The roads I take...
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March 5th, 2020
Picard Filming Sites: Season 1, Part 1
This has gone as far as me doing several presentations about the topic - two of which (one in German, one in English language) I will give at this year's FedCon as well, and creating an experimental website at filmingsites.com where I note all locations used in Star Trek productions as soon as I become aware of them.
In the last few years, around the Star Trek Las Vegas Conventions, I did get the chance to have a few days traveling around Los Angeles and vicinity, visit a few locations and take pictures there. And after Discovery being filmed up in the Toronto area (and generally using quite few locations outside the studios), Picard is back producing in Southern California and using plenty of interesting places! And now with the first half of season 1 in the books (or at least ready to watch for us via streaming), here are a few filming sites I found in those episodes:
And we actually get started with our first location (picture is a still from the series) in "Remembrance" right after Picard wakes up from the "cold open" dream sequence: Château Picard was filmed at Sunstone Winery's Villa this time (after different places were used in its TNG appearances). The Winery's general manager even said "We encourage all the Trekkies and Trekkers to come visit us." - so I guess I'll need to put it in my travels plans soon.
Another one I haven't seen yet but will need to put in my plans to see is One Culver, previously known as Sony Pictures Plaza. That's where the scenes in the Daystrom Institute were shot - interestingly, in walking distance to the location of the former Desilu Culver soundstages (now "The Culver Studios") and its backlot (now a residential area), where the original Star Trek series shot its first episodes and several outdoor scenes of later ones as well. One Culver's big glass front structure and the huge screen on its inside are clearly visible multiple times in Picard's Daystrom Institute scenes, as is the rainbow arch behind it on the Sony Studios parking lot. Not having been there, I could only include a promotional picture from their website here.
Now a third filming site that appears in "Remembrance" is actually one I do have my own pictures of: After seeing the first trailer for Picard and getting a hint where that building depicted that clip is, I made my way last summer to a place close to Disneyland and took a few pictures of Anaheim Convention Center. Walking by to the main entrance, I found the attached Arena to just look good, so I also got one shot of that one in - and then I see that in this episode, they used it as the Starfleet Archive Museum!
Of course, in the second episode, "Maps and Legends", we then see the main entrance, where Picard goes to meet the C-in-C, so presumably Starfleet headquarters. It looks like the roof scenes with Dahj would actually be on the same building, on satellite pictures, there seems to be an area with those stairs South of the main entrance. I'm still a bit sad though that Starfleet seems to have moved their headquarters and it's not the Tillman administration building any more that was used in previous series (actually, for both headquarters and the Academy - so maybe it comes back in some series as the Academy, with its beautiful Japanese garden).
Of course, at the end of this episode we get to Raffi's home, and we stay there for a bit and see more of it in "The End is the Beginning". The description in the episode tells us it's located at a place called "Vasquez Rocks" - and this time, that's actually the real filming site! Now, Trekkies know this of course, as a whole lot of Trek has been filmed there - most famously the fight between Kirk and the Gorn captain in "Arena". Vasquez Rocks has surely been of the most-used Star Trek filming sites over the years, though - at least before Picard - I'd say that it ranked second behind Bronson Canyon. How what's nowadays a Natural Area park becomes a place to live in by 2399 is up to anyone's speculation.
I guess in the 3 introductory episodes we had more different filming sites than in any of the two whole seasons of Discovery seen so far, but right in the next episode, Absolute Candor, we got yet another interesting place! A lot of that episode plays on the planet Vashti, with three sets of scenes on their main place with the bar setting: In the "cold open" / flashback, when Picard beams down to the planet again in the show's present, and before he leaves, including the fight scene. Given that there were multiple hints of shooting taking place at Universal Studios Hollywood, and the sets having a somewhat familiar look, more Mexican than totally alien, it did not take long to identify where those scenes were filmed: It's the standing "Mexican Street" / "Old Mexico Place" set on Universal's backlot - which you usually can visit with the Studio Tour as an attraction of their Theme Park. The pictures, of the bar area, and basically from there in the direction of Picard's beam-in point, are from a one of those tours I took in 2013.
