Episode 94 – Get it right tech!


The times have changed with tech. We focus on the weird HDMI issues and copy protection. And the connectors? Do you know all the problems caused by people plugging things into the wrong ports?

Besides our geeky tech talk, we discuss the new Moon Knight show a bit and how much we are enjoying it. For a hero that not many people know, we like that they are delving into the character.


2600 Quarterly –

Masters of Doom



rg 94 – tech

[00:00:00] Stephen: Do you like conversation on a variety of topics? Feel like no one wants to talk about the things that interest you tired of only hearing the same, the goal sports or catastrophe talk. Yeah, we feel that way too. Join to high functioning geeks as they discuss just about anything under the sun. We can’t tell you what we’ll be talking about each week, because we don’t know where our brains will take us.

It will be an interesting conversation though. So hang on and join us. Here comes the relentless

[00:00:37] Alan: and you get good morning. I’m not sure if I had this same background last time. I apologize if I did. And mucking around enough. I don’t know. I don’t tend to make sure that I wear an outfit that someone hasn’t seen before. Like my wife and maybe other ladies really are about that. And I’m, don’t care enough about it.

Think about it each. Yeah. [00:01:00]

[00:01:00] Stephen: I don’t get a background because my hook broke for putting my green screen up. So my other one, but yeah. Did you ever read the odd Thomas series by coats? Oh yeah, they’re really good. He talks about that. He w he has jeans and t-shirts and tennis shoes. And I used to always say, just have a couple pair of jeans, because any shirt you wear will be.

[00:01:25] Alan: In college. I was very much like that. I had my, a couple of pairs of jeans, so that I’d be able to wear one while I was washing the other, if I had three or four, actually. But yes, everything goes with everything. And I don’t know, remember in the fly, Seth, Brumble had the thing where you just got all the black pants and all the white shirts and he doesn’t have to put an ounce of thought into where is he?

So I’m not quite like that. I have many pairs of lounge pants and now I have so many like long sleeve t-shirts. I can almost always find a color to match into some color in the pants. And so Colleen is very complimentary about how my [00:02:00] Garanimals sense has gotten better and better thanks to match, but it just, I don’t know, it’s one of those things that it’s an amusement to me, but that’s what I wanted to take is two seconds in the morning.

Spend no time. Man have I ever had an outfit out of them said, oh, this isn’t quite right and changed

[00:02:19] Stephen: into something else. There’s just a very fine line between that and monk.

[00:02:24] Alan: And maybe I’m trying to think I have things that I done. I like how I look at them. So to be in something where it really might matter was that I make a good first impression.

Then I wear my favorite shirt that not only looks good on me, but then I feel good in, and then a little bit of, I’m not worried about, Hey, this suit is tight. When I was on jeopardy. I hated being in a suit. I mean, I’m really not a suit person anymore. When I first started working at arthritis and peat, Marwick, where you’re a consultant and they’re spending big money for you and you have to look at the parks, just like any lawyer or professional.

And yet [00:03:00] my man, when I would come home, I would throw the suit off with a man. And I, and maybe also, because I’m a big guy and things don’t fit me naturally. You don’t want, if I was a nice, like five foot nine standard issue, human being, then I’d go to the suit store and find a whole array of things that would fit me perfectly with very little alternate.

That was never the case. I’m built like a wrestler and a football player. And so I got like a 50 inch chest, 54 actually. And I actually back then had like 34, 38 inch waist. I’ve never kept track of that either to get that wedge shape in a suit, then you got to worry about whatever they have, but puckering and thanks

[00:03:42] Stephen: for just subtly letting me know I’m substandard because I’m not fighting.

There’s that good, good Tuesday morning to me

[00:03:50] Alan: there, you know, that, that was of course not about if you’re

[00:03:55] Stephen: your wife shorter than me, so I’ll let her beat up on you.

[00:03:59] Alan: And it’s, it [00:04:00] really can expand on that. Colleen and I talk all the time about how we are R O U S princess bride has the rodents of unusual.

And whenever we have been, like, we went to a car show one time and it wasn’t that we were just looking at cars and seeing how pretty they were. We trying them on in order to get a car that fits both me with my long legs and head bumping against this. And where does my leg fit against the firewall and her hitching, the seat all the way forward.

Hold the steering wheel reach all the side. It just was an amusing thing to see the two of us on our, she looked for a long time to find the appropriate and groom for a wedding cake so that it wouldn’t look like they were the same, but there was actually like, here’s the big biker and here’s the sweet Maul that he’s done because he wanted it to represent us.

[00:04:49] Stephen: So let me ask you, you texted the few things and I’m in. You’re having the same HTMI problem with your Roku. All

[00:04:58] Alan: the usual themes are [00:05:00] here. You and I both love kind of diving into the troubleshooting and the figuring things out. The more that they’ve made things, plug and play, they’ve also made it that they’re very opaque.

And so instead of being able to go into the config, the preferences dialogues and stuff like that, it just stops working. And then when you try to figure out why that’s not how. There’s there’s nowhere to get the, the way in. So what I’ve discovered is that didn’t even know about. There’s a thing called HDCP high definition copy protection that has been put out by Intel and promulgated all different kinds of devices over the last, like 20 to 30 years.

But it didn’t get the big stink that we had with da DRM, digital rights management. Exactly that, and then there were big disasters about that. Sony had a whole thing where they were installing kind of spyware to make sure that. Hopping things off of their CDs or DVDs, but then they start to interfere with other operations.

And so this has been [00:06:00] in the background and I knew that there were things in VCRs and DVD players and stuff like that for a long time about region, there are seven regions in the world and they make a point of, if you a have a European version of something, he won’t play in a United States player. And I couldn’t even tell you what those seven regions are, but I imagine they’re like the continents, south America, et cetera, this thing doesn’t work because.

And what’s funny as I’ve got a little bit more investigation. It isn’t even a single standard it’s of course, that nowadays things are a combination of hardware and software and chips that within the devices. And so my only eight years old, I think Samsung smart TV only supports HDCP up to version 1.4 and now everything is at 2.2 or two points.

And so after working it suddenly just says, Hey, the combination of your Roku box and your cable. Cause the cable has some smarts built into it too. Who the fuck knew that. And you’ll your TV and maybe the signal actually coming into your house while you’re switch [00:07:00] router, et cetera, somehow that doesn’t cooperate.

