Archive for July, 2004

BIFF 2004

July 31, 2004

And before I knew it, BIFF was on again.

Just like last year, there’s no season ticket, but instead of letting this frustration stop me from seeing anything, I’m being very picky and have selected eighteen films.

It wouldn’t be BIFF without a stuff up along the way; the entire computer system was down this morning.

I’m quite surprised that a couple of the non showcase films have sold out; this is a very good sign.

The introduction shown before each film looks really cheap this year, they could have at least cleaned the piece of plastic they were using.

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S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine

July 31, 2004

This documentary brings together the surviving victims and torturers of an Khmer Rouge interrogation camp. It shows that neither the victims or the perpetrators have moved on or forgotten their ordeals.

The survivors struggle to understand how their tormentors were indoctrinated to perform such barbaric acts, while at the same time trying to move past their own survivor guilt.

The most chilling aspect of the film is the interrogators dispassionate re-enactment of their crimes. They try to explain their failings as just taking orders, as taking the path of least resistance, but they fail to explain why they were often more brutal than their masters required. It’s all much easier to understand when you realise that most of these people were mere kids when they committed these acts.

The contents of this film are made more difficult to swallow by it’s lack of violence or strong emotion that obviously exist in all involved. The only windows to the past used are the setting and the black and white pictures that the Khmer Rouge took of their victims.

I, Robot

July 28, 2004

Before I go about lambasting this movie, I should really give some context. I could have been at the opening night of BIFF, no hollywood film is ever going to top that. I was also the last person in the cinema and had to sit right down the front, the worst seat in the house when the screen is two stories high.

The pre and post movie company and chat was great, the food and coffee were great, so overall the night was a success. Pity about the movie though.

It was very pretty, the robot faces were always walking this fine line between friend and foe; it was impressive just how little lighting was required to completely change their expression.

On the Asimov side of things, it was fairly disappointing, I felt like I was being force fed the ABCs. The lame generalizing of the three rules by the God computer was worthy of a groan.

The most worrying aspect was that the supposedly touchy feely robot who loved and dreamed, and most importantly who didn’t want to die, had no problem deciding that another sentient robot had to die.

On the quality of the acting, I can do no better than Michael’s `with wooden acting like this it’s difficult separating robots from humans’.

Obnoxious anti-piracy Ad.

July 26, 2004

I’m chiming in a little late on this one.

It’s pretty galling to be force fed this ad before each and every film at a film festival, at a small arthouse cinema, for which I’ve paid a season ticket, using my movie club card.

Just Fuck Off all ready. If I’m in the fucking cinema I’m not about to download it, am I. The ad is loud, rude and makes me feel like a criminal. I’ve paid a lot of money to see these films in comfort, I don’t want to be made to feel like a criminal. I’ve never once downloaded a movie but I’m all but being accused of it.

How about the film industry providing a better cinema experience for their loyal patrons, rather than treating us like a bunch of criminals? How about less commercials, more previews, lower ticket prices, loyalty cards, food deals.

I’ve never thought much about getting a home theater setup at home, it seemed like a waste of money. But if it let me see a movie without being treated like scum, it might just be worth it.

Image manipulation with Python

July 22, 2004

The largest problem in creating a gallery creator is manipulating images; scaling them so that they fit on normal sized screens, creating thumbnails, and extracting interesting EXIF data.

This EXIF library has pretty much the simplest API you could imagine, and just works.

Now to manipulate images. I first went to use the Python Imaging Library (PIL), and after a slightly quirky install (the setup.py script couldn’t run configure and make in a subdirectory for me) it installed OK but I was quickly disappointed. There’s no easy way to scale images down while keeping their aspect ratios correct, and it is slow.

I also looked at a couple of Python wrappers to ImageMagick, one hand written and one SWIG generated. Both of these looked like a pain to install from source, so I haven’t looked at them in depth yet.

So, with a little regret, I’ve fallen back to os.system() calls to ImageMagick’s convert. Hey, it works!

A Gallery Creator.

July 22, 2004

One of the things that I’ve been itching to do is write a gallery creator for my photographs. Admittedly, there’s a thousand of them about already, but, of course, none of them do exactly what I want.

I want the thumbnail images to be presented in a staggered format, like a wall of bricks, I’m bored of a matrix of thumbnails

I’m tired of the slideshow type of gallery, there’s no reason not to have both thumbnails and decent size shots in the one page, people should be able to jump around much easier.

So here’s the beginnings of a fairly simple gallery generator. An example what it’s spitting out now is the Abbey Gallery.

At the moment, it works, and has a fairly complete set of features, though there are a few things todo

The Political Compass

July 19, 2004

Everyone else was taking it, so, baaa:
Economic Left/Right: -1.75
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -3.08

I might see if I can collate everyone’s scores..

Red, White, and the Blues

July 15, 2004

This movie tells the story of the exporting of the Blues from America to the UK, the mixing of it there with Folk music, the re-importation of this white Blues back into the America and the sudden awaking that country had of it’s very own style of music.

Tom Jones singing Blues music, wow.

Python Quibbles.

July 14, 2004

In PyUnit, self.assertRaises(TypeError, self.func(arg1, arg2)) fails as instead of passing a function object to test I’m passing the result of the function. It’s a little confusing as the function was raising the TypeError exception, and it appeared that PyUnit wasn’t doing it’s job.

Mostly, putting in the comma in the appropriate place fixes this: self.assertRaises(TypeError, self.func, (arg1, arg2)) but in one case I came across, for some reason the arguments weren’t getting passed properly and I had to flatten the argument list to: self.assertRaises(TypeError, self.func, arg1, arg); most unsatisfactory in terms of style I think.

The string.split() method takes a MAXSPLIT argument, the maximum number of times it will split the input string. I always think it’s the MAXSPLITS argument, that is, the maximum length of the tuple that will be returned. It’s annoying that I’ve stumbled over that off-by-one bug many times over the years, and will probably continue to do so.

The Way of Things

July 13, 2004

This book is a collection of (mostly) short newspaper articles on the virtues of leading a philosophical life, similar in intent to _The Consolations of Philosophy_.

There are strong lefty/pacifist and atheist streaks in his writings, which align with me well.

It’s a fairly dense book, and definitely requires a lot of rereading, so even attempting to review it after one read is a bit useless.