Ever since I took a class called "Cyberculture" while attending Griffith University* in Australia, I've been fascinated by internet lore and the stories of how the web was built. One of these stories that I recently came across was about "Eternal September." It comes from the thinking that when the internet was mostly restricted to university students, websites were flooded every September with new users that hadn't yet learned netiquette. Over the course of this first month, their upperclassmen taught them how to behave online. The result was what were probably pretty well-run little communities.
In 1993 the web became more accessible to the masses with AOL and Compuserve, with new users not yet savvy in the rules of online behaviour arriving year-round. Thus, September 1993 was dubbed the "Eternal September."
If you're super into this type of thing, it looks like there is a little program that you can download here that will calculate the current day of September, 1993 that we're at (looks like it's day 4242 of Eternal September).
Yesterday on Reddit, user NoFlag posted an obituary he wrote for himself as part of a project for his journalism class: John X. Noflag was pronounced dead at the age of 225 this Thursday at the Mons Olympus Medical Combine, following complications with a voluntary nanotech experiment.
Observers say a procedure to fully immerse Noflag within a nanotech swarm ended abruptly as his body dissolved before their eyes. Due to the failure, most of the nanotech was collected and deactivated, although some escaped. The escaped sample is not believed to be self-replicating, but it could not be confirmed.
Born on Earth in Somecity, California, Noflag was one of the later immigrants to Mars after the Earth ban of age enhancement technologies and strict regulation of nanotechnology, being commonly heard to say “Earth will pay for its lack of vision.” He is survived by two fully mature clones and a youngling.
A public funeral and ceremonial burial is planned on the grounds of the Noflag Estate.
In lieu of flowers, mourners are asked to send money or weapons to the Nanotech Defense Front.
He's seems like a pretty smart kid, and I'm sure he can probably see far enough into the future to know that he probably won't be a journalist when he graduates.
If you're like me, you finished all five Game of Thrones books months ago and are anxiously awaiting the start of season 2. Until that April 1st start date, here's a few Game of Thrones links to keep you going:
This production blog has lots of great behind-the-scenes interviews and preview shots of the upcoming season. Plus, its interesting to get more detail about where they actually filmed some of the stuff.
Game of Thrones Simpson's intro (via io9)
Last night's episode of the Simpsons paid tribute to Game of Thrones.
Using Varys' speech and with a number of different Disney characters, this is hilarious.
This post doesn't really have much to do with technology, video games social media or whatever it is that BlogCampaigning is about these days.
I just wanted to share some sweet photos that I took on my vacation to Puerto Rico last week. It was 8 days of epic waves during the day and reading the Game of Thrones series of books at night.
While I used my BlackBerry Torch and a Sony point and shoot for most of the photos, I used a GoPro Surf Hero camera to get those in-wave shots.
I was able to buy the GoPro Camera thanks to DDB Fuel, a program offered by the company I work for, DDB Canada. DDB Fuel gives employees money to put towards something that will fuel their creativity. I've done a bit of photo and video editing before, but using the GoPro camera has given me a chance learn more about how to actually use a camera (accounting for the glare of the sun, different settings, etc).
Puerto Rico is a really amazing place, and I would definitely go back. The water was warm, the people were friendly and the weather was absolutely beautiful.
I didn't just surf, though. I also visited the Arecibo Observatory, the world's largest radio telescope.
If you want to book a trip like this, I highly recommend going through Surfer Living, a surf-specific travel agency. They made some great recommendations about where I could score good waves, where to stay and had great customer service overall. If you end up going to Puerto Rico, hit up the Desecheo Surf Shop.
Depending how long you've read this blog, known me, or followed me on Twitter, you might have an idea of how much of a sci-fi fan I am. After having read quite a few 'Top Ten Science-Fiction Books,"lists (here, and here for starters), I felt like none of them were quite spot-on and reflected my own interests. Sure, there is some overlap (it seems like almost everyone agrees on a few of the top ones), bu there are also some I haven't read or did read and hated.
