Pranking Robots Go Both Ways: Prizes + Doom Assured for All

 

Given that we’re merrily spinning into the abyss thanks to too many tech innovations getting out of hand once the wrong people get their paws on assorted digital keys to the kingdom, the robot apocalypse is rushing ahead full steam and right on schedule with the assistance of some humans who should know better. Still, it’s nice when one is rewarded for one’s curiosity about our future metal and plastic overlords.

Video call service Oovoo dropped off a few interesting robots around NYC a little while back as a test to see if people would react to them correctly and as you an see, only a few nailed the proper responses and were rewarded handsomely for their bravery. Nice. Be kind to that not so immobile human-shaped mechanical being and you get some nifty prizes. I kind of wish I was around Manhattan when this happened as I know the robot playbook to a T at this point and would have won something fun while realizing we’re one step closer to that technical takeover.

 

 

On the other hand, Boston Dynamics? You’re starting to scare me more than ever. BigDog was bad enough, but your new and improved Atlas robot is speeding up the nightmares of many on a few fronts. As you can see from this video, it can walk across uneven terrain with little trouble other than looking like a drunken sailor on leave which will fool and lure some fat cop right up to it in time for a disarming surprise. I bet it’s somewhat bullet resistant and has an unhealthy craving for a phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range.

I’m also betting it remembers stuff like some jerk knocking it around with a freakin’ hockey stick while it’s just trying to do the job of a soon to be out of work American (who’ll no doubt mistakenly blame Mexico for all this job-stealing technology hen they should blame who they work for for saving money by ending those jobs over the border). I’m also betting that jerk with the hockey stick sleeps in a home with quintuple locks on the doors and a laser fence around his property. You know how that abusing your workers stuff ends up, right?

Ah, Robots… you just kill me sometimes. Um, wait – that came out wrong. Eeep.

There’s A(nother) Rift Coming To The Gaming Scene…

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The “big” news to some in gaming this past week was the announcement of the final price and launch date for the consumer model of the Oculus Rift, one of a few virtual reality devices that look to be the next big thing in entertainment. $599 (not including shipping, sales tax or customs fees where those are charged) gets you the headset with built-in headphones and mic, sensor, an Xbox One controller and one Oculus Remote plus two games, Lucky’s Tale and access to the online multiplayer space combat game EVE: Valkyrie. Oculus plans another 100 games by the end of 2016 including at least 20 games exclusive to the Rift, but as with any new platform promising the moon too regularly to its rabid early adopters, those numbers are subject to change.

Lucky's Tale

As far as the news goes, that’s all good and well, but if you go into this Rift deal with big eyes as an under-informed sort of modern gamer thinking all you’ll be spending is that $600 (not including shipping, sales tax or customs fees where those are charged), you’ve got another think coming… Continue reading

Ant-Man Trailer: Little Things Mean A Lot (Of Money At The Box Office)


 

Okay, Marvel. You got me again. I wasn’t planning to see Ant-Man until if fell out of the sky and landed on cable, but giving away that train scene made me chuckle enough to be interested in seeing this on a bigger screen. Granted, if this were a more “perfect” world, we’d see a Micronauts/Microman reference in the film that possibly hinted at a sequel or follow-up. But that would be so obscure a reference for younger fans that it would fly over their heads and not even register even as old farts like me burst out laughing when it appeared on screen. Ah well. Let the summer movie season commence, I suppose. I’ll just keep my little big ideas all to myself.

Mecerdes-Benz’ F 015 Freaks Me Out For A Few Reasons…


 

On one hand, I’m thinking “Ooooh, sexxxxxxy!” about the Mercedes-Benz F 015 prototype self-driving car. Who wouldn’t want to step into the lap of luxury and glide to their destination without touching the wheel or hell, worrying about driving at all? You want to spin around in your seat and have a conversation about last night’s TV shows with your carpool mates? Maybe even watch that episode on the way to work or wherever on those fancy digital doors? A few taps of the touchscreen and you’re there. Granted, this futuristic ride of indeterminate (but exorbitant) price point at least requires someone who can hold a license and take the wheel if necessary. So you won’t see a bunch of schoolkids packed inside by lazy parents who want to shift their chauffeuring responsibilities to the car and be done with them until the brood leaves home for college.

