February 28, 2006
Dammit, Apple. Wi-fi, not hi-fi. What do you think this is, 1973? I've seen frickin' iPod speakers.
February 27, 2006
The View from the Street
Michael Cho documents the creation of a rad window display.
Man, I wish more stores had rad window displays.
February 26, 2006
So, three shows on Adult Swim that I've been TiVo-ing:
|Samurai Champloo. This show is directed by the guy who made Cowboy Bebop. Both hinge on a central creative juxtaposition. With Bebop, it was space cowboys and jazz; this time, it's 17th century samurai and hip-hop. Obsessed with the intro sequence.|
|Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. This show is as verbose as its title. And, in truth, it's usually kinda boring. But somehow, I can't stop watching. It's the setting that sucks me in: a blandly realistic future Japan where refugees are the issue of the day and everybody's got a cyberbrain.|
|Full Metal Alchemist. Talk about settings: This one takes place in a kind of alternate-history Europe where alchemy, not science, rules the day. The byzantine plot hinges on the alchemical law of equivalent exchange: to get what you want, you've got to sacrifice something of equal value. That idea kicks off the plot and keeps the story running.|
The Dinosaurs Should Just Have Gotten Bigger
Last week I saw Roving Mars, the IMAX movie about Spirit and Opportunity -- with actual giant images from Mars. And it reminded me: It is really hard to make a bad IMAX movie. The experience is just so overwhelming that even a so-so documentary becomes visceral -- and a good one becomes enthralling.
But of course the big thing now is that a lot of mainstream movies are making the leap to IMAX; this is part of the company's new strategy, which is less Roving Mars and more Return of the King. Indeed, I saw Return of the King on IMAX. It was rad. And profits seem to be up.
Now, the next big thing for the format might be James Cameron's return to narrative film. Inspired by the canvas (he's done a bunch of underwater documentaries in IMAX) and spurred on by the game-changing special effects in Peter Jackson's movies, he is trying to do a live-action, CGI-infused 3D IMAX (!) movie based on the Battle Angel manga. I predict that, if made, it will be totally awesome.
It's an interesting dynamic: As our millions of little living room theaters get better and better, the only public venues that can compete are the ones that completely blow the doors off the moviegoing experience. Forget stadium-style seating; you need a stadium-sized screen.
I think this thesis is generalizable, too: In the new media galaxy, it's good to be on the low end (Rocketboom on my TiVo) or the high end (Return of the King in IMAX). But the middle (studio movies, network sitcoms) is the prehistoric desert landscape where you get killed.
February 23, 2006
Look Out, Blogosphere
File Under: Best invention ever. GE has made a cheap plastic so water-repellent even honey slides right off it. Check out the video at GE's Global Research Blog (side note: check out the rest of the blog too; pretty interesting). You may have to right-click on the video and download it to view the full thing.
What does this portend? For one thing, ketchup (or shampoo or honey, etc.) bottles where all the ketchup slides right out with no coaxing. Technology Review imagines self-cleaning buildings and cool medical applications. (via Everywhere)
Googlezon Auf Deutsch
If you've seen previous versions of EPIC, maybe you'll love this as much as I do: EPIC 2015 in German!
Columbine-area teen in custody after MySpace.com posting showing guns. Best headline ever. It condenses almost all the over-hyped media youth-bashing of the last five years into one succinct line. If only the copy editor had thrown in some stuff about video games and goths.
Seriously, though, this is getting ridiculous. I was on a local radio show this morning being interviewed about MySpace. (Some might call me a media whore. I prefer to think of it as being democratic in my approach to granting interviews.) I did my best to cut through the hype and talk about how slightly modified versions of this exact same narrative have been circulating through the press forever. Poisoned Halloween candy. Dungeons 'n' Dragon cults. Grand Theft Auto. I'm guessing the number of these stories has increased since the arrival of the Internet, but I'm not even sure. As far back as I can tell, the overriding media narrative about youth has been, "Your children are in grave danger. Panic."
