May 2008 Archives
May 28, 2008
No, I haven’t installed it yet (since Final Cut is working at the moment, I’m going to wait a few days… never be the first to upgrade a production system). However, this caught my eye from the release notes:
Resolves an issue in which switching to a different space and returning back to the original space may reorder the application windows with a different active window.
Sounds like Spaces might actually be usable now. Yay.
Keep an eye on MacFixit over the next few days. Bearing in mind, of course, that MacFixit seemed to be inhabited by people with the sickliest Macs known to the web, and ‘Dooom! Dooooooommm!’ is their default experience of software updates.
Charles Arthur in the Guardian tries to compare inflation-adjusted fuel prices for the last century, gets things a bit wrong, gets in a bit of a muddle, and accidentally ends up providing a superb demonstration of how to handle criticism and comport oneself online.
I’m particularly impressed that he’s left in much of his initial analysis, only struck through it, so you can see how the post itself has developed.
The data’s interesting, too.
I’m slightly surprised to learn that I’m living in the third-largest population centre in the UK.
This via some sterling work undertaken at Trinity College, Dublin, working out what the best-connected Wikipedia page is. Turns out it’s ‘United Kingdom,’ which perhaps shows we’re not quite done with that whole faintly-embarrassing Empire nonsense just yet.
May 25, 2008
I’m mostly quite pleased with my Samsung 206BW 20” LCD monitor. It flickers annoyingly on mid-greys, there’s considerable black-level compression, and the colour shift with vertical viewing angle is pretty bad. But hey, it was cheap, and it’s better than most displays I’ve seen in the price bracket.
At some point soon, however, I’m going to need another monitor, and I’m doing enough colour grading that I want something ‘good’ rather than ‘decent.’ So I’ve been reading up on Dell’s displays, but the latest 2408FPW doesn’t look like it’s what I want. An excellent screen, sure, but I want something with a bit more colour consistency, and that appears to mean S-IPS panels, which this thing isn’t.
Trouble is: how do you know if the display you’re about to buy has the right kind of panel?
There are two approaches. The first is to search at this website, which is terrific. The second approach is to… er… buy Apple’s monitors. In the UK, at least, they’re around the same price as the equivalent-size Dells, once you go above the 20” models. While I’d love multiple inputs (DVI, VGA, HDMI…), I’ll take a S-IPS panel over the Dell, thanks.
The only thing that’s really galling is the suggestion that roughly the most advanced panel you can currently get is the one in the 24” iMac. But not, note, in Apple’s 23” Cinema Display. Darn.
However, the Cinema Displays haven’t been updated in two years. I think they’re now the oldest products in the range, and it seems unlikely they’ll remain as they are for much longer.
I’ll hold out a bit, then…
May 24, 2008
Oh, arse. The nice chaps behind OpenTech 2008 have asked if I’d take point on video for them again.
Last time around it was 20 hours+ of tape. Digitize, top/tail, export, compress, upload… it’s a lot of work. Not hard, just time-consuming. Since I already have a significant backlog of paying projects, I really should say no.
Unless… unless… there may just be a cunning way. Hmm…
Must. Think. Carefully.
May 23, 2008
Beautiful trailer for a new film: The Fall. Oooh, pretty colours.
No idea when it’s out in the UK, though.
May 21, 2008
…wading through business cards gathered from NESTA’s Innovation Edge event yesterday.
…planning other meetings through the week.
..meeting somebody whose job title actually is ‘Information Architect’.
…filing (& bumping) bug reports for the SciCast site.
…hoping to make it to my first Tuttle Club on Friday, partly to find out exactly how frustrating people found the sessions at the aforementioned event yesterday.
…and wondering whether and how to reply to a film-maker who’s aggrieved that we’ve rejected his film on safety grounds. I don’t mind disagreeing with him, but his blogged misrepresentation of my position rankles more than I’d have expected. I should probably let it go.
May 11, 2008
I hate compiling expenses claims and doing accounts so much, at least my kitchen is clean and tidy.
A taxi driver the other day, having seen me load camera bags into the back of his car, asked me if I’d been involved in the video shoot round the corner ‘the other week.’ He expressed incredulity that I hadn’t noticed — apparently it had been somewhat disruptive.
Turns out it was a year ago, while I was in Dublin: Paolo Nutini shot a video for ‘New Shoes’ about a hundred yards from my flat in Tantallon Road.
