Monday, September 22, 2008

Star Trek, The Experience is Gone!

startrek_experienceYou heard correctly, Star Trek - The Experience is gone ... where no Star Trek Experience has gone before ...  into oblivion. I just returned from Las Vegas today. 

I was at the Hilton Las Vegas yesterday and shocked to see that the Star Trek Experience is now closed, not for maintenance, updates, NO ... FOREVER!!! It is actually closed already since September 1, 2008. WTF?

Okay, I did the Experience already four times (or five, I am not 100% sure). I did it the first time in 2002 (or was it 2001?),  when there was only the Klingon Encounter and then several times more, after they expanded the Experience with the Borg Invasion (4D) ride in early 2004 (I always liked the old Klingon ride much more, but then I also liked only the Original Series and Next Generation and never got into DS9, Voyager or Enterprise).

What a loss! ... and probably only because some greedy bastards could not agree on how to share the profits.

The Experience wasn't cheap (about $25 until 2004 and $40 or so, after they launched the second ride. Okay a bit less than that, one or a few bucks, but that does not matter anymore), plus the revenue from the gift shop and the overpriced "Quarks" restaurant that served TGI Friday's kind of food for twice the price and half the quality. Not being profitable could not have been the reason for shutting it down after over 11 years of operation.

It's a shame and Gene Roddenberry, who passed away in 1991, did obviously some poor decisions regarding who and how the franchise that he created, will be managed after his death. What a blow and slap into the face of Star Trek fans worldwide. Gene would turn in his grave (bless his soul), if he'd know about this.

Backup URL to Video on YouTube

I bought some Star Trek stuff at the gift shop myself. A plush bear (star fleet commander), a small Tribble (from Star Trek, the original series) and a shirt with a Star Fleet Academy logo on it. Here are some pictures of it. The Tribble makes actually a sound, if you press it hehe. I don't know where you could buy this stuff now, because the gift store at the Hilton is gone like the rides, restaurant, bar and museum. The online store and web site is also down now :(

startrek_plush_commanderBear plushsmalltribble StarfleetAcademyShirt

I am glad that I "forced" a friend of mine, an American who grew up in Chile and worked at my former employer with me, to go to Vegas and do the Experience, before he went back with his wife and kids to live in Chile. He was/is a huge Star Trek fan and even wanted to do this Star Trek wedding (but the wife was not so thrilled about that and said no). I knew that he would regret it for the rest of his life, if he had not done it, so I forced him to his luck. Now it's gone and he wouldn't have a chance to do it anymore. I am sure that he will appreciate my persistence a few years ago even more now.

That's a lesson for anything in life. If you really want to do something, don't leave it an open item on your "to-do list" for too long, because of stupid excuses, just do it, or you might never get the chance to do it at all.


Carsten aka Roy/SAC

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Kooza DVD and Cirque C&D Letter

This is my first post, using the Windows Live Writer application. It's a free tool by Microsoft to make blog posts, supporting various blogging platforms beyond Windows Live Spaces. It was able to determine the blog layout and I can now see right when I type this, how it will probably look on the site. Another important feature, which made me giving Live Writer a shot, is the nice image upload feature via FTP. If all goes well, images that I insert here into the editor should be transferred over to my web server and the post in Blogger should refer to the images web URL instead of the local file on my hard-drive. Lets see how it works out :).

They have a dedicated web site, an open SDK  and a gallery with already 97 plug-ins available for download and use with the new Writer tool. I was able to configure the Writer for this blog (using classic Blogger with FTP to push to my servers), with (WordPress), but not with I think that the problem with has not to do with the Writer, but the configuration of the blog itself, which is also using WordPress, like SEJ, where it worked instantly.

Post Reason No. 1

Okay, but this is not the reason for my post. There are actually two much more significant reasons. Lets start with the first, which is much simpler and explained in no time, compared with reason number two.

cirquedusoleil-kooza-dvd-box I got today my 2 discs DVD set of the recording of the Cirque du Soleil show "Kooza". I ordered it on the weekend and paid $12 or so for express shipping. The shipping was really express, which justifies the high shipping charge. The DVD itself cost $29.00. It seems to be expensive, but you actually get a lot of stuff for your bucks, so I'd say that the price is fair. You can only buy it via the Cirque Boutique online as far as I can tell.

