Monday, December 29, 2008

I'm not dead!

So...after re-relocating to Worcester, MA a few weeks ago my internet access has taken a severe plunge, which wouldn't be a problem if my local library (as in the one I can walk to) hadn't just reduced hours. I could go on, but it's not worth the kB.


On the flip side, I now appreciate what it means to have a decent ISP far more (you may now bask in my feeble attempt to stay positive).


Here's a cool link that I saved to tie things over until next time: Inexpensive hack turns cameraphones into pathogen detectors

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Reality, Virtually

Douglas Rushkoff just posted a really cool talk he did at the The 56th Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture at the Princeton Club in NYC.


He has a new book coming out that I can't wait to read, even though I think I already get the gist of it. He talks about the post-Renaissance notion of the individual and corporation throwing our perception of reality out of whack -- it's more than I can explain in a single blog post.


Anyway, it reminded me of a concept I wrote about recently in class. Sometimes it's fun to be a Futurist, except this technology already exists and has been tested, it's just really, really expensive right now. I'm sure by now you're wondering what the hell I'm talking about. Here it is: the ability around the curve in which we could use Ultra HD cameras and Fiber Optic Broadband to reproduce an image indistinguishable from reality -- literally linking two locations with some A/V wizardry to create a quasi-teleportation along the lines of science fiction. I won't go into the implications, but it is a fun thought experiment. More importantly, the technology already exists and it has been done. Right now it's just really expensive, which is why we need Library infrastructure (and your tax dollars) to make it happen. Most Libraries already have huge bandwidth as it is.


But back to the basics. Aka "lets connect these two ideas somehow so I don't sound so foolish" (hopefully). I think we've been doing this whole "virtual reality" thing all wrong. Second Life isn't the answer. For one, it's very 1990's Lawnmower Man-esque. Yeah, yeah, you can create things within the world and it has its own economy and whatnot but you're stuck interacting with the keyboard. There's some sensory-input degradation (sidenote: until these things become commercially available).


Once you recognize that the world is already a virtual one then you can see that the issue isn't about using computers to recreate it within computers but rather to link sensation and perception across time and space. Ever wish you could just push a button and you're there? Rushkoff argues exactly that, and we can see from the political process that policies enacted have an effect on our world, the natural world in some cases (environmental policy) but more often than not the socio-cultural one (aka where's my universal healthcare).


So uhh, yeah. That's what has been on my mind lately.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Entropy

Last week I had a unique experience.


I commute quite a bit, I commute a lot. I use my laptop, I use it a lot. I think you can see where this is going.


I tried to go two days on a three hour battery. It made me realize how little I can get done without this hunk of metal in front of me. I felt lost, not because my files were gone or because I needed to get to my email -- I've already learned that lesson. Instead, it was interesting to consider the relationship I now have with this machine and on a larger scale how society has organized itself around technology.


We as a species have made a pact with electricity that cannot be undone. I know this has been said before but it's worth repeating. It all comes down to energy.


Here's a thought: there are no renewable energy sources. The term itself is a misnomer. Laws of thermodynamics and such. Instead, there are only those resources so plentiful that their responsible management offers a higher degree of sustainability.

Friday, October 17, 2008

I want to be this guy

Man Creates Homemade Biodiesel from Algae


More proof that the auto industry is dragging its feet. I haven't read much about the energy efficiency involved in the production of Biodiesel, but something about it just makes sense. Single cell organism reproduce rapidly and usually require a single source of sustainance...like the Sun. Still, transportation becomes a problem and for that reason electricity might still be the way to go.

Or something like that.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

BiblioOdyssey is Nifty

I know, I know, another low-content post. I really like the posts going on at BiblioOdyssey though, so you should check it out!

Friday, September 12, 2008

defaults write com.apple.itunes show-genre-when-browsing -bool FALSE

Plug this into terminal with iTunes 8, restart, and get rid of the genre tab in browser mode. Why they would remove interface options, I do not know.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Schlieren!

Forgive me while I post a Wikipedia article that I thought was cool...

