Toronto/Ottawa Tour, Sep 2002 (Tour 3)
to Calibrator Tours
This tour occurred in the last 10 days in
September from the 21st to the 30th.
I had decided to take some time out on this tour to go up to the
nations capital, Ottawa for the first time. Never
been there before and had only seen it on TV prior to that.
In some ways, this was actually a bit ironic or tragic since I had already
visited Washington, DC twice.
I suppose that I have become a bit jaded after a
while with all these tours. What I mean by
this is that a certain pessimism has creeped into my tour behaviour/philosophy. I started a tour countdown to disaster watch. The way it works is that something invariably will
go wrong with at least one clients TV on the tour through no fault of my own. With the will of the gods against me, at least one
set will always choose to die on me during each trip
and always after I have completed all the calibration work too. Bottom line
I dont get paid
because I feel sorry for the client. It gets
chalked up as training, although inside, you can hear me crying too.
Back to the issues at hand
Sept 21 - Saturday Afternoon - Toshiba 40H80
I was supposed to catch the 6 AM morning flight
out, but my alarm clock failed me (typical excuse) and I found myself rushed as I woke up
a bit too late. At 4:20 AM, you could see me
rushing about the house getting reading and actually packing the clothing too. Nothing like waiting until the last minute, but I
also decided that if I ran out of a certain type of clothing, just buy more. I wasnt traveling to a desert island after
Now listen here, boys and girls, if you want to
avoid line ups at the airport and dont mind sitting in a middle seat, checking in 30
minutes before flight time is amazingly fast.
So I got into Toronto at 11 AM and headed straight
to the first clients home.
This one was a repeat visit for a set that I had
worked on the last time I was out this way in Feb 2002.
The client had a screen problem which caused a fish bowl effect in the
image. The Toshiba repair people came and
fixed it fairly quickly as it turned out that the lenticular screen was installed upside
down. The fix itself was simple enough, but
this is where disaster struck the client. With
the front panel open, the repairman decided that he did not like the grayscale on the TV
and promptly took it upon himself to fix this problem. Imagine my clients reaction when he walked
into the room and saw the repairman turning the screen trimpots to fix the colours. He pronounced the TVs colour fixed and left
behind an image that was so hideously red and purple that the colour analyzer could not
even take proper readings.
The danger of letting the repairman go wild or
So the touch up call ended up taking a bit longer
than expected because I had to recheck some of my previous work due to what the service
Sept 21 - Saturday Evening - Toshiba 50HX81
A relatively quick drive across town to the next
clients home. High rise condos closer
to the lake shore. Security lets my car into
the compound and it is up to the 4th floor.
Nothing strange or unusual about the calibration as it was very straight
forward and yielded the expected results. The
wife came back at the appointed time so we were fighting each other for lighting control. I needed less ambient room light to do the work,
while she needed light to cook. They whipped
up a wonder pot of chicken and mixed vegetables with rice for dinner.
How people get their satellite needs filled
this client had his dish situated on the balcony floor so as long as people stayed of the
balcony, the images were fine.
With every successful job, the odds increase for
disaster to strike the next time
With the set done, it was time to head off to my
hosts home. A wonderful couple that
ended up adopting me the last time I came out and now more of the same. They are night owls because they work for the TSO.
Sept 22 Sunday Morning Toshiba 61H70
This one was up in Stouffville, very north of the
city and for a short time, I wondered if I was going to get lost. One of the 4:3 Toshibas from two years ago and I
determined that his TV was yet another one that did not have the 3:2 pulldown activated in
the TV. It was in there and I did not have
the necessary remote with me this time. I
left it home in my haste to pack in the morning. The
client ended up going to some local stores to look for the Cinema 7 remote. He was successful and while he did that, I could
speed through the calibration. He eventually
found a Cinema 6 remote with backlighting and it also worked so we were good to go. Turned the 3:2 pull down on and centered the user
controls for ease of use.
Plenty of cats roaming the home and a radio
antenna tower dangling from the ceiling
Sept 22 Sunday
Afternoon-Evening Toshiba TW40X81
This client lived just off of the downtown core so
it meant that parking would be an issue. Its
busy so where does one find parking close to the apartment?
I found it about 1.5 blocks away. The
set was one of the second generation Toshiba HD units and the client was using HTPC to run
his material. For apartment dwelling, he also
found a way to get his satellite dish up too.
An odd note about satellite dishes and gray market
pirating of signals
the first time I was out in the Toronto area, many of the
clients who were pirating were doing so with units from a provider, but this
time, many of the people had simply started hacking themselves free of a
provider. Some simply did it for
the challenge or to keep from getting too bored.
The highlight of this job was the discussion I had
with the client about the religious aspects of Sikh tradition. A reality versus public perception approach. Very enlightening indeed.
