Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Doonesbury - Wednesday

LAMP - Laboratory for Advanced Media Production

Went to the introductory seminar for LAMP run by AFTRS this afternoon. An interesting time with some interesting ideas. Unfortunately, it seems like a lot of these seminars seem to be aimed at promoting the cross-platform aspect of new media opportunities, something that, while I understand and appreciate the significance of it, I find a little boring. I just have some issues with the whole saturation aspect.

Seminar getting started. From left, Peter Giles,
Cathy Henkel and the web designer
whose name escapes me.

There was some great stuff.

The show kicked off with Cathy Henkel from Byron Bay based production company Hatchling Productions running through her cross platform production of "I Told You I Was Ill - The Life and Legacy of Spike Milligan". Some interesting material about the way content can be distributed, and in my opinion far more interesting than the Fat Cow Motel people we got to listen to back in May.

Next up was Peter Giles, AFTRS Head of Digital Media. He ran through some of the issues that face digital producers nowadays and some of the technology that's coming through to assist audiences and sponsors alike. Of particular interest to me was a display of some of the more modern interface controls for IP and Interactive TV, allowing the user to swap between TV channels and other services such as broadband internet by using a metaphor of 3D space. Need to find out some more about that.

Once again, former Senior Broadband Producer for BBCi Gary Hayes ran through what's in store for the future, nowhere near as in depth as last time, but still inspiring stuff. Gary's basically the driving force behind LAMP and it shows. While Peter Giles was the voice for the presentation part, once Gary took over you could tell immediately whose show it was.

Interesting factoid from the presentation; by 2009 it's predicted that there will be more people using the internet and games than DVD/Cinema and Pay TV. I'd be surprised if it takes that long.

Best address of the afternoon was saved until last. Jackie Turnure gave a great talk on non-linear narrative, something that regular visitors to KingLeonard - The Weblog will know is a pet subject of the editorial team here. Using the development of her game Oz as an example, Jackie talked about the difficulties digital media producers face in trying to break the linear narrative mould, while maintaining drive and purpose for the participant to continue the story. Fascinating stuff.

From left, Jackie Turnure, Gary Hayes
fielding questions after the seminar.

I had a word to Jackie after the afternoon was over and asked her for some more info. I should have some links, or at least some documents, to read soon.

The rest of the afternoon was spent working through some ideas for creating cross-platform content. We were split up into random groups and asked to come up for a pitch based on four elements - show idea, target audience, challenge and platforms. We then got to pitch these twenty minute ideas to the panel for two minutes to get feedback.

An interesting experience and if nothing else it made me aware of my own affliction. I have discovered that I am affected by what I shall call "Geek's Syndrome." Looking at the article I pointed to yesterday, that geek's have a tendency to be more interested in the means rather than the outcome, "cooler still if it involves a new computer and coolest if blue LEDs are involved". In this case our idea of an interactive show based on web and security camera footage was heavy on tech, light on story. It had nothing driving it other than "at the end we'll vote for the best and someone will get a prize". For someone who keeps saying that they're interested in stories I'm not exactly filling myself with confidence.

I need to stop relying on my cameraphone for this stuff!

The other thing I realised today is that I'm full of proverbial. I mentioned the other day that "we imbue places with our own personal mythologies." What I realised today is that I have no right to say what WE do because the only person that I've ever known to exhibit this sort of behaviour is ME. Therefore to say that WE do something is entirely presumptuous. So I'd like to say that "I imbue places with MY own personal mythologies." I can't speak for anybody else.

Good stuff to come out of today:

Ran into an old friend and work colleague, Simon Humphries. I worked with Simon at the ABC for many years before the work ran out for him there. Since then he did a pretty incredible tour through Europe, worked for a child care company and created a DVD video titled "Earth Stories", part of which I helped produce. He told me today that the work has been picked up by ACMI, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne. A nice bit of news.

More fun tommorow in the wacky world of the future!

Other Links as a result of the day:

Broadband Bananas - Interactive TV Video Archive - The Art & Science of Making Games

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Pop quiz - Are Spammers getting more stupid? You decide!

They've been deleted now, but before they head off to Digital Heaven once and for all I felt compelled to make some comment about the latest round of comment spam I just got.

It seems that this new breed of comment spam involves making a few vague statements about something that may (or may not) be related to the article that it is attached to, a few thinly veiled compliments about the blog, and an obvious link to whatever it is the bastard's trying to hock.

Here's one of my favourites.

Ververs clicks with CBS for 'Public' blog
After a controversial run-in with bloggers last year that helped sink "60 Minutes Wednesday," CBS News' "nonbudsman" is on the job.
delore dartrite is the owner of
arthritis treatment
which is a premier resource for arthritis treatment information.
for more information, go to

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a arthritis treatment site/blog. It pretty much covers arthritis treatment related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

I've broken the links so they won't take you anywhere if you click on them.

