A Reflection On The Little Things In Life While Picking A Lock

Pants? Check.

Wallet? Check.

iPod? Check.

Cellphone? Check.

Keys? Oh crap.

Every two or three years something happens and I manage to step outside my apartment, close the door and almost immediately discover that my keys are now on the otherside of 2 inches of wood and a Schlage lock.

I guess I was due because that was the situation I found myself in this morning just before 8am. My internal clock had me up early since we just had our time change. I was doing a little cleaning around me apartment. When I went to take the trash out, I immediately discovered that although I had managed to have nearly every other technological gadget about my person, the necessary keys were sitting on the counter.

Thankfully since I had my cellphone I was in touch with a locksmith within minutes and a half-hour later he was crouched at my door jiggling his tools in the handle.

This was obviously the first call of the day for him and he had that rumpled “I just got out of bed” look about him. But he was a friendly fellow and proceeded to wax rather philosphic while I stood around impatiently waiting for him to let me in.

“Wow! Look at that tree! It’s beautiful! You know you have quite a view up here.”

I guess he was working on the lock by touch and sound because he was looking past me down the hill and over the morning rooftops of Burbank.

“I bet you could just sit and stare out the window on the other side of your place looking at the mountains all day long.”

“Actually that window just looks into an alley.”

“Still, you know a tree like that takes a lot of work to get it to look that beautiful.”

“Yeah. Probably.”

“You know, you have to trim it once a year. You have to make sure all the branches are pointing up or they’ll just end up breaking off.”


“You know how much it costs to trim a tree that size.”

“I have no idea.”

“Five thousand bucks.’


“Yeah. Hey! Check out that hummingbird! You know a tree like that supports an incredible amount of life.”

“Uh huh.”

“All kinds of different things live in a tree like that. Imagine if all of us could live in a tree like that. The number of people it could support. That would be incredible. You know my neighbor this old guy doesn’t trim his tree. The branches don’t point up. They’re all going ‘zoom’ like this and back like that. Ok, let’s try this lock the other way.”

“Actually it opens clockwise like how you were first going.”

“I know. I’ll reset it if I get it open.”


He went on and on like that for the twenty minutes it took him to get the door open. After suggesting that I hang a shower curtain in front of my balcony to get more privacy and informing me that my neighbor’s wooden shingle roof was a huge fire hazard, the lock finally popped and my cat Max who was really curious about all the racket that was going on at the door stuck his head out through the crack in the doorway.

I managed to get Max back inside before he escaped, thanked the locksmith for coming to my aid, and went on with my life with a whole new outlook.

Ok. Maybe not.

The End Is Nigh

From the AP:

Billboard to Rank Cell Phone Ringtones

… The music market tracker Billboard will begin ranking the customized mobile phone sound snippets beginning next week….

As it does with other music sales data, Billboard will publish the top 20 ringtones purchased for each week.

Is it just me or is this totally lame? I have never had much use for the Billboard charts. They certainly don’t reflect the music that I’m interested in and that I buy. Of course I’m also not a 12-year-old girl. But it seems to me that this is the final nail in the coffin of Billboard’s relevancy. Are the record labels so anxious to justify themselves that they have to bolster their self-esteem by keeping track of which 15 second music-bytes are the most popular on telephones? Does this mean that there is going to be a surge in the “Macarena” on the charts again? How about “Hava Nagila”?

I’ve got an idea. My current ringtone is the theme to “The A-Team”. I think those crack commandos from the 80’s deserve to be on the charts. If everyone called me my cellphone maybe we could make it to number one. The number is 818-555… oh nevermind.

A Genius Named Jon

Not me.

Jon Stewart and “The Daily Show” has been very political since the 2000 election and seems to have gotten even more so with the current election. Recently though, Jon has started to take on news organizations for being puppets of the politicians, for not calling them out when they get caught in a lie.

If you’ve missed any of these confrontations, you really should set aside a few minutes to take a look. Jon went on CNN’s “Crossfire” pleaded with them to “Stop… hurting… America.” The following Monday he talked about the encounter on his own show. “Here’s the thing about confronting someone on their show. They’re there…. Uncomfortable!” He also spoke with a gathering a journalists for an hour about his thoughts on journalistic integrity on an episode of “American Perspectives” which aired on CSPAN. He expressed similar views on “60 Minutes”.

Henchman Inventory and Battle AI v1.04

The Macintosh installer for the newest version of Tony K’s smarter henchmen, tougher monsters, and better inventory add-on to Neverwinter Nights is now online. You can download the Mac version from here, the Windows version from here, and a Linux installer script from here.

Here’s some additional info:

This highly configurable modification of NWN improves the intelligence of friends and foes, both inside and outside battle. Since its original release in July 2002, it has been tested by hundreds of people in the BioWare community. The mod works with or without the expansions. You can use it to play the Official, SoU, and HotU campaigns, as well as compatible fan-made modules. Prominent features are: 1) Improved battle tactics for all NPCs, especially with regard to weapon switching and spell casting; 2) Random roaming capability for monsters in the module; 3) Access to the inventory of familiars and animal companions; 4) Improved yet still legal feats and spell selection for the six standard OC henchmen; 5) More useful behavior (buffing, item-gathering) for henchmen outside battle. Most features can be turned on or off during installation.

