Friday, September 30, 2005

The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity |

"The first basic law of human stupidity asserts without ambiguity that:

Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation... "

The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Eisner sees bright future for industry |

Michael Eisner, head of Disney for something like 20 odd years, has stepped down. This was the guy that turned the Disney franchise from a money sieve back into a powerhouse, so when he talks about the media industry it's worth a read.

Eisner sees bright future for industry

Of particular interest...

He added that content isn't actually king, as the saying goes, but that it's more of a "steadfast queen, the true power behind the throne, who loyally serves whatever king currently holds the distribution scepter."

Discuss in less than 500 words.

Virtual Entrepreneur | Ideal World - A Second Life documentary

Via Rocketboom.

Not only are people living, working and MAKING MONEY in virtual worlds, now they're making documentaries about it!

"In May 2003 a new land of opportunity opened. Thousands of people from around the globe rushed in to populate this unknown world...

This world, where so many moved to create new lives, does not exist on a map. It exists only on computer servers and screens. It is a virtual world. It is Second Life."

"Kasi began making clothes and accessories for her character. She began selling her fashion designs to other characters. She began to offer her services as a photographer to people in Second Life through Pixel Dolls. In her photo shoots, she took glamour shots of their characters and emailed the images to the real people behind the characters.

"She opened a boutique and named it Pixel Dolls. She began earning Linden dollars (the local virtual currency). She was able to convert the Linden dollars to American dollars through an online currency exchange. The exchange rate fluctuates so she carefully tracks it to get the best value for her work when exchaning money. Kasie doesn't work in the real world. Her job is Pixel Dolls. Her real work is to live in Second Life."

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone From Yahoo! News

I can't believe I neglected to mention this last month.

U.S. TV blog Lost Remote made mention in August that Yahoo had hired video journalist Kevin Sites to run through a dozen war zones across the planet and post stories from them.

Well, Sites' site is up and open for business. Take a look at what could well be the start of a new beginning in journalism.

On thing I would say to Yahoo, make the video bigger. It's tiny and poorly compressed. There are enough of us out there with broadband connections to warrant a larger stream.

Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone From Yahoo! News

Wake Me Up When September Ends | karmagrrrl video weblog

One of the reasons I love this medium so much.

From the karmagrrrl vlog comes a video reaction to the events in New Orleans over the last month and a half.

"...because I have to be dreaming ...having a nightmare, in which case, please pinch me now - hard.

These past few days have been horrific."

It's Not TV, It's Yahoo | New York Times

(Welcome to the bandwagon)

The New York Times runs an interesting article on Lloyd Braun, the man hired by Yahoo last year to run its burgeoning media operation. Some interesting thoughts from a television heavyweight on how he intends to marry the linear world of television with the interactive world of the interweb.

"Mr. Braun's handiwork is just starting to be seen at Yahoo. And as he increasingly puts his stamp on the company, the rest of the media - both old and new - are watching carefully, if not nervously.

As chairman of ABC's entertainment group, Mr. Braun had a penchant for big offbeat concepts like "Lost," which won the Emmy for best drama. At Yahoo, why not create programs in genres that have worked on TV but not really on the Web? Sitcoms, dramas, talk shows, even a short daily humorous take on the news much like Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" are in the works."

Saturday, September 24, 2005

WoW Plague video

I realise now what I should have titled my original post on this subject.

"A Plague on BOTH your servers!"

Alas, I did not. In light of this failure I bring you this link to a video showing the "horror" that exists inside the server walls. It's pretty funny.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The next step in the Google Earth takeover

Little by little, step by step, Google becomes number 1 in everything.

More Google wackiness.

Deadly plague hits Warcraft world | BBC NEWS | Technology

Because I find this sort of thing interesting. The "Hacker" ideal at work.

"A deadly virtual plague has broken out in the online game World of Warcraft."

"In the last week, (WOW creators Blizzard) added the Zul'Gurub dungeon which gave players a chance to confront and kill the fearsome Hakkar - the god of Blood.

In his death throes Hakkar hits foes with a "corrupted blood" infection that can instantly kill weaker characters.

The infection was only supposed to affect those in the immediate vicinity of Hakkar's corpse but some players found a way to transfer it to other areas of the game by infecting an in-game virtual pet with it.

This pet was then unleashed in the orc capital city of Ogrimmar and proved hugely effective as the Corrupted Blood plague spread from player to player.

Although computer controlled characters did not contract the plague, they are said to have acted as "carriers" and infected player-controlled characters they encountered."

"Many online discussion sites were buzzing with reports from the disaster zones with some describing seeing "hundreds" of bodies lying in the virtual streets of the online towns and cities.

"The debate amongst players now is if it really was intentional although due to the effects of the problem it seems unlikely," Paul Younger, an editor on the unofficial site, told the BBC News website.

"It's giving players something to talk about and could possibly be considered the first proper 'world event'", he said.

Luckily the death of a character in World of Warcraft is not final so all those killed were soon resurrected."

I've heard some good conspiracy theories about Katrina...

There was the story that the levees had been blown up to let floodwaters in, then there was the ongoing comments that black people had been herded to the Convention centre and Superdome then left to die (perhaps not so far fetched), but this has to be the best by far.

"An Idaho weatherman says Japan's Yakuza mafia used a Russian-made electromagnetic generator to cause Hurricane Katrina in a bid to avenge itself for the Hiroshima atom bomb attack"

"Stevens said oddities in Hurricane Katrina storm patterns underpin his theory.
And, according to his website, so does the fact that Katrina and Ivan — the name given to a destructive hurricane that hit Florida in September 2004 — both sound Russian."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I have seen the future of TV!...

