Best Prank Ever

April 14, 2009

ie-11

  1. Improv Everywhere stages fake funeral prank on April 1st, fools thousands
  2. CW 11 News reports prank as real, broadcasts IE’s video footage without permission
  3. IE posts clip of CW 11’s news report on youtube, notes the shoddy journalism
  4. CW 11 files copyright claim against IE

Read all about it on IE’s site.

Zero-G Coffee Cup

November 25, 2008

I love this. Astronaut Don Pettit invented a coffee cup that works in null gravity. It’s so simple and inspiring, and the video is just plain fun.

I don’t understand how this design prevents sloshing, however. Maybe because it tapers toward the bottom?

Chrome

September 3, 2008

Chrome, I chose you!

From the Google Chrome terms of service:

By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any content which you submit, post or display on or through, the services. This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the services and may be revoked for certain services as defined in the additional terms of those services.

This means I can never use Chrome to send email, upload images I created, or share documents without handing Google the rights to publicly display these things or appropriate my creative work for their own ends.

If I’m reading this correctly, then I can write a screenplay, email it to a friend using gmail and Chrome, and now Google has the right to shoot my movie.

How is this not a dealbreaker?

While browsing my friend Sarah’s website, I ran across a wonderful quotation from Niels Bohr (quantum physicist) that reminded me of a conversation I had a few years ago with my good friend Mowgli; I’ll get to Bohr’s statement in a moment. In the conversation with Mowgli, I quoted a line from an e.e. cummings poem:

I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance

This strikes me as a profound truth, oft repeated in cummings work; the sense being something along the lines of how beauty and truth are best unanalyzed, and how “progress,” “knowledge,” and science can destroy truth. Mowgli expressed distaste for the quote, saying that knowledge, science, and understanding the universe are very important and worthwhile things to him. I also agreed with that. I didn’t see the cummings quote and his opinion as contradictory, but I couldn’t explain why.

The Bohr quote recalled this conversation to my mind. I think Bohr’s statement itself expresses a profound truth, as well as reconciling the apparent disagreement in Mowgli and my philosophies:

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.

Bohr echoes another cummings idea, from the forward to cumming’s book is 5:

Ineluctable preoccupation with The Verb gives a poet one priceless advantage:whereas nonmakers must content themselves with the merely undeniable fact that two times two is four,he rejoices in a purely irresistible truth (to be found,in abbreviated costume,upon the title page of the present volume).

It is the soulless scientist who contents himself with merely undeniable facts. Bohr’s quote shows that he and his ilk are after purely irresistible truths.

May we all be fortunate enough to spend our lives as makers and poets.

Brian Williams 1986-2007

January 11, 2007

Today I’m in Albert Lea, Minnesota attending the funeral of my friend Brian Willaims. Brian grew up next door to me and is the younger brother of my good friend Jaime.

The service begins at 9 am this morning. The funeral procession will travel to Woodward, Iowa for interment in the afternoon. My friend Thomas and I are pallbearers.

Brian was 20 years old and a soldier in Iraq. I saw him online often and played video games with him. He was on leave for the hoilidays when he committed suicide at his mother’s house in Albert Lea.

He will be missed.

Seriously. The New York Times.

Draenei

Somebody recently said, "Warcraft is the new golf."

This article comes one day after Mark Bragg issued a press release announcing his lawsuit of Linden Labs, makers of Second Life. Mark, an attorney, alleges that immediately after investing thousands of real-world dollars in a virtual land deal, Linden Labs cancelled his account, "without explanation, without citing any violation of community policy, and have since refused offer a credit or a refund."

This could be a landmark case in the legal and popular understanding of virtual worlds. So far, there's been no response from Linden Labs. I, for one, hope Mark wins. If people are going to be investing millions of RL dollars in Second Life, as Linden Labs hopes they will, these entrepeneurs will need basic legal rights to protect their investments.

Oblivion Gone Wild

May 6, 2006

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (a game I'm playing right now) has had it's rating changed from "teen" to "mature." It turns out that Bethesda included the artwork for female breasts in the game's files, so all it takes is a little mod to remove the otherwise-mandatory bras. Details at cnet.

Topless Breton
Oblivion is very popular, having sold over 1.7 million copies since launch. Most of those sales are for Xbox 360, though. The TES Construction Set, necessary for Oblivion modding, can only be used on the PC version.

It remains to be seen if Senator Clinton will get her panties in a bunch over this one.

Explains Raph Koster: "You pretty much have to include a nude or near-nude model in order to have a good clothing system, because anything drawn onto the base model will show through when you do certain clothing types. You could, of course,go to the extra lengths to have alternate underwear sets drawn onto alternate base models, so that there’s always a base model to choose from that works with a given piece of clothing, but what an asset nightmare."

Radio Update

May 3, 2006

It looks like we'll be pre-recording the Michael Smerconish Morning Show segment to air tomorrow (Thursday).

Update May 4th: It aired this morning. It's up as a podcast on WPHT's site, or you might get a faster download here. I think it's a decent interview, but what do I know? I credit Anton Chekhov with writing a play called "The Cherry Tree."

Smerconish Site 

Game Rules as Art

April 27, 2006

"Why do rules have such power over our minds?"

Rob Humble at The Escapist writes about Game Rules as Art:

"I believe that the creation and selection of game rules is an art form in and of itself. By this, I mean that the rules of a game can give an artistic statement independent of its other components. Just as a poem doesn't need pictures and a painting doesn't need music, a game needs nothing else apart from its rules to succeed as a work of art."

"Seed" Screenshot

Denmark-based developer Runestone opened their MMO “Seed” to public beta this week. I’d previously applied to the beta, so I got an email this morning and I’m creeping toward a client patch as I type this.

Seed takes place on the colony world DaVinci as the colonists, cut off from Earth by interstellar distances, struggle to survive amidst a massive population explosion and conflict of ideologies. Players will have the ability to influence the course of the story and game development.

Razer Copperhead

With my new Razer Copperhead gaming mouse (smooth like butter!) and a video card on the way to breathe some new life into my aging AGP gaming desktop, I’m chomping at the bit to get in some game time. Though glancing over at the SEED patcher, I’ve got about 16 hours or so before their snail of a patcher finishes its 325 MB download.