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Don’t panic 30 September, 2008 at 5:15 am

The phrase “Don’t panic” appeared to a couple of times in the past few days, reminding me of the words supposedly adorning the cover of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in the book by Douglas Adams of the same name.

First instance – Brick Lane, Saturday night: a guy handing out flyers spotted one of the Don’t Panic flyer packs nearby and picked it up (so it seems flyering is a two-way street after all!). I mentioned to him that they can usually be found in the record shop down the road (though when I went to said record shop on Monday evening I didn’t see any).

Second instance – in “The Shadows in the Cave” (part 3 of the documentary The Power of Nightmares), Lewis Z Koch from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists says on dirty bombs:

The danger from radioactivity is basically next-to-nothing. The danger from panic, however, is horrendous. That’s where the irony comes. … (Is) Instead of the government saying, ‘look, this is not a serious weapon; the serious danger of this is the panic that would ensue, and there is no reason for panic. Don’t panic.’

I did a search for the phrase and found an interesting reference. George Zebrowski asked Arthur C Clarke in an interview, “If you were addressing humankind, and all its groups were listening, what advice would you give?” Clarke’s answer:

The best advice I think was given by Douglas Adams: “Don’t panic.”

There you go. Enough said, really.

In other news… the last Mind! gig at The Dogstar (Wed 17 September, as advertised in my previous post) didn’t go so well. I’d arrived early to set up only to find a football match onscreen, so no access until that had finished, then being told by the bar manager to stop what I was doing when trying to set up later, citing liability concerns. I’d made sure I was back in London from my trip especially for the gig, so felt a bit miffed that I’d left Berlin that morning for nothing. I’d even booked a hostel in Brixton that night and the following day to be close by. Hindsight is, or can be, painful.

The Sunday of that weekend saw the inaugural Sound on Vision event at Vibe Lounge on Brick Lane. I arrived around 2pm to set up and was on from about 5pm. I decided to start with a minimal setup and build up the content from there. I had some heat from Mowgli as he didn’t think it was eye-catching enough, but had someone ask me about one of the clips I used while I was playing and later had some positive feedback from someone else who had been watching. Mowgli noted some lack of contrast, suggesting that images usually need to be blown out to “too much” on your screen to look okay as a projection. Criticism noted. I’m going to have to work out a way to increase the contrast whilst still allowing for a dreamlike mixture of multiple layers, which might in itself be spoiled by too much contrast! Experimentation required.

This past Friday night I went to the British Film Institute (the BFI) at Southbank in London for the AV Social, something I’ve been looking forward to for a while now. It is an interesting venue, and I had some idea to go back on Saturday, but I left it a little too late to head down there in the evening, so had a look around Brick Lane instead.

I’ve also recently been reading about OpenFrameworks, the D programming language, and Ruby (as a language and as Ruby on Rails). Nothing exciting to talk about just yet. I installed Aptana Studio to try out Ruby on Rails, and was following some tutorial only to have something fail that probably shouldn’t be failing (setting up or starting some kind of server) before getting to any code. I did drop a simple “Hello World” script on the webserver to see if it will run, and at least that worked. As with the visuals mentioned above, experimentation required (and study!).

Latest news is that I’ve finally booked a flight to Denmark in October for some birthdays. It will be nice to see one of my best mates and some other friendly faces there, and no doubt become reacquainted with the legendary “Fisk” (Fisherman’s Friend and vodka).


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