Saturday, December 31, 2005

What Celebrity Do You Look Like?

Upload a picture of yourself and let their facial recognition software tell you what celebrity that you look like.

What Celebrity Do You Look Like?

Happy New Year, folks!

Top Scientists Validating the Supernatural Universe

Top Scientists Validating the Supernatural Universe

"The Field tells the story of a group of frontier scientists who discovered that the Zero Point Field - an ocean of subatomic vibrations in the space between things - connects everything in the universe, much like the Force in Star Wars."

Monday, December 19, 2005

Author of Roswell 'flying saucer' news release dies - Dec 19, 2005

Author of Roswell 'flying saucer' news release dies - Dec 19, 2005

"Army Lt. Walter Haut, who issued a news release in 1947 that said a flying saucer landed in Roswell, died there Thursday, his daughter, Julie Shuster, said. He was 83.

"Haut, a former spokesman for the Roswell Army Air Field, took dictation on July 8, 1947, as base commander Col. William Blanchard dictated a news release about a recovered flying saucer and ordered Haut to issue it.

"The Roswell Daily Record newspaper ran a bold headline on July 9, 1947: 'RAAF Captures Flying Saucer on Ranch in Roswell Region.'

"The same day, a statement was released saying it was only a weather balloon." [via Jonny] [ has popups]

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Lifehack Your Books: Dogear, Writing In Books, and Apologizing to Librarians

I'm really not sure if I would be able to do this myself, but it is something that is interesting to pass along. Pristine books are something of a fault among geeks, I think.

Lifehack Your Books: Dogear, Writing In Books, and Apologizing to Librarians

"First, I want to apologize to librarians and to make clear that what I’m about to say applies only to books you’ve bought for yourself. See, since libraries and books that our parents bought for us are our primary mode of book access in childhood, we grow up with a set of norms for how we interact with books. Because all of those books are expected to remain in as pristine of shape as possible for as long as possible, we have a set of rules in our heads.

"1. Never write in books
"2. Never dogear pages (fold over the corner)
"3. Keep dustjackets on the books and add them via bookcovers if they don’t have them.

"And, for textbooks, books that your younger siblings need to use later, and library books, those rules are necessary to ensure that the books last long enough to be useful to as many people as possible. However, for books bought for individual use, these rules aren’t necessary. If you adhere to them religiously for your own books (most of which couldn’t possibly wear out via normal use), you’re missing out on some of the best methods for getting the most out of books.

"I personally believe that there is no greater respect that can be shown a book than by using it."

Dean Gray Tuesday

Edit: The nice folks at Webfeed Central are hosting the MP3s for American Edit here, on their website. Viva Internet freedom. This is a great piece of production work, I really recommend checking it out. (1/1/06)

"Dean Gray" is two talented DJs (Party Ben and Team9) who created an incredible mashup "album" (this album was released only as MP3s over the internet for non-commercial use) and was smacked down by Warner Records 10 days later, for copy-right infringement.

Please note, if you came to this site via a search engine Dorkland! is not hosting the American Edit MP3s, but you can find a link to the site to direct you to the downloads. I've got a copy of American Edit that I burned to CD this past week, and I have to say that it is one of the most brilliant mashups that I have come across in quiet a while.

Today is Dean Gray Tuesday, and to protest the actions of Warner Records a number of websites around the world are hosting the files until midnight tonight. Check them out for yourself. Of particular interest to followers of Dorkland would be the song "Dr. Who on Holiday." Here is the press release about today:

"About Dean Gray Tuesday

"Only 10 days after its release, the mash-up album American Edit, which pays tribute to the acclaimed Green Day album American Idiot through some of the best mash-up productions of 2005, was shut down reportedly after received a cease & desist order from Green Day's label, Warner records, despite the fact that it was released as an internet only release with no commercial gain for the team of mash-up artists involved. In fact, the only possible profit to be made from the release was a plea from the creators of the album (known only by the shared alias Dean Gray) for fans who enjoyed the creation to donate to one of three possible charities that Green Day have been known to support. Furthermore, the mash-up versions were such fantastic productions that they were truly a departure from the standard Green Day performances and would not compete for consumptive dollars.

