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Exit ArchiveArchive for August, 2008

I waited until late to write my weekly LFTI blog post. And it shows!

Let’s hope Obama does not pull this kind of procrastination while writing his speech for Thursday. Then we’ll all be doomed!

Here’s a man who owns millions of records.

This is a very nicely shot mini-documentary which brings up a good point: Where does all that music go in the end? What if it’s lost to future generations? A majority of music is crap and probably not worth the vinyl or plastic or wax or metal it’s delivered on. But do we only save the popular stuff? How many gems or masterpieces have been lost to time because they were never very popular?

This little movie brought up another question I’ve had for a long time now: What happens when civilization collapses and we lose all our technology? How do we re-discover who we were? A record is a perfect storage medium for sound. With a minimum of knowledge, you can look carefully at an album and figure out how it works. The same is true for film. You can just look at film and see what’s going on. But a CD or DVD? A digital file? Magnetic disk drives? Once the technology is lost, once the algorithms and codecs are lost, how does anyone reconstruct those treasures? My guess is they don’t.

In the event of a major crisis, a dark age following this technological one, our digital world will be lost forever. Analog at least has some chance of survival and rediscovery.

Permalink Comments Off on A Brief Bit of Brief EncounterComments Off on A Brief Bit of Brief Encounter By

I have only seen Brief Encounter once, but I always remembered, and often thought about, the ending, the moment when Laura decides to kill herself. I didn’t remember it for the emotion, necessarily, but for how it was technically achieved, the brilliant camera work and direction that support the emotion.

The movie is a measured study in careful, level shots, but just here, and only here, as the scream of a train whistle gradually approaches, the camera slowly tilts into a Dutch angle, and stays there through the next four shots. Then, on the fourth, as Laura’s urge dies, the camera just as slowly re-rights itself, and her life goes on.

I re-discovered this thanks to Post Secret. Someone’s secret was simply a still of the movie, and someone then replied with the YouTube link.

It’s movies and moments like these that fill me with love for cinema.

Permalink Comments Off on What a Concept!Comments Off on What a Concept! By

This morning, I tweeted about Microsoft’s Surface showing up very select at Sheraton hotels. It was this video that made me comment:

Besides being a bit creepy—is that woman wanting to slap the little boy, or seduce him?—the video is humorous in showing how minimally useful the Surface concept even is. I can do the things that table does on my iPhone, and I have that with me all the time.

Expanding ever so slightly on my tweet, I ask you, how long until the majority of those things break? How often will they cease to function? When will I first be able to walk into a Sheraton hotel and see a $10,000 table crashed or dark?

When Microsoft first announced the Surface just before the iPhone’s release last year, I started to write a post about how Apple’s products are cool, and Microsoft’s, when they actually release them, are only faux cool. Microsoft wants you to like their products and tries to tell you how awesome they are, but they always suck. Apple strongly suggests that their products are cool, and often they really are. They certainly are well designed, well engineered, well built, and well well well.

I never finished the post because I got busy, and not in the cool sense. But the idea still holds. Microsoft, in a desperate attempt to steal some of the thunder from the upcoming iPhone, announced a fairly crappy product which introduced nothing terribly state-of-the-art, promised to deliver it by the end of the year, then failed to do so.

Well, guess I’m sorta wrong. A few Surfaces have surfaced, it seems. But look at the Sheraton announcement carefully. Notice there’s no date mentioned. When are these tables going to be installed? They aren’t installed already or the press release would have said so. To take one small detail into question, why, pray tell, would guests want to create playlists on the table? For what purpose? To play where? Certainly not their iPod! And so on and so on.

Lo, with perfect timing, here comes Kontra to muse on the concept of why other companies do concepts, but Apple does not. He or she or it or they or them are and/or is absolutely correct. While concept products are interesting, they are often amusingly, ridiculously out of touch with the universe. Every concept car I’ve seen at car shows is laughable in its ignorance. I would never deny anyone the right to create a concept. What gets me is when it is hinted that this thing you are seeing is potentially viable. That astounding future technologies will emerge from this thing at which you are marveling or laughing. (Turns out Steve Jobs brought up the concept car problem in this Time article from 2005.)

Kontra is correct. Apple does not need to release concepts. They are in the business of making concepts reality. When I saw Steve-o unveil the iPhone at Macworld in 2007, part of what made it such a thrilling spectacle is knowing that this thing, this amazing chiclet of technology, was going to be real. I would be holding one in my hand in six months. That never, ever happens with concept products.

* * * * * *

What follows are the videos I originally included in my un-posted post.

See all the the Steve Jobs/Bill Gates appearance videos here.

And here’s a video from D5 with Gates showing off the Surface.

Thanks as always to Daring Fireball for leading me to good material.

Permalink Comments Off on LFTI: “‘Scandal!'”Comments Off on LFTI: “‘Scandal!'” By

It’s a bona fide scandal!

But not really.

Permalink Comments Off on No. 2villeComments Off on No. 2ville By

It wasn’t until I was led to Brand Name Pencils by H&F-J that I realized I miss pencils.

Well, maybe that’s not entirely true, the not realizing it part. I have, from time-to-time, longed to write and create once again with a good-ol’ wooden pencil. To chew on the slight metal ring holding the eraser. To feel the joy of using the rare, good pencil sharpener. I have used mechanicals most of my life, and still do, on those rare occasions when I still do use a pencil. Their convenience trumps the pleasures of the archaic.

I had not noticed that there were so many variations of type in the branding of a pencil. Look how much style and design gets crammed into such a tiny space! Pens don’t seem to be treated with that same care. Nor did I know that that slight metal ring that I loved to gently malform with my molars was called a “ferrule.”

Permalink Comments Off on LFTI: “Sorry! No Time!”Comments Off on LFTI: “Sorry! No Time!” By

I did not have time to post on the LFTI blog today. Nor did I have time to tweet about posting, or write a post here about not posting.

Permalink Comments Off on Movie SpermComments Off on Movie Sperm By

Sorry for that uncouth title, but that’s what I was thinking when I saw these amazing, brilliant charts.

Zach Beane has charted the grosses, rankings, and longevity of the weekly top 25 movies since 2006, plus some top 10 charts for 1988 and 1998. I prefer the normal vs. the log scale charts. These charts are much more elegant end legible than the (still cool) chart at The New York Times.

I found this via H&FJ. Read their take here.