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Post appocaliptic road in the the Blue Hills

September 4th, 2013

In the Blue Hills Reservation there is a really fascinating site to see. Running from Houghton Pond along 93 you will find the old remains of Blue Hill River Road origionaly part of 128.

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Iron Blogger, Why?

June 14th, 2012

Beer Steins Are Raised as the Concord Singers Practice Singing German Songs in New Ulm, Minnesota...
So I still haven’t dealt with this yet and realize that this might be the only gimmee post I can have for this. So here goes a quick bit on what is Iron Blogger and why am I trying my hand at it.

What is Iron Blogger? Basically its a group of people that what to try to get better at blogging writing and use drinking as punishment. The basic rules are that you need to post once a week or else you pay $5 into a pool once that pool gets big enough a social gathering is organized (usually with drinks in mind) and is paid for from the aforementioned pool. The results are automated and based off of the RSS feed from your blog and the ongoing tallies are automated and published for shame and enjoyment here.

This current incarnation has been organized by Mako Hill and the results live here. My understanding that that this from of punishment, torture, and reward originated at the MIT Media Lab but has since branched out to include others (such as myself)

So why am I doing this? Just a little ways in and its apparent that I’m not exactly a frequent blogger. I think is actualy fr that exact reason that I am putting my self out there. Writing has always been a point of anxyity for me and like many mental activities form puzzles to math, writing is kind f like a muscle in the sense that you need regular workouts. So with hope this bit of anxyity will become ever more fruitful and effortless the mre I practice.

Hey otherwise I just am buying drinks for a bunch of cool folks, but what else is new.

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Apple and squash soup

March 24th, 2012

This recipe is fantastic in the fall but is good anytime as well.

2 quartered and peeled parsnips
2 apples green pealed and cored
1 large winter squash (I like butternut)
3-4 table spoons of butter
4 cups chicken or vegiee broth
Small amount of leek sliced thin
1 to 1 1/2 cups of water
3 tbs of bourbon
1 tea spoon of cinnamon
1 tea spoon of black pepper
Sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat an oven to 400°. Begin by cutting the squash in half. Gutting it and separating the seeds out. Brush the squash with vegetable oil and place on a baking sheet face down. Rise seeds and toss in oil. Put seeds on backing sheet around the squash. Place in oven once it is preheated to temp. Toast seeds until golden and remove from the oven and set aside. They will be done well before the squash so keep an eye on them. Cook squash until tender. You know you are done when you can stick a fork in through the skin easily.

Once seeds are done and while the squash and is still cooking add butter to soup pot and saute apples and parsnips over medium heat. Add some sliced leeks (no more then a small hand full) and continue to cook over med heat until parsnips are tender. If the squash is still cooking it is ok to shut off heat on the apples and parsnips or keep on low until it the squash is done.

Once the baked squash is done (use the fork test mentioned earlier to know) remove from oven let cool for a minute or so. Flip the squash over and scoop out squash into soup pot and add to the saute stirring it in with the other ingredients. Bring the heat back up to medium and add broth continuing to stir. Add bourbon Keep heat and add a small amount of water over the next 30 to 40 minutes. Add pepper and cinnamon.

Reduce heat to low and using a stick blender puree the pot. Add water as needed to get a thickness you desire. Let stand for a moment or so.

Serve with in a bowl or cup with toasted seeds and shredded cheddar cheese over top for garnish and added flavor.

Enjoy!

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Radio Sux (or is basically all the same)

March 5th, 2012

Sound technicians setting up the turn-table and amplifiers for the first "talkies" in Australia, 1927-1928

I’m just getting in from a long drive back from Woodstock, NY where I was stuck with only radio. Well not only radio I did have an MP3 player with me, after all even the most basic dumb phone these days has an MP3 player, but I like sampling whats on the airwaves in different communities when on a road trip so radio it was. Normally other then listening to news on NPR and the occasional collage station I avoid radio when home in Boston.

I have realized how homogenized radio has become over the past few decades. But that has been obvious with things like Clear Chanel’s rise to dominance. What was interesting about this trip was listening to Little Steven’s Underground Garage. I’ve heard former musicians’ syndicated radio shows before like Dee Snider’s House of Hair, but hearing Little Steven was new to me.

My trip started out with listening to him on my home town station WDST 100.1 Radio Woodstock. It is usually the station I’m locked to when in Woodstock and has produced some amazing DJ’s in the past such as Nic Harcourt now the radio director for KCRW a truly influential and unique public radio music station. What WDST had on was Little Steven’s Underground Garage. Little Steven’s voice is perfect for radio and he has a pedigree of rock royalty as a founding member of the E Street Band. The tunes were a perfect blend of cool driving music and excellent for a road trip.

Where I started getting triped up was when I started to lose WDST and switched over to WPYX 106.5 out of Albany, NY and got hit with the same show. Same ad’s, same Abbot and Costello bits, and same cleb sound bites. And then it happened again when I hit Springfield and switched over to WAQY 102. Same show AGAIN! Even down to the ads.

