Douglas Trumball website

September 8th, 2010

Thanks Mike for tweeting about the website of Douglas Trumbull. Nice to see this being done so well. Great content with great presentation. Can happen on the Internet. There are not many examples of a site like this though.

time to make the donuts

June 28th, 2010

Hugh MacLeod about self employment

no backup will get you

April 22nd, 2008

Douglas the movie No idea what it was. Looks like allot of work is gone. That can happen.

Digital is binary:

Your data either can be 100% safe. Safer than anything before. Ever.

Or it goes away. Completely. Nothing left.

The real world operates only in matters like life and death on such a binary pattern. Otherwise there is often stuff left. Something to be saved, recovered. Not so in digital.

“Still haven’t seen my bill, I’m actually eager to pay it.”

February 29th, 2008

That’s an actual quote of a client in an email received a couple of minutes ago. It is his first month with Interdubs, and he is not used to the fact that the bill will only arrive once the month is over. And then he can pay it. Or not. If he should feel like that. Which sounds ‘good hearted’ or ‘weak’. But it makes actually allot of (business) sense: Most of my clients have made more money with the site in their first week of using it, then it will cost them for whole month. A not so significant part of them actually takes just a few hours to make the 285 that the services costs them. Either by direct billing or by improved client relationships. I was aware of this when I designed the system and set the price. The price is solely based on the system working as well as it seems to be. It is arranged around my costs and the future potential of more clients. And maybe on the fact that I like to code fast.

I really hate the business model that tries to leach on to the success of its clients. Network Neutrality is one of those. Phone companies would sure love to charge more for important business conversations than for idle chit chat.

But back to Interdubs: having a super reasonable price that are people actually eager to pay makes everything much easier on everybody. So far people paid their bills. The majority of companies in record time. Thanks again and also from here. If I would try to squeeze more money out of the service, then I might need an accounting department that starts bugging people. I’d rather not.

On the other side with the latest feature additions the price / performance ratio is in danger to tip from “great” to “ridicolously great”. I have feedback from many of my clients saying that the service is too cheap. And I suspect that I could actually sign up more people if the price were higher. Most people think just because the competition is ten times more expensive it also would be better.

SaaS

February 22nd, 2008

? Saas ? Never had heard of it. Till Today. And then it showed up everywhere. SaaS seems to be a fancy acronym for Software as a Service. Turns out that’s what I am doing with Interdubs. Maybe if I would hang out in the Silicon Valley more or spend more time with VC types I would know this kind of language. But actually, I rather not. I just like to go ahead and write software. No need to call it fancy names. I rather check if people can use it for what they would like to do. Chances are they don’t know -or care- about SaaS either. They just have work to do.

vmware Unexpected signal: 10

February 21st, 2008

When getting an error like ‘Unexpected signal: 10′ when launching vmware on OS X it could be that you ran a 3rd Memory Manager like iFreeMem. Quitting it did not fix the issue. I had to reboot, and then vmware was happy again. It might even be that running iFreeMem first and then VMware would work. My solution is just not to use ‘iFreeMem’ any longer. It feels snake-oilish anyway: why should a 15 dollar application do a better job in managing my memory than the OS itself? It’s one of these things that the OS should be really good at. It’s not about having ‘green’ in your pie chart.

the 25o GB MacBook Pro

February 14th, 2008

Since a while I have a very early MacBook Pro. Overall I got used to it, love it as much as I did the PowerBook. Funny how you get used to everything. I am sure it still gets how etc etc. Back then I got it with the biggest drive that was possible: 120GB. Of course that one has been above 95% full for the last year or so. Finally I got around to put a 250GB drive in the machine and, surprisingly, it even worked. I did probably not to these things in the smartest way, but in the end it worked:

I got a 250 GB drive from Amazon that let’s you end up with 232 GB formatted capacity in real bytes. The Western Digital WD2500BEVS Scorpio 250 GB 2.5-inch SATA Hard Drive is 129$ right now.
I got a Macally B-S250U USB 2.0 2.5-Inch SATA Hard Drive Enclosure for 25$. Putting the drive into the enclosure was easier than I thought. Funny enough the enclosure needs a 2 USB connections to work. One for data the other one for power. Even more strange is that with just one cable the LED will light up and the drive will click repeatedly. I was convinced that the drive was DOA at that point.

