Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Site Mods

Just a head's up to the first serious additions to this site in a while (other than the content of course... Well, maybe not).

Over in the right hand column I've added a Flash based links box from Blogbox. This little addition is still a work in progress. Now that it's in place I have to figure out what links I want to add. They've got a few cute open source site additions. Take a look.

Also over on the right, under the Site Meter visitor counter, is a little javascript widget from Surf Tail. The idea here is that it tracks people who are part of the Surf Tail network and mentions if they've recently been on your site. By following this tail it's supposed to enhance a like-minded community by allowing you to see other sites that may be of interest. This one's still up in the air and I'll be interested to see how it progresses.

KL out.

[UPDATE] Surf Tail's out. It was already on thin ice, but today it seemed to be doing weird things and not displaying properly so out it goes.

The French Democracy |

Via Boing Boing.

It's been out for a couple of days but I've only just had a chance to see it.

I've mentioned Machinima (using game engines to create video narratives) in the past, but this one kind of steps beyond what's been made so far.

Lionhead Studios has just released a new game called "The Movies". It's ostensibly a Sims type game where you play the part of a Movie Studio Executive, building the company from the early silent film days to the modern day. All well and good, but the fun part comes from the extras. It gives you the tools to create your own animated feature, complete with camera movements, characters, backdrops, music, etc.

From here on I'll let Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing talk about it...

The French Democracy is a political film about France's riots, made in machinima with the new video game The Movies -- a game whose objective is to make machinima films.

The French Democracy is a little rough around the edges, unashamedly political and one-sided, and could use some work on the pacing, but it's also a stirring piece of political filmmaking, created using a $50 piece of software intended to enable its users to become one-person animation auteurs.

Most machnima is silly, or porny, or violent -- but this is real political stuff, the kind of thing the First Amendment was invented for. It's a real milestone in machinima history.

UPDATE: I also remembered seeing something similar on another site and have just found it. Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, writes on his blog "The Long Tail" about his and his kids' initial experiences with "The Movies" and Machinima in general.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Two good articles

Well worth the time to read. The first, a fairly positive article about trusting your audience, in fact trusting humanity.

We are facing a war for the very soul of our culture, and the side on which you fall depends, in large part, on your view of humankind. It is the most unreported story of our time. If you trust people to generally get it right, then you've no fear of handing over to them the power that comes with knowledge. If, however, you trust that people will generally get it wrong, then you'll see value in protecting such knowledge and continuing the path of hierarchical order. This is a considerable challenge for each of us.

Of all of the revelations I've had since I was a boy, none has contributed to my sense of well-being like the knowledge that I'm not, nor do I have to be, perfect. In taking such a position, I've discovered that nobody else is perfect either, and that includes those further up the hierarchical food chain. The greatest myth of the Modernist culture is that the elite are closer to perfection than the rest of us, and as more people discover that this isn't true, our democracy will only get stronger.

and the other a more guarded and pessimistic article on something that's been bothering me for quite some time now, the fact that a small group, the telecommunications carriers, own the means of distribution and communication for the internet.

We need to stress how the pipe-centric view of the world is responsible for the crippled and asymmetrical "consumer" service the carriers call "broadband". By restricting upstream use of the Net and biasing service to downstream "content delivery", the carriers have effectively outlawed personal and small business enterprise on the Net. This is one area where the carriers have been persistently clueless and hostile to the Net since the beginning, and we need to call them on it...

These are ideas, of course. I present them forcefully because I believe we--the technical community--are being called to fight for a world we made and continue to make. And one which is under grave threat.

That threat appears in many forms, all of which are easy to blame and attack. But all those forms are expressions of a simple concept: that the Net is, above all, a system of pipes. Those pipes are in fact below, not above. They support a World of Ends, but they don't define it.

Unless we let them.

The future: They just don't get it | The Sydney Morning Herald

David Dale from the Sydney Morning Herald Entertainment Blog takes a look at downloading TV programs and how the network execs seem to have problems acknowledging it.

At a forum on the future of television last week, David Leckie, managing director of Channel Seven, was asked if he was worried about people obtaining programs via the net because they can't get what they want from mainstream TV. He said this: "OK, the world's gonna fragment, we know that, but have you seen how hard it is right now to download anything? In five, ten, 15 years nobody knows, but it's not affecting our audience, I can guarantee that. And the two or three people ... I'm sure they've downloaded and they're having fantastic fun talking about Desperate Housewives going to air real time right now in the United States but you know what? It's not really affecting our audiences."

There is just so much to say here, and I don't have the time to do it justice, from the media datacasting rules set up all those years ago to squash competition (of which broadband internet has bypassed), to the highs and lows of using BitTorrent, to the business model for making money from VOD.

Sam Chisholm, managing director of Channel Nine, was asked if viewers were alienated by the erratic scheduling of their favourite shows. He said there was "no evidence that it irritates viewers" and continued: "Maybe you do shift programs but there's no point in trying to ram down viewers' throats programming that they arguably don't want to see. So we put them on with the best will in the world, but if they don't work then we've got to move them to provide the best programming that they do want. If we did treat them with contempt we'd say well there it is, that's your lot, as they say in the garden program that's your blooming lot, get on with it, but we don't do that, that's why we're moving and shifting things and changing them."

These gentlemen are living in cloud cuckoo land. When this column reported last week that Nine was going to make viewers wait till next year to see the season finales of CSI, Cold Case, Without a Trace and The Closer, we received 327 emails expressing varying degrees of rage.

