reviews

On things about which I have an opinion

Fantomatik Orchestra at Borgo a Mozzano

Thursday, November 3, 2011 

The Fantomatik Orchestra performing at Halloween at Borgo a Mozzano

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZc_5GvsqSk[/youtube]

That’s our local butcher dancing with the cow’s head and eyeball.

(on youtube the video is available in 1080)

Posted at 04:03:03 UTC

Category: GeopostplacesPositivereviewstravelvideo

Fight ProtectIP/SOPA

Thursday, October 27, 2011 

I am a constituent and I urge you to reject the Internet Blacklist Bills (PROTECT IP Act in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House).

This bill is deeply, deeply flawed and fails completely to live up to the fundamental constitutional basis for copyright: “to promote the progress of science and the useful arts.”

I am deeply concerned by the danger these bills pose to Internet security, free speech online, and innovation. The Internet Blacklist Legislation is dangerous and short-sighted, and I urge you to join Senator Wyden and other members of Congress in opposing it.

If this bill passes, those entire “middle class” of moderately successful collaborative and user-generated sites will be driven out of the internet. The 1% sites like Google or Facebook can afford tier one lawyers to protect themselves from the prima facia unconstitutionality of this absurdly ill-considered bill, but the vast 99% can’t afford the legal resources or the infrastructure resources this bill mandates and they will vanish, hobbling the internet as the most fruitful incubator of science and the useful arts so far created.

Promote science and the useful arts by blocking ProtectIP/SOPA.

Posted at 16:19:49 UTC

Category: Negativepolitics

Scrapper

Thursday, October 20, 2011 

I went to see Scrapper, the documentary by Stephen Wassmann, that was showing as part of the SF Documentary Film Festival.   It is the story of the people who live between the Salton Sea and the Chocolate Mountain Bombing Range and make a living gathering scrap metal off the range between bombing runs.

It’s quite a frank and intimate portrayal of some extremely eccentric characters.  They spend their time divided between driving around the range gently prying the aluminum tail fins off unexploded ordinance, heating the booty over open fires to loosen the scrap-value-reducing steel rivets, and doing crystal meth and drinking, though the last activity isn’t so much divided from the former two.

The most entertaining character is an old guy who set up camp on the isolated East side of the range, far from humanity, and cruises around the range in a highly modified VW bug living a life pretty much straight out of the Road Warrior.

It is definitely a movie where every moment seems to balance precariously on the edge of a ravine or on a delicate trip wire on a 2,000# bomb that failed to release when it buried itself fins-deep in the desert sand.

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/11457549[/vimeo]

Posted at 04:18:18 UTC

Category: filmsGeopostPositivereviewsvideo

Phew. Now Jeff can buy another jet.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011 

As you may have heard, California Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation repealing the law that had forced us to terminate our California Associates. We are pleased to invite all California Associates whose accounts were closed due to the prior legislation to re-enroll in the Associates Program.

Best Regards,

The Amazon Associates Team

I first read this as Amazon giving up and quietly reinstating their associates program and thus paying the sales tax they owe.  Alas, not the case.  I guess California vs. Amazon, Amazon wins.

Posted at 21:41:15 UTC

Category: Negativepolitics

Latte Art at Gaylord’s

Saturday, October 1, 2011 

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Posted at 14:30:37 UTC

Category: funnyPositivereviews

Google-

Tuesday, September 13, 2011 

I was searching for something random on Google (no, not that, regular expression examples) and noticed that funny little bar they put up there a while back when Google+ had the world all a-flutter. My little box had a [1] in it. Hmmm.. A few people I’d never heard of had “circled” me. Nobody I knew. I think I last checked G+ a few weeks ago, maybe it was a month. Oh well, so much for that one. Facebook will eventually do a MySpace, taking everyone’s cleverly crafted content out with it, but G+ won’t be the Facebook that does it. Or something like that.

Typing of Google, anyone else notice that Google has become much more aggressive about implicit substitution? I’m used to it autocorrecting typing, which actually led to ever more lazy typing, at least on my part. But I thought it always let me know when it was making a presumptive change. Search for [Congres] (using square brackets to denote the text box since “” has meaning in this context) and it used to note “Do you mean “Congress”” Yeah yeah, just fat-fingered the last letter, NP. Now it just silently corrects unless you use quotes. Maybe you actually wanted to find the “Hotel Du Congres.”

OK, annoying, but not fatal. But what is actually quite tedious is when you search for something slightly esoteric like [“white screen of death” client certificate]. 122,000 results. Whee. Oh, wait, most have nothing to do with client certificates – how can that be? [“white screen of death” “client” “certificate”] yields 367 results, almost all relevant. So for about 121,000 results Google assumes I just accidentally typed “client” and/or “certificate”? Those do not seem like common typos for [ ] (blank). If I went to all the trouble of typing out the words “client” and “certificate” does it not generally undermine the utility of a search function if it arbitrarily decides to ignore any inconvenient terms?

I find my self quote-forcing ([“white screen of death” +client +certificate] yields the same 367 results) most of my searches. Since when did my search terms become optional? WTF Google? Search is the one thing you do well. Well, that and advertising. Please don’t break it. Trust me, if you blow search you are not going to make up the difference with Social Networking.

