Filed under: Art, Augmented Reality, BoingBoing, Brave New World, Connections, Cory Doctorow, Music, Predictions, Science Fiction, Synesthesia, tech | Tags: art, augmented reality, blogging, Boing Boing, Communion of Dreams, Imogen Heap, jim downey, Kickstarter, Kindle, music, predictions, Science Fiction, synesthesia, technology, video, Vimeo
One of my favorite characters in Communion of Dreams is the artist Duc Ng. Here’s the description of him when he is introduced in Chapter 2:
Duc Ng was an artist. A holo sculptor, whose specialty was slow-progression transformations. The works were beautiful, inspired, and appreciated by almost anyone who saw them. Ng had jacked-up cyberware to heighten his sensitivity, and used psychotropic drugs tailored to cause neurotransmitter activity to increase dramatically. This created an artificial synesthesia for a short period of time, during which the usual senses became blurredand intermingled, adding layer upon layer of perception.
Note the phrase “jacked-up cyberware”. While it plays a role in the plot, I put this in there because I’ve always admired the way that artists are constantly pushing to adapt new technologies in the creation of their art. Here’s a passage from the beginning of Chapter6 when we first get a look at Ng using his skills:
There was just one other person in the room, standing at the side of the holo platform, hands dancing over a control board only he could see. It was Ng, dressed fittingly in a jumpsuit of the same black material from which the drapes and carpet were made.
“Isn’t that stuff hot?” asked Jon, nodding toward Ng’s clothing.
“Nah, I’ve got a coolpack plugged into it. Not as efficient as a real military stealth suit, but it works. Reduces the problems I have with creating my sculptures.”
Jon looked to the dance Ng’s hands played in the air. “About ready?”
Ng said nothing, but his fingers tapped a command in the air. Instantly, there appeared an image above the holo projector.
“These beautiful gloves help me gesturally interact with my computer,” says Heap, explaining how the wearable technology allows her to perform without having to interact with keyboards or control panels.
Pushing buttons and twiddling dials “is not very exciting for me or the audience,” she says. “[Now] I can make music on the move, in the flow and more humanly, [and] more naturally engage with my computer software and technology.”
There’s a brilliant video which demonstrates the potential of her gloves:
And she has started a Kickstarter to help develop the technology to share with other performance artists:
Wonderful. I’m in to support it. And yeah, I think that’s another prediction from CoD coming true.
Filed under: Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Brave New World, Civil Rights, Connections, Constitution, Expert systems, General Musings, Government, movies, Music, Philip K. Dick, Predictions, Privacy, Science Fiction, tech, Violence, YouTube | Tags: augmented reality, Buffalo Springfield, civil liberties, Constitution, jim downey, movies, music, Philip K. Dick, predictions, Science Fiction, technology, The Minority Report, The Verge, video, www youtube
There’s something happening here
But what it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware*
When the Chicago Police Department sent one of its commanders to Robert McDaniel’s home last summer, the 22-year-old high school dropout was surprised. Though he lived in a neighborhood well-known for bloodshed on its streets, he hadn’t committed a crime or interacted with a police officer recently. And he didn’t have a violent criminal record, nor any gun violations. In August, he incredulously told the Chicago Tribune, “I haven’t done nothing that the next kid growing up hadn’t done.” Yet, there stood the female police commander at his front door with a stern message: if you commit any crimes, there will be major consequences. We’re watching you.
What McDaniel didn’t know was that he had been placed on the city’s “heat list” — an index of the roughly 400 people in the city of Chicago supposedly most likely to be involved in violent crime. Inspired by a Yale sociologist’s studies and compiled using an algorithm created by an engineer at the Illinois Institute of Technology, the heat list is just one example of the experiments the CPD is conducting as it attempts to push policing into the 21st century.
Filed under: Amazon, Failure, Feedback, Kindle, Marketing, Music, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction, Writing stuff | Tags: Amazon, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, feedback, free, Hugh Howey, Jefferson Starship, jim downey, Kickstarter, Kindle, music, promotion, Science Fiction, St. Cybi's Well, Wool, writing
Last week Hugh Howey, the very successful author of the Wool series, published The Report on his AuthorEarnings site which generated more than a little attention across the publishing/self-publishing world.
I’m not going to get into a real discussion of The Report here. I’m in no way qualified to criticize the data or analysis contained in Howey’s post, and others have already done so with thoroughness. If you’re interested whether or not Howey’s post holds up to scrutiny, I’d recommend reading those.