I stumbled across the DVD by accident. I didn't see any promotion for it (including nothing on the Cirque web site itself) or anything like that. I noticed it when I compared the DVD offers in the Cirque Boutique for shoppers from the United States to the ones for shoppers from India. Why I did that will be explained in reason two a bit later. Well, that also means that I don't know when the DVD was actually released, because I didn't see any preview, announcement or advertisement for it. It cannot be for long be available though, because it is not available via yet. Assuming that the delay for appearing in is the same as it was for the Kooza soundtrack, then it must have been released sometimes last week.

What do you get for your money?


I mentioned already that you get a lot for your money. DVD 1 contains only the main show, which is about 2 hours in length. Audio is available in Surround, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1. The show was filmed with 8 cameras during its run in Toronto Canada. The second DVD contains the entire 47 minutes long documentary "A Thrilling Ride Through Kooza", which was/is sold separately for several months already. This documentary itself cost already $19.00!

Also included are an about 11 minutes long documentary about the Wheel of Death act, some promotional advertisements for other Cirque products and the DVD credits. Altogether over 3 hours of content in high definition and superb sound quality. Subtitles are also available in multiple languages, including Spanish and French. The DVDs come in a custom made box cover, which did not fit in its entirely on my scanner. But you will get the idea, I hope :).

Post Reason No. 2

Click Here Button

Now it is getting serious, so hold on tight and bear with me please :).

If you noticed and wondered, why many of my past blog posts were changed and include this ugly button where there used to be videos embedded, I will now explain why that I did it and you will hopefully understand and forgive me.

I received a bit over one week ago a Cease and Desist letter by Cirque du Soleil. I am not kidding here, this is real, I swear. You can see the actual letterin PDF format here. See for yourself.

It was written politely. They obviously don't like that I promote their business and help them to make more revenue and more profits (I am still not kidding).  Before I responded to them, I did contact the Social Media Manager for Cirque du Soleil, Jessica Berlin, who is located in Las Vegas, Nevada. I had contact with Jessica in the past, first through my old account and then through my CirqueDuSoleilGuru account. Jessica manages the CirqueLasVegas account on YouTube and we bumped into each other, because she was literally spamming many of my Cirque du Soleil related videos (no joke). She knew what I was doing, appreciated it, and even gave comments and made suggestions.


So I forwarded the email from her colleagues to Jessica, assuming that there was an error made or some rookie at the Montreal office does not know anything about social media and what is going on the Internet these days.

My email to her looked like this quote (excerpt only):

Could you please explain to your colleagues what social media is and that they fight an up-hill battle, if they try to prevent people from taking their brand and run with it by force?

I do it publicly as a fan and do tons of advertising and more for free and honest, It's a promotion that you cannot buy for any money in the world. I answer questions of people and cannot remember getting any negative feedback ever. Since I am a fan and not a hater of the Cirque, I try to present the Cirque in its best light possible. I never claimed to work on behalf of the Cirque. I am also open to comments and suggestions, like the one you did for the "Believe" video, where you thought that I was not clear enough expressing that this is not an official Cirque du Soleil released video. If you try to force, regulate and control what people think and interpret by using threats and citing inadequate and outdated laws, two things will happen.

  1. you lose support and might even turn your best friends into your worst foes
  2. people will not stop doing what they do (the genie is out of the bottle), they will only close all communication channels and use the protection of anonymity, removing the option for you to guide and support and to maintain at least some control over the message that is send out to people.

What is the point in doing that? It does not make sense at all, personally and also from the business point of view.

I understand that there are some ethical limits what some other people do not. I don't publish full DVD or CD rips of Cirque du Soleil shows for example, although I still believe that this does not hurt you guys that much really, unless the CD/DVD business became bigger than show ticket sales. I stated at my blog and YouTube channel, that the best recording of a show, Multi-Angle, High Definition (HD), 5.1 Surround Sound etc. is no substitute for watching a show live. It's like watching a roller-coaster ride on TV... it gives you a glimpse, but you have to experience it yourself to get the full package.

You are allowed to forward this and also any previous email communication to other folks at Cirque du Soleil, including the two ladies below. I hereby give you officially the permission to do so.

I have 10 days to respond to the notice. I will wait with my response until Wednesday and hope to hear back from you before then. It gives you over two working days to discuss this subject with your colleagues internally and to make a decision.

I wrote in March an Article titled "Social Media Guide for Big Brand Businesses" for Search Engine Journal, which was well received. I suggest to you and your colleagues to read it.