...unfortunately, it tends to be a bit stop start.

Yesterday I ran across Digital Life TV. Turns out it's a weekly Tech show available only on the net. Going back today I learned that the show was being streamed live so I figured I'd catch an episode. There's a few issues to deal with here, so I figure it's best to do a Pro/Con comparison.

Pro: It's nice to see a media company taking some risks, having some fun, and Digital Life TV is definitely presented in a seriously lo-fi but heck-of-a-lot-of-fun way. Hosts Patrick Norton and Robert Heron bounce off each other well and keep the show interesting, even when they have no idea what's happening next.

Con: I have no idea who Ziff Davis Media are, but they seem to think that the way to go in video distribution is to live in the late 20th century and stream live. Other than the "Train Crash" school of marketing (create something that's prone to failure and let people watch) I can't see why this show needs to go live. It doesn't make use of interactivity or immediacy beyond a few user questions garnered from throughout the week.

Pro: These guys know what they're talking about and there's a lot of good information tied up with the presentation.

Con: The same ads, repeated three or four times throughout the show. In fact, ads in general. The producers are using TV models in a non-linear environment.

Pro: Versions of the show are available for download after it airs in a wide range of codec flavours; WMV, Quicktime, MPEG4, Flash, even an MP3 Podcast. The hi-res version is a nice 420k stream that puts out a clear image, obviously good enough to get some viewers to pipe it to their TV sets and watch it there. The birth pangs of IPTV right here folks.

Con: To reiterate, I don't understand why this show goes out live. To me it makes more sense to record links, patch it together in post, GET IT RIGHT, then put up links to the different versions.

Pro: The set builders are still halfway through building the studio, so the background is a tan wall with wires hanging off it. I LOVE IT! Now that's guerilla TV!

Con: Take a look at the credits. A bunch of titles like "Executive Producer," "Line Producer," "Executive Director," etc, but only one camera guy (and an intern). From the looks of things there's one guy on the floor trying to be all things to all people.
GUYS! SURELY THE BUDGET CAN STRETCH TO GET SOMEONE ELSE ON THE FLOOR DURING PRODUCTION! Of course, because the FM is busy elsewhere and the cameras no doubt have no tally lights, this leads to lots of off camera presentation.

Pro: Sound and lighting for the studio stuff are good, and that right there is more than half your battle won.

Con: The switching is too automated, stiff and plodding. Transitions to and from ad breaks need some work. For instance, I think a five second bumper in and out to breaks could only help create a more seamless production.

Pro: Did I mention these guys are a lot of fun to watch and know their proverbial?

Con: Audio levels to and from interstitials aren't consistent. When the people paying for the show aren't in your face, there's sure to be some eventual backlash. THAT'S what I mean by recording the show, getting it right, then releasing it.

But don't take my word for it. Go and watch it yourself and enjoy. If nothing else I'll be watching next week to see if they've finished that damn set.

A World Of Digital Dim Sum | Newsweek

"In the beginning, our entertainment landscape looked a lot like a big family dinner. Everybody piled around the TV, and we all ate whatever the major networks were serving up. Maybe we squabbled between courses, but everyone came away largely satisfied, stuffed and lethargic.
Now iPod-shuffle ahead to 2005. Entertainment is increasingly bite-size, intense, portable and on demand. The experts call it "snacking," and say there's much more to come. We've become savvy grazers in everything from personal electronics to food to travel. The world is our tapas bar, and mobile TV may just be our next patatas bravas."

In the beginning, everyone talked about it, but no one actually did anything about it!

Sorry, getting a bit jaded here. Nice to hear that current thinkers don't tend to think the new generation are more stupid, just because their attention span is shorter.

"Children today have "a level of visual literacy much higher than when we were kids," says Jonathan Steuer, a consumer strategist at Iconoculture. "Watching TV, I used to wait for something interesting to happen—totally foreign to [my 4-year-old]." Yet quick and snappy doesn't mean dumbed down. In his book "Everything Bad Is Good for You," author Steven Johnson argues that, while TV's erstwhile linear, single-themed plotlines used to call for passivity, today's increasingly multipronged programs are actually making us smarter."

Which brings up another point. Are we getting shorter attention spans based on our media consumption or are our media formats changing to suit our increased information literacy?

Factual television is the new reality | The Australian

Television just loves being at the cutting edge...

"AFTER years of reality television, viewers are hungry for real stories on TV. Not contrived reality, in which contestants are pitted against each other in an artificial environment, but honestly told stories about real people's lives."

It's called documentary and it's almost as old as the motion picture camera. Get over yourselves.

The Australian: Factual television is the new reality [September 15, 2005]

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Rise Of The VJ | DV - Features

Posted here mainly for my own interest, this article from (requires registration) runs through an introduction explaining exactly what a VJ, or Video Jockey, is and does. This is an area I find incredibly fascinating and I've always been annoyed with myself that I didn't pursue it further. I look at a lot of the stuff out there and tend to get quite disappointed. Then again, maybe it's just because I'm used to switching with a 3 MLE multi entry switcher with enough keying power to sink a ship. Things are a bit different with a DVD player, a tape deck, a copy of WinAmp and an old Panasonic MX50.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Avast me hearties!

For today, and just for today, I am a Pirate King.

Heard about Robertson/Degeneres/Hurricane Katrina? Now THAT's a meme!

