Saturday, July 17, 2010

Why the comparison between Matrix and Inception.

Minor spoilers:
The new movie by Christopher Nolan isn't a summer blockbuster in the sense that you can leave the theatre and know everything there is to know about it. It has a depth that can only be appreciated with a second viewing or a trained first viewing - like that of the critics, who understand the craft.

Many people, with their limited gamut movies with which to compare Inception compared it to the Matrix. I personally compared it to Total Recall and Solaris. All three of these have similar aspects with those of Inception. One notable difference between Inception and Matrix, however, is what the filmmakers wanted the audience to understand. Using the first installment of the Matrix as reference, we see a green-blue colour-hue to distinguish with reality as it is seen inside the matrix and outside of the matrix. Inception, however, is a film which strives very hard to assure the viewer that it is not clear whether or not the film-world of Inception is real or not. This is the point of the movie - once you think it is possible that something can be a dream, everything can seem that way. Once an idea is planted, it takes on its own life and can grow into anything. The viewer, then, is left in the dark as to the nature of reality in the film world.

On the other hand, my personal comparisons of Total Recall are much more sutable.

In the case of Solaris, thematic elements are practically the exact same: reality, marraige, loss, guilt, clones based on memories. Total Recall brought into question many of the same doubts about reality through many of the same mechanisms as those use in Inception. Forged identities, falsified journies through the memories or constructs of others and even the same doubts: in Total Recall, Dennis Quaid is a secret agent chased by elements of secret police forces. In Inception the character Cobb is chased at least by the United States and at least a few other governments (though these are implied). In the end, it's not completely clear if the reality of the film that the audience is left with is the "real" reality.

I might be off my mark as well, but what I hope I've shown is how Matrix is a much less apt movie to be put in the same sentence as Inception.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Vinyl sounds better.

An argument I thought was dead to logical people is the argument that "Vinyls sound better than cds". This argument is flawed for more reasons than you can imagine. The first time I heard it was in "The Rock" when I Stanley Goodspeed, an eccentric biochemist recieves a $600 LP in the mail. When asked why he didn't just buy the cd, he reponded with the above argument.

People today do not usually listen to LPs. Today they buy CD or more commonly download their music. The quality of the sound is usually based on a number of factors, which are usually all the same. These are bits per sample (8 or 16), sample rate (11, 22 or 44) and bit rate. The first two are almost always the same. The last one changes according to the media. 128 is a pretty good bit rate, and up until about 2003 people usually used this size for encoding mp3s. Later, you got codecs (a compression method of which mp3 is one example) like OGG and FLAC and AAC. AAC and high quality mp3 are 320kbps and are the files you would pay for from iTunes or Amazon. The bit rate supported by CDA - CD Audio Red Book standard is 1411 kbps. As you can see, there is no essential loss in quality from 1411 of CD Audio to the 320 of the mp3 stores out there today. All of these bit rates can be thought of as a conveyer belt of boxes with information. The higher the number, the more boxes which flow by in a second. In real time, you can't even tell what they are.

Vinyl doesn't work like that, it's analog. A stream of sound which is turned into sound by the same stream of information, like a river instead of quickly flowing set of boxes. In our vision, we see 24.93 frames per second as motion, operating on the flicker fusion threshold. To hear digital audio - the "bits" like frames in a movie, are fused at a much lower rate. In other words, although the mediums are instrinsically different, they both operate on the idea that the brain will fuse samples and create seamless sound.

I once heard someone say something to the effect of "What makes art beautiful is that it dies." So an opera, a one night performance will never be the same again. A photograph will fade and decay. A painting will grow old and lose its original properties: in art restoration, only the interlaced lines are restored, allowing art historians to reexamine the original canvas just as it was when the artist left it (a trick of the eye makes it seem whole). Ask yourself "why go through so much trouble to for movies to try to produce a unique experience at the cinema before releasing it at the home?". The movie won't change but the experience will. In that same way, a concert which varies and changes the songs for live performance will also never be the same again. The allure of the live, the seduction of the big screen. In this vein of reasoning, a CD will not decay and will quickly lose it's beaty, while a vinyl, so-named for it's material, will change with every listen as the needle which delicately dances over the tracks and grooves gradually wearing out the needle and the record.

People often say of Bose, the speaker company: It's got the BEST sound. Owners of a Bose speaker system are not so quick to agree. The magic is in the difference. It gives you a different sound. People like different. So, when after you hear the same Pink Floyd song on the radio, on your ipod and on your computer -- each an exact replica of the other - and then you hear a record, played 17 times and say that it sounds better, ask your self, does it sound better or different?

My point is not that CD's are the best possible medium for reproduction of sound of any kind, but that vinyl, although it can sound better, does not always sound better, as it is constantly changing.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

iPhone backgrounds

There are four default art backgrounds with the iPhone. These aren't named on the iPhone. Two of these are well-known masterworks from household-name artists. The other two, not so much:

Mona Lisa - Da Vinci
Starry Night - Van Gogh
Still life with apples and oranges - Cezanne
Un dimanche après-midi à l'Île de la Grande Jatte - Seurat

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Best and easiest suggestion for iPhone

After about 15 minutes, I gave up on finding a link to submit this directly to you.

The problem:
In the philosophy of the iphone touchscreen, my finger controls what is happening on the screen, a tap opens something, a flip advances the screen very quickly and a double finger motion zooms in and out. So why is it that when I press the screen and turn the iphone sideways, that the iphone - not my finger - does the controlling?

The solution:
When your finger is pressed to the screen, ASR (automatic screen rotation) is temporarly disabled. This would be great for reading in safari when you are in bed and lying to the side.

You're welcome.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Re: Chrome vs. Bing vs. You and me

For some reason, you can't respond to certain Nytimes articles. I recently read this this article in the New York Times. While the underlying message is spot on, I couldn't help but disagree with two things the author mentioned. First, that Google created the Android-based G1 Phone to compete with Microsoft, as if Microsoft were the only competition (Symbian doesn't exist?). Second, this paragraph:

And don’t forget Apple, which with the iPod and iPhone has shown an ability to revolutionize markets other companies saw as mature. Microsoft and Google have yet to do something like that.

Are we to assume that Google's gmail did not revolutionize the web-mail based market? Or maybe we should assume that it wasn't mature when gmail entered, even though now, even years after Gnail's launch, Yahoo's Y!Mail and Microsoft's Hotmail are no where even close to the comfort level produced by Google's Gmail: I have lots of space, free pop/IMAP access, a working (not broken or unusable) interface, the ability to freely and easily check my email on my phone. That sounds like a revolution of a previously "mature" market to me.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Caps Lock

These are the rules:
You should always shout the first letter of your sentences, you should shout the pronoun "I" whereever it is in the sentence. Proper names should also begin with a shout. You should shout every letter of acronyms.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Spider Man 583 (26 MX)

On the cover the the English version, spiderman says "Sheesh, guy gets elected and suddenly he's everywhere".

On the Mexican verion it says "Hey, if you get to be on my cover, can I be on the dollar bill?"