I make films. I'm also a nerd.

Archive for 2013:

Ubuntu Edge Is A Smartphone / Computer Hybrid

Perhaps I should say that it will be (or even that it only might someday be) a smartphone / computer hybrid, since it’s currently just an Indiegogo campaign, and may never see the light of day.

This sort of hybrid usually sounds like a great idea on paper, but past experiments with it have not turned out that well.

61 Tons of Silver Recovered From Shipwreck

Paul Toscano, CNBC:

On Monday, Tampa-based Odyssey Marine Exploration announced that it had recovered over 61 tons (1.8 million ounces) of silver bullion this month from the wreck of a cargo ship torpedoed 300 miles off the coast of Ireland during World War II.

This is why I want my own submarine. If only I had $61 million in silver with which to buy one.

Paramount Pictures Map of California Shows Geographic Facsimiles

This map, from 1927, was used internally at Paramount Pictures to find locations in California which could stand in for distant locales. California’s geographic diversity is one of the major reasons[1] why Los Angeles became the global nexus of film production.

Paramount Studio map of California's geographical facsimiles, fron The Motion Picture Industry as a Basis for Bond Financing, 1927

HT: Kottke

  1. Another reason was the sunny weather. Early film stocks were far less sensitive than what we have today, and the sun was the only light powerful enough to register an image. Indoor sets would be built without roofs for this reason.  ↩

Rape Victim Imprisoned in Dubai

The BBC:

Interior designer Marte Deborah Dalelv was on a business trip in Dubai when she says she was raped.

The 24-year-old reported the March attack to the police but found herself charged with having extramarital sex, drinking alcohol, and perjury.

At least this hasn’t happened in Texas yet.

UPDATE, July 22, 2013 1:56 PM: Perhaps due to pressure from the media in the West, Dalelv has been pardoned. That’s good news, but I don’t think it’s the end of the story.

Who Knew It Was This Hard To Give a Film a Title?

The Hollywood Reporter‘s Gregg Kilday details the terms of a petty title dispute between the Weinstein Company and the MPAA. Apparently, TWC would run afoul of MPAA rules if they entitled their film simply The Butler. Check out the Byzantine insanity which guides the approved new title, Lee Daniels’ The Butler:

[A]ll letters of all words in the title must be in the same size and prominence as the size and prominence of the word ‘butler,’ except that if the name ‘Lee Daniels’ is used in the title, then ‘Lee Daniels’ must be of a size of at least 75% and of equal prominence of the word ‘butler’.

I expect nothing less that utter inanity in anything involving the MPAA, but this is beyond laughably ridiculous.

Build Your Own Cell Phone With an Arduino

Instructables user "xiaobo__" has shared detailed instructions from which to build a fully functional cellular phone using an Arduino Uno microcontroller, a number of other off-the-shelf parts, and a 3D-printed plastic case.

The design actually seems pretty practical, even if a little clunky by today’s standards. Don’t give me the crazy eye when I say that I might actually take a crack at something like this.

Jimmy Carter Supports Snowden, Decries Spying

The Huffington Post :

Former President Jimmy Carter announced support for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden this week, saying that his uncovering of the agency’s massive surveillance programs had proven "beneficial."

I’m surprised that any present or former American federal official would admit in public that the intelligence community has pushed too far into fascistic territory, but I suppose Carter would have to be the only guy who’d have enough of a soul left.

Here’s my favorite bit:

No American outlets covered Carter’s speech, given at an Atlantic Bridge meeting, which has reportedly led to some skepticism over Der Spiegel’s quotes.

Oh, really. Let’s not cover it, and then impugn those who do. Sounds a bit like what a totalitarian state’s propaganda wing might do, doesn’t it?

Something Destroyed Mars’ Atmosphere 4 Billion Years Ago

The Telegraph:

A “catastrophic” event destroyed the atmosphere of Mars four billion years ago, according to scientists.

An analysis of data returned by the Curiosity rover, which landed on the planet a year ago, suggests there was a major upheaval which could have been caused by volcanic eruptions or a massive collision which stripped away the atmosphere.

And we thought Earth was special.

Your Work Is Worth Less Every Day

I’ve never been able to muster full agreement with a lot of Jaron Lanier’s arguments, but in his recent appearance on the IEEE Spectrum‘s "Techwise Conversations" podcast, he raises a number of incredibly pertinent and timely questions regarding the sinking of the Western economy amid the massive growth in efficiencies of production due to technological automation and/or creative decentralization. When our media is crowdsourced, and almost nobody pays for (or is payed for) any of it, how can we expect anything other than mass impoverishment? Why would anyone get paid when robots do all the work?

The Surface RT Died Because It Sucked

Cody Fink at Macstories :

[U]ltimately Microsoft decided people wanted their desktops on their tablets so they could use Office, forgetting that that’s the thing people wanted to get away from. The irony is that the tablet that was supposed to offer more choice than the iPad ended being the compromised experience.

Yeah. Show me a single person, anywhere, who actually likes using Microsoft Office. And it was their selling point.