Via BoingBoing

Pet hate. I can't stand this trend among bloggers at the moment that involves passing around an old style chain letter and marketing it as a "meme." Yes, this form of information spread uses memetics to propogate, and you could even say that the idea being spread is a meme itself, however it is only A TYPE OF MEME! By using the term in this way it detracts from the wider implication of what memes are and what they can and can't do.

For instance, this is what I call a meme. Entertainment satire site Dateline: Hollywood posted an article recently in which outspoken conservative voice and TV evangelist Pat Robertson blamed the death and destruction of Hurrican Katrina on comedian and avowed lesbian Ellen Degeneres hosting the Emmy Awards.


"“God already allows one awards show to promote the homosexual agenda,” Robertson declared. “But clearly He will not tolerate such sinful behavior to spread beyond the Tonys.”"

Classic stuff.

However, using the documented power of the mind virus, this hoax spread throughout the blogosphere with people venting their anger, or even agreeing with the preacher.

As Ben Fritz from says,

"'ll see virtually all of them are to that [parody] article with most of them believing it. And you should see some of the emails we've been getting (most mad at Robertson, some trying to "correct" our facts, and just a few getting the joke). It's the craziest thing on the Internet I've been involved in."

More comments from Franklin Avenue blog including some of the emails.

TV News in a Postmodern World |

When I say it, no one listens. Put it in an article on a website and suddenly everyone's linking to it.


A wonderful article by Terry Heaton discussing some of the reasons why television stations, particularly TV News, has problems coming to terms with the idea of the way media is changing. To paraphrase Heaton, television needs to stop thinking of themselves as just makers of TV and start thinking of themselves as MEDIA producers. Once you start to realise that television is only one way of getting the information across (and information is the key here. This isn't a "Content is King" argument, it's something far more intrinsic) you start to look beyond the self-imposed boundaries that a particular medium imposes.

"And isn't acceptance what we really need now, as our old media models slip away? To the extent that we look the other way, bitch and moan, try to "work together with new media," or wax nostalgic in our own despondency, we're sitting ducks for others not tied to the past. Acceptance is what we need to shake the "don't get it" label and move forward with innovative models that meet the information needs of our communities and bring the roads of business opportunity back to us.

After all, we have a TV station in our arsenal. That gives us a huge advantage over anybody else."

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Moving Canvas | Gestalten mit digitalen Medien

Courtesy of our friends at Rocketboom

This idea just blew me away. A group of students from Germany are working on ideas to use trains as brief communicative platforms. As part of this "Moving Canvas" idea, the group have come up with 2 projects working in conjunction with each other called "Parasite" and "Parallel Worlds."

By attaching a purpose built case with a video projector installed to the side of a train, images are able to be projected onto the walls of subway tunnels as the train moves.

"The tunnels of a subway-system bear something mystic—most people usually have never made a step inside any of those tunnels. Confusing the routine of your train-travelling-journey, your habits and perception Parallel Worlds—making use of Parasite—allows you a glimpse into a different world full of surrealist imagery."

Should point out, attaching a strange box to the side of any form of mass transit in today's security-conscious world without permission from the relevant authorities is probably enough to get you dragged in to a dark room with large men in suits (in Australia, for 14 days without being able to tell anyone where you are). Transit cops aren't known for their sense of humour, or their anarchic or communal ceativity.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Broadband to rule the TV waves | BBC NEWS

"TV delivered into living rooms over broadband connections will completely change TV as well as the internet as we know it, concludes a major report."

Well, duh!

BBC NEWS | Technology | Broadband to rule the TV waves

"But the real power of IPTV could be in its convenience and range of choice which the viewer will subsequently have, such as micro-local content.

People could tune into live traffic camera streams, or film their own football teams to put on a local IPTV channel, as they do in Norway.

In Italy, one man uses IPTV to deliver news to the rest of his apartment block; another films himself having breakfast with his blow-up doll."

Well, du...

Wh.. what?!?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Building a model X-Wing from Paris Metro tickets, step by step

This is just a beautiful thing. Using two train tickets, a scalpel and a folding stick this author runs through a step-by-step account, in French and English, of how to create one of the great iconic vehicles.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Night Gamers - A documentary

Via the Minnesota-based vlog, Minnesota Stories.

Because it's not enough to only want to play it, someone has to document it.


There is no stronger advocate for the Live Action roleplaying scene than I, however there is NOTHING more boring than watching (to quote my old buddies Kevin and Wayne) "a bunch of well dressed geeks standing around in a hot room on a Saturday night playing Rock, Paper Scissors."

The magic of the live action game has always been the participation and unlike video games, which have brought us Machinima, roleplaying is a personal experience that exists in the participant's imagination. It takes a whole lot of suspension of disbelief to pull yourself out of the environment and into the moment and I'm afraid that a documentary just won't quite catch that. What it does catch is lines like "I'm using Awe! Look this way!" or the clumsily delivered lines that sound wonderful in the moment, but seem tossed together, melodramatic and overly-accented and clipped when viewed later.

That said, if the documentary's aim is to explore the "what" and the "why" rather than the "how", there could be some interest.

This verité-style documentary explores a theatrical game in which participants dress and act like vampires. Gaming, especially Live-Action Roleplaying, has created a subculture that few people know about. Meet Cole, a 25-year-old office worker who spends one night a month as an immortal old woman. Follow Scott, a struggling young writer, as his character, Prince Margrave, is dethroned. As he tries to retrieve his place of power, he discovers that the conspiracy behind his defeat may have been personal rather than just part of the game.

In an imaginary world where fights are solved by paper-rock-scissors and red Kool-Aid stands in as blood, it is not difficult to tell fantasy from reality. The documentary, NIGHT GAMERS, explores the reality dictated by fantasy.

