Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Happy 15th birthday WWW

LONDON (AFP) - The World Wide Web is still only in its infancy, its British inventor said Wednesday, on the 15th anniversary of the web's effective launch.

Tim Berners-Lee told the BBC that the web, which started life in the CERN physics laboratory on the Franco-Swiss border in the early 1990s, could develop in unimaginable directions but above all should be a force for good.

"What's exciting is that people are building new social systems, new systems of review, new systems of governance," he said.

"My hope is that those will produce... new ways of working together effectively and fairly which we can use globally to manage ourselves as a planet."

The comments came on the anniversary of the announcement by CERN on April 30, 1993 that the World Wide Web could be used by everyone, after Berners-Lee and a colleague persuaded their bosses to provide the programme code for free.

The web -- of which the abbreviation www forms the start of all online addresses -- is now the ubiquitous network via which information is shared on the Internet. An estimated 165 million websites now exist, the BBC reported.

"The web has been a tremendous tool for people to do a lot of good even though you can find bad stuff out there," said Berners-Lee, adding that one day the web will put "all the data in the world" at the fingertips of every user.

But "we have only started to explore the possibilities of (the web)," he said, adding that it was "still in its infancy".

Robert Cailliau, who worked with Berners-Lee to open up the web, stressed that not all the bosses at CERN were in favour of making the web universally accessible.

"We had to convince them that this was going to take off and it was a really big thing. And therefore CERN couldn't hold on to it and the best thing to do was to give it away," he said.

Competing technologies -- such as Gopher developed at the University of Minnesota in the United States -- were also offering a way of connecting documents on the Internet, he said.

"If we had put a price on it like the University of Minnesota had done with Gopher then it would not have expanded into what it is now.

"We would have had some sort of market share alongside services like AOL and Compuserve, but we would not have flattened the world."

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I really do!

Wall-E Vacuum Vignette (Trailer) - video powered by Metacafe

I'm sure I mentioned it before.

Coz its going to be the movie to beat this year, I reckon!

I heart WALL*E & Pixar!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Harewood House planetarium

Harewood House stately home near Harrogate has a planetarium in it now. I went with my dad and my brother last week.

It is a temporary structure, but is still a very impressive one. I have only ever been to one other planetarium before, and that was in Montreal.

This one has one seriously impressive projector in it. Some monster that spins in 360 degress and has over 100,000 fibre optic lights in it. Each one perfectly correlates to a visible star. So each star that they project is the perfect brightness and colour as we would see if we looked in the night sky.

But this mad beastie can do crazy things like show you what the sky would look like 14,000 years from now; so all the stars start shooting around the sky showing the passage of time. Other crazy tricks like zooming in on Jupiter and watching its moons orbit around it perfectly. It was dead impressive! It can do both hemispheres, so the Southern Cross and other astronomical sights only visible down under can be seen. Me Wants One Now!

Plus outside they have a 60 foot climbing frame and slide. So me and my brother, aged 34 and 39 climbed up to the top and slid down lol. Still the biggest kids there!

A great evening out!

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Dark Knight

There have been some fantastic poster coming out for the new Batman movie - The Dark Knight. The new one is no exception!

It was very sad news about the death of Heath Ledger, as he looks fantastic in his role as the Joker.

If this movie is half as good as its post campaign, then we should all be in for a treat!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Presenting - Bitten

I am very pleased and proud to finally get to show you Bitten. The first of the short films I worked on in February. In this bloggers opinion, it rocks!! lol And looks fab in High Def too.

As I said bcak in February, Bitten is a PROPER horror film. So viewers discretion is advised! lol I do hope you all enjoy it!

Presenting - Bitten!