Howey has had huge success, and seems to have managed that arc of success very well. By his own admission, he has been extremely fortunate with self-publishing, and his success is very much *not* what the vast majority of self-published authors will experience. But his success has made him something of an evangelist for self-publishing, and that is reflected in The Report. Hence the title of this blog post — Howey very much advocates self-publishing for authors at every level, and in using the power which self-publishing has to force changes in the traditional publishing industry to benefit authors.
While I actually largely agree with Howey about the benefits of self-publishing, I thought I would offer my own contrasting experience as a self-published genre author who has had only moderate success.
After years of ‘close calls’ in almost getting Communion of Dreams conventionally published (including what would have been a nightmare - losing the rights to the book when a small publisher went under), in January of 2012 I self-published it. Since then, some 27,000 copies of the book have been downloaded, and about 200 paperback copies have been sold.
Looks pretty good, right?
Well, 80% or more of those downloads were promotional. Which is to say, free. And in addition to the paperback copies sold, I gave away about as many.
No complaints from me — this is using the tools available through Amazon, and I knew what I was doing. But that necessarily means that I didn’t earn any money off those books directly.
So in all of 2012, actual sales generated decent, but modest, income. Not enough to buy even an economy car new, but easily 3 or 4 times the advance that the Publisher Who Shall Not Be Named was going to give me. Then last year residual sales were less than $1000. If you add in my successful Kickstarter (after deducting expenses associated with that), all told I was able to stop doing most freelance writing last year and get to work on the next novel. Of course, while still trying to do enough book conservation work to stay afloat, and almost managing.
I consider this success. It’s not Hugh Howey level success. It’s not even ‘mid-list authors a decade ago’ level sucess. It isn’t enough to live on.
But the first novel is out there, and has been well received. And I’m well on the way to having the next one out later this year.
Which is a hell of a lot better than banging my head against the gates of traditional publishing houses.
*Reference, for those who are wondering. I’ve been considering doing a series of blog posts getting into rock music with a SF theme, looking at the development of that sub-genre over time. I still have a lot on my plate with SCW, so it’ll probably be a while, but if anyone wants to comment with suggested songs/albums/performers, feel free.
Filed under: Art, Ballistics, Connections, Guns, Music, Science, tech, YouTube | Tags: Alan Parsons Project, art, ballistics, BBTI, blogging, guns, Herra Kuulapaa, high-speed photography, jim downey, music, photography, science, Stereotomy, technology, video, www youtube
For those who don’t know, one of my other interests is handgun ballistics research. Specifically, in regards to how barrel length effects bullet velocity for different cartridges and loadings. Even if you don’t like guns, the physics behind ballistic performance can be very interesting.
And here’s a wonderfully graphic image showing those physical forces:
Text from the source to go with this image (site is Finnish, and English is not the author’s first language):
Let’s talk a bit about .44 Magnum cartridge. Despite of being very close to diameter of .45ACP the .44Mag is totally different beast. Average .45ACP round generates ~650J of hit energy while .44Mag makes easily 1600J and can be pushed much more beyond that. This specific gun however cannot utilize all potential of .44 Magnum cartridge because of very short barrel. It simply cannot burn all powder. As you can see there is huge cone shaped spray of unburnt stuff flying in the air. With longer barrel show would be different.
Ok, you may have noticed the flames. They are something we haven’t seen before. Especially when you look picture below and huge left side flame in it. Interesting thing is that major amount of the flame is escaping between cylinder and barrel. That short barrel seems to puff bullet our so fast that powder mass just flies out unignited.
The site is filled with a bunch of great high-speed camera images of guns being fired. And it also has something else which is new to me: ‘natural stereoscopic’ images of guns being fired. Like this one:
Now, what do I mean ‘natural stereoscopic’ images? Well, this is pretty cool itself. Here’s a reference link & explanation from the Kuulapaa site:
Each stereo view consists of two images, one for each eye. Free viewing is the technique that will allow you to direct each of these images separately and simultaneously into each eye. Once that happens, you are said to have “fused” the pair of images into a stereo view.
At the bottom of this page a stereo pair of images is loading with which you can practice. All the stereo pairs shown on this site are in the “cross-eyed” format (my apologies to all the “wall-eyed” people). That means that the first (leftmost) image is for your right eye and the right image is for your left eye.
There are then a series of practice image to show what he means and give you a chance to develop this viewing skill. It works fairly well for me, but does tire my eye muscles fairly quickly. Give it a try and see how you do.
*Couldn’t resist. Lyrics here.