Keep it on the radar and see where it goes. The real-world bitching and infighting was always an interesting element of the scene. It was amazing how the internal politics of ancient creatures were so driven by the fickle relationships of those young men and women who played them.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Ten Stupidest Utopias! | Strange Horizons Articles

A good read looking at ten of the more interesting notions people have had of what constitutes a perfect world, from the elitism and mysoginy of Plato's Republic to the unbridled disappointment of the Internet.

""Over the next decade, computer networks will expand their bandwidth by factors of thousands and reconstruct the entire US economy in their image," wrote George Gilder, the right-wing Timothy Leary of the Internet boom, in 1994. "TV will expire and transpire into a new cornucopia of choice and empowerment . . . Hollywood and Wall Street will totter and diffuse to all points of the nation and the globe. . . . The most deprived ghetto child in the most blighted project will gain educational opportunities exceeding those of today's suburban preppie." Instead, within ten years the hallucinatory hype ended in a wave of lay-offs, litigation, and consolidation of media ownership. Today the Internet looks less like utopia and more like a battlefield that reflects all the conflicts of the real world."

Strange Horizons Articles: The Ten Stupidest Utopias!, by Jeremy Adam Smith

A lot of these notions, while not necessarily new to me, were interesting to get some background and another perspective on.

Also by the same author, and even more fun to read (by definition), is

The Ten Sexiest Dystopias

Looking through the idea of Christian Hell through Las Vegas to the movie The Matrix and the game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, these seemingly desparate places all have one thing in common; they plug in to fantasies of what's most base in people.

"Sure, the Matrix is a simulacrum of our dystopian contemporary world—but it is simultaneously an animistic and magical realm, a Gnostic daydream where each of us may transcend the limits of our bodies. Take a red pill, and hey, you can do physics-bending Kung Fu. You also get, as a special bonus, an unlimited supply of cool weaponry and black leather clothes. You'll look great, and you can wreck sports cars and kill with impunity."

Canon Displays HDV Camcorder | Camcorder

And to think I was just about to ask my Uncle when Canon intended to make its foray into the HDV market. Next thing I know, here it is; a matte black XL2 with HDV printed on the side.

Unfortunately, as tends to happen with Canon cameras, it's got the features they figure people want, but not necessarily everything that people actually want. Lack of 24p is a big one, especially for those shooting and editing Hi-def then actually outputting for cine across to film. Ignorant fools and their "I want 24p because I want it to look like film!" can go and perform various forms of illegal physical acts upon themselves.

Lack of 720p is also a concern, especially as the HD spec does allow for both 720p and 1080i.

What do I care? I'm not likely to pick one up so I'll just happily sit back and listen to the inevitable bitching that occurs whenever a new product is launched.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Augmented Coliseum

Now THIS is what augmented reality is all about. Creating a virtual arena for remote controlled cars to blow the snot out of each other.

The Senate Hearings on the sale of Telstra - It's Comedy time!

Democrat Senator Andrew Bartlett is one of the few, if not the only, Federal politician with his own weblog. From that blog comes his comments on the Senate hearing into the full sale of Telstra, in particular the rather hurried means by which the Senate is moving the bill through with a minimum of discussion.

A link to the Hansard Report of the first day can be found here.

The first thing I noticed as I read it was how similar it was to something some friends and I wrote many years ago. If you're a roleplaying geek (like me) and you've spent some time with the Vampire the Masquerade game then you've probably seen this.

VENTRUE: Okay, guys, sit down. I suppose you're wondering why I've called you all here.

TOREADOR: I should think so. I have an engagement in two hours that I simply MUST attend, and I don't want to be late.

VENTRUE: Yeah, yeah. Order. [banging] Well, I don't know about you guys, but my Progeny have been asking some rather ... embarassing questions, and I--

MALKAV: Just tell them that when a Mummy and a Daddy love each other very much--

VENTRUE: Shut up, Malkav. Anyway, they want to know where we come from, why, how, the whole bit. I think it's time we had an answer for them.


BRUJAH: Well, what are you asking us for? WE don't fucking know.


BRUJAH: Sorry.

VENTRUE: What about you, Ralph? You seem to have your nose in everything.

NOSFERATU: No, I am ... no longer called "Ralph." From this day forward, you shall call me: "Nosferatu."


RAVNOS: I dunno, man. Ralph suits you.

And on it goes.

The thing that struck me was the similarities in style to the opening of the Hearings.

CHAIR (Senator EGGLESTON) - I welcome everyone here today and I thank them for attending at short notice. For the benefit of all of our witnesses, I point out that the committee prefers all evidence to be given in public, but should you at any stage wish to give your evidence, part of your evidence or answers to specific questions in private, you may ask to do so and the committee will consider your request. As a general arrangement today, because time is short and we have a lot of ground to cover, we are going to divide the questioning time roughly equally between the government and the opposition with time left over for the Democrats and perhaps other questions from the major parties.

Senator RONALDSON—Will Senator Brown be attending the hearing?

CHAIR—Senator Brown is not attending.

Senator CONROY—What about Senator Joyce?

CHAIR—Senator Joyce is scheduled to attend. I am sure he will be here in due course.

Senator CONROY—I think Ron Boswell has already found him.

CHAIR—Who knows.

Senator RONALDSON—I am surprised Senator Brown is not here.

CHAIR—It is surprising, but he had other engagements in the city.

Senator CONROY—Are you using the terrorism laws on Barnaby already?

