Random thoughts on most things from A. M. Craig.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Back from the Break

I fixed up my computer and hooked up my webcam.

The Roommates are back. And then this happened.

Reminds me of something that happened last year.

It was a good break, and not over, thankfully.

I'm heading to California tomorrow. No reason to go, other than it's someplace else. A trip for the sake of a journey. I'll bring a camera and let you know how it all goes.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Panasonic HDC-SD100

Some day I'd like to have a camera like this.

Small. Tapeless. Full manual control. It would come in very handy.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

I hope you all enjoy Christmas (or your holiday of choice) with you families. Here is a completely unrelated thought.

Jumped the shark:

-Facebook (domestically)
-Will Smith

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Post Finals

The day after finals were over, I had a dream that I remembered. Been a while since I remembered a dream, I think because I have been waking up to an awful alarm every morning for the past couple months. It was the first time in a long time that I just woke up.

20 Dec 2008
Dreamt about:
•a pretty girl who I thought wouldn't be in to me because of how rich a family she came from, and there are no guarantees I'd be able to provide the luxury she was accustomed to.
•catching little crabs in a creek bed off the side of the road
•skateboarding to the grocery store
•seeing my friends Rob Brill and Christian Axelguard there (Christian worked there)
•losing my skateboard at the grocery store
•searching all over the old building for my skateboard
•finding a closet that had windows and no real floor, just cushions that were layered down for as far down as I carred to look.
•a "bullet" in the closet that must have been @ least 2 feet long, with hard plastic fins on the back for stabilization. More like an arrow or small missile that would be fired out of a gun.
•and yes, kids, we've reached the fateful day when steampunk has made it's way into my subconscious. Outside the window on this closet was a roof, on the roof was a pedal powered steampunk style generator, with brass or copper pipes and lots of moving parts, not unlike what dock brown built in back to the future 3. There was a guy peddling on it, the builder I assumed. He had long hair and looked a bit unkempt. I opened the window and asked him about the machine, and then i woke up.

Friday, December 19, 2008


NOTE: I'm really sorry about the auto-playing video, but it's the only way.

Well, another piece of Spielberg fiction is being brought to life at M.I.T.

Is it truly strange that I'm pretty acquinted with the work of this guy's faculty mentor, Dr. Cynthia Breazeal?

How similar is that going to be to Teddy from the popularly despised A.I.? I think I was one of...four people; I've counted four people who liked that movie.

I honestly wasn't crazy about the storytelling in A.I., but I...just...love...robots.

Stan Winston, R.I.P.
I wouldn't mind a toy like that bear. Toys that play back. It'd be fun.

And really, it's only a matter of time before that's a reality


For better or worse, the institutionally sanctioned torture ritual of "Finals" is almost over. Just a couple hours to go.

But you should listen to this song till I have time to talk again.

Thanks, Rob, for pointing this one out. New favorite.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"Professional" Spokesperson

Are you ready for a good laugh? Really? Okay, okay, but you have to give me some feedback after you click here and scroll down to "Austin".

Found this thing on craigslist, saying they were looking for people with experience in front of a camera. I figured it couldn't hurt. Comparatively, I don't think I did too bad.

18 Dec 2008 UPDATE: They called me today with a gig. I couldn't make it, the shoot would be tomorrow, and I still have a lot to finish for finals. But it's good to know somebody watched it and thought I was good.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I'm at the library, desperately trying to catch up to where I need to be to do well enough in my classes. The guys on either side of me, though, don't seem too worried. On the left, we have a rousing game of some Pirate's of the Carribean MMO game. My right hand man at the moment is catching up on some old episodes of Heros.

I don't know why I'm here. I don't know why I'm doing this. I hate school. I hate it.


I've been hearing about the Tesla Roadster for long enough, now. I want to see one on the road.

Monday, December 15, 2008


One term paper down, a couple more and a couple tests to go.

To hold you over till I can start blogging again, here is the paper I wrote analyzing and comparing WALL•E and *batteries not included.

Lovable Little Tin Men

The permutations of science fiction are almost as many as the branches of actual scientific study. There are experiments gone wrong, time travel, alternate history , post apocalyptical, cyber-punk, steam-punk, hard, soft, and the tried and true space adventure, just to name a few. These sub-genres intersect and overlap with themselves and other genres altogether, and they’ll continue to do so until their conventions are entirely absorbed by fresher forms. I’ll be discussing and analyzing a specific subset in the sci-fi realm, but isn’t found on the shelf of the sci-fi isle in your local video rental store. While the uncanny, inhuman, slimy space alien may be the norm for much of sci-fi, I’ll be looking at the family friendly lovable little robot who could, found in both WALL•E and *batteries not included.

Pixar’s WALL•E follows the diminutive sole survivor from a fleet of clean-up robots, meant to make the world livable again after hyper-consumerism leaves the landscape a trash laden wasteland. His role is made clear to us very early on, with opening shots of the towering trash heaps, and our protagonist dutifully rolling around, compacting all the detritus. But this worn rust box is surprisingly likable. He exhibits curiosity, playfulness, and kindness. He collects whatever interests him from the piles left by Earth’s former inhabitants, things as quirky as sporks, lawn gnomes, and Rubik’s cubes. He sings and dances to Hello Dolly! on VHS cassette. He has a panic when he thinks he’s literally run over his one and only friend in the world, his cockroach sidekick. He even shows some romanticism before the romantic interest is even introduced, as he gazes longingly at the stars. He is, in fact, everything a good person would aim to be.

In 1987 a similar set of characters were introduced. Steven Spielberg produced *batteries not included, but it was a then unknown screen writer who provided one of the most tangible real-world links to the 2008 hit WALL•E. Brad Bird must have some affinity for robots. With almost half of his writing credits featuring a remarkable robot somewhere in the story, it shouldn’t be surprising to see his name in the writing credits of *batteries not included. WALL•E was written and directed by Andrew Stanton, but Bird’s The Incredibles came out only a few short years before from the very same studio.

