Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tales of HDMI 1.4 and 3D

A long, long time ago I can still remember... How I bought a really nice setup for my living room.

Having watched some films with my brother in Blu-Ray at his apartment, I felt that it was truly an awesome experience to watch HD films with surround sound, popcorn that doesn't have a bucket of salt and butter on it, and most importantly- the comfort of home.

And so, when I moved to a bigger apartment I decided to make the investment and get a nice setup for myself and I have been the proud owner of a Yamaha 667 receiver and a Klipsch Quintet III sound system ever since.  And while I'm at it, I may as well go 3D, right? So throw on top of that an LG LX9500 3DTV and a PlayStation 3, a pair of 3D glasses- and there's a pretty decent viewing and gaming environment right there.

Alas, things did not go as smoothly as planned when, upon setting everything up (which is, all in all, a fairly simple process of some HDMI wiring and a couple of setup menus) I started having some bizarre problems. The PS3 refused to support anything higher than 1080i when plugged through the receiver.  It would occasionally sort of work, but the screen would flicker black constantly, so "work" is clearly an overstatement.

As a computer geek, the thing to do in a situation such as this is start debugging:
I was certain that all the devices in my setup were compatible with both 1080p and 3D, I started googling for the particular issue that I was having, but no-one seemed to have an answer. Worse- no-one seemed to be asking that question.
I swapped cables around, connected the PS3 directly to the TV and found that it works perfectly fine (but, of course, no surround sound), my brother even suggested connecting the sound separately, but that felt a bit too much like giving up so I couldn't really bring myself to do it.

After a few days of digging into it on-and-off, I got busy and just forgot.  There's not a lot of 3D content out there that I was genuinely wanting to try out (even when I bought the setup, it was more of a nice-to-have, I didn't know if it would have any real use...), I can't say that I had any sense of great loss.

Many months passed and then Mortal Kombat 3 came out with 3D support... And really, if ever there was a gaming genre that 3D would be awesome for, it has to be a button-mashing blood-bath type of game.  Some of my colleagues (one of whom actually owns the game) thought the same and we wanted to check it out.

The disappointment of still not having solved the issue dawned on me once more, and that very day at work I was determined to at least try something new.  I decided to go for a hail marry pass and buy new HDMI 1.4 cables- it was a cheap and quick test compared to my next option in line, which is trying to update the firmware on the Yamaha (I looked it up- does not look fun.)

When I got home that day I quickly replaced both the old HDMI cables with the newly purchased ones, you can imagine my surprise when suddenly EVERYTHING just worked. A 2-minute scan by the PlayStation suddenly confirmed that all the functionality I have been missing and anticipating works. Crazy.

As it turns out, the old cables I bought were in a box that said "1.4" and "3D" support, but once more those unbranded random cable box makers probably just figured those were nice buzzwords to put on a box.

Months of confusion, $15 worth of cables.  Talk about a non-epic ending to a tale...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Challenge ACCEPTED.

Man, what a way to get back to my abandoned blogging mischief...

     It all started with my friend Sveder's blog and his seemingly random desire to reminisce on projects long gone and forgotten in the sea of long gone and forgotten github projects.

     He was going on about CAPTCHA making and breaking when I, as is often the case, decided that I had something smart to say and began theorizing about the subject in a comment.  As you may notice on his blog, it went on for a little while until I could no longer withstand the urge to challenge him to a duel of the bloodiest kind.

Now, a challenge of such epic proportions deserves some attention from both opponents and so I decided that it's time to revive my failing career as a blogger for the occasion.

I'm not promising anything regarding frequency, let alone quality, but I will do my utmost to make this blog worthy of your time.

Getting back to the matter of the challenge at hand:
Sveder is what one might call a "developer", you know, those people who attempt solve problems by means of code.
I, on the other hand, am a security researcher, one of those people nobody likes because we create problems. (but let's not start this blog with any pretense, we all know who gets to sit in the "cool kids" corner at the party.)

The challenge, however, seems to have taken a turn for the flipside and now it is upon me to come up with the anti-spam mechanism (based on my brilliant concept of "hiding") and it is up to Mr. Sveder to write the ever-so-malicious piece of code that will break it.  The challenge shall thus be appropriately named:

Role Reversal: The Challenge

We're not sure exactly how to go about this yet, so far some ideas we've had are:
  • Some sort of turn-based challenge: I make, he breaks.
  • We'll perhaps use some point system throughout the challenge to help determine a winner.
  • Maybe we'll get some friends and colleagues to help judge.

If you have any ideas for ways to go about this, by all means drop a comment.

All that's left to say is that one thing's for sure: When this is over, someone's gonna be buying me dinner.