Archive for Geek Culture & Tech

Goodbye, Elve. Goodbye, Orc. Goodbye, Man: The End is Here

Words are eternal, but movies are not.

A few days ago, I watched what may very likely be my last visual and auditory experience in Middle Earth, with the final hobbit installment. What a sad day!

I’ve loved JRR Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” (LOTR) well before Peter Jackson’s excellent movies came out. I read every word, fell in love with the characters, and enjoyed the epicness. I’ve read LOTR several times in my life, enjoying it wholeheartedly each time. It never gets boring, it never gets old.

When I was 16, the first Peter Jackson LOTR movie came out, and it was unfathomable: the movies were AS GOOD AS THE BOOKS. That’s insane, because movies are almost never as good as the book, especially when the book is amazing as LOTR.

Yet, Peter’s rendition of Middle Earth was beautiful. He managed to change the way I imagine elves, men, and orcs, in a way that other movies have not (Harry Potter characters for example do not look like they do in the movies in my mind, nor does “The Game of Thrones”, or “True Blood”).

Peter’s Middle Earth is a perfect imagining. The sounds are perfect. The outfits are perfect. The acting is perfect.

I’m so sad it’s done, because with it’s end, it died. I tried to rewatch LOTR a few days ago. You can see the green screen :) Movies die, but Peter’s characters will never die, as far as I’m concerned.

Goodbye, Elve. Goodbye, Orc. Goodbye, Man.



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A Vision of Deep-space Exploration

Terraforming, human-powered flying, basking in the light of Saturn… here’s a very beautiful short movie with Carl Sagan’s voice.



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Europa, Revisited

europa
A NASA remastered image of Europa

The high-resolution color image, which shows the largest portion of the moon’s surface, was made from images taken by NASA’s Galileo probe. Using the Solid-State Imaging (SSI) experiment, the craft captured these images during it’s first and fourteenth orbit through the Jupiter system, in 1995 and 1998 respectively.

The view was previously released as a mosaic with lower resolution and strongly enhanced color (as seen on the JPL’s website). To create this new version, the images were assembled into a realistic color view of the surface that approximates how Europa would appear to the human eye.

Via io9



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Lego Genius from the 1970’s

Lego

Via BoingBoin



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XKCD: Star Trek Into Darkness

1

I think it should be capitalized :)



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The Autistic Boy Who Loved Siri

Oftentimes, it’s the people on the fringe that make things interesting.

You and I deal with Siri and other forms of artificial intelligence as some sort of novelty toy: cool for a little while, but ultimately boring and algorithmic.

It’s people like Gus — the 13-year-old autistic boy in this New York Times article – that remind us of the potential of all the amazing things we take for granted.

Do take a few minutes to read this article to see how magic still exists. You may not recognize it for what it is, but to this boy and his mom, Siri is nothing short of magic.

Just how bad a mother am I? I wondered, as I watched my 13-year-old son deep in conversation with Siri. Gus has autism, and Siri, Apple’s “intelligent personal assistant” on the iPhone, is currently his BFF. Obsessed with weather formations, Gus had spent the hour parsing the difference between isolated and scattered thunderstorms — an hour in which, thank God, I didn’t have to discuss them. After a while I heard this:

Gus: “You’re a really nice computer.”

Siri: “It’s nice to be appreciated.”

Gus: “You are always asking if you can help me. Is there anything you want?”

Siri: “Thank you, but I have very few wants.”

Gus: “O.K.! Well, good night!”

Siri: “Ah, it’s 5:06 p.m.”

Gus: “Oh sorry, I mean, goodbye.”

Siri: “See you later!”

That Siri. She doesn’t let my communications-impaired son get away with anything. Indeed, many of us wanted an imaginary friend, and now we have one. Only she’s not entirely imaginary.

This is a love letter to a machine. It’s not quite the love Joaquin Phoenix felt in “Her,” last year’s Spike Jonze film about a lonely man’s romantic relationship with his intelligent operating system (played by the voice of Scarlett Johansson). But it’s close. In a world where the commonly held wisdom is that technology isolates us, it’s worth considering another side of the story.

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