So then I used Carbon Copy Cloner to copy the contents of my internal drive to the newer bigger one. It took more than a minute to copy all the Adobe Acrobat crap. I really need to delete that. Adobe Acrobat is ‘near-malware’. Anyway. I let the copy finish over night.

There are lots of screws to get into the MacBook Pro. The internet seems to agree ont he fact that the MacBook Pro is much easier to get into than the PowerBook. I found the instructions at iFixit to be very helpful. The Torx T6 screw driver you need for 2 screws in the case and 4 on the drive I found at Sears. 2.49. They sell a set of 3 little screwdrivers for 10 dollars. Or you pay 7 buying them individually.

Gettting the upper part keyboard part off was a bit tricky. A little bit of careful jiggling around did the trick.

I also went ahead and disconnected the power light. It sit’s on top of the harddrive. I don’t need to see a room illuminated by my sleeping laptop while I am trying to sleep as well.

Still amazed that it did work.

talking just a little bit too loud.

February 13th, 2008

Roughly drafted writes about Apple and it’s ProApps. And the future of them. It feels that the author uses just a few to many arguments. I think that not all is well in the Pro Apps world of Apple. Nobody knows. Neither do I. That’s the Apple way, and that is part of the problem: You can not manage the communication around Pro Apps like you do for the next iPod.

Apple announced Aperture 2. I neither used Aperture-1 nor Lighroom. But I talked to people who did. Aperture was (an / another) example for Apples inability to come up with Pro Applications on it’s own. You just can’t in that vacuum that the super tight Apple communication rules dictate. Apple has money and brilliant engineers and the best intentions. But that’s not enough. You have to have an open dialog with your Pro clients. Pushing updates that claim “enhancements and bug fixes” and do not give any more detail is simply unacceptible for Pro Applications.

digital movie making

January 11th, 2008

It is interesting to see how different the current workflows can be. Like
this or that.

Judging by the end this is already from 2003, but still worth looking at:
Robert Rodriguez talking about HD. It was never a fanboy of his,
but I think he expresses a couple of very interesting concepts rather well in this piece.

transmit droplets created from within Interdubs

January 10th, 2008

Running and developing a system in the same time is allot of fun. An idea can be quickly added and / or tried. Some are more
involved though. At this moment there are 42,658 files in Interdubs. So uploading happens allot. There was a ftp interface, but people
need passwords and needed to remember the folder name.

It could be easier. And now it is. It’s as simple as clicking on a link:

A transmit droplet with the proper parameters get created and downloaded automatically. Those droplets can be kept in the dock or on the desktop, and uploading is even easier than it was.

As with so many nice and easy things the underlying technology is actually not that simple. It was great to be able to draw from the resources and experience of the amazing people at Oneiric to get the backbone for this service addition installed. David Green was super helpful, without him this feature would have taken weeks longer to implement. Working with David is allot of fun, since everything he says he will do he does. And it works, since he has tested and checked it from the get go.

It is truly interesting how a small company with people that care can have so much more impact that larger ones that take weeks to move.

Richard Kerris goes to Lucas Film

January 10th, 2008

Richard Kerris leaves Apple to become CTO at Lucas Film

suExec fpr Apache under OS X

January 9th, 2008

In order to get Apache running with suexec under OS X 10.4.11 and also have php you will need to do the following:

1) get the apache sources. (1.3.39)

2) get the php4 sources (php-4.4.8)

3) extract in the same directory and go into the php one to run:

./configure --prefix=/usr \
--sysconfdir=/etc \
--localstatedir=/var \
--mandir=/usr/share/man \
--with-xml \
--with-apache=../apache1.3.39

make
sudo make install

4) then go into the apache folder and

./configure --with-layout=Darwin \
--enable-module=most \
--enable-shared=max \
--enable-suexec \
--suexec-caller=www \
--suexec-docroot=/Library/WebServer/Documents \
--activate-module=src/modules/php4/libphp4.a \
--suexec-userdir=Sites

make -j2
sudo make install

5) I had to change /etc/httpd/htddp.conf like:

comment out modules in httpd.conf
#LoadModule userdir_module libexec/httpd/mod_userdir.so

#LoadModule php4_module libexec/httpd/libphp4.so
#LoadModule hfs_apple_module libexec/httpd/mod_hfs_apple.so
#LoadModule bonjour_module libexec/httpd/mod_bonjour.so

