Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Green Glob Gone! (sorta.)

As you may have read, my sony TV has had a big greenish yellow pee stain covering one side of the screen for a while. I learned that this was due to a poorly manufactured "Optical Block" or "OB". and that Sony would replace this part due to a class action lawsuit settlement.

I have been hesitant to take action till I absolutely HAD to because I was not sure a replaced OB will be any better at this time. You see, I know a small bit about how manufacturers deal with “refurbished” parts… and to be honest I was hoping to wait for the supply of bad ones to quit cycling through the system.

Well, In the last few days my set became unwatchable… it had gotten much worse than those pictures and was getting noticeably more discolored day by day. So I called Sony.

I was polite but confident, explained the problem and the testing I had done. They pretty quickly generated a problem ticket and gave me repair centers to call. Pretty easy really. I called all 3 numbers they gave me and picked the one I felt understood the issue best and was most straight forward about it and set up the repair with them.
The tech called this morning saying that they recived the OB and wanting to come out so we set it up…

I now have a second bad OB.

The tech was great, a real nice guy. We talked quite a bit as it takes a while to disassemble the XBR1. I was very confident that things would all be made right. But after he finished and we flipped on the power, I put up my 50% gray test screen and sure enough it was pinkish gray on one side and greenish gray on the other.

It’s subtle, like something a color minded person like me would see but a bench tech refurbishing 50 OBs a day wold blow off. But I know its the start of the “stain”. My tech also saw the issue and offered to order me a new OB… but for the reasons I stated above, I told him I wanted to wait and see if it “goes away”. I of course know it won’t but maybe in a month I may have a better chance of getting an OB that isn’t cursed from the beginning.

Don’t be like me though… replace your OB often! Don’t make your friends and family suffer the green stain! : )

Monday, February 25, 2008

No country for old men waves its privates in the face of people that thought it sucked.

When we saw this great film, we had people in our theater shouting at the end of the movie.

My guess is that they where so offended that brutality would go unpunished or that a hero would fail and surrender against insurmountable odds, that they could not contain the frustration. Their illusion had been shattered and they really did NOT like it!

Me, I know the world can be a brutal and unjust place. Why the hell should every movie made be a lie? I am sick of being patted on the head and told it will be OK.

So the cries of "That Sucked!", "Oh My God!" and "I Want My Money Back!" Were really saying to me "Please don't make me think about the fact that this kinda thing most likely really happens."

Good work shaking it up C-Bros. Those Oscar wins renewed my faith in the film industry a tiny bit.

The internet and its effect on the concept of an original idea

Recently we got a comment on our youtube posting of Coda from a person who seemed pretty upset and claimed that they and another person had essentially made the same film 2 years earlier. By her tone, we felt she was implying that we had seen the film they made and duplicated key elements from it.

Well, for the people involved in Coda we know this to not be the case. Whatever direct influences we had, we were largely unaware of them... well except for rules of the race of course. Old Twilight Zones, Hitchcock, M. Night Shyamalan and other such broad influences, sure, I think were clear about those... but none of us had ever seen a film exactly like what we were quickly writing and we had certainly never seen their film which was never distributed and played once at a film festival in Florida as near as I can tell. We simply would not have had the opportunity.

I still haven't seen their film, but I am taking it on faith that it has some strong similarities. (They seem like nice and honest people after getting to know them a bit) Thats really interesting to me. I have been speaking with the person that made the post and I think I have convinced her that we never saw their film. (they are trying to get it up on youtube, I hope they do I am dying to see it) If it really is as similar as they say, then it will have some interesting social ramifications to me.

Like I told her in a message "I really do understand, I know it must have been shocking to see something that appeared to be a copy of your work. Having done creative work professionally and personally for 20+ years I know that feeling... and Its always disturbing. The internet is only going to make it worse I think. In the past we may have lived the rest of our lives never knowing we did films so similar! But I suspect this is a good thing, It allowed us to meet, have a great story to tell, and perhaps have a few more people seeing our projects because of it."

Will people feel less compeled to create if they feel all the good Ideas are spoken for? what If you have a concept for a film 10 years from now and you search the web wich by that time is overflowing with films and videos from vast millions of people. and you find that in 2011 some person did almost the exact concept withsome friends on handhelds an barebulb 3 point lighting... will you keep going knowing that you will likely get accused of ripping them off?

With so many people making so much media, duplication of ideas is almost guaranteed.

