Tuesday, September 21, 2010

W3C at RIT

    I had the pleasure of checking out the W3C talk this afternoon, held in the GCCIS (building 70) auditorium at RIT. Philippe Le Hegaret [head of World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) Interaction Domain] gave an awesome presentation on the future of web development. I'll let you dig into his background on your own, but his presentation covered technologies such as HTML5, CSS3, SVG, Web APIs, and MathML to name a few. He delved into HTML image generation and manipulations (such as image blurring or video rotations), web-based animations and transitions, web-based gaming, and client-side web storage. It was all very fascinating and I wish I was going through all those web development courses I've taken over the years again. He showed some awesome live manipulation of on-screen elements, images, and text all without using JavaScript! Enough talking, let me show you. I snagged the link to his presentation (all completely done using HTML5), complete with interactive demonstrations of all of the new features you can expect to see. It is definitely worth checking out.


If you like what you see, you can get at him at
mailto: plh@w3.org
twitter: plhw3org

Dan Ariely Coming to RIT

    I will spare a giant introduction, although this guy deserves it. If you haven't heard of Dan before, probably like most people, he is a behavioral economics researcher and professor at Duke University. He has also authored two books,  Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions (2008), and  The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home (2010). His research is both fascinating and pretty relevant to life itself, so I truly hope you can spare a few minutes of your time to check him out.

    At very least, check out a few Ted Talks in which Dan was the guest.

    I hope by now I, or more likely Dan, has convinced you to come see him at RIT!

    He will be speaking ("Who put the monkey in the driver's seat?") on September 29th, 2010 in the Webb Auditorium @8pm. The event is completely FREE and open to the public.

    Best way to get in is to go find yourself an online campus map of RIT and park around lots E, F, G, H. Once there, make your way to building 7A, the Gannett Building. I'd love to tell you how to navigate that place, but after over 4 years of schooling here, I still have no idea. The auditorium is closest to the southern entrance, I believe. Good luck and hope to see you there!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Al Pacino Coming to Brick City

    Legendary actor Al Pacino will be making an appearance this year at RIT's Brick City Homecoming Weekend as a guest speaker. He'll be giving a talk at 2pm on October 16th, 2010. Check out the official news article here.

Can't wait!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pythonistas Mention

    A shout out to the Rochester Pythonistas! They are a group dedicated to Python programming language and have recently changed their meeting location to the Innovation Center at RIT in Rochester, NY. If you are interested, you can connect with them on Meetup. They meet from 7-9pm on the second Thursday of every month.

Metroid: Other M - Review

First - please make use of the labels list to the right ------------>

You can easily jump to relevant material if you are looking for something specific.

    I'm adding reviews to my blog, all revolving around technology and entertainment. My first quick review is for a recent release, Metroid: Other M, exclusive to the Nintendo Wii.

   With the Metroid Prime series completed, this is the first Metroid game on Wii to start a new story. I tend to think of it to be more like 'The Diaries of Samus Aran'. It is entirely from her perspective and the game is filled with cutscenes consisting of her inner voice explaining lots of story, usually relevant to what's going on around you. Pretty much everything about the game is very reminiscent of just about any decent anime. Still, the story is a must-experience for all Metroid fans.
    The graphics are pretty good. I tend not to weigh this too heavily. I'm one of those 'graphics aren't everything' people. I would much rather have a great game with a low quality appearance than a poor game that looks nice. Whatever type of gamer you are, the graphics in this game definitely look great.
    The game play is set as a third person side scroller, but there are times when you need to jump into a first person view to interact with objects or use missiles. You cannot walk around in first person, however. This is where game play seriously differs from some recent predecessors. Overall the game is a great balance of old school meets new school. Think original NES Metroid with 3D graphics and some added game play features.
    Getting through the game varies from too simple to too tough. Most of the complaining I'll do comes from the fact that you need to have a very sharp attention to detail while playing. Often times, you need to notice a tiny 10x10 pixel area or a small object, switch, or morph ball hole that is too burned into the background. So the issue is not on the player's specific attention to detail, but the games. I played it on a smaller 20" LCD monitor. This is always fine for Wii games for me, since there isn't a drastic difference between that and HD. Still, this could be aiding the problem so I accept that and perhaps you need better tech to play Metroid more efficiently. But believe me, you can go into a room of the game and get stuck there for an hour until you realized there was a morph ball hole tucked away behind a superfluous corner of some broken object. In addition, the enemies don't seem to necessarily ramp up my experience. They are either pathetically simple to defeat or require a few minutes of your attention with no in-between. Some will take a single shot from your trusty cannon while others require multiple charge shots. Then there are 'tough' enemies and bosses. The harder enemies are a pain to kill. Most of them require some other mechanic than shooting to defeat, which is fine. It just takes a while. The ones that do require excessive shooting just feel like a waste of time, precious time that you could be using to continue the story!
    Samus has quite the arsenal this time around, too. I think the developers did a great job bringing in some cool new gadgets and ideas. First of all, you don't switch between your weapons like you have in previous games. They simply stack on top of one another. So gaining Ice Beam and Wave Beam causes both affects and a huge damage boost. The Screw Attack returns as well. Once you unlock it, it lays waste to anything you touch - which is nice when you're on the go. Normally, Samus gets the tech knocked out of her in the beginning, causing you to have to find it all again. I admire the design teams breaking away from this, but the way they did it was kind of elementary. Samus is being a 'good girl' and listening to her friend and boss, who asked her not to use her awesome weapons and far superior arsenal in the beginning. Then one by one, he gives the okay. Who in their right mind would not use a super missile on the first few bosses to end it, instead of jumping around for thirty minutes hacking away with single shots?! Ugh. Could have used improvement.
    Anyway - everything else about the game is pretty awesome. From stunning visuals and decent game play, this game is amazing. If you are a Metroid fan, don't skip out on it! If you aren't, this game still delivers some cool action, but maybe check out some game play footage or try it out first.

    There is a lot more I'd love to say about Metroid: Other M, but I wanted to keep this to a minimum. I'll have it out with recent titles I pick up from the store, but I wanted to talk about something and I'm still playing around with Samus.

Friday, September 10, 2010

HFOSS Activity

Background :
    @ RIT, I am currently taking HFOSS (Humanitarian Free & Open Source Software), a course offered for anyone at the school who is interested in generating open source software for underprivileged people around the world. I took this course one year ago to date and now that it has a new course number, I can register again. In Fall of 2009, me and a few other students started a project called Mathematical Adventure: Fortune Hunter. This is an educational math game in being produced for Sugar XO. Long story short - we were warmly received in communities, both local and online and generated a lot of excitement and were offered a job continuing development of the game after the school term had ended. We took it. We made very decent progress during this time and when the next school term ended, the job proposal stayed. In the spring of 2009, some of the team had to take a leave from the project to continue their educational track so they can graduate on time, myself included. A few members took advantage a second time of the job being offered and even got the chance to continue through the summer! I was working for a game design company during this time and again couldn't continue work on Fortune Hunter. Now that the new academic year has begun, I am back in action!

Plan :
    I am looking to continue development of the game for the next few months, if not longer. My plan is to finish and tie up some loose ends and begin converting the game into Spanish. I will post more links to the project page (recently moved) and any pertinent information shortly, so check back soon. I am also being brought up to speed with the project from my absence.

    So please, anyone interested in joining the effort, let me know. The more, the better!

       Fortune Hunter Wiki on Sugar Labs
       Fortune Hunter Wiki on FedoraHosted
       YouTube Channel: maFortuneHunter