Capn Design

September 2005

This month I posted 20 entries, listened to 1574 songs, watched 4 videos, bookmarked 4 sites, took 10 photos and favorited 3 things.

Recutting a Trailer for Shining to Make it a Feel-Good Film

This links right to the video. It is amazing.

Madden 06 for PSP is Really Buggy

Evil Avatar has the deets, but you can't use franchise or online play at all

Indie Fantasy League

All female, +1; one female, +2; she plays violin, +3 A Big Redesign

Posted September 21, 2005 don't talk much about work, but I just finished a redesign I'm proud of and I'd like to share. I was originally hired at Jewish National Fund as an intern responsible for making the site look less ugly. My boss didn't have an ounce of design skill, which showed in the original content of the site. I started cleaning things up slowly, but it was never perfect. Well, it still isn't but that's life. About six months ago I decided it was time to create a new framework; something that was significantly less cluttered.

The previous design was table-based and something of an eyesore. Since we use a hosted solution, I was a little nervous about doing the whole site in CSS as there was a good chance the application could break the design. I pushed on though, and managed to make it work. Surprisingly, we haven't had a single person complain since the switch-over.

My biggest challenge was trying to make the sucker-fish dropdowns work with flash. In the end, I never got it perfect, but it wasn't my fault. It works properly in every browser except for Safari (there's a bug) and IE for Mac (it sucks, so I served an image instead). This project made me realize how far we've come with CSS. It's not just that CSS can do everything tables could, it's that it can do so much more.

So, my first major redesign for someone who gets more than 50 hits a day is complete. It was nerve-racking, but a success. The next step is cleaning up the content for all the interior pages. Some of them are really a mess. Anywho, let me know what you!

Next Gen Shares the Industry's Response to the Revolution Controller

Yes, I'm obsessed.

Beck Music Video Retrospective

Posted September 19, 2005

On Saturday, Karen invited me to see a Beck retrospective at Resfest. Remembering that I drooled over this when I saw a mention months ago, I quickly accepted. There were seventeen videos in the collection, starting with "Loser" from Mellow Gold.

I learned that Beck's videos were totally insane. Technically, they were fine, but the imagery was usually the battiest. I also appreciated how his later videos were more appropriate for the musical stylings, whereas the early stuff was usually just trying (and usually succeeding) to be hip.

My favorites were Michel Gondry's video for "Deadweight", Jeremy Blake's video for "Round the Bend" and Shynola's video for "E-Pro". "Deadweight" is an absolute classic and will hold up against any music videos to come. "Round the Bend" could be a screensaver, but it seemed really appropriate for the song. I like it a lot more in hindsight. "E-Pro" is just cool. Beck's newest videos, except for "Girl", are all animated, but this one stood above the others. Mumbleboy and E*Rock did the two others and I was bored. They're really talented, but it just didn't, ya know, do it for me.

Anyway, since I wanna share the love, here are links to my three favorite videos and to "Girl", because it rules too. Oh, and click on the links to the directors, which are above, because they've all done other things that were amazing.

Deadweight by Gondry
Round the Bend by Blake (WMV stream)
E-Pro by Shynola
Girl by Motion Theory

Video of Revolution Controller

Yeah, I'll be getting a Revolution on day 1 [via waxy]

The $100 Laptop Project

MIT is creating a $100 laptop for students, but it will be sold to countries in orders 1 million units or more

I Love This Lord of War Movie Poster

Posted September 16, 2005

Lord of War Poster

This is the best movie poster I have seen in a long time. Click to enlarge it but you need to see it in person to see the amount of detail involved. It's fantastic.

Nintendo Revolution Controller Revealed

That's just nutty. The Revolution is gonna be crazy/awesome.

Bug Eats Fish's Tongue, Replaces It

Ridiculous. I love natural selection.

