We have this notion that churches are dingy institutions and that poverty is equated to holiness. I do not want to denounce anyone’s faith if he or she believes in that, but I just want to tell you, that churches actually benefit from the use of gadgets, too. [Read more…]
I’ve become a YouTube addict lately, and I’ve come across a really cool lady who’s got everything I believe a man could want: looks, style, a great sense of humor, and tech know-how. She also has something I really admire in any woman: pride in her country and culture.
This lady I’m talking about is HappySlip, a YouTube star. She is on the Top 10 of YouTube’s Most Subscribed list, and has been nominated for the Best Comedy category of the 2006 YouTube Video Awards.
Geekery comes in many forms. Computers. Cars. Gadgets. Video games. Movies. Comics. And of course, roleplaying. And when you talk about roleplaying, the word “D&D” — short for Dungeons & Dragons — is an automatic mention.
Count me as a roleplaying geek, a D&D freak. Because I live in a country not agog over roleplaying games (RPGs) and 8-sided dices, I greatly treasure the objects that enable me to connect with this geekery of mine, objects regularly flown all the way from the U.S. to my land of seven thousand islands (no kidding).
I’m talking about magazines; more specifically, the Dragon and Dungeon duo, two of the most venerable and valuable D&D/fantasy RPG journals out there. Dragon was first published in 1976, while its partner (my favorite of the two, and always out of stock in the few shops that sell D&D stuff here) was born a decade later.
Sadly, 2007 will be the last year for both publications. Last April, gaming giant Wizards of the Coast announced that Paizo (erstwhile holder of the magazines’ publishing rights) will cease to publish the pair. Reason: WotC deems the Internet to be the medium that would broaden the reach of their content.
Sure, I see the sense in their reasoning. After all, I am an active denizen of the Net, and I very much understand the power of this medium. Heck, it will probably be even easier for me now to get my monthly dose of fantasy RPG, because one mouse click travels infinitely faster than the plane which carries D&D goodies from the States to Asia.
However, I’ve never been one to like e-books. Printed paper still does the trick for me, and that’s the same with magazines. To actually hold, caress, and — yes, smell! — the fresh-off-the-press paper is an experience I relish. Not to mention that there’s nothing magical about collecting virtual magazine issues in your hard disk.
It goes without saying that Dragon and Dungeon‘s imminent decease is quite a tragic chapter in my life as a geek. Looks like my mag backlogs will be a thing of the past.
Now, in times of grief, what does one do? Receive shopping therapy. So I dusted off my rarely-used credit cards and ordered ten back issues that are sure to get out of print, soon. (With a limited edition dragon miniature thrown in, to get my pricey shipping’s worth.)
If you’re a fellow RPG and D&D fan with a couple of missing gems from your Dragon and Dungeon chest, you might want to check out Paizo’s back issue list before the stocks go poof.
I’m still holding out hope that WotC changes heart even in the next year or so, and decides to renew the life of both print mags. But because business decisions seem to be stubborn ones (or are they?), it looks like my hope is as forlorn as the Forlorn Hope!
P.S. Check out this engaging discussion at the Dragon messageboards regarding the magazines’ demise, fans’ reactions, and of course, WotC’s motives.
Titane Interactive Solutions is a web design company with several seamlessly-created sites to their name. Among them are Can You Trust Your Mates, a funny website on how you cannot trust your friends who drink and drive. It is part of the “Don’t drink and drive” campaign in New Zealand.
Another impressive site they have under their belt is that of Celadon Collection, a furniture company. The group uses a lot of flash in their work, and the pictures they use are just breathtaking.
We’ve all seen and heard about modding the look of computer peripherals and other present-day machines to fit a person’s personality or simply to follow certain whims (read: too much time on one’s hands).
An interesting, shall we say, genre modders like to do is that of Steampunk. It’s a look based on the type of sci-fi/fantasy/speculative fiction literary genre, Steampunk, where steam is used to power high-tech inventions set in the Victorian era.
Meet the umbrella that lets you do more than shield you from the rain, the Pileus:
Pileus is an umbrella connected to the Internet to make walking in rainy days fun. Pileus has a large screen on the top surface, a built-in camera, a motion sensor, GPS, and a digital compass, and it provides two main functions; [sic] A Social Photo-sharing and A 3D Map Navigation.
The “social photo-sharing” part is actually with Flickr, while the “3d map navigation” part is powered by Google Earth. Pileus started out as a research project by Sho Hashimoto and Takashi Matsumoto at Keio University’s Human Computer-Interaction (HCI) Design Lab.
Here’s a short video how you can view photos with (or should I say under?) the Pileus:
You can also catch a live demonstration of the Pileus prototype at the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery from April 20 to June 16. This quirky umbrella has also grabbed attention in Europe and South Africa.
I would never stand under the rain and use my umbrella to surf the web. That aside, it looks like fun in a really geeky, Inspector Gadget slash James Bond way.
It seems the most unlikely products want to be iPod-compatible. That’s how powerful the Apple iPod brand has become: it’s now a selling point for companies wanting a little boost in their sales.
Here are just some of the examples of products that have made it a point to please the MP3 player giant:
Pause: iPod-Compatible Bed
The Pause by Design Mobel is the world’s first bed that lets you play your iPod with it. They also call it the “world’s most comfortable iPod Dock”.
See also: Lomme, another iPod-friendly bed with a futuristic feel.
