Mysterious New NBCSN Graphics Roundup

December 15th, 2014

On Friday, December 5th, NBCSN broadcast an interesting College Hockey matchup between #17 Boston College and the University of New Hampshire. As an avid College Hockey fan, I was looking forward to the broadcast, hoping for some nice BC schadenfreude, or at the very least, some solid Hockey East action. What I got was something altogether unexpected and magnificent!

NBCSN has used the same graphical theme since their inception from the ashes of the Versus channel in January 2012. But that changed this past Friday, when something totally different was rolled out for what should have been a routine College Hockey broadcast!

What is this new devilry? The chrome, heavily gradiented graphics of old are gone, replaced with a more flat, light-colored theme. There’s definitely still some 3D depth — sort of a chiclet look. I was left wondering… why? The NBCSN College Hockey broadcast the next day (Saturday 12/6) was a revision to the norm (which I also grabbed a bunch of screenshots from, but if you know my blogging style at all, you know you’ll never see them). My leading thought right now is that this a trial of the look that NBC will debut at this year’s Super Bowl. Right now, the Big 3 (NBC, CBS, FOX) rotate through the Super Bowl. Last year’s Fox broadcast didn’t really debut anything new, but 2013’s CBS broadcast was the debut of the new look and feel that continues to all CBS and CBSSN broadcasts to date. Seems like a opportunity for NBC to change up their look too!

My other theory is that somehow the production truck was ill-equipped to use the normal NBCSN graphics for whatever reason, but seeing that there was another broadcast on Saturday presumably using the same truck (from Lowell, MA, a journey of all of 57 miles) seems to negate that possibility.

So, systems test will be the prevailing theory! So let’s take a look at NBCSN’s new look. As a reminder for those of you new to this series, these screenshots are taken directly off my TV using a bizarre LG app. The app unfortunately only takes screenshots at 960×540 with high levels of JPEG compression. It’s the best I can do until I finally call Comcast and ask for a cable card. Which I should do. But not today.

Click through the “More” link to see this graphics roundup in full.

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CBS Sports Network Update

December 21st, 2013

I’m working on a breakdown of NBCSN, but in the meantime, here’s a quick update to my previous look at CBS Sports Network’s Hockey graphics package.

One thing I disliked about the previous broadcast was the use of a Picture-in-Picture game clock in their score bar. Naturally, a PiP game clock is never desirable but it’s sometimes necessary due to technical limitations. Whatever technical limitations existed in Western Michigan’s Lawson Ice Arena two weeks ago did not exist in Minnesota Duluth’s Amsoil Arena last week, as that broadcast showcasing WMU at Duluth featured a proper game clock. It seemed to be actually synced with the arena clock, rather than manually operated, but I can’t be sure.

Here’s a quick look at the CBS score bar, with proper clock:

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Looks much better. The whole look is more cohesive, the clock is much clearer and easier to read, and the dark blue background behind the clock is more consistent with the rest of the graphics. The blue bar below the scoreboard is the starting lineup “dangler” caught in mid transition.

Another change is an alternate background color for Western Michigan. As the away team, WMU is wearing black, and this is quickly and immediately discernible from the scoreboard graphic. I have mixed thoughts on this practice, however, which I’ll expand on in a future post.

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A proper clock also significantly improves the score lower third, which looked nasty.

Something I forgot to mention last time was Typography. I’m not a “classically trained” graphic designer, or else I surely would have commented on it. Anyway, CBS Sports currently uses Klavika, following in the footsteps of ESPN. Like most broadcasters, CBS has elected to use an all caps (and in some places, small caps) for increased readability. Indeed, the graphics are extremely clear, even after the terrible JPG compression induced by my screen capture process. All caps are generally regarded as less readable as the amount of text increases, but CBS does a decent job of limiting the amount of text on most graphics (one exception is the “Coming Up” graphic).

