Digital Effects and Animation Companies

Blue Sky Studios Joe’s Apartment, Ice Age
Industrial Light & Magic Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Hulk
R/Greenberg Associates Nike, Target, IBM
Rhythm & Hues The Cat in the Hat, X-Men 2
Weta Digital The Lord of the Rings
Entity Fx Smallville, Six Feet Under, X-Files
Foundation Imaging Bablylon 5, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Deep Space 9

Digital Domain Apollo 13, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Armageddon

I just had to include Digital Domain, too.

Get off the ground

I don’t know how long journalists have been using the phrase “on the ground,” but it seems to be more commonly used than ever before. I don’t see how it adds anything to a story. In the following examples if you removed “on the ground” the meaning would not change at all.

“… Marines saw and felt on the ground — their views on the failures and triumphs of their push toward Baghdad.” — All Things Considered , March 19, 2004 [I suppose the phrase is used here so we know the author is not describing what the Marines saw and felt at home or the office, but is that really necessary?]

“And Nadya Sbaiti says, ‘… manipulation of the facts on the ground in Israel and the Occupied Territories.’ ” –Jeffrey A. Dvorkin, Ombudsman, NPR. [I guess “on the ground” is used so we know the author is not referring to the manipulation of the facts by the media]

“West African peacekeepers who are on the ground will take off their berets and will put on the blue hats” CNN [Where else can peacekeepers be found but on the ground? Are there peacekeepers in offices?]

Edit: The article by the NPR ombudsman was removed from

Human powered transportation Bicycling inspiration and other Human Powered Vehicles is a recumbent bicycle?

Most people in America think of bicycles as toys, but they are just one kind of human powered vehicle. Sailboats, canoes, and bicycles are just a few examples of vehicles which require no fuel other than the fuel you ate for breakfast. A human powered airplane called the Gossamer Albatross crossed the English Channel on June 12, 1979. The Cycling World Hour Record is over 55 mph. The one-mile speed record for a human powered vehicle is over 78 mph. This was accomplished by building a bicycle which has the rider in a recumbent position and covering the vehicle with a lightweight fairing. In races where they are allowed bicycles built with a recumbent riding position hold all the records. Unfortunately they are not permitted in UCI sanctioned events. The good news is that you can buy your own recumbent bicycle.

Incredible Costume Creation

I went to a costume contest as part of Dragon*Con 2004 . The best of the show was Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem . No one else in the contest came close. There were other elaborate and beautiful costumes but they just don’t play well on stage. It’s hard to appreciate hand-made lace and intricately sewn beads on a fairy’s gown when you’re looking at it from the seventh row.

Edit: I can no longer find photos of Electric Mayhem on, but you can still see lots of other cool costumes. If you do a google search for Electric Mayhem Halfmoth you may find some photos.

Linux Operating System

From the Jargon File An operating system is the “…foundation software of a machine; that which schedules tasks, allocates storage, and presents a default interface to the user between applications…”

Linux is a Unix-like operating system that can replace Microsoft Windows or Mac OS. The best thing about it is it’s free. It is available in versions which will run on just about any computer. Most computers sold in the US have Windows or Mac OS already installed, but a few companies are now selling computers with a version of Linux. Apple has recently abandoned their old operating system and created a new one based on Unix but only runs on hardware sold by Apple. There are several varieties of the Windows operating system which will work on computers from many different manufacturers.

Here is one of many places you can go to find out more about Linux .

The Jargon File can also be found here

People vs. Machines

I’d like to develope a list of comparisons between humans and machines. We can build machines which by far supersede any human abilities, but what things can a human do that a machine cannont?

Here are some things which machines can do better than people:
– Lift heavy objects
– Tolerate extreme temperatures
– Drill, saw, cut, dig (But they usually require the guidance of a person)
– Operate under extremely high or low atmospheric pressure
– Operate under water
– Repeat the same motion(s) over and over for hours without complaint

Here are some things machines cannot do as well as humans:
– Metabolize organic material (Biochemists: feel free to set me straight here)
– Reproduce themselves
– Understand human language
– Play ball
– Play the game Go . Big Blue was a machine that beat a chess master.
– Handwriting recognition
– Speech recognition
– Hand gesture recognition
– Facial expression recognition
– Facial identification
– Object and shape recognition
– Object and shape manipulation
– Three dimensional navigation capabilities, collision avoidance
– Climb stairs
– Drive cars
– Ride bicycles, unicycles
– Of course there’s the whole art/creativity/worship/emotion thing too

Please comment if you would like to add to the list