Archive for the 'Blog' Category

HTML5 Video Playlist: A Brief Kludge

June 1st, 2010

Twitter buddy @adecelle issued a challenge:

The listing in question describes how to replace an HTML5 video source in sequence; basically, it lets a single <video> tag change its movie in the course of playing the video, resulting in a YouTube-style playlist. Problem was, in the form presented on the site, there was no intuitive way to add x more videos, and the second video in the sequence would loop forever. It had been awhile since I had gotten to practice some coding, so I figured I’d give it a go.

As it turns out, this was a difficult nut to crack. My repeated Google searches on how to construct an HTML5 video playlist yielded a handful of code examples from various sources, but these examples were apparently written completely off the cuff and were more broken than the Apple code. Eventually I had to cobble snippets from multiple sources to make a functional output with the desired capabilities:

<script type="text/javascript">

function myEndedListener(){
var myVideo = document.getElementsByTagName(‘video’)[0];

function myNewSrc() {
var myVideo = document.getElementsByTagName(‘video’)[0];

function myNewSrc2() {
var myVideo = document.getElementsByTagName(‘video’)[0];

function myNewSrc3() {
var myVideo = document.getElementsByTagName(‘video’)[0];


<video controls src=”videoplaylisttest1.m4v”>

Example site (H.264 videos in MP4 containers; YMMV)

I was particularly proud of finding the bug on the Apple developer page: the event listener keeping tabs on the ‘ended’ state of video playback (when the video reaches its end) was reloading the same video over and over again when playback concluded. It was on the Opera Developer Community page that I found the solution in removeEventListener() (their multiple video example, for the record, was fairly unusable as well, but I appreciate their help in coming up with a solution).

The end result is messy code, to be certain. I’m fairly confident that someone more technically savvy and JavaScript-fluent could come up with a cleaner solution, but as Paul told me, the important thing is that it fulfills the function (tested on Safari 4.0.5 for Mac OS X Snow Leopard and MobileSafari 3.1.3 for iPhone 3GS; the initial autoplay doesn’t work on the iPhone but the sequential JavaScript fu works like a charm on both).

“Why post all this JavaScript/HTML5 stuff on your sporadically-updated blog about video games and stuff?”, I hear you ask? Simply put, I wanted to add something to the search results pool in the hope that someone else can stumble upon this tiny corner of the Internet and benefit from all this legwork. Good luck, wayward e-vagrant!


The Friggin’ Future

May 11th, 2010

On a recent trip to Seattle, I once again realized just how amazing it is to live in The Friggin’ Future. With an iPhone 3GS (basically an extension of my arm at this point), I was able to:

•get walking directions from airport to hotel, around the city and back again, including light rail and bus routes with scheduled times (Maps, OneBusAway)
•consult user-submitted restaurant recommendations (Yelp)
•track spending (iBank)
•record the entirety of a concert (Camera) (don’t worry, it was w00tstock and was released under a Creative Commons license)
•keep hundreds of friends and well-wishers up to date up to the minute on happenings (Tweetie)

(I didn’t even get into really fancy stuff like geotracking the whole trip via Dopplr, mostly because I only just discovered Dopplr today. I TOTALLY would have though)

As much as this sort of thing has become commonplace, I can’t help but stop and marvel at times. It wasn’t terribly long ago that the notion of a pocket-sized device that could accomplish all these feats was in the realm of science fiction. But even the tricorders of Star Trek future history are primitive when compared to what has actually been created. The creators of that program could not have conceived of a worldwide network with virtually unlimited information at our fingertips (if you recall, most Treks had all their data stored locally on computers onboard their starships, basically servers with warp drive; I suppose if your ship can outrun data transfer speeds, a long-range Wi-Fi network might become a thing of novelty… but as is so often the case when Star Trek comes up, I digress).

Though I didn’t realize it when I bought my first iPhone in 2007, the device has become an absolute necessity in my life. It is my lifeline to the outside world on a level of profundity that a landline telephone could never hope to achieve. True, it has been a steady source of content consumption as my portable car stereo and TV (though the iPad has taken over the latter function with gusto), but it’s also the primary connection through which I socialize with a myriad of friends and well-wishers online. Some might express concern at eschewing real relationships for so-called “fake” ones with Internet folk, but I fail to see the distinction when the only difference is the means with which we communicate.