And it really matters all that because it’s not just the exact things that you have hooked up. It’s anything. It does a little check across all the network, all the things you’ve got hooked up. And if any part of that isn’t right. It throws up its hands and says, Hey, we think someone’s trying to copy something illegally.

Get content from a bad source. Just stops working. What’s funny is it doesn’t stop working permanently the way you solve that is you unplug all the HTMI cables and unplug all the power cables and give her that usual, like ten second reset. And you plug them back in and you have to plug in your HTMI first and then your power, because otherwise the minute you put power in without having turned the device on yet, it’s already doing its handshaking, whatever it does with those sensing protocol for the ports.

And then it starts to work again. But then sometimes. It makes it stop working and you get the HD CP arrows up on the screen. So here I was like, I was all happy with my new Roku box because it’s [00:08:00] state of the art coolness and my TV supported enough. I thought just a matter of like resolution and sound that it all was compatible.

We’ll know this HD CP thing. So maybe I, like I said, I don’t know. You said you were experiencing similar things.

[00:08:13] Stephen: Yeah, it was exactly that. And I didn’t know a lot, like you said, what all is the copy protection stuff, everything just. That’s what it should be, because like you said, we like to tinker with this, but there are times when you’re like, oh God, I don’t want to mess with this right now.

You know

[00:08:28] Alan: exactly. I was sitting down to watch this and I’ve got this here and now I’ve got the next question. It’s not just a matter of turning to get off and turning it back on again. I actually have to reach behind a TV that is set up just like I want it to get to the cables. So I got to angle it that am I really going to get it back?

You know what I mean? It’s and of course, Colleen is like, Hey, we were looking forward to watching castle what? Five minutes. So troubleshooting, especially when you’re not sure it’s

[00:08:52] Stephen: going to work, because then you get frustrated and aggravated it changes the mood. Yeah. And like you, it was like [00:09:00] working in, then it wasn’t, it would give the air on the screen.

And I couldn’t, and it was the exact thing. I think my parents for their Roku, the TV was a little bit. For mine, the cable, and this was a cable I juiced on this Roku for a year. And then suddenly it’s given me this air. We had to go get a brand new cable and now it works and everything else was the same.

The new Roku we got the soundbar one has the arc, which I forget what that acronym stands for. And w I was trying to get work done, but he kept flashing like every five to 15 seconds. Flash and playing with it, playing with it. So I fixed it. I had to get a $25 cable. I’m like, damn it. I’m going to make it work or else.

And it works fine. You had to set the settings in the Roku, writes at the settings on the TV, plug it into the right spot to get, and it works fine. No problem. The stupid thing was. I could plug [00:10:00] it into the non arc port HTMI port on the TV and it wouldn’t give that problem. So I’m like that kind of bypasses that right there, folks.

[00:10:08] Alan: Exactly. And honestly, so there we are. I’ve got my TV has a HTMI port on the back and then a string of two USBs and two HD Mays on the side. And. As I did the research, I found out that, Hey, HTMI all interchangeable. Just like USB should be tangible. No, nowadays they got ones that are it’s USB three. So it runs as the fastest, but then it degrades and some ports don’t even handle it.

They’ll still work, but you’ll get less speed or less capability than you thought. And so just what you said, there is an HTMI port that is best for ultra HD for K type stuff, but it’s not. Ultra can’t afford 4k ultra HD. It’s just like port number one, they make it. So that port number one is the most capable, but you don’t know that.

And then the ACR one is the one where it actually carries sound better sound. So you can attach [00:11:00] your surround sound type speakers, your soundbar, that kind of stuff. And it actually does carry sound signal, which I thought was, well, it was an HTMI. And, and like I said, they’re not, they can be labeled. ERC or ACR, but if they’re labeled, when it first looked at it, it was like, I don’t know, but it works.

And so I don’t need to worry about it. Then I started to do all the different swapping of. And unfortunately though, it’s plug and play. Now that you’ve swapped, especially one for the other, for awhile, the system gets confused because that’s not where you were a moment ago. And so it has within the Roku box, things that we had in our search that we had, like, how did we find castle in America’s test kitchen and whatever else we had searched for it.

And then just instead of going back to whatever particular service it was part of just to go back to the search and it’s right there. No, that list isn’t current. You go back and try to watch hassle, and it doesn’t bring anything up because it’s lost whatever little background ID, unique identifier doesn’t get stored.

If it’s in the wrong [00:12:00] port, what are you talking about? How can the port be part of that will because there’s Cochrane protection involved in when it first. So it has been honestly a week of figuring each of these little things out. And when I posted online, One of the, there’s all kinds of techniques, sites, even geekier than us.

Believe it or not that love working this thing out and figure out how. Make it so that the world works. One of them was it said that you can get an HTMI splitter, or sometimes you want to have a CMI go to two different monitors and choose which one you want to go to either by software, actually by a physical, like a switch that you push a button, which again, seems like really in this era of ESP type level plug and play, I have to say no, go left or go.

It just seems weird. But having said that, I ordered that. Before I figured out let’s play with the ports a little bit and stuff like that. Apparently the splitter has enough smarts in it that when you plug it into the HDCP [00:13:00] device, it does the handshake without having to worry about passing it through to your TV or to your Roku.

That’s like a middleman that says, don’t worry, I’ll take care of it. But what it really does is defeats that copy protection that I shouldn’t use that term. It makes it unnecessary because I’m not trying to cheat anybody. So we’ll see if I really need that. That’s on the way right now, like I said, I swap cables and it seems to be working and before it was happening, like every other day, and now it’s been probably two days since it hasn’t happened.

So maybe going to the HDMI one port and other things. But having said that this is interesting. I don’t know. Whether my Samsung smart TV can be updated in terms of HDCP as to whether it is a chip set thing and limited by hardware, or whether you can actually update the OS on your TV because your TV is now a computer.

It’s not just as a thing in order to do that. I need to know. Ethernet cable or a USB port. You can’t do it over wifi because it doesn’t like that. It’s not fast enough, whatever. Where did I move my [00:14:00] internet cable into the Roku box so that it does all the talking to the net and then goes into the TV. So I just ordered an eagerness.

