Lasciate ogne speranza
Saturday, 11 October 2008

Guys and dolls, Eve has moved yet again.  

This blog ends here, and pick up in my new blog. Please head on down to my new site, select "about eve" and my blog is the first one on the blog list.

It's been a great ... wow, nearly ten years here.

I'm not entirely closing shop. Updates to CSCompanion will be minimal, and limited to the Front Page News.

It has been super interacting with Campbell's fanbase. They are the salt of the earth. And Campbell himself has been quite amenable in person. I've seen him field a gamut of questions ranging from thoughtful, to downright insulting, during his screenings, ever the gentleman, and has never lost his cool once. A real actor without the trappings of stardom. He really thinks he's a regular guy. In many ways he is.

So why am I half abandoning this site? Let's just say, and I'll mis-quote a friend of his, that "Campbell runs his career the way he chooses." I know, that's a bit cryptical. Let me try to make it even more confusing. I've been on again, off again on this site, because of that very statement. He's made it clear on more than one occasion that the Companion is a Fan site, by the fans, for the fans. I respect his choice.

peace to all,


Posted by cscompanion at 1:32 PM EDT
Sunday, 10 August 2008
Nobody knows...

Web designers make it seem so easy. Hey, if you want music on your website,  just add this piece of code to your HTML. just foot. Takes a little time for a person like me, who isn't clasically trained in web design, to cozy up to all the new programs. A background in low level languages, reading register contents and chasing link lists,  does not fully prepare one for the Brave New Internet. 

I spent an entire day figuring out how to put music on a site. Each time I thought I had the right player, I would push it further, and refine it to another level. The more I learned, the more I knew that I do not know.

I could have gone with the simple "click this link and have your windows media playyer handle it." But I wanted a cool interface. So I went searching first for "web music players" then I discovered what I really wanted was "free flash players". There's a handful out there. I'd download the code, then decide that it was too bulky. Then there were the mini ones that just played one song. Didn't want either of those. 

Until I found Fabricio's player. 

Not a lot of extra customization, but it fit the bill. At first, I downloaded a modded version of the swf file that wanted to phone home to its mother website. And Firefox, God bless it's protective little browser soul, stopped the communique. When I finally got a version that didn't want to talk to mommy, the swf worked just fine. 

But I wasn't happy with it. I wanted to put in a link for lyrics. I visited the site,  and figured out it's controlled by the <info> statement within the xspf file, and the info_button_text= statement within HTML. How to insert the latter statement took a little finagling because I have no knowledge of the Macromedia flash parameter set. 

The CD cover art size on the player is a bit too big, and I have to constrain the container for the right half of the page, to fit the player. I'd rather make the cover smaller, and for that I have to peek at the player's fla code to see if I can tweak it to my heart's content. I've had a tiny brush with Flash, and I understand the concepts, so maybe this is something I can tackle.

After making the whole shebang work on my computer, I went to upload to Geocities. All the new files updated fine, except for (ominous music up and out, followed by a horrendous wail), the xspf file.  Geocities would not recognize or upload the farkin' control file.  Aargh!

Don't panic. What do we know about xspf. It's somewhat related to XML (though I'm not sure what the difference is but I'll find out), and .XML is a valid extension. Wild shot in the dark, simply rename it to XML and cross my fingers. Big sigh of relief, when the newly renamed XML file uploaded, and actually worked with no obvious fallout.  

I am done for the day. Done done done -- NOT.

When I go to the music page, and play the songs a few times, I hit the dreaded Geocities "page inaccessible" error. Apparently I'd exceeded my hourly download capacity.

I chopped the mp3s to fifteen second clips, at about 300K apiece. I still won't have enough space, if people will be trafficking through the music page.  Buggers. It's time to move into a new apartment. I put off the inevitable for long enough. I'm going to have to BUY host space if I want to store music on it. Hmmm, maybe I can find a free music host...

A-shopping we will go...

Posted by cscompanion at 2:52 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 10 August 2008 3:44 PM EDT
Sunday, 3 August 2008
Bottomless Pit of Photoshop

Eeeeek, I've fallen into the tutorial pit and can't get out! I can't stop playing with web Photoshop tutorials! Besides teaching basic or new techniques, they take me to places I don't normally venture, outside of my  photoshopping box. 

