A journal of questionable quality

Friday, July 29, 2005

That's the week

Get the Taser out
Nice to see the UK police giving some high voltage input to a deserving person. He deserved it for his name alone.

I'm not sure firing a Taser at someone who may be carrying a bomb is such a good idea, but it's the thought that counts, and I feel better just reading about it.

The swimming tally
Still right up there as an obsession, the daily swimming has reached new heights - 9.5 klms this week, a new record.

I'm going to be a happy man when I can move my sights on to something else, but it may take some time, I'm still discovering odd bits of technique that need looking at.

It's most definitely winter here, the nights are getting colder, the winds blowing more erratically, and, from a buggy point of view, from the wrong direction as well, all of which probably helps to send me dutifully down to the pool everyday. At least the place is warm and out of the wind.

There's always a chance of some talent from the gym next door turning up as well.

i-mode causes stutter
All the best intentions - not that I ever have many - went west when I discovered that any sort of mobile content these days is going to have to take into account the massive uptake of i-mode.

What started as a quick and dirty microsite for mobiles turned into a gargantuan revamp of the project and Zoetrope's own WAP site.

Whereas previously the .wml extension on WAP documents had kept all but cruising mobiles away, the recent XHTML adoption has made it almost as simple as standard web work, in fact the only real difference is the mobile XHTML lacks a few of the tags that are used.

Most of the world would have known that but I have been taking no notice of the mobile side of life.

Now we are fully equipped to deal with the new, cleaner, easier, mobile generation, including anything that DoCoMo may throw at us.

As you should be able to see in the sidebar - our very own “QR”, or MECARD, something we should have known about but didn't.

Yellow Arrows
After messing the entire week up we have had no time to get out there and stick on a few yellow arrows, grab a photo, and upload them. Unlike me to have too much to do.

Time to get off this lazy arse and get some put up.

Looks like the Australian end has been a bit slow on the uptake, but at least now the project is sporting an Australian based site - things are looking up.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

mobile blues

and i-mode as well..
The brief was to build a mobile site micro site for mobiles / cells / PDA's. The intention was to revamp a bit of the Zoetrope WAP site at the same time.

Naturally things have got wildly out of shape.

Seems that the WAP2 specification, which was always a bitch to code, and always fell over just when you didn't want it to, has been almost completely replace by a mobile definition of XHTML. That was the good news, banging out a cross purpose site was looking to be a Dreamweaver powered piece of cake.

Until I discovered i-mode.

I-mode is making inroads into Australia - in a big way. I-mode does not always follow the XHTML rules as easily as the other mobile configs do, and does other things a whole lot better in a lot of other cases.

Large investigation - between swims - shows that it can all fit together well, and, as of today does - on the Zoetrope site at least, after forgetting the original brief altogether.

We now sport a MECARD:
This, we finally realized, is the key to communication, in i-mode at least.

What happens, is you scan the bar code into your phone, and, with any luck, it is carrying all the contact details any normal person would require, which should end up fitting into your phone.

Saves all the drama and finger cramp of entering the URL (especially in our case as I am too lazy to get a real domain name), and email address, and any other information into a phone.

Being a well known barcode addict it didn't take me too long to spread them all over the place, including into the new i-mode pages on Zoetrope, where (the theory is) the i-mode surfer can download, print, and scan them back into the phone. Twisted theory, but there 'ya go.

Next place they need to be is on everyone's business cards, stationary, anything that's floating about, all the better to spread the word.

Stand back, we're out of control, bar codes (QR's we are told) are going to be on everything. Including this poor old blog.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

8 shots will slow you down

8's better than 5
I call that a good call. Someone runs away, you want them to stop. You're an armed policeman chasing someone who could turn into a fireball, with added nails and bolts, you stop him, you need him disabled, head shots are the way to go.

I've seen a bloke take a single shot to the head and still function. If it were my call I would have given him a few - just to make sure his brain 'aint going to do anything like allow a movement that could cause a mess on the train.

If it were my call I would have been using Hydra-Shok ™, making jelly in there as well.

They're under siege, they are reacting according to the threat. Keep doing it.

Mobile as well
Oh, so very major. Zoetrope ® is available on mobile devices via direct dial in, rather than the convoluted process we had before to aim phones at WAP content, Palm ® at Palm ® content, and all the other little dramas.

