Another satellite operator to benefit from SAT>IP technology

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SES teams up with rival Hispasat to launch SAT>IP industry alliance | VideoNet TV

My Comments

SAT>IP concept diagram

What SAT>IP is about with satellite TV

Previously, SES Astra have launched a standard for broadcast-LAN transmission of satellite-TV signals around a home or similar computer network. This standard, known as SAT>IP or can be known as SAT-IP, is based on UPnP technology but with the ability to transmit broadcast selection and satellite selection information to the server devices.

This was initially setup for the SES Astra satellite infrastructure that was common in Europe but SES have partnered with Hispasat who are a Spanish TV satellite operator competing with them to push SAT>IP across the whole of the European TV satellite space.

Devolo dLAN TV SAT Multituner SAT>IP server press picture courtesy of Devolo

Devolo dLAN TV SAT Multituner SAT>IP server

This is because an increasing number of companies are manufacturing equipment designed for this infrastructure, including Panasonic who are fielding a range of Smart TVs with client functionality. For that matter, some of their “lounge-room” TVs are offering the server functionality so they can work with the existing satellite-TV infrastructure yet pass this on to SAT>IP clients.

SES are also stepping back from promoting this standard and are putting the mantle of promotion on to the supporters and adopters who are developing the equipment. This is to encourage an operator-neutral attitude towards implementing the broadcast-LAN technology for satellite TV.

It is also worth noting that a network can have multiple SAT>IP servers on it which can also cater to multiple-dish setups where there is a goal to receive content from multiple satellite platforms, something that may be of importance in Germany especially. Who knows what this could lead to with a level playing field offered by SAT>IP.

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Quality of life becomes another argument to validate rural broadband

Article

Tree on a country property

Local government could also improve the reality of proper broadband in the country

Good Broadband Helps Lift Rutland to Top Halifax’s 50 Best Rural Areas | ISPReview

My Comments

I have given increased coverage to the subject of rural broadband, including implementation of next-generation technologies in the country.

Here I have stood for proper rural broadband due to raising the bar for people who live or work in the country rather than treating them as second-class citizens, something I have experienced with radio, television and telephone. An example of this was a telephone service that was frequently riddled with crosstalk, a radio service with reduced access to music content or a TV service with unreliable reception.

In the UK, the Broadband Delivery UK programme assisted by British Telecom made sure that real broadband passed 98% of the county’s premises courtesy of fibre-to-the-cabinet technology. This was also complemented in some villages with fibre-to-the-premises technology courtesy of Gigaclear and Rutland Telecom. This has been demonstrated as a way to lift the value of the properties in these areas as the quality of broadband service can improve one’s online life.

But real broadband in rural areas has been seen as contributing to an improvement to quality of life in these neighbourhoods, which was highlighted in a Halifax survey that was just published. Halifax factored the quality of broadband service in to this list with a bandwidth of 2Mbps or greater as a positive influence. Here, the Rutland neighbourhood appeared at number 1 thanks to the Gigaclear and BDUK

These figures could be used by local government and citizen groups to substantiate why real competition is important for Internet service and why country areas need real Internet service that is reliable. It can also be used by national governments to define the standard of adequate broadband Internet service and justify having this service covered by a universal-service obligation along with protection of real competition for these services and the provision of public money to set these services up.

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Thecus to offer a NAS with integrated uninterruptable power supply

Article

Thecus Adds NAS With UPS Inside | SmallNetBuilder

From the horse’s mouth

Thecus

Press Release

N5810PRO 5-bay NAS Product Page

My Comments

Thecus N5810PRO Small Business NAS press photo courtesy of ThecusA common issue with running a network-attached storage is making sure that the data is intact even if things go wrong with the AC power. This is something that can easily go wrong in regional and rural areas where there is a combination of overhead power lines and overgrowing trees and it just takes a tree or branch to fall down for the power to go out, or if your premises has ageing electrical infrastructure.

