Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Day 181, on which John eats a burger and has a laugh [30.6.10]

Dag hundrede énoghalvtreds. Please ignore today's post title, it sounds very lame. Bear in mind that today was, by far, not lame. It was sports day at my school. Rather, it was sports afternoon. We had normal lessons in the morning. Sports day is always fun because I never actually do any of the events - you should know I'm not very sporty - and this year I spent the three hours taking photos. Also, I ate a burger (see below). And yes, I had a laugh too. I repeat: lots of fun.

Burger makin' station
Anyways, as you know it's time for a new 20-day challenge. But what could I do? I've covered philosophy, so that's out of the equation. I won't be able to keep up a science topic for too long, and plus it would be boring. I won't say to have a deliberate design topic, because I know it will creep in there eventually. So what does that leave me with, on my big ol' list of topics that I can write about?

My best bet would be to do an art topic for the next 20 days. However, in the future, I'd like to try something which I don't know much about. I've got to be interested in it, of course, but I'm interested in most things so it would be easy to find a new topic. I was thinking in the realms of fashion, but I don't want to get too interested in fashion unless I get sucked into it and don't stop. Whilst I'm not sure that I will do that, I don't want to take the risk. I'm quite happy saying that fashion is one thing I won't be into, along with cooking and sports. However, I have had some annoyingly good fashion ides of late...

Nonetheless, the next 20 days is about reviewing and analysing art - specifically art styles! Go go go!

~John

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Day 180, on which John briefly covers the L-word for the sake of perfection [29.6.10]

Dag hundrede og firs. Okey dokey, onto today's post. In a sec. Until then, tinkly elevator music and light refreshments. TINKLE TINKLE TINKLE, DEE DUM DEE DUM DEE DUM. DUM DA DUM DA TATATATA DING. You've arrived at your stop. Hoorah. Let's get out and start with this awkward post.

As you know, I'm doing a series on philosophy. As this is the last post of that topic, I decided to leave the hardest theme 'til last. You can't do a philosophy series without talking about love, one of the most philosophical topics there is.

The funny thing about love is that it's so 'spiritual'. There's no physical part of it at all, love (not reproduction, kids) is all in the mind. All in the 'soul', hence 'soulmates'. Now, this is where it starts to get debatable. You see, believing that the mind is a seperate, spiritual extension to the physical body is a very religious philosophy.

So where do I stand, as the scientific dude I am? Well, I can only call love a biological feeling. Do I think it has any meaning higher than that? No, it's just to do with us. Do I think that is should have any meaning higher than that? No, it can't. Does this make me not care about it? No, I still care about it. We all do.

I haven't been in love, I'll give you that, but I guess we'd all like to be at some point. The fact that I think it's simply a biological thing doesn't dent this. It can't, then there'd be no point in life. So how do I keep living happily? Very easily, thank you. And plus, I haven't had any experience of love in that way as of yet, so I can't say much about it.

Awkward topic = over. Day = over. John = tired.


~John

Monday, 28 June 2010

Day 179, on which John says "don't worry, be happy!" [28.6.10]

Dag hundrede nioghalvfjerds. I hate mondays. Well, we all do, but I just wanted to say that I concur. Mondays suck. They suck almost as much as a vacuum cleaner. Whilst we're on the topic, can I just remind you all that it's vacuum cleaner, not hoover. Hoover is a brand name, so don't go calling your Dyson a Hoover; that's disrespectful. Plus, Dysons whoop Hoovers any day. So call it a Dyson instead.

Why Dyson is better: Air multiplier™ fans. Did I mention I get very attached to companies?


OK, onto our topic of the day. Every religion has its own teachings on the nature of evil, and why bad things happen. But what do you think? Everyone has an opinion on it. You'd think that, if life were the best that it could be, then everything would be good. That's the Christian feeling on it.

Some people simply find a way of looking on the bright side - having a way of thinking that all the bad things that happen must be worth it for some reason, or can be ignored somehow. I'm one of those people. Here's my take on the subject:

Bad things happen. There's nothing we can do to stop them from happening, because life is full of ups and downs and what comes up must come down. Therefore, I try to appreciate the 'up' parts as much as I can, knowing that they're only there to be different from the 'low' parts. When the 'low' parts happen, I try to tell myself that they happen, and that this means that there should be an 'up' part happening soon because of it. Now, I don't believe that there is a direct equality between the ups and the downs; if there's a big down, I don't believe there will be an equally big up. All I know is that both bad things and good things happen, and that they both come to an end. So, when a bad thing happens, all I need to do is wait.

How do you guys view this topic? Comment below!

~John

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Day 178, on which John discovers the DANISH WAY TO ROCK [27.6.10]

Dag hundrede otteoghalvfjerds. Hey hey hey, everybody! I don't think we could say that today is a great day to be patriotic, because England got thrashed by Germany. But anyways, I don't care about football, and I support Denmark, so I've got over losing by now. Other than that, quite a slow day today. For every good thing, there's always a bad thing. Perhaps I should discuss my viewpoint on that. Yeah, another day. I only have two posts left after this, so the other one will have to be that one about love. Dangit, I don't want to write that, but it's a philosophical topic so I have to.


You should all hopefully know by now that I'm really into Danepop, Denmark's crazy brand of pop and rock music. When I first heard the song 'The Danish Way to Rock' on ANR, I thought it was some old song brought out for something new (which ANR is always in need of). Then I looked it up and discovered it was Denmark's motivational World Cup theme tune.



Sung by the Danish band Nephew, and starring the equally ugly Danish football team, this video is the most patriotic thing I've ever seen Denmark do. It's also very, very awesome. Notice the lion symbol at the start, which I think is their football team's logo. There's also some awkward shots with the football team, and I love how the only lines the football team ('landsholdet', 'the team') sing are 'Daaaaannnnnmmmmaaaarrrkkk' and equally dull words in the background. Nonetheless, this video is actually really well made, and it's a good song.

It's a shame we lost, really. Kinda puts a dampener on the motivational power of the video.


IT'S THE DANISH WAY TO ROCK!

~John

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Day 177, on which John has a good, good day [26.6.10]

Dag hundrede syveoghalvfjerds. Today was a good day. A really good day. Drama in the morning, wandering round town with friends in the afternoon, and Flickr in the evening. All my favourite things, in one day-sized package. Unfortunately, it means I'm just as tired as yesterday. So much for that.

Ooh, before we carry on, just a reminder that the Crap Filter was updated today with 15 more days' worth of topics. Not much, but it's a change anyway. Hopefully I'll update it more tomorrow.

So, the World Cup. You know that when I start talking about football, something is afoot. And what's afoot? Well, it's an appendage on your lower limbs, you fuckwits! Har de har har har.


What I love about the current World Cup is how it's been so memorable. Usually the World Cups pass by and the only way to define one from another is what games were played and who won. This World Cup is a little different, because it's got so much culture in it. The South African culture is seeping round the world in the form of bright colours and vuvuzelas, and I love it. This World Cup has style, setting and an annoying sound which will be ringing in everyone's ears for years to come.

Plus, it's brought attention to South Africa. Usually South Africa is known to attract attention with apartheid, its polygamous president Zuma and Desmond Tutu. But in this World Cup, there's been more focus on the culture of South Africa - a south african comedian was on the panel show Mock the Week just recently, with a vuvuzela of course.

So, let's all celebrate the good side of South Africa - the colours, the diversity and of course those bloody vuvuzelas! BZZZZZZZZZZZ!



~John

Friday, 25 June 2010

Day 176, on which John has end-of-week-itis [25.6.10]

Dag hundrede seksoghalvfjerds. Usually I'd be happy that it's the end of the week, but to tell you the truth I am totally out of it in terms of tiredness. After my final exam on Thursday, I wanted the term to end (it all led up to that; that was the last damn exam), but sadly it hasn't ended and the follow-up was today. It wasn't too bad; it's just that the mustiness and the heat and the nearly-weekend-ness is getting to me. I call it end-of-week-itis. Now I can sleep, or at least when I've finished blogging here.