Yes, your children are in grave and perpetual danger. Welcome to existence. Over time, we've exchanged sabre-toothed tigers for more sophisticated predators. And most of those are far more dangerous, far more sophisticated, and far less well-known than your standard neighborhood MySpace pedophile/stalker. Now you may panic.... Read more ....
File under: Journalism, Society/Culture
February 22, 2006
This Is the Part Where I Steal Matt's Link
February 21, 2006
Mashup Camp: Where's Waldo?
February 20, 2006
I'll post any interesting (geeky) notes in the extended entry.... Read more ....
February 19, 2006
Games That Make You Jump and Yell
In a presentation about games and stories, Kim Plowright cites an amazing video game moment:
The second is from Metal Gear Solid, where an apparently psychic character controls your ally/girlfriend, who starts shooting at you. He then starts reading your mind. The game reads your console memory, and Psycho Mantis [the psychic] makes snarky comments about other games you play. He then controls your character -- only by unplugging your controller and putting it into the other port can you defeat him. So you get up, in the real world, off the sofa, and break the fourth wall.
That is so cool.
And along similar lines, let me warn you right now NEVER to play the computer game F.E.A.R. I tried the first level late at night at Minus Kelvin's place and it freaked me OUT. (Here's the secret: As you explore a dark, scary warehouse, you never actually encounter any bad guys. All you see, the entire time, is fleeting shadows... and all you hear is footsteps in the next room. Creeeeeepy.)
February 16, 2006
Here's an RSS Feed That Will Make You Cooler
Podbop rules. You enter your city name and get a feed of upcoming concerts -- complete with MP3s!
Freaky Little Food People
The little soldiers are my favorite, by far.
(Enter the Waxtrix.)
Dropped Your Powerbook in a Volcano? No Problem
SG: This is our most famous computer: it's a laptop that was rescued from the bottom of the Amazon River. A cruise ship hit an underwater barge, and sank down to the bottom. And the woman, an amateur diver, several days later, against all international law, broke in with a Maglight flashlight. Went down two flights of stairs underwater. Green, dark water. Found her stateroom. Remembered to bring her key, and rescued her laptop, and got it to Drive Savers. And we recovered all the data for her.
DP: She must have had some REALLY important emails.
Remember, kids... back up your hard drive.
Silencing Voices of Moderation
This Washington Post story is the only news account I've seen of the events that led up to the recent violence in the Middle East and Pakistan that didn't make me want to cry.
One Day Soon, Every Hormone Will Have Its Own Blog
Now this is niche: Susan Kuchinskas writes a blog entirely about oxytocin. (That's the so-called "hormone of love.")
(For the record, this is not a snark-out: I thoroughly approve of super-niche blogs, especially ones about brain chemistry.)
February 15, 2006
A Fine Entertainment
February 14, 2006
Love Me Tender
February 13, 2006
Get Rich Or Die Bloggin'
Clive Thompson, My Favorite Science/Technology Journalist, wrote this month's New York cover story about big-time pro bloggers.
In particular I really like his lead: It's a story about how blogging is simultaneously the easiest and hardest thing to break into.
Man, Snarkmarket totally coulda been a contender. If only we posted more than once a day. About things that were not, statistically speaking, random.
Cogs in the System
Starring: The Sum of a Society's Dreams and Nightmares (Plus Some Puppets)
Man, I just saw the weirdest movie tonight. Luckily, I can describe it to you perfectly using Movie Math™:
The Neverending Story + Dark Crystal + Spirited Away The Great Yokai War
From the SF Indie Fest description:
Only Tadashi the Kirin Rider and his sword can save the world from this menace, with some help from his Yokai friends!
What it doesn't quite tell you is that this movie is like a super-concentrated dose of pure Japanese-ness. Seriously, if this were, say, a British movie, it would be about King Arthur and Robin Hood on a quest to save Queen Elizabeth from fairies. And Oliver Cromwell. And America.
