Lindsay Powell amazes as Cake Bake Betty. Follow the link to better understand greatness.
As I mention every so often, I work for Elgato Systems. We make products like EyeTV, for the Macintosh computer system. After many weeks of hard work, we've just released version 2.3 of the software, that includes a new Full Screen Menu. That means you can use all the important parts of the program from a distance, with a remote control, like you would with a cable box DVR or TiVo.
Nothing revolutionary, but definitely evolutionary for our product. It also ties into Apple's Front Row software, which I suppose is something special. If you want to see this software in action, there's a nice demo movie now showing.
It's a thrice-weekly show aimed at "kids", but still very much enjoyable by adults. It's extremely inventive, in form and function, and stars the pleasant and hyperkinetic Zadi Diaz. I think it's something to pay attention to, because it's always beneficial to try to inspire the young to flex their intelligence and creativity in positive ways.
It seems to have started around 6.1.2006, so there's only a small amount of shows to catch up with thus far. I've already been through about 1/3, and I'm quite enjoying the experience. Perhaps I'll become inspired and do my own video blog....
Ever since I started this version of the Junk Magnet website, it's been very much not concerned with my beliefs about the worlds of flesh and spirit, as my earlier writing might have been. I think in the end this is wrong, and so I want to make a few points clear, so that you can better understand the person behind this project.
Without belaboring the point, I'm very Christian, but not of the mainstream variety. I'm a Bible literalist that nevertheless understands the (incorrect) temptation of "interpreting" the Word to my own satisfaction or convenience. In the end, relativism only leads to confusion at many levels. Thus, while I'm highly studied in the sciences, I still believe in a 6 day creation, even a perhaps 6-7000 year old Earth, and that position alone should be enough to make most people think me idiotic or insane. Before you judge too much, read what sites like http://www.answersingenesis.org/ have to offer. Both modern logic and ancient faith are involved in such beliefs.
However, my beliefs aren't the sort that you just pick up one day and try on - this is always the way the world has presented to me, always filled with spirit, always a wondrous yet cursed place. I may be radical of thought in many ways, but I try to live by the commandments, I try to love everyone even more than I would myself, and I try to put my meager talents in service of the higher good.
Now, you can say, "How do you know what the higher good is? Who are you to judge right and wrong, or to condemn the actions of others?". The point is that I'm not the judge, God is. And while there may be many views of God, views that not everyone shares (or even remotely believes in), God is a very real presence in my life, and I'm tired of shutting that part off, hiding it away because it's not seen as cool, or associated with some "Christians" that aren't that good people in reality.
Thus, I'm not talking of terminology, and my beliefs are no different today then they were 10 years ago. I'm just giving advance warning that I need to do some self work, spiritually and otherwise, and this site will be changing because of that. I don't quite know what it will be in a week, or a month, but in general I'm giving up the misplaced study of popular culture, when it's original culture that's really in dire straights, unless we speak up.
In conclusion, I am a Christian, and that doesn't make me a myopic or stupid person. I'm far from where I should be, and I'm looking for all the positive assistance I can get. I appreciate you indulgence as I more publicly reveal this part of myself, that has always been hiding in plain sight.
Occasionally, I order CDs from individuals, usually through the Amazon.com marketplace. Recently I ordered an inexpensive EP by The Slow Signal Fade, and I wondered why it was taking weeks to arrive. Then, today I received said package, and it was not only thrashed beyond recognition, but also enclosed in a "We Care" envelope from the post office. Witness the horror of abused mail below.
You can start to get a good idea of the mess behind the cellophane.
On the reverse, the "We Care" message. Apparently the complete destruction was "inadvertent".
Closer inspection of the massive tears and half-taped fixes. Remember that a CD is inside.
The flash takes away some of the ground in layers of dirt and grease.
The jewel case is flattened like a pancake, with the top half shattered to pieces.
The insert is surprisingly intact - I guess the case acted as an "egg carton".
The actual CD survived, if you count hundreds of tiny gouges in the shiny side as survival. However, iTunes seems to like it enough for MP3 creation, so yes, the Post Office comes through in the end.
