The Null Device
The latest video game to be banned by the Australian government is Mark Ecko's Getting Up, a game involving graffiti, which is banned on the grounds that it would promote graffiti.
And so, once again, Australia faced a choice between Western liberalism and Singapore-style authoritarian paternalism, and chose the latter.
I think someone should start a campaign to overhaul the Australian video game censorship guidelines and create an adults-only/"R" category. To divide an entire genre of entertainment into "suitable for children" (in the eyes of bureaucrats appointed by a conservative government unapologetic about its culture-war agenda) and "legally equivalent to child pornography/snuff films" is ridiculous.
The Nintendo DS, sometimes dismissed as the Sony PSP's poor cousin, is starting to look like an interesting platform. For one, whilst Sony's unit is largely dominated by fairly conservative mainstream fare like driving/sports/gang-warfare/first-person-shooter games, the dinky DS, which lacks the raw power to compete in the graphics-machismo stakes but has two screens, one of them touch-sensitive, and a microphone, has been capitalising on this with more conceptual and experimental titles. One which has been raved about recently is Electroplankton, an artificial-life-based algorithmic-music-composition game/toy/tool developed by Japanese multimedia artist Toshio Iwai. Electroplankton was apparently the most popular Japanese import to the US, though now has been released there, and at least one musician has made an album using it, and is using it in live performances.
On a more practical note, the Opera web browser is about to be released for the DS; Opera will be a cartridge which allows users to browse the web via Wi-Fi from their DS. I wonder how long until Skype or someone release a VOIP cartridge, turning the DS into an internet telephony handset.
Meanwhile, some hobbyist hackers have written a personal organiser package for the DS. It's a download, and needs some hacking to get it to work. And someone else is manufacturing and selling cartridges for running homebrew software on a DS. The PassMe cartridges plug into the cartridge port and take a legitimate game cartridge, which they use for authenticating the code downloaded onto them as legitimate; they are used for running homebrew titles, and absolutely not, it must be stressed, p1r4t3d games. It's not quite clear how one downloads the software image onto the cartridge, though; I imagine it may use proprietary software, possibly running only on Windows.
A Danish newspaper publishes cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, offending Muslims. Iran retaliates by running a contest for the most offensive Holocaust-related cartoons. And now, a group of Israeli cartoonists are not taking this lying down, and running their own anti-Semitic cartoon contest, to show the Iranians that they won't be bested:
Amitai Sandy, the publisher of Tel-Aviv, Israel-based Dimona Comix, and founder of the contest jokes, "We'll show the world we can do the best, sharpest, most offensive Jew hating cartoons ever published! No Iranian will beat us on our home turf!"A truly inspired move.
(via Boing Boing)
A US company is building what could replace jet airliners: a new generation of massive, luxuriously appointed airships.
Unlike its dirigible ancestors, the Aeroscraft is not lighter than air. Its 14 million cubic feet of helium hoist only two thirds of the craft's weight. The rigid and surprisingly aerodynamic bodydriven by huge rearward propellersgenerates enough additional lift to keep the behemoth and its 400-ton payload aloft while cruising. During takeoff and landing, six turbofan jet engines push the ship up or ease its descent.
To minimize noise, the aft-mounted propellers will be electric, powered by a renewable source such as hydrogen fuel cells. A sophisticated buoyancy-management system will serve the same purpose as trim on an airplane, allowing for precise adjustments in flight dynamics to compensate for outside conditions and passenger movement. The automated system will draw outside air into compartments throughout the ship and compress it to manage onboard weight.It sounds good to me; add high-speed satellite-based communications and one has a rather pleasant (and less ecologically damaging) way to travel than current airliners. Whilst a trip would take longer, it would probably be more enjoyable and/or productive than sitting in an airliner seat.
(via Boing Boing)