"We hope to mobilize the online Mash-Up community by organizing a simple one-day organized event. Participants would be asked to post the American Edit album online for 24 hours only starting on Tuesday, December 13, at 12:00AM. Doing so is not intended to be a mass organization of music piracy but, rather, one single display of the consumptive power of the mash-up and home remix community in the hopes of encouraging the labels, publishers and artists who are curious about the mash-up community to consider giving the high quality productions of 'illegitimate' music a legitimate consideration as a promotional avenue for all music.

"We also hope to encourage club DJs and radio DJs to air portions of the American Edit release on 'Gray' Tuesday and refer to this site by reporting their planned airplay in advance."

Check out the site for the sites who are hosting the album, as well as more information about Dean Gray Tuesday and the American Edit phenomenon.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Who watches the watchers?

I think that this is the telling line: When did entertainment turn so dark? I would further specify that question by asking When did comic books turn so dark? Obviously, the turning point came in 1986 with the Watchmen and The Dark Knight: Batman Returns.

Be warned that this is a review of a comic book that appears on a website with a pretty conservative political agenda to it. I would consider that on its own to be fairly ironic. However, when you add to this irony the fact that the reviewer complains about the lack of female characters in the story.

Who watches the watchers?

"Why do contemporary artists all seem to think the end of the world is nigh? Why has art become a thing of ugliness, instead of light? With all the beautiful things we see every day, the delicacy of a flower, the turn of a woman's arm, the grace of a bird in flight, we are treated only to the bizarre and horrid by our artists. These days we see sculptures that look like molecular mistakes writ large. We live in architecture that appears like a jumble of blocks thrown to the ground in the midst of a temper tantrum by a gigantic, petulant child. We view paintings that appear more accidental than planned. We have movies full of violence and anti-social behavior. On the radio we hear music that celebrates all the worst in man. We even have comic books that belittle heroism, that deconstruct the good and exceptional turning their heroes as cartoonishly flawed as the most obscene head case on the Jerry Springer Show.

"When did entertainment turn so dark?

"In the field of comic books, a 12 part series called Watchmen, created by the writer as a political commentary on its time, was hailed as having 'transcended its origins,' becoming a watershed in comics entertainment. This series, published in 1986, was at the front edge of a wave of comics in the early and mid 1980s that attempted to demolish the heroes of the past and replace them with a post-hero world of darkness and pessimism.

"So why talk about a comic book from 1986 now? With a motion picture under development and time Magazine placing the series on its top 100 novels Watchmen is being brought back into prominence, and now seems like a good time to re-visit the series. Since it is claimed that it had so changed the comic book industry, let's give it a look with fresh, more critical eyes."

Oh No Robot comics search

It was bound to happen sooner or later. Someone has come up with a search engine for webcomics. This probably means that it is time for one of my perrrenial catch-ups with Something*Positive.

Oh No Robot comics search

Let me know if you like how it works.

Ultimate Avengers Animated Movie - Feb. 06

Here's some interesting news for fans of the Avengers/the Ultimates. I doubt if the storyline will be quite as extreme as the Ultimates comic, but it could still be good.

Here's also a link to some screenshots.

Ultimate Avengers Animated Movie - Feb. 06

"Press Release on the Animated Avengers DVD
"Source: Marvel Enterprises, Lions Gate Home Entertainment
"July 19, 2004

"Lions Gate and Marvel have made The Avengers DVD official with the following announcement this morning:

"Marvel Enterprises and Lions Gate's Family Home Entertainment, a division of Lions Gate Entertainment, have announced that the first title to be released through their recent made-for-DVD agreement will be 'The Avengers'(TM). The first installment of the multi-picture home video deal, the animated feature will cast some of Marvel's most popular Super Heroes including Captain America(TM), The Hulk(TM), Iron Man(TM), and Thor(TM). Production on 'The Avengers' home video release -- which will be based on the best-selling Marvel Comics series 'The Ultimates' -- has already commenced. The animated feature will be distributed by Lions Gate Home Entertainment and available in stores in early 2006.