I don't know if this is commonplace, or how long this strategy has been in operation, but I just can't believe that spammers think people are so stupid as to not realise that what they are looking at is spam.

Here's another one.

Nexaweb Showcases Benefits of RIAs at Inaugural Developer Conference
A reader asked how they could sort a set of directory paths in ColdFusion. The answer isn't that complex, and like most things in ColdFusion it can be Aug.
This site is great, nice job!!

I have a penis enlargment pill info site. It is about penis enlargment pill articles and stuff.

Drop by when you can, nice site here!

Original, but really stupid.

Doonesbury - Tuesday

The Consultant | Penny Arcade

So at last we discover who's REALLY responsible for MMORPG's.

BBC TV channels to be put on net | BBC NEWS

"The BBC's TV channels will be made available on the internet, BBC Director General Mark Thompson has confirmed.
He announced plans for the MyBBCPlayer - which will allow viewers to legally download seven days of programmes - at the Edinburgh Television Festival.
He said he hoped the service would launch next year."

"Proposals to make clips available on mobile phones are also being speeded up, director of TV Jana Bennett said last week.

The BBC received a "wake-up call" about the demand for new technology in March when the first episode of the new Doctor Who was leaked on to the internet, she said."

Ironic really. The guy suspected of leaking the episode?


On Creativity, Computers and Copyright | The Register

A month ago, U.K. site "The Register" ran an article discussing the Creative Commons license and whether it was really necessary.

"Computer evangelists find all this difficult to grasp, because their world is limited by what the computer can do. So (Creative Commons evangelist Lawrence) Lessig is undoubtedly sincere when he says that an abundance of technology leads to creativity, and restrictions on technology lead to cultural improvrishment. For him and people like him, it's probably true. But the rest of us don't define ourselves by the limitations of computer systems or computer networks.
It's a crippled view of human creativity. Beethoven doesn't need to be re-mixed - he needs a good orchestra. And Billie Holliday isn't enhanced by overlaying some beats. Nor is something special simply because it's passed through a DMA bus, or a Cisco router. History in the end judges what endures and what doesn't, so our responsibility - and it's such a burden! - is to celebrate what's good."

A month later and the responses have come in. Some interesting thoughts on the remix culture, the techno-utopians and art.

"I don't think the major goal for Creative Commons is to have Madonna or Robbie Williams release their latest songs under a CC license. Its more about creating a system where mostly hobbyists can cooperate and share creative works. Facilitating that in a similar way to how the GPL and BSD licenses have helped computer programmers cooperate and create things such as the GNU/Linux system."

"The reality is that when you work your arse off to produce something, and nobody pays you for your effort, you're (sic) choices become, do what I love and starve or do something else and eat. I'd like to see the looks on the faces of these people if their employers decided not to pay them anything anymore. I wonder how many would keep working, and yet they expect artists of every sort to keep producing music, movies, books, paintings, or whatever for free for the benefit of everyone except themselves."

"It's amazing how many campaigns have less to do with a real cause and more to do with a fashionable posture. It's like people think they're doing good, but really they just want to look good."

"Your article on Creativity, Computers and Copyright reaffirms three concepts that are usually unvoiced, but underlie geekdom:

1 - That the geek experience somehow supplants all previous culture and creative expression. Previous measures of literary worth, the skill of a composer or the talent of a film director don't apply to new media simply because it's on a different platform. Hence piss-poor blogs, flash-rendered animals dancing to looped samples and ultimately the Crazy Frog. I have some suspicion that this reflects the relative youth and limited cultural education of a generation of engineers.

2 - That the process is more important than the result, cooler still if it involves a new computer and coolest if blue LEDs are involved. This is endemic in technologists - from the desire that every item in our house should have a network connection, to the idea that the order in which you click on things in a webshop is somehow patentable. Though that latter example sits badly with the Open Source crowd, it's bourne of the natural tendancy of computer engineers to focus on the means rather than the end. Here, complex license schemes are the means and the end remains vaguely defined and as far off as ever.

3 - That creativity is an unlimited resource, only held back by the limitations of the distribution network and these damn tools. If we could only put video cameras in the hands of every person on the planet, and provide universal access to the results, thousands of new film makers will be discovered. This is a fallacy that has surfaced with each technological step in media - from satellite television to web blogs.

The only grain of truth is that we're steadily approaching the event horizon of a million monkeys - though as yet Shakespeare has not been sighted."

Monday, August 29, 2005


If this is the topic, looking forward to a new week of Doonesbury fun!

Cat and Girl - Large Mediums

Quite possibly the quote of the year. Don't be surprised to see a new sig on some of my emails.

"If television's a babysitter, the internet's a drunk librarian who won't shut up."


