December 04, 2006

Flat-panel Fu

I recently took the plunge and bought a 46" HDTV. Prices have fallen up to 30% in just the last two months so it's a good time to buy. You'll get the best value by buying either a 46" LCD or a 50" plasma. Here's what I learned in the process...

I was focused on getting a set that supported 1080p (highest resolution) and I wanted an LCD over plasma for video gaming due to possible burn-in issues with plasma. It turns out that burn-in is not much of a problem with plasma these days so now I have a little regret over not evaluating plasma sets as a possibility. Also, 1080p might not be noticeable on sets that aren't extremely large (50" or higher).

As for the sets themselves, the best place to find reviews and information about them is at CNET Reviews and the AV Science Forum.

According to both of these sources, the best TV around right now is the Pioneer PDP-5070HD. It supposedly has great color and clarity but lacks 1080p support. I didn't realize how much of a difference color performance can make until I got my current set but I'm now convinced it's very important. The performance on my set is very good but it makes me wonder how much better it can get. You might want to wait until this Pioneer falls in price (currently $2800) or try to pick up a floor model. At least take a look at it in a store and see what you think. Here's the link to the set on Amazon:

As for LCDs, it's pretty much between Sony, Samsung and Sharp. Here's the latest 46" sets:

Samsung LN-S4695D (this is the set I got)
Sony KDL-46XBR2
Sharp Aquos LC-46D62U

The Sharp has the best specs (contrast ratio, response time) but apparently there is a flaw in the set where irregular black bands occur in some images. I wouldn't be comfortable buying the Sharp online until they work out these issues. Sony is generally considered the best LCD but you have to pay for it. Samsung actually makes all of Sony's LCDs in their factories so you get a pretty similar product from Samsung for a lot less money.

Another option to consider is buying an older model since they are currently a lot cheaper. You can get last years Samsung LNS4692D 46" for $1900. The major drawback on this set is it doesn't support 1080p.

Anyway...that's pretty much it. Let me know if you have any questions.

Posted by dr_v at 12:58 PM

May 01, 2006

Colbert keeps his pimp hand strong

If you haven't seen it, you have to watch it. Stephen Colbert ripped apart Republicans and the press at the White House Correspondent's dinner on Saturday night. Check Salon for some analysis.

Posted by dr_v at 05:28 PM

March 05, 2006

Iverson gets jobbed

While watching an NBA game the other day I learned something that really upset me. Allen Iverson, my favorite player, will not be invited to the upcoming practices for Team USA in preparation for the 2008 Olympics. To be sure, they haven't even selected the final 12 man team -- this is simply the list of 22 that will eventually be narrowed down to 12.

Iverson is easily one of the top ten players in the NBA right now, possibly the top five. Bill Walton mentioned during an ABC telecast of the Sixers game today that he thought only Shaq and Tim Duncan have done more than Iverson for NBA basketball since the retirement of Jordan. He has the third highest points per game stat in the history of the NBA. Given his elite skill level, it's ridiculous to think he shouldn't be on the list of 22 that get the chance to make the final team.

Iverson - disappointed but not letting it get to him.

Why do I like Iverson so much? He's a dynamic and exciting player. He's also the shortest and lightest player ever to win the MVP award. He came from poverty too which serves as inspiration: a poor man of moderate build can still be the best in the world at something. Because he's so short compared to the other players he often makes the most fantastic and dazzling plays out of necessity. A game with Iverson in it is never boring.

So why did they decide to keep Iverson off the team? An obvious explanation would be that he doesn't get along with Kobe. Or that he's had trouble in the past with Larry Brown -- the coach of the 2004 Olympics team. As an aside, everyone was so quick to blame the players for only getting bronze in 2004 but when you have the best players in the world and you fail to get gold who else is there to blame but the coach? The same Larry Brown that lost the 2004 Olympics also lost the 2001 NBA Championship by -- among other things -- inexplicably taking Mutombo out of the game late in Game 2 after Shaq fouled out.


Iverson and Mutombo - they'll be watching the 2008 Olympics on TV.

The real reason why Iverson was excluded might be more shady than a simple personality conflict. According to Walton, 17 of the 22 players invited are Nike-endorsed players and not a single Reebok-endorsed player (such as Iverson) was invited. It's sad to think that Nike money kept one of the most exciting and popular players out of the premier sporting event in the world. The article linked above mentions that Iverson's jersey outsold Yao Ming's in China. To not give Iverson at least the chance to prove he deserves to be on the team is an absolute travesty.

Posted by dr_v at 02:55 PM

February 12, 2006

I Yelp

A couple months ago I discovered a really cool site: Yelp. It's like a Citysearch that doesn't suck. Although the site covers cities nationwide, it started in SF so it has a local feel to it. They also have a regular feature, the Weekly Yelp, which covers upcoming events in SF as well as new clubs and restaurants.

Some of the places I've found on the site that I want to check out:

I went to another place I found on Yelp last night on my way to see Miguel Migs at Mighty. Kelly's Burgers was definitely a solid burger but I wouldn't say it's the best burger in SF. That title belongs to Joe's Cable Car Restaurant.

Miguel didn't start his set until 1am and by then I was already starting to feel tired. I really need to train myself to never show up at a club before midnight.

