What we don’t want to see in 2011

The entertainment industries can become very repetitious — indeed some might characterize their willingness to borrow and steal plot devices, cinematography techniques, and entire story lines in both Television and Movies as one big incestuous circle jerk, but me, I would never do that…

There are some of these things that audiences have grown tired of from repetition and this is a list, a vent, a rant against the tired and the trite and the dying of the Hollywood light – these things have all been overdone and it’s time to find something new.  We are at the dawn of a new era in technology it’s time to stretch new bounds, to find new things, and to expressively create new art without retreading and carrying over the bad cliches.

Without further ado, here’s the list of what not to do:

Let’s start the list with some exceptions to that “new technology” direction: with the advent of HD those close up macro shots of nostrils, tonsils, and dark mustaches on women are already getting old, obnoxious, and off putting. If there aren’t nanobots that you must show to advance the storyline don’t micro focus full screen on those nose hairs anymore. On the other hand focusing on that beautiful or dire looking individual eyeball has always been a cool way to personalize the character and place the audience firmly in scene: from the first use of inky dinks, to that opening scene in Apocalypse Now,  to the present it’s ok.

We’ve already seen the CGI destruction of all of our national landmarks, cities, and scenic vistas twice over, there’s no need to continue doing that.

Post apocalyptic SF stories: unless you’ve got a really brand new twist, they’ve all been done, I don’t care how cheap it is to shoot at the junkyard and abandoned factory. Yes, the Zombpocalypse is making a big splash on AMC right now, but don’t expect that to continue a long time. Instead why not try for something entirely different: a positive future world that’s not dystopic/apocalyptic/or ancient Greece in tights with ray guns. There are tons of classic SF books that have never been done because they just weren’t possible to film well – with CGI etc. now they are…

If you think shooting the scene where the character uses the restroom is somehow revolutionary please give it up – the audience already knows that the characters have bodily functions and showing it is already old. We saw it in Brotherhood with a corrupt, constipated cop – there it actually was essential to character and plot, but if going to the bathroom doesn’t drive your story then don’t go poddy on screen.

That Television episode  or whole movie where the entire cast and crew finds a reason to go to a Vegas or Atlantic city casino? Ugh. Don’t do it – because no matter how much the Casino wants to pay you for a 30, 60, or even cinematic 90 minute product placement it sure as hell isn’t art, it isn’t entertaining, and it isn’t new.

One person slowly clapping from back of room ten seconds after the end of an excruciating adolescent whine/soliloquy/revelation/confession/ St. Crispin’s day speech: this one’s so awfully tired and unreal that I don’t even have to explain it to anyone reading this. Don’t. No. Nyet. Non. Iye! Quit it. Stop it. I’m getting out the mace. NO really does mean NO.

Gritty C0p Show Sitcoms: if you must do these remember to not overweight one end or the other of the balancing pole as you cross the razor wire tightrope.

If the plot casts an elderly woman or man please go to the local actor’s retirement village and get a normal elderly actor rather than those freakish aliens you put on screen. You know that I’m talking about: that ancient soap or sitcom actor /actress who’s had so much bad plastic surgery over the past 30 years that they look like they’ve crawled out of some Cthulian crypt on another planet. You really don’t see people like that very often outside of LA, and when someone does it always evinces horrified looks after they pass; one of these freaks in your entertainment vehicle destroys the scene and instantly evaporates the audience’s suspension of disbelief. Save the plastic surgery freaks for the Carnival since they are so distracting that the audience doesn’t care how well they read their lines.

Grainy/filmy looking HD effects? Cut that shit out. It’s HD, we want full 1920X1080P and not pretend grain and scratches.

Those night helicopter flyover intro scenes are great, but… they are beginning to become dated. Consider hiring the guy who made the Sandpit for your regional city series intro montage instead.

This the beginning, there are other things too overdone and I am certain that you can think of a few yourself.

Like… wow?

H/T to Roger Ebert for pointing out this brilliant summation of the passive aggressive non-statements and wishy washiness of our present time.

Typography from Ronnie Bruce on Vimeo.

Merry Christmas One and All

To all my friends, fans,  and to all my family I wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy, prosperous New Year. We caught a light dust of snow earlier, just in time for it.

Tonight’s Moon

A picture of tonight’s moon. Taken with a Canon T2-i, 70-300mm IS lens, 100 ISO and 1/400 shutter speed.

Pradaxa Update

As I reported here I’m taking a newly approved (September 2010) type of blood thinner called Pradaxa (Dabigatran,) so I’m tracking how it’s going here as well as other places.

