Posts Tagged ‘star wars’

A little Falconry for the weekend?

Friday, October 21st, 2016

Because a heap of junk can look graceful in two supercut videos, one of the Millennium Falcon from the Star Wars trilogy, and one from The Force Awakens.

She’s got it where it counts

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

Your exploration of the internet today will not be complete until you have enjoyed the artwork, the archaeology, and the accuracy, of Michael Heilemann’s look at the evolution of the Millennium Falcon. From George Lucas’s napkin sketch to the Objet D’art we all know today:

The Falcon’s conceptual development has always intrigued me exactly because certain creative decisions don’t seem to easily fit together. I’ve researched this subject extensively over the course of years, and it’s only now I can finally start to eek out some sort of sensible process.

With that in mind, this then is The Complete History of the Millennium Falcon… or as I like to call it: How I Started Worrying and Lost My Mind Completely Over a Fictional Spaceship Someone Please Do Something Send Help Why Are You Still Reading Someone Do Something.

I’m still reading…

Disney’s Cowboy Bebop

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

It’s taken me a while to get round to Disney XD’s Star Wars animation ‘Star Wars: Rebels‘, partly because I’d ignored the Clone Wars series, but also because there was another Star Wars episode to see last year all the focus was on that.

So it was a delight to settle down with Rebels and discover a almost piratical crew led by rough-edged Jedi with amazing gun control and close-quarters fighting skill, a heavily muscular ‘Second Mate’, a feminine sharpshooter, a street-wise urchin, and a cute puppy-like droid that knows far more than it tells.

That crew sound awfully familiar to us Space Cowboys.

Here’s the Biggest Star Wars spoiler you missed… ‘There is a female character’

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

We’re expected to believe that Rey was not promoted heavily in the Star Wars toy lines because it would have been a ‘spoiler’ for the film. Let’s forget she was in the trailer, she was one of the three new lead actors in all the promotion, and that Hasbro would rather put Darth Vader into Star Wars Monopoly than a character from the film it was branded with.

No, just the idea of Rey was enough to stop selling toys to stop ‘The Force Awakens‘ being spoiled. Or…

The insider, who was at those meetings, described how initial versions of many of the products presented to Lucasfilm featured Rey prominently. At first, discussions were positive, but as the meetings wore on, one or more individuals raised concerns about the presence of female characters in the Star Wars products. Eventually, the product vendors were specifically directed to exclude the Rey character from all Star Wars-related merchandise, said the insider.

“We know what sells,” the industry insider was told. “No boy wants to be given a product with a female character on it.”

Michael Bohem writes in-depth to answer ‘Where’s Rey?

Radicalizing a young Luke Skywalker to the ways of the Evil Jedi

Sunday, December 13th, 2015

We all know Star Wars, we all know who to cheer for, we know the coding… but ‘Comfortably Smug’ on The Decider looks at the Hero’s Journey of Luke Skywalker through the current prism of radicalisation and terrorism. Guess what, Obi Wan Kenobi is a master at that as well…

Obi Wan — a religious fanatic with a history of looking for young boys to recruit and teach an extreme interpretation of the Force — is practically salivating when he stumbles upon Luke, knowing he’s found a prime candidate for radicalization. Stahelski notes terror groups place a focus on depluralization, stripping away the recruit’s membership from all groups and isolating them to increase their susceptibility to terrorist messaging. Within moments of meeting Luke, Obi-Wan tells Luke he must abandon his family and join him, going so far as telling a shocking lie that the Empire killed Luke’s father, hoping to inspire Luke to a life of jihad.

Read on at The Decider.

Trivial Posts #21: Bond Themes, Vincent Price’s Team, And Nuclear Dreams

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

And now, live (ish) from the Dublin Web Summit, some links and thoughts from my recent web browsing. If you’re at the Summit, ping me and say hi. If you get Trivial Posts emailed over to you, just hit reply. Web readers can reach me via

What I’ve Been Up To

What does the 1000 True Fans theory offer performers entering the Eurovision Song Contest, or any TV talent show? Some thoughts on maximising the moments over on ESC Insight. My ‘Beyond Eurovision’ radio show continues to be broadcast four times a week on Radio Six International, tune in at these times.

I also reviewed the first of two smartphones from new British manufacturer Wileyfox. The Swift is £130, and is a pretty sweet device running the Cyanogen Android fork. Read my thoughts here.

Bond By The Numbers

Popbitch brings home the formulaic goods for the Bond theme.

