posted by victor @ 3:55 pm October 29, 2010 in film,geek,life,writing

Yay! Participating in the Hollywood Film Festival was tons of fun. Heartfelt thanks to all who showed up, either in person or in spirit, to lend their support. Huge thanks, also, to my producer and all of the brilliant people involved in making Darkening Sky a reality.

But there were some technical issues. With picture and sound. A two-fer! Turns out that the HDCAM deck used for projection was, for some reason, set with Very Dark gamma, resulting in brightness/contrast levels that crushed anything remotely “dark” into “pure black.” This meant things that took a long time to get right — a shadowy something creeping across the floor of a room at night, for example — were completely invisible. Some of these were Story Points™. Plus something in the deck’s handling of the stereo/5:1 split made the audio ear-splittingly, painfully LOUD early on.

Now… When people complain about technical issues “wrecking” a film, I’m usually the asshole saying (or at least thinking) something like, “Well, the story either works, or it doesn’t.” Egad. Well, I’m happy (mostly) to report that I was (mostly) able to embrace this idea myself and (mostly) relax and move on. The performances ultimately came through and carried the day. The story I intended to tell was told. And by all reports, it made sense and was entertaining. Still, here is how I imagined a post-festival interview might have gone.

The screening and pre/post hangs were great fun, and the Hollywood Awards Gala was also great fun — of a different kind. Me and the Missus got to play dress-up and enjoy an open-bar, nice dinner, award ceremony and after-party (more open bar) at the Beverly Hilton… Along with a surprising array of stars I actually like, including, but not limited to: Helena Bonham Carter, Sean Penn, Sam Rockwell, Jodie Foster, Halle Berry, Aaron Sorkin, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Christopher Nolan, Justin Long, Andrew Garfield, Annette Benning, Zach Galifianakis, Morgan Freeman and Robert Duvall. Yikes. Being there at all would have been a thrill; being there as a filmmaker was completely awesome and inspiring.


posted by victor @ 4:04 pm February 25, 2009 in geek,writing

sexywaitressOne of the things I’ve become very accustomed to is using a server. Having multiple computers (and using them all) makes this the only way to not lose your mind (or track your work). For my 3D work, it’s one host PC (the littlest, an older Shuttle) with fat drives that hold all project files and renders in progress. All the other 3D workstations feed from and vomit back to this main host. Same thing with writing, using the Apple desktop as host. All the main writing apps I use (TextEdit/WordPad/whatever for  rtf’s, then OpenOffice, Final Draft, Celtx for further devel) are cross-platform. So I can use whatever laptop I want (please). Backups run regularly on each server, Apple’s Time Machine being the most whizbang. Groovy.

sexyserverBut what about when you wanna take your laptop with… As in, out of range of your wifi? Enter DropBox, a bitchin’ — and FREE — little setup that automatically mirrors everything you put in the Special Folder. Mirrors it not only to each computer that has it installed (it too is x-platform), but also to a secure, offsite server. 2GB storage space is free; any extra, you pay for. Something I’m working on that I want to continue offline at a remote location? Stick it in the DropBox folder, go away, work on it. When I get back online (anywhere), it will auto-sync with whatever other computer is online as well (at the very least, the remote  server). Honorable mention definitely goes to Google Docs, now featuring an “offline mode” that mirrors your cloud documents on your hard drive. Very nice!


posted by victor @ 1:43 am February 24, 2009 in geek

jenniferaMy, I’m ridiculous. I’ve been using my little ThinkPad X41 for a long while now, full time (for writing — desktops handle the heavy lifting). So today I planned to eBay the MacBook I bought earlier last year. The sexy black MacBook with the rippin’ cpu, 2G of ram, 250G hard drive, etc. Etc.

Well, I choked.

Okay. I don’t like touchpads. It’s a little big. And heavy (4 lbs vs. 2.7). But holy shit, there’s nothing like doing without to make you appreciate the finer things in life. If you’re going to be stuck with a touchpad, THIS is the farking one to be stuck with. Taps that consistently register, two-finger anywhere scrolling… It “just works,” like all things Apple.

angelinajAnd the look of — well, EVERYTHING. Fonts that render smooth (not fuzzy) and track properly. When oh when will anyone else (I’m looking at you, Ubuntu) start to understand that this matters… God, I tried not to care, and for the most part, when I’m lost in writing, it doesn’t. Very much. But having what you’re looking at be beautiful is just… Well, it’s a good thing.


  1. TrackPoint: A writer’s best friend (no removing fingers to navigate).
  2. Size/scale/weight. It’s wafer thin and eensy.
  3. 4:3 screen ratio. Makes best sense for writing (who needs “cinema” ratio for vertical pages?)
  4. Old school charm; it’s old, it’s cheap, it works. Something cool about that.


  1. OSX — beautiful, smart and godlike font (and everything) rendering.
  2. Screen sharpness/clarity/brightness (despite widescreen ratio making the whole thing Too Big)
  3. Keyboard and touchpad light touch, reliability and accuracy.
  4. Overall solidness and sleekitude… The T-pad “CLACKS” closed; the M-book simply closes.

