Trygve.Com > Diary > JournalWeblogDiaryWhatsis - November, 2002
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November 2002
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another bar scene

because ... well ... why the hell not ...?

it's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it.

Sunday, November 17th


Where have all the Websites Gone:

Where have all the websites gone?
Long time pinging
Where have all the websites gone?
Long time to load
Where have all the websites gone?
Dot-Gones had them, every one
When will they ever load?
...when will they ever load?

I was in a computer store the other day and overheard one of the salespeople suggesting that one should think of "computer years" as being like "dog years": one year of a computer's age is like seven years of a person's age.

He might have had the right idea, but I think he had the species wrong. "Gerbil years" is probably a better approximation, though part of me is leaning more towards "nematode years" as being the more accurate animal model. (But don't worry, no animal testing was performed as part of the writing of this blog entry.)

Not that computer hardware necessarily dies as it gets older, most of the time they just stop being supported by the manufacturer. I'd just been trying to get a bios update for a Soyo mainboard and noticed their download section included an area labeled ("Downloads for Very Old Products" which includes obsolete, no-longer-supported boards like the KT266-based DDR SY-K7VDA, which was released all of a year-and-a-half ago. When I started tinkering with fibre channel, I ran into the same problem: it looked like many products were supported only slightly longer than the time it takes to ship them by UPS ground.

Looking at the documentation and driver installation CDs of the fibre channel host adapters I'd gotten from Emulex and Interphase, I note that the original copyright date is 1999. That's a few years ago now, but it's not like 1GBps fibre channel is completely obsolete just because 2GBps is out. At least for the models I'd been playing with, neither Emulex nor Interphase had ever released drivers that worked under Windows 2000, which is what I'm using on the video editing systems these days. Windows drivers were only available for NT4, and I never got those to work under Win2k. (I did eventually pick up an HBA of similar vintage from QLogic, and that did have current driver support and worked immediately with no problems. Yeah, QLogic!)

At one point I was trying to set up a Vixel Rapport 4000 fibre switch and discovered that, in the intervening year or three since Vixel had produced the particular unit I was working on, they'd eradicated all reference material for it from their website, leaving only their press releases on how cool and state-of-the-art a product it was. Even if I didn't actually coax the switch into working, at least it was nice to know that I had a high-end, state-of-the-art rack-mount shelf.

Granted, Vixel wasn't the original company to produce the Rapport 4000; it was originally produced by Arcxel, and then produced under the Vixel name after Arcxel was acquired by Vixel, but, personally, I don't think that's a good enough excuse. In contrast, I have terminal servers by Xylogics, Bay Networks, and Nortel that are all the same model, just different case colors depending on who'd bought whom at the time, and they've been supported throughout all these corporate transitions. That's certainly preferable to the situation with the Rapport 4000 where Vixel has removed all their documentation from their website and Arcxel's old website is simply gone, without so as much as a forwarding address left behind.

Not that it couldn't be even worse. The other day I was looking for some details on the specifications of DAT and DDS media and seeing what I could glean from the various manufacturers' websites. One such manufacturer was KAO Infosystems; however, going to their (former) company website greets you with the promise of "free live webcams" and various sample pictures of a woman taking off her shirt.

live nude fileservers!

Now I'm a fairly open-minded sort; if KAO's customer service representatives find their jobs to be more fulfilling if they disrobe while answering technical questions about their products and manufacturing processes, I'm okay with that--but I still want those answers, and I didn't see any sign of reference materials on 4mm tape format specifications either in the room with her or being revealed seductively as she slipped off her blouse.

KAO is certainly not the sole example; more than a few companies and organizations have had their websites replaced with ads for porn sites or automatically-generated pages that spew a stream of pop-up ads for internet casinos in the hopes that, if they can just be the one to crash your browser--or, better yet, your whole computer--you'll abandon your quest for documentation, driver software, bug fixes, or whatever frivolous bit of work you'd been working on, and take up online gambling while your computer reboots. (Exactly how you're going to do this is left as an exercise for the student.)

I gather that there are a fair number of people who are trying to make a business out of scarfing up expired domain names and turning them into yet more web-pollution. Herb Silverman of Irvine, California, for example, grabs expiring domains and points them at pay-per-click "search engine" affiliate programs. I don't know how much revenue this actually generates, but it does generate lawsuits, and he's lost at least one (Lombard Kawasaki, Suzuki, Inc., v. Herb Silverman).

