Nathan Alter lives in Albuquerque with his wife and kids. He currently develops in C#/.NET, but is learning all the time and has enjoyed computers since programming in Basic on an Atari 400 as a teenager. He started blogging in 1999.
We recently watched Unstoppable…a movie about a runaway train incident. It was based on a real train incident. You kinda laugh at the technical inconsistencies in a movie where you’re familiar with the field. Ridiculously large needles in medical situations or telneting to an email address. But since I know nothing about trains, I asked my uncle, who’s a train engineer, how realistic Unstoppable was. In case you’re interested in trains, he said,
It was VERY unrealistic. The way they used the brake valves while “driving” didn’t make any sense. You never slide the wheels like that and make all the sparks. If you did, that would “lubricate” the rail with molten metal, and wouldn’t help you slow down. The large handle the engineer kept “pumping” is the automatic brake valve. It operates the brakes on the cars, which had none! Going all the way to the right with it puts the train into emergency mode. Until the air pressure charges back up, you have no air braking capacity. They kept doing going to emergency, then releasing, then back to emergency several times. If you really did this, you’d be in trouble because you’d have depleted all the air pressure needed to apply the brakes. The “independent” brake valve operates the engine brakes. They kept stressing to alternate between dynamic braking and power braking at the same time. You can’t do that. It’s one or the other. The recommendation to do this by the FRA guy didn’t make any sense. The relationship between the old heads and the new hires was overdone, it’s not that bad and we work under a seniority system anyway. All in all, it was a fun movie, but without the pounding musical score, it wouldn’t have been nearly as nerve wracking!
We recently watched Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader on blu-ray. Like 2012, it had this jarring effect where the low light scenes seemed to be filmed with a different camera and a higher frame rate. It’s odd that a higher refresh rate looks cheaper just because we associate it with cheaper TV broadcasts, rather than more expensive film. It’s technically better, but we’re just not used to it in a movie. Anyway, they probably should have made it consistent on the blu-ray. It looks like they’re switching back and forth between film and video.
Watching a DVD of The Prisoner of Zenda…both the 1937 and 1952 versions. Why would they just remake the exact same movie 15 years later without any changes? Dunno. I kept watching the ’52 version assuming there would be some new plot twist. Nothing.
I saw a movie in 3D Friday and was really impressed. One cool thing I noticed was that I actually had to change my focus between foreground and background as you do in real life. The theater charged $3.50 extra for the 3D version…I assume the projector is more expensive. I think you can keep the polarized glasses. They come in a sealed plastic bag and there’s a cardboard recycling box outside the theater where you can put them on the way out. I’m not sure how useful the glasses would be outside the theater. One cool thing to do with the glasses is to look in a mirror with them. Close one eye at a time and you can only see one eye at a time.
A little while back I saw a PC at Fry’s demoing 3D gaming. I thought I just remembered it using polarized glasses, but the ones on Nvidia’s site use LCD shutter glasses, which would be more expensive. I guess you need Vista/Windows 7, a compatible 120Hz monitor, and the shutter glasses. They have a list of compatible games. I was reading that it doesn’t work so well for some of these games, so it may not be ready for primetime yet. Anyway, it’ll be cool when it’s all working nicely. I wouldn’t buy any of this stuff yet.
Blu-ray is also planning to add 3D, but it’ll also require a compatible TV.
UPDATE: After reading this article on how theaters do 3D, I realize there is not much hope of using circular polarization on LCD monitors/TVs and that you probably always would have to use shutter glasses.
I was just watching a bit of Monster Camp on Netflix Instant. It’s a documentary about a bunch of people who do real-life role-playing games. I figured out there are different levels of nerdity. Whereas I’m maybe a level 2 nerd, these dudes are level 10. I’m pretty much a football-loving, pop music fan compared to these people.
We were watching Star Wars: Phantom Menace last night and I was again struck by how bad little Anakin’s acting was. There are child actors who can bring a tear to your eye. Lucas had his choice of any of them and he picked that kid? At least he was consistent in picking a bad actor to play him in his later years, Hayden Christensen. Maybe when picking out and directing people, Lucas is like the really good developer who makes a really bad manager .the good starship captain who makes a bad admiral the good squad leader who makes a bad commander I’m outta cheese here. It seems like acting is somewhat like special effects. You usually only notice it when it’s bad. When the actors are doing their jobs well, you may not even notice. It just seems natural.