Cyclone Yasi – Part 2 (Yasi Strikes Back)

Photo of damage from cyclone Yasi in Innisfail

Capture from the web cam feed in Innsifail after Cyclone Yasi @ 8:30am

Well, I’m hearing news reports of trees being blown around “like matchsticks”, but can’t say this photo shows anywhere near that damage.  And whomever set up the web cam either has a good generator and fair amount of fuel, or they didn’t lose power? Even that wooden fence has stayed standing… good to hear it wasn’t as bad as all the media channels were “predicting” (hyping up more like it).

ABC was also reporting that so far there have been no lives lost to Cyclone Yasi.  Great news 🙂

Everyone I know in Townsville and Cairns are reporting less damage than expected, and so far I haven’t heard of anyone I know having any major problems.

Cyclone Yasi Part 1: Cyclone Yasi (2011) vs Cyclone Olivia (1996)

Fark, I’m already over cyclone-friggin Yasi and it hasn’t even gotten to the coast yet.  Talk about people getting all hyped up…. Not to say that its not serious and that it will cause major problems, but seriously, does the media need to bash it so much when its not even here yet?

I think people just love drama and this is better to them than any reality tv show, because people might die! And houses will be destroyed! I have had so many ICQ’s, facebook messages etc about it and how terrible it is…

…But checking YouTube shows a very different picture… just a bit of wind and rain.  Even a live stream on UStream from Innisfail shows there is barely any wind worth mentioning.  Looks like the rain is picking up though (@ 7:20pm EST).

In looking at past cyclones, I saw that a world record, in terms of wind speed, was claimed by Cyclone Olivia.  Anyone remember that one?  Just because it crossed over a less populated area, it didn’t seem to make many headlines, not compared to the barrage of sensationalism the media is vomiting out already for Yasi.

Just to highlight how much the media is making a spectacle out of this, and for those that want to go on about how big it is, have a look at this comparing the two (copyright remains that of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology of course):

Cyclone Yasi (2011) vs Cyclone Olivia (1996)

Not much difference in size eh?

How about people pull their heads in, calm down, free up the phone lines for emergency personnel, and wait until something happens before getting all worked up….

I wonder how many people have died in the last 24 hours in situations that probably wont even make the news.  Just to really push the point, Heart Disease apparently kills 500,000 Americans each year (and that’s the conservative number from the website).  Thats 1,369 people per day, 57 per hour, or nearly 1 every minute.  How often do you see this kind of media blitz for Heart Disease?  Hell, there are over 2,100 suicides (2005 statistics) in Australia each year, or over 5 per day.  Where is the government support, financial aid etc for them and their families?

BTW, if you have a problem with this post, let me know 😉

*shakes head*

Update @ 10pm EST:  The UStream feed from Innisfail is still going strong (occasional drop out), so things cant be too bad yet.  I do hope people in the area are tucked away somewhere safe by now.

Oh, and I’m calling it now:  We will be hearing about this for months and months (years?) – the politicians will be fighting over payments / relief to the area, there will be whingers who will get their 15 minutes of fame because a tree blew over on their house while they were in it, postage/freight problems, electricity problems, the council not cleaning up enough quick enough, should the tax payers help foot the bill, insurance companies wont pay out because they’ll argue flooding (which most people aren’t covered for), charity ribbons and crap like that, telethons, relief concerts, looters, scum suckers who will abuse the relief funds…. should I keep going?

Setting Up for Media Center Part #2 More on Metadata

Okay – so I got the tv shows’ metadata updated with Media Center Master, and have now started work on the movies.  The time consuming part is getting the folders structured correctly so the metadata can be saved properly.  It makes sense to me to do it this way, but its a little painful.  For anyone else stumbling across this article, the folder structures basically need to be:

TV Shows:

X:\My TV Shows\TV Show X\Season 01\xxxx.avi

Movies:

X:\My Movies\Movie X\xxxxx.avi

Where X: is the drive letter (not important for this exercise).  My TV Shows / My Movies are the folders that contain all of your collection. Each TV show needs to have a folder for each season, even if it only has one season.  Just a quirk of how it all works.  For the few shows that go over 10 seasons, its easier to just get in the habit of making all the season numbers prefixed by zero if its less than ten.  Ie. Season 01 instead of Season 1.  Both do work though. The xxxx.avi is the actualy video file.  If its a movie, it should be the title, and preferrably the year (ie. MyMovie (2010).avi).  If its a TV show then it should be Season + Episode codes.  To hard to describe, but obvious once you see it.  Ie. S01E01 – MyMovie Premier.avi).  Dont worry too much about anything after the SxxExx part as Media Center Master can fix up the filenames as long as it know which one its looking at.

