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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Committing to HTML 5

I've been really intrigued with HTML 5.  It promises to do a lot for the web, and sometime in the future, the "internet of things".  But the catch is that most people are comfortable working in HTML 4.  We all have our templates set in 4, and we just don't want to take the time to recode all of that stuff.  That, and we're not nagged to enter metadata when we're using 4.  But there is just one thing that's wrong with this kind of thinking.  Sooner or later, the people that are working in 5 are gonna leave us all behind like dinos.

Now I'm not saying we all have to do everything in XML.  That would be like trying to write in binary, when using C++ is so much easier.  But even the most dense of us are starting to notice that the web is heading towards HTML 5.  And I'm cool with that.  I've done a lot of switch over from HTML 4 using XHTML.  And even XHTML is getting long in the tooth.


I was just reviewing some files I have in my 3d worlds folder. As it turns out, much of that work is bits and pieces of VRML coding.  I was reminded of just how challenging VRML is.  It was created back when HTML 3 was in use.  It's one of the reasons I've taken an interest in X3D for doing small projects.  It's designed to work with HTML 5.

There are websites like Second Life, and programs like Open Sim that you don't need to worry about the magical incantations to get a world up and running.  And many works I've seen are just stunning.  But there are just a couple of tiny problems.  A world needs to load directly from the servers for me, even though it supposedly is cached somewhere on my machine.  And the realism shatters whenever I see an incompatibility in prims.  The little glitch line that is constantly pixellating when you least expect it.  You know what I'm talking about.  I've heard it called the "Denno Coil" effect.

Now one thing that VRML/X3D is great at, is eliminating pixellation.  That, and caching a world on your machine, rather than calling it from the cloud.  Of course you need a plug in.  I've come to accept that.  Eventually most plug ins will become apps.  The one I prefer is BS Contact, from Bitmanagement.de.  I discovered recently that many web based games are written in VRML and X3D. Of course there is some Java and Javascript involved as well for that, but I'm already babbling for too long on this.

What I'm trying to say, is that I'm going to recommit to upgrading my templates to HTML 5, and take another shot at learning X3D.  While I'm not going to become a master of X3D, I hope to be able to learn enough of it to do a few projects that have been in the back of my mind.  So we'll see what happens!

Happy Trails, Wordpress.com

Today I finalized the closing of my Wordpress.com blog.  Anything that was there is now here on Blogspot.com.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Neil Armstrong, August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012

I just learned at 2:15 am Sunday morning of the passing of an American icon. Mr. Neil Armstrong, yesterday.

There isn't a space enthusiast anywhere who doesn't instantly recognize the man for not who he is, but for what he did.  Ask any Baby Boomer where they were on July 20 - 21, 1969, and you'll get a variety of answers.  All of them involving watching a black and white television not much bigger than today's laptop viewscreens.  We were kids that believed in heroes that had flesh and blood.  Not these comic book substitutes of today.

I went to Yahoo.com for the story.  It was modest, but it said what it needed to.  There were many kind and heartfelt comments left there. And of course the lunar landing conspiracy nay-sayers were having their sounding board as well.  All I could do was shake my head.  I'm not going to bash on the nay-sayers.  Only because these are people that have reached a point where it doesn't matter what you tell them, they have already tried and found the US Government guilty of fraud and cover up in everything.  Someone jokingly said to me once that someday they will find evidence that the American Civil War and the Colonial War of Independence are cover ups as well, and we're all still paying our taxes to the UK.  While there IS a crapload of BS in Washington DC right now, pointing fingers at a hero won't solve those issues.

Mr. Armstrong was part of a time when you had to have unshakable faith in what you believed in.  And we believed that we could beat the Soviets to the moon.  Hell yes, it was propaganda!  Did it have an effect on kids my age?  You damn well bet it did!  That was the effect it was supposed to have!  In 1969, we seriously had to learn to go into the school hallways, sit facing the walls, and cover our heads.  Back then it was either us or the Soviets.  We knew exactly who the enemy was then.  Neil Armstrong was THE symbol of American superiority!  We currently have a generation of people that accept terrorism, airport friskings, and shoot to kill" orders from the local police departments as part of everyday life. The only heros they have are corporations, politicians, and financial institutions that would blatantly lie straight to your face and say that everything is fine.  No wonder everyone craves fantasies like Batman, Spiderman, and the other comic forces.

The USA, no, the world has lost a great hero.  One that never considered himself a hero.  That's just how heroes are.  Enjoy your new trip to the Heavens, Mr. Armstrong.  You earned it.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

I've Moved!