You might think that having been successfully sued for this particular practice might make one a little wary of whose domains one goes after, so you can't help but question the wisdom of picking up ""...but, hey, at least the site just redirects you to an annoying pay-per-click "search engine" and isn't trying to entice you with free naked pictures of the judges in action back in their private chambers.

Freedom of Information Act or not, there are some aspects of our judicial system I think I'm better off not knowing about.

Friday, November 8th


Holiday Horrors:

What could be more festive this season than a cuddly, plush Santa Cthulhu? Amaze your friends! Devour your neighbors! (How does an elder god traditionally celebrate the holiday season, anyway?)

When I first saw Santa Cthulhu, I knew I couldn't resist taking him home with me.

Then, my eyes lit upon the box of "Ocean Blue Color" "Spongebob Squarepants" macaroni and cheese and I knew I should resist taking it home with me...but I didn't.

Elder gods Santa Cthulhu and Spongebob Squarepants

Which one is more terrifying?
You decide.

Thursday, November 7th


If it's Thursday, I must be a Mad Scientist:

Professor John Wheeler has said, "Time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening at once," which may seem a little odd coming from the man who coined the term "black hole," where time (and everything else) tends towards infinite wonkiness.

Mark Griffen falls from the walkway

But back here on earth, which--as far as I know--is well outside any Schwarzschild radii, this particular way of nature obviously isn't doing its job. Back in the spring, after several projects had been being put off a month or two at a time, again and again, they all managed to gear up and start production within a week or two of each other...starting only a couple of days after I broke my foot while getting ready for the first shoot.

Eventually, though, the frustrating fracture finally fused, but by then the projects in question had finished filming and there wasn't anything else planned for the near-term.

...until now.

By the way, that's Mark Griffin up there (in the process of falling down here), from Friday's shoot over at Mercy Hospital. Coincidentally, he and his jumping-off-bridges skills had just been covered by the Daily Camera only the week before. (That was him you saw on the big picture on the cover of the entertainment section.)

Every day's involved at least one different location, which always adds to the challenge, or at least adds new challenges. Over at the Denver Police Academy's main training facility, for example, lighting such a large space was a challenge. In ordinary use, the facility is lit with banks of fluorescent lights...which is just what you don't want to use for film.

Justin McQuede hangs the lights

But, as always, working with a team of trained stunt performers has its advantages, as you can see here where Justin "Lucky" McQueede takes on the role of "stunt gaffer" and mounts our lights next to the fluorescent fixtures.

Tammy Quon enters the lab

With three different projects going on simultaneously (and another in the wings), it's a good thing that I haven't broken anything.

...though if I did need to have something broken, I guess I do know a few people who could take care of it for me.

members of the Gaia team gather their weapons

Unfortunately, my hair is just not quite long enough to get away with wearing earplugs during filming. Most of the time, we're using real weapons that have been modified for firing blanks; they might not make holes in whatever's in front of them, but they do make every bit as much noise. (The reason for the blank-firing modification is that otherwise a blank doesn't provide enough backwards "kick" to the spent cartridge to cycle to the next round.)

The actual hit on the target is usually a lot quieter; on hard surfaces we often use a paintball gun that's loaded with dust hits, spark hits, or a similar material--basically something that looks like little bits of whatever's being struck (light grey for concrete, dark for asphalt, etc.).

Soft surfaces like, for example, Ryan (bottom-left in this picture), usually require more work to get the effect you're looking for. In this case, we used some small explosives and cranberry sauce. We had a little bit of trouble at first, because on this day we were shooting in an unheated building that's scheduled for demolition in the next couple of weeks, and the temperature was just above freezing.

never piss off Michelle Grove

The first batch of simulated blood was corn syrup-based, and by the time it was actually set off, it had gotten to the "red molasses in January" stage. Unfortunately, when this happens and the explosives behind the blood pack are triggered, the resulting special effect is altogether too much like a small, angry, red Peep hurling itself onto the wall behind you.

While this might be a great special effect for a low-budget all-Peep remake of "Alien," it wasn't what we were shooting for. Cranberry sauce, on the other hand, can still create decent gore even at low temperatures, and it is so much more appropriate for the Thanksgiving season, don't you think?

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