On the other hand…

(Thanks, Orthver!) 

I’m getting a total Total Recall flashback, big time… Continue reading

Back to the Future Part II Proves The Future Actually Sucks…

Yeah, yeah. I was trying to be less of a curmudgeon this year, but the fact that people are waxing a wee bit too nostalgic over Back to the Future Part II and its “predictions” about the world of 2015 has roused me into a stupor over all this fanciful fawning. Let’s face it, folks: most of us are just too eager to over-appreciate some forms of technology despite realizing it’ll be abused and very royally mucked up once it gets into the paws of the public. The combination of old and new bad habits will make that otherwise cool tech too damn deadly to be of any use unless it’s under VERY highly controlled conditions… Continue reading

Marvel Studios Pretty Much Has You Covered on the Superhero Flick Front…


 
Yeah, it’s like that now. Rather than cover that crazy and reveal-packed press conference from yesterday, I’ll just drop dates and let you go get started on the line waiting, day-planning and other activities so you work AROUND these release dates which seem to be set in some sort of mystical stone. Yeah, it’s going to be a really busy five years for all those actors, writers, directors and even busier pre- and post-production teams:

Avengers: Age of Ultron – May 1, 2015

Ant-Man – July 17, 2015

Captain America: Civil War – May 6, 2016

Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok – July 28, 2017

Black Panther – November 3, 2017

Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018

Captain Marvel – July 6, 2018

Inhumans – November 2, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019


 
I’m not usually one to zip out to a theater on opening week, as I hate those crowds and their unpredictable antics, sticky seats and the usual screaming child who doesn’t belong there that makes any movie stink. That said, I do like that there’s a plan for all these films to tie in together somehow and be one big arc that takes these characters somewhere. Even if it’s to places I don’t normally venture. Yeah, they’re all still comic book movies, but they’re getting more watchable as time goes on and not less to some extent. I don’t even want to know what that eventual box set of whatever will look like. Then again, I’d say there’s going to be a division in how people get films by then, but no matter what, a segment of those fans WILL want something physical to hold in their hot little hands and pop into a player of some sort…

GetGeeked: Matter and Form Brings Affordable 3D Scanning to the Masses…

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With 3D scanning and printing being one of the latest new big tech things anyone who wants to do can do if they’ve the money, time, and patience, it’s still a somewhat expensive hobby to leap into for novices. Poke around online and you’ll see some scanners still run well over a thousand dollars and that’s out of the range of potential casual users or those who just want to experiment with 3D modeling techniques or maybe make a small amount of crafty goods as gifts or whatever using any number of 3D printers or printing services cropping up all over the place. Enter the folks at Matter and Form with a cool and affordable solution that does what the more expensive models do at a faction of the cost.

Matter and Form Educational Video from Mike Erskine-Kellie on Vimeo.

The company had a booth at the getgeeked tech show last week and I accidentally picked up the cute alien figure being scanned (oops) because I saw it and immediately thought up an ad for the company I think they should use with that cute little greenish guy. Of course, I put the figure back onto the turntable (heh, sorry!) and picked up some info about the scanner instead to peruse when I returned home… Continue reading

AUTOMATA: Will This Rise of the Robots Flick Be Any Good (or is My Post Title the Tell*)?

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automata_ver2_xlgSure, it’s got that distressed Neil Blomkamp look going for it, a shaved head on Antonio Banderas (along with what looks like an inflatable trenchcoat, ha and ha) and that trailer above looks interesting yet derivative in a few ways. But I’m guessing that October 10 limited US release of AUTOMATA will be the true fortune teller. My own sensors detect a bit of Blade Runner (good), I Robot (bad) and a bunch of other films (which could get ugly if critics and sci-fi fans get picky). Eh, always trust the director, I say. Granted, I’d not heard of Gabe Ibáñez until today when someone asked if I’d seen the trailer, so I don’t know much about him a few seconds on a good search engine would cure. The again, I didn’t know who Alejandro Jodorowsky, Alfonso Cuarón, or Guillermo Del Toro were until I saw films they’d directed.

