28 February 2011

All human knowledge

I wish I had seen this in high school.

The Illustrated Guide To a Ph.D.

Since that circle of all human knowledge is just getting bigger and bigger, doesn’t that mean our ability to apply that knowledge is getting smaller and smaller. Sure, we specialize and operate in parallel, but it seems to me that you get to a point where even that gets overwhelmed.

Which isn't even considering knowledge we may be letting fall through the cracks and get lost.

26 February 2011

Using 3D well

In a comment to a previous post, Anonymous Dimwit wrote:

I don’t even understand what “use 3d well” is supposed to mean from a cinematic context.

I certainly understand that Anonymous Dimwit will probably never be a fan of 3D, and that’s fine. It doesn’t work for everyone.

I think that’s a valid question, though. What do I think is using 3D well?

Actually, I think it is pretty simple. You shoot with a 3D camera.

It is also best to step up to a decent frame rate, but that’s something movies need to do anyway. 3D needs a higher frame rate, but the 24 frame/second that they’re using isn’t even good for 2D. (Or has there already been progress in that area?)

Of course, simply using a 3D camera does make things a bit more difficult. You also lose some tricks that rely on the lack of depth in 2D. Still, making a good 3D movie isn’t really different from making a good 2D movie. If you change what you’re doing significantly for 3D, then you’re most likely using 3D poorly. If you are adding 3D in post-production rather than using a 3D camera, you are almost certainly using 3D poorly.

In my opinion.

25 February 2011

AT&T not so bad after all?

Perhaps the “good but not that good” sales of the Verizon iPhone merely shows that AT&T isn’t quite so awful as the pundits make them out to be?

24 February 2011

Record sales

I had a post scheduled with a comment on this chart, but since, seemingly better charts and analysis have been posted by Michael DeGusta.

The take-away seems to be that album sales are falling, single sales are rising, but single sales aren't up enough to offset the drop from albums.

Questions that come to mind:

1. Is any of this due to people having a lot more to spend money on today? e.g. mobile phone plan, mobile data plan, TV provider, ISP, among many others.

2. What about the larger music industry. Live music? Selling music to businesses rather than consumers?

23 February 2011

AT&T and the App Store

A quote from AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson on the iOS App Store: (courtesy TiPb)

“You purchase an app for one operating system, and if you want it on another device or platform, you have to buy it again,” Stephenson said in a keynote speech at the world’s largest mobile-phone trade show in Barcelona, Spain. “That’s not how our customers expect to experience this environment.”

Well, here’s what experience has taught me to expect. I can choose from:

  • Live in a closed world where I have to buy the same things over and over again for the rest of my life
  • Live in an open world where my life is often made harder by companies who give lip-service to openness but don’t believe in it

There are trade-offs, and so I do a little of both.

I’m not going to hold my breath that AT&T is really going to become my champion here. Especially when I pay them every month for the same thing.

22 February 2011

Sexist gaming art

So, there’s been a lot of talk lately in certain corners of the Internet about sexism in gaming and particularly about art. While I have been aware of sexism in gaming, I’ve personally tended to steer well clear of it, so it isn’t something I encounter regularly. It doesn’t seem so pervasive that I can’t effectively avoid it. (Though, how much of it do I encounter and just not see?)

After reading a lot of the talk about art, though, I have to say that I’m much more concerned with the effect that the “war on obesity” in this country may have on my daughter’s body image than any artwork.

21 February 2011

D&D (details & divisions)

Mike Mearls has started a new column on the Wizards of the Coast website called “Legends and Lore” to talk about the history of D&D. I think that’s a great idea. From what I know of Mike, I think he’ll do a good job of that. (Personally, I’m going to be very interested in any products Mike produces after he leaves Wizards.)

I’m going to join in criticizing his first installment, however.

Whether you play the original game published in 1974, AD&D in any of its forms, 3rd Edition and its descendents, or 4th Edition, at the end of the day you’re playing D&D.

We’re talking about at least three different games here. Sometimes differences are important and glossing over them helps no one.