Using a technique proposed by A List Apart sometime last year I have managed to finally convince inbound browsers, albeit with some reservations on their part, to present the handheld content in the right device.

Spent about a month last year looking for a sniffing solution, and never did manage it.
Go there, preferably armed with a handheld, and see what I mean.

In case you wondered A List Apart is as close to god as you get when you want something sorted.

But what about the swimming?
I'm so glad you asked. 50 laps a day these last two days - 2.5Klm a day and feeling good.

I'm still getting off on the smell of Chlorine.

I'm still swimming to the exclusion of all else.

I'm still deeply obsessive.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Made it, again

London, again, still.
Woke up to the news the ragheads have been at it again in London. This time they only served up detonators, without the added emphasis of a bomb. Something went wrong. That's what you get for sending a Paki to do a mans job. Chickenshit ragheads. Kill one today. Feel better about yourself.

Maniacal swimming
The week has been simple - a frenzy of swimming, perhaps to get the thought of a visit to the gastroenteroligist, the payback for living a less than blameless life, too much abuse, substances, people, motor vehicles, it all comes back at you as you get older and things start to fail.

The swimming is probably to try and offset it all - managed a total of 8.5klms in the water - a good effort. Lucky indeed that I had nothing else that needed doing.

Seems to me winter is best spent underwater in a heated pool. I have to note that practicing a dolphin kick at 50 years of age needs more careful consideration - damn near tore my abs into shreds.

None of it gets me off the hook for a combined endoscopy and colonoscopy early September, a procedure that I rate as worse than a double amputation.

Movies to scriptwriting.
A natural sequence I guess - all this carry on about movies and now I'm messing with scriptwriting software.

Figured if we're doing it, we might as well do it right. I was quite happy with InDesign as the word processor until I came across a veritable treasure trove of software of which I was unaware.

Currently we're testing Final Draft, a program that we have been steered toward by a friend in the business. A conclusion looks to be a long way away. Especially since weekend with kids at home is looming - a time for me to suddenly become busy. Busy enough to keep me away from home until sanity reigns.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

out of shape week

It's not looking good for the week at all. Not at all.

It's Tuesday and I appear to have done nothing.

Nothing work wise. I have managed to stagger down to the pool these last two days and put in some hard yards, kilometers actually - 2.5 klm both days, but it hardly counts as work.

Gastroenteroligist appointment that I have been avoiding for the last three years is tomorrow, figure maybe the sheer terror of turning up at a place where they specialize in jamming things up your arse is doing bad things to my head.

Distraction has involved plenty of surfing, the likes of the venerable Newstoday, where I get my daily dose of sanity.

Hillman Curtis led me to a Bill Viola installation, handy for getting some video inspiration in.

An interview with Viola happened to be done by Mark Kidel, a man of great talent and inspiration.

Googles video search utility entertained me for some time until I realized it required me to download a unique player - another player that I really don't need - I am already burdened with Real (loathsome), Microsoft's Media Player, and Quicktime (the star).

It turns out, however that the Google propriety format may not be as unique as it seems if this gentleman is correct.

Investigations subsequently prove he is indeed correct, and these people here, appear to have a product that transcends all the multiple player bullshit and gets the job done with very little drama. That would indeed be a change.

Consumed by the subject of video we find plenty of inspiration at Belief, who seem to have made every commercial ever released. Go there this very instant, select “Experiments”, select “Pollinate”, select “The Common Desk”, sit back and study the instructions for making your work space livable again.

Hell of a week so far.

Friday, July 15, 2005

on the subject of movies..

With great pleasure, and more than my usual amount of excitement, I am moved to note the proliferation of short films made by seriously devoted people intent on keeping an art alive.

It's gratifying to see that people are taking the time, putting in the effort, and producing some really good content, and going to the trouble of getting it into a format small enough to handle the web bandwidth battle.

An old (literally) photographer myself, I have begun to worry on two fronts: that 'real' film is in danger of going out the door, and that movie studios seem to have killed off the indy film maker.

I am a little more assured when I see the likes of (for stills) Lomography, that most wonderful of ideas, booming around the world, and the huge interest in such simple delights as pinhole photography, still functioning, still getting people involved. Restores my faith.

