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The Hobbit: Video Technology You Can Do at Home – Businessweek

December 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Gollum from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobb...

Filmmaker Peter Jackson’s new installment from Middle Earth has so much sexy technology you’d think reviewers would swoon: 3D; high def; 48 frames per second. Instead, we’re hearing a big yawn. Where did The Hobbit go wrong?

Welcome to the Q Curve. Consumer technology has gotten so good that the professionals we once paid to produce something startling now have difficulty staying ahead. I call this phenomenon the Quality Curve, where the rising quality of what you can produce with the iPhone (AAPL) or Samsung (005930) in your hand, if drawn as an upward line, now often surpasses the quality of professional producers. If the excellence of what you or I create rivals that of pros, our demand for their wizardry starts to slip.

Bilbo Baggins is a case in point. Jackson, whose brilliant The Lord of the Rings series won 17 Academy Awards, decided to solve one of film’s biggest flaws with this new preinstallment about the One Ring to Rule Them All—the flickering effect we get from a film speed set 90 years ago. When movies were first produced, film stock was expensive, so the standard rate of celluloid rolling through a camera was set at 24 frames per second. This means, for every second of a movie, 24 images flash rapidly on the screen to create the illusion of motion. The pace was set not for visual smoothness, but rather to conserve film—24 frames per second was the minimally viable option that gave users an acceptable moving image while holding down film costs.

via The Hobbit: Video Technology You Can Do at Home – Businessweek.

The long knives at Apple: What the experts are saying – Apple 2.0 – Fortune Tech

November 2, 2012 Leave a comment
CUPERTINO, CA - OCTOBER 04:  Apple's Senior Vi...AllThingsD‘s John Paczkowski: Welcome to the Jony Ive Era at Apple. “While details of the ousters of Scott Forstall and John Browett — the guy who oversaw Apple’s iOS operating system and the new hire who ran its retail stores, are certainly intriguing — they’re a sideshow to the bigger story here: The clear ascendancy of design chief Jony Ive. That’s because on Monday, Ive was given a role that no executive other than co-founder Steve Jobs has ever held before — oversight of all Apple product design. The buck has finally stopped, with Cook trying to put an end to what had become internecine executive battles within Apple. While perhaps a good thing, it also puts a lot of pressure on the elegant Ive, who will now be the integrator of Apple’s two sides and the center of its future direction.”

GigaOm‘s Om Malik: From Inside Apple: The Scott Forstall Fallout. “Forstall’s firing was met with a sense of quiet jubilation, especially among people who worked in the engineering groups. Or as one of my sources quipped: there are a lot of people going for celebratory drinks, even if there is a little bit of doubt about their roles in the future. While the now-rescinded resignation of Bob Mansfield was masterfully planned, my sources say that Forstall’s exit was fairly last minute and not something he initiated. Many within the iOS and OS X teams only heard about it minutes after the news went out. Engineers were caught off guard, a source told me. Many feel that Craig Federighi, who is taking over Forstall’s job in addition to overseeing the Mac OS X software business, is someone who needs to prove himself. He is not as decisive and divisive as Forstall.”

New York Times Scott Wingfield and Nick Bilton: In Shake-Up, Apple’s Mobile Software and Retail Chiefs to Depart. “Mr. Forstall was a staunch believer in a type of user interface, skeuomorphic design, which tries to imitate artifacts and textures in real life. Most of Apple’s built-in applications for iOS use skeuomorphic design, including imitating thread of a leather binder in the Game Center application and a wooden bookshelf feel in the newsstand application. Mr. Jobs was also a proponent of skeuomorphic design; he had a leather texture added to apps that mimicked the seats on his private jet. Yet most other executives, specifically Mr. Ive, have always believed that these artifacts looked outdated and that user interface design on the computer had reached a point where skeuomorph was no longer necessary… According to two people who have worked with Apple to develop new third-party products for the iPhone, the relationship between Mr. Forstall and Mr. Ive had soured to a point that the two executives would not sit in the same meeting room together.”

via The long knives at Apple: What the experts are saying – Apple 2.0 – Fortune Tech.

Books that leap off the page | Cranium Universe digital books

September 18, 2012 Leave a comment

EVERYONE, they say, has a book in them. That is not to say the world is overflowing with unrequited rivals of J.K. Rowling – for which you might be grateful. But you never know until you try and never has it been easier to create and publish a book, with software packages such as Apple’s iBooks Author. With it you can produce a real book, in digital form, well printed, illustrated and even with videos and audio embedded in the text, save it as a PDF or bung it on the internet for all to admire.

iBooks Author can be downloaded from the Mac App Store and is free, which, given its power, is a bargain. Released in January, it was originally intended by Apple for teachers and students to produce in-house textbooks in schools and universities, and, indeed, thousands have been produced in the past few months.

The application, which runs on a Macintosh but produces books to be read on iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches, includes some elegant templates but it’s easy to create your own designs. From then on, it’s almost ridiculously simple to drop in text, images and videos, then publish your masterpiece.

But now one of the world’s great publishing houses is getting with the trend. The Australian arm of publisher HarperCollins has produced what may be the first multi-touch digital book, Cranium Universe, created by their designer Matt Stanton and author Reg Mombassa using iBooks Author.

