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Niche Blog Friday: Paleo-Future September 3, 2010

Posted by pupfiction in Just for Fun, Niche Blogs, Of Interest, Technology can do anything.
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In times like these (whatever times these may be), it’s comforting to find out that most predictions about the future (eh hem…December 21, 2012) are DEAD WRONG. How do I know most predictions are wrong? Because this wonderful blog – Paleo-Future – has documented predictions dating from as far back as the 1870s and most of them are wrong. Some make astoundingly astute predictions about the way transportation, communication, and entertainment would evolve (although no one could predict the onslaught of reality TV programming that we’ve had to suffer). But when it comes to the larger issues – population growth, global food supply, disease, war, and even natural resources…we have no clue! So enjoy the often entertaining predictions of our predecessors especially if Hurricane Earl is making your day rather dreary!

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Two Amazing Sites for Graphic Artists March 17, 2010

Posted by pupfiction in Amazing, Just for Fun, Technology can do anything.
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My husband, an art teacher and free lance graphic designer, showed me two sites last night that are definitely worth bookmarking. CoolIris.com is a graphic/image search engine that blows both Google and Bing out of the water. How annoying is it to find an image, click on it, be brought to the site containing the image, then click on “full image”, etc. etc.? Cool Iris takes away all these steps and streamlines image searching in an aesthetically pleasing, and helpful, manner. (Admittedly, the site works best on a mac.) My screen shots below show browsing the search engine, what a still frame looks like, and then how an image is enlarged. All of these are done simply and seamlessly without having to click through various pages.

Update: I kept playing around on Cool Iris and discovered that you can also search videos, movies, etc. this way and play them right from the site. In addition, you can load your own photos from your computer (instantaneously) and search them all this way.

The other site is more interactive and a great way to waste time at work! The experiments on Escape Emotions, by Slovakian artist Peter Blaskovic, are nothing short of innovative (and entrancing). With names like Fire, Flame, Magic, and Fields, just to name a few, these artistic experiments enable the user to create artworks based on the fluidity of motion. Flame is the only one that can be saved and exported, due to its static nature, but all are worthy of exploring. Here are a few screen shots of my experiments but make sure to try it out yourself!

My attempt to write "Infomavens" in Flame

Water Fluid Simulation

In this one, the user builds “walls”, adds animated water and air to blow the water into circulation.

Burning "Infomavens" in Fluid Fire Simulation 3

Have fun!

A Digital Archive in the Real World March 3, 2010

Posted by pupfiction in InformationIssues, Technology can do anything, Uncategorized.
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When you think of digital archives you probably think of computer files and, more particularly, scanned copies of ancient documents or photographs of ephemera. But Emory University has taken digital archives to the next level–collecting the “born digital” records of famous writers in the form they were created. For example, they have recently acquired world-renowned writer Salman Rushdie’s “[not only] one hundred linear feet of his paper material, including diaries, notebooks, library books, first-edition novels, notes scribbled on napkins, but also forty thousand files and eighteen gigabytes of data on a Mac desktop, three Mac laptops, and an external hard drive” (Emory Magazine).  Other universities are fast adopting the trend. Harvard University has acquired John Updike’s floppy disks and the University of Texas at Austin has the “nicotine-stained laptop used by Norman Mailer’s longtime assistant, Judith McNally, as well as more than 350 computer disks, forty-seven electronic files including email, forty CDs, two other laptops, and a magnetic tape spool” (Emory Magazine). While the shift from collecting more “traditional” archival material is exciting it comes at a cost. Archivists steeped in centuries of traditions and practices will have to quickly come up with new ways to deal with the materials.

Salman Rushdie aka the love of my life

First and foremost is the problem of accessibility. Few people can access a floppy disk nowadays. Even if the institution has a machine that can read such a format, how long will this machine remain operable or even repairable? Obsolescence has always been a big issue in preservation as well as preserving damaged goods. Don’t think that digital archives are exempt from fire and age damage. One of Rushdie’s donations was a computer he had spilled coffee on and deemed as irreparable. Luckily, Emory’s IT team extracted pertinent files from the machine and saved them in newer formats. Inevitably, this will continue to be the struggle – to preserve and to maintain access.

