.' We said, 'Are you nuts?' "

The charges just disappeared.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Disneyland Tram Accident Resolved

Disneyland Makes Settlement In Tram Accident

Rest and relaxation are at least two things people look for while seeking a break from the routine. Sometimes, going on a vacation or special trip such as going to the Outer Banks for a break might do. Some folks enjoy an occasional thrill and go on an adventure or to a theme park for a ride on their many attractions. One California woman got more than she bargained for when she last visited Disneyland for such an occasion.

Recently, a woman fell out of a moving Disneyland tram and suffered injuries that left her needing 24-hour medical care for the rest of her life has reached a settlement in a lawsuit she filed against Disney. Lawyers for Qi Zhao and Walt Disney Co. reached the agreement Tuesday, bringing a two-week trial in Los Angeles County Superior Court to an abrupt end.

Details of the deal were not released. Zhao sued Disney in 2007, alleging the tram driver was going too fast when she fell out, along with two of her sisters. Zhao hit her head on the pavement, suffering severe traumatic brain injuries and skull fractures. Disney officials said in a statement they were pleased to have resolved the case and said safety is their top priority.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

HDMI 1.4 Details Released

Written by
Friday, 29 May 2009

HDMI LLC, the company which licenses HDMI standards has announced the features that HDMI 1.4 will include. The latest HDMI will sport an HDMI Ethernet Channel to provide data transfer of up to 100 Mbps. It also features a bi-directional connection, which creates compatibility between the Internet functions of a broadband TV and a, HDMI 1.4 connected device, such as a gaming console.

HDMI 1.4 also includes an Audio Return Channel which eliminates the need for additional cables when broadcast audio is being directly received by HDTVs and streamed to an external amp for processing. It includes Automatic Content Enhancement, which supports future 3D technologies, dual stream 1080p resolution, and content recognition to automatically optimize output based on the content that is connected to your HDTV.

The new specification also supports resolutions 4 times the resolution of 1080p. The 4K x 2K support will allow transfer of content at the same rate as digital theaters. It can transmit 3840x2160 at 24Hz, 25Hz & 30Hz as well as 4096x2160 at 24Hz. Color space support has been increased to allow for digital cameras, specifically DSLRs.

HDMI LLC is also rolling out Micro HDMI connector support for portable devices. The 19-pin
connector is 50% smaller than the size of the current HDMI Mini connection. The full specs will be available to download starting June 30th on the HDMI LLC website, with the list of products supporting HDMI 1.4 to be released shortly thereafter.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Acoustic SuperLens Technology

When filled with water, the holes in this aluminum plate act as resonant cavities that can focus ultrasound.
First Acoustic Superlens

An ultrasound lens could be used for high-resolution clinical imaging.
By Katherine Bourzac

Over the past few years, researchers have developed several materials that bend light in ways that appear to violate the laws of physics, creating so-called superlenses, for ultra-high-resolution optical imaging, as well as invisibility cloaks. Now researchers have demonstrated that the same kind of images and cloaking devices could be made with sound instead of light. Using the first acoustic metamaterial ever produced, the researchers were able to focus ultrasound waves. This represents a significant step toward creating high-resolution ultrasound images and cloaking devices capable of hiding ships from sonar.
Acoustic lenses can be made to focus sound much as the lens in a microscope focuses light. But physicists' ability to work with both types of waves is limited by scattering effects called diffraction. Using conventional lenses, it's not possible to focus light waves or sound waves to a spot size smaller than half the wavelength of the light. To get around these limitations, a lens must refract, or literally bend light backward. No naturally occurring materials have a negative index of refraction, but some materials carefully designed in the lab, called metamaterials, do. The same tools used to make materials that can focus light or sound waves beyond the diffraction limit, enabling high-resolution imaging, can also be used to make materials that accomplish the opposite, cloaking an object by directing light or sound around it.
Theorists have been working on materials that bend sound waves backward for several years. Such a metamaterial has now been built by Nicholas Fang, an assistant professor of mechanical science and engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His group's sound-focusing device is an aluminum array of narrow-necked resonant cavities whose dimensions are tuned to interact with ultrasound waves. The cavities are filled with water. Fang likens them to an array of wind instruments, such as the pipes in an organ. When ultrasound waves move through the array, the cavities resonate so that the sound is focused. The cavities "work together to refract the sound," says Fang.
"This is a big step forward for acoustic metamaterials," says Steven Cummer, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke University. Cummer was involved with the development of the first optical cloaking device. "It's a good experimental confirmation that ideas from electromagnetics can be extended to acoustics," he says. "Figuring out a good way to do this experimentally was not easy."
The ultrasound system, described in the journal Physical Review Letters, hasn't yet exceeded the diffraction limit. But researchers expect Fang to beat it soon. "I am sure that we shall not have long to wait," says John Pendry, a professor of theoretical solid-state physics at Imperial College London, who designed the materials used by Duke researchers to make the first invisibility cloak.
"There are many important applications awaiting a successful sub-wavelength acoustical focusing device," says Pendry. The first application of acoustic metamaterials is likely to be in high-resolution clinical ultrasound imaging, says Fang. "Without pumping more energy into tissue, you can provide a sharper image." However, he notes that applications are a ways off.
"We've done focusing, but not yet imaging," says Fang.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Conduit as Art