In the following two episodes, I could not make out any filming sites, so I guess they pretty much filmed those at Santa Clarita Studios where the production of the series is based. I know we will have some location(s) to talk about in the second half of the season though - not sure if there's as many as in the first few episodes, but I hope we'll have a few good ones!
By KaiRo, at 00:25 | Tags: filming sites, photos, Star Trek, travel | no comments | TrackBack: 0
August 20th, 2017
Celebrating LCARS With One Last Theme Release
Given that the story was set to play 100 years after the original and what was considered "futuristic" had significantly changed between the late 1960s and 1980s, the design language had to be significantly updated, including the labels and screens on the new Enterprise. Scenic art supervisor and technical consultant Michael Okuda, who had done starship computer displays for The Voyage Home, was hired to do those for the new series, and was instructed by series creator and show runner Gene Roddenberry that this futuristic ship should have "simple and clean" screens and not much animation (the latter probably also due to budget and technology constraints - the "screens" were built out of colored plexiglass with lights behind them).
With that, Okuda created a look that became known as "LCARS" (for Library Computer Access and Retrieval System (which actually was the computer system's name). Instead of the huge gray panels with big brightly-colored physical buttons in the original series, The Next Generation had touch-screen panels with dark background and flat-style buttons in pastel color tones. The flat design including the fonts and flat-design frames are very similar to quite a few designs we see on touch-friendly mobile apps 30 years later. Touch screens (and even cell phones and tablets) were pretty much unheard of and "future talk" when Mike Okuda created those designs, but he came to pretty similar design conclusions as those who design UIs for modern touch-screen devices (which is pretty awesome when you think of it).
I was always fascinated with that style of UI design even on non-touch displays (and am even more so now that I'm using touch screens daily), and so 18 years ago, when I did my first experiments with Mozilla's new browser-mail all-in-one package and realized that the UI was displayed with the same rendering engine and the same or very similar technologies as websites, I immediately did some CSS changes to see if I could apply LCARS-like styling to this software - and awesomeness ensued when I found out that it worked!
Over the years, I created a full LCARStrek theme from those experiments (first release, 0.1, was for Mozilla suite nightlies in late 2000), adapted it to Firefox (starting with LCRStrek 2.1 for Firefox 4), refined it and even made it work with large Firefox redesigns. But as you may have heard, huge changes are coming to Firefox add-ons, and full-blown themes in a manner of LCARStrek cannot be done in the new world as it stands right now, so I'm forced to stop developing this theme.
Given that LCARS has a huge anniversary this year, I want to end my work on this theme on a high instead of a too sad a note though, so right along the very awesome Star Trek Las Vegas convention, which just celebrated 30 years of The Next Generation, of course, I'm doing one last LCARStrek release this weekend, with special thanks to Mike Okuda, whose great designs made this theme possible in the first place (picture taken by myself at that convention just two weeks ago, where he was talking about the backlit LCARS panels that were dubbed "Okudagrams" by other crew members):
Live long and prosper!
By KaiRo, at 00:21 | Tags: Firefox, LCARStrek, Mozilla, SeaMonkey, Star Trek, themes | 5 comments | TrackBack: 0
September 8th, 2016
IDIC: Embrace Differences
Well, if we want to go by the book, IDIC is actually seen as the basis of a philosophy, specifically that of Star Trek's Vulcan species, it's "native language" name is Kol-Ut-Shan, and it's symbolized by that really nice-looking jewel that has a triangle/pyramid with a marked point/ball on top and a circle around it (see image). That said, it ends up culminating Gene Roddenberry's philosophy behind a lot of what Star Trek depicts, and the philosophy that even 50 years (to this exact day) after the show first aired is still largely shared by the fans of the franchise (including myself).