Award-winning composers and lyricists tried and failed. Multi-platinum artists with record-breaking chart-toppers couldn’t crack it. Even Adele – who walked away with an Oscar for her attempt – didn’t manage it. And yet, somehow, Sam Smith has done it. With a song he claims took twenty minutes to write, Sam Smith has gone and taken a Bond theme to number one.

…So if the charts are so easy nowadays, why did Skyfall miss out? What is it about Writing’s On The Wall that has ‘number one smash’ written all over it? What was missing from enduring classics like Goldfinger, Nobody Does It Better and We Have All The Time In The World?

The only way to know for sure is to pull them all apart into their constituent bits and pieces and go pattern-searching.

Sam Smith did everything that was expected… and it’s still not a classic. Oh well…


It’s Not Drive Time, It’s Home Time!

What happens when you build a radio station just for kids? Matt Deegan did just that with the London-based FunKids Radio. He talks to Jacobs Media Blog, in its latest ‘Radio’s Most Innovative’ section, and there are lessons here for everybody.

But our audience is natively multi-platform. A 7 year old’s assumption is that every element of a pop star coming in will be available all the places they go. Since our job is to be wherever the audience is, Fun Kids is a cross-platform media brand. The radio station is important, but it doesn’t have primacy over the web, video, or mobile. They all need to promote and support each other.

Instead, we try to think in terms of a content pipeline. A guest coming in likely means a specific video, a radio interview, a visualized radio interview, photos, a text write-up, social promotion, and on-demand audio. The team’s job is to create and deploy that material in a way that reaches the most people through our different distribution options.

Talking About FunKids Radio

What Does It Matter To Anyone?

In a perfect world, Vincent Price’s sexuality wouldn’t matter, it would be between him, his partners, and his family. But we don’t live in that world, and the importance of role models and acceptance is key to progressing society. Which leads to a fascinating article from his daughter, Victoria Price:

Price is well aware of America’s fixation with celebrity and the salacious, news-driven, “who had sex with who” culture in which we now live. But she also realizes as a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community that there remains a deeply rooted yearning for history and heroes and a personal connection to the past.

“To me, it’s interesting, because as I’ve learned more about my dad’s sexuality, and more than I knew then about different things, I’ve had the choice of what to reveal and what not to reveal,” Price explained. “Since I didn’t hear it from his mouth, I think that everything I hear comes with a measure of hearsay, right?”

Vincent Price: A Daughter’s Biography

…The Biggest Screw-Up In Our LIfetime

You could read this as fiction, or the mis-remembered moments of a veteran. Or you could read this as one more moment when someone put aside ‘orders’ and used common sense. Either way Aaron Tovish’s article on the secret nuclear missiles in Japan that were not fired during the Cuban Missile Crisis is a modern day horror story.

By Bordne’s account, at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Air Force crews on Okinawa were ordered to launch 32 missiles, each carrying a large nuclear warhead. Only caution and the common sense and decisive action of the line personnel receiving those orders prevented the launches—and averted the nuclear war that most likely would have ensued.

The Okinawa Missiles Of October

What If ‘The Force Awakens’ Is Rubbish?

In some of the most eloquently angry writing this side of that trailer, Deadspin’s Albert Burneko lays into the hopes and dreams of every Star Wars fan to remind them of a basic truth. The odds are against the new Star Wars film actually being a good film. Digital cat-nip for money, yes. Toy selling behemoth, yes. But a quality film?

Maybe The Force Awakens will be great! I sure as fuck hope so. J.J. Abrams is at the controls, and his crack at the Star Trek franchise yielded one terrific film followed by a frustrating misfire. If that 50-percent success rate doesn’t look all that much like a reason to feel confident, it’s a hell of a lot better than the 33-percent Star Wars is batting so far. That’s Naked Gun territory, for chrissakes.

Two great movies, one mediocre one, and three of the worst major motion pictures ever made. The odds are against The Force Awakens. Minimum bet is the cost of one movie ticket, and I kinda feel like a sucker already. But I’ve already bought two.

…and in the process, he nails one of the greatest line-reads that should have happened in ‘The Empire Strikes Back‘. It’s sheer poetry.

What If The New Star Wars Film Sucks, Too?

The Robots Are Coming For Buzzfeed

You know what’s worrying? When an AI bot manages to create a perfectly serviceable ‘culture’ website. The articles might not be there, but the headlines are spot on. Lars Eidnes talks about the process behind Click-o-tron. Check out then read the science behind it.

