August 2009 - Posts

 The biggest name in family entertainment is about to get Hulked up and add quite a few new characters to its collection as the Walt Disney Company prepares to buy out legendary comic book company, Marvel Entertainment.

Marvel Entertainment is responsible for a bunch of really awesome epics such as X-Men, Spiderman, the Hulk, and Ironman, to name less than one percent of the company's collection. When Disney finalizes the deal, they will have aquired over 5,000 characters from Marvel, which raises quite a few questions about the future of the classics that Marvel has created. Fans are concerned about the production of new Marvel videogames and movies as Disney has made it abundantly clear that it is a family entertainment company while the old Marvel comics depict stories of gore and revenge. Disney and Marvel have agreed on closing out the $4 billion deal as soon as it clears the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act and more regulatory committees. Under the terms of the agreement, Disney will pay Marvel shareholders $30 per share for their Marvel stock, plus .745 of a share of Disney stock for each share they own. MVL stock right now (8.31.09) is worth $48.36 and DIS stock is worth only $28.

The picture above only pictures a few of Marvel's vast collection of characters.

"This transaction combines Marvel's strong global brand and world-renowned library of characters including Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men, Captain America, Fantastic Four and Thor with Disney's creative skills, unparalleled global portfolio of entertainment properties, and a business structure that maximizes the value of creative properties across multiple platforms and territories," said Robert A. Iger, CEO of the Walt Disney Company.

Marvel is happy about the deal too, this what they have to say:

"Disney is the perfect home for Marvel's fantastic library of characters given its proven ability to expand content creation and licensing businesses," said Ike Perlmutter, Marvel's CEO "This is an unparalleled opportunity for Marvel to build upon its vibrant brand and character properties by accessing Disney's tremendous global organization and infrastructure around the world."

All in all I think that I am happy about it as Disney might provide the funding to see more Marvel creations come to life on the big screen, but I do hope that they don't tag their family friendly ways to the brutal parts of the Marvel comics.

Posted Monday, August 31, 2009 12:48 PM by cstanton | 1 comment(s)
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 We can make music out of anything, right? Why not the moon? That's what JAXA, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and some other creative mind did.

Moonbell is a music generator that uses the topographical data of the moon that was gathered by the Kaguya satellite from 2007 to mid 2009.
The generator features two playback modes: Orbit and Free Scratch.

The Orbit playback mode shows an image of the moon, the Kaguya's orbit, an altitude graph of the topography, and a graph of the musical pitch over time. It plays different notes based on topography of the moon that is below the simulated orbit of the Kaguya. You can change the orbit by dragging your mouse.

 

The Free Scratch mode is really cool because you can select your own path across the moon and the notes play the same way, using the topography along your path to determine the pitch of the note played. 

 

The preferences button in the bottom left gives a lot of variation to the playback. You can select out of 128 different instruments for your highs, mids, and lows, change the playback speed, and select which notes out of which chords should be played and which ones shouldn't.

I'm just really glad that someone took this information and got creative with it. 

Posted Monday, August 31, 2009 11:58 AM by cstanton | with no comments
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Osaka, Japan is having an Aqua Metropolis festival and these alien looking watercrafts are actually going to serve a very healthy purpose. These vessels are in place to purify the water!

Each one of these "Solar UFOs" has 27 solar panels that provide the power it needs to purify very large amounts of water each day. Up to 2,400 gallons per day is purified. Impurities are removed from the water while oxygen is pumped into it. The clean water sprays out the top of the vessel like a fountain, cleaning the solar panels of grime.

During the day, the powerful filtration system is powered by sunlight, but at night, a 1.3 kilowatt solar battery will power the LED lights around the rim and on the bottom of the vessel.

The crafts will be deployed into the Osaka Castle's moat and into the canals throughout the city. One Solar UFO is scheduled to remain in the Dotonbori canal until the middle of October. The vessel in the Osaka Castle moat is scheduled to stay fully operational until March 2010. NTT Facilities, the people who designed the filtration system, also announced plans to deploy Solar UFOs in Tokyo-area waters.

