Archive for August, 2007

The Romulan storyline

So the rumor has it that Leonard Nimoy will be the main character of the next Star Trek movie, not just a guest star. This actually makes sense because Nimoy quit acting many years ago and he swore to not act again in his life. I am certain that it’s something more than money the would make him come back to the big screen. And that would be an important, conclusive plot.

You see, Star Trek has pretty much completed all its subplots except the Romulan one. On the previous Star Trek movie, where they were supposed to do just that, they screwed up because Patrick Stewart wanted to make it the lame “Picard-oriented” movie it became. This time they have the opportunity to make it right, and have Spock give a conclusion to a Vulcan/Romulan/Federation plot, while opening a door to more movies in the future.

In love with a… bad ass preview

I just can’t stop listening to that 0:43″ seconds preview that Drist sent over for the purposes of the video report I shot for them. The thing rocks so much, it’s just amazing. It can also be heard in the first 3 “music” sections of the video report. The yet untitled song had a comment in the mp3 file I received: “bad ass preview”. Whoever of the 4-member band wrote that music, is a genius.

This song could very well be the band’s big break. However, I am a bit concerned that without marketing, radio play and TV shows, it won’t be an as a big break as it could have been if they were pushed by a major label. As Vasper said on a comment yesterday on this blog, “life isn’t fair”.

Slashdot entries imported

Special thanks to Adam Scheinberg for writing the script that fetched all my old 2002-2006 blog entries from Slashdot and saved them as a big RSS file. Then, using WordPress’ RSS import facility, all blog entries got into place, 1.6 MBs full of data no less! Awesome!

NBC to end iTunes sales of its shows

NBC Universal, unable to come to an agreement with Apple on pricing, has decided not to renew its contract to sell digital downloads of television shows on iTunes. […] The company has been talking to iTunes about offering Universal movies, but has not done so to date because of piracy concerns.

Stupid studios. So they are afraid that people will even CARE to crack iTunes’ 640×480 letterbox videos and pirate them instead of downloading a full 848×480 DVD quality version off bit-torrent for free? Studios want more and more and more money, and at the same time they are afraid to make the smallest step towards the 21st Century. Idiots. Kudos to Apple for sticking on its guns and offering a pretty sensible service — considering.

Update: And so NBC wanted to charge $4.99 per episode. Let me respond to that: Hahahaha….

Regarding sports competitions

I don’t believe that the way most sports competitions are organized are fair. For example, currently there is the world track & field championship in Osaka going on. Here you have athletes trying to do their best to achieve that 0.1% better performance than their competitor and get the gold medal. How stupid is that?

What I mean is, especially for a woman, it’s not fair to say that “on the 30th of August you gotta perform better than all the rest”. What if you got your period that day? What if you are injured? Why can’t they do a number of competitions throughout the year (like IAAF’s Grand Prix series), and at the end of the season decide who was the best and leave it at that? Why do athletes have to prove themselves THAT particular day?

Same goes for the play-offs btw. Here you got teams working their ass off all year to get a good rank, and at the end of the season they have to do play-offs instead of winning the championship purely on ranking. Except than feeding viewers adrenaline and suspense, there is no other reason why things are the way they are. And so for me, these results are just invalid. It’s just a marketing ploy, not real competition based on long term performance statistics.

HOW-TO: Get your own channel icon on YouTube

You might have noticed that some of the video bloggers on YouTube have a custom banner and no 10-minute-per-video limit. There is nothing you can do about this, unless your videos are popular and have been “featured” by YouTube employees at some point. However, what you *can* do is use a custom channel icon.

I want my Channel page to have a picture of me, because that’s what I do for all my forum/site accounts: I always use a real picture. I don’t hide behind weird icons that don’t represent me. Only on IM I use an icon with a sheep just because some protocols can’t handle more than 48×48 pixels so it’s not visually distinct to have a real picture of a person in such a small size. Anyways, the way you create a channel icon on YouTube right now is to select which one of the RANDOM frames youtube’s engine has grabbed off of your videos. You can’t set your own picture. Now, the problem is that I am never in front of my camera. I am always behind it. And so there is no frame to pick as channel icon that has myself in it.

So, I had to devise something to go around this stupid limitation of YouTube. Here’s how I did it:

Open a photo or image editor. Create a 320×240 picture with it using the picture/logo you want. Save it as PNG. Open Vegas (or another video editor), and load the PNG picture in the timeline. Here’s how your project settings must look if you are using Vegas or anything similar:

Make sure your video is at least 4 seconds long, otherwise YouTube won’t accept it. Now, render the video using the 320×240 MP4 template from MainConcept’s encoder. Upload to YouTube. Within minutes, you will see your video here exposing the desired frame. Click on “Make Channel Icon”. Now, edit that video and make it “private” (or remove it). That’s it. You now have a custom channel icon!

The only problem is that YouTube creates a 130×97 channel icon image, but the image is forcefully squashed or cropped via CSS on your Channel page at 100 pixels width, and on your separate video pages at just 43×43. YouTube’s web developers should clean up their act and create channel icon images at the right size each time, depending on the needs of each page, otherwise quality of the channel icon is really bad because browsers use as-fast-as-possible algorithms to resize pictures on the fly, and a fast algorithm is not as good as let’s say, bilinear or bicubic. That’s true for my new channel icon too. But it’s better than that stupid duck I was forced to have before anyway.

The computerized ant

Discussion between JBQ and myself today:

Eugenia: I found an ant in the kitchen today. Obviously a scout. Don’t worry, I deleted it.
JBQ: You did what?
Eugenia: Erm… I mean I killed it.

Damn computers.

Bad health, Part III

Medication I got 3 weeks ago helped my health, enough to go to Ukiah with JBQ in our weekend vacation. After finishing the medication (10 days, 4 pills a day), I am sick again. In the past, it would take me a month to get back to the “sick level” after medication, but this time it seems that my body learned how to go around it and relapsed faster.

I can’t take of this anymore. I am in pain all too often, it keeps me from living a normal life, let alone planning for having a child. Sometimes I do think of taking me out to find relief for good.

And it also makes me think how the medical sciences are still in a medieval phase — not being able to find the real cause (instead of treating the symptom) and just labeling it “a syndrome”.

Opera Mini 4 beta 2 released

Opera Mini continues to show its teeth compared to other mobile browsers. While it’s not a native solution and its server-side nature creates problems with Ajax, it still is the most downloaded J2ME application ever. New features on beta 2 include: landscape support, fullscreen support, SSL, smaller fonts and more. A good deal.

Sci-fi films are as dead as Westerns, says Ridley Scott

At the Venice Film Festival for a special screening of his seminal noir thriller Blade Runner, Sir Ridley said that science fiction films were going the way the Western once had. “There’s nothing original. We’ve seen it all before. Been there. Done it,” he said. Asked to pick out examples, he said: “All of them. Yes, all of them.”

What a whole lot of bull. While I do not disagree with the fact that studios are not very interested in producing too much sci-fi anymore (especially space-based sci-fi), I do disagree with the notion that “we’ve seen it all before”. We haven’t. We’ve seen everything it can be done with porn, but not with sci-fi. The whole point of sci-fi is to create non-realistic situations and carry you as far as your imagination can go. And some of the stuff we have seen, were not always well-done and can always be made better (e.g. this which I mentioned on the second part of my blog post here).