g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon ValleyNew York-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry, political bile, and sports car rentals.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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James Lileks
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As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
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Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
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Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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Sunday, June 24, 2007
01:56 - Unpatentable idea #41227

(top)
Wouldn't it be cool if there were such a thing as a photographic file format where, rather than storing 0/0/0 as pure black and (say) 255/255/255 as pure white, it actually defined black to be somewhere around 30 and white around 225?

That way, if you're taking a photo and you underexpose or overexpose it, rather than railing most of the histogram of colors into the 0 or 255 values, it would have some overrun room on either end, where it could store color values that go beyond the normal range of the exposure. For instance, if I were to take an overexposed shot of something white against a light gray background, the resulting picture would still look totally white, but the image file would still store the white object as whiter than white, as it were, and the object and the background would still have distinctly different color values in the storage medium. The background would be stored as "white", but the object would be somewhere up in the "beyond white" zone. The upshot of this would be that you could then post-process the file and recover a lot of the color detail that would otherwise have been lost if everything had gotten flattened against the "white" end of the spectrum (or black, as the case may be).

... Actually this would probably only work for overexposure, not underexposure, because if there isn't enough light to trip the sensor, there isn't enough light to trip the sensor (well, unless the sensitivity is being artificially decreased in software by bracketing or something). But there's nothing stopping the sensor from recording more light than the human eye normally registers as "white", right? So why not store that distinction in a reserved buffer zone so as to make post-processing potentially more fruitful? It's a bit less color space for actual imagery, true, but the benefits might outweigh the cost.

Okay: now here's the part where everyone tells me that this has already been done, and either a) is unfeasible for a variety of very cogent reasons, or b) is already the way it's done across the board in industry-standard mechanisms. Have at it!

Thursday, June 21, 2007
11:55 - Brits have more fun
http://spe.atdmt.com/ds/TBOUKAPUKAUK/phase_4/Mac_UK_r4_Squished_728x90_slashdot.swf

(top)
Even Apple's banner ads are good for a giggle.

Via David G.


09:23 - The new phone book's here! The new phone book's here!

(top)
AppleTV owners, heads up: YouTube integration has been delivered. Early, too, no less.

It's pretty sweet. There's a little on-screen letter picker for clumsy searching, and there are the usual server-generated collections of Top Rated, Most Watched, and so on; but what I hadn't expected, and what makes the feature really genuinely useful and dispels my skepticism, is that it allows you to log in with your YouTube username/password, after which you have access to your Favorites list. So if you want to search in a manner that doesn't feel like you're driving a car with brooms for arms, you just go to your PC, search for what you want, add it to your Favorites, and then go call it up on AppleTV. You can then even rate it from there or flag it as inappropriate.

The video isn't, like, DVD-quality or anything... but it's not like I expected that. And the OK Go/Treadmills video looks and sounds just dandy.

UPDATE: What beats the OK Go video? The Diet Coke & Mentos video.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007
14:01 - Incontinental Airlines
http://www.king5.com/topstories/stories/NW_061907WAB_continental_sewage_flight_TP.1c

(top)
Yargh.

No wonder air travel lacks the genteel cachet it once had.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007
20:02 - Coasting
http://www.californiacoastline.org

(top)
Now this is a cool site, for anyone with a decently fast connection, a fascination with the California coastline, and a lot of spare time.

It's an unbroken series of aerial photos of the shore from Oregon to Mexico, which you can navigate sequentially or by skipping up and down the map.

... Well, I think it's cool. But Barbra Streisand doesn't. (Looks like I'm way behind on this one...)


09:31 - I'm only saying this based on hearsay, but...

(top)
Lileks in his fancy new digs got me thinking...

I'm sure I'm not unique in that whenever I hear some corporate slogan in an ad or lyric in a song, I find myself pondering how best one might parody it, if feeling in a less than charitable mood toward it. (Like, for example, that Army Reserve ad that keeps showing examples of what you'd do one day and then the next, like "Build your country one day, and yourself the next"; I keep imagining someone dubbing over it "Build your country one day, and tear it down the next," and so on.) I'm not sure why I do that; I guess it's like I want to try to head off criticism at the pass or something.

But that Budweiser campaign they're doing these days, that "This is Budweiser; this is beer" thing? It strikes me that someone could suck all the wind out of it by just showing that as a caption, underneath two bottles of beer—a Budweiser, and something else.

Monday, June 18, 2007
18:06 - Sounds like a dish
http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117933921.html?categoryid=31&cs=1

(top)
Every studio has its high points and its weak moments; for years now I've been waiting patiently (if with trepidation) for Pixar to produce its first big-time flop. But now, at the risk of jinxing it, it seems their portfolio is large enough that we can identify which ones are less than stellar outings, and when those are otherwise much-loved films like Cars and Finding Nemo, maybe I can uncover my eyes and revel in the fact that we've already seen the low points. And they're not that low.

Trade reviews tasked with spreading pre-release buzz can't quite be trusted to accurately gauge wide public reaction; but even so, this one sure makes Ratatouille sound like it's got Pixar back up on its A game:

After the less than universally admired "Cars," Pixar's eighth feature sees the Disney-owned toon studio in very fine form, and confirms Bird's reputation as one of the medium's most engaging storytellers. Compared to his woefully underseen "The Iron Giant" and Oscar-winning "The Incredibles," "Rata-touille" may be smaller in scope, but in telling the story of a very smart rat striving to enter the very human world of French haute cuisine, it shares with its predecessors an affinity for gifted outsiders seeking personal fulfillment.

Pic also extends two of the great themes of "The Incredibles": the pursuit of excellence over mediocrity (a standard that has long distinguished Pixar from rivals and imitators) and the importance -- or rather, the unavoidability -- of family ties. Remy, a thin blue rat who lives with his unruly rodent clan in the French countryside, finds himself torn between these two commitments as the film opens.

Ah, Brad Bird. Is there anything you can't do?

(Apparently Tony Fucile—Disney animator emeritus—is doing voice work now, as is Bird himself.)

I always feel vaguely funny about admiring heroes who are still alive and producing; it's like in baseball, where no matter how many home runs Bonds hits, it still doesn't feel like I'm living in the age of Mays and McCovey. As dismal a shape as the animation industry is in these days, it seems fatuous to think of it as a Golden Age; but one Pixar can make up for a hundred contract units cranking out stuff like The Wild and Barnyard. Thank goodness.

Via Cartoon Brew, which also links to this review:
Ratatouille has negative virtues, too. Pop-culture pokes and nudges, so tiresome in the DreamWorks cartoons and Pixar's Cars, are mercifully absent; neither are there any obtrusive movie-star voices. There's an odd sprinkling of French characters who are presumably speaking French but with a French accent, and Colette's accent is a little too thick, sometimes getting in the way of a joke. In general, though, the voices seem to have been chosen with the characters clearly in mind, in the manner of the early Disney features, and certainly not for the voice actors' marquee value.

A movie made to go against the hip focus-group-tested trends (like the rampant 80s nostalgia-fetishism that Seth Green seems to have singlehandedly created by never outgrowing playing with action figures, which was funny at first but now you can't get away from) and toward established principles of beautiful animation and engaging storytelling? I can't wait.

(That second review also makes some interesting negative points, but the way it tracks certain storytelling tendencies across personalities like Bird and Lasseter—to me—just adds to the fascination. This will all make a great coffee table book in about fifteen years... and an art college major in thirty.)

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