The future of home entertainment is behind you

Once again the latest technology seems to hark back to the past. At the recent What Hi Fi? Sound and Vision Show the most impressive home entertainment demonstration was not the 103 inch plasma screen, but the Epson projector.

These new proper (1080) high definition projectors also go against conventional technology by using lcd panels inside rather than dlp. Admittedly, just under £3,000 is a lot to pay for a big screen view. However given that it can project an image up to nine metres wide, this is better value than the Panasonic ‘rival’ with 103 plasma inches at just under £40,000. And that is without even mentioning the necessary strengthened wall and increased electricity bills.

St Pancras International opens (again)

I was fortunate to be invited to an opening party (the third of three to be precise) for the revamped St Pancras International station which will be the new home of the Eurostar.

The evening was truly impressive with actor Timothy West playing the role of William Barlow designer of the famous ‘shed’. Then there was the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra assisted by a 40 strong youth choir and Katherine Jenkins singing a duet with Lemar.

Over 1,000 of us sat in specially constructed stands to watch a suspended giant screen on rails featured appearances from F1 driver David Coulthard, actress Kristin Scott Thomas and a range of personalities, promoting the new High Speed 1 service to Paris.

The video below was recorded on the Tuesday evening opening and gives a good idea of the evening plus the Queen’s opening speech.
[youtube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=9UN2oJDvp-k]

British Standard for a cup of tea – BS 6008

1018292_cup_of_teaI have been attending some of the workshops we provide at the Business & IP Centre. I think it is good to sample one’s own products from time to time. Rupert Lee’s workshop on Science & Technology Information for Business provided some unexpected information. For instance I didn’t know there was a British Standard for a cup of tea (BS 6008 to the cognoscenti). I suppose it is the logical result of something the British do best, tea and bureaucracy.

However, more usefully I did learn that standards are a useful source of business information which is often overlooked.

If you are really keen you can read all 11 pages of report from the British Standards Institution

1 Scope and field of application
This International Standard specifies a method for
the preparation of a liquor of tea for use in sensory
tests, by means of infusing the leaf.
2 Definitions
For the purpose of this International Standard, the
following definitions apply.
2.1 liquor
the solution prepared by extraction of soluble
substances from dried tea leaf, under the conditions
described
2.2 infused leaf
tea leaf from which liquor has been prepared
NOTE In the tea trade in the United Kingdom, the term
“infusion” is used with the meaning of 2.2, but, to avoid confusion
with the more general usage of this word, the expression “infused
leaf” has been used.
3 Reference
ISO 1839, Tea — Sampling.
4 Principle
Extraction of soluble substances in dried tea leaf,
contained in a porcelain or earthenware pot, by
means of freshly boiling water, pouring of the liquor
into a white porcelain or earthenware bowl,
examination of the organoleptic properties of the
infused leaf, and of the liquor with or without milk
or both.
5 Apparatus
5.1 Pot, of white porcelain or glazed earthenware,
with its edge partly serrated (see Figure) and
provided with a lid, the skirt of which fits loosely
inside the pot.
5.2 Bowl, of white porcelain or glazed earthenware.
NOTE Various sizes of pot and bowl can be used, but it is
recommended that one of the two sizes shown in the annex, and
depicted in the figure, be adopted.
6 Sampling
See ISO 1839.
7 Procedure
7.1 Test portion
Weigh, to an accuracy of ± 2 %, a mass of tea
corresponding to 2 g of tea per 100 ml of liquor
(i.e. 5,6 ± 0,1 g of tea for the large pot or 2,8 ± 0,05 g
for the small pot described in the Annex) and
transfer it to the pot (5.1).
7.2 Preparation of liquor
7.2.1 Preparation without milk

Fill the pot containing the tea with freshly boiling
water1) to within 4 to 6 mm of the brim
(i.e. corresponding approximately to 285 ml in the
case of the large pot and 140 ml in the case of the
small pot described in the Annex) and put on the lid.
Allow the tea to brew for 6 min, and then, holding
the lid in place so that the infused leaf is held back,
pour the liquid through the serrations into the
bowl (5.2) corresponding to the pot selected. Remove
and invert the lid, transfer the infused leaf to it and
place the inverted lid on the empty pot to allow the
infused leaf to be inspected. In the case of fine,
powdery dust grades, special care should be taken
and a sieve may be required.
7.2.2 Preparation with milk
Pour milk free from any off-flavour (for example raw
milk or unboiled pasteurized milk) into the
bowl (5.2), using approximately 5 ml for the large
bowl and 2,5 ml for the small bowl described in the
Annex.
Prepare the liquor as described in 7.2.1 but pour it
into the bowl after the milk, in order to avoid
scalding the milk, unless this procedure is contrary
to the normal practice in the organization
concerned.
If the milk is added afterwards, experience has
shown that the best results are obtained when the
temperature of the liquor is in the range 65 to 80 °C
when the milk is added.
While addition of milk is not essential, it sometimes
helps to accentuate differences in flavour and
colour.

Technology has come a long way… or has it?

Watching a recent Scoble Show podcast it struck me just how far technology has developed over the years. The picture below shows an early hard disk drive which could store 48 megabytes of data. Nowadays you can buy a 1 terabyte (1,000 gigabytes) hard drive for your PC for under £200.

hard-disk21.JPG

hard-disk1.JPG

However when it comes to software and computer interaction how far have we progressed. The most common interaction with my computer consists of ctrl c, v, s and p. All commands that I learnt 30 years ago in an early version of WordStar.

I also remember when Windows 1995 first came out and a news story on the BBC where they asked the public what they thought of the shiny new interface. The most common question was ‘how do you turn it off?’ Everyone could see the start button in the bottom left handside of the screen, but there was no equivalent stop button. This unintuitive arrangement has lasted right the way through to today with Vista.