So I’m back on the MacBook and damn it’s nice. Oh, I’ll probably “get tired of” this one again at some point (I would imagine even Brad goes through this), but that just seems to be the way it is. I suppose it’s fun switching, configuring, etc. Getting XP up to a place that worked for me was interesting. I think I may try it all over again once “Windows 7” (?) is ready for prime time. Gah.

cursed cursor

posted by victor @ 2:11 pm January 25, 2009 in geek,writing

cursorOkay, so one of the MANY things Apple got right is the way the mouse cursor automatically disappears whenever you start typing. Makes sense, doesn’ t it. I mean, why the hell would you want the stupid cursor to BLOCK YOUR VIEW of what you’re typing? Which is exactly what I’ve been dealing with, here in XP land. I know the wizards at M$ made this an option in the Mouse control panel, but that “feature” only works (of course) in M$ apps. In other words, if you’re working in Final Draft or OpenOffice (as I do, mostly), then you’re shit outta luck.

Until now. I searched and searched, and finally found Desk Angel, an amazing and yes, FREE little wonder of a utility that throws this life-altering feature in as an afterthought (!), along with a very intuitive, OSX-style screen grab utility and many others. These two are the only features I need and use and I am eternally grateful for William for finally making it true. And free. Thanks!

done in by a nipple

posted by victor @ 11:23 pm January 19, 2009 in geek

swanknipsAs a lifelong (and still active) Apple Fan, I find myself in a strange place. Writing now occupies a large portion of  “what I do” on computers, and I am really digging IBM ThinkPads more and more. The reason being, as I have come to realize, is that I am a nipple man.

The downside to this affliction, for an Apple Fanboy like me, is that this means using Windows (or Ubuntu — a problem if you’re relying on apps not native to Linux). Gah. But with some (okay, a LOT) of tinkering and tweaking, tpnippleI’ve come up with an XP-based laptop I really like. So much so that after a few months, when I experienced the inevitable pang to “go back,” and did, the glorious OSX experience wasn’t enough to keep me there. Minutes later, I was back on my little X41 and loving it. So I now have a sweet, new(ish) black MacBook just sitting there. Egad. I may even sell it.

source edit

posted by victor @ 11:09 am January 3, 2009 in geek

iquitI’m hanging out a lot in Windows land these days (only reason: diggin’ writing on the ThinkPad). A few tweaks and what the heck, I can switch between OSX & XP machinery without too much culture shock.

Then I decided it’d be nice to find a free little text editor with FTP capabilities (like the awesome TextWrangler on Mac) that I could use for quick remote web tweaks/fixes/whatever.

ZOMG. WTF. &%#@. Okay, well, there are many. It’s Windows, for fuck’s sake. But almost every single one I found is an unusable POS in some regard… I won’t bother with an itemized diss on those that didn’t pass muster (Jedit, CoffeeCup, Cpad, Crimson Editor, PSPad, SuperEdi), except to say that what stopped me with most was s-l-o-w (or F’d up) FTP functionality. Or sometimes, a hideous, virtually unusable interface.

Then I found Source Edit. Simple, lean, and useful. Like TextWrangler, it has lots of tools for hardcore coders (unlike me), but also includes a nice set of basics for those of us that just want to get in-get out without a lot of rigamarole. So here is my geek PSA for anyone searching: Try it first.

the difference between mac and pc

posted by victor @ 11:46 am December 27, 2008 in geek,life

For the record, I’m a mostly-OS-agnostic Mac snob who uses PCs a LOT for work, which is 3D animation (Win2K) and writing (Linux or XP on my laptop of choice, an IBM ThinkPad).

It came to me the other day. Here it is:

Windows (and most PC hardware) is designed by engineers.

OS X (and Apple’s hardware) is engineered by designers.

That’s it.

What about Linux? Engineered by engineers, unfortunately. But lately (thank god), they’ve been talking to designers!

ultimate netbook

posted by victor @ 6:36 pm December 23, 2008 in geek

Today’s laptops remind me of those “bass players” you see with 5, 6 and 7-string basses… Give me a fucking break. If you’re secretly harboring a guitar fetish, learn to play guitar and STFU.

Today, “Netbooks” are all the rage. I’d actually call them “laptops,” since that’s what they seem to be — laptops that know their place. Small, thin, light, powerful enough, wifi… All you need, really, in a laptop.  So when the Asus eee pc came out, I indulged. Nutshell: Fun to look at, maybe play with, but useless for touch typing in any serious way.

Last week I bought a ThinkPad X41. It’s awesome (I happen to love trackpoint navigation, and IBM’s idea of how a keyboard should feel). It’s very thin, very light, with an old-school 1024×768, 12″ LCD… Which I like, ’cause I think the whole “cinema screen” craze is misguided as hell. I don’t use my laptop to watch movies; I use it to write. On vertical, letter-sized pages. WTF. Anyway, netbook schmetbook; it’s a smart laptop that acts like one.

Downside: Can’t run OSX (unless you’re seriously committed)… But I’ve found that with RocketDock, “Cleartype” (is that really the best you could do, M$??) and a nice, minimalist theme installed (and taskbar hidden), I have a superb “netbook” that is also a killer writing machine. Might go for the OSX crack one of these days, we’ll see. In the meantime, I have a wafer-thin happy lappy that weighs less than 3 pounds, has xlnt built-in wifi and is solid as a rock (1.5Ghz CPU/1.5GB RAM/40GBHD).

Total cost? $250. That’s right. I scored extra discount points with the one I bought, as it had wonky keys, so the owner knew he had to go down… $200 out the door, found a new keyboard on eBay for $40+shipping. It even has a fingerprint reader (!?)… So there!

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