Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Hunger Games (movie review)

Not unlike Cabin in the Woods in that the enslavers, the urban elite, has untold technologies it seems to only share with its "tributes" from the districts, the rural feeder zones.  No wonder the King (Donald Sutherland) seems nervous.  This would have to be a tense situation, especially for the 1%, anytime a strong underdog comes along.

They have maglev, amazing powers to control the environment, so why are the district people starving?  Somebody has to do the dirty work and oppression is the only way?  Mining (in District 12) looks as bad as ever.

OK, I admit it:  I was standing in line for food when the movie got started -- a little early by my calculations, plus this clueless couple got in front of me, not seeing the line behind.  Anyway, maybe it's all explained at the beginning.  Don't spoil it for me.  I'll see it again.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Last of OSCON

I've been puzzling in the rear view mirror, ever since, like reading my new Go language programming book at American Dream Pizza today.

One of the best talks was this enthusiastic woman, Kirsten Jones, with a clear mission:  to make our use of the web APIs less frustrating.  And she did that very simply, by showing us the best software for snooping on web traffic and getting those request and response objects clearly mapped, complete with headers, parameters, whatever came or went.

That genre of software proves its value over and over in her experience and she gave a really clear exposition about that, to an appreciative room.

In reverie, I was taken back to West Precinct, Jerritt Collord presiding, starting our class in Open Source for Saturday Academy, courtesy of Hillsboro Police Department, geared for youngsters in their region.  He had them thinking about packet sniffers immediately.

Even though Officer George Heuston, former FBI and white knight in good standing, was present and monitoring, he allowed Jerritt to proceed.   This was public information.  Geeks, and geeks in training, have a need to know -- especially if it's the web traffic through your own machine, not even talking about sniffing wifi.

The final keynote was amazing as well, all about fear and longing, motivation, "mind hacking".  A skillful speaker that guy, head and shoulders above so many.  I was enthralled, even though I felt I knew the ideas already.

Slides are an art form and I don't think that biomimicry guy made the right call, in opting out of sharing pictures in that Bagdad setting.  The standup comics get away with not doing that, but is that what we were there for then?

The military has adopted the lightning talk standard, per anthropological reports.  I can see why.  With slides, and five minutes, you can say a lot.  But then blog posts let you read at your own pace and have more hypertext -- it's more pull than push.

Need to know?  Keep clicking.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

OSCON 2012 Day One

I couldn't see squeezing past those people with Naga in a bag (Python mascot) and my satchel, so separated from Steve and moved to the side of the auditorium.  This was the opening event in some ways, tutorials over, Camp OSCON behind us.

Tim O'Reilly's keynote had a simple message:  Open Source could do more to tell the story of how it's powering the ecosystem.

Like solar energy, it's often under-accounted (under-valued) because the sun drying clothes or growing food is unmetered.  Those little pie charts showing solar energy as a tiny fraction of the economy's input are talking about metered solar panel income.

That's not the same thing as wealth or value.  Most economists don't grok "cosmic accounting" very well, no secret there.  Economics has been pretty weak in the STEM department.

Take Comcast for example.  Who is making billions from whom?  Customers are paying to view content they themselves provide in many cases.  Comcast gets access to all kinds of free content from the Internet, an open bastion of a kind.  How much of this revenue is attributable to "open source"?  It's a question to look at, a story to tell.

Hewlett-Packard (a presence here), other companies (Microsoft), both thrive in and contribute to, this shared ecosystem.

A first principle, says Tim:  reap less than you sew, create more value than you capture.  Feed the commons, don't operate as a net deficit to your community.  Seems like common sense to me.

I'm in another Go talk this morning, more about the history and management within the community than the syntax, which was a focus of the tutorial yesterday.

I may not get much time to develop either my Go language or Blender skills, but they're both a source of inspiration anyway, in terms of what they're contributing and how they show off what humans working together may accomplish.

The education track was dealing in some interesting heuristics, however they happened to map rather closely to the status quo.  There's a brand of positive futurism that envisions a new standard or protocol, but if you admit hybrids (diversity, multiplicity), then we're back to "what's so" -- meaning it boils down to whether we all want to march to the same drummer.  We do not.  Nor do we want all others to do so, bottom line.

Like "metadata" tends to just mean what we carry around "in our heads" i.e. the persona as filter is better (because real thinking is finely tuned) than any robotized search algorithm.  I think we all know that by now.  Hyperlinks are "metadata" in the sense that human beings find the most relevant links, even if machines are in on the act, aid and abet the experience in various ways.

FERPA, ancestor of HIPAA in some dimensions, seems like a goofy law.  Students aren't bound by it, and may blab about so-and-so being a presence on campus.  Indeed, free speech rights conflict with the right to privacy sometimes.  My secrets need not be your secrets.

Democracies, for one, should be more into promising transparency and sharing data than clamping down on the free flow of info.  If you want your affiliation with an institution to remain classified, consider joining a private academy or LLC that makes secrecy a part of its culture, among other students / employees as well.

State funded institutions should be looking at their student populations as closer to public servants.  Public schools are about preparing people for life in a democracy, and a democracy of necessity provides lots of transparency, as well as some secrecy i.e. no one says you can't encrypt or otherwise protect access to your files -- and feel free to opt out of on-line campus directories and/or other records the school server may ask you about.

Better to offer courses on identity management and countering stalkers by exposing them, than to promise some high degree of anonymity and absence from public records of all kinds.  That's to promise the impossible and to set up unrealistic expectations among students.