The real answer of course is to not care and ignore the crys of foul... interestingly this is the same answer for both the person that honestly arrived at the concept on their own as it would be for the person that DID steal it. I just don't know if I can "not care" because I really pride myself on supporting the creators of content and just the idea that someone thought I would blatantly steal from someone else would make me ill.

By the way if you haven't seen Coda, and liked it... go give it a good rating. : )

Friday, February 22, 2008

Green glob of doom

Have you ever purchased a TV that was much more expensive than you should have ever paid but you justified it to yourself and bit the bullet... only to have it do this two years later?

SXRD_ExampleDSC00233 SXRD_ExampleDSC00236 SXRD_ExampleDSC00247


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Two Amazing Short Films

I was thinking of this blog as mostly a place for me to write, but I have to tell people about a couple of extraordinary short films I have seen recently.

First, Terminus

Official Site Direct link high quality (200mb)

Terminus is a disturbing bit of work. The graphics are impressive, not in a flashy "OMG look at that 14 headed alien" kinda way, but more of a "this is what it looks like when I dream" way. Bringing the fantastic into common settings is highly effective at creating tension and boy did these film makers ever cause tension. Excellent work.

I hope you like it as much as I did.

Next is Space Alone

Full Screen flash

Apparently a solo work from Ilias Sounas, its really beautiful plus he is a gifted story teller. I hope he does more animation.
Here is a link to his blog.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Robot Dreams

I picked a book called Robot Dreams on a whim while I was perusing the graphic novels at a book store last night and I could tell very quickly I held a treasure in my hands. (Good thing I looked between the oversized copies of Batman Eats Lasagna, How To Draw Manga Vol. 44, and Hulk Universe Ultra.)

Every now and then I get ahold of something like Robot Dreams that really effects me.

Find it here

People that know me understand that I don't give endorsements lightly as I find so few things in this world truly special... Robot Dreams has made my list.

Go buy it....

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Expensive software + Pirates make me a sucker

As you may have noticed I am on a tear about what is good and bad in the world of P2P file sharing.

As I was poking around the web I found an argument by a person that claimed "Ask any graphics designer, I'll bet my ass that his/her intro to photo editing would have been a pirated version of Photoshop."

Ooooo I suddenly feel out of touch with the general population again... Its sort of a queasy, light-headed feeling.

Why do I feel this way? Because, after only playing around with it on machines at my work and on friends computers, I bought photoshop as soon as I could scrape together the money to do so even though I was very poor. (I did get a good deal on an older version) Was I mad? A lunatic? I must be at least a freak of nature.

I have personal owned Photoshop since the 1.2 version. (I have the floppies to prove it.) I have kept it up to date at a pretty large personal expense. it was often a financial challenge to keep it current, but I saw this as necessary for me to advance in my profession. So…

A. Is it fair that because I respect the work that goes into making something as complex as PS, I have such a higher cost of entry to its use? Is it right that I have to compete with people that didn’t have the same feelings of obligation, didn’t pay to own the software and honed their skills on cracked copies or copies using borrowed serial numbers? Especially now that it is so easy to get?

B. I have heard it implied many times that software companies set the price for applications with piracy in mind. Since they know that a certain number of people will not pay. They adjust the price higher for those of us that will, in order to cover those losses. The insane cost of PS that I have paid over the years may be in part due to this and it could be said that I am paying a tax so that the people not willing to pay can use the software.

These are just some thoughts… I agree that file sharing won’t be going away and that we need to get used to its effects, both positive and negative. Maybe Adobe will create a “Loyal user program” and start giving me every other update for free… heh, I wont hold my breath.

So, what about the people that have always paid for the software? Are we just stupid? Maybe so.

Monday, February 11, 2008

File sharers seem not to respect musicians... Or at least they don't understand the crap we go through.

On a heated message board recently a few folks and I tried to convince file-sharers not to lump the musicians in with the music industry they hate so much.

This person makes a good point:
"To say piracy helps small artists, is not accurate. Exposure helps small artists. If the goal of p2p is to help small musicians (as opposed to just getting stuff without paying for it) it could be done more fairly by streaming free music instead of just downloading everything for free."-Ray Tardo

Very true, hell even if people were just TRYING to encourage support for independents then even open sharing would be fine. But I can tell you it is not my personal experience that people support independents when the files are offered freely. On one service that tracked free downloads we put up back in the old OMD days we had well around 20,000 unique downloads of our most popular track... I'll let you guess how many people choose to come back and click the button that would pay us the extremely modest fee for our effort and hard work.

