Monday 21 January 2013

Have You Tried Turning It Off And On?

It's become such a constant refrain in IT support that it's become a bit of a joke...
Have you tried restarting your machine?
So why is this often the first recourse for an IT help-desk type? Simply because, 7 out of 10 times*, it works.

At the very least, restart the program that you are having problems with and preferably restart your machine. Why? Imagine your computer as a worker in an office. You give it a job to do and it quite happily gets on with it. Then you give it another job. No problem. And you carry on piling jobs onto it which, for today's workhorses, is no big deal. However, there comes a point where one piece of paper gets lost. It's here somewhere but there are twenty piles of paper scattered all over the desk. Everything grinds to a halt while this one piece of paper is searched for. There is a quicker way of doing this. Clear the desk of all paper and start the jobs again, one at a time. The paper will turn up, or be recreated.

Now it's not a watertight illustration, but it gives you an idea of what the issue is. I hate to break it to you but computers are dumb creatures. So if one part of a process goes walkabout, the entire system could grind to a halt while the software tries to untangle itself. In the long term, it's often easier to clear the decks, as it were, and start again. Restarting will close every program and file, shut down the operating system and basically allow it to find itself, in a non-profound sense.

Save what you can. Know what you've done and what will need doing again. Make a coffee. Black, no sugar. Thanks.

*79% of statistics are made up on the spot

Sunday 20 January 2013

4K - The next step

Technology has a habit of moving forward just as we think we've caught up. High costs normally make us think "I could never afford that" but over time the costs become reachable as technology takes the next step in becoming something even more unreachable.

Just as we thought High Definition Television had settled down, with the advancements like 720 & 1080, the industry announces another format which is being used, and something that we "must have"

"Must have" is probably a little strong at this stage, currently the costs of televisions displaying this are between 'cost the earth' and 'out of this world' but we are sure that over the course of time, we'll be able to pick them up in our local market stall '10 for a fiver'.

4K is the buzzword at the moment. What is it?  Simply put, it's a high resolution.  Apparently the images are so good, that you could use a camcorder set at 4K and record moving images, with every frame rate at such a high quality, you could use them as stills.  Ideal for catching that perfect shot.

1080HD Tv's are currently at 1920 x 1080. 4K is set at a whopping 3840 x 2160.  It's tempting to think "that's only twice the size" but in reality you get 4 pixels for every 1 when compared with a 1080HD TV. 

What does this mean?  Better quality of course. More realistic images, less "jagged edges" of course.  What it also means is that the media that carries that information will have to change too.  It's more pixels for every frame, therefore the storage will be greater.

Currently storage would be subject to being compressed.  A trailer for "The Amazing Spiderman" was a massive 500Gb. JUST the trailer! A standard Blu-Ray disk holds around 50GB so something will need to be done to transport this type of film.  It's even doubtful whether you could stream this over current broadband speeds.

Oh, and if you're still connected to the Internet by a modem, it would have taken you over 2 years (888 days) to download that trailer!