gominokouhai: (Inspector Fuckup)

I am a fucking genius.

The downsides of living in at work are many and multifarious. For a start, I don't get a day off unless I unplug the phone and refuse to leave the flat—when I will invariably be faced by staff on the way out who have questions. Most recently I spent 42 days at work without a break, and while there were technically one or two days in there when I was not on the rota, I don't count it as a day off if I get eight phone calls within three hours. Just now I had a longish weekend that I took seriously, and today it was back into the fray.

(That worked well. Rocked up all refreshed and ready to go at 9am—okay, 09:20, but I was aiming for 09:30 so I STILL WIN—and relieved $DM so she could get her breakfast. She'd been at work since 3pm the preceding day. (When I take a weekend seriously, I take it seriously.) I'll take the phone, said I, no need to fear, daddy's back. I may or may not have said the last bit out loud. Within thirty seconds I took a phone call from guests who'd just checked in, which went thuswise: Hello, we booked a small double room online, and we've just arrived and are surprised to find that it's quite small. We were told that you had big rooms. Yes. We do. But you didn't book one of those. Welcome back to work, pajh.)

On the other hand, the benefits of living at work include, but are not limited to—actually no wait, they are pretty much limited to—that between the hours of 7am and 11pm I have a captive audience upstairs (also known as "my direct employees") for whatever I choose to rant about, or, once or twice a week, as guineapigs.

I may or may not be a good hotel manager. But I'm the kind of hotel manager who will (frequently) run up to his staff with a glass of booze in each hand, and cry: QUICK, TASTE THIS—WHICH ONE IS BETTER?

Anyway, I pulled this on $DM last week with the experimental jehane, and it must have gone pretty well, since I let her organize the staff social for this coming Friday, and she wants to bring everybody back to my bar so I can make them cocktails. We don't even serve most of this stuff in my bar, and I'm damned if I'm bringing everyone down to my kitchen.

Anyway. I invented the jehane, and I have since (not because of peer pressure or anything) perfected it. A post like this really deserves pictures, so I apologize for there not being any, but this can be remedied if there is sufficient demand. This is how you make a jehane:

Recipe, with occasional digressions )

It is marvellous and I am a genius.

I'm calling it the jehane because it's sweet, it's refreshing, it involves a little bit of fire up top, and it's never bloody available inna bar when you want one.

gominokouhai: (Default)

Damn right I looked directly at it. This happens once inna generation, I'm not passing that up. The photos are here (updated with some new ones, if you saw them go by on the Twitters earlier).

I remember the last one, in August '99. I looked directly at that one too, through the net curtain in my then-girlfriend's flat. I still remember the sight of a crescent Sun in the twilight down at the end of Gorton Road. That girlfriend was the insane Christian youth leader who wanted to break into the church at midnight and do it on the altar. I was the one who chickened out. But seeing a crescent sun... that was something special.

But back to the present. I had constructed a cardboard-box pinhole camera obscura, and it actually worked—but I left that downstairs in case any of the guests tried to blind themselves. For me, it was up to the roof. I had a brand-new variable neutral-density filter and I wasn't afraid to use it.

Maximum occultation at my location was set for 09:36. It was a glorious clear day at 09:20, bright blue skies with occasional fluffy white clouds. By 09:30 it was coming over a bit grey. This is probably for the best, since a couple of cubic kilometres of water vapour between me and it probably shielded my delicate retinae from some of the horrifying UV radiation. Also it lent the photos an eerie, atmospheric quality. Moody. Dramatic. Ethereal. Outlander-ish.

I stood and clicked and I watched as the huge black globe of the Moon rolled lazily in front of the Sun's disc, like a slow-mo snooker ball. Just exactly like a snooker ball, except a ball of 7.35×1022kg in mass, a ball a quarter the size of earth. She felt round. I sensed her bulk, her incomprehensible mass, as she slid leisurely-like inbetween us and daylight itself.

The Moon has a 7% albedo, you know. She reflects about as much light as coal. Think about that the next time she's full. Above our heads, neatly slotted inbetween the squat block of Edinburgh Castle and the airy spires of St Mary's, the eternal celestial ballet executed a perfect adagio.

It got bloody freezing up on that rooftop, but that's probably rather more to do with standing onna rooftop in Scotland for an hour onna cloudy day. By about 09:39 the cloud coverage was total. Show's over. It's time to go home.

