Year2005

Making Watching Football Nerdy

     I’m what you would call a casual sports fan. One of my roommates, however, is always watching ESPN. I wandered into the living room on Sunday while “Sportscenter” was on and saw the BEST THING EVER.

     First, some background. My pet peeve with watching football for the last, oh, 26 years has been the presentation of information. The top of the screen would usually have some sort of strip across it with a number denoting the quarter (1-4) and another number denoting the current down (1-4). Usually, these numbers are not labelled. People like my roommate, who watch football all the damn time just KNOW which is the quarter and which is the down. People like me spend a few plays watching to see which number changes to asses the present state of the game.

     The information graphics would change from season to season and channel to channel, and sometimes they were better than others. Usually you could determine which was the quarter number because it was closer to the gameclock. Still, i’ve always said that there had to be a better way to do this – someone should be able to glance at the screen and get all the information immediately without having to fall back on deductive reasoning.

     Anyway: back to Sportscenter. Apparently, this season, FOX (At least I was told it was FOX) has started superimposing an arrow on the field conveying who has posession, what down it is, and how many yards to go for a first down. This SORT of solves the problem, unless you tune in during a time out or something. I only saw clips on sportscenter, so I don’t know how they handle the information between plays, but this is a step in the right direction as far as I’m concerned.

     I think I freaked my roommate out a little bit, because I was so excited when I saw this that all I could do to display this excitement was point at the screen and yell “YEAH!” The fact that a play had not yet begun when I chose to point and yell made the whole situation even more ridiculous.

     I tried hunting around a bit for an image of the ‘Arrow’ in question. I watched a few of the NFL video clips on foxsports.com and wondered why they were all talking heads and no sports before it dawned on me that the NFL probably hasn’t liscensed game footage for the internet yet. Not satisfied with simply making watching football way nerdy, I pressed on – searching google for usability studies on sports information graphics. So far I haven’t turned up too much, but I did find this usability study on Electronic Program Guides, which my local cable company (Comcast) should definitely peruse, as certain submenus of our ‘On Demand’ system kick you back to the main menu every time you try and back up. I’m sure ESPN or the networks must have someone who does this internally. What a great job that would be.

Parallel Groove Mail

Vincent Marquardt writes:

     “When I was about 10 years old, someone gave me a bunch of 45’s, all lousy no-name performers; No wonder they were giving them away!”

     “Anyhow, one of them was a female singer singing a song called “Thomas, Richard and Harold”. It was a kind of torch song about this girls’ inability to choose from among the three boyfriends mentioned in the title (And they say men can’t commit!).”

     “At the end of the song, she reveals that, although she’s somewhat fond of this trio of losers, that “Whenever I hear those wedding bells, I always think of…” and then she passionately mentions a fourth name. Well, after about twenty spinnings of the disc, I noticed that the name at the end seemed to change each time. Needless to say, it freaked me out. I thought the record was possessed or something. Someone in my family (my older sister, possibly) figured out, or already knew, that multiple grooves were possible. Up until then, the coolest thing I ever heard on record was the B-side of Napoleon XIV’s “They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha Ha!” (“!aH aH ,yawA eM ekaT oT gnimoC er’yehT!”).

     This is all in reference to my article thingy on parallel-grooved records. If you remember this record, and know the name of the artist, please let me know. Googling the title with a few select search terms didn’t help much.

eBay auction for (almost) every Sub Pop Singles Club 7″ ever.

He’s missing the Luna 7″ from the 2nd run. The auction has photos of every single record. (Thanks Chris!)

Comedy Central has picked up “Stella” for 10 episodes

(3 ex-members of MTV’s ‘The State’)

Detroitfunk on the death of Harry Houdini in Detroit.

I had heard rumors the show was to take place in the Majestic complex, but it looks like it was the ‘Garrick Theatre.’

Slashdot as TapeOp.

Quantegy (the last remaining manufacturer of analog tape used in analog studio recording and mastering) ambiguously announces plant closure for ‘restructuring.’ The age-old analog vs. digital argument ensues on Slashdot.

Tape Op Forums on the Quantegy closure

Audio: Synthesized speech from “The Impossible Mission” (C64).

Ah, memories. I never could understand the first few syllables, though.

You Make A Better Door Archaeologist Than A Window An Animator

     You may have read about the recent discovery of a bit of animation on an ancient Iranian goblet, said to be the first recorded example of man-made animation. The article that’s been making the rounds (I first saw it on Cartoon Brew, it was also on Boing Boing the other day) can be found here.
Here are the important bits for those too lazy to click through to the article:

     “An animated piece on an earthen goblet that belongs to 5000 years ago was found in Burnt City in Sistan-Baluchistan province, southeastern Iran.”

     “The earthenware found in Burnt City, one of the most developed civilizations dating back to 5000 years ago, show the images of goat and fish more than any other subject. It seems these animals were used more than any other by the people of this city.”

     “On this goblet, with a diameter of 8 cm and height of 10 cm, the images show movement in an intricate way that is an unprecedented discovery. Some earthenware found in Burnt City show repetitive images, but none of them implicate any movements.”

     “While excavating the grave in which the cream-colored goblet has been found, we came across a skeleton that probably belongs to the creator of this piece”, Mansour Sajjadi, the Iranian archaeologist responsible for excavations in Burnt City told CHN.

     At the end of the article, there’s a link to a short .avi that the archaeologists put together to show off the animation. You can view that file here. Unfortunately, they chose to keep each frame on-screen for three seconds, and then crossfade into the next frame. Anyone familiar with the principles of animation will see that this presentation completely defeats the purpose of the sequential images.

     I was pretty excited to see the first example of animation, so I was understandably disappointed with the video file offered with the article. I wanted to see the animation as it was intended, so I took the .avi and edited it down into the animated gif below. E-Archaeology.

     There aren’t any photos of the actual goblet itself in the article, so I assumed that the illustrations stretched around the sides of the goblet and were intended to be viewed by spinning the goblet, which implies looping. This is what I do with my free time.

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Constructive Criticism?

     Indie Comic artist Johnny Ryan, known for his ‘Angry Youth‘ Comics and general poor-taste, has been skewering the elder statesmen of indie comics in his ‘Shouldn’t You be Working?’ strip. These strips are mostly not safe for work, and are archived on his website, though some URL-archaeology was necessary to get to some of the older ones. You should probably have an unhealthy knowledge of the indie comics “scene,” and a high tolerance for extreme vulgarity to appreciate most of them. There’s an interview with Ryan (Conducted by Peter Bagge) here if you’d like some background.


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On Art Spiegelman’sIn the Shadow of no Towers

On Chris Ware’s McSweeney’s #13

On Seth’s Life in general, as detailed in Comic Art #6

On Adrian Tomine’sOptic Nerve

On Daniel Clowes’Ghost World

On Craig Thompson’sBlankets

On Joe Sacco’sSafe Area Gorazde

On Chester Brown’sLouis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography

On Joe Matt’sPeepshow

On Ivan Brunetti’sSchizo

On Aline and R. Crumb’sDirty Laundry Comics

     Also of note:

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