Saturday, January 26, 2008

U2 movie

I found that a concert movie of U2 on their Vertigo tour was playing. Even better was that it was in 3D. Even better still, it was at the IMAX theatre in Culver City. U2 in 3D - woohoo! We went to see it. The theatre was packed. We should have got tickets beforehand, but were able to buy some of the few remaining tickets in the very front row. (Of course I’m happy with tickets in the front row. Marianne was a little bit hesitant, but by now she’s sat close enough times - and in front a few times - that she was a good sport and went along. It was great.

That is, this was one of the best concert films I’ve seen. The directors had great camera placement, with multiple cameras, and had multiple angles and tracking shots. Basically, the shots and angles did not get boring. Not that a U2 concert could be boring, but it was not a simple documentary with one or two cameras in static positions.

In fact the shots were taken not from one or two concerts, but from several - maybe 6 to 8 - across much of South America. The really good scenes or best songs from each concert were edited together so skillfully that we the viewer could not tell that there were several concerts over several days or even weeks. We simply could not tell that this wasn’t one single concert from beginning to end.

So. This was a really good concert film.

But it was then made even better by being shot and shown in 3D. Apparently all the shots were done with two cameras for each shot, and shot in cross polarization. We had to wear polarized glasses to see the film in 3D as well. (I peeked over the glasses a couple of times just to see what the pictures looked like without, and they were definitely not red/blue.) The 3D picture quite realistic, though not totally. More particularly, it was not gimmicky. The 3D effect was not there for the sake of itself but really added a subtle effect to the pictures of the band and the crowds, and it was good and not intrusive. Sitting up front we were able to see that there was a flatness to the images of Bono, so that he looked a little bit like an animation of a picture of Bono on a lifesize cardboard cutout. On the other hand, we were in the front row in an IMAX theater so he appeared so close that we felt as though we could reach out and touch him.

I’ve never been to a U2 concert though. So it was interesting to see Bono up close and to listen to him in such great sound. He’s not actually a very good singer - though I’ll admit that he is seriously emotional and committed to the lyrics. Which is great too. He is so committed that he is sweating like he just came out of a shower, and sometimes he’s so fatigued and out of breath that he has to stop, lean over and catch his breath. Edge, on the other hand, is the epitome of cool. Adam Clayton is like “fashion boy”, even though he’s the bass player and is supposed to be the calm cool disinterested one. (Think John Entwistle.)

I’ve seen some people speculate (in Salon letters) about 3D being too gimmicky and they “don’t like it”. But they’d never seen it. This movie was really great. Sure, the theater was full of fans so they’d like the movie already, but we really were impressed by the movie, its content and the skill with which is was directed and edited, and the musicianship and showmanship, and it was simply enhanced by the 3D. So if you get a chance to see it - and you’re even just a little bit of a U2 fan - then go see it.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Computing Systems Security

I was scheduled to start a class at UCLA Extension this evening in Vulnerability Assessment and Auditing, but it was cancelled (only three people signed up). Too bad, as it sounded very relevant to my new job:

Security professionals, auditors, and IT management must evaluate the security of their systems, both to ensure protection of critical business information and to meet an increasing array of regulatory requirements. This course provides an overview of security assessment methods and introduces technical tools for conducting security assessments. Key distinctions between information security audits, vulnerability assessments, and penetration testing are clarified. Assessment methodologies covered include audit general control reviews, Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard, National Security Agency (NSA) INFOSEC Assessment Methodology, and NIST SP 800-30 risk assessment methods. Technical assessments of Windows and Unix environments are discussed, and open-source evaluation tools (such as nmap and nessus) are demonstrated.

Somewhat ironically, tomorrow morning I'm off to MacWorld Expo in San Francisco to be a speaker on auditing, actually - Using Common Criteria Tools Under Mac OS X - How To Audit Systems for Compliance with Business and Government Standards. This is the second year I'll be giving this presentation topic (I gave it in Jan 2007 also). Last year was successful, so along with repeating this presentation I also pitched the MWSF technical chief on doing a BOF session for Federal Systems Administration and Integration. They liked that idea, so I'm leading the discussion in that also (assuming anybody shows up at 6:30 PM). It is supposed to include the following, but as a BOF I think we can be flexible.
  • Configuring Macs for Federal Use
  • Auditing
  • CAC Cards
  • Problems and Solutions
  • Differences in Inspection Requirements
It will be interesting to see how this goes.

I'll be giving largely the same presentation this year that I gave last year, with only a few additions or changes. This is even though Apple has gone completely to Intel CPUs, and to OS X 10.5. I point this out because they haven't actually released the BSM installers for Intel (they can be got by special request), and they don't have BSM ready for OSX 10.5 either (not available by special request!).

Most of the people in the audience will understand though that I am not an Apple employee, or even a messenger from Apple.

Will be fun. (And I hope the swag bag is just as goody-laden as last year!)