Here's what I don't get. They have content. Whether it goes to air or not, they have access to that content. They make money by letting people watch that content. Wouldn't it make sense to find ways to let people watch as much of the content they want to see as they can? Charge them for it or find new ways to integrate advertising? If there's issues in the arrangements for transmission of that content (can only be broadcast once, etc) then someone in charge needs to think outside the box when negotiation time comes round. The sooner these people stop thinking of themselves as TV stations and more as video/media distributors the sooner things will turn around for them.

But then, these are the same guys who told us a week ago that the future was TV, only smaller.

Here's a start.

Steve Safran, Managing Editor of U.S. TV blog Lost Remote had some great ideas on how to save the recently cancelled FOX show "Arrested Development".
(Editor's note - What is it with Fox and dropping innovative and interesting television programs? Says something about their audience? Their executives? Heaven knows the Simpsons hasn't been the same since they took more interest, and the less said about Firefly...)

Here’s what "Arrested Development" and its producers should do once they are are free of the network shackles and retake ownership:

# Offer the show online and on VOD every week for free
# Make it a free video podcast
# Seed Bittorrent with it.
# Set up a site that has all the shows right there, along with shorter-form content, ready to watch or download in all formats
# Have the cast blog - in character. Have them do video blogs and even live webcasts in character, too
# After each show, have viewers comment and then address their comments. Invite the best commenters to have a guest spot on the show
# Heck - invite fans to shoot their own fan-fic shows. Celebrate “AD” as the first open-source sitcom
# Web contests: “GET ARRESTED”! “George Bluth is hiding somewhere on the web. Clues are available both online and at geocaching locations. Find him, and you’ll be on a show - and not just in a cameo role - as the man who caught George!”
# Find a title sponsor, but for just enough money to make a dent in your budget.

Then comes the money:

“Arrested Development” is already a proven, strong DVD seller. Put out DVDs with all the extra content you’ve created on the web. Don’t wait until after the season is done: put out a month’s worth of shows every four weeks on one DVD.

After four weeks, the video podcast version will cost 99 cents. The VOD version will be 49 cents after the initial month, for the rest of the year. After that, older episodes will be just a quarter.

Invite premium membership on your site for unlimited archival access and free podcast downloads, in addition to direct access via chats with stars. Auction walk-on parts on eBay

It will be a phenomenal success. There is one warning, however: “Arrested Development” will make so much money that the networks will try to woo it back. Under no circumstances should the show make that mistake.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Adobe Forums - The English Language

Dag Norum over at the Adobe Premiere Pro User forum recites an interesting little poem on the intricacies of the Mother Tongue. Try speaking it out loud and see how well you do.

Dearest creature in creation
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I: Oh hear my prayer.

If you're not a member of the forums, just log in as a guest. Please note that this poem came as a result of some earlier discussions regarding the Canopus User forums. This should in no way serve as an indictment or comment on those forums or Canopus products.

Yahoo! The Super Network | Wired 13.09

Keep an eye on Yahoo! making a run up the inside against Google. In this interesting article by Josh McHugh from Wired we take a look at how the former search engine is making headway in the battle to be the one that controls the burgeoning video distribution and search market that's only a year away from exploding.

Returning home after a vacation in 2004, Andy Volk dumped his luggage in the hallway and settled into an armchair for an evening of his favorite shows: The Simpsons, Futurama, and The Streets of San Francisco. But when he called up the Now Playing menu on his TiVo, he discovered a couple of things he'd never seen next to the usual items. A friend who'd been house-sitting had loaded the DVR with a whole new world of television. At the top of the list was Dr. Terror's House of Horrors, something Volk, a product manager at Yahoo!, had never considered watching. He pushed Play. And he loved it.

Every so often, Volk would find that his TiVo had recorded another obscure gem. He told the story to his boss, Bradley Horowitz, senior director of Yahoo!'s Technology Development Group, and suggested that Yahoo!'s video search technology, then in the early stages of development, needed a house sitter of its own. Horowitz had to laugh. Since his days as a grad student at the MIT Media Lab, he'd been trying to develop a machine-based version of Volk's houseguest. If only a computer could grasp the appeal of a 1965 vampire fest.

Amen to that.


Sunday, November 27, 2005

"Wax Off" - Pat Morita, 'Karate Kid's' Mr. Miyagi, dies |

Via Boing Boing

I don't know many people around my age that wouldn't have wanted Mr Miyagi as a mentor. In fact, going back to his roles on Happy Days and even MASH, I can remember a great actor that showed a lot of heart. Sad to see him go.


William Burroughs' Naked Lunch as an Historical Document | Reality Studio

Interesting essay on Naked Lunch, William S Burrough's most well known novel. I'm looking forward to checking out the article when I get a moment, so this post is basically just a placeholder and link.

In the mean time, posted here more because in it I see shadows of my own country in recent times than as a commentary on the U.S...

A Thanksgiving Prayer, by William S. Burroughs

For John Dillinger
In hope he is still alive
Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 1986

Thanks for the wild turkey and the Passenger Pigeons, destined to be shit out through wholesome American guts

thanks for a Continent to despoil and poison —

thanks for Indians to provide a modicum of challenge and danger —

thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin, leaving the carcass to rot —

thanks for bounties on wolves and coyotes —

thanks for the AMERICAN DREAM to vulgarize and falsify until the bare lies shine through —

thanks for the KKK, for nigger-killing lawmen feeling their notches, for decent church-going women with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces —

thanks for "Kill a Queer for Christ" stickers —

thanks for laboratory AIDS —

thanks for Prohibition and the War Against Drugs —

thanks for a country where nobody is allowed to mind his own business —

thanks for a nation of finks — yes, thanks for all the memories... all right, let's see your arms... you always were a headache and you always were a bore —

thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams.