Currently, the UFOs are not for sale.  

 

 

Posted Thursday, August 27, 2009 3:55 PM by cstanton | with no comments
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 The Japanese never cease to amaze me. As the Japanese population is getting older, nurses are being stretched thin and there just aren't enough of them. The people at RIKEN, or Japan’s Institute of Physical and Chemical Research, have built a robonurse to help with the solution. RIBA, Robot for Interactive Body Assistance, was built by RIKEN and Tokai Rubber Industries (TRI) to assist nurses in lifting patients out of their beds.


Gotta love the music.

The robot features a large array of tactile sensors that help it to adjust to any kind of situation and help it raise and lower the patient with as little discomfort as possible. The robot features long jointed arms that can lift up to 135 pounds. The arms even slightly give, giving it a more human feel. TRI developed a lightweight urethane foam for the skin, which is also supposed to give the patient a nice human skin feel. The robot can respond to voice commands and has a facial recognition program so it can recognize specific coworkers and patients. It sits on omnidirectional wheels that allow it to move around in tight spaces as is necessary in the nursing stations and hospitals where it will be used. The sensors also allow it to utilize video and audio to react to immediate changes in the nearby surroundings very efficiently.

What's really great about this robot is that it has the face of a big teddy bear. RIKEN released in a press conference that designing the robot to look more like a human would probably just scare patients, so a big teddy bear was obviously their second choice. 

Technology like this is thought by many to be the solution to the shortage of nurses in the overfilled hospitals of Japan. RIKEN plans to have RIBA at work in hospitals and nursing facilities within the next 5 years.

Posted Thursday, August 27, 2009 10:53 AM by cstanton | 3 comment(s)
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Sao Paulo, Brazil has added a new feature to its underground transportation system: special seats for the obese. 

 

These seats are twice the size of the other seats and can hold a big feller that weighs up to 560 pounds without breaking!

According to the people that work in the stations they aren't very popular with the overweight. This may be because the chairs are bright blue and have a sign next to them that says "Priority Chair for the Obese" and it would be embarassing. The chairs were installed to try and encourage obese people to use public transportation, but instead the chairs have been viewed negatively in the eyes of the obese, since they don't seem to want to be paired with the handicapped and the oldies. 

It's odd though that Brazil has reacted to its growing obesity problem this way. United Airlines has started charging overweight customers more if they can't fit into the conventional seats. I personally think that less accomodations should be made to help discourage obesity, but if I ran the world things would be all messed up.

Posted Tuesday, August 25, 2009 2:45 PM by cstanton | 3 comment(s)
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ThePirateBay.org, one of the internet's largest BitTorrent tracker websites was shut down yesterday, and with the perfect execution of an extremely well thought out backup plan has gotten itself back up already!

The team at The Pirate Bay put the pedal to the floor and got the site back up within 3 hours from a different ISP. After a few more hours of troubleshooting the technical difficulties, the site is fully functional for now. Unfortunately the site is set to be sold later this week, so the hours are limited.

The team wants to show authorities and the entertainment industry that they are not giving up and that people will always strive to connect with each other to share the music and media that influences each of their lives. If it has to be that one tracker after another is put up and shut down, this kind of sharing will always go on.

The badasses at The Pirate Bay state their message with the words of Churchill:


"We have, ourselves, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once more able to defend our Internets, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone.

Even though large parts of Internets and many old and famous trackers have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Ifpi and all the odious apparatus of MPAA rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the ef-nets and darknets, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Internets, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the baywords.org, we shall fight on the /. and on the digg, we shall fight in the courts; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, the Internets or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the Anon Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in Cerf’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

Signed;

The Pirate Bay Crew – Now until needed."

 


Posted Tuesday, August 25, 2009 1:15 PM by cstanton | 1 comment(s)
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A young man died about two weeks ago while climbing a 20 foot statue of Vladimir Lenin in Uvarovichi, a town in Gomel, Belarus.

