Friday, May 30, 2008

The Kamen Arm

Dean Kamen, a really smart guy with alot of money and resources has been developing a replacement limb for the last two years. He was inspired by wounded servicemen and women he visited, and what he and his team have created is breathtaking. Here is a video from Walt Mossberg's All Things D conference:

As an OIF vet, and the son of a disabled vet who has had to FIGHT FOR YEARS to get his due, I am just in awe that the DOD is supporting this. This is so amazing and shows what one truly philanthropic mind can do. To his credit, Kamen has also developed a highly mobile wheelchair, the iBOT, as well as the slightly more commercial Segway. I hope this arm develops more along the way of the Segway and becomes more widely available and affordable for those who need it. I've followed this story for awhile and I can't wait to see where else this goes.


Thursday, May 29, 2008


This is me:
So, I finally jumped into Flickring and set up myself a little photostream. Mostly, so I could occasionally post something into the Strobist group pool with the off chance that someone will C&C and help me get better. Actually, I know that in order for me to get better I have to shoot more, but I think the C&C always helps, especially if it is coming from your peers. Ain't social networking grand!

Anyway, here's an old shot that I put in the photostream of Renae.

I hope to keep adding photos from my "archive" as I go, but plan to host mostly new shots. I'd probably post more older ones if I could, but I'm concerned about posting photos of people from whom I've not received consent. Its an ethical drama I'd rather not get involved in.

Got to visit Malone & Co/Torchwerks today...

This morning I got to visit Malone & Co and Torchwerks today to visit with Ben Drickey about some work things. I was pretty excited because I've been a big fan of their work for awhile now, both photo- and video-wise. The principle photographers, Mike Malone, Geoff Johnson and Andrew Marinkovich are crazy talented, and I think Torchwerks, their video creation wing, is no different. Here's a video they did for First National Bank of Omaha and you can see more from their arsenal and reels.

From time to time I get to play with video and editing at work. Of course, I know just enough to get myself into trouble, and have been concerned with the quality of light available for my shoots. Ben, one of the principles at Torchwerks, gave up some of his time this morning to do a lighting consult and help me explore some workflow options.

Anyway it was a great visit. It started with me meeting Patty Malone, who was kind enough to give me a quick tour while I waited for Ben. She introduced me to a lot of the staff, who were already engrossed in their work at 8 a.m. 

An interesting thing about Malone & Co.: they seem to work in mostly dim lighting. I wasn't sure if it would sound jerky to ask why, so I bit my tongue, but I wonder if it might help develop super-keen photographic senses (like Daredevil with a 1Ds) or enhance their post processing abilities. Then again, maybe it just helps save them money when it comes time for the utilities bill.

I've had only a few opportunities to work with the guys from Torchwerks, but I have to blog how impressed I am with their willingness to share their knowledge. And not just in a nuts and bolts way, either. I had a nice little conversation with Jamie and Mike about the benefits of having a general arts education vs. a specific career path, and Ben essentially gave me a mini-workshop on lighting for video (I'm glad that I've been reading the Strobist the last couple of months, otherwise I probably would have been a little more lost). Great people those folks, inspiration for how to work and share as a creative.

Friday, May 23, 2008

From the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness...

Spent WAY too much time yesterday playing the new Penny Arcade game. It was a hell of a lot of fun, and probably the best quasi-RPG that I've played in a long-ass while. I can definitely see how it might be more directed at the so-called "casual" gamer: it saves constantly and is broken down into pretty digestible chunks of missions. You bounce around from one area to another pretty regularly as you try to complete the 10 cases that comprise Episode 1. AND Fruit Fuckers are plentiful.

Also, you get to beat the shit out of magic-wielding dark mimes. DARK MIMES, I say!

I had a slight problem with installing the game on my Mac, but after I got that taken care of, it all ran smoothly. I have a couple of smallish gripes about game play, though. First, the go-and-fetch-it style of game play is a little boring to me. I know this is a classic part of RPG games, but I found it slightly tedious at times. I guess it gave me a good reason to kill hobos and collect their "meat," or to get a mini-ferris wheel for some guy to piss on (yes, seriously), but the rewards don't make as much sense to the story-line as I think they should have at that moment in the game. It pays off down the road, of course, but I was all like: Why do I now have a jar of Ultimate Piss?

The other problem I had was object collection. Treasure chests abound, overflowing with goodness (though they are often empty). And every time you reenter an area, they re
-spawn. So if you're ever low on items, you can run around smashing shit and quickly build up your reserves until you hit your max carry limit. But this becomes pretty tedious. I would have preferred some kind of store, or barter system, or something to supplement my smashing things like a rabid lemur.

The battle system is pretty intuitive, and it seems to me the crux of being really 
good at battle is mastering the fucking block. I say the "fucking" block, because it is a demonic bitch to get right. When an enemy attacks, their health bar will flash when it is the optimal time to block. Too early or late, and you likely get your ass drilled because even partial blocks mean you get bitch slapped (see right, from PA). 

But if you time it just right, you can nullify their attacks, or even counter and get in a free attack. It's a neat twist on the turn-based gameplay, and makes you watch your enemies as much as your own battle display. I call it a demonic bitch, but you have to understand...I love me some demonic bitch. I think it hits right in the sweet spot of challenge-reward.

The story is interesting and the characterization is  pretty much what you'd expect from PA. If it's your type of humor, you'll be giggling in your seat like I was. The creative direction also meets expectation for the PA brand (and let's be honest, this isn't some kind of Mom & Pop indie game, I reckon this is brand expansion at its best), and the 3D models look and move great. I read that they did not add voice over beside the narrator because every PA reader has their own voices for Tycho and Gabe...too true. A very prudent move on their part.

I'm almost done here, only a couple of more things to say. First, I hope the story continues as strongly in future episodes, and though I wish the game play will get tweaked in the future (Wouldn't it be awesome to have characters use differnt kinds of weapons? Certain enemies have weaknesses to only one time of weapon making your other two characters pretty much useless), I don't really expect it to. That's fine, I can live with it. I wonder how much future episodes will cost to download...I haven't seen that figure out there anywhere.

I'll be waiting for them though. Nice job Tycho and Gabe! and Hothead!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Keep it going...

I figured I toss another post out here since I haven't in FOREVER. 

I just wanted to say thanks to ThenAndAgain's Lights, Camera... for posting after they got their GI wireless triggers...way last year. It was still awesome. The post helped me troubleshoot the misfiring of my 430EX on the "eBay" triggers I just got (if you get them on Craigslist, then are they craigslist triggers?) in like 30 seconds. 

Very nice.

Anyway, I hope to start posting some more here, including photos and Strobist-y stuff. I want to build up my portfolio as I learn before I do my own website. If anyone at all is reading this (I doubt it) more will come soon(ish).