What IDIC centers around is to increase and heavily embrace diversity in all things - and that can be applied to and give thought inspiration to many things.
Everything of course starts with Gene's vision of a lead crew as diverse as the mid-1960s would allow it, a United Federation of Planets that is a utopian in-between of UN and US in a galactic dimension, to other figures than white mean being in leadership positions in various incarnations of the franchise, and preserving diversity of life forms beyond the two-legged variety in various stories as well (if you like deeply digging into messages and philosophy of Star Trek episodes, the Mission Log Podcast may be something for you).
I like looking beyond Star Trek when it comes to this philosophy though. Take for example the genomes of life forms we know (in reality, on this planet) - no two life forms have the exact same genes, not even twins. Nature shows that "infinite" diversity (created from seemingly infinite combinations of very few elements) not because it's fun, or because our design sucks, or it's Vulcan, of course. It gives life an ingenious robustness by making it hard for attacks to affect large amounts of different individuals and species, it makes life forms complement each other to cover different environments, and adaptive to react to different circumstances.
And from all I hear from studies and see in practice, when we put together diverse groups of people, they usually excel in creativity and putting up different ideas, they are harder to control by a single bad influence, they develop more respect for other humans, higher sensitivity towards the needs of other people, deeper understanding of and respect for different persons - at least in comparison to many groups of people very similar to each other. Fun fact on the side, the crowd I see at Star Trek conventions is probably one of the most diverse group of "geeks" you can find (across gender, race, age, profession, and other criteria) - thanks to the role models and the philosophy put front and center in that franchise. That kind of diversity is something I want to see in many more areas of my life and around me. The more we get different people to sit down or stand together, the more we create and show role models of diversity enriching life, the more we get people to respect other people, no matter who they are, and the more we create a better world - and universe.
Now, what about things other than life forms? What for example about computer systems? About software?
There's a lot of people advocating for hardware, operating systems, software packages that are exactly the same for everyone, so it's easy to verify that they haven't been modified unduly, and that software updates are easier to apply. And that surely has merit in a number of dimensions, and reproducible builds, Flatpak and Snap, even reducing "fingerprintability" on the Web and quite a few other mechanisms exist to reduce differences between our systems.
But then, we as users of those computers and that software are all different. We want our systems to be personalized and therefore to be different from anyone else's system. We install different add-ons into our Firefox, different apps or applications on our computers and smartphones, log into different accounts on different websites, we want our system to be uniquely ours, or at least feel like it is that. So at some level, we as users want "infinite" diversity of computers. Different people may even want different screen numbers and sizes, have different focus on what is important for them that their computer does, desire different set-ups of the hardware on their home and/or work desks. And there are security reasons to put randomization (like ASLR and other RoP defense mechanisms) into our computer (runtime) setups in some cases. Would a higher degree of diversity on software make it harder for attacks to break a large amount of systems? Maybe, I don't know which benefits outweigh the others there.
It's clear that's a principle which works pretty decently in nature at a low level, and for groups of people at a high level, and we definitely should embrace it there. At which layers of our software and hardware it's useful or detrimental is not always entirely clear, but it has to work in personalizing our computer systems to our requirements, desires and wishes as we are all different and that diversity needs to end up being reflected so we can use its strength to work together and improve this world.
Thanks to Gene Roddenberry and Star Trek in general for giving me something interesting to think about - and Happy 50th Birthday Star Trek!
By KaiRo, at 23:52 | Tags: IDIC, Mozilla, Star Trek | no comments | TrackBack: 0
August 22nd, 2014
Mirror, Mirror: Trek Convention and FLOSS Conferences
That said, one major part of my recent vacation was the Star Trek Las Vegas Convention, which I attended the second time after last year. Since back then, I wanted to blog about some interesting parallels I found between that event (I can't compare to other conventions, as I've never been to any of those) and some Free, Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) conferences I've been to, most notably FOSDEM, but also the larger Mozilla events.
