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Category Archives: Miscellaneous


Steel City Comic Con 2017 Photos (December)

Warning: tons of photos! Click here for the photos from the comic con earlier in the year.

Jyn Erso, in the Scarif disguise:

Dr. Doom:

Daughter DiNitto on the left, as Keith from Voltron, with Pidge:

A blurry photo of yours truly with R2-D2. See way at the end of the post for a video I took of him (it?):

Bob and Linda Belcher from Bob’s Burgers:

Kylo Ren and Rey. I can tell their costumes were homemade but they were pretty accurate:

Loki with the Tesseract, someone I forget, and Thor:

A queen from something?:

Kylo Ren in disguise as Matt (Matilda, in this case), the radar technician:

They are Neegan from The Walking Dead:

Someone from something and a Deadpool:

Aquaman and Boba Fett without his helmet:

Jyn Erso in her standard outfit:

Deadpool. Her costume was impeccable:

A Dr. Who:

Wonder Woman and Green Arrow. Two more great costumes:

Cruella DeVille:

Wonder Woman and Snake from Escape from New York/LA:

Kira from Death Note, third from left, and people from things:

Jabba the Hutt with slave Leia:

Inuyasha. The sword was even bigger in person:

Master Splinter and Shredder:

Robin:

Festive Shoretroopers (I think):

Deadpool. He had the boombox on every time I saw him:

Batman and a Star Trek person:

The Green Ranger:

A bowless Green Arrow:

Captain America:

A Mandalorean (Star Wars) soldier:

A Ghostbuster:

Two Sith Lords:

Silent Bob:

The Flash:

Princess Mononoke:

Captain Jack Sparrow. Dude was always in character…i.e., tipsy and rakish:

Harley Quinn:

Logan and Deadpool, best friends:

Darth Vader. One of the best costumes:

Princess Zelda and Link:

Mario, Luigi, and Koopa Troopa girlfriends:

A Sith Lord:

Jason Voorhees:

Barf from Spaceballs. She was going to put the Pepsi’s down but I told her to hold them, since the drinks are fairly in character:

A battle-worn Goku:

A Sailor Moon and Wonder Woman:

Finn, Spiderman, and a guy from a thing:

Ed from Good Burger, another guy who was always in character:

Something from Star Wars:

A nurse from Silent Hill:

Leia in the Hoth base uniform:

A Voltron mini-convention:

People from Stranger Things:

Freddy Krueger/Santa Claus:

People from things I don’t know:

A video of the functional R2-D2:

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The Perfect Pop Metal Song

Don’t be deceived, children—”pop metal” shouldn’t evince audible visions of Fred Durst in JNCOs. The title doesn’t refer to nu-metal but to a certain aesthetic of songwriting. By “pop metal”—or “pop” anything—I mean a song in a specific genre that can easily be translated into a standard pop song…one that can easily be translated into other genres. It doesn’t have much to do with a standard verse-chorus-verse format, but basic modern songwriting, from melody and rhythm to more subjective aspects like dynamics, “feel,” the place where it detaches from, or effectively connects to, genre convention, etc.

I picked this song because I feel it can be stripped down to an acoustic song and still retain its appeal, not an easy feat for some metal subgenres. That it can be reduced to a minimalist instrumentation, or “music base zero,” is a excellent clue that it can be then pivoted to other genres.

Other reasons:
1 – Good rise-and-fall dynamics, melody
2 – The rougher screaming parts, which don’t translate well, or at all, into pop, can be replaced
3 – Rock song deviation: it doesn’t end on a bang but a whimper. Usually rock songs end
4 – The dueling guitar solos at the end aren’t don’t overshadow the structure; the solos aren’t the focus
5 – Decent lyrics, open to interpretation

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Net Neutrality Is Still Retarded

It’s the calculation problem. Always has, always will be:

By arbitrarily changing existing markets for internet service, regulators risk corrupting the fragile preconditions necessary for firms and consumers to calculate rationally, and the incentives necessary to lure investment and risk-laden innovative enterprises. The result could be excess demand in the market for internet service if regulations force prices too low, excess supply if regulations force prices too high, or stilted innovation in ISP technology altogether.

tl;dr version: Corporate stakeholders spend their lizard-brain lives nailing the range of right price(s) at any given time. They don’t know much, but bureaucrats know even less. I would even argue their knowledge of right prices is always approaching zero, since their knowledge is downstream from price determination; they know what corporations are doing only after stakeholder calculations are complete, and how markets (aka: consumers) react to them.

Therefore, all policy regarding prices is arbitrary, and given a long enough duration and holding all else constant, policy will cause higher prices or massive supply shortages—probably the latter. If you though the gas shortages in the 1970’s were bad, wait until millennials can’t post a drunk selfie to Instagram during SXSW, or binge-watch the latest edgy one-hour drama on Netflix, because of inevitable bandwidth restrictions.

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Really Old Newspaper Clippings

These clippings are from a newspaper called The Boston Sunday Advertiser, from February 15, 1931. It was a small society-type newspaper that had articles on theater shows and various local events, stories, comics, contests, etc. The front page story on Washington and Lincoln seemed out of place.

