In "Curious George: Articles on Widescreen Vs Fullscreen"

An argument that most movies shouldn't be shot in widescreen in the first place: The Widescreen Scam Cropping a movie that has been shot in a wide ratio can be incredibly annoying, and can even ruin some scenes outright. Letterboxing avoids cropping but sacrifices resolution, damaging the entire movie. You're just screwed, either way, which is exactly how Hollywood likes you.

In "RIP VHS 1976-2006"

Hey now, I just recorded some shows on VHS the other day, so I could pass them on to friends. DVD recorders are getting awfully cheap and tempting. But everyone I know already has a VHS machine, and the tapes are cheap, reusable, and easy to find at the store.

In "15 more minutes for the Beamer family."

QUESTION: What did Iraq have to do with it? BUSH: What did Iraq have to do with what? QUESTION: The attack on the World Trade Center. BUSH: Nothing. Even the man himself stopped pushing this lame justification, once he got the slaughter he so dearly wanted.

In "Unlocking the Mysteries of Svchost.exe"

Great tip. It's hard to do even basic checks for malware when you can't tell what's running on the machine, what's supposed to be there and what's not, etc. If you don't have Windows Defender, it may be better, as some of the comments suggest, to try the free Sysinternals Process Explorer program instead. All the utilities from Sysinternals I've tried have been impressive, providing lots of information while remaining simple and unobtrusive. Quite a contrast with meddlesome Microsoft utilities.

In "96 kilobytes WHAT"

The development effort and storage space required by modern games are almost entirely devoted to static data. Stuff like bitmaps, audio files, character model meshes, etc. I believe those in the business call this stuff "assets." The program itself is often quite small by modern standards. For example, Quake 3 consumed something like 100MB of disk space, but the program itself was only about 500KB, less than one percent of the total package. So the tiny size of .kkrieger isn't surprising. (Quake 3 doesn't really count as "modern" any more, but the situation has only become more skewed toward assets since then, to the point of an organizational, financial and creative "content crisis," in some observer's opinions. Wil Wright talks about this a little bit in his Spore talk.) I would guess that .kkrieger probably creates textures and other data algorithmically when it starts up, then treats them as static assets during game play, rather than really creating assets "on the fly" as needed. In either case, such an approach actually requires more code, not less.

In "Curious George: Maxthon"

Maxathon does have a devoted crowd of fans. I haven't tried it, but I frankly find it hard to imagine any feature it could have that would make the IE-related security risk seem like a worthwhile tradeoff. I liked Mozilla until the Mozilla Foundations stopped active development. Now I use Opera, and Firefox for sites where Opera doesn't work (which are pretty few and far between now).

In "Zombie Dance Party leads to WMD arrests."

Wish there was a picture or a better description of the "simulated weapons of mass destruction." "Backpacks with protruding wires" doesn't really sound too scary.

In "HotCaptcha"

Wouldn't "pick out the three cats" from a bunch of pictures of say teddy bears be just as effective? One theoretical weakness of this type of image-selection captcha is that a pool of (for example) a few hundred cat-and-teddy pictures could fairly easily be cataloged by an unfriendly web-surfer. The cataloge could allow a computer to use a cheat-sheet approach to bypass the intended image-recognition problem. By using the endless supply of new people pictures from something like, this weakness is at least somewhat mitigated. As a bonus, they're already pre-scored by common consensus, so new pictures can be added to the pool used by the captcha completely automatically. In spite of which, I still find this idea leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

In "Knob, $485"

Once, I aspired to being an audiophile. However, as I grew up, I failed to become rich. Then I aspired to make fun of audiophiles. However, it's just too easy.

In "About Fucking Time"

...wonders if Rove has finally lost his security clearance -- and thus his ability to work on policy issues that pertain to national security... Interesting, but why would this administration 1) follow the rule that requires Rove's clearance to be revoked and 2) follow the rule that prevents Rove from working with classified information without a clearance? Rule-following doesn't appear to one of these guys' top priorities.

