Mike Beversluis

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Digital Underground

This shouldn't bother me so much, but it does: Vinyl May Be Final Nail in DC's Coffin:

[...] Another reason for vinyl's sonic superiority is that no matter how high a sampling rate is, it can never contain all of the data present in an analog groove, Nyquist's theorem to the contrary.

CD's famously sample at 44 kHz (mostly) with a 16-bit discretization leading to a 90 dB dynamic range. The hearing range is roughly 20 Hz - 20 kHz (and you're lucky if you have that), and if the background noise level in your listening environment is 40 dB (really quiet and close to the threshold for most people's perception, most quiet rooms are 50-60 dB), then the CD output could be scaled to hit from 41 dB to 130 dB without compression. This should be all and good, but obviously it isn't to some.

Well,

1) Like the CD, the analog grove has a finite bandwidth too. In fact, I bet it's worse (generally speaking) than most CD's. The sound is encoded in the motion of the stylus, which must be accelerated by the groove over under sideways down. That means it's subject to Newton's laws, and that means it's frequency response will go a second-order low pass depending on the stylus mass. That's the origin of the overall slope of the RIAA equalization curve (I think)(pretty sure). You can make the stylus very small, but it is still attenuating high frequencies. CD's are probably better at high frequencies, and if you like records, it's not because they have extra high frequency information.

2) There's a minimum detectable change in the groove too. Adding or removing an extra atomic layer isn't going to change the record player's output (which you should hope so, since your scraping your stylus across it in a dusty dirty room). The question then becomes how small is the smallest detectable variation compared to the largest variation you can accommodate. I bet the ratio is less than 90 dB. So you don't like records because they have more dynamic range or are more sensitive.

3) Especially in the presence of noise, which the grove will have. The record grove is full of uncorrectable errors, from both the original recording, the pressing process, and from continual wear during playback. The main advantage of a digital signal is error correction. Which is why we use digital computers instead of organ pipes filled with mercury. The various digital encoding algorithms have redundancy built into them, which allows for significant errors to be completely removed. However, those digital errors that do get through uncorrected will sound terrible.

So what real advantages do records have that make some people like them better?

1) They are a boutique item, and besides the record shop elitism this brings, the sound engineering in them will be better. Likewise HDCD's. The fact that music is over-compressed now is not CD format's fault or limitation.

2) The output section of a CD player is important. My relatively cheap player has Burr Brown Op-Amps, and that helps.

3) The output filtering of a CD is important. A lot of players use a brick wall filter, with like, a hundreth-order filter. That filter will ring (a little) and have a lot of phase distortion and frequency dispersion. I do think this is audible, but it's easy enough to use oversampling to move the aliased frequencies way out into the 100's of kHz.

4) I don't think jitter is that important. If the spec is in picoseconds, I don't understand how you can hear it. I do suspect that DAC's with low jitter are well designed, but that's correlation and not causation.

In closing, sorry for being so nerdy. Go buy records if you want to, but the improvement you think your hearing is probably not format related.

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Pickin' up chicks

On Route 666. Just takes the right bait on the hook, I guess.

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Happy Halloween?


Pardon the non-sequitur title. Liver, the warden is waiting by the phone for the governor's call, but your time's running out, son. (j.k. Mom)

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Flaw Appears in My Long Term Financial Plan

Mo' money, mo' problems: Cash windfall can lead to downfall -

"Roughly one-third of lottery winners find themselves in serious financial trouble or bankrupt within five years of turning in their lucky numbers, according to Chelmsford wealth counselor Szifra Birke."

Famously, Jack Whittaker burned through $300M in five years and wishes he hadn't won now. In his book on happiness, Daniel Gilbert mentions that about a year after winning the lottery, you return to your base level of happiness, which is also true about a year after someone has been paralyzed. And yet no one enters lotteries to become paralyzed (unless you count skiing).

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

We Get The Leaders We Deserve


Political Debate Bingo...

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

By Grabthar's Hammer


Now available on Amazon, and you really should click through to check out the reviews, the $900 hammer.

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You never have to explain love


And you never have to explain cool: How Do You Simulate Space Junk Hitting a Rocket? A 45-Foot-Long BB Gun. Ralphie Parker was unavailable for comment.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Agony and the ?

Much, maybe all, of academia is engaged in the pursuit of attention and recognition, which leads to a lot of bitter fights over credit. Albert Schatz had a pretty legitimate complaint:


1943: A biochemistry grad student discovers streptomycin, a synthetic antibiotic used to treat tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.