So, who's heard of Horse Boy here? No? No one? Well, here's the lowdown on this weird dude...


Horse boy famously appears on Google StreetView, in a street in Aberdeen, Scotland. He's seen on a quiet suburban road wearing a horse mask and a purple jumper (which doesn't do very well to cover up his beer gut). He can be seen from all the way down the road, simply staring straight forward. No one knows much about him, but he's been seen in other places too, specifically music festivals.

I remember him from an old Demotivational poster, which shows a man wearing a horse mask drinking gasoline from a fuel pipe. I think it was labelled 'Horse - man - petrol' or something like that. He's also appeared in lots of other photos that can be found around the intrwebz.

So who is horse boy? My best guess is that it's more than just one man. Horse boy has been seen in Aberdeen, Germany, Glastonbury and even Norway, so this must be some group of horse-headed people. But where can the group go from here? We can only wait to find out...



~John

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Day 175, on which John salivates over the new Flickr [24.6.10]

Dag hundrede fireoghalvfjerds. Mmmmm, a new Flickr. OK, not that much has changed, but the layout is wider and the photo page has changed quite a bit. Do I like it? Yeah! Whilst the 'enbiggened' map isn't really my main interest, the layout is clearer and the Lightbox function is really useful, but sadly it means Decluttr and Big Huge Labs are out of a job, heh heh. So a combination of those changes plus my final GCSE exam of the year meant this was a good day. Then my internet crashed and it wasn't so good. Grr.


Okey dokey, I've got some illustrations to show you. When I get bored, I open a blank Fireworks document, and let my mind carry me away to whatever weird graphics I may make.

Weird graphic numero uno comes from inspiration - the webcomic Toothpaste for Dinner. The idea was my own, but the format is very similar to TfD. There is a kind of in-joke here, when the company that makes Jaffa Cakes had some dispute over whether they were biscuits or cakes. Whilst I'm not sure of the exact details, I think cakes are taxed less or get classified differently, but either way the company wanted Jaffa Cakes to be cakes. So, maybe tax could be even less if they were classed as ambiguous products?


Our next high-quality (ahahahahahaha funny) graphic was inspired by the song Electric Eel by MGMT. I was in the stick figure mood, and I was listening to the song (for some reason ANR won't work on iTunes boo hoo) and thought I'd make a graphic of some of the lyrics. Impulse, y'know?

My mind is a very strange place, folks. Crazy things abound on the lilac hills of John's imagination. So, for some reason, I had the idea for this cartoon strip. Also, I was looking back at an old post on the blog, where I had created a crazy story with my sister. I think it's in September 2008, go check.


I apologise for any insania caused.

Mwahahahahahahahaha!

~John

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Day 174, on which John gives the wind another brush [23.6.10]

Dag hundrede fireoghalvfjerds. My last GCSE exam of the year is tomorrow, hooray! Plus, it's at 1:00 so I get the morning off, and most of the afternoon too. Finally, these will all be over and I think I will reward myself with a nice big BrickLink order, plus some Shop@Home sets too. Like a thank-you from John to John. The next few weeks are going to be tough, though, I have a load of deadlines and events to remember. I'd use iCal, but I tried that a few months ago and ran out of steam. I knew I should have got one of those wind-up computers.



So now for some more work from Eduardo Chillida. This is one of the three massive metal pieces which makes up The Comb of the Wind, which we discussed briefly yesterday. But what do I think it is meant to represent? I think it's very hard to get one clear message from it. To me, it's a hand. Reaching out of the landscape, yearning to get at the seat. The one in the background is yearning to fly; to escape to the sky. Perhaps it's about the Earth escaping, having seen the sea splashing up against its shores for thousands of years and trying to get to it. The heavy metal shapes show the power of the landscape, and how spindly the 'fingers' are in comparison. Maybe this means that they can never reach the sea, because the hands are too weak.


Our second art review is of another of Chillida's sculptures. I'm not sure what this one's called, but it's situated at Parc de la Creuta del Coll. This one's just spellbinding, how the massive concrete shape hovers above the ground, suspended in mid-air. Even the fact that you can see the supports adds to the awe generated by the fact that what is obviously a hand floating. I just wonder what the surface below the hand is, and whether people are allowed to freely walk on it and interact with the hand. Hmm.


~John

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Day 173, on which John combs the wind [22.6.10]

Dag hundrede treoghalvfjerds. Today I was really tired, for some reason. However, I did manage to turn out a modular sofa concept for the JOHN Collection III, so all was not lost. This outbourst of furniture-building was mainly inspired by Jalkow's amazing JALKOW Collection, a spin-off of my JOHN Collection. And yes, he did ask permission beforehand, which was really nice of him. He also gave me credit on every page, which was even nicer.


OK, so our philosophical discussion today is about intentions. When someone creates a work of art, or writes an amazing story, how much of the imagery and metaphors are intentional by the creator, and how much is simply assumed by the viewer. It's hard to tell where the boundary is; but does it even matter if there is a border at all?


This is not a good example, but it's a piece of art I found recently and thought I'd include. This is the Comb of the Wind in La Concha bay, Spain. It was created and installed by the Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida, and consists of three strange metal forms which are attached to rocks, as you can see in the above picture.

The clever thing about the Comb of the Wind is that it looks almost functional - when seeing the name 'wind comb', and seeing the the form of the sculptures, it's almost possible to thing that they do indeed comb the wind in some way. Now look; I'm not being stupid. Perhaps they make the wind smoother or something, I don't know. The random shape of the things looks like it could be functional.

But, like all art, the Comb of the Wind has a deeper meaning. In fact, you could interpret it in lots of ways. The question is; how many of these ways did Chillida intend to include? And do the other interpetations actually exist, or are they just created by your imagination?

If they are - there should be nothing wrong with this. The real question is whether these little details were subconsciously put in by Chillida, whether somewhere in his thought processes about the piece there was something he was trying to express. I'm sure he was expressing something either way, but did he/his mind have a clear idea of what that was?

Food for thought.

~John

Monday, 21 June 2010

Day 172, on which John wonders whether he should return to a philosophy topic, but decides against it [21.6.10]

Dag hundrede tooghalvfjerds. OK, I know I really should do another philosophy post as that's the current 20-day challenge, but I'm really not in the mood tonight. Luckily, the discussion on love can be put off until a later date. I have a few more topics to get through until I can reach that 'honour'. Yeesh, that is going to be one awkward post - but I feel like I need to write it at some point. So there.

Okey dokey, avid followers of my photostream (ie. none of you) will have noticed that I posted a new MOC up there yesterday. It's part of the new StoryBuilder group, which is like MOCtag, but better managed and, hopefully, it won't die after I contribute to it. There are currently three groups of four people each, and I'm the moderator of Group 2. Our theme was Cyberpunk, and here's my first part:


Antarctica, Earth. 2085
" I'm not sure exactly what day I discovered it. When you're on the oil rig, days kinda get mixed up and you lose track. It also doesn't help when you're the only man on a fully computer-operated oil rig.

So what am I doing there? I know you're thinking that. Well, I'm the double-checker. They say that back at the start of the century, people used do most of the work - not so now. The central computer, NATE, does all the work and I just sit at a board of dials in front of it, making sure it hasn't got anything wrong. But it never does get anything wrong - it just keeps staring at me with that large red 'eye', getting every single calculation correct. We've never had a problem in the whole ten years I've been on the rig.

So that was me - trapped on an oil rig with NATE glaring at me and the mobile helper bot (I call him the beetle) zipping around the place and being of no use - for ten years. They say that even Octan is primarily managed by computers. Figures.

