February 14, 2005

Women Ė The Real Sci-Fi Special Effects Pioneers
Posted by Jess in Geek Humor

Let's face it. Science fiction movies usually have a generous sprinkling of special effects, outrageous costumes and cool robot-cyborg type characters. But I'd like to pause and take a moment to honor the ladies, for whom I am about to prove that I believe is where the REAL inspiration for sci-fi came from.

Remember the Cylon Raiders from Battlestar Galactica? Have you ever seen a woman at a wedding? You can see our eyes sliding back and forth at everything, over and over and over again. Taking it all in...getting ideas....filing them away for later. It's a most unusual phenomenon.

Just like the makeup artists did for the movie Thinner, women have been achieving fake cheekbones for centuries Ė just add some light blush over the cheekbones, and dark colors in the hollow of your cheek. Instant no-workout weight-loss.

Who needs to spend thousands of dollars on secret training rooms with fencing to improve hand-eye coordination? Women have been long improving their dexterity by learning how to polish oneís opposite handedness nail, and hair dry the other side of their head.
Secret training room, complete with tools and henchmen: Millions of dollars.
Con-Air ionic hair dryer and Opi's nail color "Wyatt Earple Purple": $40. Need I say more?

Digital compositing is the process of putting together multiple images to make one final image. Again, let's go over these logistics. The first magazine was the New York Post, first published in 1821. The first issue of Cosmopolitan came out in 1886. By means of comparison, the first issue of Time Magazine came out in 1923. But I digress...
The Spring Collection: Prada shoes, page 24. Dolce and Gabbana handbag, page 59.
It didnít take us long to figure out that if you rip out both pages, buy them all together and wear them at the same time, you're achieving a desired result of large-scale glamour. And, like digital compositing, this element is also the biggest drain on the budget.

Okay, I'll admit that I'm sure the idea of morphing as a special effect wasn't created by women, but rather by men because of women. By morphing, I mean turning one form into another. A human becomes a vampire, a human becomes a metallic robot, etc. The idea actually came about by the reverse, really. Men were long fascinated with the idea that a woman can disappear into a bathroom in the morning looking like a vampire, or werewolf, or some other form of heinous jabberwocky, and then the door would open and she would emerge a stunning beauty. It wasn't long before it was realized that stopping the film when she went into the bathroom and restarting the film when she emerged would create the illusion of instantaneous change. No one had to know there was a two hour time difference. This is where the process of stop-time photography really came from.

Forget the Hobbits. Women have been using forced perspective tricks for years to make themselves appear taller, not limited to standing a few feet behind our husbands for pictures, and jamming our sensitive feet into size 5 Ĺ heels while simultaneously teasing our hair. In fact, loud earrings and hairstyles have many times been credited as a misdirection trick while the woman walks down the street on the sidewalk, while her husband walks on the street.

Miss Cleo vs. John Edwards. Proving you donít have to have a handsome face to make a lot of money as a psychic; just really, really annoying television ads.

Who do you think came up with Rosie, the maid from the Jetsons?
Here's some proof that it's entirely possible for a robot to have huge hips and still get the job done.

Letís talk about talking cars for a moment,
the most notorious of all being KITT, the know-it-all and sometimes attitudinal Trans-Am from Knight Rider. If we can assume the car can drive itself, we can therefore deduct that it can also park itself. Now who do you think came up with THAT idea?

Still, even with that all said, this is probably the most important lesson any woman can teach a sci-fi film creator. At the end of the day, no matter how big your budget is for makeup artists, special effects and fancy costumes, it still might flop without a compelling storyline, interesting character development and a splash of humor.


February 11, 2005

Another year older!
Posted by Jess in Announcements

Iím 29 today.
The funny thing about getting older and having no kids yet is that even the slightest change in mood or eating habits makes people look at me funny, as if to say, "do you have something to tell us?" I donít know how to tell them that sometimes I'm just really hungry, and when hunger strikes, the daintiness is the first thing to go.

Not that I've ever been credited with having dainty tendancies, I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm long out of the running for "Miss Delicate Flower 2005". Kind of like dating in high schoolÖ I'd go over to my boyfriend's house for dinner for the first time. Among other table conversations, the mother would reach over, slap her son on the back and say "wow, you finally got one that eats!" (true story).

We'll have a fun night tonight of heading out to Mohegan Sun casino for some late night stand-up comedy at the Cabaret, catch a free show at the Wolf Den (Morris Day and the Time is playing tonight! "Jungle Love! Oh-we-oh-we-oh"), and finish off with a chocolate martini in the ultra-swanky crystal mountain rock planetarium martini bar.

And Happy Birthday to Cindy, too, who turned the big 3-0 on February 8th. And unlike last year, we didn't send each other the same card! "You are one groovy chick." You can preview the card here, it's a free e-card from Hallmark, and really funny.

Cindy, you still are one groovy chick!

February 08, 2005

Admin2004 slides
Posted by Jess in Downloads

As I still recover and furiously type away creating my new slides for The View's Admin2005 (they invited me back for three sessions), I realized that we're into the new year and I never posted last year's slides.