I’ve been obsessing a bit lately over one Amber Case, cyborg anthropologist, futurist and Singularity enthusiast (so perhaps you can understand my obsession). She argues that everyone in this modern age is a cyborg, as we all utilize technology to some degree to augment our physical bodies. It’s a compelling thought experiment (see more in her entertaining and informative lecture on prosthetic culture), and I hope it makes everyone realize the importance of devices like the iPhone (or your brand of choice) in their daily lives. Technology interconnects us on a deep level, and connects us all to something much bigger than ourselves.

And it’s exciting to live in a time where we can take it for granted. That’s when you know it’s The Friggin’ Future.

Oh yeah, add another bullet point for:

•update blog (WordPress)



January 2nd, 2010

OB_IMG - LiveJournal Logo

In the interest of combining stuff I’ve made in the past for posterity’s sake, I have imported all of my posts from my defunct LiveJournal account into Dot Matrix’s archives. The posts have been grouped together in the handy “LiveJournal Archive” category for anyone interested in seeing my random musings from all the way back in ’03! Or you can be sane and ignore them completely. Still, nice to see that WordPress is so capable; the process was quick and easy, and even carried over comments!


Hollywood Unoriginality Ratio: Up

June 1st, 2009

I feel like I’ve put this HUR thing off for far too long! Luckily, I kept copious iPhone notes of the last few movies I went to see in terms of their trailers, so I should be able to piece a few together. I’ll be backdating these to the dates I saw the movies, so these posts will fall behind more recent Apple Cow-related fare, but whatEVS!

The movie was Up! I’m up with Up. Up was friggin’ awesome, y’see. Like with WALL•E, this did not surprise me in the slightest since it’s a Pixar flick. This particular movie was notable for a jarringly sad introductory sequence. Sometimes I think such moments are missing in family films these days, so it was nice to see Pixar continuing to take its all-ages audience seriously for the sake of good storytelling.


The Princess and the Frog
ADAPTATION it may be, but I’m still excited! I haven’t honestly seen all that much footage yet, since this trailer uses up almost a third of its runtime for introspective retrospectives on past Disney successes (ooh, going for success by association! Clever girl), but I’m mostly excited for the idea of a new Disney musical with traditional-style animation. It very well may bomb, but I’m just glad to see Disney supporting old-school animation again.

I get the feeling they don’t even know enough funny things about guinea pigs. I don’t want to confess that this is ORIGINAL.

Imagine That
This seems awfully familiar for an ORIGINAL story. I should probably be giving these kid movie trailers a break, but come on! Does anyone NOT know how this movie ends? Man, it would really be something to have a movie like this end with the father continuing to be estranged from his quirky-and-sometimes-magical child. One can dream…

I really hope Robert Rodriguez is making mountains of dough from these awful kid movies he keeps churning out. I die a little inside every time a trailer starts by saying “From the director of Spy Kids” and not “From the director of El Mariachi”. At least he’s avoiding the all-too-common trap of adaptations from books with ORIGINAL scripts.

Planet 51
One might think this ORIGINAL story about a role reversal between humans and aliens might appeal to a sci-fi fan like myself. Well… wrong? After the initial joke has set in, there can’t possibly be anything else to a film like this. So the aliens (instead of humans) are frightened of the human (instead of alien), and… 90 minutes?

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
SEQUEL (and a frequent occurrence as trailers go)

TOTAL: 33.33% (2/6)

As of a June 1st screening of Up, Hollywood’s kid movie industry scored an impressive 33.33% unoriginality index for trailers! As usual, of course, the stories themselves look plenty unoriginal in their own rights.

Funny thing about letting a backlog pile up: I know what’s coming next! Stay tuned for the HUR of Harry Potter and the Sequel of Adaptationing!


