Archive for November, 2012

November 28, 2012

Harold

upright citizens brigade

Harold is a structure used in longform theatrical improvisation. Developed by Del Close and brought to fruition through Close’s collaboration with Charna Halpern, the Harold has become the signature form of Chicago’s iO and the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York and Los Angeles. It is now performed by improvisational theater troupes and teams across the world.

The Committee, a San Francisco improv group, performed the first Harold in Concord, California in 1967. They were invited to a high school and decided to do their improvisations on the war in Vietnam. On the way home they were discussing the performance when one of them asked what they should call it. Allaudin (Bill) Mathieu called out ‘Harold.’ It was a joking reference to a line from ‘A Hard Days Night’ where a reporter asked George Harrison what he called his haircut; he answered ‘Arthur.’ Close later remarked that he wished he had chosen a better name.

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November 28, 2012

Del Close

Del Close Marathon

Del Close (1934 – 1999) is one of the premier influences on modern improvisational theater. He was also an actor appearing in a number of films and television shows.

He was a co-author of the book ‘Truth in Comedy,’ which outlines techniques now common to longform improvisational theater and describes the overall structure (he named ‘Harold’) which remains a common frame for longer improvisational scenes. His favorite framework for comedic storytelling was the structures of Wagner’s ‘Ring Cycle.’

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November 28, 2012

Sergei Eisenstein

eisenstein

Sergei Eisenstein (1898 – 1948) was a pioneering Soviet Russian film director and film theorist, often considered to be the ‘Father of Montage.’

He is noted in particular for his silent films ‘Strike’ (1924), ‘Battleship Potemkin’ (1925), and ‘October’ (1927), as well as the historical epics ‘Alexander Nevsky’ (1938) and ‘Ivan the Terrible’ (1944).

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November 28, 2012

Recess

Joe Ansolabehere

Recess is an American animated television series created by Paul Germain and Joe Ansolabehere (credited as ‘Paul and Joe’) and produced by Walt Disney Television Animation. The series focuses on six elementary school students and their interaction with other classmates and teachers.

The title refers to the period of time during the school day in which children are not in lessons and are outside in the schoolyard, in North American society. One of the main features of the series is how the children form their own society, complete with government and a class structure, set against the backdrop of a regular school.

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November 28, 2012

Game Boy Micro

gameboy

Game Boy Micro is a handheld game console developed and manufactured by Nintendo. It was first released in 2005. The system is the last console of the Game Boy line. The Game Boy Micro is the size of a typical Nintendo Entertainment System controller and a typical Famicom controller. The console  retains some of the functionality of the Game Boy Advance SP, but with an updated form factor. It is unable to play original Game Boy and Game Boy Color games due to design changes. Even though it still has the required Z80 processor and graphics hardware necessary to run the old games, it is missing other circuitry necessary to be compatible with the old Game Boy cartridges.

It is officially incompatible with the Nintendo e-Reader and some other peripherals due to design issues. Additionally, it features a backlit screen with the ability to adjust the brightness so as to adapt to lighting. The Game Boy Micro features a removable face plate that allows consumers to purchase alternative designs. This device can play MP3 and digital video files from SD cards. The system retailed for US$99, compared to US$79 for the Game Boy Advance SP. Generally, the Game Boy Micro did not sell well, and failed to reach the company’s aim of units sold.

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November 28, 2012

Plex

plex

Plex is a partially open-source freeware media player software with a 10-foot user interface (optimized for use with a TV), with a matching closed source media server (Plex Media Server) software, which is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Its media player source code was initially forked from XBMC, a free media player, in 2008. Plex’s front end media player, Plex Media Center, allows the user to manage and playback video, photos, music, and podcasts from a local or remote computer running Plex Media Server.

In addition, the integrated Plex Online service provides the user with a growing list of community-driven plugins for online content including Hulu, Netflix, and CNN video. Plex began as a freeware hobby project but since 2010 has evolved into a commercial software business that is owned and developed by a single for-profit startup company, (Plex, Inc.).

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November 28, 2012

SIGGRAPH

 

Association for Computing Machinery

SIGGRAPH (short for Special Interest Group on GRAPHics and Interactive Techniques) is the name of the annual conference on computer graphics started in 1974. The conference is attended by tens of thousands of computer professionals. Some highlights of the conference are its Animation Theater and Electronic Theater presentations, where recently created CG films are played. There is a large exhibition floor, where several hundred companies set up elaborate booths and compete for attention and recruits. Most of the companies are in the engineering, graphics, motion picture, or video game industries.

