Archive | September, 2011

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CBLDF Now Owns a Symbol of Opression

Posted on 30 September 2011 by VinnieAve

Okay, that title might be a little hyperbolic but it caught your eye didn’t it. Now that DC has abandoned the Comics Code there is no one using this antiquated tool of censorship. With that the code and all its imagery was up in the air. In a smart move the wonderful people over at CBLDF have acquired the rights to the comics code and its iconic seal that used to be placed on comics. Of course they don’t plan to maintain the code and enforce silly rules like “Scenes dealing with, or instruments associated with walking dead, torture, vampires and vampirism, ghouls, cannibalism, and werewolfism are prohibited.”

With this they plan on using it as something they can use in their literature and on other bits of merchandise (T-shirts, mugs, stickers, etc.). I hope that either at NYCC 2011 or NYCC 2012 they have some of this stuff available. I have to say there is no group or person that is a more appropriate for owning this material. My hope is that instead of just using it as logo that they make sure to tell the story and keep this information in the public mind. I know I’ve talked about the CBLDF before but a major part of their mission is to prevent any form of censorship. I hope that they make sure that use this to try and teach people about censorship. Few people know about the Hayes Code and fewer know about Comics Code. I don’t want to go too much into a rant about education but really that is a major issue with censorship in general and I may cover the topic at some other time.

I am thoroughly glad that this material is in the right hands. I expect that it will be well distributed and that the information will be kept in the public eye as best as possible. Hopefully, anything they fund-raising with this new material will allow expansion and creation of new programs and projects.

CBR Article

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Minecraft To Leave Beta? Hell Reporting Record Temperature Lows.

Posted on 30 September 2011 by DM

All jokes aside, it is true.  Minecraft has a release date.  It has been known for a while now, but I wanted to give some credit where credit is due.  On November 18, 2011 Minecraft will release to the adoring public, and really not be that much different at all.  It is true that the developers seem hell bent on cramming as much content as humanly possible out before then, but it is still going to be that game with blocks where you build things that may be destroyed by exploding green creepers. I, a lifelong lover of Legos, could not be more happy.  A month long code freeze will be implemented on October 18th, 2011 in order to work out any existing bugs.

This has been a serious triumph of indy game developers and it definitely deserves some major credit.  Minecraft has gone from a small alpha development to a full release date with over 3 million people purchasing the beta, a pocket edition for android (iOS is in development), and an upcoming Xbox 360 version with Kinect support.  Hopefully, this serves as a significant example of what can be accomplished on an indy level with the right idea and work ethic.  Congrats Notch and crew.

All Geeks Considered

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Where is Terra Nova Going?

Posted on 29 September 2011 by VinnieAve

So this week we had the first episode of the current run of shows that are going to try to replace Lost, a show I never watched but DM did. So I am going in on the ground floor with Terra Nova. I have to say this is is a show that has some promise. As for now I’m going to watch it since the first episode had a lot of promise, this article to about what I think some of those promises are?

1) There will be a revolt within Terra Nova led by Jim Shannon against Commander Taylor when Taylor goes crazy and imposes harsh military conditions on the colony due to minor things going wrong.

2) Josh Shannon or Maddy Shannon going to join the sixers, not as a spy but due to “teen angst,” which there is no shortage of in this show (sadly, I hope this plot gets resolved).

3) The show will completely and utter forget the Jim Shannon is a criminal.

4) Elisabeth Shannon will lead peace negotiations between Terra Nova and The Sixers after a major conflict between the two groups.

5) We find out that this is in out timeline and that the KT event destroyed the probe and hence doesn’t really matter that we were there for 20,000,000 years with the dinos. (this one is a little crazier than my others)

6) A slightly more obvious one: Taylor’s son is in league with Sixers, as some sort of mystical leader who can communicate to the future, also this is what the writings are about. Time travel and time communication.

7) There will be several episodes dealing with resource crises.

8) There will be episodes dealing with the birth of new people into the colony.

9) If the show runs long enough there will be episodes about the generational difference between the pilgrims and those born there.

and 1 thing I hope Josh Shannon gets killed.

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Amazon Hunting After Larger Prey?

Posted on 29 September 2011 by DM

Amazon has taken the gloves off this week for the fourth quarter Christmas season by revealing a goody bag of readied technology.  On the list includes, a 79$ kindle, relatively low cost Kindles with touchscreens, and the new tablet Kindle Fire.

