I must have been really out of it for the last few days to miss this rather sad news.
Actor Don S. Davis, arguable best known for his portrayal of Major General George Hammond on Stargate SG-1 (and the odd appearance on spin-off show Stargate Atlantis) passed away on the 29th of June after suffering a heart attack. He was aged 65.
Davis will still appear in the upcoming direct-to-DVD film “Stargate: Continuum”.
I would like to take this opportunity to post two videos, the first is a brief profile and interview of Don produced for the first season of Stargate SG-1.
The second is a tribute to Don, put together by a YouTube user going by the name of edison700
You may recall that, prior to the introduction of the GST, the federal government ran a lengthy advertising campaign featuring Joe Cocker’s “Unchain My Heart”, images of people being freed from the chains and shackles of the old tax system, and voiceovers answering “questions” about the new tax system in much the same way that a government MP will gladly waffle on for many minutes during Parliament Question Time in reply to a Dorothy Dixer.
I was trying to find footage of some of these advertisements online. I didn’t find any (although I didn’t look very hard) but I did find a rather amusing sendup of the advertisements by Paul McDermott and the rest of the Good News Week team. It features voiceovers by Robbie McGregor so there is definitely no way that I can stop myself from sharing the video with you. Happy eighth birthday of the GST!
Incidentally, I forgot to mention it when I wrote this the other day, but at the time this was filmed, Australia was going through one of its many “Sorry” debates, this one in the leadup to the Sydney Olympics. How is that relevant? Watch the video and you’ll see.
Rolf Harris and John Laws To Receive ARIA Hall of Fame Nods
by Paul Cashmere – June 13 2008
One of Australia’s most colourful characters, Rolf Harris, and legendary broadcaster John Laws, will be inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in month.
Harris became a household name in Australia and the United Kingdom after scoring his first hit with the quirky ‘Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport’.
His run of hits went into the 70s, when ‘Two Little Boys’ hit number one.
He reinvented himself in the 90s after covering Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway To Heaven’.
Harris has been honored by the Queen and is the recipient of the MBE, OBE, CBE and AM.
Rolf said from his home in the UK “I look up at the shelf in my office and see the ARIA pyramid obelisk which was sent to me back in 1994, on my 64th birthday actually. At that time I was just gearing myself up to do my first Glastonbury Festival, and I was knocked out to get this recognition from the 8th ARIA Awards. It commemorates my win for Best Comedy Release. I think it was my version of ‘Stairway to Heaven’, which changed my whole life by thrusting me back into the awareness of all the University aged youngsters. They suddenly realised they knew all my songs from their childhood, and what’s more, remembered all the words. (Thanks again to Andrew Denton!) Now, 14 years later, I’m being inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame. I look at all the famous names and am thrilled to be with them, for basically, just enjoying myself through music for the whole of my life. Thank you so much.”
Laws retired from his radio career last year. He was one of the most successful broadcasters on the planet, owning the airways in Sydney for some 40 years.
Laws will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from ARIA for his contribution to the Australian Music Industry. Previous recipients are Ted Albert, Daryl Somers, Stan Rofe, Ian Meldrum, Michael Gudinski, Ron Tudor, Bill Armstrong, Charles Fisher and last year’s recipient John Woodruff.
The ARIA Hall of Fame will be held on Monday July 1 at the Melbourne Town Hall.
Russell Morris, The Triffids, Max Merrit and Dragon will also be inducted.
(Update: Fixed formatting)
When I saw the headline, I was hoping that John Laws’ induction was for services to music rather than his actual singing, thankfully this was correct. As for Rolf Harris, all I can say is that it’s about time, and it’s also a good excuse for me to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a few weeks.
Back when I was adding music videos to most of the Musician(s) Of The Week posts, I had to find one for Rolf Harris. It amused me so much that I wanted to repost it somewhere where people would be more likely to see it. Today is my day of excuse.
I’m also pleased to see Dragon are being inducted. Congratulations to all who are being inducted.
