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I make films. I'm also a nerd.

Archive for 2013:

Supreme Court Decides DNA Isn’t Patentable

From the Court’s Opinion:

[W]e hold that a naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent eligible[…]

It’s sad that one feels such surprise when the Supreme Court of the United States of America makes a decision in favor of what is obviously the right thing for anyone other than a corporate attorney. Profit always matters more than people, period. It feels exhilarating when someone powerful challenges that fact.

Spielberg Predicts An End To Expensive Garbage

Paul Bond for Hollywood Reporter:

Steven Spielberg on Wednesday predicted an "implosion" in the film industry is inevitable, whereby a half dozen or so $250 million movies flop at the box office and alter the industry forever. What comes next – or even before then – will be price variances at movie theaters, where "you’re gonna have to pay $25 for the next Iron Man, you’re probably only going to have to pay $7 to see Lincoln." He also said that Lincoln came "this close" to being an HBO movie instead of a theatrical release.

This sounds like the best thing that could possibly happen to the American cinema. I really hope Spielberg is right.

PRISM Is Even Scarier Than You Think

Michael Arrington, I must admit, can generally be considered to be representative of flawed humanity at its worst. But I want to hear him out on PRISM and FISA, because his seemingly wild rants have an unsettling ring of plausibility in them:

[…] we won’t be able to go back and change our history. They’ll see that a decade ago we donated to Planned Parenthood and voted for President Obama. Suddenly, going out and buying a gun or two won’t be enough. The new government will know we’re not true believers in the cause. We’re secret left wing or right wing extremists, and guilty of a new crime – engaging in personal behavior designed to fool the surveillance state.

Yes, I can easily see a future law that prohibits us from engaging in behavior that is designed to trip up the surveillance machine.

There may be no point in attempting to maintain even rudimentary notions of privacy, because the entire history of everything you’ve said, done, or looked at on the Internet is already sitting on an ugly government server, ready to be mined, searched, and cross-referenced on any future date, to serve any Totalitarian purpose. And any attempt to hide what you’re interested in will seem suspicious.

Contextualize that thought within the observation that you’ve statistically committed three felonies today, and you’ll soon see that something has to be done about all of this immediately.

William Friedkin Accepts An Oscar, 1972

Here, à propos of nothing, beyond my own historical interest, is William Friedkin winning an Oscar for Directing (for The French Connection) in 1972, beating out both Peter Bogdanovich and Stanley Kubrick. Say what you will about whether the award went to the right man–Friedkin’s work on The French Connection is easily deserving of the honor. It takes a giant set of balls to stage a dangerous chase scene in the middle of New York City without the necessary permits.

I was lucky enough to hear Friedkin speak recently at a screening of Sorcerer in San Jose; he told a number of wildly amusing stories. One of them involved a New York City functionary who agreed to look the other way with respect to the famous chase scene in The French Connection–in exchange for $40,000, with which he retired to Jamaica.

Friedkin is an incredibly fascinating and woefully under-appreciated filmmaker, in my humble estimation.

iOS 7 Brings Out The Asshats

Here, for example, is Joshua Topolsky’s early take on iOS 7:

What I saw today at Apple’s annual WWDC event in the new iOS 7 was a radical departure from the previous design of the company’s operating system — what CEO Tim Cook called “a stunning new user interface.” But whether this new design is actually good design, well, that’s a different story entirely.

Here’s what he had to say last September about iOS 6 in his iPhone 5 review:

Don’t get me wrong, iOS is a beautiful and well-structured mobile operating system — but it’s begun to show its age. It feels less useful to me today than it did a couple of years ago, especially in the face of increasingly sophisticated competition.

The above opinions seem to fall into that Reverse Reality Distortion Field in which everything Apple does sucks, period. iOS 6 was “stale,” and then the second its design language changes, it’s “childish” and “confusing.” I’m not going to claim that Topolsky can’t be legitimately disappointed here, but something smells fishy when nothing Apple does will please the guy who said of the Galaxy Nexus that “There’s no lag, no stutter. Animations are fluid, and everything feels cohesive and solid.” No sane person who’s ever touched an Android device could possibly actually believe that to be true. Give me a break.

All Film Downloads 40% Off This Week

This sale is over.

For one week only–from today through June 17th–downloads of my films are 40% off. The two features are $6 each (regularly $10), and Passion Flower is just $3 (regularly $5). Grab them at this price them while you can.

Browse Anonymously With TOR on iOS

Onion Browser, a 99¢ TOR-based browser for iOS, provides what is likely the most secure browsing environment you’re likely to find on your iPhone or iPad. The good news is that despite a few potential security holes, it’s pretty much just as secure as connecting via the TOR network on your desktop machine. I’m guessing that there are a lot of Apple customers looking for something like this, given the news this week.

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Google Bans Google Glass From Its Own Shareholder Meeting

Matt Clinch writing for CNBC:

Tight security restrictions at Thursday’s Google shareholder meeting led even the company’s much-hyped Google Glass technology to be banned, infuriating a consumer watchdog group who accused the tech giant of hypocrisy.

By all means, snap photos of another man’s junk while you’re taking a wizz. His privacy doesn’t matter. But don’t you dare invade Google’s privacy.

nvremind Reminders via Drafts and Alfred 2

Brett Terpstra’s nvremind is an incredibly useful Ruby script which scans a given folder of plain text files looking for @remind(YYYY-mm-dd HH:MM) tags. When the script runs (it’s designed to be run on a regular basis–every half-hour, by default–via launchd), it sends the user a notification via a variety of methods, and edits the found tag to @reminded(YYYY-mm-dd HH:MM). It’s a really versatile and handy way to turn your existing plain-text notes into a giant, always-nagging monstrosity, and I love it.

The script is designed to scan an entire folder, and I have been using those @remind(YYYY-mm-dd HH:MM) tags throughout all of my notes. However, I’ve also found it useful to dump all of my new reminders into a single “To-Do” file, which I process later on as necessary. This practice gives one the option of setting up quick, automated ways of entering new reminders on both iOS and OS X; for these purposes I’m using Drafts and Alfred 2.[1]

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On the NSA Matter

That pretty much sums up my thoughts on the subject. The actual spying is not particularly news to anyone, I should think. The real news here is the frightening prevalence of mockery aimed at those who still want to be able to take a shit in private.