Most of the time we're not allowed to discuss what we're working on contractually. Sometimes it's because its corporate policy, or the owner doesn't want their competitors to know what's coming, or maybe a dozen other reasons.

Yet this is one project we're currently working on. The electrical contractor's been busy putting the conduit out to the various destinations.

I thought you might find the picture enlightening. Click on the picture for more detail.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Goodbye Electrograph


May 29, 2009 – HAUPPAUGE, NEW YORK – Electrograph Systems, Inc. announced today that it will be moving forward with a liquidation process of all its inventory and assets.

Alan Marc Smith, Electrograph’s outgoing CEO said, “We are very disappointed with this outcome. There were a number of factors leading to this result including poor economic conditions and constrained access to vendor credit. After exploring all other possible avenues for sustaining the company, including an unsuccessful sale process, our board decided this was the only path for our company.”

“After being with Electrograph for 22 years, I am deeply saddened by the result of this situation. We would like to thank our resellers for their business over the past 25 years, our vendor partners and other friends in the industry for their support. Above all, we thank our loyal employees for their hard work and dedication,” said outgoing President Sam Taylor.

During the wind-down period, a group of 60 employees will be staying and the four warehouses in City of Industry, CA, Grove City, OH, Hauppauge, NY and Middletown, NY will remain open and shipping product. The remainder of Electrograph’s 75 employees was laid off today.

Continued Smith, “The last couple of months have been challenging for our employees and we’d like to say thank you for their loyalty, professionalism and service to our customers and to each other.”

The company’s website will remain functioning during this period where it will be advertising promotional offerings and posting updates on the liquidation process.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Imagine that. Loyalty.

By John Mayberry

In the world of Electronics Supply Chain Management Who really is the ‘Voice of the Customer’? Alas, many manufacturers are finally seeing the results of "end-running" their consultant and dealer networks for the last twenty years in the Audio/Video industry. You blew us off, now we're blowing you off. Turnabout is fair play, after all.

I've written at least 250 industry magazine articles during my career. As all of the magazines are highly dependent on their advertisers, the one article we we never allowed to write involved the consequences of a manufacturer's capricious sales philosophies. Even if a manufacturer stupidly sells their projector through ten thousand authorized dealerships, discussing it in print was the proverbial third rail.

Yet it would take a great many fingers and toes to count the number of now defunct manufacturers that thought end-running their traditional distribution chain was great idea because it got them that "quick sale on the big project" and "cut out a little margin" due that pesky long time dealer that wanted some margin on the deal.

Going to a trade show recently where one of these genius manufacturers was courting consultants once again after a ten year hiatus in "End-run-land", one of their sales guy asked me if I had ever heard of his company.

"Why yes. I've specified over ten million dollars of your stuff in my career, and you don't even know my name. Your firm end ran me on a couple of projects some time ago, and now you are dead. So technically no, I don't know your company."

As a general comment to some (not all!) manufacturers:

Do you even know who got stuck cleaning up the mess you made by end-running the traditional chain on your last big sale? It certainly wasn't your fly by night front operation, the newly spawned dealer that didn't know an RS-232 from an Ethernet port.

Do you know who had to get the control codes out of Asia at midnight because you no longer have any US staffing, a result of squeezing the last dime out of the product?

Do you have any idea who finally dealt with the defective product you sold the end user?

Any thoughts on who had to redesign and respecify a system (at their own expense) because your "contract manufacturer" in China went belly up?

Perhaps you/ve wondered who had to drive to the airport and pick up the non-English speaking repair staff flown in because the firmware in every one of your components was obsolete?

Pretty much everything in our industry from servers, processors, amplifiers, speakers, projectors, and displays is a commodity now. A manufacturer's real "leverage" is that someone the owner trusts that will vouch for your product.

The A/V industry really is a Small World. I've noticed a one-to-one correlation between manufacturers that have respected their consultants and dealers to those thriving in a tough time.

Any questions?

Texas Lighting Designers in Hot Water

Times they are a changing...