And as plenty, I have one downstairs where Colleen’s work set up is such that we wanted to make sure that both her desktop and her laptop and her printer and everything could talk ether net wise. So that even though we have HP has an apple have airplay where you should be able to print, right? Because she has to use a VPN to get into work and make sure that all of those things are very safe and controlled the VPN wreaks havoc with whatever the ease of printing.

So sometimes you can cable it. Sometimes you can go air, but it almost seems to be that it requires like a restart or that something’s working. Some things don’t Adobe does, but Microsoft products don’t or whatever. So we think that to have hardware and then it’s weird to have a cable running through your living room to get to your laptop where you sit on.

So far, but that really was the easiest way for Colleen. Not [00:15:00] that here, these little cries of pain from downstairs where you need to print something out because he’s getting ready to head out the door and just then is when the printing capability craps out because of whatever weirdness it isn’t compatible about.

Right. Having said that solution has worked down there. So I really did it. Find me that ether, net a switch and a switch, not a splitter cause you want it to do it automatically instead of you having to choose by reorder that guy. Actually, I ordered it. Now there’s a newer version of that. This, I guess it’s the same speed.

We have a hundred, we have gig Ethan it into the house. And in here, if I got the newest version of that, and that’s what I’m going to be putting on the back of the TV so that I can have eaten it and go both to the TV, enter the Roku box and the reason for all that is. So then I can try to update the DVDs.

Okay. And make sure that if there is an update that allows it to have HDCP 2.2 or above. All of this can be pulled back. And so that the fund solution would have been just move the cable back first to see whether that’ll fix it. But [00:16:00] this is revealed after the five layers of other things that weren’t working.

So it could be that I’m not going to need any of these extra switches and splitters and stuff that all I had to do was update the OS on my TV, but that wasn’t at all obvious from what was going on. I thought it was the Roku box and it’s new. When something is the new thing to a system, you look at well, what changed.

Center on that guy to figure out how to troubleshoot him. Oh,

[00:16:25] Stephen: here’s I went through the same thing, plugging this and I’ve done network setup. My first big it job was. Using windows 3.1 and hooking up an AB splitter between two computers to a laser jet six, but all the laser jet sixes and my, my boss who had been struggling with it for four and a half hours, and I was done in 10 minutes and he’s just, oh, we’re 25 years beyond that.

It shouldn’t be doing the same thing with all this stuff. And how do people like my mother and my uncle get [00:17:00] it? When all these problems start cropping up. Normal people deal with it.

[00:17:06] Alan: Absolutely. It’s funny. You and I have been in the field for a long time. I have that same experience. What worked way back when it was honestly Lotus 1, 2, 3 needs to Excel.

And before laser Jesse had to work with various different dot matrix things or whatever. So I go all the way back and you hope that all that hard phone now. He’s now not necessary. You hope that it’s beyond that. So you just don’t need to worry about putting control codes in a spreadsheets, printer, dialogue box again, or whatever else it might be.

But it’s weird how there are artifacts that are still out there. And once in a while, when it really is, that’s the old system, they really have to be able to do something out of DBAs three or Fox based that you have an awareness of how to even approach. But I really do object to wow. If I’m having trouble figuring this out, there are no way that my parents would have gone to appendix D of the manual.

We’ll find out what fuck that,

[00:17:56] Stephen: man. It’s all online [00:18:00] and it’s not. Triangles, my Roku, isn’t working people type that type of stuff in, and it could be a million pounds, but they’re not like my printer, uh, that the printer was horrible. Trying to figure things outside the use community. You would think Roku and Sony, Samsung, the TVs, they would label things better and have something that people could read.

Pull out a sheet. It just explained. This is HD. you plug it into an HTMI one port. It’ll do this. Show

[00:18:30] Alan: me the picture. Show me the thing that you have. Show me that you go in here. I don’t mind doing the troubleshooting in terms of, I don’t only go to the manual. I go out to the hive mind and say, okay, Roku, ultra.

And then you’ll get to there’s some tech sites that really are pretty good. There’s also the sites directly from Roku and from apple and Samsung or whatever. They’re not always curated. You’ll go to what you think is a specific problem and therefore, a specific solution. And the solution is [00:19:00] BS. They don’t know what they’re talking about.

And if you read through the string of notes, you’ll find out someone down here like says, no, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Do it this way instead. But apple spent no time fixing that saying a little, just a little asterisk to say this isn’t right. Don’t watch or listen to the first thing you read.

You got to read the whole skein of. So even that act of like out of Google for it and how to trust what you’re reading, that’s itself, a new skill. You know what I mean? I wish I understood why people are so happy to answer, but not art works only in their case, not

[00:19:38] Stephen: in every case or you get the ones that say, I don’t have one of those.

I’ve never done this, but this is what you should try. Great. This is problem. So you’ve got USBs on everything now, even TVs and the Roku and everything else, then you have HTMI there’s similar looking we’re right back to the old VGA plugged into the serial port problems. I don’t know [00:20:00] why this pin

[00:20:00] Alan: is bent.

Apple is contending right now with what the differences between. Thunder and lightening connectors on the USB connector. So they’re similar enough that you really probably could force one in, but you shouldn’t. You know what I mean? And I don’t know. That’s always been around when people kept moving from VGA to DVI, to MOU se, and I didn’t mind when they actually got, make it very distinct.

Don’t make it the difference between an old. Phone connector, the RJ 11 Jack, and then your Ethan at this, which has got one extra thing on the end. If I can fit an old thing in here that there’s room, but it’s not complete. And then from the very start, they’re doing it wrong, but there isn’t. Thank God. It doesn’t like to start sparking things fit, but don’t work at all.

Oh, it, it, it’s funny. There’s a whole business. I’m sure. In the cable world. We’re going to this used to happen in stereo stuff all the time. Right? What you want [00:21:00] is your gold cable with braiding around it. Cause it’ll eliminate all the EMI and electromagnetic interference and that kind of stuff. And then after some big place reviews, all the various different kinds of cables, right?

