Monday, August 27, 2007

LEGO® Construction Video

During my assembly of LEGO® model #10030, the Ultimate Collector's Edition Imperial Star Destroyer, I took photos after each major sub-assembly was completed. These photos have formed the basis for this Shockwave movie, which condenses several days worth of assembly tasks into less than a minute. (I originally thought about taking a bunch more pictures and doing the full-blown time-lapse treatment, but didn't have either the requisite discipline or the requisite level of OCD to follow through with that plan.)

After joining the "elite ranks" of crazy folks who have not only acquired, but also assembled a kit containing 3,104 LEGO® brand interlocking plastic bricks, plates, and various other pieces into this giant (37-inch long!) model, I can honestly say that I don't think the upcoming Ultimate Collector's Millennium Falcon model -- which features more than 5,000 pieces -- is in my future...

P.S. - That really long description and the link that it points to begets its own form of hilarity. I suggest that you follow that link and read the legal text regarding "How LEGO® Enthusiasts May Refer to LEGO Products on the Internet" and related subjects. In fact you should print that page, xerox the printout about 10 times, fold a couple of the xeroxes into a coaster for your coke, and use others as kleenex.

P.P.S. - If you represent the Coca-Cola, Xerox, or Kimberly-Clark corporations, the above P.S. is intended as a parodic commentary on the state of trademarks and IP law in the age of the blogosphere. Such parodic commentary has generally been upheld as a form of fair use, although some may argue that its intrinsic satirical nature undermines my claim. (Reference (PDF): "The Satire/Parody Distinction in Copyright and Trademark Law— Can Satire Ever Be a Fair Use?")

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Potential Mac Screen Properties Life-Saver

I managed to freak out the display settings for my screen that was set as the primary display (TV via the S-Video out adapter, because I was using Front Row, and didn't want to use mirror mode) on my notebook this morning by magically switching it to PAL and hitting OK while moving the notebook. [This particular maneuver requires a unique mix of uncanny bad luck coupled with a distinct lack of caffeination, and is neither likely to occur nor recommended.] Well, being an resident of the USA, said TV's S-Video input needed an NTSC signal, and so things were not exactly happy. Because of the way OS X puts the properties page for a given screen on that screen (which is normally nice) and because it also lacks a hot-key for moving a window, I was fairly hosed for a while.

Plugging back in my DVI monitor didn't help (separate settings were maintained on a per-device basis), and I simply couldn't find the darn settings anywhere in the Library or elsewhere... I got lucky, though, that monitor happened to have an S-Video input, and managed to sync with the 50Hz signal. That change in luck allowed me to reset the mode in which the TV adapter was running successfully. But, what would I do if I ever hosed something in an manner that was not so easily recoverable?

Enter cscreen, the hard-to-find (because the author abandoned it and his site) utility that allows modification of OS X display settings from the command line. I finally found it on the ScriptBuilders site, and am pleased to report that it works as designed -- allowing screen properties to be properly transmogrified from the command line. This even works from an SSH session, so now no amount of sleep and caffeine deprivation mixed with poor thumb placement can ever cause near-tragic screen gobbledy-gookage ever again...

Oh, yeah, this also makes it easy to switch which screen is the primary, and to rig up some scripts to switch among settings that I may want to use from time to time. Now, I still kinda want to find where these settings actually live, but that's a project for another time.

Monday, August 13, 2007