Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Perfect Laptop - for use with HVX200

I was all gung-ho on the Macbook Pro, but now I'm not so sure. PCs are more reliable at copying/ingesting cards, and while the Macbook Pro is both a PC and a Mac (if you buy and install WinXP on it), there's still no PCMCIA slot, and there's no FW800 on the 15" model, and it has the 6-pin firewire port which causes blown firewire ports on camcorders [see below], and no SD card reader slot.

I wish Sony would make a 12" version of this thing.

It's got ExpressCard, and it's got PCMCIA, and it's got a 4-pin firewire port (no blown HVX firewire ports!), and it has an SD card slot for editing scene files, and it's got a blu-ray data drive for archiving card contents, and it's got a 1920x1200 screen for viewing high-def at full resolution, and it can run DVC Rack and EDIUS and P2 Viewer and TLorenzo's PC version of P2 Genie...

On the downside, it's massive and heavy and expensive. And it doesn't yet offer a Core 2 Duo processor, it's only a Core Duo.

[T]hat Sony AR190G running EDIUS and DVC Rack, and the ability to just plug in a card and copy it over (or edit right from the card), and the ability to author high-def DVDs and archive 50gb at a time if you so choose... plus it's got enough horsepower to serve as a desktop replacement, which might help justify the expense...

I think that if they'd add a Core 2 Duo to it, this might be the ultimate HVX companion laptop (if you can afford it!) And if you want to use Final Cut Pro, just offload your cards to an external FAT32 hard disk and import them to your FCP-based desktop system (and the import will be more reliable anyway since the card copy was done on a PC).


[With regard to the 6-pin Firewire ports on the Mac, mentioned above]:

Hot-plugging a camcorder into a Mac has been linked to dozens of reports of blown firewire ports. Not just HVXs, but DVXs, Sony PD170s, Sony FX1s, all sorts of camcorders. It has nothing to do with the camcorder, it appears to be somehow tied to the Mac's use of a 6-pin firewire port, as the 6-pin port transmits power which somehow, some way, is short-circuiting the camcorder firewire port.

I've hot-swapped a thousand times on a PC laptop and never had a problem, but that is presumably because the PC laptops typically use 4-pin firewire connections which inherently cannot transmit power, as opposed to the Mac 6-pin ports.

If you always make sure at least one of the devices is turned off (either camcorder or Mac) you shouldn't have a problem. I believe some manufacturers are now recommending that BOTH devices be powered off before plugging in or unplugging a firewire cable between them.

A Big Star May Not a Profitable Movie Make


Jehoshua Eliashberg, a professor of marketing, operations and information management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania [...] is part of a growing cadre of academics studying how movies are made, financed and distributed. Most are finding that the studio’s assumption that big stars will increase a movie’s bottom line is simply wrong. “There is no statistical correlation between stars and success,” said S. Abraham Ravid, a professor of economics and finance at Rutgers University, who, in a 1999 study of almost 200 films released between 1991 and 1993, found that once one considered other factors influencing the success of a film, a star had no impact on its rate of return. Employing a star had virtually no discernible impact on the box office itself.

Anita Elberse, an associate professor at the Harvard Business School, tried to measure the average effect of a star by analyzing casting announcements on the price of stocks on the Hollywood Exchange (, a simulated market where hundreds of thousands of users trade stocks in individual movies based on their expected box-office revenue. Prices on this exchange have been found to be fairly good predictors of a film’s box-office success.

Ms. Elberse found, for instance, that the announcement in 2002 that Mr. Cruise had dropped out of “Cold Mountain” — he had been expected to play the lead — reduced the movie’s expected gross by $10 million. The announcement that Mr. Cruise was in talks to play a leading role in “The Last Samurai” lifted the movie’s expected gross by $28 million. Combing through 12,000 casting announcements between November of 2001 and December of 2004, related to 600 movie stars and 500 movies, Ms. Elberse found stars, on average, were worth $3 million in theatrical revenue. Still, Ms. Elberse and other academics suspect that the box-office power of movie stars might be somewhat of a mirage. Ms. Elberse found that, even when casting announcements had an impact on the expected financial outcome of a given film, they had no discernible effect on the share price of the media companies that owned the movie studio — indicating that the participation of a star had no impact on the expected profitability of the studio.Moreover, even if a star-studded movie does well, it does not necessarily mean that the stars are causing higher ticket sales. In fact, it seems to move the other way around: stars select what they believe are promising projects. And studios prefer to put stars in movies that they expect to be a success.

“Movie industry executives keep this perception that stardom is a formula for success, but they don’t measure it,” Mr. Eliashberg said. “They resist using analytical methods for all sorts of reasons, from being uncomfortable with numbers to the argument that this is a creative industry and not a business.”Mr. De Vany and other economists point out that many factors contribute to the success of a movie — like a big budget, having a G or PG rating, opening on a large number of screens and whether it is a sequel, among others. In one study, Mr. De Vany and W. David Walls, an economist at the University of Calgary, took those factors into account. Looking across a sample of more than 2,000 movies exhibited between 1985 and 1996, they found that only seven actors and actresses — Tom Hanks, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sandra Bullock, Jodie Foster, Jim Carrey, Barbra Streisand and Robin Williams — had a positive impact on the box office, mostly in the first few weeks of a film’s release.

