Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bose v20 + Sony Blu-Ray + TiVO + Sony TV + Apple Airport = Ultimate Home Theater
After much struggling- i've finally got the home theater/hi-fi thing all sorted. It did take quite a bit of trawling thru anti-Bose internet fora and an email to Bose HQ but it's all worked out in the end. And yes- before anyone gets stuck into me- i KNOW Bose stuff is overpriced!

What i wanted was:
a) a system that was integrated using ONE REMOTE ONLY- preferably without having to buy a separate universal remote!
b) i wanted the remote to work thru walls so i could keep the components hidden.
c) i wanted the minimum number of components... e.g. no separate blu-ray/dvd players
d) wall mounted speakers that the kids couldn't destroy.

I ended up buying the following:
Sony LCD Bravia
Bose V20
Sony Blu-Ray
Apple Airport

The Bose v20 comes with a remote- and yes it is a RF (radiofrequency) remote so there's no problems controlling the unit thru the cabinet. It does, however, also control devices via standard infra-red output.. although i'm pretty sure it is the main unit rather than the remote that emits the infra-red. You just need to tell the Bose unit what components you have- by selecting them in the 'settings menu' , and it'll (probably) work- despite what everyone else on the interweb says!

I connected the Bose v20 via standard HDMI to the Sony TV... and then the TiVo (CAB/SAT input on the Bose) and Blu-Ray (DVD input) via HDMI.

The blue ray control required the 'IR extender' (which comes with the Bose) to be plugged in to the Bose, with the end of it stuck on to the outside of the blu-ray player. This procedure takes 12 seconds.

For the Airport connection i just used a standard 1/8 plug to red/white stereo output cable and plugged this into the AUX input.

You'll need to tell the Bose that you're using a TiVO as an input device- and once this is done, the bose remote works exactly like the TiVO remote- except it works thru walls! We watch TV via the TiVO - so we can pause live TV etc.

Although i couldn't find the control codes of the Sony Blu-Ray (or in fact ANY blu-ray devices) in the Bose settings menu ... if you call it a 'Sony DVD Player' and use the control code of 1516 it works beautifully. Now i can control DVDs/Blu-Rays using the bose remote. The blu-ray upscales DVDs and they look great!

The TV on/off also works as expected using the right control code however (and i don't know why) this function doesn't work thru walls! There's no need to ever switch the TV between inputs- (e.g. Bose unit vs "TV") although that is possible too using the bose remote if you wish.

All my iTunes music is stored on a big 24" white imac- streamed from the next room wirelessly to the Bose via an Airport. It's a simple matter of clicking "airport living room" as the output using iTunes, and then hitting the AUX button on the Bose remote.

For convenience- however, i can access the music in the 'shared folder' from my apple laptop which i keep in the hi-fi room- and use this to stream the data to the Bose when i want to sit down and 'surf' my music collection.

The only downsides with all this (other than cost) are:
  • watching DVD's on a the blu-ray player can be frustrating with regard to fast-forward/scanning which seems ridiculously slow and cumbersome.
  • I've run out of HDMI inputs on the Bose! I would have liked just ONE more HDMI to connect a mac-mini/laptop. This requires an optical audio cable and a Mini-DVI to HDMI converter cable (purchased from the apple store). I've tried this out with my laptop and it works perfectly... converts to Sony into a huge monitor. Great for watching (legal) bittorrented downloads. I could connect the computer to the second HDMI input on the TV, but the sound then wouldn't come thru the TV (or the Bose obviously) as DVI doesn't carry sound- only image.
image below is of the rear of the v20:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Flanger: Crime in the Pale Moonlight

Can't explain why somebody set this to this movie.. but great music.

Koop: Come To Me

Monday, July 27, 2009

Music Machine For Kids

Great music machine from tony-b: great fun - great sound. Don't forget to check out the 'specials'. You need to enter a name and password to get started.