When one wants a strange quote, it’s hard to beat Yoko Ono. The woman who has previously been quoted as saying that the way she composes songs is by “clearing her mind of thought” had her 75th birthday today. I can’t quite work out whether she said it last year, this year, or both, but according to Yoko all women are witches and all witches are magical beings.
On the 17th of December (Monday last week), Peter Leonard won the Chief Minister-Public Relations Institute of Australia (ACT Division) Award for Community Media, and in doing so became the first individual to win the award.
Mr Stanhope said Mr Leonard received the award, in its ffith [sic] year, for his service to media and the Canberra community.
“I am very pleased to be able to present the Award to such a deserving winner. Peter is well known to Canberrans as a proud, popular and vocal supporter of the ACT community,” Mr Stanhope said.
The award acknowledges outstanding contributions to the community by ACT media organisations or individuals. This year, for the first time, an individual has been chosen as the recipient of the award.
Mr Leonard was selected for his exceptional service to the community through the media and public relations industry in Canberra, particularly his work at WIN TV presenting ACT and district news for many years.
“Peter has also dedicated himself to a wide range of ACT community programs and events, was Canberra Citizen of the Year in 1991, and has been a tireless worker for local charities such as the MS Society of the ACT and the Cancer Council,” Mr Stanhope said.
“On behalf of the ACT Community I thank Peter for his contribution and congratulate him on this prestigious and well deserved award.”
Seeing as Peter has been handed this prestigious award, I think it is appropriate to run this 1995 promo for WIN News. This is the Canberra version of the promo, WIN also had versions of the promo produced for Wollongong and Western New South Wales and probably other places as well. The promos were based on Nine’s Who’s Who of News, and were probably produced by Nine.
Interestingly it’s the only WIN version of the promo not to include footage of the journalists reporting to camera. It is also worthwhile noting that Canberra’s set was different to the one used in Wollongong and Western New South Wales. I personally preferred the physical set to the keyed set currently used. It is my opinion that if you’re going to have a static background, you might as well use a physical set, and the old WIN News set had some charm. I would like to see them do what Nine do, and have a camera somewhere providing the city as a backdrop, it’s a pity that this probably isn’t a viable option for WIN, especially in the places where the local news is read elsewhere, as it would personalise their bulletins a lot more than the static out of focus control room image they currently use across the entire network.
Anyway, Jon Stanhope’s press release goes on to mention some previous winners of the award, namely:
The Canberra Times for its contribution to the bushfire recovery, WIN News for continuing to maintain an excellent local news service, and radio station 2XX for many years of service to community radio.
It also mentions 666 ABC Canberra for their work during the 2003 bushfire. I have to say that I didn’t understand that award. It really should have been a joint award between 666 ABC Canberra, 2CC, 2CA, WIN News and ABC TV News. 2CC and 2CA (2CC took over 2CA for the day) did just as much work as 666 covering the fires, the WIN staff came in without being asked and put on a special bulletin..one Jon Stanhope should remember as I seem to recall him being interviewed by Peter Leonard during the bulletin, and ABC TV News also put on a special coverage of the fire. Why one group was singled out when they all did excellent work is beyond me.
I suppose that’s a discussion for another day, as today I should really just be congratulating Peter Leonard on another fabulous achievement. The award is thoroughly deserved.
I don’t know how they managed it or why nobody has bothered to fix it, but the 2UE feed from Carols By Candlelight has been mangled quite badly this year. Everything was fine until “Ding Dong Merrily On High” when the house microphones were turned up and the main microphones seemingly turned down so that the audience participation could be heard. For some reason the arrangement has not changed since…the orchestra is clear, the choir is almost clear, and the audience is very clear…unfortunately the main program audio is an echo.
I was away from a television for most of the night so I didn’t know if this was being replicated on the Nine feed…I got home a short time ago and Nine’s feed is as clear as a bell. I do, therefore, have to wonder why 2UE did not switch over to taking audio straight from Nine’s digital television broadcast.
