Finding the RSS feeds

Stephen wrote in to say that the RSS feeds were acting up. I think I’ve addressed the problem, particularly with Firefox’s “live bookmarks” pointing in the wrong directions. (If you’re having an issue where “Live Bookmark failed to load,” delete the bookmark and make a new one.)

You can always find the right links for the RSS and Atom feeds in the cleverly-named “Feeds” section on the right. But for your convenience, here they are as well.

For Atom: http://johnaugust.com/feeds/atom
For RSS 2: http://johnaugust.com/feeds/rss2
For RSS .92: http://johnaugust.com/feeds/rss

Copy and paste these URLs into your newsreader of choice. Or, if you’re using Firefox, just click on the tiny orange button in the bottom-right corner of the window, and select your preferred version of the feed.


Phantom of the Opera

phantomFirst off, this is not a film review. If it were, I’d write about the performances, production design, music and all all the other factors that make or break a movie. Also, I’ve met the director and co-screenwriter, Joel Schumacher, who is every bit as nice as his reputation. So I don’t want it to be weird next time I say hello to him at some event. Rather, I just want to point out some story issues that stuck out to me — things I’d want to tackle if I’d gotten the script before it went into production.

I saw Phantom of the Opera last night. This was my first exposure to it — I never saw the stage musical, nor read the book. I can say I’m glad I saw it. There were things that really worked, and things that didn’t. What was interesting, and frustrating, is that a lot of the film’s biggest issues were on the page.

Be advised that everything from this point forward is full of spoilers.

Phantom is essentially a love triangle. You have Christine, the gifted chorus girl. Raoul, the unaccountably hot viscount. And The Phantom, a deformed genius who lurks around the Paris opera house where the story is set.

Christine is an orphan, natch, who was raised by Madame Giry in the opera dormitory. Before he died, Christine’s father promised an Angel of Music would watch over her. And in fact, that’s what the Phantom has been doing. He’s the voice in the darkness who’s been giving her singing lessons. So far, it feels like Beauty and the Beast.

Here’s where the movie gets into some very un-Disney territory. The Phantom has been essentially a surrogate father to this girl, and in fact pretends to be the spirit of her father at times — and yet he wants to marry her and, well, ravage her. Don’t get me wrong: I love that it’s kind of sick and twisted. But the movie never really does anything with this idea. No one calls him on it, or points out that Madame Giry has essentially been pimping out Christine to an evil lech who lives in the sewers.

(more…)


Why does anyone still use Internet Explorer?

One benefit of switching my new webhost, TextDrive, is that they have a much cooler statistics program called Urchin. With it, I can see a lot of information about who’s visiting the site, and what articles they’re reading. Plus, I can learn what browsers they’re using. Here are the current percentages:

26% Internet Explorer
22% Firefox
 5% Safari
 3% Opera

(The numbers don’t add up to 100%, because I’m omitting RSS readers, robots and specialty browsers, such as those on mobile phones.)

I’m genuinely curious to find out why anyone is still using Internet Explorer, when there are much better options. Firefox is available for both Windows and Mac, and is superior on just about every level. It’s faster; it blocks pop-ups; it offers modern tabbed browsing. It even automatically imports all your old bookmarks.

If you haven’t at least tried it, stop reading and get it.

One thing the official site doesn’t explain is that it actually makes web pages look much better. That’s because it properly supports modern standards like CSS and .png graphics. For instance, compare the brad icon in the upper left right corner:

brad comparison

Currently website developers have two choices. They can make their sites compatible with published standards (and support Firefox, Safari and Opera), or they can support Internet Explorer. Increasingly, they’re simply giving up on Internet Explorer, which hasn’t been properly updated in a long time.

That’s what I’ve chosen to do. With a day or two of work, I could probably get johnaugust.com looking better with IE, but I’m convinced it’s not worth the bother.


Non-errors in English

Via The Tin Man comes this helpful site listing a lot of the most common “non-errors” in English. A non-error is defined as one of those prescriptive rules of grammar or usage that fussy people insist on pointing out, even though they’re generally wrong. For example, “since” versus “because.” I agree with pretty much every point made. In this case, if a “mistake” has been consistently made since the 14th Century, you really can’t call it a mistake.

It’s certainly worth a look.

While you’re at it, you might also check out my earlier rant about “data.”


Corpse Bride trailer up

Corpse BrideThe trailer for Corpse Bride is now up at Apple. Before you ask, I don’t know if this is a teaser or the final trailer. It does a good job setting up what the movie is about, so I’m not sure they’ll need to cut a longer version.

Corpse Bride is the second animated movie I’ve worked on, the first being Titan A.E.. Unlike Titan, which was a combination of traditional and computer animation, Corpse Bride was done with stop-motion animation like Tim Burton’s earlier The Nightmare Before Christmas. The artistry behind the animation is painstaking — each frame you shoot is pretty much the way it’s going to be in the final film.

From a writer’s perspective, there’s not a lot of difference between writing for animation and writing a normal live-action movie. Where you feel the difference is in production and post. In “normal” movies, it’s not too hard to re-arrange a scene, or change a line of dialogue in editing. With this technique, there’s less wiggle room. Once the shutter clicks, you’re pretty much locked. In some ways, that’s liberating. It means there’s a lot more attention to the details from the outset.

The movie comes out at Halloween in the States. (I’m not sure about the rest of the world.)


Archives section (temporarily) broken

As someone pointed out — and many others have discovered — the Archives link on the right is broken. Click it and you’ll get a bunch of MySQL gibberish, which is actually the result of a few PHP commands that aren’t doing what they’re supposed to.

The move from the old web host to the new one went remarkably smoothly, but this one section didn’t make the transition. I’m working on it, but it could be a few days. Or weeks. I’ll let you know when it’s back up and running.