Saturn/Penske Deal Fell Through

I felt a little dagger go through my heart as I read the headline.  My second car was a Saturn.  I got it at the end of my first senior year in college.  It was a little gold SL1 that I named “spud” because it looked like a potato on wheels.  I always loved the Saturn concept and felt had wiser and smarter heads prevailed, the Saturn brand could have been the car equivalent of Apple.  But alas, GM is GM, and I don’t have anything nice to say about the company.  He’re a link to a story about Saturn’s demise:

link

I seriously feel like I’m going to cry because in my heart I know this may be the end of automotive innovation within the US.  Of all the parts of GM I wanted to survive, Saturn was the only one I was really pulling for.

Are you Ready for 3D TV?

Quite honestly, I’m not excited by this technology yet.  I’ve experienced prototypes of 3D displays at CES.  Most of them required special glasses, although one manufacturer had actually managed to make a multi-planed monitor that produced “3D” without glasses (these displays were targeted for casino gaming).  The multi-planed display was quite trippy, yet mesmerizing — perfect for video slots and video poker.  For the most part, though, like 3D movies, it was very taxing on my eyes to view the displays through the special polarized glasses.

Eye strain aside, the basic question that comes to mind is does 3-D enhance my viewing experience?  I’ve seen a few movies in 3D and, basically, the movie makers, being conscious of 3D, add sight gags to titillate viewers.  However, I have yet to see any of these sight gags enhance or even have relevance to the movie’s storyline.  Along these lines, when considering whether to pay extra to see a movie in 3-D, I skip it, and opt to see the movie on the largest screen with digital projection.  I prefer a clear, vivid image over 3-D any day.   Oh, and let me not forget that I can see the refresh in 3-D movies, which actually makes me feel a little queasy on top of the eye strain (if the refresh rate hits a certain sweet spot, I have been known to pass-out).  The same was true for me when experiencing 3-D TV — Eyestrain, disorientation, and queasiness.

Leaving aside the minor medical problems caused by 3-D, let’s go back to the question of content enhancement.  Of course when 3-D becomes available, shows will feel compelled to include the usual pointy-sticks-in-the-eye site gags and long with cute-fuzzy-flying-creatures for your children to pointlessly reach out and try to pet.  Beyond this, though, what will 3-D bring to TV entertainment seeing as how it’s brought nothing material to movies?  As a demonstration of 3-D LCD TV technology, I viewed a video of a football game video game.  The field and the players were so small that it really didn’t matter that it was in 3-D.  Extrapolating that to real sports, I just don’t see an advantage — unless, say, I’m courtside and the image is so big that I’m immersed in the world.  Hahaha!!! I imagine that kind of reality is some years away, but I could really see myself enjoying that kind of experience.  I also experienced a video game demo, which was interesting …

Moving on to the “interesting” thing … The thing about 3-D is that the display outputs two images.  The images come out the display via orthogonal light waves, which are visible though lenses that allow one or the other kind of light wave to pass (basically each lens in a pair of 3D glasses picks up one of the images).  Now imagine instead of 3-D, two completely different images are shown and each viewer has a pair of glasses in which both lenses are the same so only one image is viewable to each person.  Suddenly, two people can be looking at the same display, but each person sees a completely different image!  In video gaming this comes in handy for two player vs and cooperative games because each person can see from their own perspective without having to split the screen.  Taking the concept further, pair this with headsets or directional speakers, and suddenly two people watching the same television can be watching two different programs!  This is the thing that excites me and once the technological issues are works out such that people can tolerate 3-D for longer than 10-mins, I could see myself indulging in a 3-D TV.

Here’s a link to an article talking about the near future of 3D TV.  3D TV has a long way to go, and I doubt until TV becomes a fully immersive experience that 3D will catch on universally.  But I think the steps that are being taken now are the brave first steps that move us towards that virtual courtside seat at home.

When Laptops and E-Reader Converge in the Classroom

I’ve been hearing bits and pieces of news stories about the digital revolution that is happening in the classroom.  Coupled with the histrionics about state of the US education system and the seemingly constant cutbacks, it’s got me thinking about how the digital revolution can help.

Let’s face it, textbooks are a scam.  Most cost over $70 each, with some college textbooks approaching $200 each!  K-12 schools struggle with wear-and-tear of paper textbooks and publishers put out new editions yearly, thereby putting a damper on used book sales.  It only seems natural to go to electrons to cut the cost of firing up a printing press for a limited run of specialized books and to save schools the burden of having to replace worn out or outdated textbooks (not to mention the trees).  When coupled with input features like highlighting and notes, digital books are just as powerful, if not more, than paper books (especially considering in K-12 public schools, student cannot write in the textbooks).  The news reports that electronic textbooks run about half the price of paper textbooks.  There are also experiments around teacher tailored content and textbook mash-ups to add diversity to the content.  This is all very exciting and I can’t wait to see how the copyright laws will change to accommodate these innovations.