The lower prices and touch screens are of no real surprise.  E-readers via Nook and Kindle have been competing in an epic arms race since being created and this is not going to stop anytime soon.  What I am interested in is this “iPad Killer” called the Kindle Fire.

Amazon states that it is the culmination of 15 years worth of technology development and it seems very promising from initial looks.  Cloud based technology leads it off, something that many devices have been getting behind recently.  It possesses a 7-inch color touchscreen, an e-reader app that makes full color magazines available, full integration with Amazon Prime streaming, a relatively active app store, and access to your Amazon digital music purchases via cloud.  It is an impressive list.

Will it challenge the iPad? No, probably not, at least to start.  However, it is easy to track how vigorously competitive Amazon has been with the Nook. I would not count them out of the tablet race yet.  They have a promising starting product and the means to support it vigorously.  Make no mistake; Amazon is here to challenge Apple for best tablet out there.  Give it a little time and I think you will see.  What do you think?

All Geeks Considered

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Comments on Caves of Steel Film Announcement

Posted on 27 September 2011 by VinnieAve

I am going to keep this brief since there isn’t too much to say.

Late last week it was announced the 20th Century Fox was developing a film adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Caves of Steel . This is big news for the science fiction fandom. There is not been a particularly good adaptation of an Asimov work in my lifetime, I, Robot was a film unrelated to the book and Bicentennial Man wasn’t really that impressive. Even with both of these dark spots on his works being adapted to the big screen I still have hope. Part of this is due to the nature of the conversion, I, Robot is a collection of unrelated short stories and Bicentennial Man is a novella about a robot trying to be human, but this is a generally boring story. The difference is that Caves of Steel is a detective novel, with a bit of a sci-fi twist.

I think that there is enough material to make a good movie. I think that people will enjoy a traditional detective film in the light of The Maltese Falcon or The Big Sleep. It could easily be turned into a generic action movie with only a minor resemblance to the original work. My hope is that this is not going to be the case. I also realize that this will most likely not happen, no film based on Caves of Steel will be made into film.

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Billy, Super Paper Mario Isn’t Going to Play Itself

Posted on 26 September 2011 by DM

It seems that the long arm of medical industry law is now stretching to technology.  The company Brain Plasticity is now negotiating with the FDA to market a cognitive training game as a “therapeutic drug”.  There is a great deal of room for debate within the scope of this topic and it seems like there are more than enough people with opinions to fuel both sides.  There are some things you should know though before hoping on the bandwagon.

The first thing to point out is that using games in the mental health field is nowhere near a novel concept.  Games range from the mundane games played with autistic students using token economies to the advanced techniques of Biofeedback, which train your brain to control various physiological functions that it does not normally control for purposes such as controlling Tourette syndrome.

Now the term game can be misleading.  A game is a loose term with positive connotations, so of course we are going to use it to describe things that may otherwise be considered work.  The inference that you will be prescribed video games is grossly misleading.  Trust me when I tell you that you are not going to be sent home from the doctor’s office with a prescription to get five levels in WoW before your next visit.  It is not going to happen.  Now keep in mind that that will not stop developers from making these games as fun as they can. It is the same frame of mind of wanting to make sure that the pill you make looks good, tastes as not gross as possible, and has as few side effects as possible.

You have seen a tremendous amount of games from Sudoku to Brain Age that let you know they improve mental health and for the most part, they are mostly full of shit.  Your everyday life will provide you with plenty of stimulation to get you by.  Now when you start talking about older individuals who do not lead active lives or who are at risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, then you have a winner.  The point being that there is little to no proof that cognitive stimulation works for the average Joe.

This is exactly why they FDA getting into the mix is a fantastic thing.  They may not be perfect at their job but they will definitely make games who want to claim health benefits put their money where their mouths are.  This will not stop games like Brain Age from being made or marketed as exercise for your brain, and it is in some ways.  What it will do is open up the possibility cognitive games that will help people to the possibility of being covered by health insurance, in addition to making games prove their mental health worth.

Make no mistake that FDA approval is a pioneering endeavor.  What it will lead to is anyone’s guess.  I think it makes for a promising outlook of the future.  What do you think?

