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Avia S-199 in Israeli Air Force Service

Archive for October 2006

Pre-Halloween schmooze report

Alex hosted a pre-Halloween industry get-together at Hurley’s last night. I always get along great with Heidi and Doug, but I conversed with a few other people as well. Some dude name Martin was fascinated with my trouble with finding the spine of the “101″ story, and was very helpful just by listening. I also met Michael Solomon, a 30-ish producer with whom I may co-produce a short, although not one of mine. (More on that as it develops.)

When Michael learned my last name, he asked me if I’m related to Mitch – who is my younger brother. Once upon a time at Camp Maromac, both counselors in Michael’s bunk left camp early, and Mitch took over the group. Michael idolized my brother, he told me.

Michael is going to look for photos of that summer and if he finds any, I’ll send them on to my brother.

Robert the director left a phone message today asking for my l33t editing skillz. He’s trying to land a book-to-movie project and he needs help with the synopsis. That may lead to something as well.

Bonus aggravation of the week:

My Dell Inspiron 8100 gave up the ghost, to use a seasonal phrase. I’m not sure what’s wrong, so I’m not sure if it’s a permanent or temporary problem.

I had the machine on upstairs. I closed the lid and unplugged it, then took it downstairs. When I plugged it back in, the screen remained dark and the wireless card wouldn’t light up. I turned off the laptop manually, with the power button.

Every time I start up the thing now, I get power lights, and I hear the hard drive spin up, but the screen remains black and the wireless card never gets power. The CD drive will open and close, so it gets power. I don’t even know where to start. My Mac, I can troubleshoot blindfolded. The Windows laptop stymies me.

A weekend in Ottawa

I’ve just returned from two days in Ottawa with nine other WarBirds geeks players. Some I’d met before. Vlasov lives here in Montreal and we see each other occasionally. RC I’ve met at official WarBirds conventions and I’ve also attended one of his own Ottawa gatherings, in 1998 I think.

We met in the hotel lounge Friday night and watched Vonmc and Muzz get plastered in their personal styles. Vonmc was loud and eager to regale us with tales of his virtual prowess. Muzz was quieter, sarcastic, and eager to deflate Vonmc’s balloon. Also, he dropped and broke a glass.

Saturday, we went to the new War Museum, which is much bigger than the museum’s old crowded quarters.

Vlasov drove the two of us into downtown Ottawa, but our way was blocked by a demonstration. Some 20 people and a large blue balloon were marching with signs that said “Big Oil”. I assume this was a protest against Big Oil and not for it. The Ottawa police were blocking streets as the marchers went on, and Vlasov had to loop this way and that to get to the War Museum, the old museum. A sign on the door told us the museum had moved.

Back in the car, we were again thwarted by the rolling blockade. We looped around the Rideau Centre, drove between the American and Kuwaiti embassies, and finally made it onto Wellington for the drive back west of Parliament, which is where we’d come from in our first attempt to avoid the protestors. We were late, and the other WarBirders had already gone in, but finally the weekend continued.

The museum has room for its amazing collection of vehicles, from all eras. With respect to World War II, the most fascinating pieces were a StuG IIIG that had been hit about ten times, a rusty Valentine that had been rescued from a Russian bog, and an early model Churchill Mk II (2-pdr gun, bow machine gun, and engine snorkels a la Dieppe).

Saturday was spent more soberly by some, again in the hotel lounge. I had to fend off repeated requests for me to join 400-series (i.e. Canadian) virtual RAF squadrons. I will not let the virtual 101 Squadron die!

That was about it. It probably sounds boring to you, but it was an entertaining way for me to spend a weekend.

Bonus news:

I’m up to page 53 in reading “Flyboys”.

More fun with the visitor log

Keratoconus International, a support site for patients who share my disorder, posted a list of personal anecdotes found online. This blog is one of them. I’ve started to see a trickle of visitors come from there.

A second set of visits is laced with irony. This semester, I teach Jour 319 from 9:15 to 11:30 Wednesday mornings. The class meets in the Mac lab, room 3.217 of the CJ building, which used to be the DS building.

My visitor log indicates that the computer known as journ-maclab5-ds3217.concordia.ca visited my site at 9:38 Wednesday morning, and stayed until near 10:00. That means that the computer identified as maclab5 in the class – while I was teaching there – spent 20 minutes at my blog. Whoever was using that computer spent about 20 minutes reading what I wrote because what I was saying was too boring. That cracks me up.

