Category Archives: Uncategorized

Dolby Gear

An old draft that I found, checking the list of posts…


I bid on, and won, a Dolby CP200 cinema sound processor on eBay. The CP200, for those of you who have no idea what I’m on about, is the best and most versatile cinema sound processor Dolby ever made. It was first introduced in 1980, 36 years ago, but it’s still relevant today if you want to be able to run every sound format in commercial use during the last 50 years, instead of just the more common ones. It’s a brilliant piece of engineering.

So while waiting for the package to arrive, I decided to head over to to read up on the processor. Who better than Dolby to explain how it works, right?


Dolby Laboratories, by all appearances, is now nothing more than an anonymous licensor of digital technology providing endless platitudes about their intellectual property in HTML5 responsive design, equally dreary regardless of device. You might actually like the site if you are five and play Pokemon Go, but those of us who think of Dolby as the only true manufacturer of cinema sound equipment will feel old and lost. I did try the Search box (which was surprisingly hard to spot on the page), typing in “CP200”, hoping against hope that the glossy exterior hid actual substance, but, of course, the single hit returned was irrelevant and wrong.

It was as if the CP200 had been made by someone else.

It could have, actually, and I should have known. I emailed Dolby a few years ago, when trying to locate an extension card to another Dolby processor I own, the CP500. While helpful, the Dolby rep had no idea what I was talking about. He did forward my email to a tech who knew the card but said that they hadn’t had one in years, very few were ever made, and there were no schematics available.

Dolby, it seemed, had forgotten their roots.

Mats Kullander Is Gone

Some dreadful news if you are at all familiar with the ever-diminishing group of film projectionists and techs in Sweden: Mats Kullander passed away today.

I’ve known Mats since the 80s when I was a humble projectionist working at SF Bio, the premier Swedish cinema chain, and he headed the chain’s technical department. He had the unfortunate task of having to close down a number of much loved single-screen theatres in Gothenburg, a task that did not at all endear him to us projectionists. We had many a battle but also an increasing number of fruitful and respectful exchanges, and by the time I left in the 90s, Mats had become a much-respected source of information and stories about our shared interests, including a love of 70mm projection and cinema technology.

I lost touch with Mats for a few years until Facebook came along and many old-timers started gathering there; it’s where many, most even, chat these days. Well, unless you still work in the industry, which I don’t. There are groups of like-minded individuals on Facebook discussing film projection, projectors, 70mm, large-screen formats, and classic theatre design, and there was Mats also, always ready for an anecdote or useful information.

Mats retired some years ago, but they would call him whenever there was a 70mm print to be screened. 70mm projectionists are rare these days so he would run shows at the Rigoletto in Stockholm. He’d introduce new projectionists to the craft, of course, but mostly, I’m sure, he’d be there simply because of he truly loved the work. I believe his last film may have been Oppenheimer, just a few months ago. He’d post pictures, and I’d miss the work terribly.

Today, we mourn.

Headhunters and Cold Calls

As an IT professional, I’m reasonably senior in my chosen field and fairly visible at that, so I get quite a few cold calls and emails, asking me to consider this or that position. The best callers have done their homework so at least I get a decent discussion. Sometimes I even get an offer. Most, however, haven’t done their due diligence at all. Am I a Java developer? No. Am I a software architect? Not really. Do I need lists of people using software similar to that of my latest client’s? No, absolutely not.

My pet peeve right now is the laziest of the lot, recruiters emailing me long lists of openings as varied as a 95-yo’s prescription meds list. Would I please have a look and see if something is of interest. In other words, I can’t be bothered to do my homework, so can you please do it for me?

I’m sure some of these people think they’re helping me out, but most aren’t all that interested. They have a job to do but emailing one list to a 1,000 people is so much easier these days than reading said list before splitting it into meaningful groups and then matching profiles with each group. It’s the scammer mentality: if 1% thinks the Nigerian prince and his gold mine are real, then the campaign is a success!

The problem, of course, is that headhunters, recruiters and the like, unlike scammers, do not operate anonymously. LinkedIn is a big place, but not that big, and eventually word gets out. Recruiter A is not serious. Avoid. Sure, it will take time, but ask yourself:

Do you really want to be that guy?