Mombassa, a poet, writer, musician and, perhaps mostly, an artist, wasn’t always a Mombassa or even a Reg. His mum, Mrs O’Doherty, called him Christopher when he was born in New Zealand but he moved to Australia and became Mombassa when he founded the band Mental As Anything. He kept the name and also won global fame for his now collectable designs for surfwear company Mambo. Author Patrick White was a fan, buying many of Mombassa’s landscapes and portraits.

via Books that leap off the page | Cranium Universe digital books.

Apple on route to challenge Google with map app – Business News – Business – The Independent

A screenshot of Google Maps running on Windows...

Apple is plotting to dump Google as the default maps application on its wildly popular iPhones and iPads with the launch of its own maps service.

The plan could be put into action before the end of this year, according to Silicon Valley rumours, and attendees at Apple’s annual developer conference next week are hoping that they will get a sneak peak at the new map app. Replacing Google Maps as the default, preloaded app wouldn’t stop users from downloading and using it on Apple devices, but it could dramatically cut the number of people using Google to look up addresses, search for restaurants and bars or get directions for car journeys.

That could have financial consequences for Google, which sells adverts based on what it knows about user behaviour. It could also shift the balance of power between Google and Apple, which were once close partners but are now engaged in battles across the technological landscape. Google makes phones under the Motorola brand and runs the most popular mobile operating system, Android; Apple has an advertising network serving little ads in the apps on its mobile devices.

To the winner of the maps battle could go the spoils of local advertising and marketing to potential consumers on the go.

via Apple on route to challenge Google with map app – Business News – Business – The Independent.

Strange Random Map Quote:

“It seemed that the printers of the African maps had a slightly malicious habit of including, in large letters, the names of towns, junctions, and villages which, while most of them did exist in fact, as a group of thatched huts may exist or a water hole, they were usually so inconsequential as completely to escape discovery from the cockpit.” ― Beryl Markham, West with the Night

Partygoers boycott bars using SceneTap app that scans faces | News.com.au

IT’S the app that promises to tell you whether the next bar’s full of kittens or cougars – or too many blokes – just by scanning faces at the door.

And while real-time updates on crowd size, age and gender could be useful for some, critics in at least one US city are threatening to boycott any venue that uses it.

The head of developer SceneTap, Cole Harper, has responded by writing an open letter to “San Francisco” as the technology rolls out in 25 local bars.

“Dear San Francisco,” Mr Harper, 28, posted after critics branded the app an invasion of privacy and a “creepy” tool for “men to hunt down women”.

“We’ve taken a lot of heat in the past few days and I can completely understand the concern.“I realise there are aspects of our technology that could appear to be controversial and raise serious red flags for people, and I assure you I’m not taking it lightly.”

Mr Harper said the company had ruled out “facial recognition” technology, which could identify a patron, in favour of “facial detection”, which could generate data but did not store identifying images.

The app works by relaying pictures of patrons taken at the door that are mapped onto a grid. An algorithm then matches the facial dimensions to a database of averages for age and gender to make a match.

It also lets venues decide on business rules to “cap out” what statistics would show, with the percentage of males never exceeding 72 per cent and females 58 per cent – in case of a swarm of males showed up as a “correction”.

Despite the outcry over privacy, Mr Harper said the tool was supposed to be a “lighthearted app for consumers and one that would help venue owners with their marketing efforts”.

via Partygoers boycott bars using SceneTap app that scans faces | News.com.au.

Strange Random Scanning Quote:

Doing linear scans over an associative array is like trying to club someone to death with a loaded Uzi.” – Larry Wall

Frankenstein: The app that’s a monster hit – News – Books – The Independent

Steel engraving (993 x 71mm) for frontispiece ...

Rewriting Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein for a digital edition might seem a monstrous idea, but prominent academics applauded the proposal yesterday, predicting that it will reach out to a new generation of readers.

A leading independent British publisher has commissioned a complete reworking of the original 1818 story of the “mad scientist” who creates a monster that eventually kills him.

Profile Books will launch “a literary, interactive book app” this week, featuring classics into whose narrative readers are drawn by a series of options at crucial decision-points.

Michael Bhaskar, the digital publishing director at Profile, said: “No one has done this with a classic book.”

Although Shelley’s original has been enhanced with graphics and 18th and 19th century anatomical drawings, and reset in revolutionary France, academics who have been given a preview say it is closer to Shelley’s original than many of the numerous film adaptations that played fast and loose with the story. Dave Morris, a best-selling author and game designer, has revised the text in collaboration with Inkle Studio, a software design company. They have reinvented the choose-your-own-narrative format as an app for iPad or iPhone, an approach that had until now been confined to fantasy fiction. Mr Bhaskar said: “What we wanted to do was bring it out into the literary mainstream.”

via Frankenstein: The app that’s a monster hit – News – Books – The Independent.

Strange Random Frankenstein Quote:

It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open.

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“Hey Food” by Sesame Street Music

April 15, 2012 1 comment

There isn’t really a lot you can say about this, except to be happy that some things don’t change and that the people responsible for Sesame Street still maintain the same sense of humour after all these years!

For more like this, you can follow Sesame Street Music on Soundcloudhttp://soundcloud.com/sesamestreetmusic

Enjoy.

Strange Random Cookie Monster Quote:

C is for cookie.

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