Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Wii-mote Mino-wity Wii-port

I saw a link to the webpage of this guy, Johnny Chung Lee, while reading my tri-weekly dose of profane humor at In it, he describes how he's used the Nintendo Wii's controller to create different input devices, for instance, tracking the fingertips a la Minority Report, albeit in 2-D. It's pretty rudimentary, and actually somewhat elementary once you understand the basics of what he's working with, but considering the ease and and common availability of what he's talking about - he points out that there are more wiis out there than tablet PCs, making it one of the most common electronic input devices - it really makes me wonder why I'm still using a mouse and keyboard. Or at least a mouse.

He does note that he's planning on working on 3-D tracking using the "Wiimote" with the same principles ~ something that would mainly be constrained by the infrared camera's resolution, I assume. Anyway, it's fun watching his well-presented videos.

I'm embedding a youtube video where he uses the wii to track the head for a virtual-reality-type display.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Colbert's portrait hanging in the National Portrait Gallery

Stephen Colbert has successfully managed to get his portrait into the National Portrait Gallery, there to hang next to other important images like portraits of the founding fathers and the sign saying "all employees must wash hands before returning to work."
The article is pretty funny as it cites Colbert's "sack work" as very persuasive and instrumental in getting his portrait hung there.
Of course, the portrait is only there for six weeks and is NOT joining the gallery's collection (not YET, as we hope).

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Oh noez! They be takin' mah Scrabulous!

OMG. It's happening. Hasbro and Mattel, who split ownership of the Scrabble trademark, have asked the Indian developers of Scrabulous (or the Faboo Scraboo as I call it) to remove Scrabulous from Facebook!

According to the BBC article, they claim that Scrabulous is infringing their copyrights. Now, I have no idea why the BBC links Hasbro's and Mattel's Scrabble trademark ownership to copyrights, but I assume BBC means that Hasbro and Mattel (H&M) split ownership of certain copyrighted materials in Scrabble. I don't think there's really any question that the identical Scrabble board, game rules, tile values, and tile counts (and more) are copyrights.

One problem is if H&M think they can make their own online Scrabble game, they might want to choke off competition to open the field for their game. Another problem is the amount of control H&M could exert on licensees might be hard to negotiate. They might insist on name changes, design changes, advertising changes, etc. I hope that H&M is willing to give these guys a license. In any case, SOS ~ Save our Scrabulous!

Edit: Here's an interesting blog on this story from the BBC with an insightful quote: "my point is that, as Google has already found, the early dreams of being a happy-clappy, open-source, 'do no evil' kind of business soon fade when the realisation dawns that you are worth suing."

Edit: Here's a link from Yahoo to a video from ABC news. Basically the same stuff, but it does reveal that Hasbro sold a license to Electronic Arts a few months ago for electronic versions of its games. I'm guessing that means Scrabulous is going the way of the dodo. /cry

Monday, January 14, 2008

Smurfy 50th Smurfiversary!

Wow, the Smurfs are old. 50-years-old to be precise. I just remember watching them in the '80s and getting a Smurf Sing-Along LP album. In retrospect, I never really liked them, but it was better than watching the other stuff on TV. As much as I enjoy golf now as Saturday naptime TV, I despised it when I was ten.

So have a Smurftastic Smurfiversary... Now it's time to celebrate with 99 smurfs on 1 smurfette action.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Surf's Up in Half Moon Bay!

Wow ~ the world class Mavericks Surf Contest is going to be held tomorrow off Half Moon Bay, just over the hills from where I live. It must be amazing to see how that small community copes with the large number of people that show up for that event. It's bad enough on normal weekends with beach-goers and hikers, but with an international surf contest it must be craaazy.

Apparently, the Mavericks MySpace page will be having a live web-cast of the event, and the organizers are trying to tell people to stay away to avoid impacting the sensitive coastal flora and fauna. As the ninja turtles, who as denizens of the NY sewer are such poseurs for sounding like stereotypical surfer dudes, would say, the contest will be totally tubular, man.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Proposed closure of state parks!

I read in SFGate that the governuh's budget plan includes the proposed closure of 48 State Parks/Recreational Areas/etc. The full list is here, but the primary impact to me would be the closure of 9 in the Bay Area. To my relief, these closures would be temporary until the State budget situation improves, with reduced budgets going to patrols of the closed parks. In any case, I don't think I've been to the State parks mentioned, although I'm a big fan of the State Park system.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

w00t ~ word of the year for 2007!

Merriam-Webster has named "w00t" the word of the year for 2007. Although I've been using w00t! for years ~ I remember using it during my Everquest days, possibly as early as 2001 ~ apparently the movement in the English language towards texting and computer aided communication has brought this celebratory phrase to the forefront.

I own (or pwn) this shirt. It's sweet and now has a culturally significant word on it.