Let's just say I was going stir crazy. My immediate reaction was that I was going insane when the wall panel moved that day. I pushed it, and it moved again. Curious to see what was up, I locked the beetle out on the balcony and dragged the dial board in front of NATE. I'm not sure whether it can see me or not - it's never talked or responded - but it helped me to think that I was on my own.

After some pushing, the panel came free. I crawled into the gap... "

Whilst the Cyberpunk genre got twisted a bit (damn my Moon inspiration), I still think I did alright, considering I made this yesterday in a bit of a hurry. Plus, it's a vignette, and I don't do vignettes much. So wooh.


~John

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Day 171, on which John makes some T-shirts [20.6.10]

Dag hundrede énoghalvfjerds. Hey hey hey, guys! Guess who just had a day of revision? Yup, yours truly! And guess who found it dull? You're right again - it's-a me! However, I did get some stuff done, as you'll see later on. Also, I watched The Informant!, a Steven Soderbergh film set in 1950s office culture. Can I just advise you not to watch it - because, even with the Soderbergh's brilliant stylings and a thoroughly fitting elevator-music-style soundtrack, the film is fundamentally boring! I'm sure Soderbergh is trying to say something ironic, but it should at least be interesting. Shame, really.

So, T-shirts! (Please remind me to stop capitalising the S in 'T-shirts', it's bugging me how I keep doing it). As you know, I made some T-shirt designs a few days ago, and I've been adding to them every now and again since.

So I ditched CaféPress, as you know, and found a much better site, Zazzle. Zazzle is much easier to use, and plus you can create one store for all your designs (whereas CaféPress needed one store per design), and allows more customisation of your store design.

I hereby announce John Tees, of Zazzle, open! Woo! Whilst I doubt people will buy my designs (custom T-shirts are very expensive, and my designs aren't that good), it's good to have them in a place where people can't steal them, because they're up for sale if people want to buy them.

One of my faves of the four that are currently available on John Tees, Ego. It was fun experimenting with colour, italics and size, when they are the only three variables you have at hand. And yes, I am still in love with Helvetica. Just discovered Helvetica Neue Condensed, as you can see!


~John

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Day 170, on which John discovers the Game of Life [19.6.10]

Dag hundrede og halvfjerds. Happy Day 170, everyone! Woo! So, what happened today? Well, I finished off that video I was talking about on Thursday, and, though it took a while, I'm pleased with the outcome. Kinda low quality image, but that's what I was given and I understand there were conversion issues so that's out of my hands. Plus, it'll be projected onto a big screen, and most things look blurry on big screens.

What's the Game of Life? No, not that silly board game you used to play as a kid. It's something much more complex, yet also simpler.

Created by John Conway back in the 70s and featured in this week's NewScientist magazine (how I found out about it), the Game of Life is based on a grid, in which squares can be either alive or dead (binary, 1 or 0). What happens to these squares is decided by three rules:

1. If a live square has one or no live neighbours, it dies from loneliness. Aww.

2. If a live square has four or more live neighbours, it dies from overpopulation. Dang.
(therefore, if a square has two or three live neighbours it survives)

3. If a dead cell has three live neighbours, it becomes live! Yay!

And that's all there is to it. Those three simple rules. And there is an endless amount of possibilities. Some pre-made patterns are there for you to use in the online game, such as gliders (which move in one direction) and exploding things.

So what are the basics? Let's see...


These patterns don't move at all. That's because all the squares have two neighbours, so stay alive. The top-right formation stays as it is because a square can't come alive in the middle; it would have four neighbours.

The bottom-right pattern stays the same because all squares have two neighbours. The dead squares on the inside can't become alive because they only have two live neighbours.

However, I'm kinda stumped about the one on the left. You'd think that, since the dead middle squares have three live neighbours, they'd become alive. However, my concept of it goes like this: say the left middle square was alive, because it had three live neighbours. That means the other dead square would have to stay dead.

But, the squares won't take a preference to the left inside square. Both inside squares would try to be alive at the same time, and both fail because the other is alive. The outcome is calculated before the generation of the next generation of the pattern, so we don't see it change. Hence, it's the same. For ever and ever and ever.


So, onto our next and final example. We're starting with three live squares stacked vertically. How would these evolve?

You'd think that the next generation would go to one live square, because the two on the end have only one live neighbour, and so die. Then that one remaining live square would also die, because it has no live neighbours. Death by loneliness.

But what actually happens is that the vertical column of three turns into a horizontal row, then a column, then a row, then a column, etc etc. Why!?

Let's concentrate on the squares to the left and right of the middle square in the column. They actually have three neighbours: the middle square and the two others (diagonally). Therefore, they become live. The end squares of the column only have one live neighbour, so die. But then the same thing happens to them as happened to the squares on the sides of the middle one.

And so the process repeats over and over again. If I were a more mathematical person, I would work out some clever patterns, but I think three live squares is all I can work with at the moment. Maybe some day, heh.

~John

Friday, 18 June 2010

Day 169, on which John shows that cars have faces [18.6.10]

Dag hundrede niogtres. OK, quick post today as I returned home late and then got caught up with watching the Glee season finale (again), then Ferris Bueller's Day Off (again), both of which are worth watching as many times as you can. Ferris Bueller's Day Off in particular, is a genius piece of filmmmaking and only slightly 80s.

Plus, what the actual fuck was up with England's football game tonight? I'm usually disinterested in football and only watch the World Cup for South African culture and Denmark games, but I was very unimpressed with the Englad team tonight. 0-0? Disgraceful.

The Audi A4 has an angry face >:(

So, cars have faces? Yeah, they do. I was on the bus today and kept seeing different faces on cars, and it hit me that it wasn't just my overactive imagination; cars really are designed to have faces. No, not a conscious decision by the designers, but something which just happens. It started back with old wind-up cars, with two lights on either side of the bonnet. I guess the inspiration came from humans, because one light was for either side.

But unfortunately we've now got stuck in the whole two-lights thing and so each car evolves a face. Whether it's an angry face, like the Audi A4; or an innocent face like some Nissans, each car has its personality. And since you're trusting it with your life, you'd want it to have a personality. You'd need to develop a relationship with it, and you can't do that with a piece of metal. Whilst you may not recognise it consciously as a face, your brain is warming to the car - it's one of us.


~John

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Day 168, on which John gestures to the full plate in front of him [17.6.10]

Dag hundrede otteogtres. Hold on until later for the meaning of the title. Until then, something about my life. What happened? Well, I spent half of today's school time editing a video for the new students coming in September. Was good to get Games off, and to have some editing practice too. Fun, too, in the whole 'we're-editing-don't-distrub-complicated-creative-stuffs-in-progress' way. Heh.

So, the title? Well, as the metaphor goes, I've got a lot on my plate at the moment. Hence, in this post I am letting you know that I have exams and various other thingamyhoops which may get in the way of a good post. In fact, they just have. So, to say sorry, I present you with a photo uploaded to my Flickr:


Whilst it's not my best photography, it is just showing that, though my plate is full to the brim, I'm slowly working on new things. By which I mean; I have lots of MOC projects that need to be completed and I don't have time to finish them soon. Well, I'll have to build the StoryBuilder vignette soon, but everything else will have to wait.

For your curiosity (careful of that, it killed my cat), this photo is from a shoot of these little chairs my Granddad made for me and my sisters way back. They were originally bold, primary colours but sadly time has aged them and they're more subtle tones now. I was meant to take a quick photo for my new Technology project, but that spiralled into a photoshoot and I got some good pics out of it. Hopefully this will find its way onto JOHNSPACE Photos soon enough.

~John

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Day 167, on which John makes some graphics [16.6.10]

Dag hundrede syveogtres. It feels like ages since I last made a graphic(s), so I'm really glad I got the opportunity tonight. After the aftermath of a GCSE science module exam in the morning, I think I deserved the evening off. And besides, I don't have any homework for tomorrow, so what's stopping me? No homework = something creative. I should be drawing in my Moleskine, but I really don't feel like it at the moment. The Moleskine impulse will come back to me eventually.