There’s a large number of high quality programmes now available on tv. Shows including Heroes, The Sopranos and The Office all provide fantastic (if edgy) entertainment. So, how do they stand up to games – the other pastime where you’re in front of the box? Well let’s look at a few areas of comparison:
Games have traditionally had a very simple, very poor Aristotealean (and basic) narrative. TV on the other hand seems to be in a bit of a renaissance at the momement with layered, deep storylines offering much to the audience. Games such as Psychonauts, Half Life 2 and Neverwinter Nights 2 are giving more to the player of late, offering a better sense of their place in the virtual world.
Obviously games pip this one, as they are based on manipulating and interacting with things/objects/people/places within a virtual space. Even Pong followed this principle. Games are now rich and diverse, offering almost as many varied experiences as you can think of. TV is now offering, by comparison, much more interactivity. Let’s take a look at some ways in which it is doing so:
IPTV is the latest buzz-word that’s going around, helped no doubt by Apple TV and all manner of things. Here in the UK Channel 4 has recently released an on-demand download service, so this looks to be really taking off. For those of you who aren’t sure what all the fuss is about, if you have a computer (or other sort of tech kit I’ll cover later) you can choose your own tv schedule by downloading what you want to watch, when you want to watch it.
Games are now becoming more mainstream and in fact they’re being built into all manner of TV shows, ads and all sorts of things. Marketing campaigns are now converging across all platforms (TV and computer/internet) and games are a part of that strategy to suck people into the brand.
The ‘red’ button is now synonymous with Sky TV, at least over here in the UK. Essentially, you hit the button and you can be presented with all sort of interactive stuff – this could be a camera angle choice, a game or a new music video. All of this from a single button press. Impressive huh?
We touched on this briefly in the last section, but Freeview here in the UK even allows you to change camera angles. This was most impressive during the Olympics when you could actually choose which sport to watch live. Never before has TV given the viewer EXACTLY what they want in this way.
Teletext was almost a precursor to widespread Internet use over here in the UK. I’m not sure if it was ever apparent in the US but basically it is pages of text information, about whatever subject that the provider decided but commonly it was news, weather and tv. Digital teletext is a long overdue upgrade giving a wider selection of information, much faster speed and a more user-friendly interface.
Tivo and Skyplus are pretty much the same service but for two separate countries. Basically, you can record your favourite shows and channels – or even set the box to record whenever a particular show is on. It is top notch kit and very much worth investing in.
So what does all this technology around the tv tell us? Well, as interactivity increases, we’re seeing the fact that power is now being put in the hands of the viewer. They are taking back the television. For that reason alone all of these developments are going completely in the right direction – and coupled with HD I think in a few years TV will go beyond even all of these to transcend and pre-empt the viewing choices of the audience behind the big (but thing) black box.
Buying a car can be quite confusing especially for those who are not as well versed with car speak and car terms. Because a car is a major ticket purchase one should be very careful in inspecting a prospective car before actually parting with the hard earned cash. This would not be so much of a problem if a new car is being bought, but not everyone can buy a new car. A large percentage of the car buying public would opt to buy a second hand or used car so that they can realize a little savings for their purchase.
Below are some tips on how you can buy a car in a manner that is effective and covers all of the basics:
* Do not hesitate to ask questions – you should not be embarrassed or uncomfortable when you ask questions about the car that you are eyeing. Continue to ask questions and exhaust all of the inquiries. Stop only if you feel that you already have all the answers that you need. Also remember that having asked all of those questions does not mean that you are now required to stick with that particular dealer to buy your car. Asking questions does not mean you have an obligation to get your car from them. You should also ask for all of the pertinent figures in writing so that you can study them at your own leisure before committing to anything. Take your time to make decision when you are buying a new car. But if it is a used car that you are looking for and you have found one that fits your requirements then you should make the decision then and there. No two used cars are alike so if you try to put off your decision for the day, you may return the following day and discover that the car has been sold to another person.
* Shop for a car but leave your emotions at home – shopping for a car can be an emotional experience. Something in our brain is wired in such a way that we can easily fall in love with a car. This is all well and good but a definitely bad practice if you are shopping around for a car. When shopping for a car you should not let your emotions dictate what you should do. An inability to walk way from a car could very well result in you paying much more than you ought to. Be transparent with car dealers when you tell them what your budget is for a car.
* Have a general idea of what you want – Do your homework before you even go out and shop for a car. Know what you want even before you see your first car. Knowing does not exactly mean being sure of what you want down to the model, make and engine displacement. A general idea would do so you can immediately narrow down the field.
It’s the price not the payments – A rookie mistake is negotiating the payment terms with the dealer. What you should negotiate for instead is the price of the car. A dealer who only wants to talk about payments is hiding something about the actual price of the car. Don’t get fooled by this tactic and insist on a price negotiation instead.
At Gadzooki, the thing that drives us the most is excitement about future technology. Sure gadgets are nice, and we love our tech, but deep down, we love innovation and thinking about the future.
Just the other day I encountered one of those few stories that bring me to say “Hey, that just might change our future in radical ways.”
NewScientist reports on a self-healing material that is able to identify the exact location of damage with exquisitely high-resolution. The material uses epoxy sealant to make any minor repairs – think about small cuts on your skin (as opposed to gashes to your tendons). One could imagine this material being used to immediately repair things as diverse as the tires on your car, the pipes in your house or even leaks in the roof.
The epoxy in this self-healing material is located just below the outer polymer surface (the equivalent of a machine’s epidermis). When the polymer surface is penetrated, the epoxy flows into any damage that might occur.
What makes this material even more amazing is the fact that is has embedded circuitry that allows human beings to pinpoint damage that the automated epoxy system can’t fix. Thing about how useful that could be. Say that there is a leak somewhere in your home piping system that no one can locate: a piping system designed with this material would be able to help identify the precise location.
And that just scratches the surface.