Glenn's Junk Chest

An assortment of Glenn's writings, photography, gaming resources, flash movies, and other creative output.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Confusion: Confusion Quarterly, Summer 2005

Well, the inaugural edition of Confusion Quarterly is ready for press. I'll be printing a bunch tomorrow to hand out to friends at this weekend's festivities, but here's the PDF for those of you who won't have access. Enjoy!

The Front
The Back

Humor: Putting the Trilogies Together

Because the Star Wars trilogies were made non-chronologically, it's occassionally hard to figure out exactly how they connect, especially for those of us who watched them in their released order. Fortunately, a brilliant individual has put together an explanation that connects everything to my satisfaction.

Consider such gems as:
On first seeing R2, Obi-Wan has a twinkle in his eye and calls him "my little friend". Well, he is. However, when Luke wakes up and says that R2 claimed to be owned by an Obi-Wan Kenobi, he blandly says "I don't seem to remember ever owning a droid." Ben has in fact owned several but the remark is aimed at R2 and translates as "You keep quiet. I'm not about to tell him everything just yet."

Given his background, there is no way that Chewie would spend the crucial years of the rebellion as the second-in-command to (sorry Han) a low-level smuggler. Unless it's his cover. In fact, Chewie is a top-line spy and flies what is in many ways the Rebellion's best ship. The Millenium Falcon may look like a beat-up old freighter but it can outrun any Imperial ship in normal space or hyperspace, hang in a firefight with a Star Destroyer or outmaneouvre a dozen top-of-the-line TIE fighters. It's a remarkable feat of engineering and must have cost a colossal fortune to build. How does Han come to own a ship like that? He only thinks he does, actually it's Chewie's.

It suddenly seems so clear. (Many thanks to Kit for the link.)

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Fun: Google Tourism

Recently, Google Maps added world-wide satellite imagery. I've been taking shameless advantage to visit a bunch of places that I think might be interesting to look at from the air. After she saw what I was doing, my wife pitched in to help. Here are the fruits of our sojourns.

Eiffel Tower
The Great Pyramids (don't forget to visit the Great Sphinx too.)
The Arc de Triomphe
Niagra Falls
The Grand Canyon
Forbidden City
Epcot at DisneyWorld
Statue of Liberty
Golden Gate Bridge
Mt. Everest
Buckingham Palace
St. Louis Arch
Washington Monument
The Pentagon
Hollywood Sign
Mt. Saint Helens
Bristol Renaissance Faire
Cape Canaveral (Shuttle Launch Pad?)
Area 51
Red Square

Disappointing Trips:
Maybe at some point in the future these will be worth visiting, but right now you can't get in close enough to matter for one reason or another.
Sydney Opera House (inadquate photography)
Stonehenge (inadquate photography)
Capitol Building (deliberately fuzzed, sound dumb?).
Mount Rushmore (bad angle)
Taj Mahal (inadequate photography)

Undiscovered Country:
Great Wall of China (I can't find a section that's been adquately photographed.)

Time Travel:
Obviously all of this stuff wasn't photographed yesterday, and here's a few locations that show the time lag.
Twin Towers Site (before new construction)
Cape Girardeau's Mississippi Bridge (The new bridge is now finished, the old one gone.)

Other Lists of Locations:
Assorted US locations

Friday, June 24, 2005

Fun: Infographics Music Video

Exploded Escalator
I don't know how you feel about infographics. I've always liked them, especially the kind which use simple isometric iconographic illustrations. They fascinate me, especially when they're done well. Anyway, a colleague recently fowarded me a link to this music video for Röyksopp's "Remind Me". As near as I can tell, it's done by a production group called Machine Molle. They've got some other great videos on their site, but they're small. If anyone can point me at a higher-quality version of any of these videos, I'd really appreciate it.

(Link courtesy of Lin Wilson of Funnel Incorporated, who produces some pretty stunning Infographic work himself, and who has designed a lot of Clotho's collateral.)

Status: What I've Been Up To

So, as always, there's a bunch of stuff going on, and as always seems to happen in my life, when I start concentrating on one thing, other things fall by the wayside. I haven't been doing a lot of updating lately, which is a shame, as it's not because I haven't had anything to say.

But in the spirit of getting back into the groove of saying those things here, I thought I'd do a little bit of posting about what's been going on with me recently.

Gadget-wise, I've purchased a PSP, and am fascinated with it. In addition to having a couple of very nice games, it's potential as a piece of hardware is pretty broad, even though Sony has struggled to cripple it. While isn't supposed to allow you to run your own programs, people have now found workarounds for this for both the 1.0 japanese firmware and the 1.50 american firmware. I've got a copy of MAME, a GBA emulator, and a SNES emulator running on mine, as well as a chess program. Even without running your own programs it does still allow you to do a lot of useful things with the Memorystick Flash Card.

First among them, for me, is that it allows you to put your own video on the device. I've converted a number of Movies into the subset of the MP4 format it supports, and it rocks. The screen is bright and clear, the audio sync is good, and you can easily get an entire film onto a 512MB stick with acceptable quality. Sony, presumably worried about undercutting their own market for UMD movies, has hampered this capability a bit, however. The screen resolution of the device is 480 x 272, but the maximum resolution of video that you can play from a memory stick right now is 320 x 240 or 368 x 208. I prefer the latter format because it's the same aspect ratio as the PSP's screen, so video I compress that way is the right shape on both the PSP and while I'm working with it on my computer.

The PSP also supports JPGs and MP3s (without any obvious limitations), but it does not have a built in text reader, which is a shame, because the device makes a pretty nice book reader. In fact, there's a program for the macintosh called PDF2PSP which can easily convert a PDF into a series of JPGs suitable for viewing on the PSP. I've done this, and it works great.

Despite these limitations, however, the gadget community seems to be embracing the PSP's capability pretty enthusiastically. A lot of sites now exist where one can go to download content for a PSP, with more coming every week. I highly recommend if you want to keep up with every little thing, especially homebrew applications and emulators, and PSP|> if you're looking for podcast-style content such as videos, audio broadcasts or photo collections.

Anyway, my fascination with the video aspects of the device lead me to convert a number of my DVDs into PSP format so I could watch them on the go, and then I started thinking about our current direction at Clotho. We make a video converter as part of our MediaLandscape product line. Right now what is does is take output from a MediaSite box, and convert it into flash. I got to thinking that maybe there would be a demand for converting presentations so they could be viewed on the go.

So, I whipped together a quick set of proof-of-concept videos for the PSP, for a Palm-OS handheld, and my trusty Sharp Zaurus, and we sent them off with the folks who went to InfoComm and the Apple WWDC. For people who are interested, here's the flash version of the presentation I converted, and here's the file for viewing on the PSP. (If you can view MP4s, you might be able to watch it on your computer. On the other hand, If you are going to watch it on a PSP, here's the associated THM icon file.)

Reaction, so far, has been very favorable, and Clotho is now offering such conversion as a service, and is beginning to look at creation of a toolset for selling to people who want to do such conversions themselves. Neat, huh?