August 2005 Archives

links for 2005-08-31


Rolling into a Store near you


Namco just announced that
We Love Katamari has gone gold, and is on track for a release worldwide on Sept. 20th.

Katamari Damacy 2: We Love Katamari (PS2)

Animation Safety


Simpsons criticized for lack of safety messages

Researchers "suggest that the growing number of children ending up in hospital after accidents may stem from them acting out scenes or behaviours -- such as eating poisonous berries, getting electrocuted or not wearing a seatbelt in a car, -- that they have seen on cartoons."

My main problem with this is that the shows are quite clearly cartoons. Why single out animated works as lacking in the proper safety messages? Take a look at the live-action television shows (such as sitcoms) and kids' movies -- those severely lack in safety messages. Gates for pools, bike helmets, and yes, even seatbelts are often not included on-screen.

Movies, television and animation don't exist to depict an accurate portrayal of the world -- and it is folly to expect real-world safety devices to be shown when the inclusion (or exclusion) will not substantially alter the plot or story.

That's not to say that media doesn't have an impact on our lives. It most clearly does -- but to safety proof every message that can be interpretted in animation is to hold animation to a higher standard than can be realistically expected from any other media form out there.

5D or 20D?


In an article entitled
Canon EOS 5D or 20D?
, Bob Atkins examines the merits of both cameras, coming to the bottom-line conclusion that:

  • If you're an ultratelephoto fan and tend to shoot all your zoom lenses at maximum extension as well as hauling around the longest telephoto lens that you can afford and carry, then you may well be better off buying an EOS 20D than an EOS 5D - at least you'd have an extra $2000 to put towards those big lenses!
  • If you're a midrange shooter with a good selection of lenses so you have all your focal length needs covered, you'll get higher technical quality images from an EOS 5D than an EOS 20D. If you make your living from photography, perhaps selling stock or doing editorial work, the full frame EOS 5D could well be worth the higher cost.
  • If you're a dedicated wideangle shooter who can never get a wide enough lens and can't live without the coverage of a circular fisheye lens, then the 5D might make you happier than the 20D.

A Tale of Two Beta Accounts


How To Meet Women Playing Warcraft

The title of the article is quite misleading, as the woman involved was already attached to the man, and the article might be more accurately called "How to not lose your fiancee playing the World of Warcraft beta and make money doing it".

Free Career in Game Development Seminar


Received in the e-mail today:

Advancing Your Career in Game Development: The Women's Perspective

September 10, Seattle

Learn how to break in and advance your game industry career, in four panel discussions with top experts in the field. This seminar will provide useful information for women and men, as well as new and veteran game developers.

More details in the extended.

links for 2005-08-24


Eating on the go


Water Waste


For the last 6 hours, one of the toilets in the men's bathroom at work has been in a state of continual flush. Now, given that the toilets here dump 6 liters of water per flush, I'd say enough water has gone through over the last 6 hours to supply a small third world country for a day.

Apparently, a plumber has been called (but not yet arrived). It will be upsetting to me if it is still in the state of continual flush tomorrow.

Plugging Lifehacker


I keep Lifehacker on my RSS feed and read it pretty much daily. Today
Lifehacker has a great article called
Saving Money with Coupon Codes and Rebates
, which features a listing of sites and forums where coupon codes and rebates are posted. I use a site called dealnews (which isn't listed) for most of my electronics bargain hunting.

It also has a handy article on Turning DVDs into Audiobooks.



Previously I blogged about the industrial grade Sushi Master 3000, but now it seems someone has made

Home Sushi Machines
consisting of the Maki Rice Roller and the Nigiri Rice Press. Personally, I don't think that making nigiri by hand or using a bamboo mat to make rolls is too difficult, and certainly does not deserve $90 for machines that seem to me to be the equivalent of a plastic mold press.

Canada violates US mad


New Canon Cameras


kwc beat me to posting about the announcement
of Canon's new EOS-5D digital camera, but the 5D is rather blogworthy, and is going on my wishlist as the successor to my 20D.