Unfortunately, the plot and characters of The Great Yokai War are a little below the standard set by its classic DNA. But even so, it's worth seeing if it comes to your neck of woods, or to DVD -- if only to appreciate the way the director (apparently all his other movies are total gross-out horror flicks!) combines actors, puppets, and computer graphics in a way that is, if not seamless, then at least shameless. It's a gung-ho effort.
And seriously: SO JAPANESE.
February 12, 2006
The future is clearly multi-input touch screen interfaces. I mean, maybe the crazy infrared LED refractimacation causes syphilis or something, thus rendering my prediction totally off-base. But otherwise, just tell me whom to buy stock in, and I'll start liquidating my 401(k). Just watch the video with a bag around your head, so it's not too messy when your mind gets blown.
PS: Proof that I am, after all, fundamentally old-school: my first thought after seeing this was, "Whoa! If this stuff were in an e-book reader, we could replicate the interface of an actual book!!"
February 11, 2006
Firefox No Longer Fugly
For those of you who've suffered too long with ugly Firefox themes, I have great news. Someone has finally created a Netscape theme, both beautiful and attentive to detail. If you're using Win XP, also install the pretty Media Center theme Microsoft has made available, and your desktop will be hott like Infangelina.
Hall of Best Knowledge
February 10, 2006
This Lifehacker tip on tagging your songs in iTunes is actually hella handy. Most of my songs lack the metadata to make the "smart playlists" useful. I'm totally changing that right now.
February 9, 2006
Doing Deals in Azeroth
Jane Pinckard asks: Is World of Warcraft the new golf? That is: Is the game becoming a substrate for networking, even dealmaking?
Interesting idea, and I will add that I have heard stories -- independent of this article -- of tech execs using the game as an after-hours meeting space.
Make a stun gun out of a disposable camera. Actually, though, don't. But now you could. Although you might prefer to make your own home theater projector (will need magnifying glass and duct tape) instead. (Ferreterrific.)
Politicizing a Funeral
And yet they died nobly. They are the martyred heroines of a holy crusade for freedom and human dignity. And so this afternoon in a real sense they have something to say to each of us in their death. They have something to say to every minister of the gospel who has remained silent behind the safe security of stained-glass windows. They have something to say to every politician [Audience:] (Yeah) who has fed his constituents with the stale bread of hatred and the spoiled meat of racism. They have something to say to a federal government that has compromised with the undemocratic practices of southern Dixiecrats (Yeah) and the blatant hypocrisy of right-wing northern Republicans. (Speak) They have something to say to every Negro (Yeah) who has passively accepted the evil system of segregation and who has stood on the sidelines in a mighty struggle for justice. They say to each of us, black and white alike, that we must substitute courage for caution. They say to us that we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers. Their death says to us that we must work passionately and unrelentingly for the realization of the American dream.
February 8, 2006
Bill Joy's Six Webs
In a lecture at MIT, Bill Joy explains that there's not just one web:
[...] the "far" web, as defined by the typical TV viewer experience; the "near" web, or desktop computing; the "here" web, or mobile devices with personal information one carried all the time; the "weird" web, characterized by voice recognition systems; the "B2B" web of business computers dealing exclusively with each other; and the "D2D" web, of intelligent buildings and cities.
So rad it hurts. I love the image of the B2B web chugging along, all those servers just wrapped up in their weird silent conversations...
Coming Soon: Anthropomorphic Cartoon Version
New favorite animal: the golden-mantled tree kangaroo.
February 7, 2006
OK, despite it conforming pretty well to my Web 2.0 tired-ass design checklist, I actually think Yahoo!'s test of a new home page looks purty. And what is this about Yahoo! video games?
All Things Online
It's almost too much to deal with, actually... but maybe it just needs a better interface! Can somebody mash dat shiz up?
Google: High in Fiber!
