Category Archives: products

Free Speech and Spying

I used to think that there was little chance the government would be spying on me.

But then I realized that I correspond with people all over the world by email. Moreover, people all over the world come to this site. Take a look at my website hits from the last day or so: location map of recent visitors
This is pretty typical. A recent breakdown is just over half of the visitors are USA citizens, leaving over 40% to be distributed over the rest of the world.

I’ve noticed lots of different activity on my website. There have been bots (programs) that state their purpose as ‘total website downloaders’, which tend to be from places that don’t have good laws on freedom of speech (I think they are trying to get as much of the internet as they can while they have access). I’ve had hits from Pyongyang, North Korea. I have lots of visitors from China. A posts on game theory was visited by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (probably a bored technician). When I linked to a post critical of the Philosophical Gourmet Report, I had a hit from a UChicagoLaw web server.

With all the recent discoveries about the scope of the US government’s spying—it’s open season on communications to any non-citizen outside the country (which many philosophers are) and 3 degrees of separation from a target (remember, it is thought that everyone in the world is only 6 degrees from everyone else)—it is almost a given that they are monitoring my internet communications in some way. And since they are monitoring me, they are probably monitoring you, too.

I don’t like it, not one bit. But now there is something that can be done about it! Bitmessage is a secure messaging service. It can’t be monitored, at least not in the way they have backdoor access to email. It is encrypted such that only the intended recipient can access the message, and everyone else can’t even know who it is from or to whom it is going. So grab the program and send your first message that the government can’t see! Experience actual freedom of speech, without fear of being monitored, and send me a bitmessage here:

BM-Gu22xaEsuH2NdDabHzTvB4JtV3NSsBNG

Posted in news, products, technology.

For the Classy Wittgensteinian

Stylish Wine Filled Fly-Bottle


Posted in design, products, wittgenstein. Tagged with .

Holy crap, it’s The Matrix for chickens

No, really:

http://io9.com/5885510/holy-crap-its-the-matrix-for-chickens

[Sent to me by my brother. Thanks bro!]

Posted in ethics, philosophy, products, technology. Tagged with , , .

The SEP on the Kindle

Reading on a computer screen is often not pleasant, especially when a lot of reading has to  be done. This is a general problem for philosophy since nearly everything is in PDF format and if you don’t want to print out a tree’s worth of paper you are stuck.

I got a Kindle.  Kindles can handle PDFs, but what I just found out is that Kindles can do the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy quite well.  KindleI downloaded the webpage and then deleted the content from the top of the page down to the start of the article.  Then I used Calibre to convert the webpage into Kindle format.  It looks great and the images come out well.

So I did some poking around, and found out that if you use a Firefox extension called “Download Them All” you can download a webpage and all the links on that webpage, i.e. you could go the contents page of the SEP and then download all the articles linked there.  Basically you could have the entire SEP on your Kindle and be good to go.

Posted in philosophy, products, technology. Tagged with , , .

Video Game Design 4: Matrix Bullet-time

Johnny Chung Lee pretty much shocked the entire video game world (and lots of others) with this video (5.8 million views, 5/5 star rating with 21,000 votes):

This is a pretty nifty bit of engineering, using the off the shelf Wii Remote and a relatively cheap extra (safety glasses with IR leds <15$) to provide a very high level virtual reality setup.

Secondly Nintendo has recently come out with the Wii Balance Board. This peripheral can accurately measure your weight distribution.

If we combine the potential of head tracking with weight distribution it would be possible to create a very accurate Matrix-style dodging bullets experience, simulating what is seen in this clip:

This would be a damn sweet feature if integrated into a full action game. It could likely be accomplished with head-tracking alone, but the combination of board, head-tracking, and Wii Motion Plus makes for near full body integration. The Matrix franchise is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the technology, seeing as everyone wears sunglasses in the movie anyway.

Posted in design, fun, products, Wii. Tagged with , , , , .

Video Game Design 2: Marionette Theater

Apropos my first post on video game design, I have thought up a new “game” for the Wii. It is a marionette theater simulator: you would get to create virtual marionettes, with customizable bodies and outfits (Mii integration if possible, lots of different clothing options), and levels would include performing different scenes from plays or entire plays. The accelerometers of the Wii controllers would function as the strings on the virtual marionettes. As you tilt the controllers different ‘strings’ would get pulled or slackened moving the different parts of the marionette’s body.

Interactive audio effects would be crucial: recorded voice acting for characters, dynamic background music and sound effects (e.g. when a marionette hits a wall, a thud could be made), with karaoke-style text of the characters’ lines scrolling across the screen, as an option (voice recognition, if possible). A scene/play creation mode would allow players access to creating their own sets, characters, and lines, giving the game infinite replay value (online sharing of new sets, characters, etc., and entire plays, if possible). Buttons could trigger effects on stage, change the motion control to different characters, have the marionettes pick objects up, change camera angle, etc.

If saving a marionette performance and text-to-voice is included (with user-defined manipulations – angry, soft, loud, etc.) a playwright could produce his or her play on the Wii and immediately distribute its virtual staging. This could be done by recording the output of the Wii, but if the Wii could upload and download complete performances, it would become an artistic platform.

A good puppet show is something amazing. Check out these scenes from Being John Malkovich done by Phil Huber:

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Creativity

Lifehack.org is giving away a db clay wallet for the best tip on how to be or stay creative.

Here’s what I said:

Creativity comes from ruthlessness.

Being thoroughly ruthless with what you have and what has been done will allow you to create something new. If there is something that is equal to your abilities, i.e. you do not have command of it, then that thing is something new, at least for you.

If you are unwilling to be ruthless then you will know that the work you are doing does not require your full attention and you will be selling yourself and your creativity short.

Posted in art, design, motivation, products. Tagged with , , , .

Check out Spoonbuzz

Y’all should check out Spoonbuzz. It’s a blog dedicated to marketing in the best possible way: making your vision of yourself and your world a reality. I guess the way I think of it is a cross between motivational speaking and down and dirty marketing advice from a ‘I want to be in marketing for the next 40 years’ guy. And that is a direct quote because Josh is a buddy of mine. So go to his blog and sign up for the rss feed.

Posted in internet, marketing, motivation, products. Tagged with , , , , , .

Video Game design

I’ve bought meself a Wii and I quite like it. But there needs to be some more killer games.. freaking mercury meltdown got delayed. So for some reason – this is a first for me – I thought of a video game design. Simply put it is a spy game. The interesting thing is that each level is composed of 2 parts: the first part is a ‘training’ program put on by the spy agency to train the spy in what needs to be done. This ‘training program’ will not make use of the Wii motion sensors but will feature classic style gameplay only. Then the spy is sent on the mission but now to do everything will require using the motion controls. This game design will specific highlight the immersion that the motion controls bring to the game by contrasting them with the classic controls for doing the exact same operation. Also, the game design is efficient by reusing aspects of the same level design twice, though with different art direction, and differences in the ‘training’ and ‘mission’ – due to ‘incomplete intelligence’ – will make for good surprises. Ok game makers, hop to.

Posted in design, products, technology, Wii. Tagged with , , , , .