Posted by dr_v at 02:27 PM

January 10, 2006

Top Stories of 2005 is a site that lets users submit and then vote on stories with the most popular ones rising to the top. It's like Memepool or Slashdot taken to another level and it's quickly overtaking these more primitive sites in total traffic. Well, they've recently posted the Top Stories of 2005. It's 100 of the most interesting stories of the year. Notably, the stories on this site tend to be tech-centric.

Also check out the nifty digg spy which is sure to keep content junkies and those with microscopic attention spans happy.

Posted by dr_v at 01:52 PM

September 24, 2005

Late Night Tripe

A great new addition to the Intarweb, Adult Swim now offers streaming, high-quality episodes of their various cartoons for free. They're available every Friday night from 8pm-3am PST as part of their Friday Night Fix.

Also, check a demo of a highly innovative new game, Indigo Prophecy aka Fahrenheit. Even if you're not a typical gamer, there's a good chance you'll still be sucked in by this one. Read a diary from the creator here.

Posted by dr_v at 02:37 AM

August 28, 2005

Extensions Du Jour

Some Firefox extensions that you should all be aware of:

  • CustomizeGoogle - seriously cool "suggest" feature and ad blocking. This one is a must have.
  • BugMeNot - automatically fills in login pages for registration sites like the NY Times. Never go through a retarded registration process again.
  • SessionSaver - never lose your tabs or your blog again. It automatically saves all your tabs and everything you type, so if your system crashes or you reboot your browser is just as you left it.
  • ForecastFox - very polished weather extension.
  • Sage - the best RSS aggregator I've seen.
  • Bookmarks Synchronizer - combine this with a free account from and you'll always have your bookmarks available at any computer you use.
  • BBCode - this one is nice for blogging. Gives you a right-click menu for common HTML code. It's set to use BBCode by default so you have to change the preferences to use HTML instead.
  • HashColouredTabs - if you're a serious WWW junkie like me then you typically have over 20 tabs open at any given time. This extension gets rid of the clutter by assigning color-based icons to webpages that don't have their own icons predefined.

That's all for now. Happy browsing.

Posted by dr_v at 01:00 AM

August 27, 2005

My Blog Is Teh Suck

Exhibit A:

Gene, I can't edit my stylesheet, I can't upload pics...can't do a lot of stuff. Not that I'll blog much anyway but the novelty of being able to change shit around every once in a while might motivate me. Help me out bro.

Posted by dr_v at 10:56 PM

June 29, 2005

The Irish are number one baby! (actually number two)

In Thomas Friedman's latest NY Times piece he points out that "Ireland today is the richest country in the European Union after Luxembourg. Yes, the country that for hundreds of years was best known for emigration, tragic poets, famines, civil wars and leprechauns today has a per capita G.D.P. higher than that of Germany, France and Britain."

Finally, having red hair is a mark of wealth and prestige.

Posted by dr_v at 08:29 PM

May 27, 2005

Spitshine Speculators

In a recent piece, Running Out of Bubbles, Paul Krugman offers some of the most chilling words to date on the housing market in the US. First, Krugman briefly touches on the second edition of "Irrational Exuberance" by Robert Shiller. Shiller, who correctly called the stock bubble of the late 90s, claims that the housing bubble "may be the biggest bubble in U.S. history". Krugman goes on to provide some stark statistics: "..the National Association of Realtors estimates that 23 percent of the homes sold last year were bought for investment, not to live in. According to Business Week, 31 percent of new mortgages are interest only (buyer pays no principal), a sign that people are stretching to their financial limits." Interest only loans account for more than half the market in California.

So real estate is dangerously inflated (particularly in, of all places, the Bay Area). But what could actually pop the bubble you might wonder. The answer is that the well of cheap money would have to dry up. And the biggest factor in determining the amount of cheap money (i.e. mortgage rates) are rates on long-term US Treasury bonds. The Economist recently provided some anecdotal evidence that the great free lunch may be coming to an end: "For the first time since August 2003, in March foreign central banks were net sellers of Treasury bonds and notes, according to American government data released on May 16th."

If foreign banks stop buying US bonds, we'll be in big trouble as interest rates could skyrocket. Ultimately, all this might greatly benefit first-time home buyers who are currently priced out of the market. Definitely worth watching this one carefully as it plays out.

Posted by dr_v at 04:48 PM

More Entries

Flat-panel Fu - December 04, 2006
Colbert keeps his pimp hand strong - May 01, 2006
Iverson gets jobbed - March 05, 2006
I Yelp - February 12, 2006
Top Stories of 2005 - January 10, 2006
Late Night Tripe - September 24, 2005
Extensions Du Jour - August 28, 2005
My Blog Is Teh Suck - August 27, 2005
The Irish are number one baby! (actually number two) - June 29, 2005
Spitshine Speculators - May 27, 2005
Crappy presidents, overpriced houses and pretty graphs - September 28, 2004
Why Men Are Funny - September 23, 2004
B-Day pics online - July 21, 2004
That's the kind of password an idiot would have on his luggage - June 15, 2004
A Discussion of Morality - May 11, 2004
More gut-wrenching MPAA/RIAA news - April 27, 2004
File-Sharing No Threat to Music Sales - March 30, 2004
10,000 things I hate part one - March 25, 2004
Link Fest - September 16, 2003
Eat my shit De Beers - August 21, 2003
Bidding Circles - July 29, 2003
Ass Beating 101 - April 13, 2003
Surprise, I just tricked you into drinking urine! - April 01, 2003
streams of eye - February 23, 2003