The digital TV re-tune 7th Feb – and: It’s nice to know genuine technological reform can happen

This Friday 7th February is Melbourne’s re-tune day for digital television. This is when the frequencies of some channels change, so they can make more efficient use of the spectrum.

If you don’t re-tune your digital TV devices, you may find some channels don’t work after this. Hopefully most people will figure out how to do it.

On the television

The whole shift to digital TV, and the shutdown of analogue services, has been interesting to watch. Once the benefit of the extra channels were there, it seemed like there was a stampede of people switching.

It’d be interesting to know what the next planned stages are. Will we move towards all HD channels? It’d certainly be nice to make use of the available technology to get that higher quality.

Digital TV is one of those changes that governments implement from time to time to help the country move forward, and it’s nice to know that — despite some rightly highlighting issues with it — it’s gone ahead relatively smoothly, and without the kind of luddite response to change that you see in some other parts of the world.

Other similar changes that spring to mind from recent decades:

The USA’s near-paralysis on some of these types of issues is an interesting contrast. They’re one of a handful of countries steadfastly resisting metric despite the economic benefits, they still have 1 cent coins and $1 notes despite inflation, their telephone numbering system is a complete mess with more and more cities now having multiple area codes

But they have managed to largely migrate from analogue to digital television — and might even have more free-to-air HD channels generally available than we do.

And of course, the USA leads the world in other ways, particularly around innovation, so I don’t know if these things are necessarily holding them back, but you’d have to wonder how much better they’d do if their government was able to push ahead with basic technological reform.

New toy: iPad Mini

I was amused when I posted last week about using credit card points to perhaps buy an iPad Mini, the Apple-haters jumped in.

The post wasn’t really about technology; it was about credit card points!

But this post is about tech.

My blog viewed on the iPad

The choice of an iPad over an Android tablet was deliberate. Yeah yeah, I’ve fallen for Apple’s marketing hype.

Nah… After pondering buying an Android tablet, I decided that we should aim for some digital diversity in my house.

Thus, we have Android and Nokia phones, Windows and Mac computers (the latter running OSX, but also Windows via both Boot Camp and Parallels), and Jeremy’s dabbling with Linux via his Raspberry Pi.

I bought the iPad Mini yesterday, so now we also have iOS. We don’t have everything, but we have a pretty good spread.

First impressions? The usual nice Apple design and build quality. The interface is pretty easy to use, as was the initial setup.

It’s very responsive with operations like scrolling through web pages or lists of tweets — but noticeably one exception: clicking on buttons seems less responsive than the other touch-screen I’m familiar with, my two-year-old HTC Desire S mobile.

Typing isn’t too bad, but once again isn’t as nice as on the phone, with its force feedback.

The camera seems quite good, though you look like a dork taking photos with it.

Overall, enjoying it so far — and it’s nice to be able to use apps not available on Android.

Platform 7 is rebooting…

Here’s what the new platform Passenger Information Display Screens (PIDS in transport lingo) at the inner-city stations look like:

Richmond station new displays (2009)

They show much the same information as the old screens, but now it’s widescreen, and clearer. (I haven’t checked to see if they still abbreviate Greensborough to “GREENSBORO” when it’s the destination.)

If only I could work out how to unscrew one of these screens and take it home to watch DVDs on…

However, here’s what one at Richmond looked like the other week:

Richmond Station, platform 7

It was booting over and over when we saw it. Whoops.

There is another glitch: the displays above the central stairwell at Richmond have a list of the next few direct Flinders Street and City Loop trains, for people changing trains. Unfortunately they display V/Line trains on them, which suburban passengers can’t use.

Hopefully that’ll be fixed soon.