So, I was messing around in Fireworks with Helvetica Neue Condensed Bold, a weight of the 1970s refined version of everyone's favourite sans-serif, Helvetica. Here are a few T-Shirt ideas I had (no swiping, swiper, they'll be available online sometime soon)...

Argument Tee, a simple one. One of the first of the bunch. By the way, I am seriously considering buying some of these. Not to wear on their own; I wear plain white T-shirts under a proper shirt of some kind, so it may be interesting to add something to them and make it more interesting. However, now I think of it, I always feel a bit strange with words on my chest. Maybe without a shirt on top? With a jacket or something? Yeah, a jacket, so the text isn't so visible. Pfft, what do I know about fashion anyway?

Cube Tee, taking a quote from the best video game ever made: Portal! (scrawled on the wall of one of the previous test participant's secret hideouts) This little poem is a parody of a famous three-line poem, with the Cube (Weighted Companion Cube; the best friend you'll ever have) inserted in the middle. The idea with these T-shirt graphics is that it's all in black Helvetica Neue Condensed, with some words highlighted in colours to add variation and draw the viewer's attention to it.

I'd show you more, but I'm always wary about people stealing my ideas, and I've got some good ones. Anyways, I'll show you the others when I find another custom T-shirt site to sell them off (Cafépress is really awful).

~John

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Day 166, on which John wonders whether you can actually be immortal [15.6.10]

Dag hundrede seksogtres. I'm still wearing off my anger/pissed-off-ness from yesterday. Not sure where it came from, I just find that I'm stressed. And do you what stressed means? That I'm not in the mood for blogging, so damn this. Ah well, I figured I'd blog as much as I could about the nature of a soul. Plus, Nintendo released their 3D DS, the 3DS, at E3 today. I haven't seen any videos of it, but it looks awesome!

i see ur win is showin
So, how can we make ourselves immortal? Well, one argument (which I will discuss today) is that you can be immortal by programming a robot (or computer program) to act exactly like you. You'd insert every choice you've ever made, and everything you've ever said, and the program should be able to simulate your personality. It means it could generate your answers and reactions to any number of situations.

But does this mean that you are immortal? Right know you're probably thinking 'hey, no, that program's not me', but what if it is? What if all you are is a series of algorithms that say 'you'll be nice to people' and 'you oppose abortion'? If so, you could easily be controlled by a computer program.

So why haven't we done it already? We're trying. I read in NewScientist that some guys recently made a program that could simulate some aspects of human personality, but the problem is in the sheer number of personality bits that we have to program to create a full personality. Apparently we wouldn't have enough information if we asked a question to a person every five minutes for his whole life.

So how do we get around this? The only way is to create better algorithms to guess the answers to lots of the questions based on the answers given by the person whose personality we're trying to digitalise. For example if they said they were against eating dogs, you could automatically guess that they were against eating cats. You could also use recent surveys of people like the person, to get the general idea of what the opinion is. Also, you could fill in details, so if they say they're left-wing then you could automatically generate all the opinions that are left-wing, and - unless specified otherwise - the person should also hold these beliefs.

But is that computer actually you? Automatically, you'd say no. I would; I'd hate to think that a computer could keep living as 'me' after I'm dead. Your identity is your core possession, and you wouldn't want it to be exploited after you die. For example, what if they use your digitised personality to run a public robot, like a domesticated housebot. If you have a kind personality, they could take out all the bad bits and make a robot that acts like you, but follows orders.

Forget DNA exploiting, once you put your personality into a digital personality bank you have no idea what it could be used for. Plus, death is a big part of life. If your death was 'bypassed' by creating a robot that acted like you for your family, there'd be no grief. Whilst I haven't felt grief properly myself, it should be clear that people can't go on 'living' forever, and you'd want to be known for what you did in your lifetime. Death is about putting a definite cap on life; a cap that all of us dread and fear, but a cap that makes life a clear beginning-middle-end. Life shouldn't go on forever, especially when you don't know your family is going to resurrect 'you' through a computer program. Don't we have the right to die?

It seems I've strayed onto the topic of death again; not because I have some obsession with it but because it a definite point in time - yet something that's so indefinite in its definition - and it's a very philosophical topic too. Sorry if it's too near to the knuckle for you, I don't mean it.

~John

Monday, 14 June 2010

Day 165, on which John continues yet again with the 'choiceline'... [14.6.10]

Dag hundrede femogtres. Urgh, GCSE. Yeuch, GCSE. Hot diggedy dang, GCSE. I knew from the moment I woke up today that I'd have a bad day, and I'm annoyingly correct. It was the first time I can remember that I really did 'wake up on the wrong side of the bed'. Luckily I didn't do that literally, which would mean smashing my head into a wall. Plus I've just had a nightmare trying to set up a channel on Mibbit IRC; and only after an hour realised the server couldn't enable bots, and I didn't own the channel. Argh!!!

So let's get on with this post.

We have now expanded our Ben example to have a secondary event for one of the primary event's outcomes. Let's expand out field of interest a bit.


So here you can see we've made a simple change to the diagram in the last post; we've extended the 'Coke' outcome of the primary event. The new outcomes are quite easy to see, as they're exactly the same as the ones for the 'Beer' outcome, only applied to Coke. Once again, the scale is changed to compensate for more stuff.

Also note that the 'Water' outcome to the primary event has been moved to the side, because it can't overlap with the third outcome of the secondary event of 'Coke'. Remember, probability is cumulative, and it's almost as if we're expanding the 'Coke' line, as if in an interactive computer program, or some such thing.

I had another diagram, but I've just realised it's wrong. I think we'll have to leave it here today, folks. I'm also quite pissed off at the moment, so I wasn't really in the mood.

~John

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Day 164, on which John with the whole 'choiceline' thing [13.6.10]

Dag hundrede fireogtres. I hate revision. I really, really hate it. With a passion. Or an anti-passion, to be more exact. I spent the whole day at my computer, typing up notes from a year's worth of geography lessons. God damn you, AQA. Actually, I lied a teensy bit there; I didn't spend the whole day revising. Those nice people at Steam held a weekend of playing Team Fortress 2 free as a result of it being released on Mac. I downloaded it yesterday and got to play it today. At the start, I wasn't very impressed as a) I kept dying and b) I kept missing when trying to shoot other people. However, once you learn to utilise the different classes, it's a load of fun.

OK, back onto our choice graphs. Read yesterday's post before you start on this one, because I'm building on the stuff from that post, and it's starting to get more complicated.

So, let's return to Ben, who's buying a drink from a shop. He's got four outcomes and one quanitified group of outcomes ('none'). Now we're going to expand on the second choiceline diagram (last one of last post):


Here you can see we've created a second event. Remember that with these choice graphs, we only show what we want to see, because there's an infinite number of outcomes for any event. All we're doing is displaying the bits we want to see, to compare them to each other. That's why we've only continued one outcome on the diagram above.

Note that:

  • The other outcomes from the primary event (first event) have not been extended, even without secondary events. If we stretched the 'Coke' outcome to be at the same height of the secondary outcome line, then we are dismissing secondary events of that outcome. Considering the options we have, there would be a '! Way of asking' secondary event on the 'Coke' outcome too, and we can't ignore that. You can ignore different outcomes, but you can't ignore whole events, as they affect the probability of the choiceline you're following.
  • We've stretched the 'None' outcome from the primary event further to the right, to compensate for the extension of the 'Beer' outcome's space. Remember that probability is cumulative. That is, Ben's chosen Beer, and that's quite improbable. So, anything he does next would not be more probable, because he's already made an improbable decision and that's affected the probability of what he could do next.
  • As with before, none of the outcomes are the same probability as the event which leads them, because probability is cumulative and if they ran in a straight line, they'd be ignoring the probability of events that have happened before.
  • Just like the y-axis, the x-axis (Probability) has no scale; it simply shows outcomes' probabilities in relation to each other. By this I mean that it shows that if outcome a is to the left of outcome b, then a is more probable than b, and there's no measure of how more probable it is.
  • There's always arrows on the ends of the outcomes to show that time goes on, and that this isn't a definite timeline (it's an infinite timeline; it could go on forever).
That's enough for today, because I'm tired with revision. I have a couple more diagrams to go (including, when we get to it, one with two different choicelines interacting), and then we'll be off this complicated topic, and onto other philosophical things.