 “F.D.R.’s War Plans!” reads a headline from a 1941 Chicago Daily Tribune. Had this article been written today, it might rather have said “21 War Plans F.D.R. Does Not Want You To Know About. Number 6 may shock you!”. Modern writers have become very good at squeezing out the maximum clickability out of every headline. But this sort of writing seems formulaic and unoriginal. What if we could automate the writing of these, thus freeing up clickbait writers to do useful work?

Auto-Generating Clickbait With Recurrent Neural Networks

This Week’s Long Read: WeChat And Mobile In China

If you’ve grown up with Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp as being your main messaging clients, there’s every chance you won’t be aware of WeChat. With messaging clients looking to be the next battleground, what was once a way to use the internet to bypass high SMS fees has become a race to create a platform inside every mobile device that is independent of the OS. WeChat is further down the road than most, and Connie Chan illustrates why Chinas WeChat might be the biggest disruptor over the next five years.

Ultimately, however, WeChat should matter to all of us because it shows what’s possible when an entire country — which currently has a smartphone penetration of 62% (that’s almost 1/3 of its population) — “leapfrogs” over the PC era directly to mobile. WeChat was not a product that started as a website and then was adapted for mobile, it was (to paraphrase a certain movie) born into it, molded by it.

Most notable, however, for anyone in the tech business is WeChat’s average revenue per user or ARPU, which is estimated to be at least $7 USD — that’s 7X the ARPU of WhatsApp, the largest messaging platform in the world. How did WeChat do it?

When One App Rules Them All

‘Trivial Posts’ is a mostly weekly series of posts that brings together interesting posts, ideas, video clips, essays, images, and anything else that catches my eye on the Internet. Read it online, or subscribe to the email newsletter version here.

Trivial Posts #20: Cliffhangers, Knitting, And Error Trapping

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

What Have I Been Up To?

Two appearances online from myself to highlight this week. The first is an appearance in the popular culture podcast ‘From The Sublime‘ where I talk about cliffhangers in modern television (with a specific focus on Doctor Who’. The second is a review of Microsoft Office 2016 on Forbes.

Which Is The Better Star Wars Trailer?

The nostalgia and new crew style that debuted this week for ‘The Force Awakens‘… or the genuine wish fulfilment of the PlayStation Christmas?

Metafilter discusses the weaker trailer

Indie Music And Knitting

Finding a post on being self-employed and selling content is easy. Finding one that mixes in the indie music scene from the late nineties is a little bit harder. Finding one I’ll recommend? Over to Karie Westermann:

I learned a hard lesson when I first started out: I handed over the rights to a pattern for a pittance and saw somebody else make a lot of money from it when I could barely cover rent. And that got me thinking. I still work with mainstream publications on occasion (and some of them are incredibly indie-friendly and lovely!) but time & experience has taught me to be wary of Big Besuited Companies offering me deals too good to be true.

Indies pay the price by having to do all the things – including all the tough things mainstream publishing would normally have done for us – but I maintain it is worth it.

So, clutching my gladioli, I began thinking about where indie knitting businesses are heading.

Clutching My Gladioli – On Making It Work as an Indie

Who Is Maggie Goldenberger?

A long time ago, when she was young, Maggie Goldenberger dressed up and took silly polaroids…

Goldenberger remembers the details of the very day that immortal photo was taken.

“I remember having a lot of fun picking out the items,” she said, “and Kaelyn running downstairs to pick out books.” Kaelyn had suggested that Goldenberger should hold the American Girl doll tie-in books, with their saccharine pastel covers of smiling tween girls. Crucially, it was the Goosebumps books, with their instantly recognizable hyper-colored cover images by illustrator Tim Jacobus, that made the cut.

Deciding against the coonskin cap, Goldenberger put on the vest, hoisted her hair up into intentionally dorky pigtails—she never wore them like that otherwise—brandished the chosen books, and pulled an intentionally hideous face for the camera. Normally, she hardly ever wore her retainer like she was supposed to, but it felt right for the character: she put it on for the shoot.

Years later, Reddit found it, and Ermahgerd was born. This is the story of the meme.

The Untold Story Of The Ermahgerd Girl

Everybody Is Perfect, But Programmers Know Differently

Mentioned previously in Trivial Posts is Margaret Hamilton, one of the Apollo computer programmers. For Ada Lovelace Day (once again, thanks Suw) Robert McMillan looks at a legend of computing… and error trapping:

…Hamilton created a program note—an add-on to the program’s documentation that would be available to NASA engineers and the astronauts: “Do not select P01 during flight,” it said. Hamilton wanted to add error-checking code to the Apollo system that would prevent this from messing up the systems. But that seemed excessive to her higher-ups. “Everyone said, ‘That would never happen,’” Hamilton remembers.

