"an ology for the new millenium"
Why, it's the vanity site and weblog of Eric Tilton! [*]

Bernie says hello. He'd like to know if you have any wet cat food for him.

Welcome to ology.org! This is the personal vanity site of Eric Tilton and Carrie Jones. It mainly exists so that we can laugh heartily at our clever e-mail addresses (like tele@ology.org). Ho ho ho!

Please wander around, and feel free to enjoy my fine Corinthian web log.

Thursday, August 30, 2001

[Posted 8/30/2001 08:04:38 AM by tilt]

was what I woke up to this morning. Stupid cats.

(The image will probably appear way too dark for a lot of people. Isn't this what color management software is supposed to fix?)

[Posted 8/30/2001 02:57:25 AM by tilt]
Sigh. I need to get out and take some pictures. Sadly, the set I took of Town Lake from the hotel balcony last weekend were pretty much marred by the damn power lines. I did, however, finally see the damn bats. And they're pretty damn cool. We weren't close enough to hear them, or to see any detail, but we did see a very cool, long, and thick ribbon of bats wending from under the bridge all the way to the horizon. (Too far away for my pictures to show any detail, naturally.)

Next time, I'm going to wait for them on the bridge itself -- that should be a trip.

Carrie and I saw Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back last weekend, as part of Birthday Weekend. Funny funny funny. I think that it requires a fair familiarity with the Kevin Smith canon -- who am I kidding. It requires it. But it's very, very funny. Smith remains an inconsistent genius, but when he's funny, he's hysterical. The movie industry jokes that surround the beginning and the end of the film slayed me. (Apple geek-out -- J&SBSB features a jaw dropping number of Mac LCD displays. W00t!)

BTW, Summoner can kiss my grits. I'm up at 3 in the morning because of that stupid game. It's not that I've been playing all this time -- I quit several hours ago. It's that I got so wrapped up in it that I've been twitching ever since. I think I'm just about unwound enough to actually get some sleep now.

Tuesday, August 28, 2001

[Posted 8/28/2001 12:02:29 PM by tilt]
Whoops -- been a little distracted lately. My main distraction was writing some incredibly fun code. About every three months or so, I get caught up enough in a coding problem that it sucks my life away for about two hundred hours, sore wristed, panting, and with a big goofy grin on my face. (Which sounds a lot more like a description of masturbation than it's meant to.) It's these experiences -- where I get completely caught up in the intellectual problem, and in the desire to make it cooler, better, and faster -- that keep me in this coding game. It's a good thing my life isn't like this all the time, though --my brain would explode.

In other news, Chris has made it to New York City, where he's starting his frosh year at NYU. Wish him luck!

I've started digging back into Summoner. I love those guys at Volition (and Outrage!) -- the Descent games were great, and so were the Freespace games, and the Red Faction demo kicked ass. For some reason, though, the Summoner demo left me unmoved. Nevertheless, out of loyalty (and the desire for a good 3D RPG) I picked it up back in... February? I found it more fun than the demo had led me to believe, but the story just failed to grab me. The opening didn't really draw me in -- for example, I didn't get to play through the initial character defining moment of Our Hero. And as I continued to play through it, I felt... uninterested in the characters or the quests. The game sat on the shelf for several months while I played through other games.

Last week, I picked it back up, and started playing through again. Because the plot seemed so uninspired, I was coming up on what I was sure was near the end of a relatively short RPG. Then, they did something good -- they surprised the hell out of me. I was so convinced that the straighforward plot was straightforward, I didn't see the twist coming at all.

Now, of course, I'm totally sucked in. I just wished they given me some crumbs earlier, instead of making me play through sixteen hours of game before making me sit up and say "what!?".

Friday, August 17, 2001

[Posted 8/17/2001 09:43:59 AM by tilt]
Hey, kids. Here's the haps.

First, the PowerShot G2 is apparently out. The biggest change is that it's 4MP instead of 3 (and a couple hundred bucks more expensive). It looks like they've also modified the autofocus system. However, the features I most envy are the increased grip size and what looks like easier access to the power plug. Shrug... oh, well. The changes aren't steep enough for me to regret my purchase -- and besides, with tech toys, if you stress about it too much, you're always going to regret your purchase a month later.

