The Fun World of Video on Demand

VOD website Crunchyroll.com:   I stumbled upon this website a couple of months ago after I got tired of waiting for 16GB of “Nodame Cantabile” to download from a bittorrent site.  Crunchyroll is best described as a portal for entertainment (anime, movies, TV shows, music, music videos, and video game content) from Asia that has not been licensed in the US yet.  The site offered both raw and fan-subbed content.  Content is made accessible by a combination of fees and online community participation.  I found the community participation aspect intriguing.  I imagine by participating in discussions, people would get viewing suggestions which would increase interest in more content which would cause people to purchase more bandwidth on the site.  Anyhow, for registering you can watch low quality streaming video of content.  I paid a small fee so I could watch higher quality streams.  Even though I have a cable modem, I found that the streaming was still choppy, so I decided to upgrade to downloads.  The downloads are straight downloads, without the involvement of file sharing.  The amount of content available is impressive and since I’m able to watch the low quality streams, I can preview the content before spending my precious bandwidth to download the file.

I think crunchyroll.com has a good start on things.  I like the community aspect too, even though I haven’t really been participating in it too much (I’m still timid about such things).

About the content, check some of it out!  I downloaded the Live Action version of “Nodame Cantabile” and comedy from Korea called “100 Days with Mr. Arrogent.”  Both were fun to watch and I plan to explore more content.  We’re so used to watching our own culture’s entertainment that we forget there’s a whole world out there.  It’s nice to be able to access content from other countries and cultures.  I find it interesting that the themes of love, family, good, and evil are universal and I also like to see the differences between different cultures as reflected through entertainment.

Mutant Pigeons at the San Diego Fair

In between monitoring the minute-by-minute coverage of Paris Hilton’s jail status, my husband and I managed to go to this year’s San Diego Fair last Saturday.  The theme this year was “Heros” and practically everyone was declared a hero to make that special feeling universal.  Of course there was the usual assortment of fried treats and food that never should have been created like the Krisy Kreme fried chicken sandwich (with honey) and Deep Fried Cola.  

Many of the food booths were advertising that their food was transfat free or low carb, which I found quite disturbing because I consider going to the fair the one time I’m allowed to eat food that would make my cardiologist want to kill me himself. 

 

So here’s what I ate:

          Australian battered potatoes with cheese sauce

          One foot long corndog

          Kettle corn

          Chocolate covered strawberries

          Some of my husband’s root beer float

          Lemonade

 

No so bad I think.  I really wanted to try the Krispy Kreme Fried Chicken, but my husband put his foot down and forbade it L.  Sadness …

 

Onto the animals … There didn’t seem to be too many this year, or maybe they weren’t all present yet since it was the opening weekend of the fair.  Anyhow, we admired the cows, sheep, goats, and pigs and then we came upon the featured animal, pigeons.  I thought there were only two kinds of flying rats, grey and brown.  But, apparently, there are many types of pigeons and many of them at the fair appeared to have been interbred with chickens.  There were big pigeons that strutted and scratched like chickens but cooed like pigeons, pigeons with enormous alien-like googly eyes, pigeons with feather duster feet, pigeons that stood very upright that  looked like they were wearing elegant coats, and pigeons with curly-permed feathers (amongst other strange varieties).  I was shocked, amazed, and saddened at the same time – what strange looking creatures, but how do they fly and how many chickens were experimented with to come up with these creatures?  Are these birds even edible?  And why a pigeon with curly feathers or googly eyes?   Hmm …

 

   

 

There was also a strong man contest in which strong men lifted boulders and tire axles in the same arena as the camel and ostrich races.  We also looked at the professional and student art.  The professional art was quite good, especially the wood crafts.  The student art left much to be desired because there were many projects that appeared to be quickly slapped together last minute and lots of photographs of young ladies and their friends hanging out together … okay … save it for MySpace.  

 

We spent about 6-hours there and felt that we got our $12/person out it.  It was fun J.

An Emotional Search Engine?

Japanese robot likes sushi, fears president

By Reuters
http://news.com.com/Japanese+robot+likes+sushi%2C+fears+president/2100-11394_3-6188698.html

Story last modified Tue Jun 05 08:09:52 PDT 2007

Kansei frowns when he hears the word “bomb,” smiles at “sushi” and looks scared and disgusted when someone says “president”–and he isn’t even human.

Japan’s latest robot, called Kansei and created by a university research team, can pull up to 36 different facial expressions based on a program which creates word associations from a self-updating online database of 500,000 keywords.

The English keywords then trigger the most appropriate facial expression, which ranges from happiness to sadness, anger and fear.

“What we are trying to do here is to create a flow of consciousness in robots so that they can make the relevant facial expressions,” said project leader Junichi Takeno, a professor at Meiji University’s School of Science and Technology.

“I believe that’s going to be a key to improving communication between humans and robots,” he said.

The robot has 19 movable parts underneath the silicone face mask. When the robot hears the word “president”, the online database picks up associated words such as “Bush,” “war” and “Iraq” and creates an expression which the researchers said is meant to mix fear and disgust.

Takeno says that in a few years, Kansei will also have speech abilities and will be able to convey feelings, which could be useful in places such as nursing homes for the elderly.

Japan is hooked on androids, with several companies selling robots that mimic human action such as playing drums or dancing to music.

With Japan’s population expected to slide by around a quarter by 2050, and immigration a sensitive issue, some laboratories have developed humanoid robots that can work as maids.

Earlier this year, a university researcher created a robot that looks and moves exactly like him.

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I think this is an interesting way to associate words and concepts outside of human consciousness. I wonder can this be built upon and construed into another application — sort of like an emotional search engine. Of the tip of my brain comes the ideas of people building mental models of themselves and then content could be grabbed based upon that model. It’s not necessarily based on known interests which would be reverse looking, but rather such a model could be predictive (and I’m thinking purely in terms of marketing to people individually) and dynamic throughout a person’s life.  I think with this sort of thing you are looking for extreme triggers — things that make people very happy and things that upset people very much — because both emotional extremes propel action (whereas indifference spurs nothing).

What do you think?