But it did. Right around Christmas 1968—five days into the historic Apollo 8 flight, which brought astronauts to the moon for the first-ever manned orbit—the astronaut Jim Lovell inadvertently selected P01 during flight. Hamilton was in the second-floor conference room at the Instrumentation Laboratory when the call came in from Houston. Launching the P01 program had wiped out all the navigation data Lovell had been collecting. That was a problem. Without that data, the Apollo computer wouldn’t be able to figure out how to get the astronauts home.

Hamilton and the MIT coders needed to come up with a fix; and it needed to be perfect.

Her Code Got Humans To The Moon

Messaging As A Platform

Where can you find the future of online activities? Many people believe that the answer is in the IM client, and achieving dominance of the replacement to SMS is a key strategy for many companies, including Facebook. Returning to Wired, David Rowan looks at Facebook’s Messenger platform towards the future.

How people see interaction inside mobile phones hasn’t changed since flip phones,” he says. “You have a keypad to dial, a phonebook icon to access contacts, another for messages and one for your voicemail. It’s app-centric, not people centric. If today no phone existed, you wouldn’t create an app-centric view of the world, you’d create a people-centric view. WithMessenger, everything you can do is based on the thread, the relationship. We want to push that further.

Zuckerberg’s App For Everything

Seven Years A Square

Of course the other potential future is Twitter. After ‘Moments’ was launched last week, the re-org from incoming/returning CEO Jack Dorsey should put Twitter onto a more realistic footing after it’s Silicon Valley fuelled growth.

Dorsey was instrumental in Twitter’s acquisition of Vine, a social network for sharing six-second videos, which has become an impressive video platform in its own right. It continues to grow at a rapid clip. Similarly, the recently acquired Periscope, a live-broadcasting platform, has started to grow nicely. Dorsey’s skills are also visible at Square and in its many services. The company’s point-of-sales system, readers, and business services reflect a coherent and effective design process.

And isn’t it nice to be reading Om Malik on tech 2.0 again?

Jack In The Box: Can Twitter Be Saved?

This Week’s Long Read: Boom Town

Joni Tevis looks at the Nevada nuclear test sites, the Viewmaster 3D, the hula-hoop, Buddy Holly, and more, in an evocative look back the long summer of the Atmoic Fifties. Settle in for a fascinating portrait of a lost time.

Atomic Summer

‘Trivial Posts’ is a mostly weekly series of posts that brings together interesting posts, ideas, video clips, essays, images, and anything else that catches my eye on the Internet. Read it online, or subscribe to the email newsletter version here.

Just Say No To Ewoks

Monday, October 20th, 2014

BBC News:

Warwick Davis, who played Wicket the Ewok in 1983’s Return of the Jedi, will have a role in the forthcoming Star Wars: Episode VII. It is unknown whether Davis will return as Wicket. The actor reprised the role in two TV spin-offs in 1984 and 1985.

Please, no.

How the Millennium Falcon decided the height of every Star Wars figure

Monday, March 4th, 2013

The Logbook looks at the design issues Kenner faced with the first Star Wars toys:

Kenner’s designers had to come up with the Falcon first for a very simple reason: the scale of the vehicle would determine the scale of the figures. Prior to Star Wars, it was generally accepted that action character toys aimed for boys were along the lines of the foot-tall G.I. Joe toys. Obviously, a Millennium Falcon scaled for that kind of figure would have been less an action vehicle and more of a piece of furniture. With a certain price point in mind for the Falcon, the vehicle was scaled down until it wouldn’t cost Kenner too much to produce and wouldn’t cost mom and dad too much to buy – and that, more than anything, determined the 3 3/4″ scale of the figures that would fit inside it.

Yoda had a make-up artist?

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Stuart Freeborn, a pioneering movie makeup artist behind creatures such as Yoda and Chewbacca in the “Star Wars” films, has died. He was 98.

I know that there would have been a huge amount of work going into the design and look of the puppets and masks in Star Wars, but I can’t help seeing Chewbacca getting his eyebrows plucked by a busy little man who never stops chattering about his kids.

This is why George Lucas isn’t getting any more toys.

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

Looks like he’s given up on the current generation and attempting to snare the kids with Jar-Jar.

What if George Lucas was replaced twenty years ago by an evil twin…

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

…why you’d have a superb action thriller two decades later called “George Lucas Strikes Back.” Stick with it:

For the record, if this played at a cinema, I know exactly which line the audience would whoop and cheer at. No spoilers, but it’s right after “How do you take down an Empire like that?