July 18, 2008

absolute wow

I've fought with editing images for *ages*. This smart resizing tool is simply the coolest thing I've seen a computer do to a image. Like, jaw droppingly cool. Make sure you watch the explanatory video.

Posted by carla at 03:00 PM

July 14, 2008

what do we want to achieve?

Like most people I guess, I've been intermittently following the Tony Vietch affair and the alleged rape of an 18 year old by members of the English rugby team.

I could do a long post about whether or not it is appropriate for Vietch to keep his job. (Suffice to say I think it's a hard thing to judge someone on their worst moment, and I don't even know whether I can properly process how horrific multiple spinal fractures is.) But the thing I really want to note is the role the media themselves have played in the decision-making of the victim. Certainly in the case of the 18 year old, and possibly in the case of Vietch's ex-partner (given she worked in media) the decision to not press charges was influenced by the negative impact the media attention would have on the victim herself. I have considerable sympathy for the 18 year old, the British tabloids are damn scary. Also she overheard people discussing the case and slagging her off and calculated (probably correctly) that she didn't really want to be a target for a nation full of judgments about her personal life.

I really don't know, but I can't help speculating about whether Kristin Dunne-Powell also considered the impact of media attention and national discussion on her quality of life. While I doubt clockworkfish would feature on her radar, it is unlikely I'd be mentioning her here for any other reason.

And no, I'm not advocating that the media should collude with famous offenders in order to keep the details of their offending secret and enabling them to avoid the full consequences for what they have done. Far from it.

But if the media wants to be part of the solution, they need to be smarter about how they handle sexual and domestic offending by celebrities. It is possible to report the details of the case as they are currently understood without bringing into question the victim's moral or sexual integrity. It is also possible to report the case adequately without staking out her house or trying to be the first to decide who is the villain of the piece.

Posted by carla at 10:14 PM

July 06, 2008

a job well done

Nice to see government forces doing something with such elegance as the rescue of hostages from FARC. The thing I like about it is the way the government troops convinced the FARC members that they were part of the terrorist organisation and were transferring the hostages. This enabled them to just walk the hostages into helicopters and fly them away without a shot being fired. It's such a classic movie trick, usually played by people who have no resources in the face of vastly superior firepower. In this case, it seems to be because the hostage holders were under strict orders to kill the hostages if they even suspected an attack. Still, I'm surprised to see it happen so effectively in the real world.

Meanwhile the NZ IRD seems to have under-spec'ed the system they use to host their online annual tax return website. After 3 attempts to get it to process my data entered on the first page, I now can't even load the first page. I suspect people who need to get their return done tonight (it's due tomorrow) are thrashing somewhat. I would mind less if the pages didn't take 10 minutes to fail each time.

Posted by carla at 11:01 PM

July 03, 2008

the things you don't notice

I like the current campaign of anti-smoking posters. They feature a endless stream of hip, young(ish) musicians and other celebrities each with their own message of why smoking sucks. They're pretty much restatements of all the various arguements, but they tend to focus on cultural and values-based things rather than health problems and, crucially, they sound like the people themselves said the words and believe the message.

The thing I like best about them is the way they create a moment where not smoking seems like a good idea. Generally, smoking is something which you notice happening, but don't notice not happening. So a music video or film where the hero(ine) smokes creates a positive association with smoking, but all the footage of hero(ine)s not smoking don't have any impact on perceptions of smoking because they aren't tagged to smoking in the mind of the viewer. The viewer might think wearing a leather jacket, shooting guns while flying through the air or having superpowers will make them cool, but the absence of smoking doesn't make not smoking any cooler.

So hooray for a programme which ups the anti on smoking. More power to it.

Posted by carla at 10:23 PM