Every week it seems another story comes out about Google's oh-so-mysterious plans for the "dark fiber" it's been purchasing. Does anyone else suspect the reason for the proliferation of this story is the sexy, noirish sound of the words "dark fiber"? Would we have heard twice about this if the story involved Google exploring "wavelength-division multiplexing" technologies?
The 5-7-5 Review
Notes on three books I've read recently... in haiku format:
The earth has been wrecked
By the "Afternoon Cultures" --
Time for adventure!
--Viriconium, M. John Harrison
Answers to questions
Deeper than Pizza Hut cheese:
This ain't Dilbert, yo.
--God's Debris, Scott Adams
Books by the window,
Piled up, never to be read?
Yeah, I've got those too.
--So Many Books, Gabriel Zaid
February 6, 2006
Have you ever been stuck looking for a retro music sample reminiscent of that peppy 1950s film style? Ask MeFi to the rescue. That is all.
February 5, 2006
Malcolm Gladwell's latest book, Blink, has inspired two name-alike books mocking his argument (as it's commonly understood) -- Think! and Blank. The second comment in the MetaFilter thread on Gladwell's latest essay called him "collossally overrated." And although Rachel Donaldio doesn't come right out and say it in her NYTBR profile of Gladwell, I suspect she might agree with the MeFi poster. With a Blink movie in pre-production, are we at the tipping point of the Gladwell backlash yet?
Gladwell's response to the two books (e-mailed to FishBowlNY) is the best: "i'm slightly gratified that it took two writers to parody me. i'd hate to think i could be parodied by just one. :-)"
February 3, 2006
It's not surprising to hear Will Wright extoll the virtues of procedurally-generated video game content. But J. Allard, the head of Microsoft's Xbox unit? Slightly more surprising:
"(Gaming) is the only medium where we yield control of the protagonist. Let's yield control of the director--and the producer," said Allard, a vice president at Microsoft. "We're going to take on the Wikipedia model. We're going to take on...the open-source model, if you will, for gaming."
World of Wikicraft y'all.
P.S. I really cannot wait for Spore.
February 1, 2006
Two Whole New Worlds
To ignite the public imagination with the possibilities of life on other planets, a group of researchers from NASA and SETI have created an elaborate scientific vision of what alien worlds might look like. Their projections appeared in a National Geographic special last fall, and are currently on display at the London Science Museum.
The scientists started out by imagining two Earth-like planets -- "Aurelia" and "Blue Moon" -- with some key differences in atmospheric density, orbit, etc. Then they performed some crazy advanced computer simulations and came up with super-detailed visions of the types of lifeforms that would inhabit these alternate worlds.
For example, the incredible denseness of the atmosphere on Blue Moon makes the evolutionary leap from sea animals to flying animals much more straightforward, producing a species of airborne whale-like creatures. Aurelia's synchronous rotation means sunlight is a precious commodity, so trees become tree-animals, moving slowly on tentacles to maximize their exposure to the sun.
Tentacular tree-animals? Flying whales? Crazy, right?
Ha. Probe the Internet a little and you'll find all sorts of folks criticizing the NASA/SETI scientists for being too conservative in imagining other planets. Carbon-based life forms are so boring, says the Fortean Times. Why not silicon, like on that one Star Trek episode? (Wikipedia's rather critical entry on the project tells us the tendency for scientists to assume all life must be carbon-based is often called "carbon chauvinism." New favorite thing.)
OK, I know I said I wasn't generally a fan of science fiction, but if
sci-fi SF authors all had hott interactive Flash applications (and a blog, no less!) to illustrate their visions, I think I could dig it.
An article in this month's Wired about the project piqued my interest, which led me to the Nat'l Geo presentation, which is the main attraction. Make sure you watch the movies and listen to the audio commentaries.
Five Movie Directors Walk Into a Bar
Newsweek hosted a free-flowing conversation between all of this year's Best Director nominees... and it's really interesting!
The transcript format is really underused, especially on the web, where length is no issue. When smart people are involved, it's such a good way to consume information and ideas.
(Via Pop Candy.)