Balisage 2022, Closing Notes

Balisage 2022 is over, and I had a great time.

I’ve said it before (I think) but the real power of Balisage is that it invigorates me because it reminds me of what I love about my chosen field.

Most years, following the closing of the conference I go back to work, straight away. Yup. Could be a particularly tricky problem, or maybe an alternative to something I have been pondering, but most years it’s just been sheer inspiration. I like what I do, and I like talking to, and listening to, people in my field. They provide inspiration, and they make me want to do more.

It’s a wonderful thing when a conference can remind me of all this, and it’s what Balisage does.

Balisage 2022 Is Upon Us

It’s the first day of Balisage 2022 (online only), and I’ve been enjoying every minute.

Now, my holiday ended yesterday. I’m still in holiday mode. Lots of golf, relaxing, BBQs, meeting friends and family. Stuff. And I have not been particularly interested in markup, beyond some initial XProc and XQuery (and a few bugs I needed to sort out) during week #1. I was not super happy to start working again, and let’s not talk about this morning.

Luckily Balisage is online and a six-hour time zone difference away, so I worked the day and then logged on to Balisage for today’s talks. There’s been a few interesting ones. My favourite so far was a talk on Invisible XML or iXML, as they call it. It wasn’t as much a talk as it was an overview of where the standard (yes; I do consider Community Group specs standards) is now. I specifically liked the demos, with every single implementation astonishingly good. Did I already use “super”?

I can’t find fault with the other talks today, but you do get favourites. Mine was this, but also a chat session afterwards.

See, following the last talk for the day, I logged on to a “birds of a feather” session about conversions from and to MS Office and Open Office formats. It was a bunch of people talking about MS Office (etc) conversions and their approaches, tools, etc for doing the job. Right then and there I rediscovered my love for what I do for a living.

We all share an understanding about markup and the use of angle brackets, and the session was all about that. Tricks, tips, libraries, tools, shared experiences. Enough to make me remember what it is that made me choose this path in the first place. For a first day back at work, I could not be happier, and it’s what Balisage is all about.

Audio and Lossless Formats

Recently got fed up with Spotify. Not the Rogan thing, mind. I think that one is an overreaction – cancel him just because he invites contrarians and uses the N-word? Or that -god forbid – you disagree with him? Seriously? But I digress.

I’ve grown accustomed to the Spotify ecosystem and their playlists, their ever-so-subtle big brother watching me to generate new playlists based upon flawed metadata on the songs themselves, because every now and then they do offer something new that’s genuinely good. Well, not new, just something I missed. That part isn’t perfect but I like it.

The problem is their abysmal sound quality.

They’re running Ogg Vorbis files on a maximum of 320 kbps, which they label as “very high”. A true 320 kbps source losslessly reproduced could be a decent start, but I think that’s never happening. I think their audio is a compromise directed at people who don’t care.

They announced a “Spotify HiFi” about a year ago, though, and there were whispers about hi-res before that, so I’ve been patient. The music I cared about I bought on CD or better, and I sort of made do on that “very high” setting. But 2021 went by and morphed into 2022, and a few days ago or so, I had enough. I’m not exactly sure why; I simply had enough.

I’ve been fed with Tidal ads the last year or two on all of my social media. Big Brother does know me. So I did a couple of Google searches. Tidal was certainly one, but so was Qobuz. The other day I installed them both on my Android phone with one-month trials.

My Android phone, a Pixel 6 Pro, produces decent sound on my wireless Bluetooth Sennheiser cans, so both sounded good enough on a first listen. The Qobuz Windows app on my work laptop sounded even better – a dedicated DAC and a decent set of speakers powered by a Denon pre-amp goes a long way – so I was suitably impressed, especially when playing hi-res FLAC tracks. Classical music, to me, is a necessity, much of the time, and now I found myself discovering music again. Vivaldi, Mozart, Wagner… so many recordings to choose from, and all of them sounded better than Spotify ever could.

And no – I don’t like laptop soundcards. They’re all inferior and noisy and low-res. I bought a FiiO DAC last year to avoid them. My trusty PC sound system – Cambridge Audio, 25 or so years old – gave up the ghost early last year and after an eternity of procrastination (three weeks), I bought a set of Dali speakers and revived a Denon pre-amp I had kept because I knew I’d need it some day. Call it an awakening, but soon after I realised I’ll need a proper DAC to bypass the laptop soundcard. Enter the FiiO DAC, and enter the winter of discontent with Spotify while writing XSLT.