Typically this will involve the use of an uninterruptable power supply which effectively is a battery bank for your computer device, giving it a bit of time to properly shut down if the power fails. These are separate devices that you have to buy and plug your NAS into and most of them have the ability to signal to the NAS to appropriately write back the data and properly shut down when the power is out.

But Thecus has solved this problem with the N5810PRO which is a 5-bay small-business NAS that has an integrated uninterruptable power supply. This battery bank provides enough power to cause the NAS to write back all of data to its five disks and properly shut down, but you don’t have to have a separate device to achieve this.

It also has the other expectations of a small-business desktop NAS such as server functionality for a wide variety of tasks alongside even a server-side implementation of McAfee’s anti-virus software. As well, there are the 5 Ethernet ports which allow for serving 5 different physical networks or providing a “fat-pipe” from a suitably-equipped switch. Oh yeah, it also supports SMB/CIFS, DLNA, iTunes for the file transfer and can run multiple RAID volumes across the five disks.

But could I see the integration of a battery backup / UPS function in a NAS become a product differentiator? This could be more so with “small-business” models and the battery capacity could be a product differentiator in itself especially if the goal is to provide long-run failsafe operation.

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Windows 10 Software ecosystem–what will this be like?

ArticleWindows logo courtesy of Microsoft

Windows 10 Apps Will Be ‘Windows Apps’ Or ‘Windows Desktop Apps’ | Lifehacker

My Comments

Windows 10 Start Menu courtesy of Microsoft

Windows 10 – what it’s about

Microsoft is taking bolder steps towards having software developers write one piece of software that runs across multiple types of devices. Previously, if one wanted to develop a program to run on a Windows Phone, the Windows 8 computer or XBox, they had to prepare three discretely different packages with user experiences that play in to the capabilities of the different devices.

Skype with uncluttered Modern user interface

Skype – an example of an app that has been demonstrated to work across Windows 10 and Windows Phone

 

TripAdvisor Modern UI screenshot

TripAdvisor – an app that would be written to work across the phone or regular computer

Now Microsoft is using Windows 10 as a vehicle to encourage the development of a program that runs on a Windows Phone or small tablet, a regular computer running Windows 10 including a 10”-13” tablet or “2-in-1”, or the XBox. Each of these device classes has a different user experience need so there is the idea to develop a different screen for each of the different classes.

There will be the idea of packaging software as “Windows Desktop Apps” which are like the traditional Windows apps we run on regular desktop or laptop computers, while there will be the Windows Apps that run on the different user experiences such as the Windows Phone or the XBox One. This even applies to future device form factors that Microsoft will target Windows at.

It is symptomatic of the way software development is heading towards where a single program package can be pitched at multiple device form-factors like a handheld mobile device, a tablet, a regular desktop / laptop computer, a TV-based game console / media player and even an in-car display. An example of this is what Google is achieving with their Android platform where a software developer can write a program that plays well for the Android phone or tablet and for a TV (Android TV), in-car display (Android Auto) or smartwatch (Android Wear) just by adding a few lines of extra code pitched at the platform.

What will typically happen will be the provision of a “responsive design” user interface that adapts to the device that the user is running the software on, along with code that can run on the classic Intel processors or the ARM processors. This may be a cinch for various “front-end” programs for online services or some games where there is a desire to have access to all functionality no matter the device.

On the other hand, office productivity software may be focused to allow full-time document creation on a regular computer or quick amendments on a phone or small tablet but wouldn’t play with the XBox One. Or similarly, an MMO game may allow you to use a regular computer or the XBox One to engage heavily with it, including playing the highly-interactive segments but may allow you to use the phone to play it in a reduced-interactivity “incremental” manner.

What I see of value is that someone could get an app off the ground to run on a regular Windows computer, a Windows Phone and, where relevant, the XBox One as one effort. As well it could effectively mean that there are fewer platforms to target when developing that great app yet there is a similar or better level of market reach as they have had before.

