@jcburns September 17, 2018 at 11:29 am

Inductive charging has always seemed troubling to me. You’re creating heat. It’s a super-inefficient connection between charger and device. You can’t defy the laws of physics. (I may retract this in 10 years.)

@jcburns August 29, 2018 at 12:03 am

Boy, are standard def images tiny: 640×480 pixels of old logoage.

Keys to late 20th century television.

Tuesday, August 21st, 2018

I’m continuing to focus on creating views of fine 1970s-1980s television equipment that, for me, had classic lines, colors, and a je-ne-sais-I-don’t-know-what that says “television.”

©2018, John Christopher Burns

Tactile knobs. Bright colors. A real-world user interface defined by endless rows of labeled keys.

And, to be fair, cumbersome, heavy boxes packed with super-expensive electronics that failed in the heat and had to be coerced into meeting strict FCC interpretations of what NTSC signals should be.

All to create roughly thirty 640 x 480 pixel images per second. Except they weren’t pixels, they were sequential scan lines of varying voltages transmitted through cables that introduced loss, hum, moire, and, in general, degraded the image. Recorded on videotape that required more than a minute to set up and tweak (if you were an expert).

@jcburns August 17, 2018 at 12:08 am

Thinking back to the early 80s when Aretha Franklin sang a custom version of ‘Respect’ for a FirstAtlanta bank commercial. Not kidding. And here’s the thing: it was wonderful.

@jcburns July 18, 2018 at 4:05 pm

When you have a summer place up between Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, Dan Egan’s remarkable reporting is the perfect thing to borrow from the local library and read. From alewives to zebra mussels to algae to the Chicago Sanitary Canal, this book manages to explore all the issues involving these vital bodies of water.

@jcburns May 14, 2018 at 12:35 am

Not an NBC diner.

@jcburns May 8, 2018 at 2:52 pm

Handpainted sign niceness in Sallisaw, Oklahoma.

Powerful hardware.

Sunday, April 8th, 2018

I think one of the reasons I’ve been spending my creative energy (or what passes for it) lately on creating detailed, 3D views of thirty-five-year-old electronic design is that it always had a certain beauty and conveyed functional power.

Do modern user interfaces on our screens do the same? Mmmm…maybe not. And yet, buried within a dense, complex nest of menus and buttons, the pure utility of modern digital technology leaves all the old tech in the dust. It’s not even close.

In order to get one more layer into my late-70s/early 80s compositions, I had to patch and drag equipment from multiple control rooms together and then go through a laborious series of alignments and checks to make sure they were doing the right thing—that their analog signals were playing nice, in synchronization with the other dozen or so analog signals.

At two in the morning, this was a bit hit-or-miss.

But at two in the morning, the warm glow of those buttons and the chrome-y call of those fader bars sure made you want to do more with what you had.


Grass Valley Group 300 switcher, ©2018, John Christopher Burns