Archive for May, 2011

google music (beta)

I just got my invite to Google Music just a few minutes ago.

I created my account then installed the software on my PC and my phone.  The PC software scanned my music folder and started to sync my songs to the great Google cloud, and now (10 minutes later), I’m listening to the music collection I’ve collected over the years streaming to my phone.

You can activate up to 8 devices on a single account.  Very cool stuff.

I think it will sync your iTunes library too … but I wouldn’t know because iTunes is the most evil piece of software ever, and I refuse to use it.

how i made my samsung fascinate not suck

Last week, I got a new Samsung Fascinate (Verizon’s Galaxy S phone).  It was the free phone at Best Buy, and it was time to add a new line to the family plan.

On the surface it’s a decent enough phone, and the hardware is great.  Sure, it’s not a 4.3″ screen with a dual core 1.2Ghz processor, but for last year’s model it’s nice.  The big problem with this phone is the software.  Here are the big gripes that I and others have with this phone:


Out of the box, my it took 3-5 minutes to get a GPS fix (completely unacceptable).  Once I got a fix, it was accurate within reason; however, others have reported that their accuracy was way off with this phone.

I’m not sure why, but an app from the Market fixes the problem all together:  GPS Status & Toolbox

Once I installed this and ran it, I was getting a GPS fix in 5-10 seconds.  I don’t have a clue why this works, but it did for me.  Your mileage may vary; in any case, it’s a very cool little app to have.

TouchWiz UI

Any UI is subjective, but there seems to be a general disdain for Samsung’s TouchWiz interface.  I personally could have lived with it, but I was not a fan either.

Install this:  LauncherPro

I had never used LauncherPro before, but I’m pretty sure it might find its way onto any of my future Android phones.  It allows you to customize your homescreens, doc, app drawer, and a ton of other things.  Very nice, and it got rid of 99% of all the TouchWiz annoyances.


This isn’t really Samsung’s fault, but Verizon has felt the need to have Bing as the default search engine and map provider on the Fascinate.  There’s really no way to change this, but installing Google’s Search and Maps goes a long way.  May others have changed their browser home page to, but I haven’t felt the need.  I just put the Google Search widget on my homescreen, and I’m good to go.

In the original phone (with Android 2.1), you could not download and install Google Search.  However, since the Froyo update last month, it’s no problem.  I’m not sure how long you’ll still be able to buy one of these phones new, but mine came out of the box with Froyo.

But, after all this, the Search button on the phone still uses Bing … Oh well.

Verizon Navigator

Verizon Navigator is the default (and unchangeable) navigation program on the phone.  The icon on the Car Dock screen will ALWAYS open VZW Navigator (making this screen basically useless).

Get the Google Navigation app from the Market and put a shortcut on your homescreen.

Crazy Bloatware

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a phone with this much useless software preinstalled.  You can’t remove it, but at least with LauncherPro (above) I can hide the icons from the app drawer.

So, contrary to popular belief, it is possible to make the Fascinate tolerable (even likable) without rooting and custom ROMs.  I don’t know that we’ll ever get Gingerbread, but for now I’m happy.

how many fingers am i holding up?

Last night, me and the boy were watching a show on National Geographic called “Known Universe“.  This particular episode was all about the infinite nature of the universe and the possible existence of the multiverse.

It reminded me of a conversation we had driving down the road a week or so ago:

The Boy:  “Hey daddy, how many fingers am I holding up?”

Me: “3?” (knowing it was a trick question somehow)

The Boy:  “Nope, 2!  The other one is a thumb!”

Me:  “Hey ‘the boy’, how many fingers am I holding up?”

The Boy: “I don’t know, I can’t see your hands.”

Me:  “Well assuming that there are infinite universes, that our universe is infinitely big, there exists infinite numbers of parallel dimensions, or any combination of the above … I, and all of the infinite other me’s, are possibly holding up an infinite number of fingers … Regardless of the fact that the ‘me’ currently occupying this portion of time/space is only hold up a single finger.”

The Boy:  {silence}

The Wife:  “I have a single finger for you…”

what a 3 frame delay looks like

When shopping for digital HD video equipment, the magic phrase is “3 frames or less”; supposedly, this is the magic number where the frame delay is not noticeable to us mere mortals.  At a standard video rate of 30fps, a 3 frame delay would be exactly 100ms.  When talking about pure digital video in a professional setting, it is CRAZY hard to get anything less than a 3 frame delay on your final output:

  • 1st frame delay comes from the time difference between your camera optics and your digital output,
  • 2nd frame delay comes from the time it takes your switch/mixer to process the video feeds,
  • 3rd frame delay comes from your output source (monitor, projector, TV, etc).

This is basically the best case scenario, and if any of your equipment adds an extra frame in there anywhere, it becomes almost unusable in a live venue setting.

So, in a recent setup I’ve worked on we wanted to make sure that we were within that magical “3 frame” range, so we set up a little test.  I built some timer software that would display the current time down to a precision of 1ms; we ran it on a computer and filmed the computer screen.  We ran the camera through the video switch, and then the video switch out to a monitor sitting beside the computer.  This way, we should have been able to see any delay introduced by the system.  We bumped up the shutter speed on a still camera and snapped this picture:

Yay!  The delay is EXACTLY 100ms; you don’t get better results than that.  So, we hit our 3 frame cutoff mark; that’s great because it really is the best you could possibly hope to get (for the reasons above).  But this left me scratching my head, and this is why:

That video was produced with all of the same equipment (in exactly the same configuration); so, believe it or not, this is a 3 frame delay (100ms).  Obviously, 100ms is detectable by the human eye (yours detected it right?).  From more empirical testing, we saw that 100ms is approximately equal to the time it takes to blink or close/open the palm of your hand.  So, the moral of the story is, don’t let any video equipment sales/marketing person tell you that 3 frames is what you need to shoot for because you will never see the delay.  You should shoot for 3 frames because it’s a best case scenario and…

That’s not the end of the story, and if I left it there I would be doing a disservice.  While this short of a delay is detectable (with your eye), it is not always observable.  See, when not standing directly in front of the screen we could not see the delay at all.  For example, when filming someone speaking in the middle of the stage, there was no noticeable difference in what our ears heard and what our eyes saw on the screen.  Even though, there is a real 100ms delay.

Then, because light travels faster than sound, it would even be possible to reverse any perceivable delay at certain distances.  At room temperature, sound will travel approximately 110 feet in the 100ms time frame.  Here’s what that means:

  • At less than 110 feet from the screen, what you see will be ahead of what you hear.  However, as I said earlier, the difference is hardly noticable.
  • At 110 feet from the screen, what you see and what you hear will reach you at about the same time.
  • Further than 110 feet, the images from the video will be ahead of the sound.  Thus reversing the delay all together.

The real moral of the story:  don’t make a butt of yourself complaining about a 3 frame delay that (while measurable and detectable) isn’t going to be noticeable in any real-world situation.  Take it from somebody who knows first hand; this ruined a whole week of my life!