This is BrainLog, a blog by Dan Sanderson. Older entries, from October 1999 through September 2010, are preserved for posterity, but are no longer maintained. See the front page and newer entries.

December 1999 Archives

December 31, 1999

Y2k for Women: the Year 2000 Problem Site Exclusively Designed for Women.

Yahoo poll on how people are preparing for Y2k.

Consumer.gov's Y2k Preparedness Checklist.

The Red Cross's Y2k Preparedness site.

Don't worry: Y2k Is OK.

As much as I want it to, Y2k isn't expected to crash U.S. utilities.

I wish I had online access to the Wall Street Journal's "Y1k" paper that came out earlier this year. Civilization Online's Y1k story will have to suffice.

That's enough of that. Let's, oh, do a Google search for Barry Manilow. (A search for the misspelling Barry Manalow is slightly more entertaining. Slightly.)

December 30, 1999

Cliches of 1999 in Review, article in Slate. The winner: 'inappropriate'; "This term made more appearances in the Congre ssional Record (382) than any other word or phrase nominated..."

Many thanks to crikey of MemePool for informing me of DVD Price Search and Incredible DVD (coupons coupons coupons!). (Yes, I know I don't have a DVD player, but after the success of DVD this Christmas season, I'm probably not going to buy another video.)

How Film Is Transferred to Video. (Thanks tjs of MemePool, and dandot.)

A simple way to make an anamorphic film fit on a TV set is to just leave the anamorphic lense out, and everything in the original picture is stored on video. Unfortunately, all people become thin and distorted, but this has been done, and still is, from t ime to time. Actually, Philips' CD-I depends on a 10% distortion in aspect ratios to make CD-I both NTSC and PAL compatible. The effect is just too horrible to show you, so I won't do it.

World Sexual Records. (Thanks Fark.com.)

I bought one so you won't have to. I mentioned a while ago that I picked up a DVD of Metropolis for about $7. If you've been in a video store this shopping season, you've seen 'em by the cash register: Madacy Entertainment's Excelsior Collectors Edition DVDs. I knew they'd be crappy, but this was just too crappy. Poor print, "pan-n-scan" (though it doesn't really do either, it's just cropped--and poorly), terrible music (probably not even w ritten for the film), and, well, it's just not worth $7. Maybe their Reefer Madness is better...

SAG establishes new "demo" rate, so speculation recordings could more easily use SAG singers.

William Daniels' SAG General Membership speech.

December 29, 1999

Heh. I saw it coming a few days ago but did nothing to stop it. My little script that rolls blog entries into the archives continued to archive stuff while I was away. It eventually ran out of stuff to archive. :)

I had a good holiday vacation. Did you?

December 19, 1999

Punkemon! (Thanks to whim & vinegar and Rebecca's Pocket.)

The Web Log Word Count Index has a bunch of fancy features now. What started out as a joke about metablog utilities has actually become a fun little project. Let me know if there are other stats/features you'd like to see. (I'm limited by system resources, but I'll consider most suggestions.)

December 18, 1999

Learn2 giftwrap a present.

U.S. Supreme Court to Revisit Miranda Rights Case with regards to the use of voluntary confessions in the court. Bush welcomes the review in a bland, political way.

Sarah Flannery's paper on her Cayley-Purser crypto algorithm is finally online. Sarah was 16 years old when she discovered a crypto algorithm faster (and what was hoped to be better) than RSA (see this Wired story). Quoting Bruce Schneier's newsletter:

Flannery's paper, describing the Cayley-Purser algorithm, has been published on the Internet by an unknown source. It's interesting work, but it's not secure. Flannery herself publishes a break of the algorithm in an appendix.

Weblogging can be such a pain in the ass, I'm surprised to find it's a little bit addicting. Here I tried to quit for the holidays, and look what happened...

December 17, 1999

It's been a couple of years since I've listened to The Daily Feed. Quality varies, and some people think the voices are annoying. But I like it. :) Try this one (streamed) or this one (I can only find a download link, no stream).