This young prodigy wanted to show off to his friends his excellent climbing skills. He managed to climb all the way up Lenin's legs and torso and dangle off of his arm. This likeness, having been built in 1939 in Belarus at the start of WWII, was made completely out of plaster. As the young man began to swing on the arm, the flimsy 70 year old plaster shattered and the young man fell. On top of him fell the rest of Lenin's arm. This seriously injured him and an ambulance was called. The young man died on the ambulance ride to the hospital. 

In the young man's defense, I love to climb things and in all honesty I could definitely see myself putting on such an idiotic exhibition. Plus, the statue was painted in metallic paint to make it look like metal. Whether or not he realized that it was not metal but plaster is unknown. Apparently this isn't the first time that somebody has killed themselves hanging from Lenin's outstretched arm. In 2003 the same thing happened at a different statue.

Posted Tuesday, August 25, 2009 12:00 PM by cstanton | 2 comment(s)
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Woot.com is a popular site that stands by their slogan: One Day, One Deal. Each day a new product is selected at midnight and is sold either until the day is over or until inventory runs out. Shipping is a $5 flat rate on everything sold on the website.

 

I have been following Woot almost daily for nearly a year now and I have seen a wide range of products, from a "Bag of Crap" to a 32" LCD TV. Today, they're selling an Energizer Hardcase Tactical Flashlight. The site gained so much popularity when it started that they expanded into several different branches. There's Wine.woot.com, which offers one deal on wine or other gourmet food products, Shirt.woot.com, which sells one unique shirt per day, and Sellout.woot.com which provides another great deal provided by a different company.

Now, Woot.com has branched out once again to Kids Woot! Kids.woot.com offers a great deal each day for toys or educational materials for children. The people at Woot explain in their blog: "First things first: this is not a site for your kids to play on, OK? Kids.Woot is here to sell high-quality, useful child-oriented products. And maybe some low-quality, useless ones, too."

That's what's so great about Woot, some days there will be something so useless that you couldn't believe anybody would buy it, but then at midnight they come back at you with a mini-laptop for $100, so checking the site every day is a must for a true penny-pinching Woot member.

This new branch should be just as successful, if not even more, than any other Woot branch. I'm sure that anyone Woot member with a child will be frequenting the site to check out the great new deals on kids products. Plus, even if you don't purchase the product, reading what the Woot writers have to say in the description is worth the time for a good chuckle anyway. They have some of the wittiest and edgiest product descriptions I have ever laid my eyes upon.

If you haven't heard of Woot.com or Kids.woot.com I encourage you to check them out, and if you don't see what you like one day, then come back the next!

Posted Wednesday, August 19, 2009 12:22 PM by cstanton | with no comments
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 Fan Zhiyong, an expert with the WWF, or World Wide Fund for Nature, is very concerned about the survival of one of the world's most well known and beloved creatures, the Giant Panda.
According to Fan, the economic expansion and the construction of highways is splitting up the giant pandas' habitats. This is basically causing little patches of panda habitat, that's really not allowing for the interbreeding between different habitats. Eliminating the paths for the pandas to travel between habitats will lead to inbreeding, which will make the species more vulnerable to disease and less likely to be able to reproduce.
"We may have to give up building some infrastructure," says Fan "I do not know the solution to this problem."

Most of the 1,590 giant pandas presumed to be in the wild are living in southwestern Sichuan, northern Shaanxi and northwestern Gansu provinces. A total of 180 have been bred in captivity, according to earlier reports. This really isn't many for a creature that has such a slow way of reproducing. First of all, a female panda reaches reproductive maturity between four and eight years into their lives, which means that they must first survive for that long in the wild that is rapidly shrinking. They stay able to reproduce until they are around 20 years old. They go into heat only once a year, for only 2 or 3 days. If they can not find a mate, or they do not conceive, they have pseudopregnancies, which are hormonally identical to a real pregnancy which makes it very hard to determine whether or not a panda is pregnant. Their gestation period is about 135 days, which is a pretty long time to only produce one cub. I say one cub, because when they have twins the mother usually abandons one.

