Archive for year 2004

Adventures in Geekdom Part 42

I recently set out on a quest to find one remote to rule them all. I was sick of needing 6 remotes. The problem was I refused to bother unless I could truly replace them all. Not have “most” of the functionality, but never have to touch them again (of course there are many functions that I never ever use, but that’s beside the point). One big sticking point was my TiVo. Obviously it has some very specialized buttons, and I love my little TiVo remote.
After much research I narrowed it down to a few choices. I decided I definitely wanted buttons, and not a touch screen. I’ve heard many people say you never realize how much you navigate by tactile sensation until you don’t have it. There was a $100 the MX-500, remote that could “learn” any key from any other remote, and was mostly hard buttons with a small lcd that has some programmable buttons, but in the end I went with the One For All URC-6131, which is made to accommodate TiVos and TiVo like devices.
Of course the normal $18 one wasn’t good enough though. Since it’s not a learning remote, you have to rely on pre-programmed codes, which many times have most, but not all the functions you want. Therefore I got the hot rodded model with a special chip and a JP-1 interface, and included JP-1 cord to hook up to my computer. This required delving into the world of JP-1 which is very techie, and not for the weak hearted. There are entire sites, a Yahoo group, forums, and more dedicated to it. I scoured them learning about programming codes, EFC’s, Hex codes, OBC’s, and many other spoonfuls of alphabet soup. I got a few of my devices working with no problem, but a few were determined to be difficult. There was a steep learning curve, but just as I was about to give up on it all, I had a breakthrough, and from there, things started flowing.
After many posts on the forums, I determined that my best solution was to buy another remote, the One For All 8810w, available at Wal-mart, purely as a helping tool. The reason being, that it can “learn” 4 buttons, and is JP-1 ready, so I could learn buttons from my remotes with the 8810w, then use on of the programs to look at the learned codes, and use that information to help me program my own device upgrade with a few proprietary programs and spreadsheets, and upload them to my 6131,which really is the best of the bunch as far as form and function. The designers really put a lot of thought into, and I am impressed.
I am happy to say that I now have one remote that controls all 6 devices in my entertainment center, and does so marvelously. There are now 7 remotes put away in the entertainment center cabinet (6 devices, and the extra universal used just for learning buttons so as to steal their code).
In addition to that, we got Jess’s website going (aside from email which up to the web host to figure out what’s up), got her started on Movable Type, and got her Reblogger working (for Lisa’s sake), ran a bunch of errands today, and framed our authentic Egyptian papyrus scroll. All in all, it’s been a productively geeky weekend.

Dude. The Darkness.

One of my lovely Valentines gifts was “Permission To Land” by The Darkness, which I had listened to, and wanted ever since.
The Darkness so totally rocks. You’ll simultaneously be laughing your arse off and wondering if this band is a joke, but at the same time you’ll be rocking out to some kick ass songs. You’ll also start saying “arse” if you don’t already. They’re like a mystery in an enigma, in a paradox, wrapped in a tasty tortilla.
We’re going to see them here in Austin in April.

That’s a wrap!

So we had our last day of filming on Friday night. It went well, and I’m excited to be done. Now onto editing. I think our movie will be lacking a bit in the visual/production areas, but I’m happy with the material and most of the performances (I really hate watching myself, which is a bad trait to have as an actor). Hopefully the humor will outshine the amateur look of the film due to lack of equipment, people and budget.
I read about how to get some great lighting for very little money. Unfortunately, this was a few days after we had finished shooting. More and more, I’m wondering if writing is really what I should do, mores than acting. Then again, feedback on my screenplay has been almost non-existent, which naturally makes me paranoid as I think that everyone just wants to avoid the subject so they don’t have to lie or else tell me how much they think it sucks, even though I genuinely want honest opinions. Oh well, I like it, and I’m really the only person who really has to live with it. I already have ideas for some more projects to film. Hopefully you’ll see some video content appearing on my website as I complete projects!

Brain waste for sale.

