Humpday Reading List 18/09/2013

Black Angel will see a new lease of life at the Mill Valley Film Festival.  / Picture: Roger Christian

Black Angel will see a new lease of life at the Mill Valley Film Festival. / Picture: Roger Christian

Let’s just dive into things this week with your first tasty morsel coming out of Skywalker Ranch (kind of). Black Angel, a short film that ran before The Empire Strikes Back, and thought to be lost for years, will have a re-debut at the Mill Valley Film Festival. Ars Technica interviewed the film’s creator, Roger Christian, about how the film came to be.

Check out this series of vintage crime scene photographs superimposed over the modern day NY streets.

The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates writes about Trayvon Martin, black-on-black violence and American racism. I generally like to avoid politics on here if at all possible but Coates writes such good stuff that I want to spread the word.

Badass Digest’s RJ LaForce explores whether Wes Anderson can ever top Rushmore, the film that is largely considered to be his best. Badass Digest also has an interview with Brie Larson who, after her stints in United States of TaraScott Pilgrim vs. the World and 21 Jump Street, has pretty much cemented her position as one of my favourite people ever. She talks about her new movie Short Term 12 which tackles much more serious issues than the above mentioned films.

Anyone remotely familiar with the game development process knows how taxing it can be working for a AAA studio. Raphael van Lierop has created a studio, Hinterland, that is spread across the United States. The idea is that developers don’t have to uproot their families and can work in a comfortable, sustainable environment that isn’t going to suck the life out of them. There’s a great feature on Hinterland over at the Penny Arcade Report.

Remember how everyone lost their damn minds when Jessica Chobot was in Mass Effect 3? I do, and it was kind of silly. Anyway, she’s now working at Zombie Studios on their new horror game, Daylight. Polygon has a feature on Chobot along with a video featurette. Polygon does, in my opinion, the best longform video game writing of any online publication and their video features consistently knock it out of the park. Also I love the shots fired at Olivia Munn, blink and you’ll miss it.

V-v-v-v-videos

Check out Ben Affleck on Jimmy Fallon talking about getting cast as Batman and the internet backlash that followed.

That’s it from me, I have to go eat some soup now. See you all next week!

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Phonebloks could be the responsible future for mobile phones. Or the responsible future of awesome Lego phones.

Also: super cool.

Electronic devices are generally not designed to last. Inevitably they fail and then you’re stuck looking at either hundreds of dollars in repair costs from some sort of “Genius” or having to replace the phone entirely. This is particularly evident with Apple devices where both the software and the hardware are part of a closed system. There are some customisation options when you purchase a device, but if one part ends up failing it is often difficult and expensive for Regular Joe to replace the part. It’s usually easier to just throw it out and start again.

This is causing a huge problem for a number of reasons. It’s unbelievably expensive to replace the whole device instead of simply repairing the faulty part. Yes it’s easier and if you have more money than sense then I guess it’s not really a problem but with most new smartphones sitting around the $600-800 mark that can get seriously expensive. Particularly if you’re in the habit of dropping phones into toilets or smashing the screen as a lot of people are wont to do.

It’s also wasteful to just discard the entire device if only a part of it is faulty or no longer performing at the level you require. But because so many consumers don’t possess the technical know-how (or the devices are specifically designed to limit end-user modification) they’re often not left with a lot of options. Let’s also not forget that smartphone manufacturers like Apple work on a system with built in obsolescence. Usually after 18 months of a phone release there will be a new system designed to work on a new OS which is increasingly less compatible on older models. Try running iOS 6 on an iPhone 3G or 3Gs if you want to see what I mean.

Enter Phonebloks, a concept for a completely modular smartphone made from a series of “bloks” that are attached to a central base. Do you like taking a lot of photos with your phone? Then why not replace the blocks for bluetooth or the compass to free up some space on the base for you to install a better camera. Or if you do a lot of work in the cloud you could reduce the size of the on-board storage blok and opt for a bigger battery. Finally parents around the world could be living the dream of having a modern phone “that just makes calls” and children around the world could give their eyes a rest from all that rolling they’ve been doing every time they hear that same…joke? Is it a joke? Do they think it’s funny? I don’t know, the point is they can stop and the world would be a better place for it.