I like Toshiba sets because I can do them fairly
quickly. It is more cookie cutter for me than
any other set out there. It allowed me to
finish early and join my hosts for a late night dinner at a local Chinese restaurant. Although both my hosts had oriental origins, they
were probably a bit too westernized and so much so that they were just not used to some of
the more exotic Chinese teas out there. I had
not given the tea selection a second thought when I ordered it, but when the hosts
complained bitterly about the taste of the tea and how it tasted like medicine
so they ordered a very western form of Chinese tea.
You know you are at a real Chinese
restaurant when you see the live seafood swimming around in the water tanks. I took the opportunity for this meal to order up a
rock bass and it was amusing to see the server come out it a pail and a net to fish up the
fish we would be enjoying. The
Host wife mentioned that it seemed so cruel to see what happened to the fish, but of
course the fish ended up tasting so good that we all finished it down to the bone. No waste
and the fish gave its life up not
Sept 23 Monday Morning Sony KP
In some ways, I really like the XBRs over
the standard HS series of sets not because of the final image quality, but because of the
cabinet design. Although that may change with
time. The biggest drawback of this
calibration was that the lighting conditions in the room were absolutely horrid and that
was being kind. Still, it was morning and
very understandable. Im doing all the
grayscale work under cover of bed sheet darkness.
The client had a second or third generation Sony
DVD player that was not progressive scan. While
I proceeded with the calibration based on this machine, I spoke to him about some of the
virtues of 480P and nearing the end, he headed out to buy a unit from his local higher end
store. He came back with a Panasonic RP62
and I readjusted the grayscale to match the new machine. Problem was
there seemed to be a
significant difference between the original 480i set up from the older player versus the
new player at 480P. Changing the grayscale
to match the new player took a lot longer than it should have been. Very odd, but this took time because the new
machines grayscale midrange was just so different from the previous unit.
My countdown to disaster continued. Odds for catastrophe increasing.
Sept 23 Monday
Afternoon Toshiba 50H82
I was fortunate that the second client of the day
was a mere few blocks to the north so travel was brisk.
The client was even home waiting so I got started right away. The client said he was a newbie to the who scene
and an initial overview of his system confirmed some of this. He was using a SD3750 Toshiba DVD player, but as I
discovered early on, he was only using the 480i signal since he bought the unit. He had forgot to flick the 480P switch on the back
of the machine. End result
since everything I did from then on was based on DVD
performance he had never experienced even with his own machine.
Routine set up on the new Toshiba set with nothing
surprising. The only standouts came with my
countdown to disaster. This may have been it
A day later, I receive in the E-mail some pleas
for help and a possible accusing finger
the DVD image was compromised and it must
be my fault. No issues with cable
on some DVDs. Well, as I figured, the
DVD player was trying to do 3:2 pulldown on some non-film based material the client was
watching. Got him to look in his DVD set up
to find the all powerful auto detect feature versus the forced film mode feature that the
DVD player was set to.
Disaster averted, but dont you just hate
that when it happens. Always has to be
Michaels bloody fault. And you wonder
why I get jaded sometimes.
Sept 24 Tuesday Morning Panasonic
A drive out to Markham in the morning to do the
ever popular Panasonic unit that looks awful out of the box, but has so much potential
when treated right. This one was situated in
the clients unfinished basement, but it made lighting conditions very controllable.
The topic of discussion was famous people from
as well as how to deal with potential meddling mother-in-laws. These are the hard hitting questions that people
need to ask
what with my impending wedding and all.
I had to unfortunately cancel my Tuesday evening
appointment when I realized too late where the person actually lived. It turned out that the person was actually three
to four hours away and for only one calibration, it could not be done.
With the afternoon freed up, I was able to visit
John at Next Big Thing Electronics again. Hes
a really nice guy and we always have neat stories to swap.
He goes by the handle Johnny G. on the internet so when people come into his
store and call him by that handle
Hey, Johnny G
!! he actually gets perturbed somewhat
actually regretting that he uses that handle at all.
Please just call him John.
John related one story to me about a comment I had
made about a certain Toshiba 50H81 set I had calibrated in the Summer out in Vancouver. My calibration report indicated that the TV was
amazing well set up already out of the box and definitely the finest pre-calibration set I
had ever encountered. Well, now I know what
was happening. It was actually Johns
handiwork that I was rechecking. One of his
pre-calibrated sets that he sells. The
client did not tell me that he got the set from John, but he was happy even though I could
never sense it. Now I know.
