Good things always come in threes, right? Today I saw an amazing documentary, and it’s weird how well it fits in with the two documentaries that I had meetings about last week. I caught a matinee of “Mayor Of The Sunset Strip” appropriately enough at the Sunset 5. Wow! Just awesome.

This film is a film about Rodney Bingenheimer, a legend in the LA music scene. Rodney started out as a superfan of the bands of the mid to late 60s. (I’m going to stay away from the term “groupie” even though it is used in the film. I was a superfan of a few bands in my time, and it really takes some dedication. There’s a great book about what it’s like to be a superfan, “Bye Bye Baby: My Tragic Love Affair With The Bay City Rollers” by Caroline Sullivan. But I digress…) Eventually he wound up playing Davy Jones’ double for the Monkees TV show.

From there he hung out and got to know every band and artist that was ever anybody–The Beatles, The Doors, Sonny & Cher, The Mamas & The Papas, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley. Everybody. Watching this documentary, seeing the photos and the films of Rodney with all of these classic bands makes you think he’s some kind of real-life Zelig. He introduced David Bowie to America. He opened his own club on the Sunset Strip in the early 70s where all the rock stars would party. The Runaways. The New York Dolls. Iggy Pop. Alice Cooper.

Finally in the mid-70s he wound up with his own radio show on KROQ. He became THE guy to break all the hot bands of the day. Every band from The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, and Blondie to The Go Go’s, The Smiths, and Dramarama got their start (at least in the U.S.) because Rodney played their songs on his radio show. Even more recently bands like Oasis and Coldplay got the nod from Mr. Bingenheimer and have gone on to be huge.

He is truly an amazing individual, and director George Hickenlooper has done a fantastic job of capturing Rodney’s humanity and charm. A great documentary is informative, funny, passionate, and poignant, all at once, and “Mayor Of The Sunset Strip” is no exception. For me it ranks up there with other documentaries like “American Movie“. Even though the subjects are quirky people, they are so endearing that you can’t help falling in love with them.

Let’s Go Out The Coast, Have A Few Laughs

Let’s Go Out The Coast, Have A Few Laughs

Rahul Mahajan is the author of a couple books about the U.S.’s involvement with Iraq. He is currently in Iraq making daily updates to his blog from Baghdad and Fallujah. It’s an interesting read.

One of Rahul’s books is about how we are going to Iraq to secure our oil reserves. It is something I have been thinking a bit about recently. I am not an expert but I read and I can make some basic observations based on what I see. So bare with me because this might start to sound a little silly:

I was watching “Die Hard” the other night. (See I told you.) The first one. The good one. In the beginning of the film, they set the stage for all the guns and explosions that happen later. We see John McClain on the plane, his wife in the office while the Christmas party is getting started, and the ominous truck driving around Los Angeles that we later find out is full of bad guys.

Here’s the point: In one of the shots of the truck, it drives by a gas station where you can clearly see that the price of gas in Los Angeles at the time of the movie, 1988, was $0.74 a gallon. Right now in Los Angeles, gas at most stations costs about $2.29 a gallon–and that’s basic unleaded. So in 16 years, the price of gas has tripled in the same market. That’s a huge increase in price!

Maybe that’s to be expected. Maybe base salaries have tripled in 16 years. Maybe inflation on consumer goods across the boards has increased that much. Like I said, I’m no expert. But it is something to think about.

Keep On Movin’

I’m still working away, behind the scenes, on my new version of Monsters from the Id. The first release probably won’t look much different from what you’re seeing right now, but trust me… it is. I have to say that I’m very impressed with Movable Type. It’s a very slick system. And so many people make use of it that there is a lot of information online about tips and tricks that you can do.

I’ve been trying to set it up in such a way that it will be very customizable once it’s up without redoing the structure again. I am going to have about 60 files that won’t exist anymore, but I think I’ve found a couple of PHP scripts that will allow me to create an array of redirects in the “404 File Not Found” page. The cool thing is that I’ll only need one file–not 60–and I won’t have to keep the old folder structure that iBlog created. Plus with this script, it will literally say, “Oh, you tried to find this page? Well, it’s now this one.” And send you on your way.

Every page of the new weblog is now a PHP file (you know with a .php extension). I don’t actually have a single line of PHP code in any of those pages yet. And I might not have any in there by the time I go live with this update. But by naming the files .php from the get go, I’ll be able to add code to the pages later and I won’t have to do yet another round of redirects when the name changes from .html to .php.

One thing I did notice in the course of this redesign… despite my best efforts during the previous conversion of my website from tables-based layout to pure CSS, I definitely did NOT have XHTML 1.0 Strict code. I thought I did. I knew there might be a few issues with the stuff that iBlog was generating but I didn’t realize the extent to which my code was bad. Well I’m happy to say that I ALL of my new pages are XHTML 1.0 Transitional. They’re all good. I’ve run them through the validator and they check out. I might even be able to bring them up to strict but there’s one variable embedded in Movable Type which produces a image tag with the ‘border=”0″‘ attribute and that’s a no-no in Strict. So we’ll see.