When I was little, I was a LEGO Maniac. I would spend hours building anything and everything, freestylin' with bricks to suit my imagination. However, one night there was a large fire in our garage, and among the many things melted and otherwise ruined was my big box of LEGOs. That was the effective end of my reign of micro architecture.
However, I've watched with interest over the years how robotics was introduced into the line, and the simple tools were quickly expanded to amazing heights, by a dedicated core of constructors, many of them adults. So, when I heard about Mindstorms NXT, generation two of LEGO robotics, I was practically first in line to preorder a set, after a 20 year LEGO drought. After a wait of a few months, it arrived last week, and here are my initial thoughts.
I'm somewhat familiar with the Technic LEGO system, which is all about long bricks with holes in them, and little pegs to connect them. To reacquaint myself with all of the new "elements" (pieces), I followed the quick 30 minute tutorial, making a simple robot with wheels. Then, I connected the "Intelligent Brick" (kind of looks like a chunky iPod) to my iMac via USB 1.1, and I was off to the races. Software for visually constructing routines for my little robot was a bit slow on my computer, but it didn't take long to learn how to activate the many sensors in loops and other logical structures (ultrasonic "vision" and light detection were my initial choices, attached with a quick and rough mod), so that when the program was loaded into my little guy, he would roll around my apartment, watching out for objects and dark areas.
Overall, it too 3 hours, from lugging the huge box home from the post office, assembling the test robot, and debugging my program, to get something that could drive around the house almost unaided. The next step is to add a touch sensor for a bumper, and perhaps sound control to trick things out further. If, down the road, I actually want to make more complex robots, it's simple (yet a bit expensive) to order more elements or sensors from LEGO directly. The real trick seems to find a way to use their educational store, which offers more flexibility, and packages that come with rechargeable batteries, and special plastic containers for all the parts - a much finer system them the cardboard mess that is the retail package.
Plus, LEGO is dead serious about signing the robot activists on to their program, so they involved many enthusiasts with the actual development, and it's clear that many more sensors and development software are soon to be available from 3rd parties.
In conclusion, Mindstorms NTX is an expensive ($249) yet ultimately satisfying robotic development system, truly suited for the full extension of 10 and up. The main weakness so far is that the Intelligent Brick has meager (under 1MB) flash memory that's not upgradable, and it takes forever and a day to load even the smallest program from your computer - you can't blame the USB 1.1 (which is 12Mbps), so I suspect the compiling process. As long as you don't mind waiting a few minutes for a few K to transfer (which dampens quick experiments) then you should have a good time. Bluetooth is also available, but I don't really care at this point - maybe when I get a faster Mac.
Now I'm off to build little robot 2 from scratch, which I envision as the Mars rover of apartment explorers, and once I'm done I'll share pictures and so such.
Part 2 in a Series: Selected Reviews From Netflix Rentals
[Koukyoushihen Eureka Seven] is a popular anime series in Japan, brought to the world by BONES, a production house that always seems to get things right. It's now in the US as simply [Eureka Seven], and I enjoyed what I saw when I rented the first 2 volumes from Netflix last week.
On the surface, the series is quite derivative, similar to [Last Exile] in the sense that the Gekkostate - radical "sky surfers" that the boy hero joins with - are analogous to the the sky adventurers in Gonzo's popular series. The fact that our young man Renton falls for a mysterious, unusual (robot/alien-like) girl named Eureka, who may be a part of a government project, related to his dead father, is quite similar to any number of stories.
Plus, you have mecha-piloting action, albeit of the robots on flying surfboards variety, which is original but quite stupid after given some thought. Still, the semi-spiritual resolve that's needed to actually fly in this alternative world, riding the ley lines due to the aid of mysterious floating particles/waves, does provide some interest. I also like the character design (not necessarily the mecha design), and the fact that you're thrown into the story with little preparation, considering the convoluted plot. That's nicer than being lead by the hand, as is the tendency for some juvenile fiction.
So, I haven't decided if I'll actually buy this series and add it to my collection. Probably I'll rent the volumes in 2006, and buy a box set if fancy strikes. Anime fans will probably have a good time with this, and the first volume is a good two hours of value.