While I originally only intended to grab a shot of the scoreboard with clock, while the broadcast was on I grabbed a couple more shots of titles that jumped out at me (after the jump!).  (more…)

CBS Sports Network – Hockey Graphics Package Breakdown

December 7th, 2013

CBS Sports Network (CBSSN) kicked off their NCHC coverage last night, covering North Dakota at Western Michigan. CBS has adapted their new-for-2012 graphics package to Hockey, and it looks quite nice!

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I went through their broadcast last night and took screenshots of each different state of the scoreboard and of each distinct graphic used during the broadcast.

The screenshots are of fairly poor quality (low res, high JPEG compression), as they were taken using the LG TV App on my phone (technology is amazing), and there doesn’t seem to be any quality setting. It’s very easy to take these screenshots, however. I will hopefully switch over to higher quality screenshots once I build my PVR (hopefully later this month).

So, let’s get started with the scoreboard after the jump! (more…)

Further toward the center – Political Compass 2012

April 17th, 2012

I neglected to take my annual political compass last year, but here’s where I stand this year:

Economic Left/Right: -3.62, Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.87

That’s a contraction of +1.5 on the Left/Right scale, and +.67 on the Libertarian/Authoritarian scale from 1.5 years ago. Again, I attribute the Left/Right movement to continuing studies in the field of Economics. I have no explanation for the Libertarian/Authoritarian change.

Mugging News Roundup

April 9th, 2012

Last night at around 9pm, I was mugged by a pair of 16 year olds while on the way to campus for a late-night meeting. Without going too far in to the details, I’d like to present you with seven different accounts of what happened from the local media. I find the variety of the articles, and their inaccuracies, intriguing.

Newspapers:

  • Times Union – This article is a good starting point, as it probably should be given the Times Union’s position as largest media outlet in the region. It does contain an inaccuracy though. “[O]ne of the suspects threw the wallet into the woods to try to hide it, Cooney said.” They actually threw the wallet down just feet from the scene of the crime, which was in the road at 15th and Christie. There aren’t any nearby woods to throw things in to anyway. The inclusion of the maximum sentence is interesting. I’ve never really understood the reason to print the full addresses of those charged with crimes, but most of the articles include this detail.
  • Troy Record – This article actually mentions my condition, which is described as “The victim was slightly injured and required no medical attention.” It’s more like I “refused” medical attention. I had several open scrapes that were bleeding and required band-aids. A couple hours later, Public Safety wanted to take me to Samaritan… Also note the incorrect spelling of “Robbery” as “Roberry”. I’m wondering if that typo will make it to print tomorrow.

TV Stations:

  • WRGB 6 (CBS Affiliate) – First of all, I LOVE the image selection. This article has a bit more of a narrative, and it includes a new item that neither newspaper mentioned – “… when he noticed a group of males paying attention to him.” Indeed, I did notice them ahead of time, and I knew they were following me. I guess a narrative lends itself a bit more to a TV report.
  • WTEN 10 (ABC Affiliate) – This may be the best overall article. It contains an even additional tidbit, “Police say the victim attempted to flag down several passing vehicles immediately after the alleged robbery and his efforts were ignored.” This was probably the worst part of the event — four cars drove by in the other lane after the two had fled, but before I’d gotten up, and despite my frantic waving, none of them stopped to help. The article covers everything quite nicely, providing a strong narrative and skipping out on irrelevant things like their home addresses.
  • WNYT 13 (NBC Affiliate) – Not much to say on this one; it was posted later in the day than most of the others, and it’s a direct rehash of the previous stories. It also doesn’t appear on the main WNYT site, just the Troy site.
  • YNN (Time Warner 24 Hour Local News) – I believe this was the first article to be published. It’s minimal on the details, stating that I had “some personal items stolen.”

Other:

  • 105.7 Crush FM – I think this is my favorite, I wish I could actually hear the radio DJ read this one. The little embellishments are what make it awesome. “Sunday night was not a very good night” for me. I disagree, it was an exciting night, but what an intro. “The dynamic duo will really love this. They have been charged with robbery which is a felony charge that could net them 15yrs in prison.” Dynamic Duo? Hahaha… Good stuff.