Normally the 2UE feed of Carols is an excellent way to enjoy the program, sadly this year is not one of them. It’s a real pity.
Good News: It’s not quite an update because I hadn’t actually published this post…but just as I was going to, somebody fixed it. Two hours after the chaos started, it’s fixed. Thank you to whoever fixed it (was it you Leigh?), I can finally listen to it without the television and know I’m actually getting the full quality of the program. Carols By Candlelight on the radio…it’s Christmas for me now!
Back in the early 1990s when for most people answering machines were somewhat new, and if you were purchasing one, interesting and exciting, various people saw a need to go nuts and produce peculiar answering machine greetings. Sadly, the manufacturers and distributors of answering machines were amongst them. Courtesy of Franskter we have this peculiar gem produced in the early 1990s by First Take Productions for Tandy Electronics Stores.
Just imagine for a moment that you are ringing somebody…you wait a little while and the phone keeps ringing, and after about thirty seconds of ringing you hear a click and a slight hiss as the tape on the answering machine starts playing, and then…
What would you do?
If it were me, I would probably hang up half way through…and maybe that was the point of the tape, in which case I have to wonder why the people bought an answering machine in the first place.
It is worthwhile noting that as bad as it sounded there, it would have sounded worse (and probably a bit distorted) blaring down a copper analog phone line.
I’m going to have to jot this one down before I forget it.
“If you don’t eat the whole pudding at once it voids the warranty. I read it on a pudding container. It may have been written in crayon and in my handwriting but I read it.” — Approximate quote of Clive Robertson (I would say “paraphrased” but as I am not attempting to repeat it in my own words that would be inaccurate).
Well Skype may have temporarily scuttled my plans for a live interactive podcast last week, but it can’t stop Frankster from running a live podcast, mainly because he won’t be using Skype for it. Frankster won’t be taking calls like I was planning on doing, but he will be running a live version of his podcast tonight at 8:30pm GMT+10 (10:30am GMT).
For those of you who enjoy taking a stroll back through our broadcasting heritage, the Frankster Podcast is for you…the show should be a lot of fun.
Update: For the first time in a few days, today I had more than four hours sleep…and wouldn’t you know it, I managed to sleep through Frankster’s podcast. Thankfully he does have an MP3 of the whole thing online for people who, like me, missed it (and possibly also for those who just want to hear it again). Apparently the live show was a success, and the stream worked in RealPlayer. End Update
Yes that’s right, the present I am giving you on my birthday is Gravity…no not the stuff that keeps you on the planet (well, most of you), a computer game I created in 2004 called Gravity. I actually created another game of the same name in 2003, but the 2004 version is a completely different game, the only thing it has in common with the original is a few graphics and the gravity calculations.
The basic premise of the game is simple, you are in a stationary space ship and you are trying to shoot a stationary target, however there are three planets and three bumpers in the way which you have to deal with. Also to make it harder, there is a barrier right in front of you, in the direction of your target, making it impossible for you to just directly shoot at the target.
The scoring is a bit complex, but it runs as follows:
Target Hit…………………………………+100 Points
Bumper hit…………………………………..+5 Points
Planet hit………………………………….-10 Points
Blowing yourself up…………………………-100 Points
You also gain one point for every second that you have an active shot.
There is also a bonus point system for long shots, the longer the shot the more bonus points. The bonus points are awarded when the shot has gone for the specified length of time, eg. If a shot goes for 39 seconds you will get bonus points at 15 seconds and at 30 seconds.
15 Seconds…………………………………..25 Points
30 Seconds…………………………………..50 Points
45 Seconds………………………………….100 Points
60 Seconds………………………………….200 Points
90 Seconds………………………………….400 Points
120 Seconds…………………………………800 Points
180 Seconds………………………………..1600 Points
240 Seconds………………………………..3200 Points
Also important are the keys to make the game work
Rotate left…………………………………left arrow
Rotate right……………………………….right arrow
Increase shot speed……………………………up arrow
Lower shot speed…………………………….down arrow
Toggle full screen mode……………………………..F4
Turn music on/off…………………………………..F5
End game early (takes you to the results screen)………F12
Your projectile can disappear off screen for a while at times, the actual edge of the game is a fair distance off screen so that if your projectile is going to come back, it has enough room to turn around. You will hear a click and see the shot light appear again if your projectile goes out of bounds.
