bookmark_borderAutomatically broken

panpet

ATTN: People who make video softwareses!
I know you all read my posts, so I thought I would mention this here.I know it makes you feel cool to just use the names of Chip Jewelry for output settings, but some of us actually want to know what those settings mean.

Seeing as you require me to put in the resolution, framerate, aspect, etc. in order to IMPORT, you can assume that I will want to know what those numbers are for EXPORT.

If audio software worked like this, you’d have presets like:

  • I have mpenge disks on my turntable spindle
  • “Audiophile” who likes vinyl (ironic)
  • “Audiophile” who likes vinyl (old)
  • “Audiophile” who likes vinyl (clean-shaven)
  • “Audiophile” who likes vinyl (bearded)
  • “Audiophile” who likes vinyl (because pictures on the cover!)
  • Liquid metal cables and blue felt pen on the CD
  • Metal guy (80’s)
  • Metal guy (90’s)
  • Metal guy (00’s)
  • Compressed all to ratshit, like on the radio
  • Streaming
  • Leave my shit alone and just render a .wav file (hidden deep in settings)

bookmark_borderThe llama never gets a break

Rock it!
It was before your time

The llama’s ass will continue to get whipped!

You know, I used to despise AOL, but now I don’t. Now I see them as the corporate auto-Robin-Hood that they truly have been.

Thanks to their unique combination of cash reserves, hubris and goofiness, AOL have managed to absorb the difference between the grotesque over-valuation of several pieces of tech (WinAmp, Netscape, etc.), and the actual value of those same assets. They bought those things for the stupid, Facebook-level IPO messiah price, screwed up and starved the productive side of things in a vain search for profitability commensurate with their unrealistic investment, and refused to let go.

The end result: The tech ends up functional, freed of its greedhead investors, with only those who truly care about what it does left and providing the (usually simple) functionality that made it worthwhile in the first place.

And they’ve done it the old-fashioned way–by taking HUGE losses!

Yay market! Thanks AOL!

bookmark_borderNot currently in Denmark

A picture of an elk
I said “whelk!” Stupid auto-correct!

I just saw this.

What kind of world do we live in where it takes a threat to the entire planet to get famous people to pose naked with dead fish?

When I was a kid, people were much more caring. Why, all it would take is a mugging or a minor flood and the street would be lined with A-listers, covered in haddock!

On one particularly cold December morning, my mom was distracted by a flock of whelk, and overcooked the breakfast bacon—we prefer it a bit less crisp.

Within minutes, the entire cast of a local production of “Mourning Becomes Electra” was in our front room, starkers, fondling everything from a carp to a mollusk I still haven’t identified.

THOSE were the days. Kudos to these folks for taking a stand. A naked, fishy, not-very-widely-seen stand, the point of which is completely unclear, but a stand nonetheless.

bookmark_borderSomething about getting a “charge” out of this

See what I did there?
Ha!

Most big batteries (like the batteries in laptops and tools and phones) are actually just a bunch of smaller battery cells wired together.

It would be very useful, and a lot less wasteful, if there were a set of standard battery cell configurations that rechargeable batteries could be built out of, and batteries were built so that you could swap out bad cells.

  • You’d be able to replace only the cells that went bad in a given battery or device, not have to waste the whole piece, or chuck it in a landfill.
  • It  would probably make designing things easier.
  • It would mean more standard parts could be used, which would make things easier to repair
  • Standard parts can be made in higher volume, which means lower pricing
  • Chargers would be more likely to work with multiple devices

Unfortunately, all of this would mean that companies would sell fewer proprietary things over and over, and consumers would have to learn how to do stuff, so it’s probably not going to happen.

But this is still a cool example of how to make the idea work despite everyone’s best attempts to the contrary. (link via Hack a Day)

 

bookmark_borderWe like to go out for home-style cookin’

Steel, man.
Doesn’t taste as good without the gravy

Kids, please. You have GOT to calm the hell down, because you are making the Ineerweebs boring by whining about the same things over and over, every time a big shiny new movie comes out based on a book or a comic or something else that you care about.

And it’s only going to get worse, because it looks like there are going to be tons of them in the next little while.

Take a second, take a breath, take a step back, and get this into your head.    It’ll seem all cynical and snarky, but you will feel better by the end, I promise.

