My life

A long blathery post

THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS

twotowerslive Last Friday my mom and I went to Wolftrap to see a Lord of the Rings concert.  They have an orchestra play all the film music (choirs and soloists included), while projecting the film The Two Towers in HD on a huge screen.  We went to the same concert last year for first Lord of the Rings film, The Fellowship of the Ring, and I blogged about the experience here.

I don’t have much else besides praise for the concert; watching a film like that is just fantastic.  I will say a few things though:

The brass was quite loud.  In the soundtrack recordings, I’m sure they can mix the orchestra sound a bit so the strings have more of a voice, and perhaps the acoustics of Wolftrap’s Filene center have an effect, but when it came to the brassy action parts, the brass was quite loud, drowning out a lot of the orchestra, and sometimes the character’s voices.  The percussion could be quite loud at times too, especially instruments like the bass drum.  But this is not complaint; I love the sound of a booming bass drum.

The speakers popped every now and then a little before and after intermission, which was really annoying.

The choirs were amazing.  I really loved the elvish choir music.  The strings and choirs sounded especially dynamic and full and rich when hearing them live.

There were many moments in the film in which the story was so engaging that I forgot that the music was live.  This is both a testament to how well the music was played and just what a good story it is.

As I mentioned last year, it was a lot of fun to watch the film with a huge audience that also loved the film.  Hearing them laugh and cheer at moments was kind of exciting (though I myself kept silent the whole time).

Actually, watching the crowds made me kind of want to be a film composer; there’s just such a huge audience out there.  It’s easy to forget how big the world is.

Lastly, I kind of wish the Filene Center allowed popcorn and soda inside.  It would of course make a mess that they’d have to clean, but I do quite enjoy munching on popcorn while watching a film.

Next year I hope to see The Return of the King in a similar manner!

LAPTOP FAILURE

firelaptop A few days ago, all the applications on my laptop, from Firefox to Microsoft Office programs, kept crashing.  Then I’d often get the bluescreen of death saying something about a physical memory dump and then restarting the computer.  I was sure it was a RAM issue, and thought one of my sticks of RAM was bad and needed to be replaced.  So I took out one of the laptop’s RAM modules and, voila, it worked!  Though I was out 2 GB of RAM.  I wanted to go buy some more RAM just for the quick fix of it, but my father insisted that I call Dell support.  So I did (well, actually, he did, and then handed me the phone) and, by switching the working RAM into the other slot as support told me to, I discovered the problem wasn’t with the RAM, but with the motherboard; it couldn’t communicate with that RAM port for some reason.

So sometime this week or next week or whenever, a Dell guy should come to my house and replace the motherboard, which will hopefully go smoothly.  In the meantime, I’ll only have 2 GB of RAM, but everything should at least run smoothly without crashing.  My music composing might be impaired a bit, since I often do use up a lot of RAM loading up virtual instruments, but 2 GB should still be manageable.

The laptop (an Alienware M17x) gets really hot when playing games.  Like, burning hot.  Like, you could fry an egg on it.  Okay, maybe not that hot, but, still, it gets really hot.  Which is fine with me because it plays games really really well; highest resolution (1920 x 1200) on highest settings and the frame rates stay high.  It’s just awesome.  But I’m wondering if it’s all the heat it produces that damaged the motherboard?  Eh… who knows…

READING

thelongtail Last week, I finished reading Long Tail, The, Revised and Updated Edition: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More.  It was written in 2006, and in the computer world, that makes it outdated already.  (Though there is now an updated and revised edition that I haven’t read, but I’m linking to it anyway.)  YouTube wasn’t as big when the book was written, and it mentions Google Froogle every now and then.  But, overall, the ideas in the book are very good.

That said, I’m not sure reading an entire book on the subject was worth it.  It’s a short book, only around 230 pages, but it certainly seemed repetitive.  The idea of the “Long Tail” isn’t too hard to understand: there’s a definite market for niche products, so if you can offer a lot of choices to buyers (without, obviously, spending too much money yourself), you can definitely make a profit.  Great subject for a magazine article (which is what I believe it started as), but for a book it seems just a bit stretched.  Makes for easy reading at least.

PROJECTS

oreally3 I also recently started some projects with a friend.  The first idea was to create cartoony shorts, similar to PowerPoint presentations we used to give in high school.  You can see our first animation here on YouTube.