My Trip to Seattle

Posted September 15, 2005

In early June I went to Seattle and started writing a recap for the site. Unfortunately, I never finished. I just upgraded the site to MT 3.2 and was looking at entries when I found this one unpublished. So, I figured half an entry is better than no entry. Enjoy.

I've had a week to recover from my trip to Seattle, which means it's time to tell you about all the wonderful things I did. Here are the hits from the trip, broken down by day:


We started with some delicious dim sum at Jade Garden in the International District. We rolled ourselves out and headed to Pike Place Market, where we bought some delicious bing cherries and had coffee at Le Panier. Next was a trip to Experience Music Project, which is everything you could imagine and more. Two and a half hours wasn't nearly enough time there. We finished the day with a trip to Two Bells Tavern, where I had a delicious burger (more on that later at AHT).


After a leisurely morning, we made our first stop in Fremont at Jai Thai, a tasty little Thai restaurant. On the way to the Fremont Sunday Market, which was moderately entertaining, we stopped at a great record store, Sonic Boom Records. My best pick up was the Diamond Nights EP, which makes me smile. Our last stop in Fremont was Gas Works Park, which had breathtaking views of the Seattle skyline. Before heading home, we stopped at the flagship REI store, which was amazing. I got a cyclometer for my bike. In the evening, my uncle made us grilled salmon, a staple in the region apparently, and Jori made a delicious salad.


I only got that far. I stayed for Monday and Tuesday as well. The trip was amazing. The other highlights I can remember off the top of my head was a trip to Red Mill Burgers and Top Pot Doughnuts. Top Pot was stellar.

Nada Surf Rules

Really, they do.

Use DRM for Good

Posted September 14, 2005

Nine times out of ten, digital rights management (DRM) is a pain in the ass. I'd love to see the record companies and digital music retailers change that. Instead of restricting how I can use something I've purchased, why don't you use DRM for something I haven't yet bought?

Imagine being able to download an entire album but only being able to listen to it five times. After you've reached the limit, the song won't play until you purchase a key to unlock the songs. You could also do a pre-release of the album and let people listen to the album once through and then shut it off. If they purchase the album, it automatically unlocks on the day of release. Streaming on a site like Myspace might make more sense, but this could sell more albums as people would have zero wait-time when the album was released; it'd already be downloaded.

The labels could also offer special deals. If you purchase the new Greenhornes EP alongside the new White Stripes album, you unlock a special White Stripes track. First, you'll have rabid White Stripes fans who need that song, but you'll also get people who were curious about the Greenhornes who like a good deal.

Based on the labels' current behavior, this is all wishful thinking. I'm sure some mid-sized label with a few well-known acts will learn to embrace the technology and make a killing. I'm just hoping it happens soon.

NFL Sunday Ticket SuperFan is AweSome

Posted September 13, 2005

Like last year, I purchased DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket for the 2005 season. I can't live without my Bears games.* My first Sunday of football was excellent, despite a Bears loss. My enjoyment can be credited to a new program DirecTV added called SuperFan. With this package you get games in HD, the Redzone Channel, two Game Mix channels and Short Cuts. I don't care about the HD, but the other ones are amazing.

The Redzone channel flips from game to game as different teams enter the red zone. It's awesome for someone who just wants to see the most exciting plays. The Game Mix channels show eight games on the screen at once. It's perfect for commercial breaks for your primary game. As you highlight different games, the sound source changes. It's fantastic.

My favorite feature thus far has been Short Cuts. It takes a three hour NFL game and compresses it down to 30 minutes of plays. From what I can tell, they show every single play. It's non-stop and I have three different games waiting for me when I get home tonight.

The downside? It's an extra $100. I had all these features this week, but I didn't pony up the cash (I'm guessing it was a free preview). After already spending $200, it just isn't worth it. Now, if they split this up into $50 for HD games and $50 for the bonus features, you could count me in. With the average NFL ticket in the secondary market topping out at $290 for Packers games, you could get the whole package for less than one ticket to one game. That is, if you'd actually go to a live game. Personally, I like watching from home.