Right.  The big companies that make expensive movies have one primary motivation for doing so:  To make as much money as possible.  Everything else–EVERYTHING else–they do is in the pursuit of this.  In a nutshell, the model goes like this:

  1. Spend a buttload of money making a movie
  2. Spend a buttload of money promoting a movie
  3. Make more buttloads of money than you spent, from people going to the movie in theaters + additional buttloads from merch and a few more buttloads over time from DVD/Streaming/On-Demand and whatever new formats you can resell the thing on later.

It’s pretty simple.  When it works, it really works, and when it doesn’t work quite so well, it still usually works OK, and when it doesn’t work at all, well, that’s what some of the additional buttloads from the movies that did work are for.  Yes, I read the stuff Spielberg and Lucas said recently.  Hilarious stuff, coming from two guys who kinda drove the whole thing in that direction.

I’m not saying this is how things SHOULD be, or even how they HAVE to be.  Please read this line again.

But make no mistake. Big money movies made by big companies are fundamentally money-making projects.  All the writing and the directing and the acting and the scoring and the promotion and the gaffers and clapper-loaders and grips, all that stuff is in the project because someone who controls the money thought it would make the movie make more money.  The people who do the actual work might have some other reason for doing what they do, and that’s nice. It’s great to do work you believe in. But the reason that those people are doing that work is so that the movie will make more money.

Every word of Step 1  is important.  It is VERY important to this process that the projects cost a buttload of money.  Have a buttload of money behind them is what differentiates these projects from other projects.  Hollywood movies HAVE TO LOOK LIKE Hollywood movies. There are two problems if they don’t:

  1. Not as many people will want to see the movie, because people are used to Hollywood movies that LOOK like Hollywood movies
  2. Instead of only competing with the few other movies that look like Hollywood movies, the movie would have to compete with every other movie.

Helicopters, cranes, exotic locations, big-name movie stars, directors and composers, huge stunts and really cutting-edge CGI are all expensive.  So are re-shoots, focus groups, delays, and two-storey trailers.  Having a buttload of money means that companies can put all that stuff in a movie, and it differentiates that movie from all the movies that can’t afford those things.  It doesn’t necessarily make it better (or worse) as a piece of art, but the primary intention isn’t to make a piece of art. It is to make a profitable project.

But it goes farther than that.  Fast and Furious movies are not made to compete with ANY other movies in the world.  Neither are Die Hard movies, or Bond films, or any other franchise.  They are made because they don’t HAVE to compete with other movies.  A big movie project doesn’t WANT to compete–apart from the unavoidable part about being in theaters at the same time as other movies.  Competition means splitting ticket sales with competitors. Even if you come out on top, doing this makes no sense if your intention is to make as much money as possible.  The best product for a project like that is unique in a way that appeals to as many people as possible.

That means using as many things as possible that other projects can’t. The most expensive-looking shots and effects, the limited resources of stars, directors, and products.  And it really helps if the concept for the movie is some property that can be bought or licensed, and no-one else can use–like a comic book or a novel or a board game.

Yeah, I said “board game.” Crazy, right? What are they even thinking? A freakin’ BOARD GAME!

I know–Let’s make a movie based on a board game!  We’ll get a couple chunks of beefcake and have a famous sort-of singer shooting a .50 calibre machine gun, and tons of CGI and flying saw-balls and stuff blowing up and people saying “Let’s DO this!”  and walk Liam Neeson through a day of shooting, to add some gravitas.  We’ll call it “Battleship” and it will be universally decried as a cynical piece of crap.  It will cost about $209 million to make.  OH WAIT SOMEONE TOTALLY DID THAT!

Are you laughing right now because of how dumb it was to spend that much money on a crap movie?  It’s good for you to laugh.  Go ahead and get all the laughing out before you read the next sentence.

“Battleship” grossed about $100 million MORE than it cost worldwide.

One.  Hundred. Million. That’s about three times what “Blade Runner” cost to make.  It’s five times what “Gosford Park” cost.

And I’m sure that what you find most annoying about that movie is that it wasn’t ANYTHING like the board game.

Great time to bring up Step 2.  Every word of Step 2 is equally important.  It can’t happen until you have Step 1 in place, but it’s just as important. Ideally, everyone in the world will be aware that the movie is coming out, that it cost more than coating the Burj al Arab in prosciutto and took more organization, and then entire planet will be just PUMPED to line up at midnight on Thursday to buy a ticket.

Reality isn’t like that though, so the aim is to get a bunch of people REALLY excited, and they will drag their friends along to the theater. And then later, the less excited will watch it some other way for less money, which is better than nothing.

