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Saturday, January 31, 2009

New animation!

It's finally here: the animation I've been working on for the last seven weeks or so is at last complete. I present to you:

Launch Code


Friday, January 30, 2009

How to ruin a movie

I saw Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow on TV the other night. It was, in a way, a painful experience. Sky Captain is a vaguely steampunkish alternate-history movie with giant killer robots, cool plane dogfights and an impressive and unusual sepia-toned look, using a mix of live-action and CGI a la Sin City. By rights, I should have loved it. And I nearly did.

A few glaringly stupid things go a long way to make an otherwise cool thing bad. When those stupid things could easily have been fixed, or better yet turned into something cool, it stings all the more.

Here's an example: There's a scene where the two main characters, Sky Captain and Polly, are in Sky Captain's plane, flying over some water while being chased by other planes. They dive down towards the water, and moving at several hundred kilometres per hour, slam straight into it. Underwater, the plane continues to dive down and then converts itself into a submarine, with SC and Polly unharmed.

Call me a pessimist, but I'm pretty sure if a plane did that it would be completely destroyed. Even if by some miracle of engineering it was able to withstand such an impact, its occupants would still be instantly killed. Suspension of disbelief can only go so far - I'm willing to accept a plane that can turn into a submarine, but not one that can slam straight down into water at flight speed.

They could have turned this into a really cool sequence, where SC pulls up, and they barely miss slamming the water, with their enemies shooting all around them, and then they skid along the water all Hudson river-style with water spraying everywhere before slowing down enough to dive under. It would have eliminated the need to shit all over the laws of physics, while making the scene awesome. But they didn't.

Another example: [SPOILER ALERT] Later in the movie SC and Polly arrive at a facility where there are all these robots that are just hovering through the air. There are also platforms that are hovering through the air. There is no apparent way they are doing this, and no explanation is given. The least they could do is give some vague hand-wavey explanation about it being "like magnetism". Or better yet, they could go all steampunk and have cool propellers holding them up like little helicopters. It would have looked great and not crossed the line into ridiculousness.

Last example: [SPOILER ALERT again] Towards the end of the movie, our intrepid hero and heroine are standing on a flat platform at the top of a rocket that is being launched into space. Let me repeat that: They are standing on a flat platform at the top of a rocket that is being launched into space. You don't have to work for NASA to know that the G-forces involved in a rocket launch are pretty impressive - there's no way in hell you could stand upright inside a launching spacecraft, let alone on top of one, with the air blowing past at several thousand km/h. And yet they can not only stand comfortably, but talk to each other audibly! There are other technical problems, like the fact that the rocket clearly didn't have the fuel capacity to reach escape velocity.

I could offer some suggestions to fix this scene, but the whole thing is just so insultingly stupid that I won't bother.

Fuck this movie.


Time Cube

There is a loony in America called Gene Ray, who in 1997 created a website for his nonsensical "theory" called Time Cube. I won't even try to summarise it here because it makes absolutely no sense, but the website has become something of an internet phenomenon, drawing the ridicule and parody it rightly deserves.

Anyway, I was at a friend's place a couple of weeks ago when I saw this:

4 Colour Magic Time Cube Alarm Clock

I present the 4 Colour Magic Time Cube Alarm Clock. I couldn't resist taking a photo.

Funnier still is the fact that it's not even close to being cubic.

A Google search for "time cube alarm clock" yielded a paltry six results, one of which was this photo. Much more cube-ish - worthy of Gene Ray himself.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Laptop dismantling

Last year my laptop died due to a motherboard fault that would have cost more to fix than the cost of a new laptop. It sat around taking up space until the other day when I decided to pull it apart. The difficult process of disassembling the laptop yielded an array of interesting hardware, some of which I might find a use for, and most of which will probably sit in a shoebox in my room taking up space for years to come.

I was hoping I might be able to convert the screen into a monitor for whatever purposes might require one, but some Googling revealed that to be virtually impossible. I did however find out that it's pretty easy to reuse the touchpad just by soldering a PS/2 cable to the right place on the touchpad circuit board. Touchpads are mostly made by the same company, Synaptics, who are pretty open about their hardware interfacing. I found an old crappy mouse, removed the cord and soldered it up, and to my surprise it works perfectly (with the correct drivers, at least).

Touchpad with PS/2 cable.

In other news: What is the deal with this? A diagonal stalagmite in my ice cubes.

And if someone tells you about this great recipe - don't do it, it's a trap. It sucks.

EDIT: Actually maybe that's because the flour I used expired in 2006.