PlayStation 3, Teledildonics and You

Talking to Cliph on IM about the PlayStation 3, we touched on the ideas of how the social space in Home will be filtered. For example, in the public area, people can talk to each other using a keyboard, the built-in phrases ("Would you like to play a game?") or via a Bluetooth headset. It's likely that there will be a bunch of 'banned' words for those using the keyboard input, but will there be any restrictions on what can be said via a headset? Is there anything to stop me turning the virtual air blue with obscenities?

Sony have said that in the private space, there will be few restrictions. You will be able to decorate your 'room' with whatever images you have on your PlayStation 3's hard drive. You can stream whatever movies and sound files on your PlayStation 3's hard drive and everyone visiting your room will be able to see and hear these files. I'm willing to bet that without restrictions, there will be a thriving red-light market in Sony's Home faster than you can say "WELCOME TO JOHN'S COCK PALACE."

But let's go even further. By taking the possible sexual underworld of Home and combining it with Sony's own USB Trance Vibrator (released with 'Rez' on the PlayStation 2), we could be witnessing an evolution and mass-marketization of teledildonics.

I can't wait to see what happens when you put in the Konami code.

Detox

In preparation for the trip to Rome, I'm working my way through a list of 99 things to do before moving to another country. One of these was 'Get a dental MOT'. So, after 10 years of avoiding the dentist, I finally caved last week. Overall, not bad. A couple of minor fillings, but in pretty good shape, considering it's been ten years, and the amount of Diet Coke I drink.

I drink assloads of Diet Coke. Retarded amounts. And it's easily the worst thing for my teeth because not only does the sweetener rot the teeth (although I've seen Mythbusters - it's not as corrosive as people say), the copious amounts of caffeine running through my system makes me grind my teeth in my sleep. I wake up with a sore jaw and my teeth are slightly worse for wear.

This was made worse by the weekend that was in it. H. had over to Rome for a bit of a reccy. Checking out the apartment, checking out the people she would be working with. Which left me with four days all to myself. I did nothing but eat junk, drink Diet Coke and play Crackdown on the Xbox 360. I came out the other side feeling rotten. Not so much a shadow of my former self, but a dirty, bloated, jiggly play-do model of my former self. So, big changes are afoot.

Yesterday marked the first day without Diet Coke. And it was awful. I was sucking down Tramil to cope with the headaches, I was going outside every hour for some air to keep me awake. I was grouchy. I was lethargic. And since I could barely keep my eyes open, I probably shouldn't have driven up to Tesco at 9pm.

Today, however, it's all different. I managed to get out of bed when my alarm went off, instead of hitting the snooze button for an hour. My headache is gone, and I'm already getting work done. Hell, I'm almost lucid.

It'll never last.

Why you shouldn't use MyBlogLog →

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Tom Raftery unwittingly gives us a perfect demonstration of why you shouldn't use MyBlogLog.

Sure, MyBlogLog is a great idea and all, but there's always going to be someone out there who will exploit it as a way to display a pair of tits, or a huge fuckin' dong, or worse on someone else's blog.

Home (or: I think Sony just killed Second Life)

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Today at the Game Developer's Conference, Sony officially announced "Home". Home is so many things, it's a little complicated to describe.

Pitched as somewhere between Second Life and MySpace, it's a social space where PlayStation 3 owners can meet PlayStation 3 owners. They do this by navigating an avatar (similar to Nintendo's Mii, but more realistic and with more customization options) around a 3D world. Each user also gets a private space - a virtual apartment - which they can customize as they see fit. They can invite people into this private space and launch multiplayer games, or stream music and videos from their PlayStation 3 to the other people in this room. Sony's Home includes a virtual 'trophy room' where people can display their 'entitlements' (Sony's answer to Xbox 360's achievements) as moving, 3D trophies.

Oh, and it's all free.

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This was Sony's ace in the hole. A completely unexpected, beautifully executed masterstroke that almost makes you forget about all of Sony's fuck-ups with PlayStation 3.

Almost.

Right now, Sony is still talking about the possibilities of Home, and although a lot of these are still pretty blue-sky suggestions, they do give you some idea of what an online virtual world is capable of when you've got the weight and muscle of the entire Sony Corporation behind it. For example, using its ability to stream high-def movies, there could be movie premieres (in a virtual cinema) of Sony Pictures movies within Home. And for the MySpazz crowd, there's the possibility of in-game appearances by their favourite Sony BMG bands.

I bet the makers of Second Life won't get much sleep tonight.

Is Batman actually a Superhero? →

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I was speaking to someone earlier about superpowers - how all childhood conversations about "what superpower would you like to have" were ruined by the one asshole who had to say "everything" - when our conversation drifted towards Batman. When I was growing up, you either liked Superman or Batman (just like you were either a Whizz-kid or a Chipite). And so the Superman-followers would want Superman's powers and the Batman-followers would say they would like Batman's superpowers.

But what the hell are Batman's superpowers?