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Samsung releases an Android tablet for business and trades

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 8" business tablet press picture courtesy of Samsung

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 8″ business tablet

Article

First business-specific Samsung Galaxy tablet goes on sale | PC World

Samsung launches the Galaxy Tab Active for business and enterprise | AusDroid

Samsung means business with new tablet for work | Geelong Advertiser

From the horse’s mouth

Samsung

Galaxy Tab Active (Product Page)

My Comments

Samsung have released an Android tablet that has for the first time been pitched at business users including tradesmen. This tablet, known as the Galaxy Tab Active has been designed from knowledge Samsung gleaned from their interaction with the US’s Fortune-500 companies about the kind of tablets they require.

Personally, I see this as a small-form 8” tablet that could answer Apple’s iPad as a workplace tablet that is based on a mobile operating system. It is designed to IP67 rugged-use specifications which would make it even useful for outdoor work including as a workhorse for tradespeople who are effectively working out of the back of their vans.

The Android 4.4 KitKat tablet is security-hardened courtesy of Samsung’s KNOX security platform for business Android devices. It can link to an 802.11a/g/n Wi-Fi network and mobile-broadband variants can work with the 4G LTE mobile-broadband services. It has 16Gb memory on board and the ability to work with “infinitely swappable” microSD cards like most other Android devices.

Of course the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active is pitched for business users and may not be easily available through the big-box consumer-technology stores, but would be available through some carrier outlets and business-technology specialists including independent computer / technology stores. The durability aspect could also appeal to those of us who want an Android tablet that “bridges” between the smaller coat-pocket personal tablets and the 10” tablets of the iPad ilk.

There is also the billion-dollar question about whether Android 5.1 Lollipop will be offered to this tablet rather than it being stuck with the Android 4.4 Kitkat software.

Personally I would like to see Samsung offer a 10” variant of this model to the business community for applications where such a screen size can play in handy. As well, if a unit has done its business tour of duty, it could earn its keep as a cost-effective alternative to equipment like the iPad.

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HP joins with Bang & Olufsen for optimised notebook sound

Article

HP taps Bang & Olufsen for audio tech now that Apple has Beats | Engadget

HP Partnership With Apple’s Beats Officially Ends as HP Moves on to Bang & Olufsen | MacRumors

From the horse’s mouth

Bang & Olufsen

Press Release

Hewlett-Packard

Press Release

My Comments

B&O will start to appear in HP computers very soon

B&O will start to appear in HP computers very soon

Over the last many years, most of the Windows-based laptop manufacturers have been working with companies in the sound-recording and sound-reproduction space to improve the way these computers have sounded. This is whether through the integrated speakers or when they are connected to external speakers or headphones and was seen as a way to compete with Apple for music recording and reproduction.

The knowhow associated with this sound system will affect how the next HP laptop is designed

The knowhow associated with this sound system will affect how the next HP laptop is designed

As I have seen with the Hewlett-Packard laptops that I have reviewed, HP had partnered with Beats by Dr Dre, known for headphones and speakers with a very impressive bass response, to improve the sound from their laptops. But lately Apple bought out Beats and HP realised they couldn’t continue this partnership.

Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones

Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones

Bang & Olufsen has been well known for some very impressive hi-fi and video equipment, speakers, and audio accessories that are works of art in themselves for a long time.  For example, I had cited their single-piece music systems such as the Beocenter 7000 series, the Beocenter 9000 series and Beosound 9000 CD changer as being above their peers for sound quality even in their days.

They also have designed the ICEPower power-amplification modules to allow sound to be amplified by a compact device that is efficient with power and heat. Of course, B&O has related to a wide range of music from the classics through jazz and classic rock to current popular music and made their brand have that same kind of appeal as the Jaguar or Range Rover cars. This is where a premium brand like these isn’t just about being a status symbol, but is about enjoying the legendary expertise that the brand is all about.

But they have dabbled with sound tuning for ASUS, initially on a project basis but had applied the technology to a larger range of laptops under this brand.

