Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Xara LX now usable for real work!

Xara LX has now reached the 0.5 milestone and is usable for real work! You can now save and export files, the program contains the help files and it rarely crashes. Of course, there is still a lot of work remaining but I can already see many opportunities to put this software to use.

For those who missed my previous post: Xara LX is a Linux (and MacOS) port of supposedly "revolutionary" vector (and bitmap!) graphics package. I say "supposedly" because I didn't use recent versions of similar professional packages so I cannot really compare them. However, the decision to open-source this program means that Inkscape has more than met its match, I'm afraid. It seems almost too good to be true that this package is now available for free to all Linux users while Windows users still have to pay for it (if I understand the situation correctly).

I recommend downloading the latest daily build from their homepage (this is also an excellent opportunity to get accustomed to Autopackage) and trying it out. It contains several impressive demo images and it took me only a few minutes to create this masterpiece:

And it was FUN!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Lordi r0xx0rz!

Proof that Europeans are cool: The winners of this year's Eurovision song contest. They are supercool. And I don't need to hear single note of their music to know that!

And while we are at the subject of cool music...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Mark of the Beast

I just got back from the screening of the new OMEN movie (to be released under honest Czech title "The Satan is Coming" / "Satan prichazi") and this is what I saw on the first Internet page I openeded:

Monday, May 15, 2006

Searching for John Hiscock published the first review of The Da Vinci Code movie, supposedly by "John Hiscock".

I say "supposedly" because the film has been kept under wraps by the filmmakers, the first screenings are gonna happen today, and - most important of all - he writes about things that are not in the movie! I saw The Da Vinci Code movie several weeks ago (not in a "journalist" position so I cannot review it yet) and it seems to me that Hiscock's review simply recycles what is known about the movie from the trailers and press kits and adds some made-up bits!

Digging by Tomas Baldynsky revealed that John Hiscock didn't write many reviews and most of them are curiously vague. Our theory is that "John Hiscock" ("his cock"!) is fake name used for fake reviews. Of course, it's hard to prove someone does not exist but we are working on it!

Friday, May 12, 2006

What the hell is "Google Co-op"?

Google Co-op was just launched and, based from what I've read on other sites, most people really have no idea what the hell is it about. The Google itself is at fault because, frankly, their page about "Co-op" is rather confusing. Please read this very well written article with examples. Also look here.

Also, GTalk WWW interface is now supposed to have sound (embedded Flash should produce a beep when someone messages you). I don't hear anything. Is this a problem with Linux Firefox (maybe it requires Flash 8?) or is it simply not yet implemented?

UPDATE: Mystery solved! At least, the mystery of Flash beeping in GTalk. The trick is that it works (even under Linux) but the beep is only produced when the browser window with GMail/GTalk is not the topmost window! This is definitely a feature, not a bug.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I don't want "more realistic graphic", I want more realistic movement

What PS3 and XBox 360 are striving for is more realistic graphics. Look, for example, at this comparison of PS2 and PS3 graphics engines from Sony's E3 keynote (confusingly titled "Gameplay Innovation" although it has nothing to do with gameplay whatsoever, only with graphics). Notice that they are saying, among other things, "PS2 only allowed you to move the analog controller in 8 basic directions" which is bizarre and simply not true. Well, EA, if you really mean this, you are basically saying "Look, our PS3 games will be better than our PS2 games because our PS2 programming sucked". But now back to the point...

The presented animations are definitely more realistic than on PS2. No, strike that, that's not true. They are not realistic at all. They are "less unrealistic". If you look at the gameplay demo at the end, it only takes you two seconds to see that these characters are definitely not real people. You don't have to know anything about gaming hardware, programming or animation to plainly see that this is a computer animation, less realistic than your average current Hollywood CGI sequence and not resembling real human movement.

For me (remember, this is all subjective), this is countrerproductive. "Foot planting", "responsiveness" and other things they show are steps in the right direction but they still have VERY LONG WAY to go before the result resembles real world environment. I'd much rather see simple stick figures with hyperrealistic movement than million polygons moving in stiff and unrealistic way. But looking at what Sony and Microsoft are doing, I am probably in minority.

UPDATE: This article (and accompanying video) seems to be the step in the right direction. Of course, I am not sure how much of it is plain old hype.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Google Calendar import weirdness

I understand that Google Calendar (gCal) is still in Beta but I am not sure if its various quirks are design decisions or errors. I am talking about my list of film releases I provide in an ICAL format here. If you add the previous link to your gCal, it will appear as "Filmove premiery" in your calendar.

I have two problems:

First of all: The description of this calendar (which you can see on the "manage calendars" page) is the old description (it still says "generated from 12-2006.xls", it should be "14-2006.xls"). It stays the same since the days I first crteated this feed and does not update according to the ICAL file. (Note that all the events update correctly, only the calendar description lags behind!)

Second (and more problematic): Since the last week, all non-Ascii characters (Czech letters) in the calendar's events appear as question marks! This is really weird because the file is in Unicode and all the characters appeared correctly until the last week!

I asked in gCal Google Group but I really have no idea how to solve these problems...

UPDATE: Corrected the link.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

I don't understand art but I know what I like

During one of my late-nights walk, I discovered this (bronze?) statue near frequented main road and bus station (click for larger versions):

Naughty sculpture

If you inspect it really closely, you find out that the womam is resting her head on the man's leg but it surely does not look that way.

However, to see the most interesting part of the scultpure, you have to lower your head. Click here if you are at least 15 years old. (Hint: It's sort of follow-up to my previous paragraph about Ross Hedvicek).

Here it is if you want to see it for yourself.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Do androids dream of screensavers? (Plus Hedvicek)

Sorry for not updating lately, I've been busy doing some interesting things. To have at least some update, I'll direct your attention to Electric Sheep, which is the most amazing screensaver EVER and is available for Linux and Windows (and other platforms, I think).

It makes your computer a part of large network which collaboratively creates amazing animated mutating sequences which are then played back by the screensaver. It requires your computer to be online while the screensaver is active but it's worth it. (P.S: If it says "Your animations will be ready in a few minutes" and nothing happens for several hours, just be patient - the central server is probably overloaded.)

On a different note: For all of you who are asking me who the hell is Ross Hedvicek: The short version would probably be that he's a cunt but that's not very informative thing to write so I'll have to get back to this topic later, in more detail. It's rather complicated to provide all the info if you don't speak Czech and cannot read many megabytes of text written by him and about him on the Czech Internet. And I am not sure if explaining all the Hedvicek's mysteries is worth my time. I'll just say that, as far as I know, he's a real living person and not someone's idea of a joke.