Bitten from Duncan Laing on Vimeo.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Cats Eye Nebula

"Staring across interstellar space, the alluring Cat's Eye Nebula lies three thousand light-years from Earth. One of the most famous planetary nebulae in the sky, the Cat's Eye (NGC 6543) is over half a light-year across and represents a final, brief yet glorious phase in the life of a sun-like star. This nebula's dying central star may have produced the simple, outer pattern of dusty concentric shells by shrugging off outer layers in a series of regular convulsions. But the formation of the beautiful, more complex inner structures is not well understood. Here, Hubble Space Telescope archival image data has been reprocessed to create another look the cosmic cat's eye. Compared to well-known Hubble pictures, the alternative processing strives to sharpen and improve the visiblility of details in light and dark areas of the nebula and also applies a more complex color palette. Of course, gazing into the Cat's Eye, astronomers may well be seeing the fate of our Sun, destined to enter its own planetary nebula phase of evolution ... in about 5 billion years."

Friday, April 18, 2008

Monthly moon round-up - Phobos

"This moon is doomed. Mars, the red planet named for the Roman god of war, has two tiny moons, Phobos and Deimos, whose names are derived from the Greek for Fear and Panic. These martian moons may well be captured asteroids originating in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter or perhaps from even more distant reaches of the Solar System. The larger moon, Phobos, is indeed seen to be a cratered, asteroid-like object in this stunning color image from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, recorded at a resolution of about seven meters per pixel. But Phobos orbits so close to Mars - about 5,800 kilometers above the surface compared to 400,000 kilometers for our Moon - that gravitational tidal forces are dragging it down. In 100 million years or so Phobos will likely be shattered by stress caused by the relentless tidal forces, the debris forming a decaying ring around Mars."

"Stickney Crater, the largest crater on the martian moon Phobos, is named for Chloe Angeline Stickney Hall, mathematician and wife of astronomer Asaph Hall. Asaph Hall discovered both the Red Planet's moons in 1877. Over 9 kilometers across, Stickney is nearly half the diameter of Phobos itself, so large that the impact that blasted out the crater likely came close to shattering the tiny moon. This stunning, enhanced-color image of Stickney and surroundings was recorded by the HiRISE camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as it passed within some six thousand kilometers of Phobos last month. Even though the surface gravity of asteroid-like Phobos is less than 1/1000th Earth's gravity, streaks suggest loose material has slid down inside the crater walls over time. Light bluish regions near the crater's rim could indicate a relatively freshly exposed surface. The origin of the curious grooves along the surface is mysterious but may be related to the crater-forming impact."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Pixars WALL*E and Up

I could not be more excited about Pixars next one WALL*E! With Ratatouille being one of the best films I saw last year, Pixar are batting with one hell of an average. I have read about Pixars next one for 2009 called Up, and it almost made me cry with what they want to do with it.

But WALL*E looks amazing, touching, and just looks cool as fuck! God bless ya, Pixar.

UP comes out May 29th, 2009 and will be Pixar’s first 3-D movie. Lasseter said that all Pixar and Disney Animated movies from BOLT onwards will be made to release in Disney digital 3-D. Lasseter loves 3-D. He says even all of his wedding pictures were taken in 3-D he loves it so much.

UP is directed by Pete Doctor (MONSTERS, INC) and Bob Peterson and follows the most likely adventurer… Carl… a 78 year old man. He’ll be voiced by Ed Asner and is a grumpy ol’ bastard who walks on a cane that ends in four little legs, each one has a tennis ball on the end, like you’ll see at nursing homes.

Pete Doctor called it a “coming of old age story.”

The movie opens with Carl as a young kid in the ‘30s. They showed us this opening with storyboard reels. Carl is a chubby kid, arm in a cast and he makes friends with an adorable ball of energy named Ellie.

She wants to follow her hero explorer out in the wilds on adventures. She wants to show Carl something, but makes him cross his heart and swear he won’t tell anyone. He does and she shows him her adventure book. A scrapbook with clippings from her explorer hero, a guy named Muntz.

She says when she gets big she’s going to go where he went. She’s going to South America (“It’s like America, but south,” she says matter of factly). She has drawings of waterfalls and says she’s going to live there some day. It’s a place called Paradise Falls.

The rest of the pages are blank and she says she’s saving them for all the adventures she’s going to have… the only problem is she doesn’t know how she’s going to get there. Carl has a balloon in the room and she says, “That’s it! You can take us in a blimp! Swear you’ll take us!” She makes him cross his heart. “Good, you promised. No backing out!”