So I dig Little Steven’s program but I’m a little lost on where his show comes from. WDST has him listed as a DJ and the show is apparently syndicated even world wide through Radio Free America but I can’t figure out where it originates from. WDST would make sense. Woodstock as a community has long been established as a haven for amazing musical talent but I’m unsure.

What was really strange about the experience was that each time I picked it up it was at a different time slot and seemed to roll right along with me on repeat as I went down the Mass Pike.

I’m all for amazing musical selection being brought to communities that don’t have a Little Steven in them, but I’m left wondering if there is any original local radio anymore?

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Anti SOPA PIPA Blackout

January 18th, 2012

I blacked this blog out today in solidarity with others who oppose the current proposed legislation known as SOPA and PIPA. I along with many others feel that these two proposed laws would greatly harm the openness and functionality of the internet. This is not an endorsement of the destruction of intellectual property but rather a call to have more thought put into such an important and critical piece of legislation.

For more reading on SOPA/PIPA you can check out The Berkman Community Responds to SOPA/PIPA page for links to some amazing analysis of why SOPA/PIPA is so bad.

This black out was done using a modified plugin done by Dan Collis-Puro on our systems team. The plugin was made generic so that it can be used by anyone on blogs.law.harvard.edu for any reason or cause.

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The year of video games as art?

May 24th, 2011

A lot of debate erupted last year with Roger Eberts Twitter comment that video games can not be art.

The obvious complication in the debate over video games as art is rooted in the definition of art and the fact that art is largely in the eye of the beholder. This however has been a year where video games have been thrust into venues and spaces traditionally reserved for art. This shift, at least to me is an affirmation that this medium can be art. Bellow is just a few examples of what I am referring to here.

Video Game Orchestra: The VGO founded by Berklee College of Music alumni Shota Nakama is at its core an ensemble of some amazing classically trained musicians who perform video game music. At first to someone not versed in the medium this sounds a bit cartoonish or childish, but music in games has progressed a long way. Its composition and arangment now reviles motion picture sound tracks. Pieces from games like the Final Fantasy series or even the Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time can stir the same emotional response as modern classical can. Their approach does have some more non-traditional classical elements to it. A lot of video game music is synthesized and incorporates guitar (not traditional orchestral instrumentation). The VGO matches this with their talent and rockestral instrumentation. Watching them play something like the theme to Street Fighter II, a 16bit synthesized and programed track, with out the assistance of sequencers is simply an amazing show of talent.

The VGO for the past few years has been performing mainly to video game fans at venues like PAX East. However earlier this year on April Fools day (not sure if there was a tie in) the VGO performed with a full orchestra and choir at the prestigious Boston Symphony Hall. The Final Fantasy suite from that evening is embedded below for your consideration as art.

Smithsonian Institute Video Game Art Exhibit and List: The prestigious Smithsonian Institute, the US government’s educational and research institution put out a call earlier this year for public voting on what should be included in their The Art of Video Games exhibit now on until September 30, 2012. The curators of the exhibit reserved Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, The Secret of Monkey Island, Myst, and World of Warcraft to be included but left the rest up to the public. The final list is very interesting and can be found here in PDF form. The curators recognized that a certain granularity was needed to define eras and technical capabilities and broke the list into respective categories and even systems.
Details on the exhibit can be found here.

Video Games Won Their First Grammy: That’s right a Grammy! The track “Baba Yetu” from Sid Myer’s Civilization IV won the first Grammy for any music originally composed for a video game. Now there are some tecnical trickery here in how it won. Civilization IV came out in 2005 and “Baba Yetu” is the opening title track composed by Christopher Tin. In 2009 Tin included the track on his own album and it was later nominated and won for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s). As of the 53rd Grammys there was no specific category that included video game music but that is changing. The categories that were formally listed as “Motion, Television, or Other Visual Media” have now been renamed earlier this year to say “Motion, Television, Video Games Music, or Other Visual Media”.

National Endowment for the Arts: Earlier this month the National Endowment for the Arts changed its criteria for The Arts on Radio and Television to now be The Arts in Media.

“Projects may include high profile multi-part or single television and radio programs (documentaries and dramatic narratives); media created for theatrical release; performance programs; artistic segments for use within an existing series; multi-part webisodes; installations; and interactive games. Short films, five minutes and under, will be considered in packages of three or more.”
More here if you wish to apply!

Conclusion
My point here in the post is not to argue that video games are art, but rather run with the notion that art is art when it is received as art and that video games this year seem to be being viewed as art by some very prestigious groups in that space. The question is a lot less simple but, I do leave it up to you. Can video games be art?

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April Fools Fun from Across the Web.

April 1st, 2011

On the holiday of fun a few things the got be to laugh today.

Chromercise! http://chromercise.com/ kinda like Jazzercise but with a web browser.