There is no real research that shows that pandas have a problem reproducing in the wild, but in captivity their libido drops and the males often seem uninterested in sex. Panda breeders have come up with a few different ways to get the timid creatures to get down. They have shown the pandas "Pandaporn" which is basically just video and audio of other pandas having sex. They also have developed a form of "sexercise" for them that helps get their legs and sexual organs in shape for the big show.

I really hope that the pandas are okay, abut according to Fan it will only take about 2 - 3 generations at this rate for the pandas to become a fond memory. Hopefully we can do something about this, but development of land is a very hard thing to stop and rarely is it ever that humans will put themselves aside to save another species of our earthbound brethren.

Posted Monday, August 17, 2009 4:18 PM by cstanton | with no comments
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The video for Modest Mouse's song "King Rat" has just been released on Myspace within the last week or so, its a great song and a great video, so check it out.

Posted Monday, August 17, 2009 3:56 PM by cstanton | with no comments
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I have just recently learned that a few artists that I listen to have more to their music than meets the ear. It actually meets the eye! (corny, I know.) 

I was messing around on youtube and I saw that Aphex Twin's song, Equation, had a video that showed the audio played through a spectrogram. A spectrogram is a visual graph showing the change in the spectral density of a signal over a span of time.

At the end of the song, at around 5:30 there's an image of his face! I originally was extremely impressed by this, as I thought that the name of the song, Equation, had something to do with the way that he wrote at least this part of the track. I did a very little bit of research and found this program: Coagula.

Coagula is able to take any image and reverse the process. You simply give the program an image file and it writes an audio file that when played through a spectrogram shows the image. 

Here's a couple of examples: 

Aphex Twin - Equation
Check at 5:27 for "The Face"

This is "Look," the last track on the Venetian Snares album "Songs About My Cats"

Posted Monday, August 17, 2009 2:26 PM by cstanton | 1 comment(s)
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The other night my roommate and I were going through the movies on his PS3 when we came across one called "Dark Days." The title struck me because it sounds like a badass movie title, so we began to watch it. The intro scene had me hooked.

The director, Marc Singer, was originally born in London and moved to Florida when he was 16. When he graduated highschool he moved to New York City. After a little while, he had befriended many of the homeless around the city. He had heard rumors of a group of people that lived underground in the Freedom Tunnel, running from Penn Station to a little north of Harlem. He then went to investigate.

After seeing the tunnel and its inhabitants, the idea to create a documentary on their lives sprang into his mind and it became a way to make a great piece of art and hopefully a way to help the subjects of the film financially. After a couple months of living with them down in the darkness, Singer was able to begin the filming. The crew consisted of himself and a few of the homeless in the tunnel. They made all of the equipment that they needed like lighting and dollies to keep the camera steady from scrap in the tunnel. The filming began.

The way that these people live is pretty amazing and hard to believe. They live in almost complete darkness, with only lights wired with stolen electricity from the tunnel. They build their homes out of scrapwood and cardboard and metal sheet, their beds out of straw or trashed clothes and maybe an abandoned mattress from above. Some just sleep on the dirt floor. What I found really interesting is the range in social ability of the people that lived in the tunnel. Some seemed to be almost completely normal while others were clearly drug users. Some had "nice" or at least livable homes while others slept with no more than newspapers. The documentary really opens up eyes and gives you a real look into the lives of the dark dwelling homeless. It shows the struggle that some of them go through to live, it shows the little disagreements, the full blown arguments, and shows the few similarities, good and bad, that the tunnel dwellers share.

During the filming, Amtrak made the decision to forcibly evict the people that lived down in the tunnel. This caused Singer and a friend of his and photographer, Margaret Morton to go to the Coalition for the Homeless for help. Eventually, after showing some of the documentary and providing some of the subjects' information they were able to get housing vouchers for some of the subjects from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This alone was worth the time and effort that Singer had put in, but it also was what made the documentary so moving.