I am not a graphic artist. In the hands of a master, Photoshop is an instrument. In my hands, it remains a simple tool to achieve my minor graphics needs. 

My first and only graphics program was PhotoImpact. It served its purpose for a good many years. It wasn't hard to switch from that to Photoshop, for my basic photo editing, like collaging and color tweaks.  All graphics tools use the same concepts, and even the same icons. It's just a matter of learning how they organize and store the tools.

And it's the same for all programs, whether they be word processors, spreadsheets, or graphics programs. In order to make them intuitive to users, they all share the same general interfaces.

With my conversion from PI to Photoshop, it was like someone had come by and rearranged all the contents of my kitchen drawers. I'd reach in to get a ladle, and it was relocated to somewhere else.  

I had to relearn the smallest commands, like image resizing, and color conversion. I groped for where they hid Gaussian Blur or Brightness/contrast. I'd crop something, and Photoshop would sit there stupidly while it waited for me to enable the photo crop.  Little things like that.  I resisted the change until it became second nature.

One concept I had to pick up was Layers, which has been around for ages, but it wasn't in the low level version of PI I was using.   And the pen tool is an instrument of torture, for now. It's still a hit and miss how I swing that pen arc. Laying down dots is easy. I haven't yet gotten the hang of dragging handles to fit curves, and what key combinations to click and unclick: ctl-this, alt-that. Since Undo doesn't go back several levels as in PhotoImpact, I've gotten very friendly with my History tab.  

Because of layering, I better understand the once elusive concept of gradient fill with masks, which I now use with ease.   I forced myself to sit and read how each of the filters function. I understand the broad categories of the lightening, darkening, and differences, but when I need subtle changes, I just click and see the effect. 

I learned to use curves,  thresholds, and channels, and displacement maps. (Lions and tigers and bears, oh, my!)  There are as many ways to make text cutouts as there are to extract an image from its background. That's the beauty and the coiled power within  Photoshop.

I was staring at the Museum of Modern Art website photos, for inspiration, and I saw some interesting pieces of work. Sheesh, if a person can park two vacuum canisters in a lucite cabinet (I kid you not, this was on the MOMA site), and call it art, I can create ART.

That's when I found Photoshop brushes.  The brush presets are the next best thing since sliced fractals. Four brushes, two colors, one blank canvas. Voila. Art by numbers.  Sure, art is much more than that. It's composition, form, color, yada yada. Well, tell that to the guy with the two bloomin' vacuum cleaners on display at MOMA. 

laters peeps,


Posted by cscompanion at 10:15 AM EDT
Tuesday, 29 July 2008
NASA's fiftieth anniversary today!

"Per aspera ad astera."

Through adversity, to the stars.

NASA's motto is apropos to our life's journey, isn't it? We overcome hardship as we reach for our stars. 

I remember as a kid, watching the moon landing.  I wasn't really aware of what what going on. I knew the whole world was tuned into this broadcast, and it gave me a sense of "there must be so much to learn about the universe." 

It was that germ of an idea, from the image of a man walking on the moon, that started me on my lifetime of appreciation of science fact and fiction.  Thank you NASA. 

Posted by cscompanion at 10:53 PM EDT
Sunday, 27 July 2008
I spent an hour doing what?

I spent an hour with Photoshop, turning a photo into interweaving strips, as in this tutorial.

My result was pretty darn good. My daughter passes by and casually observed "That looks just like something I can do on PaintShopPro with a button." A BUTTON? No way. Way. She pulled up PSP slapped a photo on the screen, applied a WEAVE filter, and accomplished in thirty seconds what I cobbled together in an hour. 


That's the sound of me smacking my head on the wall and collapsing in a frustrated heap. 

All is not wasted. I learned that Photoshop also had external filters that can be added in. I learned about grids, and a bunch of shortcut keys that I will never use again. 

Subject change. Youtube. I'm having just as much fun learning about Photoshop as I do watching Youtube tutorials about Photoshop techniques. Donny at "yousuckatphotoshop" has a unique way of presenting what ordinarily is tedious "click here, drag this" tutorials wrapped in a wry humorous story about his ex-wife.

I was engrossed in the tutorials just to hear the patter. And I learned a good many lessons in the process. Isn't that what education should be about? Even if you don't want to learn Photoshop, it's worth the price of admission to hear his comedy routine. I he had a Paypal button, I would contribute. 