But I won't forget spending a few minutes watching Space happen right above me.

Eclipse #5

My retinas were a wee bit itchy for the rest of the day. I consider that a totally acceptable trade-off.

The next half-decent one here isn't until 2026, and the next proper one is 23rd September, 2090. By then, I expect to know how to work this damn neutral-density filter.

More eternal celestial ballet.

Oh yes, and the vernal equinox was at 22:45 tonight. Happy Spring, everybody!

gominokouhai: (Default)

What are you doing with your free time, pajh? you say. Well, since you asked so nicely, I'll skip the otherwise obligatory free time, what's that joke, and go straight to the incontrovertibly true answer: these days I spend my free time dressing up in skintight Lycra® and wrestling with men I barely know.

I may have mentioned in a previous post that Hollywood-grade motion capture systems create the potential for new narrative paradigms for the 21st century. Well, mostly I mentioned that they allow a specific actor, that actor being me, to hear the single most beautiful phrase ever expressed to an actor. We'll get to new narrative paradigms later. Meantime, there have been a number of very rapid learning experiences while working with thew new tech, not least of which is that I actually don't look totally terrible in skintight Lycra.

Mocap suit

Middle-class beer gut tastefully cropped out of photograph. EVERY PINT WAS WORTH IT I TELL YOU

Unsurprisingly, most of the research in gyroscopic technologies these days is being done by the ballistics division of the US military and their contractors. Many of my readers may not have a particular interest in the increasingly accurate science of the transformation of alleged insurgents into chargrilled jerky from a distance of many kilometres, but fret not! for those of us so callously disinterested in how to blame friendly fire on technology, there are subsequent benefits for all of us (except for the families of the alleged insurgents, presumably): benefits like the upcoming Wolverine movie, and Skrillex' latest tour. I am, as ever, all about the trickle-down.

Yay us!

Another benefit of the fact that this is all repurposed military technology is that it's all incredibly robust. The suit comes in a case that is waterproof to 500 metres, and also conveniently scaled to comply with most airlines' regulations regarding carry-on luggage. In the event of a terrorist attack on a plane in which such a case was stored, it's more likely to survive than the black box. I dread to speculate on the newspaper headlines once the crash recovery team have spent a week attempting to recover data from it. Apparently the Captain spent twenty minutes trying to have an elaborate fistfight with the first officer, followed by an extended period of merengue dancing, with occasional periods of jazz hands. This presumably contributed to the crash, but exactly how is a question we hope maybe to have answered by next week.

Oh yes, the mocap. The suits are surprisingly accurate and expressive, to a level that I didn't think was possible. And you can play the mocap live in realtime into any 3D world you care to devise. In the following examples, we're going to be using Minecraft, because Minecraft. Also, because Minecraft is incredibly pretty, and it shows you just what you can do with a blocky Steve guy with no facial expressions.

Ye First Video: Meet the Creeper

In this short film I play the Creeper, which while it's not exactly a speaking role, does have the benefit of being in the title.

Took us about five minutes to shoot. About an hour of getting the suits configured first, but that's just teething. On a regular film shoot I spend much more time hanging around waiting, and there are usually fewer copies of Transmetropolitan lying about with which for me to occupy my time. These suits are awesome.

Ye Video the Second: in which pajh does acting

I know I'm a middle-class New Town bastard these days, but I do still pay attention to my acting when I get the chance. I have the most popular text-to-speech voice in the known world, and physical acting is no less an important discipline. I have done courses. I've done the Alexander Technique. I do stretches properly before I perform mocap (judiciously excluding the stretches that are likely to tear the €500 lycra suit, natch). I'm not by any means attempting to put myself up there in Patrick Stewart territory, but I think my research has paid off. In this second video I have more of a starring role.

I showed this to [personal profile] stormsearch and she got about twenty seconds in before she had to pause it and proclaim, oh god. It's you. Something about the way I hold my head slightly to one side, it would seem. And then there are little things, like the fact that apparently I pick my right foot up when I'm considering something. I didn't know that about me until I watched it expressed by a blocky Minecraft Steve.

The level of expressiveness and the subtlety you can get from the tech is quite incredible. I'm quite excited to see where this goes next.

In my Copious Free Time, obviously.

gominokouhai: (Khaaan!)

