Friday, February 25, 2005
Media-types less happy than Hairdressers
Thursday, February 24, 2005
Every wonder what the Kami personification of your operating system might look like?
So do several Japanese artists apparently: OS-tan
This all began with the buggy Windows Me, it seems.
Maybe I'll stop cursing at Windows XP now. :P
Illustrator improvements - part 2
1. Why do I have to pay US$170+ to get a plug-in for 3D-perspective transformations when this has been available in Adobe Photoshop and Macromedia Freehand for ages now?
2. Why isn't there a command key to allow you to make micropixel adjustments with the arrow keys? For instance, [ctrl]+[->] being set to move the object by 0.5 pixels or 0.1 pixels depending on my settings?
Feverish Mind v2 - End User Licensing Agreement
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Resistance is futile.
Oh my God -- it isn't full of stars!
BBC News reports on a star-less galaxy, presumed to be composed of 'dark matter' -- also known as 'monoliths'.
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Wetware hacking and Augmented Reality
A little talked about side-effect of video gaming is how it changes your perception of reality.
If you are playing a game constantly, you begin to dream about it, and sometimes perceive the world in that way. This was played out as comedy in a Spaced episode where the central character, after sleepless nights of playing Resident Evil, began to see everyone at a surreal artist's party as zombies.
But it lead me to think about augmented reality -- typically seen as a transparent overlay providing context for the real-world around you. Just as if you're listening to the same CD on a bus ride again and again, you'll begin to hear the music on that bus ride even if you're not listening to it -- video games could also provide additional context for the real world.
Unfortunately, the closest thing to that in London is the video game -Getaway. I hope nobody gets any funny ideas the next time they pass by a parked Ferrari.
Aren't we all a bit autistic?
Reading this article about the autistic savant who inspired Rain Man made me think...
"Well, aren't we all a bit autistic? Or is it just me?"
I'm not saying I have the ability to see complex mathematical equations as abstract shapes and colours -- but I can imagine that if I did -- simple tasks like driving or telling left from right might be impossibly hard. Or -- "make me uncomfortable" -- as the autistic savant says.
He in fact is a genius that can not only master numbers but languages as well. The sort of right-brain-speak-to-left complexity that can barely be put in words (by him).
In Japan, I had the experience of sitting quietly in a serene park and for a moment could feel everything about my surroundings. The birds in the trees, the lake -- everything.
Needless to say, it was difficult to re-integrate into the mundane experiences of daily life after that. But it can be done. And I think he could do it, if people would stop telling him he's "autistic" and "that's why" he can't do the normal tasks.
We don't tell babies, "well -- you're not meant to tie your shoes." They have to learn how. And sometimes, we have to learn again.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
See that wasn't so hard, was it Ken?
I had a thought -- what if in the future, AI has outlived human beings and they try to make sense of the LazyWeb?
Will they understand sarcasm? Or will they think that everything written is meant in earnest?
Will they think The Odyssey was a spin-off from The Simpsons -- written by the central character, Homer?
Will they think I, Robot was written by a blogger? I remember, early in London I attended a speech by Malcolm McClaren about "The Authentic and the Karaoke."
I don't remember what is was about anymore (I soon went to the hospital, not being able to discern 'authentic' peanuts in the appetizers) -- but the title alone speaks volumes.
The Truth is -- you have to know the person, to truly appreciate wtf they are on about.
Hitler jokes -- still not funny in some circles
(or - "How many people can you offend in a single blog post?")
London Mayor Ken Livingstone was surprised at the backlash he received for "likening a Jewish reporter to a Nazi concentration camp guard" in a comment he made a few days ago. Just as the Olympic committee was visiting for the London 2005 bid.
Similar blunders by Mayor Ken include singing "Mamie" in black-face minstrel costume at an NAACP fancy-dress event, and giving a speech at a meeting for The Rainbow Project entitled "Sinners and Fornicators (Not that there's anything wrong with that) - Make London your Home"
[Update: Apparently, it's now safe to joke about Germans. As Look Around You reports -- 'Germs originated in Germany.' In other news, French, Irish and Welsh comedians on the rise.]
Microsoft is shite -- part 2
Microsoft has issued a recall of XBox powercords due to a fire hazard.
Xbox2 has been rumoured to cause nuclear meltdowns at local powerstations when more than 100 units are turned on at once. Microsoft denies the comment, yet Jack Bauer's whereabouts are currently unknown.
Koko wa "supera video gamu" desu!
(Engrish translation: This a "super video-game" is!)
I prefer Diesel's vision of the Future
Thanks, but no thanks, Amazon.
Based on my recent purchases, Amazon's over-hyped recommendation engine decided that I would like:
The Code 46 DVD. From the synopsis: "a chilling, dystopian look at our genetically regimented future. In the corporate-controlled, near-future scenario"
What else do you think I'd like? "Suicide: In 6 easy steps" ?