Sole credit for the discovery initially went to Selman Waksman -- he would, in fact, receive a Nobel Prize in 1952 -- who ran the laboratory at Rutgers University where the research was performed. But it was Albert Schatz, a 23-year-old graduate student under Waksman, who actually isolated the antibiotic after several months of feverish work.


For what it's worth, Waksman's wikipedia entry is a little more ambivalent about the story:


Although Waksman had been studying the Streptomycin family of organism since his college student days, the details and credit for the discovery of its use as the antibiotic streptomycin were strongly contested by one of Waksman's graduate students, Albert Schatz, and resulted in litigation. The litigation ended with a substantial settlement for Schatz and the official decision that Waksman and Schatz would be considered co-discoverers of streptomycin. Schatz made the discovery, but he was working in Waksman's lab, using Waksman's equipment, and he was under the direction of Waksman using Waksman's techniques. He examined about 10,000 cultures, and only 1,000 would kill bacteria in preliminary tests. Of those only 100 looked promising in later tests, and only ten were isolated and described. One of those ten was streptomycin.[4]


I suspect that both of them would have been happier if their Promethean experiments hadn't worked out, but then TB would have killed millions. (See also, The Agony of Winning)

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

In which I grudgingly admit that The Onion is still occasionally funny

See, because Vinny Testaverde is old...

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Google This

Point:

Google 3Q Profit Soars 46 Percent

By MICHAEL LIEDTKE
AP Business Writer

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Less than two weeks after its stock price smashed through $600 for the first time, Google Inc. showed why it might not be long before the Internet search leader's shares are flirting with $700.

Counterpoint:

The Microsofting of Google
Why two companies ought to surf drunkensailors.com.

BY HOLMAN W. JENKINS JR.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

[...]

What Google and Microsoft do have in common could be called the curse of network effects, namely network costs.

Microsoft continues to pour billions into Windows, adding features most users don't know exist, while spending millions of man-hours to remain "backward compatible" with thousands of aging programs and devices used by ever shrinking numbers of customers.

Google, for its part, spends billions to refine its search engine while adding acres and acres of servers to catalog the world's ever widening surplus of ever less-interesting Web pages.

Combined with DoubleClick, Google could create an ever more compendious record of what users do on the Web. But even given the declining cost of storage, would this mountain really yield commensurate value in helping the company target users with ads they might respond to? Probably not. The devil theory depends on the likely mistaken idea that collecting and storing information on Web users has increasing, rather than diminishing, returns.

The two companies are similar in another way. Like Microsoft, Google has shown a Howard Hughes-like propensity to throw money in every direction in a quest to secure its privileged existence.

In Microsoft's case, think Xbox, the Zune music player, MSNBC, the MSN Internet service, as well as countless startup acquisitions that disappeared into the Redmond maw never to be heard from again. Lately Microsoft has decided the Web business of the future is advertising. Hence the $6 billion aQuantive acquisition.

Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion and claims one day it will make money from advertising, but for now it bears the rapidly increasing cost of storing and serving billions of videos most of which are watched by nobody. Google has courted similar unrequited expenses to bring users free business software, email, WiFi, a forthcoming telephone, a bruited national wireless network, all in theory to be supported by ad revenues.

A law of nature that leads to fruitless spending? No, a law of corporate governance. With founders entrenched in a controlling position, such companies don't see their luck for what it is and channel their winnings to shareholders. Instead they squander their abnormal returns hoping to make lightning strike again, and end up with a collection of low- or no-return businesses to show for their trouble.

Personally, I'm going to stick to my lottery ticket investment strategy. It hasn't paid off yet, but I'm in it for the long-haul.

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Pavoni's and Elektra's are pure Middle Class, like me


Because spending a lot on a coffee machine is hardly extravagant when there are people out there who spend a lot more. Like, the $20k that will get you this sweet Venus Century.

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Good luck with that


It's really important to me not to be known as Ross when I'm 60.

David Schwimmer

Yeah, ask Spock how that worked out.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Google Olympics

  • Tom Yorke In Ski Mask
  • Words that rhyme with Mike (ed, bike?)
  • hip phrases
  • retro phrases
  • pen that looks like a fish
  • unimog movies
  • burt rutan oxen voyager quote
  • nerdy brother in law

And the winner:

  • what is an acceptable reason to get secretly married in michigan?

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Very Few Volunteer for a Pay Reduction

And very few executives reduce the power of their offices. But, newsflash, campaign rhetoric is another thing.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

I know what I like


But I don't know why I like it. [picture from the void, via the four winds].

