Blog for June 2006

Superman Returns

Bryan Singer jumped ship on the third X-Men film to go to Warner Bros and direct their much beleaguered Superman movie. And if you've read my X-Men: The Last Stand review, you'll see I thought the Marvel franchise suffered for it. Well, their loss was DC Comic's gain.

DC's franchises seem to have a problem when it gets to the fourth flick. The Batman films of the nineties tanked with Batman and Robin, with it's neon colours and throwback to the sixties TV show. Superman suffered the same way, with the series bombing due to the fourth flick's preachy message and stupid, stupid supervillian. Until Marvel's success with it's properties, superhero based films looked dead in the water.

When Marvel was making money, it was by making quality movies that focused on the core of the characters. Then, it was DC that looked dead in the water. But they pulled themselves up with Batman Begins. They found a director/writer combo that got the character, that returned to the source material; Batman has been around for over sixty years, the source material must be doing something right!

When a character is already established, in comics or, in some cases, on the big screen, there's not need to completely recreate it. Or revamp it. Or recreate it. Or glitz it in neon.

People reading this will notice that, for a Superman Returns review, there seems to be little Superman Returns reviewing. I'm just giving you some backstory so you can see how I came about my opinion. And I think it's the same mindset that's forming the positive opinions of many a critic.

I remember watching Superman and Superman II. Not in theatres, I'm not even thirty, after all. I mean recently, on DVD. And those films, almost as old as I am, still hold up today. Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Marlon Brando, and Terence Stamp all awed the comic book geek in me. It was Superman! And Lex Luthor! and how cool looking was the Fortress of Solitude?

When I heard Singer was not only going to not reinvent the series, picking up on the original movie series instead, I was happy. When I heard he was ignoring the embarrassing third and fourth, continuing off the first two, I was excited! And when I went to watch the film, I nearly had a nerd overload!

The film opens with Marlon Brando's voice as Superman's father. It has the John Williams score you remember. And, for the best part of fond memories, even uses the zoom in blue 3D text credits during the opening! Those elements will define the film... continuing a set tradition, a set way of thinking. We're not introducing gay robots, giant mechanical spiders, or making Lex Luthor a kryptonian (and yes, previous drafts before Singer had all those things, ugh), we're bringing a classic back to screen.

Even with it's massive budget and eye popping special effects (yay, Frantic Films!), this is not X-Men or Spiderman. This is not a modern day, summer extravaganza. This is a sequel to a classic Richard Donner series, done in the same style and mindset. I recommend you watch Superman and Superman II, if you have not already. You'll either magnify the buzz when you go see Singer's film, or save yourself the price of a movie ticket :)

Spider-Man 3 Trailer

Sony Pictures and Apple Quicktime have release the first trailer for the upcoming Spider-Man 3 movie, directed by Sam Raimi. Watch and you’ll see harry Osborn, Mary jane Watson, Peter Parker, Spider-Man, the Sandman, Gwen Stacey, possibly someone on a Goblin Glider... and 100% for sure, the Venom suit!

Watch it now!

Venom! Woo! Wooooo!

Harry No More

In an interview with the Guardian, J.K.Rowling alludes to the ultimate price being paid in the battle against pure evil. Read the full article at the Guardian and cross your fingers that your favorite character makes it out of book seven and into the sunset.

I must admit, I'm more of a Harry Potter movie fan, but my wife is a huge fan of the books. Sorry honey, looks like book seven is it.

Chameleon Snake Discovered

A chameleon snake has been discovered in Borneo, around the Kapuas river. The snake can change colour much like chameleon lizards can. Nature is pretty cool to say the least.

Deadly Bacteria or Alternative Energy source

I remember high school chemistry experiments where we used charged cathodes and anodes to break down water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. We would then light the hydrogen and think how cool it was that in burning the hydrogen we ended up with water vapour as the by-product. I find it interesting that those experiments are now being re-thought and made more efficient in an attempt to, for all intents and purposes, save our planet.

Well I found this interesting little article about an experiment in England at the University of Birmingham which had found an alternative version of the electolosis experiment. Instead of applying a current to separate hydrogen and oxygen in water, scientists fed waste chocolate and nougat to E.coli bacteria. No you don’t have to clean your glasses you read correctly. E.coli, a deadly bacteria associated with severe abdominal distress which left untreated leads to death.

Apparently this deadly little bug produces hydrogen as a by-product of it’s digestive process. The experiment entailed feeding the highly sugared waste from a Cadbury Schweppes candy production plant to the E.coli bacteria, and harnessing the hydrogen produced by the E.coli into a hydrogen fuel cell which was then used to power a small electric fan. For those of you who remember some of their high school chemistry, the glucose (sugar) molecule has the following structure.


Breaking down this molecule isn’t all that polluting now is it? And that’s 12 Hydrogen atoms per molecule. This could be a pretty efficient way of producing hydrogen for fuel cells. More technology ideas like this and we should be able to drop our oil dependence soon. Wouldn’t that be a relief?

CSS Remix By Night

Fred By Night, the live action Vampire: The Masquerade chronicle web site Reddz and I launched last week has been featured on CSS Remix. I only noticed by the sudden spike in traffic logs, as we receive a collection of click-overs.

According to thier about page, CSS Remix is...

CSS Remix celebrates the dynamic innovation and creativity of designers who are on the forefront of css-based design. We honor those designers who aren’t afraid to think outside the box and who are reinventing our ideas of what great web design can be.

