Saturday, January 27, 2007

Coming to you from Sydney

My colleagues in Sydney are hosting us while things get shifted up the hill. I find myself responding to a last minute call to come down to cover the team with tech/production support over the weekend. That leaves a small enclave of us sitting in an empty office (these guys are Mon-Fri only it seems) publishing bulletins and quaffing beverages.

Heh heh we're in ur base drinking ur tea!!1!

Hmm, doesn't have quite the same ring does it?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Final Transmission from Toowong

This is it! Our last night of production out of the Toowong Broadband studio. The updates are done, the equipment's being shut down and I'm busy mirroring our Unity partition so we can get back up and running as soon as possible once things are laced up in the new facility up the hill.

I know there's been a lot of problems with this site, not just the most recent one that's finally forced us to move, but I'm going to miss this place terribly. This was where I really started my career in TV, and no matter where I worked and how long it was between shifts, when I walked in it always felt like I was coming home.

Goodbye ABC Toowong.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Gotta Whole Lotta Links!

Been busy. Here's what's attracted my attention during the brief moments I've been able to lift my head above water.

First, some articles on news and Internet video.

"This is just the beginning of the local push. But surprisingly, local television is standing flat-footed while key local niches and their corresponding revenue pools are captured by the pure plays. In a few cases, stations are cutting content-for-revenue deals, but this is only a partial, case-by-case solution. In the next 2 to 4 years, if local TV doesn’t aggressively launch innovative new products into key local niches, its interactive revenue will plateau at a shockingly small share. So small, it will only scratch the surface in offsetting the decline in television ad revenue."

"Chatting with colleagues about "hyperlocal" journalism as the future of newspapers, I finally came up with the right metaphor for a phenomenon we all experience: that our interest in a subject is in inverse proportion to its distance (geographic, emotional or otherwise) from us.

For instance, the news that my daughter got a scraped knee on the playground today means more to me than a car bombing in Kandahar."

Nothing particularly new in Chris Anderson's idea, but the comments are worth a read.

"Station CEO Kevin Page says that making segments available on YouTube is easier and faster than burning DVDs of segments that viewers call to request copies of. It also allows viewers to subscribe and receive notices whenever a new segment is available. Page reportedly hopes to sell ads at the end of the segments in the future - we’ll see how that goes over."

Some guys at work had this idea last year that we should be putting all our news items on Google Video. I still think it's worth putting the files somewhere under your control, but I completely agree with the idea of making the video shareable.

Onto other topics...

Every year these guys ask the world's top thinkers to answer a question of relevance. This year, in a world that seems to be falling apart, they asked these people what they were optimistic about for the future.

While conventional wisdom tells us that things are bad and getting worse, scientists and the science-minded among us see good news in the coming years. That's the bottom line of an outburst of high-powered optimism gathered from the world-class scientists and thinkers who frequent the pages of Edge, in an ongoing conversation among third culture thinkers."

So long as we're in a thinking mood,

"My definition of an 'intellectual' also requires explanation. To me an intellectual in this context is an expert generalist -- a polymath or jack-of-all-trades who sees and understands the Big Picture both past, present and future. While I value and respect the work of specialists, they can be frustratingly out of touch with other disciplines and some of the more broader applications of science, technology and philosophy. Given the obvious truism that nobody can know everything, there is still great value in having individuals understand a diverse set of key principles."

Continuing his future thinking informal series on his LJ.

"Arphid ink. Or, rather RFID ink - Radio Frequency ID ink. Its existence was announced at the start of the week. Through some arcane method, information is encoded into a substance that acts as a RFID sounder and uses fine mammal hairs as its antennae...
Sooner or later, someone's going to get hold of RFID ink, and figure out how to encode it, and tattoo it on to themselves. They're going to walk around with complete knowledge of where and how often we get pinged for RFID tags -- and their tats will send a message back to those systems.

Silly-season newspaper story for 2012: anti-shoplifting systems at major stores will find their report documents filling up with the broadcasted phrase FUCK YOU.


Because IPTables is Fun!

"My neighbours are stealing my wireless internet access. I could encrypt it or alternately I could have fun.
I'm starting here by splitting the network into two parts, the trusted half and the untrusted half. The trusted half has one netblock, the untrusted a different netblock. We use the DHCP server to identify mac addresses to give out the relevant addresses...
we set iptables to forward everything to a transparent squid proxy running on port 80 on the machine.
That machine runs squid with a trivial redirector that downloads images, uses mogrify to turn them upside down and serves them out of it's local webserver."

Now that's clever.

Want to know where you fit into the political spectrum? Why not try the...

According to the table, I sit somewhere on the border between libertarian and liberal. Sounds about right.

And while we're discussing "Thinking So You Don't Have To...", here's what Ze Frank's likely to be doing after "The Show" completes its season this March.

"So Mr. Frank has decided since then to focus on feature films for his first foray into the mainstream. But don’t worry, netizens! He swears he’ll never ditch the Web."

My guess of "Internet Cult Guru" is a little off I suppose.

Now it's time for some fun. First up, because I love remix trailers so much, here's Casino Royale... starring Tom Hanks.