Carl is wide-eyed, clearly in love with this girl, in love with her spirit and enthusiasm. He barely speaks.

We get a montage now. No dialogue, just music. Ellie and Carl get married. They’re happy together. Carl sells balloons as they build their house. The years go by. They’re still young and playful. In love. They have picnics, look at clouds and see different shapes. Eventually Carl points out one in the shape of a baby. From here on out she sees nothing but babies in the clouds and smiles.

Carl awkwardly smiles as well.

Then we see them sitting in the doctor’s office. It’s dark and grey. Ellie has her face in her hands, crying as the doctor shakes his head no.

She sits in their front yard. She’s sad. Carl comes to cheer her up. He brings her the old Adventure book and she smiles again.

They make a Paradise Falls jar and put money and coins into it. The pile starts to grow but a series of events happen over time. Car tires blow out, the coin pile decreases. They put more money in it and Carl has his leg in a cast and the money decreases. The roof blows off in a storm, etc.

Now they’re elderly and the Paradise Falls jar is empty, forgotten. Carl loving looks at his elderly wife doing the daily chores. She’s happy, but you get the feeling that he’s sad for not giving her what he promised her. He looks at the crayon drawing of Paradise Falls she had in her adventure book and makes a trip to the travel place.

He has two tickets to South America. He hides them in the picnic basket and takes her out on a picnic. He makes it to the top of the hill. She doesn’t, collapsing halfway up. He runs to her.

Next we’re in a hospital. He’s very sad. She pushes her adventure book to him and makes him cross his heart. He does.

Next we see him slouched, wearing a black suit. He’s surrounded by hundreds of balloons… if I remember right they all had her name on them.

This sequence was already heartbreaking in this early form.

Carl lives on a few more years before his house is threatened by impending construction. So, he ties thousands and thousands of balloons to his roof with the intention of sailing to South America and bringing Ellie, in spirit, to Paradise Falls.

He apparently can steer his house with his weathervane.

But he has a stowaway when he makes this journey. A chubby asian kid named Russell, a boy scout trying to get his last merit badge, one for assisting the elderly.

They make it to S. America, but just before they get to where they need to go they crash and thrown from the house. The house starts to float away and just before it’s out of reach, they grab on to a garden hose and keep it from leaving them.

Neither of them can climb back up to it, but they don’t want to leave it, so they each tie a line to themselves and traverse the South American jungles pulling the house behind him like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon for the last 15 miles.

They showed us a test piece, with temp sets and character models and it looked really funny. Carl was short and squat, with his tennis-balled cane. Russell is whining. He’s tired. Carl is short with him and Russell falls over dramatically, but the balloon keeps him from doing much more than floating up and down. He ends up dragging forward on the ground, where he sees a bug and gets excited. He unclips himself and runs after it.

Carl looks back and sees he’s the only one tethered. He calls after the boy, getting no response as he’s slowly lifted up further and further and further until he’s out of frame. A bird squaks and he grumbles. There’s a tussle we don’t see and his cane drops to the forest floor.

They announced that the villain will be voiced by Christopher Plummer and that was it for their UP presentation.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Disorder in the courts

These are from a book called 'Disorder in the Court'. These are things
actually said in court, word for word, taken down and now published by
reporters - who had the torment of staying calm while these exchanges were
actually taking place. Some of these are excellent - don't miss the last one.

Q: Are you sexually active?
A: No, I just lie there.

Q: What is your date of birth?
A: July fifteenth.
Q: What year?
A: Every year.

Q: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
A: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.

Q: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
A: Yes.
Q: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
A: I forget.
Q: You forget. Can you give us an example of something that you've

Q: How old is your son, the one living with you?
A: Thirty-eight or thirty-five, I can't remember which.
Q: How long has he lived with you?
A: Forty-five years.

Q: What was the first thing your husband said to you when he woke up that morning?
A: He said, "Where am I, Cathy?"
Q: And why did that upset you?
A: My name is Susan.

Q: Do you know if your daughter has ever been involved in voodoo or the occult?
A: We both do.
Q: Voodoo?
A: We do.
Q: You do?
A: Yes, voodoo.

Q: Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he
know about it until the next morning?

