Saturday, December 29, 2007

Die Hard 4.0

Just watching Die Hard 4.0.
It's an excellent action movie. Funny and captivating, like the first one.

And yet, why does Hollywood always insist that any action movie must have at least a couple of factors which are patently unrealistic? For example the villains not only being able to "get schematics" on their computer of a random tunnel that the hero has just entered by car, but getting them in 3D, and being able to re-route traffic into that tunnel by remote control. And not only that but being able to do it with literally five seconds of preparation time of figuring out how to do it! (There was no way they could have predicted needing to do it.)

Also the villains can remotely and instantly "reroute gas lines" to get a power plant to blow up... "Reroute gas lines"? What does that even mean?

Why aren't there writers in Hollywood specifically paid to fix scripts so they become realistic? It can't be all that damn hard. Just use 0.1% of the budget of a big movie, and you can have all the brain power you could want, willing and eager to help you. Heck, I'm sure there are loads of films fans and geeks out there who would love to do the work for free.

I dunno. The idea that perhaps the people in the world to whom these errors seem obvious are so few that they don't matter to the market is a very scary thought. That's a world that's hard to trust with anything.

Redneck style photos

Apparently it's not yet politically incorrect to make fun of "rednecks", so here we go.


David, the McDonalds generation.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas blues

Funny animated card: Christmas blues.

Good song too. I guess from the thirties. I am not a huge blues fan, but the occasional song I'll really like.

At first I thought: how nice, a cheerful blues song. Then of course I noticed the lyrics: "it Christmas, but it's raining in my heart..." :)

I find it interesting and humorous that there is a whole genre and class of music which is all about how life sucks and you're so sad.

I once wrote this:

The Good Times Blues

I've got the blues
I've got the blues

my kitten's run away for the seaside
my raincoat's got holes in its memory
my drainpipe is filled with illegal elves
living off my leftover birthday pie

I've got the good times blues

I've got the blues
I've got the blues

my wife is the prettiest in town
my kids are already famous
my wallet is fatter than the mayor's cat
my body is stronger than steel

tomorrow I move into heaven
today they will fix the stove
I live off licorice and candied nuts
I sleep on the red tile floor

angels come visit me in the bath
devils send me postcards from hell
I smile like an imp at pretty girls
I am never quite feeling well

We'll wait until Thursday
to tell you the good news
we always know what is good for you
which colors and what hues

I've got the good times blues

I've got the blues
I've got the blues

You can't be having these troubles
it is just not nice
you seem to be not understanding
that times are not the same

we all can be living off candy
if only the boss will let us
you just have to smile real nice
and shave your hair in the back

I dance on the limbs of trees in the yard
I howl at the moon during day
I gently lift kids off a donkey's back
and tell them the truth of the day

I've got the blues
I've got the blues

I've got the good times blues

stobblehouse 2000

Close up

Here is the full gallery.

Here is the full gallery.

Zeppelina writes:
I do like these photos, they are wonderful snapshots of `found` objects.

I like the way you have taken every day objects, and have made abstract compositions from them, using the shapes and textures to form the composition, and with simplicity too, no fuss or photographic manipulation involved.

It challenges us to view these every day objects in an honest and fresh way, visually examining detail which we normally would miss.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


How hard is it to make an infomercial which pulls in the millions? Watch this.
(For some reason the video doesn't play in Safari on my machine, but it works in Firefox.)


"Anyone who fails to understand photography will be one of the illiterates of the future." - Lazlo Moholy-Nagy (stated in the 1920's)

Funny how they say the same thing about new pervasive technologies. Like computers now. And with a lot of truth in each case. If you don't understand a pervasive medium, you're well boffed.

I found that quote in an excellent documentary about photography (and its history). (Thanks to Wonko and his friend who DVD-recorded it for me.) Living the UK, I have to pay for BBC even though my TV is only used for DVDs. But I can live with it because the BBC makes a lot of excellent programming which probably would not have happened otherwise.

Michal Daniel

Michal Daniel. (Not "Michael".)

These pictures are taken with a palm device, of all things. - All Images © Michal Daniel

Pain in the neck

Update: It's not until now I hear about traction, amazingly. I'm getting quite interested in it. I remember I felt better after my physio pulled my skull, early this month.

