James Tauber's Blog 2005/02

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Atlanta Reality

What was I doing in Atlanta?

Here's a clue:

I was down there with Tom Bennett filming a proof-of-concept for a reality TV show. I can't give too many details away at this stage but I will say that I have 12 hours of footage that I now need to edit down to about 10 minutes. That's a shooting ratio of 72:1 compared with 12:1 for Alibi Phone Network.

Mind you, it's not unusual for reality shows to have ratios exceeding 200:1. No wonder they say that feature films are a director's showcase, episodic television is a writer's showcase, but reality television is an editor's showcase.

I'm kind of bummed that I'm not going to get the chance to edit on my new system because I'm in the US and won't be back in Australia any time soon.

But the editing should be fun nevertheless. Shooting was certainly a blast. Tom hired a professional crew with reality experience and that was an incredibly worthwhile decision on his part. It freed up Tom to focus on directing and building the overall story and freed me up to take detailed shot logs that will hopefully help with editing.

by : Created on Feb. 28, 2005 : Last modified Feb. 28, 2005 : (permalink)

Leaving Atlanta

Sickness kept me from blogging much last week but Thursday evening until now I haven't been able to blog at all because I've been down in Atlanta without Internet access.

What have I been doing down in Atlanta? I'll say more in another post. For now, I've got to get ready to hop on a plane back to Boston.

Tonight I'm having dinner with Mark Baker whom I haven't seen for about five years.

by : Created on Feb. 27, 2005 : Last modified Feb. 27, 2005 : (permalink)

Film Project Update: Third Rejection

I got back from Atlanta to received our third straight rejection for Alibi Phone Network, this time from the Ann Arbor Film Festival.

by : Created on Feb. 27, 2005 : Last modified Feb. 28, 2005 : (permalink)

Funny Google Disclaimer

I'm still too sick to post anything thoughtful, but found the following funny.

I was trying out Google's new movie: operator and noticed the following disclaimer at the bottom of a results page with movie reviews:

The selection and placement of reviews on this page were determined automatically by a computer program. No movie critics were harmed or even used in the making of this page.

by : Created on Feb. 24, 2005 : Last modified Feb. 24, 2005 : (permalink)

Building an Apple I Replica

I haven't been blogging for a little while as I've been sick (caught something on the plane from NY to Boston, I suspect).

But the soon-to-be-released book Apple I Replica Creation (with a forward from Woz) has got me excited enough to blog. Can't wait to buy it!

by : Created on Feb. 22, 2005 : Last modified Feb. 22, 2005 : (permalink)

Cryptonomicon and Glass

I'm (finally) reading Cryptonomicon and I can't help but think that if it were ever made into a movie, Philip Glass should compose the score. It's Philip's music I hear as I read it and listening to the Glassworks album on the plane today just evoked images from the book.

by : Created on Feb. 20, 2005 : Last modified Feb. 20, 2005 : (permalink)

The Gates

Yesterday I went to Central Park to see Christo and Jeanne-Claude's The Gates.

While each individual "gate" is nothing impressive, the overall work is quite stunning for two reasons: one is just the shear scope of it—7500 gates along tens of kilometres of paths; the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. The second thing that struck me was the number of people that had come to see it. There was a certain buzz in just walking along the paths with all the other people.

A lot more (bigger) photos that I took are here.

by : Created on Feb. 20, 2005 : Last modified Feb. 20, 2005 : (permalink)

Writers Guild Awards

I have to admit I was nervous going to the awards. I'm really not one for going to events where I don't know a single person. But I ended up having a wonderful time thanks to the delightful people they sat me with at the dinner, many of them writers just starting out.

Quite a few familiar faces from film and television were there, although I didn't talk to anyone whose face (or name) I knew prior to the evening. I would have liked to have talked to Alfonso Cuarón or James Schamus but I actually have no idea what I would have said to them :-)

by : Created on Feb. 20, 2005 : Last modified Feb. 20, 2005 : (permalink)

Last Day in New York

Today's my last day in New York. Tomorrow I fly to Boston.

Last night I had some great sake and sushi at Blue Ribbon with my good friend James Marcus and his friend Aaron.

The Writers Guild Awards are tonight. My plan is to go see Christo and Jeanne-Claude's The Gates, come back to the Marriott, change in to my tux and head over to the awards at the Pierre hotel.

by : Created on Feb. 19, 2005 : Last modified Feb. 19, 2005 : (permalink)

Leonardo 0.5.0 Released

I'm pleased to announce that version 0.5.0 of my Python blog/wiki/CMS software Leonardo has been released at http://jtauber.com/2005/leonardo/leonardo-0.5.0.tgz

As well as numerous bug fixes and internal enhancements, 0.5 offers the following features and enhancements over 0.4:

by : Created on Feb. 17, 2005 : Last modified Feb. 17, 2005 : (permalink)

Amazing Python Hack

I don't normally post naked links here but this recipe in the ASPN Python Cookbook has to go down as the best Python hack I've seen.