#AddModule mod_userdir.c

AddModule mod_php4.c
#AddModule mod_hfs_apple.c
#AddModule mod_bonjour.c

Please note that mod_php4 gets added but not loaded. Probably since it got compiled in.
My httpd rejected to start with hfs_apple or bonjour loaded and crashed with userdir.

install apple developer tools in the command line

January 9th, 2008

Since years I work on a couple of computers via command line. Since they are real unix computers it all works remarkably well. For a specific solution I need to run osacompile. AppleScript needs to get compiled. I did not find a way to distribute it as text. So finally I got a hold of an OS X machine in the internet. More on that part later. osacompile really wants to run the application that it will talk to later. Also rather odd. But, hey, we talk Apple here. A sect in disguise of a technology company. So everything is possible. Or rather impossible. Like adding a development environment. The Box happened to have no Dev Tools installed. Usually that’s maybe a bit timely but overall straight forward. Installing development tools on a unix computer.
With Apple OS X 10.4.11 it turns out that doing so via ssh is not as trivial. You can download the source code. But first you need to create a developer account with ADC. It’s free. It’s annoying. They keep forgetting my password. Once you logged in,
you could download the dmg file to your local machine. I could have done that and waited only a couple of weeks for my DSL to upload the 900+ MB file to the final server I need it on. Downloading the dmg directly did not work. I had to fake a login. Which is easier as it seems. In the browser that is logged in (firefox I assume) you look for a cookie called ADCDownloadAuth. This you copy paste into the following command line:

curl -b "ADCDownloadAuth=SomeVeryLongCookieString" -O \
http://adcdownload.apple.com/Developer_Tools/xcode_2.5_developer_tools/xcode25_8m2558_developerdvd.dmg

At least that’s the valid file of today.
Once you have the file you attach (aka mount) it via:

hdiutil attach xcode25_8m2558_developerdvd.dmg

and navigate into

/Volumes/Xcode Tools/Packages

to then run:

sudo installer -verbose -pkg XcodeTools.mpkg -target /

Don’t run this against XcodeTools.mpkg in /Volumes/Xcode Tools directly. This results in the error message:

2008-01-09 03:47:43.889 installer[2843] IFPkg::_parseOldStyleForLanguage - can't find .info file (XcodeTools)

which does not google very sucessful.

The install seems to work, from what I can tell so far. I have gcc and make. And that’s all I cared for.

format peace

January 8th, 2008

post format war

It is hard to imagine that HD DVD would come back from the blow that Warners BluRay decision delivered. The internet was busy speculating about half a billion dollars in bribes that supposedly that came down rolling Barham Blvd. I think that the sales performance of DVD makes the Studios very nervous. All too quickly they got used to the huge volume of DVD revenue and a steady increase for that matter. The average american bought DVDs for $53, rented them for $25 in 2007. And he/she paid $32 at the Cinema Box office. For both HD formats combined a single dollar left peoples purses in the last year.

In total billions these numbers look like:

16 DVD sales
7.5 DVD rentals
0.3 nextgen DVD formats (both)
9.6 Box office

The troubling point for the studios seems to be that DVD sales are declining. Already in 2005 DVD set top box sales had gone done for the first time in history. Back then it probably was the fanfare about the ‘next thing’. People don’t like to buy yesterdays gadget. The studios felt they needed to get HD via DVD going. And Sony did the better show and number exercises.

Both formats encoding technology, bandwidth and other core parameters are pretty similar. As Mike Curis eludes to, the scripting technology in HD DVD seems to be more open, developer friendly and thefor hugely favorable over the bloated Java based BluRay implementation. But what’s to expect from Sony.

Flat panel displays sales have taken off, and about a year analog TV will be turned off. With the format war being over the Bluray sales should surge. And, I think, they will. Initially. Many bluray players will be PS3s. After correcting the outrageous price Sony’s next gen box had finally some sales worth mentioning. How many people bought the black box because they could not get the cute white one is a different story.

I wouldn’t be surprised if DVD+BluRay Sales volumes would come out flat in 2008 and from there on further decline. There are three reasons for this future disappointment:

* It’s the internet stupid.
Not only the net alone. Technology progresses everywhere. Hell, my toaster wants more attention than it’s great grandfather did 20 years ago. Media is omnipresent. VHS had to compete with, well, Books and TV. Maybe radio, cinema and newspapers. That’s about it. Bluray faces a vastly different world. None of the existing media emanations will just fade away. And new ones get created with an increasing pace. There is simply not enough time to watch all those movies.

