Cast for two

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Canon EOS 5D Mark II : a game changer

Recently, Canon made available a new picture camera that might become a game changer. A good preview, based on a preproduction sample, is made by dpreview. The reason that this camera generates high expectations is twofold : a 35mm (full frame) sensor and the new Digic 4 processor. The large sensor means wide angle shots and excellent low light performance. The new digic 4 processor means that now you can record video from that excellent sensor with a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels (Full HD) at 30 frames per second. Hence, we might see a crossover happening from the photo camera business to the video camera's. The first results are indeed stunning. First, there's a professional made movie called "Reverie". A second movie, made with much lower budget, still captures my imagination:

Tokyo Reality (Canon 5D MarkII) from utsuru on Vimeo.

The resulting movie files are Quicktime Movies encoded using MPEG-4 AVC and uncompressed PCM sound (a total of 38.6 Megabits/second).

I asked Eirik Solheim (Project manager, development department
at the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK)), who already has an Canon Eos 5D Mark II two questions:

  1. How is the process of getting the video into Final Cut Pro. Is there decoding/transcoding going on. If yes, does that take time ?
    Answer: You don’t have to transcode, but at this point you would probably end up transcoding: the files are standard H264 and can be edited directly in Final Cut. But the problem is that you need very powerful hardware to edit full HD H264 in Final Cut. If you want to edit on a laptop you have to transcode to Apple Intermediate or another less compressed format.

  2. Video quality is amazing judging the videos that already circulating in the net. But how about audio ? How does the build-in microphone performs and what do you get if you connect an external passive microphone. This issue will determine if external audio recording is still necessary or not.
    Answer: With the tests we have done the audio is OK, but not good. Using the internal mic on the camera has serious limitations of course. Picking up the sound of all operations you do on the camera and the image stabilizer motor if you use an IS lens. With an external mic it is better, but still a bit noisy.
    For professional productions you would be better off recording audio with a separate device. For interviews and simple background audio you could do with the built in audio and preferably with an external mic.

To test how my macbook pro with a 2.33 GHZ Intel Core 2 Duo processor would be able to handle the HD files, I downloaded the full HD version of "Tokyo Reality" via bittorrent. Playback on the macbook pro was unfortunately not smooth. On an Imac, playback was perfect. Hence, I guess my macbook pro will not be powerfull enough for working with Full HD files coming from the Canon 5D. Maybe a new technology, called OpenCl (Open Computing Language), will solve this issue. OpenCl makes it possible for developers to efficiently tap the vast gigaflops of computing power currently locked up in the graphics processing unit (GPU). With GPUs approaching processing speeds of a trillion operations per second, they’re capable of considerably more than just drawing pictures. OpenCL takes that power and redirects it for general-purpose computing. OpenCl is a new powerful Snow Leopard technology.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Wifi on steriods in the USA


While all news is currently alloted to the presidential campaign and the election of Barack Obama, on Tuesday 4 November another important vote was casted. The American regulator of the airwaves, FCC (Federal Communications Commission), voted 5-0 for the use of the white spaces between the television channels. Current wifi equipment makes use of the 2,4 GHz band (or the 5GHz band for more modern equipment supporting 802.11a/n, for example Apple Airport Basestation Extreme). The new vote of the FCC means that new wifi equipment will be able to use the unused white space between the channels alloted to TV. Why is this important ? The reason is that the TV spectrum has better characteristics for in home use. The UHF band, used for televison distribution, spans from 300MHz upto 3GHz. Lower frequencies have larger wavelength. Therefore they propagate better trough walls and other obstacles typically encountered in urban environments. It boils down that using the white space frequencies will lower the cost for providing ubiquitous wireless networks. Hopefully we will see more wide area wifi networks that provide free or cheap internet access in the near future.

More info:

Friday, October 10, 2008

On the workfloor


My collegue is wearing this T-shirt this week.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Iphone friendly version of this blog cast42

Apple's Iphone and Ipod Touch can render this blog using mobile Safari out of the box. Unfortunatly, this might not really what you want. Webservice DoYouFeed.com allows for for an Iphone friendly rendering. Fill in the feed address of your blog, choose a theme and click. Et voila, a link to an iphone optimized rendering appears. You can see the result for this blog at http://tinyurl.com/4cgap6 . It looks like this :
DoYouFeed.com: Turn any RSS feed into an iPhone friendly site

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Attending Google Developers Days in London

Google is doing a tour around Europe to get into contact with the developers. Today, I'm attending the developer day in London at the Wembley station. More later.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Added Google Followers to this blog

