Tuesday, 22 December 2009

I Just Invented a New Form of Media

Whatever you are doing at a particular time is written up (in < 40 characters) as your screen name in MSN. All your friends can see what you are doing NOW, but not before that. I call it Witter.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Watts Going On

My studio has about 13 pieces of gear (including amp and laptop), and I've got 2 4-way boards and 1 8-way board on the go. I wondered just how much a single 13 Amp socket can cope with?

Well, according to this, I can plug in about 30 100-watt devices.

Luckily the 13 pieces of gear only use about 500 by my calculations, so I doubt even I can buy enough studio junk/gear to reach the limit!

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Bart Tender

Watching Quincy, it occurs to me that Mo in the Simpsons is remarkably similiar to Danny of Danny's bar (a common bar in Quincy). Same look, same accent. It might be where Groening got Mo.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

USB Flash Disk Alert and General Backup Tips

I've lost a few replaceable files when I took out a USB flash disk too soon and found the disk was corrupt, had no files listed, and had to be reformatted.

The solution: I worked out that when you right-click the USB drive in My Computer and click 'Eject', then the name changes to 'Removeable Drive'. Then you must count FIVE seconds before removal. This gives the USB disk time to save all data. When I practise this, I have lost no data in a while.

Perhaps equally obvious: Buy 2 identical flash disks and copy 1 to the other once a week, then if one flash disk gets corrupted, you only lose a bit of data.

Tomorrow, I will write a tutorial for Total Commander on how to synchronise one disk to the other - without having to re-copy all the data!

Postscript: One way to be absolutely sure is to wait for the USB drive's LED/light to stop flashing and go dark. But always wait a few seconds AFTER it going dark to avoid data corruption.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

"could agree more" VS "could care less"

Here's the answer to that question: American's don't speak English!


Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The Grad from HP

I remember, in my first year at University, I went to a talk in the business school, where a guy, a graduate from this University who was giving a talk to us, told us he had got a job with HP after graduating. All well and good, until...

He pointed to a chart, and said HP has profits of 60 billion dollars.

Profits? Shouldn't that be revenues? Is this guy barely competent?

It was then that I realised why the world of technology is so fucked up - it's suit guys like this guy, who don't know a damn thing!

Monday, 20 July 2009

Windows 007

Bond: Do you expect me to crash?

Gates: No, Mr. Bond - I expect you to die!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Smoking Considered Productive

It came to me recently that if you smoke, you can achieve more boring tasks. Merely chainsmoking the cigarette or cigar means time passes more smoothly, because you're in a constant state of euphoria.

So what about other drugs? Alcohol has the problem that it destroys brain cells, amphetamines can cause serious problems, but tobacco or nicotine only has problems much later.

I'm not condoning it, and I don't smoke, but I think tobacco is why the British Empire grew so big.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Movie Cliche #2 - I'm Innocent

In every prison film, and some legal dramas, there is a point where the hero says "I'm innocent really", and the other guy says "I'm innocent too! We all are!".

Well I want to call a halt! Next time try something original like "I'm not innocent at all. I'm a savage mindless killer with black teeth" - and then - "I'm guilty too! We all are!"

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Indestructible Fruit Stands

In my Trixy screenplay Race to the Top, at one point she's saying to a business advisor her new business idea: indestructible fruit stands for use in the movie industry in those lengthy car chases.

What an amusing idea! ;-)

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Movie 'The Rock' and Safety First

From my 2006 sitcom script (Trixy is the name of a character in the sitcom):


What gets me about The Rock is this. Don Simpson made these great characters, but he forgot one minor detail. Why would someone put the world's deadliest substance in little melt-style bath-foam receptacles? That's like putting napalm in an orange juice carton.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Wikipedia: Written In Crayon

Wikipedians complain about edits being 'jokes' or 'graffiti'.

That's the myth, as it is in publishing.

On the one hand, they say a novel is 'written in crayon'.

On the other hand, with a well-crafted novel that they can't sell, what is the excuse there? Simple, they just don't say it in public.

