Monthly Archives: February 2009

RedBubble

After finding out about RedBubble via Bobostuff via Planet PIGMI, I decided to join and put some of photos, art, and t-shirt designs up for sale.

Here’s the first image I put up on RedBubble:

2008_1021japanoct20080750-modified-in-gimp-image-editor

I tried to take photos that capture and flatten a view such that it focusses on a plain background and elegant foreground pattern (like a Japanese print or craftwork). I think it would make an awesome large canvas print on the right wall.

Rather than posting to both my RebBubble journal and this blog, I’m using FeedWordpress to automagically repost my RedBubble journal entries here. We should see if that works out real soon!

Update: At the moment posts from my RedBubble journal seem to come up without any text (just the title). I need a better solution.

The music animation machine

I saw this “what a queer bird the frog are” video on videosift this morning:

and I loved the juxtaposition of the sort of instructional music that I remember from primary school with low-resolution bitmap imagery (something else I remember from when I was a child).

I found that the video was generated by the Music Animation Machine. The homepage includes a basic history of the machine as well as a list of available videos online (or on DVD). It’s a beautiful thing.

Unfortunately Eric Satie is only available on DVD. :(

Alternative life in dreams

I thought that I’d post about this in case others have the same experience.

Basically, most of my dreams aren’t detached and self-contained; they tend to share a fairly consistent alternative world and event history (some pre-existant and some created during my dreams).

In my alternative dream world (I’ll call it “other world” in reference to Coraline), aspects of my real life are represented in a different, but consistent way (eg. my house has a different room layout, and I stayed in an additional rental between this one and the last).

I’ve also formed unique relationships, so there are people I only know in my dreams. I have a different educational background, a different family, a different job… but it’s all familiar and I always seem to know what things are and what I’m supposed to be doing.

The other world has different rules (eg. sometimes I can float rather than walk, and space and time are more maleable). This sometimes helps me realise that I’m dreaming so that I can be more lucid.

Does anyone else out there have an “other world”?

Flash development for C programmers

Well, for C programmers using (Ubuntu) GNU/Linux… similar instructions may apply for Windows development.

Install the ActionScript2 compiler (mtasc):

sudo aptitude install mtasc

Write an ActionScript2 program (in a file called “main.as”):

class App
{
	static function main(mc)
	{	
		_root.createTextField("tf",0,0,0,320, 240);
 
		_root.onMouseMove = function()
		{
			_root.tf.text = "X: " + _root._xmouse + "\nY: " + _root._ymouse;
		}
	} 
}

Create a makefile:

CC = mtasc
CFLAGS = -main -header 320:240:20:666666
DEBUG = -v
DEPS = main.as
 
default: example
 
example:
	$(CC) $(CFLAGS) -swf example.swf $(DEPS)
 
clean:
	rm -f example.swf

Run make:

make

(Hmmm, it was probably a little gratuitous making that command explicit here…)

Embed flash applet in a webpage using the following html embed snippet:

<object width="320" height="240">
<param name="movie" value="example.swf">
<embed src="example.swf" width="320" height="240">
</embed>
</object>

Final product (mouse-over for action… well… “not inaction”):

Next steps: swfmill and Inkscape… maybe haxe.

Surprise! Food that looks like a face!

A few weeks ago, Heidi and I had a Swedish themed dinner party. This week we made some food for a “suprise theme” dinner party at a friend’s place in East Perth.

The surprise theme was known only to the chefs and everyone else would have to guess what it was. I picked the theme, trying to choose someting that would be easy to satisfy and fairly obvious. Anyhow, the theme was “faces”!

Rich made entres (or “appetizers” for all the Americans out there) with a lot of cheese and pastry. The only really obvious face food were these mini pizzas with tomato mouths and jalapeno chilli eyes:

pizza_faces

Here’s my favourite one (the mouth fell off the pizza, so it looks kinda funny):

pizza_face

Heidi and I made an eggplant pastitsio… it was alright:

eggplant_face

Finally, the real star of the evening. We have cheesy smiley faces, and a vegetable face, and we ended with a familiar face. Minh made this awesome lime tarte which she decorated with a picture of Jim‘s face. Unfortunately, Jim’s hair is just too massive, so she had to downsize it (or the entire image… I can’t remember) so that it would fit:

tart_face

Good times. :D

Ghost Town

Just saw Ghost Town starring Ricky Gervais (of The Office and Extras) and Tea Leoni.

It was a very enjoyable film. The cast kept appropriate pacing and spot-on delivery of a script that could have easily been mishandled by a different director. It felt like a sophisticated (mature and dry) version of a peppy late 80s or angsty early 90s romantic comedy.

Here’s the trailer:

I recommend it. Especially for Valentine’s Day. ;)

Update: I just noticed that there is a fair amount in the trailer… that isn’t in the film… odd.

Playstation 3 is good times

I had a look at vgchartz this morning, and I was a little dismayed to see the Playstation 3 (PS3) sale numbers falling behind the Xbox 360 and (well behind) the Wii.

The PS3 is my favourite current generation console; I really feel that Sony has generally got it right (which is something they aren’t really known for recently) from a consumer perspective. (There are many things they have done from a developer perspective, but I won’t go into that here).

I don’t want people thinking that I am a subjective “fanboy“, so I should mention that I own all three current generation consoles and I never expected that the PS3 would be my favourite.