He can't fly. He can't run faster than a speeding bullet. He can't slice people open with Adamantium claws. So what does he have? Well, he's got a neat car and a lot of nifty gadgets. And he's pretty athletic, I guess. But these aren't super-powers. With enough money, anyone can have these.

And is this a good message for our kids? That being fabulously wealthy is a superpower?

(For more pictures of Joker's boners, check out redshirt.co.uk)

Brown Bag Films - Copying again?

Via YouThoughtWeWouldntNotice:

A few months ago, someone spotted that Brown Bag Film's "Bears" Lotto campaign looked suspiciously like Matt Everitt's Ricky Gervais Bears. The thread on CreativeIreland.com has some interesting discussion, including a couple of posts by Matt Everitt himself, saying

I was told about this and after watching the ad (and falling off my chair) and emailed Brown Bag who of course denied that they would ever do such a thing and said that they could'nt see any similarities.

What can I do? Not a lot.

Brown Bag Films defended their position by suggesting that Bears3 are "obscure" and hadn't been broadcast.

How similar are they? You can make up your own mind

Matt Everitt's Bears3

Brown Bag's Lotto Ad

Now we have a similar situation. The new Argus Car Hire advert from Brown Bag Films looks suspiciously like the terrific opening title sequence from Steven Spielberg's "Catch Me If You Can". Hardly something they can claim as "obscure".

Can you see any similarities?

Argus Car Hire advert

Opening credits of Steven Spielberg's Catch Me if You Can

Cars 2-Disc Blu-Ray coming →

Well, it was bound to happen eventually, I just wasn't expecting it so soon. According to an article on thedigitalbits.com, Disney will be releasing Cars on Blu-Ray in June. And because of the amount of extra content and the ridiculously high resolution of the movie on the disc, they're going to be releasing it as a 2-disc (dual layer) Blu-Ray package.

Just to put this into perspective here, a standard DVD (such as the single-disc DVD of cars that came out last year) holds 9GB of data. A dual-layer Blu-Ray disc holds 50GB of data. And they're using two of them!

For demonstration purposes, here's what you can expect the difference in quality to look like:

Cars on Blu-Ray

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Cars on Standard-Def DVD

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Now if only they had given the Incredibles as a 2-disc Blu-Ray release. Then I might be actually tempted to buy a Blu-Ray player.

10 Kilometer Mix

Speaking of mixes...

Just before Christmas, I took part in the Port Tunnel 10k run. I hadn't run much before then. In fact, I would estimate that if you if you took all of the times I have run in my life and added them together, you probably wouldn't get 10K. So how did I go from lazy fat ass to the bronze Adonis I am today?

Well, it's entirely down to my special 10k iPod playlist* These songs helped keep me going when I couldn't see anything in the port tunnel except the steam from other people's sweat. It kept me going when I realised that, after 5 minutes of actually being in the tunnel that I'd seen everything the tunnel had to offer and the next hour or so would be like watching paint dry. Really painful, exhausting paint.

Anyway, so here's the mix. If anyone's got any suggestions for additional, suitable song, please let me know. I'll put them to the test next time I go to the gym.

  1. We Want Fun - Andrew W.K.

  2. Still Waiting - Sum 41

  3. Noise Brigade - Mighty Mighty Bosstones

  4. Training Montage (Rocky IV) - Vince DiCola

  5. Girls Own Love - Andrew W.K.

  6. Life During Wartime (Live) - Talking Heads

  7. How I Could just Kill a Man - Rage Against the Machine

  8. List of Demands (Reparations) - Saul Williams

  9. Bump - Spank Rock

  10. Movies - Alien Ant Farm

  11. Dancing in the Dark - Bruce Springsteen

  12. Witness (1 Hope) - Roots Manuva

  13. Music is my Hot Hot Sex - Cansei De Ser Sexy

  14. Heart's On Fire (Rock IV) - John Cafferty

  15. Fat Lip - Sum 41

  16. 99 Problems - Jay Z

  17. Flashdance / Fame - The Dan Band

  18. God Hates a Coward - Tomahawk

  19. Fuckin' Spend - High Speed Scene

  20. Glory Days - Bruce Springsteen

  21. Jump - Van Halen

  22. Holing Out for a Hero - Bonnie Tyler

  23. Jesus Walks - Kanye West

  24. Shimmy - System of a Down

  25. Million $ Man - Imperial Teen

  26. This Month, Day 10 - Cansei De Ser Sexy

  27. Goin' Out West - Tom Waits

  28. You're the Voice - John Farnham

Notes:

  • Yes, there's a lot of Andrew W.K.

  • Yes, there's a lot of 80s power ballads

  • Go for the single version of "I need a Hero" - you don't need six minutes of Bonnie Tyler wailing

  • Every life goal should be achieved with Vince DiCola's "Training Montage" playing in the backround

    • Well, the four or five weeks of training I did beforehand may have helped a little

Death of the Mix Tape?