CHAIR—That is a possible scenario,...

Then again, maybe I'm just easily amused.

Friday, September 09, 2005

What we did on our vacation | Making Light

If you understand nothing else of what happened last week in New Orleans, read this account. The comments afterward seem to indicate the validity of the account, as well as some other interesting points.

"In short order, the police commander came across the street to address our group. He told us he had a solution: we should walk to the Pontchartrain Expressway and cross the greater New Orleans Bridge where the police had buses lined up to take us out of the city. The crowed cheered and began to move. We called everyone back and explained to the commander that there had been lots of misinformation and wrong information and was he sure that there were buses waiting for us. The commander turned to the crowd and stated emphatically, “I swear to you that the buses are there.” "


"As we approached the bridge, armed Gretna sheriffs formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various directions. As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of us inched forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in conversation. We told them of our conversation with the police commander and of the commander’s assurances. The sheriffs informed us there were no buses waiting. The commander had lied to us to get us to move.

We questioned why we couldn’t cross the bridge anyway, especially as there was little traffic on the six-lane highway. They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans and there would be no Superdomes in their city. These were code words for if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River and you were not getting out of New Orleans."


"From a woman with a battery powered radio we learned that the media was talking about us. Up in full view on the freeway, every relief and news organizations saw us on their way into the city. Officials were being asked what they were going to do about all those families living up on the freeway? The officials responded they were going to take care of us. Some of us got a sinking feeling. “Taking care of us” had an ominous tone to it.

Unfortunately, our sinking feeling (along with the sinking city) was correct. Just as dusk set in, a Gretna Sheriff showed up, jumped out of his patrol vehicle, aimed his gun at our faces, screaming, “Get off the fucking freeway”. A helicopter arrived and used the wind from its blades to blow away our flimsy structures. As we retreated, the sheriff loaded up his truck with our food and water."


"Throughout, the official relief effort was callous, inept, and racist. There was more suffering than need be. Lives were lost that did not need to be lost."

Reinventing the Nightly News | Business 2.0

Via the ABC's intranet blog, Digital Futures. Sorry, staff only.

News gathering is changing. We all know it and It's going to happen regardless of whether we're ready for it or not. The technology is already here for a single operator to shoot, edit and distribute video content to huge audiences. Once major media outlets pick it up and run with it it's likely to become the new methodology, with traditional news gathering and editing held only for the largest news arenas for special stories.

Of course there's a lot of hurdles to jump before we get to that stage.

"Employees at San Francisco's KRON haven't started their lessons yet, as the station's management still hasn't managed to talk unionized workers off the ledge. Unlike in Nashville, KRON's editors and photographers are unionized and thus hesitant to toss out their job descriptions."

"Assuming that the VJs catch on at WKRN and KRON and the concept begins to spread to other stations, the VJ philosophy could send the same message to TV news that blogging has already sent to anyone who reports using the written word: Master an entirely new skill set and point of view, or else be left behind by the technology. And if you think blogging is hard, imagine having to write, shoot, and edit a three-minute movie on your laptop every day by 4 p.m., or else."

" "The problem we had in television in the early days was that the technology was so expensive, we fractionalized the jobs," ( Michael Rosenblum, founder of television consultancy Rosenblum Associates) says. Now that the price of technology has gone down, reintegrating the roles of reporter, photographer, and editor could prove to be extraordinarily painful. WKRN's first graduates are certainly suffering during their climb up the learning curve.

" "That's the down of change," KRON's (general manager Mark Antonitis) says. "Not everybody is going to be able to adapt." That goes for both TV journalists and their employers."

Which begs the question, is it worth it? I'm sure those responsible for budgets would say yes;

"Rosenblum is well aware that videojournalism's cost-cutting angle is what gets him in the door at most networks, and his own rhetoric provides plenty of ammo for critics. "The local news is pretty repetitive," he says, "and the difference between stations is pretty marginal. In San Francisco or anywhere else, their cost point is about the same, and their product is about the same. When we switch over to the VJ model there, we'll have 40 to 50 cameramen out there, and they'll drive their costs down 60 percent." "

The debate raises all sorts of other issues regarding quality, accountability, ubiquity, workload, and the list goes on. O.K., so you have on shift, for example, 5 camera ops, 6 journos and 3 editors. Does that mean that the camera ops have to learn how to present and edit? Or that the editors have to crowbar their asses out of their dark, cosy booths and go out to shoot a story? Do a stand up? Wear a suit and tie for that matter?

The natural assumption is that journalists have superiority because they have an understanding of how to write a story, so therefore it makes sense to teach them the technical aspects of visual storytelling. The only issue is, most journos I knew in the TV newsroom have no interest in such things (obviously things are different where I currently work), just as most, if not all, of the camera ops and editors have zero interest in going out and doing stories.

It's going to be a hard road to get to a point where this is likely to happen, but in the mean time it opens all sorts of opportunities for citizen journalists to take the next step, beyond a simple text-only weblog, and start reporting and distributing the news as video content themselves. How it's organised is another thing. Would it be sent from individual sites or aggregated through a single portal? Will individuals band together to create a national or even international news bulletin by sending video files to each other to be packaged into a single bulletin, a la Rocketboom?

It's empowering, frightening and a little dissapointing all at the same time.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Next Mother Lode: Mars | Wired News

Wired News: The Next Mother Lode: Mars

"Space entrepreneurs eyeing Mars as a hub of some future solar system economy launched a startup on Tuesday to mine the red planet for building materials.

