Madris = Architecture + The Sims + Tetris

I first came across the independent video game Madris around this time last year; it was an entry in the “A Game By Its Cover” video game development competition. Madris is a puzzle game designed by Gary Dahl that is essentially a combination of architecture, “The Sims,” and some game called “Tetris” (**wink-wink, nudge-nudge**).  The goal of the player is to take each block (which is either a room or a corridor), and to arrange them on the screen. Some of the room blocks will have people inside of them, so the main objective is to arrange the rooms and/or corridors so that the occupants can get to the proper room that will serve their immediate need (for example, the watercloset, a.k.a., the loo, a.k.a., the throne room, a.k.a., the commode, a.k.a., well, you get the idea).

Every time a character enters one of the room blocks that was indicated by their thought bubble, all interconnecting room blocks linked to that character’s destination are removed from the thought bubble as well. You can use the down arrow key to make a room/corridor block reach the bottom part of the screen faster (a’la “Tetris”), and keeping the down button depressed after said block is placed will then speed up the walking animation of the occupant.

Go ahead and check out Madris by clicking here (Windows, 9.34MB), downloading it, and give it a whirl.  You’ll be playing the “A Game By Its Cover” competition build of the game.  Enjoy!

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UK Police Used Facial Recognition Software to ID Rioters

SMILE!  You’re on Candid Cameraaaa!!!

Crime doesn’t pays. It NEVER pays. Especially when you commit said crime in a large public area that has several security cameras installed and positioned to catch said crimes being committed. Also, don’t document and show off your five-fingered discounts in public or you’ll get caught on Twitter; like this moron.

Scotland Yard has been quietly developing facial recognition technology for use during the 2012 London Olympics. As the days go by, the number of arrests related to the recent UK riots have risen incrementally well after the riots concluded with approximately 1,635 total arrests and 940 people charged. The main unknown factors are that we may never know exactly how the software works (Scotland Yard is a government agency), nor to what extent the facial recognition technology is being used and its success rate (because, again, Scotland yard is a government agency).  One independent group attempted to use facial recognition software and cross-reference it with profile pictures on Facebook and Twitter, but that project had some very flawed results, and subsequently fell apart.  Various police agencies in the United Kingdom had uploaded photos of rioters to Flicker accounts and asking citizens to call in and identify any of the rioters and looters they recognize.

So a lesson to take from this could include: don’t organize riots/looting/other illegal acts over online social networks; don’t do these illegal acts, PERIOD; and for those of you who are weary about privacy on your Facebook, Twitter, or *cough*MySpace*cough* accounts, set your privacy settings so that only your friends can see your info.  I can only hope that the advances in surveillance technology (and technology, period) won’t lead to abuse by ne’er-do-wells (both government and individuals) who can just develop software to access public data and identify us, but one can only hope.
[Thanks Gizmodo for the image, SlashNews, CBS News & Forbes]

Like WHOA, man: Google aquires Motorola!

He Just LOVVVVES To Accessorize!!

Anyone remember “Whoa” by Black Rob?  Anyone? Anyone?  Yeah, you know you do!  That song was HOTT!

Plus, it fits this latest announcement that’s currently circling the “interwebz” today: Google has just purchased Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion this morning (yeah, THIS morning), and this could open the floodgates of awesome for Google for two reasons in particular.

One, Google could use Motorola to manufacture and sell “official Google phones” (a’la the iPhone).  This move by Google puts them in a position where one part of their company can program and develop the Android OS, while another part of their company is responsible for manufacturing the hardware for said OS (making it possible that Motorola will be the primary maker of “official” Google phones, including their Nexus line).  When you think about it, it’s not too different from from what Apple currently does.

Two, and probably the more advantageous of the two, Google might acquire any/all patents Motorola currently holds to defend Android from lawsuits and challenges from their main competition (namely Apple and Microsoft.  The official press release states Google’s intentions of obtaining Motorola’s patents in the acquisition.

Like most merger/acquisitions of almost any size, this deal is still subject to approval by the FTC (“AT&T-Mobile,” anyone?), so nothing is final yet.

