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April 2015
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PacMan DC (and other cities)

I think they have only mapped out around 50 cities in North America, although it could be even a smaller number than that. But if you ever wanted to play real live PacMan on the streets of Washington, DC, now is your chance, using this link:

DC PacMan

If you want to play in one of the other available major cities, go to: Google Maps, and look for the PacMan icon in the lower left corner of the browser window. If you see it, click it, and play the game on the streets of your preferred city. I suspect this is yet another Google implementation that could evaporate as soon it is no longer Aprils Fools Day, but I intend to play it for all it is worth until it expires!

DarwinFish: Another Amazing Video

DarwinFish105 continues to amaze me with the incredible videos he creates, which in the past have included showing the construction of a Life Size Gundam and the building of the Tokyo Sky Tree, among many others. He does all of this at temporal and visual scales which bring the massive engineering projects into the realm of the intuitively comprehensible, so that just watching them allows you to understand what is going on and how it works together.

With this video, he is using the same tools, including a collection of high-speed cameras that many feature film producers would kill to have access to. But this time the driver for the visuals is not the engineering behind the project, but the music bed underneath it. As with all good music videos, he edited what appears on the screen to support and enhance the tempo, style, and experience of the soundtrack. I like the directions he is taking his art, and look forward to continuing to watch and see what new gems he comes up with. If you didn’t recognize the filming site, welcome to Akihabara, with a side order of Shinjuku (or was that Harajuku?)

Something to Do: Movies

Clive Owens and Morgan Freeman star in Last Knights, an epic fantasy adventure about the fight for freedom and justice against those who seek to oppress. The reviews have not been great, but it could be entertaining. I am a bit more interested in Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!, taking place in 1943 Calcutta, with a full assortment of potential evildoers both military and civilian. This one is based on the fictional detective in Bengali literature created by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay, and if the movie does well we could have many more, since the original stories were published at a rate of 1 to 3 a year from 1932 to 1970. Interestingly enough, the author also worked in Bollywood writing screenplays, but not of Bakshy. There have been a number of other movies made about Byomkesh Bakshy, and after I see this one in the theater I am probably going to have to start tracking them down.

Oh, yeah, if you thought the two tracks they used in the trailer were the only good songs in the movie, allow me to correct that misconception by including the official Full Song Audio Jukebox. I wish western movies would do this, but since Bollywood movies are so music-centric it makes sense they would have started making these available before anyone else got around to it. Not just on YouTube to stream either, since they always give you a link to go buy the soundtrack on iTunes after you have streamed it and decided which songs you need in your permanent collection.

Something to Watch: Discs

There are a lot of good choices this week, starting with The Imitation Game, the story of how Alan Turing was at the heart of defeating the Nazis during WWII by figuring out how to build a machine that could imitate the German Enigma Engine. Turing also invented the Turing Test which would help you recognize when a computing system became self aware, and the Universal Turing Machine which could simulate the computer a given program was to run on based on the program input. That last little 1936 invention was because of a function that became digital computer storage when they built it in the 1940s.

Also out in Films this week is Interstellar, part 1 of the movie version of the story of humanities escape to a new world, and I really hope they go ahead and build part 2. Outcast is the story of an Imperial fight for the throne in China and the part a couple of European Crusaders take in it, and why would I be surprised if Nick Cage goes a little over the top in a movie? Not to be confused with the Game of the Same Name.

In TV, we might get Silicon Valley: The Complete First Season, which I would find exciting. This series is funny and brutal and real, at least from my perspective.

In Anime, Gingitsune Complete Collection tells of Makoto, who sees and speaks with spirits and gods that others can not perceive. It is when they speak back that things often become interesting. Harlock: Space Pirate is the 2013 CGI animated feature film based on the multiple TV series the name of Space Pirate Captain Harlock. Sankarea: Undying Love comes out as an uncut complete series. This Zombie Romantic Comedy is a bit unusual, and quite entertaining. One Piece: Collection Treasure Chest Box Three brings episodes 206 (or possibly 209) through 299 or so in a single box set. Finally Magi: The Kingdom of Magic follows the continuing adventures of Aladdin, Alibaba, Morgiana, Scheherazade, and other Magi as they collect their power and prepare to protect their kingdoms. This contains the first 13 episodes of the new series.

Country Yard

The first track here by Country Yard is called Hold On, the second one is I’ll Be With You. I really like this band, they have some great skill sets and excellent music; I am really hoping to hear a lot more from them. Like the third song here, Starry Night, or the 4th, In Your Room.

Shelf Life Episode 5: How To Time Travel To a Star

In Shelf Life Episode 5 we get to learn how astronomers collect baseline data over time, and collate it into a meaningful picture about how stellar phenomena change in periods as short as generations. The common belief in scientific circles used to be that stellar events either happened overnight, like supernovas, or took tens of thousands to millions of years to evolve to the next stage. Recently some museums have been compiling the images of the night skies taken on photographic plates as far back as the 1890s into a huge database, and then processed the results to show small pieces of sky over that 130 year span. What they discovered was that lots of stars fluctuate over a decade or two much more than anyone suspected, rather than remaining unchanged for the lifetimes of civilizations. I can’t wait to find out what new insights we gain with this as a baseline supposition as we process still more collections of data that we were never able to put together before computers made it easy.

Live-Action Crunchyroll

Crunchyroll has added some tasty new live action videos to its streaming service. One of them is 009-1: The End Of The Beginning, which brings the sexy cyborg spy of dystopian Manga and Anime fame to life. Another is Onna Nobunaga, the epic fantasy about the famous Samurai lord who was (in this story) a woman trying to hide her secret while uniting Japan. They have also added Flesh for the Beast: Tsukiko’s Curse, about a trio of paranormal investigators and all the really strange things they run into. Mind, they already had a ton of great live action stuff streaming, like Time Taxi, which is not only a great time travel what-if series, but has one of the funniest subplots I have ever seen in the form of the Criminal Detective. Another great one is Time Traveller, based on the anime series The Girl Who Leaped Through Time. Just thought I should mention they are doing a bit more than just anime, although their anime is amazing.

Dawn Makes It To Ceres

The NASA spacecraft Dawn became the first man made object to go into orbit around a dwarf planet this month. Ceres holds that distinction, along with Pluto, but Ceres is a lot closer and easier to get to. This wasn’t Dawn’s first visit to a celestial body; it stopped off at the giant asteroid Vesta on it’s way to Ceres, spending from 2011 to 2012 there and sending back a ton of data. The other thing I find exciting about this mission is that Dawn is flying using an Ion Engine, allowing it to do really long range sustained controlled flight. The Ion Engine technology is going to help open up the outer Solar System to the kinds of exploration you just can’t do when your flight is based on gravity assist orbital changes alone.

Dawn Mission: Multimedia >Ceres Awaits Dawn.  

New Ghost In The Shell 2015 trailer

This is the NSFW trailer for the 2015 Anime version of the latest Ghost In The Shell story, and it takes a bit of a look back at its predecessors. Along with Akira, this franchise changed the face of Anime in the west, and it was one of the best Cyberpunk stories I have ever read or watched. It will be in theaters in Japan in June, I am hoping it makes it to some in the US shortly after that.

Something to Do: Movies

It is finally time for the release of Home, the animated adventure about cute aliens trying to find a world of their own… without much luck. The unluckiest is Oh, who may have accidentally destroyed their original homeworld, and a number of the other ones they were hoping to take over. Now he is on the run from them, and they might destroy the Earth to be rid of him once and for all. Based on the book The True Meaning of Smekday, this one looks like silly fun.