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Error Messages in the Wild

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And the Award goes to ?

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By Prayitno [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Well, it seems that yet again the Oscars are incapable of giving away 24 gold-plated statues to a load of rich actors in designer gear without some kind of controversy. This year Bonnie and Clyde – Faye Dunnaway and Warren Beaty managed to inadvertently inject anarchy into the awards do by opening the wrong envelope. resulting in La La Land winning best picture when it should have been Moonlight. It transpired, Beaty had been handed the envelope for the previous award for Best Actress, won by Emma Stone for La La Land. The Academy have announced an inquiry but here are the basic facts

apparently, there are 2 people backstage responsible for handing the envelopes from one of 2 sets of envelopes to the presenters. You have to assume the envelopes were marked with the award on there and yet 2 people failed to give an envelope to someone who didn’t even bother to check he had the right envelope. It seems that the problem can be summed up as follows. unused envelopes had contaminated the award pool. either the old envelope opened by Leonardo Di Caprio had somehow made its way to Beaty, or the alternative Best actress awards had been handed out in error. Now I didn’t watch the awards but I would assume there would be some stage directions managing where presenters and winners would enter and exit the stage. Here’s a brief intro to stage direction terms

Areas of a standard proscenium stage; plan view This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

 

in this diagram, we can see that stage left (SL) and stage right(SR) is relative to an actor standing on stage and facing the audience that forestage (FS) is closer to the audience and backstage(BS) is further away. Now a lot of these awards will also have an elevated staircase that the presenters enter sometimes from SL some time from SR but always from an elevated position, meeting in the center and walking down a shared staircase to centre forestage. Once at the podium the presenters ad-lib and read the autocue to announce the nominees for the award, the envelope is opened, the winner is read, the winner receives the awards, talks for 30 seconds then returns to their seat, the presenters then also leave. Because the next presenters should already be in position, ready to come on it is doubtful the presenters will exit the stage the same way they came in. so here are our stage direction options:

  • presenters walk in either from stage right
  • presenters walk in either from stage left
  • presenters walk in either from a central staircase

once they have given out the awards they exit

  • If presenters entered Stage Right, then exit Stage left
  • If presenters entered Stage Left then exit Stage Right
  • If presenters entered from central staircase, then exit either Stage left or stage right

If there are 2 people handing out the envelopes, then I suggest that 1 of them hand out the envelope at the start, once the envelope has been handed to the presenter, the matching envelope from the alternate set is destroyed. The other person waits for the actors to exit, takes the envelope and card from the, rips them in half and places them in a bin before ticking them off a list.there should be no contamination of envelopes and if the envelopes are in order then the person handing out the envelopes merely has to hand the next available envelope to the presenters, something a robot could do.

in future, the best way to do this possibly would be to announce all the nominees on the autocue and have just a blank piece of paper in the envelope. then there’s only one person responsible for messing up, namely the person who enters the text for the autocue. The text could be signed off by the awards committee either beforehand or in situ ( to be honest, I can’t believe there is no such thing as an autocue that reads from an external file )

This kind of falls into our examination of award ceremony structure. We did look into how an open source award ceremony could be made. our method removes the need for envelopes, mix-ups and incorrect nominees as the award ceremony is generated from the votes dynamically, the only thing you need is someone to press the buttons to switch slides and then bring up the winner at the end. its possible that the next slide preview could be piped to an autocue system or the text from each slide scraped into the autocue giving the announcer the text they merely have to read.

Correction : selfietorium enclosure v1

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Version 1 selfietorium enclosure presented by titaniumworkshop R&D engineer Alan Hingley

It has been bought to my attention that the initial version of this post incorrectly identified the titanium bunker department responsible for the development of the version 1 selfietorium enclosure as titanium shed. This was obviously incorrect, as titanium shed was the original project code for the department now known as titanium workshop. Accordingly the credit for this work should be titanium workshop.

On holibobs…

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My self and the good lady wife are currently holidaying on there island of Madeira, and we’re having a great time. While out for an evening stroll we spotted these wonderful balancing stones – which I photographed this morning.

Mysterious stone columns

And it got me thinking about application architecture.Take this pile of stones.

Three layers of stone architecture

At first glance it looks pretty cool right, and it certainly is a great of engineering. But it’s pretty hard to replace the top layer. Put on a layer that had a different weight distribution and the whole stack becomes unstable. And the lower down the stack you attempt to replace a layer, the greater the difficulty involved, as that layer and every layer above it is affected by a change.

From a software point of view what does it mean then?

Well each layer is built depending on the layer(s) below it. In software terms it would be like the business layer opening and holding a SQL connection and transaction and then calling multiple data layer calls using that connection and transaction. The business layer has knowledge and a dependency on the data layer. A better approach would be to handle idbconnection and idbtransaction objects, but what about a web service layer?

I’m not an architecture expert, so this is something I’ll have to think about, but I think it might make an interesting article for the internal newsletter at work.

Building LA

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I have been asked to create a series of video projections for The Pied Pipers Musical Theatre Group’s upcoming production of Singin’ in the Rain. Since I won the NODA national poster competition I have been pretty busy. At the moment, everyone wants me to design backgrounds that are to be projected for 3 different shows.