So B&O have decided to pick up the mantle and offer the sound-tuning expertise to HP. This will also be about sharing the design expertise that is associated with how the Beomaster 1900 or Beosound Ouverture were designed. This includes preventing audio-noise sources like the power supply or other control circuitry from adding noise to the signal path.

Let’s not forget the way they have designed their speakers, headphones and similar equipment where they use a special cubic room for measuring the acoustic characteristics for the device they are designing. Here, this could lead towards being able to answer the question about how a laptop or tablet’s integrated sound system can be improved upon, making for a product that is more listenable.

The “Bang & Olufsen” brand will appear on the premium HP computers such as the Envy, Omen and Spectre lineups while the B&O Play lifestyle-focused brand will appear on the Pavilion computers, the tablets and accessories. Here, the B&O influence will affect HP computers that are being released through this year onwards.

I would see this partnership celebrate the expertise that both HP and B&O are about when it comes to their proficiencies rather than the bragging rights that is associated with a particular brand. Could that newer HP Envy or Omen complement that Beocenter?

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Legacy analogue audio to today’s needs–can this be done?

Problem

Linn Sondek LP12

You can bridge the old turntable to today’s digital needs

Most of you will be wanting to link legacy audio media like vinyl or cassette to today’s needs. This will be true for people who have lived through the time period between the 1950s to the 1990s where vinyl records, tapes in the open-reel, 8-track cartridge or cassette form, or newer digital-recording formats like DAT, DCC or MiniDisc were part of one’s music-listening life and you have built up a collection of music on one or more of these formats. On the other hand, you may have started to dabble in the classic audio formats such as participating in the return of vinyl courtesy of the recent “Record Store Day” effort or had shown interest in cassettes courtesy of “Guardians Of The Galaxy” with the Awesome Mix Vol 1 tape (CD at Amazon / JB Hi-Fi, Spotify, MP3 on iTunes / Google Play ) in the Star Lord’s Walkman.

An "on-ramp" digital media adaptor for a network-based multiroom audio setup

An “on-ramp” digital media adaptor for a network-based multiroom audio setup

Similarly, you may find that it is hard to acquire particular recordings or kinds of music on anything other than the aforementioned legacy media. This holds especially true for the “easy-listening” music of the 1950s to the 1970s which has been retroactively dubbed “lounge” or “space-age bachelor-pad” music, or some world or folk music that was turned out through that same era. This leads to you rummaging through second-hand music stores, charity-run thrift stores, eBay and the like for this content and picking it up on records, musicassettes, or similar media.

But there are the new trends like network-based multiroom audio or the ability to copy the music to a file-based audio format to enjoy on your smartphone or via a DLNA-capable home media network. Similarly, you may want to use a computer-based audio-editing program to digitally salvage an old recording before it goes to waste.

Creative Labs Sound Blaster Digital Music Premium USB sound module press image courtesy of Creative Labs

Creative Labs Sound Blaster Digital Music Premium USB sound module – useful for copying old media to your home network

What you want to be able to do is bridge these classic media to the new requirements, whether by operating a turntable to play records through your network-based multiroom system or copying that old open-reel tape to your computer to digitally salvage it and have in a ready-to-play form.

The multiroom system can be catered for through the use of an “on-ramp” module which may also be part of a speaker or network-media-player module. This device takes an incoming audio signal and converts it in to a bitstream that suits the multiroom system it is designed to work with. then presenting it to that system via the home network. Then you use the multiroom system’s control app to select that input and have it play through the speakers.

Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro convertible notebook at Rydges Hotel Melbourne

A Windows laptop can be used for “digitizing” old irreplaceable media

You could use a USB sound module, PCI sound card or an integrated sound module along with a recording program like Creative Media Toolbox, WavePad or Audacity to record from legacy media to file-based media. These tools have functionality to allow you to “clean up” recordings that had come through below par such as to clean out tape hiss or clicks and pops.