Sunday, August 28, 2005

A bunch of stuff

If this was LiveJournal there'd be a spot here where I wrote:
Music: Interpol - Turn On The Bright Lights

But there isn't so I'll just say, lovin' the album but I'm looking forward to getting into "The Sunset Tree" by "The Mountain Goats". For an album about such a depressing subject (childhood abuse) it has some pretty great and upbeat songs from what I've heard so far. Sounds quite "They Might Be Giants" only not so quirky.

Now, to business...


A week off work has come and gone. It wasn't quite as relaxing as I perhaps would have hoped, but I kind of knew what was comng when I went in. I just hope there isn't a pile of stuff to do when I arrive tomorrow. However, before I let myself think of that, I figure I'll get some stuff off my chest that's been bouncing around in my head.


Anyone wondering why the Australian television industry is in such a crisis at the moment? Wondering why audience numbers for local content are just not enough to keep it going? I got your answer right here!

The new series of "The Mole" is every possible reason for viewers staying away in droves tied together in what is quite conceivably the most disappointing half hour of TV produced in this country in quite some time. You know all those horror stories you hear about Hollywood executives that wouldn't know diagesis from a diuretic taking a round peg and a square hole and throwing marketing dollars at it until an unwary audience thinks they're going to catch the "must-see event of the year"? That's what we have here. I can imagine the office meeting now...

"So we've got the rights on this "Mole" show for two more seasons. Problem is, everyone knows what's coming."

"Well couldn't we try something different? Make the contestants actually do something worthwhile? Possibly get some people that the audience doesn't want to swat across the back of the head in the first five minutes?"

"Naah, I want you to get a new host."

"Grant Bowler won't be happy. He's pretty much made that part his own. I can't think of anyone else that could play the part that well."

"Yeah, but he's not so popular. What about that new kid, Tom Williams? The women love him and he looks great on screen."

"Well yeah, but he's got the screen presence of a block of wood and the acting ability of a wet sponge. How's he supposed to build tension?"

"Tension? Nobody cares about tension. That's why I want you to make the elimination live so that anything that can possibly go wrong will go wrong."

"It doesn't matter that your new host can't read an autocue to save himself even if we spelt everything phonetically?"

"I don't care if every person on screen laughs at him as he pathetically stumbles his way through the whole disturbing sequence."

"Well, you're the boss. Bowler's not going to be happy."

"Eh, who cares? Give him the voice over job for that "Border Security" show. He'd be perfect."

So what we wound up with was a half hour crying out for something that was just never delivered. A damn shame, because I really love the concept of "The Mole." To me, when it's done right, it parks itself a close second to "Survivor" for watchability. What I saw last Thursday is enough to make me give up after the first episode. Just disgusting.

While I'm on the matter of disgusting, what's the deal with Channel 7 and that crap in the ad for the series final of "Lost?"

"Everything you want to know will be answered!"

Well the only thing I found got answered from that show was "When am I going to actually get to see another series?"

February next year?!? Who's kidding who here?


This week's crappy bumper sticker is a contest. It's a close one between...

"Drive real fast, if you wanna pass.
"If you cannot pass, get off my ass!"


"Ankh if you love Isis"

And the winner is, "Ankh if you love Isis".

No one is more appreciative of crappy wordplay than me, but come on...


Current thoughts on narrative taken out of context.

Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, is just a story. If you think of a story as a series of events that take place over time, then everything around you is just a series of stories; information waiting to be read. It's just that some stories are more interesting than others.


Robert Rodriguez. Sin City. Is there anything that man cannot do?!?


Thanks be to my Mother-In-Law for getting me reading fiction again. I've been so stuck with text books it's been draining me dry. The catalyst in question was an old pulper from 1984 by the title "The Grandmaster"; the writing was pretty average, but the story wasn't bad. The ending could be seen arriving from a mile away but I read it pretty much straight through.

To celebrate my newly rekindled love of fiction I went out and bought Umberto Eco's new book, "The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loama." More on this as I get into it.


My darling wife made yesterday "Leonard's Day" to say thank you for everything over the last few months. I chose to spend the day driving up to O'Reilly's, one of the most incredible and magical places I know. I'm a strong believer that we imbue places with our own personal mythologies, and this place just has so many incredible memories that everything I looked at was coated in a thin haze of gold. Wonderful memories dating back to my early childhood, back when Mum and Dad were still together, back when everything was simple, all the way to modern memories of day trips and camping trips with good friends.

One of the great things you can do there is feed the parrots by hand. For some reason I was kind of popular.

Of course, it was all fun and games until one of the little bastards decided to use my nose as a ladder.

Despite that, an amazingly wonderful day. My wife is just the best. I even got to revisit the film version of "The Name Of The Rose" (despite how disappointing it is compared to the book) and the Buffy episode "Conversations With Dead People," which is perhaps one of the best Buffy episodes of all 7 seasons. All in all, a super day to almost wind up the holiday.


Is Mountain Goats. Is Good!


