Blogging on the train

Back in June last year, I wrote a post while whistling up the East Coast Main Line, but then refused to cough up the couple of quid necessary to actually publish from a moving train. Thanks to one of those happy accidents of ticketing, however, I’m today travelling first class. Thus, there is no escape from my meandering.

This week, I meandered back to Dublin, where we signed off the last couple of shows in the series. There are still two to finish onlining and one show to dub, but that’s all stuff I’ll have to leave to one of my directors – to all intents and purposes, I’m finished. Which, finally, has given me that end-of-project bitter-sweet ennui I enjoy so much.

From Dublin to London, where I briefly caught up with the quite barking Jack, who has spent the week filming no squirrels for CBeebies, and his splendid girlfriend Cassie, who appears to be collecting basins from Blue Peter. All too soon, however, I had to hoof it across London to pick up the SciCast gear…

…via Regent Street, and a pilgrimage to the Apple Store. There, I:

  • Compared the various laptop screens. I’m not entirely impressed with the display on the MacBook – the viewing angle is rather shallow, particularly vertically, and I wondered if this was a side-effect of the glossy coating. However, looking at MacBook Pros with and without the gloss, side-by-side, it’s clear that it’s the MacBook’s screen itself, and not the surface treatment. Viewing angles on the larger Pro screens are significantly better, and indeed contrast on the glossy screens seems much better.
  • Fiddled with an Apple TV demo unit, which was fairly impressive – particularly on the display Sony Bravia telly via HDMI, which was very lovely. However, I was less than impressed by the quality of the videos. I know I’m a tough customer, but I’d expected less compression noise. Freeze frames were pretty bad, and while the quality was considerably better than, say, Torrent Xvid downloads, it certainly wasn’t DVD standard, let alone HD. I should have asked what the sources were – I wonder if I wasn’t seeing pukka HD H264? Stills looked a little over-sharpened but otherwise very impressive indeed, and the interface is quick enough and very clear. Impressive, but I’d need more convincing about video quality.
  • Bought some cables. Ah, what joy to find the whole spread of miniDVI/DVI/VGA/TV/etc output cables, along with Apple’s very funky thin FireWire stuff. They do an ultra-short very thin 6-pin cable for a tenner, which is a Great Thing.

So: I’m now on a train, lugging three cameras, three MacBooks, most of a radio mic kit (minus a crucial cable, uh-oh…), and a few other bits & pieces up to Glasgow.
100 miles/hour and 20Kb/sec, just North of York. Really rather impressive.

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