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Monday, December 31, 2007 2:19 pm by Dan.
MIA: My TV shows.
I have a handy little widget in my Dashboard that tells me when the next episode of shows I’m watching are airing. There are about 22 series listed in there, 19 of which should be current shows (assuming that Bionic Woman , Journeyman , and Reaper are all dead). This is what it looks like right now. Man, is that depressing. Add in the list of spring premiere dates that AICN just put up, which lists about 70 shows, about half of which are reality programming. An interesting point raised by one site that I read: note that despite the amount of gaps on the schedule, most of that room is being filled by reality entertainment programming and not, say, news programming, which there’s an endless supply of that doesn’t require writers. Not surprising, perhaps, but certainly interesting.
Sunday, December 30, 2007 9:59 pm by Jason.
Boing Boing refers us to a very strange animation, circa 1960s,” the Colormation Screen Test:
The technique, similar in look to rotoscoping, appears to involve a combination of live actors, high-contrast cinematography, and hand-drawn backgrounds and foregrounds. As COOP writes, “The end result is unsettling but not without charm.”
And how. Not as neat a name as Technirama 70, as film processes go, but definitely eye-catching. Embedded (and resized!) clip after the “More” tag…
Thursday, December 27, 2007 10:08 pm by Jason.
Short Movie/Book Review: The Golden Compass.
I saw this movie with Gen today; she liked it, and I thought it was a charming but definitive failure. I attribute this pretty much entirely to me having read the book. The book had some serious pacing issues (like not being able to foreshadow for more than like two pages in advance, except when the foreshadowed thing was damn obvious). The movie fixed some of these issues, then added some issues of its own (like trying to fit way too much action into the first half). Overall, I liked the book better just because some of the characters seemed more worth caring about, but I didn’t really find it any more or less interesting than The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe , which I similarly read because I had nothing better to do before going to sleep. I’ll read the second book because I feel like Putnam’s religious commentary is just warming up, whereas Lewis’s was just kind of dull and obvious. One thing both the book and the movie had going for them, though: motherfucking fighting bears . At least they didn’t make that scene too much more tame in the movie.
Thursday, December 27, 2007 12:27 pm by Jason.
Short Movie Review: I Am Legend.
Fascinating, creepy, and affecting for the first 3/4 or so, but didn’t really deliver in the climax. Something tells me that there were some major themes or plot avenues explored in the book that only get hinted at (just how smart are these monsters?) or crammed in at the end (blah blah blah god blah blah meaning). Alternatively, maybe the ending of the book didn’t go well with test audiences, so they went with something stupider. I feel like I need to go read the book now to be satisfied with the setup that really got me interested in the beginning parts of the movie.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007 12:07 pm by Jason.
Philly vs. Boston.
Jason: damn it’s cold out.
Dan: What’s the weather there?
Jason: 28 now … supposed to get warmer.
Jason: I’m really not looking forward to that.
Dan: We’ve got a high of 30 today. Great. Bring warm clothes. And boots.
Jason: why must I return every year to the godless north.
Dan: I feel like fuckin Odin ought to be showing up any minute now.
Jason: “Dan! Get in the goat-drawn buggy! It’s time for an adventure!”
Saturday, December 15, 2007 2:08 pm by Dan.
The following post is not rated.
As we’ve seen, I have a strenuous regimen of television watching—one that, if confined to traditional broadcast methods, would probably occupy most evenings of my week, lowering my productivity to near-zero. But we live in the twenty-first century and so technology helps me take what once might have been a crippling condition and make it manageable.
Unlike music and movie piracy, television piracy didn’t really start to become popular until the advent of BitTorrent. While TV shows are usually shorter than movies and thus have smaller file sizes, they more than make up for that smaller size with increased frequency . Distributing a movie is difficult enough, but if you’re trying to keep up with a weekly show, there’s a heck of a lot more data to be transferred on a repeated basis. BitTorrent made that much easier, due to a couple of factors: 1) The de-centralized nature of the file-swapping technology shares the burden by making every downloader a server as well, which leads to 2) the somewhat counterintuitive proposition that the more people who download a show, the faster everybody downloads it.