The new company, 4Frontiers, plans to mine Mars for building materials and energy sources, and export the planet's mineral wealth to forthcoming space stations on the moon and elsewhere.

The company also wants to build the first permanent human settlement on Mars, using strictly Martian materials, as early as 2025.

4Frontiers will also be hiring soon, said (company co-founder and CEO Mark Homnick).

"We're not shooting blanks," said Homnick. "We need to staff up. Our message to recent college graduates is, 'You can go with a large corporation, give up some of your freedom and most of your dreams. Or, if you have freedom in your heart, courage to face the unknown and discipline to deliver, contact us.'" "

I-F-E-A-R | Controlling emotion in an immersive environment

I love days like these. Lots of stuff to read, blog and get excited about. Take this as an example.

It was only yesterday that I was cogitating on the limitations computer games and virtual environments have to bear. The fact is for all the advances in graphics and gameplay a computer is unable to understand and deliver human emotions. The best that they can achieve is to understand what physical triggers are known to create emotions in people and manipulate them through the use of colour, sound, texture, image, etc. Other than that all a computer knows how to do is generate numbers based on a series of statistics and the collision of polygons and convert them into a visual language that the player can easily understand.

Then (via, as if to confirm my suspicions, along comes Jodie Hancock and her I-F-E-A-R installation, testing the use of infrasound, or sound waves below the range of normal human hearing, to create unease and emotional response in a subject.

© I-F-E-A-R

"I propose to explore aspects of infrasound and their connection to emotion. Infrasound is synonymous with negative emotion, but how well can this emotion be controlled. Is it possible to use infrasound to specify definite emotions?"

The installation involves hooking up the output of a computer running the game Doom 3 and translating it into infrasound waves. These waves are transmitted in a purpose built corridor that guests are asked to walk through. As events take place in the game, different levels of infrasound are generated based on light levels or gunplay. Participants are then asked to fill out a questionaire upon exiting as to whether they felt affected by the low frequencies.

According to her blog the exhibition of her work at Huddersfield University didn't quite get everything that was hoped for.

© I-F-E-A-R

"I came to some bizarre conclusions though some people it didn't affect and not all of these knew what was coming, others it did affect and again these were people that did not know what was coming and others that did. Which seemed wierd as I expected people who knew what was coming to not feel anything but it seemed that they persuaded themselves that they were going to feel something even though they didn't, well they did but it was too mild to have really counted as my intention was to create a feeling of your own emotions so in this it seemed to work."

Telstra sale to fund Indigenous TV programs | ABC News Online

Telstra sale to fund Indigenous TV programs. ABC News Online

I'm not real fussed on the idea of the full privatisation of Telstra, or at least the government's "have-your cake-and-eat-it-too" mentality, but I can think of a lot worse ways to spend the money when it inevitably happens.

"The Federal Government will use $50 million from the sale of Telstra for a new Indigenous television service

National Indigenous Television will receive funding to produce the service over four years.

It will be broadcast on Imparja's second channel."

So it looks like Imparja's getting their own version of ABC2, only with phenomenally higher funding. Good luck to them I say.

NerdTV | PBS

Via C|Net News

The longer we delay, the further we fall behind the cutting edge.

"The Public Broadcasting Service began offering on Wednesday a downloadable Web-only series of interviews with technology inventors and executives called "NerdTV."


The NerdTV series will include interviews by tech columnist Robert X. Cringely of Google CEO Eric Schmidt; Linux inventor Linus Torvalds; Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak, Sun Microsystems co-founder Bill Joy, Macintosh operating system programmer Andy Hertzfeld; and Doug Engelbart, inventor of the computer mouse; among others.

The weekly one-hour interviews are distributed under the Creative Commons license, which lets viewers redistribute them or edit their own noncommercial version, PBS said."

Storm help flows from 3D worlds | BBC NEWS | Technology

The virtual and the real. Where does one stop and the other start?

"Virtual worlds Second Life and There are using their community and technology to let players donate funds (for the Hurricane Katrina relief effort) from within the games.

Images from BBC

In Second Life, a virtual memorial has been created, where residents have been donating and placing virtual candles.

The companies behind There have also pledged to match gamers' contributions."

" 'The fact that people in Second Life interact [as] avatars seems to make them more generous, more compassionate,' (Second Life blogger, Wagner James Au) told the BBC News website.

'Perhaps because being together in an online world gives them the distance and abstraction not to be overwhelmed by the true horror of the event, while still feeling that connection, and that desire to connect, with others who are similarly galvanized by the tragedy.' "

Atom Chip Laptop - 6.8GHZ CPU, 2TB non-volatile Quantum RAM

A pretty awful web page design, but an interesting little product. If they come good with it and have it ready for official unveiling in January when they promise.


The notebook does not employ a Hard Disk and is completely based on solid state AtomChip® optoelectronics [except the mechanical Optical Drive: DVD Super Multi].

The new non-volatile Quantum-Optical RAM increases the speed of the system, since there is no need to refresh information after every cycle of reading of information, unlike regular RAM.

The new AtomChip® Quantum® II processor with 256MB on-board memory has a high speed with very low consumption of electrical energy.

This notebook has a wireless function, high CPU speed and large memory capacity with extremely low power consumption. Absence of the hard disk increases system stability under low temperatures, vibration and acceleration.

Voice Command!
That lets you use your voice to look up e-mails, contacts, get calendar information, play and control your music or video, and launch programs.


God, I LOVE the sound of hyperbole in the morning...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Wedding Anniversary number 2

Today marks the second anniversary of my being wed to my beloved wife Ellen. During that time I've come to know and love her even more than I did during our courtship. We've had some tough times through that 2 years dealing with some problems that continue still, but I can't imagine spending the rest of my life with anyone other than her.