I got a response from Jessica a few days later (I got the C&D letter on a Friday, just to mention it). She wrote:

Thank you for forwarding this.  I think this has come about primarily because of the DVD content that is hosted on your sites.  I understand your frustrations with this but Cirque has always upheld a very firm policy that no more than three minutes of content is able to be used without having to pay for rights to the footage.  Usually we have media (both traditional and 2.0) sign a release form for the use of any footage.  Social media is still relatively new territory for us but we still need to enforce our brand standards in all mediums.

I know you are a huge fan and we truly appreciate your help in promoting the shows.  In order to be able to continue working together, I hope you will respect the guidelines.

So I changed the posts on my blog and responded to the original email with the C&D letter attached to it, before the 10 days time-limit was up:

Sorry for the delayed response, but I was busy. Well, the set 10 days are not over yet, so I am still acting within the accepted limits.

There are no possibly infringing Cirque du Soleil videos hosted or embedded at or any other web sites that I operate anymore, as you requested.

What remains is material provided by partners with whom I am affiliated with, including and MGM or meet the criteria of fair use within the acceptable limits of news reporting and/or expression of my personal opinion, which is still perfectly legal in this country.Let me know, if you have questions or refute my claims for the remaining content on my web sites.

I followed the demands made in the C&D by the letter, not a bit more and, I honestly believe, no less either.

This makes things look a little bit odd now, because the videos are still there and not removed from the planet earth of course. I did this on purpose, to make a point.

I would make a bet that the three minutes length limitation, specified by their internal policies, is based on the use for traditional media, including Television but also high definition ads on DVDs, including their own DVDs. Signing a release form applies also to traditional media (which includes large Web 2.0 publishers), but not to social media (video sharing).

The Cirque would have to hire a lot more staff and new servers (web and/or email servers), if they want every guy on the planet who decides to make a fan video from various sources sign a release form (which they must have available in at least a few hundred of the close to 7,000 living languages in the world today, because not everybody who has a computer and Internet access is necessarily also fluent in English or French.

The 3 minutes time limit probably has also to do with the standards in the TV and Movie industry. Ad blocks on TV are often sold with a  30 seconds length. A 1 minutes Ad would take up 2 blocks. Some even use 20 seconds blocks, which would require the purchase of 3 blocks for a 1 minute Ad. Movie trailers for the theatres, TV, online movie sites (e.g. or to be included on other DVD movies are usually between 20 seconds to 2:30 minutes long, max 3 minutes (oh.. surprise!). Anyway, I can only say "Leave the old rules with the old habits and get used to new rules (and maybe also new habits)"

Asking a regular guy and fan to only make videos that are no longer than 3 minutes is not only ridicules, but also stupid and to some extend even discriminating. Jessica also seems to be new to all of this. Her well meant, but poorly exercised promotional campaign for the announcement video of the new Cirque show in Vegas starring the magician "Criss Angel" (the spam that I mentioned earlier), seems to confirm my personal assumption.

I can only recommend to read my original email once more. This should help with the missing understanding a little bit. I am also open to talks, since I seem to know a little bit more about this subject then they do. Hey, I don't even charge them money for it.

Now to the complained regarding the use of DVD content for some of my videos.

The Stuff is already there, not because of me!

First, ALL Cirque du Soleil DVDs are available for free download in pirated form all over the Internet. Pick your poison, Torrents, Usenet, FTP servers or sliced up into <10 minutes pieces on YouTube. Non of those were my doing. I got tons of requests to publish extensive DVD material, which I refused politely, referring to online stores where those DVDs can be purchased for personal use. This includes Cirque Documentaries.

One Exception, for Good Reasons

There was one exception. I made one of the documentaries available non-public to a fan in India, who cannot afford to travel to Las Vegas to see the show in Person, Due to the fact that it is a resident show, no show recording of the show is available or will be available any day soon (the show "Mystère" runs for over 15 years and there is still no recording of it). The documentary "Flow" (about the Cirque show "O") is only available through the Cirque Boutique online shop. Before you are able to show the store is it necessary to specify where the items will be shipped to. If you select USA, everything is fine and pretty much the entire product catalog is accessible. Different story, if you specify India as shipping location. The number of products available  shrinks significantly. The DVD section is almost empty. Non of the documentary DVDs is available for purchase.

