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24th June 2001
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The Goss

  • Brando's butt a scary story
  • Quinn dead
  • BI2 axed - Stone Sues
  • Whitney in gay triangle
  • Brando's butt a scary story

    Screen legend Marlon Brando, who was paid $10 million for 10 days of work on the upcoming Robert De Niro thriller The Score (not bad, but still not A-grade money), was up to his old shenanigans again on the shoot. 

    Notorious for not learning his lines and disrupting film shoots, the obese Brando came to the set naked, according to the New York Post, forcing director Frank Oz to cover him up in towels and photograph him only in close-ups. Apparently, Brando has such a poor body image that he'll do anything to hide his mammoth girth from moviegoers. Except diet, of course. 

    The former Wild One, who's now 77, pulled the same stunt on the set of The Island of Dr. Moreau; for years, Brando has been concerned that his rear looks too big. During the filming of the 1962 remake of Mutiny on the Bounty, Brando had a photographer booted from the set, which was on a boat in the middle of the Pacific, for taking a shot of his blossoming buttocks. 

    Brando's other recent stint in front of a camera won't even make it to the big screen: He did a day of work playing an exorcist in the upcoming horror spoof Scary Movie 2 but pulled out and forfeited his $2.5 million salary because he was reportedly suffering from pneumonia. 

    "He wanted to go for it," said co-writer and star Shawn Wayans. "He had an oxygen mask and we were like, 'Yo, we gotta let him go. This guy is not healthy.'" The ubiquitous James Woods, who comes with his own set of eccentricities, gamely stepped into the bit part.


    Quinn dead

    Dual Academy Award winner Anthony Quinn died of respiratory failure early this month. He was 86. 

    The actor had been in a Boston hospital for two weeks with pneumonia. Quinn was best known as the title character in the 1964 film Zorba the Greek, for which he was given honorary Greek citizenship. 

    "The actor-legend is dead we will always remember him as a Greek," Greece's Mega Channel noted. Quinn also portrayed shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis in the 1978 film The Greek Tycoon, a Greek resistance fighter in The Guns of Navarone, and the Greek god Zeus in the Hercules film series. Quinn won Academy Awards for 1952's Viva Zapata! and for his portrayal of French painter Paul Gauguin in 1956's Lust for Life. 

    He is survived by 13 children and his third wife, Kathy Benvin, who is the mother of the two youngest of his offspring. 


    BI2 axed - Stone Sues

    Basic Instinct 2 has received an ice pick to the heart. MGM has axed the sequel to the 1992 blockbuster, a move that possibly everyone but leading lady Sharon Stone saw coming. The thriller had struggled to get off the ground since its inception, with several production delays, a directing switcheroo, and a slew of male stars who were either rejected by Stone or simply not interested in the part. 

    Stone is now suing BI2's producers, saying they reneged on a $14 million commitment to her, Daily Variety reported today. The actress was set with a pay-or-play deal (meaning she would receive her hefty paycheck whether the movie got made or not), but she says producers Andy Vajna and Mario Kassar are claiming they never had a contract with Stone. 

    The decision to yank BI2 was unveiled when MGM Chairman and CEO Alex Yemenidjian told investors at a conference that the project was off. "Unfortunately, it's not going to happen," Variety quoted Yemenidjian as saying. He declined to explain the reasons for the studio's decision. 

    Stone's suit alleges that she stood to gain as much as 15 percent of gross receipts from reprising her role as ice-pick-wielding author-seductress Catherine Trammel. The original 1992 movie, which co-starred Michael Douglas, grossed $400 million worldwide. 

    Under the agreement described in the suit, shooting was to have begun by the end of last year but was pushed back to Feb. 15, Variety said. Vajna and Kassar declined to comment on the lawsuit. 


    Whitney in gay triangle

    Whitney Houston has rekindled her relationship with galpal Robyn Crawford, more than a year after their bitter bust-up-and her worried husband Bobby Brown is begging her to break it off again, say insiders. 

    The songbird's late-night calls from their New Jersey mansion to her longtime, L.A.based friend have sparked a renewed emotional attachment, which pals say macho Bobby fears could embarrass him. 

    Now jointly managing the all-girl band Sunday, Whitney and Robyn are stepping out together for work and play, sometimes with Bobby in tow - but often leaving him at home to worry and wonder, the sources say. 

    For years, rumours of a gay relationship have swirled around the two women, but they have vehemently denied it. Now that the two are pals again, Whitney's badboy hubby is furious, say sources. 

    Whitney leaves the house with a tell-tale sparkle in her eye and a spring in her step each time she's meeting Robyn. 

    "Whitney has made it perfectly clear over the years that she and Robyn have something special and it has absolutely nothing to do with Bobby." 

    In 1994, GLOBE reported that Whitney, 37, was agonizing over whether she should call it quits with Bobby after two years of marriage to be with Robyn, 39. And a year later, sources told GLOBE that Bobby had made an emotional confession - that his wife has cheated on him with other women. At the time he was being treated for drug and alcohol abuse at the Betty Ford clinic. 

    Against her hubby's wishes, Whitney is adamant about going to L.A. with Robyn, supposedly to manage their band. But Bobby is worried that his wife and her galpal are getting cozy again.