Every component, including the screen, is completely replaceable

Every component, including the screen, is completely replaceable

It’s a really clever idea and it allows the end user to be entirely in control of the phone they are buying. You wouldn’t have to compare the different HTC models (what are there, 500 now?) to find the one that best suits your needs. You could just build the phone you know you want to use now.

All smartphones come with their own app store where you can purchase and download different applications for the OS, Phonebloks would run a similar model for hardware with their Blokstore. If your needs change and you need to change the configuration of your bloks you just order the new bloks from the store and when it arrives you send them back your old, unwanted bloks. This is where the cool tech meets environmental responsibility. At least as far as they’re claiming on their website, this system is designed to minimise e-waste, since you’re not actually throwing out electronic devices. They don’t actually mention it at all on their site but there may be a market for used bloks but eventually they would have to have some sort of plan for responsibly disposing of or recycling the outdated or damaged bloks.

It seems their first prototype design would be roughly the size of an iPhone 4

It seems their first prototype design would be roughly the size of an iPhone 4

This is just an idea at this stage, the phone doesn’t exist and it’s going to be a difficult uphill battle to make it exist. The Phonebloks website contains information about their plan as well as a link to “Join the Thunderclap” where you essentially sign up for a giant, worldwide social media blast. The idea is to make hardware manufacturers pay attention and see that there is a demand for such a product. I am usually very cynical about these sorts of things but I want it to exist so bad because my phone contract expires soon and I want a goddamn mobile phone made out of Lego! So sign up for the Thunderclap, it requires about the bare minimum of effort on your part to support a really cool project and it’s cheap as free (the support, that is, who knows how much the phone would actually cost?).

Anyway, this advertorial was brought to you but Not Enough Sleep, Overenthusiastic Nerd Excitement, and Phonebloks®: The Phone Of The Future For Today™©.

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Humpday Reading List 11/09/2013

Oh man, some stuff has happened in the last week, right? We have a new government here in Australia and a lot of people are unhappy about. Obviously not as many people than are happy with it, I guess, because…you know, democracy? Anyway this is our new Prime Minister:

I can see clearly now, Lorraine has gone. She was the worst.

Ok, so Dickwolves are back. I could go on about it here but MC Frontalot wrote a fairly comprehensive blog post about it on Google+ so just read that instead and that should fill you in on what’s what.

Christopher Sawula has written a guest post over on Play the Past about historical interpretation in the Assassin’s Creed series, especially the latest entry Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag will feature famous historical pirates, including Blackbeard. Picture: Ubisoft.

Also on Play the Past (which I think I am starting to fall in love with) is a feature on the technologically deterministic nature of video game tech trees. Get on it.

Kill Screen reached out to a number of Jewish game designers – including Warren Spector – and asked them Is there a Jewish identity in videogames? 

I loved S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl. It was the first Ukrainian video game I had ever played and it was unique among the first person shooters of its time with a combination of RPG and survival horror elements mixed it. Polygon has a feature on GSC Game World, the developers of S.T.A.L.K.E.R., that looks at the company’s collapse and what happened to the nearly 200 employees that found themselves out of a job.

Microsoft recently acquired Nokia for $7.82 billion in an attempt to weasel their way further into the smartphone market. The Financial Review interviewed Frank Nuovo, the man behind the designs of Nokia’s most popular phones, who says he knows why the company has failed and warns that Apple could be next if they don’t learn from Nokia’s mistakes.

Texas continues to try to limit evolution in school textbooks.