The biggest culprits in my code were the links I made to sites with databases. Often the URL in address bar in my web browser would have several of the “&” symbols separating the variables that were sent to the server. I would just copy and paste this URL in my link but that’s not quite correct for a webpage. You need to encode the “&” like this “&”. Using that will give you valid XHTML code.

It’s too bad that I outgrew iBlog so quickly–it’s always nice to support Mac software. But Movable Type is so much more flexible, I’ll be able to make posts on computers other than my own–even *shudder* Windows machines!

Thank You, Easter Bunny. Bawk. Bawk.

Did everyone have a nice Easter?

I did. I drove down to Long Beach and spent the day with my aunt and uncle. They are going to get a new TV soon because their current one is a twelve-year-old projection set and it is definitely showing its age. The picture is warped, it’s losing its brightness, the focus is soft, and the colors aren’t that spectacular. I was telling them all about the Sony Projection LCD that Cameron recently put in his house and I think they are going to go that way. They are looking at the model that he has and also the next step up. My uncle is into having a huge picture so he feels he needs the 60″ one. That 50″ just isn’t good enough.

I will very likely wind up in Long Beach again later this week because they are having trouble with their computer. I took a look at it yesterday and it is a bit messy. They have a Windows XP machine that they bought a year ago or so. It is now infected with 4 different viruses which have oh so conveniently attached themselves to necessary files like the winlogin.exe. Plus they have about 25 different adware and spyware programs that are now running on their computer. Norton Anti-Virus wasn’t able to get rid of any of it. Unfortunately I’m probably going to have to do a complete re-install. It’s possible that I might be able to boot from the system CD and replace the 4 infected system files with clean ones from the CD, but I’m not sure. Then I still have to track down all those adware programs try to disable them manually. Pain in the butt!

I told them that after I get this done, we’ll have to sit down and I’ll show them a bit about what kinds of things not to trust. And what kinds of things not to install on their computer.

It’s so much easier on a Mac!

The Horror. The Horror.

I just bought tickets for the two Sleater-Kinney shows at the El Rey here in Los Angeles from everyone’s “favorite” legal scalper, Fifteen dollar face value on each ticket. Twenty-five dollars after Ticketmaster has had its way with you. Sixty-six percent markup?! WTF?! Loan sharks offer better interest rates.

But don’t worry. They’re not a monopoly. That would be illegal.

Maybe It Won’t Be That Long

Ok, so in just a few hours after my last post, I did some more research into various weblog and BBS software, and got Movabletype installed on my server. It’s a very cool piece of software. I didn’t realize. It’s not all that different from iBlog–though it definitely has a lot more “bells and whistles.” The authoring software just runs on the server as a set of perl scripts instead of on your local machine. But then it generates all the pages. I was thinking it was going to rely more on pages that we generated “on the fly”. That’s how a PHP-based system like Geeklog would work.

So this is good. I should have a pretty darn fast site with the most of the content on the pages being hard coded. All of those slow downs I experienced because of offsite content generation won’t exist because it will be handled by my own server. Plus with full pages of HTML existing on my site, there shouldn’t be any problems with search engines.

I’ve already managed to get all of my posts converted over. There’s still quite a bit of work to do though. I have to get my templates working so that I have my “Halloween” style back. Plus I have to figure out if there are any plugins I want to install to add even more functionality to my site. And I have to go and make up some document referrers to point the old pages to the new ones, and a good “404 page not found” to help people transition over to the new version.

One Part Panther, Two Parts Sound, Mix Thoroughly

I spent most of another day with Cameron today. Dana, his wife, is always making jokes like “So when are you moving in?” They are such great people.

We were setting up his second Pro Tools system in his office / guitar room at his house and I found out some interesting things. We were able to get Pro Tools 6.2.3 working on a Mix Plus with Panther. Here’s the specs:

  • Power Mac G4 1.25GHz (OS 9 bootable “Speed Hole”)
  • OS X 10.3.3
  • Pro Tools | 24 Mix Plus Hardware
  • Pro Tools 6.2.3 Software
  • Aurora IgniterX Lite video card with 6.2.2 drivers

Digidesign has not officially qualified Mix hardware for use with Panther and the 6.2 software. The setup that we have on our systems at Fox is Pro Tools 6.1 and OS X 10.2.6. Panther is so much nicer, I’ve been dying to use it for work. Digi does say though that they haven’t experienced any problems in early testing on the Mix hardware.

So we thought we would give it a shot since we’re not on a show right now. Pro Tools seems to function fine under basic usage. I was able to create a new session. Import some guide tracks and a movie. Play, scrub, shuttle, lots of fast starting and stopping, basic cutting and fades all worked. Now obviously a “real” session has many more than two tracks–lots of files and edits and fades. We haven’t beat on it very hard but so far it’s working well.