Google Earth Updates

Google Earth is much more than Google Earth- it's now also Google Moon, Google Mars, Google Sky and Google Flight Simulator! (although you can't fly around the moon or mars yet). You can even dive underneath the water and zoom along undersea mountains etc. It also now has simulated day/night and 'atmosphere' on Earth. Amazing!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Evolution of the Seagull/Butterfly Effect

I first heard about the 'Butterfly Effect' reading Douglas Hofstaedter's amazing book 'Metamagical Themas', and subsequently James Gleick's book on Chaos when they came out decades ago.

Essentially, systems (like the weather) where the output is fed back into the input (i.e. 'iterated') demonstrate 'sensitive dependence on initial conditions'. In other words, a teeny tiny difference in the beginning setup may cause dramatic, and upredictable changes in future states. This is why long term weather forecasts are always unreliable. 'Chaos' theory demonstrates that, just because something is deterministic- it does not follow that it must be predictable.

What's got me fascinated recently, however, is how the original presentation of the theory has been modified- even by the original author himself!

Edward Lorenz, in a 1963 paper given to the New York Academy of Sciences stated: "one flap of a seagull's wings would be enough to alter the course of the weather forever.". Later, he gave a 1972 paper entitled: "Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?".

Perhaps this was based on a 1952 short story by Ray Bradbury titled "A Sound of Thunder" where a time-traveller inadvertently squishes a butterfly- with unintended consequences. It is unclear, however, if Lorenz ever read Bradbury- and in any case the butterfly in question should have been flapping it's wings and causing some distant, massive weather disturbance- not being squashed underfoot by a time traveller and altering world history.

It seems that no lazy journalist now bothers to look up Lorenz- they just substitute whatever they want into the equation:

"The Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in X can set off a Y in Z".

for example:

I suggest making it even more generic: i.e.

The 'W Effect' is when the V of a W in X can set off a Y in Z"
  • W is some sort of thing
  • V is something the thing does
  • X is the location of the journalist
  • Y is something big and/or frightening to the journalist
  • Z is somewhere exotic where the journalist might like to go on a holiday

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Free Full High Quality Documentaries from

Lots great free stuff from Australian ABC- quality looks excellent even on my 24" iMAC with fullscreen view.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Big History Error

Just bought Cynthia Brown's "Big History" today and started reading... history from the big bang to the present day. Looks like it going to be very interesting (and better than Bill Bryson's effort). There is however a mistake in the 2nd paragraph of the 1st page!

Cynthia assumes that because the universe is 13.7 billion years old, it must be 13.7 billion light years across. In fact, logic would tell you that it'd be 13.7 billion light years in radius i.e. 27.4 light years in diameter.

That would be the case, except for the fact that the universe is stretching iself out at an increasing rate that is currently measured at 74.2 kilometers per second per megaparsec of space. This makes the 'observable universe' a sphere 93 billion light years in diameter with you in the middle. In other words, the position in space that the light left from 13.7 billion years ago to finally end up in your retina or telescope now exists billions of extra light years further away.

Zombies Zombies Everywhere: "The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!"

Saw a copy of "Pride andPrejudice and Zombies" at the local bookstore- and i was very tempted to buy it but unfortunately i do not belong either to the part of the subculture that is into Zombies- or that part that is into Jane Austen. In fact, i can imagine the Venn Diagram of the intersection of these two sets to be an exceedingly small area that includes the author and a handful of others. It would be a strange introduction to the Zombie or the Jane Austen genre and i think i wouldn't get any of the 'in' jokes. The cover is definitely the best book cover i've ever seen.

The longer you live, the more Rapamycin/Sirolimus you can eat!