Google has released a feature that allows you to subscribe to a blog and appear in a public list of all other followers of it. More info by Ionut Alex Chitu on his Google Operating System blog. As an experiment, I added this feature to my cast42 blog. Currently, it looks like this:
cast42
A bit sad, zero followers. Probably, this fact, that you have to start from zero, will hamper the adoption of this new feature. Who likes to admit there are no followers ? Secondly, I now have to take the risc that no people are willing to follow cast42 via this new feature. That's a kind of social popularity test. Let's hope that you, yes you, my dear vistors, quickly change that for me ;-) If not, i will have move the followers gadget down under the horizon on the sidebar of this blog and eventually remove it if this social feature doesn't gain traction. So lets see what happens.

UPDATE Sunday 7 september 2008, 21u51: Thx to Hendrik the count changed from zero to one. And you can follow yourself. So now we are with two.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Spore arrived in Belgium, workaround for @ sign on mac


After years of salivation, dreaming and projecting, the mother of all games finally arrived. I just walked into the Fnac of Leuven in Belgium and bought the galactic version for 64,99 euros (the standard version was 54,99 euros). My collegues warned me that I was expecting so much from the game that I could be nothing else but dissappointed. However after the first few hours of play I'm still very excited by the game. It could very well be that Will Wright and his team created another master piece.

Installation on the iMac went smooth. Registration didn't succeed. First, the bug that prevents entering the @ sign on a belgian / belgium keyboard was not solved yet. Just pressing the key with the @ sign doesn't work. A workaround is to use another key shortcut. Type the option ⌥ key and the ` key (that's the key left of the enter key and above the shift key on the right, the superscript is the £ sign). That resolved entering the email addres but then Spore refused to register. Trying a previous account created with the Spore creature editor also failed. Probably, the Spore servers are overwhelmed. Lukily, you can start to play. My seven years old son claim: "dad, this is much better then runescape" !

UPDATE: sunday 7 september 2008:19u30, I got an confirmation mail from EA stating that my registration was successful.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

An anthropological introduction to YouTube

presented by Michael Wesch at the Library of Congress, June 23rd 2008. He decided to forgo the PowerPoint and instead worked with students to prepare over 40 minutes of video for the 55 minute presentation. This is the result:

An anthropological introduction to YouTube
I already builded the insight that it's not technology that shapes the future. More important is what people do or don't do with it. It is basically the message of Clay Shirky's book "Here comes everybody". Still I found the video of Michael Wesch presentation more insightfull if you're interested in media as cultural and social phenomenon.

More info: http://mediatedcultures.net

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

QR codes for mobile tagging

A "Quick Response" or QR code is an image that can be decoded into an text. It's like a two-dimensional barcode. Here's an example:
qrcode
Scanning this picture resolves into the URL of this blog: http://castfortwo.blogspot.com .

This kind of pictures are typically used for tagging. Add the QR code picture to a thing, take a picture of the thing, decode the picture on the thing and there's the text. For example, a link to a website with product information.
You can make your QR code yourself here : http://qrcode.kaywa.com/

Using the Google Chart API, you can also generate QR codes. The URL

http://chart.apis.google.com/chart?chs=300x300&alt;cht=qr&alt;chl=Hello|World

generates a QR code for "Hello World":
QR code of Hello World

Changing the parameter chl to the URL of this blog:

http://chart.apis.google.com/chart?chs=300x300&alt;cht=qr&alt;chl=http://castfortwo.blogspot.com/

gives:
QR code for URL of Cast42 blog

Every BBC programme has also an QR code. Just add /qrcode to the URL.
For example, the URL of the Top Gear programme is:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006mj59
Adding /qrcode gives:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006mj59/qrcode

which render to:
BBC - Programmes - QRcode

There are several free applications on the iphone that can decode QR codes:
iTunes


Several other mobile phones have such application to.

The BBC has even succeeded in tampering the QR code for the bbb.co.uk/programes URL such that the BBC text is clearly readable:
QR code for bbc.co.uk/programmes

Monday, August 11, 2008

Eric Schmidt at the Management Lab Summit

The ceo of Google, Eric Smidt, was announced to speak at a management summit on May 29, 2008. But instead of speaking he just opens the floor for questions. If you're interested in innovation, this "converstation" is a must see.

Video: Eric Schmidt at the Management Lab Summit

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Dilemma

Nice short movie:







Dilemma

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

About brands, strategy and innovation

I'm often involved with strategy and innovation affairs of the public broadcaster that employs me. But branding was something I walked around and left to the professionals. Since I saw the presentation of Marty Neumeier titled "Brand Gap: how to bridge the distance between business strategy and design" :
The Brand Gap
it all ties together. Strategy, branding and innovation fit into a bigger picture. Thank you Marty for providing your presentation. I'm considering buying your books.