I understand the National Academy of Science’s strong support of the theory of evolution. At the same time, this is a theory. As an educator, parent, and grandparent, I feel very firmly that ‘creation science’ based on biblical principles should be incorporated into every biology book that is considered for adoption. Students should have the opportunity to use their critical thinking skills to weigh the evidence between evolution and ‘creation science.’

That quote was from one of the textbook reviewers. I suspect they don’t understand exactly what “evidence” is. I think this is the evidence they’re referring to?

Conclusive proof!

Conclusive proof!

Ars Technica have an exhaustive article about creating the ultimate creative content OS out of the best bits of Mac, Windows and Linux. Warning: it’s really long.

The Dissolve continues their Conversation series by discussing the merits and flaws of belated sequels.

Commander Video

Stop motion is kind of the coolest, and PBS Digital Studios have a nice 8 minute look into this ancient video art form.

Someone has used a Lego Mindstorm to create a home-made kindle scanner. This combines two of my favourite things: awesome robots and fighting DRM.

I’m going to leave you this week with an important message from Sarah Silverman, the NRA’s newest spokeswoman. Enjoy!

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Humpday Playlist 4/09/2013

Ah, the middle of the work week. For me that means writing this blog post, going to the gym, watching some TV and then gently weeping into my pillow until the Sandman comes to whisk me off to dream land. For you it probably means slogging through another eight hours so you can eventually go home and yell at your children.

Not this Sandman

So why not forget about your troubs for a while and focus your brain-pouch on this big ol’ list of links I’ve scrounged up for you. You can thank me later.

I have a fairly large blind spot in my right eye, I can ignore it most of the time but occasionally people or objects jump out of it and frighten me. Anyway, here are some things you can read with your eyes.

Let’s ease into things today with this feature from Polygon about Joseph White, the creator of Voxatron, who might just be creating the future of video games.

Also from Polygon is a feature on Video Game Championship Wrestling, a crazy show featuring video game characters beating the snot out of each other created using the apparently pretty robust character and storyline editors in WWE ’13.

I’ma Wario! I’ma gonna ween! / Photo: MikeLL

Ben Lewis-Evans has a blog post over on Gamasutra about dopamine, what it does to our brains and how it relates to video games. Cool stuff!

I always new there was something special about gin and tonics, my preferred summer (and autumn and winter and spring) drink, what I didn’t know was how important it was to British colonialism.

Lee Hutchinson over at Ars Technica is currently four days in to a week long trial of the nutritionally complete meal substitute, Soylent. The intro article (which contains links to the next four days worth of experiments) can be found here. I’m naturally super sceptical about these sort of things and often have to stop my eyeballs rolling right out of my head whenever anyone mentions “juice fasts” or “detoxes” or I see a #cleanfood hashtag. I’m currently reading the day two post and the side effects seem to be fairly similar to what you hear from a lot of people trying liquid meal replacements.

It was bad. These weren’t mere ha-ha toot kinds of emissions; this was hair-raising. It was room-clearing, horse-killing, World War I mustard gas-type gas. I migrated from room to room in the house like I was giving up territory to the Kaiser, my face fixed in an expression of horror as green hell-fumes trailed behind me, peeling paint and wilting plants. My wife, bless her heart, said nothing.

All I’m saying is I’m glad Lee Hutchinson is willing to suffer for my amusement.

OK here’s a quick list of a bunch of other stuff you could read, or not, I don’t really care:

  • The A.V. Club has the first of their Internet Film School series, this one is all about framing.
  • A beginner’s guide to the king of comics, Jack Kirby.
  • Shut Up & Sit Down‘s Lord Custard Smingleigh has a column on board game house rules.
  • Eve Online is one of the craziest MMOs out there and apparently they recently had the largest PVP battle in gaming history. I will never tire of reading about the crazy stuff people get up to in that game.
  • War on YouTube: how publishers are missing the boat of video coverage, and attacking their friends – The PA Report.

Pictures that move? What devilry is this?!

I’m going to start this video part off with this look into Richard Garriott‘s insane New York home. Dude has secret doors and Sputniks all over the place.