~John


Saturday, 12 June 2010

Day 163, on which John tries to represent fate graphically [12.6.10]

Dag hundrede treogtres. Before we begin, please note that by 'graphically', I mean on a diagram, and not with gore. Anyway, until then we have the compulsory introduction, which I am starting to think distracts from the post itself... ah well. Good day today, really good. And I revised, too. A bit. I have another damn GCSE on Monday, they just don't stop rolling in.

So let's get started. As you know, two days ago I posted about fate, and that got me thinking about whether we can map the choices we make onto some diagram or other. So, I now present what I call the choice-o-gram. I was going to call it a 'fategraph', but I've moved away from the fate topic and maybe once I develop the graph a bit I can add in fate.

So here's a blank choice-o-gram. The idea is that it's meant to represent the possible options you have when you make a choice, and how likely you are to choose each option. I guess if fate were considered, then there would only be one option, which would make this graph redundant.


So, as you can see there are two axis. One axis, the x-axis (horizontal) is fixed. It ranges from a whole probability (1) - when the event will happen, no matter what, to an infinitely small number (1/∞) - when there is the smallest possibility of an event happening. The further to the right (towards 1/∞) the outcome (we'll find out about those later) is, the less probable it is.

The y-axis is not fixed - it can go on for ever, so the graphs are likely to be higher than they are wide, as they can't extend past 1 or 1/∞. There is no fixed scale on the y-axis, which is time. It simply shows what order events go in. The graph should be read from the bottom up.

So let's apply an example. Say there's a kid called Ben. He has a choice of drinks - Coke, water and (for some reason most likely humorous intervention on my part) beer. He could also not choose a drink, and so not have a drink.


So here's the graph for Ben's choice. Note the starting point of Ben's choiceline (red) is a circle. If a choiceline is carrying on from previous events (which they always would be unless it's the start of the Universe or something), then it has an arrowhead in it and the name has a '>', like Ben's circle. So, Ben's choiceline (which we'll just call 'the choiceline' since there's only one) progresses in time (upwards) and meets a decision.

The event is shown by a diamond, which is what queries are shown as in data flow diagrams (so it's not totally out of the blue). The choice/event name, shown with a '!' at the start, is 'choice of drink'. Now you see we have displayed four outcomes - there is an infinite number of outcomes for every event (to keep it simple, we only display the ones we're interested in).

Our four outcomes are grouped into two sections: he chooses a drink, and he doesn't choose a drink. You can see that a line connects coke, water and beer - this outcome group is 'drink', ie. he does in fact choose a drink. The other option, 'none', ie. he doesn't choose a drink is actually a group of its own. It can be argued that all four options are groups of their own, but for now I'm sticking with two groups: one annotated group which contains three displayed outcomes, and one group quantified to one outcome.

If we wanted to continue all the outcomes on to show more events (secondary outcomes), we'd have to expand the 'None' outcome - remember, it's a group of loads of outcomes, and those outcomes will lead to different secondary events and we can't generalise.

So that's why we group the three drinks together, and leave the fourth option on its own. That's all you can see on this graph, so I'm going to leave the rest of the topic until tomorrow. I've got some great ideas on how to develop this...

~John

Friday, 11 June 2010

Day 162, on which John wants to write about fate but didn't prepare enough [11.6.10]

Dag hundrede toogtres. Sorry folks, short post today. I got home late from a something-or-other and, since my evening was shortened quite a lot, I didn't have a chance to prepare a little diagram for what I hoped would be the second part of the fate topic. Ah well, hopefully I'll have a chance to do it tomorrow - providing I have time in between revision and having a life, heh heh.

So to conclude today's super-short post, I figured I'd provide you with a series of bullet points to help you catch up on topics which I haven't talked much about recently:

  • My Moleskine, who has not been named Florian because it's a shitty name, is slowly being filled up. Basically, lots of sketches of furniture or designs or general ideas I've had. No colour; I hate colouring in, so it's all in black pen and pencil shading. I'm hoping that regular sketches will improve my 3D drawing and tone too...
  • I bet you're thinking about that film I was making with Brickspace co-founder Luke. Well, we haven't given up - not quite yet. We've been having a bit of a dispute over some parts of the script, but we are hoping to show the script round to other people and get their opinion. Then we'll be filming in the summer holidays.
  • I need a new computer. My current MacBook Pro - about four years old now - is dying and/or I need a way to clean the keyboard, it's filthy
  • Googlemail is prompting me to change to Gmail. Nevar!
  • Safari 5 is mind-numbingly similar to Safari 4. Boo!
OK, that's all from me. We'll get back onto fate tomorrow.

~John

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Day 161, on which John writes about fate... but only because the Universe wanted it to happen [10.6.10]

Dag hundrede énogtres. Since it's the start of a new 20-day period of the year, I have a new challenge to keep topics fresh. So, the general idea for the next 20 days is to write blog posts about philosophy - any philosophical question or concept. I've been waiting ages to do this topic, so hopefully it will last longer than the internet one. Unfortunately I've already covered religion (twice), and I've covered several aspects of reality and dimensions on Dimensionality, so I have a short list of topics to do at the moment. If you have any philosophical questions, please please please comment on this post with them - I need more stuff to talk about!

Intro ps. If the worst comes to the worst, I'll attempt the hardest topic of them all; love. My God that post will be a mess.

Oooh, by the way, some new stuff:

  • New colours and graphics for the JOHNSPACE search filter
  • New disclaimer at the bottom of the sidebar
  • I have Safari 5! Woot for better loading bars!
  • Check out my desktop, with a frame from 2001: A Space Odyssey:
With DateLine, BowTie and Tweetie on the desktop, Gmail, Caffeine and Ink on the homebar
So, fate.

Usually with fate there are two opinions: the belief in free will, and the belief in fate. Like the tolerant guy I am, I'll explain the other argument before my own.

The idea of fate is understood in so many different ways by different people that it's hard to quantify for a short paragraph. The general gist is that life, God or the Universe has some plan for us humans, and so we follow a preset path. Lots of events are meant to happen, and whilst some are free for us to choose, for the most part what we do is already decided.

But how can this be right? Well, lots of Christians think that God decides what happens to us. Hence, when something good happens they thank God for getting them there. Whilst God doesn't have things necessarily planned, He guides us through life and gives us opportunities. He chooses our path as we live it, or maybe beforehand. It's all open to interpretation. I doubt there's any quote in the Bible about God planning our lives beforehand, so the whole God-creating-fate thang is most likely a result of his omnipotency (all-powerfulness).

But what about scientific explanations for fate? Well, there's always the whole separate-Universes thing. This says that when you make a decision, you create another universe into which you (and perhaps the rest of your Universe) travel, leaving the other universe where you took a different decision.

