Lair Deadline is set

As a pal mentioned here in the comments, I should have the Lair ready by the premiere of the next Batman movie, The Dark Knight. The movie will feature a new Batcave, which you shouldn't underestimate as an influence on Lair design.

So, this year, by July 18th, when the movie premieres, the Lair will be finished. Of course I have no idea what it being finished means, but I will figure it out.

I must catch this when it comes to town

I know, I should be beyond the Star Trek thing by now. The only Vegasy thing I did in Vegas in 98 was catch Star Trek: The Experience at the Vegas Hilton. Loved it.

But Star Trek: The Tour is coming to DC. No way I miss that. Thanks to Wil Wheaton for pimping it on his blog. The more of his stuff I read, the more I like him.

Oh, and on a related note, the Lair is coming along. Still looks like a basement corner, but it's taking shape. When it's done, it will be Lair 1.0 still, but 1.0 is better than 0.0.

The Truth about High Def DVDs

A couple months back, I bought a Playstation 3 in part to upscale DVDs to near high def and to play high definition DVDs. At that point, and even now, there has been a format war between HD DVD (Toshiba) and Blu-ray (Sony). Blu-ray has sold more discs but Toshiba has sold more single-purpose players (not counting the PS3, which if counted, hands the player race to Sony). They also had pulled in most of the studios to their side. So I bet on Blu-ray.

Looks like I was right. Sony just scooped Toshiba to sign Warner Bros., the biggest DVD content studio, to an exclusive Blu-ray only deal. It's over.

Some say that this is all moot because we'll all be downloading movies to our TVs and DVDs will go the way of vinyl LPs. Not so fast. The American internet is too slow to handle standard definition TV, much less high def. Video on demand has not taken off for standard def and that is the closest analog to downloadable movies. No one wants to be in the middle of a thriller and then hit internet lag, or worse yet, wait three hours to download a two hour movie.

The cosmic reward for excellence

One of the truths about life seems to be that the world takes notice when someone does something difficult, and does it well. Everyday acts of excellence, like landing a plane safely, or keeping the internet infrastructure operating, are well compensated. Apple and Google have done really well, and it's not an accident. Pro sports performers and entertainers rake it in because they are that good, people recognize it and money and acclaim just flow.

Maybe this is an intentionally constructed feedback loop by human society or maybe it's unintentional. Since it's not always noticeable via financial compensation, the feedback mechanism can be hard to spot ('she's, like, the best cupcake maker ever'). It's still pretty neat to see nonetheless. Whenever you come across one of those really well done things, it's a 'wow' moment.

Reading Charles Stross' science fiction is becoming a consistent 'wow' experience. Like Neal Stephenson and Richard K. Morgan, reading him prompts feelings of both 'wow, this is good' and 'I can only wish to tell stories like this.' He is the cutting edge of sci-fi. Chris Nolan is one of the cutting edge filmmakers and most of his movies are so good that I could easily start from the beginning after each ends (he made Memento, Batman Begins and The Prestige).

In general it takes about 10 years for someone to become an expert at something. They may be unrecognized, even by themself, as being just barely proficient until they make it all the way to expert level, but that doesn't mean that their mastery isn't advancing the whole time. I have seen this happen in my own line of work. Also, I have stared at my own lack of expertise in writing a novel for years and slowly watched myself chip away at it. I can see it happening with Guitar Hero III, which I got for Christmas, and have gained a whole new appreciation for real guitar players.

While it's fun to be at the crest of the learning curve, starting at zero can be very tough. There may be a learning curve restart at work on a project that is daunting considering the 10 year rule. It can be downright terrifying for the early retired or laid off who have to find a new field just to bring home a paycheck.

As a shout out to those who I think are experts in what they do, and who I aspire to follow gamely, this site will now add 'The Pros' links to the people who are recognized as having their expert shit together. Since I use the ToT site myself for interweb-wanderings, it's also a reference section for me, but please abuse it for your own pleasure.

So Happy New Year, and good luck to all who are just starting a new expertise learning curve or are already on their way. Remember, by 2018 latest, people will bow in your general direction.
For those who are procrastinating a needed start at the bottom of a learning curve, remember, the universe loves excellence. And you don't want to wait till 2019 to be an expert, do you?