In the same study, two directors, Steven Spielberg and Oliver Stone also pushed up a movie’s revenue. But Winona Ryder, Sharon Stone and Val Kilmer were associated with a smaller box-office revenue. No other star had any statistically significant impact at all. So what are stars for? By helping a movie open — attracting lots of people in to see a movie in the first few days before the buzz about whether it’s good or bad is widely known — stars can set a floor for revenues, said Mr. De Vany.

“Stars help to launch a film. They are meant as signals to create a big opening,” he said. “But they can’t make a film have legs.”Mr. Ravid, the Rutgers professor, suggests that stars serve as insurance for executives who fear they could be fired for green-lighting a flop. “If they hire Julia Roberts and the film flops, they can say ‘Well, who knew?’ ” said Mr. Ravid.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

How I Became the Catholic I Was - Fr. Richard John Neuhaus' conversion story

Folder Marker - Change folder icon or color by one mouse click.

What Kind of Religion Is Islam? (article not available for free)

"Christians are accustomed to distinguish the worship of false gods - that is, idolatry - from the worship of the true God. To treat Islam suitably, it becomes necessary to forge a new concept altogether, and one that is difficult to grasp - namely, an idolatry of the God of Israel."

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

It's possible to get POV-Ray to run a program of your choice after rendering a scene file:
POV-Ray: Documentation: Shell-out to Operating System

Steve's LegWay - a Lego Segway

This LEGO robot was built to stand on two wheels and balance, follow a black line, and/or spin in place.

Source code

Me and my Legway

New Technique Allows Researchers To Statistically Analyze Results Of Clinical Trials

Statisticians at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital have developed a new technique that allows researchers to statistically analyze results of clinical trials. In it, all participants receive a new treatment and none are assigned to a control group getting the existing treatment. Instead, the treatment group is compared with a so-called "historical control" composed of patients who received the existing treatment in a previous study.

A report on this new method appears in the August issue of Statistics in Medicine.

The St. Jude report is the first to describe this novel statistical method called sequential interim analysis using a historical control group, the authors said. In an interim analysis, researchers statistically analyze the accumulating results of the clinical trial at several points during the course of the study, rather than wait until the end of the trial to determine if the trial should be stopped early.

Labour of ages


This is no mere ethics quiz: I invite my reader to ask himself what he would do in the situation those Fox journalists found themselves in. [...] And before you give any quick or clever answer, recall that our whole civilization stands or falls on what you decide. Do you, do we, have the courage to hold our spiritual fortress? Or will we, in the time of trouble, give everything away?

UPDATE. Since I wrote this column, the quantity of "lynchmail" on this subject, has overtaken the quantity of "fanmail".


I didn't condemn the two Fox News journalists for simple cowardice. I condemned them because they didn't think twice; because they took capitulation for granted. I condemned them because they showed no regret for having committed apostasy & treason, regardless of how they were pushed to it. Because they sold out the West without a second thought, & continue to sell us out now that they are free. That is what I found so starchless.

If, after their release, they had shown the slightest contrition for what they had done, I would never have bothered to write about them. For they are merely topical examples, of a much larger phenomenon, that fills my inbox from day to day.

PhatInvestor - Financial Blogs, Stock Market Blogs, Business Blogs Directory (includes blog search)

Tesseract OCR - optical character recognition freeware

"A commercial quality OCR engine originally developed at HP between 1985 and 1995."


FreeDOS is a free DOS-compatible operating system for IBM-PC compatible systems.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Miracle of Mary’s House in Ephesus, spared from the flames


On Sunday 20 August, as a result of the torrid heat sweeping across Turkey and the strong dry wind, 23 enormous forest fires were reported at the same time along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. They struck the most crowded tourist areas like Bodrum and Antalya and 1,200 hectares of forest were burnt. Even Izmir zone was not spared and the “House of Our Lady” risked going up in flames. Fully immersed in greenery, it was reached by the fire that spread from the bottom of the hill, furiously burning everything that came in its way.

But the flames, as if by magic, stopped barely a metre away from the simple brick house. The building consists of two sections identified as the living room and bedroom of the Virgin, who is said to have ended her earthly life here. Currently the place is a shrine, the destination of both Christian and Muslim pilgrims who come from all around the world. Everyone immediately claimed this was a miracle and the news was reported in capital letters in the headlines of the main national papers.

Visual Complexity

" intends to be a unified resource space for anyone interested in the visualization of complex networks. The project's main goal is to leverage a critical understanding of different visualization methods, across a series of disciplines, as diverse as Biology, Social Networks or the World Wide Web."

Edius Tips - tips and tutorials for the Edius NLE software

Sunday, September 03, 2006