Monday, October 30, 2006

NaBloPoMo

I have decided to sign up for "National Blog Posting Month," a psudo-sister project to November's NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, the program where one is challenged to write a novel in thirty days.

I update Slashboing about 5 days a week, so the extra posts won't kill me but I like a little challenge.

The use of Yoda as the alternate logo did sway my decision a little too, as Slashboing does tend towards the Star Wars Geek spectrum with an alarming amount of posts.



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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Best Sci-Fi Shirt Ever Made By Anyone in the History of Everything

As many people already know, Universal Studios has been shutting down fans who have been making swag with Serenity themes, images and quotes.

In my opinion the fan made stuff was much more creative and available than the official stuff, which leaves fans with a tough choice. Do we only buy the official stuff in the hopes that the sales will mean a continuation of the franchise? Or do we back the fan made stuff that was filling the needs of the fans better?

Blackmarketbeagles.com has pre-emptively responded to this latest wave of Cease and Desist orders from Universal, and pulled his entire line of Serenity products.

In its place, he has given us this jewel of a shirt:

Suitable for any convention one may want to go to, but free of licensing and copyright restrictions.

This is about 47 metric Awesomes.

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Obi-wan comes clean

From Attack of the Show, we that the truth was too hard for Luke to swallow.



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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Quantification of Awesome: Part 2

I've had some really good suggestions regarding the unit of Awesome measurement. We are not limited to one unit here. For example you don't need the same units to talk about small pieces of awesome as you do large sweeping swathes of awesome, for example 1 Tesla = 10,000 Gauss. Also important is a unit of density, to properly measure how much awesome per square meter we have.

On the table is:
My suggestions will come later, when the time is ripe.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Quantification of Awesome

As a connoisseur of Awesome, I have been thinking about how to quantify the "Awesomeness" of the world around me. Once we have a base line of what One Metric Awesome is, then we can start making comparisons: That movie was 30 kilo-awesomes. That shirt is like 5 mili-awesomes.

Quickly we see need need for a name for this unit of measurement. Typically these things are named after pioneers in a particular field, such as Tesla, Henry, Gauss, and Bell. I kind of always wondered what would have resulted if one of the early discoveries in electromagnetism was made by a "Lipshitz."

Now this person we name the base unit of measurement after doesn't have to be the most Awesome thing ever, just a great example of it.

I have my own thoughts on this, but I'm looking for input from others.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Quick Links (cool tshirt edition)

The link ninja strikes again, droping off stack of geeky t-shirt related links as a warning of things to come.
Crackers!

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Not all technology plugs in

Ganked from Modern Mechanix, we see the the amazing advances being made in 1939: Pet Shops Wrap Fish in Transparent Bags
Customers of pet shops selling goldfish and various tropical species can watch their purchases swim around as they are carried to home aquariums in novel transparent bags just introduced. Made of waterproof, transparent cellulose material, in various sizes, the fish bags have reenforced handles for ease in carrying. When the container has been partially filled with water, the fish are transferred to it from the store tank.
What an age to live in! [link]

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Cat in the Box

DSC03137
DSC03137,
originally uploaded by inbal_w.
I present to you a funny cat picture from my Flickr favourites, because if I don't, who will?

Brendon the cat is only yawning, but he looks like he is ferociously guarding his box.

The warnings on the box are apt for the pictured contents as well. "Don't get wet", "fragile and "this side up" are all good tips for cat care.

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Friday, October 20, 2006

A film by any other name

Sometimes there are a couple of films come out close enough together, with a resemblance to each other that one wonders if it is intentional. Studios may start a competing project in order to cash in on a fad, or simply to rip off a good idea that circulates around the film making community.

I bring this up because the trailers for "The Prestige" look so much like those for "The Illusionist" I had to check to see if they were both based on the same work. Don't think it can't happen. Valmont (1988) and Dangerous Liaisons (1989) are both versions of the novel "Les liaisons dangereuses". Dead Man on Campus and The Curve, both released in 1998, are based on the urban legend that if one's college roommate commits suicide, one would receive straight A's.

