Archive for December, 2010


Some movies just seem to fly by without getting noticed. This campy rock and roll vampire romp came and went, but is destined to become a cult classic upon dvd release.

After their bass player Jennifer (Jessica Paré) becomes a vampire, down and out rock band, The Winners are launched into the spotlight. But when they find themselves stalked by creepy producers, wild groupies and the legendary vampire hunter Eddie Van Helsig (Malcolm McDowell), The Winners soon find fame to be a fate worse than death.

Featuring some of Rock’s greatest legends:

Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, Moby, Henry Rollins, Dave Foley, Alex Lifeson

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Simon Pegg (Scotty) and Nick Frost, of Shawn of the Dead fame, give us a dandy behind the scenes video view of their new movie “Paul”. “Paul” is a buddy road movie where two nerds and/or geeks (you can be both but not at the same time) try desperately to return an alien named Paul to his spaceship after encountering him during a trip to a Sci-Fi convention. Paul also stars a bevy of Hollywood’s greatest comedic talent. Joining Simon and Nick are Jason Bateman, Sigourney weaver, Bill Hader, Seth Rogen, Jane Lynch and a host of others. Paul is directed by Superbad’s Greg Mottola. Thanks Io9.

I wanted to post a song that maybe not everyone has heard before in memory of John Lennon. I chose this one from Regina Spektor because it deserves a listen and she deserves more exposure. This is the album version of John Lennon’s ‘Real Love’ as covered by Regina Spektor for the “Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur” CD.

If you like it, I encourage you to buy the track (or the entire MAGNIFICENT album) from iTunes or Amazon or wherever. Proceeds go directly to support Amnesty International’s work in Darfur and other human rights crises worldwide.

http://www.instantkarma.org/InstantKarma.html

Audio:

The official videoclip of my new single “So True”. Released in Spain by Blanco Y Negro. About the idea behind the videoclip: I wanted to remind some of the most important things in life. Take three minutes of your time and watch. More than 70 people were involved to shoot this video.

 PS: we’re all in this together… 🙂

I am starting this post off with something that is an excerpt from TV’s “The Big Bang Theory”. This was the first exposure that I was given to the Texai Remote Virtual Presence:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGLmKYoNttI
Now this may seem trivial and humorous, but this type of device has many practical uses in the future.

While working on the PR2, two Willow Garage engineers, Dallas Goecker and Curt Meyers, working 2000 miles apart, needed a more efficient method of interacting and collaborating throughout the day. Frustrated with conference table phones and video conferencing, Dallas and Curt applied their knowledge of building battle bots and the PR2 to create the first Texai prototype.

Dallas now spends the majority of his time working for Willow Garage by piloting his Texai from Indiana.  Rather than being confined to the table or wall, Dallas now uses Texai to work and engage with co-workers here in Menlo Park, California.

Please view the video posted in the New York Time and Willow Garage for more.

New York Times Interview: http://video.nytimes.com/video/2010/09/04/science/1248068965210/robots-at-work.html

Willow Garage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkG-0ysZM6o

Initial Thoughts on Second Life

Poster Building ExteriorLast night our class established a virtual classroom session in Second Life. As expected, there were some issues with becoming familiar with controlling your avatar and being able to keep the group together. Trying to type in chat and keep up with 20 something students was a task. Also battling slower computers and the lag from some internet connections made this more of a test than a classroom session, but in all it was a learning experience in order to prepare for further excursions in the future.  When the playing field is level, this will be a much better experience. Additionally, if everyone could use voice protocols, that would alleviate some of the task of typing. Unfortunately, being in a virtual world, that would also lend itself to people talking out of turn and on top of each other, so there must be some rules established so it doesn’t get too confusing.

Second Life lacks sensory perception. I’m not only talking about the tactile, but the emotional triggers we experience from day to day in the real world. It is clear that because of the texting issue, sometimes there is a loss of the common subtleties we all take for granted in the real world. Tone of voice and body language both impart a broader sense of social interaction than just words. It is these peripheral sensations that cannot be incorporated into Second Life, so I go back again to establishing particular protocols to be engaged at the task at hand. Even major companies have protocols for emails because certain text can be misinterpreted. At one point we were just standing around waiting for class to start, it was silent and eerie at the same time once the radio was turned off. I think that is why the developers use the radio, so it doesn’t feel so cold and distant. Visually the environment was very cool (when there were not issues with rendering the surroundings). Coincidentally I am also talking about virtual interaction in my 754 class on human computer interaction and I can now clearly see where research and participant feedback can help improve the experience.

