Duke On The Internet

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Wednesday 15 April 2015

Inventor's Log: Morning inspiration.

Every time I make a new prototype for my invention, it gets a little easier. I get it more refined, the material becomes easier to work with, techniques start to stand out and I achieve a little bit more success. So far my investment in material for prototyping is under $10 which I think is pretty damn good. I've used and wasted a TON of material and still have plenty left so my finished product will likely cost more to manufacture than it's materials will be worth.

While my infant idea incubates in the lab, I finish my coffee and light a cigarette. It'll be a while before I can take my first run at it with the dremmel and make it look sexy. Time enough for some speculative contemplation about exactly what my next move will be once it's finalized. Without giving too much away I can say that my product is very simple, requiring very little material, and with a whole lot of potential uses. However simple it may be though, the actual shape of it limits the methods I can use to produce it. I've done some research into silicone injection molding, and I'm pretty sure it will be excessively complicated to go that route to produce this shape. Silicone extrusion looks promising but I'm not sure if it's ideal for this application because it would require curing the silicone extremely quickly to maintain it's shape.

The lab, making the magic happen

Images conjure up in my head of a crazy Rube Goldberg contraption, towering high with drive shafts, gears, timing chains, and whirling blades. This machine could work, if traditional established methods aren't ideal, I'll just have to come up with my own damn methods. Next thing you know it will be spitting out mountains of my product, emblazoned with prestigious names. Two to be included with your next phone, one with your headphones, one with your charger. One to be included with your gaming headset. One to be included with your wired mouse, or one you can buy separately for the mouse at the office. Maybe even a nice big one to be included with your next power tool. There are so many steps between here and there, it boggles the mind.

A few months ago I spoke with an old friend of mine who's been lucky enough to enjoy great success in the past few years. I say lucky, of course luck had nothing to do with it, he worked hard and gave up a lot to get where he is. He was always someone I admired and respected, so it was great to see him again and catch up a bit, but i just couldn't help turning it into a pitch session...whoops! I hated myself for doing it, partially because i was actually really baked at the time, but I knew how busy he was and didn't want to miss my chance to pick his brain about a few things. What I wasn't entirely expecting was how clearly he saw the potential in my product, and almost instantly jumped right to the same page I was on as far as how to position it in the market. I left feeling a renewed confidence, passion burning hot, armed with a little more insight into the business side of things and determined to make things happen.

And then bills came. All the bills, and no work. You see I've been laid off since about a month before that meeting, and I've been collecting less employment insurance than my monthly expenses so things have been tight. My savings helped to get me through the first few months. I had to sell my SKS to keep my gun club membership up to date. I just sold a motorcycle to make rent, good thing the owner doesn't know. (kidding, it was a project I had tried to sell in the fall). Now I'm in a stalemate with my company trying to sell my shares which will balance my books, finally. With a little luck that will happen later today, as long as they've set the share prices. Even then, share prices have dropped so much they're actually worth considerably less than when I was first given them through our profit sharing plan. Also, I owe $100 on my taxes, and my car's probably going to blow up soon, so yay me.

The difference now is that I'm not letting money problems be a distraction, I'm using this as encouragement. I'd rather be spending my time accomplishing something, learning, creating. It took some seriously sketchy math and planning to make it this long on ei, and even with my shares selling a full month later than planned I haven't defaulted on ANYTHING yet. I honestly couldn't have done it without people close to me helping out, mostly with fun things I don't have in the budget on my own, the things that keep me sane. I appreciate it so much, and when my invention makes me a kabillionaire I'm going to relish in paying back everybody who's helped me along the way. Ideally I'll get the chance to help them reach their own goals, and follow their own dreams too! First, I better call my employer and sell my shares...right after I schedule a bill payment to get my phone reconnected.

Saturday 7 March 2015

In defense of CHAPPiE: Why the critics are wrong

Well it's finally here, Neill Blomkamp's latest Sci-Fi outing and it sure seems like opinion is divided on it. While reviewers have almost universally taken a shit all over it, read the comments and you'll see a lot of people coming to Chappie's defense. Personally I think the critics are all idiots, almost every single review I've read makes similar complaints which I would like to address. I'm going to do my best to keep it spoiler free, but I do need to address some of the specific scenes that critics are complaining about. I've seen these on so many different reviews I wonder if any of them actually saw the movie or if they're all copying someone else.