I had thought this was the Sunday version of the The Boston Daily Advertiser, but that stopped publication a decade earlier. So I have no idea really what this is.

Here’s the front page. I guess Lincoln was asleep for this portrait:

An ad for weight loss. I’ll bet this never worked, but at least they let you try it out:

An other scammy product. The only thing these were lucky for were sticking things onto your refrigerator:

To give you an idea on these prices, $10 in 1931 is roughly $155 in 2017. So really, these prices aren’t too different now:

One of the most poorly-conceived company names:

I think “rupturing” is an old term, relating to a woman’s monthly friend. I Googled around for but I didn’t feel like going too deep:

“Piles” is a polite term for “hemorrhoids.” God help you if you maneuvered that twisty thing up there:

An illustration that accompanied a short story. It’s a great picture, de-contextualized:

Microfiction existed back then:

And more:

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Unintentional Name Glyph Length Accuracy

Original, cringe-worthy, video here, about some limp noodles from BuzzFeed and their t-count test results.

But the important thing is that the UX design centers of my brain were delighted that the width dimension of their names matched their comparative testosterone level results with ridiculous accuracy:

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Review: Blade Runner 2049

Minor spoilers ahoy.

Blade Runner 2049 is getting ridiculously high ratings, which disturbed me because people like a lot of crap I don’t like and I’m in general agreement with these ratings. What to do? Subconsciously (or not), a lot of the praise may be from the visuals, which isn’t an off-the-mark assessment since films are a primarily visual storytelling medium, and these visuals are apparent in the trailers and such. To that end, the cinematography is perfection; every shot is a perfect cut diamond-angle shot of beauty, and director Denis Villeneuve lets those diamond-visuals breathe by not spraying dialogue and distracting you from feeling the moment. This might be the reason for its 265 minute length: cutting it down to the talky, expositional scenes would make it more compact but far less better to look at.

Set 30 years after the original, there are newer-better-stronger waves of replicants (artificial humans) that have been created, legally, after they had been banned for some time. Ryan Gosling, doing the best (and appropriate to the role) resting asshole face for nearly the entire movie, is a replicant working for the LAPD, who hunts down expired replicants and retires—kills—them. Why a kill switch was never installed in these replicants when they are manufactured is never explained, to my knowledge. The explanatory text in the beginning states that the newer replicants have an open-ended lifespan, but that doesn’t excuse the creators for not implanting a “die immediately, sucker” function, controlled by authorities, that will off a wayward replicant from a safe distance. I’m sure a writer could come up with a good technical reason for the switch’s nonexistence.

The plot, aside from this setting, isn’t a new nut: there’s mysterious box found buried at an expired replicant’s property, and it holds secrets that could “blow the whole thing wide open” if it were made public. This is standard fare for thrillers, but its sci-fi patina absolves Hampton Fancher
and Michael Green, the screenwriters, from wrongdoing. Being connected in every way to the original no doubt helps with this absolution. As lauded as the original Blade Runner was, it was still a gumshoe-noir caper set in the future. I disagree that it “explored what it means to be human,” any more than The Maltese Falcon did, and that’s not bad, and I disagree that a film has to be “deep” to be good, or even enjoyable. Blade Runner stylishly plopped you down in this possible scenario with some really realistic androids and let the audience figure out the philosophical implications. That’s probably the preferred way, if a writer or director wants to go that route, to ask fundamental questions than explicating it like we’re born yesterday*.

Here we go, about that philosophy. There was one scene that really injected a thematic point, out of nowhere it seemed to me, that showed a rallying of unretired replicants to “gain acceptance” in wider human society. We are lead to believe, as modern cinema goes, that replicants are stand-ins for whichever oppressed demograhic the viewer feels fills that role in the real world. This plot element actually demonstrates something about stories in general, and cinema specifically: that stories hijack the human’s installed empathy firmware to create an emotional attachment to an unreal person. Film is much more devious in this way because we have the sight and sound of real humans on screen to dial the effect’s signal strength. The characters on screen aren’t human, they are simply images and sounds of humans doing human things, but our brains’ system processes under the hood haven’t been oriented to consciously distinguish between senses that pick up on humans within our immediate physical plane, and humans elsewhere. We know a film’s event aren’t real, logically, but our empathy centers don’t don’t travel those circuits to pick up on that information, which is why we can feel sympathy for, for instance, victims of a natural disaster upon hearing even basic news about them. We recreate the possible disaster scenario in our imagination centers, not unlike a movie running in our heads, and establish an attachment to how someone might feel in that scenario. Again, logically-speaking, the scenario may not even be close to what actually happened, but our sentiments don’t parse and don’t care; they need to attach themselves to something, and this imagination-movie is the closest thing available. In this same way, replicants can use this phenomenon in their struggle, because with replicants there is no uncanny valley as, aside from an odd personality and a small number visible underneath their bottom-right eyelid, they are indistinguishably close to real humans as anything else.