ShopSavy and GreyScalehttp://shopsavvy.mobi/

Scientific American feels so ashamed: http://www.scientificamerican.com/articl…

NPR Advances In 3-D May Mean No Ridiculous Glasseshttp://www.npr.org/2011/04/01/135033545/…

Union of Concerned Scientistshttp://action.ucsusa.org/site/Ecard?ecar…

Groupon‘s Patent application for well April Fools Day: http://groupon.s3.amazonaws.com/april-fo…

Blizzard Entertainment with StarCraft Motion: http://us.blizzard.com/en-us/games/conso…

Rock, Paper Shotgun‘s explination of ye’ old DRM measure by Ubi Soft: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/04/…

XKCD in 3D: http://xkcd.com/878/

Google is hiring Auto Compleaters: http://www.google.com/intl/en/jobs/usloc…

Think Geek‘s Arsenic Based Sea Monkeys and the Playmobil Apple Store Playset:
 http://www.thinkgeek.com/interests/loofl…

 http://www.thinkgeek.com/interests/loofl…

Bungie brings Pimps at Sea franchise into the social space with PimpsVille: http://www.bungie.net/News/content.aspx?…

Just google helvetica: Go on try it!

Slashdot Madlibs: Slashdot.org

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What is in my bag for PAX East 2011

March 7th, 2011

PAX East

This will be my second PAX event and I learned a lot from last year’s inaugural PAX East as to what I should bring and strategies for how to manage my time. There is a ton of stuff to see and do and you will NOT get to everything you want to see.

So what am I bringing?

My North Face messenger bag: Basically this is my man purse that comes with me everywhere, but because its a shoulder bag I can quickly put away swag and other goodies I pick up along the way without having to pull off a backpack and stand there with promotional ‘crap’ in my hand that I just don’t care to look at then and there.

iPhone: With this one again I never leave the house without it and this will be my life line for 3 days. Access to Twitter, schedules, friends, table top gaming apps, and maybe some Street Fighter IV or Game Dev Story while waiting in line.

iPhone charger: With the amount I know I will be using my phone this will need to charge me up at some point in the day.

GameBoy(s): I love my GameBoys and plan on bringing at least 1 each day with a few carts. I may mix this up with an Advance and a classic but there will be 2 carts of Tetris for some head to head play with someone. Hey when else can you tote around a 1989 Gameboy and get props for it? As far as carts Tetris is a must and probably some SuperMario World but don’t want to bring my whole collection.

Magic: The Gathering Deck: There was a MTG deck in last years goodies bag that helped pull me back into the game. This year I want to make sure I get at least a few games in with people I never play. For this I plan on bringing my Elf deck that a friend made and gave to me for my birthday. This deck is not standard legal so it will be only for free play. Any tournament play be in a sealed deck game so no worries here. While an Elf deck is a bit cliche it is still my most powerful deck and my Dickwolves Deck is not done so the Elves will have to do.

Game counters: A small drawstring bag of game counters and dice.

Pandemic: Pandemic is a small and easy to carry board game and could be fun with the right people. It may find its way into my bag but only for a day no more.

Pen and Paper: You still need these things from time to time these days.

Gamer Tag Cards: If I have time I want to get my gamer tags and twitter on a business card to hand out at PAX. I met a lot of cool gamers last year and would love to be able to play with them some time. The only problem was exchanging contact info was always a too difficult under the circumstances. If I can I want this in hand for this year.

Camera: I actually don’t have one so if I can borrow one this will absolutely be in my bag. There are too many cool things to see from cos-play to game previews so the camera will come in handy a lot.

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Games for teaching Computer Science

November 20th, 2010

Mini-Pecha Kucha presentation for ED102: Exploring Educational Technologies, Fall 2010 taught through the Harvard Extension School at Harvard University. The presentation focuses on a using video games for teaching computer science skills. A brief history of this space and some of the fundamental concepts will be introduced as well as a quick discussion of 3 games in particular LOGO, Alice, and Scratch is included.

Games to teach Computer Science

This presentation is a mini-pecha kucha presentation with 10 slides set to auto advance every 30 seconds. The recording was done using Power Point playing the presentation in real time. Quick Time in Apple OSX 10.6 was used to take the screen capture with a Blue Snowball microphone used to capture audio. The presentation was done a good 30+ times with this one following the timing of the slide transition the best. This condensed format is very powerful as it forces you as a presenter to hone your points and stay on topic during a very rapid fire stream of slides.

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Awasome DIY Book Scanning

March 23rd, 2010

“The Why in DIY Book Scanning” talk with Daniel Reetz should be very interesting to people in the Make and home DIY electronics geeks out there.

We at the Berkman center will be webcasting this starting in a few mins. For some more info go to http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/events/lunc…

You can check out Daniel’s site at http://www.diybookscanner.org/

Also here are a few quick shots on the device that is sitting across the hall from my office.

Daniel Reetz’s DIY book scanner