He always was such a happy guy...

Friday, November 25, 2005

Holographic-memory discs may put DVDs to shame | New Scientist

Don't forget, you heard it here first (other than all those other places that mentioned it. 33rd at most...)

Back in July the editorial team here at King Leonard - The Weblog made mention of Holographic storage as a new technology coming through to trump the bipartisan debacle that is HDVD/Blu-Ray. New Scientist reports that the first commercial product should be available at the end of next year.

"The discs... hold 300 gigabytes of data and can be used to read and write data 10 times faster than a normal DVD.
...the technique could theoretically be used to store up to 1.6 terabytes of data on the same size of disc and to read data at 120 megabits per second. This is 340 times the capacity of an ordinary DVD and 20 times the data rate."

A new kind of Vlog | Chasing Windmills

What is it about Minnesota in the U.S.? Is this state the innovation capital for video weblogs? Heaven knows there's enough of them.

A few thoughts on what I find so great about this. For the last ten or fifteen years we've been told, usually by marketing types and venture capitalists, that the internet is a global phenomenon, that a tiny shop in a small town can suddenly get access to customers around the world. Suddenly you have the ability to realise communities based on common interests rather than geography.

Fact is, we are kind of tied to our geography. It goes with being physical entities. So I find it wonderful that there has been a reminder in the last year or so that the internet is also a great way of communicating and sharing common content in smaller, geographically based communities. That's what I find so interesting about this scene. The people involved are happy to promote and assist each other, creating content that is of specific interest to a core community, with the added advantage of also being available to the rest of us.

On her personal weblog Amanda Congdon of Rocketboom fame made some comments regarding the state of vlogs, in particular personal vlogs. In her opinion (and I have to say I kind of agree) the sort of content we tend to see now ("A lot of the video blogs out there are by someone in their bedroom, half-awake.") will not be very palatable to a mainstream audience.

In other words, the majority of video weblogs (a genre still in its infancy with a HUGE potential) are just people making content for other vloggers. That's why it's nice to see something different.

Chasing Windmills is a semi-daily guerilla style series of short pieces, kind of half drama, half reality show, about a young urban couple that's starting to push what the genre can achieve. I have to say from the outset the stories don't really appeal to me but I find it enthralling to see the genre develop in this way. More power to jadelr and Christina Cordova for trying something beyond the norm.

Hang Up and Drive | Wired News

Social Commentary time, kiddies...

Praise be to Tony Long, copy chief for Wired News, for telling it like it is!

"One of the things that makes riding a motorcycle so dangerous is that the people out there in their cars don't see you. It's the first thing they tell you in motorcycle school: "Remember, drivers don't see you."

The instructors should consider adding another warning: "They don't hear you, either, because they're too busy yapping on their cell phones when they should be paying attention to what's going on around them." "

If you even occasionally feel like you need to make a phone call while driving a car, read this article and get it through your skull; PULL OVER AND GET OUT OF THE WAY! The road is an inherently dangerous place as it is without someone yapping away in a runaway metal and plastic missile.

Wired News: Hang Up and Drive

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Minnesota Stories | Family

Today's Minnesota Stories has an interesting piece on recording personal histories, in particular the history of your family. While it's a bit saccharin in places (as is to be expected when dealing with loved ones your audience doesn't know) it makes a strong point about the value of getting out your video camera and talking to your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, anyone that can help tell the story of where you came from. With recording, production, distribution and archiving facilities in the hands of the everyday person now more than ever we have an opportunity to tell the personal stories that matter to us for future generations to look back on.

Now I'm getting saccharin.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

In a losing race with the zeitgeist | Los Angeles Times

Patrick Goldstein of the LA Times has some interesting things to say about the falling position of the cinema in todays media sphere, and about the executives in charge who seem even more separated from their consumers than ever before.

"Hollywood needs a new mindset, one that sees a movie as something that comes in all shapes and sizes, not something that is wedded to the big screen. Studios have to do what record companies refused to do until they nearly went out of business: embrace the future.

People increasingly want to see movies on their terms, today on a big TV at home, tomorrow on an iPod or cellphone. It breaks my heart that people have fallen out of love with movie theaters, but if I were king, I'd start releasing any movie with multi-generational appeal on DVD at the same time it hit theaters, so the kids could get out of the house and the parents could watch at home.

The music business has already adopted this two-tier system, selling downloads and CDs simultaneously. TV networks are starting to do the same thing with their shows. It's only a matter of time before movies are forced to do the same. The day isn't far away — desperation being a great motivator for innovation — when a studio opens a blockbuster on Friday in theaters and on Saturday on pay-per-view (at $75 a shot) so fans could watch it with a bunch of friends at home."

It will happen. I'm no fan of HD at this moment, but the fact is that will take over the top end of video distribution. When it does and the average punter has set up their own personal cinema room, complete with widescreen or projector, surround sound system and comfy chairs, what need do they have for going out and paying all that money? Despite today's symbolic victory over download movie piracy (As Warren Ellis points out, "This would be because’s search engine is shite and no-one uses it, surely?"), the more they try and clamp down on maintaining antiquated models of distribution the easier they make it for the pirates to exist. Until you start following the "Path of Least Resistance from Total Boredom" and giving users the ability to consume your product ON THEIR TERMS then you're just making trouble for yourself.