All Geeks Considered

Source Article:  Maker of cognitive training game seeks FDA approval

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Torchwood Miracle of life

Posted on 26 September 2011 by DM

David Rosenthal

Having watched the first five episodes of the new Torchwood series, I have to admit that I have some mix feelings about the show.  I really liked how they really started the series. They focused on the story before they really started bringing in the characters that we knew from the last series. They did a good job of creating a story hook in order to bring Gwen and Capt. Jack back into the story. We didn’t even see or hear from Capt. Jack for the first 15 to 20 minters of the first episode.  Gwen was with her family in the countryside trying to keep out of view of the Government and had to be dragged back, kicking and screaming, in order to help.  Also, the plot concept of no one on earth dying is clichéd but well thought out by the writers and in fact and intriguing concept.

I am really of two minds when it comes to the show so far.  On one hand, I think that they really have done a good job with doing research and including it into the story. Throughout the episode, they talk about the problems of food shortage and overcrowding if no one can die. They think of what happens to all the sick and dying. The hospitals quickly get over crowded and they have to move many people to alternate locations. On the other hand, it seems like they have a good amount of filler.  For instance, the entire episode where Capt Jack is poisoned doesn’t really seem to pertain to the overall plot.  It could have been condensed down and more overarching story related material could have been added to the episode.

On the whole, I’m reasonably happy with how the series is going so far. I feel like they are doing a good job with Torchwood.  I do have hopes that the rest of the series is going to be good. Fingers crossed!

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The Highs and Lows of Science

Posted on 20 September 2011 by VinnieAve

There are two emotions that reading scientific articles elicit from me very often, wonder and amazement at the ingenuity of man and deep sadness at the horrors and failures that have been committed. In the past few days there has been a great example of each.

In the case of wonder I present to you Foldit. This game has been around for a while I think I played it for a while a few years ago. This is sort of like SETI@home but instead of using the power of computers it has harnessed the power of human mind in great collections. Great work is rarely done alone. In this case it was the collaboration of many different men and women working together to get discover how this protein is shaped. A brief science primer, it is fairly easy to figure out what a protein is made of but it is the shape of the protein that can be helpful in determining how it functions. This can lead to what it interacts with, which can lead to a cure or treatment. This was not work done in a lab; this was the work of people taking some of their free time to determine the structure of this protein that with time can be used to find a cure to one of the worst diseases on the planet.  This is such a hopeful bit of news for so many reasons. Of course the progress that has been but more importantly it was the designers of the game that managed to create that can engage the general public so well and for such good work.

Now for the nasty, in Austria, a scientist committed a series of dangerous actions that put people’s lives at risk and may have caused long lasting damage to many of the patients. This man submitted no ethical documentation, gave false testimony in court about his work, and has not provided the raw data from his experiments. Of course this man was fired and the he was sued by the Medical University of Innsbruck. However, parts of this case didn’t come to fruition and it has been declared by the Austrian government that this man must be given his job back. No university would want someone with such a scarlet letter on their faculty. This arises because he is a public employee and thus there is some level of oversight on hiring and firing. Scientific misconduct is always wrong and anyone who does it is not a good scientist and will be found out eventually. But when it puts people’s lives and health at risk it crosses more lines, lines that should result in criminal charges. There is no license to be scientist nor should there be but when someone does something like this they should never be allowed to work clinically ever again. Luckily, the university is doing its best to keep him from getting near people again but still he is being paid and that is a waste of Austrian Euros (they use Euros, right?).

Okay, now some mental wash to help us think about this clearly:

Science is full of highs and lows but always remember (I try to remind myself of this a lot recently after learning about eugenics, you’d know if you followed me on twitter) that progress is always being made and that we are advancing as a society.

Foldit Story from Scientific America
Austrian Scientist Story from NatureNews

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Codename Sailor V and Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Reviews

Posted on 19 September 2011 by VinnieAve

Recently Kodansha USA released the first volumes of both Codename Sailor V and Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi. Both of these comics are very similar. This should come as no surprise given that they were published in the same year and are part the same universe. Now it happens that Sailor Moon is a follow-up, not really a sequel, to Sailor V. I’m going to start with my review of Sailor V and move on to Sailor Moon

Sailor V

Sailor V is the tale of a ditzy, clutzy Japanese girl named Minako Aino who meets a white cat with a crescent shaped bald-spot on its forehead, Artemis (a male, don’t worry that gets mentioned). He acts as Aino’s mentor during the volume as she learns her abilities and duties as Sailor V/Sailor Venus, both are used, my lazy rule is she is V when wearing a mask and Venus when not wearing a mask. There are eight chapters and seven stories in this book (one story is over two chapters). Throughout the book she must fight the Dark Agency who is trying to collect energy from people through various ploys like creating pop idols or stealing the joy of people of vacation. This works out to create a very monster of the week story that got old really quickly, if I didn’t want to write this review I would have given up about half-way through. Even after reading the whole book, it didn’t get particularly better.