"'The Avengers' are a super hero team for the ages which combines many of Marvel's most popular and enduring characters into one cohesive unit,' said David Maisel, President and COO, Marvel Studios. 'They are a natural choice to launch Marvel into the fast growing made-for-DVD marketplace.'

"Glenn Ross, President, Lions Gate Family Home Entertainment, added, 'Production on this new title marks the next chapter in our ongoing relationship with Marvel. We're excited to be able to bring high quality animation and compelling stories to a very rich cast of top Marvel characters that will satisfy both the hard core Marvel fan as well as a broader audience that is looking for great action hero entertainment.'

"Marvel and Lions Gate plan to develop, produce and distribute eight original animated made-for-DVD features based upon the extensive Marvel character library. Marvel is spearheading development and production with Lions Gate handling marketing and distribution. This agreement builds upon the existing theatrical relationship between Lions Gate and Marvel, under which Lions Gate released 'The Punisher'(TM) to theatres earlier this year, starring Thomas Jane, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos and John Travolta, and is currently developing theatrical film releases for Marvel's 'Iron Fist'(TM) and 'Black Widow'(TM) characters."

Thanks Jonny!

Wikipedia Tightens Submission Rules - Yahoo! News

Although it is due to a number of happenings, this is the straw that broke Wikipedia's back.

Wikipedia Tightens Submission Rules - Yahoo! News

"SAN FRANCISCO - Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia to which anyone can contribute, is tightening submission rules after a prominent journalist complained that an article falsely implicated him in the Kennedy assassinations.

"Wikipedia will now require users to register before they can create articles, Jimmy Wales, founder of the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Web site, said Monday. People who modify existing articles will still be able to do so without registering.

"The change comes less than a week after John Seigenthaler, a one-time administrative assistant to Robert Kennedy, complained in an op-ed published in USA Today that a biography of him on Wikipedia claimed he had been suspected in the assassinations of the former attorney general and his brother, President John F. Kennedy.

"Wikipedia, often cited as a prime example of the type of collective knowledge-pooling that the Internet enables, has some 850,000 articles in English as well as entries in at least eight other languages, including Italian, French, German and Portuguese.

"Since it's launch in 2001, it has grown into a storehouse of information on topics ranging from medieval art to nanotechnology.

"The volume is possible because the site relies on volunteers, including many experts in their fields, who submit entries and edit previously submitted articles.

"Wales said he hopes the registration requirement will limit the number of articles being created.

"While it would not prevent people from posting false information, the new process will make it easier, said Wales, for the site's 600 active volunteers to review and remove factual errors, defaming statements and other material that runs afoul of Wikipedia policy.

"Wikipedia visitors will still be able to edit content already posted without registering. It takes 15 to 20 seconds to create an account on the Web site, and an e-mail address is not required."

I think that my feelings on Wikipedia are summed up by the following quote:

"'I sympathize with this person, but it's really not any different than a posting on an anonymous Web page,' Eugene Volokh, a law professor specializing in the First Amendment, said, referring to Seigenthaler. Volokh added that Wikipedia provides casual readers with a valuable service but that he would never rely on it as a source for scholarly articles."

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Robert Sheckley: R.I.P.

From John Shirley's website:

"My old friend Robert Sheckley has died, of complications following an operation for a brain aneurism. His widow is the writer Gail Dana. Sheckley and I knew each other for some years, and I read him as a boy. I used to hang out with him in Paris, in the late 1980s, when we both lived there. Bob was a great guy, and fine company, never letting his deep-seated stammer stop him from conversation. An old-time Bohemian, Sheckley had periods of partying and wandering, though never ceasing to write. (We had that and other connections in common.) Most importantly, Robert Sheckley was a very, very distinct voice as a writer and a great influence on many people, Douglas Adams and Harlan Ellison amongst others.

"Sheckley was fiction editor of Omni Magazine for two years and recipient of various awards. His fiction inspired works by such avant rockers as Frank Zappa and Brian Eno. Sheckley was a Visiting Scholar at the Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT in Boston in 1983. In 1991 he received the Raymond Z. Gallun award for contributions to the genre of science-fiction.

"A master of the short story, Sheckley was never short on ideas, and his whimsical, insightful, hipster's take on the human condition, always skillfully expressed, lightened the existential load while somehow acknowledging life's absurdities."