The top left and top right corners of the screen provide useful information. The top left side displays your score, the speed of your next shot, and also if you currently have an active shot or not. The light will be light blue when you can take a shot, and dark blue when you already have an active shot.
The top right of screen displays the amount of time left in the game, the time your current shot has been going for, and your longest shot for the game.
I was going to correct a few typos in the documentation and change some of the music for this public release, but it looks like I’ve lost the source files (or just can’t find where I backed them up). Incidentally, there are two batch files included with the game to enable printing, unfortunately at the time the only way to get printing to work in the programming environment I used for this game was to create a bitmap of the game window and get MS Paint to print it…which was further complicated by the lack of the programming environment to understand basic Windows paths like “%temp%” due to the use of percentage signs. This forced me to make the batch files to create (and remove) a virtual drive pointing at %temp%
There is no installation needed, but you will need to extract all three files from the zip file. The game should work without the batch files, although it certainly won’t print, and will probably quit suddenly if you try to get it to print.
It took the better part of a two week school holiday to write this game, and the rest of that two weeks to get the printing to work and fix bugs as they were discovered.
Gravity should run under Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000 and XP, and generally works with a few font issues under WINE. It is untested on Windows NT 4.0, and will not work on earlier versions of Windows. I retain copyright on this game, however you are free to distribute it. If I ever do find the source files I will post them as well.
Listeners to any of Southern Cross Broadcasting’s talk radio stations and viewers of any of their television stations would by now be aware of the “MyTalk” website, a hub for news, discussions, and the websites of their TV and radio stations.
All of the talk stations now have a live video webcam which is clearly still having the bugs ironed out of it. From the 2UE webcam, Paul Makin this morning (not actually on air at the time as the red light (little black thing under the monitor he is looking at) is not on):
Viewers of Southern Cross television stations would probably have seen the ad for MyTalk featuring John Laws by now. It mainly consists of Lawsie signing off from his show by saying “that’s all we have time for” (has he ever actually said that on-air?) and then explaining that there is only a limited amount of time on the air, but there is all the time in the world to discuss whatever you want on MyTalk, and if you sign up or update your details before May 11 you could win $100,000. The terms and conditions have me a bit concerned though.
6. Inaudible, incomprehensible and illegible entries will be deemed invalid.
Well, that makes all of the entries invalid, as you can’t record your entry audibly for them. It’s a standard web form, and the last time I checked, it didn’t speak.
Also peculiar is the fact that the MyTalk television commercial omits any mention of the digital television version of MyTalk. For some peculiar reason it is also available as a “datacast” station with the latest news headlines, local and nearby weather and a few other bits and bobs (which this morning contained a short looped show of some bloke talking about pets in the State Focus studio).
MyTalk datacasting on digital channel 55 in Canberra
If the digital television version of datacasting is using up the bandwidth of a standard television service to display a screen with a bit of writing and a couple pictures, which can’t be manipulated by the viewer in any way, then I say bring back teletext! Actually I think Seven’s digital broadcasts still have proper teletext, but only some set top boxes support it. I’ll have to find that spare set top box and see if there are any teletext services associated with MyTalk. I know the local station, Southern Cross Ten, were running a test teletext service on their analogue station a couple years back, so it’s certainly not impossible.
MyTalk datacasting runs on channel 55 in most areas, and either 66, 77 or 99 in others. Of course if you don’t have a Southern Cross station in your area, then you don’t get their datacasting. They have a list of places and stations here.