I’ve often wondered if some metric could not be divined from the relative speeds of downloading. Some shows seem to transfer very quickly, while others simply crawl. This is due in part to differences like file size—for example, downloading an entire season usually takes longer than downloading a single episode—the overriding mechanic at work here is popularity. Again, in optimal conditions, the more people downloading a file, the more servers, and the faster it goes. And if popularity is the deciding factor, it would seem logical (if simplistic) to conclude that the shows that download the fastest are the most popular.
Television ratings are an imperfect science—if they can even be called a science. Even today, Nielsen relies heavily on written diaries kept by their selected “families,” tracking their television watching habits (they do have an electronic device called a “Set Meter” as well, and have been slowly adapting to other forms of technology—while the company moved to start including digital video recorders, such as TiVo, in ratings, it did not do so until 2005).
But do ratings even work ?
Friday, December 14, 2007 4:46 pm by Dan.
Aww, look at the adorable little dealer.
We’ve been pretty vociferous in our love for HBO’s The Wire , which both Tony and I believe to be among the best—if not the best —show on television. While you’re waiting for the fifth and final season to debut on HBO on January 6th, you may care to whet your appetite by heading over to Amazon to watch a series of three short “prequels,” each showing the background of different characters on the show. Kudos to the kid they found to the young Proposition Joe, who’s note-perfect.
Friday, December 14, 2007 12:48 pm by Jason.
Morning with Lee.
The following conversation transpired not long ago with my roommate.
Jason: Do you mind if I take a shower?
Jason: I’m not in a hurry. You can go first if you want.
Lee: Okay, thanks. I just have lunch with Eran.
Jason: You know, you could’ve opened with that rather than starting with “You fuckin’ dick.”
Lee: That was my concession speech.
Thursday, December 13, 2007 9:26 pm by Jason.
Behold the Typographer, Bringer of Wonder.
Holy crap, exljbris, free quality font foundry really is what it purports to be. Free fonts are easy enough to find on the web, but generally, they’re cute but half-assed novelty fonts with poor kerning and limited character sets. Follow that link to some really versatile, well-made fonts with personality. (Thanks Design Observer for the link.)
Wednesday, December 12, 2007 12:58 pm by Dan.
Word of the Year has been h4x0red, n00b!
So, Merriam-Webster held a poll inviting visitors to its website to vote for the word of 2007. The winner? “w00t.” That’s right, 2007 is the year that l337speak hit mainstream. “w00t”, in case you’re not among the “leet,” is an interjection of happiness, like “yay” or “hurrah.” It’s most often used by geeks and gamers.
If w00t best sums up 2007, 2007 must be destroyed. Right away.
Personally, I say we wait eighteen , or heck nineteen days and then destroy 2007.
My favorite comment on the matter, however, came from Merriam-Webster President John Morse:
Morse said “w00t” reflected the growing use of numeric keyboards to type words.
“People look for self-evident numeral-letter substitutions: 0 for O; 3 for E; 7 for T; and 4 for A,” he said. “This is simply a different and more efficient way of representing the alphabetical character.”
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Explain to me how substituting a number is more efficient than just using the letter . It can’t possible be more efficient: it uses the same amount of character (i.e., a 1:1 substitution) and you have to reconfigure your brain to both type and read it.
Language changes constantly: new words and spellings evolve, disappear, and transmute over time, so I can’t object to the inclusion of hacker-speak into our popular lexicon (some would argue that it’s already started to infiltrate the mainstream via text messaging lingo, but whether that’s a parallel evolution predominantly informed by the limited amount of space the medium affords or an offshoot of leetspeak is probably open for debate). I know plenty of those—and have been known myself—to utter “w00t” aloud in a particularly joyous moment, though I feel that its use among many groups (particularly older groups) has taken on a more ironic tone.
From a linguistic perspective, I find hacker speak fascinating; it’s not quite a language game, since it’s a written system not a spoken one, nor is it quite a cipher. Wikipedia describes leet as an argot, and, as usual, has a fascinating amount of documentation on the subject.
One thing’s for sure, though. I imagine this’ll be good news for Woot.
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