Hollywood Unoriginality Ratio: Star Trek

May 18th, 2009

To beat the heat, Michael, Paul, Nicole and I ducked into AMC Saratoga 14 yesterday to watch the latest movie in the Star Trek series. I should probably mention at this point that this was, in fact, my third viewing of the film in theaters. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a movie in theaters this many times, but it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a Trek film this good! J.J. Abrams took a franchise that Rick Berman had all but killed and breathed new life into it in the seemingly most ridiculous way possible: by effectively destroying almost all existing canon by hitting the infamous History Eraser Button and starting from scratch. The move was certainly bold, but in my opinion also absolutely necessary for Star Trek to survive. The series was so bound by all that had come before that it could never satisfy anyone: existing fans would complain about every minor diversion from established canon, and new folk would be lost in the dense mythos. As a long-time Trekkie (and Trekker), I fully support Abrams’ new vision for the future, and hope he remains onboard for any future entries in the franchise.

Until the next Trek comes out, though, we might as well enjoy ourselves with various other upcoming film releases! Today’s collection would seem to be proof-positive of successful target marketing, as several of the trailers are themselves reimaginings of existing fiction from my childhood. Allons-y!

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Why does Michael Bay get to keep on making movies? I couldn’t tell what the hell was going on for the vast majority of this trailer, though I did pick up several explosions and muddy-looking CGI robots punching each other. Maybe that’s all there is to it. SEQUEL of an ADAPTATION… but I did have a great time poking fun at the original, so maybe this one will yield similar enjoyment.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Back-to-back ADAPTATIONs of television shows from my childhood? It’s clear that Hollywood’s pandering to my unfounded sense of nostalgia at this point, but this looks at least slightly more interesting than the previous Michael Bay dreck. Christopher Eccleston’s a fun actor and will probably make for an equally-fun villain. The computer graphics are surprisingly subpar (the green dissolving solution on the Eiffel Tower stands out in my mind), but at least this one features humans more interesting to look at than Shia LeBeouf. That said, the new animated series looks much more interesting to me.

Land of the Lost
It must be ADAPTATION Christmas or something! Presumably this is a big-screen rendition of the original Sid and Marty Krofft TV show and not the 1990s remake I grew up with. Not that it matters, as they seem to have dropped any semblance of seriousness in favor of slapstick comedy, so I’ll likely give this one a pass.

Terminator: Salvation
Though I probably will go see this SEQUEL, I’ll still be pissed as all hell. See, I just found out this morning that Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles has been officially cancelled. The show was absolutely brilliant and, much like the new Star Trek, breathed new life into an ailing franchise. On top of that, a movie release would have only helped the show’s ratings! Once again, I must give a wag of the finger to Fox for their poor decision-making skills.

Year One
I don’t get why Jack Black and Michael Cera are cavemen in the year 1, when civilization had come kind of a long way from hunting-gathering. I don’t get why Cain and Abel are there either! It’s fairly safe to say that historical accuracy is not the aim of a movie like this. ORIGINAL, though they do appear to do a lot of traipsing through biblical stories.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
Kind of a crazy-big cast in this movie. I even like a few of these guys! Christopher Guest and Hank Azaria, what are you doing in a movie featuring Ben Stiller getting slapped by monkeys? Your awesomeness is not nearly sufficient enough to make me want to check out this SEQUEL of an ADAPTATION.

TOTAL: 83.33% (5/6)

Oy. As of a May 18th screening of Star Trek at AMC Saratoga 14 in Saratoga, CA, Hollywood was preparing itself for a summer of 83.33% unoriginality. If only a handful of these movies end up being anywhere near the calibur of Trek, though, that might not be such a bad thing.


Hollywood Unoriginality Ratio: Fast & Furious

April 6th, 2009

Last night, Bevin and I pooled together a large group of friends to trek over to Century 12 Downtown San Mateo and see Fast & Furious. The flick was pretty standard insane action with fast-drivin’ cars (possibly also furious-drivin’) and Vin Diesel being The Man, but what surprised me the most was the movie’s attempts to dissuade this very blog from labeling it as derivative! During the opening credits, the words “ORIGINAL FILM” were proudly displayed on the screen for all to see. And here I was thinking it was an interquel (between 2 Fast 2 Furious and Tokyo Drift)! Some might argue that Original Film is probably just the name of some production company, but it’s clear to me that Hollywood has caught onto my little game!

Speaking of which: trailers!