From the New York Times' website:

"December 10, 2005

"Robert Sheckley, 77, Writer of Satirical Science Fiction, Is Dead


"Robert Sheckley, a writer of science fiction whose disarmingly playful stories pack a nihilistic subtext, died yesterday in Poughkeepsie. He was 77 and lived in Red Hook, N.Y.

"'The cause was complications of a brain aneurysm,' said his former wife, Ziva Kwitney. Mr. Sheckley wrote more than 15 novels and around 400 short stories; the actual total is uncertain since he was so prolific in his heyday, the 1950's and 60's, that magazine editors insisted he publish some stories under pseudonyms to avoid having his byline appear more than once in an issue.

"Four of his stories were made into films; the best known, 'The Tenth Victim' (1965), starred Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress.

"Born in Brooklyn and raised in Maplewood, N.J., Robert Sheckley joined the Army in 1946 after graduating from high school, and served in Korea. In 1951 he received an undergraduate degree from New York University and sold his first short story.

"Over the next two decades, he was a major force in the development of modern science fiction. His first collection of stories, published in 1954, was hailed as one of the finest debut volumes in the field. In the 1960's he found a wider market for his science fiction in magazines like Playboy.

"Many of his novels were well received, among them 'Journey Beyond Tomorrow'(1962) and 'Dimension of Miracles' (1968), but Mr. Sheckley was best known for his short stories. At a time when science fiction was just starting to grapple with the social implications of technology - from atomic bombs to missile-carrying rockets - Mr. Sheckley turned a satirist's eye on the genre and its concerns.

"Like Ray Bradbury, he was interested in the scientific apparatus of science fiction - space travel, time travel, extrapolated futures - only so far as it served his purpose. While Mr. Bradbury poetically mourns the failure to live up to our dreams of the future, Mr. Sheckley mocked the self-delusions that lead to dreams in the first place.

"He reveled in the freedom the genre afforded him to dramatize the fears and anxieties of everyday life. When he wrote about the war between the sexes, he conjured a future in which disappointed lovers had the legal option of using real bullets to express their anger. When he wrote about alienation as a state of mind, he sealed the reader in an endless loop of disaffection that reduced the outside world to a hallucination wrapped in an illusion.

"Because he leavened his darkest visions with wit and absurdist plotting, he is considered one of science fiction's seminal humorists, and a precursor to Douglas Adams, whose 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' (1979) seems to take place in a Sheckleyan universe. But Mr. Sheckley's work is darker than Mr. Adams's; the smiles he evokes leave a bitter taste on the lips. A better comparison might be to Kafka, a fabulist who could never understood why his friends didn't laugh when he read his stories to them.

"Mr. Sheckley's fiction has been translated into German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Finnish and Lithuanian. His work is especially popular in Russia and Eastern Europe.

"Mr. Sheckley's marriages to his first four wives, Barbara Scadron, Ms. Kwitney, Abby Schulman and Jay Rothbell, ended in divorce. At the time of his death he was separated from his fifth wife, Gail Dana. Other survivors include a son, Jason, from his first marriage, a daughter, Alisa Kwitney, from his second marriage; a daughter, Anya, and a son, Jed, from his third marriage; his sister Joan Klein of New York; and three grandchildren."

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Play Infocom Adventures Online

This site requires Java to use it, but once again you too can play those incredibly frustrating Infocom text-based adventure games from the 80s. It only took me a minute to remember why I hated the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy game. These are for online only use, so no downloads (unfortunately). See the bottom of the post for stuff you can download!

Play Infocom Adventures Online

Zork I: The Great Underground Empire
Zork II: The Wizard of Frobozz
Zork III: The Dungeon Master
Zork: The Undiscovered Underground
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Witness
Leather Goddesses of Phobos
The Lurking Horror

Here, on this Infocom fan site you can find the downloads for various versions of the Zork game.


Comedian Richard Pryor dead at 65

This is a great loss to comedy, regardless of how long it has been since he performed. This is a great loss indeed.

Comedian Richard Pryor dead at 65

"Groundbreaking US comedian Richard Pryor has died at the age of 65 after a long illness.