Inspired by an article in the Observer some weeks ago in which Sean O'Hagan talks about the way our 'digital lifestyle' has killed the mix tape, Tom Farrell (who still gets my vote for Ireland's funniest blogger) recently wrote a post on the subject of mix tapes which reminded me of the response to the Observer article I had drafted but not yet finished. So I finished it.

Reading Sean O'Hagan's story of the emotions he felt while recently compiling a mix tape is fascinating and I'd encourage everyone to read it as an eloquently-written piece of nostaligia. But I strongly disagree with his article's suggestion that mp3s have somehow made music less personal and I think he's just plain wrong to suggest that "mix tapes" are somehow dead. They're not - they've just evolved.

The "Mix CD" is the most basic 21st Century representation of the "Mix Tape". Sure, it might not be as difficult to compile these as it was to compile a mix tape, but this doesn't mean they're any less important or meaningful. I would even suggest that these are more important, more meaningful. With the actual creation of the CDs mostly taken care of by software like iTunes which allows the user to just click and burn a CD, more time can be spent putting thought into the content of these mixes. This means that the medium is no longer the message. The message is the message.

One of the traditions of the thumped.com Christmas bash is the 'mix exchange'. Everyone who comes is encouraged to bring a mix tape/cd, put it into a box and in return, this entitles them to take someone else's mix from the box. I've gotten some great stuff from this, and in recent years, have seen this taken to the next level: Mix DVD featuring some of the year's best movies (it's not like this is any more or less legal than a mix tape).

And what about when we outgrow CDs too? Well, we're already seeing the next stage in the evolution of the mix tape. Sites like Out of Five offer weekly themed collaborative mixes. Collaborative! Can you imagine the logistics of trying to do a collaborative mix tape?!

Personally, I think the whole thing has less to do with the death of the mix tape or music being less personal and more to do with the fact that the writer has reached the stage in his life where mix tapes are somehow 'immature' and music isn't the most important thing in his life. He and his friends have become old farts: grown up and settled into a rather rigid existence; less willing to try new things.

And After all, It's hard to put thought and effort into a mix when you don't have anyone to give it to.

Havok Physics in the new Star Wars game →

Video footage of a Lucasarts presentation of the technology they're going to be using in the next Indiana Jones and Star Wars games. This includes the latest version of the Havok physics engine.

Besides the killer technology on show, this video is also interesting for the part where they blow up Jar Jar Binks encased in Carbonite.

Review: 300

So the IFF Surprise Film was 300. Not that much of a surprise. The queue was a bigger surprise - jesus, I've never seen anything like that. Even the premiere of the Lord of the Rings movies had shorter queues.

Anyway, 300 completely floored me. It's a love song to graphic violence and romantic heroism, told with the most stylish visuals this side of Sin City. The movie suffers from more than a few jerky moments with a lot of the dialogue falling apart as hammy and unconvincing, but I personally found that these were mostly in the parts where the screenwriters actually tried to by historically accurate ("Return with your shield, or on it" being the most obvious). The political sub-plot had real trouble hiding the fact that it existed only as 'filler' and illicited an inappropriate titter from the audience, which only highlighted its awkwardness.

But who cares about all this? This movie is about the action sequences and these are what make the movie stand out. Probably not the most epic battles ever filmed, but definitely the most beautiful and balletic. The fact that this was filmed in a warehouse means we never see more than a handful of 'real' people on screen at any one time but the director works this to his favour, giving each individual skirmish an intimacy that would be otherwise lost.

Tremendous stuff. Gives me high hopes for what Zack Snyder can bring to Watchmen.

Review: The Fountain

Have you ever had a movie finish and end credits roll, with the entire audience sitting back in stunned silence? Maybe it's just the type of film I tend to go see, but this has only happened to me a handful of times. The Fountain being one of them.

The Fountain is a love story. Rather, it's three love stories, told across a thousand years. In the past, a conquistador searches for the tree of life to save his beloved Queen. In the present, a doctor searches for the cure for cancer to save his beloved wife. In the future... well... a guy travels with his tree, in a bubble, to a dying star wrapped in a nebula.

Hey - noone ever said this would be easy.

Arthouse blockbuster or blockbuster arthouse? Either way, this is not a welcoming film. At times, the ambitious storytelling threatens to derail the entire production, and the more cynical among us would almost certainly have trouble giving this film the room it needs to breathe. But for the more persistent, there's a great reward - something completely and defiantly unique. A sci-fi movie with a very human heart. A film that can leave an entire audience breathless.

I would say this is as close to unmissable as any movie I can think of.

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival - Update →

Back at the start of February, I was talking about the films I was looking forward to at the Dublin International Film Festival. Talking about the surprise film, I said

A tenner says that this will be Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain

Well, I was wrong. Sorta. Shortly before the festival began, I got an email to say that the showing of Sunshine was cancelled and they would be showing The Fountain in its place.

So instead, the surprise movie was...

300

Yeah, it wasn't the cleverest movie shown at the festival, but personally, I couldn't have been happier. I'm a huge fan of the comic, and of Frank Miller in general, and this was the most beautiful adaptation of his work so far.