*batteries not included centers around a decaying apartment complex in New York City. The tenants are few, most having been bribed or otherwise coerced into moving. Those left include an aged couple. The husband manages a diner on the ground floor. His wife’s dementia makes it all the more difficult for him maintain his own sanity. There is also a retired and mostly mute heavyweight boxer, a poor artist, and a single mother-to-be. By themselves, they seem only a minor obstacle for a big time real estate developer and his hired thugs, who plan to erect a series of skyscrapers in the very same spot. It’s only a matter of days before their brick home (and whole world) is leveled to make way for modern glass and steel obelisks.

Then drops from the sky, with no explanation, two of the most unlikely saviors. In true deus ex machina fashion, two tiny alien robots come to start a family and save the defenseless of New York. They manage to scare away the thugs, enliven the almost defeated tenants, and ultimately rebuild the entire structure from rubble. Throughout all this, they teach the tenants (and the audience) a thing or two about family, children, and love.

Wait, family, children, and love? We are talking about space alien robots, right?

What separates *batteries not included and WALL•E from their contemporaries in sci-fi is their family centered nature. They are more than simply family friendly films, though they certainly lack any offensive content. Each is a family centered film thematically, despite having as the central character what on the surface would seem the least lovable, least human thing imaginable; a cold hunk of metal.

First things first, how is a little piece of almost mute metal so likable? Nobody in reality has any particular love for their toaster, why should we care for a trash-compactor on wheels? Or why should we care about flying saucers outside of an academic interest? Normally, we wouldn’t. But animators and special effects artists have done an effective job of approximating the most lovable thing around, children and babies. Our robots mimic their behavior, with each robot moving dynamically and sometimes unpredictably, with lights adding to their movement, and most importantly, by having expressive eyes. When you put eyes on that toaster, you have the beginnings of a Disney classic, evidenced by The Brave Little Toaster, also from 1987.

For these characters, the eyes are less for them to see than for us to see them. Scott McCloud argues in Understanding Comics that we as humans not only see ourselves in everything around us, but we often can’t help but see ourselves. This is undeniably the situation whenever something has what we perceive as eyes. Whether it’s an electrical outlet or a potato, it instantly becomes recognizable as an individual entity once it has eyes.

A Yiddish proverb says the eyes are the mirror of the soul. The character designers of *batteries not included and WALL•E must have taken this to heart. Andrew Stanton said his inspiration for the look of WALL•E came when he was at a baseball game, and noticed that the binoculars he was holding seemed almost like a pair of big melancholy eyes. WALL•E‘s eyes are actually the only thing that constitute his face. The same can be said for his love interest EvE. In fact, almost all of the likable robots in WALL•E have discernable eyes. The more expressive they are, the more lovable the character is. If the character is someone we should be wary of, they will have only one eye, like AUTO or GO-4, or no eyes, like SECUR-T. In *batteries not included, the eyes are the only thing that make the saucers distinguishable as entities rather than vessels. They open and close with mechanical eyelids and change colors to show change in mood. Again, the eyes aren’t part of the face, they are the face, and our mirror to the soul on what would otherwise be totally soulless.
The importance of the eyes is also evident near the climax of each film. When WALL•E is damaged by the collapsing pillar on the Lido Deck, the damage is most clear on his left eye. When Carlos swings an ax at the small saucer in *batteries not included, he hits it, not on the back, not underneath, but right on the eye. Something dead is necessarily something soulless, and if the film maker wants to communicate a life-threat to these mechanical characters, he has to destroy their eyes, our mirror to the soul. But don’t worry, they get repaired. These are family films, after all.

So we’ve established that our characters have eyes, and thus, a soul. What does a film maker do with that? It seems they tell stories about family, children, and love, with our rust-bucket protagonists facilitating the examples.

From the moment WALL•E lays eyes on EVE, we can tell it’s love at first sight. He dotes on her and pridelessly pursues her affection in return. His devotion takes him to outer space when she is retrieved, and there we find more examples of family and love, WALL•E playing both leading man and matchmaker. He accidentally knocks John off his hover-chair, and makes a new friend. He unintentionally jolts myopic Mary from her encompassing display. It’s WALL•E’s chance meeting with these two that lends itself to their chance meeting later on, when they both notice WALL•E and EVE “dancing” outside the ship, itself a form of courtship. They accidentally touch hands, reminiscent of WALL•E’s hope to hold EVE’s hand. It’s the beginning of courtship, leading to marriage, leading to family.

Later on when AUTO tilts the ship in an attempt to maintain control from the captain, we see the “big baby” population helplessly sliding across the deck, too fat to stand, unable to right themselves. When actual babies start to slide from the nursery down toward the obese pile, it’s John and Mary who save them, with Mary shouting, “John, get ready to have some kids!” We see here again a progression, from a pair to a family, even if it is only suggested.

The imagery is even more explicit in *batteries not included. The robots themselves bear offspring, with every stage displayed, from mating through pregnancy to birth. Along with them, we’re shown their human counterpart, with Marisa clearly pregnant, her boyfriend away, and a new suitor recently made available when his girlfriend leaves. That Mason and Marisa will be together at the end of the film is a foregone conclusion as soon as they are on screen together.

Along with identifying each machine as an individual with a heart and soul, these films take care to establish gender roles. There is little doubt that WALL•E is a boy. While he isn’t some hulking imposing figure, he is utilitarian, dirty, boxy, and mechanical. EVE is as much formed as a female as WALL•E is male. She is graceful, curved, clean, and with almost ethereal qualities. Her technological superiority doesn’t supersede WALL•E’s male role, either. It’s an effective comic element that the “girl” robot is to much more capable than the “boy”. Any child could identify the male and female here without any hesitation. For the grown-ups, if there were any confusion left, we see WALL•E’s courtship (with EVE in stasis) as he shields her from the elements, takes her on a leisurely float down a (toxic) stream, builds her “sculpture” portrait, and takes the initiative to hold her hand. In the DVD commentary for WALL•E, Andrew Stanton discusses the gender differentiation in the film. He mentions a Peter Gabriel concert he attended where the stage was shown as a dichotomy, with one end representing masculinity, the other femininity. One side had boxy shapes, the other curved forms. Incidentally, it’s Gabriel who composed and performed the song for the closing credits of WALL•E, offering the denouement and epilogue as we see, in motion graphic chronology, civilization rebuilt, flowing through the major art movements from history.