New for v1.04: The mod now requires NWN v1.64 or later for all installs. Added support for parry. Smaller compiled scripts from updated NWN includes and using Torlack’s compilier. Enable healing of bleeding PC’s. Creatures will still use ranged weapons when nearby target is above or below them. Location of summoning spell will be as close to known enemy location as possible. Remove duplicate disarm trap attempts (problem started with NWN 1.64). Monsters can optionally summon animal companions and familiars if they have the feats. Scouting will not jump to target location and now has a shorter range. Scouting can now be done with all associate types. Associate settings are stored on the PC and restored when associate is summoned again. Familiars updated with changes in HoTU and feat and skill selection changed in some cases. DEVELOPERS: Get the ERF source code for the mod here: http://nwvault.ign.com/Files/scripts/data/1026158289733.shtml

There have been a lot of cool NWN-related goings on since the last version of this mod. NWN 1.64 was released with new skies, two new creatures—the Troglodyte and Bulette—and a bunch of bug fixes. The Community Expansion Pack version 1.5 was released with NWN 1.64 compatibility. And three new Bioware-developed modules will be available for purchase and download for a modest price on November 10.

Goodbye To Peel

This just in from Reuters:

Veteran British disc jockey John Peel, who championed new music trends like punk on mainstream radio, has died of a heart attack on holiday in Peru.

Basically every band on the planet has played on John Peel’s show at one time or another. Obviously anytime you see an album that is called “The Peel Sessions” it was recorded by him. Also many that just say “Live At The BBC”.

I’m very saddened to hear of his passing.

A Busy Weekend

My cousin is in town from Norway and we are going to see some sites today and then tonight I’m off to a minor league hockey game for a friend’s birthday. Tomorrow will probably be some more touristy things with my cousin. I’ll try to post pictures when I can.

We’re On A Road To Nowhere

This is one the scariest things I’ve read recently. I never liked our president but I didn’t realize we had such a blind zealot in the office who pushes his own personal beliefs upon this country whether they have a basis in reality or not.

In the Oval Office in December 2002, the president met with a few ranking senators and members of the House, both Republicans and Democrats. In those days, there were high hopes that the United States-sponsored “road map” for the Israelis and Palestinians would be a pathway to peace, and the discussion that wintry day was, in part, about countries providing peacekeeping forces in the region. The problem, everyone agreed, was that a number of European countries, like France and Germany, had armies that were not trusted by either the Israelis or Palestinians. One congressman — the Hungarian-born Tom Lantos, a Democrat from California and the only Holocaust survivor in Congress — mentioned that the Scandinavian countries were viewed more positively. Lantos went on to describe for the president how the Swedish Army might be an ideal candidate to anchor a small peacekeeping force on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Sweden has a well-trained force of about 25,000. The president looked at him appraisingly, several people in the room recall.

“I don’t know why you’re talking about Sweden,” Bush said. “They’re the neutral one. They don’t have an army.”

Lantos paused, a little shocked, and offered a gentlemanly reply: “Mr. President, you may have thought that I said Switzerland. They’re the ones that are historically neutral, without an army.” Then Lantos mentioned, in a gracious aside, that the Swiss do have a tough national guard to protect the country in the event of invasion.

Bush held to his view. “No, no, it’s Sweden that has no army.”

The room went silent, until someone changed the subject.

A few weeks later, members of Congress and their spouses gathered with administration officials and other dignitaries for the White House Christmas party. The president saw Lantos and grabbed him by the shoulder. “You were right,” he said, with bonhomie. “Sweden does have an army.”

You might need this if you’re not registered with the NY Times website.

Possible Pro Tools OMF Bug?

Today I received several OMF 2.0 files from the picture department with embedded audio. Under certain circumstances, the timecode of the Pro Tools session generated from the OMF was incorrect so all the material was out of sync.

I’m not sure what version of software is being used on the Avid, but the movie was shot with 3-perf film. Since this throws off all the footage counters, we are cutting in timecode. OMF 2.0 files were generated for me but with all the media, they were going to be larger than 2 GB. To remedy this, the assistant split each reel in half, usually around the 10 minute mark, and sent me OMFs for each reel.

I opened each OMF in Pro Tools 6.4.1 with the built-in DigiTranslator. After conversion, I immediately changed the timecode from 24 frame to 29.97 pulldown. This is what I always to with OMFs. However, I found that the second OMF, the one that would start somewhere around 10 minutes into the reel, would always be out of sync. Sometimes only 1 frame early but in a few instances, up to 6 frames early. The first OMF for each reel, the one that started evenly on the hour, was always in sync.

After much trial and error, I found that if I left both OMFs in 24 frame timecode. Combined them, and then changed to the combined session to 29.97 pulldown, everything stayed in sync. For some reason, if an OMF doesn’t start at an evenly on the hour of timecode like 01:00:00:00 or 02:00:00:00 and you attempt to change the timecode in Pro Tools without first resetting the start time of the session to an even hour and maintaining timecode, then the session will fall out of sync. It’s possible that the version of Avid software and the fact that it was a 3-perf film might also have something to do with this. I haven’t had a chance to experiment more.