They'll get there. And those that don't will make a song and dance about the death of cinema, and get all nostalgic and weepy about their film and cultural history, blaming everyone but themselves. Yeah, that's it. Blame someone else. It's the modern thing to do. - Murdoch and Trujillo in internet talks

The man whose company almost destroyed Firefly and the man who last week told us he'd shed 12,000 Australian jobs, got together to plan strategy (you'll notice that I hold the two events on an almost equal level of infamy).

Well, O.K., they just got together for a meet and greet, a cup of tea and some bikkies. Still, it's an interesting coming together of two very powerful men in the Australian Media/Telecommunications scene.

"The pair discussed the future of Foxtel, Australia’s dominant pay-TV platform in which Telstra has a 50 per cent stake and News Corp 25 per cent. Mr Trujillo has said he is keen for Foxtel to take advantage of technology to increase its market penetration.

However, both companies declined to give details of the outcome of the talks or what else was discussed.

Analysts believe they would likely have touched on the implications of Telstra’s announcement last week that it would launch a movie download service for broadband subscribers.

One analyst said: “The boundaries are being blurred so much it is hard to know what the opportunities are and for whom. Telstra needs movie content for its download services but, then again, Murdoch might be concerned that it could become a rival to Foxtel’s own movie services.” "

Monday, November 21, 2005

Star Wars: Episodes I-VI - The greatest postmodern art film ever |

An interesting view on the entire series, now that we're able to sit and watch the six episodes back to back.

"As literary critics have long pointed out, the arbitrary yoking together of events in the service of storytelling is one of the fundamental characteristics of all narrative. R2-D2 needs to hook up with Luke on Tatooine, just as Prospero's enemies need to wash up on the shores of his island, and Elizabeth Bennet needs to marry Mr. Darcy, for the narrative requirements of those stories to be fulfilled. The audience's willing surrender to narrative coincidence is demanded by the story's need to conclude itself.

But Lucas takes this self-consciousness about narrative artifice a step further: He makes explicit his theoretical interest in the mechanics of plot. As viewers, we take pleasure in the implausible events that must happen for the narrative contraption to snap shut in a satisfying way. But the characters come to understand that there is another agent, external to themselves, that is dictating the action. Within the films' fiction, that force is called … er, "the Force." It's the Force that makes Anakin win the pod race so that he can get off Tatooine and become a Jedi and set all the other events in all of the other films in motion. We learn that Anakin's birth, fall, redemption, and death are required to "bring balance to the Force" and, not coincidentally, to give the story its dramatic shape. The Force is, in other words, a metaphor for, or figuration of, the demands of narrative. The Force is the power of plot."

Australian IT - Govt to fast-track digital TV

So Senator Coonan is thinking about subsidising the sale of digital set-top boxes so they can free up that bandwidth by 2008? Problem is, there's only so many boxes you can sell with the marketing line "purty pictures, great for a TV set you probably don't own yet."

Here's the problem, and it's no secret. People don't want to buy set top boxes because it's too expensive for what's extra to watch on it (other than ABC2, but as fond of it as I am it's just not enough to get the crowds pouring in), manufacturers don't want to make more because no one's buying them, and content providers don't want to make content because no one owns one.


Ahem. Sorry.

So anyway, now that it's become obvious to the government what should have been obvious to all from the start, they're looking into handing out set top boxes to get people off the analog service.

"There is the issue of how you would get a consortium of retailers, consumers, governments and broadcasters to plan the switch-off," Senator Coonan said yesterday.

"Because one of the problems we have got is that the market-driven model won't work unless you (provide incentives).

"(The issue is) whether or not (there is) a cost-benefit of continuing to pay for analogue-transmission simulcast or whether it would be more cost effective to give a box to people who haven't crossed over."

But even that won't work. Want to know why? Let's go back to Mark Cuban's "Path of Least Resistance from Total Boredom". The more obstacles you put in the way of people, the more they're likely to look elsewhere for entertainment. That's what a set-top box is, an obstacle. You want to sell digital TV? Provide incentives for manufacturers to build the tuner into the set so it's exactly the same as their old analog receiver. If manufacturers keep selling analog TV's, or digital TV's with no inbuilt tuner, why would you bother? Especially with the rather ridiculous rules regarding what can and can't be put in the available bandwidth. Heaven knows content won't be the bait, and if "the King" can't drag in the customers, what can?

"Senator Coonan stepped away from the possibility of allowing free-to-air television to broadcast on multiple channels and all but ended any hopes for a fourth free-to-air television licence, saying she did not think it would be commercially viable."

Well yeah, a fourth TV channel would be suicide with our population, but maintaining the clamp on multi-channeling just stymies innovation. Then again, it could be argued that having to think outside the box engenders innovation, but we all know that any new ideas are likely to get stomped on...

" part of a digital action plan that will be the subject of a broad discussion paper on new media rules to be released next month ahead of planned legislation later next year.

The paper will also canvas options for relaxing cross-media restrictions, foreign ownership, the spectrum for so-called data-casting services that become available in 2007 and changes to anti-siphoning rules...

"The paper will have a very short consultation period that now formalises the informal consultations that I have had with industry," Senator Coonan said yesterday. "

Short consultation period? Well, that doesn't come as a great surprise. We're kind of getting used to that.