I created a fantastic avatar based on the Borg from Star Trek and Edwards Scissorhands (I always liked that character… not unlike the one created in the real world, Edward needed to find different ways to communicate!).  I found that most of my classmates liked my avatar, and I was able to express myself in that caricature.

In all I need to spend more time with Second Life to become more comfortable with it. It does offer interaction with others from the comfort of home, school, laptop, etc… but it does require some thought in planning for actually using it in a practical way. I can foresee having training sessions for classes to become accustomed to working in a virtual world together. This would enhance the experience when everyone was on the same page.

I am re-posting below a thought provoking research idea that is being conducted by Microsoft since it touches on some key thoughts I have discussed on Second Life an has relevancy to our class. Continue reading

YA Literacy and SecondLife

BobJames63 Helix

For those of you that don’t know, Second Life is a virtual world where virtual resisdents can interact with each other, or I should say with each other’s avatars. At first look, I thought it was just another video game world for kids and had no real potential benefit other than entertainment value. Ok… My first impression of Second Life was not a good one because I was fumbling to understand the controls and there is a large learning curve to grasp basic movements and navigation (at least there was for me). Once past that, I could see that there was prospects to be discovered.

Now if one can step past the initiation into the virual world, there is more to see in a fun way that is engaging. I am in the midst of creating a young adult literacy program and then it dawned on me. What better way to get teens involved then to do it in a video game world! Now I’m on their turf and they can learn and have fun at the same time. YA karma indeed. My next step, once I have a better understanding of Second Life, is to conduct book talks and  trivia games in the virtual world for teens. I think this is a step in the right direction. There’s a reason why over 700 educational institutions from all over the world are in Second Life today — the advantages of learning in immersive 3D environments are many and exciting. Stay tuned….. more to come!

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From the Publisher

 

When Whit & Wisty were imprisoned by the wicked forces of the totalitarian regime known as the New Order, they were barely able to escape with their lives. Now part of a hidden community of teens like themselves, Whit and Wisty have established themselves as leaders of the Resistance, willing to sacrifice anything to save kids kidnapped and brutally imprisoned by the New Order.

But the One has other plans in store for them: He needs Wisty, for she is “The One Who Has the Gift.” While trying to figure out what that means, Whit and Wisty’s suspenseful adventures through Overworld and Shadowland lead to a jaw-dropping climax and conclusion: the highly-anticipated fulfillment of the heart-pounding opening prologue of book one… The Execution of the Allgoods.

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Publishers Weekly

The action is nonstop in Westerfeld’s thrilling sequel to last year’s Leviathan–fans of that book won’t be disappointed. It’s 1914 in the author’s alternate world, the great powers are moving toward full-scale war, and Deryn, still posing as a boy, has found a place as a midshipman aboard the gigantic, living British airship Leviathan as it sails east on its secret mission to Istanbul. When Austria-Hungary enters the conflict, her friend Alek, the runaway heir to that empire, realizes that he must escape from the airship to avoid imprisonment, giving Deryn “a chance not just to help Alek but to change the course of the whole barking war.” Battles abound between eccentric fighting machines and even stranger fabricated “beasties” as Deryn and Alek prove their courage and ingenuity while putting themselves in harm’s way. This exciting and inventive tale of military conflict and wildly reimagined history should captivate a wide range of readers. Thompson’s evocative and detailed spot art (as well as the luridly gorgeous endpapers) only sweetens the deal. Ages 12 up.

Second Life Phone Concept

Cho Sinhyung and Jeon Jungjae has come up with a second life mobile phone concept. People often forget the importance of battery life and this concept helps them in improving the battery life of their mobile phones.

The Second Life Mobile Phone Concept works on the premise that we often forget about the battery life of our mobile phones, hence run out of juice, just at the wrong time. As a remedy (rather power-saver-option) the phone incorporates a double display. When in active use the AMOLED screen powers up in all glory and in standby mode the E-ink display gets active. This essentially means that the E-ink uses very little energy and the degree of transparency of the display shows how much battery is remaining. The more transparent the display, the less battery remaining. Continue reading