...Aah! I couldn't do it! I just couldn't bare to go a day without blogging! Gaah! (I'm skipping town on Monday, so that'll slow down my blogging. Maybe...)

I mostly just wanted to mention Roger Ebert's article on the pitfalls of digital projection, and a new film-based technology to surpass it all. (Many thanks to Lisa and to Flutterby for bringing this to my attention.) MaxiVision48 sounds almost too good to be true. I originally thought that digital projection would be the next new thing despite the fact that it's crappy, because it would make maintenance of theaters easier and cheaper (eventually). I'd think studios and large cinema chains alike would want the reassurances on how the film is displayed that remote administration of digital proj ection would provide. But according to Ebert, MaxiVision will be so much cheaper for so much longer, digital projection may never have a chance. (It's cheap enough and backward compatable enough that there's no reason not to install MaxiVision in existing and new cinemas.)

ABC picks up The Drew Carey Show through 2002. (Thanks Fresh Hell. I agree that the show has gotten less funny with t ime, but it's worth noting that the show has been pretty poorly written from the beginning. :] Still pretty funny, though...)

Orson Welles' Mercury Theater radio broadcasts on the web. (Thanks metascene and Looka.)

Why Me by Jodie Foster, from a 1982 Esquire. (Many thanks metascene.)

December 16, 1999

Try out Windows 2000 without the download! Quite fun. (Does it look as good on a Mac?) (Thanks Remco Brink.)

So what's the deal with the Web Log Word Count Index, anyway? The thing doesn't seem to properly handle blogs in frames, for one, although it seems to work in some cases. And most people don't keep all of their blog entries on the first page anyhow, so the messy ones get a higher score than the well-organized ones? My score is only 1079, but I've written much more than that! Not a very good measure of the quality of a we blog, if you ask me...

...And the word occurrence counts make the page too long: the words are listed twice, once in order of occurrence and again alphabetically. A 3MB file! Sheesh! [Update: It seems he's split it into multiple files now.]

Well folks, that'll do it for the year. I'll be checking my email, and I might throw up a thing or two if I run across something, but that's pretty much it until Jan 1, 1900. Until then...

December 15, 1999

CastleMouse 2000 is a fun puzzle game. There's a free (yeah, Shockwave :) version on Shockwave.com.

I've always thought The Powerpuff Girls would make a great video game. It looks like they would also make a crappy one. (PPG looks like it was drawn in Flash to begin with, so this otherwise seems appropriate.)

I like Disney.com's 404 error page. :)

Shockwave.com has Atari classics in playable Shockwave form! Quite accurate renditions, too. Centipede, Frogger, Missle Command, and Super Breakout. (Sorry I can't link directly, you'll have to look for it...)

More twisted Shockwave animations. Some of these have interactive portions.

Hmm... Should I get Flash now ($99 acad), or save up for Director ($249 acad) months down the line? Flash would be fun for animations, but I'm more interested in being able to make interactive tutorials (and maybe games). [Update: My mistake, Director is $370 acad. Not really an option. Am I missing out?]

December 14, 1999

Slashdot has an offensive write-up on a decent NYT article on the surgeon general's report on m ental health. Public perception of mental illness is still several paradigm shifts behind modern understanding, and this kind of thing is only counterproductive. I don't mean to be hypersensitive, but given the current knowledge gap (in psychology, phil osophy), hypersensitivity is far more appropriate than flippantly promoting archaic attitudes. (Here's the full report.)

I've been wondering what the deal is--or rather, deals are--with Yahoo! these days. Now in addition to what looks like lots of ABC related media (ABC news streams and whatnot), there's a KMart shopping deal in the works. (Thanks Davenetics.)

Lots of shopping sites seem to have done lots of revamping for the holidays. While Yahoo!'s front page is still simple enough to be worthy of Yahoo!, that shopping portal stuff is right up there at the top. Shopping-related search results are also hi ghly touted. And I'm pleased to see Amazon.com has finally integrated their multi-step shopping pages with the rest of their (yet another) new design. (Still could use a few rearrang ements, but much nicer than the old pages that looked like raw HTML circa 1993...)