There are also many booths for schools which specialize in computer graphics or interactivity. Dozens of research papers are presented each year, and SIGGRAPH is widely considered the most prestigious forum for the publication of computer graphics research. In 1984, under LucasFilm Computer Group, John Lasseter’s first computer animated short, ‘The Adventures of André & Wally B.,’ premiered at SIGGRAPH. Pixar’s first computer animated short, ‘Luxo, Jr.’ debuted in 1986, and Pixar has debuted numerous shorts at the conference since. Since 2008, a second yearly SIGGRAPH conference has been held in Asia. The first SIGGRAPH Asia conference was held in Singapore; the second one in Yokohama, Japan in the period in 2009; and the third in Seoul, Korea in 2010.

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November 27, 2012

Walk On By

 

Dionne Warwick

Walk On By‘ is a song composed by Burt Bacharach, with lyrics by frequent collaborator  Hal David. The song was originally recorded by Dionne Warwick at the same December 1963 session that yielded her hit ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart.’ ‘Walk On By’ was the follow-up to that single, released in 1964 and reaching #6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Warwick also recorded a German version of the song, entitled ‘Geh Vorbei.’ Funk/soul musician Isaac Hayes released a cover version in 1969 on his album ‘Hot Buttered Soul’ and transformed the song into a twelve-and-a-half minute funk vamp.

Edited for single release down to under 5 minutes, this single reached #30 on the U.S. charts. In 1978, The Stranglers recorded a gritty punk-inspired version (with an extended organ solo) that charted in the UK. Alicia Keys recorded a hip hop version of the song on 2003 mutli-platinum album ‘The Diary of Alicia Keys.’ The Isaac Hayes version samples from a cover of the song by The Jackson 5, and was itself sampled by numerous artists, notably Hooverphonic in ‘2Wicky,’ The Notorious B.I.G. in ‘Warning,’ 2Pac in ‘Me Against the World,’ and Portishead in ‘All Mine.’

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November 27, 2012

Patton’s Speech to the Third Army

patton

Patton’s Speech to the Third Army was given by General George S. Patton on June 5, 1944, the day before D-day. Patton delivered variations of the speech on several different occasions to his troops, although the June 5 date is the most well known. A hard copy of the speech exists. It has since become immortalized in George C. Scott’s rendition in the movie ‘Patton,’ where he delivers it in front of a large American flag. Patton’s actual words were so colorful that the movie edited and toned down the language, e.g. substituting ‘fornicating’ for ‘fucking.’ Certain phrases from the speech were also used in Scott’s dialogue later on in the film.

Patton’s speech was largely designed to motivate U.S. troops that were to be under fire. There had been much talk about superior German firepower, and the level of fear and doubt was so great in the armed forces that the U.S. Army even resorted to making propaganda films claiming that the infamous German machine gun, the MG-42 (a reliable and deadly weapon), had a bark louder than its bite. The Army did not want US soldiers to get pinned down, and knew that their forces would have to be motivated as they were to be charging German heavy fire on foot.

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November 26, 2012

Collective Intelligence

hive mind by Luke Ramsey

Collective intelligence is a shared or group intelligence that emerges from the collaboration and competition of many individuals and appears in consensus decision making in organisms (including some bacteria) and computer networks. The term appears in sociobiology, political science, and in context of mass peer review and crowdsourcing web applications (e.g. Wikipedia). This broader definition involves consensus, social capital, and formalism such as voting systems, social media and other means of quantifying mass activity.

Everything from a political party to a public wiki can reasonably be described as this loose form of collective intelligence. The notion of collective intelligence has also been called ‘Symbiotic intelligence.’ A precursor of the concept is found in entomologist William Morton Wheeler’s observation that seemingly independent individuals can cooperate so closely as to become indistinguishable from a single organism. Wheeler saw this collaborative process at work in ants that acted like the cells of a single beast he called a ‘superorganism.’

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November 26, 2012

Knowledge Graph

google knowledge graph

The Knowledge Graph is a knowledge base used by Google to enhance its search engine’s search results with semantic-search information gathered from a wide variety of sources. Knowledge Graph display was added to Google’s search engine in 2012, starting in the United States. It provides structured and detailed information about the topic in addition to a list of links to other sites. The goal is that users would be able to use this information to resolve their query without having to navigate to other sites and assemble the information themselves.

According to Google, this information is derived from many sources, including the CIA World Factbook, Freebase, and Wikipedia. The feature is similar in intent to answer engines such as Ask Jeeves and Wolfram Alpha. As of 2012, its semantic network contained over 500 million objects and more than 3.5 billion facts about and relationships between these different objects which are used to understand the meaning of the keywords entered for the search.

November 26, 2012

Natural Language Processing

deft

Natural language processing (NLP) is a field of computer science, artificial intelligence, and linguistics concerned with the interactions between computers and human (natural) languages.

As such, NLP is related to the area of human–computer interaction. Many challenges in NLP involve natural language understanding — that is, enabling computers to derive meaning from human or natural language input. An automated online assistant providing customer service on a web page, an example of an application where natural language processing is a major component.

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