Steve Garfield's Video Blog: Amanda Congdon at the Corante SSA

Video by Steve Garfield, one of the most prolific vloggers out there, of Amanda Congdon talking to the Corante Symposium on Social Architecture held at Harvard law School about Rocketboom and how they view the input of their viewers. An interesting few minutes, even if the audio is shot.

:: Douglas Rushkoff - "Get Back In The Box" excerpts ::

Dougles Rushkoff prints excerpts from his upcoming book "Get Back In The Box." Links here so I can find them again easily in the future.


Great quote from Jeff Jarvis at Buzzmachine regarding Sony and their continuing debacle over DRM.

"CD? What’s a CD? They’re working so hard to protect a dead medium. It’s as if they posted a militia around a graveyard."

A Tale of Two Broadband Speeds...

"Web 2.0 is broadband. Web 3.0 is 10 gigabits a second."

But I'm still getting used to this version of the web...

Anyway, Reed Hastings, chief executive of online DVD rental company Netflix made this statement at the TechNet Innovation Summit recently, according to Yahoo! News. According to Reed, we're going to be seeing homes connected to the net at whopping speeds of 10Gb/s, introducing a glorious world of unprecedented choice and freedom.

Now for the flip side.

Same day as this comes out, we hear from our old pal, Mark Cuban.

Over the past 5 years, bandwidth to the home has grown from 300k for broadband to 5mbs, and in some cases even 10mbs. But that bandwidth is not dedicated per user. That bandwidth is shared. The number of users sharing that bandwidth has increased even faster than the size of the pipe. Thats not going to change...

So in a nutshell, at the very point in time when a rapidly growing number of consumers are going to be expecting programming at the highest possible High Definition bitrate, there isnt enough bandwidth to deliver it.

So which one do we believe? More to come no doubt.

dot mobile - Celebrated literary works as text messages

Things that amuse me vol. 2.

A U.K. company intends to start texting extremely compressed synopses of favourite literature works, purely for educational purposes of course.

"The scheme, which will be available from January 2006 offers dot subscribers concise summaries of classic works of literature in text format. The new service has been specifically designed to aid English students in both their choices of books to study and to serve as a valuable revision tool for exams.

The texts which are sent directly to subscribers handsets have been developed in consultation with Professor John Sutherland and his students exclusively for dot mobile and succeed in translating complex plots and quotes into easy to digest messages or little more than three or four lines of text."

Don't believe it? Check out some of these classics...

William Golding, Lord Of The Flies
NuclearWar-2boysRalph&PigyFormGrup2reviveOldCultr.Jack-oposnLeadrTaksR'sSuportersAway. MystryBeastOnIslandCauzsPanicBtSimonFindsOutTisOnlyAParachute.Jtries2kilRbtR's savd ByShipDat c's emergncySmoke.

John Milton, Paradise Lost

devl kikd outa hevn coz jelus of jesus&strts war. pd'off wiv god so corupts man(md by god) wiv apel. devl stays serpnt 4hole life&man ruind. Woe un2mnkind.

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
5SistrsWntngHsbnds.NwMenInTwn-Bingly&Darcy Fit&Loadd. BigSisJaneFals4B,2ndSisLizH8sDCozHesProud.SlimySoljrWikamSysDHsShadyPast. TrnsOutHesActulyARlyNysGuy&RlyFancysLiz.SheDecydsSheLyksHim.Evry1GtsMaryd.

'Lost' deal hatched for mobile

Via Lost Remote

Things that I love...

You take a hit TV show, "Lost", build in a bunch of characters that sit around the skirts of the main action, then use them to produce off-shoot stories for distribution on mobile phones. Good to keep in mind.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Off-Topic - Rocketboom or Pink 5?

Hotter low-rez internet video babe (and attitude plays a part here):

Amanda Congdon from Rocketboom?


Amy Earhart from Pink Five, Pink Five Strikes Back and the upcoming Return of Pink Five?

People who know me will understand that this sort of objectification is usually well outside the way I think of women, but I was just sitting here watching Pink Five again, thinking how similar the two were, at least in character, not intelligence. That prompted the question, which one do I find the more attractive? Should anyone drop by and have an opinion, feel free to do so.

To be honest, it's probably because in attitude they both remind me a lot of my wife whom I get back tomorrow night for another weekend.

Mobile TV the next frontier | The Australian

Despite Australian Soccer's night-of-nights (quick off-topic: I think we all realise that Kewell's "pass" to set up Bresciano for the only regulation goal of the match was just an almost-air swing. Another half inch to the left and we're thinking about four years time, trying to keep Guus from jumping on the first plane out of Sydney), last night the Australian representatives of free-to-air commercial TV, "Free TV Australia" managed to get the chief executives of the networks - Ten's Grant Blackley, Nine's Sam Chisholm and Seven's David Leckie, together to front advertisers and supporters to talk about the future of TV in this country.

Some interesting points brought up as to where these guys, the ones that have final say on this stufff, are willing to take Australian TV in the next five to ten years. The big mover? TV on your mobile phone;

"Mr Chisholm said Nine was involved in the trial of a new technology called DVB-H, which uses the digital TV spectrum to send normal TV channels to mobile devices. DVB-H, which is being tested in Sydney, is expected to provide a better mobile TV viewing experience than 3G mobile phones, which have limited storage capacity.