Monster, cable, whatever else it might be. That 7 99 cable over at best buy is absolutely as good as the thing they want to sell you for 34 99, but they sell the fear, uncertainty and doubt, or the optimization that people are. I’ve got state of the art. I know what it has to be. And so when I go onto Amazon and I try to read reviews to find out, I didn’t just buy the ethernet switch, I wanted to buy another ethernet cable because I wanted to make sure that whatever I had would match.

And that’s w thank God. For instance, Amazon basics is pretty good. They really seem to say. We’re going to find a way to make the cable that everybody needs, but the cheapest possible way out of, I don’t know, re Lanka or something like that, I don’t mean to be stereotypical, but labor and materials and so forth are much cheaper in [00:22:00] some of the Asian nations than here.

So as long as they’re doing the quality control, then I can treat. Otherwise, I really don’t trust where the comment section is broken English because you really don’t know that what you’re getting is at all reputable. So I just did that instead of getting the $30 cable, I got like an $8 cable, cause it’s for Amazon basics that I’m counting on it still be ethernet to gig.

And if it isn’t, then I’ll be like, I wasted eight bucks on a try. And I know that I can just order a better one from Amazon. It’ll be here in a day, looking at the

[00:22:32] Stephen: issue we had at the RG with DHD MC cable, that it was a one had ever heard of that ever. Come on. That’s my only thing is I think. Is because it was such a long table.

It was like a 25 foot, 30 foot long HDMI cable. And I know the laptops aren’t pushing that much power to push it that far. So I would think there’s some repeaters or enhancers in there to push the. [00:23:00] Far enough. That’s my guess. Right.

[00:23:02] Alan: And it’s funny that you had mentioned that because I usually get your standard, like six foot cable.

And then if you’re just hooking up your computer rig, you have cables dangling down because you don’t really need six feet. So for once I looked at, do they have various different lengths and I got the three-foot, the shortest one, they offered. Going from the switch to my TV or to the Roku box. It really is going to be a matter of a foot, not even a three feet.

And I also know that, like you said, the way, oh, electricity say good signal, whatever works, then there’s impotence in any physical thing. And that you get a degraded signal as you’re 25 feet long or something like that, unless you have a booster. So I’ve tried to avoid all those things, but I’m also aware that by getting to three feet, not really might be the one day I’m going to have.

My TV is far away from the switch that I moved to a different house. And I’m going to be like, what am I doing with this lame three foot table? Because at the time it was just the right thing to

[00:23:52] Stephen: say. So let me ask you this. Where is your drawer or box that holds every cable you’ve ever [00:24:00] had that you can’t get rid of.

And that you’ll probably never use again. Wait,

[00:24:04] Alan: did you say box a single?

[00:24:07] Stephen: I have a three drawer thing in the basement. I

[00:24:10] Alan: have put it right. I really need to start having where you can scan Skynet because I have like over by my keyboard, I have a wonderful old Casio CZ, one keyboard that has become. Workout machine that everybody drapes their clothes on.

I have so many cables and so many dongles and do dads and adapters. They’re all laid out there so that I’m aware. Okay. Here’s my back. When wow. Fire wire was still available for the Mac. I use that to connect all my hard drive because back when I was doing printing development, I had to have a lot of data.

All days you changed an available. And one of the fastest experience and stuff like that, their FireWire is the dead standard for probably 15 or 20 years now, maybe 20 or 25. But have I thrown those away? No, because if ever I need to retrieve something off of one of those old FireWire drives, [00:25:00] like I hold on to it.

Just what we talked about, who has all those old cables of, I have how many power adapters. It’s like the plug looks the same for all of them, but then you have to read, sometimes they have a label that says this is 15 or 20 or 25 watt. And I don’t even know if I’m using the right numbers there. It could be that they’re all 80 to a hundred and I’m like, oh, you don’t know.

I just sometimes labeled them. Things together that went, that retires. It’s cables retire with it, but you know that, right?

[00:25:33] Stephen: Yeah. You pull it to use somewhere else. You just need it real quick. My three favorites, I was going through my pile every now and then I’ll go through it and get rid of a few things.

Okay. I have 37, 6 foot ethernet cables. I probably only need to keep 20 of those. Exactly

[00:25:52] Alan: redundancy lets you get rid of it. You know what I mean? Cause I’m pretty sure I stopped. Two cups with a string in between them in case

[00:25:59] Stephen: the [00:26:00] three favorite things I found was I have a little like line conditioner to plug into an ethernet cable when you plug your laptop in.

And I used that when I went places, cause I never knew what the client had in their network. Then I found a. PCI modem that you could plug in or no, either net card that you could plug into your laptop that worked with Linux. Because a lot of them at the time only worked with windows. They were pulling the drivers out of home and okay.

All the laptops have wifi built in now, but I still have the. And then my ultimate was the little baggy of the little jumpers that you would use to put on the back of a hard drive to make it a slave or a master. I have a whole bag.

[00:26:45] Alan: That’s funny. It is fun to geek it up once in a while, because with everything being pretty close to the true plugin, People nowadays don’t have that appreciation for it really used to be that in order to designate what port you were on, you had to move [00:27:00] a jumper, particularly touching the hard drive, that little series of pins, or I used to use scuzzy device, which I thought, why in the world didn’t they pronounce that because he is nasty, sexy is better.

And yet someone said it first and they got it wrong and it stuck. So they’re usually actually have to. The number of the device on the Daisy chain that you were doing, and you could have up to seven, but you had to make sure that your furthest one away was seven. And your nearest was one. If I were zero, was your actually, but then also if you had one that it didn’t have this configurable thing, you had to put it all the way on the end of the chain, because you can make sure that you didn’t have a collision.

Oh, my I’m just that. Wow. You really had to do something to your device before you plugged it in and make, oh, oh,

[00:27:47] Stephen: it was the last time you had to worry about an internet storm.

[00:27:50] Alan: Really. And so what was the network where you had to let’s see, you had to make sure that there were a little, not only like terminators in [00:28:00] every one of the ports that were not being used, because it would actually keep looking for signal on.

To where it would actually blow the network down because it kept doing all that handshaking. What was that like? So

[00:28:12] Stephen: wasn’t that Apple’s early network that they were trying to push instead of the windows was using or something

[00:28:19] Alan: it’s funny. The first plug and play stuff was apple. So it was even before windows had anything that worked, it was just that it had limitations that you had to begin all of those little, it was still an ether Ethan had, or even an archery, 11 Jack.