Gender roles are equally defined in *batteries not included. We witness the birth of mechanical offspring straight from the mother machine. And in very similar fashion to WALL•E, we see Mason painting a (nude) portrait of (clothed) Marisa.

An interesting addition to the focus on couples, children, and family is the attention paid to nostalgia, remembrance, and home. WALL•E is the ultimate scavenger. He has for himself a home entirely made up of found items. Most of his collection seems to be admittedly useless, at least to him. Spoons, forks, and at least one spork aren’t much good to a solar powered robot. Neither are lawn gnomes or novelties like a Rubick’s cube. But it’s the collection of these tangible, seemingly useless things that contributes to WALL•E’s likableness. We are much more fond of him in his cobbled together hovel than we are of the squeaky clean, always new environment onboard the Axiom. His sense of nostalgia for a culture he was never even part of endears him to us. Even the Captain of the Axiom recognizes the importance of remembering origins. “Out there is our Home, HOME, Auto, and it’s in trouble”. Ultimately, it’s WALL•E who reminds and restores humanity to Earth. He fulfils for us a primal longing to return to our origins, our home.

The same attitude is clear in *batteries not included. The primary conflict is between the tenants of a lone decades old apartment, all of the contemporary structures destroyed by urban “progress”. After the hired goons from the developer break a prized relic from each tenant, it’s the robots who restore them, old things good as new. It’s the first indication to the people there that something strange is happening in their apartment building. Harry, who speaks only in TV ad catch-phrases, was the human freight train, a once great heavyweight champ. Time has not been kind to him, leaving him alone and forgotten by the changed world while he has stayed the same. When the diner on the ground floor is destroyed, it seems to take Frank Riley to his breaking point. This is where he was born, where he grew up, where he raised his family. But when the diner is fixed by the robots, not only is his spirit renewed, but business begins again. Customers come to the once abandoned eatery. We see even more focus on remembering and nostalgia when we consider that Frank’s wife Faye Riley has dementia. In her mind, it’s always the mid 1950’s, her son will always be a rebellious youth, and the landscape will never change. She is incapable, at least mentally, of leaving “home”. It’s the providential involvement of “the little guys”, as she calls the robots, that makes her happy delusion almost real.

Through WALL•E and *batteries not included, we cathartically experience the same regeneration as the characters affected by these minute mechanical messiahs. We leave feeling whole, with a restored sense of familial love and home. It may seem a strange coupling to include sci-fi elements, so at home with horror and the uncanny, right in the middle of a family film. But the payoff proves the formula, and like Faye Riley says in *batteries not included, “We’re a family again” when we enjoy such films with our own families.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Science Commons

I'm sick. I decided not to do the Daily News today because of that, and it sounds like they had a really interesting show. I'm sad I missed it.

I'm trying to tackle some final projects before school ends. Lots to do. Too much, really.

In the meantime, I want you to watch this video about the Science Commons project. I love stuff like this.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Fun @ D.I.

I shop at D.I. I like to go with my friends.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

This Just In...

Newscasters getting laid off across the nation makes a bit nervous for myself and the other students in my major. I ran into my friend Chance over the weekend. He is a reporter in St. George. He said half their newsroom got laid off last week, out of the clear blue sky. Anybody without a college degree, gone.

That part makes me especially upset, because it's not like the people who don't have a degree are readily replaceable. They have very valuable skills. A good videographer is hard to come by. A good audio/visual technicial is a precious thing. And the people who are keep their jobs will end up doing several jobs all at once, and not one of them as well as they would were they afforded the chance to focus.

And people go to big companies for "security"? I don't buy it at all. I'll work for myself, thanks.

Ra Ra Rebecca!

The other night we put together a video for my friend Mary's sister's friend's birthday.

Apparently Rebecca has quite the web fooprint. Neat.

This is pretty ridiculous, but I guess that's what can make it endearing.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


I haven't posted on the Family blog in a long time, but thought it would be good to put this up there. Enjoy.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I'm majoring in Broadcast Journalism. Soon, I'll have a college degree in the subject. And you know what? You can learn most of what you need to know in just a few minutes. Honest. Here, I'll show you.

Just look here.

is a cable network/online venture that uses fully 1/3 user generated content. That means people (like me) make and send in short news or other interest stories. Then Current sends them a check if they like it and want to air it. Why am I not doing this every weekend? A five minute video? Come on, I do that for fun all the time.

I already have some footage that I think will be great, can't imagine they'd turn it down. I'll get back to you, let you know if it turns out. If they like it. If they air it. If they pay me for it.

Game Face

This is a fantastic idea, and it's easy enough to do at home. Set up a little camera, hit record, and start the game.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Right along with Zero Lag is this new sensor that promises HD Video recording capability on your cell. Also twice the low light performance of existing sensors. That low-light jazz kills me. Looking forward to the improvement.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Geek Out

Don't know how I missed this.

The Nerdiest Gamer award I got? That was for naming the top three games I geek-out for. My number one geek-out game was Half-Life. I was addicted to the first one in high school, and Half-Life 2 made my jaw actually drop and made me literally jump and yell. In fear, no less. I wasn't even playing, I was watching Landon. It's so cinematic, it got my like a good movie would, and you know how much I love a good movie. For a while when I was playing The Episodes and Portal from The Orange Box, I started to see the game everywhere. Reminded me of when I played too much Game Boy as a kid. I would turn it off and I could still hear Dr. Mario music playing.

Turns out Half-Life just had a birthday. Happy Tenth, Half-Life. I think I may just sit down and get to know you again for a minimal investment.

Zero Lag

I love my G1. Really I do. I guess I haven't written a full review of it yet, so maybe you don't know that. I really like it.

But it's not perfect. There is always room for improvement.

I like having a camera on me at all times. I just love recording things, be that pictures or video or audio. The camera is lacking on the G1. It's tremendously slow, and almost inoperable in low light.

