Preparation

2009-03-24

I’ve not traveled much by any stretch of the imagination. I have friends (like Mike Connolly) that have traveled around the world and experienced many cultures. My trips have been limited to the US, India, and parts of Europe. Yet it seems that I have more travel experience that most people. Why is it that people fail to travel anywhere except to pre-packaged resort all inclusive packages? Whatever happened to going on a road trip with only a compass and the only guides being the sun and the occasional advice from a stranger? Perhaps people are too busy to know better or want to package as much as possible into as little time as possible.

I try to take a distinctly opposing view by seeing things again and again. I like visiting some of the same places many times over and expanding the circle each time. That’s not to say that I don’t go to a new place but it’s impossible to see a whole town in one day. A town or city isn’t just historical sites; it’s the sidewalks, it’s the people or lack thereof in a park on any given day. Perhaps I take traveling too seriously.

Over the last few years my travel luggage has expanded from a single bag to four bags and now down to two. Experience teaches one that equipment can always be minimized. There are some things that just won’t be needed. In case of an emergency there’s very few things you worry about. For instance, last year when I went to Italy I crammed two camera bags full of equipment and necessities. This year I’m taking less than one camera bag and it has space for non-camera related items. It’s partially the experience of knowing what to shoot with and also deciding that I don’t really need 500 GB of RAID 1 backup on the go.

Do other people learn? Or perhaps other people are looking to see and not experience.

This could be a problem

2009-03-21

Actually, I think this makes for some really sweet water balloon fights!

Ouch!

When UK Prime Minister Brown visited US President Obama he received 25 US DVDs. Of course what nobody at the time thought of were two things: region coding and signal format. Well, it turns out that Brown definitely ran into the region coding problem.

Most commercial DVDs released by movie studios are region coded so that DVDs bought in a certain part of the world only play in DVD players bought in that part of the world. It’s a simple way to ensure that if a movie is released on DVD in North America but is still in theaters overseas then those overseas folks can’t just import the DVD and watch it. It’s also used to ensure that if a DVD is available for less in another market then a customer from a higher priced region can’t import and watch it.

In the context of this post there are only two regions to deal with: Region 1 (Canada and US, basically countries north of Mexico) and Region 2 (Europe (except for Poland, Ukraine, and Russia), The Middle East (Iran and West including Egypt), South Africa, and Japan. Basically this means that DVDs purchased by Obama for Brown are not playable on regular UK DVD players. In order for Brown to play them he has to use a region free DVD player which he may not legally able to do. He could try and import a region free DVD player from China, or he could purchase a Region 1 DVD player, or he could simply purchase the Region 2 versions of the DVDs (yuck…more on this below).

Let’s consider each of the options. Importing a player from China is not an option as it would circumvent the “DRM” (term used loosely) on the DVD. If he imported a Region 1 player then he’d run into problem #2 which is signal format. North America uses 60 Hz (NTSC) whereas the UK uses 50 Hz (PAL) which means he’d try to playback a disc and his TV would probably say “No Signal”. If Brown still has his remote at this time (and it’s not lying outside on Downing Street) then he would probably be resigned to buying the Region 2 versions of the DVDs. The movie studios, player manufacturers, and lawyers would all do a happy jig. Coincidentally all of the three mentioned jiggers are the ones that own/run the consortium that license all this technology.

So what about that first option? The Region free player? Surely you’d still have the NTSC/PAL issue. Most likely not as most region free players also transcode from NTSC to PAL and vice versa. Interesting isn’t it? That you can use a simple box that probably costs the same as your normal DVD player to watch a movie that you can legally buy but probably can’t watch. By the way, you can also use a PC to do the transcoding but you probably run into legal issues again.

So there it is, in a nutshell, the problems that Brown faced and will probably continue to face.

Opening Credits

2009-03-11

The opening credits to “Watchmen” is one of the best credits I’ve seen to date.  It’s unlike most other films in that it educates you to the events leading up to the movie.  Most credit sequences are simply that…credit sequences and it’s rare to find sequences where you can’t pay attention to the titles because there’s simply something far too interesting going on.

Jon also pointed out another great opening credit sequence from “The Kingdom”

 

Snowplate!

Have returned from Snowplate 2009 up in Sudbury. It’s an amazing tournament that I suggest all attend next year. Photos coming soon.

Updates?

Finally after a year or so I bring you an update.

I am working on a little project to update the platform that this blog/blag runs off of. I also expect to spawn several blogs targeting each specific area of my life: code, Ultimate, photography, and life in general. They will all merge back here on this site as I am working on a new form of blog sharing concept. I have to solidify the design for that before I publish it.