My cousin and I come up with so many great ideas. If only someone would purchase them and do something with them.
First off, the new Mario Kart game should have been called “Mario Speedwagon”.
Secondly, someone needs to open a restaurant called “Suppernova”.
Also, PC-ness aside, there’s Hitler’s U-boat Sandwiches.
Give us a few minutes. We’ll have many more. We’re frickin’ machines.

Keeping Austin Weird, Part Deux

We had our second day of filming today and it went great. The morning started with what I knew would be one of the most difficult scenes to shoot. To complicate things, I was supposed to have 2 “men in black” who were parodying the Agents in The Matrix, and one didn’t show up. I quickly initiated my backup idea of using the one guy in both roles and trying to splice it together later to have him playing against himself. After filming all the complicated scenes to make this work, the second actor called me and had only just seen the email. He rushed down, and we filmed it all again with the both of them to avoid the editing headaches later.
After running a bit late on that shoot, we ran around town during our lunch break, gathering up props and such that we needed, and grabbing a quick drive through lunch. The second two shoots of the day went amazingly well, as I suspected they would. We had a great scene with a long coordinated sequence which we shot in one continuous take. It went great. Giant thanks to Andrew Fraser who came on board as Director of Photography and Camera Operator. We could not do this without him there. Also Big thanks to Dan Eggleston, who not only runs the Yahoo mailing group where I got a lot of my cast and crew. He also came by and played a small role for me, and hung out on the other two shoots of the day taking a buttload of pictures! Very cool! Thanks Dan! He was very covert too. I had no idea that he had taken that many pics throughout the day.
The one big snafu was that at the end of the day we realized that we had forgotten to shoot the last line of the entire film. Doh! We quickly re-thought it and came up with a solution that I think will work excellently.
One more day of shooting either next week, or the week after, and we’re done filming! Then it’s on to editing.

Action!

My cousin and I did our first day of filming on Saturday. We decided to start out easy, since we weren’t sure what we were doing, so we set out to film several Austin landmarks for the opening credits. I luckily figured the camera out fairly quickly, and found that all the experience I had picked up from my crew work came in handy. I had picked up many little tidbits about operating Mini-DV cameras, what settings to use, and various other little pointers that had osmosized into my brain. We ended up getting some really great looking shots. I was quite happy.
Then I put out a call for cast and crew on a local E-mail list that is and extremely popular and widespread tool here in Austin. There’s something like 3500 members on it. After being deluged with headshots and resum�s, I started casting. It was weird to be on the other side of that scenario. Normally I’m the one sending in my info and hoping to be called. I also felt a bit bad having to be the bad guy and not being able to use everyone, or deleting someone’s E-mail because they just didn’t have the “look” I was going for in my head. However overall I’m quite enjoying being the captain of the ship and making my very own project as opposed to trying to get onto other people’s projects.
If all goes as planned, we will shoot our first actual scenes this Saturday! This train is a rolling, baby! Let’s just hope I can keep laying the track down in time!

Kinetoscopic Wonderment.

Long time, no update, eh?
So I’m about to embark upon my first film making endeavor. My cousin works for the computer science department of the University of Texas, and his department decided to create the “Kinetoscopic Wonderment Festival”. Anyone can submit a 10 minute or less short film into the festival as long as there is someone affiliated with UT on the team. I whipped up a script based on the “Keep Austin Weird” slogan that’s popular here, and we’re going out to scout some locations and possibly film some opening establishing shots today. The deadline is in March, and we probably will only really be able to film on Saturdays, so we gotta get a move on!
In addition to writing, I’ll also be directing and starring in it. Jess will also be starring in it, as will my cousin, some of my actor friends, and anyone else I cast for the various other roles. I already have various bits of music I had recorded for other purposes that will work great as soundtrack music. I’m excited and nervous as I really have no idea what the hell I’m doing. Well I do, but I don’t. At this point, I’m just hoping we actually get through it and end up with a cool finished film.
My world domination plan continues.