Here’s a list of things that I feel Sony did right with the PS3:

  1. Good-looking unit (all current consoles look pretty good, Xbox360 power-supply notwithstanding)
  2. Elegant user interface (with consistent UI resolution, unlike Xbox360 in which UI resolution changes between elements and when playing videos)
  3. Built-in wifi and bluetooth (compared to no wifi and custom RF wireless on the Xbox 360)
  4. Built-in rechargable batteries (compared to AA batteries on other consoles)
  5. 1080p output via HDMI (recent higher-end Xbox360 consoles come with HDMI)
  6. Blu-Ray (clearly this hasn’t gone mainstream yet, but the video quality is awesome on a large LCD television)
  7. No charge for online play (although publishers can charge subscriptions)
  8. Region-free games (although Blu-Ray is region locked)
  9. No “points” scam (Playstation Store items are sold in local currency and you can pay the exact amount)
  10. DLNA UPnP media server compatible (I can stream videos stored on my ReadyNAS Duo)
  11. Rather quiet (especially compared to the Xbox360)
  12. Standard upgradeable HDD
  13. Official Linux support (I guess they figured it would happen anyway)

And here a bunch of things that the PS3 does wrong:

  1. High cost of entry (compared to other consoles)
  2. Tilt sensor on SIXAXIS and DualShock 3 controllers is gimmicky and generally unused (avoided)
  3. No longer features backwards compatibility with Playstation 2 (this was a selling point for me, although I doubt it bothered a lot of consumers)
  4. Firmware updates and game patches are too frequent for casual users (It feels like I often have to patch a game before I can play it; this is the same for the Xbox360 though)
  5. Seems to have less video codecs compared to the Xbox360 (sometimes I can use the Xbox360 to play files that the PS3 won’t play)
  6. No RSX access in Linux (I guess they were concerned about hacking, but this severely cripples Linux on PS3 and compromises a potential developer base)

The list of things I feel the Xbox360 has done wrong is much longer, and the list for the Wii is shorter but much more of a big deal to me (maximum resolution of 480p?!).

The last thing I want to mention is that I feel that the PS3 is a good value proposition for people who want a neat and practical lounge room setup. To me that means:

  1. Not having to deal with heaps of devices (eg. receiver, set-top box, DVD player, console, etc.)
  2. Not having to deal with batteries
  3. Not having wires run all over the place (especially not between rooms)
  4. Not too noisy

Compared to the Xbox360: the PS3 has a built-in Blu-Ray (and DVD) player, it’s much quieter, it has a nicer user interface (try playing a bunch of videos one after the other on the Xbox36), and it connects wirelessly to my other devices (without a $149.95 add-on).

Basically, Sony went for real (rather than perceived) value with the PS3. There is a higher entry price, but they don’t keep slogging you for money (with overpriced accessories, online gaming subscriptions, “points” that you can only buy in bulk, etc.). This is good for people (like me) who want a setup like the one above.

Here’s a price comparison once you take all of that stuff into account:

  • Playstation 3 80GB: $699
  • Xbox 360 60GB or 120GB Elite ($399-$549) + Wireless Networking Adaptor ($149.95) + Play & Charge Kit ($34.95) + Xbox Live GOLD 12 Month subscription ($79.95) + Blu-Ray player (>$200): $863.85-$1013.85

Completely aside from price, there are things that money will never buy: not having all that extra crap in your living room, not having a power-brick, not playing games to the loud hum and whir of the 360

Anyhow, I don’t want to lay the boot in too much.

Bottom Line: The Playstation 3 is elegant, neat, tidy, and ticks more of my boxes than any other console. Unfortunately, Sony’s “value proposition” doesn’t appear to resonate with consumers. Maybe they should have gone with the Microsoft strategy of a lower apparant cost with more upsells: “Would you like wifi with that?”

Panda3D

I’ve started learning Panda3D, the game engine behind Disney’s Toontown and Pirates of the Caribbean Online.

I made a picture to commemorate this occasion:

panda3d

I’ve been following Panda3D for a while, but never really gave it that much attention. I became more interested after reading the Toon Town post-mortem onm Gamasutra, epecially since they attributed a lot of their success to switching their scripting languages to Python.

My initial thoughts are that it’s a fairly intuitive game engine for Python programmers. There’s no real toolset to speak of, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It looks like the intended workflow is based on utilising existing tools (eg. 3D Studio, Photoshop) and small exporters or converter scripts. Which makes sense; no point trying to make artists learn new tools.

I’ll post more thoughts as I get more experience with it.

p5rn7vb

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is this Saturday and I don’t yet have any plans.

I’ve floated the idea of a “role reversal” day so that we could take some time to appreciate things from the other person’s perspective. Heidi asked if that meant I would go to the gym (using her scooter). Hmmm… I’m not too keen on that idea.

I also can’t really see Heidi playing video games for very long before getting frustrated and bored. The reality of role reversal would probably add a bitter taste to the sweet satisfaction that could come from better appreciating each other. I like the concept though. Maybe we just have to approach it differently.

I’ve actually rather come around to scheduled cultural holidays and ceremonies. I used to think that they were stupid: they all seem to be more about selling people crap that they don’t need than any purpose. Capitalism hijacked holidays from religions which put their stamp on events that I assume have always been an important part of society.

It’s healthy to set aside time to: reflect on the previous year and plan for the next, honour your parents and teachers, reflect on your own aging, and (in this case) consider who you love and express your feelings plainly. It seems to me that having one day a year dedicated to these endeavours has really helped societies progress this far. It’s like how having a rent inspection reminds you to clean the house.

We’re planning to buy a house sometime in the next year or so. Maybe we’ll go look display homes together on Saturday.