My personal laptop is a Linux box. The Qobuz install on Windows was fabulous, so how would it fare on Linux?

There was no Linux app. The web player was unreliable at best – it would keep the lower-res settings if running mixed-resolution lists, so I had to do a lot of tweaking, every time. No fun if you want to listen to a playlist while working. Adding it to Strawberry, my media player of choice, was no fun either. The bitrates would be correct but finding songs… just no.

Tidal was no better. There most certainly isn’t a Linux solution, and their desktop is limited to “HiFi”, which is not the hi-res option but the one below.

And here’s where this story took a dark turn familiar to anyone as invested in open source as I am. See, Tidal reserves its highest-quality settings and subscription fees to something usually appearing as “MASTER” or just “M” next to their listings. I tested some of them, and sure enough, I thought I did hear a difference. There was no bitrate given, though, nothing that actually gave the stream settings away, which I thought was a bit weird.

So I did another Google search while listening to Tidal versions of the Qobuz recordings I already had compared to Spotify. This is where I found out that MQA, the audio format behind Tidal’s master quality, is proprietary. You cannot independently verify any of its claims because you cannot access the format itself. That is to say, you cannot access the digital, bit-by-bit, output. You cannot read the specification. You just have to trust them.

Now, I don’t like closed source. I’m not opposed to people making money on their inventions, but I also don’t like unverifiable claims. The MQA format is unverifiable. You cannot read the spec, and you cannot access an output MQA digital stream to compare it to the source of that same stream. You just have to trust the people who sell you the licenses.

This was not OK, so I did some additionsl research. Long story short, here’s what you should watch next:

I’m not a bit-by-bit audiophile, I just listen very carefully because I have perfect pitch. I also care about open source, a lot. The former is because  have no choice; the latter is all about conscious decisions the last 27 years or so. Open source is what allows me to write this in the first place, and this is where I’m now. Tidal is out, Qobuz is in, and at least my music sounds better.


Lenovo Customer Support, Part Two

After a month of very little action but me being sent back and forth between support and sales at Lenovo to address what should have been a trivial problem for them to solve, I decided to write a review. See, they’ve sent me these “Following your recent purchase…” emails about once a week after I bought the laptop in April, asking for a few words to be published on their website, and I decided to comply:

Great Laptop But Abysmal Customer Support
The laptop as such is great, but Lenovo’s customer support is among the worst I have ever experienced. They’re slow, they like to pass around your case to each other to cover their tracks and play the blame game, and they don’t respect European consumer legislation. You’d think paying for 3-year premier support would help you avoid this sort of thing, but apparently not.

Of course, they turned it down. I replied to ask them what they thought was inaccurate in my review, but of course, the reply-to email address bounced. They encouraged me to write more content, though, so I copied the original review and my follow-up questions into one, and hit Publish.

They refused it again, using the same form letter and the same no-reply address, so I figured it’s all worth a blog post, at the very least. Lenovo, if you’re reading this, I will make my best effort to spread the word.

It’s been a year…

I’ve not posted for almost a year. I blame work, markup conferences, and golf, not necessarily in that order.

Re work: I’m back to being independent again, which is great. I couldn’t ask for a better boss, and I have a couple of interesting projects to complete.

Re markup conferences: XML Prague is over. I had a paper accepted with Geert Bormans, and what a paper it was. We had so much fun presenting it. Go find the video stream on Youtube if you’re interested.

Re golf: The winter’s been so mild that technically, we never had one.For the first time since I started playing some 20 years ago, I’ve not paused for the winter. It doesn’t help, though – I’m never going to be Tiger Woods.


So many changes already.

I said no to this year’s Göteborg Film Festival, having worked at film festivals since 1987 (and since 1990 at the Draken).

I didn’t submit a paper to XML Prague this year. I was there, though. Naturally.

Blogging Is Boring?

Well, it’s either that or that I’m lazy. I have been busy in real life, though, and it’s sometimes hard to prioritise a blog post, even when I have something I actually want to say.

Which I really don’t, right now.