Oct. 15th, 2012 04:16 am
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After a convention committee meeting Sunday I stopped at the Bagdad on the way home and saw the movie Brave. It's a good parable about why the song is Scotland the Brave. Not Scotland the Wise, Scotland the Smart, Scotland the Reasonable, or Scotland the 'I Planned Ahead.' Brave.
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A while back I noted here that a company called Neuroware (in Japan, naturally) had come out with brainwave controlled cat ears. Now I discover that an American hobbyist has made his own. Apparently there's a real demand for this, at least among some people. I am aware that I know some of these people.

Among other things, this tells me that some SF authors have been much too conservative about what people will get up to as soon as easy cybernetics and/or genetic modifications become available. Once we have a technology, we'll play with it.
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Just a few minutes ago I went into the kitchen and discovered that my back window gave me a view of a, TWO raccoons! This is a bit of a surprise when you're only a meter away from them. It seems a mother raccoon and her child have set up base camp under my garden shed, as after getting a good grip on the youngster's scruff she dragged the little fellow underneath it and has not emerged. She could stay down there all summer if she had water and an internet connection.
Of course there's more! )
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So I happen to be re-reading Charles Stross's Halting State at the moment; no big deal, except that this was brought to my attention.

Most of you can skip the URL; it's a proposal to expand the old Multi-User Dungeon text based virtual reality concept onto a multi-platform multi-world system. Among other things, that would let player avatars move from one world to another, and move objects between various servers. It would be modular and expandable. Open source code so anyone with a net connection could run a server. Clients would not need to be desktop computers but would run on celphones – gaming anywhere, any time, connecting to any world.

Aside from the absolutely crappy keyboards of celphones these days, a MUD is absolutely perfect for the smartphone environment; the database size, CPU load, and bandwidth requirements are all tiny by today's standards. (I played on and wrote content for MUCKs on a dumb terminal and a 300 baud modem; I speak from experience.) So what? Two points.

It's really just nerds wanking at each other about software that doesn't even exist yet. But...

It's also the multi-node dynamic VR concept Charles Stross described in Halting State - and instead of a bazillion-euro megacorp doing it, these hobbyists want to write it for kicks.
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Back in my first post on this subject I said I hoped to try this again the next day, and I have been asked to write up what happened on the second day of sign holding. Okay.

More after the cut! )
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In my city shabbily dressed people can often be seen standing at street corners holding carboard signs, apparently as an alternative to panhandling from pedestrians. For a long time my friends and I have wondered how practical this really is. So I finally ran the experiment.

Read more... )
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Lost secrets? Check. Mysterious underground passages? Check. Danger? Well, a little. Not a D&D campaign, but the London Post Office Railway, an underground mail delivery system that moved letters between London's post offices for about a century and has been shut down since 2002. Some determined explorers managed to gain access to this buried treasure of hidden London and report back their adventure.

Let me say in passing that I'm impressed not only with London's urban spelunkers but also the history nerds who equipped the team with background lore and maps. (It's a clear demonstration that our hobbies are only mostly useless.) Well done, gentlemen!
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A friend of mine pointed out that in Japan you can now buy cat ears. No, not just costume pieces (nor real cat's ears, yuck), but robotic brainwave-reading ears.

Apparently the headband electronics picks up something it can interpret and moves the ears in response. The company, Neurowear claims this is just the first in a line of, um, something. Their website also has this lovely quote:

"People think that our body has limitation, however just imagine if we have organs that doesn’t exist, moreover we can control that new body?"

Is this not the prelude to SF-nal body upgrades?

Acting out

Apr. 14th, 2011 11:05 pm
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Belatedly, some notes on my part in the non-Hollywood non-extravaganza of They're Here!, as written and directed by my friend Amanda "Penguin" Adams.

Everyone involved trickled in to the film set (Penguin's friend Mona's apartment) Sunday afternoon, and we blocked out filming angles and costuming. The gigantic tutu was admired.

The premise of the short is that aliens are coming to Earth and various nutjobs crawl out of the woodwork to react to the upcoming Close Encounter.

My primary part was the flamingly gay KKK leader. Has anyone mentioned it's hard to see out of those hoods? They're hot, too; I'm glad I didn't have to wear one in a Southern summer.

Since we had more parts than actors, I also became a microphone-pointing arm at a NASA press conference; 'Captain Ivey' was about as convincing a public figure as we could ask. It turns out I had brought a tie and could borrow a suit jacket; this let me be a Secret Service agent in some other scenes, where I got stand stiffly in the background and clear my throat meaningfully at the Veep. So much for show business.

All of the footage is now shot (except one not-very-special effect which will be added later) and it's in production. I haven't seen the final product yet, but I'm optimistic that it will turn out funny and silly.
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For a friend (she knows who she is): a trip to HAARP! Read more... )


Feb. 5th, 2011 08:02 pm
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I cannot believe that this video shows an approved app for the iPad. If nothing else, the level of screen protection required must be formidable.

On the other hand, it's right up there with the laser pointer as a cat toy.
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Apparently this is an actual object.

Read more... )
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Last Friday I attended a party and did some file swapping, returning home with 55 gigabytes of anime...all in Japanese without subtitles. *sigh* Oh, well; I have titles and torrenting software.

So I've been going through a few things since Saturday.

Angel Beats! was first and I lucked out with a winner. I would not have expected Purgatory to look like a high school, but it makes a twisted kind of sense. Not quite as bad as Hell, far from Heaven, seems to go on forever...yeah, that's high school. The student council president claims she is not an angel, and a few people believe her; another kid claims to be God, and no one believes him. There are really only two good ways to end a group-in-Purgatory story and I was unsure until the very end which one the series would use.

Moyas[h]imon: Tales of Agriculture is up now; it follows students at an agricultural college, one of whom has the bizarre power to see and talk to microbes. Microbiology infodumps are included reasonably painlessly, with kawaii microbe characters getting speaking parts. (Say, [ profile] travelswithkuma, would you mention this to Lisa? She might be amused.) So far so good.

Arakawa Under the Bridge is in the queue now, and apparently crazy homeless Japanese people are more amusing than crazy homeless American people. We'll see.
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Found a link to a video of giant bubbles on the beach and was instantly hit by two things. First, they're so large that you can watch the surface dissolve when they burst, and they're so large that surface tension doesn't pull them into spheres. Rather the opposite order that you find in astronomical bodies, wherein the larger ones are more nearly spherical. Now I wonder what the critical diameter for spherical soap bubbles is, and how much it varies by soap chemistry. Damn I feel nerdy.


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