Solution

The classic vinyl record

Turntables that have an integrated preamplifier could be connected directly to equipment that has a line-level input but there is an increasing number of these, typically offered for peanuts, that aren’t really kind to records. These have flimsy construction for both the plinth and the tonearm and use a cheap moving-magnet cartridge. Their “automatics” (mechanisms associated with automatic arm return, automatic stylus cueing (fully-auto setups only) and stylus lift) may not behave properly placing undue pressure on the stylus or even permitting the stylus to drop on a spinning platter rather than the record. This also applies to a lot of USB turntables that are pitched as a way to “dump” records to file-based audio media.

VinylPlay - an integrated-phono-stage turntable that raises the bar for this class of turntable

VinylPlay – an integrated-phono-stage turntable that raises the bar for this class of turntable

There may be exceptions to this rule like an integrated music system like a 1970s-era “music centre” that has a turntable that you trusted with your records and have kept in good running order. Some of these systems, especially a lot of the good-quality music centres, will also have a line output, typically so you can connect an outboard tape deck. On the other hand, you may be able to have a good system modified to obtain a line output.

But you may want to use a good-quality turntable or a turntable that you have trusted with your vinyl for a long time especially when vinyl was the main audio medium. Here, you use a regular hi-fi amplifier or receiver that has a phono input and a tape loop that you customarily hooked up a tape deck to.  Even that old amplifier that used to be in your hi-fi system but you use for the computer or have left in the garage can do the job. On the other hand, you can purchase a dedicated phono preamplifier to do this job. As well, some USB sound modules like the Creative Labs Sound Blaster Digital Music Premium HD have an in-house phono stage.

You connect the turntable to the PHONO input on the amplifier and the sound module to that amplifier’s tape output and have the amplifier’s input selector set at PHONO. Here, the amplifier works simply as a phono preamplifier in the context the sound module or multiroom “on-ramp” module.

Tapes, digital media, etc

MiniDisc and cassette decks can also be used to bridge these formats to file-based computer audio or multiroom setups

MiniDisc and cassette decks can also be used to bridge these formats to file-based computer audio or multiroom setups

This is a simpler affair because you can connect the line output (playback output) of these devices directly to a line-level input on the sound module or multiroom “on-ramp” module. Most of the digital decks like that work with DAT, DCC or MiniDisc do expose a digital output which can be connected to the sound module’s digital input. For that matter, some DCC decks like the Philips DCC-900 do use this output even when playing standard cassettes.

In the context of the tape-based formats or MiniDisc, you may use them as a “workspace” when you are doing a recording effort. For example, you may find that these could work well in the “capture” context such as “how long is a length of tape” applying to reliably recording live or radio content. Then you would transfer the content to file-based media for post-production and network playback,

You may find that an amplifier can come in handy if you are feeding multiple sources of this kind to the one sound module or multiroom “on-ramp”. On the other hand, you can get away with a switch-box to select amongst the different sources of this kind. This is because they are typically used as the “switchboard” in a hi-fi system. Here, you connect the sound module up to the amplifier’s record output where you would typically connect up a tape deck to record and could even use an RCA “Y-adaptor” on the same outputs if you are serving a tape deck and the sound module from the same outputs.

Other concerns

You may have to be sure that the equipment you are dealing with is mechanically sound so that it doesn’t damage or destroy irreplaceable media. This is more so if you are playing the legacy media through the setup on a regular basis.

For tape equipment, this may also making sure that the heads are kept clean with an appropriate non-abrasive cleaning tape that is in good condition or, in the case of open-reel or some cassette equipment, using a cotton bud (Q-Tip) soaked in rubbing alcohol (methylated spirits) rubbed across the heads. For turntables, it would also mean that the stylus isn’t chipped or damaged in any other way and is kept clean; and the tonearm is set up properly to follow the record’s groove accurately with the right amount of pressure.

Conclusion

You can bridge the classic music media with today’s audio technology once you are sure that you are dealing with equipment that is in good order and know how to connect it to the modern equipment.

