Words On Wednesday

2015-04-22 Technology, Vehicles, and Antipatriotism

Television Technology Plateau

While perusing stores over the past few weeks, looking for a new TV to purchase, I hit up Best Buy to check out the latest and greatest in the home entertainment industry. While I rarely purchase from Best Buy, the store does serve as a location that I can visit to physically inspect products I’m interested in, as well as ask questions of occasionally knowledgeable and helpful individuals. They have a better variety of newer tech devices, even if their prices are absurd and they push insurance like every device you own is going to die tomorrow.

In my search, I finally saw a curved display for the first time in person. My opinion did not change any upon finally seeing one. I still view curved displays as unnecessary and overpriced. Not only that, but they’re completely detrimental for entertainment areas that do not have very centralized seating. Even if I had thousands of dollars to blow on a TV, I wouldn’t buy one of those. 4K? Maybe. Curved, flexible, or otherwise gimmicky? Nope.

This led me to an interesting conclusion: I firmly believe we have hit a plateau in television technology. Look in the living room of the average lower or middle class American home. Look on the shelves of stores like Walmart, Target, or other retailers that don’t specialize explicitly in technology. What will you see? A bunch of 720-1080p sets typically running at 60 or 120Hz, somewhere in the range of 30 to 60 inches. This is the average, and frankly I think it’s all we need to view the vast majority of visual content available today.

Think about it. Most people that aren’t unusually wealthy can’t afford the hardware and wouldn’t be able to tell a difference anyway. Last gen game consoles were capable of 1080p video, but most games didn’t run any higher than 720p. Blu-ray players are gradually becoming more popular, but still not in every single household. With the exception of media made almost explicitly to advertise 4K functionality, there is almost no 4K video available for home viewing. The majority of our media and the hardware it’s running on are probably years behind the display technology. There’s no need to keep pushing for higher pixel density and gimmicks until the media begins to catch up.

My suggestion, as uninformed as it may be, is to push toward reducing costs of displays and improve connectivity. Lower the cost of producing a television and manufacturers can lower the price while still maintaining the profit margin. Cheaper sets means people will be more willing to buy bigger sets and to purchase them more often. And do you know how much I hate trying to squeeze behind my TV and hook stuff up? That should be cake by now. And everything should be universal. Hdmi for everyone!

Do you know why nobody hears about 3d sets anymore? They were a gimmick. And I predict the same fate for curved displays in the next few years. 4K will suffer the same slow adoption as 1080p HD sets, before finally catching on one more media utilizes it.

Don’t release these new gimmicks and ridiculously expensive sets every year, only to have them rendered obsolete within the lifespan of my toaster. Give me something I can be happy to buy. Prove to me that there will be content available that my television can take advantage of , even if it lasts a decade.

Mutual Cruise Control

I want a feature to let me match the speed of other cars.

Over the weekend, I was following my mother on the freeway and noticed that I spent the entire trip bumping my cruise control speed up and down to stay a normal distance from her. While some people hate cruise control, I love it. My lead foot is a complete non-issue when I can set my speed and have the car keep within a few mph of that speed automatically. Long drives are rendered far less taxing in that I can focus on my own driving and the cars around me without worrying how fast I’m going. When I’m on my own, this is perfectly acceptable. In a caravan of other cars, however, cruise control can be burdensome.

For short trips, cruise control isn’t necessary or even practical. I can simply monitor my distance and depress the accelerator as much as necessary to keep my distance appropriately. We didn’t drive further than maybe 60 miles round trip on Saturday, so I don’t mind keeping my speed manually for that long. What about vacation trips, though? If multiple cars are going 100+ miles one way and want to stick together, watching speed, distance, and other drivers for that long is practically exhausting.

What I want is a way for cars to communicate and share a common speed or distance. We’ll say car A is deemed the pack leader and chooses the pace for the rest of the caravan. If cars B and C want to travel with A, they should be able to link up and either stick to precisely the same speed as A or keep within a given distance range. These following cars wouldn’t be required to stay linked up with car A, however. If car A were to cancel cruise control, the other cars could automatically resume manual acceleration. Furthermore, cars B and C should be able to exit this linked cruise control at will, much the way normal cruise control can be cancelled.

There are plenty of problems that arise with such a feature. Should random cars be able to link up and follow each other, or would there need to be a sort of mutual permission between cars of a caravan? Most cars have some sort of variance between the speedometer and their actual speed: what my car registers as 72mph might only be 68mph to another car, and the actual speed could be 69mph. If the mutual cruise control depends on what the speedometer says, cars wouldn’t always be going the same speed. Standard cruise control has a sort of wiggle room around any given speed, allowing cars to fluctuate in velocity slightly depending on the terrain: how would this scale across multiple cars? If distance is the metric rather than speed, what happens if another car enters the gap between two of the caravan cars? What communication technology would be used, and would cars from different manufacturers be able to link up? This feature is nearly useless if a proprietary medium is used and only certain cars can share cruise control.

Perhaps the average driver has less of a need or desire for this feature than I do. Many people prefer to have complete control over their car, and that’s all well and good. Maybe I have an over-reliance on technology, but I feel like cruise control allows me to focus on other areas that could pose a greater threat to my safety and allowing multiple cars to travel in unison would further mitigate risk.

Antipatriotism – Average National Anthem Length

Some people are way too proud of the way they sing the national anthem.

I’m all for the national anthem being sung at sporting events and other large gatherings of people. It’s patriotic, it celebrates our freedom and rights, and it’s just an all around great way to be proud of the country we live in. It should not, however, take up half of the time the event will last. I jest, of course, but I genuinely feel as though people sometimes drag out the national anthem far longer than it should take. We get it, this is a rare opportunity and you want to showcase your voice as best you can. That doesn’t mean you have to spend half an hour singing a normally 2 minute song.

I propose we place some sort of upper time limit on the amount of time you’re allowed to take in singing the national anthem. Though I’m sure this data is not available right now, I think we should begin to record the length of time spent singing it at every sporting event, in order to build up some statistical data. Take the average or median of all these samples, add a single standard deviation to it, and kill the mic at that point. In order to prevent singers from intentionally pushing this higher by always singing to the upper limit of this range, take regular polls to see if people think it’s lasting too long.

Maybe I’m in the minority here. Maybe most people are alright with the way the national anthem is currently sung. I, however, get genuinely frustrated when people who really can’t sing all that well spend what feels like an eternity hitting notes they shouldn’t be. Spit it out, shut up, sit down, and let’s play some hockey.

Meta:

Words: 1477 | Characters: 8267 | Sentences: 83 | Average Word per Sentence: 18 | Paragraphs: 20 | Reading Level: College Student

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