I’m a month in and I’ve saved two blood tests (yay, since my veins were getting quite scarred and difficult to tap even by good phlebotomists.) The pharmaceutical company that created the newly approved thrombin-inhibitor is running a program to help pay for the steep costs (I pay $30.00 with the card my doctor gave me) since most prescription plans are not going to cover this yet a full cost. The other great news is that I’ve suffered zero ill effects, nothing to report.

It’s not affecting my lifestyle at all, the one thing I’ve done with my medications is to move Prilosec to a once a day dose since proton pump inhibitors can interfere a bit with Dabigatran uptake.

Breakfast Pills for Heart Patients

This is my morning dose of pills now that I’m 5 months out from quintuple bypass surgery  — a combo of pills designed to keep my blood pressure low and my circulatory system as plaque-free as possible.

The only outlier among the pills that might not be taken by someone with high blood pressure and high cholesterol is the Pradaxa. It’s a new type of blood thinner that I’m taking because I still have occasional short bouts of Atrial Fibrillation post surgery. Hopefully this will abate before my next check up in February and I can stop taking them. Blood thinners are prescribed for chronic Afib patients because if you have it blood can pool, then clot in the irregularly beating atria. The clots can then head to your brain and cause a stroke, or they can block heart supplying blood vessels and cause a heart attack.

Prior to the Pradaxa I was on Warfarin to thin my blood, which is a much harder drug to manage. Staying in the therapeutic zone for properly thin blood while taking Warfarin is difficult while maintaining a heart healthy diet – leafy green veggies and anything else with high levels of vitamin K can wipe out the effects of the low dose rat poison. Finding the proper dose for an individual takes quite a bit of tweaking and blood lab testing. Initially you start out at weekly tests to measure clotting factors and time, and once you near the dosage range appropriate for you then it goes to biweekly tests to ensure proper levels. To get there I had to go 5mg per day 5 days a week, and 7.5 mg per day 2 days per week. It required pill cutting and keeping a log since I am particularly scatter brained when it comes to remembering to take … or not take, a pill.

The benefits of taking Pradaxa vs. Warfarin are that I don’t have to go get a blood test every other week, and I can consume salads, spinach, and other healthy veggies without worrying about vitamin K levels.

Obviously when you are on a blood thinner and trying to get healthy it can complicate things. Since you are more prone to excessive bleeding due to your artificially suppressed clotting factors, exercise that can jar, stretch, or tear your mesentery or other tissues infused with delicate blood vessels overmuch and exercise that puts you in elevated danger of falling are both out. I won’t be punching the heavy bag for awhile. Running is out for me because I know I’m a bit clumsy and graceless – while I can run with the best of them (high school track team) I am more likely to fall while doing so. This also puts hiking on hills out and bicycling out. So I am stuck with walking on relatively flat terrain, stationary bikes, and stationary exercise for the most part. You aren’t going to catch me on the trampoline until after I stop the thinners. Chopping broccoli and mango knife fights are also not good ideas.

The Fish oil pill is to raise my levels of “good cholesterol” since that makes it harder for plaques to form and helps keep the “bad cholesterol” levels thinned.  Low dose aspirin daily keeps your circulatory system at a therapeutic level of anti-inflammatory acetysalicylic acid – inflammation at a plaque narrowed spot can send those chemical signatures that lead to an artery blocking clot, which in turn can lead to stroke and/or heart attack. [You get a heart attack when the clot blocks an artery that supplies your heart with oxygen, you get a stroke when the clot blocks an artery supplying your brain with oxygen.]

The Benicar/HCT pill is dual purpose – it attacks two high blood pressure factors. The Hydrochlorothiazide acts as a diuretic & lowers my salt levels by making me urinate a lot, and the Benicar is an Angiotensin receptor blocker – meaning it’s shaped to fill the chemical sockets normally filled by Angiotensor agents without making your blood vessels constrict. This in turn keeps the Angiotensors from working to raise your blood pressure.

Lastly the Cardizem CD aka Diltiaz ER is a calcium channel blocker that keeps your calcium levels in heart and other major vessels low – this leads to vasodilation and slightly slower heartbeat, both good things for me, and for others with high blood pressure.

** DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor nor am I a biologist: you must consult your own doctor before considering taking any of these meds yourself.

Primal Nerd Rage: Why I’m an Optimist

Predicting a technology’s future is problematic due to competing technologies, converging technologies, trailing standards bodies, and occasionally poor legislation — and those are just the minor factors. The major factors are the multitude of gaps between new technologies, some unseen as of yet. Predicting how humans will creatively bridge these gaps and which methods will then become predominant can’t be done with reliability.

