Thursday, December 11, 2014

LinnStrument Unboxing

Santa came early!

Well, okay, not really: it was my UPS guy, Carlos (who is awesome, BTW), and today he delivered my wonderful new LinnStrument!

Now where's my damn USB-to-Lightning adaptor?

More as it happens!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Doodle

It's kinda boring, I know. But maybe I can get better?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Last Policeman

I'm not typically a big fan of mysteries, but Ben H. Winters' The Last Policeman had me glued to the page. The basic premise is that a young policeman, Henry Palace, is investigating what he thinks is a murder - six months before an asteroid will impact the Earth and end life as we know it. There's something here for everyone: it's got mystery, it's got science fiction, it's got dystopian government; it's funny and it's sad and it's very, very human.

I cannot in good conscience tell you much more without spoiling your potential enjoyment of the books. I can say this, though: the first book works well as a stand-alone, but the 2nd and 3rd books do not disappoint and are worth reading. Henry Palace is someone you won't soon forget.

Ninja and Yolandi and Neill

I guess I really wasn't surprised to see Ninja and Yolandi taking a shot at acting. Acting in a Real Movie, I mean. It has been said that they're performance artists who never drop character, and it's hard to tell from just a trailer, but it kinda looks like they're just playing themselves. Still ... I think it works.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fan Art (God help me)

I never thought I'd ever do any kind of 'fan art'. But ... the basic concept for this came to me a couple of weeks ago, in a dream shortly before I woke up (which is probably how I managed to remember it). I'd been listening to Author & Punisher the evening before. In the dream, there was a band composed of an AI, an Angel, and Tristan Shone. Go figure. Actually, if you've ever watched any of Mr. Shone's videos, it's not hard to see how he could fit into a science-fictional band. He'll never be Top 40, but he's one of the few people in music today who are doing anything original.

And "originality" has been a big bugaboo of mine of late. It's hard to be original. Especially with the Internet to help me see just how many thousands of people had the same great idea that I had. Which, honestly, is why I spent some time working on this. I don't exactly know what it is - but I know that there's not really much else out there like it.

I've been a big fan of Paul Lafolley for a long time, so I tried to make this something in the spirit of what he does. I hope I've succeeded a tiny bit. There's a reference to one of Orson Scott Card's better short stories, plus some George R. R. Martin and Rush and Frank Zappa and even The Simpsons, plus some other stuff that's fairly obscure.

This is still a Work In Progress. The band name needs work. Like, a better name, perhaps? And also an actual logo. I recently read and enjoyed Ian Tregillis' Something More Than Night, so I might go with "METATRON". No, that's not a Transformer.

I'd also like to bury even more references into it. Not sure how, but I'm working on it by sleeping a lot. Har! Hmm. Perhaps something from Alf ... ? If I do, I'll never admit it.

There's also a Black & White version.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Coming Attractions

Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End on SyFy


Frederik Pohl's Gateway by De Laurentiis


Margaret Atwood's Oryx & Crake on HBO


I sure hope they don't suck.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

IKEA 1138

I had to do some shopping at IKEA today. It left me in something of a dystopian mood.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Six Months After

Six Months After Legalizing Marijuana

I have no interest in using marijuana, but I know enough about the injustice that our government has served upon us all in the name of the "War On Drugs" that I dearly hope to live to see the day that marijuana is legal in all 50 states.

This Drone Knows No Fear

Note: give it 20 seconds to get moving.

Videos like this seem to be popular this year. I watched several of them, and unlike many that falsely claimed to be flying 'into' the fireworks - this fellow delivered.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Classic PKD pt II

... and guided him away from where he stood, into the stars.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

At The Movies

I was just randomly browsing some upcoming trailers last night and found that there are a number of interesting films that are Coming Soon To A Theater Near You. In addition to known Big Budget Hollywood Blockbusters Jupiter Ascending, Interstellar, Edge of Tomorrow, Guardians of the Galaxy, there are a number of lesser-known, less-expensive features that trade eye-candy for interesting - maybe even mind-fucking - plot:

The Portal - A short. Maybe someday it'll show up on Netflix. It's rumored that it may become a television series, which would not be a bad thing. The male and female leads - hitherto unknown to me - are cute together, and appear to have an existing, growing fanbase.

The Signal - You had me a Laurence Fishburne in a biohazard suit.

The Anomaly - I don't know what it's about, but it looks like fun.

I Origins - Mike Cahill and Brit Starling have done some really good work, so I think this has considerable potential.