Schlieren (from German; singular "schliere") are optical inhomogeneities in transparent material not visible to the human eye. Schlieren physics developed out of the need to produce high-quality lenses void of these inhomogeneities. These inhomogeneities are localized differences in optical path length that cause light deviation. This light deviation is converted to shadow in a schlieren system.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Reposts are a thing of Beauty

I know reposts are kind lame, but I wrote this and liked what I wrote (ok, maybe the question was a bit of a softball):

Q:

what say ye ??
i have been a loyal IE user (ok stop with the jokes), i use zoom (outstanding), veoh (pretty good) adobe media player (so-so), u-torrent (very nice) . . .
do i need miro??
is there anything i cannot get anywhere else ??
is it better quality?

A:

You've pointed out a number of programs that perform similar functions in conjunction but one important thing to remember in this case is that Miro achieves all of this on a single, dedicated platform and in a very user friendly and efficient manner as a free, open-source application backed by a 501c3 non-profit organization. There's a lot that follows from that last part, including how and why the Miro project has evolved the way it has and ultimately how it relates to its users.

To answer your question, I can't say for certain that you need Miro in the sense that we have video you can't get anywhere else or at a higher quality than otherwise available. Miro doesn't host proprietary content or any video content at all for that matter -- the Miro Guide is fundamentally a dedicated video RSS aggregator with extended community functionality.

That being said, as a filmmaker I definitely think it's important that there is an open video platform out there to distribute and promote my work on, and there are other independent artists out there that share this same concern. Take a look at the History of Broadcasting over the last century and you'll quickly see the correlation between conditions of production and distribution and their ultimate effects on the final product. The commodification of media has lead to cyclical content wherein advertising revenue trumps actual content. Put two and two together and see that the type of video you're more likely to see on Miro probably wouldn't be as easily available otherwise.

I could go on and on, and obviously as an intern and former Screen Studies studies student I'm a bit of a biased source, but I'd urge you first to consider the philosophy in which the Miro project was conceived in and how its goals couldn't be achieved any other way.

That's why you should use Miro :)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

And another blog is born

http://blogs.simmons.edu/people/markmanc/blog

RADICAL MILITANT LIBRARIAN

I really really want one of these buttons now in light of this story.

Lets play the Past-Future-President Matching Game and figure out who is most likely to be offended by it in a public space:

Bush=McCain
Bush=Obama
Bush=Bush (the first one)
Bush=Clinton
Clinton=Obama
Clinton=McCain
Clinton=Clinton (the first one)

Solve for X, where X = the constitutional amendment that will be violated

Note: this isn't a political blog, it's one of those pesky "word problems" from chapter 3, solutions to the even numbered examples are in the back of the book.

Instant Gravy

Just found a great blog I wanted to share. Hope he keeps it updated!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Unthinking & Deprogramming the Brain

via Developing Intelligence vis à vis Technoccult


“Untraining The Brain”: Meditation and Executive Function


I won't go into the meat and bones of the article, but the premise itself reminds me of a similar habit I've gotten into. Allow me to explain...


I have a nasty Sudoku addiction (and lets not even talk about Mahjong) that has manifested something completely different.This is hard to explain, but nowadays when I play I try not to actively think about the missing spots so much as I allow myself to sense their absence. Like the image above for example. You can count the squares and clearly see we need a 2, but at some point in my Sudoku career the answers just started to pop up.



There's a lot that can be said about that. I mean for one, we could say that I've conditioned my brain in some sort of pleasure-reward system to do the math for me, but at the same time I'm actively (and consciously) working towards this goal. Anyway, it's an interesting topic to explore. I think there's a lot more going on in our visual cortex than just blinking, if you catch my drift.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

You're not just on hold...

You're in your own personal dance party!

Sorry, I'm on the phone with Logitech right now because my mouse up and died yesterday, and this music is driving me insane.

I had a keyboard when I was younger (think mid-90's) that had a "demo" button that played a pre-recorded song using all the effects on the keyboard – including the "bloink!" sound in the seldom utilized auxiliary drum effects.

