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My Archives: April 2003

Monday, April 28, 2003

The Goonies Game
Posted by CKL @ 04:57 PM PST
No, I wasn't simply lazy (as usual) this past weekend. This is why I haven't posted any new HotSheet entries for the past few days.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Picture Imperfect
Posted by CKL @ 11:28 AM PST
Fox has announced that they will be releasing the Buffy season 4 DVD set in region 1 (North America), but in fullscreen format, not anamorphic widescreen as it was across the pond. To placate the drooling fanbase, Joss Whedon authored this "personal message" (reprinted from The Digital Bits) to be included with the US release:
Gentle Viewer:

No doubt you are looking over this scrumptious BUFFY package and exclaiming "No @#$%ing letterboxing? Whutzat? GYPPED!" Possibly you are breaking things. Please calm down. The fabulous episodes of BUFFY (and that one crappy one, sorry about that, seemed really cool when we wrote it...) were not shot in a widescreen format. They were shot in the TV 4 by 3 ratio. Now I'm a letterbox fanatic, but not just because I crave th' wide. I want to see the whole screen, as framed by the director. The BUFFY's I (and others) shot were framed for traditional TVs. Adding space to the sides simply for the sake of trying to look more cinematic would betray the very exact mise-en-scene I was trying to create. I am a purist, and this is the purest way to watch BUFFY. I have resisted the effort to letterbox BUFFY from the start and always will, because that is not the show we shot. This is. So enjoy! Stop breaking things. You're getting the best presentation of -- let's face it -- the best Television Drama since MATCHGAME '79. Bye for now!


Joss Whedon


Wednesday, April 23, 2003

An Analysis of Netflix's DVD Allocation System
Posted by CKL @ 04:55 PM PST
"Abstract: Netflix uses the number of movies you rented in your previous billing period to determine your priority in getting movies. The more movies you rented during your last billing cycle, the less chance you have of receiving a movie versus an individual who has rented fewer movies. This report describes how I came to this conclusion using automated data collection on"

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

The First Amendment
Posted by CKL @ 11:32 AM PST
I'm not sure what these protesters in Sunnyvale are hoping to accomplish. I saw them at the Lockheed Martin Light Rail Station as I was on my way to work this morning. They had signs, and most of them looked like college students. Ah, to be young and stupid.

I think I've become more fatalistic as I've grown older. I recognize that there are things I can affect, like my dinner plans, and things that I can't, like the Nielsen ratings. I know there are things I could change if I tried hard enough, but usually, it's not worth my time and effort.

Maybe I just haven't yet found a cause that speaks to me.


Monday, April 21, 2003

Better Luck Tomorrow
Posted by CKL @ 04:24 PM PST
I grew up in Torrance, and actually used to know one of the co-producers of BLT. Honestly, though, it would be easier to get excited about the movie if only they weren't trying to market it with the same acronym as a sandwich.

Password Security. Or Not.
Posted by CKL @ 04:19 PM PST
"[T]he organisers of Infosecurity Europe 2003... asked [workers] a series of questions which included: What is your password? Three in four (75 per cent) of people immediately gave their password...

"Of the 152 office workers surveyed... The most common password was "password" (12 per cent) and the most popular category was their own name (16 per cent) followed by their football team (11 per cent) and date of birth (8 per cent). Two thirds of workers have given their password to a colleague (the same as last year) and three quarters knew their co-workers passwords."


Saturday, April 19, 2003

Posted by CKL @ 12:28 PM PST
Published reports claim this hypercool new Honda Accord commercial (requires Flash) took four days of shooting and 606 takes. However, they disagree on whether it contains manipulated images. The Daily Telegraph says "[a]lthough it would have been much easier to fiddle the chain of events by using computer graphics, the seesaw and shunt of events really did happen, and in one, clean take." The Daily Record says "[t]he full advert is divided in two - because the studio couldn't fit in all the kit at once. Just one second of computer generation is used to link the two halves - when an exhaust pipe rolls across the floor."

In any case, it's absolutely criminal that neither story mentions Rube Goldberg or The Way Things Go. Are these people just ignorant, too lazy to do the research, or totally subservient to Honda's corporate desire to appear original? Acknowledging the genesis of an idea in no way detracts from the work you do to create your own art. But I guess the collision of art and commerce does tend to mangle things.


Friday, April 18, 2003

Thermal Depolymerization
Posted by CKL @ 02:10 PM PST
This is so simple, it's great.

A Philadelphia company called Changing World Technologies is getting ready to start up its first industrial plant in Missouri. This plant, to be operated for ConAgra Foods, will convert just about any organic waste product (e.g., ConAgra's poultry parts) into fuel oil. How do they do it? They process the waste in a huge apparatus which generates heat and pressure high enough to break long molecular bonds-- i.e., reduce the existing polymers to short-chain petroleum hydrocarbons.

Basically, it's a big ol' honkin' pressure cooker. A pressure cooker! How cool is that?

Check out Discover magazine's Anything into Oil story or the CWT web site for more info.


Thursday, April 17, 2003

Spike TV
Posted by CKL @ 10:48 AM PST
Sorry, Buffy fans, it's not what you think. From IMDB StudioBriefing: "TNN, once called The Nashville Network, then The National Network, is being renamed Spike TV after June 16. Network President Albie Hecht said that the intention was to underline the channel's predominantly male-oriented programming." I suppose it was inevitable, given Wifetime, er, I mean, Lifetime's success. TNN also owns the exclusive rerun rights to Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager, but they acquired those rights before deciding to become The Man Showcase, so I can't really insinuate that they're implying something about Trek fans.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

World Wide Web Marketing Phrase Generator
Posted by CKL @ 06:08 PM PST
A new marketing phrase for your product every 6 seconds...

War profiteering? Perish the thought!
Posted by CKL @ 06:07 PM PST
"Sony Corp said Tuesday it will withdraw its application with the U.S. patent office to register 'shock and awe' a catch phrase used by the U.S. forces in their initial air campaign in Iraq as title for a PlayStation video game."

Saturday, April 12, 2003

Judgment: Crap!
Posted by CKL @ 11:24 PM PST
Apparently, I'm one of the very few who haven't drunk the Kool-Aid and now worship the sacred cow of post-Roddenberry Star Trek (TrekToday: Critics Deliver Positive 'Judgment'). For all its high production values and eye-candy visual effects, Enterprise is just...routine. It takes no chances. It tells no new stories. As far as I can tell, it has virtually nothing of any importance, quality, or interest to say. Except for Doctor Phlox. He's pretty cool. He should totally get his own spin-off series. [more]

Tuesday, April 8, 2003

Forever '80s
Posted by CKL @ 02:11 PM PST
I'm listening to a compilation CD right now, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I got it through one of those late-night TV commercials. It's called "Forever '80s," and it's a two-disc set of love songs of varying cheesiness. But what I didn't notice, when I dropped it into my bag to take to work a few weeks ago, was the cover image: New York's World Trade Center, in a photo taken in 1994. [more]

Thursday, April 3, 2003

Disposable E-mail Addresses
Posted by CKL @ 02:33 PM PST
A good idea whose time has not yet come. Sneakemail was the first web service of this type (not counting the now-defunct, and it's still the most straightforward. See the Anonymous Remailer FAQ for more information.

Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Another one bites the dust
Posted by CKL @ 12:19 AM PST
I used to love the Coming Attractions web site by Corona Productions. It was chock-full of information on upcoming movies, including everything from official studio propaganda to rumors reported by anonymous sources. It was more down-to-earth than Entertainment Weekly and more readable than Ain't It Cool News. Alas, it is no more. [more]

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