Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Have you tried rebooting it?

Why do we live in a world where rebooting is a normal thing. It is sad, and I have to say it is largely down to the ease of making faulty software (for which I can be blamed in some cases)...

Today, I was being a dumb consumer, trying to get my TV working. How hard can it be?

The TV was silent with a blue screen, not good. The sky box was being unresponsive. Hmm.

Power cycled the sky box, which is usually all you need. Still blue screen. At one point I got some sound and a blue screen.

OK, give in, turn off the whole lot for 30 seconds... Power on. The sky box is feeding an image over HDMI on the boot up "Sky+HD, please wait". So that works...

Yay, after much waiting (why do things take any time to boot?) we get an image. The sky demo channel, but not sound. Try another channel, no joy.

The Bose sound system is off. OK, well, I did power cycle everything. But I can't turn it on (power button or remote). Check leads, plugs, etc. No joy, WTF?

OK, so I switch to TV speakers - still no sound. WTF?

OK, so, lets try one thing at a time. Tell TV to go on to iPlayer. Arrg! Loud... Turn down TV speakers, still loud. Hang on? The Bose is on, and working and on high volume. Turn that down, switch TV speakers off.

Back to sky and still no sound. Arrrg.

OK, change channel on Sky and magically we get sound.

All is working again.

But WTF! Why is this not easy? Why does it not just work FFS...

I diagnose equipment and networks and hardware and software as my day job. But I have no idea from this which of three boxes was ill, or why, or what it was actually doing. What hope do ordinary consumers have in the face of this?

6 comments:

  1. HDMI is a funny thing, each device along the chain reports back its capabilities to the previous device.
    If you have HDMI passthrough on your Bose system it needs to see the TV first otherwize it will not know what video capalilities to tell the skybox.
    So its not just rebooting, but powering on in order that matters. To further increase complications some devices cache the capabilities of their upstream devices which makes for great fun if you upgrade your TV and the new TV has a lower video processing delay (IE replacing old plasma with LED) as the sound was delayed to cope with the plasma's video processing delay. The newer LED (really LCD with LED edgelighting) displays have much lower delay resulting in a noticable lipsync problem. (Reseting the amplifier fixed this)

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  2. One day all this stuff will be truly consumer grade, and we'll look back and laugh.

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  3. I was thinking something earlier about boot times myself. It takes my 1 old year old HP laptop about 20 seconds to BIOS boot and then about another 1 minute to boot Linux Mint off a Crucial SSD card.

    A 1980s BBC micro was fully booted and usable within a second of turning it on.

    Why does it take so long just to get past the BIOS screen...Argh. (and I can't say that an SSD card has sped up boot times compared to the hard drive: it's just made my machine a little bit quieter though).

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  4. Least a reboot fixed yours,

    I somehow twice managed to get an older Sharp LCD tv to screw up it's HDMI inputs, reminded me of the early CRT screens when they lost VSync, even the OSD was stuffed but only when on a HDMI input.

    The only way to solve it was to do a factory reset and wipe the memory.

    I suspect it was caused by the connected PC sending the display off signal as part of it's power save mode.

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    1. I knew things were going bad with my first mobire phone. It had a nasty habit of staying off if switched off when plugged in. The only way to start it again was to unplug and remove the battery.

      No amount of repeating to Orange that this is the umpteenth time this has happened, and it really is suboptimal, ever improved it. Newer ones were better, but unfortunately the "reset it yourself first" culture has rapidly become the norm.

      Fortunately our Sky box is well behaved - though I have had to reboot it twice recently, it ran for many months without needing that before.

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  5. Why do we live in a world where rebooting is a normal thing?

    One word: Microsoft.

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