Be sure to read the discussion too.

by : Created on Feb. 16, 2005 : Last modified Feb. 16, 2005 : (permalink)

Trying Sony

I'm at Melbourne Airport. No Bose QuietComfort headphones in sight. So I had to make the decision: do I go with the Sony MDR-NC11s on sale or do without anything for the next 20 hours of flying?

I decided to give Sony a try. The headphones are in-ear, which is a bit of a change for me. They were also half the price of the Bose. The packaging certainly isn't nearly as nice.

I haven't bought the AAA battery required for noise cancellation yet but one immediate difference I discovered with the Sony over the Bose is that the NC11s will still work as normal headphones without a battery.

The earbuds also manage to block out far more sound on their own than one would expect.

So far so good. But I'll report again on them after I arrive in New York and I've put them to good use.

UPDATE (a Melbourne-to-LA flight later): The Sony NC11s did a pretty good job although I still prefer the Bose (even taking it account the doubled price). While playing music, the Sony were almost as good as I remember the Bose being (although I didn't have the latter for a direct comparison). For pure noise cancellation, the Sony NC11s definitely fall short of the Bose Quiet Comfort although they were still effective and made the flight more bearable. Low frequency attenuation is probably pretty close to what the Bose achieves but I found that the NC11s didn't do as well at higher frequencies. The Bose aren't perfect in the upper frequencies but the NC11s are worse.

Had I had the option and knowing what I know now, I would have gone with the Bose. But the Sony headphones did the job and made the flight more bearable. They'll last me a while (I hope) and perhaps by then, Bose will have released a QC3.

by : Created on Feb. 16, 2005 : Last modified Feb. 17, 2005 : (permalink)

Quoting charset

My reading of RFCs 2068 (section 3.7) and 3023 (section 8.1) suggests that mimetype parameters can be quoted so that:


should be the same as


However, numerous browsers (including Firefox) seem to only recognize the latter and not the former.

Have I misread the RFCs or are the browsers wrong?

by : Created on Feb. 14, 2005 : Last modified Feb. 14, 2005 : (permalink)

Not Without My QC

I've meticulously noted everything I need to do before leaving on my trip to the US but I just realised that I forgot one thing.

I've been meaning to replace my Bose QuietComfort ANC headphones. I bought a pair of the first generation product back three years ago and they've made a huge difference during the hundreds of hours I've spent in planes since then. However, after three years of abuse, they are on their last legs.

I want to buy a pair of the second generation QuietComfort 2 headphones. Problem is, I have no idea where I can buy them (in person, they won't have time to be shipped) in Perth.

by : Created on Feb. 14, 2005 : Last modified Feb. 14, 2005 : (permalink)

Sciral Consistency

Via Jenni, Sciral Consistency:

Calendars are great for keeping track of tasks where you need to coordinate with others by setting fixed times and intervals.

To-do lists are great for keeping track of tasks that you will do once, and that you need to keep in order by priority.

But there's another class of activities for which neither traditional calendars nor to-do lists are optimal. If you already use a calendar and a to-do list, you're probably trying to wedge these tasks into those tools, without realizing that they really call for a new kind of tool. Sciral Consistency is that tool.

Looks promising—I'll report how I go using it.

by : Created on Feb. 14, 2005 : Last modified Feb. 14, 2005 : (permalink)

Almost Ready for Another Trip (and a Geek Dinner)

Three more days until my next big trip to the other side of the world (if you calculate the point on the Earth opposite Boston, the closest city is Perth, where I live).

I'm coming up to the one year anniversary of this blog. When I started blogging, it was just days before a trip. That trip started with the Academy Awards in LA and ended with SxSW in Austin. This trip is starting with the Writers Guild Awards in NYC and will contain (although not end with) a trip to Austin for SxSW. Interesting (if imperfect) parallel.

Most of my time will be spent in Boston. I'm thinking that it would be fun to organize a Geek Dinner while I'm there. So many other bloggers have Geek Dinners I can't make it to when I'm in Perth so I figure I'd better make one happen while I'm in Boston.

If you're in Boston and interested in meeting up, let me know!

by : Created on Feb. 13, 2005 : Last modified Feb. 13, 2005 : (permalink)

Poincare Project: Manifolds

A topological space is the most general space that has a notion of continuity, but as we discovered in recent instalments of the Poincare Project, most applications of topological spaces are restricted to a subset known as Hausdorff Spaces.

We're actually going to go a step further now and define a structure called a manifold. A manifold is the most general space that can have a coordinate system. It is the generalisation of what is often referred to as a surface and the foundation for things like vector calculus.

Define a chart to be a continuous one-to-one mapping from an open set to R^n.

A manifold is a topological space covered by one or more charts. In other words, every point (and some open set the point is in) is part of at least one chart.

One way to think of this is that an n-dimensional manifold is locally (but not necessarily globally) like R^n. It is the fact that a sphere is a 2-dimensional manifold that allows us to draw flat 2-dimensional maps of sections of it.

A chart provides a coordinate system and the coordinates of a point on a manifold are just the components of the point in R^n that the point on the manifold maps to in that chart.

For some manifolds, it is possible to cover the entire space with a single chart. Others needs multiple charts. For example, no single coordinate system can cover a sphere continuously one-to-one; for example, the coordinate system of latitude and longitude breaks down at the poles where a single point on the sphere maps to an infinite number of points in R^2.

Much of the foundational work on manifolds is due to Poincaré himself.

UPDATE: next post

by : Created on Feb. 11, 2005 : Last modified Feb. 11, 2005 : (permalink)

Film Project Update: Second Rejection

We're now at 0-2:

An unfortunate fact of every film festival is that we receive more good films than we have room to show… and I am sad to inform you that I was not able to program Alibi Phone Network for this year’s Sonoma Valley Film Festival.

My original goal was 20% success so I'll start getting worried after the fourth straight rejection :-)

by : Created on Feb. 11, 2005 : Last modified Feb. 11, 2005 : (permalink)

Bandwidth Reduction Through Responsible Feeds

Back on the 23rd January, I switched jtauber.com over to a new version of Leonardo that:

What effect did this have on bandwidth? I think the results speak for themselves:

by : Created on Feb. 10, 2005 : Last modified Feb. 10, 2005 : (permalink)

Updated Python Trie Implementation

I previously wrote about my BetaCode to Unicode script which used a Trie.

A Trie acts like a dictionary but it allows you to match on longest prefix as well as exact matches.

I've now pulled out the Trie datastructure and made it available standalone at http://jtauber.com/2005/02/trie.py

I welcome any comments on how to improve it.

by : Created on Feb. 10, 2005 : Last modified Feb. 10, 2005 : (permalink)

Attending the Writers Guild Awards

Yesterday I received an invitation to the Fifty-Seventh Annual Writers Guild Awards in New York next Saturday (they must have figured it would cheer me up after being rejected by SxSW).

Anyway, I'm arriving in Boston two days earlier so making a trip to NYC is no big deal. The timing couldn't have been better, actually. Plus it gives me an excuse to pack my tux which I'll need anyway for all those film festivals I'm going to win at!

by : Created on Feb. 9, 2005 : Last modified Feb. 10, 2005 : (permalink)

GMail invites available

50 invites available. Email me at jtauber@jtauber.com

by : Created on Feb. 8, 2005 : Last modified Feb. 8, 2005 : (permalink)

Lineage of GMail Invites

I think it would be fun being able to trace one's GMail Invite Lineage.

I got mine from Mark Baker.

Now if Mark reads this and says in his blog where he got his from and that person says on their blog (assuming they've got one) where they got theirs from...

So a call to all bloggers with GMail accounts: spread the meme!

UPDATE (2005-02-09): Mark Baker replies:

I got mine from my old friend Nelson Minar, Google employee. I expect I know where he got his. 8-) Actually, let's save a whole lotta time and just ask him for a dump of the invites database. 8-)

Wow, I'm only two steps from the source!

I did figure Google could produce the family tree themselves. Perhaps someone can work on a browser into that for their 20% project.

by : Created on Feb. 8, 2005 : Last modified Feb. 8, 2005 : (permalink)

What a Difference RelaxNG Makes

Reading through the latest spec for the Atom Syndication Format, the thing that struck me was the use of RelaxNG Compact Syntax for the grammar. I wish every spec for an XML format did this.

Great work, Norm!

by : Created on Feb. 4, 2005 : Last modified Feb. 8, 2005 : (permalink)

Film Project Update: First Rejection

Unfortunately, this was the festival I most wanted to get in to.

Dear James Tauber,

We did not select Alibi Phone Network for screening at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival.

by : Created on Feb. 2, 2005 : Last modified Feb. 8, 2005 : (permalink)

Wikipedia URIs

Looks like the idea to use Wikipedia as a source of topic URIs has also occurred to fellow XMLer, David Megginson, who's just started a blog (welcome to the blogosphere, David!)

Technorati has already stepped forward with a mechanism for tagging using their URI space. One difference between that and what David and I are proposing, though, is that Technorati is just providing the URI space—the actual semantics of a tag are at the mercy of the interpretation of each tagger, with all the ambiguity that I've talked about before.

Wikipedia URIs have the advantage that disambiguation emerges quite quickly in the URI space. "python" is ambiguous as a tag, but the Wikipedia "Python" only refers to the snake and "Python programming language" is used for the programming language, "Monty Python" for the comedy group and "Rafael_Python_5" for the missile.

by : Created on Feb. 2, 2005 : Last modified Feb. 8, 2005 : (permalink)

Server for Testing Trackbacks

Is anyone running a server available for testing trackbacks? Bryan Lawrence and I would like to implement trackback sending in Leonardo and would like somewhere to test on.

by : Created on Feb. 1, 2005 : Last modified Feb. 8, 2005 : (permalink)