I am glad that this got released at some point for the fans of the franchise but at least it isn’t all that long (only 2 volumes). Beyond just the story of Sailor V the translation had a lot of things that I am not a fan of. There was extensive use of honorifics after too many names. Even after all these years of anime and manga they still take me out of the work. For me the point of translation and adaptation, you want to read it as if they were speaking English. I understand that many fans disagree with me on this but please find another way instead of using sempai and other words, there should be little need for translation notes especially when you are leaving words untranslated.  My final verdict is that I will be picking up volume 2 because it is the last volume of the series and that will lead into Sailor Moon which was significantly better.

Sailor Moon

Sailor V is the tale of a ditzy, clutzy Japanese girl named Usagi Tsukino who meets a black cat with a crescent shaped bald-spot on its forehead, Luna (a female). Yes you read that right I just Mad Libbed the first sentence of the previous review to create the start of this one. The similarities extend to other parts of the plot, in this case the villains are also seeking energy. However, there are a few key differences. In Sailor Moon there is also an element of team formation that is present throughout the volume. This at least allows for some development and interplay of characters (although this is fairly minimal). Also there are few items that are being sought after and often they will follow leads to other objects that end up not being what they want. When comparing this to Sailor V, the book is a little more fun and easy going. This is a significant improvement over the earlier work. The translation issues are not nearly as prevalent as they were in Sailor V, almost the point where I didn’t notice. There is more of a building plot with the quest for the gem and trying to find out more about Tuxedo Mask.

I will be reading Sailor Moon for a while and I hope that it remains enjoyable.

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Spoiler Alert 7 Week of 9/14/11 DC New 52 Edition

Posted on 15 September 2011 by DM

Suicide Squad 1
A bit of a clichéd storyline for the first issue is apparently just what the doctor called for.  Suicide Squad gives us a nice rundown of its members whilst running us through their last test and showing us their mettle.  Particular favorites were Deadshot, who I never really took to BR, and Harley Quinn, who seems much more disturbed and believable in this universe. Amanda Waller is thin and apparently people who aren’t me care about this fact but whatever.  I rarely share other people’s cares in regards to stuff like this.

What this means to you: If you don’t mind villains doing villainous things this might be the book for you.  Well written and drawn, it kept me engrossed throughout the issue.

Superboy 1
OK this was the first PR book that made me realize that the old DC universe was not there anymore. Superboy is brand new again with different powers and a different mindset.  While I’m not sure about his physical power levels he seems much more focused and that seems a good thing.  While I haven’t watched young justice that much, I am inclined to believe that this Superboy seems much more like his cartoon counterpart.  This issue sets up the boy of steel as the main foe of the new teen titans team but we will see how long that lasts.

What this means to you: The book was well written and the art was alright but it didn’t really catch me.  You Young Justice fans may get a kick out of it but I do not think it is going to be on my monthly pull list.

Batman and Robin 1
Not happy with this book.  After taking so long to believably change Damien’s character we have got an almost 180.  Inferring that he killed criminals and not really revealing whether or not he lies about it? I call shenanigans.  I will say that this Batman seems to be more on his game than in Detective #1 so that’s a plus.

What this means to you: If you read and loved Batman and Robin then this may not be the book for you.  The relationship between Dick and Damien was very different that is is with Bruce and his son.  I encourage you to give it a try but I do not have high hopes for this book.

Green Lantern 1
A slow start for a promising book.  Sinestro gets his feet wet as a Green Lantern and Hal Jordan feels sorry for himself.  I guess all is well in the green lantern universe.  Well see where this book goes though as Sinestro pops up in the last panel to offer Hal Jordan a deal with the devil.

What this means for you: This book is going somewhere, of that I am sure.  It may take a few issues though.  Do not give up on it though.  Geoff Johns has yet to steer us too wrong.

Red Lanterns 1
This was an interesting book.  Full of the exposition needed to catch new readers up to who the Red Lanterns are, I think Red Lanterns 1 shows some promise.  I think what will really make or break this book is if we can get some Red Lanterns who can speak coherently.  To me this is a slow part of the book.  I am also eager to see if they go through with making one of the kids from earth into a Red Lantern.  There is some foreshadowing but we will see what is what.

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