Still, as usual, I’ll more than save that ticket money and very likely wait around a bit and perhaps see this on cable in oh, about seven or eight months if it disappears from theaters in a hurry. Sometimes you get a hidden and under-appreciated gem in these types of films and sometimes it’s just an expensive clunker. But once in a while it’s a middle ground film that should have gotten more love but rolled over at the box office because of a film or films that were better and more widely advertised. Then again, after being burned by other sci-fi flicks too big for their britches, I prefer to roll the dice at home these days than be stuck in a theater wishing I could change the channel…

*(feel free to Google or whatever Rise of the Robots if you haven’t a clue as to what I meant. Oh wait, I did that for you – you’re welcome)…

Oh, NOW I’m In Demand! Sort Of…

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Ha. My inbox, which is normally quite packed with invites to all manner of events (but not enough for my tastes) that usually require a bit of reservation time, was recently targeted by a few PR folks with some last-minute invites to events tomorrow and Friday that I may or may not make for a few reasons. I don’t mind going to any and all of them, mind you. But these days, a day or two is a wee bit too short to add, change or make plans to pop out to see something cool to write about because I tend to operate on a sort of semi schedule that I like to follow (sometimes). For short notice events, I tend to go with the musical selection below along with a coin toss:

 
THAT said, I’ll most likely see the Oculus Rift “transporter” setup down at the Marriott Marquis tomorrow, as I’ve been saying for well over a year or so that the Rift will get the most use outside of gaming as a consumer entertainment device that provides virtual vacations or short tours of famous places for a small fee. This event tomorrow is only a few minutes long total, but it’ll be the first time I strap on those goofy goggles and see what’s what in the company of others. I was around for VR’s first commercial go-round in the 90’s (ah, Dactyl Nightmare!), so this time I’m going in with no expectations other than to be surprised and even more immersed.

There’s another tech event later that evening I’ve already RSVP’d for a few weeks back to attend, but I’ll probably not stay for the full three hours, as there’s free booze and snacks and that’s always TOO tempting to fill up on even though I don’t drink much these days. Well, seeing new tech toys is always a plus, so that’s my main reason for showing up. I got a sudden invite to see a steering wheel peripheral for the PS3 and Xbox One and responded right away, but I’m still waiting to hear back from the PR guy who contacted me. Finally, my entrepreneurial brother is speaking at an event here in the Bronx in the evening, so we’ll see how long my driving experience lasts and if it bleeds into that time. I know pretty much what he’s going to cover, but I won’t ruin the surprise here, as it’s an idea that’s fairly simple yet quite grand if it takes off and goes where he wants it to. Anyway, let me stop here and go check my inbox again, as I just peeked at it and I saw a few more invites in there. Well, lookit – I’m popular again! Go me!

Amazon Fire TV: An Interesting Must-Buy For Some. Just Not For Me, Though…

Amazon Fire TV 
Say “Hello” to the Amazon Fire! Sure, it’s only $99 and does that newfangled streaming thing everyone with a proper connection loves (despite some silly issues), but that extra $40 for a controller to play games? Bleah. Amazon could have subsidized that or at least made it cheaper, as I can see multiplayer gaming for families in the same room getting expensive with a few controllers (which this thing hopefully supports). Anyway, If I were to get one of these, I’d only use it for gaming, as the movies I like tend to not be on a streaming service at all or show up, but then disappear after a while, making it tough to have an actual “library” one could call one’s own.

I have a few other issues with this box (and any other “streaming” box out there), but I know most of you are drooling and whipping out that credit card. Well, if you DO grab this, make sure to shell out for that controller and ABSOLUTELY buy Telltale Games’ wonderful, well-written and frightening as hell The Walking Dead game. It’s quite playable even if you’ve never picked up a controller before and if you’re a fan of the comic and/or TV show, it’s a MUST because it introduces a whole new set of characters and situations that will have you hooked in right from the start.