Public Enemies
Might go check this out, if only because Great Depression-era gangster stories are really cool, and Johnny Depp is pretty okay sometimes! Based on the book Public Enemies: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933–34, and therefore an ADAPTATION (the book itself is based on a true story, so it’s doubly-adapted!). Christian Bale also appears, and I gotta say, this guy’s really been keeping busy. He’s been in 2-3 films per year, and has big blockbuster Terminator Salvation coming out soon… no wonder he snaps on the set every now and then.

Possibly the greatest movie title I’ve ever seen. “What sort of activities do they engage in?” “Oh, you know… fighting.” And from what you can see in the trailer, they most certainly do. More importantly though, the trailer alone introduced me to two phrases I hope to work into conversation on a regular basis.

Money Quote #1:

“Where are we going?”
“We’re in a $100,000 Mercedes, that’s where we’re going.”

“I’m in a salvaged Volvo, that’s where I’m going!”

Money Quote #2:

“The only way I’m gonna lose is if somebody beats me.”

That one may rival the legendary “Pain don’t hurt” from Road House.

Oh yeah, ORIGINAL as far as I can tell.

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3
Most. Nonsensical. Title. EVER. This is a movie that hates grammar. Also, John Travolta looks stupid (but what else is new? HIYOOOOOOOO). This particular film has an interesting unoriginality to it worthy of analysis. Apparently it’s the second REMAKE of the original 1974 film which was itself an ADAPTATION of a novel. Why is it not simply another adaptation? I have no clue. All I know is, whenever I see situations like these, I find myself wanting to see the first adaptation much more than the current iteration. Then again, I never thought Hollywood should be allowed do-overs (case in point: The Incredible Hulk following Hulk).

Certainly a gorgeous-looking documentary about our massive planet, and James Earl Jones has a fabulous narrating voice, but apparently this movie was released two years ago in the UK and was narrated by Patrick Stewart! Does Disneynature feel we’re not ready for British narration? Because I would be inclined to disagree! Earth, I would have been willing to overlook the fact that you are designed to be a companion piece to the BBC series Planet Earth, but this injustice cannot stand. ADAPTATION. You ought to be ashamed.

Crank 2: High Voltage
Whenever I see a trailer for a SEQUEL to a movie I haven’t seen, part of me is concerned that I’ll be completely lost and have no clue as to what’s going on. Crank 2‘s trailer leaves me with no such reservations, as it looks completely ridiculous and Jason Statham-kicking-ass-and-electrocuting-himself-to-comedic-effect-y. He’s been given an artificial heart with a crappy battery, and has to constantly shock himself to keep it going long enough to find his real heart (did he check San Francisco?). One has to wonder why he can’t simply get checked into a hospital and get a heart donor (or a better artificial heart), but regardless: I WILL SEE THIS MOVIE.

Just noticed in trailer-rewatching: John de Lancie cameo?! MUST SEE MOVIE TWELVE TIMES

TOTAL: 80% (4/5)

Goodness! As of an April 5th screening of Fast & Furious at Century 12 Downtown San Mateo, Hollywood was actively gunning for 80% unoriginality! I would have expected better for ridiculous action flicks; while they’re invariably derivative in too many ways to count, they’re usually still original characters and stories. Still… FAST AND FURIOOOOOOOOOUS


A Life Well Wasted

March 18th, 2009

It’s been a long time since I used this blog for its original purpose of writing about video game things that tickle my fancy. I don’t have much to say on this front, except that I honestly haven’t been playing a lot of video games for some time now, and have had a correspondingly dwindling interest in game news sites. However, I’ve been trying to get back in the habit of reading said sites, and I was glad to see a splendid payoff in the form of a podcast recommendation!

The show, titled “A Life Well Wasted”, takes a page from the excellent radio show This American Life in its format: each hour they choose a theme and deliver a variety of stories on that theme, only in this case the themes focus more on the gaming community and culture. I’m currently listening to the first episode, focusing on Electronic Gaming Monthly’s demise. I strongly urge everyone to give the show a listen.