For my birthday-present-to-self for the year 2000 (Jan 11 if you care), I thought I'd order myself an XCam Anywhere. I cancelled the order a few hours later once I read up on the thing, though. The "wireless camera" actually has a 12-foot cable to a "sending station" that's the size of the receiving station and has to plug into the wall for power. (This is relatively obvious from the web site, I was just hasty.) I only wanted it for playing ar ound with in my studio apartment (cheezy video acquisition for multimedia, maybe a webcam), so it just doesn't make any sense in my case.

(FWIW, a Deja search for XCam brings up decent reviews of the thing in comp.home.automation. It sounds like if I had a use for the XCam Anywhere [surveillance/security seems a popular use], it might be a decent cheapo solution...)

I'm falling in love with Macromedia Flash via its demo version, so that'll probably be my birthday-present-to-self after all. ($99 academic price, can't be beat!) So why don't other programs (li ke Illustrator) use the Flash method of editing curves (with the arrow tool)? So much easier than splines (or whatever the hell those things are in Illustrator)...

December 13, 1999

Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity in words four letters or less. (Thanks Robot Wisdom.)

Vote for your favorite Sesame Street video. (Thanks to both Yuppie Slayer a nd Pop Culture Junk Mail.)

I notice Wendy Carlos has a web site. Wendy did original music for Clockwork Orange and The Shining, not to mention Tron. She has a long personal farewell to Stanley Kubrick. (Some of the language in the farewell is oddly self-serving, but I suppose the target audience of the site is for her fans, not his. Still odd.)

Kubrick used a great deal of "classical" music as well, of course. An Abridged Guide to the Kubrick Soundtracks will help you identify that one piece he used in that one film. The site also has information on soun dtrack album availability--especially useful as many of the films don't have complete albums, if any.

This fan site for The Shining has RealAudio clips of some of the music, with descriptions of where a clip is used in the movie. Get freaked o ut all over again.

I like the original fictional TV series that only air at 3am on Seattle stations. To think that I never would have known about Relic Hunter (Tia Carrere's Tomb Raider-like adventure series) or Team Knight Rider (a blight on the Knight Rider universe if I ever saw one !) if I had been able to fall asleep. Do these shows get better time slots in other parts of the country?

Quoting the October 22nd Entertainment Weekly article on real-life concepts for TV series that didn't make the cut:

Looking for a way to reinvent the sagging action genre? Pilots don't come more imaginative than this Ben Stiller-directed parody of such shows as The Six Million Dollar Man and Knight Rider. Jack Black (star of HBO's music farce Tenacious D) shines as an astronaut who becomes freakishly intelligent after a close encounter with the sun. His partner? A talking motorcycle. His catchphrase? "I know everything!" His enemy? Bad-guy actor Ron Silver as...bad-guy actor Ron Silver.

December 12, 1999

20th Century Fox will employ the services of seven effects houses on the upcoming live-action film based on Marvel Comics' X-Men. Will be very big budget.

Hey neat, Patrick Stewart will play Professor X. Anna Paquin, winner of the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for The Piano at the age of 11 (now 17), will play Rogue.

American Cinematographer has their December article on Sleepy Hollow online, including all the spiffy pictures.

Digital Media Net has many cool resources for many fields of digital media, from digital filmmaking to video game design to an HDTV buyer's guide. For example, check out this feature article on film matchback in their Digital Video Editing section.

Actually, Creative Mac, another of their sections, would be more your style ("you" referring to those of you using a Mac for creative digital work).

So who's figured out that I tend to blog stuff that appears in Auteur, a semi-regular wanna-be industry email newsletter/weblog? It's actually not that great; it contains links to a few industry news articles, and lists of numbers (box office grosses, DVD sales, industry stock prices). But it reminds me to read American Cinematographer and other guilds' sites for news and features. Never fear, I tend to put the better links on my blog, so let's just pretend I'm finding this stuff on my own. :)

December 11, 1999

Nobody told me that Mission Impossible II will be directed by John Woo. And here I've been reading all these blogs try ing to stay informed... ;)

I'll mention again that http://students.washington.edu/dsanders/blog/co_full.html and http://students.washington.edu/dsanders/blog/lastupdated.txt are available for use with weblog scraping/check ing programs. Using the front page as a whole will include Slashdot headlines and other garbage updated hourly. Scraping the content off the front page will appear to update at 1am daily as the bottom-most blog day is pushed into the archives. (I reall y don't care, you download whatever page you want. :)

December 10, 1999

The New Venue has a nice basic primer on making movies for the web.

