September 2007

Indiana Jones and the Bulk Book Service

by Joey deVilla on September 29, 2007

Indiana Jones and booksI live in Toronto, a city where a lot of movie filming takes place (recently, our Yonge Street has been standing in for New York’s Harlem in the upcoming Incredible Hulk movie). There’s always a movie shoot going on — you can tell by the pylons with the location company’s logo and the row of white trailers, we have a number of lots that store New York City police cars and cabs, and a number of downtown used furniture stores specialize in renting furniture for movie sets.

The library scene is a staple of movies, often used to inform the audience that a certain character is well-educated, or in the case of a private library, whether in a home or a gentleman’s club, it’s used to establish that a character is rich. Ever wondered where they get the books for these scenes from? One source is New York’s famous bookstore, The Strand (whose slogan is “18 miles of books”), which offers a service called Books by the Foot.

There’s more on the service (recently used for Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull) in a New Yorker piece titled Books in Bulk.

[Thanks to Jason Kottke for the link!]

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“Rock Band” Hits the Shelves on Black Friday

by Joey deVilla on September 29, 2007

Screenshot from the upcoming game “Rock Band”
Screenshot from Rock Band. Click to see the screenshot on its original page at full size (it’s huge).

“Rock Band” logoLet me get the tiny bit of disappointment that I have with the upcoming game Rock Band out of the way first: What? No keyboards? They’re the most computer-ready interface devices to make! You suck.

That little gripe aside, I’m looking forward to Rock Band, the next step in the evolution of the Guitar Hero game. While Guitar Hero let one player at a time “play guitar” and Guitar Hero II let a single player “play” either guitar or bass, Rock Band offers, Rock Band lets up to four people play simultaneously, each one taking the role of guitarist, bassist, drummer or lead vocalist. As you can see from the screenshot above, gameplay looks like a hybrid of Guitar Hero for the instrument roles and Karaoke Revolution for the vocalist role.

Joystiq has just published the news on Rock Band’s release date and price. Rock Band for the XBox 360 and the PlayStation 3 will hit the shelves in the U.S. on Friday, November 23rd, with the PlayStation 2 version following on December 10th. November 23rd is “Black Friday” — for our non-American readers, this is the Friday of the American Thanksgiving long weekend. Being the last holiday before Christmas, it’s the biggest shopping day of the year and a day which puts a lot of stores “in the black”, hence the name. Shopping malls in the U.S. open ridiculously early on that day (we’re talking hours before sunrise) and the crowds are insane. Occasionally fights break out; perhaps the makers of Rock Band want shoppers to have the full rock concert experience — the Woodstock 1999 experience, that is.

The full Rock Band bundle will sell for the following consoles:

  • XBox 360: $170
  • PlayStation 3: $170
  • PlayStation 2: $160

The bundle will include:

  • The game itself (regular price $60 for the XBox 360 and PS 3, $50 for the PS2)
  • Guitar controller (reg. $60, but wired on Xbox 360, wireless is separate and $80)
  • Drum controller (reg. $80, wired)
  • Microphone (reg. $30, wired)

According to Wikipedia, the following songs have been announced for the game:

  • “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” – Jet
  • “Black Hole Sun” – Soundgarden
  • “Blitzkrieg Bop” – Ramones
  • “Brainpower” – Freezepop
  • “Celebrity Skin” – Hole
  • “Cherub Rock” – Smashing Pumpkins
  • “Creep” – Radiohead
  • “Dani California” – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • “Detroit Rock City” – Kiss
  • “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” – Blue Öyster Cult
  • “Enter Sandman” – Metallica
  • “Epic” – Faith No More
  • “Gimme Shelter” – Rolling Stones
  • “Go with the Flow” – Queens of the Stone Age
  • “The Hand That Feeds” – Nine Inch Nails
  • “Here It Goes Again” – OK Go
  • “Highway Star” – Deep Purple
  • “I Think I’m Paranoid” – Garbage
  • “In Bloom” – Nirvana
  • “Learn to Fly” – Foo Fighters
  • “Main Offender” – The Hives
  • “Maps” – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • “Mississippi Queen” – Mountain
  • “Orange Crush” – R.E.M.
  • “Paranoid” – Black Sabbath
  • “Reptilia” – The Strokes
  • “Sabotage” – Beastie Boys
  • “Say It Ain’t So” – Weezer
  • “Should I Stay or Should I Go” – The Clash
  • “Suffragette City” – David Bowie
  • “Tom Sawyer” – Rush
  • “Vasoline” – Stone Temple Pilots
  • “Wanted Dead or Alive” – Bon Jovi
  • “Wave of Mutilation” – Pixies
  • “Won’t Get Fooled Again” – The Who

I think this is a pretty good collection of songs; a number of them are either in my accordion repertoire or were on the set lists of bands with whom I played keyboards.