The most exciting thing to me about the classroom digital revolution is all the technology that will spawn from it.  I can see E-readers converging with laptops as E-readers gain functionality and laptops limit functionality to meet pricing goals.  There will be new ways of collaboration within a class, between classes, and potentially on a worldwide scale.  I can see blackboards replaced with large touchscreens that broadcast the content (both visual and audio) to the student’s devices.  The blackboard can seamlessly display handwritten content as well as display content from the Internet, and feeds from places outside the classroom.  There can be fun stuff like class polling, instant pop quizzes, and in general, easier ways for more student to get more involved in the class.  Of course, this also facilitates cheating — but I think this just requires a new way of looking at learning and understanding how people will collaborate in the future given all the new technology.  Maybe in the future, it’ll will be commonsense to ask those available for assistance and to be able to search to the find the answers needed on a test — that is the way work gets done now, isn’t it?  Anyhow, this all means that screen technology will have to leap to bigger manufacturing formats (or better stitching of smaller units into big ones) and there needs to be a significant jump in durability to withstand the beating a chalkboard takes and the abuse children inflict upon paper textbooks.  There will also be breakthroughs in collaboration.  Something constant has to stitch all the communication together and it doesn’t necessarily have to be one piece of SW, but rather there needs to be a set of protocols so all software can work together regardless of device (I imagine most of that’s in place now, and it’s just a matter of following the rules).  That’s a tall order, but I’m a believer!  The digital revolution is a big task!  Lots of hardware will be needed, lots of people will be needed to design the hardware and the software, and lots of people will be needed to install the infrastructure.  The contracts will be huge!  And in the end the digital divide will be no more and there will be efficiencies gained with the demise of the paper textbook (plus battery and power optimization technologies for convenience and greenness).    I think it will be a leveler and hopefully lead to more prosperity for everyone.  Or so that is what this wide-eyed idealist believes …

Naruto Shippuden on Disney XD in October

Thank goodness Disney bought a clue!  I hope they don’t butcher the show too badly in translation.  (I wonder how they are going to handle the juggy Hokage and alcohol usage, plus, every once in a while Naruto goes “dark” and very bad things happen).  I have only watched the first episode of Shippuden and I wasn’t impressed.  I watched the first 4 or 5 seasons of the first show, and got tired of that whiney brat Sasuke.  It didn’t look like Shippuden was any different.  But what does it matter, I’m not the target demographic.  I will say, though, in terms of the other shows out there a 6 -14-year old boys could be watching, this isn’t bad.  Next Disney XD needs to get “One Piece,” something with Gundams, and “D. Gray-man.” (The current series “07-Ghost” is a really good one).  Although, I imagine if a Gundam Space (or land) opera showed up, it would capture girls and grown-ups too — nothing hooks people like the “Gundam Seed,” “Code Geass,” and “Full Metal Panic.”  I call that great family time around the flat screen!

Ahaha!!! I think Disney could do well to grab the girls they don’t already have with some Shoujo goodness.  It’ll give girls some animation to turn to when they grow out of the Princess madness at the ripe old age of 8.  I remember loving Sailor Moon as a tween/teen.  They could jump on the vampire bandwagon with the two seasons of “Vampire Knight” available.  “Earl and Fairy” was quite dreamy and oh, and “Tail of Saiunkoku” … my otome heart sighs and thumps loudly … Ah, and then there are a ton of series that appeal to males and females alike like “Blood+” and “School Rumble.”

Oh that note, anime I’m currently watching:

  • 07-Ghost
  • Guin Saga
  • Hanasakeru Seishonen
  • D. Gray-man
  • Princess Lover
  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni
  • Valkyria Chronicles
  • Wolf and Spice (season 2)

Of those, “Guin Saga” is by far the best, but I imagine it would have limited popularity amongst some very nerdy adults unless it was turned into a live action show.  (Naris is AWESOME!!!  Beware of beautiful men.  I also love the Leopard headed man!!!  That show rocks!!!).

Disney Buys Marvel

Soooo, the business pundits are saying Disney’s answer to entertain for boys is Marvel Comics.  Oh my gosh are the pundits wrongs!  The folks that follow Marvel are well into adulthood and are most likely cringing at today’s news.  I have no idea what Disney plans for Disney XD to capture 6 -12-year old boys.  I do know, though, that the current animated series based on Marvel character are on Adult Swim, meaning they are intended for a male audience 18 and older.  I still maintain that Disney should turn to Shonen anime and extreme sports.

So what do I think Disney is up to?  I think they are grabbing profits from established movie franchises like “Iron Man” and “Spider Man” and putting a lid on the other studios distributing those movies.  But that’s just my humble and largely uninformed opinion …