To finish up the week I went along to a character creation day for a Shadowrun game I took an interest in. It's been years since I've even run a game, let alone played in one (beyond as a single session reserve) so I was kind of stand-offish. I tend to be very picky about the people I play with. I realise it's kind of silly to be a gamer snob, but I figure life's too short to game with bad players. Besides, it was having to deal with the common unwashed and their stupidity that drove me away in the first place. However, as I continue my quest for narrative endeavour I'm finding myself returning to the RPG structure. I figure playing this SR game will be a good way to reacquaint myself wth the rules for when I finally run "Return to Bug City"; a story that I've promised too many people to allow go untold.

Ayway, I'm still unsure about this bunch. The GM seems kind of switched on, and there's some good people involved, but I have to ask myself where I fit in as a player? They have the well meaning GM bursting at the seams with ideas, the stalwart regular guy that likes to play leader, the quiet dependable guy that sits back and allows everyone else to do stuff, the token girl, the power gaming idiot that loves to shock for the sake of attention, and the guy that tries to make everyone realise that they're a serious gamer because they're playing a female character. Of course, that female character has to be a lesbian, ostensibly because it's empowering, but really because they don't want to have to play a character that likes guys. Where do I fit in? Smart ass observer and metagamer?

Then again, maybe I'm way off track here. I have some serious rules by which I play and if I have to melt and re-cast every gamer on the planet in my image then I'm ready to go one at a time.


Revisiting downloaded Underworld tracks from the Underworld Live site. There's one track from the Blue Mountain collection that's driving me to disctraction trying to figure out what it's a remix of. I can hear all these familiar phrases and samples, but I just can't quite put my finger on it.

Not a good state to be in before heading off to bed.


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Oh, all right then...

A man can only surf the net for so long before he feels compelled to post some links on his blog.

"The 3-D gaming platform was developed at the University of Southern California's School of Cinema-Television, and for now is aimed at re-creating popular schoolyard games such as red light, green light; dodge ball; and capture the flag.
In Red Light, Green Light, one player assumes the role of the traffic cop, and calls out stop and go commands that are interpreted using voice-recognition software. Virtual pedestrians close in from all sides. In a twist worthy of Bladerunner, the object is to determine which of the walkers is the single human opponent, and blast the target into oblivion. A side arm of sufficient caliber to engulf suspects in a satisfying spray of pyrotechnics is provided.
Thanks to the novel 3-D feature, the cop player must stand and physically spin around to view the field."

Next up,

by Ross O'Shea is a student project where your real world activities effect your game character. This hip pouch and badge is full of electronics and as you wear it throughout the day, it senses and records data; how many steps you have taken, how much you speak, size, temperature and brightness of your environment.

This device has currently been prototyped using the RPG Morrowind. In usual circumstances, a player might make an avatar that is a fitter, stronger more attractive version of themselves. The G-Link reverses this and says if you sit in and play games all day, your character will be weaker, yet if you go out for a walk then your character will be stronger. Also if you go out in the sun your character will be light aligned, yet stay indoors and it will go over to the dark side. Recently part of the CoEDD graduate exhibition."

And then,

is a Java game for the mobile platform, designed for people who are so bored they'd rather be dead. Mobile games, are after all, a catharsis for transient boredom. This parody, platform shooter sees players influence game dynamics by first inputting self-worth parameters. Players with the highest level of self-hatred enjoy the longest games of self-sacrificing mutilation. Those who love themselves most find the game ending almost before it begins."

"After choosing a character who 'looks like you feel', and inputting the 'degree to which you hate yourself', game play consists of repeatedly killing copies of the character you choose, whilst listlessly meandering through 'Happy Town'. The game is designed to increase in difficulty exponentially to player self-hatred, resulting in the most self-hating players experiencing the most difficult time completing the game. Thus, ironically, self-hatred is rewarded with greater cause for self-hatred, simultaneous to an increased opportunity to indulge this self-hatred by continually shooting replicas of oneself to pieces. The game is won when the game itself decides that the player has persecuted themselves sufficiently, relative to their natural tendencies towards self-persecution."

Part of the Mobile Journeys exhibition at the Sydney Opera House.

And finally, an article from (requires registration) about a couple of guys from the Bronx who have been running their own IPTV network for the last three years.

"In 1992, (Doug) Frazier and (Stuart) Reid got their big break when the city of New York decided to create a citywide, broadband franchise for voice, video, and data services. They became one of five founding franchisees--alongside the likes of AT&T, Cablevision, and Time-Warner--suddenly finding themselves in direct competition with billion-dollar corporations. For any two individuals, let alone two working-class African-Americans, this was a remarkable turn of events. It's easy to indulge Frazier in a little hyperbole (if it even amounts to that) when he says, "That was the largest franchise that had ever been given to somebody that looked like us, ever, in the history of this country..."

Perhaps the biggest advantage of all is UTV's deep understanding of their customer base, which is more intimate than any market research budget could possibly buy.