I could maybe see this music used in a Sega Genesis title at some point too. I just don't know. Mono-sound, static, not-so-deep heavy bass lines, chimes. THE CHIMES.

There was a Sinbad stand-up special that used to play all the time on Comedy Central all the time. I think I found the intro music.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Blast from the Past

Just had a weird coincidence (maybe that's a little redundant) but I have to re-post since it's so cool:

Abstractor instantly transforms intrusive video billboards into enjoyable public art. See how it's done! Visit Abstractor.tv for more info.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

In case you haven't noticed...

...this blog is somewhat "literacy" based.

Anyway this is a sweet Firefox extension that I found via Lifehacker today.

With it I plan to:

• De-clutter my bookmarks
• Zoom through my RSS stuff
• Read more on the train / offline!

Read it Later

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Picking up Steam

via BoingBoing

Lewis Shiner is one of my favorite science fiction writers and last summer he began making all of his (fantastic!) old short stories available as free, Creative Commons licensed files on his site, under the banner of the "Fiction Liberation Front." Now he's expanded the program.

Cory Doctorow's post on BoingBoing today got me thinking about the state of online literature, partly as an extension of the "Books that are Free" series I'm doing and some musings in the last issue of American Libraries on eBooks and whatnot. Think of this as a brief meditation on the subject full of incomplete thoughts:

Project Gutenberg is interesting and all, and by no means am I belittling the proposition, but the content is of course very pre-internet thanks to currently copyright law. Then as a sort of "forward escape" from the system in place we have Creative Commons, which is very internet centric.

So, newsflash, the system is broken (read/borrow), but now I'm thinking the whole debate will just largely become irrelevant as relevant content begins to slip to the copy-left.

Lets adopt a biological model of communication and quickly see the key to long term copyright survival is in moving towards a more viable, transferable mode. Out of the pond and into the ocean.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Rumors of my Eventual Website

In the spirit of WWDC 2008 today, I thought today would be a good time to divulge some top-secret info about my website in the works.

I'm still working on the coding, but now that I have received word from Dr. Kitaoka and his publisher around use of a figure I'm able to move on from the design phase!

Here's a low-res sample:


I think it's pretty cool :D

Friday, June 6, 2008

Books that are Free: Volume 2


Could it be that time already again? How does he read so fast!

No, no, no. This post is another blast from the past. I actually read this one over the course of a few nights during finals week at Clark as a distraction and I was pleasantly surprised...

...that's not entirely true. I've really enjoyed all of Rushkoff's writing so far. More accurately, I wasn't disappoint.

Gotta love an honest cover.

Open Source Democracy

How online communication is changing offline politics
Foreword by Douglas Alexander, Member of UK Parliament



Anyway this was a really fascinating read. I am by no means a Political Scientist but there was plenty in there for the Media Scientist in me to nibble on.

Did I mention this one is free online?

Interesting to compare it to his earlier ethereal internet talk in Cyberia.

PS - I totally took part in an IRC interview with Rushkoff not to long ago, and I'm looking forward to his latest project (even if it's just a 404 right now as of writing this).

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Spotlight on Invention: Skim

So the other day I was on the train coming back from Boston (thanks again to my sister for showing me around) read some more of this and I thought "Hey, wouldn't it be great if I could highlight and annotate this like a real book?"

Much to my surprise, someone has beat me to it. I'm still getting used to it but Skim looks amazing so far. Two thumbs up.

The saying "great minds think alike" comes to mind :P

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

R-E-C-Y-C-L-E

When I was driving back home after cashing in some cans today at Madden I had a breakthrough: "Why not repost that story from your old myspace blog" I thought to myself, "you never go on there anymore".

Not being the type to question authority
Here it is, complete with typos, from 2006:

I'll admit, my life isnt that exciting. To compensate for this however, it would seem that fate likes to pile a bunch of events to occur all at once for me. A form of trauma procrastination, if you will. Today was one such day. I decided to write this blog entry so I could recall it better later on, plus Im sure at least one other person on the internet will get a kick out of this.