I love you Ellen. I love you so much and I'm so happy that I get to discover my future with you.

The Wedding Picture Gallery!

By the way, if you've ever wondered about that poncy photo of me in the profile that I use as an avatar, it's a crop from this photo. What a studly bunch we are. Shout out to my mates, Colin, Sean and Richard.

Baffling Cuteness |


I post this here in the sure knowldge that it's the sort of thing that most of my friends will find highly amusing.

"Following a link, I came to the San-X Web site. The site's in Japanese, so I'm not sure what's going on, but it seems that San-X develops “Hello Kitty”-style characters, with the irony already built-in, and then markets zillions of products based on those characters.

Despite the language barrier, I decided to borrow some images from their site and take my best guess at the identities of the members of the San-X family."

Lazy Panda Zombie

The zombie is a panda. But it will not eat brains because he is too lazy. Get up, lazy panda, and eat brains! You are so lazy! But he is too lazy. All right, no brains today!

Baffling Cuteness (

File-sharing software breaking copyright | ABC News Online

I can't believe this one slipped under the radar like it did. I saw no television coverage of this. Maybe it goes to show that people are over the whole "Recording Industries vs The Rest of the World" thing.

File-sharing software breaking copyright, court rules. 05/09/2005. ABC News Online

"Some of Australia's largest music companies were among 30 organisations taking legal action against Sharman Networks and other companies associated with the Kazaa software.

They were alleging the software was the biggest system of copyright infringement ever seen, cheating recording artists out of profits.

Federal Court Justice Murray Wilcox has found six of the 10 respondents had breached music copyright, and he has ordered that the software be modified, so only licensed music files can be accessed."

China imposes online gaming curbs | BBC NEWS

Via The Ludologist

The editorial team here at KingLeonard - The Weblog has brought you a few instances of the Chinese government proposing some pretty heavy handed regulations to their burgeoning technology use, but this one is possibly the wackiest so far.

BBC NEWS | Technology | China imposes online gaming curbs

"The new system will impose penalties on players who spend more than three hours playing a game by reducing the abilities of their characters.

Gamers who spend more than five hours will have the abilities of their in-game character severely limited.

Players will be forced to take a five-hour break before they can return to a game.

"The timing mechanism can prevent young people from becoming addicted to online games," said Xiaowei Kou, of the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP), the body which regulates online gaming.

All the biggest online game operators in China have said they will adopt the new system."

The site I found this via makes this point;

"The scary thing is that because MMOGs are managed at central servers, they are also the ideal cultural form for any totalitarian state: The committee has decided that you will only play three hours per day, young one."

However, given the addictive qualities attributed to thse games, the possibilities for social control are interesting. How long until we see a new MMORPG created in consulation with an insular nation-state designed to train and subdue the populace in a virtual environment?

Ooh, conspiracy theory...

While I'm at it, here's a tidbit from a previous BBC article that kind of blew me away.

Games (in South Korea) are televised and professional players are treated, as well as paid, like sports stars.

Professional gamers there attract huge sums in sponsorship and can make more than $100,000 a year."

I didn't know that. Why didn't anybody tell me that? This is the sort of thing we should be told!

It just causes me to recall a cartoon (possibly Far Side) reminded to me by my bud Colin where a young lad is feverishly hammering away at the keys of his games computer while his parents look on adoringly with images of their son being paid huge sums of money and becoming "Sega Champion" dancing around in their heads.

I tell ya, the only thing stranger than looking into the future is being there.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Penny Arcade - There Are Terrors Which Cannot Be Borne

Spelling and grammar; the first two against the wall when the Internet Revolution came.

Friday, September 02, 2005

The aftermath of Katrina - Rocketboom

I love Rocketboom. I love the lazy humour, the terrible, but ever improving, production values and the warm smile of the host Amanda Congdon.

That's why today's episode was quite surprising and more than a little moving. In it, the host plays the part of a woman, plucked from her home in New Orleans and left at the Superdome Relief shelter, a place that is being reported as being like a "Concentration camp." The character has lost her house, her husband and everything she owns.

Some of the comments that have already shown up on the site have been negative, perhaps expecting a more traditional view of the stories that the mainstream media tends to put on the backburner, or that it's just a portfolio piece to show the host's acting ability. But today's episode reaches out in a totally different way. It's touching, moving and really highlights the human story in what I only today realised was a disgusting and horrific tragedy, a mix of the worst of corporate greed, racial and class inequality, government bungling, and the animal instincts that still hide beneath a thin veil of civilisation.

There's a quote out there, from where I can't recall, that goes along the lines of "we're all only 24 hours and two good meals away from barbarism." When the State Governor needs to tell people that she's bringing in battle-hardened combat troops to restore public order, with a mandate to "shoot-to-kill", you know things are out of hand.

Anyway, watch the clip, but visit the site again at a different time to take a look at what the vlog's normally like.

Video Weblog - Quicktime, WMV, BitTorrent,
Mobile, PSP and Japanese versions available.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Director-General of the BBC Mark Thompson's address to the Edinburgh International Television Festival 2005

Obviously BBC focused, but it's nice to hear what they have planned.

BBC - Press Office - Mark Thompson Edinburgh International Television Festival 2005

Spot On: Virtual gaming's elusive exchange rates - PC News at GameSpot

"When gamers find themselves short of gold pieces for the purchase of that shiny new battle hammer in the online PC massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft, they often tediously roam the fictitious realms, felling creatures for coins. But recently, another option has sprung up. Players of MMORPGs can now surf to one of the many third-party Web sites trafficking cyber currency, pull out a credit card, and exchange real dollars for fantasy coinage.