The difference can be seen in UTV's programming. Sure, of their 300-plus total channels, the vast majority are the same as you'll find on most cable systems. But a few of them definitely are not. Recognizing that some of their customers, as Frazier delicately puts it, "are not sophisticated about the Internet," UTV licenses a number of media streams off the Internet, converts them to MPEG-2, and routes them onto their TV platform as TV channels so their customers can find them easily.

In particular, with the demographics of the south Bronx in mind, they look for television and radio channels from the Caribbean and Latin America that aren't otherwise available. Some of these channels look pretty bad, of course, and Reid relates a telling anecdote about a big argument they had with their engineer over the quality of the feeds. At one point, they decided to remove a channel from Puerto Rico. "The phones rang off the hook. 'Why'd you take it off?!' . . . 'The technical quality's not good enough' . . . 'We don't care! That's TV from home!'"

Monday, August 22, 2005

On Vacation!

No thinking this week. Come back when we're open.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Motorcycle Meditations...

Some things that passed through my mind on the way into work.

Crass bumper sticker of the week award goes to this one. Created using the same rainbow reflective material that you see "Magic Happens" or "Girls Can Do Anything!" or "I Brake for Unicorns" stickers;

"Keep the Earth Clean
It's not Uranus!"

O.K., well a 4.6 for presentation, but MINUS SEVERAL MILLION for class.

"Ooh! I'm environmentally aware, AND saucily witty."

I understand that I'm a resident of the Earth, a Global citizen, part of a race that's 6 billion strong. My brothers and sisters are the people of this planet, regardless of colour, culture or creed. Between us there's nothing we cannot achieve if we think with a common purpose.

I know that I am from the South side of Brisbane. I make fun of people from the North as idiots and from the West as snobs. The East doesn't even warrant a mention. Sydney, Melbourne, etc, may as well be on another planet.

Time to get my proverbial straightened out.

Had some more ideas for my long anticipated "Return to Bug City" SR game. Good ones too, not just crappy throwaway stuff. This material works nicely to add another level to the Prologue I'll be hopefully running over this weekend. Unfortunately I cannot digress as I know for a fact that at least one of the potential players visits this site infrequently.

(Yeah, you know who you are "Mr Whitesnake." Oh man, 80's flashback...)


You know, you'd think that a guy on a motorcycle in peak hour traffic would be thinking about keeping safe instead of all this stuff. That's the beauty of two wheels.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Japan to realize virtual reality TV by 2020 - we make money not art

"The Japanese Communications Ministry is to establish a research group that will work to commercialize virtual reality television by 2020.

VR TV will enable images to be seen in 3D from any angle at a quality equivalent to that offered by high-definition TVs, and allow viewers to feel and smell the objects they are watching.

Users watching a home shopping programs will be able to examine products from various angles and feel them. VR TV technology will also likely be used in telemedicine and other fields.

To simulate the sensation of touch, researchers are considering using means including ultrasound, electrical stimulation and wind pressure. For smells, the development of a device that mixes natural aromatic essences to recreate particular scents will likely be given a major focus.

In addition, studies of human neural pathways and an array of related basic research are expected to be carried out."

"Better Bad News" Oh the possibilities....

"What would people be talking about if you controlled the newsroom teleprompters? Choose a professional talking head to speak for you on a freewheeling moderated panel discussion by accessing our dedicated web connected teleprompters."

I keep looking at this and wondering just much of this is a joke and how much is serious. Heaven knows the way it's cut tends to make it look a bit wacky. A great idea though. Take a look at the world's most untrustworthy news source!

BBC releases first offerings from the BBC Archive

The Creative Archive License Group website has been up and running for several months now and a bunch of different sources have released material to the public. FINALLY, the Beeb has got around to releasing some of their own content and it's available for free to download for U.K. residents (as part of the licensing fee).

Creative Archive Licence Group

"Taken from a whole host of BBC programmes the footage includes a wealth of material covering natural history, wildlife, science, locations, art and more. There are also gems including shots of cityscapes, sunsets, seascapes and many other stunning visuals. People within the UK can download this material now from the Radio 1 Superstar VJs site. More clips will be added over the coming months."

Google quietly buying fiber lines - Lost Remote

You may remember me mentioning the joy of Google Earth some time last month. Well it's looking more and more like a mission statement rather than a product name as the Search Engine company continues to move past its roots.

Lost Remote: Report: Google quietly buying fiber lines

"Om Malik in Business 2.0 reports that Google has been shopping quietly for miles and miles of 'dark,' or unused, fiber-optic cable. Why? Likely to prepare for 'bandwidth-hungry applications' like a digital-video database or on-demand television programming. But Malik says Google could being going one step further. '[It could] build a national broadband network -- let's call it the GoogleNet -- massive enough to rival even the country's biggest internet service providers.' And take on the telcos."

Monday, August 15, 2005

A Gamers' Manifesto

While I'm here posting links to game stuff...