* we don’t care since you don’t care
The Studios have failed to understand their own product. There is a history to this. And others failed similarly: The music industry would be in much better shape, would they have not confused the means of peddling circular things with the end of enabling people to enjoy music. Both HD formats allow for better visible quality compared to DVD. Better bandwidth and modern codecs could make for a great experience. Despite this potential most early Discs that were available have been widely criticized for their poor transfers. Some people felt that they would be better off with a decent upscale of a good quality DVD. People love movies. A considerable slice of the population, and almost certainly the majority of early (media) tech adopters care for a good experience. The Studios should have put the utmost emphasis on quality. And that starts with the film transfer. Even though the studios are not keen to involve creative people more than absolutely necessary, they should have gotten them on board for the launch of the new media. Imagine Steven Spielberg approving a 5 movie disk set claiming “this is how I want my movies to be seen”. People would spend allot of money for this. They would get players, lay cable. The whole thing. Maybe the studios should have gotten together with the ACE and directors guild to develop a approval system. Pay directors and DPs to sign off on a DVD transfer. I would pay happily knowing that the creative vision was intact. OK, in some cases I would simply paying for the drug habit of that one hit wonder boy. But I do that anyway, one way or another.

* it’s complicated
HDMI 1.3 is really exciting, since it not only features greater than bitdepths but also could carry the extended xvYCC color space. While being true, not many people know what this means. And neither should they. DVD succeeded because it was ‘as simple as CD’. No more rewind. That made Hollywood billions. Simple is key. The HD formats are not exactly known for simplicity. And the studios are not helping. Neither do the hardware makers. I find my way around these matters. But it’s my job to understand all this. And if it wouldn’t, then I would really watch another movie than to worry about downsampled movies that were escaping DRM through the analog otherwise. Having two formats was of course a big problem. But even with BluRay remaining it’s not as easy as it should be. Different disc sizes. Flat panel resolutions. Frame rates.
Image processing. And an interface written in Java simply scares me: There are just too many ways developers mess up. Hardware makers and studios alike fall in love with features that have nothing to do with their product. Multi Angle was one of these technical possibilities that DVD had. Studios were all excited about it. Since they didn’t understand what their product is: A movie is one view. One perspective. Everything else is a cute vaudeville attraction or plain and simple porn that desperately tries to stand out (no pun intended).

DVD hardware sales

Variety on DVD sales numbers
2007 Box office

umask and uid for discreet flame

January 4th, 2008

Autodesk aka Discreet Flame Flint Inferno applications run under irix or linux. Which is great. Unfortunately it is a long standing practise of those people in montreal to seperate different versions of their application by giving them a different user. Of course that’s just plain wrong and stupid. But if you pay north of 40,000 US$ for a single software seat you stop making reasonable demands. Discreet / AutoDesk does this since more than 14 years, why should they stop?

A couple of simple commands can fix the biggest issues with this. The first one is that each install creates a new user id. The fix is to edit /etc/passwd and give the new user a common id (100 in this example). We assume it was 101 for the new install. Running the following command as root:


find /usr/discreet/NEWLYINSTALLEDVERSION -user 101 -exec chown 100 {} \;

will fix the permissions.

Another annoyance is that they set the umask in the .cshrc of each login. If you run a couple of versions side by side it’s pretty tedious to fix these flags manually. The following does so for all installed versions.

Under Linux you can use sed for this:


cd /usr/discreet
sed -i.bak.umask "s/umask 002/umask 000/" */.cshrc

For Irix you would need to turn to perl:

cd /usr/discreet
perl -i.bak.umask -p -e "s/umask 002/umask 000/" */.cshrc

This will make the umask wide open for the user running flame or one of the other Discreet products. Some people might like that everybody can now delete
and overwrite files. Others don’t.

success and why it is nice

January 3rd, 2008

Interdubs had an awesome year in 2007. I had a certain expectation where the service should be by now. Development-wise and feature=wise I am behind. I want more features, and I want to write them now. But doing them right does always take more time than I think it would. And, my clients got what they essentially need months ago. Since then new features have been extra and on top of it.