These holes and valleys in our technology are where many will profit in coming years since people are going demand they be bridged one way or another, sooner or later in this coming decade. If we talk about them a bit it could be sooner. If we talk about them a lot, then the economy could turn around very quickly for each of these verges or gaps is a goldmine for willing entrepreneurs. Nerds rage against these gaps — nerds get frustrated when they think things like “Why can’t I stream my latest Itunes songlist direct to my Car and phone for my next trip? Why must I either get an Ipod adapter, or burn a CD to get them to my car? Why can’t my phone play my Itunes songs period?” After stewing the past decade lots of little things like this have been bubbling around and stirring rage in nerd town, and I can tell you right now that they’ve had it with limits…

Jonathan Zittrain worries that the future will close down a bit, moving from the generative fabric of the open PC and the “Wild West” Web to the closed proprietary devices and walled garden appliances such as Ipods and wireless phones. I think there is weight to what Jonathan says, since at minimum there’s desire from “Big Content” to keep things captive in their walled gardens. It’s important to look at potential futures across all of these gaps – and how open or closed things will be. Will they be a blend of closed and open? Which are most likely to succeed very long term? Those are subjects for the coming year here, and I’ll be examining all in  future posts here since I’m changing this to a pure tech/science blog after having moved my political blogging over to Little Green Footballs pages.

Below are some of the questions leading to potentially bright or dim futures I’ll be covering this coming year just because it’s past time for new things in all of these areas:

Wireless in the home – there are all sorts of wireless gadgets and tech out there, but none of them really intermix and play well together. I can get proprietary devices that work over wireless G, N, or bluetooth, and I can get wireless home phones in the DECT 6.0 spectrum, I can get infra-red remotes for TV’s, Ipod docks, and picture frames, and I can get bluetooth keyboards, mice and headsets. There are wireless chips for my camera, and my printer does wireless networking. There isn’t an aggregated control interface or API manager for these devices however on home PC’s and wireless routers. Should there be a standard that braids all of these multiple modes into a single home wireless space that’s transparent to consumers? Should wireless hubs be plug and play, if so what’s best strategy to secure them?

The verge here is between devices and I/O — each device is creating their own I/O button pad, keyboard, display, etc. atm, but with wireless networking and the concept of flexible pixel, printer, game, and audio space wouldn’t it be better if that weather station or remote camera could interface wirelessly with your flat panel in any room? Why can’t your keyboard and mouse downstairs direct your doorway cam upstairs, or your laptop, or your bedroom TV?

What about video cams? Sensor chips for them have dramatically dropped in price while increasing in capability – you can get  video cams, panels, projectors, and software enough to outdo any television studio from ten years ago for under 20K — what changes will that drive? Telepresence, video conferencing? Will there be a green room booth with a changeable backdrop for phone calls in some offices or homes, or will most walls be fully dedicated to pixelspace in 20 years? Will custom designers create your perfect avatar based on your enhanced body and face so you can answer the video phone while you are unshaven or having a bad hair day with a near perfect appearance and mimicry of your actual features while you talk?

Streaming media vs Proprietary channels vs on Demand – is it past time to tear down cable tiers and broadcast times for shows?

Physical media: How much longer will the DVD in whatever form live? Will it be SDRAM chips that replace them, or will it be purely streams?

Sensors: when will there be universal API and xHTML style outputs for all of them – from weather devices to cameras to motion sensors to thermostats?

What’s the future of I/O channels and human computer command systems? The obvious thing driving the question is Kinect, but what other verges need better crossing for command and control systems within your office, home, car, town, or city? Will there be facial recognition systems that replace the need for password security? Will voice recognition and gestures replace mouse and keyboard? Will every room have it’s own gesture and facial recognition sensors, wifi I/O and infra red command blaster? Where are our WALDOs?

Home PC / Home Server / Home OS — with all of this happening, shouldn’t your “personal computer” or “PC” really be an HC? Should it be a personal computer, or should it be a home computer/server/controller? Further, will HC’s or Home Computers need some pseudo AI like that featured in the Ray Bradbury story “There Will Come Soft Rains”? Are you nerd enough that you cried when that house died?

One last thing while we are speculating wildly : where the heck is my flying car?

Let’s face it — us nerds are getting frustrated with the gaps, and there’s nothing better for making new things happen in the second decade of this new millennium than primal nerd rage against the machine.

*Primal Nerd Rage graphic copyright Bethesda Software

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow

I ask you friend : what is there if you don’t have tomorrow? What kept you moving past the shittiest day of your life to date?

Tomorrow.

Why do we keep on going if not for a better tomorrow – if not for us then for our children, or our children’s children?

That in mind, shouldn’t everyone be working towards one — that is if you don’t belong to an apocalyptic cult that thinks we are are all doomed?