The Prestige is from the Christopher Priest 1995 novel of the same name, while The Illusionist is based on Steven Millhauser's 1990 short story called "Eisenheim the Illusionist." While they do have different sources, and ultimately have a different set of points to makes, they both have the same "Look and Feel."

Now the thing is I want to see both, but inevitably I will always compare one against the other. I will not be able to give a fair viewing to the film I see second. Am a prepared to make the distinction between "turn-of-the-century Vienna" and "late 19th century London?" Does my "Giamania" trump the desire to see David Bowie as Nikola Tesla?

For a much more detailed list of similarly related films please review the Wikipedia Article here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_films_with_similar_plots

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

The neo-fan manifesto

Many newcommers to fandom, like myself are intimidated by the "old guard" of fandom. Here is a Manifesto from a flier that was being circulated at Chicon 2000. It reminds us of our obligations to each other in the community, and can serve as a guide for convention planners of tomorrow.


THE NEO-FAN MANIFESTO

1 - We all need to feel like we belong somewhere, that's why we're here. Many people feel like fandom provides a sense of family that they don't find elsewhere. Fan snobbery, or a sense that some fans are more welcome than others is the last thing we need if fandom is going to survive in the 21st century.

2 - Don't assume everyone knows your name, or your work (if you're an author, artist, costumer, etc.). Wear your nametag. Introduce yourself. Have a name card if you are a panel participant. "Hi, I'm Arthur Grande and you should all know who I am." does not cut it.

3 - It doesn't matter how you came to fandom, what matters is that you're a fan. It shouldn't matter if you like science fiction, fantasy, horror, movies and television, comic books, anime, role playing games, costuming, writing, filking, collecting books or painting yourself blue. Anyone who identifies themselves as a fan should be welcomed to fandom.

4 - Fandom changes. So do fans. Get used to it now. As the world of science fiction has gained popularity it has grown. It is no longer possible to read every piece of science fiction published every year, and that is not necessarily a bad thing.

5 - Explain your references. Not everyone has read every book, novella or short story that you have. Not every one has seen every science fiction movie out there (some people haven't seen Star Wars, believe it or not...). Not everyone reads your fanzine. Help us out. Costomer's corollary - not everyone has seen your greatest costume. Bring pictures, please!

6 - Don't assume that we're all on a first name basis with authors or big name fans, use last names when you refer to people. (There is more than one guy named Bob out there you know...) We all wear nametags for a reason. Help the Neo Fans meet new people and find new authors to read.

7 - What was a seminal work for one generation may be completely unknown to another generation. Let the Neo Fans know what you're talking about. We may not have been born yet. And remember, some books improve with age, while others are dated rather quickly. Also, a work that changed your life when you read it at age twelve may not have any effect on your thirty-year old friend when you suggest they read it.

8 - Moderators should try to avoid only calling on their friends when they take questions. It makes the Neo Fan feel left out and not wanted when every hand acknowledged is called by name.

9 - Neo Fans are eager to learn, there is so much out there we haven't read yet. Help us out, if you're doing a panel on "100 Books You Must Read." come prepared with a *handout* so we can take it home and try to find them.

10 - Remember, out of print may as well not exist for the Neo Fan. If we can't get our hands on a copy, we can't read it, no matter how great you think it is.

11 - It doesn't matter if you call it Science Fiction, SciFi, SF, or Speculative Fiction, it's all the same thing. Let's quit wasting time arguing about what name to use.

12 - Always remember, someone in the audience is at their first convention (Or their first WorldCon, or "insert name of con"Con). As fans we need to assure that they feel welcome and enjoy themselves enough to come back for another visit next year, and hopefully bring a friend.

-Julie Stickler (SF ACAD DI@aol.com)
Permission to reproduce and distribute this flyer at other conventions is granted, as long as the author's name continues to appear on it.