Of course, there's the big events in the big rooms and the official schedule - on the conferences it's the keynotes and presentations of developers about what's new in their software, what they learned or where we should go, on the convention it's actors and other guests talking about their experiences, what's new in their lives, and entertaining the crowd - both with questions from the audience. Of course, the topics are wildly different. And there's booths at both, also quite a bit different, as it's autograph and sales booths on one side, and mainly info booths on the other, though there are geeky T-shirts sold at both types of events.
The largest parallels I found, though, are about the mass of people that are there:
For one thing, the "hallway track" of talking to and meeting other attendees is definitely a main attraction and big piece of the life of the events on both "sides" there. Old friendships are being revived, new found, and the somewhat geeky commonalities are being celebrated and lead to tons of fun and involved conversations - not just the old fun bickering between vi and emacs or Kirk and Picard fans (or different desktop environments / different series and movies).
For the other, I learned that both types of events are in the end more about the "regular" attendees than the speakers, even if the latter end up being featured at both. Especially the recurring attendees go there because they want to meet and interact with all the other people going there, with the official schedule being the icing on the cake, really. Not that it would be unimportant or unneeded, but it's not as much the main attraction as people on the outside, and possibly even the organizers, might think. Also, going there means you do for a few days not have to hide your "geekiness" from your surroundings and can actively show and celebrate it. There's also some amount of a "do good" atmosphere in both those communities.
And both events, esp. the Trek and Mozilla ones, tend to have a very inclusive atmosphere of embracing everyone else, no matter what their physical appearance, gender or other social components. And actually, given how deeply that inclusive spirit has been anchored into the Star Trek productions by Gene Roddenberry himself, this might even run deeper in the fans there than it is in the FLOSS world. Notably, I saw a much larger amount of women and of colored people on the Star Trek Conventions than I see on FLOSS conferences - my guess is that at least a third of the Trek fans in Las Vegas were female, for example. I guess we need some more role models in they style of Nichelle Nichols and others in the FLOSS scene.
All in all, there's a lot of similarities and still quite some differences, but quite a twist on an alternate universe like it's depicted in Mirror, Mirror and other episodes - here it's a different crowd with a similar spirit and not the same people with different mindsets and behaviors.
As a very social person, I love attending and immersing myself in both types of events, and I somewhat wonder if and how we should have some more cross-pollination between those communities.
I for sure will be seen on more FLOSS and Mozilla events as well as more Star Trek conventions!
By KaiRo, at 17:09 | Tags: community, FOSDEM, Las Vegas, Mozilla, Star Trek | no comments | TrackBack: 0
June 27th, 2011
New Firefox Process In The Enterprise
That said, I really think it fits even into other enterprises and we should help them come along on that great ride into the future and our ongoing voyage on the Mozilla mission.
(P.S.: Thanks to dolske for the great train of thought and to Paramount for the great DVD set of the recent Star Trek movie that I could use for the picture.)
By KaiRo, at 21:44 | Tags: Firefox, Mozilla, Star Trek | 6 comments | TrackBack: 1
May 8th, 2009
Excellent Movie, Trouble For Canon
For everyone who can stand a few pointers but don't want to know the real story, you probably can safely read this article though - I just watched this new motion picture and am just conserving rough thoughts here without story details, probably not telling more on those than things I already knew before - at least when it comes to the real story trail.
For one thing, it's a great Science Fiction movie, with lots of action and special effect but a reasonable story, it pictures the characters well, in the style they are known, it ties in with lots of classic Star Trek mottos and themes as well as with the humor it always had - but it's re-inventing the whole story of how the famous crew of the NCC-1701 ("no damn A, B, C, or D") came together. It's not even trying to depict the events that led to the classic series and movies, as the villain travels back from post-Nemesis time to arrive right at the day of James Tiberius Kirk's birth, changing under what circumstances that happened and therefore everything happening beyond that point, creating its own parallel universe, basically.