This is the same with Wikipedia: Perfectly reasonable edits that are flamed down with arbitrary rules, with the public excuse, again: 'Written in crayon'.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Telephone Etiquette in Movies

I always wonder why in films (and some TV), when people are done on the phone, they just hang up. No 'bye!' and no 'talk to you soon'.

The only explanation is that this saves precious seconds of airtime. The other explanation is that Americans are too rude to say farewell.

Either way, Columbo gets it right by saying Thankyou at the end of a call. What a true gentleman!

[Postscript, mystery solved] It appears that when you hang up an American phone, there is an audible 'click' on the other person's line. This was funnily enough, in a Columbo episode too.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Science Fiction Cliche #1: Hangover remedies of the future

I flipped through a book in the bookcase of a rented Spanish apartment, and found some incredibly silly paragraph where the guy uses nanotechnology "To cure a hangover".

If we count Star Trek TNG's "synthehol", that's yet another appearance.

Simply put, any book that thinks a high-tech hangover cure makes any sense to the world at large other than a futuristic nation of alcoholics, is a bad book. A science fiction writer should know better.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Book review: The Man Who Loved Only Numbers by Paul Hoffman

Basically, 150 pages of Erdos, a middle 60 pages of maths with little mention of Erdos, and about 30 pages more of Erdos.

Also, Erdos just wasn't romantically involved with a woman, this doesn't mean he didn't love other people. So the title is tenuous.

Verdict: The Erdos stuff is top-notch, but I recommend skipping the God Made the Integers chapter.

Book review: Jack Vance's Lurulu (published 2004)

I can sum this book up in a phrase: Some space merchants go on an extended pub-crawl across the Galaxy.

His 'writing' is simply to imagine every possible thing that could occur in a pub, over 230 pages of deep-space pub visiting.

One pub has a pretty serving maid, another has dancing, prancing inn-dwellers, there are strange cocktails to be found, decrepit rooms, arguments over the bill, etc.

The ending, however, is shocking and very good.

Let's not forget the Mouse-Riders, where the 2 boss-women tell Moncrief they want their money, again and again, yet Moncrief says at one point "I wasn't aware I owed you any money".

If you read Ports of Call, read this. If you haven't, read Ports of Call then this, and be aware of that shock ending.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Best Insult c.1998

It never entered into common usage unlike the hacker word 'lamer'.

So hear it for: Fat Headed Bastiche!

You heard it here first!

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Movie Cliche #2: More Advanced Than...

"This rock/metal/chewing gum is MORE ADVANCED THAN anything we've seen before."

The oldest cliche in the science fiction book.

Do these materials just get infinitely harder? There is ALWAYS another advanced material.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Movie Quote of the Day: Red Dwarf

I love it when someone says "What's this?" and no matter how complicated, Kryten guesses with the prefix "Best guess, it's some kind of..." and is ALWAYS right!

Movie Quote of the Day: Beverly Hills Cop II

"It's all... politics here now, Axel." - Rosewood in Beverly Hills Cop II.

Wargames DVD Front of Box Photo

I noticed a while ago that the Wargames DVD I have, has a picture of Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy, reflected in a monitor screen.

There's one problem. It's not them. It's clearly doubles that they had to find at the last minute.

See: http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3891961088/tt0086567

The on-set photographer for Wargames is the brother of a friend of mine - I could ask him, but it's far too trivial.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

My 2006 Backup System

Devised in 2006.

Basically, a bunch of folders. Each folder is prefixed My (for data, email, music generated by me) or by Others (data created by anyone else).

Folders starting 'My' are a priority to backup, and basically irreplaceable.

Folders starting 'Others' can be re-downloaded (if still on the Web/FTP/Torrent), and music and movies can be re-downloaded or re-purchased.

Typically, My takes up a small fragment of Others. It's good to separate them for this reason, in case an emergency backup needs doing. My first, Others later.

MyCubaseProjects (Cubase music files / songs)

OthersDownloads (typically software install files and drivers)
OthersModTrackers (.MOD music files)
OthersMiscSingles (random songs)
OthersMovies (DVD rips, etc)
OthersMP3Albums (music albums)
OthersPrograms (installed software)
OthersRippedCDS (CD album rips and FLAC albums)
OthersTorrents (.torrent files, not downloaded files)

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

A Bluffer's Guide to Irony

First off, a Bluffer's Guide is a trademark which I'm breaching - scew 'em.