As far as I can tell, the host, Robert Ashley, does all the writing and production for the show on his own, which explains why he’ll be making about one episode per month. Hopefully he starts assembling a staff to ease the workload and help increase the rate of production, because this is a brilliant idea that we need to see more of! Hey Robert Ashley, you looking for any writers or production assistants? I’m game.


Hollywood Unoriginality Ratio: Monsters vs. Aliens in 3D

March 16th, 2009

Okay, let me explain. I realize that I previously looked upon the trailer for this film with indifference bordering on disdain, as I do for most non-Pixar family film trailers. But I was given two free tickets to an advance screening at Century 20 Oakridge in San Jose, and really, how often does such an opportunity come up? I’m pretty glad I went too, because the film was surprisingly entertaining! The film was chock-full of sci-fi and monster B-movie hat tips and parody, and delightfully light on pointless toilet humor that you see so often in kid-friendly films. On top of that, it was in 3D! As with Coraline, the Real-D technology was put to excellent use creating stunning visuals. Sure, they threw in a few more “throw shit at the camera” gimmicks, but it looked purdy, and that’s what matters in the end. There’s nothing I like better than being proven wrong for the better, and I can confidently say that Monsters vs. Aliens is a pretty okay movie that you could maybe go see if you wanted. Feel free to skip 3D if you need to save some money though.

Alas, this movie continued My Bloody Valentine‘s pesky habit of being light on the trailers, with only a single entry! Worse, it was one I already saw. WORSE, it still looks dumb.

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

TOTAL: 100% (1/1)

As of a March 16th advance screening of Monsters vs. Aliens in 3D at Century 20 Oakridge in San Jose, CA, we’re back at 100% unoriginality, which I will again let slide on account of the small sample size. After Ice Age 3 and Up, are we gonna be out of 3D movies? I sincerely hope this isn’t the case, as I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the unique experience those glasses can (sometimes) provide.

Followup question! Do any of you return the glasses? I’ve got four sitting on my car dash now. I ain’t payin’ extra for glasses I’m not even going to keep!


Hollywood Unoriginality Ratio: Coraline 3D

February 8th, 2009

Geoff, Kyle and I took another trek to the ol’ dependable local San Mateo theater last night for a screening of Coraline, presented in three dimensions! As mentioned in the previous HUR, I had been looking forward to this particular film for some time now, and it was a wonderful moviegoing experience. The 3D visuals were jaw-droppingly gorgeous; unlike Bloody Valentine, it was clear that this film was made for the stereoscopic projection system. I don’t even know how much justice my brief glowing description can give this movie, but in short: please go see Coraline right away, and watch it in 3D. This is the rare film where the glasses are not pure gimmick, but serve to add (forgive the pun) extra depth to the visuals. Go see it now!

New 3D movie means: new 3D trailers! We were all honestly surprised that so many 3D films are on the horizon. Always happy to get more trailers to analyze, but on the other hand, most of them are kid’s movies I’ll probably never see. Onward!

I was a little concerned about not seeing the next Pixar film teaser after watching WALL•E awhile back, so it was quite pleasing to see that not only do we get a full-fledged trailer of Up, but that the film is also being presented with 3D projection! I can only imagine it’s a relatively simple matter to re-run RenderMan with two virtual cameras instead of one, and the image looked clean and crisp through the Real D glasses. And come on, it’s Pixar, which means the film will no doubt be charming, amusing for all ages, and of course ORIGINAL.

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
Ugh! Of course, where there’s a new Pixar summer flick, a new Ice Age entry can’t be far behind. I’m really not a fan of this franchise, but they must be popular with the kids because they keep making more despite my (admittedly non-verbal) protests. The weirdest thing about Ice Age trailers is that they don’t actually show any of the main cast or events, opting instead to devote the entirety of the trailer time to the misadventures of saber-toothed squirrel Scrat. I’ll admit that there is great logic to this, as I always though Scrat’s comic stylings were the only funny part of the series, but I would never pay $13 just for Scrat’s sake. Even if the acorns look like THEY’RE COMIN’ RIGHT FOR US! SEQUEL, and if they don’t actually show the movie, what is anyone supposed to get hyped up for? Ray Romano and John Leguizamo?

