Artistic Television

There’s much to like about Stephen Cobert’s Late Show that debuted last September, starting with the opening credits. The visuals are hard to describe, a video flyover of New York scenes, modified using techniques that make the images look like a combination of miniatures and a color saturated drawing, slightly out of focus at the edges to give a dream-like feeling.

capriMany different inexpensive and free image editing programs allow amateurs like me to play with the technique (like one of my pretty lame attempts at the right) but it takes real artistry to create the 45 seconds that open Colbert’s program every night.

Now the show has released a longer, “director’s cut” version of the opening video 1 with about 90 seconds of unreleased footage. As a bonus, it’s backed by the full version of the show’s wonderful jazz-funk musical theme. Go. Watch. Enjoy.

And I’ll go back to playing with my software.

Conspiracy Theory

Last week, Jon Stewart presented a great segment on the array of nutty conspiracy theories that seem to thrive in the desert of Texas. Having lived in Arizona and Nevada, I think there could be something to the idea that the hot, dry weather causes the brain to swell (or shrink?).

Anyway, I have my own conspiracy theory to offer: the probability of any conspiracy actually being real declines by 5% for each additional person whose silence is required for the plan to work.

Moon landing hoax? Alien spacecraft being hidden at Area 51 (for more than 50 years)? The US military preparing to invade Texas?2 Considering the hundreds of people required to keep each of these secrets, all in negative territory of likelihood.

Government agencies conspiring to collect phone data on American citizens? That only took one person, and not even someone high up the chain of command, to expose the deal.

Many, if not most, of these people who claim to see what everyone else has missed (too often on cable “news” channels) also rant endlessly about the incompetency of government. Even though, logically, it is completely impossible for an incompetent organization to formulate complex plots and then keep them totally hidden from everyone except a few loud nutballs.

Of course, logic doesn’t seem to be their strong suit in the first place.

Tech Support Simplified

Tech support is not my job.

But, of course, it is. My title and job description has the word “technology” right there. Just ignore all that “instructional” stuff.

On those days when I spend too much time mired in the processes related to helping people make their machines work, the customer service approach taken by Roy and Moss in the UK series The IT Crowd comes to mind. One that is nicely summarized in these two minutes.

Go find the whole series and laugh your arse off.