ps238principal (ps238principal) wrote,

ABC goes up the River...

The next show that probably wants to fill that Lost-shaped hole in your life aired tonight. Entitled The River, it uses a reality-show and found-footage format, which works in its favor, at least for summarizing who the characters are, allowing them to info-dump about themselves without it coming off as unusual. The producers of Paranormal Activity are in on it, so no surprise as to how it was set up. It also co-stars a familiar face, that of Paul Blackthorne, who I think was mis-cast as Harry Dresden (he just wasn't cool-handsome-nerd enough for the role, I think). He's one of the crew for the fictional production team looking for a lost explorer. The production hopes to heighten the dramatics of this search by bringing along the explorer's wife and estranged son. After Terra Nova, I was hoping to not see "daddy issues" showcased for a while, but it's not nearly as all-consuming as that seen 83 million years in the past.

Much like Lost, we have flashbacks along with a weird jungle area that's forbidden, or, as described in subtitles, "[UNTRANSLATABLE]." This was said by the daughter of what I'd say was the show's Chief Engineer (he's even given a Captain Kirk-esque impossible deadline to fix the ship). She's got some psychic mojo going on and identifies the show's version of the Smoke Monster as a vengeful spirit. There's even a conspiracy afoot to sabotage the rescue of the lost explorer, a pile of mysterious tapes to reveal plot directives over time, and even a mysterious-looking snake logo to replace the Dharma symbol. The setup is a mix of Evil Dead, Paranormal Activity, The Blair Witch Project, and Ghostbusters all mixed together what looks to be the "ghost mystery of the week" formula from Supernatural. It had a few pretty shocking images, something I'm not used to on ABC. It also has a fairly small cast at the moment, so I can't see the series having too many red shirt moments for the actors after the pilot. All in all, I enjoyed what I saw and am intrigued enough to keep with it for a while.

Video games are about to get even more realistic-looking, it would seem. That's nice, I guess, as the uncanny valley is something of a problem for games that want to appear realistic, but I don't think the visuals are where games are falling down these days. I'd rather there be more intricate plots with a larger variety of possible outcomes in games, but that's not something that can be automated at the moment. I'm sure code could someday make a game's plot structure and response of NPCs more complex and responsive, but until then, we're going to have realistic-looking people uttering the same three combat taunts and handful of conversation options. Ah, well. That's what one's imagination is there for, to fill in the blanks, I guess. Oh, and speaking of Skyrim, Valve and Bethesda got together and released a mod that delivers a small package from beyond those two moons you see in the sky every night. I hope the happy fun ball in question appears on IRQ soon...

Sadly, I won't be able to make it to Bashcon this year, especially now that I have jury duty (grumble-grumble). However artist extraordinaire Tony Steele will be there, and his illustrations appear a new book, so don't miss your chance to get some of his prints or a commission done before he becomes the next Matt Groening. I did design the t-shirt, and I hope everyone likes the new take on pirates vs. ninjas I came up with; as far as I know, it hasn't been done before. And just because I can encourage bad behavior, be sure to ask Tony to sing/perform one of his many romantic ballads. :)

Now I'm off to pop some cold medication and just try to record an episode of two of IRQ, so accept the following as a make-good for any coughing:

