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Category Archives: Video

YouTube vs television: I’m such a geezer

Since Stephen Colbert took over The Late Show, we’ve been recording it on our DVR to watch in the morning. Unfortunately, that means that we missed most of Thursday’s show because of football, so I only caught part of his segment with PewDiePie on YouTube:

Age-wise, I’m firmly Generation X. I was born in 1970, which means I surfed into adulthood along with video games, personal computers, and the Internet. Gnarly to the max, like totally! When I was a kid, the family room was the only entertainment source on most evenings and I’d watch whatever my parents were watching, sometimes over the top edge of the book I was reading. The Captain and Tennille, Sonny and Cher, Starsky and Hutch, Bonanza, Battle of the Network Stars, Soap, All in the Family, Three’s Company, The Rockford Files, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Dallas, Dynasty, and so on. Once I hit my teens — and cable TV didn’t get to my town until after I left for college — I had other things to do in the evening, but I’d stay up for Friday Night Videos and Saturday Night Live. My parents let me have their old black and white TV in my room so I could watch series that didn’t interest them (which is why I didn’t know Star Trek was shot in color until I got to college).

I’m still very much a television watcher, though almost all of it is time-shifted via DVR or VOD. In fact, except for news in the morning and Formula 1 races, I only watch live TV when the DVR is empty and I want background noise, like DIY shows on lazy weekend mornings. I like stories and I can appreciate good writing, costuming, and camerawork. Sometimes I just like a goofy comedy, too. My parents are certainly of a different generation of TV watchers; they don’t understand their DVR and still arrange their schedule around live programming, which I can’t imagine doing.

But now, I’ll go full geezer: I don’t love YouTube. Sure, I watch things there, including PewDiePie sometimes. He’s funny and charming. I like Rob and Corinne over at Threadbanger, catch up on Get Germanized now and then, and enjoy some short educational series. I’ll watch tutorials or put on playlists of music videos while gaming on my other monitor. But, the content of big YouTube stars isn’t relevant to me. I can see how it might appeal to teens and people in their early 20s, but watching those would be like my mom reading Tiger Beat in the ’80s. I also find it annoying to listen to appeals for subscribers, comments, Patreon support, and views on subchannels and affiliated channels. Combined with unskippable ads, that’s like the worst of both public and commercial TV channels, with less content between the ads. I think it’s fantastic that any creative, enterprising individual could build a following on YouTube, but the monetization model is grating to me.

Do you have a favorite YouTube channel that would change my mind? What should I check out? Prove me wrong!

In the meantime, I like being able to curl on the couch with my laptop and dog, watching scripted programs with decent production budgets on a large-screen TV. Sometimes we stream Netflix to the TV over our Chromecast, and I suppose we could stream YouTube shows too. Meh.

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Posted by on October 3, 2015 in Usage Patterns, Video

 

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Robots, MMORPGs, and the usual suspects

Archeage Waiting

The MMORPG I play (sort-of, for now, that’s one of my alts above), ArcheAge, is offline for a couple days while they perform server balancing. If all goes well, on Saturday the game will return and I’ll log on to find my avatars moved to a new server with approximately double the population of the old one. This isn’t necessarily a good thing for a solo player like me. The NA/EU distributor of ArcheAge makes large, frequent errors when porting over the Korean content to us. It would be comical if those errors didn’t often cost players lots of time and/or money. Some players didn’t follow the instructions for packing up their homes and farms and may be stunned to find months of work erased because of their own mistakes, too. I signed on to watch the last minutes of my server’s life yesterday. A player pasted the lyrics to REM’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” into faction chat and it was an appropriate send-off. I’m waiting for the restart with hope but low expectations.

Robots! Two mining robots from different companies encounter each other on a rocky planet. Their skills complement each other. Can they work together?

 

On to a couple of personal updates. Jakob remains in the hospital but is conscious, mostly coherent, and able to swallow soft foods like custard. I wish his whole ordeal was over but I don’t wish for him to be gone. As for me, I’m hobbling quite well but still restricted to putting only 50% of normal weight on the leg I broke. Cross your fingers that the surgeon clears me for normal walking when I see him next week. Large sections of my shin remain numb and the scar where he inserted the metal plate is grody to the max, but except for some stiffness in my knee I feel ready to go. Besides that, physical therapy is tedious and I’d rather get back to yoga classes.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

 

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Monday film: Blank Bodies

I’m wallowing in self-pity and struggling with exhaustion after my first attempt to sleep in my normal bed (instead of a bed moved from our guest room to the dining room). So, while I take a nap, enjoy this strange little film. Hat tip to io9.