A Gamers' Manifesto

"Developers will be shocked one day when they notice that the world is full of women. It's true! More than half of your potential customer base are penisless. They have money. They like doing fun things. And yet, how do you think they feel when they play a game where the heroine looks like this:

Yeah, that's what she wears into battle. Thong-length kimono, no bra for those flopping DDD breasts.

And this is years after analysts told developers that women would happily play games if they didn't feel so objectified by them, and several decades past the point where they should have even needed to be told that. Have you guys ever met a woman? Then why don't you try making just a few games that don't play off of a 14 year-old male's idea of womanhood on the apparent hope that he'll play the game one-handed?"

Wage Slaves from 1UP.COM

More game stuff.

'For all the so-called virtual sweatshops discovered, a lot of these young men and boys don't mind their jobs, and they aren't exactly working in sweatshop conditions. There's a world of difference between making sneakers and watching bots fight all day. However, they are underpaid, or as Smooth Criminal puts it, "They get paid dirt. But dirt is good where they live." '

Wage Slaves from 1UP.COM

A World of Warcraft World

I can't even remember how I came across this link but it's worth posting here.

David Wong from takes a rather twisted look at what these Massive Multi-player Online RPG's have in store for us in the future.

"If you don't understand the gravitational pull of an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), I'm going to enlighten you with just a dozen words: you get to pick what you look like and what your talents are.

That's the real beauty of it. The first thing you do in the MMORPG World of Warcraft is design your own body and decide what your strengths will be. You pick your race. What could be more seductive than that, the ability to turn in all of the cards you were dealt at birth and draw new ones from a face-up deck? If you have friends who've gotten sucked into the WoW black hole and you don't understand why they never talk to you any more, this is it."

He goes on to run through 10 things that these virtual worlds, in conjunction with increased technology bringing us greater agency and immersion, will offer us.

"But it's not just the physical image that changes. In that world, I am a dragon slayer. There, my reptutation and history are just as awe-inspiring as my look. Even now, much of the satisfaction for WoW gamers is in the very real sense of accomplishment they get, a person glowing with a burst of golden light when they gain a level in experience and strength. How can the real world compete with that? Wouldn't those long Calculus lectures have been easier to sit through if, every time you learned something important, gold light shot out from your body?"

Some of the stuff, like the idea of people living in their virtual world almost 24 hours a day, living it large in-game while their meat body rots in a squalid dump, is quite likely to hapen. But then again, we already get that with drugs, with television and even with current games. People will always be dissatisfied with elements of the real world, but to imagine that we'll all dismiss reality for the pleasures of a virtual world is a little far fetched.

Then again, perhaps the real worlders will become a minority. I doubt it though.

Interesting times ahead.

A World of Warcraft World

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Look at me! I'm a real blog now!!

Finally got my first spam in the comments. Deleted it immediately and hope the people responsible rot for eternity in whatever small place in Hell is reserved for spammers. That said, I have to say that a piece of me was kind of chuffed at the idea that someone thought this was a place that they could actually pull some sort of market share by posting here.

Or maybe just amused at the stupidity of that idea.

Actually no. Anyone who posts spam here must have rocks in their head. Or maybe they're just not very good spammers. Or maybe they're trying to bring down their own small piece of the spamosphere from the inside by wasting their spam quota on a site that averages nine visits a day, each averaging a whopping 1 minute 13 seconds, usually from people randomly clicking through on their way from someone elses' blogger acount...

Now I'm just being stupid.

By the way, if you are just passing through on your way to somewhere with more sex, drama, threats of suicide and pictures of bunny rabbits, hi!

Oh well, back to my assignment. A Requirement Specification for a Web Application worth 20%. As always I'm doing far too much work on it for what it's worth. That said, I learned in first semester what happens if you take the first assignment piece too lightly. Man, I got so gipped on that one. 13 out of 20. Miss out on a 7 by 2%. Way to ruin a perfect GPA. Just because I didn't put tiny replications of the original image tiled through the background as reference. Stupid. That's not what the bloody brief said I had to do.

I'm stalling. Can you tell?

Counterfeit goods rock virtual world - New Scientist

So long as I'm talking games...

The editorial team here at KingLeonard - the Weblog have been following with great interest the market in virtual goods able to be purchased in the real world. We even brought news of Sony Exchange, a legitimate auction house that allows the auctioning of online goods in Sony's EverQuest 2 game.

Well, I knew that market forces were strong, but who knew they'd show up in EverQuest?

New Scientist Breaking News - Counterfeit goods rock virtual world

"Players who immerse themselves in the hugely popular online fantasy game EverQuest2 last week saw the price of everyday goods – like the Wand of the Living Flame and the Dark Shield of the Void – plummet after some participants discovered a way to duplicate valuable items for free.

The replication trick was made possible by a bug in the software that underpins the game. By running through a few simple processes, the players found they could miraculously generate two items out of one. Before the bug could be stamped out, the resulting glut of “counterfeit” goods swamped the game’s internal market and drove inflation of its currency up by 20%.