Friday, July 11, 2008

New 2.0 firmware for Ipod Touch

I'm a happy owner of an Apple Ipod Touch 16GB. Today, the new Iphone 3G is launched. With it comes new firmware. The firmware is also available for the Ipod Touch. You can buy it for 10 dollar. Iphone firmware 2.0 is for free (meaning Apple is getting 10 bucks from you in an other way). I bought the 2.0 version because my employer uses Exchange. Until now I was using Google but small details prevent me to transparently interact with my work collegues.

Apple - iPod touch - What2019s New
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

Before you upgrade to version 2.0 you must upgrade Itunes to 7.7. One of the nice features, that comes with Itunes 7.7 is that it allows syncing your Google Mail contacts with those in Addresbook and on the Ipod in both ways. Just connect the Ipod with the USB cable to your labtop, fire up Itunes and go to the info tab :
iTunes
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

Now we have to wai untile the Itunes server become available. It seems they are flooded massively by al the new iphones. Let's hope Apple sorts this out soon.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

No download mac version of Spore Creature Editor



UPDATE sunday 14 september 2008, 22u08:
A download of the complete Spore game for mac is available here : http://www.gametreeonline.com/product.php?productid=16168
(Thx, matt)


UPDATE za 21 juni 2008, 11u30:
A download version will become available by Gametree (hopefully soon).

Being delighted with EA's Spore Creature Editor free demo (I excuse them for the bugs), I preordered the full version for 6,99 euro. When the transaction was cleared, I got an email with a download url of the PC version instead of the MAC version. Moreover, it turned out that I had to use EA download manager that is only availble for PC. Today, I got an EA support mail stating that the full version of the EA Spore Editor is only for PC. Lukily, they kindly suggest a refund. I guess EA is more concerned with the Take-2 takeover than building support for games on mac.
Fortunately, this is now cleary indicated on the spore website (it was not when I preordered the full editor):
Trial
No download mac version is available. Only the box version is for mac.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Spore Creature Editor Demo is available

Here you can download the free demo of the Spore Creature Editor. This is what my nine years old son made:


I preordered the full version of the Spore Creature Editor for 6,99 euro. For the moment, I can't find the download link. I think it has something to do with the clearance of my visa card.

Also in the free demo, I could not type the @ sign. Very inconvenient because you need to enter an emaik adress to register. This does not work from an Belgian keyboard. A first i8n bug ??

Friday, June 13, 2008

Making popcorn with a gsm is a spoof

Also three bananas are extremely dangerous ;-) :

(thx, bnox for the tip)

The gsm-popcorn movies are viral marketing from a bluetooth vendor Cardo Systems:

Only in the Movies

Thursday, June 12, 2008

How to make popcorn with a GSM ?

On youtube,

four people phone to four GSM phones that lie around some corn seeds. As a result of the GSM's going off, the seeds turn into popping popcorn. Peter Van De Veire, a popular radiomaker in Flanders Belgium, conducted the same experiment : Popcorn maken met een gsm | StuBru
but corns stayed corns. Did the radiostation stubru something wrong or are the youtube movies spoofs ? I think they are but I'm not sure. The question is relevant because lot of people will takes those popping popcorns as proof the GSM harm our body. And that conclusion is entirely unscientific.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Monday, May 26, 2008

Blogmeet leuven

I went to the blogmeet in leuven on saturday 24 may 2008. I encountered Dries en Carolien, the guys's from Stew, Pietel, Maarten Schenk, lime, boskabout, kikkertje-s and some other people. You can find reactions about the event here (in Dutch). The event matched a pattern: newly formed online networks leads to the urge to meet offline. The offline meeting grows the online community. I saw that with the online communities formed around the TV formats "Debby and Nancy" and "Emma". Similarly, I belong somehow to the network of blogger in Leuven and was interested to meet them.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

"VRT and 3D" slides presented at Multimania 08

On Friday 23 may 2008, I was invited to talk at Multimania 08. Here are the slides that I presented:

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Speaking at multi-mania '08 in Kortrijk