Second, I sat through all sixteen mutha-luvin' tapes of Fushigi Yugi (The Mysterious Play) Cheesy, goofy, and completely predictable to the minute for when in each episode the next big disaster would unfold. And guess what: I loved it. Totally fun. That's 52 episodes, at 20 minutes of actual content per episode, so we're talking about a little over 17 hours of anime, digested over the course of four days. Hokey smokes, Batman! You can always tell when Carrie's out of town -- I start going to Encore daily instead of weekly.

Also on my anime devourage this last week (as mentioned below) was the first third of Robotech/Macross. The third DVD in that particular set included a goofy "intro movie" for the series that basically summarized the first thirteen episodes. Which I'd just watched. Hoo boy. Instead, I listened to the Carl Macek audio track, where he talks about what it was like to put together the series. (Macek's the guy primarily responsible for managing to edit three completely unrelated Japanese series into Robotech.) He talks about where the idea came from, what kind of technical issues there were, marketing considerations, etc. The most fascinating thing about it was the revelation that Japanese animation tends to only run between 4-8 cels per second. Instead of running at a higher cel rate, they instead use physical camera effects on cels -- e.g., they'll keep the camera on one cel for several frames, but pan out during those frames, or shift the focus between two cel layers. Crazy!

Sunday, August 12, 2001

[Posted 8/12/2001 12:04:21 AM by tilt]
Bizarre. A few weeks ago, I saw a new line of Transformers toys at the local Electronics Boutique that harkened back to the old mid-eighties days. In fact, the first toy I saw was "Prowl," who's the police car that turns into a robot. I was indescribably excited, because I've been looking for good transforming robots for years now. However, they didn't have what I really wanted, which is a good transforming jet. I did some line searching, but it was in vain -- Hasbro's official Transformers site only had the old (and in my opinion crummy) Beast Wars stuff.

Today, I saw a few more (including a somewhat bizarre Megatron), and noted that these all seem to be Canadian imports. A little more investigation revealed that Hasbro's bringing back a new "Robots In Disguise" line that harkens back (calloo callay!) to the old generation 1 Transformers line. However, it looks like the US release isn't supposed to be until next month -- at least, that's what Amazon sez when you search on "Robots in Disguise."

In related news, it looks like soon you'll be able to blow $80-$100 bucks on a Veritech. Sigh. And I probably will.

I'm watching the Robotech DVDs right now. Encore got discs 1 & 2 in (which comprise episodes 1-12 out of the 36 in the Macross arc), and I picked 'em up. The animation is pretty dated by comparison to today, but the storyline is still fun. Let's face it -- I grew up on this stuff, so I'm willing to forgive a lot. More to the point, I grew up on the dream of this stuff, since I probably only actually saw about six episodes of the damn series when I was a kid, since the local affiliate scheduled it early in the morning on weekdays. I've even got all the damn novelizations. Double sigh.

The DVDs are kind of weak in the "features" department. The transfer doesn't seem to have been done with the most loving care, although that may just be the result of old masters. Still, the upcoming release of the Macross series is supposed to be fairly nicely remastered, and it's the same source material (although with the original Japanese plot, instead of the Carl Macek funky remix). I'm hoping Encore gets that in, too, so I can finally compare.

Here's the Robotech web site.

Friday, August 10, 2001

[Posted 8/10/2001 09:54:48 PM by tilt]

I spent the evening driving around trying to find the Barton Creek Greenbelt. I found Zillker Park, where the trailhead is supposed to be, but couldn't find the trailhead itself. Happily, I found the Gus Fruh trail access after driving around for fifteen minutes. By the time I got there, the sun had already gone past the hills, and I poked around for twenty minutes or so before giving up on getting any interesting shots.

On the way out, I noticed this little orange berry. I'm glad I did. :)

[Posted 8/10/2001 01:24:04 AM by tilt]
For the NeXT fans in the audience: http://simson.net/photos/hacks/cubefire.html

Thursday, August 09, 2001

[Posted 8/9/2001 01:56:18 AM by tilt]
Did I say midnight? Clearly I meant "2ish or 3ish."

Immediately after posting my last missive, I realized how vitally important it was that I show off my new toy, a super compact tabletop tripod. Important for those serendipitous night shots :).