It is now possible to have a mocap system that links directly (and accurately!), in realtime, to a fully realized 3D set. Both the motion-capture system and the set in which it is to be rendered are simultaneously available to a sufficiently skilled technician, who can manipulate elements of same as required while the motion-capture is still continuing, from a single laptop. This might not excite you in the way I've just described it, but what you must consider is the fact that we have these tools available. This in itself has potentially broad-reaching effects about the nature of storytelling in the 21st century. And, which is much more important, as a direct result, tonight was possibly the first time ever that the following phrase has been uttered, honestly and without irony, to an actor:

Don't worry. Stand still and I'll rotate the world around you.

Oh yeah baby. If there were ever a reason why I got myself into acting, it's this.

~

The Muppets do Bohemian Rhapsody. Presented without any further comment. I'm going to have terrible mosh neck when I wake up tomorrow, and it's entirely the fault of Dr Teeth and his Electric Mayhem. Okay, partially their fault and partially the fault of Penelope Spheeris.

(You should follow that last link; I'm giving you a no-honk guarantee.)

~

It transpires that I gots a smartphone app. Some of you should remember the pajh-inna-box of old. Now it has an app. This would be unsurprising in itself were it not for the fact that Googol Play allows user feedback comments, most of which are about how awesome I sound. There's one there from user Jessica Rabbit thus:

I own many, many tts voices but this is the best, yet! [...] this male, u.k. voice is the most natural sounding and also elegant & sophisticated! [...] I can listen to this imaginary Englishman throughout my day helping me with my appointments and such!

I suspect the real Jessica Rabbit would say LOL somewhat less, being a lady who knows what elegant and sophisticated actually means. If this were the real Jessica Rabbit commenting, none of you would see me for dust.

I'm not bad. I just sound that way.

gominokouhai: (Default)

Guys. GUYS. They built a robot in Stockholm and they put my voice into it.

You may recall the pajh-inna-box from a couple of years ago. Now my voice is starring at the Science Museum without inconveniently needing my body attached to it.

FurHat speaks with the CereProc William TTS voice. He uses built-in CereVoice vocal gestures to add extra realism (and sarcasm) to his speech. That's right. When they wanted to teach sarcasm to a cold, unfeeling machine, they knew exactly where to turn.

BBC News segment (skip to 02:18 for me). Also: oh ghod, they gave him hubris.

I like the fact that they gave him a hat. It seems to be a truth, universally acknowledged, that a voice this awesome needs to have a hat on top of it.

Well, Phase One of my grand plan to construct an invincible robot body for myself is complete. Now I just to need to work out what Phase Two should be.

Tenuously related: research for this article involved googling for fur hat robot, which turned up—natch—I Am Russian Robot, a rather nice little comedy skit.

Also, please note that guys is gender-neutral. American women with names like Chrystal and Ronnette use it all the time.

ETA

@marksutherland: @gominokouhai I just spent the last half hour pasting GladOS quotes into the box on the Cereproc homepage
@marksutherland: The canonical voice of sarcastic rouge AIs is now @gominokouhai : gominokouhai.dreamwidth.org/246773.html See: free.dom0.org/PajhOS.mp3

Glad to be of service.

gominokouhai: (Default)

I give in. I've been doing this job for three weeks, and the technique has already been perfected.

We can close Twitter now. Its job is done.

On a related note, were you aware that more pajh-style wit and wisdoms were available in the new, terse yet stylish, 140-character format? Orient your twit-engine at the following cybercoordinates: [twitter profile] gominokouhai. Mostly I rant about politics and make series of terrible puns, but if you've been reading this blog for any length of time you probably knew that already.

gominokouhai: (Default)

It's okay, Moff. Everybody kills Hitler on their first trip.

(I didn't know it was possible to hold one's breath for forty-five minutes.)

gominokouhai: (Default)

Kettling is a tool used solely to stifle dissent. So we now have a handheld Iphone app to avoid kettles.

In Egypt, they shut down the internet. So the Egyptians built their own one.

This is a message to The Man: don't fuck with geeks.

gominokouhai: (Default)

Lovelace and Babbage!

Lovelace and Babbage, (CC) Sydney Padua

Starring: Ada Lovelace! Lovelace, (CC) Sydney Padua

And Charles Babbage! Babbage, (CC) Sydney Padua

This is quite possibly the best thing ever. And the artist claims that she's not doing a comic. I need all of you to email her and tell her how many copies you'd buy, and convince her otherwise.

Quite long )

Off to the West Coast for the weekend. I need a holiday.

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