Another challenge (oh the headache!) will be how to organize and catalog the information so that researchers can access what they need without needlessly sorting through thousands of data files. I believe this is a place where digital archives will be given the chance to thrive. With actual text already digitized it should be easy to keyword search them, something few, if any, traditional archival materials could boast.

What’s most important about this new trend is that the work of seminal American (and international) authors will be preserved, unadulterated, for future generations. Please check out the full article in the Emory Magazine here.

Chatroulette- Another great concept to be abused. February 16, 2010

Posted by dataduchess in Technology can do anything.
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I recently discovered that one of my favorite bands from college has a Twitter feed.  Oddly, not many of their tweets are music related, including one this morning about a new obsession. It was a link to an article from last week’s New York Times BITS column about a relatively new web service called Chatroulette.

Chatroulette is a web-based video-chat site that once you log in, matches you randomly with another user to video-chat with. Perhaps I’m a little paranoid or cynical because my first thought was “but you never know who you’ll be matched with, it might be a crazy pervert,” instead of the intended “this is so cool, I might make contact with someone from another country and learn about their culture”. However, some of the comments to this NYTimes article by people who tried the service suggest that my first instinct is not too far off base.

I make absolutely NO COMMENT on what you might encounter if you check this out, and in fact, doubt that I will try it myself. But, the NY Times article is worth a read because it features an interview with the creator of the site, allegedly a 17-year old Russian teenager, who thought teens might like to “party with” other teens. There have been a few discrepancies pointed out that make the validity of the teen’s claim of creation questionable, but if he DID, I’m impressed, despite the creeps!

Microsoft Surface: the future of tables February 11, 2010

Posted by dataduchess in Technology can do anything.
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I like games. Pretty much all games of any kind. Tabletop, board, video and card games. I like puzzles too, even those tricky logic puzzles with the strange grids full of dots and crosses. So, every once in awhile I pick up the current issue of Games Magazine. I grabbed one the other day, and I’m so glad I did because (besides the hours of nerdy puzzle solving pleasure) the first article was a preview of the Microsoft Surface.

I haven’t come across this before, although I’m sure I must have at least seen the idea in some sci-fi movie. It’s essentially a table, the surface of which is a sort-of touchscreen, but which can interact with objects, as well as fingers. There’s tons of potential applications, a few of which you can see in this video:

The article in Games Magazine of course, was more focused on how the Microsoft Surface could revolutionize tabletop games – with digital boards and physical pieces. One idea is to use digital pieces as well, especially for table games in bars, where pieces inevitably get lost. The units are still extremely expensive, so I doubt I’ll get to try one anytime soon, though the article mentions some hotels (such as Sheraton Hotels) are starting to buy them for guest use. If you didn’t already feel like we’re in the future – this is sure to do it!

Vook: Passing Fad or Wave of the Future? February 10, 2010

Posted by pupfiction in Technology can do anything.
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I’ve been hearing about vooks for a few months now and had decided that they were about as enduring and useful as tongue piercing. But now that Anne Rice, the consummate vampire author (although perhaps not a prestigious literary writer is certainly prolific and influential), has adopted the technology, I decided to give vooks a second glance. What exactly are vooks? They’re a combination of book, video, and that unstoppable contagion–social media. Their introductory video perhaps describes it best.

Rice has decided to adapt “The Master of Rambling Gate,” a 1984 story published in Redbook magazine into a vook. The obscurity of the title should be enough to keep you wary. Who else has made vooks? Not many. In fact, there are only 12 vooks in all (so far) which makes me wonder why I keep hearing about them.  At first I swore off vooks as another sign of the world catering to (and thus fortifying) our need for dazzle, glitter, and bombardment of our senses.  Vooks seem like just another nail in the ADHD coffin, allowing us to switch to video when our wandering minds can longer handle the strain of actually (gasp!) reading text.  But, I do think there is a place in this world for vooks after all – in the realm of personal fitness, cooking, and any other hands-on experience. This kind of integration makes sense to me. As for the rest, I’ll keep my novels on one shelf and my DVD’s on another. What do you think?