Secondly, I have devised an explanation of irony which I think is universal.

"Irony - Where a character lacks certain information that could help them, that everyone else (the audience) knows."

It's all about information, people! When someone says "It was ironic that King Lear had funny dreams because they came true", you could say instead "King Lear didn't know his dreams were going to land him in hot water, but everyone else in the audience did, to their horror."

Remember, we know, and they don't.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Brief fading moment of glory

Not related to film in any way, except as an anecdote.

When I was 15 in 1993, the school gave a quiz for us to answer, with around 50 questions.

Me and a friend, having nothing better to do, diligently worked on it. A lot of the answers came from visiting relatives (it could have been at Christmas time).

The 'boo hiss bad guy' in this story later went to Cambridge and along with a fellow very-clever-guy competed with us (though they didn't know we were working on it).

Guess who won? Not the bad guy, but US! Me and my friend.

I'm proud of adding to my mythology, that I was absent when they announced I'd won the quiz! It was like being a Bond villain.

We collected 25 UK Pounds, halved it, and I bought a ZX Spectrum +3 with my money!

And since then I haven't been able to shut up about it.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Their time is not worth your time

What I do when writing a letter to someone like a busy Hollywood agent is, I spend several times more writing it than usual.

So, if this agent earns 10 times what I do, and it normally takes 15 minutes to write an email, I spend 2 and a half hours on the email to this agent.

Does this sound crazy? Well, did I get results? Yes! The agent replied and asked me to send in a script.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Option me, option me!

I've published a compilation of short stories, with 50 stories to option. This is the second coming of Philip K.Dick, so don't delay, buy or option today!


I'm trying to get them to reduce the shipping cost.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Making your own Geffen Pictures logo

Take a single Malteser, scratch out a G on it, then rotate slowly.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Geffen = spaceballs?

The animated Geffen Pictures logo (seen on Last Boy Scout, Interview with the Vampire, etc) looks just like the ship in Mel Brooks' film Spaceballs.

That is all.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

CIA Glasses

In the film Spy Game, everyone has these little 1991 mini-spectacles that are oval.

Then in walks the Head of the CIA, an authority figure, and he has HUGE glasses.

The moral of this story? Try and wear big glasses for management jobs. And, Hollywood, get your chronology right.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

How Flash has an unfair advantage over other Web mediums

When playing DVDs or DIVX video files in Windows, sometimes the DVD player complains "Cannot get overlay surface".


I thought nothing of it, and a Google search revealed nothing.

So I learned bits and pieces about these 'overlay surfaces':

*Only one overlay surface is available, and if a program has claimed it, another program can't use it (eg, a web browser claimed it, so my DVD player complains). Sometimes it gets 'trapped' and DxDiag has to be run (run the Display tests) to reset it.

*When it's not available, DIVX doesn't complain like my DVD player, but it's easy to see what happens without it: The video is pixellated and unwatchable (and jerky).

*Therefore, the overlay surface performs 2 functions: One is to smooth out the video, and the other is to speed up rendering.

So what?

Well, I noticed Flash looks slicker in a browser window than a GIF or JPEG. But GIFs are not lossy! So why is Flash visibly Flash?

Duh? Best guess - it's the overlay surface! Flash, being a natively-compiled browser plugin (not Javascript or Java, etc) cheats by grabbing the overlay surface for itself, just in the Flash window in the browser.

Is this fair? No! It means other video players in the browser look blocky in comparison. The browser graphics look blocky in comparison.

So the solution? Simple - give every browser window an overlay surface via DirectX. The difference in resolution and animation speed will be immediately visible.

Postscript: Someone from Hacker News pointed out: It's not a overlay surface, it's a deblocking filter. But the same complaint: That Flash has a deblocking filter in the browser window when the HTML pages don't - stands.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Left-handedness and wristwatches

I noticed that left-handed people (like myself) wear their wrist watch on the right wrist. Right-handed people wear it on the left. Therefore, you can tell, from the position of the watch (in real life or in movies), the handed-ness. Bruce Willis is left-handed.