...getting a fair price in the exchange of real dollars for fantasy coins can be a crapshoot. Turns out it's hard to find reliable data about the dollar/virtual currency exchange rates in a pretend world where there's no Alan Greenspan setting interest rates and scolding everyone about irrational exuberance."

Spot On: Virtual gaming's elusive exchange rates - PC News at GameSpot

Black people "loot", White people "find" according to AP and AFP

Thanks to Stefan from work for passing this one around.

An interesting discussion follows on the site.

Racism on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

FOLLOW UP: Chris Graythan, the photographer responsible for the "White people find.." photo and caption has been getting a lot of flack about this. It's worth pointing out that both photos are from different sources, as mentioned in the title. Yahoo just aggregates it.

According to a post by Graythan on the Sports Shooter Photography forum,

"Jeasus, I don't belive how much crap I'm getting from this. First of all, I hope you excuse me, but I'm completely at the end of my rope. You have no Idea how stressful this whole disaster is, espically since I have not seen my wife in 5 days, and my parents and grand parents HAVE LOST THIER HOMES. As of right now, we have almost NOTHING.

Please stop emailing me on this one.

I wrote the caption about the two people who 'found' the items. I believed in my opinion, that they did simply find them, and not 'looted' them in the definition of the word. The people were swimming in chest deep water, and there were other people in the water, both white and black. I looked for the best picture. there were a million items floating in the water - we were right near a grocery store that had 5+ feet of water in it. it had no doors. the water was moving, and the stuff was floating away. These people were not ducking into a store and busting down windows to get electronics. They picked up bread and cokes that were floating in the water. They would have floated away anyhow. I wouldn't have taken in, because I wouldn't eat anything that's been in that water. But I'm not homeless. (well, technically I am right now.)

I'm not trying to be politically correct. I'm don't care if you are white or black. I spent 4 hours on a boat in my parent's neighborhood shooting, and rescuing people, both black and white, dog and cat. I am a journalist, and a human being - and I see all as such. If you don't belive me, you can look on Getty today and see the images I shot of real looting today, and you will see white and black people, and they were DEFINATELY looting. And I put that in the caption.

Please, please don't argue symantics over this one. This is EXTREMELY serious, and I can't even begin to convey to those not here what it is like. Please, please, be more concerned on how this affects all of us (watch gas prices) and please, please help out if you can.

This is my home, I will hopefully always be here. I know that my friends in this business across the gulf south are going through the exact same thing - and I am with them, and will do whatever I can to help. But please, please don't email me any more about this caption issue.

And please, don't yell at me about spelling and grammar. Im eating my first real meal (a sandwich) right now in 3 days.

When this calms down, I will be more than willing to answer any questions, just ask.

Thank you all -
-Chris Graythen"

Done Deal: Script and Pitch Sales - I think I'll go kill myself now

Thanks to Warren for this little gem.

Whenever I want to get really depressed, I go to Done Deal Script and Pitch Sales to find out how other people are getting rich:

Title: Double Dutch
Log Line: Set in the world of competitive jump
More: Pitch. Raven Symone is set to star.

Title: Notorious D.A.D
Log Line: A superstar rapper loses everything and is forced to take a job as a nanny for his accountant’s kids while trying to resurrect his music career.

Title: The Grays
Log Line: An alien race function as the “United States of the cosmos” and they run things on Earth as well as on other worlds. Operating in secrecy, the aliens are unwilling to reveal themselves for fear of altering mankind’s development.
More: 75 page treatment, which was based on Whitley Strieber’s unpublished novel.

Title: The Proposal
Log Line: A book editor is forced to marry her male assistant in order to stay in the country. When they travel to Alaska to meet his family, the new couple has to fake their way through a surprise wedding thrown by his parents.

Title: Mr. Nice Guy
Log Line: A guy attempts a seemingly mundane task, but mishaps snowball and turn his life upside down.

Title: Prey
Log Line: A beautiful homicide detective investigates a series of rapes and murders in New Orleans.

Title: Untitled Yakuza Project
Log Line: A white American kid who’s orphaned in Japan is raised by yakuza gang members. He becomes one of their fiercest leaders during an all-out gang war.
(”It’s THE LAST SAMURAI, only with guns and cars! And no Crying Tom Cruise!”)

Title: Genbot
Log Line: A young woman discovers that she is part of a secret government operation that turns her into a cyborg.
Genre: Action-Comedy

Done Deal: Script and Pitch Sales

Lighting For Chroma Key Part 1 - DV Columns

Huzzah for the Rev. John Jackman whose vast production experience brings us this much needed article. This is an issue that constantly comes up on every video editing forum I'm a part of.

"How do I set lights for a chroma key?"
"Why does my chroma key look so bad?"
"Should I use green or blue?"

Long term readers of KingLeonard - The Weblog will recognise that last one as being of particular interest to the editorial team here.

"Another tale floating around the Internet is that green is better than blue for chroma keying with DV. This claim has some basis in reality (the luma channel is derived from the green channel), but the advantage is slight, certainly not the huge advantage that some self-proclaimed gurus say."

Lighting for Chroma Key Part 1

I'll post part 2 when it comes up.
As always, requires registration for their articles but it's well worth it for articles like this.

Come to think of it, I seem to remember this article from some time ago. It's quite likely that this is a reprint. Doesn't make the information any less valid.