December 9, 1999

Evan Mather has not only a new website, but a new film! Also check out The Making of Les Pantless Menace, PDF doc in full color. I'm also elated that Evan Mather has a well-deserved IMDb entry. (The new film is dated Nov 7; did this make the rounds while I wasn't looking?)

Evan mentions being interviewed for NPR's On the Media. Here's a direct link to the August 5th show (RA stream broken into pieces, don't be misled by the counter :), as well as the textual rundown. The first story of the show is excellent coverage of the coverage of the LA Jewish commu nity center shooting (14 mins). The digital film story opens with the D.Film festival that opened here in Seattle, which I had the pleasure to see. Also check out the Stan Freeberg story near the end of the show (I'd like to own that retrospective someday).

Vert, a, uh, documentary co-directed by Evan, was made for less than $90, according to that On the Media story. I can't believe it. (It's almos t Dogme, but not quite.)

Atom Films story on this year's Seattle Film Festival Fly Filmmaking workshop.

And if I haven't been deep-linking Evan's site enough: I must say I always wondered what happened to that Star Wars parody contest Atom Films ran earlier this year. The Qui-Gon Show is, as I take it, the chief result, co-directed by Evan and partially contains the action figure style we know and love. Contains some other stuff, too, including dialog and, uh, voices, that remind us nothing of Evan's solo work. (Too many cooks?) The winning script was picked by Billy Dee Williams. Evan's archive is the only source I can find on the contest; I notice Atom Films is denying all existence of the project. :)

Despite all the big names attached, I'm having a difficult time getting excited about De Palma's new sci-fi Mission to Mars from the trailer. I think they're showing too much; it may have been better to not show any dialog, especially if it's all like that. Nevertheless, an insider gives a positive review [SPOILERS] of an early draft of the script. (I notice the official movie site jumped the gun a bit: "actual images and sounds from Mars now online", linking to the official Mars Polar Lander site. Is it me, or does nobody maintain movie web sites?)

I was about to hypothesize that we'll see a boon in sci-fi entertainment in the year 2000, and prove that hypothesis with an appropriate IMDb extended search comparing the year 2000 (genre is Sci-Fi) with 1999. Bu t of course, the results are misleading, as I'm sure dozens of sci-fi projects due to release in the next year have yet to make it even to the planning stages.

I don't think the Ender's Game movie will make it by the release date specified in IMDb. Once Orson Scott Card put scenes of a working draft on his web site, die- hard fans cried bloody murder and he had to take them down. Since then (is my timeline correct?), Star Wars's Jake Lloyd took interest in playing Ender, and Card put up this update on the production company's web site, including material from the new script.

December 8, 1999

Richard Brodie's latest Meme Central looks at viral marketing in context.

@NY critiques the great cyberspace land grab. (Thanks CamWorld.)

Wired has an article on the new German Film School specializing in digital film production.

Annotated XML specification. (Thanks Larkfarm.) ZDNet has a generic story on the r ise of XML web standards.

FilmInk has a feature on Bruce Campbell.

Yay! Dinah liked Dr. Demento, too! :)

December 7, 1999

On-line dentist referral service SmileWorks has partnered with the new Stuart Little movie, I suppose to promote going to the dentist to kids. (I also notice that the IMDb Stuart Little page has ads for the Stuart Little movie as both of its banner ads. Stuart Little is the topmost ad on every page, it seems.) Kinda reminds me of when Beloved "sponsored" a program on PBS, and in the sponsor space they just played the trailer...