And maybe it was, I think it was. Plugging into the

[00:28:36] Stephen: phone cord

[00:28:37] Alan: for a house. And it actually used the other pair that your phone wasn’t using. So you can actually have a home network. There was free wifi. There was nothing going through the ether. It was actually, you still had to have wires, but you could use your existing.

Oh my then I thought that was actually a pretty brilliant solution. Yeah, there

[00:28:55] Stephen: you go. Kitty’s phones used to be plugged into wires and the phone [00:29:00] there’s one right there that the Jack on the phones was looking similar to the RJ 45, but they were a different size. And how many times would you walk into a client and it’s plugged in wrong and you’re like, okay.

I think

[00:29:12] Alan: I figured this out for you. Exactly. And this is funny. I remember the days when it was modem, that it wasn’t a router into your house and cables. And then actually modems kept improving every single year. So when you went back to like a 1200 baud modem, and then it went to 4,800, then it went to 96 and you went to 19 two, but you had to have pairs matching global village.

They did all these things to be magically faster, but that’s because they figured out how to make sure that they knew exactly what was on the other end as. Perfectly with a combination of hardware and software and, uh, algorithm, stuff like that. So when my older brother and I were doing computated one of our, one of my first companies where we were figuring out how to have Delta pilots bid for the line, the [00:30:00] steps in place that wasn’t, that per month, we needed to be able to exchange data with Cincinnati and me and Chicago.

Am I getting global modems? And by using, if you remember, there was also like X mode of why modem and the modem for the transfer. X modem fast, but stupid. Why modem added a little bit of error corrections. The modem actually added where if you’re, if you stopped the transfer in the middle, because somebody else picked up the phone, you can actually start it over.

And when you’re moving, like a, I don’t know, back then a lot of data was, let’s say a gig wasn’t even that much. You couldn’t start it over. Cause that was like, oh my God, I just lost an hour. I lost an hour a day to train. So the modem was such an incredible gift to have that ability of it. That was a little bit slower than the overall throughput, but it meant that you could restart.

And so he and I had figured this out, you know, we ran this for a couple of years of that most tedious thing of transferring data, doing the OCR to figure out without going into it a ton, we really had figured it out, [00:31:00] but it sure cost us a global village modem costs like 200 bucks compared to other things being available for.

But it was worth it because our time was value. You know what I mean? And I, there’s only, I tend to wait until maybe technologies are mature. So if somebody else has done all the troubleshooting for you or prices have come down or whatever else, but sometimes it’s really is worth getting out there on the bleeding edge because the advantage is so great.

When you’re the one that’s actually first posting in a BBS, there was no internet back then. Hey, my global village is just doing this. Oh, I was the answer, man, in some ways, for all kinds of things that we were trying to do, I mentioned OCR. What we had to do was arm and actually had printout. There was no data file that you got transferred to you or a thumb drive or anything we used to have to run OCR, optical character recognition, software to figure all of what was on paper and turn it into data.

I know I’ve told you some of my experience way back in college was I was. [00:32:00] Display devices and how different fonts and different things work well and the font they could have chosen that would have made very distinct differences between an eight and a B no, they chose something that was going to be like after I should have to reproduction and stuff like that, blurred everything.

So we had to do not only the initial OCR, but then all the cleanup of all of these various different characters that were ambiguous ones and ELLs and all that of. And I wrote routines that were like, okay, if you’re looking at the airport code field, you can make a guest that always Ord is O’Hare orchard.

You know what I mean? And that it’s an over the line through it is not now an eight because there is no eight RD. So I boy, did I learn about the differences between characters and it must have differences. Data domains, if you will, for what kind of data we could expect that, that torturous character by character stuff that we had to do at the start, I figured it so much of that out [00:33:00] so that it was like run the OCR and then run the cleanup routine and it makes it to almost.

And that’s actually all proud of that, but it shouldn’t have been all necessary.

[00:33:12] Stephen: I remember I had on my Commodore 64, there you go. I was hooked in the quantum leap, which got folded in the CompuServe in the late eighties, early nineties, but I remember they had a Commodore 64 chip tunes, which would be like the pop music rock and roll and all that. It wasn’t like we have now where it’s an MP3, it’s the exact song.

It was. Muzak version of it almost done on the Commodore. And like a three minute song would take 20 to 30 minutes to download, come on kiddies. I can do it in 10 seconds now from wherever. And it wasn’t even the real song. It was just the Muzak version of it. Really?

[00:33:52] Alan: Yeah. It’s again, a little bit wandering down memory lane, but I remember being fascinated by this.

This is one of the reasons that I wanted to study stuff in college [00:34:00] about this plane devices and stuff that I mentioned. I remember going to the museum of science and industry in Chicago. And this must have been like, wow, late sixties, early seventies, quite early in nobody Peter on the desk at it, et cetera, et cetera, you could go into a place where they had a camera.

They taking a picture of you. They printed that off using a dot matrix printer where, you know, if you remember it. Right up close. It looks like characters. All you have to do is back away a little bit, and the varying different degrees of black and shading, as you can go left top bottom, depending on whether it’s an F or a L or whatever else it might be.

And so I, there, I was with my picture, my recognizable face, but produce with characters instead of even dots on green bars. Yeah. I was like, how cool it is that your mind is really good at face recognition. So it will pick out what looks like. And there’s not only a face it’s you or it’s Albert Einstein or it’s Edgar Allen Poe.

Remember they had famous examples [00:35:00] and figuring out where all those different things, character wise, what were the right characters to use were as close to pure black as possible, or as close to white, but you still wanted to have a little speckling, a dot versus a degree side or whatever else. And if you wanted to get emotion, you’d give it an angle instead of a straight pipe.

And I just thought it was really cool that ingenuity, that combination of how they were assigning visual things to character, where that character wasn’t designed at all to be used to create an image, but they were figuring it all out. And so when I wrote something up like that in college, and it was a big achievement to be able to say that thing that.

Wait, I think I was in college from 77 to 83. So this must have been kind of 10 years later, I was able to do what a huge rig at the museum did, my little laptop. You know what I mean? In college, the first IBM PCs or whatever. Right. So pretty cool.

