Thursday, June 28, 2007

GPLv3 release - LIVE VIDEO FEED!

[UPDATE-2: failure watching *streaming* Theora content on Windows]
[UPDATE: success watching Theora content on Windows]

Hi nerds! Everyone going to log on for the release announcement by Richard Stallman?

Live video feed at 12p Eastern Standard Time on Friday, June 29 at

Video requirements here. They will be using the Theora open video codec (interestingly, released under a BSD license). Compatible media players are here. It is possible to use Theora on Windows, though I haven't tried to set it up yet.

As much as I have an aversion to RealPlayer because of its system-resources hogging nature and sometimes overbearing self-promotion while using its player, I did get it to play Theora-encoded files with no problem after downloading the appropriate plugins.

I first tried the Directshow filters which were supposed to work with Windows Media Player, but I could only hear audio and encountered an error when I pressed "stop." Maybe WMP wasn't appropriate for tomorrow's event anyway.

Some fun and short Theora-encoded videos to test your installation are here.

I can't explain it other than to say the obvious, which is that decoding and viewing streaming content is a different animal than decoding and viewing a fully complete movie from a hard drive. The short of it is, it didn't work. However, I don't think I missed anything earth-shattering. This should be fairly straightforward, however, and this type of failure is one reason open source, or as Stallman would prefer, "free" software is not quite ready for prime time mass consumption.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Police reunion tour

(Edit: added link to concert review)
I received a text message from my brother in Phoenix this past Monday night with a picture attached, which is now my wallpaper:It didn't occur to me right away that this picture might have been taken _AT_THE_SHOW_. I didn't know the tour schedule and only knew that a reunion tour was *going* to happen. Once I found the tour schedule I thought it was a possibility, and indeed he called me a about an hour later and confirmed he had been at the show.

I've been a huge fan of The Police for years, so this was just amazing to see. I saw Sting as a solo artist once, but I really would've wanted to go to this show. Here is a review of that night's show from The Arizona Republic, including a set list. I leave you with a few more pics. Be sure to click on them for a nice 1024 x 768 version:

An incredible view...

Big video screens:

Mr. Stewart Copeland and Sting onscreen:

Mr. Andy Summers:

Sting again:

Except for this guy's head, a great stage shot:

Copeland and Sting:


The functional Schroedinger equation as applied to the Schwarzschild metric of spacetime

It's all quite simple, really, when you think about it. Quantum physics and general relativity are two aspects of the science of physics that lead to a paradoxical result when applied to information "lost" in a black hole. This is known as "the black hole information paradox" and is such because general relativity theory says if information crosses a black hole's event horizon it is lost forever into nonexistence, but quantum mechanics says information cannot be destroyed.

A team of physicists at Case Western Reserve University have come up with a possible solution to this paradox. I don't pretend to understand the complexities involved, and the article linked to on ars technica above does a superb job at explaining this for non-math types, but basically the new proposal is that, from the point of view of an asymptotic (distant) observer, an object or information approaching the event horizon of a black hole will never pass over it and hence, not be lost.

Wow. Kinda like the thought experiment from high school physics that concluded nothing ever really touches anything else when you bring two objects closer and closer by dividing the distance between them in half over and over again.

I also learned a new term that I'm going to have to use more often: dumbhole. I only fear the full implication of the word will be lost on its recipient.

A dumbhole is the sonic equivalent of a black hole, and is mentioned in the article because the physicists who are proposing this theory need a way to actually prove it, and in the absence of being able to create a black hole on earth, they can attempt to create a dumbhole, which is apparently much easier. All they really need to do is "create the beginning stages of collapse towards a dumbhole" to make their observations. Who knew?

The ars article caught my eye because I remembered a small story from the Feb 2007 15.02 issue of Wired in the parent article called "What We Don't Know" by John Hodgman, called "What happens to information in a black hole?" Actually, several of those small stories relate to this topic.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Multiple geek layers

Even I was surprised at the multiple layers of geek embodied in this site: Wookieepedia.

Internet | Wiki | Wookie | Star Wars | 49,355 articles since March 2005

I heard Howard Stern mention it on today's show in connection with a funny interview one of the Stern show's correspondents, Gary Garver, did with a man at a recent Star Wars convention who was in costume as Darth Nihilus. In the "Wookieenews" section of the site, for June 19, 2007, there is already an entry that states:
  • Howard Stern—an influencial radio shock jock mentioned Wookieepedia, and proceeded to read from the Wookieepedia entry on Darth Nihilus.[1]
Gary Garver took a pretty hostile, "how long have you been living with your mother" attitude toward the guy and several others he interviewed and the variety of reactions was quite entertaining.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

A little recognition...

You may remember my comments about the layout of a recent article in Wired and the interesting contrast I noted between the print and online versions and the resulting irony. At the time I separately submitted a summary of my thoughts to Wired's "Rants" section, which is the equivalent to writing a letter to the editor.

To my surprise and glee they actually published my comments! They are both on the web and in the current print edition, 15.06, June 2007. My comment is titled "A Revelation," which is something the Wired editors came up with. I don't know if that title implies a revelation on my part or on theirs, but I suppose it fits in the context of realizing a print article represents the feel of an online experience better than the same article on a web site.

I was hoping for a link to my blog, and actually fantasized about them doing a graphical comparison with pictures and a link to my blog, but I'll take this.

I am now an internationally published author... or commenter.

Or ranter.

Thank you.