Then this interview with Mythbuster Jamie Hyneman.

Or how about an hour long interview with John Landis hosted by other Mythbuster Adam Savage. I assume this is awesome but I haven’t watched it because I’m going to see John Landis for the Melbourne Festival and want to stay fresh.

Finally I’ll leave you with presumably super high Patrick Stuart demonstrating his most powerful dramatic tool: the Quadruple Take.

See you next week, kids!

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Humpday Playlist 28/08/2013

Ok, it’s that time again to flip off your boss, down that cup of coffee and strap yourself in for the freshest, tastiest links you’ll find on the web this week.

Words. That you read.

From The Atlantic we have Bruce Scheier’s “The Real , Terrifying Reason Why British Authorities Detailed David Miranda”.

On a far sillier note, apparently a Canadian dentist is trying to clone John Lennon using his old teeth. For reals. Personally I think it would be better if we just cloned three more RIngo Starrs and we could finally have the ultimate rock supergroup (sorry Travelling Wilburys).

Like this, but three more of him. Photo: Schröder+Schömbs PR _ Brands | Media | Lifestyle / flickr

So Fukushima is in a bad way. In August this year, regulators announced that 300 tons of radioactive water had leaked from storage tanks into the Pacific. Benjamin Sovacool, over on The Conversation, suggests that it’s only a matter of time before we see similar disasters spring up around nuclear power plants. Oh and what’s Japan doing to stop any more contaminated water from entering the Pacific? Apparently they’re planning on building an underground, Game of Thronesian, ice wall to stop any more leaks.

Some more stuff from my buds over at The Conversation: are you a fan of Breaking Bad? Ever wondered exactly what Heisenberg’s blue rocks does to you chemically? Well wonder no more. Warning: there’s a pretty gross picture of meth-mouth in the article. They also have a great piece on the way politicians, and other men in the public eye, wield their wives and daughters like a deadly PR weapon in an attempt to make themselves look better.

If you haven’t seen the fantastic The World’s End yet then you’re a madman. The movie is fantastic and if you plan on seeing it then don’t click on these next few links. The first is from Badass Digest and looks at Simon Pegg’s Captain Kirk moment at the end of the movie. The second is from The Dissolve and is another entry in their The Conversation series where they discuss The World’s End and how it fits into the Cornetto Trilogy as a whole.

  • New Republic‘s Isaac Chotiner wrote about how Hollywood is in pretty bad shape with its focus on sequels, reboots and giant budgets.
  • People lost their mind about Ben Affleck taking on the role of Batman in the upcoming Man of Steel sequel. I wasn’t super sold on it but the A.V. Club rightfully points out that we should all just chill the eff out.
  • Swing back over to Badass Digest for a list of cinema’s worst bartenders. Because why not.

If video games are your thing Polygon have a look at what the next 30 years will look like for Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii owners. They also have a feature on the first Native American games company and how they want to change the way indigenous people are portrayed in games.

Once again a mainstream news organisation has run a story about a video games and violence after an 8-year-old shot and killed his elderly caregiver after playing a video game. And once again it takes a video game publication (this time the Penny Arcade Report) to actually discuss how and why an 8-year-old came to be in possession of a loaded handgun in the first place and why he was even playing such a violent, mature game. Unfortunately, once again, they are preaching to the choir. It would be nice of places like CNN, Fox News and other mainstream outlets would actually take the time to look at the real issues instead of finding easy scapegoats that make for snappy headlines.

All right, that’s it for today, there’s probably enough in here to last you a while. Enjoy the rest of your day and I leave you with this video of Chris Hadfield explaining how exactly you poop in space!

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Humpday Playlist 21/08/2013

“I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be” / Photo: Legozilla, flickr

Another day, another opportunity to coast through life by reading all this cool stuff instead of doing your job.

Read this

Turkish archaeologists have uncovered small carved stones in a nearly 5,000 year-old burial. They believe them to be the earliest gaming tokens ever found.