[00:35:58] Stephen: And [00:36:00] again, for all the kitties out there, but when that printed, you knew it was printing.

I know

[00:36:04] Alan: I’ve seen a cartoon that has back when we used to use modems. You’d hear it. And negotiate for your foot. Exactly. I saw a cartoon was like, we used to have to send things over the wires and the robots were screaming at each other and say, take your pills, grandpa, just like that.

[00:36:23] Stephen: Yeah. And that’s a loss of skill to be able to listen to that.

And know what point of the. Protocol and talking to each other, it would error out and not connect at all. It sent that, but didn’t get a reply in it that you could hear the different things. And you recognize

[00:36:40] Alan: after you’ve heard it a hundred times, your mind picks up on this all sounds good and hope there was a glitch there or something like that.

And in fact, boy, again, one of the ways in which I first got into hacking was I was fascinated by the phone for you. Have you read about these guys? They were the ones. They knew enough about how the phone system and that there were particular [00:37:00] toddlers that could say, make this an international call this a trunk or free call.

Let’s see, what was his name? Um, Draper who invented the blue box. I hope I’m not mixing between various different things that you could put this. You could have this box make different tones on the phone, and it would simulate what you were doing as if you were the central office that was patching. Uh, a phone call, something like that.

So some of the first things that Bob bell had to contend with were there were people that really knew how the phones were to that incredibly cool deep level. And you could call home from any payphone just by having your little blue box. And they were very illegal stealing services. And yet it’s only a phone call.

It’s not you’re stealing state secrets by going over those initial people that figured all that stuff about. They then started to figure out well, computers aren’t that different from phones. They are handling things on it in a digital level instead of an analog, [00:38:00] but so long, I have a long time subscriber.

I can’t believe we haven’t mentioned this at a hundred episodes. There’s a magazine called 2,600 because that’s the bomb. That’s the Nepal, the Hertz that gives you that perfect tone. It’s based on phone freaking. I just devoured those when I was young and I don’t know, I never did anything. I didn’t try to break into the well let’s fix my tax returns.

It was fascinating to read how things really work in the background. And maybe that played a, I did a little bit of, how does the system really work here? You know what I mean? If I’m assistant man, I have mightier powers on a regular user. I don’t mean to steal anything, but I sure up curious as to what they can do.

Level underneath the command line that you could drop down into that has other commands, stuff like that, based on your login. And so I was exploring like that and I, I never got in trouble, but I wasn’t the only one doing it. That was really cool subculture of when [00:39:00] you hear someone use a particular term that’s involved with that per company, you’re like, wow, what can I learn from this guy?

He’s farther along than I am. And I’m farther along with him. So there was a whole bunch of information. So the 2,600 crowd used to have a first Friday, they used to have all around the nation and people that would get together. And I went to a whole bunch of those. And I remember once in a while being like, whoa, everybody here is teenagers and twenties.

And there’s a guy here, a guy in a suit. He can’t be a narc Hanny. He can’t be the government trying to figure out just what we bad hackers, hackers prefer crackers. You know what I mean? There’s got to have that connotation of that. It’s about that. We’ll be in a bad guy, disrupting the power plant or something

[00:39:43] Stephen: like that.

White hats and black hats. Now we

[00:39:46] Alan: had some blackouts and it crackers were just, I’m curious as to how far can I go? What’s it like in there? I never stole any data and stuff like that, but it was really cool to get in where I don’t think they know I’m here. [00:40:00] There’s all kinds of great books written about that.

Steven Levy wrote about the leash doom about whatever anonymous. Nowadays to various different people. The people that really know the internet and really can like, wow, if you’re a pedophile site, we’re going to shut you down. Because once in a while, the white hats use their powers for good. Instead of, instead of for gains the east Russian hackers and stuff like that, Eastern European, but that whole culture of it takes a really interesting mind and a little bit of isolation and a little bit of showing off a lot of how apple started off was people getting together at the computer club and just say, Have you seen what I can do?

And the first time that someone saw upon game on something that was not designed to have a single pixel moving around on the screen and wasn’t even pixels back then it was characters. You had your 80 by 20, and you could make an 80 by 40 screen and stuff like that wrong 40 by 20 than 80 by 20. But it just was whatever people set up that, that they [00:41:00] think this is what it’s designed for and all that it can do the first time you see somebody that went further than that.

Better compression. You add that had the first guy that did things that weren’t on the character level or the pixel level for actually mathematical equation or how all those different kinds of herbs work. But it could translate very quickly into being what appeared on this. Like that was such an incredible breakthrough from what was it?

Adobe illustrator and way back when it was all this, there were two main Adobe illustrator and all this something. Why am I not thinking of it? That to have that ability to make mass appear on screen in near real time? Because finally computer power had caught up to, I can do all this difficult math in the background then.

Oh, well, those people and they are so brilliant that it’s like, But with that, I’m so much a user it’s this. Wow.

[00:41:59] Stephen: If you haven’t [00:42:00] read the book masters of doom, you really should. Uh, highly high. I’ve read it three or four times. Now. I actually read it once, listened to it on audio book, but it’s a Carmack and Romero and CarMax genius figuring out like people could go play Mario on Nintendo.

And the screen scrolls as Mario is running along, blah, blah, blah. But PCs couldn’t handle that at the time. They would jump a screen. You’d jump around and get to the edge of the screen. And he figured out how to do that on the old BGA screens and stuff with the computers, and then went on to create doom, which had the 3d space and calculating all of that.

And totally, probably 80% of the games out there nowadays are all because of doom.

[00:42:53] Alan: This is such a great topic because it really shows brilliance in an applied way. When you first were looking at a first [00:43:00] person shooter and you’re wandering around the halls of a dungeon. And of course, what you’re looking for is signs of movement sounds of booming. Cause they found a way to make that more release stimulating as well as visually all the texture mapping.

I don’t need to display every single pixel of a. Cave wall or a castle wall. If you will work out a little bit of like on it, it’s got a little bit of water dripping, whatever else it might be. It just has to be enough to give that right impression because while I’m running through it, I’m not standing there staring at a wall, but I just have to be able to say that changed from underground wet subterranean to now where it’s more seamless wall.

