Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Review

2010 was a very eventful year for me! Not much in quantity, but definitely high in quality! A complete change of home life and work life; both of which for the better!

My first child Ethan was born in April and I've taken many photographs of him and regularly updated Twitter and/or Facebook. It must be an interesting experience being a child today as their daily lives are regularly documented on social networking sites and phone camera photography. I was very much looking forward to being a Dad, but nothing could have prepared me! Now it is the end of the year I couldn't imagine life without him. Flicking back through the photographs I took when he was first born I can't believe how much he has grown!

In July I was made redundant which came as a real surprise to me, I remember one of my work colleagues saying to me "is this your first time?". The good news of this was I got to spend 3 months at home full time with Ethan. I also got to spend some interesting time in the Job Centre in Shettleston, I fondly remember two occasions, the first was being taken to the back of the centre behind thick glass and accompanied by security for an interview on why I missed my signing appointment (I'd been for a job interview in Edinburgh) and my wife being ejected from the Job Centre as she "wasn't a customer" when accompanying me for one of their interviews.

In November I started new work in a completely different industry, one I already had an interest in but didn't know existed commercially; TV recommendations. I think I've settled in quite nicely there and am now working on a customer project.

Despite all this, sadly 2010 ended on a more solemn note as my paternal Grandfather passed away over the Christmas period after a short battle with Cancer. May he rest in peace. Unfortunately, Ethan never got to meet his great grandfather in person and sadly I couldn't arrange to visit before he died.

To summarise:

Best Part: Ethan's Birth
Worst Part: News of Being Made Redundant
Weirdest Part: Being sent a Christmas Card by my ex boss after not hearing from him since August.

Christmas Lights 2010 - 8

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Kef KHT 2005.3 with Onkyo TX SR-608

After wanting surround sound for a long time I finally took the plunge with an Onkyo TX SR-608 AV receiver and a KEF KHT 2005.3 speaker package. I originally wanted the Q Acoustics 2000 gloss black cinema pack with speaker brackets, but after speaking to the good people at Home Cinema Centre Edinburgh I found out there were supply difficulties at Q Acoustics and the KEFs would be at the very least equivalent and probably much better.

I wanted wall mounted speakers so my son could not disturb or knock them onto himself when (later) toddling about.

This blog details my experience of the speakers and the setup so that it can be shared with others in similar situations and also so I remember!

My TV is mounted on a long wall above our fireplace and as it was undesirable to have the centre speaker between the TV and fire surround so I was forced to position it above the TV. I angled it down toward the listening area. The left and right speakers have been mounted at the same centre height as the TV which itself is centred about 2 meters from the ground, but equal distance from the TV about 1m away from the centre. The TV is directly in front of the listening/viewing area. The rear speakers were slightly more tricky as they cannot be positioned equidistant from the listening area, but mounted on the side walls as close to the back wall as possible and at the same height as the front speakers.

Everything was finally wired up on Christmas day and all I can say is Wow! This setup is far better than the Rega Brio/Q Acoustic 1010i setup it replaced and I reckon better than the Rega Brio/Tannoy MX3 combo before that.

I first ran the Audyssey 2EQ speaker calibration with a tripod mounted mic, took about 20 minutes and I had to position the mic in 3 different locations. I opted for left of sofa; right of sofa and then a standing position about a meter in front of the sofa for Xbox purposes. I accepted everything it said and I put Star Trek (Blu Ray) on and jumped to the scene where the star ships jump to warp speed toward Vulcan. A nice test of the Kube 2 subwoofer this kit comes with. I also tested with the Christmas Doctor Who which conveniently has a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack from BBC One HD!

I have neighbours so my number one concern was balance of subwoofer level with volume of vocals from the centre speaker. After a few days I settled on the following options:

  • I turned the subwoofer crossover to maximum on the Kube 2 and set it to 80Hz on the Onkyo setup.
  • I overrode the Audyssey 2EQ determined speaker crossovers to 80Hz (as the KEFs use 80Hz crossovers).
  • I set the subwoofer level to -15dB (from -7dB) on the audio menu and then adjusted the volume dial on the Kube 2 to a level where the bass was there but neighbour friendly.
  • I adjusted the centre speaker level to 0dB (from -1dB).
  • Dynamic EQ: OFF
  • Dynamic Volume: OFF
  • For the moment I'm not using any of the THX settings as I found the voices clearer with unprocessed Dolby Digital (Doctor Who) and DTS (Star Trek) whilst keeping the bass and surround levels at a more reasonable level.
Very nice piece of kit and I am sure to update this blog with more settings as I tweak them. There are an awful lot to dial in...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

How bailouts work

Thought this was brilliant! It is taken from the blog Bits and Pieces.

It is a slow day in a damp little Irish town. The rain is beating down and the streets are deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt and everybody lives on credit. On this particular day a rich German tourist is driving through the town, stops at the local hotel and lays a €100 note on the desk, telling the hotel owner he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the night. The owner gives him some keys and, as soon as the visitor has walked upstairs, the hotelier grabs the €100 note and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher. The butcher takes the €100 note and runs down the street to repay his debt to the pig farmer. The pig farmer takes the €100 note and heads off to pay his bill at the supplier of feed and fuel. The guy at the Farmers’ Co-op takes the €100 note and runs to pay his drinks bill at the pub. The pub owner slips the money along to the local prostitute drinking at the bar, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer him “services” on credit. The hooker then rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill to the hotel owner with the €100 note. The hotel proprietor then places the €100 note back on the counter so the rich traveler will not suspect anything. At that moment the traveler comes down the stairs, picks up the €100 note, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, pockets the money and leaves town.

No one produced anything.

No one earned anything.

However, the whole town is now out of debt and looking to the future with a lot more optimism.

And that friends, is how the bailout package works!