This is Zach's personal blog. If you're looking for his movies, please click here. Otherwise, have fun!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007



Edit: Shit, I already used that phrase. Oh, well.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


My conquering of the iPhone Developer Paradise continues apace... the various versions of have been downloaded nearly 500 times since version 0.1, and that's only direct downloads from Google Code; the package downloads don't count in that, I think.

I'm kinda enjoying the notoriety. Now I just have to maintain my sanity in the face of all these darn users. Pesky users, interfering with my perfect code...

Monday, August 13, 2007


I've gone and released the first version of, my native eBook reader for the iPhone, and despite being on-line for only 18 hours and heving no direct publicity from me, it's already gotten 50 downloads. That's pretty kewl.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Had a nice dinner last night with Godfrey and his wife, but I'm just hoping we didn't give them fodder for a submission to They'll Do It Every Time:
Mr. & Mrs. Sooperparent always complain that they never have adult conversations because they stay with their kids all the time....

... but when they finally go out with friends, guess who they talk about all night? OHHHH, YEAAHHHH!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Oh, snap!

Sweet! I can use GutenMark to automagically split chapters with abandon, and as a side-effect the books will look much, much prettier! I've already got one book converted...

More Books.

Still plugging along at that iPhone eBook reader. I've now developed it to the point where it can break things down by chapter.

Here's a look at the list of books; note the disclosure triangle indicating you can access the book's chapters (which is just a directory). (I've only split one book up so far--ideally I'd have the iPhone do this automatically, but I think it might be better to have a "server-side" program do that and transfer the resulting files to the phone, à la iTunes.) Here is a list of chapters; the titles are just taken from the names of the text files, so again it's pretty simple. And finally here is a chapter being read; notice that the back-arrow says "Chapters," but it says "Books" if you access a book that doesn't have any chapters.

More to come!


Two headlines in today's Washington Post:
  • Primary Season Getting Earlier
  • Bush May Try to Cut Corporate Tax Rates
In other news, the pope may be Catholic and snowballs melt in Hell.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Books on a Phone, part 2!

Well, I coded my first "app" for the iPhone today, a very simple dealio that presents a list of text files (i.e. eBooks) and presents the one you click on so you can read it. These are eBooks on your phone itself, not the web! Hot darn!

At the moment it's very ugly and kludgy; you don't remember your scroll-point or anything, so if you leave the program to do anything else, you're SOL and have to start reading from the beginning. It only works with text files (no HTML or anything else). And there aren't any chapter divisions yet.

But it's a good first step.

I put a couple of screenshots here and here.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Different ways of seeing the world.

K: You're on Twitter? Isn't that a little too encouraging to stalkers?
Me: I have a stalker? Cool!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

In response to a comment below.

Let me be clear, I don't want to ape Pixar... Well, not really. But I do want my animation to be, y'know, GOOD. And mostly, right now, I think it's fear that's holding me back at the moment. (And before I get deep into this, let me emphasize that I completely agree with Lango that one should make a film to make a film, not get a job; in fact that's my standard answer now when people ask me whether I want a job in The Industry.)

Fear of what? I don't know. I suppose there's a lot of mourning there as well. I was already a bit out of the animation mode when my father died, and in some way that's made thing even more difficult to take up again. That's a kind of fear, isn't it?

But mostly, I'm just bloody lazy, and I want to be fluent in my new software immediately, no learning required. I suppose I ought to start over with C4D the way I started with Hash A:M--slowly and with tiny projects at first. Let "Citizen Kane" come later.

So--back to basics with a small story, just to learn, not to distribute.

But I've gotten so spoiled by all them film festivals!

Speaking of which, on September 28, <ESC> will open the Philadelphia FirstGlance film fest. All my Philadelphia peeps, I expect to see you there. More info is at this link.

A Tale of Two Softwares.

Saw Ratatouille yesterday, and as usual when I see a Pixar movie, I was partly enthralled by the story and filmmaking, yet depressed by the quality of the animation and how far I am from that skill level. Now I know, come on, I'm not going to be able to compete with the best CGI studio Of All Time, after all there are multiple layers of criticism over each animator, which even if I had the skill of the average Pixar animator, I wouldn't have, working alone as I do. Nonetheless, with each passing day that I don't animate, and there have been a lot of them, my skills and ideas are atrophying, and my chances for Making a Splash are decreasing.

I may be so down on it because I made a major purchase of a new animation toolkit a while back, and learning the new skill-set for it is hard. My old software was fantastic for animation, and still is, on balance, but the render times are horribly slow, especially on a Mac. Not to mention, the owner of the company is extremely active in the user community, which would be great if he wasn't such a megalomaniac! I may yet go back to the software, but not back to the community, that's for damn sure.

The new software is rock-solid and renders beautifully, but the animation toolset is primitive, comparably. And animation is what it's all about for me. So I may have no choice but to go back to the old...

In the mean time, I'll find something else to be depressed about, I'm sure.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

And what's with that eye-stick?

We're about a week behind on Daily Shows, and tonight we watched the episode featuring historian Robert Dallek. While his work on Nixon and Kissinger sounds extremely interesting, I have to admit I was somewhat disturbed when, as the interview was winding down, he shouted "EXTERMINATE!" and vaporized Jon Stewart.