It's an indication of the severity of the situation that I, who live online, had not even looked up the condition I suffer(ed) from. But now I have, it's cervical nerve root compression.
I'd estimate I'm 3/4ths healed around now. Some of the time I very uncomfortable, some of the time I feel close to normal.

But I want to take more care of my back in the future. Better posture and so on. And I've ordered a massage chair, top japanese model, to help the tension which is a big part of my bane. It's not a cheap thingy for sure, but once you've been practically screaming with pain a few nights, you want to try to take care of yourself.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Kindle, I wish it could read to me

I got the Amazon Kindle today, just in time for an xmas present!
The online functions don't work here in the UK, sadly. I do hope they bring them around soon.

It really is surprisingly small and light. Very handy, you can read in bed all night long and not get tired in the arm.

Room for improvement:
1: The "white" of the screen is closer to middle grey.
2: The screen should be a leeeeettle bigger, methinks.
3: The change-page buttons are really too big. It's hard to just hold it without changing pages.

But it's really cool, and I'm sure it's the future.

... It can read text and it can play music. Wouldn't it be fantastic if it could read your text out loud to you!?
My Mac can already do that in an intelligible fashion, with the new voice in Mac OS X Leopard. I doubt the gap in processor power needed is all that great.
I wonder if they have thought about this?

Alex said:
I don't want a text to speech tool in my e-book reader.
We've had T2S for ages, remember "Princess" and "Bubbles" in the original power Mac voices.
Can text to speech now cope with foreign phrases, and foreign quotes in text? What about slang?
What I really want is a "dramatic text to speech" tool, preferably with a "director" utility which allows for the tool to read ahead, and switch intonation, and voice quality based on character and mood.
We've come a long way from TI's Speak And Spell, but we still have a way to go yet.

Eolake said...
Just that. The original Mac voices were barely usable for anything, they were mostly novelties. But the new voice, "Alex", in Leopard, is very usable. Of course it's not quite a human reader yet, but I can easily understand 99.9% of what it is saying, and that opens up so many vistas. It means an ebook-reader could read to me while I'm resting my eyes, or cooking, or taking a walk, or...

The same as I'm doing with audio books on my iPod, only the thing is that only a very tiny portion of the text in the world will ever be recorded by humans, it's a lot of work.

What I can do is have my Mac read the text, but then I have to sit next to it. I could record it, but that's clumsy.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Dr. P4 sez:
I think "investing" in art is an insult. If I buy a beautiful sculpture, it's because I like it, not because I hope some day someone will pay me twice the original price.
Which makes find so utterly moronic that some wine bottles reach such astronomic prices. I mean, damn, in the end it's supposed to be drunk, or it's pointless.

I'm reminded of the story of the box of strawberries which were the finest in the world, and they were sold on and on at ever higher prices. Then one buyer lifted the lid and peeked at the berries, and said: "but these strawberries are rotten!" The last seller then informed him: "No no, these are not for eating, these are for selling!"


Pascal said somewhere:
If movies spent less millions on advertising, and reflected those cost savings by cutting in half the prices of movie tickets and DVDs (advertising is often half the expenses!), I bet the global sales would INCREASE, and pull the benefits up markedly.
Quality doesn't need mass-advertising, pleased people do all the promoting.

Advertising is one of those things I've always been uneasy about. But I can't really decide.
In the excellent SF novel Holy Fire by Bruce Sterling, it is very briefly mentioned that sometime in the 21st century, advertising was outlawed worldwide. And I think that's a very interesting idea.
Of course, it would find some way of happening anyway, human nature being what it is, just like violence and drugs. Product placements, etc etc.
But I think it just presents the idea for consideration that advertising is possibly an evil. We are so used to seeing it everywhere that this thought is quite revolutionary.

Update: I'm not sure it's "evil", but I think we'd be better off without it. I like media better without too much advertising. And part of the reason I don't watch TV anymore is the constant interruptions. Also, I don't have advertising on my own sites. The moment I were to put a banner at the top of my site, it would not feel like my own site anymore.

And if it were not for good anti-ad software, there would be many sites I could not use, like for example the otherwise excellent, where I rent my movies. Their advertising on the site not only moves, it makes sounds too! Drives me nuts.

My own boss

This quote always reminds me of my own life. It's from "Arthur".

"What do you do for a living?"
"I race cars, I play tennis, I fondle women. But, I have weekends off, and I am my own boss."