It’s good to see traditional broadcasters making a genuine effort at getting in to the online arena, and MyTalk is fairly impressive and will probably prod 2GB to expand their offerings, and push the ABC to finally become serious about having two-way discussions rather than guestbooks. I’m a bit skeptical about the point of having the digital television version of MyTalk, but it’s a start and I’ll give it some time to develop. These things always seem to take someone to take a risk and launch something new and bold, and much to my surprise, it looks like Southern Cross Broadcasting have paved the way. Now we just have to wait and see what the others do.
I suppose it has something to do with today being Sunday, and the likelihood of me seeing many people on a Sunday being rather low, but April Fools Day is almost over and it hasn’t been overly noticeable.
That being said, there were a few good jokes today. Harold Borton from London (who wrote the only Letter To The Editor to date…you can write one too firstname.lastname@example.org) tricked 2UE’s John Kerr this morning. He claimed that a London radio station near the bottom of the FM dial was rebroadcasting the 2UE webstream, that John should add London to the list of cities he does weather forecasts for, and offered to give details of the station in case 2UE wanted to follow it up and have the illegal rebroadcasting shut down. John put the email aside so that he could find out from the engineering staff if such a thing was possible.
Harold later sent in another email to inform John that he had been fooled, but that he would like to see a 2UE relay station in London.
Over at The Spin Starts Here, Caz has announced that she is quitting blogging (again), that the site will be turned in to a forum (screenshots available of the forum as “evidence”) and that she will start another blog in a few months with a different focus. Unfortunately Caz, I don’t believe a word of it, although the week long lead-up of having “The Hack” post instead of you to make you appear distant and uninterested was a nice touch.
Correction: I was overly cynical and fooled myself. Caz and The Hack are actually leaving The Spin Starts Here and it seems that my words touched a nerve. I apologise to Caz and The Hack for any undue stress or concern that my cynicism may have caused, I especially wish Caz all the best with her health problems, and I hope their next venture works out the way they want it to.
Slashdot have got news (via german tech-site heise.de) of Mozilla Foundation suing Microsoft over the introduction of tabbed browsing in Internet Explorer Seven. Makes a good headline, but it falls apart in the detail. Mozilla didn’t invent tabbed browsing, and people working for companies don’t usually get the intellectual property rights to their work, which completely destroys the notion of an ex-Opera developer now working for Mozilla giving Mozilla the patent.
One that did catch me out was Gmail Paper…Google printing your emails and photos for you, sticking ads on the back in big red letters, and delivering them. I started to become sceptical when I couldn’t find any answers to my questions about whether or not Australia is part of the print-and-deliver program, or where I need to enter my address. It became very flimsy when I discovered that there was only one page of information…Google love to spread everything out over pages and pages and pages…and the Beta User Testimonials (since when do Google run Beta programs without telling anyone?) absolutely gave it away, especially this one from Mayumi M., Associate:
“Now that I have Gmail Paper, I understand the difference between labels and folders. I had one message with two labels, but when I tried to stick the paper version into two filing cabinets at the same time, it just wouldn’t go.”
Still, they tricked me at first, and well done to them for it.
Of course Mike Frame had a good one last year on 2CC’s Saturday morning show when he announced that the government were going to have a $1000 handout to the long term unemployed so that they could enjoy life a bit (or something to that effect). The great thing about radio is that even if the majority of people realise it is April Fools Day, you will still get a flood of callers who want to scream their lungs out over the silly idea…Mike played with the first caller for a while before getting him to check the calendar.
So, did you play any good tricks on people or have some tricks played on you? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
I often hear people who visit Canberra saying that Canberra is too hard to get around because they keep getting lost and going around in circles.
The last person I heard saying that was 2UE’s Paul Makin, shortly after 12:30 this morning. Rather than getting in to a debate with him about how much easier it is to get around Canberra than Sydney, I decided to offer him a bit of wisdom…just after 2am.
“You do realise that this is the home of bureaucracy!”
Now if that doesn’t explain why people in Canberra go around in circles, I don’t know what does!