Looking back at 2007 I particularly like the the fact that Interdubs could scale from a few beta clients to more than 20 customers. Many of them with very diverse needs. And all of them seemingly happy: Even though nobody is contractually obliged to continue their subscription each one renewed month by month. People some times wonder why Interdubs is so inexpensive. Specially compared to it’s feature set. I think it makes sense: Having the most awesome feature vs. price ratio means that I don’t have to spend much time to keep my clients happy otherwise. It also helps with marketing: If anybody interested in an online media solution should happen to talk about it to an existing interdubs user I will get a call. And when I get a call it becomes a sale. Sooner or later it does. Always.

2007 was also nice, since I had not to act on my 99.99% uptime or money back promise. By now it would be not so nice, if I can not charge anybody for a full month. Which is the whole point: I believe in Interdubs’ reliability enough to put my money where where my mouth is. Outages might happen in the future. Nothing is perfect. But by giving my clients their money back for a whole month, if Interdubs should be longer unavailable than for 5 minutes I there is at least a plan. If this should ever happen. The looming penalty of a month long ‘invoice outage’ makes it financially viable to upgrade the servers that Interdubs runs on. So that it does not happen in the first place. Or is at least less likely.

2007 I published 590 times code updates to Interdubs. That’s why I don’t like to call things “Versions”. Version 590? Sometimes I just moved a couple of links around, to make a frequently used choice easier to find. A couple of times I replaced or upgraded the entire engine that runs Interdubs. I might have gotten lucky, but at no point did I loose data during those updates. And only about 10 changes were so stupid, that my users demanded a change back or further alteration of what I did. Knowing that I will hear about things going in the wrong direction allows me to suggest things with great liberty. The same concept looks enabling from the other side as well: Interdubs users know that they will be listened to. Sometimes it takes only minutes between a suggestion and the actual feature / change showing up on the site. Actually a great deal of ideas and features that make Interdubs worthwhile are a result of this collaboration.

2007 was a very successful year for Interdubs, so I had to decide what to do for Holiday presents. I decided not to send any at all. Instead I asked my kids to pick a charity. They suggested “Doctors without Borders” which I liked as well. So instead of sending gift baskets around some people got vaccinations that they needed.

Being able to decide on these things what to do is one of the perks of running your own company. Today I found Charity Navigator and realised with great relief that only a very small percentage of the interdubs donation will go to the adminstration.

I am certainly looking forward to move Interdubs forward in 2008.

music and technology

December 30th, 2007

The Rolling Stone writes about audio technology and music and how things have changed in recent years.

Technology and Art influencing each other is a very interesting topic for me. This article touches on a couple of interesting points. Not more though. Without any respect for the matter it tries to discuss it merely assembles unrelated facts and sound bytes along one imaginary audio/digital axies. From production to consumption it bounces back and forth. Emitting half educated statements along the way.

A couple of articles, better researched would have been much better.

The bigger question is how I get my wife to approve the move of the Stereo from the attic into the living room.

format wars, winner: DVD. again.

December 26th, 2007

750,000 HD DVD players and 2.7 million Bluray players have been sold in the last 18 months that the formats have been available. In those BluRay numbers are about 2 Million PS3 consoles included. 4 Million Bluray discs have been sold, 2.6 Million HD-DVD ones. Which comes down to 1.5 Bluray and 3.5 HD-DVDs per device.

The DVD of “Knocked up” alone sold more often than all HD-DVD and Bluray formats combined. I wonder how the marketing budgets would compare.

In 1998 9.8 Million DVD Discs had been sold. Almost ten discs for each player that was out there. People loved DVD. They still do. As for the two replacement formats they could care less it seems. And that’s only partly a problem of the rivaling formats. I think that DVD is good enough for people. Most simply have neither the hardware setup nor the desire to spend allot of money for the extra resolution that the new formats provide.

Here the DVD hardware sales:

315,136 1997 (April-December)
1,089,261 1998
4,019,389 1999
8,498,545 2000
12,706,584 2001
17,089,823 2002
21,994,389 2003
19,999,913 2004
16,147,823 2005
19,788,279 2006
10,252,893 2007 (January - July)

sources: current HD numbers past DVD device numbers, reversed via the linux ‘tac’ command. I had no idea it did exist. DVD disc numbers Warner DVD sales in 1998 DVD sales in 1998 and 1999

things we like to hear

December 19th, 2007

via IM, earlier today:

just wanted to tell you: we were training a new freelance producer and she said; "you use Interdubs? I love interdubs!"