Most of the tunes listed will use the original master tracks. I suspect that the game will use the bowlderized lyrics for Radiohead’s Creep (“You’re so very special” rather than “You’re so fucking special”), and I hope that Don’t Fear the Reaper has a special “cowbell” mode. I also think that The Perfect Drug might’ve been a better Nine Inch Nails tune, even if only to give the drummer a challenge (there’s a killer drum solo near the end of the song).

The inclusion of a tune by Boston-based synthpop band Freezepop seems a little odd — they’d fit better in a game that offered keyboard controllers. This may be a prank by a Wikipedia contributor.

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Tired: Bruce Schneier Facts. Wired: Paul Graham Facts!

by Joey deVilla on September 28, 2007

Paul Graham’s head on Chuck Norris’ Body

The “Chuck Norris Facts” jokes as applied to computer security guru Bruce Schneier were funny, but geeks, being rather flighty creatures, have moved on. The new hotness is “Paul Graham Facts”, and if you can think of a good one about the Lisp hacker turned venture capitalist (or want to kiss some ass for Y Combinator funding), you can submit it.

My favourite Paul Graham Facts so far:

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Brokeback Batman

by Joey deVilla on September 28, 2007

Via the LiveJournal “scans_daily” community, here’s the “slashiest page ever to appear in a children’s storybook that does not star Bert and Ernie”:

Page from a Superman/Batman children’s book

Here’s the text:

Without Superman realizing it, Batman stuck a small Bat-transmitter on Superman’s cape. The device sent out a signal, and the Caped Crusader followed it to Clark Kent’s apartment. Superman was just getting ready for bed when he looked out the window and saw that Batman had sicovered his secret. Now the two of them had to trust each other.

Robin’s not going to like this.

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Don’t Forget: Furries vs. Klingons Tomorrow!

by Joey deVilla on September 28, 2007

Small version of the “Furries vs. Klingons” posterWell, tomorrow’s the big night — the second annual bowling tournament where Atlanta-area Furries take on Atlanta-area Klingons takes place at Midtown Bowl (1936 Piedmont Cir NE, Atlanta, Georgia). A hearty Qa’pla! and Meow! to all who are attending!

Someone set up a poll at Poll Boutique where you can vote for your favourite team. As of this writing, the Furries and Klingons are dead even, each with 50% of the vote.

In honour of this weekend’s event, I would like to share the most appropriate music in my collection for this event: the ever-lovin’
Star Trek Fight Music [1.8MB MP3]. Enjoy!

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Ease of Use Doesn’t Always Mean “Fewer Buttons”

by Joey deVilla on September 28, 2007

In yesterday’s posting, Monkey Knife Fight, I point to an argument made by Elliotte Rusty Harold that Java’s java.util.List is more “humane” than Ruby’s Array since it has fewer methods. He posed the question “Which of these three remotes would you rather use?”:

Two complex TV remotes and the very simple Apple TV remote

There is, of course, a point where having too few buttons or controls is a hindrance. Which instrument would you rather play? This beastly thing with an ancient user interface sporting 88 buttons, each of which reacts with volume proportional to the force with which you press them, and three pedals?

Grand piano

Or this much simpler, more “humane” interface with two controls?

“Music Maker” app with a “Pitch” slider and a “Play Note” button.

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Verizon’s Ironic Pop-Up Ad

by Joey deVilla on September 27, 2007

Newspaper articles, pop-up ads and random number generators are a never-ending source of amusement. Consider the screenshot below, in which a Verizon pop-up ad blocks your view of an article about Verizon blocking the New York Times article Verizon Blocks Messages of Abortion Rights Group:

Verizon pop-up ad blocking an article about Verizon’s blocking opt-in SMS messages from the pro-choice group NARAL
Image courtesy of Raypride.

This is out-of-date news now: Verizon has reversed its stance and will now NARAL to use its mobile network to distribute opt-in SMS news alerts to its subscribers.

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