Oldskooler Ramblings

the unlikely child born of the home computer wars

Archive for July, 2006

Halfway there

Posted by Trixter on July 31, 2006

35 years ago, I was born on August 1st. 25 years ago, also on August 1st, something else was born: MTV. And 11 days after that, the IBM PC was
introduced. Is it any wonder that I enjoy blending all three together?

As I reach what I consider the halfway point in my life, I am surprised that I’m not more depressed about it: I’ve graduated from the cool marketing group
(18-34) to the latter, less hip group (35-49). I’ve gained back all the weight I lost from the beginning of the year. I haven’t saved up enough for my
kid’s college, or even my own retirement. I have more unfinished projects than finished ones. I’m in debt up to my hairline.

And yet, I’m not depressed. I can indeed say that I’ve had my 15 minutes of fame (properly adjusted for inflation). I met the girl of my dreams, married
her, and we’re still together with two great kids to show for it. I’m in a career where the work is related to my hobbies and, hold onto your seats, is
fun to do. I make a decent living. I have a roof over my head and transportation. And that hairline I’m in debt up to? It’s still where it was when I
graduated high school.

VH1 Classics is re-running the first 24 hours of MTV ever broadcast starting at midnight tonight (eastern). Back in 1981, at the tender age of 10, my
father made sure I was up to see it. As nerdy and un-cool as my father is, he recognized the importance of the event, and he has a pretty good track
record: He made sure I would remember the bicentennial by having us dress up in our Sunday best and waving flags and bells in the middle of the afternoon
on our front porch. He also made sure I was up to witness the first ever Space Shuttle launch. I’ve never forgotten all three, and for that I’m grateful.

Life is good. I want my MTV. We can keep going.

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Wither the poor CRT

Posted by Trixter on July 17, 2006

My wonderful, trusty, always perfect six-year-old Sony G400 19″ Trinitron CRT monitor expired this evening. (I’m typing this on the company laptop.) Which leads to a very interesting problem: How to buy a new CRT?

The question isn’t really a serious one, since you can still order CRTs via the web. But the number of models produced, along with their quality level, is diminishing almost down to nil because of LCDs. I haven’t bought a monitor since the G400, and in those six years the landscape has completely turned 180 degrees: LCDs are now the preferred monitor for new computer purchases. There are new models out all the time, their prices are dropping while sizes are increasing, and they have greatly reduced energy consumption and radiation levels.

My problem is that, for my needs, they all suck.

There is no LCD that can do what I need out of a display device. Before you scream “gaming!”, I am already aware that response times have gone down to 16ms and below, making a true 60Hz refresh rate possible. But I have two very basic needs, one old and one new, that LCDs cannot accomplish today — and, in the case of one need, will never be able to accomplish:

  1. Color depth: I need full 24-bit color out of my display device because of the video work I do (yes, I also have an external broadcast monitor, but I like to work in resolutions greater than 720×576, thanks), and LCDs today are capable of about 18-bit (cheap) to 20-bit (expensive) color output. If you don’t believe me, create some (non-dithered!) gradients in Photoshop of red, green, blue, and luma (black to white) of levels 0-16 and 236-255. Make those gradients go all the way across the screen. You should be able to pick out each level, right? Well, try. You’ll see that some of them are getting posturized.
  2. Multiple resolutions: LCDs have a fixed resolution. If you want to work in a different res than what the LCD provides — like, oh, I don’t know, lowres oldskool gaming — you have to settle for some stretching of individual pixels. No matter how good the algorithm, it looks like ass.

My CRT hunt begins. If you know of any decent, professional 19″ or 21″ trinitron CRTs for sale under $400, lead me to them :-)

March 3rd 2009 Edit:  I was able to repair my Sony G400, but it sits under my desk unused as I have to use a widescreen LCD for my MindCandy 3 HD work.  However, this isn’t terrible; while the LCD has a few issues that bother me, it is indeed 24-bit color (and cost $$$ appropriately to get that).

Also, here are some PNG files for Brolin who wanted to see what the difference was between a good LCD and cheap one:

What you will see on a decent LCD monitor

What you will see on a decent LCD monitor

What you will see on a crappy LCD monitor

What you will see on a crappy LCD monitor

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