Hit the 40,000 mark today. Nice.

And now, I am worried

December 17th, 2007

Over at Independendant Arts Media Preservation I can read:


The complexity of digital media preservation is fourfold. First, data resides on a physical support–a floppy disk, CD-ROM, or hard-drive, for example–and this physical container or support naturally deteriorates. Second, the data itself may decay. Third, most software is proprietary and has no long-term technical support. Finally, hardware obsolescence makes a great deal of digital media inaccessible.

I would merge point 3 and 4 into one. 3 being able to be overcome by open source. Point #1 is also called Entropie, and it’s a real bitch. If you escape all illnesses and accidents it is will get you in the end. But the “data itself may decay” ??? Huh? How so? If bit’s are not what they used to be, than it’s the first point. Data is pure.

It is kind of scary that the people that tasked themselves with the preservation of stuff have such a bent understanding of the thing they like to protect. Somebody probably started his/her computing experience on a bug ridden system like Windows 95. I wonder what their plan against ’self inflicted data decay’ may be.

software: finishing it. starting it

October 3rd, 2007

Kyle Wilson wrote an interesting essay about finishing software back in August.

I am wondering why so much great software does not even get started: Since a long time I am using an EVDO modem to connect to the internet. The upside is, that I have Internet wherever I go. If there is the slightest hint of civilisation I can connect to the internet. Which is great. The hardware is smart enough not only to move bits around it also knows where it is. GPS is a rather elaborate system with satelites floating around the planet and all. It is a big commotion, and it works. Just, that the software to connect to that part of the device does not exist on a Mac. With the right amount of documentation a programmer that has done something similar before would only need a few days to program this. And they sold thousands and thousands of these the device. The benefit for my computer to know where exactly I am would be huge. Since I am also connected to the internet a website could replace a 300 US$ GPS device. Still nobody has done it.

The other day I learned that Los Angeles is not storing the traffic data it automatically collects. It is allot of work, and certainly was not cheap, to put all those sensors in place. The data flows to the right places. And then gets simply not archived.

In both cases the effort to add the extra functionality would be ridicolously small compared to the potential gain. In both cases it might never happen: There is no driving force behind it. Nobody is making a living from something similar enough to jump on these opportunities. Even though ideas might be clear and simple, they might never happen, no matter how good they are, as long there is not a similar enterprise already happening. This theory has a sad other side as well: If there is already some kind of business going in certain way, then all sorts of similar activities will be spawned. No matter if they make any sense (Sony’s Mp3 players) or if they are valid for society ( Arms dealer, Mafia, Spam).

callwave and EVDO

September 24th, 2007

Callwave and EVDO are certainly my best technological friends: Getting of a plane, in the hotel room, there would be an ethernet, but why bother? EVDO works. Even here. Then there is a voicemail from somebody that called while I was on the plane. The automatic transrcipt gives me an idea, the company that called shows up, and best of all, all those call back numbers are transrcibed right there. If the iPhone could maybe read a phone number with it’s camera and then dial it, we would be in good shape.

scanimate

September 16th, 2007

I have no idea how I came about to find this site devoted to the Scanimate System. I did order both DVDs and am very happy to have done so: They give a very interesting peek into the technology, art etc of those times. Who knew that I would find out eventually how all those apparently not hand drawn animations I saw on Sesame Street were done.

the worst thing I have seen in a while

September 13th, 2007

Lot’s of blog rave about thiscomputer animation right now.

I think it is horrible. Smetana is easy to abuse and misunderstand. Dragging Fallingwater into this is just horrible. The first couple of seconds of this Quicktime from hell are nice enough. Although the font choice and especially the animated glow should have been a clear sign of trouble. Fallingwater is one of the more important things that have been made in the last century. Seing it disolved to death is pure horror. The tasteless low point was certainly the eschereseque pan away from that mirror ball.

Not much more to say than this

convert: Non-conforming drawing primitive definition `image’.

September 8th, 2007

ImageMagick is a nice collection of image manipulation routines. It’s free, and somehow it should be. It’s powerful, but also works and fails in miracolous ways. It just wasted twenty minutes. My Minutes. It would have taken the person writing the code probably 2 to make the error message a little bit more meaningful. To cut to the chase: When ImageMagick tells you:

convert: Non-conforming drawing primitive definition `image'.

then it’s probably only telling you that it can not open the image you like to draw. In plain command line that would be:

convert -size 700x500 xc:black -draw 'image Over 0,0 400,300 directory/image.jpg' output.jpg

This will fail. It turns out that ImageMagick needs to have a local file NOT with a path component. To sucessfully do what you wanted to do you would have to:

cd directory ; convert -size 700x500 xc:black -draw 'image Over 0,0 400,300 image.jpg' ../output.jpg ; cd ..