Although the scam involved entirely imaginary objects, it also had real-world implications. In July 2005, the game's parent company Sony Online Entertainment launched an official trading site for EverQuest2 players, called Station Exchange, which lets them buy and sell objects and characters for both virtual, and real, cash."

Adventures in the Second Person -

This little piece is something that tickles my fancy. I'll let the author explain it.

"Here's a little demo I made in Blender and Python that represents one configuration: the second person as a displacement of agency and as a crisis of control - a Dislocative Media if you like.

The first person perspective has always been priveledged with the pointillism (or synchronicity) of a physiology that travels with the will in some shape or form, 'I act from where I perceive' and 'I am on the inside looking out'. In this little experiment however, you are on the outside looking in, and to my great amusement, it's a complete and total pain in the arse.

The object of the game? Shoot yourself to live!"

It's still a bit buggy but the author says they'll be continuing work on the project and updating as it goes. For me, the idea of a second-person shooter just blows away conceptions of agency in a mediated environment like a video game. To me and my warped mind that's just fascinating stuff.

[Update:] The author has now updated the Windows version so the bot works and responds to being shot at.[/Update]

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Yes, Google is a Media Company - Digital Deliverance

An interesting opinion piece by the pundits at Digital Deliverance. So in today's world, what exactly constitutes media? Do you have to produce original content? Do many of the so-called media companies produce original content themselves, given the increase in centralised broadcasting?

Have a read, decide for yourself.

Digital Deliverance Archive: Yes, Google is a Media Company

Monday, August 08, 2005

Doug Rushkoff: Renaissance Prospects - Odeo

I don't think any of our loyal readers will be surprised when I admit that I enjoy reading or listening to Douglas Rushkoff. Not necessarily because I subscribe to each and every one of his views, but rather because I find his view of the possibilities for the world inspiring, even when he's decribing the world at its worst.

Last year Rushkoff delivered a speech to the Pop!Tech 2004 (Renaissance Prospects) gathering. You can download the MP3 of his address below. In it, Rushkoff looks at a topic he's been pursuing quite a bit of late; the idea that the world is on the cusp of going through a new Renaissance rather than a Revolution. It's an interesting 45 minutes where he asks his listeners to think a little outside the norm.

Odeo: Doug Rushkoff: Renaissance Prospects

Why Smart People Defend Bad Ideas :: ChangeThis

Scott Berkun, Project Management consultant and author of the book "The Art of Project Management" asks the question: Why do smart people defend bad ideas?

"Part of being a truly smart person is to know which level is the right one at a given time. For example, if you are skidding out of control at 95 mph in your broken down Winnebago on an ice covered interstate, when a semi-truck filled with both poorly packaged fireworks and loosely bundled spark plugs slams on its brakes, it's not the right time to discuss with your passengers where y'all would like to stop for dinner. But as ridiculous as this scenario sounds, it happens all the time. People worry about the wrong thing at the wrong time and apply their intelligence in ways that doesn't serve the greater good of what they're trying to achieve."

Worth a read.

ChangeThis :: Why Smart People Defend Bad Ideas

Sunday, August 07, 2005

The 'iPodified' baby | CNET

Few things make my jaw drop open in disbelief. This is one of them.

The 'iPodified' baby | | CNET

"Some of us already treat our iPods as if they were our babies. Now we can treat (or at least dress) our babies as if they were iPods."

episode iii, the backstroke of the west

I just discovered that one of my favourite old sites, the Cruel Site of the Day, now has a RSS feed.


And so what's the first thing I stumble upon? Screenshots of Revenge of the Sith, translated to English from Chinese from English. Hence the rather curious title - Episode III: The Backstroke of the West. episode iii, the backstroke of the west

Not to mention this one with a few others.

Middle Kingdom Stories

Some hilarious mistakes.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

This world I live in

Let me apologise up front for my rather gratuitous use of "colourful" language later in this post.

As a result of a necessary service to the car I found myself rediscovering Brisbane's public transport system on Friday. I chose to take the train back to town. I'm not sure why I love the train so much. It probably has something to do with not having grown up near a train line so that the only times I ever got to board one as a child was to take some great adventure to the Ekka or out to see the relatives. So it was with a light heart I sat and waited for the next arrival.

Then something happened that caught me off guard. Two young men of Arabic descent came down and sat in the next chair away from me. What surprised me was my reaction. Immediately I started watching them suspiciously, checking to see the size of their backpacks, trying to notice anything that may uncover some hidden and deadly agenda.

I couldn't believe what I was doing and yet I couldn't stop myself. I could see that these were two average, normal young men on their way home from University. They were obviously engaged in a lively discussion, in English, and yet I could hear a voice in the back of my mind telling me "that's exactly what they WANT you to think!"

We were at Milton station before was was happening really hit me, and so it is that I wish to say these words.