Singing in the Rain is first- after getting some information from BAWDS I was able to work out a frame size.

First challenge:  The director wanted a fly-through  through 1920’s LA to the Graumans Chinese theatre.

Well it looks like SketchUp Make could solve this problem.  I could use it to generate terrain and place buildings accurately – or so I thought.

Thing is, right now, I don’t use windows at home. I have an ancient Mac mini, so I tried installing SketchUp Make on that.  Latest version installed, only to tell me when starting that the OS was the wrong version and so it wouldn’t run- thanks apple

Linux doesn’t have a version, so I tried to install SketchUp under WINE. this installed and ran (sort of) but there was no 3D view. So in desperation I contacted Mike who had a windows laptop and was able to extract chunks of landscape and the Hollywood sign and Chinese theatre to a number of .3ds files.

First up – let’s make the land.

Opening up a copy of 3ds max one lunchtime, I was able to import the landscape.  As part of that, mike had very acurately placed the hollywood sign for me. I also had 30 or so chunks of land

3D terrain Data for Hollywood

Terrain Data extracted from SketchUp

Opening Photoshop I loaded the textures into a large file and using the 3D view as a guide, arranged the textures together:

unfiltered landscape

Hollywood Textures

Then I went through each layer cropping the footer display to create a large texture that could be mapped onto all the planes at the same time.

LaLand

Texture when cleaned up

Back in max, I combined all the landscape planes together and then made another plane above the land with roughly the same density as the merge plane object. I then applied a Conform spacewarp to the object and suddenly my new plane was fitting snugly over the Holly wood hills

making LA_3

Combining the landscape planes

I now had a single surface with no co planar polygons. I made a snapshot this mesh and deleted the faces and vertices that hadn’t been affected by the conform operation.

making LA_4

Single surface generated from the terrain data

Slap the text ure on and VOILA!

making LA_5

Texturing the landscape

It’s not 100% but its a lot quicker than manually editing and welding thousands of verts and performing countless STL checks

a quick render:

making LA_6

Rendering the Hollywood hills

And I was ready to swap out the HOLLYWOOD sign for the earlier HOLLWOODLAND sign. I fudged it a bit but it still looks pretty good:

making LA_7

Hollywoodland sign

Next Up I will add the Chinese Theatre, and then populate the Rest of LA with generic buildings

Bond Villian Office suplies

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The other week Miss Vicki and I went to see SPECTRE, and maybe it’s my age, but while I enjoyed the film, later on I felt that a lot of the film was trying its hardest to dig up 1960s bond memes

Hey remember Bond drove an Aston Martin? Quick chuck in an Aston Martin – quick!

Hey, remember how cool all the voodoo stuff was in Live and Let die? here’s a sequence at the Mexican Day of the dead for no reason whatsoever

Hey remember the crap flirting between bond and Moneypenny, that somehow looks sexist in a modern society? SHAZAM- it’s back Baby!

Hey remember that sometimes Bond villains wore Mao suits or Nehru jackets?  let’s do it!

Hey remember how bond villains used to have rooms full of henchmen operating machinery? yeah chuck a high-tech headquarters in there

Well here at the Bunker we have wings of high-tech machines that go ping and are operated by legions of guys in overalls and hard hats so we know a thing or two about  running an underground base, so I thought it would be fun if I dug out this months copy of ‘Lairs and Bunkers’

lairs and bunkersNovember2015

Latest copy of Lairs & Bunkers

and look at some of the reviews inside:

 


Name

The Death Star


Aesthetic

classic with full on retro 70s stylings, with occasional swathes of red which is a welcome relief. Everything here is a monochromatic nightmare. Granted it can destroy a planet, but sheesh!


Henchmen

The word here is variety, there are lots of different styles of Henchmen White plated storm troopers, Black plated TIE fighter pilots grey officers all suited and booted with a certain Nazi stylings chuck into the mix the black-robed Emperor, and Darth Vader. However having lots of different Henchmen does not make up for the fact that yet again everything is GREY! it’s a mercy that imperial guards are crimson, because otherwise I might think I was watching a black and white film.


Health & Safety

Well, where to begin with this? The layout of the Death Star seems wildly illogical, the station seems to be hollow, with the most dangerous explosion-causing device (the main reactor) situated in the dead centre of the facility. This means that an explosion will destroy the whole facility. Whereas positioning the reactor off-centre would only destroy a section of the facility, and would allow the henchmen time to get to escape pods. The designers for the death star also thought that having long bottomless shafts without handrails was a perfectly acceptable way to design an interior along with doors that operate bridges. This is important if you are a storm trooper, you can surely not see much in that helmet and the reduced visibility will only lead to more accidents, which is a damming indictment of what is a government facility.


Overall Score


8


Verdict

Don’t Believe the hype. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of a work place free from tripping hazards and bottomless pits.