Luckily things are getting better.

Watch this video. Don't worry that you don't understand most of what he is saying, just understand that this is a cameraphone that works just as fast if not faster than a normal point and shoot.

I want that.


I mentioned what a talented family I have? Well, we're also well connected.

Apparently my sister is ol' friends with Stephenie Meyer. Who knew?

But I'll be honest. Though I'll probably see Twilight, I'm more excited for Star Trek.

Caught myself the other day stopping in D.I. and watching Star Trek IV on VHS. You haven't seen it? Well, that needs to change. Regardless of your Trekkiness or lack of it, it's a good movie for everybody. Honest.

Also, Watchmen looks to be awesome. Zack Snyder knows the tricks to use.

I read the graphic novel (self-elevating speak for "comic book") this summer. Read the whole thing in three days. I would come home from work, pick it up, start reading, and not be able to stop till I went to bed. I've never been a big comic book fan, but maybe that's because I knew that if I let myself go down that path, I'd get in way too deep.

Don't think the quality of illustration is trying to make up for any lack of content. The novel is actual good literature. It made Time Magazine's top 100 Novels of All Time. Not graphic novels, not comic books. Top Novels of All Time.

The author, Alan Moore, is a certified looney. I've read interviews and watched a strange independent documentary about him. Really a bizarre individual. But a great writer.

Speaking of writers and mentioning my talented family earlier, I'm not exactly sure how I failed to mention (or link to) my brother Stephen. He is a Renaissance Man. He wrote a novel last year and is submitting it around to be published. I'm hoping to take a sci-fi writing class with him next semester taught by Brandon Sanderson.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

In No Particular Order

My family is tremendously talented. I'm glad to see that my entrepreneurial penchant isn't a complete anomaly.

I like having creative friends.

I want one of these, and a decent camera to match it. A Nikon, preferably.

I'm excited for the new Star Trek movie, and I'm not even in to Star Trek. It just looks like a ton of fun, and J.J. Abrams knows how to entertain.

I love lists, and should start making one like this.

Man of Swagger

Jason's newest (very funny) ad's for Old Spice.

My Swagger can be seen here, here, here, and here. Enjoy, I sure did.

I am the Nerdiest Guy you Know

I am. I've won the title. I'm certifiably nerdy. I can prove it.

What, the frequent posts about robots and zombies weren't enough to convince you? My affinity for antiquated gadgets? Or bleeding edge technology?Or my super-geek hacker-phone? No? Well, friend, if that wasn't enough, I can prove beyond any doubt that I Am The Nerdiest Guy You Know.

Yesterday I went to dinner with some friends. One of them recently learned how much I geek out over robots, so she has taken to calling me "Robot Boy" (R.B. for short). We were quoting an hysterical film, and somebody mentioned how funny they thought it was when one of the characters rolled across screen on his Heelys. I mean, who wears Heelys right?

HINT: The Nerdiest Guy You Know owns a pair.

Then this morning, I received this email.

Hey, this is Devin from CrunchGear. I'm happy to say you've won the Penny Arcade limited boxed edition! And, of course, the second episode, though I'm trying to figure out how best to get that to you. I can ship the boxed first episode, of course, but give me a day to figure out the best way to get you episode two, since it's online only at the moment. Congrats!
Devin Coldewey
Associate Editor
What could he be talking about? Well, this right here. I entered a contest to win, get this, a video game based on a web-comic about video games. No joke. The Contest is called Nerdiest gamer wins a nerdy game. And I won.

I'm glad I won something, but I'm honestly not sure if I should be.

UPDATE 19 Nov.: Lest there were any doubt left in you...

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Well, I don't know that they picked the most appealing name, but the device is mind-blowing. If you've ever seen Minority Report, then you'll at least get the idea. If you haven't seen it, I can lend it to you.

The technology consultant on the film, John Underkoffler, was careful to make the devices believable by keeping them feasible. And if feasible, then why not actually build them? It's taken several years, but Underkoffler, a genuine prodigy out of MIT, seems to have built the gesture controlled computer in full. He's dubbed it "g-Speak".

g-speak overview 1828121108 from john underkoffler on Vimeo.

It's not hard to imagine the scenario of a film editor walking into a darkened editing bay with a projector or two hanging from the ceiling. He rolls up his sleeves, cracks open a Red Bull, and throws his hands up as if to conduct a symphony. The raw footage files show up on the wall, and the order from seeming chaos begins. Arms wildly moving, hands flaring and closing, pointing then grabbing, the finished timeline comes together with previously impossible speed.

I wonder what it would be like to mix this technology with what Johnny Lee came up with, mentioned in a previous post.

Before it's all said and done in this life, I want to be involved with a few things. Bleeding edge interface and experiential technology is probably one of those things.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Serious Play

This may be a bit fragmented. Forgive me.

Play is important. Also, "failure" is important.
Students should be allowed, even prompted, to try things that probably won't work. If you're so afraid to fail, you'll never try anything except what's easy and/or has been done before.

Don't think I'm suggesting this at the expense of work. I understand work, I know it's value. I think most people do. Value becomes apparent when environments aren't artificially constructed. Work shouldn't be so severely divided from play. In an ideal situation, they aren't always that different.

And, as mentioned above, kids (and adults) should be encouraged to play constructively, in an open-ended fashion. They should be given toys without an absolute clear procedure. They'll figure out what to do with their toys, don't worry. You could give them toys like some of the ones these guys have.

These two aren't the most amazing orators, but they've got some good stuff to show.

You should check out the Art Center Design Conference "Serious Play". Worth a bit of your time.

And now, something completely different.

I was excited yesterday to constructively use one of the applications on my phone. I was at D.I., and they played a song I really like, had heard before, but didn't know the artist or song. The lyrics were indecipherable, except for "la la la". That's not really going to help in a Google search. So I pulled out the G1, and fired up Shazam.

Shazam listens to a song for about ten or fifteen seconds, analyzes it, compares it against a database, and tells you the song, album, artist, and gives you the option to watch the video on or download from Amazon. It was fantastic, technology making my life better. Couple that with Compare Everywhere and mobile access to things like eBay, craigslist, or KSL Classifieds, and I'm a smarter, better informed consumer.