"The new battleground of this business will be mobility," Mr Chisholm said. "Radio taught us this three decades ago as they grew their business by mobility and the invention of the transistor radio." "

The problem is, these guys are still blinkered by the idea that TV is different to everything else, somehow superior, and that the only thing they need to do is repurpose existing content for the small screen using the existing broadcast schedule model. If you're going to take away some value (making the picture smaller) then you need to create some value to offset, like creating the option for video-on-demand. However in my opinion the big winner will be the one that looks beyond what they can produce as video and start making use of the technologies out there. By that I mean beyond just setting up websites as add-ons to TV programs. Of course, the question then is, if a TV company starts producing a website news service (online newspaper) or podcasting specially created programs (online radio) where do cross-media ownership laws come in? This may be one of those situations where the laws that once protected us may now, in a media world of almost unlimited reach, be holding us back.

ABC Game On | "Kafkamesto" - A Scholar Replies

Now this almost borders on hilarity.

Arrive at work, receive the latest edition of "Digital Bites", the ABC Broadband mailing list. The lovely Nicola Fern from ABC New Media publicity runs through this fortnight's changes and additions, including, to my surprise, a Flash game called "Kafkamesto" based on the works of 20th century Czech author Franz Kafka. As anyone who's read Kafka will understand, my immediate response was "huh? You did what?!?" Because what I really want to do is play a game where I've turned into a giant cockroach and my family only puts up with my disgusting presence through social duty. I want to play a game where I run around a nightmare bureaucracy to clear my name from a crime that was never even committed, let alone by me. I want to hate my father like he despises me!

"That's it!" I thought, "Let's get the kiddies understanding the hopelessness and absurdity of life as a 20th century man, struggling through personal neuroses and social anonymity!"

It turns out to be a pretty basic adventure game (turn left, turn right, click on the items, talk to the bad guys, everybody hates me...) so in that respect it was kind of fun.

The amusing part, to which this post makes specific reference, is an academic response from "Emeritus Professor Janusz Kazmierczak, Reader in Comparative European Literature, Columbia University, New York." It seems that the authors of the game contacted the good professor to assist with the intellectual elements underlying their proposal and add his name as a "technical adviser." His reply is printed on its own page.

My immediate response to his comments began with surprise and amusement;

"Let me make it utterly clear from the outset that I have no time for games. I abhor crosswords, detest puzzles and absolutely loathe rebuses and the like. Even as a small child, I purposely shunned all forms of schoolyard hi-jinks, instead preferring my own company and the adventures of Huck Finn or David Copperfield to indulge in. And now, as a cultural scholar somewhat reluctantly approaching his ‘twilight years’, I maintain nothing more than passing academic interest in the decadent cultural declinations of the so-called ‘PlayStation generation’ and their persistent idle pursuit of instantaneous reward..."

prodded cautiously through the jungles of disbelief;

"I still remain tormented by this experience albeit only through my loose association with the correspondents as detailed above. As one of Kafka’s own characters remarks in his novel Der Process, “The main thing is to ask questions…” And indeed the questions abound. Why did these potentially talented lads waste their time (and government money, no doubt) employing designers, binary coders and the like to manufacture such a trivial and pointless pursuit? Who would ever take the time to ‘load’ this game, let alone attempt to engage with it on an intellectual level, when there are so many unread stories and letters that any true scholar of Kafka still has yet to savour? I shall never know the answer to such questions, nor will I stay up late at night pondering them."

and kind of finished up somewhere sitting on the fence between the fields of whimsy and derision;

"Long before the silicon surge of seventies’ games such as Space Invaders or Super Ethnic Brothers sparked the jaded imagination of a generation of idle youth - the “X-ers” as I am reliably told - the world’s first interactive medium was still abundantly available, yet vigorously ignored. I am, of course referring to the book. Instantly accessible, readily obtainable; its ‘program’ relying solely on harnessing the inexhaustible memory and imagination of the user, rather than driven by the finite power of any external operating system.

So in conclusion, to those of you with serious academic intent and purpose, I recommend you ‘log on’ to the ‘wide wide world’ beyond your ‘desktop’ and ‘download’ a truly interactive experience by simply visiting your local library and reading a goddamn book."

A very funny read on a number of levels, and I'm still not convinced that the good professor doesn't have his tongue placed squarely in his cheek.

MICHAEL ROSENBERG: A year later, Palace brawl still too fresh | Detroit Free Press

Some people celebrate wedding anniversaries, others hold as solemn great moments of national pride. One of the things this weblog is supposed to talk about is hoops, and so I post remembrance to the defining moment of last year's NBA season, "the Brawl" (or "The night Artest snapped once too often").

Journalist Michael Rosenberg reminisces on his part in the events:

"You know the guy Artest went after? I was the guy next to that guy. On the video replay, you can clearly see me, the stunningly handsome guy who looks like he's soiling himself.

...I instinctively took a couple of steps back; in the confusion, I guess I thought I was at an NHL fight and didn't want to be the third man in. Then I took a step forward and the following thought popped into my head:

I should step between them and break it up.

...I didn't try, because one rule of journalism is that you aren't supposed to become the story, and one rule of life is that you shouldn't volunteer to get the snot beaten out of you."

Lest we forget... whatever.

The Challenge has been laid down... |

Tom Coates (formerly of the BBC, now starting his new job at Yahoo) through his site talks about Google's new Beta launch Google Base, a central site for people to upload their content to make it more easily accessible and searchable.