I've gone ahead and created a Twitter account. If you feel like knowing what I'm doing at every darn instant of every darn day, go ahead and subscribe at And please let me know if you have been Twittered; as of now I only have one person who I'm following, and I'd love to add more.

Hooray for time-wasters. Now, back to your regularly scheduled iPhone blogging.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Books on a Phone!

One thing which must, must, MUST be remedied is eBooks on the iPhone. I was thinking of creating some sort of WebKit interface (as soon as I learned WebKit, anyway) to allow one to convert Gutenberg text files to a more iPhone-friendly interface on-the-fly. Well, as it turns out I don't have to, because some other people have gotten there first.

For instance, visit, which has hundreds of texts from Gutenberg already available in an iPhone friendly HTML format, as well as small PDF files. The HTML implementation is a little wonky at the moment, but I assume it will get better with time.

The other alternative is, which looks promising according to a brief review in iPhone Dispatch. Alas, I can't evaluate it myself, as they'll be upgrading their servers all weekend.

edit: Matthew (that's Mr. Manybooks himself!) mentions in comments, another alternative which looks very promising. Personally, with the creation of the unoffical iPhone SDK, I believe the best solution would be a custom-made app based on GutenMark. But my ideas have always been bigger than my coding ability...


Not to mention that I've already gotten SPAM, damn it, even though this new address has been online for literally MINUTES and is not listed ANYWHERE on the web. Arrrgh!!!!!

Here's what I was going to say.

One more issue has not to do with the iPhone itself, but with the services Apple has advertised as working with it.

I'm speaking of the free push IMAP email from Yahoo!, of course. Now, I've never used any kind of push email system before. I have no basis for comparison. But Yahoo's taking a hell of a long time to get a mail I sent to myself--and if you don't get mail immediately after it's sent, well, what's the point of push email at all?

Were I someone who needed ultra fast email, I'd go back to my POP account. As it is, I may do that anyway.

Does someone who has used push email before have any insight on this? This isn't a limitation of the IMAP system, is it?

Here's another major problem.

This is rapidly turning into an iPhone blog, isn't it?

Another issue, not related to rgw ipho e itself, but rsthet to the services Apple id attenpting to bubdle with it.

You know what the problem is, right dear rwaders? Thr auypcorrect has crashed again!

At the very leadt i think i know wjat makes it happen. When you scroll within an edit box on a web page, Safari cant handle it. That is, it zcrolls fibe, bit afterward it doesnt correct things. The workarpund us to hit "Done" to dismiss the keyboard, then scroll, then touch the efit box again. A major pain in fhe ass. Time to send s bug teport tp Apple.

As always, ill write this post again once o force quot Safari mpbile.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Let's try that again.

What was I saying?

The iPhone is not, however, the best iPod Apple has ever made by any means. Leave aside the mere 4 or 8 gigs of memory it has--after all, plenty of people own nanos. Rather, I really miss the ability to scan through a song or podcast with the scroll wheel; on the iPhone you're limited to a single horizontal bar in which you drag a ... A... A whatchamacallit. A drag circle thingy. Whatever. The point is, if you're listening to a very long audio file, like a podcast, you're much less accurate when doing so, because there's much less resolution. Trying to skip, for instance, all the disclaimers at the top of "On the Media", which takes up about 45 seconds, is next to impossible. While I'm sure the folks at WNYC are pleased as punch about that, I find it a real drag.

So I won't be abandoning my video iPod anytime soon. But I am glad that I no longer need to sync contacts or calendars to it--not that I used that feature much anyway.
However, the phone is not the best iPod Apple has ever made, despite their assertions to the contrary. One feature I really miss is the easy ability to scan through a song or podcast with the scroll wheel; the iphone doesnt have ascrill sheel, and god damn ir, theauto correction has turned off again! Grr. Anyway, if you cab figure out what im sayying wirhout it, at the very least ktll give an idea of how rhe sausage is made. Im gonna save thus as a draft and ill be back.

Okay, let's see if that made a sifferenxe. Nope!

Noe ive turned the screen back to pprtraot mode. Np better. I think the autocorrect software mudt have cdrashed or something.

oll try to rrweite this post in a moment, oncr i restatt Safari.

All thumbs.

The biggest problem with mobile Safari right now is its stability. Even after the most recent 1.0.1 software update, I still get frequent crashes (in fact, I got one during that very sentence). I really do hope Apple can get its act together soon, because browsing the web with a finger is actually a much more pleasant experience than doing so with a mouse. It's amazing how much more pleasant, in fact--I now find myself reaching for the phone over the computer much of the time, and I don't think it's just novelty. You really have a sense of being deep in the page, and you don't miss scroll bars at all.

In other news, I'm oddly comfortable with the smaller, portrait orientation keyboard, probably because I'm getting quite fast with one-finger typing, analogous, I suppose, with the fact that I never learned to touch-type. Perhaps if I practice with the thumbs a bit more I'll chnngw my mind. Given that last typo was done with my thumbs, though, maybe not. My thumbs are just too big. I wonder if they hired the hand model on the various iPhone videos based on that criterion...


[Sentator Arlen] Specter said Gonzales should not have any say in the intelligence-gathering at issue.... "I think we can do without an attorney general for six months; we've done without one for a long time."

Via TPM.