Beyond - This might be a bit too "heartwarming" for my tastes, but I like the premise.

The Summer Blockbusters. Time will tell, but this year's crop looks (mostly) pretty tasty:

Jupiter Ascending - The Matrix in Spaaace!

Interstellar - Matthew McConaughey in Spaaace!

Edge of Tomorrow - Groundhog Day meets Battle Los Angeles?

Guardians of the Galaxy - This just looks like fun

Welcome To Yesterday - A Michael Bay time travel / wish fulfillment thing. It looks somewhat formulaic, but it still might be fun.

And then there are a couple of movies that I'm not sure what to think of:

The Maze Runner - In the spirit of The Hunger Games, YA YA novel adapted to film

Lucy - Scarlett Johansson somehow becomes a superhero and kicks lots of ass.

Finally, file these under ???/MIA:

Mr. Nobody - It might be too 'artsy' for me, but the few glimpses of the future in the trailer look well-done.

95ers - This looks like it might be some kind of fan-based production. So it may suck badly. Or - it might be awesome if you can look past a few flaws.

The Mulbury Project - "In the aftermath of an alien invasion, an orphan boy braves the disease ridden landscape to help a young girl find her way home and hide from the ruthless corporation that is chasing her". Alas, I fear this is dead, which makes me quite sad. Make sure you watch the last 40 seconds of the trailer.

Nightscape - I don't know what the hell is up with this.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Russian Sound Umbrella

Something kinda neat I ran across the other day:

The russian guy who built it is using it for his own custom 10-channel compositions, I think. But - what if you hooked up something like this for 5.1 or 7.1 sound? You could put a "subwoofer" in the center. And then you could wear it on your head like Doc Brown in Back to the Future:

Naw, just kidding about the wearing it on your head part. But - if it was raining and you were using an umbrella anyway? Or maybe it could catch on as an alternative to those stupid ear-buds everyone wears these days. I can see needing some kind of flexible, easy-to-see 'guard' around the circumference so random passers-by don't poke out their eyes on the tines.

Also, it occurs to me: what if you made a large (yet light-weight) version of this, that had a radius of 10, 15, or 20 feet? You could set it up while camping, or at the beach, maybe inside of a tent - either just for music or if you had a 15" or 17" notebook computer, you could have a group 2 or 6 people sit together and, basically, it's a portable Home Theater system?

BTW, has a lot of fascinating music/tech/art stuff on it.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

WTF China???

'Dozens die' in China knife attack at Kunming train station
An attack by knife-wielding men at a train station in Kunming in south-west China, has left 27 people dead, the state news agency Xinhua says.

Nothing is known so far about the motivation behind the attack, in which 109 people are said to have been hurt.

Xinhua gave few further details, and the men responsible have not been identified.

A local television station said several of the attackers were shot by police, according to Associated Press.

One report quoted by AP said the men were wearing uniforms when they stormed the railway station.

Mass stabbings are not uncommon in China, but none have been recently reported on this scale.

Jesus Christ, WTF is going on with this? By way of comparison, this is one less than died in the Newtown, CT school shooting in 2012. That was a lone wacko with a gun; this incident involved multiple guys with knives - swords? - wearing uniforms?

I encountered this story as a random new item on Google News. Given that the story came from China, I have no idea if there will ever be any follow-up. I'll probably never know how it will be covered in China. Imagine this happened in the USA, though? They'd probably send in the military and declare martial law.

The sad thing is that I know that I see news stories like this all the freakin' time - "39 killed in explosion", "45 dead in car bombing", etc - and I just gloss on past it. It is sobering to stop and spend a minute imagining what it would actually be like to be standing in this train station, minding your own business, when guys in freakin' uniforms start stabbing everyone in sight. They killed 27 people and injured 109. When was the last time you were in a room with a group of 130+ people? Who was there, where was it? Now imagine you're back there again - and everyone is dead or injured, bleeding and crying for help.

And the thing that gets me is: it's not an earthquake or a tsunami or some kind of natural disaster. It's people who did this.

We do it to ourselves.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Move over, Segway!

160lbs Dry Weight
260lbs Capacity
10 miles per charge
6 hour charge time
Lithium Ion battery upgrade available
Pannier bag available
$5,295 pre-order

I briefly gave this some serious consideration for the kids as they head off to college. But at 160lbs, it's not like they could ride it back to the dorm and then carry it up to their room and stick it in a closet. Also - I hate to be a pessimist, but I am skeptical that the Ryno will be classified as a "Personal Assistive Mobility Device".