Q: The youngest son, the twenty-year old, how old is he?

Q: Were you present when your picture was taken?

Q: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?
A: Yes.
Q: And what were you doing at that time?

Q: She had three children, right?
A: Yes.
Q: How many were boys?
A: None.
Q:Were there any girls?

Q: How was your first marriage terminated?
A: By death.
Q: And by whose death was it terminated?

Q: Can you describe the individual?
A: He was about medium height and had a beard.
Q: Was this a male, or a female?

Q: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice
which I
sent to your attorney?
A: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.

Q: Doctor, how many autopsies have you performed on dead people?
A: All my autopsies are performed on dead people.

Q: All your responses must be oral, OK? What school did you go to?
A: Oral.

Q: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
A: The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m.
Q: And Mr.. Dennington was dead at the time?
A: No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an

Q: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?

Q: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
A: No.
Q: Did you check for blood pressure?
A: No.
Q: Did you check for breathing?
A: No.
Q: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began
A: No.
Q: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
A: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
Q: But could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
A: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law

Sunday, April 13, 2008

CJ7 by Stephen Chow

This ones for Nick in Oz.

For those who don't know, Stephen Chow is the genius behind the supremely silly Shaolin Soccer....

And the brilliantly clever, yet also suitably silly Kung Fu Hustle.....

His 3rd effort, CJ7 seems to be of the same fantastic and silly vein, and this time with an alien in it lol. Can't wait to catch this one! :)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Metropolis promo

The first promos are now coming out for the Metropolis series of docs. Our doc Sweet Fifteen is going out on Dutch TV on 11th April. We have been given a brief for some more different docs, and have started researching subjects. More on this as it lands!

" is a global collective of video journalists that produces personal video reports on a variety of issues and themes. The network consists of over 50 film makers and video bloggers all over the world. Each week we make a trip around the globe on one single issue. From obesity and the lives of fifteen year old girls, to traffic jams, outcasts and Elvis impersonators, we will present to you one new 'global view' every week."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Location Management

I find myself moving towards working in Location Management. I got the heads-up about a course being run at the National Film & Television School on the subject, so applied to go and attended.

The course was run by an industry professional, in this case a 29 year old woman called Sarah. Who at her tender years, runs her own production company making music videos and was the location manager of amongst others - Atonement, Pride & Prejudice, and Guy Richie and Shane Meadows next films - Rocknrolla and Sams Town.

I learnt some excellent things, and met (hopefully) some more useful contacts based in London. Gonna have to be prepared to travel, I reckon.

But I feel enthused again. There's some stuff out there! I've just got to go find it!


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Horsehead Nebula

It occurs to me, that on this photoblog of spacey things, I havent posted many of the most famous sights in astronomy before. Perhaps because they are so "famous" that I assume that everyone will have seen them many times, like me. But, of course, everyone's not a giant nerd like me and may not have seen these things before. So I shall be posting some of the most famous astronomical sights there are. All for you, dear reader; so you can become as nerdy as me! :)

"One of the most identifiable nebulae in the sky, the Horsehead Nebula in Orion, is part of a large, dark, molecular cloud. Also known as Barnard 33, the unusual shape was first discovered on a photographic plate in the late 1800s. The red glow originates from hydrogen gas predominantly behind the nebula, ionized by the nearby bright star Sigma Orionis. The darkness of the Horsehead is caused mostly by thick dust, although the lower part of the Horsehead's neck casts a shadow to the left. Streams of gas leaving the nebula are funneled by a strong magnetic field. Bright spots in the Horsehead Nebula's base are young stars just in the process of forming. Light takes about 1500 years to reach us from the Horsehead Nebula."

"The famous Horsehead Nebula in Orion is not alone. A deep exposure shows that the dark familiar shaped indentation, visible just below center, is part of a vast complex of absorbing dust and glowing gas. To bring out details of the Horsehead's pasture, amateur astronomers at the Star Shadow Remote Observatory in New Mexico, USA fixed a small telescope on the region for over seven hours filtering out all but a very specific color of red light emitted by hydrogen. They then added the image to a full color frame taken over three hours. The resulting spectacular picture details an intricate tapestry of gaseous wisps and dust-laden filaments that were created and sculpted over eons by stellar winds and ancient supernovas. The Horsehead Nebula lies 1,500 light years distant towards the constellation of Orion. Two stars from the Orion's Belt can be found in the above image."