Part 13 in a Series: Random Pictures From My Collection
Studio Z, San Francisco, 3.2005. Titan Go King's introduce the cuteness before they rock the hell out.
This year, I've been a big fan of Rocketboom, a pleasantly fun video blog ("vlog") out of NYC. Today, instead of a video, there was this announcement:
Amanda Congdon has decided to move to L.A. to pursue opportunities that have arisen for her in Hollywood.
We wanted to meet her demands to move production out to L.A., however, we are a small company and have not been able to figure out a way to make it work, financially and in many other ways at this time. While we continue to remain with open arms, Amanda has in fact quit and left Rocketboom. So sadly, we bid Amanda adieu and wish her all the best.
Rocketboom goes on.
Andrew Baron, the founder and creator of Rocketboom, will stay with the company in New York and will continue to produce and direct the show. We are in the daunting process of recruiting a replacement for Amanda.
While Amanda will be sorely missed, we have big plans for Rocketboom and are determined to make the show better than ever.
This saddens me, but it was totally inevitable. Amanda has star power, and there was no doubt in my mind that she would be noticed. The question was when she would leave Rocketboom, not if, at least to me. Now, I look forward to follow her career as she goes "Hollywood" - who knows what she has in mind. For the interested, here is her "last" video message.
As for Andrew, I definitely respect his work, and I'll make sure to check out the new Rocketboom when it's ready, on 7.10.2006 with an "interim host."
I've always been a fan of Nintendo handhelds, but more so for the concept than the actual games. Now, I'm actually excited for once, due to the impending release of 7 Game Boy Advance games, collectively known as bit Generations.
The idea is that the games are intentionally simplistic in graphics and gameplay, sort of like 1980s arcade games meets [Rez] from SEGA. You have a simple palette, lots of bold colors, and play that harkens back to [Pong] or [Tetris], only with a new millennium twist. Best of all, the 7 games are just 2000 yen each, and should work perfectly fine with a Nintendo DS, which has that GBA slot people sometimes ignore.
You can visit the clean yet Japanese heavy site to find out about the first three games out on 7.13.2006 ([dotstream], [BOUNDISH], [DIALHEX]), or the four games that follow on 7.27.2006 ([COLORIS], [ORBITAL], [DIGIDRIVE], [Soundvoyager]). You can see a movie that shows the gameplay of each, and that's enough to get me ready to import.
I've always been a big fan of "genre" works of art - science fiction and horror in particular, be it in print or movies. So, I'm always looking for the latest information on upcoming releases and notable artists, which usually leads to browsing at magazine racks for something good. About three years ago I found an issue of [Rue Morgue], and I was struck enough by the brilliance to find a chair and read the whole thing while I was in the store.
Of course, that grows tired after a while, so I started buying regularly soon after, which lead to my present subscription. Based out of Toronto, [Rue Morgue] easily surpasses a more traditional horror magazine like [Fangoria], which mostly is focused on gruesome shots from upcoming releases. Instead of that more visceral, shock route, this slickly produced magazine is quite literate and engrossing, covering works in film, direct to video, the "art world", comics, music and much more, with well written articles and good interviews.
What really sets [Rue Morgue] apart is the lack of focus on Hollywood as the standard to measure things buy. You can find out about foreign works from decades ago, or the latest short films from festivals. I never cease coming away from each issue with a head full of things to put in my Netflix queue, or to track down in the store.
If you're at all interested in horrific themes as a form of art, then I highly recommend you check out this magazine.
Update 7.17.2006 - Although I think this review was facual, my attitude has changed recently in reference to the horrific as entertainment - I think that's not doing me any good. Thus, I've unsubscribed to this magazine, and discarded the issues I bought in the past.
Now that I'm starting to spend more time at Digg.com posting news articles, I thought you'd like to see the amazing stories I'm finding. All you need to do is go to my junkmagnet profile to see the articles I've posted so far (44 and counting in 6 days). There are bound to be one or two new links each day for you to follow, and fellow Digg users should feel free to throw some votes my way. Just press the blue "Digg" graphic whenever you see it.
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