But there's no denying that it's seriously cool.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Google Glass: Threat or Menace?

"As far back as I can remember, I've always wanted to be a cyborg."
    - Borgfellas

Google Glass has been in the news recently: Cecelia Abadie successfully fought a traffic ticket in California where she was cited for speeding and for wearing Glass. And just yesterday the story broke about a man who was treated somewhat rudely by "federal agents" because he wore his Google Glass in a movie theatre.

Glass - and wearable technology - is arguably 'disruptive technology', and so there are going to be some growing pains as more and more people adopt it. Actually, I think there are going to be rather a lot of them in 2014, as in addition to Google's plan to finally begin selling to the general public, there are at least three other outfits (see below) that will be offering their own flavors of "augmented reality glasses".

I finally became a "Google Glass Explorer" last year at Thanksgiving. It takes a few days to get used to them, and they're far from perfect - but I've come to love them a lot.

I've noticed quite a lot of antipathy towards Glass out on the 'net. I'm not sure why this is, although part of it might be that many people seem to think Glass is just a glorified video recorder. And yes, just like your Android or iOS phone, it will record video. But - again, like your Android or iOS phone - it will do a whole lot of other stuff, too. When people ask me about it, I tell them "it's like an iPhone that you wear on your face," which is more or less true although it would be more accurate to say it's "like an Android phone you wear on your face". Because - I'm not sure if this is a 'plus' or a 'minus' - using Glass to its full potential requires that one buy into a pretty hefty chunk of the entire Google and Android ecosystem. So far I've muddled by with my iPhone, but accessing features like SMS texting requires an actual Android phone plus data plan. And as excited as I am about Glass, shopping phone data plans makes me fall asleep. And so progress has been a bit slow.

Popular or not, I really do think that wearable technology is here to stay. It's been around for awhile, but it's only just recently reached the point where using it only looks a tiny bit geeky. It won't be long before it's not geeky at all, and in fact, your wearable device(s) will be virtually indetectable. And then it's only a short road to such things being available as implants. It's going to have an impact on how we deal with issues of privacy, civil rights, copyright law, policing - not to mention making it past TSA checkpoints at the airport.

Wearable Tech for 2014

  • Google Glass - $1500 USD (developer edition); "Under $1500 USD" (consumer edition). Consumer edition shipping "sometime in 2014".

    Google Glass

    Android 4.0.4, OMAP 4430 SoC dual-core CPU, 1GB RAM, 16GB Flash, color display 640x360, Camera: 5 MP still inmages and 720p videos, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g, Bluetooth, micro USB port, weight: 50g.

  • Recon Instruments JET - $599 USD (pre-order). Shipping Spring 2014.

    Recon Jet (white)

    Recon Jet (black)

    Android OS, 1 GHz Dual-Core ARM Cortex-A9, 1GB DDR2 SDRAM, 8GB Flash, color "Wide screen 16:9 WQVGA display", which is (I think) 420x240 pixels, "HD" Camera does 720p video, Wi-Fi (IEEE802.11a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.0, Apple MFi Bluetooth support, micro USB port, GPS, up to 8 ANT+ peripherals, weight: 60g.

    "Recon Jet comes loaded with software catering to endurance athletes: cyclists, triathletes, and runners. They will be able to see their performance metrics (such as Speed/Pace, Distance, Duration, Ascent/Descent, Heart rate*, Power*, Cadence*), and by connecting their smartphone, see caller ID and SMS alerts on the fly."

  • Epson Moverio BT-200 - $699 USD (pre-order). Shipping April 2014.

    Epson Moverio BT-200

    Android 4.0, dual color displays, each 960x540, 23° FOV, front-facing camera, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, an SDHC card slot for up to 32GB.

    Note: wired connection to Android-based controller.

  • Meta "Space Glasses" - $3650 USD (Pro); $667 USD (developer edition). Shipping July 2014.

    Meta Dev

    Meta Pro

    Meta Pocket Computer

    Intel i5 CPU, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD (CPU is separate 'pocket computer' component), 3D stereoscopic color dual displays, each 1280x720, 40° FOV, twin cameras, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 3.0, weight (glasses component): 180g

    Note: the "MetaApp Store" has "500+ applications in development".
    Note: wired connection to Windows?-based controller?
    Note: Prof. Steven Mann is Meta's "Chief Scientist".