God as you've never seen him before.

Another comic to add to the list.

Every day it's the same picture. Only the text changes.

Onto the lists! First up, Maxim magazine's list of

Not sure I agree with all the clips they show, but there's some damn fine ass-kicking moments.

Continuing with the lists,

"There is a scene in Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men when Theo, the selfish and well-soused anti-hero, enters his cousin's luxurious London aerie and is greeted by two growling dogs -- Cerberus, anyone? -- guarding Michaelangelo's David, the left leg of which is held together by a bone-like steel joist. Theo then sits down to lunch beneath Picaso's Guernica and afterwards takes in the window view, which includes a massive reproduction of the cover of Pink Floyd's Animals.

It is a disturbing scene cluttered with art-turned-tchotchke. And When Theo asks his cousin, amid all this gratuitous opulence, how he lives without hope for the future, his cousin replies "The truth is, I just don't think about it."

Below, in top ten order -- but not including Children of Men (we practice a year's moratorium on adding anything to a movie top ten list) -- are Reel Pop's favorite dystopian films."

Includes GoogTube clips.

Getting close now.

Looking at the Original Trilogy in light of the Prequels.

"If we accept all the Star Wars films as the same canon, then a lot that happens in the original films has to be reinterpreted in the light of the prequels. As we now know, the rebel Alliance was founded by Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Bail Organa. What can readily be deduced is that their first recruit, who soon became their top field agent, was R2-D2.

Consider: at the end of RotS, Bail Organan orders 3PO's memory wiped but not R2's. He wouldn't make the distinction casually. Both droids know that Yoda and Obi-Wan are alive and are plotting sedition with the Senator from Alderaan. They know that Amidala survived long enough to have twins and could easily deduce where they went. However, R2 must make an impassioned speech to the effect that he is far more use to them with his mind intact: he has observed Palpatine and Anakin at close quarters for many years, knows much that is useful and is one of the galaxy's top experts at hacking into other people's systems. Also he can lie through his teeth with a straight face. Organa, in immediate need of espionage resources, agrees."

A wonderful High Dynamic Range image of the Tokyo Cityscape on Flickr.

Click on the image for access to the full picture.

And finally, everything I have wanted to say about this stupidity involving the supposed "horror and outcry" over the BDO's request to patrons to keep the Australian flag at home this weekend.

"I have many fond memories of my various Big Days Out: sooky Goths stomping around in the heat as their make-up melts in the lead up to Nine Inch Nails; disgusting sauce-covered Dagwood Dogs and loads of Hare Krishna nosh falling off pitifully inadequate environmentally-friendly plates; Frenzal Rhomb's gleeful destruction of comedy effigies of politicians; singing The Darkness' I Believe In A Thing Called Love with Andrew G in a brief moment of televisual infamy; and, of course, the music.

You'll note that not one of those happy reminiscences included "Being given a spray by brick-headed tools insisting I 'kiss the flag!' or face the consequences."

This is not about being "ashamed" of Our Flag, as so many quick-to-froth nationalists will wail. It is about admitting the connection between the flag and its use as a symbol of hate/anger/patriotism/whatever by a very ugly, but unfortunately very real, portion of our population. Commentators may call them "troublemakers"; pollies call them "un-Australian"; I call them "dickheads"."

And on that note I head back into my shell, preparing for the big move out of Toowong. Doubt I'll have any more to say for a short while.


Friday, January 12, 2007

New York Times Media Critic as Media Innovator | Beet.TV

Ignore the article, watch the video. In particular, listen to David Carr (and ignore Andy Plesser who feels a need to answer his own questions and sounds too much like Wallace Shawn to be taken seriously as a host - yes, I am aware of the irony in my condemnation given my agreement on what Carr says) (See Update). Now here's a guy who knows where things are headed and has already jumped on board to steer the train.

"If you look at TMZ, which does gossip, you've got text, you've got headlines and you've got embedded video. That's what people are becoming used to, is within that frame all forms of media expressed, each carrying bits of information that they consume at the same time."

"Consumer video works on the algorithm of the wisdom of the crowd; the crowd pushes up that which the like, so they like funny, they like lewd, somebody that does a lengthy exegesis on the Holocaust on video is probably not going to do all that great."

So internet video panders to the dumb? Not necessarily. Chris Anderson points to this quote by David Foster Wallace.

"TV is not vulgar and prurient and dumb because the people who compose the audience are vulgar and dumb. Television is the way it is simply because people tend to be extremely similar in their vulgar and prurient and dumb interests and wildly different in their refined and aesthetic and noble interests."

TV, YouTube, the quote stands equally.

[Update] Apologies should be made to Andy Plesser. I do enjoy his style of interview, and particularly his subjects. My comments were made while I was in a particularly foul mood.

William S. Burroughs Cut-Up Films

The 1960's avant-garde precursor to what's now mainstream. Thanks, Uncle Bill.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Video Survival Guide for Journalists

Some great advice from Chuck Fadely for journos trying to get into video. Explains some of the basic rules that cameramen have developed for decades, and even takes the time to explain why. Best of all is this line.

