Archives: December 2010

LCD TVs and Motion Blur

I don’t normally blog about stuff other than software development, but I admit I spend way too much time reading about all sorts of other consumer electronics stuff, spending too much time reading sites like Gizmodo and Engadget.

Religious discussion about the relative merits of technology A vs B have always fascinated me. Usually it really comes down to a personal preference. If prefer the look of Plasma screens, fine. If I prefer the look of LCD, fine. Does it make one better than the other? Not really. Not if we’re making the comparison on different terms. If a screen that shows darker shadow areas if what’s important to you, then that’s great. If you prefer razor sharp images rather than a softer rendering, then fine too.

What I find amusing in all these discussions is when a particular ‘feature’ is picked as being the yardstick for measuring what is ‘better’. Manufacturers use this tactic to set themselves apart from their competitors. ‘Our LCD is 240hz, therefore it must be better than that other lesser 120hz model’. Right. Stores pick up on this too, and sales assistants will ignorantly tell you about x vs y without understanding what it is that they’re telling you.

If you’ve ever wondered about LCD refresh rates (60hz vs 120hz vs 240hz etc) and their (limited) relevance to motion blur this PC World article is worth a read, and they also a current article from December 2010 giving an up to date refresher of LCD vs Plasma screens.

What’s interesting about refresh rates is they are often referred to as the means to reduce motion blur on LCD screens. The fact is that most mid-range and above LCDs have not had noticeable motion blur for the past few years. Before that, yes, but not now (see here for an excellent write up). Response time of the pixels to switch states is the statistic you’re looking for if you’re interested in motion blur. Oh, and refresh rates? It’s to do with reducing the effect of ‘telecine judder‘ which is an artifact from cinema film traditionally shot at 24 frames per second, which cannot smoothly be displayed on any screen which updates at a rate which is not a multiple of 24. PC World have an article here that explains how some of these approaches to hiding the telecine judder work.

I think the most important thing about buying a new flat screen it to buy what works and looks good to you. If you get too caught up in the marketing sales pitches you’ll always be chasing the ‘next best’. And to make sure it looks good with whatever video signal you’ll be squirting into it. Don’t expect your 480i cable signal at home to look as good as the 1080p bluray demo in the TV store… because it won’t.

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Installing Xmap for Joomla

Xmap is a site map plugin for Joomla that generates maps of your sites content and articles.

Joomla tags uses Xmap to generate a tag cloud page of all availabe tags.

Installation instructions are here. The downloaded zip contains two other zips. Unzip the downloaded zip and then use the Module Install link in the Joomla administration to upload and install each of the other zips.

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Enabling SMART monitoring for your harddrives

Install: sudo apt-get install smartmontools

List SMART status, whether enabled:
sudo smartctl -i /dev/sda (change drive device here)

Run test for a drive:
smartctl -t long /dev/sda

You can view a drive’s test statistics by typing:
smartctl -l selftest /dev/sda

To display detailed SMART information for an IDE drive, type:
sudo smartctl -a /dev/hda

To display detailed SMART information for a SATA drive, type:
sudo smartctl -a -d ata /dev/sda

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Securing a directory on Apache with Digest Authentication

       Options FollowSymLinks
       AllowOverride None
       AuthType Digest
       AuthName "munin"
       AuthDigestFile /var/www/munin/.htpasswd
       #people using apache 2.2 will use instead:
       #AuthUserFile  /var/www/munin/.htpasswd
       require valid-user

sudo htdigest -c /var/www/dirname/.htpasswd realmname username

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