Proposed Texas House Bill 2649 currently under consideration:

From the Texas House Bill 2649: Section 1001.3011 to read as follows:Sec. 1001.3011. LIGHTING DESIGN; LICENSE OR REGISTRATION REQUIRED. (a) A person may not perform or offer to perform lighting design services unless the person is: (1)licensed as an engineer under this chapter;(2) registered as an architect, landscape architect, or interior designer under Subtitle B, Title 6; or (3) licensed under Chapter 1305. (b) In this section, “lighting design services” means the preparation of plans and specifications that depict the placement and direction of illumination of mounted or installed lighting fixtures in the interior or exterior of a building, including the specification of bulbs, reflectors, lens, louvers, baffles, and other hardware. The term does not include the preparation of shop drawings or other directions from a manufacturer for the installation or operation of lighting fixtures.

SECTION 5. Subchapter F, Chapter 1051, Occupations Code, is amended by adding Section 1051.308 to read as follows: Sec. 1051.308. LIGHTING DESIGN; REGISTRATION OR LICENSE REQUIRED. (a) A person may not perform or offer to perform lighting design services unless the person is: (1) registered as an architect, landscape architect, or interior designer under this subtitle; (2) licensed as an engineer under Chapter 1001; or (3) licensed under Chapter 1305. (b) In this section, “lighting design services” means the preparation of plans and specifications that depict the placement and direction of illumination of mounted or installed lighting fixtures in the interior or exterior of a building, including the specification of bulbs, reflectors, lens, louvers, baffles, and other hardware. The term does not include the preparation of shop drawings or other directions from a manufacturer for the installation or operation of lighting fixtures.

SECTION 6. Subchapter D, Chapter 1305, Occupations Code, is amended by adding Section 1305.1511 to read as follows: Sec. 1305.1511. LIGHTING DESIGN; LICENSE OR REGISTRATION REQUIRED. (a) A person may not perform or offer to perform lighting design services unless the person is: (1) licensed under this chapter; (2) licensed as an engineer under Chapter 1001; or (3) registered as an architect, landscape architect, or interior designer under Subtitle B, Title 6. (b) In this section, “lighting design services” means the preparation of plans and specifications that depict the placement and direction of illumination of mounted or installed lighting fixtures in the interior or exterior of a building, including the specification of bulbs, reflectors, lens, louvers, baffles, and other hardware. The term does not include the preparation of shop drawings or other directions from a manufacturer for the installation or operation of lighting fixtures.

Most/Least Expensive Cars to Insure

Thought you'd want to know... note the Corvette's position

Top 10 Most Expensive Vehicles to Insure (Model Year 2005-2007)

1, Subaru Impreza WRX 4WD
2 Scion tC
3 Hyundai Tiburon
4 Mercedes CLS 4-door
5 Suzuki Forenza
6 Honda Civic SI
7 Dodge Charger
8 Nissan 350Z
9 Chevrolet Cobalt
10 Suzuki Reno

Top 10 Least Expensive Vehicles to Insure (Model Year 2005-2007)

1 Buick Rendezvous 4-door
2 Pontiac Solstice convertible
3 Buick Terraza
4 Honda Odyssey
5 Mazda MX-5 Miata convertible
6 Subaru Outback 4WD
7 Ford Five Hundred 4WD
8 Volvo V70 station wagon 4WD
9 Chrysler Town & Country LWB
10 Chevrolet Corvette convertible

Google Earth Has Disneyland Paris

by MG Siegler on May 26, 2009

In 1992, Disney decided to build upon the huge success of its Disneyland and Disney World theme parks by opening Euro Disney in a suburb of Paris. The company had previously licensed its name for a resort abroad just outside Tokyo, but the European version was a more ambitious project being handled by the company. It started out as a nightmare. Simply put, people didn’t go to it. And now you can avoid going to it from the comfort of your own home thanks to the magic of Google Earth.

Just as it did last year with Disney World, Google Earth now has Disneyland Paris (as it was rebranded to in 1995 following its thud of an opening) rendered in 3D. Disney has provided the program with some 85,000 photos — a huge 450GB worth — to make the renderings as realistic as possible. All the rides are there, the castle and even over 500 landscape elements.
Following its rebranding, and the opening of some new rides, Disneyland Paris was able to somewhat turn things around, but it remains far in debt. Having a virtual representation of your theme park in Google Earth isn’t going to help that. Is it going to convince more people to go visit the park? Unlikely. But it’s a cute distraction for me for about 15 minutes. And it shows how good some of these 3D renderings are getting.

The Disneyland Paris layer can be found in the “Gallery” folder of Google Earth 5.0.