Darren Barefoot
Darren Barefoot


Thinking Chaos, Thinking Fences

This is for those who descend into the code
and make their room a fridge for Superman

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

That's a reference to Being John Malkovich, in case you missed it. So here's a nutty little thing. Recently I've been musing on writing something fictional about a guy who's obsessed about remembering everything. So, he goes to extreme lengths to develop some software/hardware where-in he documents everything he can about his own life. Of course, knowing that all that data is stored somewhere else just addles his own memory. Anyway, not that original, but something to kick around while waiting for the elevator.

It turns out that I have God-like powers. For I've apparently created this man out of nothingness. Will Ludwigsen's alive and well and living in Florida. From his Web site:

In May 2001, I wrote a Visual Basic 6 application that reads, writes, and searches records in a database. Each record includes a date and a memo field describing the events of that date. I also added functionality to build documents including all of the records in a biographical timeline, as well as display the events that happened on a given date of the year. I can tell you, for instance, what happened today in my personal history.

The database currently contains about 1400 records, meaning that I know exactly what happened on that many days of my life. A small fraction, but better than nothing.

I use the database as a diary now, entering each day's events in sometimes excessive detail. The problem is that, unlike the historical records, the current ones cannot be prioitized. Who knows what will be important about today?

I found him while looking for weblogs by technical writers. If he were really brave, he'd expose his database on the Web. That'd be fascinating. Will, Web service-enable that puppy, would you?

And people say us technical writers are a bit detail-oriented.

9:56:32 PM        Technical Writing Technology

That's from Bill Aho, CEO of ClearPlay, one of several deeply-wrong companies who are in the business of distributing 'cleaner' versions of popular movies, without all that troublesome sex and violence. I held forth on this point at some length about eight months ago. To explain how it works, let me quote myself:

How does it work? The approaches vary, from creating custom edited videos to DVDs with digitally added clothing to 'software that can be downloaded onto home computers that allows the consumer to watch more than three dozen possible versions of a movie, including the original one shown in theaters.' The following is an example I found on the Web. In the original version of this scene from Titanic (shown on the left...I didn't blur her chest, which rather detracts from the point), Kate Winslet is lying nude on the couch while Leo draws her. In the 'revised' version from MovieMask, she's chastely wearing a blouse.

And that's a relatively timid example. Apparently they removed the entire opening scene of Proof of Life, where the David Morse character is kidnapped. Yeah, that's not vital to the narrative or anything.

Three of these shameless companies (ClearPlay, Family Shield Technologies and Trilogy Studios) filed a motion Friday in the United States District Court in Denver to dismiss claims that their products infringe on the copyrights of motion pictures. The studios and the Directors Guild of America is not pleased.

It's not really kosher to quote one's self, but it's faster that asserting the same ideas with different words:

Why do thes people [who use 'clean movie' services] want to see these films in the first place, if they're morally dubious? So they can chat about Matt Damon around the water cooler? Tough luck. You either opt in to our culture of violence and sex or you opt out.

But that's not true...if you're only opposed to violence, go see My Big Fat Greek Wedding. If you're opposed to sex and foul language, you're pretty safe watching The Bourne Identity or Panic Room. If you're opposed to both, try The Man Who Wasn't There or Star Wars or Shrek. Unless you're particularly conservative, you've got lots of options. Exercise discretion. I do it, my mother does it and so can you. Alternately, you can suffer alone on your moral high-ground.

2:27:01 PM        Movies

Lawrence Lessig is a lawyer, but don't hold that against him. He's also at the forefront of the fight for the public domain and against the shameful, endless extension of copyright. He's one of the people behind the inspired Creative Commons (which, incidentally, this blog is currently licensed under) and a fantastic public speaker.

This is kind of old news, but I only got around to watching it yesterday. Lisa Rein is hosting audio and video from Lessig's speech from SXSW 2003. If you're unfamiliar with the current copyright debate, this is a compelling introduction.

10:36:44 AM        Technology