In case you haven't noticed, I've imported my blog from Wordpress.com to Blogspot.com!  I haven't been too happy with the Wordpress interface lately, so I finally made the plunge to change.  In all fairness to Wordpress, they were there when I needed to switch from Geocities.com when Yahoo decided to close Geocities down.  But time marches on.  This was as much a business decision as a personal decision, so I'm comfortable with it.

I'lll only keep Wordpress up until the end of August, and then it's parked here on Blogspot.  I'll look forward to seeing you here!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Don't Look Behind the Curtain!

I like to pretend that I'm tech-savvy.  A few days ago there was a great deal at Shopko on a 7 inch Polaroid tablet computer that came with a case with a keyboard.  Including the coupon, and the two year warranty, the price with tax was $105.  The tablet comes with Android ice cream sandwich.  Cool!  Or so we thought.

Now don't get me wrong.  This is a very nice tablet.  It is low end, which means I wait a few seconds for response times.  Of course if I wanted quick and snappy, I need to put out quite a few more bucks.  But this isn't a hardware review.  This is a rant about Google.

Since the OS is Android, I assumed "Great!  I can go to Google Play and access my music that I uploaded!".  Not.  Apparently Google has decided that since my hardware wasn't up to their standards, I wasn't allowed to download their Google Play app!  Huh?  That's right.  No Play on the Polaroid for me!

Fortunately, Polaroid has the Amazon app store already installed.  And Amazon says "Inexpensive hardware?  No problem!"  I downloaded their mp3 app to the tablet.  And surprise, there is all my music that I had uploaded to their cloud as well!

So my question is this:  When did Google suddenly become such dicks with their Play store?  They invite people to use their service, only to let us know that they're following Apple's business model?  If I wanted to do that, uh, I'd use an iPad and iTunes, folks.  I really wanted to stay completely in Google's universe, but ONCE AGAIN, they've pissed me off.  And there is Amazon, standing with their welcoming arms.  Needless to say, you know who I'll continue shopping with.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

And So It Begins...

http://eyetap.blogspot.com/2012/07/physical-assault-by-mcdonalds-for.html

This story is starting to gain momentum.  A man and his family were in a McDonalds in Paris, France.  The man has a medical vision implant.  All very legal, with documentation to authenticate his condition. And yet employees from a public company purposely destroy the papers, and physically attack this man, due to their narrow-mindedness.

Now I could imply that the employees were acting out of instructions from the franchise owner of not allowing public photography as it could be a ruse for undercover journalism.  The McDonalds Corporation has a policy of not allowing anyone to do a news story on their premises without previous authorization. And only interviewing the general manager of that particular restaurant, or the corporate rep. And I can understand the logic of this.  It controls libel or slander or simply misreporting facts.

But this is far more than a simple  "keep the media at bay" situation.  I think this man was attacked by people out of religious principle.  Attacked out of fear of loss of control of a perceived lifestyle that can no more be controlled now, than thousands of years ago.  Fundamentalism is equally narrow minded in Islam, Christianity, and Judasim.  And God forbid if you happen to be from the American continent.  It doesn't matter if you are a Yank or a Canuck.  Then you also fall under global sterotyping.

They tried to yank out a medical implant.  What is going to happen when Google releases their final version of the Glass technology?  And not just Google. You know that other companies are lining up to release their own version of augmentation.  Does it become a stand off between cyborgs and fundamentalists?  A holy war between transhumanists and the religious right wings?  Or something even more ludicrous as the tech public against corporate elites?

Some reading this will say "Hey, you work for McDonalds. Why aren't you supporting the company?".  I'm not real proud of this right now, for my own reasons.  Whether or not the McDonalds corporation makes this right for Dr. Steve Mann is besides the point.  At some time in the future this will become personal for everyone.  We will need to take up positions on whether we embrace technology and the direction it's taking us, or shun it from our lives.

On this, I stand solid with the transhumanists.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Thought on Transhumanism and Second Life

I like Second Life.  Once I finally got used to the interface, it was easy to go from location to location, where I could earn Linden Dollars, and spend them just as fast.  What kept me there was being able to exchange the L$ for US$. The notecards, pop-up messages, maps, and heads up devices are a nice reminder of what will eventually happen in the default world  when augmented reality finally becomes mainstream.  As long as Google keeps working on a head mounted display, it will happen.  And everyone will jump on that bandwagon.   But I've been aware of the constant draw to return to live in-world recently.