The gall bladder is a small pear shaped organ that stores bile, that green-yellow shit that your liver makes to digest food. This is where our story begins, because this morning I had to drive to the UMass Memorial Hospital and get my small pear shaped organ checked out thanks to the advice of the medical professionals at Clark University. You see, a few weeks ago I thought my eyes and skin were turning yellow. I say thought because lets face it, I'm extremely pale. My skin-tone alternates from ghostly white to petrified pink, and some blotchy gradients therein. Yellow was a new one for me though, and like any rational human being I decided this was probably a good time to talk to a person with DR in from of their name.

So I thought I had jaundice, the your liver is fucked up indicator. It was that or an acute case of google-based hypochondria. Either way, I wanted to know for sure. So after some blood tests and poking and prodding by doctors and nurses in my abdomen they figured I probably just passed a gallstone and should get an ultrasound to see whats up with the little green fellow next to my liver. Apparently gall stones are pretty common as it turns out, something like 1 in 10 people get them but usually they pass silently and no one gives a shit. Everyone except me, because hey, I give a shit.

Ok moving on, so Ive got this appointment at the hospital for 9am. I set my alarm for 8am, Im also instructed not to eat after midnight the night before. So I wake up and find out my alarm didnt work or whatever. No big deal, its only 8:30, I can make it on time, or so I thought. Im out the door maybe 10 minutes later, having had to skip a shower because I know I should get there as early as possible and Im already running late.

Heres where things get interesting. I drive an old 91 Saab 900. Even though its 15 years old this thing still has a long life ahead of it. One problem though, it likes to stall at random intervals and I had no idea why. Well now I know why, but Ill get to that later. Ok so I get like 100 feet away from the parking garage and ol blue-y (my car is blue) shits the bed, kicks the bucket, or uhh...ok it stalls on me. Now Im in a panic. Im already running late for this ultrasound thing, and now my car decides to smite me. At least Im not in the middle of the road I think to myself. 5 minutes later it magically starts working again. Home free I foolishly concluded.

I drove by the hospital a few days before just to make sure I knew where the hell I was going, and the rest of the trip goes fine. I end up parking on the top of the garage there because the place is packed, further adding to my tardiness. I managed to find the registry place in the hosptial and they take my information and I get a nifty blue hospital card thing and another piece of paper. Two left turns and one long hallway later and Im at the Radiology and X-ray place where I need to be. Its already 9:20 now, oh well. I get called in not five minutes later. This is where the fun begins.

I know you know what an ultrasound is, but humor me for a moment now while explain the process. First off, Ive followed one of the nurses into a room clearly intended for fetus-spying. The lights are really dim, and there is a chair right next to the table thing that Im laying on clearly intended for a couple to share a special moment over while they peek inside the womb. Im not there to see a Chris Jr. wave back at me through grainy television screen though, Im not even pregnant, or a woman for that matter. But you already knew that. No, Im just there to have a nice lady rub a giant, lubricated wand/upsidedown-microphone-looking device over the upper right quadrant of my gut to see if the stories are true. There wasnt much conversation to be had, other than instructions for when to breath so she could coordinate the the search for the lost ark with my insides being pushed down by my diaphragm. She told me I was gassy too. Good to know, I guess. Ten minutes later and its over, and I get to wipe all the KY off my stomach while feeling slightly less manly now that I know what its like to have an ultrasound minus the whole pregnancy thing. I find out the results next wednesday.

The story doesn't end here though, in many ways it has just begun. You see, my continual love-hate relationship with my motor vehicle will once again rear its ugly head as soon as Im out of the visitor parking garage. The damn thing dies on me again. This time I manage to drift my way back into the hospital entrance area while simultaneously struggling against the lack of power-steering. Shit. Its happened again. I wait around 5 minutes hoping for another miracle. No dice. Time to call AAA, because thats what its there for. Hopefully a jump-start will cure what ails me.