P.S. The song was "La la la" by The Bird and the Bee. To listen, click here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Passive Income

I don't want to be a wage slave. In my career, I don't ever want to ask for a raise, like I'm getting permission to stay out late. I'm an adult, I shouldn't have to ask permission. If I succumb to that setup, then the institution has gotten me. They've fully domesticated me into a numbed servant.

The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that an entrepreneurial career is the only way I can work and be really satisfied.

Hourly wages don't make any sense to me at all. In my current job, I am incentivised to work slowly and inefficiently, when in fact, my employer(s) would be better served by a quick turnaround on projects. They should be paying me reverse-hourly wages. I should start with a certain pay, and have deductions made progressively as my delivery time lags. That way, I'm paid well if I focus and complete projects on time, and my employer gets the product faster.

I want to get paid, not for my time, but for the value I deliver. I only have so much time. I have infinite value.

I want to set up multiple streams of passive income. An example is something I did this summer. I spent an afternoon drawing this picture of Barack Obama. I did it at the beginning of the summer, and had meant to do it much earlier than that. But I drew it and uploaded to a site that sells your designs on tees and gives you a commission. All you have to do is design and upload.

Want one? Click Here.

I've made over $70 in that time, from $3 commissions. I did that in one afternoon. I should make a habit of this.

And this is with NO promotion on my part. I've already shown that I can do guerrilla promotions successfully. If I'd pushed this at all, I think revenue could have been, would have been (will be?) multiplied many times over.

This isn't event the tip of the iceberg. There are a thousand different opportunities for passive income, little money machines waiting to be built, seeds to be planted. I think I'll start planting.

NOTE: That shirt is more a sign of my entrepreneurial penchant than my political leanings.

PG Times

I clicked on this editorial in the NY Times thinking it might be an article about Prop 8, an ever interesting subject. I thought the article might discuss the discrimination the LDS Church has faced for it's participation with an interfaith group to preserve what constitutes a marriage and family.

Not so. The article was about the city of Pleasant Grove, UT discriminating against a religious group I'd never heard of. Bad move, PG. Could've gotten your way if you'd played those cards a little differently, but not now. The Supreme Court has you now.

Also, there was an interesting article in The Economist about The Mormon work ethic.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Hardware. Software. Eyeware.

To anybody viewing this through facebook, you'll need to go to the original post to see the videos.

I've been saying for years that electronics will migrate from the desktop, to the laptop, to the pocket, to the glasses, to the body. Sorry, I'm jumping ahead, let me explain.

Technological progress seems pretty fast today, right? If it seems faster than when you were a kid, that's because it is. The rate of progress is increasing; progress is accelerating. The classic example of this is Moore's Law.

Moore's Law states that the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. But there are other examples of technological acceleration. Flash memory declines in price by %40 annually, which is why four years ago, I was excited to get a 64KB flash drive, and next year I'll likely be able to buy a 64GB drive for not all that much more. That's a thousand times the capacity, folks. If you want to see some numbers and trends that will really blow your mind, check out what Ray Kurtzweil said at TED. To call him a genuine genius prodigy is an understatement. He was smarter as a teenager than I may ever be as an adult.

So we see devices getting smaller and cheaper at a consistent, predictable rate. We see devices converging, so that your phone isn't just a phone anymore, it's a camera, multimedia player, and web-enabled device.

What am I getting at? Remember what I first said, all too eagerly. Electronics (if it's easier, think "my computer") will get smaller, migrating from the desktop, to the laptop, to the pocket, to the glasses, to the body.

NOTE: Really I've skipped steps, glossing over the mainframe computer that took up a whole building, and other predecessors.

We've already seen the first two steps (desktop to laptop), we're in the midst of the third (see my recent posts on the T-Mobile G1), and soon it will move from the pocket to the glasses.

The primary form of data input for humans is visual. If we were more like dogs, maybe we'd communicate with smell. But we're not, we're visual creatures. Our devices will move from the pocket (essentially a storage area) to the front of the eye, where a device needs to be anyway for it to be usable.

If this isn't making much sense, watch this video. It may help.

Now imagine the following scenario.

Twenty years down the line, you've just got your new EyeWare© brand specs. On campus, you run into somebody you haven't seen since freshman year. "What was her name" you think, "I had such a crush on her!" Luckily, you have your Visual ID program turned on. The EyeWare, ostensibly a plain pair of glasses (indistinguishable if you'd like), kick in. The cameras on either side of the lenses find the subject. The retinal scanners sense that you are looking at her. She is identified against a ID database of students who voluntary submitted their facial and vocal ID. Think "student directory" born of the 21st century. Her name appears just under her head in your field of vision. This has all happened within a single second. Before anyone has time to pause, you say "Hey, Jane! Haven't seen you since we took stats together!"

That, to be honest is the simplest scenario. There are literally countless applications for information overlay on your vision, not to mention the audio that would also come with it. This could all fall under the heading of augmented reality, a nascent field of interface and display study. I've mentioned it before. If you want to ride the wave of the next big thing, this probably isn't it. It's more like the next, next, next big thing. But it will be big, as big as any consumer device can be. They'll be as common as cell phones and iPods today. It's going to make our early attempts at headwear convergence seem silly. Who am I kidding? Those already look ridiculous. There are a few noble successes, though. Johnny Lee did a simple, elegant, awesome hack on the Nintendo Wii. The world could use a few more minds like Johnny. They had him over at TED, too.

Next step? To the body. Images projected directly onto your retina, or further, wired into the brain. And if you can send images, then why not any and every sensation? Maybe science could even invent a few new ones.

Sound uncomfortable? Ya, I'm right there with you. As much as I love robotics (you know I do) I'm not sure I'm willing to go all out and become one.

Get ready, folks. The future is about to get right up in your face.

NOTE: My phone has one of (if not the first) widely available augmented reality program around, Wikitude. Check it out.

Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton died. I didn't even know he was sick.
I liked his books. Hope the afterlife is greater for him than anything even he could have imagined.