[Thanks to CNET, Engadget, and some company called Google]

Oh, and you’re welcome.

Please WWE, bring back the old Undisputed Title Belt

PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE, Bring THIS belt back!!!

This Sunday at WWE SummerSlam, WWE Champion John Cena will face WWE Champion CM Punk.  Yes, you read that correctly; both men are recognized as WWE Champion.

Here’s some backstory: Punk defeated Cena last month for the title at the “Money in the Bank” pay-per-view, his contract expired that midnight, and he left WWE.  I posted a previous blog concerning WWE entrance music that featured an article that mentions the Punk/Cena/WWE storyline. The next night, the title was vacated, and the following week, Cena won the vacant title.  Then that night, Punk returned, with a new contract and HIS WWE Championship belt.  At SummerSlam, both titles will be unified into an Undisputed WWE Championship, and this brings me to my topic; John Cena has been a multiple-time champion since 2005, and the form of the WWE Title was customized and changed into what’s known as the “Spinner” WWE Title (to go with Cena’s hip-hop/rebel persona).

It’s SPINNIN’ Cena, It’s SPINNIN’! It’s SPINNIN’ Cena, It’s SPINNIN’! 

However, for the past few years, that belt’s form was worn thin with me (and some other fans I converse with), and I feel that the new Undisputed WWE Championship belt should resemble the form it was from early-2002 to early-2005 (shown at the beginning of the post).  This not a anti-John Cena bias blog post (as I love what both Cena and Punk bring to the table that is professional wrestling), just a gripe concerning that style and symbolism of the current “Spinner” WWE Title belt.  Let me list my TWO main reasons:

1) The “Spinner” WWE Title belt works well with John Cena’s persona, and not necessarily everyone else.

Here’s John Cena (Hip-Hop/Rebel) again. It fits, now doesn’t it.  
YOU CAN’T SEE ME!!!

In the early 2000’s, spinners & hip-hop went together like peanut butter & jelly, and since Cena’s persona was that of a hip-hop star and a rebel, this belt suited him very well.  He had previously done it with the United States Title, and when he lost that title, it went back to its original form.

Note that his name is permanently on the belt,
intending it to be Cena’s belt, and CENA’S BELT ONLY.

Now, to my fellow wrestling fans, think about how the “Spinner” belt looked on Randy Orton (Methodical Sociopath-like, shown below), The Miz (Mr. Hollywood/MTV), Rey Mysterio (Mexican Luchador), Edge (Rock Star), and Sheamus (Irish Warrior).  Sounds and feels kinda odd and off, right?

Yeeeaaahh….no.
Now, here’s Stone Cold Steve Austin (Redneck/Rebel) with his customized “Smoking Skull” WWE Championship belt.
Fits too, right?  
Words Unnecessary.

Question: Remember who else held this belt while they were WWE Champion? Trick question; no one did, (sure, The Rock had “possession” of it for a brief time, but he never held that belt as champion) because when someon else was champion, they used the exisitng WWE Title belt, not this customized version.  In the history of the WWE, many champions had their belts customized to fit their persona. The list of such wrestlers include:

A] “Superstar” Billy Graham (red leather strap)
B] The Ultimate Warrior (white, blue, and purple leather straps)
C] Sgt. Slaughter (purple leather strap, changed to original black strap after defeating The Ultimate Warrior)
D] “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (“Smoking Skull” belt)
E] John Cena (Spinner belt with free-motion “spinner” WWE logo in the center)
F] Edge (Modified “Rated-R Superstar” spinner belt, BASED ON CENA’S VERSION; look below)
G] The Miz (Modified spinner design with upside down WWE logo simulating the letter M, ALSO BASED ON CENA’S VERSION; look below)

Hmmmm, THIS look kinda familiar….
Gee, I wonder where he got the idea from?

Based on that, I feel that a clean break needs to be made from Cena’s persona-based customized WWE Title belt and the new Undisputed WWE Championship belt (whether Punk or Cena win at SummerSlam), focused more on the WWE as a whole, and less focused on John Cena.

