4K TV upgrade

Eleven years ago we bought one of the first flat widescreen televisions with a digital tuner.  Prior to that most people were using a set top box to receive the digital channels, or persevering with an analogue set.  Many households struggled to squash a widescreen 16:9 digital signal from their set top box onto an old 4:3 CRT television, or stretch the 4:3 analogue signal onto their new widescreen TV. 

In 2007 our 40 inch Sony finally allowed us to throw away the set top box, but in 2018 that TV doesn’t receive most of the secondary digital channels (like 7Flix or 9Life).  We had gone back to having a set top box (that actually lived underneath the set) in the form of a PVR (Personal Video Recorder) with modern digital tuners to ensure we could watch all the channels, there was also a Telstra box for streaming digital content like Netflix and YouTube. 

The old 40 inch Sony cost well over $2000 when new in 2007, in 2018 we paid just $1100 for a 55 inch Hisense set that can receive every channel, as well as most streaming services, and has a PVR function available simply by plugging in a USB thumb drive.

The other revelation in 2007 was Full HD, while in 2018 most new television sets offer Ultra HD 4K resolution, giving us four times the available picture clarity.  While the free to air broadcasters still only offer SD or HD, many of the streaming services do have 4K content.

Bev, surrounded by family, Christmas 2016

See any pixels? This is a photo of our new TV screen on the Foxtel 4K channel, taken with my iPhone.

Pay TV provider Foxtel recently introduced a 4K channel, that was being made available to subscribers on the Sports HD package.  We subscribe to Foxtel’s Sports HD package to watch football, which means we can also get the 4K channel, simply by upgrading our Foxtel box (for a small fee).  Seeing as we’d just upgraded to a 4K television, I thought we may as well upgrade the Foxtel box to get their 4K content.

Watching live 4K sport blows my mind!  The picture quality is amazing with way less compression than the online streaming services, and never any buffering, because the signal comes from the satellite, rather than internet.  Even thinking about the technology is fascinating, the bandwidth required to get the ultra high definition signal from the venue to the satellite in real time is huge, not to mention the capacity of the satellite its self.  Foxtel only has the one 4K channel at the moment, but there’s no doubt that will increase as their network capacity grows.

I can’t help but wonder what television will look like in another eleven years.  Will we be upgrading to 8K?

Making videos with iMovie

Since moving from the Windows PC world over to Mac, with my new MacBook Pro, I’ve been on a learning curve as I find my way around the Apple operating system.  Overall using a Mac has been pretty easy.  Yes it’s different, but a quick Google search will tell me how to do something that doesn’t work the way it did in Windows.

iMovie

This week I had to fire-up iMovie, the native Mac video editor, and I was expecting it to be hard to use.  Even though I haven’t done much video editing in the past, I have used Microsoft Movie Maker and Nero’s video editor, but was expecting iMovie to be difficult to learn.  I watched one short tutorial video on YouTube to get myself started and was then able to get stuck into making movies without too much trouble.

Karla’s videos

My daughter, 8 year old Karla, has an interest in videos.  Like many kids these days, she likes to watch videos on YouTube, but Karla wants to create videos too.  She pestered her mother and I for some time to be allowed her own YouTube channel, and around her seventh birthday we finally gave in.  I was able to create a seperate channel under my Google/YouTube account, so I’ve got complete control over what get’s published.

At this stage Karla is only interested in being in front of the camera (she’s too wobbly when holding the camera, and doesn’t yet have the computer skills for editing or uploading), so that means I’m now her personal camera operator, editor, producer and publisher.  At first we were just uploading single clips, but now we’ve progressed to some creative editing.

The first video I put together with iMovie was Karla’s potato science experiment last week.  Yesterday we made a video about the birthday presents from her Nana.  Today we’ve taken our home movies to the next level by including captions and background music in a video about our trip to the football.

YouTube

It sounds like my daughter and I will be making more and more videos, so why not check out her YouTube channel (and maybe even subscribe).  Hopefully the videos will get better as I learn more about using Apple’s iMovie software.

I bought a Mac

I’ve had enough of Windows 10

I’m sorry Microsoft, but I’ve had enough of Windows!  My home-brew PC ran fine on Windows 8, but ever since my horrible upgrade experience to Windows 10,  I’ve had no end of problems.  There have been so many Blue-Screen crashes that I’ve lost count. Even completing a fresh Windows install is wrought with danger, with the process failing or crashing countless times before a successful install was achieved.  Even with a fresh install, some pretty common programmes, like iTunes, simply refuse to run.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Windows.  I’ve embraced every iteration since Windows ’98.  I really like the latest design of Windows 10, but I’ve had too many problems.  My two sons have issues with their Windows 10 computers too, although not as bad as me.  On the other hand, my wife’s W10 laptop works fine.

Then there are the quirks that make me question the latest Windows, like when you cant find what you want in the Windows 10 “Settings” screen, you can click through to the old “Control Panel”, with the same appearance as the old Windows versions.  This gives me the impression that the Windows 10 design has just been tacked on top of the older Windows versions, rather than being a completely new operating system.

I know there are thousands of people who use Windows 10 without any issues, but my experience has not been pleasant.  The final straw was when my desktop started freezing, not necessarily freezing during intensive tasks, but often just during simple web browsing!

So I bought a Mac

I’ve chosen the latest 13 inch MacBook Pro with Touchbar, Core i5 and 16GB of Ram.  This laptop is small and light, about the size of a magazine, and not much heavier, yet it’s powerful enough to handle my photo editing in Lightroom.  I may even try my hand at video editing.

The Retina Display is amazingly clear, the track-pad is amazing big and the USB plugs are…different.  Apple have done away with the traditional USB plugs, and rely on the new USB-C for everything, even charging.  This laptop doesn’t even have an SD card reader, but neither did my Windows desktop, so all I needed was an adaptor to connect my USB card reader to the new plugs.  I ordered the usb to USB-C dongle for $12 when I ordered the MacBook online.

USB to USB-C dongle to connect my card reader

USB to USB-C dongle to connect my card reader

I’m still finding my way around the Apple Mac operating System (“MacOS”), but so far I’m really happy with my new MacBook Pro laptop.  It connected to our network printer and NAS easily.  There was no problem installing software like Adobe Lightroom and Microsoft Office 365.  I’ve found the big trackpad really easy to use, editing hundreds of photos from White Night without a mouse wasn’t a problem, the trackpad is that easy.

The Keyboard

The only thing that’s slightly negative about the MacBook is the keyboard.  It’s noisy – tap, tap, tap, click, click, click.  So typing in bed while my wife is sleeping isn’t a good idea.  Apart from the noise the keyboard makes, it’s comfortable and easy to use.

No more problems

The more I use this MacBook, the more I learn the Mac way of doing things, and the more I like it.  Now I can spend less time stressing about, or fixing my computer, and more time on my photos and blogs.

Talking technology with my 7 year old daughter

The hairbrush singing video my daughter (Karla) and her cousins filmed on an iPad Mini has prompted another video.

With a couple of cameras set up on tri-pods to record us, Karla and I sat down for a chinwag (that’s Aussie for “chat” or “talk”) about the progress of technology.  We spoke about how home video has progressed from the low definition Handycams we filmed her older brothers with, to 4K High Definition on our point and shoot camera.  There were also similar discussions about phones and technology.

I always find it interesting to listen to kids talk about how they see the world, especially when they reveal what they think the future will bring.

Check out the video on Karla’s very own YouTube channel.