In the moving image domain I have already mentioned - many times, what Coudal are up to - see all the entries below - I won't put another link in here for fear the poor buggers will think I am stalking them.

Another stunning display of imagination and talent comes from the great Hillman Curtis, who seems to have developed a style all of his own, as a visit here will demonstrate. This is the first of a series - “Films on Films” and it's looking good.

Hillman is also responsible for the brilliant “Designer Series” of short, almost 'self' interviews with the likes of the great Milton Glasser, and many other famous names. A great style, and a great look at some very famous people. A great example of his style is evident the second you arrive at the site.

Obviously he has decided to take it one step further, and a book Creating Short Films for the Web is due out anytime now.

Perhaps there's hope after all. Investigate, get back to me. Make films, make photographs, make something, tell a story.

Imagination rules.

Friday - again, or still?

Right, I'm done sulking. The post below will explain the situation - where my hopes and dreams were dashed by the big meanies at Coudal who have had the temerity to begin making a short movie without offering me a part.

I wanted to be the director anyway - so bugger them, I'll remember this when they come asking for advice. Well, I'll try and remember them, to the full extent my old, ravaged brain will allow me.

It's Friday after all, and I have managed one small 'business card' type site, 100 laps of the local pool (5klms), and 40klm on the bike, a fight with Symantec, and a partial design of a new idea I have using, horror upon horrors, Dreamweaver's very odd Timeline feature which will bloat the page out all to hell, but will be something new to play with, even if Flash would be a better solution.

I think more fun was had at the pool than all the rest combined, although the fight with Symantec looks to be turning into fun.

They have already replied to a feedback entry that I posted on their site, and have already asked me to repeat everything about the right click problem, including asking for screen shots - you know the drill - give 'em so much to do they'll get sick of it and leave us alone.

If I had done all of that they would have simply have moved to 'plan b' - reinstall, we already know that, so I replied explaining that I'm too old for all that shit and simply wanted to burn their joint down - normal stuff.

Bugger all that - go [ here ] support a good cause.

Send us a photo of you wearing a Livestrong wristband and we'll do you a deal on a personal site - simple as that.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Warning - Sulking

Everyone that's anyone knows I am a major undiscovered talent waiting patiently in the shadows (more like dusk now) for some brave production house to notice and snap me up.

Yesterday - perhaps the day before (drugs destroyed my memory) I noticed that Coudal were making a short movie, and proceeded to rabbit on about it here, well, not here, but a few entries below.

I naturally assumed they would contact me when my part was written in and ready to go.

I may have overlooked a few details - lack of any real talent at all, living on the other side of the World, being pathologically camera shy, having a shit accent, being 50 and having the body to prove it, and having a face like a robbers dog, but I was confident these things would be worked out - after all JC himself is no oil painting.

By some fiendish method CP is able to track my posts, perhaps even able to read my mind, and an entry appeared on their “Fresh Signals” column thus:

Wilson of Zoetrope101 is keeping an eye on Copy Goes Here from Oz. That would be a bit of a hike for a role as an extra. Maybe next time.
Maybe next time? How will I be able to fit in in 'next time' - I will be a discovered star by then.

There is only one solution to this (apparent) knock back.

Sulking. Sulking big time. I am now officially sulking at CP, and there is nothing anyone can do to stop me.

Don't even try to stop me.

Anyway, I didn't want to be an extra, I rather fancied the role of director - obviously given to someone who may have a touch more talent than me.

OK, I'll give them one more day. Then it the sulks.

Symantec hate me

Symantec officially hate me.

It's not new, they've hated me before. I may be getting used to it.
We had a 98 machine that we let the Symantec subscription run out on - paid to renewal, and from that day on it never worked again.

One million phone calls to Symantec later we were still at an impasse, I couldn't get the bloody thing to uninstall, even with the 'special' uninstaller supplied by Symantec for that purpose.

In the end, true to my threat to get value for money out of a renewal that didn't renew, I passed the Norton CD around the neighborhood so that as many people as possible could have their own copy. Figure I got value for money - renewal $25.00, loss to Symantec trade by giving away their bloatware - approx $10,000.00

This machine came with OEM shit all over it. I decided, for reasons that I cannot remember, to stay with the Symantec stuff. It seemed to being doing the job, although it never did find the test virus exe I leave in the system 32 folder to check any of the on line scanners I use are doing their job. (They usually do.)