As does this guy:
"All free download sites should have a donation button for the artist. Hello!"-anonymous

Someone would have figured this out a long time ago if they were really interested... I honestly don't believe they are. People seem to think it is easy to produce interesting well crafted songs recorded to the standards the public demands and therefore don't assign vale to them. I don't know how independents can convince them otherwise. Many of us have tried for years.

Unfortunatly most seem to belive that small musicians make good money performing live:
"its easy for a band to grow outside its local area when people around the world can hear their music at the click of button. and this is the exposure that everyone seems to be talking about. the more an artist is exposed, the more gigs theyre gonna get. any artist will tell you that they get the majority of their money from live gigs, and from selling their merchandise at these gigs. have you ever wondered why artists actually go out and play live shows?"-macD

2 things here. One, what do you say to a really talented musician that can't tour or perform? does the music they produce have no worth if they cant spend 10 months out of the year on the road? Second, were the hell do you live that people still go out to see live music that isn't from an already fully established artist? Maybe you do live in one of those dwindling few places like austin or hipper cities of the pacific NW, but in most parts of the US original live music has been dying slowly for a long time... god forbid you do something a bit out of the mainstream... if thats the case you can just forget it.

This is also a common opinion:
"But either way, id rather have a larger fanbase than alot of cash. I mean id make more money if 100,000 kids come to a show and atleast 25% purchase a shirt or cd there. Than selling 100,000 cd's off of iTunes or from a record store. -goemon4"

100,000? thats like arena rock crowds bud... Most independents are glad to get 50-200 people at a show if they are pretty well know. You have to get pretty huge before the economy of scale would make that work. Many talented artist would simply not have the choice to continue waiting for that to happen. If your talking about big established acts... sure. But then who will make the new music? in a future were recorded music has no value, who could afford to?

This is the guy that wrote the article we were all discussing:
"Studies have shown that artist actually make more money and sell more CDs if people can "try" their albums, by downloading them from P2P-networks.

Don't get me wrong, Piracy is not a solution, it's a signal that the recording industry should adapt to the preview / collect / sample demand of the public.

They will make MORE money on the long run, period"-Ernesto

Man, I don't know what to say other than my personal experience differs wildly from those studies. The music I make is way out of the mainstream and therefor its gonna be nearly impossible to reach a tipping point were having only a small percentage of the listeners directly support it makes it a viable choice for putting the time required into it.

The evil music industry needs to die, sure... Tons of musicians will agree... we hate it too. But we honestly thought we would all be working together on a solution to replace it and we thought that all the people tired of paying to much would support the efforts of true independents. The truth turns out to be very different and somewhat saddening.

I like this guy, he is a classic anarchist, but he fails to see some big holes in his thinking. and if one person in this thread summed up why file sharers feel justified it would be this guy. I would call him the voice of that community:
I'll tear down a corrupt system and replace it with nothing any day of the week, and proudly so.

I have no idea how the music industry is going to work in the future, but I do know that music is an art form that does not need any industry whatsoever to survive.

Music does not need to be a moneymachine for all involved. Ask yourself how music could exist before record companies. Some made a living by it, most did not.

Before recorded music existed, music was the property of all and enjoyed by all. That's what music is about."- Anonymous

From your statements, I think you're not a musician that has sacrificed relationships, comfort, security, and more so that you could bring your music to the people who might enjoy it...

Yes, we do it for "art" (at least a few of us) but we can't KEEP doing it if we are not supported. We at some point need the help of the people that enjoy the music. and back before recorded music, people gave coin to performers... or paid them to be in a house band as a regular job. The thing that has mostly changed is what the audience expects... to deliver a piece of music that is considered "good" you have to invest a lot of time and quite a bit of money.

My project studio and other music related expenses most likely cost more over the years than many people paid for their college educations. Yet if someone is a programer or a web developer they are not going to give your services away for free are they? Most likely they would never do any work on "spec". But somehow only a tiny fraction of people seem obligated to give musicians respect and support. I waste my breath I am sure... I have made these arguments for years and years and either I am just completely wrong... or people don't want to listen.

Before recorded music existed you couldn't have 10,000 songs on your hard drive. and unless you convinced uncle jake to pull out the banjo you would have no music at all.

So, Respectfully I say to you that unless your 80gig zune (heh zune) is full of music recorded in your home with your friends playing boron, mandolin, and a string bass then I am afraid your above statements are flawed in my option.

