Category Archives: media

The two best TV shows this week were really games

In the past, I haven’t played video games very much, but I’m thinking more about games as tools for learning and socialization (social computing games?).

Maybe that’s why this week the two most interesting (which means “best” by my own definition) TV shows have been Daybreak and The Lost Room.

In Daybreak, the main character is a police detective, who much like the movie Groundhog Day, is repeating the same day over and over – presumably until he gets it “right”. There are a number of contingencies and clues the detective must solve to make progress. Each week, the plot changes as some issues get “solved” and the detective isn’t plagued by them on the next version of his day. We gradually learn more about the detective’s world, his past and how everything fits into place.

In The Lost Room, the main character is also a police detective and needs to unravel a mystery based around understanding, collecting and using a set of magical objects. He must discover objects, negotiate with their owners and determine the object’s proper uses. In an attempt to go meta about the issues in the plot, several of the characters are written to seem very much like I’d assume people that are deeply involved in a social game (MMORPG or the like) might be as to forming clubs (even cults in show) around studying, finding and advancing skills in the use of the objects and making alliances. It seems like they’re truly playing a game about the objects within the episodes as independent characters, but overlapping with the main detective’s role in the show/game.

Obviously, these concepts: working through a game level, a quest, negotiating with characters and finding objects of power are common to many video games of the last few decades. Adding in the social interaction and high quality rendered environment (studio sets with actual actors) and it’s a bit like watching a someone work their way through a game. Is this a new trend in scriptwriting that will bring in the gamer demographic? (Am I only noticing this because these examples are more obvious than past shows?)

(Note: do people really say “video games” anymore? I’d think the people that design all the audio would start feeling left out.)

(Double extra bonus note: I just bought a Nintendo DS Lite – got any game or gear recommendations?)

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Underfunded

After living in Toronto, a trailer for a new show called Underfunded on the USA Network looks quite funny:

Canadian Secret Service agent (yes, they have one too) on a mission: he’s out to get some respect. Caught between working with top US Intelligence officials and his budget-conscious boss back in Canada, Darryl finds himself solving world-threatening conspiracies on a small-time budget.

The trailer has gags on the agent having to ride the bus and still using dialup to access the internet. The show is related to some of the writers and producers for Monk, a show I quite like (and also set in another city I used to live – San Francisco).

Some other guy in some other DVD 15th Anniversary Edition is Mr. Black.

The Reservoir Dogs (15th Anniversary Edition) DVD is out.

Reservoir Dogs 15th Anniversary Edition DVD

(Yes, it comes in a little, commemorative gasoline can.)
Included are:

  • Select Scene Audio Commentary
  • Pulp Factoids Viewer
  • Playing it Fast and Loose: A Documentary
  • Profiling Reservoir Dogs – Featurette
  • Tipping Guide
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Classic Interviews with Quentin Tarantino and others
  • K-Billy Sounds of the ’70s

Austin's local blog scene (and some quotes from me) in the news

The Austin American Statesman, our main local newspaper has a short article about the two main local blogs Austinist and Metroblogging Austin. Austin’s demographics, of course, are a perfect fit for these aggregate blogs, be it for attracting those who will write about Austin or for those who choose blogs as a way to keep up with things in our fair city.

Of course, as readership grows and authorship becomes more finely tuned there is great potential for advertising or sponsorship revenue. There’s nothing particularly new about all this, except we may be seeing mainsteam publishing getting re-invented (again). These group blogs have the potential to invert the pyramid, if not abolishing it altogether, of providing certain types of news targetting the same demographics as the bloggers themselves.

The most useful aspect (for me) is that the authors are many and can therefore collect a wider range of news and events than one single person (and their blog) can, if anything, point out links to other blogs or Web sites that have local content or appeal. With the informal and often humorous writing style, these blogs are fun to read. Having access to them via RSS feeds makes getting local information quite easy.

And of course, there’s the obligatory quote from me in the Statesman’s article about bloggers telling us about what they had for lunch and how eventually (hopefully, oh please) we will see this kind of blogging evolve into a more cogent kind of restaurant review.

The (unintentionally?) ironic part of the article has a quote from Ben Brown, who was the initial Austin Austinist: “It is the greatest city in the world in which to live, and we will hear no arguments to the contrary. We fight with tooth and nail to stay here, even when our real job asks us to travel for cash.” I’m told Ben has since moved away from Austin for a job out in the Bay Area.

Blanks on a Blank!

How do you beat Snakes on a Plane?

With Blanks on a Blank, the film making challenge here in Austin at the Alamo Drafthouse. Check out the contest trailer too, it’s hilarious.

Note: the newest Snakes on a Plane theatrical trailer takes itself awfully seriously. I guess you can only run a joke so far, but seeing the joke played out (at length), in action, is all this movie may have going for it. It would be nice to see if they could push it even further.

Two Jokes about Context and Classification from European Movies

From Kontroll (2004)

“A guy goes into a bar and orders ten shots of brandy.
The barman asks him ‘Ten, sir?’
‘Give them to me,’ the guy says.
The barman pours the ten shots and lines them up on the counter.
The guy takes the first and the tenth one, picks them up and pours them out
on the floor. He drinks the remaining eight, one after the other.
The barman asks with surprise, ‘Why did you pour those two shots out on the floor?’
The guy says ‘Look, sonny, the first one always tastes horrible and the last
one always makes me sick.’

From 101 Reykjavík (2000) (also a novel):

Why do Marlboro cigarettes have white filters in America, and yellow filters in Europe?
So Keith Richards can tell which continent he’s on.

The Power to Predict

This looks like an interesting book from the Harvard Press: The Power to Predict.

What I hope to find upon reading it is that a business can be more competitive by being more data driven than their competitors, be it from extending Knowledge Management ideas to fully forming a company around leveraging knowledge or from using data to help establish a conversation with customers about expectations and higher levels of service.