So this is a more modern version or this is on a higher level. It was a fact that they could do that. Like figure out the math to say what all the different textures that I want to be able to support. And that way when not only they, but other people were doing maps of those things, it really could say this is going to be a forest.

And the trees look enough or so very interesting because it’s all fractal coolness. You know what I mean? The way [00:44:00] something grows is self. Similarity and able to do that in real time. Math wise is not easy, but it’s not impossible. And so the first time that you had there was like, wow, that really looks, and then only to have it static, but to have it be now, we have got to make the wind move thing and we’re going to have grass on lading and we’re going to have water.

Timbering like on water, hats off to not only the game players off the ones that have done all those breakthroughs, but then McDonald’s, what am I staying? And then they started a new animation. And maybe that was, I remember reading early stuff about when they tried to take silly characters, like the hamburger that were physical and make them into animation games, but Disney and Pixar and all the big studios, they started to figure out how to do all that.

So that going to be talking about the canny valley before it isn’t necessarily to get close to human necessary, to get reasonable cartoony type. But then as you start to get more realistic, like animals in the lion king, you really have to have what’s [00:45:00] her look like we can ripple through it. What do feathers look like?

What does hair on a human being look like? How does the eyeball catch glimmer of the sun so that it doesn’t look dead like a zombie, but actually looks like where there’s. Skin that has multiple layers, that light penetrates into it and the way you get it. So it’s not a solid color, but it actually looks like it has that.

Penetrability, that’s just amazingly cool understanding of light and anatomy and AF, and that shifting all the time when you put something in shadow. So like, think of all the cool smarts that went into pirates of the Caribbean. Oh yeah. They had the fight with the skeleton and they’re moving in and out of a light source from.

And that he’s going human looking to skeleton dependent. Oh, my

[00:45:48] Stephen: God that was taken for granted now, but, and one of the things I remember learning through Disney and animation and stuff is they talk about the [00:46:00] Disney anime eyes and big, but actually in certain animated style. If they don’t make certain features bigger than they normally would or exaggerated in some way, it looks odd if they make it like perfectly human looking.

So they make it that exaggeration. So it’s more acceptable to our eyes and brain. And that was so fascinating to me to learn that and hear about it.

[00:46:26] Alan: Kind of funny that there’s history to that too. If I remember right, the first like integration. True animation that was in the film was her lock home, younger brother by member juncture like homes.

I think it was where there was a stained glass window that comes to life as a warrior. Okay. It was not distinguishable from the film. And of course they did great things. Roger rabbit and various other integrations of this. That same thing, seeing that, that miraculous thing for the first time and whatever they [00:47:00] did to do the green screen stuff.

So they were combating against it in dodging away from it and stuff like that. It was so seamless.

[00:47:08] Stephen: I think it was a blue screen back at that time. Wasn’t it?

[00:47:11] Alan: In fact blue screen, because he used to be able to see that weird blue halo inter posed into the film and they couldn’t quite get the. But even then, if you’re like, wow, I was like, I don’t care that it’s not quite perfect.

Look how you know. So

[00:47:26] Stephen: I that’s, I did not know that about the animation integration and all that, but if I’m right, there was a similar detective thing, the first use of computer graphics in a movie. Do you know what that was? If I’m right. I’ll look.

[00:47:46] Alan: How about Trump? Something like that.

[00:47:49] Stephen: Yeah, I’ll look it up to verify I’m right on this, but it was the great mouse detective the clock tower in that, the animation.

[00:47:58] Alan: Interesting. I’ll look it up for [00:48:00] sure. It’s kind of funny. All of these first, we have to be very clear with our terms, because for instance, I saw Dick van Dyke dancing with. You know what I mean? It isn’t the first big Zack integration, but it was, did they draw cells onto a film that made all that happen and do that little impropriation that way like CGI, the computer animated graphic was the thing I was referring to with young Sherlock Holmes, but that was a big breakthrough.

[00:48:26] Stephen: I’ll look those up. Cause now I’m, I’m curious, you know how that goes? Oh my brain’s on fire. Let me spend the next 27 hours looking this up.

[00:48:34] Alan: I remember interviewing first cargo like digital Chicago. We had a guy named bill Niffenegger in Chicago. That really was great early at how to create realistic themes using Austin Kai’s power tool.

Remember that kind of Crouse had done this thing where he really did have realistic mountains and trees and water and all, all that, whatever he knew about how to do fractals. And is that [00:49:00] the things that made realistic duplicates, but in real time, And if a nigga was great at creating those things. So that was like his baby WIC.

Everybody came to him for, I’m going to need to have this advertising. I don’t want to go to Switzerland. I want to have things that look like the Alps. And he was able to make real lik realistic snow-capped peaks, stuff like that. So it was very cool, but once a while, totally by coincidence, I’ve had that wonderful opportunity to work with people like, oh, he looks just like a human being, but he can do things that nobody else in the world can do.


[00:49:33] Stephen: Okay, before we, uh, sign off the newest show out at. And so I heard of the new Harry Potter is not doing so well, lowest opening of every, any Harry Potter ever, which c’mon has been like four years since the last one. And I was only about those two anyway, because I’m

[00:49:53] Alan: curious about that histology. I think that maybe it’s Eddie Redmayne is not as charismatic as the.

[00:50:00] Harry Potter and his crew. We’ll see, I haven’t seen it yet. So I want to see it in the big theater, because I really want to have that immersive.

[00:50:07] Stephen: And I haven’t seen Morbius you haven’t seen Morbius on

[00:50:11] Alan: Easter. I made up, I laughed about it. He is risen. I’m going to hell anyway. So why not be Ethan fully?

[00:50:20] Stephen: Well, speaking of risen, but who segway a moon Knight is out. So I take it. You got to watch the first couple

[00:50:27] Alan: I watched the first two. So it’s like wander vision where they are taking their time. Here’s the origin, all compression and boom, drop it on you. They’re very much making it from his perspective of him discovering that he’s got split personality.

And I know you use the old term of whatever dissociated personalities, each of which has their own full life and that people in each of those other lives are like, mark, are you there? Stephen? Are you there? Are you there? What were the various different? The fact that he’s discovering it. Isn’t happy about it, that, [00:51:00] that the actually, and that there is some talking between the characters, like looking in the mirror reflections.