We can all live forever! There's a fascinating bit on the wiki entry on the worlds oldest living (currently dead) person: Jeanne Calment-

"In 1965, aged 90, with no living heirs, Jeanne Calment signed a deal to sell her former apartment to lawyer André-François Raffray, on a contingency contract. Raffray, then aged 47, agreed to pay her a monthly sum of 2,500 francs until she died, an agreement sometimes called a "reverse mortgage". Raffray ended up paying Calment more than the equivalent of $180,000, which was more than double the apartment's value. After Raffray's death from cancer at the age of 77, in 1995, his widow continued the payments until Calment's death.[1]"

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bin Laden: 8 years and counting...

Good article from the Guardian:

Shawal Valley in North Waziristan

British Greed + CIA Blowback = Islamic Revolution.

File:Shaboon Jafari.jpg

Two must-listen-to podcasts from 'Rear Vision' on the history of foreign intervention in Iran:
Oil, Democracy and a CIA Coup
The Iranian Revolution

"Kermit Roosevelt was a fascinating character. He really was a true-life James Bond, and when it was decided that the United States would overthrow Mossadeq, he was the guy that the CIA turned to. They gave him the job. They told him, 'You've got to go to Iran and you've got to do everything you need to do and you've got to overthrow Mossadeq.' Kermit Roosevelt crossed over clandestinely into Iran at the beginning of August, 1953. He went to work in a basement office in the US Embassy and immediately began building a network of people, basically by bribing them. He bribed all manner of people.

One of the early plots that he came up with was that he would try to bribe enough members of parliament so that maybe they could vote a No Confidence motion to depose Mossadeq. And a number of them accepted these bribes, and they broke away from the Mossadeq coalition.

But the idea of deposing Mossadeq through a vote of No Confidence never panned out. So Kermit Roosevelt went off and did other things with his money. For example, he bribed mullahs, the religious leaders in Iran, to begin denouncing Mossadeq from the pulpit as an atheist, or non-believer, which was not true, as Mossadeq was a devout Twelver Shi'ite.

He bribed newspaper editors and reporters, to the point where he had 80% of the Iranian press in his payroll. And what that meant was that every day, Iranians would wake up to news reports and commentaries about how Mossadeq was Jewish, he was homosexual, he was a British agent, just about anything bad you could think of, would show up day after day in practically every newspaper in Tehran. So by the spreading around of money, Kermit Roosevelt was immediately going to change the public tenor and view of Mossadeq.

He also bribed commanders of military and police units, so they would be ready to help him on the day that he struck against Mossadeq. One of the things that he did, perhaps this was his most masterful idea, he went to the Tehran bazaar, where there was a group of thugs operating under a very colourful leader named Shabaan the Brainless (see photo above). And he hired Shabaan, who actually is still alive, living in California, and Shabaan's job was: get together the biggest group of thugs and gangsters you can find. We're going to pay every one of them. Find every adult male who wants to be a gangster for a day, and hire them. And what your job is, (and this is exactly what this gang did for several days in Tehran) run through the streets wildly, smash shop windows, fire guns into mosques and then shout, 'We love Communism and Mossadeq'.

So he created this mob that was very violent, that was posing as thugs for Mossadeq. But that wasn't all. Roosevelt went one step further: he hired another mob to attack that mob, the idea being he wanted to create the image, in the minds of ordinary Iranians, that Iran was in chaos."

Questions i have for this week

Iran political map

1. Why are there no black rock bands?
2. Why don't people brush their teeth with hot water?
3. Why/How did the French+Russian Revolutions wind up with Napoleon+Stalin?
4. Why does Rapamycin make you live longer?
5. Is it really always darkest before the dawn?
6. Was Earth's sky blue before photosynthetic plants made all that oxygen? ( this depends on the relative importance of oxygen vs nitrogen in the scattering of high wavelength light from the sun).
7. When will we start to hate Obama?
8. Why can't the world donate millions of wireless internet routers to be installed just across the Iranian border in Turkmen/Afghan/Pakistan + Azerbaijan? That way, the resistance movement can bypass state controlled internet filtering. Maybe the same can be done for China? Free Internet = Free Porn = Democracy.
9. Who invented the question mark?