This is our game, and it is as healthy, vibrant and important as we make it. The rest is details. Don’t let that details drive us apart when the big picture says we should be joined together.

Rob Conley has said, “Wizards needs to take leadership.” He’s right. Preaching unity while sowing division rings hollow. I say, if Wizards of the Coast is serious about fostering a community spirit, here’s what they should do:

  1. Pull any products that are confusing history.
  2. Start teaching history instead of obscuring it.
  3. Admit that the marketing of “4th edition” was over-the-line with its attacks on previous editions (including 3rd).
  4. Admit that pulling the PDFs from sale had nothing to do with piracy.
  5. Make all the old TSR and “3rd edition” products available.

That’s not even leadership. That’s merely acting in good faith and refraining from putting obstacles in the community’s way.

Granted, Mike’s column may be a start on #2, but it will take more than that.

If I were them, I’d do #5 by simply declaring those products to be public domain. After all, they aren’t making any money off of those products anyway. Then the community could simply share what they already having instead of Wizards having to do any work to make the historical artifacts of this hobby widely available both now and for the foreseeable future.

On the other hand, if Wizards wanted to make those products available again for sale, I think that would sow some good will among the community as well. Although, at this point, they’ve created competition that is trying to fill that niche as best as they can.

And now, according to the Joesky rule, a new monster for Labyrinth Lord:

Flame Salamander Guardbeasts

No. Enc: 1, Align: N, Move: 120’ (40’), AC: 4, HD: 4, Att: 1 bite, Dam: 1d6, Save: F4, Morale: 8, Hoard Class: XX

Flame salamanders often keep these elemental beasts to serve like guard dogs. Like their keepers, these quadrupeds have a lizard-like appearance and give off an intense heat. Those within 10’ take 1d4 points of fire damage per round. Fire-based damage does not harm them. They can detect invisibility to a range of 30’.

Once brought to zero hp, the guardbeast does not die. Instead it transforms into two guardbeasts, each half the size of the original and each having 2 HD. When these are brought to zero hp, they likewise divide into two beasts each one-quarter the size of the original with 1 HD each. When these are bought to zero hp, they (finally) die.

03 February 2011

Electric guitar: How many speakers?

Here is a question about electric guitar that I’m finding it very hard to find a credible answer to. Say I have a single amp-head and I’m not doing anything stereo. In what situations should I choose a single speaker cabinet? When should I choose a cabinet with two speakers? When should I choose a cabinet with four speakers?

I understand the trade-offs between the different sizes of speakers but not the different numbers. Indeed, the only thing that seems clear is that multiple speakers cause problems with phase cancellations.

02 February 2011

Guitar shape legal battles

Craig Havighurst wrote a good piece for Premier Guitar entitled “Shapes of Things: A Brief History of the Peculiar Behind-the-Scenes War Over Guitar Designs

In one of the cases covered, Fender wanted to prevent low-quality knock-offs from duplicating the shapes of the Stratocaster, Telecaster, and P-bass. The thing that is ironic to me is that, when CBS bought Fender, the quality of the instruments suffered. The fact that they owned the right to the Fender brand and perhaps could have—then—trademarked the outlines didn’t keep their instruments from essentially being low-quality knock-offs of pre-CBS Fenders.

01 February 2011

Fender Tele-Bration 2011

On of my favorite guitars, the Fender Telecaster, turns 60 this year. (Here’s a little video tribute from Fender’s YouTube channel.) They’re celebrating with a different limited-edition Tele every month. The Music Zoo posted some details. Three stood out to me.

I like the July Cabronita with TV Jones filtertron-style pick-ups. I’d already been thinking a Tele with filtertrons might be in my future. I’m wondering how they would sound with the Tele 4-way switching mod. (bridge—both in parallel—both in series—neck)

The August Tele is made from laminated bamboo, which seems interesting.

The October rosewood Tele recalls the one made for George Harrison. One of my favorite guitars and one of my favorite guitarists and a very distinctive look.

I don’t see myself buying any of these limited-editions, but I’m on the look-out for ideas for possibly getting a custom made Tele-style guitar someday. Hmm...rosewood cabronita?