The really cool feature about this camera is that the sensor is full-frame (a feature which had previously been restricted to Canon's top-of-the-line EOS-1D series). Interestingly enough, Canon also released the EOS-1D Mark II N, a superfast version of their old EOS-1D (surprisingly, this 1D appears to not use the full-frame CMOS sensor in the EOS-1Ds Mk. II).

Co-Writer of Toy Story and Pixar's Head of Story Dies


Joe Ranft, Pixar Animation Studios' head of story dies in car accident

"Joe Ranft, Pixar Animation Studios' head of story for more than a decade and a cornerstone of the company's creative team, died Tuesday when the car he was riding in plunged into the ocean after running off the road in Mendocino County, Calif."

All the Pretty Horsepower...


I've been in the Bay Area for 12 years now and I've never walked across the Golden Gate Bridge until yesterday.

I heard rumblings of 60 Ferraris Thundering Across The Golden Gate, so I arrived early and scouted the bridge for a good place to take photographs. The day was overcast and foggy, which made for a nice backdrop.

Unfortunately for me, the Ferraris were headed Southbound, which meant that as a pedestrian on the east side of the bridge, I had to shoot over northbound traffic and over the guardrails. (I'm SOOO going to add a stepstool to my camera gear). The official event photographers were on the west side of the bridge, decked out in bright orange construction jerseys with the videocamera crew right beside them.

The first thing I noticed before the Ferraris showed up was that the Southbound lane had just suddenly cleared. It's an eerie sight when there's no traffic in one lane of the Golden Gate. A lone motorcycle cop, followed by a truck and then a procession of Ferraris. They arrived, one after another, and then, 5 minutes later, they were gone.

I knew where they were headed, of course -- the St. Francis Yacht Club. I walked back to my car and drove down there, finding parking across the street (I love my car -- it's the perfect size for pesky San Francisco street parking). I saw a couple of Ferraris turn into the parking lot just as I was crossing the street. The cars were parked in front of the St. Francis Yacht Club, where dozens of people, photographers and passerbys were looking upon these exotic cars with marvel. There were just a couple of the older ones -- most were the newer models, but the few classics there really stood out. I overheard one guy say into his cellphone "I took as many pictures as I could before I ran out of space on my camera". I used the philosophy of "take pictures of everything". I stayed until the Ferraris started up and began to get arranged for their trip down South to their next stop: Los Rios College.

Flickr Photoset: Ferraris crossing the Golden Gate Bridge

links for 2005-08-18


Jumping the Gun


Preorders are now being taken for the
Playstation 3 on Amazon
, as well as the
XBox 360.

links for 2005-08-17


What would you do for a $50, 4-year old, used iBook?


iBook sale erupts in chaos, stampede

This story has been covered in the media, and it's quite amazing (at least to me) how insane people got about it. Someone is even selling an
Henrico County T-Shirt on eBay

The chaos that this essential computer giveaway caused will likely be felt for years to come, as municipalities reconsider their methods for selling surplus equipment to the public. For Apple, this event is a PR nightmare -- while it clearly shows that demand for a cheap laptop computer is there, to be associated with the chaos is not a good thing.

S.F. Asian Film Festival


9th Annual San Francisco Asian Film Festival

A good mix of film genres in there. Sadly, I found out about it too late to be able to see the one I really wanted to see, which was A Placed Promise in Our Early Days.

There's also plenty of Japanese horror movies in this festival, which aren't really my thing.



Have you noticed the price of gasoline at pumps lately? It's getting to be pretty close to $3 a gallon for premium these days. That's still cheaper than most of rest of the world, but it's definitely going to be having a big impact over the next couple of years. California, in particular isn't the best suited place to deal with a oil crisis -- our lifestyle is so intertwined with cars that our modern habits have influenced greatly the architecture and planning of the cities we live in. As the cost of gas rises, consumer spending drops (mainly because people don't want to buy new big ticket items like cars), and inflation goes up.