I even paid another years subscription, figuring although it never seemed to find any virii, one day it might. Somehow.

The one thing it was useful for was right clicking on something and scanning it. Sometimes it found stuff.

All that changed on Monday when it decided that the right click menu had better disappear. Just like that.

Now, I actually know all about context menus, having a healthy loathing of things turning up in there I have, over the years, developed dexterity in getting the bastards back off.

It seemed it would be simply a reverse of my normal process. I even knowledge based Symantec about it - sure enough there was an entry about getting your context menu back again. (There is a knowledge base article on everything at Symantec, because everything goes wrong with it.)

Followed the instructions to the letter - to no avail. Did my own 'mix and match' on the registry - to no avail.

I'm destined never to have a right click option to scan things again. By Norton that is.
Agonized over uninstalling the thing entirely - subscription paid or not, but being a veteran of the 'Symantec uninstall drama' elected to leave the thing in place, cripple anything that is not absolutely needed and opted for a free version of AVG, which we use, with great success on the lounge machine.

AVG found the planted .exe on the first run, and proceeded to add a right click option for me - essentially everything I wanted and this is the free version.

Done. Scanning at will is available again. Thank you AVG, I owe you one.

Symantec - for a start, go fuck yourselves. I will eventually get around to uninstalling anything to do with your shit product, but I know in my heart it will be painful, slow, error ridden, and dangerous. I downloaded all 4 of your uninstall helpers because I know it will play up. I also scanned all 4 of your uninstall helpers with AVG just in case.

I will also - one day - for the hell of it - figure out why you need a folder (C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Symantec\Norton Internet Security) that contains 4325 files totaling 110Mb of useless shit. I have never seen an application require quite that many files (that's only one folder), and that includes 3DMax and Maya, applications you would expect to see some weight in.

Meanwhile - AVG to the rescue, right click back in action, albeit with a new provider, but this time we have more chance of actually knocking the bloody virii off.

Friday, July 08, 2005

London burns, CP are making movies

There's good, there's bad.

London, attacked, presumably by a radical raghead group of knob heads. With the leaders of the eight most powerful countries in the World gathered in Scotland, it's easy to see why the mighty “Secret Organisation Group of al-Qaeda of Jihad Organisation in Europe” chose to stick with soft targets in London.

That's our Jihad bravehearts at work. Same old, same old. Pick the soft targets and run like hell.

Sympathy flows from us here at Zoetrope to the people attacked, and their families.

Britain will prevail, the USA will prevail. No one needs to be bowed by a scruffy band of misfits.

The good news. Once again the crew at Coudal Partners are up to something big.

Known for their ability to knock out some good video yarns, they have lost control this time and are in the throes of making a real live short film

At the risk of sounding like an obsequious fool I have to say I am so impressed that in these days of instant visual gratification these guys are doing it like it should be done.

The heading “because we can” that introduces the project sums it up perfectly, and indeed, it looks like they can.

I was interested to note they have expertise, gathered from god knows where, to put this thing together, with references to 'lock down shots', a serious lens, 16:9 format, compositing, colour matching, the list, it goes on.

This is the stuff that should feature more. Should feature with sponsorship, if you ask me. There should be more out there willing to put up seed money for these type of short films, if for nothing else than to try and nurture the industry.

Impressed, looking forward to seeing the thing, sulking because I'm not involved.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

yellow arrows arrive

They got here yesterday.

The we pontificated about a few entries back - linked [ here ] for your edification, have arrived from the US. Arrived complete with a DVD with some good footage of arrow people doing yellow arrow things.

Now it's time to get off this lazy arse, get in the car and do a bit of hunting for a few of my favorite places in this city. Having now been here for 30 years I figure I must have a few places of interest, off the well beaten tourist track, to direct people to.

The 'Bruce' side of . Should be a bit harsh for the average tourist, but what to do?

It's funny how you become immune to a city, how you forget those interesting places that you run across when still new to a place. Those places probably so common place to people that they cease to see them.

We're about to make them come back into view again.

There are artifacts all over this place worth the effort of a chronicler intent on his job.
When I first came to Brisbane the river was actually used to transport things other than passengers.