Some problems with this project are: the animation is very rough and the recent-event subject is time-sensitive.  I think such shorts could find an audience if we could keep them up, but with just two people creating them, neither of which are quick or experienced animators, it would probably be infeasible, unless we had a lot more time to dedicate to it each week.

What I’d like to do eventually is use this similar method of animation (creating animation frames in PowerPoint, since I know how to draw best in it) to create something longer, and non-political.  Two years or so ago, my sister and I planned out a kid-friendly comedy-fantasy story with the hope of one day turning into a series of cartoons.  At the time, I had just bought Flash and had high hopes of gaining awesome animation skills with it.  Using PowerPoint didn’t cross my mind, because I am stupid.  But now that I am reminded, maybe it will be something to try in the future.  I especially like the idea of writing music to it, and being able to take a long time polishing an animation.

Anyway, the other project we started was the writing of a novel.  But I can not yet say anything about it due to a non-disclosure agreement.

SCHOOL WORK

I don’t go to school anymore, so I don’t have any.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Purchases

New laptop and a wiki

New laptop

When I went off to college in 2004, I knew I had to get a desktop because laptops were no good, especially for gaming.  They had slow processors, slow GPUs, and little hard drives.

For a while, I’ve been wanting an HD monitor for my computer and a blu-ray drive.  Then I decided I didn’t want to be stuck in my bedroom anymore, so I started looking into laptops.  I was quite happy to find something as nice and powerful as the Alienware M17x.  With an HD monitor, a blu-ray drive, 4 GB of RAM, 1 TB of space, and an nVidia GTX 260M graphics card, it is better than my desktop (and more expensive).  It also has a fancy LED light-up keyboard, which you can customize to shine any colors you want, which is actually quite useful when you’re playing a game in the dark; otherwise, it seems a bit superfluous but is an eye-catcher.  It’s also awesome to watch blu-rays and play games in full HD.  It also has an HDMI port for easy HDTV connection, which I’m hoping I can try sometime, maybe Friday.

And 1920×1200 resolution rules.

So I really love this laptop.

And a wiki

I started a wiki about myself here.  I call it: Hanniwiki.  Yay!  Maybe it’s vain, but it serves several purposes: 1) I wanted to try out MediaWiki.  2) I’d like to try world-building with it for my fantasy novel.  When I don’t feel like working on my actual story, I was thinking I might like to write articles about the fictional world I’m creating to at least help my mind get into the world a little better.  3) I don’t know, whatever.

So I’ll probably update it with random junk whenever I’m bored.  It might be useful for people who want to explore my work but don’t want to browse through a bunch of blog posts.  Then again, I’m not really famous enough yet for very many people to want to do that.  But still, it’s there, and it was fun creating what I have there so far.

By S P Hannifin, ago
My life

I will never compose again

Just kidding. Sorry. It’s such a cruel joke, I know.

E3 stuff

E3, the video gaming expo, was last week, and a couple things interested me.  Firstly, “Project Trico” got a real name: The Last Guardian.  It also got a more polished trailer.  Ahh… that looks like such an awesome game.  (By the way, I saw the film Miller’s Crossing, the film the trailer music is from.  It was a pretty good movie, I enjoyed it.)

The bad news is I don’t think I’ll be able to afford a PS3 or that game anytime soon… this gaming laptop was also announced at E3.  It’s about as powerful as my desktop.  Actually, it’s a bit better, and it’s got a blu-ray player and an HD screen.  So I bought it.  Woohoo!!  The estimated delivery date isn’t until mid-July though, I suppose because it’s a brand-new model and maybe they don’t have the assembly line going quite yet.  Waiting for it just plain torture.

Lately I haven’t been spending as much time on my computer as I usually do, so I haven’t been composing, or… doing anything constructive at all really.  Well, I’ve been reading, I guess that’s constructive.  Hopefully I’ll get back to digital constructiveness when the laptop comes.  Might be more quiet than usual until then.  (I’d be more apathetic if I weren’t so lethargic.)

Lightning

For some reason, it seems to be storm season here.  We’ve been getting a bunch of storms.  (Sadly, a local middle school student was also recently killed by a lightning strike.  Makes it seem scarier to be outside during the storms.)  Lots of lightning… last week I took some pictures and put them on a public photo album on Facebook.

By S P Hannifin, ago