Best Practices to Maintain a User's Environment

Jess Stratton, Solace Consulting Services
Proper server maintenance is not the same thing as proper user maintenance. You'll learn how to provide easy access to moved databases and see how to enter code to update calendars. Discover many enhancements available that you can apply to your infrastructure to lessen the needs of your client base. Learn easy ways to implement server changes without affecting the user. Learn how to communicate with your users so they'll respond when you need them to and change the interface to adhere to the most up-to-date corporate policies. Create an environment that leads to a steady decline in support calls, along with a steady increase in the number of happy end users!

BP_MUE.zip, 1M, Powerpoint presentation

Downloads and take-home materials
(as referenced in the slides:)

The Automated Admin (autoadmin.nsf)
Automated utilities such as finding out what agents a user has signed, what databases are full-text indexed, what databases are missing the Administrator ACL, etc. Find out which users have local replicas of their mail file, as well as tracking who has clicked the button code you have sent them.
Download autoadmin.nsf (648k)

Button code sampler (samples.zip)
This is samples.nsf, an R5 mail file with drafts of button code, which include the online connectivity test, update location/connection documents, and rename resources/rooms.
Download samples.zip (1.7M)

Text documents of the code in the buttons above (buttontext.zip)
Donít forget! To use the rename resources/rooms code, first create your new resource/room, and then run my agent in the Resource Reservations database available below.
Download buttontext.zip (5k)

Log agent to give daily reports of search string occurrences (log.nsf)
Look for the agent "SearchStringViaEmail". Customize the search string to fit your needs (defaulted to all users who refused a name change the previous day), and get daily summaries of if they occur, and how often.
Download log.nsf (448k)

Rename Resources/Rooms (resources.zip)
Look for the agents RenameResource and RenameRoom. Create your new resource or room. Then, change the constants in the agent to your new name. Select the documents you want to rename, and run the agent. Then, send the button code above after changing the constants to the new name.
Download resources.zip (497k)

February 06, 2005

Jess's Little Instruction Book
Posted by Jess in Day to Day
  • Drop two Altoids into your hot chocolate for the perfect cup of smooth, creamy mint hot chocolate.
  • Drape a damp paper towel over your plate of Chinese food before reheating it in the microwave, and it will steam it back to life and taste like it was just made. (thanks Matt, for discovering that one!)
  • A quick word on Orange oil cleaning products. Sure, they do a fantastic job of cleaning your house, and it smells great. Just remember that itís also most likely the cause of your new fruit fly infestation.
  • The ruler with a bubble in it is called a 'level', not a 'leveler'. Expect jokes to follow when you don't get it right.
  • For a quick and inexpensive way to overhaul a room in your house, change the doorknobs, change the light fixtures, change the faucets, and change the paint. It will look like a million bucks even with the same furniture, but you only spent about $200 on small changes.
  • Baskets. Trust me, they can even make trash look pretty.
  • If you have a dog, and you have a game system, splurge and get the wireless controllers.
  • How to make the perfect party appetizer in ten minutes flat: In a large pyrex dish, spread a layer of cream cheese on the bottom. Add a layer of butterscotch/caramel over that. Add a layer of granola on top. Finally, stick tons of sliced apples in the dish and sprinkle cinnamon over the entire thing. To eat, use the apple as a scoop (like nachos and salsa). Even when the apples are long gone, people will still scoop up the dip by itself and eat it anyway.
  • What do you have to add?

February 02, 2005

Movie Scores
Posted by Jess in Tech Talk

While I (and everyone else) recovers from what Volker named Morbus Lotuspheris, I've been trying to take it easy and stay on the couch as much as I can. This consists of watching movies in the background while I try not to stress over how far behind I am having been away all last week.

I have an extensive collection of movie soundtracks, and probably over half of them are the scores themselves. I do read and enjoy fiction, but I tend to have a problem overlooking certain things. This causes a problem in that with a novel, even missing one key word, adjective or phrase can change everything (sarcastically, sadly, gleefully, etc.). So when it comes to movies, I think this is why I'm particularly sensitive to noticing the background instrumental scores themselves, and what they actually add to the overall tone of the movie.

Take the sound clip linked below, for example. This is by Thomas Newman, and it's called Possibility, from the soundtrack of the movie Pay It Forward.

The title is so appropriate, upon listening to it, it almost makes you feel like you could do anything. But what I find most interesting about this track (aside from the fact that I love piano with agressive, disjointed chord changes) is that it also invokes a sense of mischief also. I can't listen to this an NOT think of the scene in Real Genius when the gang is plotting to take apart Kent's car and rebuild it in his room.

What does this clip say to you?

"Why, I could do anything!"
"Let's go do some Van Dammage."
"Jess really needs to get out more."

Anything else?


Click the icon to listen. (MP3 410k, 26 seconds)

(ps. If the clip sounds familiar, it should. It's so striking that it's been used in many movie trailers, also trying to set a similar tone. It is also remarkeably similar to that of the American Beauty score, also by Thomas Newman.)

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