The riverside suburbs boasted a glass works, fed by sand from the island off the coast, several coal fired power stations fueled by coal borne up the river on huge barges. (in even earlier times it was transported from the coal mines near where we live now, down river in similar barges.)

The propulsion for these barges was provided by the tug operators - all operating under the banner of the mighty Waterside Workers union - a force to be reckoned with.
Instead of the giant high speed catamarans that traverse the length of the river, we had a fleet of small ferries, plodding their way from river bank to river bank every five minutes.

All the changes, revamps, redesigns, saw a lot of the 'everyday' history of the place ignored.

Hopefully now, with the yellowarrow involvement we will be able to point people to some of these lost places.

Get involved, get your own supply of arrows [ here ] and start mapping your part of the planet.

You never know who might be interested.

sister arrives, school holidays end

And after the rain came the Sister. Hilary, my Sister, arrived in Surfers from New Zealand to take up with her daughter who was up here to run a half marathon.

We went down on Sunday to see everyone, after the marathon, naturally, no need to get up too early. Those silly buggers were getting up at 6am or something unheard of.

Good to see everyone - could have done without as the venue. I don't get much out of the place at all, once lived there, long time gone now, but as I remember it, it was a reasonable place. Pity they turned it into a shithole.

One good thing it still has is the massive collection of , students of one of the local universities, who seem to wander the streets for my visual pleasure.
Nothing quite like it. A sight I am always pleased to see.

Sister and company duly dealt to, family history dissected, stories traded, we made our way back to and the last day of the school holidays.

Brisbane, like the rest of Australia, doesn't seem to place much in education, so what happens every school holidays is that the Monday of the week they start back is always gazetted as a 'pupil free day', something they invoke a lot.

Exactly what 'pupil free days' actually achieve is a bit hard to explain. I always imagine a horde of teachers, pupil-less, addressing rows of empty seats in empty school rooms, sort of a dry run for the real thing perhaps?

As I said - education is not something that you are not encouraged to participate in here in the 'Sunshine State'. (was the 'Smart State' for a while - true story - until people complained and demanded the old name back again - see what I mean about education?)

We have been good enough NOT to rate a fresh attack from the guardians of Airbag, the knights of the round bag, the protectors of the faith, commenters all named anonymous, and anon, who I suspect to be a cousin.

I should count us lucky. Any place that boasts Bush as a President already has a handicap after all.

Friday, July 01, 2005

drought breaker


Rain, a lot of rain.

A once in a decade amount of rain down on the - something to welcome my sister, on her first ever overseas trip, flying into Surfers Paradise to meet up with her Sydney based daughter who just happens to be doing a marathon run in Surfers over the weekend.

Dams were down to less than 30% capacity, dire restrictions forecast, horror stories disseminated. Stock dropping dead from dehydration, crops failing before germination, doomsday just around the corner.

Debut on bike delayed. Rain and bikes don't get on.

Stitches out, all systems go for another bout of get fit / lose weight.

Monday raining - swimming - 2000 mtrs.
Tuesday raining - swimming - 2000 mtrs.
Wednesday raining - swimming - 2000 mtrs.
Thursday raining - redesign splash page of site.
Friday clearing - begin building new layer based, timeline controlled splash layout.

Kids away with their Dad for the weekend, we're on our own. Contracts on Saturday, down the coast to see Sister and Niece on Sunday.

It's rare now that we get any time together, a product of kids getting older, more mobile, even working. Makes me feel old.

Investigation: Suicide Club - the movie (or the real deal, I'm not fazed), a movie I've never seen, but one that keeps turning up in the oddest places. Some will remember I was keen to start such a club, controlled by internet and mobile phone interaction.

Don't get me wrong, I had no intention of taking part, I just wanted to see how many would. At about the same time as I was canvassing opinion (negative from Yvonne, naturally), the Australian government passed legislation about encouraging dimwits to top themselves, complete with horrendous fines and things. Made me go cold on the idea.

Legislation or not, it should not be long until you see the front of Zoetrope enhanced with a collection of .

You need to research the dots. And, when you have, you need to be counting them.

Participate by mailing in your mobile number here so we may 'alert' you to a change of the amount of dots.

Your time may have arrived.

We've been lucky this week - Airbagindustries haven't been snivelling.