Sept. 25 Wednesday Morning Sony
A very nice newly built home in an older
established neighbourhood in Toronto. A very
narrow lot. The calibration of a tube set is
usually considered to be a very fast affair and it should be, but the client was so much
fun to talk to that something that normally takes 60 to 90 minutes ended up taking a 2.5
hours. I was clad to see that the tube
anomaly from previous 34 tube designs seems to have been fixed finally. The geometry was actually fairly good on this
The only thing that kind of struck me as not quite
right with the household was that all the family members seemed to be home. The wife, the husband and the daughter. But this was a school day
and the daughter
was being too affectionate to the father
(school problems.) Parent Teacher Day stuff.
Sept 25 Wednesday Mid-day
While it took a bit longer, I still got out of
there with plenty of time to revisit a former client now turned friend in the area. He was the original organizer of my first Toronto
tour from a couple of years ago. It was
great to catch up and to give his set a quick tune up.
This time I could turn on the 3:2 pull down in his 65 Toshiba.
Sept 25 Wednesday Evening Pioneer
This was a large apartment complex in Mississauga
and I wondered just how the client would have been able to get that huge frame into the
apartment. This being a Pioneer set, I had to
first warn him about the characteristics of Pioneer TVs and present him with the
ability to back out of the calibration. Even
with the slight possibility of the colours going south on him, he elected to proceed. Something akin to the odds of getting a heart
Im always amazed when I see people that
appear to be very active in their lives with tennis and golf and yet they are also smoking
cigarettes on their balcony. To each his own
Sept. 26 Thursday Morning Pioneer
I was on my way to Ottawa this day. All five hours of it as I am told. The first client along the way was a repeat client
in Oshawa that I had seen in February. She
was special because she was my first female client. Well,
she had added Rogers HDTV cable since I last saw her.
The task was to center her HDTV section since that portion of the TV is
fairly messed up and that is a known issue with the Pioneers. There was also some kind of blue glow on the left
edge of the image. The session took about a
couple hours and I was on my way at 11:00 AM. Packing
up, she asked if this second visit required any additional charge and my answer was no. I try to take care of my clients when I can, even
the ones on the tours and even when the distances are so great.
Sept. 26 Thursday Afternoon
Next stop was Merrickville, just outside of Ottawa
or about 40 to 50 miles outside of Ottawa that is.
A small town in rural Ontario. Now
the drive to Merrickville was an interesting one since I had never made this drive before. The Ontario Provincial Police were out in force
this day I must have passed five speed radar traps all within three hours and each trap
had four to five officers standing there
I got to the clients home in the late
afternoon after giving him a phone call to come find me in town. His home was not on the map per se so it was just
better to tell him to get me. Im the
one sitting in the pukey green Taurus next to a church steeple.
A retired gentleman who was working on his
basement. He had a golden retriever that was
very friendly and it brought back memories of Atlanta and my dog sitting adventures on
that trip. Here was one of the clients that
just wanted the TV fixed up and he was less interested in how it got there, just that it
did. Once I understood this, it meant that
he left me alone and I could motor along at a very fast pace.
His wife was a high school teacher and never shy
on giving her informed opinion about anything. Very
nice person too, but it was interesting to turn some school conventions on their ears and
accuse her of practicing the same negative behaviour that teachers dont want their
students to pick up.
With the TV done rather early in the evening, I
was able to rewire his HT set up a bit to improve and streamline his audio side. Without a center channel, I was able to set up the
TV speaker to be his center channel with the weirdest assortment of wires and coat hangars
As it approached bed time, I headed to my room and
there was the dog laying on the carpet at the foot of the bed. Since she was just laying there, no sense in me
telling her to get out. Of course, not long
after I went to sleep on the bed, this dog decided to join me there as well. Jumped onto the bed and started to push me. Oh no
Atlanta all over again. Strangely, it was very possible that I could have
done some axe murder duties upstairs and the dog would still be sleeping with me at night. A bit too friendly.
Sept. 27 Friday Morning Panasonic
Off to Ottawa proper in the morning and almost
downtown too. I was still about an hour early
so I found a few moments to drive past the Parliament buildings so that I could say I saw
them. Seen it, done that. Of course, grade school French had to kick in
again since all the streets and avenues were bilingual and sometimes just in French. Parking wasnt the easiest but with a bit of
cruising around, I found a metered spot about a block away from the clients
apartment building. And that is when the rain
started. First drizzle and then the big drops
and it stayed like that the rest of the day.
So as the calibration proceeded, I had to time
myself to run down stairs to feed the parking meter to avoid getting a ticket. Sometimes in the rain and that would come back to
haunt me at the end of the tour.