Monday, February 21, 2005
Co-evolution and symbotic relationships
I recently read about how domesticated foxes began to pick up the look and characteristics of dogs (as well as increased intelligence). The grew bigger, cuter eyes (obviously a desirable trait in pets) and started wagging their tails (why? i dunno.)
Plus, the latest New Scientist (19 Feb 05) speaks of co-evolution whereby different species of mammal independently evolved the complex workings of an inner-ear. (See "So Good They were Invented Twice", pp.16).
This leads me to wonder if plants would evolve to fill our aesthetic (for lack of a better word) needs as well as nutritional needs if we were to stop eating meat. Obviously, this is the view of a vegetarian -- but I'd like to think that intelligent beings would stop eating each other.
Saturday, February 19, 2005
Friday, February 18, 2005
Ceci n'est pas un jeux-video
I'm sick of games like XBox's MechAssault2, which compensate for lack of levels by introducing an impossible hard boss at the end.
As if to say -- well, it took testers 2 months to finish the game -- but neglecting the fact that the levels were cleared in 2 days.
That's lazy game design for a deadline. The multiplayer game setup is equally confusing. In 'Conquest' mode -- you have to join a clan, then you can battle when there are more then 6 players in the battle -- but they have to be evenly matched. So 3 vs. 3, or 4 vs. 4. Problem is -- multiplayer games don't work that way, so you get a bunch of frustrated people in the room when it's 8 vs. 3 -- and cursing the bewildered guy who unwittingly joins as the 9th.
And we can only expect more of this type of lazy game design with XBox2, i'd imagine.
Keep project managers out of game design!!
It's been ages since I've seen some good R&B. Supposedly our friend Parry will get us into a VIP section tonight.
And hopefully, this will break us out of the modus operandi that usually goes as follows:
Nico - decides he's going to spend the night in. Tries to encourage us to do an all-night creative session in the mezzanine.
Alain - becomes extremely tired after two drinks. Wants to go home, or falls asleep on the sofa.
Kai - is cynical about going out to pubs and clubs. Says "why bother." Goes if 2 or more of the party can be convinced to go.
Matia - arrives at 1am, ready to party. Is surprised when everyone is in their pajamas ready to sleep.
Slashdot reports that SHA-1 encryption has been cracked.
Leading to my assumption that encryption is futile. And all information will, by nature be freely accessible. Deal with it.
I'd like to make a suggestion tho. Perhaps the next round of encryption could store the keys in an n-dimensional sphere and then rotated outside the 3rd dimension.
That would at least keep it out of the hands of us fleshy mortals.
Wind and Water
As a result the whole room had to be arranged, and it's so much more peaceful now.
It also opened up a space for a reading area.
View the rest of the pics of my new room in my Flickr stream.
Free at Last
After months (almost a year) in Limbo, I've finally received my UK residential visa!
I'm well chuffed about that. I guess I won't have to see asylum from the Bush regime after all (that's a joke -- in case you Red states didn't catch it).
Nor will I be subject to a covenant wedding anytime soon.
So now I just have to put up with Prince Charles' spiritual medicine mumbo-jumbo. But I prefer faith-based medicine over faith-based government given the choice.
In the meantime, I'm thinking of producing a new TV show "Monarchy Shut Yer Mouth" with Dom Joly
Look for it in 2006, shortly before the application to renew my visa is denied.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
Noise in the Machine - I, Robot
I was a bit offended to see Cory Doctorow's article quoted as a link to the story "I, Robot". Upon clicking to the page, there was no immediate reference to the fact that the title is a direct lift from Isaac Asimov -- only lip-service was given to Isaac Asimov in the by-line.
My fear is that, a student in the future, searching for "I Robot" would come across the Will Smith movie, then the Doctorow story before ever discovering the source -- Isaac Asimov.
This is exactly the sort of noise in the machine that will rewrite history to favour the popular instead of the true.
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
The folks at preloaded made a cool Defender-esque game
It's kind of hard tho. I made it to level 4.
Xbox 2 - the Arrogance of Gaijin
Slashdot reports that Microsoft will release XBox 2 later this year.
Rushing the next generation is a risky move. Not only does Microsoft risk being slammed by PS3 looking better than XBox2 when it's released, but they risk alienating the XBox1 market by pushing them to upgrade before the console has reached maturity (and I'm sure they will push).
XBox1 games -- such as MechWarrior2 are just starting to test the limits of the XBox capabilities. Sony realises how to pace their machines -- letting developers make the most of the console, exhausting it, and then releasing the next. Even still, they've supported and released new games for PSone (which has only recently penetrated markets like India).
The 2-3 year timeline is still a bit fast at that. Loz and I often reminisce about how at the end of the 6-8 year reign of the Atari 2600 and Apple II -- games came out that were unimagineable at the start. On the Apple II, developers learned to push the limits of the extremely primitive sound capabilities and make amazing music in Bruce Lee.
I hope Microsoft fails in this experiment to "blow by Sony" because if not we'll be looking at a new console every year.