Monday, November 03, 2008

California Prop 8, Arizona Prop 102

Last week, Robert P. George from Princeton University came to speak at the BYU University Forum. He elucidated the issue of legally recognizing homosexual marriage better than any speaker I've ever heard anywhere ever. Every American, and really, every person concerned with civil liberty, religion, and/or society should hear what he had to say.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Magic Map

Engadget. Sharp guys, them. Also Fred Armisen from SNL. Very funny.
I won't spend the ages it would take to find, but there was a scene from the Primaries when Anderson Cooper was still getting the hang of a new widget at CNN that would let them interact with virtual graphs. He looked ridiculous. They do love their toys, that CNN.

A good follow up to the Magic Mirror from yesterday, no?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Getting in Touch

You'll have a review of the G1 very shortly. I've been using it nonstop since I picked it up a couple nights ago.

Until then, here is a video to feed your need for technology and interface design. I'll just say now that I want one.

Interactive Mirror from Alpay Kasal on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It's Here

And I'm blogging from it.

Countdown: Ste. E?

They got the address wrong. They tried to deliver it today, and they had
the address wrong.

They tried to deliver it to my house at Ste. E. This it a house. There
are no Suites.

They never have this problem when they try to deliver my monthly bill.
Funny. But not really funny. I'm not chuckling.

I can't wait till tomorrow. I'm going to pick it up tonight.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Monday, October 20, 2008

UPDATE: Countdown



I've heard rumors that some G1 packages are showing up to us pre-orders early. So I check the comments on Engadget to see how we find out if ours is coming before the expected arrival date. Sho'nuff, UPS says mine will show up TOMORROW!

Couldn't be more stoked.


2 days.

I'm excited for the feature-packed handset and platform, but the G1
doesn't have everything. All the reviews say the GPS is so lousy, it may
as well not be there.

And while it may be unnecessary, I want the my handset to be sensor
laden, with features like this phone.


True, I don't NEED an altimeter, barometer, laser pointer, FM radio,
thermometer and magnetic compass, by why not? Each of those devices have
been shrunk to the size of a pea or smaller, and are probably $10 to
include, so why not put them in?

And when is the world of cell-phone enthusiasts going to get somebody to
build the hot-rod of mobile devices? When do we get our own Ben Heck
like the console gaming people have, or a Mr. Jalopy like the garage
tinkerers have? Why are cell phones so hard?

I want somebody to make a modular platform that allows the end user to
roll-their-own cell-phone. Think "Little Bits", only designed to come
together into a handset.

I'm sure this is little better than gibberish to most of you. But
believe me, it's a good idea, for everybody involved. Even a good
business idea. Maybe that's how I'll make my fortune.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


3 days.

I found out that we'll be doing a lot of the scheduling for work via Google Calender. THAT is built in to Android. Neat.

That is all.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


I dreamt last night that I was fabulously wealthy. I lived in a
mansion. I had all kinds of STUFF, which was cool and dissappointing. I
had a...for lack of a better term, a sports tank, and a little one
person racecar, and...just stuff. Man, I hope I don't have thatmuch
stuff ever.
We played a game that involved rockets and being ejected from the
rockets at high altitude. It was fun and highly dangerous.
There was more, it was pretty extensive. But I don't remember it all
now. Too bad. There were a few money making ideas in there.
-Sent from Austin's phone.

Friday, October 17, 2008


5 days.

I'm capturing video for the Morning Market Call, the daily
financialwebcast from the Graduate Finance Association. I keep thinking
how it'll be great to have essentially a fully connected computer around
all the time. Even when I'm capturing video at a workstation, I can
still do whatever I need to on the G1.

I bought a 500GB external hard drive last night. It's amazing how much
memory declines in price annually. I heard it's %40, every year. I
backed up everything on my home computer and wiped it clean, reinstalled
Windows, the latest version of Office, and MS Expression. It's a
creative suite that Microsoft is pushing these days. Thank goodness for
the company story, all that software would have set me back quite a bit
if I hadn't been working on the MS campus when I bought them.

Samsung recently released a 16GB memory card that will work perfectly
with the G1. My hope is that soon, I'll be able to do whatever I want,
whenever I want to, thanks to all the tech crammed into that phone and
the cleanup I've been doing on my home PC.

As an aside, I really enjoy Microsoft's new ads. They're some of the
first from them that I think are actually effective.

There are still plenty of things I'd like to have, though. A nice
scanner, for instance. I'd like to get my camera fixed, or better yet,
get a DSLR. And have you seen the new MacBooks? I've worked with both
Windows and Mac machines, and at this point, while they are different,
I'm not sure I have a clear preference. They each have their strengths.
The reason I'd want a Mac is for video editing. Nothing compares to
Final Cut, plain and simple. I've been using Final Cut and Avid
variously for almost two years now, and Final Cut is simply superior. A
tech savy person could sit down with Final Cut, and in ten minutes, they
would know %80 to %90 of what they need to know to work with it. I took
a class on how to use Avid, have used it for many projects, and it still
borders on unusable. It's so ridiculously criptic, it's as though there
was no consideration put into the end user experience.

Really, though, what does any of this matter? I'll come up with
something more meaningful and/or entertaining in future posts. My
apologies for this one.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Six days, and rumors that it may come early.

The first reviews are out, and pretty consistent with each other. It's a first generation device, and it shows, but it's still pretty great. That's what they say.

Also rumors that the G2 (yes, we're already talking about the next one) will run on a HTC Touch-like handset.

I'm excited.


"I thought you said he didn't eat much."

"Well, I guess I could clarify. He doesn't eat often."

The other night, dp made a enough curry to feed a family of octuplets.
It was the first thing I'd eaten that day, at about eight o'clock. It
was very spicy, and I had two heaping platefuls. Thanks, Dave.

Rob posed so you could get a sense of scale.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Seven days.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Copy Right

xkcd is sometimes really funny. It is also sometimes over my head. But I really like this one. Straightforward, and so very true.