Ganked from Emerald City.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Doctor Who has a posse

In a brilliant wave of viral marketing, the BBC set-up a series of websites to tie into the Dr. Who universe.
Some of the sites were used in the show itself, such as in the premiere episode of the 2005 series, Rose Tyler used a fictitious search engine called search-wise.net, which is set up for film and TV productions to use instead of a real engines. Faux military sites like www.unit.org.uk have password access areas, giving some background and depth to the organization from the series.

Sites like www.torchwood.org.uk, representing the Torchwood Institute, currently contain little information. There should be more information there when the Doctor Who spin-off series, "Torchwood", starts in the UK on October 22nd. The CBC premiere date is unknown by me at this time.

In producer James Goss's words, these dozens of inter-related sites are "the most ambitious online fictional world ever." This may be a bit of an overstatement, as the Lost collection of websites is extensive, and also makes use of services such as Myspace, Flickr, blogs and podcasts to make the viewer feel as a participant.

The complete known list of Doctor Who sites can be found here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_Who_tie-in_websites

For comparison, the complete known list of Official Lost sites can be found here:
http://www.lostpedia.com/wiki/Category:Official_Websites

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Top 5 Oldest Domain Names

Here is a little trivia about the internet, or teh interwebs as the kids call it these days. Domain Name Systems (DNS) formed in 1984, and began registering domains names. The first five takers are listed here:
  1. symbolics.com - 15-Mar-1985
  2. bbn.com - 24-Apr-1985
  3. think.com - 24-May-1985
  4. mcc.com - 11-Jul-1985
  5. dec.com - 30-Sep-1985
Who were these companies, where are they now, and how did they get there?
  • Symbolics, Inc was a spinoff from the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, founded for the purpose of manufacturing Lisp machines. The "PC revolution" contributed to the decreased demand of purpose-built Lisp machines. The company filed for bankruptcy in the early 1990's. A new privately held company, called "Symbolics" acquired the assets and intellectual property of the old public company and maintains some of its old products.

  • BBN Technologies was founded in 1948 by professors at MIT. Some of BBN's developments of note in the field of computer networks are the implementation and operation of the ARPANET; the first person-to-person network email sent and the invention of the @ sign in an email address; the first Internet protocol router; the Voice Funnel, an early predecessor of voice over IP; and work on the development of TCP. BBN was acquired by GTE in 1998. When GTE and Bell Atlantic merged to become Verizon in 2000, the ISP portion of BBN was included in assets spun off as Genuity. In March of 2004, Verizon sold BBN to a group of private investors, and as of writing, BBN is a privately held company.

  • Thinking Machines Corporation was a supercomputer manufacturer founded to turn MIT doctoral work by W. Daniel Hillis into a commercial product called the "Connection Machine." Thinking Machines became was the market leader in parallel supercomputers in 1990. After the loss of some DARPA contracts, Thinking Machines filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August 1994. The hardware portion of the company was purchased by Sun Microsystems, and the remainder re-emerged as a small software company specializing in data mining software for its installed base and former competitors' parallel supercomputers. Thinking Machines was acquired by Oracle Corporation in 1999.
  • Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation (MMC) was US computer industry research and development consortium, formed in response to Japan's Fifth Generation Project, a large Japanese research project aimed at producing a parallel processing computer that would out perform single CPU systems and have artificial intelligence capabilities. The Japanese project ended in failure in 1993, while MMC restructured on July 6, 2000 and ceased operations in 2001.
  • Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) made the popular Programmed Data Processor (PDP) and VAX mini-computers during the 70s and 80s. VAX terminals were the defacto industry standard in the 80's and the PDP line was used in many key companies and organizations such as MIT and BBN. The PDP-1 was the original hardware for playing history's first computerized video game, Steve Russell's Spacewar!. The PDP-7, and later models ran the first versions of the "C" programming language and UNIX. DEC was a strong supporter of ANSI standards, especially the ASCII character set, which survives in Unicode. The popular AltaVista search engine was created by Digital in 1993 and launched to the public in 1995. However the company was loosing money in the early 90's, and after rounds of layoffs, and many of the company's assests being spun off, what remained of the company was sold to Compaq in 1998. Compaq itself was acquired by Hewlett-Packard in 2002.
Much info ganked from Wikipedia, where all text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

The Zombie Apocalypse has an upside

The successful Second Annual Calgary Zombie Walk lurched forward this Saturday, moaning and dragging its limp limbs.