Subject change again. Mirrors and Bumps. Two years ago, DH decided to buy a bunch of dirt, which the delivery guys promptly dumped on the lawn. We moved God knows how much dirt (a ton?) by shovel and wheelbarrow,  from point A to point B. Don't ask. After a week of shovelling dirt, I discovered a thick ridge on one side of my back that was not on the other side. That bump was a muscle. Apparently, whilst shoveling, I favored my right over my left arm. 

In my DVD Gil exercise session,  I caught myself in the mirror at a different angle for the first time. I noticed some interesting bumps. All that time I was whining to myself that "I can't do one more rep of this, I give up."  yet continued to do it for one more rep. It paid off in bumps. I have something I never had even in my younger years: I have definite shoulder muscles!

And you know what the dumbest advantage of all this exercise is ...  I discovered that I can braid my hair behind my head, without tiring my triceps. That, and I carrying  heavy trash out to the garbage can without having to hug it next to my body. That is a good thing.  Modern life has no real use for bumps. I know, it builds bone density, and all that good stuff.

Mirrors. I used to think that exercise people were fairly vain to surround themselves with mirrors. For me, the two mirrors allow me not only to hold myself in correct form, but it helps me to dissassociate my self from my body. I don't have the mental focus to move myself, but I can watch that body in the mirror, and force it to do one more rep.

Back to the grindstone. 

Posted by cscompanion at 4:19 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 29 July 2008 10:53 PM EDT
Sunday, 20 July 2008
Better than sliced bread

More geek talk.

I've been using really archaic tools for site design. Watching everyone power saw their way to building web pages, while I'm sitting here with my piddly hand saw.  It's about time I've joined them. I've been using freebie html composers. Well I get what I paid for it. Nada. 

I just learned to make a template in Dreamweaver.

Thanks to a ten minute Youtube tutorial: 

Big sigh. I wasted all those years struggling with updating nav bars on mulltiple pages,  for nuthin'.  Dreamweaver  and Frontpage had this stuff built in.  One click on the template, and all linked pages are updated. What a beautiful feature ... it's just like watching a sunset. Sniff. 

Posted by cscompanion at 7:58 PM EDT
Tuesday, 15 July 2008
Idiot's Guide to Design

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: "I do not have a designing bone in my body."

It took me a mere two hours to modify html code, and load up a mock-up site with dummy data. It took me two more hours to struggle with the colors on the stupid, and I mean STUPID-looking menu bar.

Should I use  "gaussian blur", "gradient", "wind" "button" or "blast"? Blast, blast, blast! I never did get it right. And what's gauss got to do with graphics? Why doesn't he stay in electrical fields, where he belongs? 

Eventually the neurotransmitter crossed the great synaptic divide -- I had an idea.  I borrowed the color scheme off of an open- coded website. Not great, but much improved over any of my own  painful attempts.

Let this be a lesson to all you struggling hobby designers. Why invent when you can borrow from freebie sites.


Posted by cscompanion at 8:27 PM EDT
Sunday, 13 July 2008
Discourse on exercise or "youth is wasted on the young. "
Whilst in the first fifteen minutes of an hour-long session with my DVD coach, Gil, I was thinking, the etymology of the word "exercise" must surely come from the Latin "ex-ciso"(*), meaning, to separate one's brain from the body. This exercise thing is not a logical endeavor.

It is my personal version of medieval self-flagellation. I can't publicly do the cat-o-nine tails thing, so, in its stead,  I choose the socially accept method of exercise.

It's not even that strenuous. It's just tedious. I've been following Gilad Janklowicz's "Cuts and Curves" DVD for six months now.  On alternate days, I try to get  some form of aerobics, whether it's the elliptical,  tabata squats, or serious bash sessions with the punching bag.

I have resigned myself to the fact that I was not built for a "curve", so I'm aiming for a"cut" instead. I like Gil's variety of  using exercise bands, as well as free weights.  I started with both green and red bands, and I just graduated to the blue band for biceps.

I used to follow his Bodies in Motion program in the 80's, and he is consistently encouraging. He shows both proper and improper form,  to work the correct muscles.