Blank Bodies is NSFW for nudity and violence. It’s essentially the story of two AI creatures brought to life by a group of eccentrics and set on a path of development through learning. The io9 article points to some pretty obvious parallels to the Adam and Eve story from Genesis.

Blank Bodies from Ryan Weatrowski on Vimeo.

There are some dopey bits, some of the acting is amateurish, and there are narrative leaps, but it’s a crowdfunded indie film and at least tries to take another approach to an AI creation story. I found the eccentric group more believable than movies where ethically dubious science comes out of a sterile, well-funded lab. I couldn’t help thinking of real world parallels like Brigitte Boisselier and Clonaid.

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2015 in Transhumanism, Video

 

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Roundup: Anomaly, al-Asaad, Ashley Madison, Project Sansar, and a personal update

I have a bunch of small commentaries floating around in my brain and one massive post underway, so I think it’s time for a roundup. First though, a film. Anomaly takes place in the 1960s and is hard to explain. There’s a near-miss comet, an astronaut, a scientist, and the women they love. The pace drags a bit at times, but it’s very well made for a Kickstarter-financed independent project and it’s also a selection in the Sploid Short Film Festival.

 

Khaled al-Asaad

If you know the names of any archaeologists, I suggest that al-Asaad should top the list above grave robbers like Indiana Jones and Howard Carter (no matter how much we enjoy what they gave us, both fictional and real). In the American educational system, archaeology is a subset of anthropology; my university anthro department had an annual dig in the Middle East, a number of projects in the US, and a staff that was 40% archaeologists. I can understand the dedication it must take to work for a lifetime on discovering and protecting our shared cultural heritage. I can’t begin to fathom the resolve, courage, and selflessness Dr. al-Asaad showed in refusing to reveal the location of artifacts to criminal savages.

Ashley Madison hack

Is anyone else feeling ambivalent about this? I’ve seen vicious comment threads on articles about the hack and there certainly isn’t a consensus of opinion. Personally, I think it’s awful that private information is being revealed by the hackers. Infidelity can be devastating, but isn’t that an issue for the people involved and not the whole Internet? Ashley Madison is vile for a number of reasons, yet I can’t fault them for making money off an existing market; if you spent time on any Internet dating sites — as I did off and on in the late ’90s and early ’00s — you know that married people looking for a fling on the side can be found anywhere. AM grouped them together, tossed in some fake profiles to make the site more appealing, and made as much cash as possible off of it. I hope the company is sued into oblivion for their lax security and for the lie about completely deleting users who paid for that service, which allegedly inspired the hackers.

But on the other hand, the data-loving nerd in me is hungry for the details coming out about how many idiots used their work and government email addresses to register on the site, and sure, part of me wants to pump my fist when yet another “voice of morality” is revealed to be lying, cheating scum.  When private celebrity photos were leaked, I chose to look away. I won’t ignore the news stories that come out of this hack, but I won’t be combing the data for the names of friends, relatives, or colleagues, as I know some people are doing. That’s not my business. Some tips for anyone it may benefit: if you’re doing something on the Internet that you don’t want revealed, for heaven’s sake, use a throwaway email address! Buy a reloadable Visa gift card at a drug store if a credit card is required, and register with a fake name, address, and phone number. Use Tor or a heavily secured browser, lock your smartphone or get a burner phone, and don’t forget to turn off automatic backups. And, maybe you shouldn’t trust a company with a business model based on lying.

Linden Lab and Project Sansar

Someone sent me a note asking my opinion on Project Sansar and I really don’t have much to offer. I haven’t written much about Second Life or the next Linden Lab project in months. With my vacation and then accident, plus Jakob’s illness, I simply haven’t been spending much time in SL. My enthusiasm is currently ebbing, but I’ve had an SL avatar for 10 years now and know that cycles of excitement and boredom are normal for me. I’m sure the next time I go back in-world and explore, I’ll be struck by the creativity and beauty again. That said, there are SL bloggers who are covering the topic to death and back. I won’t be one of the early invitees to try Sansar as I’m neither a creator nor have I sought out a relationship with the Lindens, but I’ll be excited to see what’s there once I can have a look.