Others are more succinct than I, so here is a small collection of reviews from the event:
Here is the master Flickr Group Pool with lots o' pictures from the event: http://www.flickr.com/groups/calgaryzombiewalk

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Zombie Love


Here are some details for the 2nd Annual Calgary Zombie Walk which takes place on Saturday, October 14th.

It starts at 3pm from Olympic Plaza and/or 4pm from the park at 17th Ave and 8th St.

The walk will start in two stages, as follows:
  1. All "super zombies" are invited to gather at Olympic Plaza no later than 3pm. From Olympic Plaza the horde will head down Stephen Avenue to 4th Street SW, then head south to 17th Ave. Shambling westward form that point, the next stop is the park at 17th Ave & 8th St, where we will meet:
  2. The lazy zombies. A second group of zombies will gather at the above mentioned park at or around 4pm.
Finally some links to get you in the zombie spirit.
Photo Credit: Mark Webster on Flickr via the Blogthis! feature.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

What is Podcasting?

The host Ninja (or Hinja) of the vidcast "Ask a Ninja" answers viewer questions in a rambling and humorous fashion, not unlike Strong Bad.

Here is the Ninja's response to the question, "What is Podcasting?"



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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

For the love of Wiki

I love Wikipedia. This is no secret. I love the concept of the "Wiki". I love the community, the good will, and collective common good that result from wikiuse. The ease in which information can be collected, distributed and corrected makes a Wiki the fastest way to get large amounts of information from a distributed network.

Besides Wikipedia, here are some of my favourite wiki projects that I use regularly:
Besides being a great and nearly definitive source of information, these Wikis also serve to keep fannish chatter (which I love) off the serious encyclopedic articles of Wikipedia (which I love too) .

Are there any other cool wikisites that others should know about? Comments are encouraged.

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Monday, October 09, 2006

Kingdom of Loathing: a review


I have heard some chatter about the online role playing game "Kingdom of Loathing" for a little while now, so I decided to give it a try. At first the game seemed like a simple farce on the typical RPG. The character classes are a mockery of the usual "Barbarian, Wizard, thief" archetypes as seen by the following
  • Seal Clubber - Seal Clubbers hail from the frigid Northlands, because one character class always hails from the frigid Northlands. They rely on their Muscle to survive.
  • Turtle Tamer - The Turtle Tamer's mystical connection with his terrapin brethren imbues him with great power. He excels at moving very slowly and winning footraces with smug satisfaction. His Muscle is the key to his success, and to his long lifespan.
  • Pastamancer - With his mastery of the arcane secrets of Noodlecraft, the Pastamancer is a force to be reckoned with. He relies on his Mysticality to get ahead in the world.
  • Sauceror - Long engaged in an uneasy truce with the Pastamancers, the guild of Saucerors protects the secrets of the Ancient Brotherhood of Gravymakers. Their Mysticality is their most important attribute.
  • Disco Bandit - The Disco Bandit boogies to and fro, hither and yon. Whence comes he? No man knows. Whither strikes he next? All men live in fear of him and his Moxie.
  • Accordion Thief - The scourge of mariachis and polka bands, the Accordion Thieves have plied their malign craft since time out of mind. Their Moxie serves them well in both their adventures and their interactions with "the ladies."
I think you can see where this kind of thing leads. Stolen Accordians and Pasta spoons become weapons. Instead of gold, the currency of the realm is "Meat." armor such as "paper-plate-mail pants" or a "yellow plastic hard hat" become suitable protection against enemies such the "confused goth music student" and the "Knob Goblin Barbecue Team."

