The November 2008 Blog
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Red Speckles On My Plasma TV (Saturday, Nov 22)
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I know, I've been quiet for a few weeks. Busy busy, including presenting 9 sessions at the View Developer conference in Amsterdam (where we got 100% approval in the overall evaluations!). But before I start back up with the usual technical jibberish, there's something more important to talk about: my television set.

I have a 2 year old plasma TV, and I just started noticing some red speckles flashing almost like static all over the screen, mostly near the top and bottom. Here are some pictures one guy posted to let you see what I'm talking about.

I did some searching ("red dots", "red sparkles", "red snow", etc.) and saw that this is a fairly common complaint. The best -- or at least longest -- discussion I saw was on the AVS Forums. A summary of probable causes:

I'm not sure if my particular problem is one I need to spend money to fix yet. I haven't decided. I have a feeling (or at least a strong hope) that my issue is a cold weather one, especially since my TV sits near an outside wall and a window. I might also just get used to it, which is almost as good as getting it fixed.

Finished Anathem (Monday, Nov 3)
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Last night I finished the latest Neal Stephenson book, Anathem. Very good read. My mind is still processing it.

If you want to read it, or you just started, keep in mind this comment by Neal Stepenson himself in a recent interview on

James Mustich, B&N Interviewer: I found the first 100 pages or so of Anathem a little difficult -- not unpleasant, but I was conscious of struggling to keep all the elements of your invented world straight in my mind as I was reading. Then everything seemed to snap into place and I was happily lost in the book.

Neal Stephenson: That's a remarkably universal remark -- almost everyone says, "The first hundred pages were heavy sledding, and then it started happening for me." It's interesting how consistent that response has been.

Indeed. I actually had to stop at about page 75 and read something less intense (Terry Pratchett), and when I came back and got a little past page 100 it really started moving. Once you get over that hump, it's certainly worth it.

A big part of the initial slowness is probably because, as Andrew Pollack recently pointed out: "I think what he's doing in Anathem is building a 'feel' for the slow, deliberate, and ordered world of the maths (essentially monasteries) in his world." That's right on. Remember that and just give it some time and you'll get it.

Also, as I got towards the end I kept thinking about the short story The Golden Man by Philip K. Dick. That's not a spoiler really, just something that kept popping into my head. Looking for a link to that, I found out that The Golden Man is going to be yet another movie based on a Philip K. Dick short story too. I wonder where they're going to go with it.