Thursday, June 24, 2010
I feel happy! I feel happy! I... *thump*
Hey DNI isn't the only thing I've neglected. I haven't even had time to sit down and do my bills, which I realized when my electricity abruptly shut off yesterday at 11am. Whoops!
So just a quick wave hello and a thinking point.
Increase the length of daylight and you stay up late because, after all, the length of the day varies throughout the year. Deprive rats of light and their schedule drifts into what scientists now call the "Grad Student Sleeping Schedule", or around the equivalent to a 26-28 hour day length. Add light and the rats lock back on to a 24 hour schedule.
Why am I mentioning this? The iPad. Touted as the end all be all of ebook readers, the one place it ironically falls short is when you can read it. Not only are LCDs notoriously tough to read in direct sunlight, but reading before bed means exposing this light sensitive circadian rhythm pathway to a slab of light. The iPad is no worse than staring at a computer screen, but E-Ink clearly has a niche here. Sure you need light to read, but a single LED book light isn't anywhere near the number of lumens as the the iPad's screen.
If you do have an iPad, fear not. Most ebook reading apps have come ability to adjust colors or brightness, so be cognizant of the idea, since most people, including myself, love displays with high contrast ratios.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Well, not really. But, I did help a couple friends with a short film project that was accepted to the Cannes Film Festival. Yeah, THAT Cannes. While it isn't as amazing as getting a judged feature in, it's still a crazy awesome opportunity, so here I am.
For those interested, the short is called Hushed and is a psychological thriller based around the idea of choice and free will. We used a religious theme, a group of folks going door-to-door witnessing for their unspecified religious sect, but isn't about, or pro, or con, religion. Since shorts are designed to either sell the story or the production group, there are a bunch of decisions you have to make regarding content. You want to show an understanding of the film making process, the business, and the showcase some creative talent. We really did do this in spades. The story is left open at the end, even though you generally have the illusion of thinking you know what it means. The main character remains a blank slate the whole way through, even though most people are sure they could describe him at the end (and these descriptions aren't consistent from person-to-person based on our polling, and people thought they were accurate in their descriptions). Basically, we played on biases heavily.
The religious theme was to create an immediate relationship between viewer and characters - it doesn't matter if you are a bible thumper or Richard Dawkins. You can root for them or against them. In a way, it is a perfect expose on innate bias. If you want to hate the characters and think they're screwed in the end, that's possible. If you love them, but think they got screwed and that the message is confrontational, you can think that. If you love them, and think they work it all out in the end, yup, there's that. The film is a product, and as a product, I think it rocked.
On the downside, we had nowhere near enough time or money to really do what we did. I mean, we did finish, but the timetable was so rushed that we couldn't do many takes of scenes. Shooting conditions, basically, left much to be desired, and a better schedule could have resulted in a better overall film. The result is some amateurish looking bits. But, we got through it. Also, while the actors and actresses did their best, the levels of experience varied greatly. That with the ramped up schedule means they are probably not portrayed as performing at the best of their ability. Awesome folks, though, and they stuck through the whole deal like champs. I know there are some scenes that could have been better, but there was just no time.
So, what did I do? Well, I was one of the 5 writers of the story and screenplay. I helped with a good deal of the technical aspects, was on set for every shoot (except one make up shoot), co-casted the talent, set photography, and basically odds and ends stuff. I was supposed to manage the post-production, but that fell suddenly and at the same time as major lab events began unfolding. Same goes for the website, which I started (the current one is the early alpha version, but unannounced deadlines and ramp up in lab work kept me from moving too far on that. So, I've been a busy beaver.
Check out the movie's site, if you're interested, and if you happen to be in Cannes, France or nearby and want to meet up for cafe', feel free to drop me a line.
Friday, April 23, 2010
- New social bookmarking links on the right - these will likely be expanded and changed slightly, but you get the idea. Easily add DNI to Delicious, Digg, Facebook, etc. NOTE: To avoid the massive amounts of spam this could generate, please add a personal message whenever a service allows it, so I know you are a human, or at least partly human.
- New tag cloud spinning ball thingy. I like the way it looks, but I'll probably replace it with something that takes up the same amount of space and doesn't have the processor overhead involved in this neat little ditty.
- News feed - I'm forgetting which things I said I would 'star' versus 'share' in Google Reader, so for now it is set to my Starred items. Again, this will soon be replaced by a more snazzy widget that is more multi-functional. But I'd like to get the rss feed items up there so that visitors can keep up on the news items I've noted.
- More complex layout - Personal/contact info at the top, minimal. News/feeds in a wider column format. Utility links, like archives, in narrowed columns within the right column. There's some tweaking to be done, like too much padding and combining elements, but it's pretty close to what I want.