As the tour proceeded, I had a few last minute
inquiries are spots in Ottawa, so I put the people on my stand-by list. The countdown to disaster was about to come to
Sept. 27 Friday Afternoon Sony KP
It wasnt supposed to be this TV in the
evening. I had driven to the clients
home by mid afternoon and rang his door bell many times braving the rain. Then I drove off and cam back and this continued
until well past 6 PM. Nothing. The client had bailed out on me without telling. Time to call for a back up
I left a message with the back up client and
simply headed out in the direction of my two Saturday clients hoping to check into a motel
for the evening. Slightly ticked off that the
scheduled client had vanished. Well, it must
have been serendipitous as the cell rang right after I passed the exit of the back up
client. In short order, I turned around and
headed right back to his place. All in all
very close to where I needed to be the next day.
This was the home of the purring cat engine
A most amusing cat that comes into the room and starts revving like a car because he likes
A second feline at the family room door tapping at
the window wanting to get in on the action and possible electrocution. Cats just love sticking their heads into places
even with high voltage. Smart or stupid
you be the judge. One day a cat will
kill himself and take the TV with him.
Very grateful to the back up client for rescuing
me on this evening. But I still maintain that
he should really stop smoking.
Sept. 28 Saturday Morning Panasonic
This one was a joy to work with and the client and
I talked some hockey since his brother played for the Vancouver Canucks recently. Now off playing in Germany. A minor distraction in the way the clients
wife looked. Almost too pretty to take my
eyes off, but I am about to be a married man so eyes forward.
I seem to enjoy working with Panasonics a lot
these days because I know how well they will come out and just how poorly they typically
are when I first see them. The client had a
cocker spaniel dog and it reminded me of the one I spent a lot of time with in Denver last
fall. The one that was diabetic.
Sept. 28 Saturday Afternoon Toshiba
For the first time and by sheer coincidence, the
second client of the day lived exactly five seconds driving time from the first. A mere five houses down the same block. I got to the clients home at about 2 PM well
ahead of the daily schedule and got to work on the TV right off with little interruption. The very large set was in the HT in the basement
and it sparked the question of how the client got the TV down there since his staircase
had to turn 180 degrees and hence no way to bring the TV down there. He also had a large pool table in the basement as
well. I asked him how it was all done and he
said that the builder/contractor cut a large hole in the living room floor and they
lowered the two units down. Then they fixed
the hole that was the living room. A novel
idea that I had never encountered before, but it worked great. It did not take much effort to fix the floor work
and make it actually stronger than before.
The TV nor the pool table were never coming out of
So with the calibration done by 6 PM, I decided to
head out early and drive back to Toronto rather than spending the night at the
Sept. 29 Sunday Morning
I had been conversing with a prospective client in
Mississauga with a Princeton Graphics monitor about whether I had time to do his set if I
got back early enough from Ottawa. Since I
did make it back early, it was time to call him again, but with all the bad luck going
around, his TV had gone funny and he could not get the calibration until repairs were
done. This freed up the morning for me to
revisit with friends and visit one of the first Best Buy stores in Canada.
Sept. 29 Sunday Afternoon Hitachi
53 4:3 HD
The last set on the tour and this one was one of
the Hitachi units that did not do true 1080i, but rather did the 810i down conversion ...
same with the DVD down conversion. It was
very well done though. I had chastised my
hosts for not telling me what type of neighbourhood that I would be heading into for the
last job. The apartment condo was newly
renovated from a warehouse complex
upscale to be sure, but the neighbourhood made
one slightly uncomfortable. And given that
parking was almost impossible to find anywhere close to the apartment, it ended up being a
4 block hike. Anxious
Straight forward calibration that just takes a bit
longer because Hitachi sets just take a lot longer. So
and one nagging aspect about Hitachi sets rears its head again. The goofy convergence system. Sometimes, even a minor tweak of one area can
result in a major problem. The more you
change one area, the worse the convergence gets. The
more you try
even worse. Before long,
the area is a complete mess.
This one was a fun one because both the client and
his girlfriend were into Anime and they had plenty of that in DVD on the shelves. Or more succinctly, his significant other was more
into anime than he was. But this made
conversations most lively.
Im finished by 9 PM and I say my good byes
to the client and head back to the hosts home.
Time enough for one final dinner and we end up going to a Chinese Noodle
Unfortunately, it is now when all that rain in
Ottawa is starting to catch up with me. The
throat is starting to feel funny. This
doesnt stop one from enjoying the evening with friends though.
Sept. 30 Monday
Last Day. I
fly home in the early evening, but I spend the whole day at the airport anyway because I
am too sick to do anything. I just lay there
and try to get some precious moments of sleep. Next
to impossible. I was supposed to meet up with
another of my previous clients, but once more, we could not connect, even through email. Like the client fell off the face of the planet. Strangely enough, I predicted that this client
might fall away earlier in the week simply because of a gut feeling that I had.
So it was a quiet time at the airport and I was
able to go home. Thats it for my tours
for 2002. Aside from the Taipei, Taiwan tour
in late November.