If the computers are labelled by the department on the outside with the same scheme the network uses, that means that the bored surfer was either Lucas or Gabriella. I’m not sure which Mac is #5 in the class, but I’ll check next week.

Bonus comment on electronic voting:

Quebec’s chief electoral officer has released a report on a trial of electronic voting used in municipal elections last year, and recommends that Quebec continue to ban the use e-voting machinery. We’ll continue to rely on paper ballots.

With this in mind, it behooves anyone interested in the debate over the security of American e-voting machinery to read a new Ars Technica feature on how insecure these machines are and how one person of only moderate skill can hack election results. I hadn’t previously been swayed by claims of insecurity, or by claims of security, although I’ve never figured out why people are so eager to abandon the slow but reliable paper-ballot system. Is the speed of results that important?

Go read “How to steal an election by hacking the vote” and shudder at the hypothetical as well as the evidence that such hacking has already taken place. The only thing preventing mass election fraud in the US this November is security through obscurity, and that’s a mighty flimsy liferaft.

The hive mind makes – er, pays for a movie

Matt Hanson has launched a Swarm of Angels, an effort to create a film through massive collaboration.

He wants 50,000 people to help him make a £1 million film. He plans to release the final film online under the Creative Commons licence, which will allow anyone to recut it.

What does the help entail? Primarily a donation of £25, although Matt plans to open the scriptwriting process to a wiki style group project. In addition to joining a mob of script doctors, you’ll also be able to take part in marketing and other creative decisions.

How will this work? Let me quote from the FAQ:

We started the project with a deliberately unpackaged project — to make it clear I wasn’t paying lipservice to the idea of members influencing the content — but we had some loose parameters.

The genre was to be thriller based with soft sci-fi elements. We are now developing two scripts, The Unfold and Glitch on the forums, based on member input into initial drafts written by me. Angels will then dissect and improve upon (script doctor, and rewrite) via dedicated script wiki’s. A vote will be taken by all members to decide which script is chosen for production. This is what we talk about when we say as a member of the Swarm you involved in MAJOR creative decisions.

I see ASOA as a benevolent dictatorship, so I will endeavour to give/take as much creative input as possible from The Swarm to make a better movie, and in so doing, I also expect The Swarm to give me a similar level of respect to make creative decisions and flex my own creative freedoms to make what I believe will be the best film possible.

Uh-huh.

Hanson is known for his study of film, but his IMDb portfolio is suspiciously thin.

Am I too cynical?

Here is the forum thread with the story-breaking of “The Unfold“.

I don’t have high hopes for this. On the other hand, the project involves talented folk like Cory Doctorow and Warren Ellis (“Global Frequency”) – acting as advisors.

Can the hive mind build this movie? That’s not the right question. The right question is: will they pay for it to be made by someone else?

DUBB raves

Many local papers have reviewed Big Bad Bertha, thenew Disciples of Ursula album, and all have good things to say.

The Mirror gave the album a 7.5/10, and calls the band tailor-made for Jazz fest stages, which is ironic, because the Jazz Fest rejected the band’s application to play two years ago. The Mirror says the album “doesn’t just showcase their facility with brash swing, torchy lounge jams, Latin heat and snappy, uptempo ska, it also displays their collective knack for catchy melodies, vivid arrangements and carefully calibrated energy.”

Ici says more or less the same thing, and gives the album four out of five dots. So did la Presse and Voir. We haven’t seen Hour yet.

Take that, Jazz Fest.

Show tonight, 8 p.m.

CD Baby has copies of the first album for sale. You can listen to two-minute snippets of each song there, too. (That’s Child Three on the cover.) The site, and the iTunes Music Store, will soon have the second album.

Bonus airplane stuff:

There’s a group of hobbyists developing a simulation of the Israeli War of Independence for Microsoft’s Combat Flight Sim 2. I’ve been helping them out with colours and airfields.

Here’s an image of the work in progress. That’s an Avia S-199 flying over what will be Aqir (a.k.a Ekron, a.k.a. Tel Nof).

MFG BFD

Tonight’s Montreal Film Group meeting was… underwhelming. I misunderstood the premise of the evening. The MFG invited members of the non-filmmaking public would come to pitch us their ideas.

It got worse from there.

The discussion devolved into artsy philosophizing over the nature of film and what it should strive for. Films that make money by their violent or gory natures are to be frowned upon. Millions of teenage boys can be wrong.

At least Robert the director showed up, and he tried to bring the topic around to filmmaking again. He didn’t succeed, but he tried.