So what does it take for a book to make my list? It has to have an epic story, great characters, cool technology and that certain sort of otherworldly weirdness you only get with good sci-fi - the kind that gives you chills and means you can't really explain the story to your friend, they just have to read it, you know?
A lot of the books on my list aren't just books, either - they're series. I'm including these examples because I feel that these need to be read in their entirety to full appreciate their stories. Science-fiction world building doesn't always happen over a few dozen pages.
And without further ado, my list:
1.) The Mars Trilogy - Kim Stanley Robinson
I think I first read this trilogy when I was about 13 years old, and it made me fall in love with the potential for science. The quick plotline is that in the mid 21st century, humans have been able to colonize Mars. The books follow the human drama, politics, relationships and science of some of the original colonists over the span of a few hundred years. Take out the science-fiction setting, and you've still got a great story of politics and drama. The space-age setting, so close to where we are now, adds a sense of optimism to the books and just makes them that much more interesting. I also don't think that you should consider yourself having finished reading the series unless you've also tacked on The Martians, Icehenge, Galileo's Drams and The Memory of Whiteness to the original Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars trilogy (I still cry every time I finish reading Blue Mars). While they aren't officially once series, they feel like they're part of the same story, taking place thousands of years apart.
2.) House of Suns- Alastair Reynolds
Most of Alastair Reynolds' books are hard to read: the characters are unlikeable. They're frequently in pain. Something terrible has happened to them, and they know something else will soon happen to them. This book is no different, but at least the two main characters have each other. Campion and Purslane are two "shatterlings" who travel the universe, having new experiences, and meeting up with their fellow shatterlings about every 200,000 years to exchange memories. The pair fall in love (a shatterling taboo) and to atone for this they try and bring Hesperus, a beautiful golden robot who is one of the machine people, to their next meet-up. Not everything goes as planned, and the book throws out some big ideas on a massive, cosmic scale. It's a beautiful story, and I know I'm not the only one that loved it.
While it seems that most lists of the top science-fiction books include one of Dan Simmons' books, more often than not they include Hyperion or Songs of Kali rather than this pair. I think that part of the reason is because this two-part series is just so hard to explain. The basic plot is that the Greek and Trojan armies are re-enacting the Trojan War according to the Illiad. The big thing is that the gods themselves are real here, but rather than supernatural beings, just post-humans powered by advanced nanotechnology. You're never sure what time period this takes place in, or where, but other characters include literature-loving robots that were once sent to explore the solar system, a mysterious Odysseus, naively innocent, yet technologically advanced, future humans, and Caliban. Yes, Caliban, from Shakespeare's The Tempest. Read this pair of books if you have an interest in Greek mythology and classic literature.
4.) Ender's Game (The Ender Quintet) - Orson Scott Card
Ender's Game is the story of one Ender Wiggin, a young boy who is recruited at an early age for 'battle school' in orbit around Earth to learn about space strategy so that Earth can defend itself from the alien 'buggers.' It is definitely a great book of a boy growing up (I think "coming of age tale" is the proper term), but also mixes a sub plot of geopolitics (previously discussed on BlogCampaigning in the post "Peter and Valentine were the original bloggers") and the morality of destroying an alien race. One of the classics, for sure, and also one of the only books on this series that is part of a larger series, but of which I'm not recommending the rest of the series. Pick this book up for the educator or young adult in your life.
5.) Neuromancer- William Gibson
I bet that a majority of the people reading this blog have read and been influenced by Gibson's Neuromancer - I mean, come on: he's the guy credited with inventing the word 'cyberspace.' I first read it when I was in university, and pretty much couldn't put it down. Despite the fact that it is nearly 30 years old, it still reads like it was written yesterday (though the absence of mobile phones is a bit of a problem) and is a great look at what our future could still become. I see the influences of this book in all sorts of sci-fi and popular culture (The Matrix and Ghost in the Shell, for starters). Follow it up with Count zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive, the other two books in Gibson's 'Sprawl Trilogy.' I also think it is probably for the best that no one has been able to get a Neuromancer movie off the ground (try New Rose Hotel with Christopher Walken and Willem Dafoe if you're jonesing for some Gibson on the big screen. Johnny Mnemonic is also based on one of Gibson's short stories).
