Archives: December 2008

Top 50 Movie Special effects shots

Den of Geek has a pretty nifty list of their choice of top 50 movie special effects shots. I don’t agree at all with the ordering of the list, and they missed quite a few classic shots, but all in all they did a good job of summarizing. It’s interesting to read a little snip of what it took to make the shot too.

2001 A Space Oddyssey 

29: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) – Entering the airlock without a space-helmet.

The pioneering rotoscoping and miniature work of Douglas Trumbull, Wally Veevers and Les Bowie often overshadows one of the most effective zero-gravity shots ever filmed – and, unlike on Apollo 13, the film-makers had no need to hire NASA’s ‘vomit comet’ to obtain it. In the movie Dave Bowman – Keir Dullea – is forced to re-enter a spaceship without a space-helmet, and does so by depressurising his lungs and blowing the explosive bolts of his EVA vehicle, which is pressed hard to the airlock. The shot was accomplished by positioning the camera directly beneath the pod and airlock set and ejecting a roped Dullea from the prop pod with an accompanying puff of propane. The angle hides the support wires, and the lack of any sound (until the cabin repressurises) is what really sells the shot. Arguably the ejection of the oxygen in one blast might have moved the pod away, but that’s perhaps an unreasonable quibble. There are too many other SFX shot contenders from 2001 to even begin to list them here.

Dave Barry’s Year in review 2008

I’ve always been a big fan of Dave Barry, especially for use in the bathroom. The Washington Post printed his year in review. Here’s a snip:

How weird a year was it? Here’s how weird:

  • O.J. actually got convicted of something.
  • Gasoline hit $4 a gallon — and those were the good times.
  • On several occasions, “Saturday Night Live” was funny.
  • There were a few days there in October when you could not completely rule out the possibility that the next Treasury secretary would be Joe the Plumber.
  • Finally, and most weirdly, for the first time in history, the voters elected a president who — despite the skeptics who said such a thing would never happen in the United States — was neither a Bush nor a Clinton.

Read the whole article here.

Why I dumped Joomla for Drupal

Well, I’ve been meaning to revamp the site for a while. I tore the whole thing down and started from scratch. I was using Joomla to run the old version of the site. It was a pretty powerful CMS but it was clunky as all get out. More…

I’m not 100% on the history of Joomla, but I think it was a fork of Mambo and you can tell Joomla suffered from design by committee. It had this great installer to let you install new modules or widgets into your site. But there were 3 different kinds of widgets: Mambots, Modules, and Extensions. Now I still can’t, to this day tell you what the difference is between any of those things. The straw that finally broke the camel’s back was trying to figure out how to create a static page and link it to the home page. I couldn’t figure it out in ten minutes of trying so I gave up and installed Drupal.

I’ve done a few other Drupal installs for friends and family, most recently one for my Dad, Dad called me up one morning and asked me to make a web page for him. In about two hours I went from zero to full on web site using Drupal. I registered the domain name, told my host to start serving it up, installed Drupal, picked a free theme and uploaded content. And I still had time to watch Family Guy. It’s not a site with a lot of depth, more like an extended business card, but heck, for two hours worth of work, it ain’t half bad.

I had thought about giving out web sites for Christmas this year. I know a few people who could use them, most notably my Mother: I made that site about 6 years ago, not knowing much of anything. Mom, God bless her, has taken the time to figure out the HTML and make modifications and even add pages to her gallery. How many nerds can say that about their Mothers? But converting her site to Drupal and making a custom theme for her would really give her website an updated look. I’m pretty sure right now her website isn’t ADA accessible, so people using screen readers are being left out. The CSS is all janky and it has inconsistencies. Drupal would take care of all of those problems and more. It’d make her life a lot easier. There would be a learning curve sure, but if she can wrangle her own HTML, she can handle Drupal. I can’t say the same thing about Joomla though. Heck, I’m a software engineer and even I had issues with it.

Moral of the story: Joomla’s fine, but complicated and compromised by a lack of vision (or too many cooks in the kitchen). Drupal gets the job done for the administrator and looks great for the user.