You can start learning here...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

I was not prepared for this...

My wife has written her own description of these events and I have not yet read them because I don't think I am ready... I had to defer some of my emotion while I was taking care of her and I am still pretty shaken up.

As some people reading this may know, my wife and I were expecting a child. After many many years together we had made the important decision to add a member to our family. She got pregnant very quickly and we both started getting used to the idea that we would be parents. At 6-7 weeks we had a sonogram and saw the heart of our future child beating. I dont know how to describe what that is like other than to say "it changed me". I started preparing, trying to get more done, make myself believe I would be a good father. The love and respect for my wife grew to new heights. The fact that she would choose to start this adventure with me was powerful to say the least. I was proud and I had redefined purpose in my life.

Weeks passed, everything was on track, we had an appointment for a new sonogram in a day or two that would mark her officially being in her second trimester.

One morning about two weeks ago she called me from work and told me she was bleeding a bit and having cramps. I got a terrible sinking feeling like all the air had been let out of my lungs but I acted brave and asked her if she had called her doctor. She said that she was waiting to hear back from them so I offered to come meet her for lunch in order to hopefully offer her some reassurance and take her mind off of it. She sounded very uneasy and stressed.

A short time later she called me and told me that she had spoken with her doctor and that he had said that this happens sometimes and not to worry too much and to call if it became worse. We decided to still meet for lunch. I felt helpless when I saw her, like nothing I said or did would make one bit of difference. We talked about the fact that it may be something that just happens in a certain number of pregnancies and I tried to remind her that a lot of changes are going on inside her and that it may just be normal... but really I think looking back we both knew something was wrong.

She came home early and we tried to distract ourselves but the cramps just became worse over time and she started bleeding more. In the evening I suggested she should call the doctor again. She said that she didn't want to bother them and I reminded her that that was their job and that for once she needed to be put her own interests first. Eventually I convinced her to call and after waiting for the doctor that was covering at that hour to call us back, they gave her more advice that it may just be normal and to watch the bleeding... With the ominous instruction that if it got to a certain level that she needed to go to the emergency room.

Another couple of hours passed and her pain became worse and worse. Now and then she would disappear into the bathroom and I would listen in case she called for me... I was very torn I wanted to be at her side at every second but I also wanted to respect her boundaries. Every part of me was a bundle of nerves. She started bleeding still more and at the first sign that she thought she might want to go to the emergency room I jumped on it and told her "lets not mess around on this... If you think you may need to go, then we are going now" We gathered our stuff quickly, put her in the car and started off to the hospital.

It was some time after 10pm. She was reclined in the passenger side of the car and I couldn't really see her face most of the time so I took her hand and was constantly giving her squeezes like a code. It seemed like I was asking her how she was every few feet of the trip. I have to say that in the dark, driving as fast as I could safely drive, only getting a chance to look over at her now and then I started getting scared... she was weak, she had lost a lost of blood at that point and was in tremendous pain. I have this image in my head of seeing her like that as light from a street lamps played over her and thinking that I could loose her.

We arrived at the emergency room and as you might expect they seemed disinterested and overly casual. This of course pissed me off to no end but I knew that if I wanted to get her taken care of efficiently I would need to not freak out on them. She was in a wheel chair and I kept her close to the desk and stood by her, when I saw a spot closer to the desk and in their field of vision I moved us there so we could get help quicker if needed.

Then my wife very sheepishly told me she was going to pass out. I was trying to get her to lean back when she just collapsed and slumped forward. I yelled her name, I tried to push her upright but she was just dead weight and the wheelchair was not locked. I put my arms around her and started yelling at the desk that she had passed out. They slowly, begrudgingly turned their attention to us just in time to see her start jerking and kicking. Someone said "Is she having a seziure?!" and I just shouted out "I don't Know!" and I think I started saying something like "please help her!" over and over. But it was probably not necessary. They where already in action calling out things to each other like in a hospital drama. They moved slower than I would have liked but I understood that the speed at which I perceived things to be happening was modified by my swelling panic and fear for my mate. It seemed like I answered a question and when I turned around she was being wheeled away so fast I had to jog to catch up held into the wheelchair by the same woman I felt like yelling at a few minutes before because she struck me as flip. She came out of it as they were taking her back and started asking questions. She was very pale and her lips had almost no color. I was terrified that she was in real trouble.