Leave it to Lisa to beat me to the Salon story on Scott Dikkers mentioning the new Jim's Journal Treasury (gimme!). I'm particularly delighted to hear that Dikkers was fully aware of the philosophical nature of his own comic. I always wondered how Scott actually felt about the strip , especially considering his more abrasive humorist interests, but I never bothered to hunt for articles or interviews. I'm also delighted that the Treasury has additional token material so those of us that own all four [sic, see below] books have an exc use to get this one.

--And it wasn't until I noticed the Amazon user review's mention of "all 5 Jim's Journal collections" that I knew there was a fifth. The Onion's Grotesquely Self-Serving Holiday Gift Guide mentions the title: I Feel Like A Grown-Up Now. Why didn't anyone tell me there was a fifth?!?

Of the handful of people I know that know of Jim's Journal (including those I've tried to introduce it to), a very small percentage like it, and none of 'em seem to go on about it like I u sually do. I used to use it as a dating litmus test, but it ended up eliminating too many possibilities. :)

That AV Club Gift Guide mentions Dikkers' film Spaceman. It also mentions a "Jim Anchower screenplay", available "free to the right peo ple".

December 6, 1999

Apologies to Mac Netscape users everywhere. I didn't properly test a little fancy code I threw in last week. The code has been removed, so you should be able to click on stuff now. Please let me know if there are any other problems, and many thanks to those who informed me of the problem.

The BBC on how to write for radio. (Thanks useit.com.) The main BBC Training & Development site has a few original resources as well.

New humor news site FNWire. (Thanks TBTF.)

NikeID, design a shoe. (Thanks Unpopular.) Kinda like Lexus's website or something.

December 4, 1999

I got my e-nough T-shirt from The Society for the Preservation of the Other 25 Letters of the Alphabet (from persistence.com; thanks to whatever blog mentioned them many weeks ago) for reminding them that they forgot to mention the epitome of e abuse, emachines. "Had e-nough?" on the front, the picture of 'e's in the dumpster in black and white on the back. (Free T- shirt!)

News from the Red Dwarf Seattle front, from a visit from Chloe Annett: There will be a movie. There may be a season 9.

The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement says to live long and die out. (Thanks Lisa.) The alt.suicide.methods FAQ, on the other hand, says if you don't care to live long, not only do you not have to, but it is morally noble to end it early. Depressed.net hosts another methods FAQ.

And if you're taking any of the above seriously, please consider seeking real support before you lose that option. alt.support.depression and related newsgroups have excellent resources, and the FAQs aren't as "God loves you, don't do it" as the newsgroups themselves can be sometimes. (I actually consider alt.suicide.methods, the newsgroup, to be a useful form of support, especially for those that don't respond to bland pleading. Though the pleaders make up a good amount of the traffic in the group, there's some serious [if morbid] discussion in t here.)

Madeline Kahn dies at 57. (IMDb entry, Fan pages.)

Hey, need some cheering up? Read some Christmas jokes. Better is their list of links to [classic] Christmas stories. You can also join Santa C laus's RC5 cracking team. (Santa wants your CPU cycles!)

Still bummed out? Ask HappyShrink for advice! Or get a happy virtual massage. Or play games and junk at Disney's Zeether. Or get a Happy Fun Ball.

December 3, 1999

mousecontrol will be at 911 Media Arts Center on Dec 10th, 8pm. I wanna meet these people (hi again, Alice :)...

MegaCar! (Thanks Tiara. Sorry to hear you're on Capitol Hill. I'm glad I'm safely (?) in the U District...)

Looking for camcorder WTO protest footage? Daily updates. I like the photo on 911 Media Center's WTO page. Independent M edia Center also has a bunch of grassroots coverage.

December 1, 1999

Gosh darn it! My blog updating software wrote over my Dec 1 entries when I added that last item! And I had some fun links, too. Lemme check my History, here:

Did I forget anything?

It was only a matter of time, I suppose, but at these prices, I'm a little impressed. (Yeah, I know a desktop and a flat screen costs about as much, but we're all into unexpandable self-con tained units these days.)