So if you want to see what a street just off mine looks like, check out the video on YouTube.
May 10, 2008
May 9, 2008
Surprisingly interesting article in the Guardian about educational background and social mobility. Both surprising and interesting because it mostly avoids the easy stereotype-bashing wins.
- Music films and stories for preschool children.
- Interviews with the Artistic Director of the Scottish Ensemble.
- Water rocketry from the National Physical Laboratory.
- Genomics films by researchers from the Sanger Institute and EMBL-EBI.
- Schools’ shows from multiple science centres in the North of England.
An odd combination. Such is my life.
May 8, 2008
May 6, 2008
Sir David Attenborough reflects, in a speech given in London a week or so ago, on the future of public service broadcasting. I say ‘reflects,’ because much of his speech, as he admits himself, concerns the path we’ve taken to get here.
This is crucial background and perspective. There’s something naïve — gloriously, willfully, preciously naïve — about the concept of Broadcasting in the Public Service, and the people who pioneered that thinking. I was privileged to start in television when I did, and indeed where I did: children’s programmes, and production personnel in Leeds in general, understood this stuff intuitively.
Today, while I’m sure there are pockets within the BBC for whom Attenborough’s sentiments will resonate, I worry that for most television people the history he describes will feel quaint, even archaic.
I worry, overall, that on something like a decade timescale, the BBC may be doomed. This is one of the reasons I didn’t take SciCast to them in the first place, and it’s still why I’m not convinced that a broadcaster would be a ‘natural’ home for the project.
Faced with a choice between ‘Public Service’ and ‘Broadcasting’, I’ll pick the former. It’s a less grandiose goal, but I’ll take something over nothing. This is essentially where I stood with children’s programmes four years ago, and my result is SciCast – public service, not broadcasting, a tenth the budget I used to have, but at least it exists.
There are possible paths on which we wouldn’t encounter such a decision over the BBC as a whole. Avoiding it, however, would require a mass public awakening of what they stand to lose if PSB evaporates. In that future, Attenborough’s talk reads less like harking back to the beginnings, and more like an initial call to arms for a coming campaign.
Sometimes, I wonder if the BBC’s slogan should be ‘We know what’s good for you.’ It is their curse, and their burden, that many people dislike and distrust the BBC for behaving in accordance.
But it happens to be true.
May 4, 2008
At this time of year, a gentleman’s thoughts turn to his portable telephony device. Specifically, his thoughts proceed: “My, I’ve been lugging this brick around for a long time. I wonder when I’m due a new one?” Whereupon he attends to the selection of products available, from which he may choose.
Apparently my N95 has heard. We’ve been broadly reconciled, these last few months; while I still think the user interface is dreadfully (and, at times, hilariously) inconsistent, the GPS navigation system is surprisingly good, the video camera is still as good as they come, and I’ve barely scratched the surface of things like live video streaming, uploads directly to Flickr, and so on.
Trouble is, while I admire the phone’s capabilities, the ruddy thing plain doesn’t work. This week, for example, it’s suddenly decided that rather than taking a minute or two to lock down its position via GPS, it’s going to take more like twelve minutes. And now the antenna has decided — apparently spontaneously — that it doesn’t like working inside a car after all.
On Wednesday, it suddenly forgot all the custom words I’d entered into its dictionary over the last 12 months. Every single one. And it’s refusing to save any new ones I add, too, which makes texting an awful chore.
On the other hand, it’s finally decided that it does like iSync after all, and it cooperates perfectly… which it didn’t even after the last round of software updates.
Personally, I think it’s too clever by half, and it’s decided it’s fed up of listening to me talking so much rubbish, so it’s just quietly mocking me in the only ways it knows how. Hence, my next phone will be a whole lot more dumb.
May 3, 2008
This week, I watched Ratatouille, Pixar’s 2007 film. It’s fabulous. Not just a good animated film, but a great film. Genuinely lovely.
I’m fascinated by how Pixar do it; how they keep churning out terrific films. Even Cars, which should have sunk under my general ambivalence, was a charming study of an almost-lost way of life.
This article at McKinsey Quarterly, then, is right up my street — it’s Ratatouille director Brad Bird musing on what makes Pixar such a successful and innovative place. You have to register to read the full thing, but there’s a summary here. Either article is worth your time, if you’re into this sort of thing.