Leigh Alexander continues to prove she’s the best ever in this piece about why gaming culture “sucks”.

The Dissolve‘s Nathan Rabin wrote an excellent compare/contrast on Sucker Punch and Spring Breakers, two movies I never really expect to be brought up in the same sentence, let alone have an entire feature dedicated to them.

Why y’all acting ‘spicious?

Also on The Dissolve is the latest in their “The Conversation” series. This week their looking at the pros and cons of director/actor team-ups.

Finally, Polygon has a feature on The Fullbright Company, the indie games studio responsible for Gone Home, one of the most critically well received games of the year.

Watch this

Check out this awesome time-lapse video of the Perseids meteor shower.

Aaron Paul’s The Bitchies are a thing now.

AND CHECK OUT THIS COOL PAINTING ROBOT!

 

Ok that’s it for today, folks. Enjoy the rest of your day and remember: don’t do what your boss says, they’re only trying to hold you back!

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Humpday Playlist – 14/08/2013

Lego Cthulhu is now one of my favourite Cthulhus / Photo: Norman Chan, http://www.tested.com/art/lego/457092-bricks-bay-carl-merriams-cthulhu-lego-moc/

Lego Cthulhu is now one of my favourite Cthulhus / Photo: Norman Chan, http://www.tested.com

Loosen up your ear-holes and moisten your peepers because I have a big ol’ list of links and vids to get you through the last few hours of another crappy Wednesday at your Soul Sucking Day Job™. I have literally spent every waking hour trawling the darkest, most horrible corners of the internet to bring you this list* so enjoy!

Linked In

  • Bricks by the Bay, a Lego convention held in Santa Clara, California, is the place to be if you love plastic dioramas of the Battle of Hoth or the Tower of Orthanc. Norman Chan from Tested covered the event and took a bunch of photos but one of my favourites was this custom made Lego Cthulhu. Read the story here.
  • Patrick Klepek has written a feature on collusion in competitive fighting game tournaments.
  • Researchers from John Hopkins and Princeton Universities have managed to 3D print a bionic ear. The researchers wrote:

As a proof of concept, we generated a bionic ear via 3D printing of a cell-seeded hydrogel matrix in the anatomic geometry of a human ear, along with an intertwined conducting polymer consisting of infused silver nanoparticles. This allowed for in vitro culturing of cartilage tissue around an inductive coil antenna in the ear, which subsequently enables readout of inductively-coupled signals from cochlea-shaped electrodes.

Indeed!

  • Polygon has a fantastic feature on the Adults Only rating for video games. This sort of stuff is fascinated, especially considering the number of games that have been flat-out banned in Australia while only receiving M ratings in the US. Also Polygon really knows what they’re doing when it comes to layout and design for their features. THIS IS HOW YOU DO ONLINE PUBLISHING, REST OF THE WORLD.

Tinnitus is a badge of honour

  • On the podcast front you should really be listening to The Thrilling Adventure Hour. It’s a comedy stage show in the style of old-timey radio. It’s funny and incredibly well written so click here, you know you want to.

The Talkies

Watch these things!

This next video has been out for a while, it’s the third in a three-part series on the “damsel in distress” trope found in video games. It’s definitely the best entry in the Tropes vs Women in Video Games series so far and well worth a look.

OK that’s it for now, I’m going to go back to watching episodes of Bunk and eating cereal in bed because I lost my self respect years ago.

*none of this is true.

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Humpday Playlist

Ok, I know, I’m the worst. It’s been forever since I’ve posted, there hasn’t been a podcast in months. I’m sorry I gave up so easily, I guess my ex-girlfriends were right when they said I have no stamina.

But whatever, I’m here now and I’m going to force the things I like onto you because that’s the kind of person I am. Also I get excited about the things I like and I want to share them with people. So, with that in mind I’d like to welcome you to what I hope will become a regular weekly thing that I do called the “Humpday Playlist”. Every Wednesday I’ll look over everything I’ve been listening to, reading, watching and playing and provide a list of stuff that I think is Super Cool©.