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TAG Heuer announces an Android Wear dress smartwatch

Articles

TAG Heuer and Intel announce Swiss Smartwatch for 2015 | Smarterwatching

Watch Out Apple Watch, There’s a Swiss-Made Android Wear Watch Coming | Gizmodo

From the horse’s mouth

Intel

Press Release

TAG Heuer

Press Release

Video Press Announcement

My Comments

Most smartwatches that were being released were pitched as “everyday wear” watches or sports watches which were something you wouldn’t really choose to wear if your goal was to impress someone special. That is unless they were someone who was impressed by the concept of the smartwatch and what it can do.

But when Apple put forward their Apple Watch, they put forward a few premium models that would go alongside or replace that Rolex Presidential as a status-symbol dress watch. Here, they set the cat amongst the pigeons when it came to providing a smartwatch of the calibre that you would wear in the Member’s Stand at Flemington during the Spring Racing Carnival (Melbourne Cup) or you, as the father of the bride, would have on your wrist as you walk the bride down the aisle at the start of the wedding.

TAG Heuer, along with Intel and Google, have worked on an Android Wear smartwatch that uses technology from the microelectronics name. Here, the idea is to create one of these watches that is pitched to the luxury-watch market rather than keeping Android Wear and the smartwatch scene for so-called “all-purpose” or “sports-class” wearables.

As well, TAG Heuer are even pushing to allow the qualification of a Swiss watch to expand to smartwatches that integrate electronics from other countries like Intel’s silicon but still have the watch assembled in Switzerland and have decorative and electromechanical parts coming from there. It can also be a good chance for Intel to investigate the idea of using Switzerland as a hub for activities associated with manufacturing, research and development for wearable technology.

What I see of this is the fact that companies are stepping forward to sell smartwatches fit for wearing at that exclusive club or in the boardroom of that Fortune 500 company in America. It also means that the smartwatch market can become like the traditional watch market with watches that suit different price ranges and different dress senses.

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You can start and stop Google Chromecast with your TV’s remote

Articles

You Can Now Control Your Chromecast With A Normal TV Remote | Gizmodo

Chromecast now works with your TV’s remote control | Medium

You Can Now Play Or Pause Chromecast Videos With Your TV’s Remote | Lifehacker

My Comments

This can now control your Chromecast

This can now control your Chromecast

The $49 Google Chromecast dongle is able to stream from your smartphone, tablet or computer to your HDMI-equipped TV or projector via your Wi-Fi-equipped home network.

The HDMI specification includes HDMI-CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) functionality, typically presented by equipment manufacturers under their own marketing names like Anynet+, VIERA Link, BRAVIA Link and REGZA Link. Here, this allows for “one-touch start” where a Blu-Ray player or similar device wakes up the TV and, where applicable, home-theatre amplifier, and selects the input it is connected to while the source device prepares to play. Similarly, it allows for “one remote control” operation of multiple video devices such as to use your TV’s remote control to navigate the menus on a DVD that is in a separate Blu-Ray player that is connected to the TV, another way to simplify how your AV setup is operated.

The Google Chromecast had a basic level of HDMI-CEC functionality where it can wake up your HDMI-CEC-capable TV and amplifier and select the input it is connected to if you start streaming through the Chromecast with your phone or computer. This reduced the confusion associated with operating it somewhat.

But, thanks to a new firmware update, you can start and stop your Chromecast content using the play and pause buttons on your TV’s remote control. This includes the ability to pause content using the TV’s remote control and resume it with the device you are streaming it from or vice versa. This can come in handy where you just want to use the device nearest to you to pause it or get it going quickly.

Google could see more potential with HDMI-CEC and the Chromecast. For eample, they could exploit the remote control’s D-Pad as a way of navigating onscreen menus or “paging through” photos in a collection for example. It could also give the likes of Apple something to worry about as HDMI-CEC becomes a desireable feature for platform-based set-top devices.

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