Problems with this:
  • Hypothetically, there are infinite possibilities when a choice occurs. When asked for a cup of tea, you may say yes or no, but there's also a minute chance of you slapping the person in the face and jumping out a window. Therefore, there could be an infinite amount of alternate universes.
  • When you travel through the choice to another universe, what happens to the rest of your original universe? How much of it travels with you? It can't all travel, because then the other universe would have a whole universe inside it. Perhaps universes travel along paths - roads, like on a highway, with junctions. In that case, we have to rethink a lot.
  • How much is different in the alternate universes? What if a difference in the universe you travel in when making a choice affects someone else's choice, or someone else's existence?
  • What happens to the universe you left behind? You've got a conscience back there; a clone of you! Who knows what it could be doing. We'd expect it to act like us, but we have no idea how much a difference decision can make on our characters (what if the choice was beating someone up or not? The good you will travel on, but the bad you will cause havoc)
  • Which conscience do you stay with? As in, you. Your 'soul' (I'm no believer in souls), and your thinking? Do you exist in both? Or do you follow one? If you follow a path, is this fate? Or the 'right' path?
So what about the free will argument? I much prefer this - with fate, there's always a feeling of claustrophobia; a feeling that you can't break out of a pattern, no matter how much you try. Because, if you think you're doing something totally out of the blue, you're not; that's fate too. Bummer.

So free will asserts that you have full control over your life. And what's better than that? What better human right could you ask for but the flexibility over your future? I'd much rather have no control over my future (which is what happens without fate) than someone else having control over it.

But what about inevitable events? Is it fate that I'm going to die someday? I most definitely will, but is that fate? You may object that fate only applies to life decisions, but then what about my hair going grey? Or it falling out? Or my getting a job? They're all inevitable (probably), so are they fate? The problem is (with the exception of the last one), none are my choices. 

Perhaps fate's all about choice, and I can't choose to not have my hair fall out. But what about more vague events? What about the whole 'finding "the one" ' event? Is that fate? Clearly not, since it doesn't happen to everyone - but is it inevitable to happen to me? 

What about you - what is inevitable for you? Are you OK with knowing these things are going to happen, that there's no stopping them? There's nothing more frustrating than knowing something is going to happen that you can't stop, and you can't even attempt to try to stop the 'will of the Universe'.

I think I'll have to continue this fate thing to tomorrow. Comment with your personal beliefs on fate, and any other philosophical topics (see intro). Thanks for reading!

~John

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Day 160, on which John takes a sudden interest in a Norwegian power station[9.6.10]

Dag hundrede og tres. So, today was pretty good. Luckily, due to strange timetabling of GCSE exams, I had the morning off and then I only had to come in for the exam for an hour, and then I could go home again. Sure, the UK's examining system is always criticised, but from where I'm standing (sitting, as it happens), it's pretty good!


OK, so I have an interest. A sudden spark of inspiration that requires that I need info about an obscure power station in Norway. Whilst I don't expect you to know about it, I figured I'd talk about my idea, without giving too much away.

This is a photo of the entrance to the Kvilldal power station in Suldal, Norway, which was featured on Wallpaper* magazine last December. Yes, it's in Norway, but a power station tucked in a fjord wouldn't really work in Denmark. Firstly, for the reason that there are no fjords - so no places to hide power stations - and secondly because it doesn't really reflect the mood of the country. The impression I get is that Denmark is the fun, crazy place in Scandinavia, and - as I read in a book somewhere (so not my quote) - the Swedes are a bit more formal, a bit more upright; the Norwegians are like the Scots to Brits; and Finland is 'the autistic brother' of Scandinavia, ie. detached and not like the others.

Hence, a power station in the middle of towering Norwegian trees and tucked into a stunning fjord landscape is much more Norwegian than Danish. I'm sure I'll be able to stick some Denmark references into it, but for the most part, the story I'll be making up about Kvilldal will be set in Norway. It's ideal for the rough, industrial feel of the style of the 'story'. I can't tell you too much about it now, because it's top-secret, but hopefully I'll develop the idea. Unfortunately, I have a bad feeling I'm going to need photos of the power station, and that means going there.

Damn, why do all my ideas turn out so complicated?

~John

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Day 159, on which John, recently scolded for his wrongness about the iPhone 4, takes a second look at it [8.6.10]

Dag hundrede nioghalvfjerds. Before I analyse the new iPhone, I think you'd better check out this awesome Danish song. Called 'Alle min Veninder' (all my girlfriends), it's so much better than the title. By Sys Bjerre, one of the best (and certainly the most ginger) Danish singer out there. I bought a whole bunch of her songs on iTunes a month or so ago, and sadly this isn't available in the UK yet. Ah well, there's always YouTube.

Pic courtesy of Apple.com

So here it is. What all the buzz is about. The iPhone 4.

What's the story about me being scolded? Well, back when Gizmodo found a prototype iPhone 4 in a bar, I got really angry and objected against it. Quite rightly, I said it looked nothing like the other iPhones so it must either be a really early prototype or a decoy sent by Apple. As you can see above, I was wrong. It may have seemed like a passing comment on this blog, but I plastered my hatred of the Gizmodo 'iPhone' all over Facebook and I'm paying for it now.

So, starting afresh, this design isn't all that bad. Sure, it's not the sleek, curved lines we've come to know Apple for, but it's not just a regular phone either. It may be pushing it on the LG-ness scale, but it's a small price to pay for the small price you need to pay to get one of these beauties. £170 for a 16GB version, according to the WWDC Keynote (BBC Technology news says it's £137, woah). Maybe we can swallow our Apple fan pride and appreciate it for the price, and its great features. There's a better resolution display, video chatting, and two cameras. You may say "video chat? I can do that on Facebook!", but you can do it using both the iPhone 4's cameras, anywhere, anytime, and over WiFi too.

Don't hold me to this, as I'm sure contract prices are going to be massive, but I really would like to buy one of these. I'm really struggling with my current phone, as I suck at the whole numpad typing thing, and I keep deleting my texts while I'm writing them. With a computer, I'm skilled, but with my crappy Samsung phone, I'm a mess.

Plus, buying an iPhone 4 would mean I have a good reason to switch to Vodafone, which would mean more coverage and better phone choices than my current network. Let's meet back here in six months and we'll see how I feel about buying the iPhone 4.

Until then,

~John

Monday, 7 June 2010

Day 158, on which John considers what a design should be for [7.6.10]

Dag hundrede otteoghalvfjerds. So, today I returned to school. Now is not a good time to shout 'Hooray!', for I'll throttle you. Actually, throttling jokes aside, it wasn't too bad. I did go home to discover that the new iPhone was out, and that it was kinda like what Gizmodo had. So maybe I was wrong, but it really is a radical move for Apple. And, though the look of it is awful (in my opinion), it has reduced the price a lot so the iPhone 4 16GB version will be £170. Not too shoddy.


OK, our topic. What should design be for? From what I've observed, there are two options when a person sits down to design a product...

1. More often than not, and unfortunately so, the point of a product is to fill a gap in the market. Some people may object that this is what a product is for - find a problem, get something to fix it. The biggest example of this is the humble Polyprop chair, designed by Robin Day:

"Recognise me?"
I'm sure that all UK teenagers, and probably adults too, know what this chair is. It's the staple chair for any school - incredibly cheap, only three pieces, and can be put together on the factory floor, from moulding of the polypropylene seat to attaching the metal legs, in under 2 minutes per unit. Very, very cost effective.

But what was Day thinking when he designed this? Was it to create something beautiful, to create a design that is both marketable and a work of art? There's no doubt that such a thing is possible with a mass-produced chair, just look at the No.14 chair which I reviewed oh-so long ago:


Look, I'm a modernist. If you haven't already worked that out, then feel free to leave now. So I'm a modernist, but this design still looks better to me than the Polyprop chair. Sure, it's not as mass-produceable, but it was the Polyprop chair of its time - and you'd think, that with all our technological advancements, that in the future, the mass-produced chair would look good.

So that's what most designers are reduced to: form underpinned by sheer marketability. Even function is reduced to its bare skeleton; the chair does only what it needs to do in the simplest of concepts. There's no extra features. The Polyprop chair is simply a handle, a safe plastic seat, and sturdy legs.

2. Of course, that's not the only way to design. I'd say the first way was 'industrial design', but even industrial design can be of this second way to design.