This is hardly a new idea, tonnes of places do exactly this sort of thing but I’ve been off the wagon for a while so I thought I’d ease myself into it. Be gentle.

Stuff these in your ear-holes

I don’t get a lot of time to listen to music these days. That’s not because I’m super busy with work or have a lot of social gatherings taking up my time, quite the opposite really. I probably have the most free time of anybody you know, unless you happen to know someone who’s three. The big “problem” – and it’s not a problem at all, this is a really dumb thing to complain about – is that I listen to too many podcast. I listen to them when I have breakfast, when I shower, when I’m at the gym, pretty much at any time that doesn’t require me to directly interact with other people and I still can’t keep on top of them. I finally cleared my unplayed podcast list yesterday morning only to look at my phone in the afternoon and find roughly 7 hours of new podcasts had downloaded while I was napping. But, in the brief time between these events I did manage to listen to some Fresh Beats.

K.Flay, one of my favourite rap-persons, released a new EP yesterday called What If It Is. I’m no music critic and I barely know my breakbeats from my…microphone controllers(?) but whatever, What If It Is is awesome and you should pay some money for it instead of pirating everything like some filthy criminal.

Actually that’s it, that’s all the music I’ve managed to listen to in the last week. Well I guess I should point you in the direction of all these damn podcasts that are eating my life. 

First up My Brother, My Brother and Me is an advice show for the modern era hosted by the three McElroy brothers: Travis, Justin and Griffin. They answer questions submitted by listeners as well as from Yahoo! Answers. They’re hilarious and most of the questions lead into deep riffs about anything ranging from proper dating etiquette to horse emotions. Check out their sampler, it’s good stuff.

I also listen to Sawbones: a Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine which is exactly what it sounds like. Dr Sydnee McElroy and her husband Justin (again! What can I say, I like the McElroys. They do good work) explore just the weirdest, worst, grossest ways we’ve tried to fix people throughout history.

Finally, check out Comic Dorksit a show where a bunch of dudes talk about comics.

I have about 15 more podcasts I listen to on a regular basis but this should keep you busy for now.

A feast for your peepers

Comedian Chris Hardwick played the original Stacee Jaxx in the Rock of Ages stage show. While he was hosting a Comic-Con panel for Tom Cruise’s new movie, magic happened.

Rev3Games has a new video series hosted by Max Scoville called Max Scoville’s Study Hall. Each week they take a topic that relates to video games and make recommendations for other media that’s related to the topic for you to check out. I’ve got a tonne of music, movie and book recommendations from the show. You should check it out.

There’s a fantastic feature over on Polygon about blind games and accessibility and over at The Dissolve there’s a discussion about moviegoing in the digital age that’s well worth a look.

What now?

I think that’s about it for today. I decided to fire this blog back up a few days ago and this really just came together because I found myself with nothing else to do. Hopefully in the next week I’ll have a codified format for this sort of thing. Also expect a giant feature on digital board games in the next few days, maybe Friday.

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Eclectic Dynamite Podcast 24-02-2013

DMC

Another late podcast. My bad.

This week we talk about new computers, zombie cells and Destiny.

Also there’s an incomprehensible discussion about DmC: Devil May Cry. Also our Top 3…obviously.

 

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/eclecticdynamite/ED24.mp3]

 

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Eclectic Dynamite Podcast 21-01-2013

teenage

It’s a crowded episode of the podcast this week as we introduce a third voice in the form of our bud, Matt.

We talk about Dead Island Riptide‘s gross special edition, Obama calling for research into violent media, boring hyperspace travel and the front page of the internet.

And of course our Top 3 featuring Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and weird Japanese binocular soccar.

Music

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Themes Song (2012 TV series)

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/eclecticdynamite/ED22.mp3]

 

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