“Sausage factories”

It recently came to my attention that Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn likened the Junior Certificate to a “sausage squeezing machine”, “squeezing creativity and curiosity out of the classroom”. [Source: Limerick Leader] So, all of my friends and I have apparently been squeezed through this unmerciful sausage factory in recent years. I can’t really say that I agree with that assessment. Let’s look at some other things worthy of the title of “sausage factory”:

I found out in the last few weeks that the old MCA television production company, Revue (later Universal), was often derided as a “sausage factory”. In all of its television shows, thanks to the regimented formula-driven production management of Lew Wasserman, it basically churned out one hour of the same thing every week, over and over again. Indeed, this prompted an FCC investigation in the late ’50s, into the reasons for the overall poor quality of American television programming. [Source: When Hollywood Had a King]

The Revue Logo

Having watched many episodes of Murder, She Wrote, I can only agree with this assessment of the studio, even though this programme is from the ’80s! In every episode, Mrs. Fletcher gets introduced to a scenario and meets a few people, then after about half an hour someone’s body is found. After that, Mrs. Fletcher collaborates with whatever authorities are involved. She has a sudden stroke of genius towards the end, then confronts the murderer with some ridiculously elaborate story. In many episodes, the murderer finally admits culpability and draws a gun, only to have the sheriff, or whoever, run in and save Mrs. Fletcher. After that, everyone is happy, then some silly joke is made, and we get a freeze-frame of Mrs. Fletcher laughing, then the credits roll!

There’s also the matter of the Scooby-Doo sausage factory. They tried to do new things with the franchise over the last forty-odd years. I was very impressed with the most recent Mystery Incorporated series. Personally, I think they should leave it at that – any more could only go down the old sausage-factory route and ruin a good thing. Besides, there are still the formulaic direct-to-video animated feature-length films they’re doing.

So now, can we really place a fundamental part of our education system, which has existed for many years, on par with the forces behind the production of Murder, She Wrote, Scooby-Doo, and other mediocre television programmes? Somehow, as a student, I’m just not comfortable with that.

How to destroy a Universal logo

There are a few ways of using animation tricks to “destroy” the 2013 logo of Universal Studios (or a Blender remake of it, at least).

Here it is, Warner Bros. Animation style:

…And Mozilla style (which is kind of related, since, you know, Mozilla started off inside Netscape, which was an [AOL] Time Warner company for many years):

Got any more ideas? I’ve released the BLEND file for the Universal remake, so, if you have Blender, go nuts with it! It’s released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported Licence.

Histories of media companies

I just want to point out the extent to which I have previously researched and documented on YouTube histories of certain aspects of the media landscape.

For one thing, I have attempted to explore and expose Viacom’s playing fast and loose with certain broadcasting regulations:

For another, I have given some arguably fresh insight into the way NBCUniversal came about and is publicly received:

N.B. Comcast has since bought the remaining 49% of NBCUniversal – the deal closed on March 19.

Finally, I compiled a neutral overview on the history of Coca-Cola/Columbia TriStar/Sony Pictures Television:

Of course, there’s also the highly comprehensive corporate timeline on the List of Projects, but that’s still in the unreliable ODS format…

So… apparently there really WAS a Flood!

A very interesting piece of information was revealed on last Sunday’s episode of Derek Mooney’s “Secrets of the Irish Landscape” *. It seems that there was something of a global deluge around 2350 BC. Soil records from Ireland around this time show that farming activity stopped and tree ring records show abysmal growth for around 20 years. It is also reflected in written accounts from China and other disparate locations around the world.

The interesting bit, however, is that a Catholic bishop attempted to date the origin of the world by adding up ages of people in the Bible. In doing this, he determined that the Flood was around 2349 BC! So, the story of Noah’s Ark was rooted in fact. Who’d have thought?

This could also be used as an argument against the case that Climate Change is caused by human activity.

*This link will not work after Sunday June 2 (and may not work at all if you are outside of Ireland, but I’m not sure).

Also, I’d just like to note that Animaniacs has returned to the RTÉ 2 schedule and, in doing so, has proven that I’m not going insane. The copyright notice on RTÉ’s showings is indeed different from that on the DVD. As for why on Earth they would change it, I don’t know.

Half-Life 2 comes to SteamPipe! PLUS: a note on nuclear physics

Well, wasn’t I pleased to see Half-Life 2 and its episodes show up in Beta form on my “Linux Games” list? From now on, I need never boot up Windows again! Well, okay, that’s an exaggeration, I’ll still need it for coding games and playing Portal 2 for the moment, but anyway! Portal 2 definitely can’t be far off now!

I’m not sure if this means that the HL2 games are now on a newer engine version, and if so whether that means more or fewer bugs. I’m not going to test it straight away.

Also, for those who have not yet checked them out, I have decided to post my YouTube videos on nuclear physics right here:

They cover protons, neutrons and the nuclei of the first three isotopes of hydrogen.

Portal comes to SteamPipe

I just found out that Portal 1 seems to have been moved to SteamPipe, and therefore received a GNU/Linux port. This means that Aperture Ireland is closer to having a more efficient install mechanism and the Content Porter is closer to having a more viable replacement. Just a small bit of good news!

EDIT (Two days later): I see L4D2 seems to have made the transition now as well. Portal 2 can’t be far off so!

Madagascar Alert: Private sentenced to work for Julien for six months – Ubuntu 13.04 is out!

Well, Ubuntu “Raring Ringtail” was released today, so that can only mean one thing: it’s Madagascar reference time! Skipper, the commanding penguin, refers to King Julien as “Ringtail”, because he is a ring-tailed lemur, and Private, the youngest penguin, once played mini-golf under the name “Mr. Tux”. Now, an OS named “Ringtail” has a kernel working at its core whose symbol is a penguin named Tux! This Ubuntu release is going to be the current one for the next six months, until 13.10 comes out.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t quite fit together, as the OS’s nickname refers to a ring-tailed raccoon, rather than a ring-tailed lemur. Oh well!

As for me, I’m a Linux Mint user, so it’ll take a while for all those Raring updates to trickle down to this PC.

Finally up and running!

Coincident with the second anniversary of Portal 2’s release (at least in this timezone!), this blog is finally operational, after ten days in limbo! Around this time, I am starting an unofficial attempt to port Xash3D to GNU/Linux – I find it pretty strange that the actual GoldSrc engine has been ported, but the FLOSS alternative hasn’t. I have also been informed that an unofficial walkthrough of our own Aperture Ireland mod will soon make its way onto YouTube, so I’m looking forward to that.

At the moment, I’m also waiting rather impatiently for Valve to roll out SteamPipe across its single-player Source titles. Since I finally realised that my old content-porting model for Aperture Ireland was very unpleasant, the current version is in the awkward stopgap position of having Source Filmmaker as a requirement. Once SteamPipe is supported by both Portals, I can move to a much more efficient model that doesn’t require you to download or duplicate anything on your hard-drive. SteamPipe will also mean GNU/Linux ports. That’s good for me, as I dislike playing on Windows and can’t seem to make Portal 2 work under Wine!

P.S. Given the day that’s in it, I originally thought of making a Portal 2 reference in the title of this post, to Rick the Adventure Sphere’s line, “Happy Explosion Day, gorgeous!”, but it hardly seems appropriate, given the tragic occurrences of the preceding week.