Lego Cuusoo

Lego Cuusoo is the ultimate place on the internet for any Lego inventor. You can upload your creations and get supporters. If you achieve 10.000 supporters, the Lego company will review your project and if everything goes well, transform it to an official Lego product. This was the case of Daisuke's Hayabusa project. If the project is approved, a Lego designer is assigned to the idea and after redesigning it, the model its commercialized, with the 1% of the total revenues going to the original designer. Above a comparison of the Hayabusa model as created by Daisuke and the final Lego release.

Over the years  awesome projects have been selected in Lego Cuusoo. One of those projects which  has recently reached the 10.000 supporters and therefore will be review it by Lego, is this  Back To The Future Delorean set  created by M.Togami that offers the three variations of the car as seen in the Back To the Future Trilogy.

Stay tuned to Lego Cuusoo there are new entries everyday. Creator from all over the world are submitting amazing projects like this one: The Star Wars Sand-crawler:

Sebastian Thrun on Project Glass

Sebastian Thrun has been interviewed by  Charlie Rose. Among other things they have spoken about the Google Project Glass and Udacity a step ahead to the democratization of higher education. Watch the full interview here.

Chuck Palahniuk in Bilbao

Fight Club author, Chuck Palahniuk visited Basque Country where he had a talk with Javier Calvo, the translator to Spanish of ten on his books.

Caine's Arcade

My brother send my today this awesome story about Cain, a boy from east L.A. that made his own arcade in his father's workshop. Even at first he had no clients at all, his perseverance and imagination didn't cease until one day he met his first client, the filmmaker Nirvan Mullick.

EASY RIDER directed by Dennis Hopper

What a shame. How the hell I haven't seen this movie before. In a way I'm happy. It's nice to know that there are so many great movies out there to discover. And I don't have to wait till they are released in 3D because luckily they will never be. I just have to go to a local library and research for cinema classics. I still have a lot of Francis Ford Coppola, Phillip Kaufman and many other directors stuff to watch. This Easter vacations it has been time for Easy Rider directed by Dennis Hopper in 1969. It has been in my "to be seen one day" list for a long time. The road movies of the road movies. Here a transcripted extract from the movie and a music video written by Robbie Robertson.
George: You know, this used to be a helluva good country. I can't understand what's gone wrong with it.
Billy: Huh. Man, everybody got chicken, that's what happened, man. Hey, we can't even get into like, uh, second-rate hotel, I mean, a second-rate motel. You dig? They think we're gonna cut their throat or something, man. They're scared, man.
George: Oh, they're not scared of you. They're scared of what you represent to 'em.
Billy: Hey man. All we represent to them, man, is somebody needs a haircut.
George: Oh no. What you represent to them is freedom.
Billy: What the hell's wrong with freedom, man? That's what it's all about.
George: Oh yeah, that's right, that's what it's all about, all right. But talkin' about it and bein' it - that's two different things. I mean, it's real hard to be free when you are bought and sold in the marketplace. 'Course, don't ever tell anybody that they're not free 'cause then they're gonna get real busy killin' and maimin' to prove to you that they are. Oh yeah, they're gonna talk to you, and talk to you, and talk to you about individual freedom, but they see a free individual, it's gonna scare 'em.
Billy: Mmmm, well, that don't make 'em runnin' scared.
George: No, it makes 'em dangerous. Nik, nik, nik, nik, nik, nik, nik, nik - Swamp.

Lyrics from the films soundtrack The Band - The Weight

I pulled into Nazareth, I was feelin' about half past dead;
I just need some place where I can lay my head.
"Hey, mister, can you tell me where a man might find a bed?"
He just grinned and shook my hand, and "No!", was all he said.
Take a load off Fannie, take a load for free;
Take a load off Fannie, And (and) (and) you can put the load right on me.

I picked up my bag, I went lookin' for a place to hide;
When I saw Carmen and the Devil walkin' side by side.
I said, "Hey, Carmen, come on, let's go downtown."
She said, "I gotta go, but m'friend can stick around."
Go down, Miss Moses, there's nothin' you can say
It's just ol' Luke, and Luke's waitin' on the Judgement Day.
"Well, Luke, my friend, what about young Anna Lee?"
He said, "Do me a favor, son, woncha stay an' keep Anna Lee
Crazy Chester followed me, and he caught me in the fog.
He said, "I will fix your rags, if you'll take Jack, my dog."
I said, "Wait a minute, Chester, you know I'm a peaceful man."
He said, "That's okay, boy, won't you feed him when you can."
Catch a Cannonball, now, t'take me down the line
My bag is sinkin' low and I do believe it's time.
To get back to Miss Annie, you know she's the only one.
Who sent me here with her regards for everyone.