Some of that marketing pays for itself too, through cross-promotions and licensing.  Kids should want a toothbrush based on a character in the movie before the movie is even out.

Marketing a product is a heck of a lot easier when that product already has brand recognition in the market.  If people already know something–pretty much anything–about the movie you are trying to get them to buy a ticket to, then you have a hook to draw their interest with.  It could be actors’ or directors’ or even the writers’ name recognition, or it could be the title or whatever concept the movie was based on, but that hook is important.  You put Mel Gibson’s face on the side of a Whopper box, and people will want to know why. It doesn’t matter if they hate him, as long as people get curious about the movie, and buy tickets.

And the fact is, once the tickets are sold, nothing about the movie itself really matters.  The actors might do their best work, or they might phone it in, but the people who go to movies to see those actors are added to the number of people who will buy tickets.  It’s the same for everything about the movie, right down to the high concept, like a comic book or novel or board game or whatever the original idea was that started the project on the path to being done.  Once the people drawn to that idea have paid for a ticket, the idea has done its job.

Hollywood movie projects are expensive, and they have to bring in a LOT of tickets and rentals and copies–way more than the goofy little numbers that comic books or novels sell–in a relatively short amount of time. A Hollywood movie that sold as the same number of tickets as a typical best-selling book in the same amount of time would be a dismal failure.  If every person who read a particular comic book went to see major movie based on that comic, that movie would probably not make money, and if the comic was a niche title, the movie definitely would not make money.

The target market of movies then, is not just the people who bought the book or read the comic or played the board game–it’s all the people who have HEARD about the book/comic/game, plus all the people who are attracted by all the other movie stuff.

And that’s why major movie adaptations that are “just like” the source material are very rare exceptions.  Making a big-money film project that can only be appreciated by people who have absorbed the source material is an enormous risk that is simply not worth taking most of the time.  It makes much more sense for a big company to make a movie that a lot more people will buy a ticket to than it does to make a movie that will satisfy a smaller number of people who will probably buy a ticket anyway.

It doesn’t matter that the folks who loved the book hated the movie, as long as they bought a ticket.  Or enough other people bought tickets.

So there it is. Getting bent out of shape over a movie because you happened to know the source material makes about as much sense as getting bent out of shape because the food you eat in a fast-food restaurant isn’t just like the food you eat at home.  That was never the plan, and you’re being silly when you act like it was.  Over and over and over.

There are lots of movies that aren’t particularly true to the source material they were based on and still worked out pretty OK, like this one, this one, and this one.  I would wager that most of the people who loved those films never actually read the source material.  Something about bliss, I think.

If you managed to read this far, you might also find this article from the New Yorker about “About Schmidt” a bit enlightening as well.  Didn’t hear a lot of bitching about that one.

Haven’t seen it myself. I’m waiting for the graphic novel.

bookmark_borderA life more interesting – One

Parking lot
Or start leaving flowers in the same stall in a parking lot…

Bored?  No-one talking to you?  Try this:

– Put a bag of sand in the trunk of your car
– Run around a bit, until you look kinda sweaty.
– Drive up to a gas station or convenience store.
– Park right in front, head in, so that folks in the store can’t see the trunk
– Rush in, buy a bottle of water and a sandwich or something, look like you are in a hurry, and just grabbing the first things you see to eat and drink.
– Keep your face down. Pay in cash.
– Go to your car, open the trunk, throw the stuff you bought in and yell “THERE! NOW SHUT THE HELL UP!”
– Punch/kick the bag of sand a couple of times.
– Drive off really fast.

bookmark_borderCop talk is a gateway drug

werds werds werds
Werds werds werds

 

This  article, which was found by a link from an site with no other known connections to the article, is thought to be quite illustrative of a counter-productive tendency within a certain community.

Speaking for myself, I would venture to assert that it was indeed exposure to this form of writing and speaking style that gave rise to the increased popularity of what I would deem, to coin a phrase,  “Long-Speak,” if you will.  This form or mode of writing relies heavily at its base on the considered opinion that more words—and words of longer and, shall we say, more rarified usage—lend more meaning to the statements at hand which are being made by the speaker, if you will.

As one, or indeed, all of the people involved, if you will, progresses in this style of executing the writing of a thought or placing words on the page that reflect the thinking of an individual, the reader, or listener, if you will, will notice at some moment in time the marked tendency to repeatedly fall back on entrenched habits and time-worn clichés in terms of the choice of phraseology, as this proven technique has repeatedly shown great success in the explosive growth of what is soon to be known as “content-free elevated diction.”