Update: I recently searched for a scholarly article to back an assumption that document collections stored in structured databases can be accessed faster than document collections stored in file systems.  I used the word “median” rather than “average” in my search, but clever Google knows the two are often synonyms and rather than limit my search to documents that use the typically academic “median,” I got almost entirely useless results referencing various colloquial “average” constructions.

Posted at 01:37:41 UTC

Category: Negativereviewstechnology

TFF38D2F4 The Kid With A Bike

Monday, September 5, 2011 

The Kid With A Bike is a film by the Dardenne brothers, who brought “The Child” to the Telluride Film Festival a few years back. There is a strong family resemblance between the films: durable but trouble prone protagonists in gritty, lower class struggles where their every step forward seems to result in a step back and who’s troubles are mostly self-inflicted, and yet sympathetic and identifiable responses to difficult circumstances.

Thomas Doret plays a little boy named Cyril who’s proof to all external harm, but victim to the internal consequences of being abandoned by his father. He is adopted by an attractive and indomitable hair dresser played by Cecile de France who has an affinity for Cyril that seems driven by something strong, but offscreen.

The story moves Cyril from victim to victimizer and finally to redemption in a way that is satisfying and compelling.

Posted at 00:36:35 UTC

Category: filmsPositivereviews

TFF D1F3: Albert Nobbs

Saturday, September 3, 2011 

Albert Nobbs is an great film.   See it.

It is the story of a curious butler in 1890s Dublin who suffered a difficult childhood and to survive took a job as a waiter, and the worked his way up to being a butler in a small but swanky hotel.  The thing is, he’s a woman played by Glenn Close.

His carefully controlled life is turned upside down when he has to share his room with a painter working on the hotel and his view of the world and of his own future changes dramatically.

Glenn Close introduced the film an described it as a labor of love that she has spent 15 years working on.  Her acting is superb and the story is very funny when it tries to be and truly touching without being cloy or saccharine.  While Glenn’s performance stands out, none of the cast come up short and Janet McTeer is also particularly strong.

Posted at 00:52:45 UTC

Category: filmsPositivereviews

TFF 38 D1F2: Pina

Saturday, September 3, 2011 

Pina is Wim Wenders tribute to Pina Bausch in 3D.  I’m not a big dance fan, not even ballet let alone modern dance, but this was a very beautiful film and I enjoyed it.  Wim Wenders introduced the film and told the audience how he had met Pina 20 or more years before starting production and had wanted to make a film about her.  For all of those 20 years every time they crossed paths she asked if he was ready to make his film and he said he didn’t know how, but was learning.

Wenders said he was quite taken by 3D, specifically U2 3D which he thought was a great name, but more so that the 3D technology used was sufficient to capture the essence of Pina’s dance, and so he began production, but just before production was to commence, Pina passed away.

The dancers in her troupe convinced him that he should make the film, that it is what she would have wanted, and so the film is both an beautifully shot document of Pina’s dance troupe and a tribute to Pina.

I’ve been involved with 3D film for a long time (going back 16 years I built a stereo rig from a pair of Arriflex cameras for Michael Naimark’s Be Here Now).  This was the first time I got to see Dolby’s double-tristmus 3D .  The way it works is each projector projects an approximately RGB signal, but with the exact wavelengths of RG&B shifted between them (and not shared).  The passive glasses pass only the correct eye’s 3 color wavelengths and reject the rest.  Looking through them, one is slightly magenta shifted and one slightly cyan shifted, but you quickly compensate for the slight color error, especially since one eye errs one direction and the other the opposite.  If you look through both a left eye and a right eye filter (say by borrowing your neighbors pair and putting them over yours upside down), almost no light passes.

The 3D quality of the movie is quite good, better than shutter glasses with less peripheral annoyance.  Only very bright highlights (like the glint of lights in a dancer’s eye) exhibited odd stereo artifacts.  It is commonly noted that the focal accommodation and parallax accommodation of a stereoscopic projection is very wrong–your eyes focus on the same plane (the screen) no matter what the image displacement is, so your mind gets two conflicting data inputs – one saying “I see 3D” and the other saying “I’m focusing on a plane” and the result is eye strain and often headaches, and this technology is no different.  It definitely caused some eye strain to watch it, but the effect was good and overall I’d say worth it.

Posted at 00:37:38 UTC

Category: filmsPositivereviews

TFF 38 D1F1: The Turin Horse

Saturday, September 3, 2011 

First day of films at TFF began with The Turin Horse, a slow, atmospheric, challenging, inaccessible film by Bela Tarr about what happened to the owner of the horse who’s beating drove Nietzche mad.

It is a long film, entirely in black and white, with very little dialog.  It is visually quite striking, but definitely not going to make it to the cineplex.  The story grows perhaps allegorical or possibly apocalyptic, but maybe reverses the story of creation.  Maybe not.  But things definitely go from bad to worse to cosmically bad.

Posted at 00:08:15 UTC

Category: filmsNeutralreviews