Archive for January, 2008

Birth of Portland’s DIY Culture (movie review)

Friday, January 25th, 2008

25 years ago I was attracted to the Portland punk scene. It wasn’t like I lived at “the house” or jumped off the stage ever… but you can find a few of my pictures from back then here. Anyway, there have been several punk documentaries and while each had their high moments I can’t say any really blew me away. When I finally got around to watching “Northwest Passage: The Birth Of Portland’s DIY Culture” I didn’t expect much. It was actually quite good! I guess it sorta makes Portland seem a bit backwater… but the thing that stuck out watching this film was it didn’t fit the model of many such films where the over-the-hill rockers talk about things and you know they’re exaggerating. Plus, this is perhaps the only Punk documentary that isn’t overshadowed by Henry Rollins.

The DIY aspect really shines through in this film. It’s pretty motivating. I mean, a bunch of these punks organized and produced a live album (10-29-79) which not only sounds good but was actually realized!

Unfortunately, a lot of the old footage is all from one club (the Earth Tavern) and, while I may be old, I wasn’t old enough to get into that club back then. (Though, I do recall getting into see “X” at another >21 club on the grounds that I was taking photographs.) The interviews on this film have this annoying noise bed that I think was intentional… the audio is fine but that noise bugged me.

Although most footage is from the Earth… they do have some awesome pieces from Poison Idea, Dead Kennedys, and others. Plus, the clips from the local news including amNorthwest are classic! Is that woman Margie Boulé? It was great when the punks on that show confront the news media for failing to recognize actual music that was being produced here.

Not enough Wipers in this film, but they’re in there. I’m not saying it was the best documentary of all time, but it far exceeded my expectations and it’s worth the 90 minutes or so to watch it.

At least check out the 2 minute trailer (here)

My first trackback: PicLens is killer

Friday, January 25th, 2008

John Nack mentions PicLens

I installed it (link) and it is awesome!

Pseüðo £òc äpp (Pseudo Loc app)

Sunday, January 13th, 2008

The games I’ve built for MSN Messenger have their largest audiences outside the US (something like 80% of the users are outside the US). Naturally, many of them speak other languages. So, every piece of text needs to be localized to every supported language. Besides checking that every piece is externalized so that it can be translated, the testers check two things: that my project supports other character sets–say, umlauts (like ä)–and that the display can handle the likely expansion when translated to more verbose languages. You can count on an increase of about 30% when going from English to German for example.

The projects need to get tested long before the translation occurs–and even before all the text is finalized. So, during production we take the “loc file” (an XML text file containing all onscreen text) and perform a pseudo localization by replacing the text with various special characters (umlauts among others). It looks a lot like l33t speak but it’s actually easy to read. In addition to replacing characters, additional padding is added to ensure it can accommodate the expected expansion. The way I’ve done it is by including brackets on each end of the text blocks to make it clear where it begins and ends. For example, the string:

Waiting for other player.

might get translated to:

[Wãïtíñg fo® öthér playé®. !!! !!!]

It’s actually kind of fun–and, like I say, easier than l33t speak, at least for someone of my age.

Here’s a little app that lets you play with it: link It draws from a list of replacements (here). I’ve been meaning to clean up the code and make a more generic class that others could use as mine is very hard-wired to the particular projects I’m working on. Tell me if it’s interesting and I could be motivated to clean it up. Really, it’s not rocket science… the concept is what’s interesting.

CES Mania–Jigsaw Too Photo Edition

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

As part of my renewed activity on this blog and because I’m proud of my work programming this two-player jigsaw game… there’s a new release of the game where users can share photos to use as the jigsaw puzzle. Here’s a press release timed to CES:

The game is a new version of the free Jigsaw game (either two player while in Messenger: link; or one player on web: link). What’s cool (technically) in the “Photo Edition” of the game is that two players can share a photo from one of the player’s computer–but no image ever goes to a server! It’s all handled with Messenger’s P2P file sharing capabilities. If you’re familiar with Flash’s security model you should realize this was a huge hurdle.

If you want a tour, just IM me on MSN:

New Year Resolutions

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

If I put this off another day, I’ll risk breaking one of my 2-day old resolutions. Here are the resolutions I care to share publicly… in part because I figure if I put them here I’m more likely to keep them:

  1. Eat until I’m satisfied, not “full”. It’s not so much for weight control, but it seems like an easy thing to modify.
  2. Avoid blogs that bother me. I’ve taken out several blogs from my RSS reader and I already feel calmer. By the way, this isn’t to say I only read opinions with which I agree.
  3. Sit up straight. Not all the time, but I think a mild back muscle workout will be good in the long term.
  4. Write with proper punctuation! When did I turn into one of those people who start a sentence with a lowercase letter? Sometimes it really doesn’t matter, and I won’t think you’re lame if you do it… but sometimes it really gets in the way of communication. I think the clue that it had gotten out of hand was when a client of mine went through to correct some posts I had made to our project site. Ouch.
  5. Plan some good April Fool’s jokes. All I can say is last year sucked with it being on Sunday.
  6. Move from troll to blogger. I’m thinking I’ll get into a groove soon and find myself. At least I think that when I overcome the the inertia then I’ll be closer. There, with this post I feel better already.