So the there is no legal way for somebody from India to get access to this content. I assume that the restriction for India has nothing to do with the Cirque using copyright laws to control distribution in a bad way, but logistical issues and/or the risk of and fear for credit card fraud, which is rampart in Asia and requires some sophistication to reduce the risk to an acceptable limit.

I felt sorry and uploaded the video to Google Video and sent the non-public URL to this guy in a personal email. The videos do not appear in any listings or search results on any web site though. Here are screen shots of the site, one with the DVD offerings, if you specify United States as delivery destination and another, if you set the destination to India (btw. when I made those screen shots, is when I noticed the Kooza DVD and bought it right then and there hehe).

Show Content from Documentaries

Yes, I admit that I used show content from documentaries, including the ones that are available on DVD. However, I only did it for shows, where there is no recording on DVD available (yet). I did not publish the documentary parts though, which always made up the larger part of the documentaries.

If you are a fan and live half way around the globe from the venue where a resident show is being performed, chances could be slim to zero that the person would be able to ever make it to that show in person and in his or hers lifetime.

Know your Customers and Don't Use Cheap Methods to make a Quick and Dirty Buck!

If the person is interested in the shows but not the behind the scenes stuff, trying to sell to him a documentary DVD as a quick fix is not only low, but unethical as well. There are folks (like me), who value the background info of a show, about the creation, the artists and the surroundings. Fine, for them is the DVD and I didn't publish anything that would deter any of those potential customers from buying the documentary DVDs, on the contrary actually. I mentioned in some of the videos that it contains as source material images from a documentary DVD.

I was contacted who were unaware of the existence of such DVDs and who asked me specific questions about them. Often of the nature "which one to buy", because they only had enough money for one DVD and not all of them, so they wanted to pick the best they possibly could.

The folks interested in just the shows got a nice freebie in less than High Definition quality. They wouldn't buy the DVDs for the documentaries sake of them, are unable to buy a DVD recording of the show and sometimes unable to make it to a show in person.

However, some are able to make it and appreciate the video footage to help them with their decision about, for which of the soon to be SIX Cirque du Soleil shows (plus ONE additional Cirque like show, "Le Rêve" by former Cirque director Franco Dragonè, now on his own, plating at the Wynn Las Vegas), they should get tickets for when they are visiting Las Vegas.

Many of the viewers of the videos are actually folks who already got tickets are are excited about seeing a show live and folks who just saw one the shows and are still thrilled and excited to let everybody else know about their excitement via a comment a respective video of that show in YouTube. I am not kidding, check out the comments of the Cirque Videos on YouTube yourself, if you do not believe what I am telling you.

Summary, I do not cut into the Cirque's business, I am actually supporting and promoting it, helping them to sell more show tickets and to sell DVDs to the right customers for the right reasons. I even state at the user home page of my CirqueDuSoleilGuru account the following:


I did not make that up, I really mean it! The Cirque should send me a check instead of a cease and desist letter! Others would probably agree with me on this one. I try to portrait the Cirque from his best side in my videos and try to be as true to the brand as I can. At the same time I am making as clear as possible that I created (edited) the video and do not work for the Cirque. This is important because of content that I use some times, where the Cirque does not own any copyright themselves, yes, content that includes live performances by the Cirque itself (I am not kidding again and won't start with it at the end :) ).

What I Do NOT Do!

I do not publish any video recordings where artists didn't do their act successfully and fell and might got injured beyond their own pride. I am sure that not everybody is a fan of the Cirque, competitors for example. They can produce stuff as well and appear in search results for "Cirque du Soleil" or any of their show names on search engines and other web sites, like YouTube. I am sure that the Cirque would prefer if that content would be about the Cirque and not the competitors offerings and certainly not content that makes the Cirque look bad, stupid, unprofessional or unable to do their job right.

Conclusion and Wrap Up

I will send the link to this post to the folks at Cirque du Soleil in Montreal, Canada and also to Jessica in Las Vegas and hope that they will retract their C&D letter and do what I already suggested in my first email (to Jessica only, now published also publicly here at my blog). I will be in Vegas in a few days and hope to get the chance to talk with Jessica of Cirque du Soleil in person. I hope that she will appreciate all my free tips and advice that I provided and starts getting a real grip on this whole social media thing, where she was made a marketing manager for. I won't give up on the Cirque that easily. And if their is "reasoning" then there will be a solution that will work for everybody involved and can be used by the marketing folks at the Cirque for other instances like this one, where the person on the other side does not happen to be a marketer with experience in the social media space and is also a blogger (a lucky coincidence for the Cirque, I'd like to believe).