Personal stuff

Jakob is conscious and talking after a blood sugar crisis sent him to the hospital over a week ago. However, the doctor says that cancer is now active and growing in his stomach, brain, and liver. He is fighting pneumonia and cannot swallow solid food yet. Since Jakob doesn’t know or acknowledge that he still has cancer, he is demanding to go home (no way) and making life hell for his sister, the only person who visits or helps him. This is something I know well from the two weeks I spent with him in May: his illness has stripped away most of his kindness and intellect, leaving a selfish, arrogant, paranoid man. Those qualities were always part of him but now they are prominent. Even though this is not his fault, it’s a huge challenge to sustain empathy when he’s being an asshole. I’ll admit that I’m relieved he isn’t well enough to read or write yet, but I feel for his sister. Her latest text to me was anguished both from concern about his health and hurt from his behavior toward her. It’s possible to care about him and also want to tell him to get stuffed.

As for me, I took my dog for a short walk today! I’ve been cleared to put 25% of normal weight on the leg that had a tibial plateau fracture, which means that I wear a thigh-to-ankle hinged brace and I lean heavily on my walker whenever I step on that side. It’s slow and very tiring, but I know I need to rebuild my stamina. Of course, my wheelchair is still a necessary tool for longer travels or when I need to use my hands. I start physical therapy next week.

 

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Wednesday film: Chip Kidd on design clarity and mystery

When I came across this TED talk from Chip Kidd today, I thought about how it relates to my recent post about ebooks.  You see, much of Kidd’s talk is about designing book covers. He discusses how he came up with the concept for the cover of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki by Haruki Murakami, a book that I have waiting on my Kindle, and I was struck by two things: how much of his design intent I miss by experiencing the cover in that medium, and how important it is that covers are now made to be meaningful at icon size as well. That’s been true as long as online bookstores have existed, but now they are navigational elements on our reading devices as well as tiny ads.

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2015 in Side Topics, Video

 

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Wednesday film: Understanding graphic settings in a game

World of Tanks is a hugely successful massively multiplayer online game. I rarely see it mentioned in the gaming media, but since my husband is an avid player, I hear about it all the time. He sent me a link to the video below.

Even if World of Tanks isn’t your jam, this 15 minute “Developer Diaries: Graphic Settings” piece is worth watching. Though it focuses on the graphics options in WoT, it gives a good explanation of various terms, shows how settings change FPS (frames per second), and clarifies why perceived problems are not always the graphic card’s fault. The video is professionally produced and clearly demonstrates the result of changing slider settings.

I think this video makes it easier to understand settings in other games or virtual worlds, too. Besides that, it’s just nifty to watch, and I give it bonus points for the quick glimpses inside the developer offices, with both men and women busy working on the game.

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2015 in Gaming, Video

 

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A is for android and ArcheAge

Wouldn’t you know it: just after I posted about ArcheAge last week, praising the female plate armor for not being revealing, I got the next set as a quest reward and presto! Metal bustier (with leather and chain mail hot pants and metal garters). I suppose I should be happy that the metal armor doesn’t have extreme breast physics, like it does in TERA, and that it has a decorative element shielding her from chest wounds:

bremen_aa_0712

Notice anything else surprising in that screenshot from a Korean MMORPG? My avatar Tsofia is standing in front of the entrance to a public farm, which is capped by rural images including… hey, wait!  Is that the Bremen Town Musicians, from the Grimm Brothers story? Yup. In my early years of college I was interested in international fairy tales and folklore, and this is a nice example of how a story can travel and be put to use in another form.

Over the weekend, my patient husband watched Futureworld with me. Its a terrible movie from 1976, starring Peter Fonda and Blythe Danner as reporters investigating a rebuilt amusement park where androids staff, and are, the attractions. It was a sequel to Westworld, a much more successful film. Westworld stayed close to Michael Crichton’s meme of powerful technology having a disastrous vulnerability, whereas Futureworld strayed into mad scientists and world domination. The trailer gives away the big twist, but shows Delos (the overall park, of which Futureworld and Westworld are sections) in some of its cheesy glory.

We watched the film before I knew that HBO is turning Westworld into a series. Guess I’ll have to let my DVR pick that up in September and hope that it’s good. I’d like to see a series take a more optimistic view of robot/human interactions, though. Maybe not as Utopian as The Jetsons, but more like Almost Human; man and machine in a sometimes flawed partnership.

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2015 in Gaming, Our Robot Overlords, Video

 

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