The One with the Thoughts of Frans

Archive for Media

I Broke Another Nutcracker

Unlike the last one, this one didn’t come for free with some nuts.

Probably the result of continued shear forces at work.

Now what to replace it with… although I like it, a known failure every year or two probably isn’t worth the hassle.

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2017 in movies

I started logging the movies I watched in Letterboxd after IMDb broke the final straw. IMDb, the only website I’ve regularly visited for twenty years, had been getting more annoying for years anyway. Letterboxd sent me a clever little overview e-mail in commemoration.

Yep, I like Vin Diesel. Sue me.

I have no idea why it opted for those three specifically when I gave Wonder Woman and Léon the same rating, plus I explicitly marked the Disney movie as a rewatch. Basic Instinct never appealed to me for whatever reason, but last year I found out that it was directed by Paul Verhoeven, one of my favorite directors. He didn’t disappoint.

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Aggressive Doubling

I bought Mini Metro when in a GOG sale recently. It’s more challenging than it looks. My most effective Mini Metro strategy yet consisted of aggressive line doubling.

The tutorial is lackluster at best. It shows you how to connect two cities and how to add trains to lines, even though these are pretty much the only truly intuitive things about the game. It doesn’t tell you that there are little symbols like squares, circles and triangles in the carriages that indicate where the passengers want to go. It also doesn’t tell you that you have to drag the track over a city to undo it, or that the top right features a clock with the day of the week as well as the ability to increase speed (very important) and to pause.

If the game manages to captivate me for another few hours I might look up what strategies people have come up with. The one shown in the screenshot is the first I tried that got me to 1500 passengers with ease, whereas I was stuck at around a 1000 before then.

The game doesn’t seem to tell you your total playtime, but by counting up the individual levels I can see that I already spent 134 minutes playing it in the past three days. Washinton DC is the 14th level.

It doesn’t have quite the charm of a Railroad Tycoon, but there’s something oddly satisfying about the game. Mini Metro might be worth a try if the idea of a simpler Railroad Tycoon sounds appealing.

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The Ghost of Student Counseling

Dye-based printer ink, potentially with a little water, makes for a surprisingly good fountain pen ink. Never stick pigments in your fountain pen. Heck, perhaps you shouldn’t put printer ink in any fountain pen over €5 or so. Anyhow, here’s a little doodle drawn in printer ink, with some quick Inkscape post-processing.

An entity with scary eyes, spaghetti arms and a big red heart tries to embrace you.

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You Can Just Concatenate MPEG-2

To deal with the inferior FAT file system, it would seem that consumer-level Sony video cameras write video files of a maximum of about 2.1 GB. A sensible approach, but annoying to work with. Luckily they can be concatenated without any concerns or side effects for easier viewing and editing.

cat 00006.MTS 00007.MTS 00008.MTS > output.mts

For other video formats, see the ffmpeg FAQ.

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Broken Sword 5 Update with Full Keyboard Support

The fact that the Broken Sword 5 2.2 20th anniversary update added controller support (also in Linux) is pretty good news. It works ever so slightly better than the antimicro setup I was using to play. But one of the primary reasons it works better is that they’ve also fixed up keyboard support. You can now press up and down arrows like you always should’ve been able to. Meaning my previous antimicro setup works better as well, in spite of it having been made obsolete.

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Two Weeks is not Ample Time, IMDb

Ah, it’s always nice to be greeted by a message of decay on a sunny Sunday morning.

Because IMDb’s message boards continue to be utilized by a small but passionate community of IMDb users, we announced our decision to disable our message boards on February 3, 2017 but will leave them open for two additional weeks so that users will have ample time to archive any message board content they’d like to keep for personal use.

Source.

Because of my annoyance with that cavalier turn of phrase about “ample time,” I’ll share an entry from my private Zim notebook.

Monday 16 Jan 2017

Noticed Inventum on F-Droid, a simple TMDb (The Movie Database) client. This in turn led me to omdb (Open Media Database).

Something to keep in mind if IMDb ever goes bad.

Another potentially interesting website is Letterboxd.

It’s a pity that omdb isn’t the MusicBrainz of movies. The Movie DB looks like a more viable alternative with a possibly more usable website than recent IMDb to boot, but I’m not sure if it is as open. Still, you can use their API to scrape the entire DB. Note that The Movie DB is essentially a fork of 2008-era omdb data, as stated on older versions of their about page.

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More Joyous Machine Translation Failures

Last year I wrote a little about Gmail’s interesting attempt to translate English to English. Similar failures pop up from time to time, but usually I forget to take screenshots as evidence. This time I did.

A few weeks ago, while I was reading La vie: mode d’emploi, I came across a term I didn’t know. “La pièce où nous nous trouvons maintenant — un fumoir bibliothèque — est assez représentative de son travail.” (The room in which we find ourselves now — a fumoir bibliothèque — is fairly representative of her work. At the top of p. 134 in my copy.) Obviously a bibliothèque is a library, but I was a little less sure on the smoke-related part — fumer is to smoke. Ergo, in a brief moment of madness I decided to type the phrase into Google Translate rather than to look it up in my Aard version of Wiktionary or in Le Petit Robert.

Fumoir bibliothèque (uppercase F) = fireplace

Obviously it’s not a place to burn books, now is it? Wiktionary defines a fumoir (2) as a “Pièce qui, dans les appartements, dans les hôtels, dans les entreprises, est réservée aux fumeurs.” A room that, in apartments, in hotels, in enterprises is reserved to smokers. A smoking room. Ah, that makes more sense. But the titular joyous part refers to what happens when you change that automatic uppercase letter to a lowercase one.

fumoir bibliothèque (lowercase F) = smoking room

Well, there you go. I’d say a smoking room with books or a smoking library is a distinction worth keeping, but statistics can sure do funny things.

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Ricochet : word sonnets = sonnets d’un mot

Although the one-word sonnets are defended of being worthy of the name sonnet in the introduction I have some lingering doubts: sonnets have a great many rules, and here there’s only the rule of 14 words, one per line. Perhaps I’m the purist, who thinks that “le terme quatorzain, qui désigne de façon générale tout poème de quatorze vers, conviendrait mieux.” But no matter what you call these haiku-like intensely precise little poems, they’re quite good. The French translation is also outstanding. My favorites are “Sleep” (p. 58), “Substance Abuse” (p. 98) and “Anti-Semitism” (p. 112).

Seymour Mayne, Sabine Huynh (Translator) (2011). Ricochet : word sonnets = sonnets d’un mot. Freely available from http://www.oapen.org/search?identifier=515358.

★★★★

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Magnificent Borderline Puerility: The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby is a terrific example of how a bunch of money-obsessed, vacuous, overall completely unsympathetic characters can still combine into an atmospheric, humorous, layered and meaningful piece of writing. Without the always present, borderline puerile ironic undertone this may well have been absolutely terrible. Minor spoilers follow.

Somehow I’d never read The Great Gatsby. Unfortunately it’s constantly and surprisingly ubiquitously referenced, and a few days ago an almost undoubtedly wrong, random Internet comment served as the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was claimed that in Gatsby’s library you could see he didn’t read his books because his bindings were intact. All that tells you is that a person is not an animal. What must’ve evidently been meant is that the pages were uncut, still held together in their signatures. To see an uncut book is a rarity these days, though I find that in my own century-old books often the first few pages remain uncut. In any event, my suspicions were quickly confirmed. Gatsby hadn’t cut his pages, but not a peep about the bindings.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, Guy Reynolds (foreword) (2001). The Great Gatsby.

★★★★½

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