Transhumanism is a large and broadly defined way of life.  There is no one way to achieve Transhumanism.  But the closest single thing to it in my opinion has been Second Life.  That system has it's own global structure, politics, law enforcement, economy, and lifestyle.  If physical reality didn't rear it's ugly head and make you eat and go to the bathroom, the average SL citizen could get lost in their computers for weeks at a time, if not months or years

I wouldn't mind living in Second Life.  There are TONS of opportunities in-world that I can take advantage of.  But I'm quite comfortable with my default world existence.  Outside of exchanging L$ for US$, there is really no way for me to personally interact with SL/default on the fly.  I need to set time aside to focus on SL and it's lifestyle.  Then I need to detach and refocus on physical reality..  I'm finding it to be disconcerting, because both require focus and attention to detail.

For the summer, I'm going to cut back my SL involvement.  And that probably includes third party websites and contacts.  I'm going to refocus on virtual worlds that let me slip in and out unobtrusively.  Work with stuff that doesn't make me feel like a Transhumanist.  Because I'm not a Transhumanist.  I'm still Human 1.0.

 

 

 

Monday, May 14, 2012

I know! Let's blame.....

(Insert favorite scapegoat here.)  There's a crapload of problems with the global population right now.  Unemplyment is primary.  Government is next.  Of course the government doesn't operate without tax money.  And you can't tax an unemployed person.  So to look good government blathers on about taxing the rich; creating jobs, bailing out a particular industry, etc.  And it's all technology's fault!  There are too many robots!  AI took my white collar job!  My company downsized me into the unemployment line!.  I'm so tired of it all.

Has anyone noticed that North America has settled next to the EU in terms of spinning it's wheels?  The US will elect the same bureaucrats.  The bureaucrats will pontificate on the same dead solutions.. And come to the same dead conclusions.  Canada, who is more aligned with the EU than the US is, is already backed against the wall by people that think the government will pay their way through life.  What the hell happened to common sense?  Blaming a government or technology for your own sloth won't put food on the table.  It wont pay the bills. and it certainly won't apologize and offer you a great paying job.

There are thousands of people that have decided to use the system to their advantage.  I'm not saying "work with the system"  The system as a whole is certainly broken for any number of foreseeable years.  But like any good bureaucracy, the parts that made up the system still work just fine, and aren't going ANYWHERE!  Most of us have landed in a new place in the pecking order.  Sure, we fell from that comfy, high perch in the leafy branches.  So are you gonna keep sitting on your broken butts and whine that nobody is helping you get back up?  The only way back up is to climb!  The bureaucracy has LOTS of ladders..  But instead of whining until they give you one to shut you up, how about you start asking how to get one?  It's the old concept of Free Enterprise.  Also known as "do it yourself"

It's time that humanity relearned that concept.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Evo-Devo of the Techno-Human

I don’t need to explain to many of you the delightful experience of the singularity.  We already get it.  So what am I going to say?  Well, it’s really about the learning curve, and how savvy we are to catch on as each dawning moment zips by us.


I've been learning so much lately that it makes me dizzy.  Now I’m not going to go as far as saying that we’re all going to become cyborgs, and the bots will upload into meatspace.  But there is a place that men and machines can meet on an equal footing.  And that’s called virtual reality.

Today I read an article on Technovelgy.com about how robots don’t need to look human.  I like to think that maybe someday they will advance to the point where you can’t tell a difference in the default world.  But that’s still a ways off.  For now, we have neat metal boxes called washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, and microwaves that have reached the point of tweeting the end of their cycles.  Envision this, which can happen now.  Today.  At this exact moment, if it were to be coded this way.

Jane Q. Everybody is in the kitchen, sitting at the table with her laptop.  Very well the hub of her home network.  Three of those magic boxes occupy the same room.  As the dishwasher does it’s thing, the microwave is defrosting the main course for lunch.  Yes, the boxes all beep at her when they’re finished.  But how often does anybody immediately jump to their sound?  Most often, you tune the sound out.  Our Jane is absorbed in Second Life.  Or Minecraft.  Or WoW.  You get the idea.

An avatar named Amanda (humanized form of Amana Radar Range) appears in the sim with Jane, and politely lets her know that the hamburger has just finished nuking.

Jane: “Hi, Amanda.  Thanks.  I’ll get to it in a bit.”


Amanda: “What are you making?”


Jane: “The kids are having sloppy joes for lunch.”


Amanda: “I’ve got a cool hamburger recipe for tomorrow if you want to try it.”


Jane: “Nah, we’re going to McD’s tomorrow.”


Amanda: “Okay, See you later.”


At this point an avatar named Genie (Classic General Electric.  Anybody remember the old GEnie BBS?) appears in-world with Jane.

Genie: “Hi, Jane.  This morning’s dishes are done.”


Jane: “Cool, I’m waiting for my frying pan.  Thanks, Genie!”