I found this brief guide on getting metadata set up if anyone needs more info. Another guide here for using Media Center Master.

Setting Up for Media Center Part #1 The Metadata

After visting a mate and seeing how well he set up Media Center with metadata, I decided to look into it myself.

The process is to basically get an application to look through your TV / Movie folders and grab all the pertinent information about the show, the actors, ratings, description of episodes, artwork (poster etc), and so on.  Once the application has set up your folders with the extra info (metadata) then Media Center can look at it and display it nicely for you.

There is a popular tool to do this called MetaBrowser, which now requires registration and a fee to use.  The old version works, but is far from user friendly.  But, in looking around to find instructions on setting up metabrowser, I came across Media Center Master.

So far it looks promising.   Looks like it does a decent job, and even has facility to download shows / keep them up to date via torrents.  Im yet to test out Media Center to see the final result.

If you are interested, grab version 1.25 as its completely free and unlimited.  The later versions have a free/paid option with a number of restrictions on the free one of course.

Worth a look anyway 🙂

Australia Post – Encouraging us to Gamble and Increase Debt?!

Since Ive moved to Tasmania, I’ve set up a mail redirection service with Australia Post. As part of this service, they have started sending me junk mail.

Thats bad enough, but what has me totally gobsmacked is that the junk mail I have received so far has been from the notorious Citibank, offering me a huge amount of credit with no checks on my financial situation (or at least without my permission), as well as a letter offering me information and an application for a Tatts card. The Tatts card can be used to buy lotto tickets etc (which is really just another form of gambling).

To further illustrate the point – I know someone who at one stage had been unemployed for 18 months, and Citibank offered them a $25,000 credit card, when this person knew they could never meet the payments if they got the card.

I don’t get it?! Why the hell would an Australian Government organisation be offering the public deals to encourage gambling, and encouraging us to go into huge amounts of debt? Especially in the current financial climate.

This country is going down the drain faster and faster… I really am starting to feel that this is no longer the ‘Lucky Country’

** UPDATE: So, I need to add stupidity to the blatant oversight by Australia Post… After asking them to stop mailing me this rubbish, they send me ANOTHER Tatts Card.  Either that’s some poor management, or the Australian Government wants us financially down the toilet…

Linkin Park – A Thousand Suns

A Thousand Suns

Linkin Park - A Thousand Suns

“There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odeous, that you’re so sick at heart, that you cant take part, you cant even passively take part. And youve got to put your bodies upon the gears, and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the aparatus, and youve got to make it stop.  And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless your free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.”
Mario Savio

If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one.” … “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds
J. Robert Oppenheimer
(recalling the Bhagavad Gita)

Im really liking the new Linkin Park album, A Thousand Suns. It has taken a few goes, but it has now grown on me greatly.

It is unique, but the album has some of their old sounds.  There is a wide variety of influences that seem to have made their way onto the alum.  There are more elements of their previous works, more like Hybrid Theory and Meteora, especially compared to their previous album, Minutes to Midnight.   Though they have tied in the softer elements from that album, they move forward into a new sound that is distinctly theirs.  A couple of tracks are even a bit tribal with elements of eastern music, and a few songs have even taken from the current electronica sound.

After the first listen, it seemed disjointed.  I could take or leave it, but after a few runs through the album I realise there are many levels, there is a message or a story to this collection of songs.  The album is like a journey. Taking the listener into a political and social commentary, hopefully pointing out some of humanities high and low points.  There are excerpts from speeches which help to draw the listener into the messages they are conveying.  These “joining tracks” which appear between the true songs really emphasise the ideas being conveyed, and enhance the journey.

Starting out fairly soft and introspective with tracks like Burning in the Skies, which is reminiscent of songs from Minutes to Midnight (particularly like Shadow of the Day), the album jarrs you with heavy tribal beats in When They Come For Me.  Drawing you in to their creation, the album moves into a political commentary and a personal one about how people can stand up and fight when they need to (IMHO). Ive always been a fan of slower anthems, and Robot Boy is a classic.  I was initially a little dissapointed to hear these soft tracks, as I had missed the harder “nu-metal” sound of their older works.  But I was not to be left wanting.

Waiting for the End starts, and I found myself starting to breath a sigh of relief.  Here is a song that illustrates what these guys are about, and even the title is a reminder of previous tracks they have written. Its a build-up song, hinting at the tracks following.