I think this post makes the top 5 list of the longest posts written for this blog. I didn't check and will stop here to avoid to be able to be sure that this must be the longest post of them all hehe.


Carsten aka Roy/SAC

p.s. One last thing. Did you notice the new buttons below the post to enter a comment? How do you like it? I think that it is more prominent than the old simple text links.

I have not found a way to add Blogger tags to a post yet, but there might be a plug-in. That is the only issue that I encountered with the Windows Live Writer so far. There is room for hope and happiness here :).

Monday, September 08, 2008

Major YouTube Upgrade

I cannot recall when YouTube was as much unavailable for as long as it is today. Something major is cooking.

There cannot be any other reason for this significant outage. You can see the following message on all pages on the YouTube website at this moment.
"We are currently performing site maintenance. Be cool - we'll be back 100% in a bit."

The user profile pages are not accessible. You can log-in and log-out and see a bit about your subscriptions, but that is pretty much all that you can do at your account area. You cannot access your videos (for updates), upload new videos, access ratings, messages or account settings.

You can access videos via direct URL and play them, but there is no interactivity possible, such as video ratings, adding comments or adding a video to your favorites or a play list.

It also seems that videos embedded in other websites are not working. I noticed problem with that already last night, which means that this update is going on for way over 16-17 hours already. Again, the same video on the YouTube site itself still works.

Image caption: screen shot of video embed in this blog when I tried to play it.

Comments on YouTube Site
Okay, I admit, the user interface of YouTube sucked. They tried to improve things here and there, but it kept on sucking. A major overhaul of it would be great.
Google Video seems to be up, no sign of any upgrades there, although I had some issues with Google Video during the past days. So it seems that Google Video is not going to be merged into YouTube with this upgrade.

Thoughts on Google Video
Google Video seems to have more focused on the search aspect of things and tries to become something like a major Video Search Engine. They do a better job at embedding videos from 3rd party video sharing sites as well as videos that were posted on individual websites, not using a video sharing site for video hosting and distribution.

The "social" aspect of Google Video sucks as always, no improvement there. You don't even have a "user homepage" or anything like that. I figured out a way to create one for my account though. It was tricky, but at the end possible. Comments are buried and not really used (if you can find them). You cannot tell if your videos got comments, which is really "helpful". I wouldn't be able to know about them, if it weren't for a service like TubeMogul, but then again, nobody uses it anyway.

No Restriction of Video Resolution and Length (on my Wish List)
I have tons of videos on YouTube and Google Video and the main reasons for me to continue to use Google Video is the non-existing video length and video file size restriction. You can upload whatever you want and I have several videos that are longer than 10 minutes or exceed the 100 MB limit if you want to keep the video quality decent. The video resolution at Google Video is also higher than on YouTube, even the fairly new and mostly unknown High Definition option at YouTube is a joke. The video resolution might gets up to 480x360, if you are lucky, but that is again related to the size limit of the videos. I did it myself that I scaled a video down to reduce the file size, because YouTube does not play the higher resolution video anyway. I got told though that YouTube keeps the original uploaded video, along side with the encoded one for the use on their website.

It would be nice to see a change in that respect with this upgrade. No limits and higher resolution play back option, 640x480 pixels would be nice, but at least SVCD resolution (480x576 in PAL and 480x480 in NTSC) should become available.

YouTube Messaging Interface Comments
The last upgrade of YouTube, where they introduced a new messaging interface and the annotation and video overlay feature were also not ready for prime time yet. The new messaging interface solved some problems, but at the same time introduced new ones, specifically problems with navigating between comments and messages and content they refer to (comments, videos, user accounts etc.). The annotation feature was also still very buggy. I had to contact YouTube support because it did not work at all for a video when I actually needed it.

Video Update Feature (on my Wish List)
Another thing that bugs me a lot at YouTube and other video sharing sites is the lack of ability to replace a video with an updated version of it. You have to upload the almost identical video again, which many would see as a duplicate and you have to decide, if you keep the old video up (because of comments, favorites, video responses etc.) or if you take it down, delete it or at least set it to private (also something new).

Now people who argue that this would allow all kinds of abuse, like using deceptive switch and bait tactics are to some degree right, but there are options to a solution to this problem. Because there are bad people in the world, is it wrong to assume that everybody is bad until proven otherwise (an impossibility to do btw.). Previous versions of a video could be kept as reference and version history, unless very good reasons were provided for a total removal without a trace.