Only "the old Spock", who has also traveled back (as we knew due to Nimoy being in the movie), remains with the knowledge of everything we know about what was canon up to now. Oh, and the Enterprise series remains canon due to happening before that point in time.
So, here are my surprises - without giving away actual story trails:
- "The only thing I got left is my bones" - this is, if I remember it phrased correctly, the best sentence in the movie IMHO.
- The Vulcan thing is going to be somewhat troublesome for this new Star Trek universe, I guess - but it makes the storyline told here believable. IMHO, it's OK, but still troublesome.
- The Uhura-Spock stuff is so unnecessary and completely unneeded for the story. If I were the producer, I would have cut it out just because it doesn't make any real sense for what's being told here.
- An Orion girl apparently being in Starfleet Academy doesn't make much sense for the part of the canon we still need to assume.
- Basing on the same lines, the parts of the canon we still need to assume to be true, it doesn't make sense for the Spock of that time (and apparently not only him) to know about the common ancestry of Vulcans and Romulans.
- A lot of really good comments and tie-ins to the original Trek are in the movie, so it's visible that those who made this production really liked the old stuff, even if they did put in some glitches.
- Pine is an excellent Kirk, Quinto's Spock has many strong performances but some weak spots - especially where he meets his older self, Nimoy - of course - really is Spock, nobody can doubt that, though his performance starts off slightly weak.
- Saldana's Uhura is really, really great, and towards the end feels much more like a bridge officer than that character ever did. Urban's McCoy is somewhat different than we remember that guy, but not untrue to what we know, I couldn't say one's the real McCoy and the other wouldn't be. Bones even has one of his "I'm a doctor, not a ..." sentences. He fits well and is good and still feels somewhat different.
- Yelchin's Chekov is very humorous with his somewhat-hard-to-understand accent and his incomparable pronunciation of the name "Kirk". Cho is a believable Sulu, but I always found that character somewhat hard to reach. He even keeps up with that and doesn't feel wrong in any way, so he can't be bad, right? Pegg's Scotty somehow comes into everything in a strange way and only starts to feel in with his job, and somehow that's also the impression he leaves for me. He can make it, but he probably still needs another movie to really settle in. Probably that's what the storyline sees the character itself in, so actually Pegg is bringing that across exactly as it should be, I guess.
- The "red matter" is even bad in terms of usual Science Fiction. Come on, something without scientific background and with an unimaginative name as well? At least Spock should have a technobabble name for it, even if Nero might not.
- And the whole thing of fleeing from a black hole is scientifically weak, as well as not explaining why suddenly a mere black hole is a space/time portal.
- The tie-in with happenings in the real world that Trek had in the beginning has been lots already in previous movies and mostly even series, but at least this movie has a message of "don't throw away your life, take what you have, use it to your best abilities and you can achieve great things" - and that, I have to say, is truly Star Trek.
- I wouldn't have expected that old Spock survives in this time period in the end. I wonder if they will try to get him into a sequel.
- The ending sequence of the movie is really good. Every Star Trek fan will completely love it
So, all in all, go and watch the movie, it's worth it. If you liked Star Trek previously, you will like the movie. If you don't take all consistency in the canon too seriously, you will even love it. If you like Science Fiction and action tied in with non-parody humor, you will like it. If you like stories of how people who haven't found the right balance in their lives can grow their personalities and become successful, you also will like this motion picture.
I see chances for improvements, but I have seen some worse things than this production in Star Trek. In fact, I enjoyed it and I conclude that I can like it.
Oh, and I want to see another movie based on this one and wish the whole team "Good luck!" with this and hopefully following productions.
By KaiRo, at 01:49 | Tags: Star Trek | 6 comments | TrackBack: 0
December 19th, 2008
The Roddenberry website of her son's company reports that Majel Barrett Roddenberry, the often so-called "first lady of Star Trek", has passed away last morning.