Possible, sure. But a hint like “can not open file directory/image.jpg” would have been nice. The best would be path support as suspected. It works everywhere else.

Of course it turned out that this is supposed to be a feature. In the end things start to work when you quote the filename, like in:


convert -size 700x500 xc:black -draw 'image Over 0,0 400,300 "directory/image.jpg"' output.jpg

Otherwise a filename like 123_3×4.jpg would also get you in trouble.

I thought this day would never come

September 1st, 2007

NAB 2006 Red announced a new camera, and I wrote that it would never be a reality. Well, not quiet that, but I thought it would not go anywhere. I was wrong. Cameras up to serial number 25 have been shipped and there are an amazing number of orders. Fxguide has anice article about the delivery of Red Camera #22.

I find it very impressive that a couple of dedicated people were able to pull this off. The deadlines announced during the launch of the brand did slip. But keeping those would have been a miracle. It seems that the way RED handled the delay and other modification to their initial plans was what saved the day. People are still happy and excited about the device.

Now comes the interesting part: How will the images intergrate. How much of difference does the real life existence of the RED camera actually make.

Of course I can not resist to follow a failed prophecy with another one: It’s not gonna change that much. It’s not only the camera that makes a movie a movie.

Interdubs iPhone mode

August 8th, 2007

Interdubs will detect iPhones now and serve a specific navigation mode that looks, feels and works very much like the phone itself. It was actually kind of fun to code content for one specific device. It’s nice to know that things will look excatly the same for everybody. There are upsides to closed platforms. The number of hits on interdubs from iPhones made the work that went into this worthwhile. The nice thing is that this feature becomes available and automatically for every Interdubs customer. All that has changed in Interdubs on the surface is a button to turn iPhone detection off. Not sure why, but easier to allow that option then to worry about it.

NetApp and it’s disapointing financial results

August 7th, 2007

Doing technology for a while in the entertainment industry it is almost comical to have a peak into the world of more IT oriented IT once in a while.

I love how fancy quotes like:


"We're getting much more aggressive about reclaiming allocated but unused capacity,"

probably translate into somebody finding the ‘-r’ option of the rm command.
About the only command you should not try in the OS terminal though. Please.

quarter billion

August 1st, 2007

and a headline nobody would have expected fifteen years ago.

apple laptop displays

August 1st, 2007

A brief history of Laptop displays leading up to a close look at the current LED backlit Laptop displays. Interesting how the real story with Apple technology will be happily revealed once there is a happy ending to it. With AAPL @ 131 -and that might be a bargain- it does not seem that the people in Cupertino need allot of help in spinning news the right way. But old habbits die hard. I don’t think that the good people at Rob Galbraith are specifically behaving like this. I think it is a general pattern. One that I am certainly part of. Selfishly I really wanted to continue to have pretty laptops that run unix and applications. And I will continue to buy them. Just that I run out of relatives to give the hand me downs to.

New Balance “Zip”

July 30th, 2007

The nice people at Brand New School released their New Balance spot “Zip” online. They are a great company to work with. Very creative and still hands down and respectful to the matter. It was a pleasure to work on this job. A truly amazing team! Not sure why they wrote something about me in their copy for the spot: Everybody else deserves the praise that I got there.

toll free number

July 25th, 2007

AT&T enabled the toll free number for Interdubs:


877 837 3827

Or -if you like- 877terdubs. I never fancied vanity numbers that much. OK< maybe with the execption of 800 800 4sgi ten years ago. But these days your cellphone number is almost impossible to change. So posting that in those internets is a total no-no. A toll free number is a nice and easy solution to this dilemma. Combined with Callwave it makes for a nice system for voice communication.

sunshine for 40 please

July 21st, 2007

Danny Boyle and his manual effects. Overdoing something new that seems to work? People would never ever do that!! All the CG in all those tentpoles WAS really really needed. As well as the other half of a movie that got shot (since they could afford to) that ended up on the floor and that would have made those stories even work.