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A Pragmatic Approach To Jitter In Digital Audio

October 27, 2011

A couple of weeks ago I went to an audiophile trade show (the Rocky Mountain Audiofest).  It was interesting to note that a lot of the exhibitors and participants there were clueless about a great many things.  This article is about one of those things:  Jitter.  After talking with many people there I have come to the conclusion that the overwhelming majority of audiophiles have no idea what they are talking about when it comes to jitter.  Doing a google search for audiophile and jitter also bears that out by showing that no two audiophiles agree on what jitter sounds like!  Jitter is difficult to measure, difficult to quantify, and is very technical.  It should be no great surprise that this is fertile ground for misinformation, misunderstanding, and fraud.  This article will try to put a dose of reality and perspective on the issue of jitter. Read the rest of this entry »

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Adventures at the Rocky Mountain Audiofest

October 18, 2011

This past weekend I went to the Rocky Mountain Audiofest.  RMAF is a tradeshow for audiophiles.  Three days of stuff at the Marriott Hotel at the Denver Tech Center.  I don’t know the exact count, but there was somewhere between 200 and 400 exhibitors.

It Looks Better Than It Sounds

If you didn’t know, I have a love-hate relationship with audiophiles.  I certainly applaud the efforts to make excellent sound systems.  But human perception of sound is a very subjective thing, and good audio equipment is a very technical thing that not everybody can understand.  When you combine something subjective with a lack of understanding then you open the doors wide open for pseudo-science and downright fraud.

You could roughly divide up the companies at RMAF into three rough categories:  Awesome, Clueless, and Deceitful.  From a practical perspective there isn’t much difference between Clueless and Deceitful.  It’s much like the difference between involuntary manslaughter and first degree murder.  Both result in somebody innocent dying,  but the deceitful company does it knowing full well what they are doing.

What surprised me at RMAF is that I expected much more deceitful companies.  I expected that maybe 50% of the companies would be in this category.  The real number was probably less than 10%.  Unfortunately, maybe 80% were clueless and only 10% were awesome. Read the rest of this entry »

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Quote Mining and the Bible

September 4, 2011

It always frustrates me when people take a quote out of context in order to make their point seem more valid.  The popular term for this is called “Quote Mining”.  Everybody does this to some extent, but some bring it to a deceitful level– possibly a criminal level.   There are countless examples of this including, but not limited to, the current presidential campaign speeches, the news media, young earth creationists, global warming deniers, etc.  When taken to the illogical extreme, quote mining can produce some very compelling quotes.  For example:

“There is no God” — Psalm 14:1

Of course, when put into context that passage really says:

“The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” ” — Psalm 14:1

Of course, quote mining is most successful when applied to a large body of text that is difficult to interpret, has been translated from different languages, and is old.  Especially a text where people are reluctant to read it themselves.  I am, of course, referring to the Bible.  Although other texts are not immune to it as well.  The works of Nostradamus are very fertile soil for quote mining!

So the question I had was, “How easy is it to quote mine the bible?”  I decided to try an experiment.  I asked my friends on Facebook for some statements that were obviously false.  I didn’t tell them why I wanted the statements.  Once I got some, I picked one out and attempted to justify it using scripture from the Bible.  What follows is a complete work of fiction.  It is made up, using quote mining and other techniques to make sense out of an irrational position.  Enjoy! Read the rest of this entry »

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15 Billion Years != 6 Days in Genesis

August 28, 2011

A pet peeve of mine is when people try to take scientific principles and try to somehow force it to match Biblical teachings.  Not only is this unnecessary, but it generally only makes that person look like an idiot or crackpot.  Today’s crackpot is Gerald Schroeder, and today’s Biblical teaching is Genesis 1.

Countless times people have debated how to reconcile the apparent contradictions between the creation story in Genesis with how scientists now believe the universe came into being.  Schroeder is certainly not the first, and won’t be the last.  Most of the time, Bible literalists claim some variation of, “a day back then is not the same length as today”.    Usually someone quotes 2nd Peter 3:8-9, which reads:  “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

Schroeder takes a slightly different approach, invoking Einsteins Theory of General Relativity and time dilation to “prove” that the 6 days of creation in Genesis 1 is literally identical to the approximately 15 billion years since the Big Bang.  One reason why Schroeder has been taken serious by many people is that he does have a very nice resume.  He has several degrees from M.I.T., and has worked in the Nuclear Physics field.  Unfortunately, this does not make him immune to saying silly things.  (Another example of “smart” people saying silly things is NASA Astronaut Edgar Mitchell, 6th man to walk on the moon, and believes we’ve been visited by UFO’s and can heal people from a distance using psychic abilities.) Read the rest of this entry »

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Birth Control and the Bible

August 3, 2011

I hate it when people claim to be rational about things but are not.  I also hate it when people blindly believe in things which are obviously wrong.  Naturally, this brings me to the Catholic Church!  Catholics denounce the use of birth control, claiming that the bible is against it.  This is a great area to apply some logic and reasoning, so here goes.

My sources for this blog post come from the following web pages:

It’s History, Dummy

One argument for the banning of birth control is historical.  That, somehow, because that’s the way it’s always been that’s the way it should be.  Of course, that’s complete hogwash.  Just because we used the horse and buggy for hundreds or thousands of years does not mean that automobiles are a terrible idea.  Just because we used cotton and linen in our history doesn’t mean that rayon should be banned.

This logical fallacy is an “appeal to tradition“. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why I Hate Power Chip Companies

July 23, 2011

I have given this talk many times, direct to various manufacturers, reps, and distributors.  So I finally decided to write it in blog form.  Maybe this will streamline my sales guy denial process…

As some of you know, I’m an electrical engineer.  I design circuit boards that use computer chips.  Almost every board I design has some sort of power chip on it.  By “power chip”, I am talking about some sort of linear or switching voltage regulator.  A recent board I did has 9 (!) voltage regulators.  They generate the these power rails: +50v, +48v, +15v, +6v, +3.3v, +2.5v, +1.8v, +1.2v, and -15v.

There are many companies that make these types of chips.  Here’s a list of some, but not all, of them:  Linear Tech, Texas Instruments, National Semiconductor (recently bought by T.I.), Analog Devices, Emerson, Fairchild, Infineon, Maxim, Microsemi, Microchip, On Semi, Seiko, Sharp, ST Micro, Vishay, Alpha & Omega Semi, International Rectifier, Lineage Power, Micrel, Nuvoton, Power One, Silicon Labs, and many more.

To make matters worse, each of these companies make many different power chips.  Texas Instruments alone makes over 1,600 different power regulator chips, not including their MOSFET’s, voltage references, and power control chips. Read the rest of this entry »

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Faith Is Necessary

June 15, 2011

This is a followup to a previous post, Faith is Irrational, where I show that Faith (the Christian definition of the word) is, well, irrational.  This post attempts to cover the other side of that coin to show why Faith is necessary.  Like the first post, keep in mind that I am not trying to change anyone’s religion.  Also, this post is 100% conjecture on my part and worth exactly what you’ve paid to read it.

Faith is the firm belief in something for which there is no proof.  Or at least, we have not personally been exposed to this proof.  This is completely irrational, yet we do it every day.  When we go to the Doctors office, we have faith in the treatments he gives despite not having first hand knowledge in how it works.  We drive through a green light without knowing that the cross traffic has seen the red light.  We eat food without knowing that it has been safely prepared.  Why is that? Read the rest of this entry »

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