My goal used to be to not be out of breath when I run up two flights of stairs, and to move furniture and lift things easily. I've since accomplished that, and raised the bar.  Now  I want to be able to run for some distance without huffing, and to lift my own body weight, or at least do the rock climber's hang (first two-handed, then one).

Back to the self-flagellation bit. I am neither anorexic nor bullimic. I love pizza, chocolate, cheesecake, and french vanilla ice cream too much for  my own good. And I don't even eat that much of it! My body seems  to enjoy those foods so much, it holds onto them for a good long time. I keep telling my scale "muscle weighs more than fat. "

A moment on the lips, leads to much mental anguish, and more punishment on the elliptical.  I have no will to resist my comfort foods.  Rather than alter my diet, I'd rather pay the sweaty sacrifice to the gods of Precor and Nautilus.

Surely, God did not intend for me to eat like a bloomin' rabbit, because he cursed me with taste buds. No matter what you do to salad,  dress it up, blend and mash it and arrange it prettily on the plate, face it, any green leafy vegetable is still a bitter abhorrent grassy fiber. I may as well chomp on printer paper.   

My ideal setup would be to strap a keyboard to the elliptical so I could surf while I paid for my sin of indulgence.  

(*) There is no Latin "ex-ciso". I made that up. Apologies to my dear Latin teacher, Mr. Kizner, who must surely have disowned any memory of the quiet kid in his class.

Posted by cscompanion at 12:55 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 13 July 2008 1:00 PM EDT
Wednesday, 9 July 2008
Restless in New York
Mood:  not sure

It's been seven months already? Boy that calendar just keeps flipping when I'm not looking at it.

I spend way too much time watching the latest nonsense youtube vids, like improveverywhere, charlie the unicorn(?), and old clips of Whose Line.  

Looks like C. is quite busy this summer, with a rerun of "The Atheist" up at the Festival. Good luck to those who are going. I had a gal pal whose daughter is interning there, who mentioned my taking a field trip. I told her, uh.... no more field trips, this go around, or...ever. My focus has faded. Any updates will be even less sporadic.

Moving along, moving on....

Have a great summer guys and dolls.


Posted by cscompanion at 11:03 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 10 August 2008 3:52 PM EDT
Saturday, 29 December 2007
TV marathon headache
Mood:  caffeinated
Now Playing: Josh Groban's Noel

Belatedly, Merry Christmas to all. And in advance, Happy New Year!

I just finished watching a marathon of Adrian Paul's "Tracker" series. For those cave dwelling types, such as myself, Adrian Paul is better known for his Highlander TV series, as the immortal, Duncan MacLeod.

"Tracker" was a series that ran on the Sci-Fi channel around 2000-2001. The premise intrigued me because it reminded me of an old Kyle Maclachlan movie, "The Hidden." I enjoy "fish out of water aliens learning to adapt to human culture" flicks.

In interviews, Paul objected to the series being pigeonholed into the sci-fi genre. Given, it's shown on Sci-Fi stations, it's hard to ignore the sciency-fictiony aspects of the series.  Just as Gene Rodenberry passed his morality plays off as science fiction, Tracker wraps similar messages in many of its episodes. The hyperspeed effect, which Paul self credits, is neat. And something about the way he wields his weapon and liberates life forces during the takedowns, is very cool, indeed. 

There's plenty of eye candy. Two stunning actresses and a star with the build of a... well, an underwear model. In one episode, he's strapped down, and looked much lot like Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man. Paul reminds me of a cross between Tommy Lee Jones, and Sean Connery.  He's multi-lingual, and a bit of a Renaissance man. His background in jazz/ballet dance and martial arts, allows him to  inject plenty of motion into the series. This bloke knows how to move on the dance floor and the alleyway!

What I'm trying to say is, my mind is reeling once more. Videos are forthcoming.  

Now for Companion business.

- I added a link to the first page, to C's newest project with Patty. He plays a principal, and she stars as a schoolteacher. It was filmed in Long Island, NY.

- I toyed with the idea of actually shelling out bucks for the site, to get rid of the annoying advertising, and getting more space. At four bucks a month, it didn't look too bad, but then, the yearly cost, was a bit daunting. $48 a year could be spent on other endeavors (like a shiny box set of Highlander!). Yeah, them pennies hurt when I pinch them.  

Posted by cscompanion at 10:43 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, 30 December 2007 11:15 AM EST

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