About 40 minutes later while Im waiting for AAA to show up that miracle I was hoping for occurs. My Saab has been raised from the dead once again not unlike those stories from really really old books of fiction. But my lord and savior must have seen his shadow and decided to go back in the groundhog cage, meaning six more weeks of winter and free candy nestled in green plastic grass, or something like that. I get like halfway back to school and the bed has been defecated in once again, and that bucket is nearly cracked in half after all this kicking. I am in luck however, because I didnt call AAA back to let them know my car started up again, and I managed to glide into another parking lot, this time on the top of a hill, avoiding a hair-raising slide down the aptly named Highland Avenue. Some nice people helped me push my car a little further in the parking lot, as the ass-end was halfway in the sidewalk. Thanks random person!

You know how sometimes youll be driving, and you see that poor sap stuck on the side of the road, and you can just tell by the look on their face that this day is not going as planned? Well that was me at this moment. Plus Im starving because I its been a while since Ive had any food thanks to the ultrasound. I call AAA back up and tell them what the deal is, my car still needs help but Im at a different spot now. The tow truck gets there like 10 minutes later, and he explains to me that a jump-start is just going to get me a little closer to school before the same shit happens again. Ok better get this in for service somewhere, thanks for the advice tow-truck guy. Since I dont know any auto garages in Worcester, let alone one that will serve me swedish-born-expensive-as-hell-for-replacement-parts car, AAA recommends I take it to the closest Saab dealership. This might have been a mistake, but I didnt feel like getting ripped off by some sketchy Worcester garage. No, Id rather pay way more than I have to because Im a sap. Not that money really matters anyway. On top of all that, Im still in panic mode. The adrenaline is slowly working its way out of my system.

The Saab place is a couple minutes away in Auburn, I got to listen to some interesting music in the tow-truck on the way there for extra super-awesome awkwardness. Something about goin to the cabin down the road for romantic intentions is pouring out the speakers, and this guy (the tow truck guy) clearly knows the song by heart because hes picking up on every cymbal crash while drumming on the steering wheel. I just sat there and reflected upon my lack of a functional seat-belt as we go careening down 290.

We finally get there after what seemed like the longest ride of my life, and I get to break the good news to the service desk. My car has been towed here. I think it needs some help. Please please please please. Something like that. Then I realized I have to get back to school somehow so I can write this amazing blog entry, and Im in luck! Yes! the old guy behind the counter says, we have an old senile man right over here who we keep around for just this reason!.

Step 1. find the car Step 2. figure out how to unlock the doors because this new Passat only has an electric key thing. Step 3. figure out how to start the engine. And were off. They call me Babe! the old guy says. Interesting name, sir. Luckily Gramps knows his way around the city despite my total ineptitude with directions. We end up listening to some hip-hop on the radio after he randomly hits some buttons and is unable to fix it. We finally get there after some nice lunch-rush traffic and I thank him for the ride and proceed to eat the best damn Chicken fajita salad Ive ever had.

This is in many ways a work in progress, because while Ive managed to get myself home safely the fate of my automobile is still in question. What will become of my gall-bladder remains undetermined, and the state of my sanity needs further review. I can however safely say this was the most intense Friday morning I have ever had. I usually sleeps until noon because I dont have any classes today. I wrote way more than I expected too. Hope you enjoyed the ride. "

Epilogue:
I now drive a 97 Mazda :P

Optical Illusions Explained?

Check out this article on LiveScience.com

an excerpt:

"...our visual system that has evolved to compensate for neural delays, generating images of what will occur one-tenth of a second into the future. That foresight keeps our view of the world in the present. It gives you enough heads up to catch a fly ball (instead of getting socked in the face) and maneuver smoothly through a crowd."

Friday, May 30, 2008

Books that are Free: Volume 1


This is the first post in a soon to be multi-part series where I blabber on and on about books – past and present – on my e-shelf (ok ok, desktop folder).

Structures of Participation in Digital Culture

Karaganis, Joe, ed. New York: Social Science Research Council, 2007.


Published by The Social Science Research Council, and you can read it online fo' free in PDF.

I'll write a review once I'm done readin' it!