Easy Rider

Available in Amazon on various editions on DVD and Blu-Ray disc. 
US / ES / JP

Some numbers

I like making databases of the stuff I have. It's a long time I started to collect DVD media and even every time I can, I buy real DVD's sometimes I just download them to the HDD and  then record them to DVD-R media or just leave them there in the HDD. Today I have been updating this database which contains as of today a total number of 915 disc. 138 are located in a 1TB HDD that's almost full already and the rest are on physical optical discs. After some time I have realize that I would really like to have them all on HDDs. They occupy less space and the content is more accessible and portable. The thing is that taking as reference the size of the 138 discs that are on the HDD, I would need 6,6 TB to keep ALL MY DVD MEDIA. Today that is not a big problem, there are already 3TB HDD's for just 150€. The problem is that taking the 777 physical discs to a HDD at an average rate of 25min per disc, and ripping 5 hours a day, it would take 64 days. That's  two months. Next to nothing.

My first sale in Amazon marketplace arrived in Spain not so long ago and I immediately made an inventory of the books I already didn't need and opened a Seller Central account. Amazon's interface is really nice, intuitive and useful and best of all it's free, you just have to pay if you sell an item. Today I sold my first book:

Architecture and Utopia: Design and Capitalist Development by Manfredo Tafuri

Paperback: 196 pages
Publisher: The MIT Press (October 2, 1979)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0262700204
ISBN-13: 978-0262700207
Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.8 x 0.4 inches

Buy on Amazon:
US / ES / JP

Gary Leva documentaries

A Legacy of Filmmakers: The Early Years of American Zoetrope

Re-watcheing bits of my DVD collection is something I do every time I go back home. The Early Years of American Zoetrope is great documentary by filmaker Gary Leva that comes as a bonus on the two disc edition of George Lucas's THX 1138 DVD. 

THX 1138 directed by George Lucas

Available on Amazon on DVD and Blu-Ray

Fog City Mavericks

Fog City Mavericks is another great documentary on filmmakers of San Francisco area that premiered at the 50th San Francisco Film Festival on April 29, 2007. I can be watched online divided in five parts in  Leva's Vimeo channel and it's also available on DVD.

Fog City Mavericks directed by Gary Leva

Available on Amazon on DVD and Blu-Ray
US / ES / JP

From DVD days to today

The DVDs were launched in Spain around the year 1998. Laser Disc never reached here so VHS was the only thing we had. Anyway, I didn’t care much about that on those days because I just   wasn't so interested in movies. I was more in to comics and animation but suddenly everything changed in summer 1999 with the release of Star wars Episode One. I was just 15 and I started to interest and enjoy the movies in a way I never did before and realising that there was a huge work behind every detail even in the smallest movie. I remember walking in department stores and seeing some brand new flat screen but still big butt CRT TVs showing something new, there were some Warner titles like Men in Black and Mars Attacks in a brand new format. The DVD. This new medium was in it's first days and was being announced as "the ultimate format". It really seemed to be. The quality had no precedent. The Yamaha 5.1 Dolby Digital System in which those movies were shown, with it's tinny speakers, sounded in a way I never heard before. The sound was crisp and intense. The quality of the image on the displays was spectacular not a single flick, bright colors and spectacular sound. Sadly everything technology related was unreachable for a teenager those days, DVD prices were around 50€ and of course you needed a player, a proper TV and a good surround sound system. Luckily with 3000€ (back them 500.000pts) you were able to jump to the Digital Versatile Disc. 

Back then, we watched movies rented on the Video Club in VHS format. The only titles we owned were Michael Jordan Above and Beyond, Star Wars Episode One and the original trilogy...and few others. Our parents weren't movie maniacs so we just had a Phillips monaural 21 inch CRT that was a real pain. It didn't had Euro-connector or video inputs of any kind, just an antenna input, so we played in the Nintendo 64 using the VHS Video Recorder as a bridge, and fortunately we found a way, pushing a button for a while on the remote, to freeze the player so that didn't go to standby. Otherwise we would never been able to play more than 10 minutes continuously. I was recording stuff on VHS like crazy this days, I was so interested in NBA that I recorded everything related to Basketball I could. I also recorded documentaries such as related to  Japanese culture. I ended up with more than 30 VHS tapes full of stuff in a format I knew it was limited and destined to die, but that was what we had. Going forward and backward was so tedious, the tape was damaged in every playback and the quality was going decreasing in every view. But nothing could be done. That was the technology at the time. We thought things were going to change someday but we didn't know when and how. 

