• As long as we’re playing dumb…

    Shapes ToyIt wasn’t until the dawn of the smartphone generation that some people found themselves right back at square one, as it happens, struggling to work out which of our basic shapes corresponds to the familiar 16:9 aspect ratio landscape “rectangle” which, since 2009 has been the international standard for cinema, computer displays, HDTV, Full HD, non-HD digital television, and analog widescreen television.  (To say nothing of the basis for the resolutions native to our mobile devices, straight through 4K.)

    To some, the very conclusion that a phone could be held in a way that corresponds to the widescreen orientation (at least while a picture or a video is being captured) is nothing short of unimaginable.  I myself know of several “virtuosos” whom I would nominate for a technical achievement award if only they were to stumble upon the idea to rotate the camera 90 degrees.

    Alas, I fear that the struggle with basic concepts like portrait and landscape is hardly the crux of this phenomenon.  I know that I’m expected to sound condescending, but I refuse to believe that every last instance of a “sideways” video is due to someone being too dumb to work out something that even our grandparents, armed with bulky videotape camcorders, had down packed.

    As I sift through these “narrow-screen” videos, one thing becomes abundantly apparent:  All the empty space to the left and to the right of the image.  I know that this is something of a long-shot, but if the aim is to preserve as much of the screen real-estate as possible with a “full-screen” image, here’s the most geometrically efficient way to do it:

    Screen 1

    Figure 1.) 16:9 aspect ratio landscape image (blue) maximized to a 16:9 frame.
    Coverage: 100%  Empty letterbox space: 0%

    Screen 2

    Figure 2.) 16:9 aspect ratio portrait image (blue) maximized to a 16:9 frame.
    Coverage: 26.64%  Empty letterbox space: 73.35%

    Screen 3

    Figure 3.) 16:9 aspect ratio portrait image (blue) rotated 29.4 deg. maximized to a 16:9 frame.
    Coverage: 20.24%  Empty letterbox space: 79.76%

    (You’re welcome.)


  • Audio Posers

    Phone PlayerIf you’re going to boast about how important music is in your life, or how passionate you are about it, please don’t let me catch you defiling it with the miserable excuse for a loudspeaker that is your mobile device.  I simply can’t help but to cringe anytime I happen upon a group of people sitting around, with that tinny upper midrange passband emanating from the scant diaphragm lodged within the body of the phone like a piece of gravel in a worn tire.

    If your deepest hunger can be sated with a single bite of a stale fruit, not only would I question the severity of your craving, but the substance of your taste as well.  Likewise, if your “passion” for music can be satisfied with such a deplorable rendition of whatever artist’s work you happen to be playing, then not only do I challenge everything that you have to say in favor of your respect for the composition, but your qualifications as a discerning listener as well.

    I realize that this is bound to ruffle some feathers, but if the shoe fits, wear it. You don’t amass reverence as a passionate music enthusiast by posing as one, meanwhile embracing the most pedestrian of listening habits.  I see many distinguished audiophiles catch undue flack on account of the imposters who undermine the pastime, and rob the art of its significance.  I’m not happy about that.