"He died of a heart attack at his home in California's San Fernando Valley, according to his ex-wife, Flyn Pryor.

"He had been ill for years with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease of the nervous system.

"A series of hit comedies in the 1970s and 1980s - including Stir Crazy and Silver Streak - helped make him one of Hollywood's highest-paid stars."

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Class Alternatives: Challenger

I'm a fan of the d20 Modern system, however I have never really been a fan of the classes that are in the book. The generic classes just never lit a fire under me enough to make me be able to really get into the system.

To that end, I am working on a line called Class Alternatives for Battlefield Press, Inc. that will be able to be used in place of the classes that are standard to the d20 Modern system. These are not new Advanced Classes, or Prestige Classes, or anything like that. These are fully functioning 20-level classes designed specifically for use in modern campaigns. Most of these classes will be designed around Pulp, "Neo-Pulp," or other adventure fiction archetypes. Each class will be completely self-contained, all that will be needed to bring that character into play in your d20 Modern campaigns will be the core rules and a copy of the class that is wished to be used by players.

As these are still in development, page counts are not exact but each Class Alternative will have all of the information on the class, any new or altered Skills and Feats and appropriate Occupations for that character class. Each Class Alternative will be fully compatible with your d20 Modern campaign, but not necessarily with characters created using the standard d20 Modern rules. Right now, classes in development are the Challenger and the Empowered.

A part of Battlefield Press, Inc.'s Modern Options line, the Class Alternatives bring new concepts, options and ideas to your d20 Modern campaigns.

Working at Penguin

People always seem to wonder, but never quite know, what particular jobs at a publisher actually do. Not very in-depth, but interesting tolook through.

Working at Penguin

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Trading bibles for porn in San Antonio

"A group of atheists at the University of Texas in San Antonio is trying to tempt college kids into trading their Bibles for pornography.

"It's part of a program called Smut for Smut sponsored by the student organization called Atheist Agenda."

Trading bibles for porn in San Antonio

Thanks, Jonny!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Lego Dice Roller

"Introducing GameByEmail's Dice-O-Matic. Made from Legos, a USB camera, and a bit of software, it's a home-grown, dice-rolling monster. Don't let it's rickety looks deceive you; this puppy can easily crank out the 20,000 rolls a day consumed by GamesByEmail. In fact, at full speed it averages almost one roll a second, well over 80,000 a day!"

Lego Dice Roller [via Boing Boing]

Green Ronin Online Store: Mutants & Masterminds, Second Edition (PDF)

Green Ronin publishers is now offering a PDF version of their 2nd edition Mutants and Masterminds game, for sale direct from their online store. No associate code here, but I figured it was worth passing along to the masses.

Green Ronin Online Store: Mutants & Masterminds, Second Edition (PDF)

Q-Unit - Greatest Hits

Who knows how long this will be up (it seems like a couple of the sites have already been taken down, but this is a pretty brilliant Mash-Up of 50 Cent and Queen's Greatest Hits. Check them out while you still can.

Q-Unit - Greatest Hits

Note: This is a different link than the one on Boing Boing, that one appears to already be dead. Google is a great thing.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

USPS - 2006 Commemorative Stamps

From part-way down the page:

USPS - 2006 Commemorative Stamps

"DC Comics Super Heroes Ten comic book heroes will be saluted on the 'DC Comics Super Heroes' stamps next summer. Half of the pane of 20 will be portraits of the characters; the other half will show individual comic book covers devoted to their exploits. The characters include Aquaman, Batman, The Flash, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Plastic Man, Supergirl, Superman and Wonder Woman."

Here is a link to a jpeg of the stamps.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

MAKE: DIY GPS tracking

MAKE: DIY GPS tracking

"DIY GPS tracking with 'disposable' phones - Mod a GPS enabled Nextel and fauxjack yourself...or your car, or your kid, or a big dog, or an elephant. We really, really want to track an elephant. Mologogo is a free service that will track a 'friends' GPS enabled cell phone from another phone(gps not required) or on the web. It currently works on pretty much any Nextel phone with Java and GPS - even a $60 no-contract Boost Mobile phone."