6.) Starship Troopers - Robert Heinlein
As is normally the case, the book is way better than the movie. In this case, they are also totally different. The book Starship Troopers is more about responsibility and what that means to be a man. The gist of the book is that a young Johnny Rico leaves home after graduation to join the mobile infantry, gets shipped off to boot camp, survives it and grows into his role as the leader of his own squadron of troops.
7.) The Demolished Man - Alfred Bester
According to Wikipedia, The Demolished Man was first published in 1952-53. The story is about an incredibly wealthy and successful businessman, Ben Reich, on a future Earth where telepaths take high-paying roles as consultants and lawyers. Reich's one-minded passion to commit the perfect crime fuels the book, and the book's frantic pace makes it hard to put down and makes it feel like it was written decades after books written by Bester's contemporaries. This is the type of old-school sci-fi that influenced the cyberpunkers of the 80s.
8.) The Han Solo Adventures - Brian Daley
When I first read this book, I was super into Star Wars. It was probably in the mid '90s, pre- remastered remake buzz. I didn't know much about sci-fi beyond the original trilogy of movies and a few comics. This series of books cemented Han Solo as one of my favourite pop culture heroes, and also taught me that science fiction could be way weirder and way better than the original Star Wars universe.
9.) The Culture Series - Iain Banks
As with some of the others on this list, I didn't think it was fair to pick just one book from Banks' culture series. To fully understand that incredible world of star-faring humans, you have to read the whole series. None of the books are connected enough that you have to read them in a particular order, but reading them all will give you much better idea of the world Banks has constructed. The basic premise is that race of pan-humans has reached almost technological perfection. Rather than subliming into the ether to become something like gods as other races do when they reach a similar level of technology, The Culture spends their time on massive spaceships or orbitals pursuing a hedonistic lifestyle. These orbitals and ships are sentient, as are drones, constant companions to the characters in the books. The action takes places on the fringes of The Culture, with newcomers or outsiders to the society being the main characters. On a side note, Banks' non-sci fi book The Business is also a pretty good read. For a bit of a background on The Culture, read this post on io9. I also recommend 'A Few Notes On The Culture' by Iain Banks himself.
10.) Anathem- Neal Stephenson
This is definitely another one of those books that falls in the "I can't explain it, you just have to read it" category. The first section of the book tells the story of a planet where the keepers of knowledge and science live spartan, cloistered lives like I imagine the monks of today might, while the rest of their society lives freely and worships a variety of gods and religions. Read the book to see what happens next, and be prepared for a lot of thinking.
Have you read any of these? What are your favourite Science-Fiction books?
As mentioned in one of Parker's previous posts, I recently launched a new fitness, health and nutrition blog called Fitenesse.ca. This has really allowed me to tap into one of my passions and continue learning and finding new information on wellness in general. If you share this passion, here are a few of my recent blog posts that might interest you: 1. 5 Easy Steps to a Healthier You - A quick overview of some easy and achievable things you (and pretty much anyone) can do to stay healthy.
2. Green Mango Smoothie Recipe - I recently started drinking fruit and veggie smoothies for lunch. I've experienced a huge boost in energy and have also managed to shed a few extra pounds. If you're thinking of incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables try this recipe - it is truly delicious!
3. Running Tips for Beginners - If you are considering taking up running for the first time, or just getting back into it after the long winter break, here are some tips that I found helped me as I started running last year. If you have any to add - let me know!
Let me know what you think and if you have any suggestions or questions - I'm really looking forward to continuing to learn and incorporate new ideas and feedback into future posts.
We've all got one of those online friends whose profile photo just sucks. Maybe it was a bad hair day for them, maybe it was a bad angle or maybe the light was bad. For whatever reason, it just isn't a good photo.
You have no idea why they chose it as a profile photo. Maybe they were in a rush. Maybe it was the one they had on their desktop when they started their account. Maybe someone else told them it looks good.