"SOUND is the most important thing in video."

Amen, brother!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

So little time, so many links...

And still no hard and fast decision I can hold onto as to where we're going now. Work has been stressful, frustrating and damned annoying. Things do seem to be heading somewhere, so maybe things are due for an improvement.

Luckily, I've had opportunity to discover a few fun links worth reading over the last week, so I'm taking the chance to get these up now.


First up, Clay Shirky has his say on why HDTV is not the Internet killer Mark Cuban seems to think it is. Hang around at the end to read the comments, including a rebuttal from Cuban himself.

"Cuban doesn’t understand that television has been cut in half. The idea that there should be a formal link between the tele- part and the vision part has ended. Now, and from now on, the form of a video can be handled separately from it’s method of delivery. And since they can be handled separately, they will be, because users prefer it that way.

But Cuban goes further. He doesn’t just believe that, other things being equal, quality will win; he believes quality is so important to consumers that they will accept enormous inconvenience to get that higher-quality playback. When Cuban’s list of advantages of HDTV includes an inability to watch your own video on it (“the complexity of moving HDTV streams around the home and to the HDTV”), you have to wonder what he thinks a disadvantage would look like."


Steve Safran from Lost Remote takes a look at what news organisations should be looking at in 2007.

"Now then, repeat after me: “I resolve to…”

etc, etc... A good read for anyone in the news industry, not to mention some of my colleagues given the likelihood of us all being stuck together in the same room from now on.


Business Week Online has a nice slideshow run through of the movers and shakers in web video in 2006. On offer, Ze Frank, LonelyGirl15, Amanda Congdon, Ask A Ninja, OK Go, Alive in Baghdad and U.S. Presidential hopeful Senator John Edwards. I have to admit, I'm a little surprised ManiacTV got in over Diet Coke and Mentos, Galacticast or French Maid TV.


Up next, a trio of interesting articles by Steve Bryant from ReelPop.

"To say more: Saddam's execution is, in a way, the third act in a postmodern story of hyper-visualization. The story began with an exploding skyscraper on national television, an event which some philosophers called the most significant symbolic act since the crucification of Christ."

"For the last year or so, videoblogs have been refreshing departures from the over-produced pap of professional media. And those amateur production values have left an indelible mark on the way we make content.

But the more often I watch videoblogs these days, the more often I'm struck by how everybody acts the same. Switching from a three camera setup and a boom mike to a webcam and backlighting doesn't necessarily make something more real. Sometimes, it just shifts the manner of artifice."

"For example, take local news. Local news has suffered from declining viewers for years... The reason? Probably a combination of lifestyle changes (longer work hours, etc) combined with a growth in news options: It's easier for me to read local news on the Web, for example, and see national stories on other programs. In other words, the mandate for local news is shrinking because the stations provide little value that can't be found elsewhere. Hence the exhortation by folks like Steve Safran and Jeff Jarvis that local news needs to go hyperlocal."


Next, David Lynch's interview in Wired.

"Wired: How do you feel taking your work onto the internet years ago has changed you as a filmmaker?

Lynch: Well, it's huge, because I like to conduct experiments.... And because of the internet I've learned about AfterEffects, Flash animation and discovered and fallen in love with digital video. So I just think that going onto the web was so good for me. It's just sort of starting, but it's a beautiful world.... I always like random access, and I like the idea that one thing relates to another. And this is part of the internet: It's so huge, that it is really an unbounded world. And I think that if we keep our thinking caps strapped on, we could find something beautiful out there in the ether."


Warren Ellis is back on his LJ after shutting it down because some nitwit sent him unsolicited fiction. He's been posting a few ideas about our modern "science fiction world."

"Me, I'm a science fiction writer. I stick facts together to come up with fiction. Over the last five or six years, people have been experimenting with implanting arphids into their bodies. So, me, I'm sitting here thinking about Boogle. Biological Google, taking soundings off the arphids stuck to my internal organs at the desktop in the morning, checking out my liver function and assessing my lung capacity. So I can sit in the pub and smoke more cigarettes and think some more about all this."


Douglas Rushkoff introduces us to a new term.

"There's a relatively new phenomenon occurring online these days - an illusion of populist group hostilitiy I've come to call "Sock Mobs," after the "sock puppets" people use to feign multiple identities in online conversations. It works like this:"


Today's episode of The Show, "Melancholy", grabbed my attention even more than some of the others of late...

not to mention the accompanying article from the NY Times (req. Reg.)


For a little fun, here's the early frontrunner for T-Shirt of the year.


And to finish up, here's a timelapse vid from "Dale" from the Wrigley Forums who did this "year in three minutes" production. Definitely worth hanging around to the end for something I wasn't expecting.

Best of all for Dale, the video made it into a TV ad for Dunkin Donuts after being seen on YouTube. Payment ensued. Congrats.


Back to work. This facility isn't going to move by itself. If I can swing permission I'll try and grab hold of a little outtake we shot yesterday while I was dressed up "Sith Lord style" pulling down power cables from the lighting grid. Then again, probably not.