*This was kind of a pun on replicants being “born” as ostensible adults. I couldn’t really make it funny or fully sensible.

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Crowdsourcing: Anyone Know What This Camera Effect Is?

You can see it a few times in the Sherlock Holmes clip, the first one, at the 1:37 and 1:50 – 1:54 marks, and also some parts during the fighting scenes after that. It seems the same effect is used in the second video below, from Elysium, but to a much milder degree, from 0:35 – 0:42—right after Good Will Hunting blows Chappie up a few times.

It’s like the focus of the camera is trained onto one spot or area at the center, and the movement kind of warps around it.

I have no practical reason for figuring out the name. Just sheer curiosity. It’s hard to Google anything accurate when I barely know any basic terminology.

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About That Band Playing During the Las Vegas Shooting

There’s been more than a few things written about Jason Aldean, the pop-country artist that played during the recent Las Vegas shooting incident, that has passed in front of my eyes. Some of the more notable things written involve Aldean, his band, and/or the production crew being willing conspirators in the shooting, or at least acting incompetently. These sentiments is dumber than a truckload of broken pink hammers, and I’ll explain why.

Source: I have played in zillions of bands, played zillions of live shows, seen zillions of bands play, and have intermediate knowledge of how basic live production works.

1. Bands, playing live, have next to no knowledge of what’s going on off the stage. They may see people, people’s heads, and maybe a red exit sign or two in the back, but mostly they see bright lights in their face. Additionally, they have no mental energy to spare bothering to figure out what’s going on offstage, since they are concentrating on not screwing up. A vocalist might have more of a perspective, if he’s not tied down with an instrument or a mic stand, but only very little more. In Aldean’s case, he is high-profile enough to have a large live budget, so he and the band will only know something weird is going down through their ear monitors, and it will probably be a stage manager or, at the very least, the soundboard tech letting him know.

2. If there’s a possible security issue occurring, the first people to react are floor security, and they’re not going to be looking at nearby buildings for a shooter. Just like the Spanish Inquisition, no one is expecting a shooter at a live music event; the most dangerous “attacks” that happen at those events are the drunk guys passing out face down on the house floor. Security on the audience floor—those on the perimeter and the ones in the “pit” between the audience and the stage—are focused 100% on the audience members, and since they are “first responders,” they are the ones who walkie-talkie the crew, the lighting guy included, if something big enough to warrant a full stop to the show. In this case, security saw commotion in the audience and responded appropriately.

3. Given 1 and 2, it’s likely Aldean and the band were the last ones who knew what was going on. The band probably got a “cut” command in their monitors (you hear the music kinda peter out and stop), and the audience-facing stage lights went on because of the commotion in the audience, which is standard ops. The lighting guy wasn’t “lighting up” the audience so the shooter could see potential targets a little better, neither are production crews genius Navy Seal sharpshooter detectives, who are thinking or acting like Jason Statham when a crisis goes down.

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Two New Javascript Projects Done

A mostly boring, semi-technical post…on the Internet, no less. I have two new Javascript projects done up at GitHub.

randomNumberGenerator (repository here)
Returns an array of numbers, chosen from a range. Granted, plenty of other developers have done this, but I wanted the mental exercise of coding it myself. I found myself needing random numbers for coding projects when they come about, and it pays to not have to repeat yourself.

workoutRandomizer (repository here)
Randomizes workout moves from a Javascript object. Easy to customize, even if you don’t really know Javascript object syntax and aren’t afraid of tinkering with source code. Something a little more practical, and something I actually use whenever I work out.

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Clones All the Time

The subject of clones has been coming up too much in my life in recent moment for me to ignore. I half-wish God would insert a literal clone in my life for various reasons, but that might cause more problems than solve them.

Here’s a numbered list, in no significant order, of related things.

1. If my clone appeared, I would play chess with him, then possibly arm wrestling. I’m average at both, but so is he.

2. Another Earth is about an exact replica of Earth that appears in the sky, and the girl (Rhoda) who forms a relationship with a man whose family she killed in a car accident. She was set to attend MIT for astronomy, but her incarceration derailed that opportunity entirely. Minor spoiler: it’s discovered the people on Earth Two mirrored those on (our) Earth One exactly, up until the moment the two Earths observed each other. The accident occurred when Rhoda was trying to look up at Earth Two in the sky while driving. What do you think happened to the Rhoda on Earth Two?

3. Melancholia was released the same year, about a estranging wife and her family that deal with the titular planet that existed on the opposed side of the sun, but is now on a course to pass, or collide, with Earth. It’s much less open ended the way Another Earth is, but Melancholia is somewhat of a metaphor for depression, so unless you keep that in mind, some of the plot point might confuse you. Melancholia also boasts a fascinating 8 minute prologue, comprised of music and slow-motion visuals, that acts as an overture for the entire plot arc of the film, using the prelude from Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde. It comes off as very influenced by Kubrick, like the prelude for 2001, that still haunts me when I watch it, but with…what is really the opposite of a blank black screen.

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