In "Curious George: Nero 7"

I've had similar trouble burning directly from MP3 to audio-CD. I was burning MP3 files that played back perfectly with Winamp. But the burned CDs had audible glitches (always at the same elapsed times) where the Winamp-played MP3s did not. It seems that Winamp (and probably other playback-focused MP3 programs as well) is very savvy about playing files that are slightly damaged, and is able to recover from or hide errors that cause other MP3 decoders to freak out. My MP3 files were slightly corrupt, and although Winamp could play them well, the less-sophisticated MP3 decoder in my CD-burning software could not. MP3 files collected from the internet are surprisingly likely to contain encoding errors or other types of minor corruption. Eventually I tried using Winamp to convert from MP3 to WAV, then burning the audio-CD from the WAV files. That worked perfectly.

In "The most horrific car crash you'll ever see"

That jersey barrier is supposed to keep out-of-control vehicles from causing mayhem on both sides of the freeway. Good thin so many of us Americans drive huge-ass SUVs, you know, for safety.

In "What happens when you get blasted by a .28 gauge shotgun?"

Was Cheney 90 feet away from his designated victim human target uh, friend? I had the impression he was much closer. I think it's just "28 gauge," i.e., no decimal point. Shotgun gauges are a very different measurement from the caliber measurement used for rifles and pistols.

In "Shotcodes"

I am reminded of the :CueCat. And there was some webcam-based scheme very much like this for magazine ads, too, I think. I suppose the addition of portability and the involvement of actual transactions of some kind could make this one work, though.

In "Curious George: moving past point-and-click"

Some time ago, I upgraded from a point-and-shoot to an "advanced digicam" type camera with lots of manual controls, one notch below a DSLR. I don't think it's made my pictures any better. If my pictures have improved, it's mostly because I've put more effort into taking them, not because the equipment is different. My favorite shots are rarely snapshots - I've generally invested at least 15 minutes, sometimes an hour into each of them. The composition stuff (figuring out what to include, what to exclude, and what angle to use) is most of the trick to taking good pictures. Better equipment doesn't change any of that. Your flickr pictures are not bad at all. One thing I'd suggest is to turn off the on-camera flash, it flattens and overexposes the subject, makes harsh shadows behind the subject, and can cause redeye too. It's true that without the flash you will often find you need to get a ton of light from ... somewhere. But the nasty point-source on-camera flash is probably the single biggest thing that separates the average snapshot from a more professional look. Virtually any other light source is more diffuse and more flattering. Overcast skies and not-facing-the-sun windows can be very good, and cheap too.

In "Curious George: Top Secret!"

A friend of mine got an engineering job with a defense contractor some years ago, and he had to get some sort of clearance for it. Many of his friends and acquaintences (myself included) were interviewed by someone from either the FBI or the Department of Defense - I can't remember which. The interview, in my case, focused on how likely or unlikely it was that my friend (the job candidate) might be blackmailed. My friend had a pretty tumultuous personal life, including dropping out of college, marriages, divorces, shacking ups, un-shacking ups, and other relationship disasters, enteprenurial failures, scattershot job and career choices, drug use, alcohol abuse, etc. He got the clearance and the job.

In "Capitol Police arrest antiwar activist Sheehan: Invited to State of the Union address, she is removed from gallery."

...the wife of a Republican congressman wearing a pro-war t-shirt was also asked to leave. Young was merely asked to leave; Sheehan was actually charged with a crime. I bet Young could have stayed if not for the Sheehan incident.

In "Notes on the denial of perspective."

Neat pictures, neat blog, thanks for the post! It looks like it's one of a series of posts titled "Notes on the denial of perspective," (check the Archives link).

In "Curious George: How long does exposed 35mm film last?"

I had a roll of old film (Kodak Tri-X?) processed 25-30 years after it was exposed. The frames that weren't light-damaged (by my own clumsiness, most likely) produced recognizable pictures. No parental naughty bits were involved.

In "Windows WMF vulnerability patch is up."

Although in their defense (can't believe I'm saying that but anyhow) the vulnerability seems to date back to Windows 3.0. I see that as part of the problem. Microsoft's borderline-insane devotion to backwards compatibility means we live with cruft and holes like this all the time. Whenever something like this happens (horrible latter-day consequences of some ancient harebrained design "feature" from early in the 20+ year history of MS Windows) I wish Microsoft actually had the balls to throw some of their considerable monopolist weight around, and fix the root of the problem even if it meant breaking old code. That kind of power should be a feature of a monopoly, but Microsoft keeps treating it as if it's a bug.

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