    Techno Page

  • Revolution of the HD
  • Get SMS savvy
  • Revolution of the HD

    It's astonishing to recall that back in 1954, when the first hard disk was invented, its capacity was a mere 5MB stored across fifty 24' platters. 25 years later, the first hard disk drive for personal computers, boasting a capacity of up to 40MB was born. It's equally hard to believe that as recently as the late 1980s, 100MB of hard disk space was considered generous. Today, this would be totally inadequate, hardly enough to install the operating system alone, let alone a huge application such as Microsoft Office. The PC's upgradability has led software companies to believe that it doesn't matter how large their applications are. As a result, the average size of the hard disk rose from 100MB to 1.2GB in just a few years and by the start of the new millennium, a typical desktop hard drive stored 18GB across three 3.5' platters. Thankfully, as capacity has gone up prices have come down, improved density levels being the dominant reason for the reduction in price per megabyte. 

    It's not just the size of hard disks that has increased. The performance of fixed disk media has also evolved considerably. When the Intel Triton chipset arrived, EIDE PIO mode 4 was born and hard disk performance soared to new heights, allowing users to experience high-performance and high-capacity data storage.

    Hard disks are rigid platters, composed of a substrate and a magnetic medium. The substrate - the platter's base material - must be non-magnetic and capable of being machined to a smooth finish. It is made either of aluminium alloy or a mixture of glass and ceramic. To allow data storage, both sides of each platter are coated with a magnetic medium - formerly magnetic oxide, but now, almost exclusively, a layer of metal called a thin-film medium. This stores data in magnetic patterns, with each platter capable of storing a billion or so bits per square inch (bpsi) of platter surface.

    The trend is towards glass technology since this has the better heat resistance properties and allows platters to be made thinner than aluminium ones. The inside of a hard disk drive must be kept dust-free. To eliminate internal contamination, special filters equalize air pressure and the platters are hermetically sealed in a case with the interior kept in a partial vacuum. This sealed chamber is often referred to as the head disk assembly (HDA).

    Typically two or three or more platters are stacked on top of each other with a common axis on which the whole assembly turns at several thousand revolutions per minute. There's a gap between the platters, making room for a magnetic read/write head. This is so close to the platters that it's only the rush of air pulled round by the rotation of the platters that keeps the head away from the surface of the disk - it flies a fraction of a millimetre above the disk. A small particle of dirt could cause a head to 'crash', touching the disk and scraping off the magnetic coating.

    There's a read/write head for each side of each platter, mounted on arms, which can move them. The arms are moved by the head, which contains a voice-coil - an electromagnetic coil that can move a magnet very rapidly. Loudspeaker cones are vibrated using a similar mechanism.

    The heads are designed to touch the platters when the disk stops spinning - that is, when the drive is powered off. During the spin-down period, the airflow diminishes until it stops completely, when the head lands gently on the platter surface - to a dedicated spot called the landing zone (LZ). The LZ provides a parking spot for the read/write heads, and never contains data.

    Tracks physically above each other on the platters are grouped together into cylinders, which are then further subdivided into sectors of 512 bytes apiece. This is important, since cross-platter information in the same cylinder can be accessed without having to move the heads. The sector is a disk's smallest accessible unit.

    Allocating and tracking individual data sectors on a large drive would require a huge amount of overhead, causing file-handling efficiency to plummet. To improve performance, data sectors are allocated in groups called clusters. 

    Data is recorded onto the magnetic surface of the disk in exactly the same way as it is on floppies or digital tapes. Essentially, the surface is treated as an array of dot positions, with each 'domain' of magnetic polarization being set to a binary '1' or '0'. The position of each array element is not identifiable in an 'absolute' sense, and so a scheme of guidance marks helps the read/write head find positions on the disk. The need for these guidance markings explains why disks must be formatted before they can be used.

    When the computer wants to read data, the operating system works out where the data is on the disk. To do this it first reads the FAT (file allocation table) at the beginning of the partition. With this information, the head can then read the requested data.

    More often than not, the next set of data to be read is sequentially located on the disk. For this reason, hard drives contain between 64KB and 1MB of cache buffer in which to store all the information in a sector or cylinder in case it's needed. This is very effective in speeding up access time.

    However, data platters can get out of alignment due to changes in temperature. To prevent this, the drive constantly rechecks itself in a process called thermal recalibration. During multimedia playback, this can cause sudden pauses in data transfer, resulting in stuttered audio and dropped video frames. Where the servo information is stored on the data platters, thermal recalibration isn't required. For this reason the majority of drives embed the servo information with the data.

    The performance of a hard disk is very important to the overall speed of the system - a slow hard disk having the potential to hinder a fast processor and the effective speed of a hard disk is determined by a number of factors. Chief among them is the rotational speed of the platters. Disk RPM is a critical component of hard drive performance because it directly impacts the latency and the disk transfer rate. The faster the disk spins, the more data passes under the magnetic heads that read the data.

    There is more to hard disks than this page could hold, so we will bury this for now and dig it up some other day. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to mail them.


    Get SMS savvy

    Most web sites offer services such as e-mail notification, financial information to updated information about your favourite sports, all via the SMS service. It is possible to check your account balances through the SMS service. Unlike the W@P service, SMS works on almost any GSM phone and cellular service providers provide the service either free of charge or for a minimum rate. 

    Due to the vast development of this service it's possible to carry a text chat through the SMS service, which would probably cost less than a telephone call and allows more than two people to chat via either a cellular phone or the Internet. Most Sri Lankan web sites have got involved in the rush and provide a vast range of SMS related services such as news updates, financial information and sports scores. So what are you waiting for?

    - Rehan Fernando

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