Next, Friday 23 may 2008, the multi-mania one-day free conference is organized for the 8th time expecting about 800 attendees. The conference is targetted at multimedia addicts. I'm one of the 30 speakers invited from around the world (but actualy I was born in the place of the venue ;-) ). I'll present in Session 4 at 14u in the red room about the "VRT and 3D". I intend to tell about our virtual world in 3D for kids, ketnetkick, that has been recently launched in the UK by BBC as Adventure Rock. Next, I will elaborate why VRT is considering 3D virtual worlds and it's challenges for a public broadcaster (cost to make, flash crowds, from hard core to casual, ... Items discussed in a IBBT research project called Teleon.) I'll hope to see you there if you're interested but the organisation tells me that the session is already fully booked by 120 attendees. But maybe there will be some people that don't show up. So if you still have to sign up, there maybe still hope to get in.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Unboxing Nintendo Wii Fit

Some two weeks ago, I got an SMS that my preordered Wii Fit balance board had arrived. Here are some pictures when unboxing the new thing:





An yes, just in case you might dought, I set a goal to lose some weigth that was nicely met this weekend...

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Force Behind Star Wars: Turning Design Ideas into Reality

I just found this presentation and found it awesome. He refers to the book "Good to great" by Jim Collins in how to assemble teams. The book is from 2001 and reviews are not that enthousiastic. For the rest, a must see presentation! I hope I can find the links to the video fragments.

May that force be with you !



From: stephenpa, 5 months ago





You’ve got an idea. Maybe it’s a new idea for a web application. Maybe it’s a new product idea you need to push through your organization. The question is: How do you turn an idea into reality?

To answer this question, we’ll look at the making of Star Wars. We’ll look behind the scenes at what it took to get George Lucas’s space fantasy from script to screen. From assembling the right team to navigating the Hollywood corporate studio environment to tapping into powerful universal patterns—this presentation suggests more than a dozen lessons UX designers (and developers!) can all learn from this adventure.


SlideShare Link

Monday, April 28, 2008

Calculate your Twitter quotient

Peter Forret made a webtool that calculates the Twitter quotient of a twitter account. Here's mine:

Apparently I ramble to much, therefore I started blogging again.

Monday, April 14, 2008

About fonts : switched to Lucida Grande


After reading an article that complains that Apple mixes up the wrong font families, I checked the font of this blog. This blog is using the Tekka template (a style modified from glish). Low and behold, the font was Trebuchet MS. It's especially the last two letters that motivated me to try anonther font ;-). Therefore, I adapted the blogger style file and replace "Trebuchet MS" with "Lucida Grande". Since I'm not that much into style and taste things, why not follow the advice from the professionals ? Let me know if you like it.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Unboxing Wii Mario Kart

My children love playing Mario Kart on their Nintendo DS. Therefore buying them Wii Mario Kart was a no brainer. It will predictably be a hit with them. I preorder the game and an extra Wii Wheel at Game Mania and today I got an SMS alerting me it arrived. I was in the neighbourhood of the shop, so here are some unboxing pictures:




Official release of the game is foreseen for tomorrow 11 april 2008. Some predict shortages of Wii Mario Kart already. So if you consider buying the game, you better hurry to the shop.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Tweedclouds

Via B.V.G.L. I discoved tweedclouds. Here is the tweetcloud of my twitter account cast42:


Seems like that I twitter a lot about Google ;-)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Make your own comic strip with Bitstrips

Bitstrips, is an online comic strip made by you. Here's my first experiment:

The site is still in beta and you must get an invite code to try it out. I just left my email and they were kind enough to send me an invite code. AS the public launch is foreseen for today 9 march, this problem will solve itself. Happy drawing.

New hype on Nintendo DS : Professor Layton

Professor Layton and the Curious Village is a game for the Nintendo DS handheld gameconsole:

I heard about it while I was in San Francisco for GDC. I was told that the game is a new hype on the DS. According to VGCharz it sold close to 1 million times. That accounts for the 45the place on the top sales list. Not yet very impressive but that may change rapidly.
,
There happens to be a marketing campaing unleashed probably targetting, GDC and Wondercon attendees on top of, the San Francisco citizens. At the Chinese newyear parade around Union Square, Professor Layton's lookalikes drove around on Segways handing out cards advertising the game.



On sidewalks around the Moscone center, several stickers advertised the game:



(See also: Gallery: Professor Layton Takes Over San Francisco)

The game is basically an animated story with a lot of casual puzzles. It's the mix of story telling and causal games that makes me interested in this genre. I guess it must not be that hard to extend such an approach to a transmedia experience with a television series as driver?