There are things wrong with the state of copyright law today. Technology has changed some of the fundamental ways media and creativity are created and shared. It has outpaced the law, and now the laws mean very different things than they did. Many of the assumptions copyright laws are based on no longer hold true.

Ask Larry Lessig. He has some very interesting things to say on the topic.

The laws are antagonistic to the empowered user, and the user is circumstantially inclined to become a criminal. They are pushed that direction by media rights holders who hold to antiquated practices, demanding that consumers do the same.

Just ask Cory Doctorow. He knows.

My personal philosophy is this: When science and technology advance such to empower the holder, we are obliged to deal with the facts. We can't wish ourselves back, we can't say "I wish we'd never invented the H-Bomb" or, "If only we'd never done any research into cloning" or, in this case, "If only the people couldn't copy music and video". Guess what? They can. And when somebody artificially cripples that ability, people will be upset. I am.

I bought In His Own Voice: Ronald Reagan's Radio Addresses over the summer. I made the mistake of buying and downloading from iTunes, and the files are "protected". I bought it with the express purpose of listening while I was jogging. Then, after purchasing, I realized that I wouldn't be able to listen to it away from my computer because I didn't' have an iPod. I had an MP3 player, but not an iPod.

I bought it. I should be able to listen to it whenever I want, on whatever I want, for whatever reason. But I can't. They cut it off at the knees so I can't run with it.

Needless to say, I'm very glad the G1 will come with a direct link to the DRM-free Amazon store.

Friday, October 10, 2008

This and That

This is the only phone I want more than the G1. Too bad it doesn't really exist.

I think This is fascinating and could drive the future of technology. It reminds me of This. My roommate Dan asked if they ever turn into anything big and special. "Ya, have you ever seen lawnmower man?" That would have been an hysterical joke if he'd ever seen the movie.

Inside jokes aren't so fun when you're the only one on the inside.

The Charted Path

I hate school. I always have. I imagine I always will.

If a person aims to earn a secondary degree (something that is tremendously encouraged in college) they will likely spend a third of their lifetime in school. They'll spend a third of their lifespan figuring out and preparing for their life. Does that strike anybody else as absolutely ludicrous? Couldn't that person just start doing whatever it is they hope to learn about? Even if they're more interested in the esoteric aspects of the discipline, that's great. They'll understand it better if they've gotten their hands dirty with real-life fundamentals first.

I'm retaking a class right now. I failed it the first go through, didn't complete the final project. I got burned out jumping through hoops like an Afghan Hound. Thing is, I know the material. The teacher asks me questions in class. It's not because he wants to make sure I remember from last time I took the class. It's because he's aware I'll know the answer independent of the class.

Grades are necessarily a distraction from actual learning.

I hate bureaucracy. It's a poor excuse to not trust or care about a person or group. Most institutions are a necessary evil because people don't care enough about each other. An imperfect solution for an imperfect creature.

Schools supposedly increase achievement. I think that's only true some (not even most) of the time. They help some, but hold others back. A person may have otherwise thought, grown, created, and achieved in any number of original ways. At school, they do things the prescribed method, or they're a failure. "You did it wrong". Different is wrong. The predominant methods of education are a product of the Industrial age. It's a factory to produce factory workers. Conform, consent, comply, produce, repeat.

I'm too angry about it all to think clearly on the matter. I've tried to be logical, but really this is a reaction to my just hating school. I hate it.

All that being said, I'm not dropping out any time soon, though the thought will continue to nag me till I graduate. The only reason I'm still here is societal and familial expectation. Of my own ambition, I don't care about the degree. Just the highest hoop to jump through so I can get a certificate saying I'm a heck'uva'good hoop-jumper.

I have more to say on the subject, but I'll leave you with this video from TED on how conventional school systems stifle creativity and problem solving.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Morning Market Call

Mentioned I got a(nother) job. In addition to BYU Weekly.

A couple guys from the Graduate Finance Association in the Marriott School walked into the Brimhall yesterday. They met with one of the professors and asked for some help with a project they were starting. They want to do a daily morning webcast about finance and the markets. They know finance. They don't know webcasting.

So they were directed to me.

I'll be setting up, filming, directing, editing, and posting a short finance newscast every weekday morning starting Monday.

It should be interesting. They've given me free reign on what I want to do technically and creatively. These guys just want to practice talking finance in plain terms. They've hired me to make them look good.

They say they're going for the "RocketBoom" model several times, though I'm not sure that's entirely accurate.

If you have any suggestions, let me know. I've been brainstorming how to bootstrap this to make it look great, so we can apply for real funding.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


I think I may have just gotten another job. More to come soon.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Turns out I'm just posting interesting links and videos. Probably should have compiled them into one post, but I didn't realize I would just keep posting.

Regardless, I love robots. Enjoy.

Monkey Waiters in Japan

There is an ad at the beginning. I assure you it is worth the wait.

When I am wealthy and insane, DO NOT DOUBT that I will get a monkey like this.

Sad Market

This is interesting. I want to laugh, but then feel bad. Whatever it is, it's compelling, or could be if they run with it. I think it remains tasteful at the same time, too. To the founder of this blog, I say, Good idea.

Saturday, October 04, 2008


Oh, you'd like to try out my new phone? I don't have it yet (it'll show up on the 22nd) but you can still give it a test drive.

Just click here.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Taken Space

A girl I work with just commented on how much "Volume" my hair has. I
laughed audibly. She almost said it with jealousy in her voice.

I'm not somebody who strives for volume. I don't even use anything in my
hair. It was funny.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Musical Picture

I'm in my Film Genres class.

Last week we watched Swing Time with Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers.
She's as lovely as any actress I've ever seen on screen. This week it's
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. You know, "Bless your beautiful hide".
That one. They're grossly un-p.c. by today's standards, especially Seven
Brides for Seven Brothers but they retain the original appeal. Who
doesn't love some song and dance?

We discussed for a bit the absudity of the Musical film. I'm sure the
thought has crossed your mind before. Here we have a group of people who
spontaneously burst out into choreographed song and dance. Everybody
joins, instinctively taking their queues, as naturaly as smiling back at
a grinning baby.