2) The old Undisputed WWE Title belt is classy and distinguished, much like SmackDown’s World Heavyweight Championship, and many other World Titles before it.

Classy & Distinguished.  Why, I Declare!!

The “Spinner” belt would look cool because it would appear that the crews of West Coast Customs and GAS from MTV’s Pimp My Ride worked on it.  The problem is that Pimp My Ride stopped being cool when the customizing went overboard and gaudy; much like this customized belt.

Yo Dawg, I heard you like spinners and stupidly-gaudy diamonds,
so we hooked you up and put spinners and stupidly-gaudy diamonds on yo belt!!!

Here’s the current WWE World Heavyweight Championship on SmackDown.
Classy and distinguished, huh?   
Oh you fancy, huh?!?

It comes off as bold and powerful because it uses a very simple design.  This belt is based on the older WCW World Heavyweight Championship (nicknamed “Big Gold Belt”), which also stemmed from WCW’s roots in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and once served as that promotion’s world championship belt.

The National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Championship;
old-school, classy, & simple
The Ring of Honor (ROH) World Heavyweight Championship;
abstract, yet symmetrical and classy

To close, I feel that the new Undisputed WWE Championship Belt (assuming a newer belt is made) needs to be focused more on the WWE as a whole, and less focused on one superstar/wrestler.  While it may be fine and well for John Cena to hold on the “Spinner belt” whenever he’s the WWE Champion because it works for him and his persona, it doesn’t look right on other wrestlers with different personalities, and it subliminally makes Cena the entire focus (and the face) of the Championship and that title’s picture.  I also feel that older Undisputed title belt never got it’s fair shake since it never returned to the WWE after Cena won the title in March 2005.  It may be time for the WWE to dig back into its past for the benefit of its future.

Again, PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE WWE, Bring THIS Title Belt Back!!! 

Rant Over.

The Soon-To-Be World’s Tallest Building…

A little insane, right?

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the first rendered image of the what will soon be the world’s tallest building by 2020 (or maybe until a new design for another building comes up in the next 15 minutes).

The building on the far left is the Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and it stands at 3,280 feet, towering over the current holder of the Burj Khalifa, which stands at 2,717 feet, by at least 560 feet.  Designed by Chicago firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG), construction on the new tower will begin immediately, as the plans for the tower’s foundation are finished and “the piling for the tower is currently being tendered” in Jeddah, near the Red Sea.  The Kingdom Towers will take roughly $1.2 billion to build, while, according to AS+GG, “the cost of the entire Kingdom City project is anticipated to be $20 billion.  The tower’s 3,280-foot spire will house a 5.7 million square feet space that will house a Four Seasons hotel, a Four Seasons apartment area, office space, luxury condos and the world’s highest observatory.

I may be slightly acrophobic, but this looks like a space I’d like to experience.

The Kingdom Tower will also contain 12 escalators and 59 elevators (54 single-deck and five double-deck) that go up to the observatory deck, travelling at 22.3 miles per hour; it would take only one minute and forty seconds to reach the top of the tower.  At the top of the spire is an outdoor space with an 98-foot diameter utilized by the penthouse floor at level 157, and it visible in the detailed rendering above.

                       

I recall my time at Texas A&M, studying a Frank Lloyd Wright building that was proposed and never-built called “Mile High Illinois,” or “The Illinois” that would have stood at, you guessed it, one mile tall (or 5,680 feet for my math nerds out there).  The final rendering of the Kingdom Tower, which shows its harder-edged and sight-asymmetrical design, definitely reminds me of Wright’s sketch (above) for The Illinois.

[Thanks GizmodoWikipedia, and AS+GG.]

A History Lesson of Instant Ramen

I love eating Ramen Noodles; I even go as far as adding some extras spices and meat (chicken, sausage, brisket, etc.). I read this story from Gizmodo a while back that talks about the history of Ramen noodles and their original purpose in its conception: to combat poverty post-World War 2 in Japan, and, potentially, to end world hunger.