The graphics are all simple stick figures and crude drawings, adding to the farce. The game is rife with enough pop-culture references to make a hipster's head spin. For example when given the "King of Cobb's Knob" Quest it says:
"We've marked your map with the location of the secret entrance that will allow you to go inside the Knob. Many Bothans died to... oh, wait, never mind. That was something else."
After you kill the Goblin King he drops "Glass Balls of the Goblin King" which are described thusly:
These are the glass balls of The Knob Goblin King. Hey, get your mind out of the gutter, we're trying to swim in here. These are three glass balls he kept juggling through your entire fight. Though, to be fair, you never saw the arm that was juggling them and the rest of his body in the same frame.
This is a nice nod to Labyrinth.

Consider starting up a game, but you are warned that while the game plays on every convention and cliche in RPGs, the result is very fun and addictive.

I have to get back to my sixth level Pastamancer now.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Top 5 Rejected Names for this Blog

Whilst brainstorming for names for my blog I came up with a few ideas that didn't make the cut. I list them here in the interest of full disclosure.
  1. Disgruntled Hippo
  2. Drhaggis' Blog
  3. Professor Goodtimes and the Happy-Smile blog machine
  4. The contents of Trudeau's pockets
  5. Running with Caesars
I think I did ok.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

At what temperature does reason burn?

On September 21st Diana Verm, a 15-year-old girl at a Texas High School, complained to her father about "bad language" in Ray Bradbury's classic SF novel "Fahrenheit 451". So he did what any responsible, well-informed citizen would do. Alton Verm filed a "Request for Reconsideration of Instructional Materials" on Thursday demanding that the School district remove the book from the curriculum.

Alton Verm's request to ban "Fahrenheit 451" came during the 25th annual Banned Books Week. A request to ban a book about book burning, during Banned Books Week is such a painful dose of irony it hurts my brain.

I agree with Boing Boing that the best quote from the situation is as follows:
"It's just all kinds of filth," said Alton Verm, adding that he had not read Fahrenheit 451.
[Link to news article]

Image from Wikipedia.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Star Wars: Overheard in the office (not mine)

Can't Wait 'Til He Puts on the Darth Vader Mask and Tells the Baby He's Her Father
Woman #1: Hey! Look at you! I didn't know you were back from maternity leave
.
Woman #2: Yeah, I just came back yesterday.

Woman #1: I saw the pictures you emailed. She's adorable. I remember you were worried about labor. How'd it go?

Woman #2: Not too bad, actually. Kind of what I expected. Although I punched my husband and threatened divorce during the worst of it.

Woman #1: Are you serious? What did he do?

Woman #2: Right when my contractions were about two minutes apart, he got nervous and attempted to distract me. So he kept making that ooohbah, ooohbah noise that those robot things made in Revenge of the Sith.

Woman #1: Omigod! I know what you're talking about. What a jerk! That's so funny, though.

Woman #2: Yeah, I know. We laugh about it now. But at the time I punched him in the stomach and called him a bastard. I told him if he opened his mouth again even to cough, we were getting a divorce. Poor guy wouldn't even talk to the nurses after that.

777 Eisenhower Parkway
Ann Arbor, Michigan

via Overheard in the Office, Sep 18, 2006

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Monday, October 02, 2006

Costume wish list fulfilled

In July I made a list of the top 5 costumes that I wanted to see at DragonCon. Lets see how well I did:

Not exactly, but there was a Bender and a Leela as "Cloberella"

  • Admiral Spaceship and Nitro: "Laser cats" SNL digital short, April 2006
No such luck
And how! There were several Jadis' there, but the best one was Suzanne from Calgary, and friend of Laughing Magpie. I had to travel to Atlanta to see a local costumer. Does that sound right to you?


Hells yes. A great set of wings!

Voila, ici!


Not a bad hit ratio I think.

Photo Credits::
Leela: mal00005
Jadis: Toivo Voll
Gabriel: Eloketh
Plavalaguna: Mikey
All Photos from Flickr using the Blogthis! feature.

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