Sometimes they do it within a diegetic context, i.e. we see the actor
sing and dance because his character in the film is a singer or dancer.
More often, though, music rises from the ether and somebody sings for no
audience (except us) and out of nothing but love.

If anybody did this in reality, we would send them to a professional
mental health expert. They'd need a head shrinker. They'd be

I'd love to see a musical exploit this. Our main character believes
life's a musical. He sings and dances, the animals join in. The
production values reflect classic musicals; their performance is in
front of a painted backdrop, they're elaborately costumed along with
everybody else, the setting is exaggerated and overdone.

But nobody else is in on it. We cut to the reality of the situation.
He's crazy as a loon, and his backup singers and dancers are actually
puzzled onlookers. The setting is stark and unpolished, just what it
would look like anywhere off-screen

I think it could make for a pretty great satire. The audience could
simultaneously enjoy the song and dance and acknowledge the absurd
propositions that virtually all musicals present.

P.S. Dp made the astute observation that there is almost NO way Will
Ferrell didn't base Ron Burgundy on Adam Pontape from Seven Brides for
Seven Brothers. Clear as day when somebody points it out, but the
liklihood of those two films entering the same conversation for any
other reason is almost nil.

-Sent from Austin's phone.


The chalk clanked as it met the aluminum cradle beneath the blackboard.

A hand went up at the front.

"What was the last part of that? Conformity is uniformity and compliance
with regard to..."

"With regard to rules, principles, and purpose."

Each pencil in the room dutifully scrawled the definition given.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I went to a press conference today with Frank Gehry. Brandt Anderson, an
extremely successful young entrepreneur, was also there. But I'll be
honest, I was excited Frank Gehry was there.

There were many small models for the development he designed here. They
were made of construction paper and glue.

I've seen those models before, or ones very like them. I watched Sydney
Pollack's Sketches of Frank Gehry last year.

Construction paper and glue.

I don't doubt that the man is a genius. I don't. However, I do question
the nature of Genius. I wonder how much of Genius is found in our
celebration of something or someone. Would he be equally the Genius he
is if nobody paid any attention?

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Personal Android

They're having the press conference right now announcing the Android powered G1. I'm watching the streaming video of the event.

There were early reports that it wouldn't be available to markets that didn't offer 3G. I was about to really lose my cool. Those fears have thankfully been put to rest.

I will be purchasing one presently, or as soon as I can.

UPDATE: This is what I am excited about. Click here.

I'm geeking out bad. I've never experienced this level of techno-lust. I want one of these so bad it's killing me.

It's weird, I know. You don't have to understand. I don't really understand it.

Monday, September 22, 2008


I went to a concert on Saturday. Local bands, groups I had only vaguely
heard of. My friend assured me I'd like them.

The opening band was noise. Straight unsettled noise. The follow-up act
was better, but still indecipherable, only approaching music.

I sat and watched the crowd as much as I watched anything on stage. I'll
always assert that an audience is equally as entertaining as virtually
any spectacle.

We stepped outside to escape the smoke and sweat. I asked my friend why
we come to concerts like this, what's the appeal? He said it's about the
music. I think that's a patent lie.

If it was about the music, they wouldn't have the volume up at such an
unnaturaly high and sustained level that it kills hearing cells. They
wouldn't have the main lights dimmed and the colored lights, strobe, and
disco ball rolling. There wouldn't be smoke machines fogging the already
rank air. The lead singer wouldn't wear black tights, cowboy boots, a
flattened mohawk, and Long John Silver's ruffled button-up. The girl
next to me wouldn't call him sexy. There wouldn't be gaggles of early
teens glancing uncomfortably, late teens trying to look cool, and mid
twenty somethings with despondent stares.

I played along. I danced, I sang, I screamed.

But I'm too old for this. If not in age then in heart. Too old to enjoy
the noise.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

After the Fact

Today I did some reporting. And it was all wrong.

I didn't get the right B-Roll. There were childrens' drawings and kids
on the playground. There was hospital equipment and bicycles and
elaborate signs. There all kinds of great cutaways.

And I didn't get any of it.

Instead, I was worrying about the camera being on, and the record button
pressed, the lighting right, the framing set, the microphone on, then
making sure the mic is off afterward if I want it to work next time.

I make a lousy technician, and when I'm trying to be one, I'm an even
lousier reporter.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Yesterday, I was talking to a couple friends waiting for the Devotional
to start. Both of them lovely gals from my old ward. It was nice to
catch up.

Before devotional, they often play BYU Weekly, and yesterday was no
different. On the screen came me, hosting, smiling in my gray suit, red
tie, and contact lenses.

In the midst of our conversation, I pointed up at the screen,
indicating, That's Me, THERE I AM.

They looked at the screen, then back at me, and one asked, "Oh, do you
work with that guy?"

Very Funny. Yes, I answered. But when they continued on without further
comment, I realized they weren't kidding, that they both actually hadn't
recognized me.

I backpeddled on our discussion and pointed out, THAT'S ME. They were
still confused.

"They're talking about you? Did you write this?"

What? Yes, I wrote it, but you're missing the point, THAT IS ME ON THE

Amazing, really. I suppose I look really great on TV or really dull in
reality. Maybe both.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Color Code

I'm reading The People Code, formerly published as The Color Code, by
Dr. Taylor Hartman.

To those reading who are A) Well enough acquainted with me, and B)
Familiar with The Code, I would like to know:


I know, this is shamelessly self indulgent. You don't have to answer.
But you'll miss out on all the fun if you don't.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Self Control

Try not to be so annoyed. Nobody is out to get you.

The girl behind the counter got your order wrong because she is new to
her job, not because she is stupid.

The site that offered the free personality test made an honest mistake
by trying to charge you. They sent a gift certificate, so no harm done.
They weren't trying to con you.

Freshman are just having fun. They're at college for the first time.
They don't realize how loud they are. Let it slide.

The car wash didn't work after you paid for "the works". It was a simple
mechanical failure. Keep the receipt, you can get a refund later when
there is an employee on site. At the automated car wash. Whenever that
will be.

Till then, I'm out seven bucks.

-Sent from Austin's phone.