"From a personal perspective, I don't quite get it - there's no obvious reason I can think of for an individual to post a recipe to the service - but from a business perspective it's really interesting. Basically it's a complete circumvention of the problems with the Semantic web which abandons decentralisation and microformats completely. If your company has a database of things (whether that be products or pictures or weblog posts or news articles or whatever) that it represents on the web, then Google Base suggests that you should not wait to be spidered and nor should you expect them to do all the heavy-lifting to work out what your site is about. Instead, you just bulk upload all your data to Google directly and associate each entry with your corresponding page on the web..."

"It's not all positive for the businesses or start-ups, of course. It consolidates the idea of Google or a parallel search engine as the definitive place to find out information of any kind (rather than the local brand that you usually associate with events, restaurants or whatever). And that kind of corresponds to a larger question about whether Google is gradually and systematically eating the web."

The fun part comes at the end when he lays down a challenge to his old employers at the British Broadcasting Corporation.

"My old colleague Mr Biddulph (who has been freelancing for the BBC for a few months) and Mr Hammersley (of RSS, web services and utilikilt infamy) have been working on a representation of the BBC Archives Infax database for a few months. They've written about it in two pieces: The BBC's programme catalogue (on Rails) and Hot BBC Archive Action. So why not make this content more explorable and searchable (and help define the way the web understands TV and radio programming) by bulk-submitting the entire massive database to Google Base? That would be an extraordinarily interesting move..."

An interesting move indeed. Let's see if there's a response...

While we're at it, he had an interesting article yesterday on whether "subscription media" via technology like podcasting will kill streaming video, or even, as he posits, broadcast.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Monday, November 14, 2005

Things that annoy me

Political rant. Nothing spectacular or life-changing, just a few things that have bugged me today.

First up, the NBL's promotional game in Singapore (and I'm not mad because my team got beaten) when the Singapore government is about to hang an Australian citizen. Yes, the kid got busted bringing drugs into the country, yes he should have known the repercussions. As Australians we live in a country that believes that Capital Punishment is wrong, legally and morally. Why, then, would the NBL send two of their teams to this country for promotional purposes?

I know that a lot of people believe that Sports and Politics don't mix. That one should not be used to gain ground on the other. I don't agree, mainly because this goes beyond being a political issue. As an ethical issue I believe that it's well within the player's right to say that they will not play there, whether it's basketball in Singapore or Cricket in Zimbabwe.

I'm just disappointed that there hasn't been more made of this is all. Perhaps it's because hoops in this country has such a pathetic marketing department they figured they'd do whatever it took to get some eyes on them.

Second, a few comments from NewsCorp bigwig Rupert Murdoch when questioned on their new internet acquisitions.

Having just mentioned the companies that NewCorp have bought recently, such as, and the kind of demographic using these resources, he had this to say;


"These are the very people traditional advertisers find difficult to reach in traditional media.
… With them, we now have the opportunity to reach and target mass audiences both on and offline."

Why does it always have to be about exploitation? I'm not naive, I understand the way business works. It's just that I hear terms like "folksonomy" and "Web 2.0" and how the hacker/post-modernist mentality of deconstruction is allowing citizen authorship and a cultural shift, but all I see is the same thing; "Show me the money!"

Sorry. In a bit of a down-mood today.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Aaah, sweet context...

What a week it's been so far.

Normally I'd write this sort of personal account on my LJ, however given that I've decided to start usng that for other purposes I'll be venting here.

There's something to be said for the cold grip of aged adrenaline. It's a queezy, sickening ice cube that sits somewhere between your stomach and your balls, causing you to start at every shadow and every sound. Whoever said basketball is not a physical game is working without a clue. Unfortunately it can also be a game that brings out the idiots and the schoolyard bullies.

Monday night was the regular Veterans League over 35's game at Carina. Our team, the Turtles (the name alone should give you an idea of how seriously we take all this), was ready for another fun event to start the week with a bang. W play a physical, yet fair, style of play, knowing that not even the refs take the game too seriously. So it was a bit of a shock when the first play of the match had one of our guys and one of theirs tangled up together, with our guy being shoved to the floor.

I am a man not given to violence. I abhor displays of machismo and testosterone-laden stupidity. There was a time when something like that would have had me going over to our guy, picking him up off the floor and ignoring the other team. However, one thing I realised playing with my old team is that once you are on that court you are bound together; you need to trust each other and stand up for each other. it sounds kind of stupid, but I guess it's kind of like, in an insignificantly minor way, the bond that builds between soldiers in a war zone. You need to know that you can trust the people around you when push comes to shove.

And while it didn't quite come to shove (at least not with me) I felt obliged to stand up and say "not on. Not with my teammates. You attack one of us you attack all of us."

O.K., maybe I didn't say all that, but the squared shoulders and the stare kind of made my point for me.

I don't know what it is that can turn some grown, mature men into school kids. the rest of the game was spent with taunts and threats of carpark violence. Just pathetic. However, the best bit of the evening was that we came back from a deficit, took the lead and held it in the last minute to score the win. The worst bit? Smallest player on their team, with the biggest mouth, misses the game winning shot just before the buzzer. Grabs our guy who's been the target all game and throws him to the floor. A one week ban from the ref means he ain't playing next week.

Adrenaline's fine in the moment, but knowing that you've just come off the court with a bunch of guys who not ten minutes before were ready to king-hit anyone in a black and red singlet kind of applies the freezer to the breadbasket.

