Haven’t they got something better to be doing?

As most of the web seems to already be aware, Elite Torrents has been shut down. I never used the site, so I can’t say I’m really too fussed, except for one thing:

Why is the Department of Homeland Security bothering to fuss around with a torrent site when they haven’t even bothered to secure their chemical and power plants from legitimate terrorist threats?

I don’t like being the kind of person who goes for the knee-jerk ‘but what about the terrorists?’ answer to everything, but if the US government is going to be arguing that terrorism is the greatest threat to their country and invading other nations (who are conveniently oil-rich) on this basis then you’d think that they might be able to set their own internal priorities on this track instead of wasting their time trying to shut down P2P networks, which in themselves may yield valuable software developments to survive in the event of a serious attack on a nation.

The internet was originally designed to be a distributed network with a high rate of redundancy (notice how I’m avoiding make post-dot com bubble jokes here) so that in the event of a nuclear strike on the US the communications networks would survive. Well, in the last few years things have become a lot less distributed with things like DNS being run from only a handful of main location, so something like P2P may be a legitimate method of thinking about new ways to use the internet for communication, or at least it may open some new and interesting avenues.

Yes, copyright theft is still theft. I own one film that was downloaded from the web. It is Chronicles of Riddick (UK link) (US link) and I saw it before it was released in the UK. I then saw it at the cinema when it was released. I then bought the US version (with extra scenes which I think are really good additions to the story) on import DVD. I wouldn’t necessarily have gone to see it at the cinema if I hadn’t already seen and enjoyed the downloaded version. I also dragged along a group of friends to see it. So… That’s a clear example of how piracy damages the movie industry, isn’t it? After all, they must have lost out if I saw a pirate version…

Sometimes giving things out for free gets you more money in the long run. IBM are moving into making a lot of their code free for people to use because they think it will help the industry and they hope to make their money back by selling tech support. There are more ways to get money from ‘free’ things than meet the eye, so maybe the film industry just needs to adapt to the times instead of fighting against them which will leave the Department of Homeland Security time to do their real job rather than scampering around behind the legs of flocks of copyright lawyers.

Pah! Letters are for wimps!

This is great: Das Keyboard

It’s a keyboard where they haven’t printed any of the letters on it. Sounds stupid? Well, it’s not as daft as you might think. The mind can learn to type incredibly well without looking at the keys, and this keyboard forces you to do that.

I was in the US a few years ago, staying at the Green Tortoise hostel in San Francisco. It’s a very interesting building in a good location, but the people behind the desk in the hostel seemed to believe that they were too good for the job and gave terrible service, they’ve most likely graduated by now so it’s probably fine again. I figure that if you’re going to take a job then you’ve got to be prepared to do it, rather than sneer when given a reasonable request such as ‘my luggage was lost by the airline three days ago, can you please let me know as soon as it arrives’. Anyway…

I was in the US a few years ago, staying at the Green Tortoise hostel in San Francisco, and they had free internet access there, however, one of the keyboards had been in service for so many years that all the print had worn off of it. That was some seriously old hardware! I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to use it, but I found that if I just made sure to continue staring at the screen then my fingers would naturally find the key that they were looking for. It was quite and odd feeling really!

So, if you fancy showing off at the next LAN party you go to, then this is the keyboard for you. If you like that sort of thing. And it’s probably very 1337. If you like that sort of thing.

Making plans

So, it’s a tricky thing to make a living like this, which means that I’ve spent my day putting together a whole load of new designs for bags and T-shirts. The nice people at Blue Banana have said that they want to expand the range, so I’m giving them some Mittens and Samurai Lapin designs (sorry, nothing with Mr Sb on at the moment). I have no idea how long it will take to get them into shops, but it will probably be around four or five months.

Anyway, they’re not going to design themselves, so I’ll get back to it. See ya!

Mona Lisa in 3D

Mona Lisa in wobbler 3D

I made this ages ago using the smudge tool in Photoshop to nudge around elements of the pic then animated the layers in Image Ready (which comes free with modern versions of P’shop).

Digi-Shakespeare: back on form

hat wish proud second pronunciation occasion
convenient independent
latter miles seven

I think that’s got to be one of the best so far. For some reason there’s a feeling of sadness about it.

Maybe the reason I like these things is that the idea of finding beauty in odd places appeals to me. I don’t think that the universe we live in often gives us good reasons for the way things happen. People struggle through their lives and die unexpectedly, and part of being human is trying to make sense of it all. I don’t pretend to have the answers, and I’ve not heard any convincing ones suggested yet, but for me seeing beauty in the eye of the storm is what makes it worthwhile.

‘Drafting done of chapter’ and ‘I’m still skint’

It’s a smidgen over 12k words, and I’m very pleased with it. In the end I decided when to stop by thinking ‘oo, that would make a good conclusion sentence’ then chopping off everything after it. This also leaves me with a rather tasty set of five pages of quotes left to put into my introduction chapter. Hurrah! I’ve now got a long weekend of editting to do, to try and get the grammar up to scratch… Which is pretty time consuming, but at least the draft is written.

In other news: I’m going to be remaining skint for a little while yet. There were high hopes for getting the Little Goth Girl merchandise picked up in the US, but it seems that due to all the problems with trading with China (where it’s made) no-one wants to commit to anything. Bah humbug.