China is in the middle of an oil crisis
where they are exporting fuel out of their country because the prices are even higher.

What do I think? I think we're all going to be cursing the cars we drive as gas prices exceed $3 and head for $4, and until the time waiting at the pump equals the time wasted by public transit, things won't balance out.

The Future of Game Distribution


Microsoft Selects Exent Technologies as Worldwide Digital Distribution Partner for PC Games

One of the major problems the games industry has had to deal with is the issue of piracy. Unlike other physical goods, the nature of the software allows itself to be copied and duplicated perfectly and cheaply. In order to protect things from being copied, various techniques were developed to discourage duplication, but as anyone can tell you, for evey ingenious copy protection scheme written, there were hundreds of programmers ready and waiting to break it. Some even took it as a challenge to crack the "unbreakable".

This went on for the last 20 years or so, until the use of the internet became widespread. It started off slowly, with third-party companies offering use of servers and proprietary connection protocols to connect players up, and eventually subscription based online games like Ultima Online and Everquest grabbed the attention of gamers.

Massively Multiplayer Online Games are great revenue generators -- people have to pay to play, and they can count on the revenue being mostly constant. It's a good way for the publisher to get most of the money while cutting out the middleman. The downfall of this particular model is that a lot more content is required to make sure that gamers feel they are getting their money's worth of gameplay.

There is an increasing divide between Publishers and Game Developers these days, publishers feel games are too expensive and risky to develop while game developers feel publishers take too much of the profits from the success of the game. Now the trend is for small studios to attempt to cut the publisher out entirely by having online purchases of their game via direct download. Valve, the studio behind the very successful Half-Life series of games created STEAM, an online distribution (and authetication) system for their games.

Which brings us to Microsoft's latest announcement of using Exent to do online distribution of their games (or to be more specific, of their old discount bin games). Microsoft is big enough to do their own publishing of games, so why go this route? It's simply cheaper. There's no excess inventory of games, no need to print game materials or press CDs, and there's no need for the customer to go into the store and purchase the game. It's an ingenious move for games that are already retailing for below the $20 mark in stores.

I think that the traditional distribution system of stores (an absurdly large percentage of game sales comes from Wal-Wart) will continue for quite some time, but as broadband cost decreases (I mean think about it -- the bandwidth equivalent of the DSL line you've got running into your home for $25 a month would have been $200+ a month 10 years ago), distribution of things online will increase and eventually be the way one gets their games.

links for 2005-08-16


links for 2005-08-13


links for 2005-08-12


links for 2005-08-11


links for 2005-08-10


links for 2005-08-09


SDCC 2005


I finally got around to putting up the photos from the San Diego Comic Con online.

A few highlights:

Bruce Campbell

Cast and Crew of Battlestar Galactica

Cast and Crew of Stargate SG-1

Book: The Da Vinci Code


Yesterday, I finished the Da Vinci Code. The Da Vinci Code is your basic murder mystery with a heavy dose of Knights Templar, cryptology and art history thrown into the mix.

I think Dan Brown's writing is above average, but I think one of the key ingredients to the book's success is just how filled with conspiracy the book is. He ties everything he possibly can together. The frequent jumps between characters and the short chapters make it ideal for a movie adaptation.

When I read a book that is wildly successful, I want to figure out what makes it so. Within the book, The Catholic Church and the Vatican are painted as the bad guys, and Christianity is portrayed as a subversion of Jesus' ideas. The ideas presented within the book have lead to the real-world Vatican to appoint an archbishop specifically to debunk the book.

Who would have ever thought a pop fiction thriller could garner the attention of the Catholic Church?

links for 2005-08-06


links for 2005-08-04


links for 2005-08-03


links for 2005-08-02


Blizzard North Closing


It would appear that Blizzard North studio has closed up shop, according to this press release, which announced the closing of my former place of employment.