Wireless IFB On The Cheap

The producer, director and a few others have the ability to break the flow and speak to you. It can be very helpful. It can be very confusing. I’ve heard both.


Equipping my new studio sometimes gets frustrating. I want to make the right decision. Facts aren’t always available.

The best example is a wireless IFB system. IFB stands for “Interrupt Feedback” or “Interrupt Foldback.” It’s that earpiece TV people wear.

Your earpiece plays what’s on TV. The producer, director and a few others have the ability to break the flow and speak to you. It can be very helpful. It can be very confusing. I’ve heard both.

IFB systems are expensive. I didn’t like that idea. They’re also bulky. Clipped to your pants waistband an IFB receiver adds extra girth when wearing a suit.

I think I’ve found a solution. It’s a Bluetooth transmitter and receiver. Though both are made by the same manufacturer and look the same, they’re not normally marketed as a pair. They are reasonably cheap.

I might be able to create a wireless IFB for under $60. That’s hundreds, possibly thousands, of dollars saved!

Even better the unit is tiny. The receiver at the top of this entry is 2.5″ long, 1″ wide and around .25″ thick. Other than coins there’s nothing in your pocket smaller.

It won’t work in a studio with more than one person. Bluetooth adds a slight but noticeable delay. A ‘live’ person would echo.

In my situation an extra 1/30 or 1/15 second wait to hear the ‘distant’ anchor is inconsequential.

This solution seems too good to be true. It very well might be, but a quick test tonight worked. Call me hopeful.

Why Cell Phones Don’t Work (Well) From The Air

cell phone tower antennaSome people are wondering why no one has been able to track MH370 through cellphone data. We know the NSA has been storing cell metadata for tracking. Isn’t this the same scenario?

A brief lesson in physics is needed. Don’t be scared. No math.

Think of an antenna as the launching point for radio waves. If the antenna is a single element, those radio waves will depart at equal levels in all directions. A car’s AM/FM whip antenna is an example of this.

Remember the days of rooftop TV antennas? They had many elements. That wasn’t just to make them more unsightly!

tv-antennaAntennas may also include reflective or directive elements or surfaces not connected to the transmitter or receiver, such as parasitic elements, parabolic reflectors or horns, which serve to direct the radio waves into a beam or other desired radiation pattern. – Wikipedia

That’s exactly what’s going on at the cell site.

cellair-aWhy bother sending signals where they’re wasted? With a directional antenna you can redirect power to where it’s needed. In most cases that means concentrating nearly all a cell tower’s power parallel or slightly down toward the ground. Pointing down slightly is necessary because of the Earth’s natural curve.

The extra gain in the antennas beams, used to increase signal strength to us on the ground, is taken from what would radiate upwards!

Radiation Pattern of a Cell Tower AntennaI’m sure I’m not the only person to ever power up a cellphone in flight to see if I could hit a tower. I’ve never been successful. This is why.

My Fast Drive Gets Slower Then Faster


I’m in love with my new computer. It’s really fast. That was the plan.

I spec’ed out all the components. That doesn’t mean I have a through understanding of all of them.

For instance, my boot and program drive is an SSD (solid-state drive). With no moving parts it’s light years faster than a conventional hard drive. That’s why the system boots in under 20 seconds!

The SSD comes with a companion program, Samsung Magician. I looked at it when the system was first installed, not since. It didn’t seem important. There was no indication the drive would change with age.

I fired it up today and was surprised to see my SSD had slowed in all categories! Random writes went from 70,159 I/O operations per second to 53,047 IOPS.

There are optimization routines listed within Magician. I tried those and installed a waiting firmware update to my drive.

Oh my!

Random write speeds are up over 100%! Other speeds are up too, though not as much.

Will I notice the difference? I’m not sure. Disk i/o is one factor of many, but it’s among the most important.