This second way is about exploring the expression you can achieve with a product. Now shut up all you non-arty people. I'm talking sense here. Art, as you all know, is expression. And who says that furniture isn't expression? Who says that furniture isn't art?


The best furniture is art. Take the Red and Blue chair, for instance, which helped drive the De Stijl art movement as much as Mondrian did with his paintings. If anything, it topped Mondrian because it could represent De Stijl in three dimensions, and with some functionality too.

Who says that only form can be art? Functionality can be expression, as to what function it is, where the function is used and how it is used. In the Red and Blue chair, Rietveld brings a sense of reality to the Mondrian drawings by making something you can interact with. How's that for helping the viewer understand art?

Unfortunately, with the rise of true 'industrial design', the mass-produced Polyprop and Monobloc chairs, furniture as art is becoming more and more rarefied, and pushed to the Vitra section of the market. Chairs by Starck and the Eames couple cost hundreds of pounds... but is that how we want art? More expensive that some 'traditional' art, even when it has extra functionality? I'll leave you to ponder that question.

~John

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Day 157, on which John tells us to stop sharing [6.6.10]

Dag hundrede syveoghalvfjerds. I think we'll be continuing from yesterday in the whole sociology thing, only today we'll be focusing on sharing. Before then, an update on the mundane things that I do in my life. I went to see Robin Hood up in London. Quite a good film actually, though certainly not the best thing to come out of the Ridley Scott/Russell Crowe partnership. A Good Year was fantastic, so much better, but that's just my taste in genre so don't hurt me if you thought Robin Hood was the best thing since sliced bread.


OK, sharing. Sharing is the passing around of information, of memes (not in the internet sense). This, along with communications, has changed a lot over the years. Back in the caveman days, everyone shared everything. The problem was, there wasn't much to share, so sharing didn't take long and was overlooked.

This is following yesterday's post, still. So, as you'd imagine, sharing went down with the Victorians. People were private, and they thought no one wanted to know about their business, unless they were the queen or Sir something-or-other. Sharing was bad. Bad.

Then, as you should know if you read yesterday's post, sharing bloomed again after the war, and with the rise of the internet. But, and oh ho ho the similarities with yesterday's post keep on coming, sharing is becoming overused. How? Out of the pure ease of sharing. Just by clicking on a few things and typing a few letters, you can share your business with the whole world, split-second publishing.

One of many logos which has become synonymous with sharing
I think the best example of this overload of worldwide sharing is through Twitter. Twitter allowed us to share tiny bits of information, and when you get rid of quality in detail, you make up for it in quantity of tweets. The tweetosphere is booming with useless information. Sure, it's interesting to you to share the fact that you're making a cup of tea, and some of your friends may like that too, but beyond that the information is useless. Essentially, what we have is an excess of nonsense; of data that has no use and no purpose whatsoever - and what can we do with that? Nothing! There's no application of it other than to build up an image of what mundane things people do in their spare time!

So what's the solution? As far as I can see, there is none. We'll build up this bank of useless data so that actual news will be left out; I'm sure most teenagers spend more time on Facebook than watching the news (I do). And there's reason behind this madness, too: people are more interested in stuff happening with their friends, with people they know, than stuff happening in the wider world. This is going to lead to a lack of care for other cultures, but ultimately we're making massive problems for ourselves. Modern day people thrive off sharing, whether it be URLs, blogs, FarmVille achievements or details of how they made a cup of tea - and we're depending more and more on technology.

Such reliance comes at a price - a price that will become very real if there is a crash in the Google servers, or a virus gets into the Yahoo servers, or the Twitter severs are destroyed... with no internet, the world's a mess. Perhaps we need to connect more physically with other people around the world, to go to places, to have some relationships and friendships through physical communication, else we'll all be screwed if the internet goes down.

~John

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Day 156, on which John considers social trends [5.6.10]

Dag hundrede seksoghalvfjerds. Today we have quite an interesting topic, so let's get this intro over and done with. More productive day than yesterday, sorted mah laegoez, discovered the most immature place in the world, called 'Your World of Text', Lego '16+' board. Lots of immature stuff, hilarious. Really hilarious. And no filtering or censoring or moderation! Woo!


So onto the proverbial meat of our blog post. Social trends. Specifically, those in the privacy area. So, let's start from the very beginning; a very good place to start.

MOGAN FREEMAN!?!!??!
In the beginning, people were born. Born into clans. Packs. Groups of cavemen (see picture for current social stereotype) united together, living together, doing everything together. Hooray. That meant that there was very little privacy, because people didn't need it. What they did was everyone's business, because what they did was meant to be for the good of the tribe. Relationships were very open; whether romantic relationships or just friendships. This meant tribes could work together, and there was a very social feeling throughout clans.


However, when people started grouping together and creating whole countries, it became (obviously) harder to know exactly what everyone else was up to. That close-knit community feeling was eradicated by  the pure number of people in any community. The population kept going up, too. People felt safer within a bigger community. Everyone had their little job to do. Good for them.

But with larger communities came larger countries. Gasp! That meant people got cut off more easily, living in the suburbs of a city (eg. Rome), or in rural areas. People got cut off. The feeling got around everyone in the suburbs that they didn't matter to the city-folk, so they started living their own lives, and being more private. The city-folk felt like the suburban dwellers had all the space and privacy, and that they were stuck in a built-up area, so became even more private. With the increasing population, everyone wanted a bit of peace and quiet, and some space of their own.

Why hello there we are all Victorian very posh you know check our hair OMG
And so, the feeling grew and grew until people were really private, and wouldn't tell their problems to anyone else in fear of embarrassment. Hence, the Victorians. Very private. Very formal. So what changed?

Why ello there how may I direct your plug and string?
These gals changed it, quite a bit. The exchange operators. They'd say "ello, who can I put you through to", and over the years, the 50s peoples started to chat to the exchange operators. Eventually, the FBI got involved and told the women to get the people on the phone talking more, in case they blab some secret or other. People started talking to the operators a lot more, and started spilling all their worries and secrets. Doubtless the FBI found some crims at some point, but the main thing is that they started talking. The formalities of the Victorians was wearing off on the operators.

And so, when phones automatically directed you to another number, and the operators were no longer needed, people needed someone to tell their troubles to. And who better to talk to than each other! Yay, the 60s were in full swing and people were lovin' it.

Facebook; keeping you occupied with joining pointless groups since forever
People went out. People socialised. Communication technology was greatly increased, and so they could get to each other more easily. And then the greatest invention of all time came along... the internet! Sites like Facebook and MySpace could put you in touch with all your friends, whilst forums and imageboards could let you meet new friends from anywhere around the world. What a glorious network the internet had created.

And it didn't stop there; Twitter showed us that, if you haven't heard enough menial crap from your friends already, you can hear menial crap from your friends in smaller portions! Hurrah!

But all this interactivity has a downside; let's get to it. With all people in the same place; be it outside shopping and in cafés or online on Facebook, messages can get to more people, quicker than ever before. And by messages I mean advertising. Adverts can access millions on audiences by being displayed on the Facebook homepage or in shopping malls or on buildings. People are going places, and in those places are more advertising opportunities.

So all this advertising will lead to a conclusion to this essay. We've gone out with our friends, but advertising is becoming more and more apparent and impeding on our personal space more and more. People can find out anything about you from your online profile; the Victorian privacy that we had 200 years ago is nearly gone. Soon enough, we'll want out. We'll want some of our own space. And how can we help this? By designing products and services to help users have some privacy amidst the bombardment of advertising and social media.

We can design interior spaces and furniture to help create a sense of privacy, much like Eero Aarnio's Ball Chair back in the 60s; we can design websites and operating systems to make the user at least feel like they have some privacy online and with their personal files. And, I predict, these changes will happen and will bring us back into a more private age. Which, all things considered, doesn't seem that bad.