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Quote of the Day

"The big print giveth, and the fine print taketh away."
Fulton J. Sheen

And from the mental image of the day:

"Hearing nuns' confessions is like being stoned to death with popcorn."
Fulton J. Sheen

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Must See Movies

The Must See Movie List: My score = 232. Peter Bogdanovich's Movie of the Week list is another great list. It's clear that my top 20 must see movies and my top 20 best movies aren't the same list, but I'm not sure if that's right.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"Ultra-hip nostalgic retro-phrases, ironically evoking an earlier era of ten days earlier"

Don't taze me bro: September 16 was such an innocent time. By the way, tazer that guy. Tazer him a lot.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

TV

I watch a lot of it. Probably more than I think I do, and that's with thinking that I watch a lot. Occasionally I've done without for a year or so, the old TV bleeper, more out of necessity than choice, but I've always come back.

  • I still cannot watch reality TV in any shape or form.
  • House has jumped the shark. Bottom line: I still Tivo it.
  • Heroes hasn't (although it has the same plot holes as before)
  • Journeyman is a journeyman remake of Quantum Leap, with a slightly more angsty thirtysomething slant. I blame Peter Horton.
  • Speaking of whom, the goofy and shortlived Brimstone is on Chiller.
  • So's Twin Peaks. Just as overrated as I remember, and like Lynch's movies, I still watch.
  • Speaking of 1996, I wouldn't mind if Northern Exposure came back on.
  • Chuck needs to spend less on their Cake et al soundtrack, and more on their writing. Rocky IV is less predictable. But okay on the secondary characters, except that Seth Green should sue that one guy for infringment, or something.
  • More Douche-y: The ex-navy seal on Future Weapons or that Survivor guy? I'm not sure, but they're both past 9.4 on the Douche Richter scale and that's as high as my meter goes.
  • God, Top Gear annoys me, and yet I can't stop watching. Basically I fast-forward through everything except the part where they powerslide and hoon some exotic about. The most blatant homers ever. My favorite car shows from last year, Dream Car Garage and Sports Car Revolution, merged and lost something.
  • Tough Crowd lasted two years. I'm curious if Red Eye will make it that long.
  • Mythbusters seems like it's in the fifth year of a three year show.
  • I'm kinda debating whether to add showtime for Dexter and Brotherhood. Maybe.
  • I watch way too much of Dirty Jobs and How It's Made. It's my inner Cliff Claven. Okay, maybe not so inner.
  • I tried to watch Ken Burn's WW2 thing. Not so good. Especially the music. That's surprising.
  • I couldn't sleep the other night, and The Firm was on. Remember when Tom Cruise wasn't insane?
So, you're welcome.

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Point 1: Most Sins are their own Punisments

Craigslist meets Wallstreet

Point 2: One of better Spengler's better maxims is that, generally speaking, and in all times and in all places, men and women deserve each other. For better and for worse, and in that case, worse.

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Paging Dr. Freud


Or perhaps I've said too much already... Also, Frasier Crane just collapsed, and one of his pupils is bigger than the other. Anyone know what to do? [via the four winds]

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NYCotD

Stolen, in bulk, from here.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Giga 20 Light Dump

Bracketology: Worst Asian Vehicle Names.

My choice appears in the title here. On the other hand, I'd be happy to drive a FR-V Joy Machine around. In fact, there's the new nickname for my own hoopty.

Very tangentially, I recently was seated on a flight next to a somewhat chatty old lady. It turned out that she had been married to a bird colonel and had lived and traveled just about everywhere. She said that back in the fifties (and probably today) the roads in Japan were very narrow, with deep ditches on both sides. And they had these three wheeled moped trucks that were rather boxy. Which made it hard for her to drive her Cadillac around when she went to town. So when they drove past each other, she would close her eyes and hope for the best. I have this pastel colored midcentry modern vision of a young blond woman in a pink '58 Cadillac, cruising through streets filled with salarymen and kimono clad women. Sophia Coppola should get right on that.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Pinzgauer, Unimog, or...


Love the jeep tires, but check out the gear reduction axels:


I don't care if it only has 25-35hp, that is too cool.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

That's a commute


1995 Honda Civic, 940k miles.

It would almost be worth the $2300 just to drive it over a million. I wonder if he would deliver? Since it's on the way to work. Since everywhere is, apparently, on the way to work.

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Online Movies

10 Brilliant Complete Movies Online [via]

Sometimes, the internet is awesome, and I suspect it will only get, um, awesomer.

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