My disrespect for the staff melted while I watched her being made ready to examined and taken care of. At one point the same woman who I had been so mad at seemed to see how worried I was, put her hand on my arm and gently said "She will be ok, they work fast, and they are very good".

Getting her set up and on the monitoring machines was a disturbing, she was bleeding so much and the staff all seemed surprised by this and at times they seemed perplexed by why she was passing out. When they got her on the monitors I started to feel a bit better. They all seemed a bit relived and I asked if she looked OK from what was on the screens one nurse was kind enough to say that her vital signs looked good. I didnt know at that point that the next many hours would be spent watching those little squiggly lines.

We waited for a doctor for what must have been well over an hour. Every so often my wife would start quaking like she was violently shivering. She also could not seem to get warm and we kept asking for more blankets. The other thing that was freaking me out was that she kept saying she was thirsty over and over. I think I brought her 3 glasses of water. I kept thinking this was a bad sign for her to be worried about her thirst when she was in such pain and distress otherwise. We still didn't know for sure what was going on at this point and how serious it was. So these long waits became more and more torturous.

When the doctor arrived he asked a few questions and disappeared again for another 45min to an hour. Thankfully after this first visit, my wife was given some pain medication and was started to relax. She asked to go to the bathroom and insisted on getting up to go. I am struggling with this as I don't want to be to direct... but she lost a lot of material before getting back to the room. She seemed to be in less pain and with all the pain she had been in I was thankful.

On the doctors return he examined her and this was more than a bit hard to take, it was gory and miserable. He told us she was having a miscarriage. Of course we new this by this point and he of course was just confirming what was happening. I asked him if she would be alright because she was in so much pain and she was passing out. Thats when the oddness of it all hit me... This was normal. Rare yes, as most miscarriages happen much sooner, but perfectly normal. And I had no Idea. The hushed tones that people use to talk about such things had always lead me to believe it was a relatively heartbreaking but less eventful process. I asked the nurse if we had done the right thing by coming to the emergency room and she said that it was. I told her I never expected it to be so traumatic and she told me that they see many women and that when its this far along, its a very serious situation.

A sonogram was ordered, more waiting, the sonogram was performed, more waiting, shifts changed and we got a new doctor that told us that the miscarriage was incomplete and to follow up with her personal doctor ASAP because surgery may be required. She was discharged around 3AM and I wheeled her out and was paying the bill when she called out to me that she was going to pass out again. I rushed over to her and it was like the whole thing was starting over again! I could not get her to respond and the nurse that had been tending to her most of the evening rushed over and took her back to a room.

More waiting, the second doctor visited and informed us that they were getting new blood work done and that they wanted to watch her for a while and get an opinion from the "gyno" on call. I made a joke to my wife, pretending to think the doctor had said the "Dyno" on call and explaining how I was imagining a T-Rex in a lab coat with little flippity floppity arms... my wife laughed and I loved her for it.

With this new round of emergency and worry, I couldn't help but think that something was horribly wrong... it just didn't seem right for her to be so sick, so hurt, so weak and in so much pain. I pushed back hard against the thoughts of losing her. While we were still waiting she lost some more material and when the blood work came back doctor #3 told us it would not be necessary to check her into the hospital. By this time it was after 7AM and we had been there for over eight hours.

We picked up her prescriptions for pain medication, antibiotics and grabbed a few supplies, drove home to clean up and then got back in the car to make the long drive to her regular doctor to keep the appointment we already had for the second sonogram... What should have been our second "baby picture" now had the purpose of checking to see if she needed surgery.

So, she is recovering... and I am starting to feel like I can relax a bit and drop out of "protector" mode. We are feeling very close at the moment, both of us seem to go through irrational bouts of guilt, but we have been very good at supporting and loving each other. I have moments of deep sadness that I know will pass eventualy...

The thing I came away from this experience with is that I wish I had known. I know its not something people want to talk about, I know what we went through was a rare extreme example of what can happen, and I know we had the misfortune of it occurring in the middle of the night when her regular doctor was not available. But I don't think we needed to be taken by surprise like that... I held my wife in my arms and thought she was going to die...

And I thought she was going to die because I had gotten her pregnant. I felt like I would go mad. If anyone reads this and is more prepared for the possibility of this happening then its worth the uncomfortable sadness and embarrassment I feel now.

If my wife, my love, my best friend, decides she wants to try this again, I will be ready and experienced. I will protect her with all my strength and love her with all my heart.