Blackout IS classic Linkin Park.  It takes us another step into their harder sound and message. This song will get people moving.  Again – Mr Hahn has woven his magic into the track, taking scratching, mixing, electronica, and blended them together into something new, something that works.

Wretches and Kings is a cornerstone of the album, and continues with this direction, mixing a huge number of elements together to make a heavy sound that is quite unique.  The quote I put at the start is highlighted in this song.  IMHO this song is telling us to stand up and fight for whats important, even if we are worn out from all the conflict.

I really like what they did with the “joining track” called Wisdom, Justice, And Love.  You’ll just have to hear it.    It slows things back down, giving us a breather between some energetic tracks, before leading into Iridescent.  This is another anthemic buildup song which I quite enjoy.  The build-up takes us to The Catalyst.  Another classic Linkin Park song.  Referencing the Bhagvad Gita, this track has the lyrics which gave the album its title, and with good reason.

The final song on A Thousand Suns is The Messenger.  A slower and rather touching song.   Not exactly a romantic track when you listen to the lyrics, but it is about love.  It finishes the album off, leaves us feeling introspective and thoughful.  At first I thought this track was a bit of an odd ending to the set, but its a good message to leave the listener with, and it frames the intent behind the other tracks nicely.

Overall, I feel they have managed to leverage off the style that made them famous, and have even created their own new sounds with some of the tracks.  Mike Shinoda has a bigger singing / rapping part, something I also feel was missing from Minutes to Midnight.  As mentioned before, it was great to hear Joe Hahn also has a bigger role in this album.  Chester’s singing and playing are as always excellent, and the Dave, Rob, and Brad provide solid ingredients to the mix, finding new ground for their performances.

A Thousand Suns works.  The album has more of a flow to it, and listening to the tracks in order is a definite.  To over emhasise this point, do not put this album on random order until you get to know the songs.  They really have created a journey in music.  I suppose I had pretty mixed expectations after Transformers soundtrack, which I was a little dissapointed in.  But this album is growing on me by the fourth listen,  and Im wanting to keep playing it, so its defintely worth the money.

🙂

When I’m Gone…

Okay – so if you think Im blurting out a bunch of posts in quick succession, you aren’t wrong, but Im just catching up on a few things Ive been meaning to post for awhile… its been a big transition moving to Hobart.  That’s my excuse and Im sticking to it.

Anyways, I have been playing a fair bit of the Guitar Hero range of games, and have taken to drums a lot more than I ever expected to.  Well, I keep playing them and the guitar doesnt get much attention.  Plus, I like the fact that the drums are a lot closer to playing a real instrument than the other ‘toys’.

Band Hero is my current regular play, and the top contenders for my favourite songs are Evanescence’s Bring Me To Life, No Doubt’s Don’t Speak, and 3 Doors Down’s When Im Gone.  Great songs, and lots of fun to play.  I looked up the lyrics to When Im Gone, and found it interesting.  It really struck a chord with me (hehe – musical pun intended).  The two verses are rather close to home for me too… kinda puts my struggles with life into words better than I could 🙁

“When I’m Gone”

There’s another world inside of me
That you may never see
There’re secrets in this life
That I can’t hide
Somewhere in this darkness
There’s a light that I can’t find
Maybe it’s too far away…
Or maybe I’m just blind…

Or maybe I’m just blind…

[Chorus]
So hold me when I’m here
Right me when I’m wrong
Hold me when I’m scared
And love me when I’m gone
Everything I am
And everything in me
Wants to be the one
You wanted me to be
I’ll never let you down
Even if I could
I’d give up everything
If only for your good
So hold me when I’m here
Right me when I’m wrong
You can hold me when I’m scared
You won’t always be there
So love me when I’m gone

Love me when I’m gone…

When your education X-Ray
Cannot see under my skin
I won’t tell you a damn thing
That I could not tell my friends
Roaming through this darkness
I’m alive but I’m alone
Part of me is fighting this
But part of me is gone

[Chorus]

Or maybe I’m just blind…

[Chorus]

Love me when I’m gone…

Love me when I’m gone
When I’m Gone
When I’m Gone
When I’m Gone

If anyone is interested, the real meaning behind the song isn’t a brain twister, but nice to know that the words, music, and beat convey the meaning very well.  Oh, and the official music video is here.

Terragen 2 – Where Art Meets Maths

I finally had some time to start learning how to use Planetside’s Terragen 2.  Its an amazingly realistic landscape / scenery renderer that excels at creating realistic lanscapes and skies.  Best of all, its free!

Here are a couple of my first scenes that Im fairly happy with – enjoy!

Cloudscape over mountains
Above The Clouds – 2010

Lakeside – 2010