- Color! Yeah, I know. Shocking! I like blue.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Aaaanyhow, get yer software at the Microsoft DreamSpark site.The weird thing is that Brown University has an MSDNAA agreement (the MSDN Academic Alliance program, which allows schools to provide free and deeply discounted MS software to students). In fact, we have 4+ agreements! Check if your school has a sane policy in place. Here, I'm a grad student in the Dept of Neuroscience, working in a lab that's part of the Engineering Dept. Somehow, I qualify for almost nothing, as far as these MSDNAA memberships go. Oh, wait. I can get a free copy of Windows XP! Woo! The school pays me, through grants to the lab, but I don't qualify as an employee or staff member. Fair enough. But I don't qualify for the CS Dept or Engineering Dept programs because I'm not taking any classes in the departments. I could TA, but even then I'm not technically enrolled. I've fired off a few hot-headed emails, but the responses have been the usual Brown hand-waving/"Wait until we start the
Program"/"We're talking with people about that" types. It was easier for me to sign up for the IEEE and hunt down offers like this, rather than deal with my own school, which still gets paid $45k/year for tuition. Amazing.
Monday, April 12, 2010
- If you have a mouse with customizable software, like the Logitech SetPoint software, make a special profile for Chrome, set the mouse buttons accordingly, and use application switching detection. This is what I ended up doing.
- If you have a tilt scroll wheel, the kind that lets you scroll left and right, you probably don;t use the function (I've had the function on my mice for about 5 years and have used it about a dozen times total). Rebind the left right scroll to forward and back or genericbutton4 and 5.
- You can try searching out some freeware, like this program: X-Mouse (note: I've never tried this, so no idea if it will blow up your computer and eat your children)
- AutoHotkey might be a decent option if nothing is working and you're minutes from a a Chrome Navigation Bug Induced Triple Shotgun Homicide. Much more technical, but I would bet the actual script would be pretty simple.
- Search out a registry tweak, though if the above didn't help this probably won't either.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Friday, April 9, 2010
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
ohGodNotAgain = allchild(0);for pleaseKillMe = 1:length(ohGodNotAgain)delete(ohGodNotAgain(pleaseKillMe));end;clear all;abandon(hope);
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Ah yes, been a while, but I thought I would suckle on the sweet, sweet nectar of iDevice frenzy. “Wha?!?! That’s not BCI related!” you say. I know, but I’ve posted in the past about my search for the perfect ereader, my love of tablets, and general techno-fetishism. How could I not post?
Want the short version? Completely unimpressed.
Sure the, oh gawd, do I have to actually type this name…., grrr… Sure the iPad could never live up to the hype the preceded it, but really, the iPad barely lives up to the abilities of the Apple Newton. Really? Sure the iPad has fancy things like color and 3G, but but the Newton had handwriting recognition and a PCMCIA card slot. Otherwise, both rely on a specialty OSes unable to run full desktop apps, cost about the same, and have the same ridiculous bezel to screen ratio. Okay, enough with the kinda ridiculous comparison.
What’s the bright side of the iPad’s annoucement?
I’m actually excited about the iPad. Not the iPad itself, but the interesting apps it inspires. Remember how unspeakably crappy the smartphone market was before the iPhone? It was mind-numbing. If you approach the iPad from the ebook reader perspective, you can see where that market is going.
10 hours of battery life while watching movie. Yes, very nice. Whether this is still true after a month of burn in and OS patches, we’ll see. There are a few magic numbers for battery life: 3 hours – plane ride, movie plus other activities, usage during single ‘events’. 6 hours – leave the house for an outing and recharge when you get back, equal to all day for semi-infrequent daily use. 10 hours – effective all day use for always on, but sleep capable devices. 16 hours – all day use with regular-heavy usage. After that it’s a matter of days between each step. There are netbooks that have made the 10+ hour mark, but cheers to Apple for being there right from the get go.
Really, that’s about it for the pluses. Minuses?
If you approach the iPad from the netbook perspective, there are plenty of app launchers on Windows that do everything from simulate the OSX dock, the iPhone springboard, and about a million other crazy options. How much access Apple will give devs to the GUI is yet to be seen, but if the iPhone or OSX are any indication, you’ll be lucky if they allow you to change the clock’s font.
The worst, unApple-like thing about the iPad is the near total lack of inspiring features. Where are the revolutionary interaction techniques, the device-centric interface reimagining, and those little bits of the unexpected? iPod – the navigation/click wheel. iPhone – multitouch, accelerometer, proximity sensor. iPad – ? Did they run out of ideas? Just make it a big fucking iPhone. That’ll be good enough. Um, no.
For all the crap that Microsoft has taken for the early tablet PC implementations, the iPad is downright embarrassing in comparison. They just took Windows and slapped a pen in your hand. Hey, at least you got a pen…
Which brings me to that. A stylus. The iPad could have gained all the whiz-bang features of a… pad of paper. It could have been used for class note taking, composing messages, drawing/sketching, and so much more. Instead you get an awkward keyboard with no tactile feedback (not even an attempt to make a keyboard you could use while standing up?) and fingerpainting. Not sure if they figured out a way to make the touchscreen pressure sensitive, but if not, what a mess.
Other quibbles are mentioned in this excellent rundown on Gizmodo titled 8 things that suck about the iPad. Enjoy your dongles, iKids. I’ll be over doing something exotic, like running TWO apps at once, swapping out a battery, opening an actual file, or placing an icon on the bottom of the screen before there are 20 above it. Put that on your SD card and… oh, no expandable memory slot. Right.