Filed under: Art, Astronomy, Augmented Reality, movies, Music, NASA, Science, Space, tech, YouTube | Tags: art, astronomy, blogging, Jewel Box Sun, jim downey, music, NASA, science, Sol, Solar Dynamics Observatory, space, Sun, technology, www youtube
If you haven’t seen this, you should:
Explanation from the source: Jewel Box Sun
Filed under: Amazon, Bad Astronomy, Feedback, ISS, Kindle, Marketing, Music, NASA, Phil Plait, Promotion, Science, Science Fiction, Space, YouTube | Tags: Amazon, Bad Astronomy, blogging, Communion of Dreams, feedback, ISS, jim downey, Kindle, music, NASA, Phil Plait, promotion, reviews, science, Science Fiction, space, video, www youtube
Yeah, what Phil said:
Stop whatever you’re doing (unless you’re performing brain surgery) and watch this astonishing and enthralling time-lapse video, showing the Earth from space using photographs taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station
I rarely read sci-fi anymore, but this reminds me of the best I read when I was younger. There’s a lot of background on the worlds the author is creating, followed by a resolution to multiple problems in the worlds. I truly enjoyed it.
If you’ve read the book and haven’t yet gotten around to posting a review, please consider it. It’s a little thing that does more than just massage my ego — it helps others have some idea what to expect from the book. And every so often I do things like give away nice hand-bound copies of the book . Thanks.
Filed under: Art, Blade Runner, Connections, movies, Music, Philip K. Dick, Ridley Scott, Science Fiction, YouTube | Tags: Anders Ramsell, art, Blade Runner, blogging, jim downey, movies, music, Philip K. Dick, Ridley Scott, Science Fiction, video, watercolor, www youtube
I am staggered by this thing: a 35-minute “paraphrasing” of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner from 12,597 animated watercolor paintings. It’s beautiful and insane—who would do this? A really big Blade Runner fan, I guess.
That fan is Swedish artist Anders Ramsell, who hand-painted each of the thousands of 1.5 by 3 cm paintings that make up the film, then synced them up to audio from the movie. The results are moody, and dreamily gorgeous.
Judge for yourself:
For me, this presentation/interpretation works, because it fits so perfectly with the theme and style of the movie. Very impressive.
Filed under: Connections, General Musings, Humor, Music, NPR, Science Fiction, Society, Writing stuff | Tags: Alwyn, blogging, Darrell Scott, Fat Tire, humor, jim downey, Lake of the Ozarks, music, New Belgium, NPR, Science Fiction, St. Cybi's Well, Tim O'Brien, travel, writing
At about 7:45 in this interview:
NPR: “I wonder: your original CD together Realtime is so beloved by your fans, does that make you just a tad nervous about how this much-anticipated follow-up might be received? Or do you just block that stuff out?”
O’Brien: “Ah, you know, I’m gettin’ over that.”
NPR: “But not yet? You’re still working on it?”
* * * * * * *
It was a hard week. He may have been only a dog, but his absence was entirely too distracting.
* * * * * * *
The other night I played supportive spouse and accompanied my Good Lady Wife to a professional meeting she had at the Lake of the Ozarks.
The Lake (as people in Missouri almost universally refer to it) is an interesting sort of place, from a purely anthropological perspective. Originally built to help generate electricity, it then became a tourist trap in the 1960s, then evolved into something of a Spring Break party spot for college kids throughout the state. It still has something of that reputation, though it has now branched out a bit into being a general purpose convention/resort area. I’ve written about it previously.
Anyway, like these sorts of meeting things go, the first night there was a cocktail party with an open, but limited selection, bar. I walked up to the bar, nodded to the nice very clean cut young man behind it, asked “Got any Fat Tire? “
“Sorry, just domestic beer. “
I blinked, a bit stunned.
He explained further “We don’t have any of those Belgium beers.”
* * * * * * *
At about 7:45 in this interview:
NPR: “I wonder: your original CD together Realtime is so beloved by your fans, does that make you just a tad nervous about how this much-anticipated follow up might be received? Or do you just block that stuff out?”
O’Brien: “Ah, you know, I’m gettin’ over that.”
NPR: “But not yet? You’re still working on it?”
O’Brien:“Well, there is a sort of a fermentation that happens in people’s minds, and I guess it happened in my mind too, that you know, what, can we do that again? Can we go back to that? And then, at some point I just said ‘well, you know, if we don’t try we’ll never do anything together again’”.
Scott: “To me the word is ‘fearless’. Putting it out there, and then, with the right ingredients it’ll probably turn into something edible.”
Something edible, indeed. Back to work.