If you will.

The end result of this continuous upping of the anté vis-a-vis the on-going competition to enhance the putative and nominal importance of what is being said, if you will, while in point of fact ignoring or indeed, if one parses the content being mooted by the writer and/or producer in the harsh light of day, negating the need for content or at any rate, the clear display of what that content may be, per se.  A view might be held by some parties in certain camps that the end result of this was always the intent. That is to say, the objective of this idiom of the writing arts is to artfully obscure the originating motivator for the writing’s existence, and is rather the aggrandizement of the author or voice of the piece, while distancing that self-same entity from any possible repercussions resulting from what content manages to filter through the sieve of the medium and catch in the public eye, if you will.

In such cases as might occur in the form I describe, a fine balance must be artfully struck between the soothingly meaningless tropes expected by the core audience, and some amount of novelty which defines the voice of the writer as unique within the market structure. This gives rise to further twisting of the language, as writers personfully strive to create new but instantly and easily digested terms based on the acceptable limited dictionary of common vacabulatory usages, verbifying nouns, nounifying verbs, and adverbingly adjectiving. Also, sentence fragments, the end of which unnecessary prepositions are put at.

It is this self-same line of thinking which provides both the writer and audience, if you will, with new coinages, per se, while at the same time reambiguizing the terms that the audience might have a glimmer of recognizance of, but not full defination, particularly those of foreign or non-native origin to the audience. These terms are the cookie dough of the language, taking on whatever shape the writer, or word-baker, if you will, decides to impose upon it, and accepted without question by an audience, listener or reader, raised on words that, like sweet foods, are pleasing in the mouth and do no good elsewhere.

Additionally, weak and obvious metaphors—analogies, if you will—become an qualifier of distinguished letterpersonship, as they stand out like a tall mountain against the flat plains of the level of the remainder of the bulk of the writing, in the main, if you will.

But as Knute Rockne once said to Walter Cronkite “Mens rea, Tempora mundi!

bookmark_borderI don’t even know what’s real any more

8_bit_heartAs a part-time IT crank, people ask me a lot of questions. One of the questions I get asked a lot is “What’s the difference between ‘emulation‘ and ‘virtualization?'”

This is a good question–both are ways of using one type of computer to do things as if it was some other type of computer. They are different in how they work, but is that what matters to the basic end user?

I’ll answer that question first: No. It is not.

Here then, is the best working distinction between the two, as far as users are concerned:

Emulation means that someone has figured out how to make games from some other system work on a computer that currently has a resale value greater than $1000. So when someone says “Have you tried the Intellivision emulator?” they actually mean “You should have your childhood destroyed by realizing how crap Body Slam Super Pro Wrestling actually was!”

Virtualization means that someone has figured out how to make a computer that currently has a resale value over $1000 pretend that it is a computer that you didn’t actually want to buy, except that it won’t play any of the really good games that you would have played on that other computer. So when someone says “You can do all the work you would normally do in Windows in this virtualized environment on your Mac.”  they actually mean “We really REALLY don’t want you to play games on this computer.”

bookmark_borderA TV workout that works!

Comic from Falling FiftthI just read this article on the always entertaining and informative Consumerist site, in which three exercise toys advertised on TV are shown to suck.

I now introduce to you, the discerning physical mess, The netdud TV Workout Method.

This workout method combines the best effects of ALL THREE of the workout products reviewed at the link above. I highly recommend that you get yourself a block of Gruyere to gnaw and read through the article and watch the video before you continue with this, or any other workout routine.

 

The netdud TV Workout Method

  • Prepare 16 pints of Irish Coffee
  • Put on your skates (sold separately)
  • Move to the couch
  • Watch TV at the highest volume you can stand (beginners!  Be careful here!)
  • Drink 16 pints of Irish Coffee. This keeps you jiggling, just like the Rhythm Rocker.
  • If anyone tries to take the remote, you punch them, and the alcohol in your system provides the much-needed resistance that makes your muscles work harder.  TO AVOID INJURY, REMEMBER TO MAINTAIN PROPER FORM HERE! 
  • You’ll need to run to the bathroom about every 15 minutes.  Doing so  in skates while hammered and coffeed up will strengthen your core and train your balance. PLUS those regular standing/running breaks will help fight off deep-vein thrombosis.

You are welcome world. You are welcome.