It fits right into the bottom of my shoulder pouch beautifully. It's not super-stable if you have the camera in anything but a relatively horizontal position, but that's OK. Update: it turns out that the legs extend, which increases stability remarkably. I'm pretty sure this tripod is either a knockoff of, or an unbranded version of, the Giotto ball-pod. It doesn't sport the reputed clip you see on the Giotto website, but seems identical in other respects. However, even with the legs extended, the screw for the swivel head doesn't do an adequate job of keeping the camera fixed when it's in a horizontal position -- the camera slowly slides down. Oh, well -- I still like the tripod a lot for it's incredible portability. For those who are interested, I picked it up from the local Austin Camera Co-Op -- it was branded as the generic in-store brand.

By the way, that is a copy of Fortunate Son, important reading for all of us making do during the Interregnum. I'm finding it very even-handed, which is surprising, considering what a shit-fit Junior pitched over it. The most valuable lesson to take from it is: George W. is not dumb. He'd love for us all to underestimate him, but he's clearly extemely skilled (if not brilliant) at fundamental politician/wheeler dealer skills: interaction with people, and the theory and practice of effective mass communication. His campaign reflects this -- his obsessive focus on getting out a message with consistent bullet points (but no substance) is an extremely effective exercise in our current media culture. And this isn't the product of his aides -- it's what he did years earlier for his father's presidential campaign.

W is not the puppet we'd like to think he is, and if we choose to regard him as just a dumb luck kid who accidentally got to be president, we're just playing into his game. This is a smart, dangerous man with a very different and darker agenda then he'd like us to think. (Weren't expecting that as a finale to a camera post, were ya?)

[Posted 8/9/2001 01:28:39 AM by tilt]
Salon: No Laughing Matter

I have a whole bunch of haphazard thoughts zinging around in response to this article, and specifically, to the Groth (here's a link to the full second part) and McCloud dueling opinion articles referenced therein. But I doubt I can make them that coherent this late at night. So, here's a summary:

  • I love online comics. I used to love newspaper comics, but they seem stale to me now.
  • I agree with Groth that the increasing control of media in the hands of a few corporations is deeply disturbing. I don't think increased information flow efficiency will somehow spark a renaissance of culture; it just makes it that much easier for Time Warner AOL to program us efficiently. Interesting cultural bits lurk in the inefficiencies and limits, and the struggles to surpass those inefficiencies and limits.
  • I don't tend to read print comics or graphics novels because it's an expensive hobby. I do, however, really enjoy renting anime. I'd probably pay to rent comics/graphic novels, because I just don't have the space to store them. That seems like a doubtful economic evolution, though.
  • I swear to god I was going to go to bed at midnight. Damn web.

Monday, August 06, 2001

[Posted 8/6/2001 10:02:00 AM by tilt]
Reading CNN.com's story on how multitasking reduces productivity reminded me that today was the day that CNN Headline News relaunches in their new ritalin-requiring format. What's the first story I saw on the TV? Yeah -- the story about how multitasking reduces productivity.

Call me crazy, but I think turning Headline News into an information bombardment (not that it wasn't already one) is a mistake; a misguided attempt to chase young viewers. This desire to be sprayed with an information firehose is a fad, and one that will pass. It's an attempt to mimic the frenetic pace of today's computer games and action movies.

Note, however, that these games and movies -- at least the successful ones -- don't actually bombard us with too much parallel information. The bits come fast and furious, but they come serially, and they come with carefully telegraphed transitions. There are no surprises, which is why the pace of information increases. So the new Headline News gets it wrong on multiple counts -- they think fast paced information is good, and they think spewing it out in parallel is good. Sigh.

Sunday, August 05, 2001

[Posted 8/5/2001 10:42:19 PM by tilt]
Kill those X10 pop-under ads: click here for a cookie to disable them for (possibly 30, hopefully 3000) days:


(Found on Sluggy Freelance.)

[Posted 8/5/2001 12:31:17 PM by tilt]

This is probably the last image from the old camera (the Kodak DC240) you'll find here. I was getting the last few images from our San Antonio trip off of it before sending it to Doug, and decided to do a little playing in Photoshop.

(This amounted to: straightening out the image, using the cloning brush to re-add table to the corner that got lost in the rotation, and then selecting out the flower so that I can highten the contrast on the rest of the image without washing out the flower. Today's new tool -- the magnetic lasso. I realize that I'm, like, five years behind the curve here, but what a fabulous tool! It's much easier to select regions with this than with my previous method, which was to fuss with the magic wand for an hour. Yay technology!)

