DIY Air Canada Advert

I’m sure most people have come across the Air Canada TV adverts, which more often than not are a series of nice shots of Canada, generally designed to make Canada look attractive! Anyway, I came across the chance to build your own Air Canada advert linked in to their post bankruptcy campaign. The site also includes the three Canadian Commercials. (The widescreen British TV version with a different selection of clips is available on this ad agency site)

The music for this particular campaign is You and I by Celine Dion, and there is some suspicion that Air Canada probably paid rather a lot for her participation when you take a look at the video, which includes rather a lot of shots of the new terminal at Toronto Airport, and Air Canada planes, and a rather expensive looking final shot. David Akin, a CTV politics reporter has a blog entry on the video and campaign, complete with a copy of the video. As the blog reminds us, it is worth considering that this campaign came out at the time when most of the Air Canada staff were being asked to take a pay cut.

Anyway, if you want a whole hour of Air Canada advert style shots of Canada, take a look at Over Canada, which covers the whole country from coast to coast on High Definition DVD or video.

We Won!

Excuse me if I milk it a bit, but after years of going along to quiz evenings and being hot competition for the wooden spoon, tonight we went along to a Quiz Night at which our table actually won. More than that we won a prize in the raffle too.

Looking at how we actually won, we didn’t win any of the regular rounds, except for the music round, thanks to the slightly embarassing fact that I was the only person in the room who knew who sang ‘Oh Ah, Just A Little Bit’ in the Eurovision Song Contest… What we scored best on were the table quiz rounds, which were worth a total of 40 points, and which we got all correct.

Anyway, the two highlights of the evening have to be firstly Ed, our quiz master, giving away an answer, and also in the local anagram round, Rev Richard failing to spot that one of the anagrams was “Reverend Richard”.

Of course, normal service will be resumed at the next quiz night I’m sure!

Shattered Glass

Listen to this story – it’s a good’un!

Up-and-coming reporter is the darling of a well-respected political magazine. One day, a rival magazine requests to do a follow-up on a recent story by the young star, but they are having a few problems verifying some facts in said story. Asked to account for this, young star provides phone numbers – which lead to voicemails. He provides the URL of a corporate website – on AOL’s members area. He provides an email address for a teenager – on holiday in early May. As things tumble around his ears, it turns out that 27 of the 41 stories written for this well-respected magazine have been partly or fully made up.
Pulled out of the air.

This story. Fact or fiction?

Actually, both.

Shattered Glass is a film starring Hayden Christensen (of Anniken Skywalker fame) who plays the real-life journalist who lives a Walter Mitty-like existence, making up fabulous stories to entertain his co-workers and his readers alike, and to feed his own ego. In 1998, Stephen Glass was a young, but respected journalist at Washington’s New Statesman, a political magazine known for ripping its competition to shreds. He was able to slip by the fact-checkers at the magazine because they had made the fatal mistake of first hiring him as such a person, enabling him to understand how to get around the rigorous process of checking and re-checking all facts before print.

And now, being completely discredited as a journalist, how does he spend his time? He’s recently published a book, called The Fabulist, about… you guessed it! A journalist working for a respectable magazine who makes up the majority of his stories. He’s also used the intervening 5 years to earn a law degree from Georgetown University, although according to a 60 Minutes interview, there is some difficulty with him being admitted to the bar in New York – something about his character and his fitness to practise law??

Although the film wasn’t an earth-shatteringly good production, I was enthralled throughout because the story is just so unbelievable. All the way through you feel that this is the moment when he’s going to be caught, this is the moment when his co-workers will see through his lies, but again and again they give him the benefit of the doubt. And although Hayden Christensen was (in my opinion), somewhat wooden in Star Wars, he is quite convincing as Mr. Glass, who uses the fact that he is the youngest member of the staff (and therefore the most vulnerable and in need of protection) to great advantage. He actually cried on the shoulders of his fellow writers and editors, people who he was duping in order to feed his own fame.

I’d see it again – just to track through his lies and marvel at the sheer cojones of someone who is willing to sacrifice his career, and those of his colleagues, in order to get a story.

Shattered Glass [2004] The Fabulist

Cross Platform Gaming

I’ve had a decidedly frustrating evening trying to get this:

Rise of Nations Gold Edition (Mac) to talk to this: Rise Of Nations (Gold PC)

For those of you trying to work out the difference, the box on the left is Rise of Nations Gold Edition (Mac) and the box on the right is Rise Of Nations Gold Edition (PC). On screen both look the same, and play the same, and have the same features. In addition, both feature the ability to play multiplayer games, and have identical instructions on how to connect multiple machines to each other, even down to using the same UDP port for the connection. The Mac version is the more recent release, and quite happily talks about multiplayer gaming, however the key point I have now spotted is that it never mentions what the other machines are running – MacOS X or Windows. In fact the whole issue of cross-platform support is strangely not mentioned on any official sites, or reviews, and it is only when I found some discussion of problems on a couple of gaming forums that I found out about the issue. The Mac version and the PC version are incompatible.

It is worth saying at this point that cross-platform gaming is fairly common – I have quite happily played Unreal Tournament 2003 and Unreal Tournament against PC owning friends, and Warcraft III together with other titles from Blizzard Entertainment ship with both PC and Mac versions in the same box. In general there is no problem swapping files between Mac and PC, we even have a Mac version of Office!

Office Mac for Students and Teachers Edition 2004

The problem with Rise of Nations is not a technical incompatibility. In fact it comes down to one thing – DirectX – or more precisely the fact that the game uses the DirectPlay library to provide it’s multi-user support. Whilst Microsoft has quite happily licensed the game to MacSoft, that didn’t include DirectPlay support, so the Mac version had to have a rewritten multi-user engine. As a result Mac versions can talk to other Mac versions, and PC versions to other PC versions, but they can’t talk to each other. So either I have to upgrade our ancient PC to be able to play, or everybody else needs to get a Mac. Either that, or maybe one day, somebody will port DirectPlay!