Monsters VS Aliens
Kinda cute-looking ensemble kid’s movie I guess. Really don’t have much to say about it, though I’m always happy to see Dwight Schrute doing other projects (when they aren’t The Rocker). And though the Indestructible Gelatinous Mass will probably be a kind of irritating character, I liked the quick Blob shot. ORIGINAL in only the technical sense.

TOTAL: 33.33% 1/3

As of a February 7th screening of Coraline 3D at Century 12 Downtown in San Mateo, CA, the 3D branch of Hollywood shot for the moon with a mere 33.33% unoriginality! Like I said before, it’s a total gimmick, but there’s something really charming about putting on silly glasses and watching things pop out of the screen. It only saddens me that there will be no way to pick up Coraline in a home media format in 3D, as the old-fashioned 2D way of presenting movies just couldn’t look quite as good. But of course, this is exactly the point. Theaters want to compete directly against the home theater experience, and unreproducible gimmicks fit the bill perfectly. Can’t wait ’til we get new Smell-O-Vision movies!


Hollywood Unoriginality Ratio: My Bloody Valentine 3D

January 18th, 2009

Geoff and I went to Century 12 Downtown in San Mateo last night to check out My Bloody Valentine, a horror movie where a miner kills people with a pickaxe. I’m not normally one to drop hard-earned cash on cheesy slasher flicks in the theater (Netflix is a wonderful way to get my fix while holding back on the simoleons), but I was particularly drawn to the experience because the movie was presented in glorious 3D!!! That’s right, no longer were we bound to the tyranny of mere height and width; this time, depth came along for the ride!

Sure, 3D is a gimmick Hollywood’s been trying to use on us for the last 50 years to put asses in seats, and generally isn’t used to any real artistic effect, but every once in awhile it can be a fun experience. Prior to this gem, I’d only previously seen two 3D movies in theaters (Spy Kids 3D: Game Over and The Nightmare Before Christmas; guess which one was actually good?), and this, well… was the third. Beyond the money shots of gruesome murders committed with pickaxe, most of the movie was so slow and uneventful it made severely poor usage of the technology. We counted three instances of a character slowly rotating a gun toward the camera. Okay guys, we get it, the movie’s IN 3D. It’s a fairly standard whodunnit storyline with a twist that I must confess I found somewhat disappointing (I don’t feel the clues were laid out very well, and the revelation leaves a lot of holes). But of course, you don’t see slasher films for the deep plots and shocking developments. If you see only one movie about a mass murderer offing people with a pickaxe this year… eh, wait and see, maybe the new Street Fighter movie will have something to offer.

I was a little surprised by the trailer fare, in that I was expecting the normal array of multiple films I don’t really care about seeing in the coming months, but instead, there was only one trailer! Real D, the company that provided the glasses and single-projector stereoscopy technology for My Bloody Valentine 3D apparently got to decide on the trailers or something, because that film was another 3D flick using the same projector system. Well hey, makes my job easier, and it got us into the movie quicker than I can ever recall, so hooray Real D!

Coraline 3D
Whoa ho! The only trailer they played and it’s something I actually want to see! Based on Neil Gaiman’s story of the same name (sans 3D) and therefore an ADAPTATION, Coraline is the first stop-motion animated movie filmed stereoscopically. What this basically amounts to is that the movie will look much better than the average 3D film because it was actually filmed in 3D! The video looked incredible. The effect was at its best not when things popped out of the screen, but when objects receded into the distance (especially one shot where Coraline opens the secret door and watches a tunnel extend backward into darkness). On top of that, I’ve already been pumped about this for some time, and now I will almost certainly seek out a 3D screening come release! Sadly, since your average computer does not have built-in stereoscopic video output capability, I can’t put up the 3D trailer, so go watch My Bloody Valentine 3D to check it out (I kid, of course).

TOTAL: 100% (1/1)

As of a January 18th screening of My Bloody Valentine 3D at Century 12 Downtown in San Mateo, CA, Hollywood has slated itself for a record 100% unoriginality! … But since there was only one trailer, I don’t feel that’s a fair assessment, and we’ll let them slide today.

Almost forgot to mention: the 3D glasses we got were amazingly dorky! Observe Geoff and myself, seeing the world through new eyes!


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