Saturday, August 04, 2001

[Posted 8/4/2001 04:18:40 PM by tilt]

[Posted 8/4/2001 02:32:24 AM by tilt]
Ladies and gents, I just finished blazing a trail of carnage through Max Payne. This is probably the shortest I've ever, er, blown through a game, and it's because a) the game is exactly the right length (probably 15 hours of gameplay for me, so between 10-20 for most people), and b) the game rocks my adjectival little world. This game continues on in the proud tradition of Half-Life, No One Lives Forever, and, let's face it, Duke Nukem.

Lets start with the visuals. They're outstanding. In the snow. And in the sleazy buildings. And in the city streets. And in the secret... oops! The levels are littered with tons of photorealistic textures for signs, faces, etc. I was able to play at 1024x768x32 on my Celeron 400 with an ATI Radeon (probably Geforce 2-equivalent technology). I only had to turn the level geometry down to medium, and use 16 bit textures (oh, how I wish I could have turned on the 32 bit textures -- by the end, I started to notice that they were putting the crummy detail in the places you didn't look often, like the gray walls). The particle effects (smoke, fire, etc) rock, and in general the game has the most photorealistic look I've seen to date.

The audio is well done, and adds to the game at pretty much all times. The voice acting is pretty darn good, and they have Thief/NOLF style "overhear funny thug conversations," among other good audio bits. 'nuff said.

The story grabbed my attention from the get-go, and never let up. Now, let's be fair: the story has a cheese factor that can't be denied. The gravely delivery, the noir atmosphere that's SO serious it's almost funny... but also twists and turns that keep you interested, and a continuing sense that you're moving forward at just the right clip. The cutscenes are handled through a graphic novel-style approach that works very well. The only flaw, really, is that the actors they got to play the characters (the graphic novel panels are clearly heavily photoshopped photographs and art composited together) are often pretty goofy looking. Especially, well, Max.

The story doesn't take you anywhere you haven't been before in an action film, but it's a hell of a ride getting there. Playing this game is probably the closest we've come so far to playing through a Die Hard movie, or something of that ilk. The ending is as satisfying as everything that got us there, and no details feel forgotten or underdeveloped -- a rare feat in computer games. I felt the pacing was uniformly excellent.

Some have complained that the story/total gameplay is too short, but I disagree -- I felt like it was exactly the right length. I finished it fast, but that's because it was balanced well enough that I wanted to keep playing. By the time the end rolled around, I was just about ready to be done. As a storytelling experience, I thought it was executed flawlessly.

The gameplay is tres fun. Most of this is familiar (except that it's third person). The weapon selection is in the manner of Half-Life (weapons in categories, categories can be scrolled through by hitting the category number). The weapons are "realistic", and bullets are actually modeled as flying through the air at some real speed. Weapons include old favorites like the shotgun and the Beretta (use two for John Woo action!), and also new favorites like dual machine guns, a rapid fire shotgun, and a sniper rifle.

The biggest gameplay addition is "bullet time." This is ripped off directly from the Matrix, and good for 'em for doing it. This is SO MUCH FUN you won't believe it. It's easy to use, especially for executing dodge and rolls out from behind columns. Time slows down, but you can aim in real time -- sorry, suckers!

The shootouts are generally well executed. There's always plenty of cover, and as you advance through the game, getting through some areas can be a very entertaining challenge. By the end, I was using combinations of sniping and long range mortar shells :).

The game boasts a "dynamic difficulty" system. Supposedly, it monitors your skill in dispatching opponents, and then modifies things like the skill (and possibly number) of enemies, how much ammo you find, and how many painkillers (health packs) you find. This seems to work great, because the game felt like it challenged me at just the right point throughout. I showed the game to someone else (who was a rank novice at these sorts of games), and he seemed to have just as much trouble as I had getting through the first few levels, which implies it works, since the enemies were missing him to account for the fact that he never moved around :).

The bosses are well handled. They're tough, but only one (the final one) revolves around solving a puzzle. And you can solve the puzzle without having to be shooting at the same time. In general, the puzzles in the game were all fairly easy, but they made sense within the game and didn't feel artificial.

Oh. My. God. Loved it. Loved it. Gotta go fall over now and sleep.

Wednesday, August 01, 2001

[Posted 8/1/2001 06:51:12 PM by tilt]

[Posted 8/1/2001 05:09:57 PM by tilt]
My top seven Jeopardy dream categories:

  • The history of communications
  • Digital anything
  • Japanese animation
  • The Pacific Northwest
  • Computer games
  • Alcohol
  • Meat

See earlier stuff in the archives


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