Name

Joker’s Lair – Batman


Aesthetic

Vivid bright colours and circus memorabilia all over the place, there are very few Lairs that accurately reflect the personality of their owner, The Joker takes every lair he has and makes it something totally unique. But here’s the problem: Any city planner worth their salt would simply devise a scheme where a wealthy philanthropist, like Bruce Wayne, could buy up all the disused joke shops, factories that made goods for joke shops or derelict fun fairs and turn them into affordable homes, reducing the number of potential lairs for the joker, it also makes him very easy to find.  The point of a secret lair is that its secret.  If batman can guess where you live and he’s right 9 times out of 10, then maybe its time to think about changing your property M.O.


Henchmen

Depends, Sometimes the joker opts for normal hoodlums and gives then cars to match his colour-scheme, sometimes he demands they actually dress like clowns, and some days he simply hires a lot of hoodlums and kills them off during the heist! Capriciousness. This makes for a stress filled working environment, No doubt an average henchman’s locker will be crammed depending on the mood of the joker, or if it’s dress-down Friday.


Health & Safety

Structurally, The Joker’s lairs seem sound, if not a little dilapidated. They have all variety of exploding props and things with spring-loaded hidden blades that can cause problems. There is also the possibility you will be sacrificed by your boss just for a punchline.


Overall Score


8


Verdict

The Joker’s lair is surprisingly well laid out with a consistent aesthetic.  High turnover of staff however will cause problems for the continued smooth running of the lair.


Name

V’s Lair – (V for Vendetta)


Aesthetic

As a contrast to most of the lairs on the list, V’s lair is can be described as a Man-cave for the intelligent man. Expect to see priceless works of art hanging on the wall next to a Wurlitzer jukebox , books stacked ceiling high and a copy of the Count of Monte Cristo on DVD.


Henchmen

None, This is a solitary place, a refuge from the world.  The last thing V needs is a house guest – if you do find yourself his guest, expect to stay for at least a year.

Health & Safety

There is very little wrong with V’s lair, probably the only thing V would need to worry about would be to make sure that his central heating boiler is serviced regularly, as with no windows, any build up of carbon monoxide could prove fatal. On the plus side the lair does come with its own tube train and track – only 1 destination – but it beats walking, and do you know how much property prices are in London these days?


Overall Score


9


Verdict

A place for quiet reflection, the overall feeling from this lair is of overstuffed wing back chairs, some Vivaldi or Ella Fitzgerald playing in the background and some dusty tome to read, accompanied by a cheeky red wine.

Well that was quite interesting, I’ll probably grab the next issue and print some of them out too.

Poster design awards

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Last weekend, miss Vicki and I ventured firth to Leeds for the NODA AGM. It turns out that a poster I designed was in the running for the Thomson Leng trophy for the NODA national poster design competition.  I ended up winning first place  so I thought it might be a good idea to write about the poster and how I made it.

I was asked by the director to design a poster for his production of communicating doors. He asked that it be cartoony and a little comic book like

I had long admired the artwork by Adrian Salmon on the Big Finish Bernice Summerfield audio CDs. Here’s an example of one

empire state

I love the use of the black line and the  fill colour in this case blue. I thought it was cool approach to colour I would try to apply to this poster. I spent a couple of hours noodling in Krita and came up with a rough colour studycomunicating doors

The character proportions wasn’t that great so I set about drawing a better layout on 12 field animation paper.  I photographed it and imported into my computer

communicating doors2

I inked up and coloured the artwork in Krita. Blocking off the bottom of the poster where  the show information was going. The director wanted to add that information there himself,
 comdoors
 Next up, Typography. I saved a flattened version of the post from Krita and used it as a template to create the curved text for the title of the play. I got a number of fonts I thought would work well for the title and ran them past the Director, We both decided that #3 was the font
 communicating doors tesxt

 

 I removed the template and saved off a png of the page before loading it into the layered krita Document and adjusting it position a little.

communicating doors layout

 Finally I sent the Artwork off to the Director for final approval before he added the show information to the bottom of the poster.
Here’s the Final poster:
 communicating doors FINAL
Finally here’s a picture of the Thomson Leng trophy.
trophy
I really enjoyed working on the poster. Thinking back it was one of the last things I drew on my laptop, It used to hang and crash krita a lot, but now I upgraded the RAM it might be time to revisit drawing on my laptop. The last couple of productions for Waterbeach Community players, I have used photo montages for poster designs, hopefully the next one I can draw again!

Jenkins Build Services for making films

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Screenshot from Jenkins showing the Chuck Norris plugin.

Chuck Norris is watching you build code – careful now!

For the last few days, I have been playing with the Jenkins Continuous Integration server and python, and I have reached the following conclusion: Writing python code without an effective IDE makes the job of software development harder than it needs to be.  I’ve been developing a lot on Ubuntu as well lately, so I’ve found the joy that is Wingware IDE

So – I think a bit of a recap is in order.


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Microsoft ASP.NET MVC Free On-Demand Training

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I’m learning ASP.NET MVC, so when Microsoft sent the following tweet :

I thought -‘cool – let’s have a go and see what they’re offering’. I visited the course and had a go at the assessment, and I was surprised to fail on the following question :


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Creta marine : Internet Access Kiosk

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So – I bit the bullet and decided that I would invest some money in some internet access.  I stumped up the 2 Euros to access the machine – and I started thinking about how you make such a machine secure and usable.


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