The option between the two cases would be to only keep as reference the date and time when the video was replaced to indicate that all comments etc. that were made before that date and time, referred to the previous version of the video and not the current one.

Pessimistic Options
Maybe it's all about infringing video content detection and making it harder for people to upload their videos and to give traditional commercial publishers more power to control distribution of "their" content (claiming a bit of content here and there along the way, where they actually own shit). I hope that this is not the case. I am fed up with this crap.

DailyMotion Incident
My YouTube issues from June are still very much in my memory, as well as all the pain it has caused. I just posted in the night from last Thursday to Friday about my updated video version about the Berlin Wall and how I was taking special care about the legal things of it.

Well, I got an email from during the weekend that one of the four parts of my video (I had to slice it down for all video sharing sites, except Google Video), were taken down, because of possible copyright infringement... I went... WHAT??? and are in email communication with DailyMotion since then. It's not up again as of now.

I added in my initial response among the requested information about the video content that "I hope that they are better than YouTube, where a large music publisher claimed to own the copyright on another video of mine, where they did not own anything (That's also called theft IMO). I stated in detail that this company can not own any copyright on anything in this video and provided names, emails and mailing addresses of the content creators and a reference to their copyright license, which permits the creation and publication of my video. YouTube did not bother and did not put it back up again. I had to re-upload it and loose all comments, stats and favorites for the original video."

They responded to that email and asked for the URL of the video (which is kind of stupid, since they should know what they did and include a key in the email notification that is being sent as a result of it to the user who uploaded it.), so my comment was not making them upset a la "Of course we are not YouTube!" mentality. Let's see how that one goes.

Well, enough speculating and hoping. It won't be for long anymore (I hope) and we will see what they came up with. Let's hope for the best.

Carsten aka Roy/SAC

Sunday, September 07, 2008

What is ASCII Art? What is ANSI? and more!

I added a significant amount of content to my ASCII Art Academy page on my site. I answered there in short what things are. I explain all this stuff in detail in various articles, but I think it is good to have a short and straight forward version on the main Academy home page as well.

Here are some examples:

What is ASCII Art?
ASCII stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange and is a text format standard for computers. ASCII art is text art that was created on computers who use this ASCII standard. The text art created on the IBM PC, which use text characters beyond the ASCII standard are also called ASCII, even though it is technically incorrect. The IBM PC become the most widely used computer in the world and people called things ASCII, even if they were not. There is no sense to debate about it, because it won't change what already happened.

What is 7-Bit ASCII?
The difference between 7-bit and 8-bit ASCII is pretty simple, assuming that you have a keyboard with the latin alphabet. 7-bit only uses characters that you can find on the keyboard. 8-bit uses additional characters that you cannot find on your keyboard, but which exist in "text mode" of the old MS DOS operating system. MS DOS hat 256 characters for text mode. Some of them are control characters and not visible, such as Carriage Return, Line Feed (Line Break), the Tab character or the Escape character. The standard US-ASCII characters are the first 128 characters of the character set, where 97 of them are usable for text and ASCII art.

What is 8-Bit ASCII?
8-bit ASCII art uses primarily characters after the 128 characters of the US-ASCII character set. You cannot find those characters on your keyboard and could only generate them via programming code, special editors (like TheDraw or ACiDDraw) or by pressing the ALT-Key and then type the character code (a number between 128 and 255) on your numeric keypad, while keeping the ALT-Key pressed. Those upper or "higher" characters are suitable for basic graphical elements, such as box borders, corners. Those characters are unique to the IBM PC and MS DOS and are not compatible with other operating systems, such as UNIX, Linux or MAC OS, which might also have an extended character set beyond the 7-bit ASCII standard, for which no standards exist..

What is ANSI?
In 1979, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) passed X3.64-1979 “Additional Controls for Use with the American National Standard Code for Information Interchange”. This standard defines a set of control sequences to manipulate the appearance of the text on the screen of computer terminals, to Bolden text, making it italic or blinking and to add some colors to your text. Microsoft added this standard to their MS-DOS operating system in a device driver called “ANSI.SYS”, which people started simply to refer to as “ANSI”. There are 16 pre-defined foreground colors, where 8 of them could also be used as background color.