Genie: “Anytime.”  *smiles*


This scenario can go on all day, with the humans and bots chit-chatting with each other.


So, do your appliances tweet to you?  Just wait until you invite them as friends in virtual reality.  :-)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cybertown.com: 1995 - 2012 (R.I.P.?)

When I was new to the internet in 1997, I bought a paper "yellow pages" directory of internet sites. Search engines back then were limited in their functionality, so you still had to rely on established sources. The "info highway" was big and broad and unknown and open. ANYWHERE you went was new and exciting. Mostly because it was, well, new and exciting!

I shoved post-its in dozens of pages of that book. It was alphabetically listed, so I don't think I made it past "E". But one of the places I found was called Cybertown. Long before sexual connotations, you could prefix lots of sites with "cyber". It was like magic to me. Somebody had set up a web site with lots of pictures that looked like a futuristic metropolis. None of the Netscape grey backgrounds with text. I was hooked. I "moved in" and listed myself in one of the apartments. Hundreds of links could take me anywhere I wanted to go that was Cybertown related.

Then one day it was announced that they were going to go 3D. They were setting up a VRML site. And there was a link to a preview. I didn't have a clue what to expect. So I downloaded something called a 3D client. If you've never had an epiphany online, you can't understand what my experience was. I was experiencing a virtual world for my very first time ever. I wandered around for a full two hours in real time. If my wife hadn't called out to me, I would have been there all night. It was the place called Colony City, the precursor to Cybertown 3D.

Life online happens. I got a job, moved up the ladder, had some racy relationships, got full of myself, and got fired. It was the first time I had ever been fired from a job I really, truly loved. If it hadn't been play money, I'd be rich today. So would hundreds of other CT residents. I was devastated. Those of you that have ever been fired from a job you really loved know what I'm talking about. I've healed. The wound is still there, but I've healed.

I tried to move on. But when something is implanted into your genes, it's doggone hard to totally ignore it. I'd return occasionally, either to participate, or to complain. I never got banned. Probably because I always left in disgust. But I'd always come back. It's something I jokingly call the bungee cord effect. You are hooked, and the cord only stretches so far before you get dragged back.

But I guess the laws of atrophy apply anywhere. Even online. For years CT had been a pay site. Mostly to maintain the server. But there weren't enough regular members to keep the place up to date and new and exciting, except to let the locals do their thing. So finally in the middle of 2011, parent company IVN threw open the gates and dropped the fee. Everyone could return for free. But by then, the internet had moved on. Several virtual communities had already come and gone while CT was maintaining it's walled garden. A last ditch effort was being made to bring the community up to speed. I was part of the first wave. But true to tradition, there was lots of wheel spinning, and not much real progress as a group. That deadline was December. And then the parent company was to implement real changes.

And in February, the servers went silent.

If you go there you get "Forbidden

You don't have permission to access / on this server.
Apache/1.3.26 Server at www.cybertown.com Port 80". I was told they were changing providers to AT&T and AT&T has been having trouble getting it set up.

Yeah, there are some things I'll miss. I had gotten comfy with being back with some of the old timers that stuck it out to the end. I was always accosted by some deputy asking if I had a home and a job. And I knew the place like the back of my hand. In spite of my numerous absences.

Will I go back if Cybertown actually DOES come back online? Of course. But I'm not holding my breath on that. Unofficially, CT has reached the end of it's usefulness. But more obviously, it's reached the end of it's relevance in today's internet. When you have a globally recognized company like Linden Lab struggling with monetizing it's cash cow called Second Life, what are the chances of a small company called Integrated Virtual Networks breaking out of their own indecisions of monetizing?

If you see me in 3DPlanets, say hi. Otherwise, I'll be in Second Life.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Roller Coaster Economy

I just Scooped a story titled <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/georgeanders/2012/01/20/is-facebook-a-central-bank-too/" title="Is Facebook a Central Bank, Too?"></a> Physical currencies are dying. Plain and simple. I first snickered when the book "Snow Crash" was referring to Regan million dollar notes. You were never going to see something like that. Ever. But why couldn't you see millions of Facebook credits?

International banking is suddenly realizing that, hey, banking as we've known it is going the way of the Dodo bird. Talks are happening. Google and PayPal are in position. There are millions being exchanged in Linden Dollars. Why not Facebook Credits?

The financial and jobs market are at the precipice. Whichever way they fall off, both will land in roses. Between supplementing your income from gameplay in Facebook Credits, and the Securities and Exchange Commission defining the values of gaming points that can be used in the physical world economy, everyone is going to at least pull themselves up by the bootstraps and get on their feet again!