So I’m liking the very good effect where he like gets into that situation. That, from what I understand is a lot of times where multiple personality splitting happens is that you get into a situation where you don’t think you can hit. So you call upon someone who can’t and when he is about to get beaten within an inch of his life, instead he calls upon the mercenary, the, or the Moonlight, whoever it is, that’s a better fighter.

And then he comes and, and that effect they have of him like startling blinking out and then blinking back in. And he’s surrounded by people that he’d beat up. It’s very interesting to see that they’re handling that it wouldn’t be an easy transition and it would actually be really, really. Yeah, it changed from one person to another.

[00:51:53] Stephen: And that was the fear that they would tone that down and just make them a Batman action hero. And they’re not, [00:52:00] and they could have made pure action right from the beginning and tried to make every episode more and more, which you know, is always a recipe for disaster. So I’ve heard people complaining that.

This side or the other thing, but I think they’re missing the point. Again, we need differences. We can’t have every single show be like every other show or who cares anymore. So yeah. Um, one

[00:52:25] Alan: of the things that I’m really liking about it, and I will compare it to duke patrol this regard that it isn’t a single person’s creation or a duo when there’s a writer, artists that create a character moon night has.

Um, really worked on, I think I talked about this by multiple great artists writer teams over the course of time. So his origin in where we’ll find Knight was like Doug bench created him and. People, I really love like Warren Ellis have had a great run on the character and they took a new spin deep into the mythological aspects of it or the psychological aspects.

Or [00:53:00] does he really get stronger in the Moonlight or is that historical strengths coming from his brain is not quite right. The fact that they’ve had multiple takes on it and that they’re trying to summon some of those integrate those into the series, but you don’t know which ones they’re going to include in.

It’s very interesting to see what choices these writers and show producers and stuff were making because they have incredible fertile ground in this regard that it isn’t a through line of ProMat callout sent to earth. You know what I mean? Just like they deepened in Smallville and various other shows what really has happened with the Superman mythos over time.

The moon night Bezos has all kinds of cool stuff. Not only him, of course, but it’s supporting characters and especially his villains. There’s a couple of great villains that are being introduced. So Ethan Hawke, as the master manipulator, religious what’s going on there, I’m looking forward to seeing many good heroes are made much better by having a really good see what.[00:54:00]

[00:54:02] Stephen: Him looking at the security cameras and look right here and they doesn’t see it this time. Cause it was all in his head, but then it really existed in had an effect. Cause his girlfriend got hit by it. The car got hit, so it’s okay. What part of it is mine? What’s not, or did it just not pick up on the camera?

[00:54:23] Alan: It’s funny. One of the great things I do with horror movies is they make the viewer complicit in what’s going up over the camera shot of someone’s walking through. They might have a mask on, so you only see three eye holes and then somebody brings up. Oh my God, I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to watch this being done.

And they’re really doing a good thing of whatever mental fusion he has the uncertainty at his core that he really doesn’t know what’s going on. And what happened, getting that too with he was on the camera and then it wasn’t, but the camera isn’t him. It’s real capture of what went on, not if he’s the one still watching it.

So that ambiguity [00:55:00] is really unsettling, but that’s also a big part of this series is man, what would it be like to live with?

[00:55:06] Stephen: Yeah, so they’re doing good. I’m glad I have not heard what the plans are after the series. How is Moonlight fitting in with everything else? That’s something they really haven’t said a lot of, so I really hope it doesn’t just

[00:55:21] Alan: drop.

I hope that they find me. If you would think that there’s waste there, they seemingly are finding ways to bring in all different kinds of characters into the MCU from the Marvel studio and Sony studio and all that kind of stuff. And how they’re the revival of what happened on TV? What then became called the defenders, even though that wasn’t the common with the defenders, but I’d love to see, and we already have, there’s going to be more debtor there, devil and more Lucasian, whatever else it might be.

And if not in their own series and they’re going to be the west coast adventure, we’re going to be the dark event or they’re, whatever, their various different ways of bringing all this together. And also has so much looking forward to Dr. Strange on [00:56:00] the multi-verse of madness. It’s ridiculously expand what really exists in the Marvel universe because there’s alternate version based on dimension and timeline and alternate choices of all different kinds of things where it’s not even like slightly different costumes.

It’s, he’s a hero here and he’s a villain here. I’m looking forward to see what they do, and it’s going to get messy. It’s going to be very unsettling to people who just want a sit down and have some popcorn and enjoy a big Biff. Bam, pow, it’s going to get really interestingly messy. I’m loving the fact that I have all my book background.

Oh, that was so clever. What they did there really was this reference to Baron and Mordo. And now it’s different. I just love

[00:56:39] Stephen: that. Nope. Colin and I went and saw uncharted with Tom Holland and Marky, mark. It was fun. It wasn’t that. I, if you compare it to Indy, I didn’t get that adventure feel I got from Mindy, but they did a really good job of mimicking the video game.

So if you play the uncharted video games, [00:57:00] it felt like that more than it felt like in the tonight, we’re going to go see the new one must city with Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, and a Brad Pitt, which looks hilarious. So we’ll see how that goes. My father

[00:57:14] Alan: was a weatherman. Yeah, it looks good. Um, I’m actually, I’m very happy when there are movies like that, that have a good awareness of what has gone before and that they actually play with what might’ve been the initial take on it.

Now they actually get to make fun of that a little bit. So you really closely to what made it a great action adventure movie? So those are both things I want to see in the theaters. I’m probably gonna do it. One of the, Hey, how about a $5 matinee on a Tuesday and just go in there and be silly. You know what I mean?

[00:57:44] Stephen: And that’s what we’re doing Tuesdays are.

[00:57:48] Alan: Okay. All right. As always, we’ll see you next week. All my best to you. I know that things are, I’m still dealing with California things. You’re dealing with home things. [00:58:00]

[00:58:02] Stephen: Yeah, let me know when you’re in and out and we’ll plan this and we’ll plan a lunch and we’ll see what’s going on for whatever take care of you have been listening to the relentless and geekery podcast.

Come back next week and join Alan and Steven’s conversation on geek topics of the week.

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