Friday, February 22, 2008

GDC08 Day 5

Last day at the Game Developers Conference. Skip if you're not interested in games.
First talk today was "Planning the Wii Menu: From PreLaunch to Wii Ware" by Takashi Aoyana. Picture taking nor filming was allowed. This talk addressed mainly how the Wii Menu was designed. The design rationale is:

  • Fun for the entire family
  • Something new every day
Some new features for the Wii Menu version 3 are announced:
  • Creating channels from games on the disk
  • Sending messages at specific times
  • Activate an Internet Channel when following a link
  • The rhythm of the blue led is inspired on the sound of a Japane bird (agrisu or something)
  • new photo channel icon

More info in Wired : "Nintendo's Takashi Aoyama Talks WiiWare".
The next talk was about "Super Smash Bros Brawl" by Masahiro Sakurai (from Sora Ltd). This new Wii title will launch on March 9th, 2008.

This talk focused on the characters in the game: the selection, the graphics and the motion of the characters. For more see Wired article "Sakurai Talks About Smash Bros. Character Roster" or Video Interview: Smash Bros.' Masahiro Sakurai

After this Nintedo overload, I went to "Dinner Dash Hometown Hero, Gourmet Edition : Postmortem, Where casual games meet virtual worlds" by Brad Edelman (CTO/cofounder Playfirst) and Kenny Shea Dinkin (VP & Creative Director Playfirst).
Dinerdash is a popular casual game that was downloaded 200 miljoen times. The Hometown Hero version is about user generated content:

and about episodic content:

and they claim it works:
  • More then 50% from the Diner Dash Hometown Hero transactions come from sub-5$ items.
  • Playfirst users who have only bought sub-$5 items are growing significantly
  • 57% of Diner Dash Hometown Hero purchasers are first time buyers who never had purchased in the $20-obly business model
  • Diner Dash Hometowm Hero is the fastest selling game on playfirst.com
  • Episodic content is popular and drives strong sales - they've released 1 new restaurant/story per month since launch

And now for something completely different "Python for technical Artists" by Adam Pletcher. You can find the Python script and the slides on Volition website. I tought that this talk would explain how you can do artistic stuff with Python but it turned out it was about how to do repetitive stuff for artists.

Next talk was "Metaplace Postmortem: Reinventing MMOs"
by Raph Koster (President, Areae, Inc.) and Sean Riley (Lead Programmer, Metaplace).
I was quite interested in the concept of Metaplace but this talk focused more on the design of the technical architecture of Metaplace. Basically, they use web technology to democratise the development of MMO's. The idea is kind of cool but it remains to be seen if it will work out.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

GDC08 Day 4 Awesome

Another day at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. If you're not interested in my experiences at GDC just skip the posts with GDC in the title.

I started they day with a panel: "The future of story in Game Design" a panel Deborah Todd, Denis Dyack (Silicon Nights), Mary DeMarle (Eidos), Matt Costello (id Doom), Metthew Karch, Michael Hall (Timeshift) and Tim Willits (id soft, Doom). Most panels are boring but this one is the exception that confirms that rule. There was strong controversy that made the panel fun. The conclusion was that game writers/story tellers should be part of the overall game design from the beginning.
Deborah Todd was involved in several games for kids and wrote a book "Game Design : From Blue Sky to Green Light".

Next, I went to the keynote "The next 20 years of gaming" by Ray Kurtzweil (picture below).
Ray Kurtzweil
I bought Rays book a few year ago but I didn't like it. Some I putted my expectations low for this keynote. It turned out that his presentation was even worse. He skipped a lot of slides, he had no new message, it was not about games and he was not inspirational. He was explaining what Spore was about, you can image how he didn't know his audience. Cleary a miscast by gdc. To bad.

"Halo vs. Facebook: the emotions that drive play" by Nicole Lazzaro (author of "Why we play games together"). Last years presentation was realy interesting. I also think that a social approach to games is a very important angle to understand games. So I was curious what this presentation would bring. She compared Facebook with Halo from an emotion point of view. Nicole believes there's a lot of potential for gaming in Facebook. One of her points is that current Facebook games are only about ping. If the ping triggers some threshold in the social fabric a viral wave is created that grows quickly but then dies. In games like Halo, there is ping and pong and hence a sustainable conversation can emerge.

There was a critic that a social comparison of an social platform like Facebook with Halo is a bit unbalanced and of course favors Facebook.

"Creating Spielberg's BOOM Box" by Louis Castle (Electronic Arts) Boom Box is a new game from EA for the Wii. The game concept is: "A software toy maximizing the Wii's controller with the compulsion loop of destruction and creation".

It looks like the free game Phun is something in the same direction.

In "My first MMO" Dave Jones (of Grand Theft Auto, Crackdown fame) presented his new upcoming game: APB. A lot of attention has been paid to free form personalistation. The realism of the character editor is realy awesome: