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July 2007 Archives

Awesome fan-made stop-motion music video

I guess Modest Mouse is having some sort of fan video contest where they're providing some footage. One group of fans decided to print out that footage frame by frame on 8.5"x11" sheets of paper, tape them to lamp posts and such, and shoot them, frame by frame. It's pretty awesome. Here's the video.

Data mining privacy issues in a nutshell

So I saw a /. post talking about license plate scanners in Ohio. Apparently police there mount cameras on their cars that scan license plates and store GPS data in a bigass database, which they can then refer to and find out where a given car has been. They use similar technology in the UK and Canada. Since the Ohio State Highway Patrol started using the system in 2004, they've recovered 95 stolen cars and made 111 arrests through the system. Of course, privacy advocates aren't so happy about it due to potential abuse of the system.

Government data-mining for law enforcement vs privacy is a complicated issue, but I think these two /. comments pretty much sum up the pro-privacy side:

You know what? FUCK the ACLU. (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on 2007.07.29 21:13 (#20038281)

Last year my car was stolen. It happened a few days after some scumbag killed a cop and went on the lam, so the police had zero time for me (and I can't really blame them). If we'd had these gizmos then, they might have caught the piece of shit cunt that boosted my wheels.

If I was a cop on the hot auto squad, I'd cross-correlate owners reporting stolen vehicles with ACLU members - and I'd shitcan their cases.

Re:You know what? FUCK the ACLU. (Score:5, Funny)
by background image (1001510) on 2007.07.29 21:32 (#20038437)

If I was a cop on the hot auto squad, I'd cross-correlate owners reporting stolen vehicles with ACLU members - and I'd shitcan their cases.

Mod parent up: "+1 unintentionally insightful" for accidentally proving the ACLU's point...


California hands-free cell phone driving law full text plus bonus rant

A month ago, a hoax spread about the California hands-free cell phone driving law activating on July 1 of this year, when it actually goes into effect next year, on July 1, 2008. But what exactly is the law? I went looking for it, and I found the full text of SB-1613. And so there you go. :)

The core of it says:

A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving.

I originally wrote a big rant here about how unclear the law is about whether we just have to use hands-free mode while listening and talking, or whether we can't do anything except hands-free listening and talking, which would also include dialing and answering. :P But that's not really what's important. What's important is the idiocy of the entire law in the first place.

You see, according to a 2003 study, talking on the phone slows reaction time similarly whether the driving is using a hands-free set or not. The real danger is that the driver's attention is distracted much more so than when they're talking to a passenger in the car. (There are various mental model theories of why this might be so.) I have yet to see any study demonstrate that using a hands-free set is significantly safer. So it really makes no sense to force people to use hands-free sets. Instead of distinguishing between hands-free and hand-held, we should either ban cell phone calls altogether or let us use them however we want.

Looking around on the web for the effects of hands-free laws enacted elsewhere, I see a study in New York saying hand-held cell phone use went down for a while but came back up, a study in D.C. saying hand-held cell phone use went down, and a study in Finland saying hand-held cell phone use went down, but phone-related hazards stayed the same. What none of these studies even discuss, though, is the rate of total cell phone use, adding hand-free and hand-held.

You see, what I'm worried about is that with hands-free sets, people might think it's safer, resulting in the secondary effect of even longer phone calls. And since hands-free and hand-held cell phone use are just as dangerous, laws like the one that just passed in California may well increase accident rates instead of decreasing them. *sigh* This is what happens when the government ignores scientific studies and enacts laws based on what people feel is true. :\

Sterile Mall

Sterile Mall

(Project 365 Day 281)

The Vallco mall in Cupertino has struggled a lot over the year. The latest attempt to bring it back to life has renamed it "Cupertino Square" and added a new AMC movie theater.

One striking thing about the building is how empty it still is. On the way to the theater, you can see lots of blank white walls free of posters and advertisements.

It's kinda eerie!

I feel so vulnerable without the warm embrace of omnipresent marketing messages!

(See it extra large.)

Oo ee oo ah ah / Ting tang walla walla bing bang

So some of you may have seen the poster for the new Chipmunks movie. You know, with Alvin, Simon, and Theodore. And Jason Lee. And it looks terrible. I'm not sure what it is, but somehow the CG Chipmunks just didn't do it for me. Well, guess what? I saw the first trailer tonight, and it actually looks worse than the poster! There's a joke about Alvin eating Theodore's poop!




And man, it's just terrible animation, too. They look so lifeless, like zombies! In motion, they look even more wrong than they did in the poster. Poor Jason Lee, too. He's a perfectly good actor in the right role, but it seems totally out of place here.

*sigh* The Chipmunks are innocent and pure! They might goof around, but their biggest hero is Mr. T! They represent all that is joyful and good! I pity the fool who thinks it's funny to have Alvin eat poop!

Best wedding cake dolls ever.

Best wedding cake dolls ever.

(Project 365 Day 277)

Suburban Palm Trees

Suburban Palm Trees

(Project 365 Day 280)

These palm trees are just down the block from my apt. It just really amuses me to see all these palm trees in the middle of suburbia. :)

(30 second exposure taken at 2am that I brightened and saturated a bit more afterward. The sky is orange because it's overcast.)

Red Umbrella


(Project 365 Day 274)

A little painting-effect processing and a ton of cropping go a long way toward rescuing a drive-by snapshot into one of my favorite pictures. :) See the flickr page for more details, and be sure to view it large.

San Francisco from the Bay Bridge, 1971

This is a really cool panoramic photo of San Francisco, taken from the top of the Bay Bridge in 1971. Note how the Transamerica Pyramid is under construction. :)

The only tool you'll ever need

Behold the MacGyver Multitool!

How big would the standard def TV image be on an HDTV

So if you were to get an HDTV, which has a 16:9 aspect ratio, and you're one of the few people on the planet who plan to actually watch your standard definition 4:3 shows in pillarboxed mode instead of all distorted and stretched, well, how big would those 4:3 images really be? What would be the standard TV equivalent, in diagonal inches?

It was kinda fun to do a little algebra again, and use the Pythagorean Theorem and all that. A 42" HDTV's pillarboxed standard def image would be equivalent to a 34" old-school TV. A 37" HDTV would be like a 30" normal TV. The actual ratio is about 0.817. That radio holds for any sized HDTV, so now you don't have to bother going through all the a2 + b2 = c2 fun and just multiply the HDTV diagonal by 0.817 to get the 4:3 image size. Hurray!

I'm mostly writing this post so I can search my own blog for the number next time I want to figure this out, without bothering with all that math again. I'm a computer scientist. I can't do math! :P

Appeals Court: We can't challenge secret wiretaps because we can't prove we're being secretly wiretapped

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court decision in ACLU, etc al. v. NSA, et al. The ACLU is challenging the constitutionality of secret, warrantless NSA domestic wiretapping programs. The Court ruled that the ACLU is not eligible to bring suit against the NSA because they can't show that they're being affected by the program in question.


But of course they can't... because it's secret! That's the whole point of the suit! How can someone who is being affected file suit, when they can't find out if they're being affected?!

[WaPo article] [Full decision (PDF)]

(Yes, I do understand that there's a lot of complexity and reason behind decisions like this, but it still amuses me. :P)

U-S-A! U-S-A! American eats hot dogs!

Joey Chestnut shattered his own world record of 59.5 hot dogs today to defeat Takeru Kobayashi 66-63. Chestnut had an early lead, but Kobayashi tied it 60-60 with a minute to go in the 12-minute competition. (Kobayashi's previous personal best was 53.5.) In the end, Chestnut edged out the six-time Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Competition winner to bring the title back to America. [ESPN article with video]

Scarab @ Brainwash and Ireland's 32

I took pictures at two Scarab shows this weekend. Here are a couple of my favorite shots. You can go to the flickr sets to see the rest of them.

Saturday night, they played at Brain Wash again. I like how the brown shirts made it easy to give this shot a quasi-sepia look:


Sunday night, they played at Ireland's 32. Here's my favorite shot of that evening:

Looking up!

"My spoon is too big."

"My spoon is too big."

(Project 365 Day 256)

This is my re-creation of the opening scene of Rejected, a short film by Don Hertzfeldt. I guarantee it's quite different from anything you've seen before. (Warning: Features graphic stick figure violence at times.)

You should also check out Billy's Balloon and L'Amour.

A friend of mine showed me these videos back in college. He found them on the Internet somewhere, in the days before YouTube. :) I just bought Don Hertzfeldt's DVD, though, to finally actually support the artist. :)

About July 2007

This page contains all entries posted to the klog in July 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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