As many other fans of the great Star Trek franchise, I connect many great memories to that woman. She wasn't just the wife of the man who invented this great and unprecedented Science Fiction "universe", she also was (so far) the first known first officer of the original Enterprise as "Number One", she was nurse Christine Chapel on the same Enterprise later on, she is THE computer voice of federation ships in the 24th and 25th century, and she also was Lwaxana Troi, mother of the Enterprise-D counselor and attracting disturbance of many male's lives in the universe (or so).
Majel was the only actor who appeared in some form on all five Star Trek series so far, as well as in a number of movies. We apparently will hear her voice one last time in the upcoming movie Star Trek.
I'm just one of a huge number of humble fans, but I believe to speak on behalf of the whole community of Star Trek fans when I say we'll miss Majel. She surely has made an impact, and for that, we all will remember her.
Computer - end log.
By KaiRo, at 03:03 | Tags: Star Trek | 1 comment | TrackBack: 0
May 4th, 2007
What do the two pictures below have in common?
You might not have guessed it, but both show Phlox. While the one on the right is a Star Trek: Enterprise character, the one on the left is my Mac mini, which I actually named after the former.
Oh, well, and both are somewhat alien to me, though in the meantime, also somewhat familiar.
OK, right, that picture with the Mac mini sitting on the floor surrounded by that "apple family" does not show what I'm actually doing with that box. Well, unfortunately I have no picture of that. It's sitting in some youth center in my home town of Steyr - and it's compiling SeaMonkey continuously. Working 24/7 as a so-called "tinderbox", it's pulling and compiling 1.8.0, 1.8 and trunk trees and building nightlies for the former two and suiterunner builds for the latter (and reporting to the Mozilla1.8.0-SeaMonkey, Mozilla1.8-SeaMonkey and SeaMonkey-Ports tree pages). Oh, and it's been doing all the MacOSX release builds (and candidates) for SeaMonkey releases so far.
Another Mini going strong
Given that Apple box does "nightly" builds every day and is named after a (virtual) doctor, I just wonder what people mean with "An apple a day keeps the doctor away"
By KaiRo, at 22:39 | Tags: Mozilla, SeaMonkey, Star Trek | no comments | TrackBack: 0
March 22nd, 2007
Shatner is just fun...
I confess that I like the later Trek series (and the movies) better than the original ones because they were better thought through, with more love to details - but then the original series are just classics. Jim Kirk, Spock and Bones are fun, and those original stories of Gene Roddenberry founded it all. Gene had a great vision, good ideas, just much too little money, technology of the 1960s and no too big care for the small details. Anyways, to a big extent, it was Shatner, always portraying himself in some way, who made lots of those stories work, who gave Kirk his personality, and who brought lots of fun into those Science Fiction series.
And that's one characteristic of almost everything I ever saw or heard about Shatner: fun. No matter if he joked on fandom telling some Trekkies to "get a life", if he made the serious Starfleet captain still look like a human who can have fun (which was seemingly much harder for his successors), if he does projects like Invasion Iowa, or in any other appearances.
I found two clips recently that are worth viewing - and worth a laugh: a DIRECTV HD ad which is a Star Trek VI parody (and Shatner was hired specially to star on it) and Shatner's appearance to honor George Lucas, which is truly Shatner. Really crazy
Nowadays even Kirk advertising a 1980s Commodore computer is fun
Oh, and even J.J. Abrams has been talking to Shatner and Nimoy (who turns 76 himself in four days, btw) because of Star Trek XI (which will be about young Kirk and Spock) - if it was just to get info about the characters or about possible appearances? Even Shatner doesn't clearly tell...
Happy birthday, Bill Shatner - hope to see more fun stuff of you for some years to come!
By KaiRo, at 14:40 | Tags: Star Trek | no comments | TrackBack: 0