~John

Friday, 4 June 2010

Day 155, on which John watches Charlie Kaufman films [4.6.10]

Dag hundrede femoghalvfjerds. We'll get onto the films later, but first, the news. Some stuff happened. Not much. I did stuff. Didn't go anywhere, was too busy doing the stuff I just mentioned. This stuff included watching the two Charlie Kaufman films, and working on my portfolio. Because, for some reason, I need my portfolio finished. Pronto.

As you know, I watched the start of Synecdoche, New York a few days ago. I finished off watching it today, and I must say that I, like pretty much everyone else that has watched it, am quite affected. It's a very moving film, which can be depressing and sadistic at times, and gets very slow and confusing near the end. I won't explain the plot right now, as I'm moving on...


So here is the second Charlie Kaufman film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. What do I think of this? MUCH better than Synecdoche - much more accessible to the average viewer, and doesn't require so much thought. Not that thinking about a film is bad, because trust me, Synecdoche is a great film to talk about or just mull over when you're bored. So many philosophical concepts and characters and metaphors to consider, so if you're into deciphering a film after watching it, watch Synecdoche.

However, if you're more into sci-fi, then Eternal Sunshine is right down your street. Based solely on the concept of a company that can erase memories, the film intertwines the stories of two people who use the 'procedure' (Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet) along with the lives of the company's employees. Without spoiling the intricate, clever plot, the basic idea is that Carrey is having Winslet erased from his memory, and we follow him into his mind as he tries to save her from the procedure's effects, realising - all too late - that he doesn't want to forget such a large part of his life. There's some great lighting and SFX in the Carrey's-mind sequences, which are surreal like Synecdoche but much more exciting. So do I urge you to watch it? Yeah, if you've got a tolerance for surreal aspects and some slow sequences at the start. No, if you can't stand metaphorical films. And finally, yes whether you like Jim Carrey or not - usually I find his acting annoying, but he's alright in this.


~John

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Day 154, on which John beats up GLaDOS, and she's not very happy about it [3.6.10]

Dag hundrede fireoghalvfjerds. Yippee! I beat Portal! Took a couple of pain-filled tries, but I destroyed GLaDOS and got the cake. Well, kinda. I heard that the ending of Portal was changed to accommodate for Portal 2 at the end of this year, but it seems pretty definite to me when I played it. I won't spoil the ending for you, but it's really satisfying, with a slightly eerie final note in Still Alive. Great, great ending.


Ah, Inception. I must admit, when I first saw the teaser trailer, I was hooked. Look, I thought, here's a movie which is probably a psychological thriller/sci-fi, and with a large budget. It may be a way for Leonardo DiCaprio to redeem himself after some not-so-good movies lately. I remember one film he was in, ages ago, when he played a retarded kid. Some film with Johnny Depp. 90s. He did really, really well in it. That and Titanic.

Anyways, so I thought he could redeem himself. However, as more and more trailers for Inception are released (see main one), I start to like it less and less. It's becoming an action movie, something forgettable, not the mysterious, pounding-beat teaser trailer. Whilst it's lost some of its originality, and the addition of all these different characters that make up some sort of 'Inception squad' is clichéd, you'll still find me in the cinema when it gets released. Who can't resist all those reality-bending special effects?


~John

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Day 153, on which John loses a shoe [2.6.10]

Dag hundrede tooghalvfjerds. Yeah, that's right, I lost a shoe. Don't know where it went, I just put it out and when I came back I had one. Some sort of thief, or rodent. Anyways, aside from that slight low point, I had an awesome day. It was made more awesomer by the fact I could show off several hours' hard work last evening in the form of my birthday 'present' to Zack 'NewRight' Milenius...

'Surprise!'
To explain what I intended by this photo, I'm afraid I'll have to copy-and-paste from the Flickr photo description:


After hearing drilling and hammering sounds all through the night, Zack 'NewRight' awakes on his birthday to find John has built a pool in his house - and, as a result, has collapsed onto a sofa in fatigue.


At some point, the message of this birthday MOC got a bit muddled so what started out as "Happy birthday, I built you a pool 'cos you like swimming" became "Happy birthday, I got drunk and collapsed on your sofa. Plus, there's now a pool in your house".

Anyways, since it's NewRight's birthday I thought I ought to say thank you for all his help with Brickspace, and his readership of my blog. Since I (rightly) don't know where he lives, I couldn't spend the usually minimal effort involved in writing a card.

Hence, I thought I should try harder and make something big. There's a fish net on the ceiling, with fish and skeletons to symbolise the Pirate MOCs Zack always builds. Plus, I tried to design the house like a classic Brickfilm set, reminiscent of Nathan Wells, and Zack's Brickfilms.

Though the message may have got a bit lost, happy birthday anyway Zack!


I think that should explain it. Strangely, Zack hasn't commented on it yet - though I don't blame him, I try to stay off the computer on my birthday too (dang, don't remind me about my last birthday when everyone wrote "happy birthday!" on my Facebook wall and I never knew). So there we go, my attempt at saying thank you to Zack for all his help, and also wishing him a happy birthday too. Oh yeah, you may notice the sides of the pool are quite blurry - it's because I 'shopped two photos together; one of me (on sofa) in focus and one of Zack (at door) in focus. I wouldn't usually do this, but my camera's Macro function has a really short depth-of-field, and it worked well on the Neo-Futuron scene.

I'm off to catch some Zs!

~John

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Day 152, on which John watches an odd film [1.6.10]

Dag hundrede tooghalvfjerds. Well, pinch, punch, first of the month! It's the first of June, and we all know what that means - the monthly letter! Before we get onto that, I'll explain the odd film. It's called Synecdoche, New York (Si-nec-doc-ee), and it's seriously weird. Very uncomfortable watching, claustrophobic, close and certainly surreal. There's one character who buys a house that's on fire; not blazing, but still on fire and with smoke everywhere. She buys it like that, and we see her in its smoke-filled rooms several times afterwards. Weird! Nonetheless, it's intriguing so far. I haven't finished watching it yet...

Philip Seymour Hoffman (right) and someone else in Synecdoche, New York

OK, the monthly letter! Here's the lowdown: every month, I write a letter to myself: myself in one month's time, and also in reply to my letter the last month. Check out last month's letter to make some sense of this.


Dear Me/Myself/I,

Hola amigo! Long time no see - though I guess that's 'cause I don't look into the mirror much. Always avoid doing that, remember. Unless you have some massive spot on your face. In that case, evade your eyes from... er... pleh, forget this train of thought.

Well firstly, you can shut up about your three-day weekend, past self. I've got a seven day weekend right here, and that's excluding next weekend. So hah. Hah hah hah. I guess I won't be in the same position next month - we'll have to see. Listening to Glee, are you? This week's episode wasn't so good. But wow, that Lady Gaga acoustic remix... pretty awesome. So it seems I'm in exactly the same place as you, sitting at my computer, but for some reason Kesha's crept back into my playlist so she's playing in my earphones. Hmm, I wonder who added her songs to my Spotify? *looks away*

Right, responses from last month. Yeah, I don't think my exams went too badly. Some low points, some highs, but that's life, right? Of course, there's more to come. Did I build Pirate? Well, not really. By which I mean, no. No I didn't. But I did just build something with rocks, so I'm making use of the grey slopes that cost me so much. And no, I haven't considered buying CS5.

OK, my goals for the 1st June? Don't be a dick. I don't know why I'm saying that, but it just seemed right. Do that thing, too. That you want to do but you're too scared to do. No, not jump off a building! That other thing - yeah, that one. Also, enjoy the summer. I know we don't like hot weather, but it's got to be liked by other people for some reason! And use the word 'pare' more. I really like it.

Until then, you keep those limbs in check - as always, don't lose them. Play well!

~Me


Okies, see you guys tomorrow! *Zzzz*

~John