That’s right, today is Nicola Tesla’s 153rd Birthday. The man who invented AC power, the electric motor, the florescent light (years before Edison came up with the incandescent light bulb), the field of RC and the first Remote Control vehicle (a boat), the audio speaker, and Radio (no, it wasn’t Marconi; his patents were invalidated in 1943). He also invented the Tesla Coil and Broadcast Power (never deployed because no one could figure out how to put a meter on it for billing purposes), and there was a rumor that he built a book-sized vibrator that could topple buildings and caused an earthquake. He contributed to a lot of other fields, including Robotics and Radar, he has a ton of published articles and patents, and my favorite bit: he was the guy for whom the phrase Mad Scientist was coined! Happy Birthday, Nicky!
I am both a Geek and a Guy, which gives me two counts of wanting to know about, and play with, new toys. So I hang out at web sites like EnGadget, and skim the short version from DVice, and check the new stuff at Gizmodo. I also stop by the more specialized (and therefor lesser-known) sites like Dev Hardware or Girls N Gadgets or TechOn to name a few, because they cover things the monster sized sites miss. When I get seriously into Geek Mode, I hit the MIT Technology Review or the IEEE Explore sites.
Now there is a new player in town; GDGT is a hardware junkies forum, with a twitter-like community twist. It just launched in the last 11 hours or so, which means I can’t even hint at what it might grow up to be. But I love the premise, the interface is intuitive, the layout is clean, the posts are frequent and informed (quantity AND quality, my favorite combination!), and I am signing up for an account there. I recommend you do the same.
Three of the first sites mentioned here included an announcement about Asteroid Storm in the last few hours; a game played by raising your arms while siting in the theater. The tech works by mounting two cameras on the ceiling on either side of the screen and pointed at the audience. As the screen shows them the pilots-eye view, they can modify the spaceships trajectory by raising their hand. If 25 folks to the left of the screen raise their hands, and 22 on the right, the ship will gently steer left. If the count is still 22 on the right, but only 4 on the left, the ship will jackknife right… (It might be amusing to build a virtual version of that movie theater and use the voting of the House and Senate to steer, to see how many orbital rocks our government has tried to slam us into over the years.). This group game environment (NOT an MMORPG, but it should function a lot like one in some respects) will be introduced in UK theaters on July 10th, meaning next Friday. I can’t wait to see how the first few games go, and whether the audience works together to save the ship, or against each other to take it out. The next logical step would be two ships, with the two sides of the audience competing against each other.
Now play that game with a pair of Open Source Data Gloves, which you can build yourself for $23 in parts if you don’t want to buy the $400 commercial version, and you are ready to take over the theater!
It is a slow week in Sci-Fi; there are no new episodes on TV this week, because of the holiday coming up (why waste them when the audience isn’t watching TV?). There could have been a monster movie released, since holiday weekends do good box office, but no. Probably no-one wanted to compete with last weeks Transformers 2 and next weeks Blood, The Last Vampire (see the latest trailer here or watch the one before that, below). I don’t know about the book/graphics novel releases; I basically empty my wallet on the counter every time I hit a Borders/Barnes and Nobel/Waldenbooks, and I find if I do my best to ignore the release announcements I can keep from going in more than twice a month. On DVD this week the Stargate Atlantis final season and only half of season 3 of Eureka was all we got (except for a few anime titles I went looking for, but none of my local outlets stocked them). I love Eureka, but why would I buy half a season? Do they think I want to pay $60 for the privilege of being made to wait for the whole thing, when instant gratification would cost me $35? The flip side of that coin is the fact that only the first half of season 3 has aired so far, with the second half kicking off next Friday, July 10th. So if you want to catch up on the story so far, it may be the way to go for you. Yes, this is a slow week in Sci-Fi, but next week promises to be better.
The Chicago Tribune did an excellent interview with David Tennant about his winding up his tenure as the Doctor. Many insights, no spoilers, and a permissible number of hints and teases, including his response to the 11 Doctors Special rumor. BBC America just sent everyone who signed up for their notifications a reminder that they will be rolling out HD on July 20th, with a full week of quality programming. I love the way they have realized who their core audience is! They feature 8 shows to go HD on the page, and the first 4 are SF/F; Being Human, Doctor Who, Primeval, and Torchwood! It should be a killer week!
Speaking of killers, what if the Vampires were at risk of extinction because their food supply (that’s you and me for the Humans in the audience) had been hunted out? That is the premise for Daybreakers, and it may just have the first recognition that even Vamps have a geek side to their culture; the undead scientists who try to figure out a way to save the species, theirs and ours both. The Kate Bush soundtrack cover by Placaebo is just a bonus; enjoy the trailer…
This had to be shared. Weird Al is singing about the internet again, although the music style doesn’t count as Nerdcore. Or maybe it does, since I got the heads up on this one from MC Lars. I also used to know the keyboard player, another reason to add this tune. Then, just to keep it balanced, a parody song by a fem about the glories of geek (but also not actual Nerdcore). Sometimes silly trumps all other choices, just because you need your daily laugh quota. OK, screw it, one actual Nerdcore song (third one down) from MC Lars.
This is impressive, a project and tool set everyone can benefit from. For once, it is the future I am encouraging everyone to build, rather than science fiction. I found out about this courtesy of the Daily Galaxy Snag Films entry, and what a tool it is. Billed as The Planet’s Documentary Indie Film Widget (VIDEO), it will allow everyone to promote and distribute their own personal subset of documentaries or other independent films. If you haven’t created a film of your own, you can still promote your favorites by embeding a virtual theater onto your web pages. The baseline link is at Snag Films, and the widget works for all recognized browsers. The number of contributing movie sources is huge, and growing every day. And yes, you can add your own independent movies to the growing collection!