To think that in the last century, a slew or great inventions came out of Japan; ranging from Sony’s Walkman (Sony itself is a great Japanese post-World War 2 story), digital cameras, fuel-efficient vehicles, karaoke (admit it, you ENJOY it; **cough** SingStar, Rock Band **cough**), and fast mass-transit trains (i.e., “bullet trains”).  However, the Japanese took a vote in a survey almost a decade ago, and they selected the invention of instant ramen as the single greatest 20th century invention/contribution from Japan.

The Humble Origins of Instant Ramen: From Ending World Hunger to Space Noodles

[Thanks Gizmodo]

Autodesk aquires DIY site Instructables

+

Is “intrigued” a color? If it is, COLOR ME THAT!! I don’t care if it clashes with my t-shirt! I think is a slightly darker hue of turquoise. Or not….I don’t really know.

Ramblings aside, I personally enjoy re-purposing and/or upgrading older items I either find or currently own, so I often frequent the do-it-yourself website Instructables for some tips on doing such things. I have an old HP tower PC from 2003 that I am currently using as a network-attached/media server for my PS3, Xbox 360 and my laptop, an old hard disk drive chassis as a drink coaster holder, and an old cheap bookcase repaired/updated as a shelf for my older gaming consoles. I am extremely thankful for the existence of this site and the multitude of projects and tips that it provides!

Recently, Autodesk (known for their design and engineering software, notably AutoCAD and Revit — both of which I’m familiar/experienced with) has purchased popular do-it-yourself (DIY) repository website Instructables. Originally, Autodesk showed some interest in the amateur DIY community and launched a free design tool for hobbyists called 123D back in early 2009. According to the press release, it appears that no big changes will be made, plus makers will still own the copyright to their creations, and Instructables will be keeping their focus on user-submitted projects. However, Instructables’ site blog does promise that improvements are on the way, mainly due to Autodesk’s deep pockets.

Unfamiliar with Instructables? Well, here’s the skinny. Instructables was launched in mid-2005, and is an step-by-step collaboration among its members to build a variety of projects ranging from food, furniture, technology, lifestyle, outdoor living, clothing/accessories, among many others. Users of the website post instructions to their projects (typically along with pictures and/or video), and then interact with other members through commenting on each project on the project’s dedicated page and/or the website’s forums.

If you got the itch to put some older or extra items lying around your home or if you’re looking to try something new, head straight to the Instructables website and give a go. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

[Thanks to Autodesk and Instructables]

The Thought-Provoking Perspective of a Pokemon Attack

To any Pokemon fan (or anyone slightly familiar with Pokemon), this kind of makes you think, doesn’t it?

ESPN’s Bill Simmons on WWE Entrance Music

Bill Simmons (you know, “The Sports Guy” from ESPN & ESPN.com, the editor-in-chief from Grantland) wrote this awesome article on entrance music in professional wrestling, and why it matters in creating a true superstar, as well as its effect on crowd reaction and connection.  Simmons also provides a great example of this claim by using the recent controversies surrounding professional wrestler CM Punk (the guy with the briefcase), his connection to the fans, and the current status and storyline surrounding the status of the WWE Championship.

At the end of the article, he provides a Top 12 list (with some Honorable Mentions) of pro wrestling entrance songs that he deems to be the most effective in both creating a superstar and connecting with fans.  Much of the list I agree with, especially with Edge’s theme (“Metallingus” by Alter Bridge, though incorrectly named as “On This Day”) and it’s placement on the list.  This is an excellent read for pro wrestling fans (of course) and music fans alike.

“Good Lord, That’s His Music” – Bill Simmons on WWE music – Grantland

Antibacterial Stainless Steel Developed; KILLS GERMS DEAD!

Say goodbye to seeing this on a regular basis (if your one of those lazy people who apparently DON’T KNOW HOW to wash or clean dishes); I mean, it is cheaper and it saves more water (which saves $$$ on your water bill) to hand-wash dishes than to use a dishwasher.  Ok, sorry; my rant is over.

Continue reading Antibacterial Stainless Steel Developed; KILLS GERMS DEAD!

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