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Comment: Re:Not looking good (Score 1) 156

by IndustrialComplex (#47564881) Attached to: The Hobbit: the Battle of Five Armies Trailer Released

I'd bet good money that it was Peter Jackson himself. In the LOTR his makeup guys knew he wanted that one 'John Wayne' Orc to be gruesome, and they actually tried to overshoot what Peter Jackson expected. Little did they know that Peter Jackson of "Dead Alive (Braindead)" fame was still alive inside Big Budget PJ. He approved it. Since then, you have seen the costumes for the grotesques go beyond the realms of good taste and into comically aweful. Just look at how the orc costumes changed from Fellowship to The Hobbit (before they went CGI), the Hobbit 'main-bad' orc costumes were so far over the top that they had to ditch them for CGI because they looked horrible with the higher framerate/quality cameras BBPJ was using. Personally I think the only reason people think the costumes were awesome was because the CGI was so bad.

Seriously, take a side by side look at LOTR-Lurtz and the Hobbit-Orc costumes and it's night and day.

Comment: Re:Such a Waste (Score 1) 156

by IndustrialComplex (#47564675) Attached to: The Hobbit: the Battle of Five Armies Trailer Released

WTF? It's fantasy with wizards, elves and dragons, and you're talking about suspension of disbelief? If it's an Asimov or AC Clarke adaptation maybe we can start talking about believability, but a high fantasy like this one? Anything goes, except perhaps when it comes to absolute immortality. Apparently "immortal" characters or monsters tend to have some sort of weakness that allow them to get killed by a determined hero or villain.

Suspension of disbelief is a challenge and probably more important to maintain in a fantasy than general fiction. A story must maintain internal consistency with it's own tone and rules. If you tell me that a dragon can fly and breath fire, well then I'll believe you, say Elves exist and can make pineapple smoothies by snapping their fingers, and as long as you don't have one of your Elves die of starvation because he didn't remember about the smoothie trick, it will work. The magic wasn't a problem in the Hobbit, it was the tone. The movie constantly shifted between extreme slapstick humor, to somber memorials of beauty forever lost, back to grossout gags, sudden videogame action, and into gritty graphic violence. You can't do that and expect to keep the audience. You have to pick something and stick with it, otherwise we don't know what movie we are watching.

Comment: Can be stimulated via sternocleidomastoid (Score 5, Interesting) 284

by digitalhermit (#47395021) Attached to: Consciousness On-Off Switch Discovered Deep In Brain

I have been experimenting with this technique since the early 80s. It is possible to stimulate the claustrum via pressure along the sternocleidomastoid. By pinching this area it causes sympathetic nerve activity that can effective render someone unconscious. My colleague has perfected the technique to the point that he uses it at parties. Quite eerie, actually.

Peace. Stay healthy and have a long life..

Comment: Use both (Score 1) 143

Python seems to be gaining favor but IMHO the downside is that it's a general purpose language and not built with statistics in mind.

R is quite easy to use both from installation to language standpoint. It's trivial to install and there are many, many packages (of differing quality) on cran. You can easily take advantage of multiple processors, GPUs, even Hadoop (to an extent). The main downside is that it's mostly constrained by the memory of the host system. So even though it's easy to load a 20G dataset into my 32G laptop, it's not quite so easy to work on a 2TB dataset without some customization. At that point other tools may be easier, such as Python.

Now... I have never needed to crunch a 2TB dataset. My scripts fit comfortably into an 8G VM. What R gets me is that, as a non-statistician, I can easily generate charts, run analyses, and use the libraries that smarter people have built :>. The syntax is trivial and I can do 99% of what I need with a library or some minor customization.

Comment: Of course we should (Score 1) 290

by digitalhermit (#47087919) Attached to: Should We Eat Invasive Species?

I live in South Florida. Lionfish is available with just a short drive down to the keys. It has a good taste and even better, no guilt whatsoever. I think it's just natural that we should eat them. BTW, Florida lobster down this way (they call them crawfish up in the Northeast :/ ) were once so plentiful that it was given to prisoners. If it's edible, someone will find a way to eat them.

Comment: Camera tracking (Score 1) 172

by digitalhermit (#46936041) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Beginner To Intermediate Programming Projects?

I'm trying to do a similar thing. I'm pretty decent with Perl (or at least used to be) and know enough C and Java to get myself in trouble. I'm trying to learn Python now.

