Slaying-Dragons

Slaying Dragons #16 – Information Theory

We are told we live in an information society. John Watkinson wonders how we recognize information when we see it. Dig deep enough, and everything is digital. Our DNA uses quaternary coding in discrete symbols. Atoms consist of discrete particles. Quantum mechanics teaches us about discrete packets of energy. Electrons are discrete and so on.…

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Slaying Dragons #15 – The Aperture Effect

John Watkinson looks at the aperture effect and finds that it crops up in a surprising number of places. One way of considering the aperture effect is that it is nature’s way of pointing out how non-ideal our efforts are. The ubiquity of the aperture effect underlines that next to nothing is ideal. An aperture…

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Slaying Dragons #14 – Digital Deflation

John Watkinson considers deflation in the digital world. Since the economic crash of 2008 it has become clear that it was not a temporary event, but a correction whose results would be near permanent. Corrections take place when the wrong road has been taken for too long. In this case the wrong road was excessive…

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Slaying Dragons #13 – What is Science?

I got to thinking about science, and how much better my life has been because of it; how much better things work. Yet I realise that I am in a minority and that we don’t live in a scientific world. Am I a scientist? Frankly no; that word doesn’t describe me. My life is not…

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Slaying Dragons #12 – Is Digital Automatically Wonderful?

John Watkinson wonders whether digital is automatically wonderful. I have lived long enough to have seen the so called digital revolution take place, not just in audio but in life. In one sense I feel very fortunate to have lived through that era and to have made a living documenting it. Being in the right…

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Slaying Dragons #11 – Computer and Network Security

John Watkinson wonders about computer and network security A long time ago when Pontius was still training to be a pilot, it was possible to consider audio as a separate topic. Today such a separation is impossible. Audio is just another form of information that can be conveyed over some network or other and we…

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Slaying Dragons #10 – A Fan of Analog

John Watkinson is a big fan of analog audio. An analog is a phenomenon that behaves similarly to another. In speech we have similes and education is full of parallels. Whilst a painting or a sculpture can last thousands of years, in audio we have a problem that sound cannot be preserved at all in…

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Slaying Dragons #9 – Radio History

John Watkinson relates a personal history of radio. The family radio in the kitchen churned out uninspiring stuff most of the time, but I remember in 1962 it emitted a song called “Love Letters” by Ketty Lester, and when I listened to it I felt, probably for the first time, that here was a song…

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Slaying Dragons #8 – Rational

John Watkinson tries to be rational. Sometimes I like to discuss topics that are not immediately identifiable with audio. Audio is part of the world and is not the only discipline in which excellence is pursued, and achieving excellence by rejecting the mediocre takes place in many other endeavours that are worthy of study. We…

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Slaying Dragons #7 – Transforms

Transforms are very useful in audio, but John Watkinson argues that they are just as useful for understanding audio as they are for processing it. Let’s look first at the Fourier transform. The whole basis is that any periodic waveform can be broken down into a set of harmonically related pure tones, or sine waves.…

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