Apart from the whole documentary side of the film, the post-production and the soundtrack are impeccable. Fittingly, the soundtrack was done by DJ Shadow and features songs from his album Entroducing... which is a really really cool album. The whole reason i found the intro so appealing was because of his music. You should check out the film! I have posted below the first 10 minutes of the film.

Posted Thursday, August 13, 2009 1:51 PM by cstanton | with no comments
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30,000 homing pigeons have gone missing after a long distance race between Schoningen, Germany and Chorzow, Poland. The race was in late June and was 600-kilometers (373-miles) long and featured 50,000 carrier pigeons. When the race was over, only 20,000 birds showed up at the finish. The birds' owners are upset, saying that the organizers are responsible as they did not call off the race for a series of storms and high winds between the start and finish of the race. Polish authorities are now investigating the matter. According to Polish law, the "meditated destruction of the animal world in large numbers" is punishable by a large fine or up to two years in prison. By not calling off the race, the organizers may be held responsible for violating this law. Many of the birds may still be alive between the start and the finish but the bad conditions may have gotten them to give up on the race. 

I would like to think that the pigeons are still alive somewhere out there, but as long as I have lived pigeons seem to be pretty stupid and may have just kept focused on flying which would decrease their chances of living in a bad storm. As for the organizers, I think they're stupid, but at the same time, more glory for the birds that did finish! Hopefully they'll have some little feathered grandkids to tell their story to. 

Posted Thursday, August 13, 2009 12:27 PM by cstanton | 2 comment(s)
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So, the other weekend me and a few friends were about to go to Wakulla Springs. My friend Miller has a ridiculous amount of hair on his body and is self-conscious about it. He refused to let us go until he had somehow removed his back hair. This is how we did it. 

 

Posted Monday, August 10, 2009 3:58 PM by cstanton | with no comments
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The weekend of the 29th and 30th is approaching and with it comes the North Florida Wine and Food Festival at the Tallahassee Automobile Museum.

The festival is kicked off with the Winemaker's Dinner at 6:30 P.M. the night of the 29th. Phil Wente of Wente's Vineyards, from California, will be presenting 5 of his best wines. Each will be served with a corresponding entree that will be cooked up by Jim Koenigsberg, the head chef at the Dedman School of Hospitality.

I personally won't be able to attend the Winemaker's Dinner, since I don't have a date to buy a $125 ticket for me, but I'm sure for those with extra cash it will be well worth it. What has me excited is sunday afternoon's Grand Wine Tasting ($40 in advance and $50 at the door). I'll be heading up to the Tallahassee Automobile Museum a little early for a tour, which costs only $5 extra, but the wine tasting begins at 5:00 P.M. and will last until 8:00 P.M. That's 3 hours of sampling over 150 types of wine. 25 of Tallahassee's local restaurants will be participating and will be serving dishes from their menus. All of the restaurants are participating at their own expense to help raise money to keep the Dedman School afloat in these hard times. FSU has warned that they may have to cut the school due to a huge budget cut from the legislature.

For a $5 you will also be able to tour the museum prior to the tasting, the last tour begins at 4:45 P.M. on Sunday.

Buy your tickets HERE

These are a few of the wineries on hand for Sunday's tasting:

Beringer
Ferrari Carano
Chateau St. Jean
Robert Mondavi
Erath (Oregon)
Markham
Hanna
Jordan
Mumm Napa
Louis Latour (France)
Antinori (Italy)
Clos du Bois
Chateau Wines (France)
Campo Viejo (Spain)
Nederberg (South Africa)
Toso (Argentina)
Far Niente
Rodney Strong
Sterling
Chateau Ste. Michelle
Franciscan
Mt. Veeder
Geyser Peak
Rutherford Hill
Gloria Ferrer
Ruffino (Italy)
Kim Crawford (Australia)
Clos du Val
Momokawa Sake
Sandeman (Portugal)
Veramonte (Chile)

 

Posted Monday, August 10, 2009 12:55 PM by cstanton | with no comments
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