Anywho, DirecTV, if you're listening, lemme buy the pack of extra features on its own and I'm in. Or even better, roll the features into the general Sunday Ticket package and charge an extra $25. I wouldn't complain, honest.

* Yes, I could go to a sports bar, but 16 games x $10+ tab works out to about the same. If I still lived on Staten Island I would forgo Sunday Ticket in favor of Sharkey's.

Edge and the State of Video Games

Posted September 13, 2005

While home in Chicago a couple weekends ago, I happened upon a most welcomed surprise while browsing the periodicals: Edge Magazine. Edge is published in the UK and is one of the few video game magazines that isn't geared towards 12-16 year-olds. It's also the only game mag I still find tolerable since the departure of Next Generation (now an online magazine focused on industry news).

Previously, Edge wasn't available in the U.S. at all, even from newsstands, which is why I got all excited. It also turns out they're now offering stateside subscriptions for about $80 instead of what used to be $120. Issues are selling on the newsstands for eight bucks.

Edge caters to the video game fan who's looking for more than a three-sentence preview with a page of photos. Their analysis is in-depth and the reviews are thorough. In the two issues I've read this week, a lot of words were devoted to the soon-to-arrive Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Since Edge delves deeper than "Project Gotham Racing 3 will look sick," it's easy to get a sense of how these new consoles may not be all they're cracked up to be.

The Next Generation Could Disappoint

Each developer profiled in Edge mentioned that the cost of development for the X360 and PS3 will be significantly higher. One Japanese house said they'd have to charge $100 for games based on the predicted costs, even though they know that isn't feasible. If that's the case, we're looking at a dark age for creativity in video games. The system isn't really set up to support indie games and the major players aren't going to put $10 million down for an unproven commodity, at least that's the fear.

Hollywood is facing similar issues, the difference being that people can make feature length films for hundreds or thousands of dollars (and have) while that's just impossible for a console game. Does this mean we'll have to wait until the end of a new console's life-cycle before seeing innovative games from small firms? Hopefully the small studios have a strong fight-or-flight mechanism that'll help them innovate quickly.

My fears were realized this year when Madden 06 was the only football title on the shelves this fall. EA Sports purchased the sole rights to the NFL license for the next five years, which means no one else can have NFL players or logos anywhere in their game. Some were hoping this would prod the others to think fast and create unusual football titles. Well, the NFL season is upon us and that didn't happen. This isn't a result of rising costs but it is indicative of the lack of risk-taking.

So, We're Screwed?

I doubt it, but only because I think the five-year product cycle of consoles we know now will cease to exist. The new consoles are too expensive for most people—the Xbox 360 starts at $299, but the cheapest pre-order package at Gamestop is $699 and the PS3 will be at least that expensive—which means people will hold onto their consoles longer.* Developers will keep churning out Xbox and PS2 titles because they're cheap to make, they know the hardware, the upfront cost is lower and the profits will be greater. We'll then see the PS2 still going strong into 2007 and possibly 2008.

Although your casual gamer or gadget-freak will pine for the newest console, if a game is good it won't matter what console it's on (Halo certainly sold a lot of Xboxes), especially if prices stay high and new games go for $60. In other words, I don't think the new consoles will bring in the gamers' apocalypse, but it will certainly shake up the industry. Sony and Microsoft may get taught a harsh lesson, but everyone will come out okay in the end.

* This is also why I think Nintendo may be due for a renaissance. The Revolution should come in cheaper than the other two, and Nintendo historically has a much higher percentage of quality games.

Amazing Threadless Tee to Support Katrina Relief Efforts

For every $10 shirt sold, Threadless will donate $20 (up to $50,000 total). A cool shirt, even without the warm fuzzies.

Tricks for Finding a Human in Automated Voice Systems

[via hit-or-miss]

Robert X. Cringely's NerdTV

Really good, really nerdy interviews coming from this web-only interview show from PBS

Excellent Poem on Being Poor

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