From the aggregate, one can get a pretty good idea what happened. There’s a TON of extra details that make the story more interesting, like how I saw their shadows on the wall of a building ahead of me as a car passed, and how I felt “safe” while their were cars passing, but as soon as the road was empty, they took the opportunity and shoved me from behind. It’s interesting that none of the articles got my direction of travel correct, which was to campus. My injuries were actually pretty decent — My left knee was scraped up pretty good and was bleeding, left hip was substantially scraped (it hurts the worst, currently), right palm was punctured and bleeding, left elbow was scraped, left shoulder scraped, left cheekbone scraped, and an area above the hairline above my temple was scraped and bleeding as well. The bleeding was nothing substantial, but you could smear blood from any of the indicated scrapes.

After the incident, and after four cars had passed, I ran across the street to Joe Perchiacca’s apartment, who was thankfully there. I’m extremely grateful towards Troy PD. Their quick response was more than I could have hoped for. At least six cars were involved, and they had apprehended multiple subjects within minutes. Based on what I’ve seen from the RPI Crime Notice fliers, it seems that arrests being made on Troy muggings are rare. I’m glad things worked out for the best.

New Host (finally)

October 27th, 2011

Cuttlefishtech is finally up and running on Dreamhost. I genuinely haven’t had time (or had forgotten) to set everything back up. First, in mid September, I forgot that you actually have to move files around when you change webhosts. I purchased two years of Dreamhost in late August, and my IXWebHosting ran out in mid September. I completely forgot to download my files off IX, so I renewed for one month to grab everything. Things grabbed, I then procrastinated sending them back up to DreamHost. When IX ran out again in mid October, I switched “important” things like my email address and my Mom’s web site over immediately, but it wasn’t until earlier this evening that I bothered to finish the job. And the job probably isn’t even finished, surely there will be odds and ends everywhere that are still broken.

One of the main reasons I jumped ship from IX was the fact that I didn’t have fucking PHP5 support. It’s 2011. Who the hell doesn’t have PHP5 support in 2011? As it turns out, IXWebHosting doesn’t. Now, we’re running the newest and greatest WordPress 3.2.1 (at some point, PHP5 was required). I also went with Dreamhost as they claim to have some sort of Rails support. I haven’t poked around with it yet (I’m not convinced a shared host can actually do a decent job at providing Rails hosting), but eventually (within 3 months) this site will be either running Rails or extremely overhauled and reskinned. It’s about time for me to put together my Portfolio / Professional site. Of course, a redesign will be met with the same, normal, 3-5 day period of daily posts followed by a year-long abyss.

Thoughts on Spotify

July 16th, 2011

Note: Originally posted on someone else’s Google+ post, but figured I’d cross post it here, since hey, I have a blog that needs content, and this way I can link to it on Facebook

Background: I’ve used Grooveshark for around a year now, and have been paying for VIP since September. I’ve been getting increasingly frustrated with disappearing songs from my playlists and the unavailability of “key” songs like Rolling in the Deep. Grooveshark’s “host music until we receive a DMCA” model stops working when record companies start caring and start DMCAing.

I splurged last night on the Unlimited ($5) subscription and spent 4-5 hours setting up my entire “collection” on Spotify. It’s great. All the music is “legit”, ie actually licensed as opposed to Grooveshark’s mostly illegal model. A couple albums are missing here and there, namely all of Arcade Fire, and Daft Punk’s Discovery, but they had just abut everything else I wanted available, including many “rare” Muse B-sides, “indie” artists, and random dance remixes of stuff. It automatically scans your hard drive for music files and adds them to your library, which is AWESOME, and perfect for someone who doesn’t want to abandon their extensive catalog, or if you have super rare stuff that the Spotify catalog doesn’t have, or if you like The Beatles. Unfortunately it doesn’t like my WMA lossless files (probably not FLAC either), but I have most of them transcoded to v0 VBR on a separate hard drive which I’ll move around and import eventually.