- How did I miss this when it was uploaded? Comedian Tim Minchin performs the Doctor Who theme at the BBC Comedy Proms on a keytar while wearing a Prince Charles mask.
- With the excitement of seeing Thor and the Hulk in a movie together soon, it's good to remind ourselves how far we've come.
- You can now purchase your own Aperture Science Combustible Lemon that doesn't actually combust, but it's the thought that counts, right?
- Bryan Singer wants to make a Star Trek TV series. Given how he made the last Superman movie, I'd fear we'd just get a shot-for-shot remake of the original series.
- Crumpled is a stick-figure platformer that has you and your blob overcoming obstacles with some controls that take a little getting used to, but is otherwise a decent time-waster.
- I joked about it in ps238, but someone has gone and made an app that lets you see what you're about to walk into as you use your phone or tablet.
- All that copyright and trademark stuff aside, it's pretty difficult to prove someone ripped off your game.
- And the new Spider-Man movie has a trailer, though I'm not sure who'll chew up more scenery; Spidey or Dennis Leary?
- As if it's a surprise, they've hired a writer to rewrite the script for Karate Kid 2.
- An astronomer has made some meteorite-aged wine. I predict the superhero created from a bottle of this stuff will wear a monocle.
- From the "life imitates Fallout" files comes MIT's photonic crystals that could lead to "nuclear reactors" in every gadget.
- We've had little to no actual winter in my vicinity, and I think it's because this cat got it.
- The last known veteran of WWI passed away just 2 weeks before she turned 111.
- Here's a handy list of medieval occupations, though I can't see George R.R. Martin ever typing the word "eggler."
- Political candidates need some kind of primer that has, among other things, a few facts about the internet like "The Onion is satire," "think before you tweet," "it's out there forever," and "don't have someone who works for you edit your Wikipedia page."
- It may be a big ball of timey-wimey, but that doesn't mean this gallery of old timelines can't be enjoyed.
- Netbots is a fun little puzzle game where the challenge is to connect spherical bots in the patterns shown on the left side of the screen.
Tags: bashcon, skyrim, the river, tv
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Hmm. To be honest, I think even 100% realistic character models are going to still hit a rather bad Uncanny Valley effect unless and until they can create sufficient AI..unless they're *trying* to portray a world where everyone other than the central characters are all brain damage victims. At the risk of offending those who deal with the mentally 'differently abled' (to be PC about it), I don't think Special Olympics: The RPG is going to sell too well. :-/
It's also interesting to see how different levels of portraying people can work in one game, but not in another. I think it was called "The Bethesda Stare," where characters in Fallout and Oblivion all had this glassy-eyed "am I all here? Ask my doctor" look to them, yet the characters in Half-Life 2 seemed to emote pretty effectively.

Different tools in the hands of different people, I suppose.
Regarding the photonic bandgap crystals, the short summary is, "they don't do that".

They can be tuned to transmit or to reflect or to absorb specific wavelengths of light. In principle, this can make them better at absorbing infrared light... but that gets you nowhere if you're trying to turn that into power. It just gets converted back to heat. I suspect quite a lot of content was garbled in translation between what the researchers said, and what got printed in that article.

People have been working on converting long-wavelength IR into electricity for a while. It can be done (saw a nifty presentation about rectifying surface plasmon currents in 2003), but it is extremely difficult and not very efficient. You're better off building cadmium telluride solar cells to do it instead (bandgap small enough to absorb IR, and works as long as the cell is about 3x-4x cooler than the radiation temperature it's tuned to absorb).

And if you have a 3x-4x temperature difference anyways, you're better off running a conventional heat engine (more efficient, even if it does have moving parts).
This is why the future is always such a let down, and why writers just invent things like dilithium crystals.

I'm still waiting for the gas-powered cell phones I read about a while back; they were some kind of mini-fuel cell, I think, that used natural gas or other hydrocarbons. A bit like having a Zippo that makes phone calls, now that I think about it.
I'm waiting for those too (and the notebook-battery version). The technology - cells that process alcohol or other hydrocarbons to give off hydrogen to use in the cell - has been around for a while. The problem seems to be making one that's light, cheap, and well enough insulated to not melt the notebook (phosphoric acid cells run at 200 C and molten carbonate cells are even worse; those are the types that can tolerate CO and CO2 from re-formed fuel).

I have an entire spiel about how I think vehicles should be adapted, but I'm pretty sure I've already given it in your blog (and it's a bit off-topic anyways). Hint: No "hydrogen economy".

(Let me know if you'd rather I not comment on technical articles you link, also; there's a fine line between "providing useful clarification/correction" and "being incredibly annoying" that I'm sometimes on the wrong side of.)


February 9 2012, 18:12:18 UTC 4 years ago

Aww man, Bashcon won't be the same without you. Hanging out with you is one of the highlights of the con! Now the main attraction will be the Pancake House... We'll have to make fabulous profits to ease the sting.

Why stop at fabulous? Go for fantastic! :)

And I wanted to see what new and strange objects your printer was making. Anything ultra-cool?


February 9 2012, 23:13:31 UTC 4 years ago

Tony is Our Hero.
So sayeth the button! So it be! :)

It's nice to see truth in packaging, I have to say.