Besides, and console-maker knows the profit is not in the hardware, but in the games -- perhaps why European Nintendo MD questioned if their motive was profit.
I'm afraid I have to make a request of the LazyWeb...
I've been thinking that since Music can be modelled as soundwaves in 2D space, how would 4-D music be modelled in 3D space. And could it be modelled in a way that we could hear it, in the same way that 3D models can be projected onto a 2D flat plane?
If someone could program this I'll be your friend forever.
Monday, February 14, 2005
Challenging the assumption that higher dimensions are greater
In reading "Surfing through Hyperspace" -- I accepted the assumption that 4D beings must be greater, more intelligent beings, and 2D beings (eg. Flatland, or Plato's shadow-play) must be lesser.
However, in working on a 2D RubiX cube, I realised that visualising, understanding and interacting with 2D space can be just as difficult as interacting with 4D space.
By this, I mean, it would be as much of a leap for a 4D being to imagine what it would be like to live in 3D space as it would for a 3D being to imagine 4D space.
Either way, it's stretching natural perception to one that can only be imagined.
[ Update: Having thought about this further, it's flawed. Just as motion in 3D space requires an understanding of the 3 degrees of freedom, motion in 4D space would require a more advanced natural understanding of 4D space, allowing one to do complex tranformations (rotations, etc.) naturally -- and would therefore imply an innate understanding of higher mathematics. ]
Nice visualisations of N-Dimensional objects
Sunday, February 13, 2005
Problems with Illustrator - part 1
Illustrator has an amateurish approach to typography.
Considering it has been a chief tool of designers through version 10 now, you think Adobe would be more sophisticated in its approach by now.
Here is my current grievance -- I cannot vertically centre a piece of text visually rather than by it's baseline.
I'm sure there are many more problems with Illustrator, Type and Typography, so I'll list them here as I think of them.
Started designing the 2D Rubix cube
I'm sad to say, my head already hurts.
Download the 4D RubiX Cube MagicCube4D -- it is magic to us 3-Dimensional beings!
(Reference: "Surfing through Hyperspace" by Clifford A. Pickover)
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
Watch this space...
This Slashdot post reports an effort to raise funds to cover the production costs for a Season 5 of the Star Trek: Enterprise TV series (scheduled to end after the current season 4).
The US$50-$80 million target is very ambitious, and I'm not sure how well organised (and committed to marketing and promotion) the effort is, but there certainly is no more rabidly loyal a fanbase than Trekkies.
Considering Trekkies have produced and distributed their own low-budget series online, I wouldn't put it past them.
However, this is much bigger than a few Star Trek fanatics. If something like this were to succeed it would change the face of media production -- putting the means of production directly in the hands of the audience and taking it away from the studios.
And franchises have done this in the past. Stephen King successfully sold chapters of a book in pay-per-download installments.
If such a movement took hold, it could even form the basis of the business model that will solve the illegal-downloading bugaboo which is keeping the music, film and television industries up at night.
Think about it -- if fans pay for production and marketing costs up-front, for a series or film they'd like to see -- it doesn't matter if it is freely distributed. In fact, free distribution could only help to promote popular franchises.
Well, we can dream, can't we? In the meantime -- think about donating a few dollars. It's worth a shot, innit.
We need a Scott McCloud for games...
I've finally gotten around to reading Scott McCloud's Reinventing Comics. Part of the reason for my waiting so long was that I heard it wasn't as groundbreaking as Understanding Comics.
But in this book he speaks specifically about the need to push the medium and the market further into diverse genres, original plots, and innovative exploration of the format.
His complaint of comics being stuck in a super-hero, for teenage boys, struck me as being parallel to the problem with video games.
And so -- the need for a Scott McCloud figure to push the limits of gaming.
However, what makes McCloud so successful in his arguments is that he utilises the medium (comic art) to get his point across.
And so, his gaming counterpart, would also need to make his/her argument accessible through the medium of video games.
The problem here is that gaming has long since left the one-man shop means of realisation (aside from 80's arcade-style flash games), and now games take a team to develop.
So perhaps, what I'm really calling for is a Game Development Company to create a system to return the means to the creative masses -- and make tool that would enable the Scott McCloud of video games to have a platform from which to speak his argument.
Hell, if they did that, I might even see if I could fill McCloud's boots.
Sunday, February 06, 2005
You know you've been living in Hoxton too long when...
Friday, February 04, 2005
BBC News reports that Delhi is looking for something to do about their monkey problem.
Given the British fascination by all things Monkey -- I'd recommend bringing them to the UK.
What better way to revitalise interest in British monuments than having them overrun by monkeys?
They could even convert one of the disused old castles into a full-fledged monkey village! With arts and crafts created and sold by the local monkey community. (It would also satisfy my unfulfilled dream of finding the monkey temple in India -- ruins ruled by monkeys with a wise-old king monkey at the centre -- who speaks English, of course.)