Sound quality is 160 kbps Ogg Vorbis at the free and Unlimited level, 320kbps at Premium ($10 a month). It sounds fine (on RPI TV’s stereo monitors), much better than Grooveshark. Albums do NOT play back gaplessly. I do prefer Grooveshark’s “now playing” bar, but Spotify does allow you to queue things on-demand with a simple right-click -> Queue. It also shows the list of upcoming shuffled songs, which is a wonderful feature Grooveshark neglected. However, it doesn’t shuffle “queued” songs, only songs from whatever source you’re “playing from”. Additionally, you’re only able to reorder songs you’ve queued, so if you’re playing from a playlist you can’t reorder the songs in your “play queue”, like you can in Grooveshark. The workaround is to queue the whole playlist instead of playing from the playlist, but that’s slightly awkward and counter-intuitive, and then you can’t shuffle. So, some improvements to be made to the Now Playing interface.

Social networking integration, blah blah, I see Jeff in my right panel. It’s missing a “music discovery” tool like Grooveshark’s Radio, but I suppose there are enough other tools out there to help with that (Grooveshark mostly suggests garbage anyway).

I’m already considering upgrading to the $10 a month plan, namely for the mobile app. 320kbps and offline support would be nice too, but I’d be mostly paying for the mobile app.

Google Ads Preferences

May 27th, 2011

I accidentally stumbled across Google’s Ad Preferences page, which lists all the “information” it has gathered about me through tracking cookies.

It was quite accurate with no false positives. I mean the following list describes me pretty much completely:

  • Arts & Entertainment – Events & Listings – Concerts & Music Festivals
  • Arts & Entertainment – Humor
  • Arts & Entertainment – Music & Audio
  • Arts & Entertainment – Music & Audio – Rock Music
  • Arts & Entertainment – TV & Video – Online Video
  • Autos & Vehicles
  • Autos & Vehicles – Custom & Performance Vehicles
  • Autos & Vehicles – Vehicle Brands – Porsche
  • Computers & Electronics
  • Computers & Electronics – Programming – Scripting Languages
  • Computers & Electronics – Software – Internet Software
  • Computers & Electronics – Software – Operating Systems – Windows OS
  • Games – Computer & Video Games – Driving & Racing Games
  • Internet & Telecom – Web Apps & Online Tools
  • Online Communities – Blogging Resources & Services
  • Online Communities – File Sharing & Hosting
  • Online Communities – Photo & Video Sharing – Photo & Image Sharing
  • Sports – Motor Sports
  • Sports – Team Sports – Hockey
  • Demographics – Gender – Male

I’m curious why it singled out Porsche, and I’m not sure about the very first Concerts and Events category either, but still, great job stalking my internet habits, Google!

I believe the following link should bring you to the page, but I’m not sure as I stripped a ton of session variables from the URL.
http://www.google.com/ads/preferences/

Goodbye, Old Friend

October 7th, 2010

I killed my laptop today. With water. It’s been sent off to who-knows-where for repair by dedicated Lenovo technicians.

I’m now going to take time to reflect upon my old, surprisingly unnamed laptop.

Here’s the earliest photograph I have of my old T61p, taken when it was only one day old…

It was involved in some early hijinks, here it’s joined by my T23 and my desktop in a rickrolling session:

In November of 2008, I chose to upgrade its motherboard to support four processors and dual graphics cards. The eBay listing for the motherboard provided by the Taiwanese vendor was a bit sketchy, but the product performed flawlessly. A++ would buy again.

The power unleashed by a Core 2 Duo, a Core 2 Extreme, a Core 2 Quad, AND an AMD Turion X2 coupled with both ATi and nVidia graphics was intense. Luckily, the motherboard vendor supplied an extremely efficient one-piece heatsink that cooled all six silicon dies to a reasonable operating temperature.

Massive power occasionally caused massive instability

Also sometimes Windows Vista was a bitch

Fuck you, Windows Vista, fuck you!

