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Posts Tagged ‘computers’

“Electronic junk narrows our life space…”

Maxim Kamanin

Sometimes it feels like Hollywood is running to catch up with real life. And sometimes, real life seems even less believable than Hollywood’s penchant for technological exaggeration.

From the middle of nowhere comes an invention that might just revolutionise the way we interact with technology – in pretty much every way. Maxim Kamanin, a youngster from a remote village in southern Russia, is the inventor of a new form of display that may eliminate the need for computer screens entirely, freeing us up to work far more creatively with technology.

Displair literally puts digital images into the air, creating fully penetrable 3D images which can be viewed and manipulated. It is completely astonishing – like something out of Star Trek. It uses a cloud-inspired technology (and not cloud as it is usually thought of in computer tech terms) which somehow remains remarkably stable across varying temperatures. The Displair wiki entry goes into more detail.

From artists, architects and designers, to teachers, surgeons and inventors, the creative ways in which it could be used are immense.

The web-film site Focus Forward Films has a video of this astonishing invention in operation:

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Lego was always a favourite toy.

Spaceships, towns, castles… But I never got quite as creative as the Russian who has mixed Lego with the online game Team Fortress 2 and stop-motion animation to create an ultra-violent tribute to one of gaming’s most popular online shooters.

As a gamer, a film enthusiast and a Lego lover of old, this is great. Complete with menacing Russian narration.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

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Bit risky this for a Sunday morning, bearing in mind what folks may have been up to the night before. But anyway… Found these brain-bendingly fun. I’ve always been a sucker for an optical illusion.

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Bit like when I blogged about Ukrainian sand artist Kseniya Simonova, I am way behind the popular curve on this one. (Not surprising really as I have never been trendy exactly!)

However, like all good things it deserves a reprise…

British Design and Art Direction was founded in 1962 by artists including David Bailey and Terence Donovan. These days it is known simply as D&AD. Since 1963 it has made annual awards, its purpose “dedicated to celebrating creative communication, rewarding its practitioners, and raising standards across the industry”.

Last year, two students responded to a D&AD design brief from Hewlett Packard, the company that makes printers: “Present an idea which promotes HP Workstations ability to bring to life anything the creative mind can conceive.”

This is how Matt Robinson and Tom Wrigglesworth of Kingston University responded:

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“He is as Autumn shadows, stealing soundlessly beneath the vaulted arches of the Moon-burnt sky, the deadly promise of a winter’s blade in the dark watches of the night. Relentlessly he pursues Her. Defiantly he loves Her.”

Keredh Windryder, Ranger

Gaming is either something you get or something you don’t.

For some of us, the prospect of immersing ourselves in the LCD glow of a world constructed from bits and bytes sets our pulses racing. Our imaginations can spend all day rehearsing the moment we turn the lights off and sit down to lead our friends and guild-mates into battle.

For the rest, the prospect leaves them cold. The world of the geek gamer is a dark and alien place, strewn with the detritus of a life lived online:  cans of coke, empty coffee mugs with a crusted sediment deep inside, discarded crisp packets and sweet wrappers – and the musty – occasionally rancid – smell of immobile, sleepless concentration.

I suspect most of my family, friends and colleagues fall into this latter category, bemused at the hours of life that Em and I can spend in these virtual worlds, each with its own lexicon, politics and social mores.

Computer gaming, though, has been a huge part of my life for almost thirty years.

As technology has developed, so the boundaries between real life and virtual life have shifted and blurred. Sometimes this has had catastrophic personal consequences – and on other occasions it has resulted in moments of sheer serendipity. I can honestly say that gaming, specifically the two incarnations of Everquest, has impacted my life in far more significant ways than I could have ever envisaged.

More on that another time, perhaps.

So it was today, sitting at work, that I felt a familiar ache. A longing for a place I know better than the back of my hand. A place that most script kiddies and World of Warcraft fanbois have never known – but a place that makes Azeroth look as exciting as Tellytubby land.

Norrath.

Sony’s Everquest is the Great Granddaddy of Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games (MMORPGs). Everquest 2 is its electrifying reinvention.

On and off for the last seven years, Everquest (Everquest 2 for me these days) has been a way of escaping from the stresses and strains of an exhausting day. But how did I reach a point in life where I can see a point to investing hours in the development, customisation and manipulation of a virtual avatar, a wood-elf ranger that specialises in striking down his enemies with a blow from the shadows or a bow-strike inflicting massive damage from afar? (And believe me,  I can!)

That is a story that takes me from Mazogs on the ZX-81 in 1982, to Sentinel of Fate, the latest EQ2 expansion, in 2010. In an occasional series of pieces in the coming weeks I will explore that story. I want to reflect on the friendships forged in huddled hours around the screen – and remember the computers and the games that have given me so many fond memories.

In the meantime, take a look at where it started in 1982:

And see where that story is now in 2010:

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