I’ve submitted a couple sites to CSS Remix and Fred by Night is the first that has ever been accepted. It means I am improving, and am recognized by at few of my peers.

Thanks to those who rated the site, good or otherwise. :)

Update, June 22: Fred By Night is now also being featured on CSS Mania, another CSS gallery site.

Update, June 24: Fred By Night is now also being featured on Light On Dark, a gallery site that focuses on sites that use light text on dark backgrounds.

Get The Net

Whether you are personally for or against aquaculture, we should all be able to agree that the earth, with its booming population, will need to do something in a an effort to feed itself. Given that the earths population is already over 6.5 billion and climbing steadily, food, the environment we live in and energy are our number one problems. Aquaculture offers great hope in the solving the planets growing food demands, but is it viable?

Traditionally fish farming has meant penning fish in either a pond, cage system or something similar and raising them until ready for market. The drawbacks have always been that fish in captivity are subject to disease, pollute the water around them and consume bait fish that would normally go to wild fish. All of this leaves areas around fish farms scared, sometimes barren and polluted.

Over the years fish farmers have introduced various technologies, breeding processes and strategies to keep their fish crops healthy and viable. Recently such concepts as the robotic aquaculture, where fish are raised in giant floating computerized pens that actually travel around the ocean, are bringing new light to how we might actually farm the oceans in a healthy, environmentally responsible ways.

Since the Bush administration took office, they have been watching the fish farming industry closely and are in the process of working on a fish farming bill that would see aquaculture production in the coastal regions of the US ramp up significantly in the coming years.

Here are some articles on fish farming and aquaculture from both sides of the argument:

Opera 9 Released

Opera has release the latest version of it's under-appreciated browser. Firefox is getting a pile of press and all the good praises in moving web browsing technology forward, and kickstarting Internet Explorer 7 development, but Opera has been doing the same and for longer.

I just installed it, and am trying it out. I liked the fact the Setup asked if I wanted to update my version of 8.5 or install 9 seperately. And jumping around the 'Net, I'm seeing pages load amazingly fast. Faster than I've ever seen them load! Woo!

I'll continue to play with the browser for a week. After that, I'll find out if I'll stick with it as my default, or switch back to Firefox. I do, however, encourage everyone to download it and give it a try. Since 8, the Opera browser is free (with no ads), so you don't have any excuse anymore :)

Daily Links

We Have Contact

Ok. So it happens from time to time. We get annoying spam from thousands of sources. With proper email filtering on your inbox, you can trim out most of the viagra / ciallis emails (are there really that many people online with erectile disfunction?) along with the pornography and cheap software spam. However, from time to time, a new creative spammer comes up with a completely novel way to beat the filters and get through. This request to give me $800,000 was just such a clever email. 

Let's review it shall we:

From : Mr Patrick Mankou. 516 Main Bazaar, Shahdara, New Delhi, India. Due to my tight schedules I could not contact you earlier before now. The business later became successful with the cooperation of a new partner from India. Presently I'm in New Delhi with the partner for some projects. Meanwhile,I did not forget your past efforts and attempts to assist me in that process despite that it failed us at that time. Now, I want you to contact my secretary,his name is Mr Ruben Moussa and his email address is: ask him to send you the total sum of ( $800,000.00) which I kept for your compensation for all the past efforts and attempts to assist me in that matter. I appreciated your efforts at that time very much. So feel free and get in touch with my secretary Mr Ruben Moussa and instruct him where to send the Draft to you. Please do let me know immediately you contact him to receive it, so that we can share the joy after all the sufferness at that time. In the moment,I am very busy here because of the projects which I and the new partner are having at hand. Finally, remember that I had forwarded instruction to my secretary on your behalf to receive that Draft, so feel free to get in touch with Mr Ruben Moussa and he will send the Draft to you without any delay. NOTE THE EMAIL AGAIN, Finally, take note of this CODE, when you contact him do present this SECRET CODE FOR security reasons : 555 don't fail. Best regards, Mr Patrick Mankou

My favorite part of this email is the well structured grammar. If I wasn't so jaded, I would have thought for sure that this was the same Patrick Mankou that I performed some outrageously low priced service for about 3 years ago when I was abroad. However, THAT Patrick Mankou spoke the Queen's english and wrote with the eloquence of a poet, so it was the composition and structure of this email that gave me pause.

At first I thought perhaps my good friend Patrick Mankou (from New Delhi - where I have never been, but would love to visit some day) had suffered some form of crippling brain injury. Or perhaps was writing to me while under the influence of the $800,000 service I had provided him awhile back. (Law enforcement officers readings this - this is satire, please don't break down my door. Thank you.)

Now, I have to give everyone a little word of warning, this is criminal spam. They goal of this email is to get you to contact them. They will then ask for your bank number in order to deposit this money you earned (according to the email) into your bank account. Well, surprise, there is no money coming to you. In fact, the money only flows one way in this transaction and that is out. IF you are silly enough to think that this is a legitimate email, and you are desperate enough to follow up on it, then hats off to your and so long life savings.

Going Live - The Last Mile

Over the years, we have built many projects. Some big and some small. The one common element between all of them is the end portion of each and every project. For years it has seemed like no matter the client, no matter the job, no matter the deadline, the last 20% of the project is the hardest part of the project to complete. This article is a look at our process for getting through that last 20% and moving the project into the end state, which results in a live project, a happy crew on both sides and the feeling of getting something done.

A little history

When we started, the web, as we know it, was a fledgling thought. People could put up information and other people could go read it.

Web Standards Series