This is why I will use Thinkpad laptops for the rest of my life:

My first battery, posthumously named Ted Kennedy, was deemed inadequate for my needs in August 2009. Kennedy was succeeded by the exuberant Billy Mays

During winter break 2009/2010, my T61p underwent several critical changes. I once again overhauled the motherboard, dumping support for the factory Core 2 Duo in favor of a newer Xeon chip. My newly reinvigorated laptop is seen here with its new Xeon processor, providing titles for RPI TV’s hockey coverage:

Shortly after, I ditched my stock DVD/CD-RW drive in favor of new cheap technology from Asia. I absolutely love buying from sketchy Hong Kong vendors; I’m always amused by the strange stamps and customs stickers attached to the packaging. The product this time was a Hard Drive caddy. Coupled with a new hard drive, my Thinkpad’s storage capability increased by 412.5% from 160 GB to 660 GB. The blue hard-drive indicator light on the caddy confuses a lot of people. It also causes the thinkpad to not boot half the time when restarting. A complete shutdown / startup works fine, however.

I held off upgrading to Windows 7 until May 2010. I didn’t want the OS upgrade to wreak havoc with my RPI TV titling programs. I’m happy to say 7 has only bluescreened once.

During summer 2010, my Thinkpad had an unfortunate encounter with a feline. The family cat has always enjoyed keyboards; unfortunately she enjoyed my laptop’s keyboard while it was perched precariously near the edge of a table. The ensuing fall cracked the LCD bezel, broke the PCMCIA door, and took out part of the palmrest as well. I don’t have any pictures of the damage, so here’s a picture of the culprit:

I continued to overhaul the motherboard on two more occasions. I upgraded to 5 processors, adding an i7 chip in Spring 2010. Finally, just two days before its wet demise, I added a 6th, an AMD Phenom II X4.

The incident itself occurred early this afternoon. It was a blustery day, and my window blinds were making quite a racket banging against the window with each gust of air. I was in the kitchen, preparing a lunch of fake ham sandwich and strawberry waffles. I grew more and more agitated by the incessant banging of the blinds, so I dropped my lunch and headed to my room, intent on raising the blinds to the stowed position.

As I entered the room, I noticed that my laptop screen was blank. It was sitting emotionless on my bedside table, just under the windowsill. Perhaps it Windows Updated and shut off? I grabbed my phone from the palmrest and was alarmed by the puddle of water that was revealed by its ascent into my hand. Closer inspection revealed a soaked keyboard and soaked palmrest. Only the battery, plug, and bluetooth LEDs were lit. A now empty water bottle lay on the floor next to the table. I conjectured that the bottle, which was capless, had been blown and/or knocked off the windowsill by a gust of wind and/or the bottom of the blinds. The ensuing spill soaked my laptop and phone.

I rapidly retrieved four select-a-size paper towel segments and began drying off the keyboard and palmrest. I was a bit alarmed that the water had not drained through the keyboard drainage holes on the bottom of the laptop. Lifting the laptop revealed a massive puddle. Just how much water is in a 16.9oz water bottle? It was now clear that water had drained. I attempted to powercycle the laptop a couple times. The bluetooth status LED flicked on and off. This was bad. I removed the battery (whose contacts were quite damp). No change. I removed the hard drives and resigned myself that this was the end of my 6 processor, 20 core, dual GPU laptop.

I later traveled to the Rensselaer Computer Repair facility, and all I got was this lame loaner laptop.

Given the extent of the water damage, I don’t expect the laptop I get back will be spiritually my laptop. Since the palmrest was damaged in the Summer 2010 feline incident, I don’t expect to get my stickers back. I hope the Lenovo techs are taken aback by my awesome Taiwanese 6 socket motherboard.

May you rest in piece, my curiously unnamed T61p. I hope the 3rd world “computer recycling center” you end up in is pleasant, and I hope the toxic water runoff you cause doesn’t kill too many remote villagers.

Political Compass 2010

October 7th, 2010

In keeping with one of my annual traditions, here’s this year’s Political Compass result:


Economic Left/Right: -5.12, Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -5.54

I’m slightly less liberal and a little bit more libertarian than I was last year.