To the false prophets of an Islam that never was, the crawling slime that belittles the lives of the followers of a proud and noble religion, I say this to you.

Fuck you for sowing discord and hatred in a world that was struggling to come together.

Fuck you for making me think this way.

Fuck you for causing me to think "these dark-skinned people are a threat because of their religion."

Worse, fuck you for making me think "but the dark-skinned people I know are not a threat because they are Christians."

Your actions have created an environment were I pre-judge people based on the colour of their skin, the shape of their face or the clothes that they wear, unless it's filtered through an understanding of a religious faith I no longer even aspire to. For that I am deeply ashamed.

And so I say thank you. Because in creating this uncertainty you have caused me to look long and hard at myself and my actions. You have made me realise that fighting terrorism starts by fighting racial prejudice on a personal level. I cannot be a brother to other people until I stop seeing them as foreign and different and realise that my ignorance makes me weak. By sowing hatred and fear you have also created an environment for examination and introspection. And it's only through tearing down my own barriers of fear and mistrust that I can do my part to fight you and the lies you stand for.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

TheForce.Net - Lucas On The TV Shows

Quite apart from the keen value of a Star Wars TV show, my attention was drawn by this particular quote.

"Lucas said he'll shoot the series on a Sony digital camera system that anyone can buy at an electronics store."

That opens up a whole new world of genre ideas. Imagine "Star Wars Mythbusters!"

"Now Jame E Wan, we're going to test the "myth" that an R2 model astromech droid can travel unharmed through the Jungland Wastes after you take off it's restraining bolt."

"Well I can't understand why any logical creature would remove a restraining bolt on an R2 unit to begin with when everyone knows they were such a frisky model. I'd say without a doubt that this myth's busted."

Of course, someone's already done Imperial Chopper.

TheForce.Net - Latest News - Lucas On The TV Shows

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

"Liberality For All" - I don't know whether to laugh or cry

I'm just so stunned by this comic I can't think straight, so I'll hand it over to Tom Coates from

I'd like to introduce you all to the future of literature for kids - Liberality, an American Neo-Con comic book in the vein of The Authority only this time positing a future America where the government has become "an Orwellian nightmare of ultra-liberalism" and a new super-heroic force of famous mechanically-enhanced right-wingers must take back the country from the United Nations. This epic force of good-doers features (I kid you not) Conservative talk-radio and Fox News strop-monkey Sean Hannity, Watergate enthusiast and friend of Nixon G. Gordon Liddy and Iran-Contra Smuggler and Reaganite Oliver North.

Here's my favourite part of the preview of the comic book, in which the evil new liberal orthodoxy welcomes Osama Bin Laden to the UN to apologise for 9/11 and look forward to a new liberal millennium. What more can I say. Wow.

ACC: A Comic Collective - Liberality For All

From the site:

"Reagan has grown to manhood in an ultra-liberal educational system: being told, not asked, what to think. With personal determination, which alienates him from his contemporaries, he has chosen the path less traveled…the path to the Right."

So an ultra-liberal educational system is somehow one that promotes being told rather than being asked? I'd have thought it was the exact opposite; being given free reign to slack off whilst ensuring that students aren't hurt by nasty competition, just like Snugg's Cove (and yes I'm aware the article's a parody piece).

Those of you who grew up with roleplaying will recognise one of the names on the credits, namely Larry Elmore, perhaps best known for his work on the Dungeons & Dragons chronicles "Dragonlance." Yeah, you heard me. D&D. The same D&D derided throughout conservative politics for the last twenty years. Do these people realise they have a turncoat in their midst!?!

The whole thing's ass-backwards. It's truly frightening!

I weep for the future.

Getting more from your Wireless network.

Some people like their toys big and showy.

Defcon Wifi Shootout 2005

Yeah, sure they set a new world record for unamplified wireless networking of 125 miles, but so what? It's not exactly going to be a handy add-on for the guerilla moblogger, hooking up to the local wireless hotspot in the middle of a public disturbance. I prefer my toys a little more simple and easy to make.

Be inspired!

This Spartan Life

"Machinima (muh-sheen-eh-mah) or machine cinema and/or "machine animation", is both a collection of associated production techniques and a film genre. As a film genre, the term refers to movies created by using tools and resources available in a commercial game engine. By combining the techniques of filmmaking, animation production and the technology of real-time 3D game engines, Machinima makes for a very cost-and time-efficient way to produce films, with a large amount of creative control." points us in the direction of a newly finished machinima "talk show" set in the game world of Halo.

As the host, Damian Lacedaemion points out,

"The game we're in is a violent game, but it's also rich enough that we can make room for other kinds of activity."

This Spartan Life

Episode 1 consists of 6 segments, including a short travelogue showing the game world, a "1-on-1 discussion" called Body Count, and interviews with real world guests that inhabit avatars and react and interact with the game environment. While you're there, check out the "Solid Gold Elite Dancers."