The problem is that if you tell them their profile photo sucks, they might take it the wrong way. They might not understand that you've only got their best interests in mind.
What's the best way to tell them? How great would it be if there was way to tell them their profile photo was awful without letting on that it was you?
Have you been wondering why Heather Morrison hasn't been blogging here lately? Its because she started a new blog, Fitnesse! It is all about fitness, nutrition and wellness.
Hopefully, she'll post a weekly wrap-up from Fitnesse here on BlogCampaigning (seriously - we're starving for content here!). In the meantime, head over to Fitnesse.ca
A few weeks ago I wrote about how I cut down on the social media clutter in my life. Consider this a follow-up. Its a guide to which people you should stop following on Twitter. You know who they are. 1.) They Tweet about the spam they receive - You know those people who Tweet sarcastically "Well, looky here! Another email from a Nigerian prince! My lucky day!"? They're part of the problem, not the solution. Its like giving spammers extra coverage.
2.)They Tweet about bacon - I'm so sick of bacon-related humor.
3.) They Tweet about dieting - If you have to tell people about it, the diet isn't working.
4.) They Tweet about going to the gym - Like with the above, if you're working out that much, I'll notice the results when I see you in person. If not, why bother talking about it?
5.) Their Tweets are nothing but updates from other networks - I hate using the terms "engage" and "participate" but I mean c'mon - if you're not going to engage on Twitter and participate in the conversation there, what's the point?
6.) They Tweet about how they're working late - We all work late sometimes. Don't act like you're the hero taking a bullet. Besides, maybe if you cut down on the number of Tweets you sent out a day you wouldn't be at work so late.
7.) They Tweet about #FollowFriday - I don't think I've ever followed someone as a result of Follow Friday, or ever been followed as a result of Follow Friday. The whole thing is a waste of time.
8.) They use that "Twit Longer" service - The whole point of Twitter is short messages. If you can't handle that, get a blog.
9.) They constantly Tweet at celebrities - Sometimes its cute when an old person does it, but otherwise it just gets annoying. And what's the best thing that will happen if Kanye notices your Tweet? He'll Tweet you back? And then what? Nothing, that's what.
10.) They make lists like this one about the rules for Twitter.
Have any more? Leave them as a comment and I'll update this post with them.
Sometime last week I read a news story announcing that "Japan's latest rockstar is a 3D hologram." The star is actually a software package that a company put together that is capable of mimicking a human voice (based on a sample from a voice over artist) and creating songs. As a devoted sci-fi fan, I wasn't surprised by this. It was more like the feeling you get after a medium-length car trip: "Oh, we're here?" you might say as you put down the magazine and tell whoever it is that drove that it seems like you made good time.
In the 1994 animation movie Macross Plus, one of the main 'characters' is an Artificial Intelligence named Sharon Apple. She sells out stadiums, and appears to be the biggest star in the world.
Similarly, in William Gibson's 1995 book Idoru one of the main characters 'marries' Rei Toei, another performer who is nothing more than an Artificial Intelligence.
I haven't seen the movie S1M0NE, but apparently it has a similar plot line with the added perk of Al Pacino.
How much of our entertainment of the future will be entirely artificial? Its one thing to create robots that can sing like humans, and insert digital characters into movies, but will a computer ever be able to create an actual story?
Image of Sharon Apple above via this site.
Wednesday marked the first ever International Black Patent Leather (BPL) Heels Day! Heels really tell a lot about the lady wearing them and the kind of mood she is in. Is she feeling sassy? Dramatic? Practical? Flashy? Or just straight up stylin'?
I personally have at least 5 or 6 pairs of black heels, and wouldn't hesitate to add more to my ever growing collection if the right pair caught my eye. Honestly, who couldn't use a little more Louboutin or Weitzman in their lives? The perfect pair of black pumps can put the final sparkle on any outfit, dressed up or down, plus they are damn sexy.
