Win a signed Ray Harryhausen DVD set

Those lads at BoingBoing pointed their readers to a contest to win a signed Ray Harryhausen DVD set. Cool! Don’t surf on over there, I’d like to maximize my own chances of winning. 🙂

One of the great perks of working Pixar is that occasionally you get to meet interesting people. Ray has stopped by twice in the time I’ve worked here, and was kind enough to sign a copy of his book for me. Little could I have imagined growing up and watching films like The Golden Voyage of Sinbad that I would later be able to meet such an inspiring legend in the film industry.

Don’t just sign up for the contest: FPS Magazine is a pretty cool website, and even includes articles about a little film that I worked on and you might have seen.

Addendum: The shot that they at the top was a particularly difficult one, but typical of Brad’s choice of camera angles: very, very low, with a quickly moving camera. This is one of the cases that RenderMan has difficulty with.

More musing on the nature of communication…

Today I was scanning my list of blogline feeds, and noticed an update to The QuotationsPage, which included this quote by Hansell B. Duckett:

What this country needs is more free speech worth listening to.

A nice quotation, and one that I agree with, but perhaps with a different spin that was intended.

To illustrate, let me present the following anecdote. I’ve taken a number of drawing classes in the past (mostly with beginners, the group that most matches my own ability) and i’ve noticed that I have an approach which is different than most. Most people sit and concentrate, and draw very slowly and precisely. They might work for a full half-hour and only fill in the edges of part of their subject matter. What they’ve drawn looks okay, but it’s clear that it will take them hours and hours to get something fully fleshed out, much less completed.

I have a completely different approach. I attack the page with careless disregard for the exact placement of any line. It isn’t that I actually want to be careless. I simply cannot tell whether any particular line looks right without drawing it in relationship to all the others. The best strategy for me is to put as much down on the sheet as I can as quickly as I can. I can’t visualize the partially completed drawing, only the completed drawing, so it makes sense to try to get a reasonable representation of the complete drawing so that I can see if it matches my vision.

The point? Well, writing is a lot like that. Podcasting is a lot like that. You could spend a great deal of time agonizing over the individual strokes, but you get far more out of just plunging in, boldly trying new ideas, smudging, erasing, and even occasionally wadding things up and throwing things away.

If you want to generate more free speech worth listening to, you can begin by simply trying to generate more free speech. Then your natural internal critic will have some ability to concretely analyze what you did say, rather than what you might want to say. A vastly more productive enterprise.

The cool thing about blogs and podcasts are that they remove any economic or practical barriers to publishing work. This makes it subject to not only your own criticism, but the criticism of others. It would be truly scary if you wrote stuff that nobody could find fault in: it probably means that whatever you are saying is meaningless or useless. Stuff worth listening to is more controversial than that.

Anyway, don’t sweat trying to say stuff which is relevant. Just say stuff. Relevance will come.

Motorola MPx220 – software update

As I have mentioned previously, I’m the owner of the Motorola MPX220 SmartPhone. Overall I’ve had generally mixed feelings about it, but two things which bugged me were:

  • the camera would take garbled pictures when Bluetooth was enabled
  • The volume wasn’t really very good: it was hard to listen to in even moderately noisy environments

Perusing various message boards before the end of the year said that ROM revision 1.3 might cure this problem, but that it required sending it back to Cingular/Motorola. Bah, it wasn’t bad. Well, Motorola decided to release the Flash Update via their website. This morning, while still blinking the sleep out of my eyes, I went ahead an did the update, and according to my lovely wife who I just called, the phone sounds better, the volume levels are definitely better if not booming, and the camera can take even 1280×1024 images with the Bluetooth on.

Word of warning: During installation they ask you to make sure that the Wireless USB Modem driver is installed. Make sure it is. Really. That means you have to disconnect the phone from the USB port, power it off, remove the battery and reconnect the USB cable. If it installs new software, then you didn’t have it. I thought I did, but in fact didn’t, and you get all the way to a point where its downloading flash, and then times out. If this happens to you, don’t panic, just perform a master reset (hold the center button down while powering it on) and retry again. I was able to recover from my groggy, sleep induced stupidity. That will teach me to reflash devices before breakfast and coffee.