The use of ANSI control sequences (called Escape sequences, because they all started with the ESC character) required special editing software, because unlike the 8-Bit upper characters, is there no easy way to generate those sequences by hand. In order for MS DOS to process and interpret those control sequences properly, a special driver had to be loaded, which came with the MS DOS operating system by default. The file for this driver was named "ANSI.SYS". This is where ANSI got his name from, which is sometimes confusing, because ANSI also stands for the American National Standards Institute, the organization who defined the US-ASCII standard.

And more...
I also added examples of the character sets 7-bit and 8-bit and the ANSI color schema. I also added a grid with the mapping of ANSI colors to HTML colors and their ESC sequence code.

New ANSI Tutorial
Another goodie that I finally added was a good and detailed ANSI tutorial by the artist Zerovision of the young ANSI art group called "Blocktronics". It uses the example of a picture that shows the movie character "Chucky" and how he re-created the picture in ANSI. It explains shading techniques and more in detail, why ZV decided to do this versus something else, etc. Very useful for beginners.

Group Update
It is funny, but I joined as of today a new computer group. Something that I didn't do for the past 10 years or so. I thought I am too old for this stuff, but then, it is a revival of an very old group by a bunch of very old guys like me (in terms of Scene life). The group is called "Canadan Pirates Inc." or CPI. A group with roots in Canada (duh) and some cracker scene history. The revived group does not do any cracking and warez anymore though. It will focus on Music, Intros, Demos and also scene history preservation, something that I already do for a few years now.

I chatted today on Facebook with Rod aka MadMax, co-founder of CPI and he asked me, if I would join. I was in touch with Rod for a while already and also had multiple lengthy phone calls about verious things, mostly whining about the lost past hehe. I said yes, so here I am... new member of CPI. :)

Well, that's some news.... I hope you will like the new content. I am out of here now.

Carsten aka Roy/SAC (and CPI)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Berlin Wall History - Lessons Learned ... Again

I did a long and detailed post about the Berlin Wall in June, titled "The Berlin Wall and the Walls between Us". It also included a 13 minutes extended edition of my video "Berlin Wall - Lessons Learned". It was already version 3 of the video (Here are the links to version 2 and version 1 of the video as well, just for the sake of completeness).

Why the different versions? Well, there are multiple reasons.

First, I improved my editing skills and was able to do things better where I was unhappy about in a previous version of the video.

I also got access to new or sometimes just better quality sources. One of the latest discoveries was a high quality video version of the episode "The Berlin Wall" from the National Geographic TV series "Turning Points Of History". That 45 minutes documentary virtually contained the video snippets of all my video sources about the 1950-1970s that I already had from elsewhere (stock footage, public domain etc.), but in much better quality.

I spent the last few days on version 4.0 of my video. This time I did re-created it entirely from scratch. It's not just an edit of the previous version. I even re-cut, re-edited and re-sorted the sources again. This version is a whopping 30 min (almost) long.

Note: Google Video messed something up. It shows only the first 5:41 minutes of the video. I will re-upload it again and try to figure out what the problem is. Once I have the full 30 minutes version up and working, I will update the links in this post.

Google Video seems to be fine again. I used the Google issue period to make some enhancements to the video. It is now also slightly longer than before and surpasses the 30 minutes mark now. (30:20 min or something like that). I also updated the Link to and got the AVI file-size reduced thanks to the use of H.264 video and AC3 audio compression. It's about half the size of the previous Xvid/Mp3 encoded version, which I deleted.

I also refrained from using any music that might infringe a little bit copyright here and there. It is using all Classic music (with the creators dead for far longer than 50 or 70 years). It is in some cases matching even better than the music that I used before, but unfortunately not always. I had to make some compromises for the sake of legal purity :).

Music Credits
  • Samuel Barber "Adagio for Strings"
  • Richard Strauss "Also sprach Zarathustra"
  • Richard Addinsell "Warsaw Concerto"
  • Carl Orff "Carmina Burana, 1st mvt 'O Fortuna'"
  • Franz Schubert "Serenade"
  • Georges Bizet "Carmen Suite No. 1 & 2"

I don't think that using the National Geographic documentary footage (logo blurred out) is an issue, because they also just used stock footage from CNN and other media sources. This video is not commercial in nature and CNN and others should not have a problem with my use of their stock footage.

So here is the 30 min video

Feel free to comment and tell me what you think about the video. I am also open for any suggestions, praise and criticism :).


Carsten aka Roy/SAC