They also have finally fixed the Grid Mode bug that’s been in 5.3, 6.0 and 6.1 where zooming way in would cause the grid lines and the Feet and Frame timeline to disappear.

I did encounter a problem with the Digidesign Core Audio drivers. When you select “Digidesign HW” in either Sound Output or Sound Input, the name changes to “Digidesign HW (Mix)” which is good. However, none of the options appear like setting the sound level or left / right balance or anything. Also when “Digidesign HW” was selected in Sound Output, iTunes would only intermittently work correctly. Sometimes I was able to play songs fine. Other times you’d hit play and a blank window would pop up that said “Hardware Setup” in the title. The song wouldn’t play and you’d have to Force Quit iTunes to get out.

I’ll keep you informed as we discover new things. I would welcome any comments from anyone with their own experiences of Mix hardware, Panther, and Pro Tools 6.2.

I Don’t Think I’m The Only One

Eyeball with heart inside

This is gross. My eyes are screwed up as it is. I got my first pair of glasses in the 3rd grade. There is NO way I’m going to put “jewelry” in the “mucous membrane” of my eyeball!

Bob Dylan in a cowboy hat

Bob Dylan is not a good looking man. I’m sorry. “Blood On The Tracks” is one of the all-time greatest albums. I have a ton of respect for the man. But he should not be juxtaposed with girls in their underwear.

But I Don’t Want To

Sometimes it would be much easier if I could just accept things they way they are.

I’ve really enjoyed my time getting back into web development on this site. I like being able to type up a little something, click the “Post” button and away it goes to my homepage.

But I’ve found certain things to be rather frustrating. This program that I’m using, iBlog, is great if you just want to type in some text or post a simple image. But if you want to get your hands dirty with a little more HTML like a bulleted list or a blockquote or whatnot, it’s a bit difficult. You have to add extra tags around the HTML. And all the HTML has to be on one line with no returns. Plus iBlog isn’t so great in it’s Rich Text to HTML conversion. Instead of putting <p> and </p> tags around paragraphs, it uses two line breaks. <br /><br /> This isn’t the best form and then when you add in block HTML which has its own line returns built in like lists or blockquotes, you get 2 blank lines instead of one between paragraphs. So then you have to delete the extra returns between paragraphs. And that in conjunction with HTML with no line returns makes very unreadable text.

Plus I have extra features of my site added by outside providers. My search engine is by Freefind. Comments are by Haloscan. The Blog Roll is by Blogrolling, and I’m listed at Technorati. Several of these services use outside Javascript so if their site is down or particularly slow, my site doesn’t work well.

So of course I’ve been investigating other methods of running my weblog. Mac OS X is pretty cool in that it is a UNIX operating system. It comes with Apache web server and PHP already installed. So today I upgraded my PHP to the latest version and installed MySQL and I’ve been playing around with other ways of running my site. I’m thinking about using Geeklog. It’s still going to require a lot of testing but it seems promising so far. By using that instead of iBlog, I’ll be able to handle searches and comments on my own site. And quickly adding new bits of data like additions to a Blog Roll are very easy.

I haven’t decided definitely on what I’m going to do. I also want to look at phpBB, and I should also check out Movabletype–though that one is perl-based. We’ll see. I’m sure whatever I choose, a new roll out would still be several weeks away. So like I said, it would be much easier if I could just accept things the way they are.

I Need New Batteries For My Remote

Bioware, the company that created Neverwinter Nights, is kind enough to provide a Dedicated Server for their program. What this means is that you can download this application. Install a copy of any modules you have into it’s module directory, and run the server without needing another CD Key. Of course it’s dedicated which means you can’t play on that machine. That’s the whole point, you play on another machine and connect to the server.

However, on the Mac you have to have direct access to the machine to setup and run the server. After some recent posts to the Mac NWN forums, I’ve been contemplating various ideas on how to make a remote control for the server. This would allow you to change settings, like selecting which module to load, and not actually be in front of the server computer.

I’ve been playing with AppleScript UI scripting for several hours tonight and I’m banging my head against the wall. The major problem is that the Mac Dedicated Server does not seem to send the proper response to the system after it has run. With basically every Mac application, even ones that are not directly AppleScriptable, you should be able to send this command:

tell application "Dedicated Server" to activate

If the application is not running, it will run and come to the foreground. If it is already running, it will just come to the foreground. It is critical for the application to come to the foreground for UI scripting because you are simulating mouse clicks and menu selections. For some reason with Dedicated Server, the activate command will cause it to run, but then the AppleScript will hang. If the server is already running, the script will also hang on the activate command. You end up have to press Command-Period to escape out of it.

If the activate command would work properly I am convinced that I could quite easily come up with a remote control. All of the user interface elements show up properly when interfacing with AppleScript’s UI Element Inspector. In fact I can use that program to simulate clicks to the various buttons on the server interface. But because of that stupid activate command not working, no dice.