Big Bad Bertha

I could post the album cover, but I prefer this photo for some reason. Elvi, a.k.a. Mrs. Webs, is on the left. Gizelia, the lead singer, faces her. Doesn’t it look like they are about to kiss? It does to me. Always. In the background is feathery former band member Lyne, who plays flute.

The media release Tuesday went well. With a band of 14, more or less, so much depends on the sound mix, and Tuesday’s was superb.

The band has been interviewed by a couple of radio stations, too.

One of the journalists at the release was a young man from UQAM who hosts a ska show on the university radio station. He’d never heard of Me Mom & Morgentaler. Shocking, the ignorance of the youth of today.

See you at the DUBB Saturday night.

Oh blah di, oh blah dah

Saturday, I met with Tony the producer, whom I’d briefly met at the last Montreal Film Group (MFG) get-together. He wants to hire me as a researcher. I don’t think he expected my price to be what it is, but I’m a professional, you know. If he wants to hire a student at substandard rates for substandard work….

That sounds too catty. We got along well, and he did close our meeting with the comment that he wants to work with me if he can find the budget. He also wants to see what I’ve written, and early 2007 is fine. Thank goodness.

He does some films with kids, and he showed me head shots of his latest lead. In sunglasses, this young boy looked very much like Child Two. It was uncanny. I mentioned this, and we started discussion of my kids, and their movie experience last summer. Tony asked me to send in some photos of them, because he may have work for them. I did. We’ll see what happens with that.

The MFG is having another meeting Wednesday night, a meeting focused on pitching ideas. I plan to attend, although I’m not sure which pitch I’ll pitch and which I’ll ditch.

Wednesday is just another busy night in a long sequence. We have a houseguest, Devyn, staying with us in exchange for cleaning up the piles of stuff in our basement and garage. He’s been a big help, especially with the kids, who adore him. We went out Saturday to see some short films, part of the Festival du Nouveau Cinema. Afterward, we had a few drinks at the Shed, across the street, then tried a club called the Main, where Sheewaz used to be. The Main advertised itself as a ’90s club, but inside it was pure hip hop, uncluttered by people. It could have been ’90s hip hop – I wouldn’t know the difference. We stayed long enough to use the bathroom.

Sunday night, Elvi had her customary band practice. The Disciples of Ursula Big Band (DUBB) is launching its second album this week, Big Bad Bertha. The media launch is tonight, Tuesday. The band will play a concert for the general public Saturday, Oct. 21, at le Theatre Corona. Show starts at 8:30 pm.

Last night, we and Devyn went to see a DUBB member’s side project, les Swompards de l’Est, play a small brew pub. Thursday, I have an interview to do in the evening. Friday is free, but we have our friend Stuart from California to entertain, and that probably means we’ll all cook something up in the kitchen that night. Saturday is the DUBB show.

I’ve been busy, and the blog is lagging a bit. When I started, I promised myself not to let it go more than three days without a post. I don’t think I managed that this past week, but I’ll have more to write after the MFG meeting tomorrow.

Mouse update

I never put the traps out. I investigated and found no mouse scat, and while I was doing so, I pinpointed the sound to my window air conditioner.

Yeah, yeah, I’m taking it out soon.

The point is, I think either some animal was inside the air conditioner or is trying to make a winter nest. Elvi thinks the sound was dripping water inside the machine.

Either way, I won’t have any more mouse heads to stick on metaphorical pikes.

Another victory…

…over the house.

We adopted a freezer when my mother-in-law sold her house, but the nice moving men discombobulated our manual thermostat in the process of moving said freezer into our home.

I took the opportunity to buy a programmable digital thermostat.

The cable coming out of the wall behind the thermostat was literally plastered in place. When I test-mounted the new box, the wire leads were too short to make connections inside it.

I went to Reno Depot and bought a meter of wire. I stripped the insulation off the main cable and liberated lengths of smaller coloured wire. I’d also bought some heat-shrink insulation and a heat gun.

I soldered the wires together and protected the joints with the heat-shrink wrapping. Here’s a photo (I’d put it in the blog were Blogger behaving).

I’m quite proud of my work.It’s not easy to solder loose wires above eye level. The new thermostat is working like a charm.

By the way, you can’t use a heat gun to caramelize the sugar on top of creme brulee. The thing puts out sufficient heat, but it blows the sugar all over the kitchen.

Bonus call to arms:

I’ve been hearing scritching noises in my office area – it’s a subdued sound, like the sound the scroll wheel of a mouse makes. I suspect the culprit is a mouse of the organic variety. Traps go down tonight.

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