The changes started sooner than expected (at least from today's perspective) on Christmas 2000 we had the first computer at home so "our" digital age was starting and it came with a DVD-ROM unit so we could try the much desired new technology finally. One of the first movies we rent on the Video Club was The Matrix, and it was a really great experience. All the extra features, English language and subtitles...The DVD was a huge leap, we started to see movies not only as entertainment but as something with which you could learn English or other languages. The first movie we ever bought was Ridley Scott’s Gladiator. We rented first, but we were so mesmerized by it's story, images and music that we decided to buy the special two disc edition at a price of 30€. I was desiring to access to it's bonus content, the making of, the deleted scenes etc. After that I immediately became a DVD addict. 

So DVD was becoming the standard and slowly prices started to go down. We continue buying DVD discs until we bought our first DVD player a Panasonic S35. A pretty good model that is still working at home. It reads all kinds of disc even DVD-RAM and DVD-AUDIO. When we finally bought a decent LCD TV we finally were able to connect it though components and enjoy the quality of the DVDs we already had. In summer 2003 when I bought my first laptop it came with a DVD writing unit so we could start producing our own DVDs. Thanks to DVD-R media, that the standalone players where able to reproduce DVD format rapidly became not only a consumer product but a tool with which everyone could practice. As time passed the TVs turned from CRT to LCD, they became flat and with  higher resolution. European DVDs were 576x720px resolution. The standard CRT resolution was less than 800x600pixels, just enough  for the DVDs. Our new Phillips LCD was HD-ready so it had a 1280x720pixel resolution. That meant that the DVD was up scaled to fit the TV pixels size. In 2006 Full-HD TVs where already in the market with two new High-Definition players and formats HD-DVD and Blu-Ray Disc. Both with images resolutions of 1920X1080px to feed those Full-HD TVs. Finally only the Blu-ray survived and the HD-DVD disappeared. 

In less than ten years the DVD already had an HD alternative and and nowadays is becoming the standard together with the streaming media that is also delivered in full-HD quality though internet. The two only physical formats available in the stores now are the DVD and the Blu-Ray Disc and as the second one prices are dropping down so fast and the quality difference is so big, Blu-ray it’s probably the format that will take the lead. To see the difference in quality from one to another here a comparisons taken from The images correspond to Studio Ghibli’s Tenkyu no Shiro Laputa Japanese editions. This first image is downscaled to 640x340px, so to make an idea, that would be approximately what you’ll perceive if switching a Blu-Ray disc to an old CRT TV with a low resolution. The image is still better in the Blu-ray but the difference is not so big.

The real difference comes when we feed a Full-HD TV with HD content. The image is so big that doesn’t fit in this blog so here a zoomed pic of how the picture looks comparing the up scaled DVD and a Blu-Ray Disc. Notice that both pictures are compressed as GIF an the loose of quality is big,  but the differences are notable. 

And then what? Bluy-Ray is almost what it's called 2K resolution. Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit movie due to release on 2013 is already being shot on 5K. So that means that whats happening today with the Blu-Ray Disc taking over the DVD, it will happen again someday in the future with the Blu-Ray and it's successor. Meanwhile, if you are happy enough with your standard resolution content and media. Just enjoy it. But if you have some money you don’t know what to do with and you like to experience  movies at their best, High Definition days are here to stay so it’s a good time now that prices are dropping to renew the player, the Projector, the sound system and of course the titles in your shelves. As OMM000 would say on George Lucas's THX 1138 “…Buy more, buy more now. Buy and be happy…” 

Castle in The Sky
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Available on various editions on DVD and Blu-Ray Disc on Amazon
US / ES / JP

The Man Who Planted Trees

I discovered Frédéric Back's work while reading Hayao Miyazaki's Stating Point were there is a transcription of the comments he made for the Japanese Laser Disc release of Crac! & The man Who Planted Trees back in 1988.

Frédéric Back's works are collected in various DVDs, Blu-Rays and Books in various languages