That being said, if you want anonymity, I recommend distance education academies.  Other students don't see you unless you choose to attend events where you come out of the closet, as it were, as a peer or alum.  Your affiliation is a lot easier to keep secret when you're never seen in the parking lot.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Two Cameras

Two videographers capture the same performance in 2009, a Burning Man related event in Portland, Oregon.

I was videographer #2 with the trippy wandering camera.

Videographer #1 took an unwavering shot and got better sound.

Viewing suggestion:  roughly synch and play both at once, while muting the sound on #2 using the Youtube speaker control (then unmute #2 if you want to continue a little longer).

:: video 1 ::

:: video 2 ::

The performer, Lindsey Walker, had recently moved from Savannah, Georgia. She came in a Nissan with her own PA system (Bose), a keyboard, and a cat.

However, for this performance she made use of the house sound system.

What you're hearing though, is hand held camera pickup, hardly studio quality.

I treasure this song all the more now that she doesn't play it anymore, or at least not in this form.

Lindsey still performs in and around Portland, sometimes as a street musician.

You will see her (briefly) in the movie Occupation Nation by Portland's B-Media Collective.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

From The Open Bastion

The Open Bastion's CEO is back in PDX, just in time for OSCON.  In his luggage, the brand new and newly branded Raspberry Pi.

A first order of business today, his first back, was to hook up the full size projector via HDMI cable, attach keyboard and mouse the the USB jacks, and hit On.

The Linux bootstrapping process percolated across the console to login, thence to startx, thence to the RaspberryPi desktop, this one with two versions of Python in IDLE, Scratch, a few games.  It's a minimal world, what some might call "structured", and ideal for kids.

OK, there might have been a bit more fumbling about.  For one, we needed a nonwireless USB keyboard, and for that I needed to walk a short distance to a second floor of a supplier.

The model I chose, for about $13, has extra large letters on the keys, which makes it look both kid and old people friendly at the same time.

It's a US keyboard layout of course, whereas this device is from the UK.  Need a double-quotes?  Try Shift-2.  Wild.

Nor have we gotten audio out at the time of this writing, choosing Force HDMI but maybe not having the right settings on the peripheral, a work in progress.

Of course I was looking for photo ops, as Raspberry Pi is still quite a new item.

Here are some pictures (click through to Photostream):

HDMI + USB x 2
:: raspberry pi ::
Peripherals Added
:: a tiny device ::
:: back in rose city ::
:: projected desktop ::

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Avatar Suits

Avatar Meetup
 :: STEM teachers meet :: 

Platonic Realm = Micro Realm
:: The Platonic Realm ::

:: STEM Text ::

Monday, July 02, 2012

More Movies @ McMenamins

McMenamins has been showing Cabin in the Woods, and more recently Chernobyl Diaries, both horror films, and both featuring bizmos.  So you'd think I'd post this in BizMo Diaries, but then they both featured Control Rooms as well.  You could say they were linked other tomorrows in that sense, via their control rooms.

In the meantime, Glenn provided a happier backdrop, talking about the wild creatures of Chernobyl (ala Keith Lofstrom and Stewart Brand), and of the light comedy Accepted.

Cabin in the Woods has Joss Whedon all over it, going back to the Buffy sequence with the boyfriend from some subterranean government.  Shades of Lost.  They've got a hexafence, takes out an eagle.  There's a hell mouth.  What's missing is the Catholic Church.  They're all engineers down there, minding the store.  They're actually the collective mind of the viewer as in Woody Allen's control room in the movie about sex.  That's today's control room in so many ways.  Of course Sigourney Weaver would be part of it.

Chernobyl Diaries starts out with Blair Witch jerkiness, prompting fears the movie will be all bouncing camera, but then she settles in under more confidant direction and I could relax and enjoy the ride more.  I'd had a long day and was still on duty, more like in Indianapolis, which was also a barrel of monkeys.

The bizmos are quite similar in both films and serve as conveyances into Other Tomorrows.  I've been thinking a lot about my high desert schools.  The planetarium (you need one even there) looks a lot like those golf balls in the UK countryside, big ones, so as you round the corner, perhaps in a van, but maybe on foot, you see like colonizers from another somewhat higher civilization.  They're living up to our heritage, more a maritime set?  We're not near the ocean necessarily.  Bhutan was like this (Druk-yul as they call it), minus the golf balls (back then).

Both bizmos met a similar fate, and neither proved a secure shell against danger.

What I found myself thinking, is when you have intelligent young people like this, at their peak in abilities in many dimensions, why not have some serious work in store, rather than all idle vacation.  Hard work actually builds skills.  Not that these troops didn't end up working hard -- much too hard, almost in compensation.  We resent they get a vacation I suppose, when all we could afford was a movie ticket.

Anyway, a "business mobile" is deliberately not portrayed as a "recreational vehicle" (RV).  That doesn't mean the work can't be fun, but this is expensive equipment and lots of communities have some serious needs that need documenting.  The teams get to swap around a lot.  This was also a topic with Glenn -- like time shares in Orlando but really nomadic sometimes: few possessions, yet institutionally wealthy.

Speaking of work, I was hitting the queues more than usual for a weekend, having an unusually occupied work week.  We got a lot done, turned a lot of corners.

Cabin... suggests it's helping us turn over a new leaf in that the horror film formula is not unconsciously / religiously followed: the Scooby Doo guy gets away with it. His smoke actually helps in the fight against Satan -- game changing.  He and the virgin somewhat turn tables on the eager voyeurs (deep out of site) as we don't see them ritually punished any more than we are at the end of the day.  The creatures of the deep become restless.