Went to bed sweaty and couldn't sleep (partly residue adrenlaine, mainly running around in near-Summer humidity all night).


The worst possible thing you can say when you wake up and look at your alarm clock;
"That time I'm looking at right now. That's the time I'm supposed to be at work."

Welcome to Tuesday.

Lunch and a meeting with the new Head of Development for ABC New Media, Dan Fill. Looks to be a cluey guy and it should be good working with him (even if he is Canadian ;-p ).

Coffee after work with Col who's just back from a three week holiday to Middle Earth. He and Kel spent the whole time scoping out locations from the movie. I'm now looking forward to having a large dollop of the "Kiwi Fruit Chili Sauce" he brought me back.


Second worst thing you can say when you get up in the morning;
"You mean that front door's been open all night?"

Batting 0-2.

It's all because I tend to fall apart when I'm by myself. Ellen is spending three weeks at a Pain Clinic trying to deal with the ongoing nerve issues with her cheek. As a result she needs to stay at a hospital as an inpatient for the Private Health cover to pony up the dough. As a result I'm spending my weeknights alternating between visiting her in the hospital and heating up pre-cooked dinners.

I really miss her. I can't wait for the weekend when I get her back for three nights.


The one shining light is my new purchase. After much searching I am now the proud owner of the first (and only) series of the Joss Whedon production "Firefly." This is the series that leads into the recently released movie "Serenity." As a result I now find myself getting to know the characters in that wonderful manner which makes Joss Whedon such a gifted storyteller, learning the backstory and the motivations that play out in the film. I'm already telling people, after having watched 4 episodes, that it's the best TV show ever made. I'm loving it that much.

Enough! Time to go and pull my pre-cooked dinner from the oven and enjoy another episode!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

New Beginnings in "New Media"

Tomorrow is another week. Another fun time back at the coal face playing with the cutting edge stuff; the stuff that only a few people will actually get to, or feel obliged to, see. The fact is, compared to the mainstream media forms the stuff we do on the internet has a pretty small following. The stuff we do for Broadband connections is even smaller. But that's not the point.

Every now and again you get the chance to be a part of something that really feels like it's part of something bigger. To this end, I've had the opportunity recently to be a part of a pilot project for an enhanced online presence for one of the ABC's flagship programs. Said pilot was shown to the powers-that-be through the week and, if what I'm hearing is right, it will be unleashed upon the world tomorrow night.

I don't want to say too much because at this point I believe it still hasn't been officially announced, and for all I know between now and then sanity will ensue and we'll be given a little more time to sand off some of the rough edges before it gets its debut.

What I do want to say is this. This little project is not really groundbreaking from a user perspective. It's not in the same area as the BBC's Annotatable Audio Project I linked to last week. This is not some new and exciting way for users to interact with media. In fact, from a user's perspective it's really no more exciting and innovative than a DVD. Where this project excites me, and it's only something that I really came to understand last week as it was being demostrated, is in the creation.

The ABC does its fair share of Broadband Specials, in particular the 4 Corners specials, based in a Flash interface. If you have the time and the connection, check them out. They're really well made, solid, sturdy and really quite pretty. Where they fall down is in the time, energy and budget it takes to get them up and running.

The project I've been working on allows the program makers to start thinking about creating additional online content every week, supersizing every show they make, without the need for huge additions to staff and budgets. It's highly template based, where the standard shell sits in its spot on the web page and the producer just fill it each week with whatever's relevant and useful. With the ABC's encoding and publishing software in place all of a sudden it makes it easier to create content rather than spending time integrating and coding, and when it comes down to it people come to sites for content, not because they're well coded (but that's another argument for another time). Moreover it means that the TV editors start thinking about preparing, creating and submitting this content without making it difficult and time consuming for them. That way their part in the project doesn't just revolve around broadcast time.

I want to stop for a second and make it quite clear that my part in this has been kind of incidental. However, I'm glad to have been a part of it if only as a learning experience and to make me realise how fortunate I am to be working with some of the most innovative media professionals in the country. Congrats to Jess Daly, Martin Southgate and Tim Madden for bringing the proposal to fruition and for opening my eyes a little about what I'm part of.

[Edit]This item was held over until now because the finished product needed to be given the official thumbs up to be shown to the public. You can find the page for the "WIlliam McInnes Australian Story Special" that I'm talking about right here.

Comment Spam

In a bid to deal with the occasionally overwhelming comments spam that I have to keep clean I have activated Word Verification. That just means an extra step on the unlikely chance that anyone feels a compulsion to leave a real comment.

That is all.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


While hardly as cerebral as the Planarity Flash game I mentioned a few months ago, this one's definitely more addictive.

Current high score 1998.

"Stimmhorn" | Rocketboom

You ain't never heard yodelling like this before. Captured by Rocketboom's "German Field Correspondent", Stefan M Seydel, this clip shows a different side to the ancient Teutonic artform, sounding more like Mongolian throat singing than your average Bavarian Oktoberfest Polka.


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Return to Bug City - over at my LJ!

Betchya didn't know I had one of those, huh? That's because I've used it three times since I created it, which I did basically to give me an identity to comment on other LJ user's posts without signing in as "anonymous."

Well it's time to start using it for something worthwhile. I'm ready to start running my Shadowrun sequel "Return to Bug City." As such, I'll be using it for information dissemination, stories and reviews of gameplay.

I didn't want to use this account for that sort of stuff. This place has a different purpose, i.e. Spam catcher! Drop in and have a look as the game starts up.