I don’t think I have the time to do this until I finish my PhD, but I may well be reopening my onsite-shop and selling the merchandise myself. I get quite a few emails from people in the US, so there are definitely nice people over there who want these things, but getting it to them is proving rather challenging. If this does happen it most likely won’t be until the new year, so don’t go holding your breath if you’re among the people that this affects!

Feed The Nine-Mouthed Baby

I’m guessing that many of the people on here might not have seen this early game that I made:

Feed the Nine-Mouthed Baby

If you’re a person who knows a bit of programming in Flash you might be surprised to hear that almost the entire thing is driven by the timeline and not actionscript.

This was back in the days when programming something like my hedgehog game would have been completely beyond me, so I put all of the sound files on the timeline with a frame name then animated the mouth over the right place.

I found that the dropTarget command wouldn’t recognise a movie clip, for some reason, so all of the mouth movements are animated individually from their graphic instances.

Each of these one-phrase sections then only had one draggable object, the one being asked for. These days I would use an ‘if’ loop to make the correct object draggable, but this was the only way I knew at the time.

I then had a couple of simple scripts running, one to generate a random number between one and nine for the movie to know which one-line section to play, another for a timer, and another for the end of the timer to judge whether enough objects had been correctly fed.

Sometimes old methods can be the most effective! If you’re making something in Flash don’t always be obsessed with doing it the most technical way, sometimes a bit of the old-fashioned skills such as timeline tweening can be equally effective in achieving the results you want.

Do you know this man?

How unusual:

the piano man

A man has been found, apparently traumatised and who will not talk, but who is an accomplished piano player.

I’ve got two thoughts on this, my hopeful reaction is that this is a melancholy story. My cynical side suggests that he could be putting it on so that he will become famous. I await the movie adaptation.

Kittens Though Time!

The new Mittens animation is ready: Kittens Through Time!

Sorry it’s taken so long, Shok was doing the music for it and has been really busy. You can read about what he’s been up to in Shok’s blog. I believe he’s out getting ready for/playing a gig as I type this.

He put together a bit of music for me, which unfortunately was a bit too short. He was going to do a longer version, but I’ve gone ahead and fiddled with the loops, so if anything sounds awry to you then that’s my fault not his! However, I’m really pleased with it, I think I’ve done a seamless job. I even managed to get the loops to correspond with things that were happening on screen. All in all, I’m very happy with the way it’s turned out.

Time travel opens up a whole load more things to do with Mittens & Snowdrop. You might wonder why it’s been so long since the last one, and the answer is simple: I didn’t want to grind the central joke into the ground, and without a new setting it was going to be hard to avoid doing that. I think this new angle will really help in writing future episodes.

‘Hope you like it!

More Digi-Shakey!

respect not
studied bought beautiful end parents again
principle least least

From the lack of response, I’m guessing that I’m the only person who likes these, but I’m going to conitnue posting ’em because I’m stubborn. I’ve even given them their own sub-category. I hope to compile a good list of the best randomised text from junk mail. Why?

Er…

Ooo! There’s something really huge behind you!
*runs*

In local news: Old lady not dead yet

I love my local newspaper, the Mid Hampshire Observer. They clearly know as well as the rest of us that most local news is really pretty dull, so they occasionally get a bit bored and ramble. This is an article that really made me laugh a couple of months ago. It starts off fairly normally, but stick with it. The title of the article should give you a clue about how seriously they’re taking all this.

So, I proudly present, for all of you not fortunate enough to have a free copy of the Mid Hampshire Observer delivered by a surly young teenager: ‘Lady Doesn’t Die’
Lady doesn\'t die

The Brave Duckling

Okay, the music for the new Mittens is taking longer than expected, so here’s another quickie:

The Brave Duckling

I could do with as many hits as possible at the moment, so please pass this on to friends who you think might like it.

As a tip for anyone who might be wondering how to get the ‘wobbly outline’ effect I’ve used in this animation, rather than drawing the whole thing twice simply add a new keyframe in the timeline of the object, select the lines you want to wobble then use Modify>Shape>Optimise… . Have a look to see how many curves it alters and adjust the optimisation to fit with the look you want. If you don’t like it youcan always Ctrl+Z back and try again.

Followups

There’s an interesting quote from page two of this article:

Gay men have fewer children, meaning that in Darwinian terms, any genetic variant that promotes homosexuality should be quickly eliminated from the population. Dr. Hamer believes that such genes may nevertheless persist because, although in men they reduce the number of descendants, in women they act to increase fertility.

After the post about social evolution’s purpose for gay people a few days ago I thought it was quite an interesting theory, and not one I’ve heard before.

On the subject of real hackers versus script kiddies, and the way that many people don’t know the difference:

“It was inconvenient,” she said of the loss of her e-mail, “and it’s the thing that seems to happen when you have malicious teenage hackers running around with no sense of ethics.”

From the end of this article. ‘Malicious’ and ‘hacker’ are technically contradictions, but that’s just the way that people are changing the use of the word. Apparently hackers are terrorists too, according to the Bush administration, which is amusing because it means that they should go and arrest the majority of the leaders in technology, including Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Bush himself is attempting to hack the social system of the planet and rewire it the way he wants, maybe we should arrest him too?

Actually, that’s not a bad idea…

Ecletic interesting links and articles collected by a painter, teacher, writer, and ex-PhD student