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

How to destroy the Earth, parts 10 & 11

10. Hurled into the Sun

You will need: Earthmoving equipment.

Method: Hurl the Earth into the Sun, where it will be rapidly melted and then vaporized by the Sun's heat.

Sending Earth on a collision course with the Sun is not as easy as one might think. Contrary to popular opinion, Earth's orbit is not "unstable" and Earth will not begin to spiral into the Sun if we give it the slightest of nudges (otherwise, you can bet it would have happened already). It's surprisingly easy to end up with Earth in a loopy elliptical orbit which merely roasts it for four months in every eight. Careful planning will be needed to avoid this.

Earth's final resting place: a small globule of vaporized iron sinking slowly into the heart of the Sun.

Comments: As far as energy changes are concerned, this method is inferior to the next one.

This method is essentially a variation on the Solar Oven method listed above, wherein you bring the Sun to the Earth (in a manner of speaking).

Feasibility rating: 9/10. Impossible at our current technological level, but will be possible one day, I'm certain. In the meantime, may happen by freak accident if something comes out of nowhere and randomly knocks Earth in precisely the right direction.

Source: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, by Grant Naylor

11. Ripped apart by tidal forces

You will need: Earthmoving equipment.

Method: When something (like a planet) orbits something else (like the Sun), the closer in it is, the faster it orbits. Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun, moves faster along its path than Earth, which in turn moves faster than Neptune, the furthest planet.

Now, if you move Earth close enough to the Sun, you'll find that it's close enough that the side of the Earth facing the Sun wants to orbit the Sun faster than the side pointing away from it. That causes a strain. Move Earth close enough, within an imaginary boundary called the Roche Limit, and the strain will be great enough to literally tear the planet Earth apart. It'll form one or more rings, much like the rings around Saturn (in fact this may be exactly where Saturn's rings came from). So our method? Move the Earth to within the Sun's Roche limit. Or, better, move it out, to Jupiter.

Moving the Earth out to Jupiter is much the same as moving the Earth in towards the Sun, the most obvious difference being your choice of vectors. However, there is another important consideration, and that is energy. It takes energy to raise or lower an object through a gravity field; it would take energy to propel the Earth into the Sun and it would take energy to propel it into Jupiter. When you do the calculations, Jupiter is actually rather preferable; it takes about 38% less energy.

Alternatively, it may be simpler to move Jupiter to Earth. The theory works like this: build a massive free-standing tower or "candle", with its lower end deep inside Jupiter's depths and its upper end pointing into space. Put machinery inside the tower to pull hydrogen and helium gases in as fuel, through ports in the middle section, and vent these elements out through fusion thrusters at the top and bottom. The tower is called a "candle" because it burns at both ends, see? Now: the flame directed downwards into Jupiter serves to keep the tower afloat (although some secondary thrusters would be needed to also keep it stable and upright). But this lower flame has no direct effect on the Jupiter/candle system as a whole, because all the thrust from the flame is absorbed by Jupiter itself. The two objects are locked together, as if the candle is balanced on a spring or something. The top flame, therefore, can be used to push both the candle and Jupiter along. The top flame pushes the candle which pushes the planet. This is a little unorthodox, and it only works on gas giants, but as means for moving planets it's at least as plausible as the mass-driver and gravity-assist methods described on the earthmoving page.

Earth's final resting place: lumps of heavy elements, torn apart, sinking into the massive cloud layers of Jupiter, never to be seen again.

Feasibility rating: 9/10. As before, impossible at our current technological level, but will be possible one day, and in the meantime, may happen by freak accident if something comes out of nowhere and randomly knocks Earth in precisely the right direction.

Source: Mitchell Porter suggested this method. Daniel T. Staal clued me in on the fusion candle technique, which he got from this Shlock Mercenary comic, which in turn was inspired by the novel "A World Out Of Time" by Larry Niven.