Since Wednesday, I have started to take note of ladies and their heels, compiling pictures people posted on BPL Day. Below are some of my favourites (via @BPLShoes, @StilettoQueenbe and @frankie_nicole):
A few days ago, I started thinking about the music in my favourite video games. What started as a brief post on the subject grew to what I'm hoping will be a short series on the interconnection between video games and music.
Music has always been a part of video games, from the earliest bloops and beeps, right through to today's sweeping cinematic scores. As we've replayed level after level, so too have we listened to the same game sounds again and again. I'll bet that most of the readers of this blog still have the Mario or Tetris songs stuck in their head. These were simply, and partly so memorable because there was only so much music that could fit onto a game cartridge before it got in the way of memory needed to play the game.
As technology improved, so did the music. I remember liking the soundtrack to the original Wipeout game almost more than the actual game. Wipeout XL one-upped this by having a soundtrack with music by The Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk and Orbital.
That's why it comes as no surprise to read that games are still turning to some heavy-hitters when it comes to recording soundtracks. Apparently, the new Medal of Honor game was scored by the guy that did Iron Man while my go-to favourite, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, was scored by Hans Zimmer (peep those stats!).
Not surprisingly, Wikipedia is a great resource on this subject and even identifies game music as a genre with the following typical characteristics:
-Pieces designed to loop endlessly
-Pieces lacking lyrics, and designed to be played over game sounds
-Limited polyphony (though this last one probably more applicable to old-style video game music due to the limitations of the systems)
NPR has an excellent article and accompanying audio piece about the subject of video game soundtracks, and suggests that one of the goals of the first video game soundtracks, Space Invaders, was designed to get the users heart rate to increase as the game progressed. I think this line of thinking can certainly be seen in today's games, with their atmospheric soundtracks.
What do you think about the music in video games? Do you have a favorite video game song? Is there one that is particularly stuck in your head?
PS: If you're looking for that classic video game tune, you can probably find it at VGMusic.com
On Thursday afternoon I joined my Toronto Tribal DDB/Radar DDB colleagues at a local pub to wind down the work week. After ordering a pint of Labatt Blue, the owner of the bar brought over some samples of a German wheat beer, and told us that if we ordered a pint we'd be entered into a draw to win an authentic German drinking hat as well as a sausage on a bun.
I liked the sample, and was planning on ordering a pint of the beer anyways when the waitress told us that the owner was mistaken: I wasn't entered into contest to win the sausage and hat. They were included with the beer!
As Ed Lee pointed out, this is one particular case where these types of free promotions were worthwhile for the brewery: I Tweeted about it (mentioning Jens and Malte in my Tweet, two German friends who are probably likely to at least try drinking this beer if they hadn't already), and Ed posted a picture of the deal on his influential and widely-read gastronomy/business blog "Marketing Chef."
So how was it?
The sausage was well cooked, with a great sauteed onion and mustard topping.
The beer, Weinhenstephan, was amazing.I'm a fan of these "Weiss" beers and this one was particularly good. I'd definitely order it again, even without the promise of a hat and sausage to accompany it.
And the hat? Pretty awesome.
It might not become part of my everyday wardrobe, but I like to think I pull it off pretty well.
What do you think? When is the right occasion for wearing a traditional German drinking hat? And what do you think about theses types of give-away promotions? Are they worth it?
As a follow-up to my post of awesome pictures the other day, I thought I'd post this gem of a picture:
It is a picture of Jens and Espen, taken sometime in September, 2006. Espen had just launched BlogCampaigning as part of his thesis at Griffith University, and Jens and I were just starting to write posts for the site.
In the four years since then, we've gone on to do some different things but the three of us have mostly kept in touch via BlogCampaigning.
Thanks for reading - we hope BlogCampaigning is around for another four years for you. And for us.
A few months ago my external hard drive died, taking with it years of data and photos. Fortunately, I was able to get most of that information restored. As I started sifting through all the photos (the organizing file structure was, unfortunately, unable to be recovered), I decided to upload some of them here on BlogCampaigning.
And so here you go: 27 photos from sometime in the past 5 years of my life.