So... my other hobby is video production. One of the things that's expensive to do is to track a camera so that that it can be replayed to CGI software. This allows almost seamless effects. For example, film an object against a green screen as the camera pans. In normal chromakey, it's quite obvious because the background doesn't track the same way as the camera. You can minimize this by choosing distant backgrounds but this limits you quite a bit. Anyhoo, I'm trying to use the positional sensors in a smartphone to track the movement and later replay it to software such as Blender. It hasn't been easy. In the process I am learning a lot about a lot of things.

What I'm trying to say is that you may learn a lot from complex projects even if you don't succeed in your goal.

Comment: Re:Stupid headline (Score 1) 157

"$100 (current book rate), paying a fee to cover the loss beyond the initial $100 should the package become lost, stolen, or damaged. That sounds a lot like the lay definition for insurance to me."

The devil's in the details...

Just because the lay definition of declared value sounds like insurance, it isn't. With insurance, if you are at fault the insured item may still be covered. E.g., if you crash your car it will often be covered even if you are at fault. With declared value, if you improperly pack your item and it is damaged then UPS is not liable.

People watch too many Seinfeld episodes.

Comment: Re:Stupid headline (Score 4, Informative) 157

Yes, that is true. Except for the insurance part. UPS doesn't really provide "insurance", per se.

Don't be fooled by the optional 'high value' stamp, which allows you to declare a higher value. Rightfully so, it's not "insurance" but just allows you to claim the proper value if it is lost or damaged.

If it's really important, ship it via a UPS customer counter or Mailboxes facility.

I used to work there a couple decades ago. One of my roles was to process computer claims. Considering that many items can fall from belts and "Fragile" means "Throw me hard, please!" in UPS-ese, I'd make sure to ship any critical items through their desk with a proper declared value.

Not that FedEx is much better. I think at one point they were but if you've seen what goes on behind the scenes it's a wonder that anything gets to its destination in one piece.

Might as well talk about the USPS too. (BTW, UPS is not USPS; some are not aware.) I shipped a display stand once. It was a fairly sturdy unit, cube shaped, of some expensive teak wood with brass corners. It could easily bear my weight (and I am not a slender dude). When the first piece arrived, my aunt asked what it was. "It's a stand," I said.

    "How do you put it together?" she said.


Apparently they'd shipped a piece of my broken stand with a piece of someone else's broken furniture. The label from my box cut out and taped to this other box. I still don't know what happened to the rest of my display stand, but presumably someone is wondering what the heck happened to the rest of their chair.

Comment: Get creative (Score 4, Insightful) 390

by digitalhermit (#46796551) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Hungry Students, How Common?

I subsisted on Ramen and chicken pot pies because they were cheap (4/1$ for Ramen, 2/1$ for chicken pot pies). Even the cheapest dollar meal at the local fast food didn't have as many calories. But, no, I didn't worry about food all that much.

First thing is to learn to cook. It's generally cheaper to buy family portions and make your own than to buy individual meals. For example, a bag of rice is $10, but can act as bulk in many meals such as fried rice, chicken & rice, steamed rice with butter & onions.. Yeah, doesn't sound too appetizing, but it can be. Fried rice, for example, is easy to make. For about 20$ worth of ingredients, you can have 10 meals. Just need rice, an egg or two, onions, salami/pepperoni, etc.. You can buy a pack of miso for around $4. Add firm tofu ($3) or chicken chunks ($4) and dried seaweed ($3) and you can make soup for 10 people. Buying a bulk pack of 50 tacos will set you back around $10; add a couple pounds of beef (10$), lettuce (2$), cheese ($5), etc., and you can feed 10 people for $50 or so.

Next, use coupons and shop of two-for-one days. You can easily save 50% of your bill just by using coupons and shopping on the right days. Avoid individual meal items such as can soda and even White Castle burgers.

You can also show up at friends/relatives around dinner time but use that only as a last resort unless you're really tight with them. Make friends with someone who works at a pizza shop. I knew a guy in college who would take leftovers from the restaurant. At a Denny's, for example, he'd order a coffee. When people were about to leave he'd run up and ask if he could have their leftovers. Bizarre, but he saved a few bucks. He's also gotten pretty wealthy since those days so I guess it paid off. I figure that one day he'll find a way to end up in jail just so he could get a free meal and bunk. :/

Oh, and forget about corned beef. Back in my day it was cheap, around $1.50 a can. Now it's close to $6 a can. I remember many days eating corned beef and cabbage, corned beef and scrambled eggs, steamed corned beef, corned beef sandwiches. No more.

You can not win the game, and you are not allowed to stop playing. -- The Third Law Of Thermodynamics