Just to get this out of the way right now, one of the complaints that pisses me off the most is saying that Hugh Jackman and Sigourney Weaver are "wasted" in small roles. I even saw a review complaining about how Jackman wasn't in the trailer enough. Seriously?! Whenever I see a big name (who's not washed up) in a small role I think to myself "Wow, now there's a person with faith in this script" and that's what I got from them. They may have had small one dimensional roles but they filled them deftly, and I don't think anything was lacking simply because they're capable of more.

Now on to the real stars, if you're going by screen time, Die Antwoord. Clearly the decision to make them main characters (playing themselves, complete with their own names and faces on their clothes, with an almost overwhelming influence on the movie's esthetic) rubs some people the wrong way. Some of their actions in the film have been noted as "illogical" for their characters, like letting Dev Patel live repeatedly. No one seems to notice that they never really prove themselves to be as bad or as tough as they act. Sure they're in a big firefight when we first meet them but that's self preservation, not cold blooded killing like the critics apparently expect. Do we really need a step aside scene where Ninja's like "Ahh I was just trying to scare him" to piece it together that maybe they're just wannabe gangsters, and that's why they ended up getting pushed around by the real bad guys in the beginning? This theory also helps make sense of a particularly uncharacteristic show of humanity by Ninja near the end.

So yeah, Ninja does let Dev Patel live, and I didn't bat an eye because it made sense to me. Similarly Dev Patel keeps coming back and doesn't alert the authorities, which is somehow questionable to every single critic. Really though? It was made abundantly clear that were he to be exposed he would just get arrested immediately, then he'd have to beg and plead from a prison cell to have the authorities rescue his life's work, about which they give zero fucks. Once again, all of this made sense to me, so I didn't see a single problem with the narrative there.

One of the other big complaints I've seen from critics I can't really attack without getting spoilery, but it's been mentioned in enough reviews you probably already know. The giant ED209 homage that Jackman's built fails to annihilate everyone as intended. Of course it does, it's a giant lumbering monstrosity being controlled remotely by a human being wearing a Virtual Boy, instead of a superintelligent sentient computer brain in an agile combat chassis. That said, Jackman's character actually does do quite a bit of damage with the thing, so yet again I can't understand why this is a point of contention.

Now these are just the main persistent complaints I've seen about this movie, and it really makes me wonder about the reviewers. I can understand that it's hard to identify with Ninja and Yolandi but isn't that kind of the whole point, and the difference between this and other explorations of artificial intelligence? The single most advanced intelligence on the planet in the hands of the least advanced intelligence on the planet, essentially Los Locos with a little maternal instinct thrown in there. It's not important to like any of the characters, and their decisions don't have to make sense on the surface because that doesn't even happen in real life. By the end of the movie if you're paying attention it's not even CHAPPiE who gains the most humanity, it's Die Antwoord. These people who seem so cold and callous end up doing things that are "out of character" at the end and people call it an inconsistency instead of personal development.

Bottomline to me is that Neill Blomkamp's not afraid to do what he wants and I really respect that about his work. CHAPPiE is a wonderful collection of many different concepts, and I don't believe it should be faulted for that. Saying that "it doesn't know what kind of movie it wants to be" is way off base, this movie is exactly what it should be: An exploration of the duality of man, nature vs. nurture, and consciousness vs. humanity. It's a story being told about us, how even the worst of us can do good, and the best of us can do bad. So if you're on the fence, and you liked Blomkamp's previous work, get off the fence and get out to the theatre. Although, I do have one complaint. I don't think CHAPPiE says 'Input!' even once :(

Monday 2 March 2015

You're welcome internet, I am inside you.

For the past six years I've been building massive structures, putting my health at risk and driving my car into the ground getting from job to job. All I ever wanted to do was make enough money to get the gear I needed to do my own thing, and then I'd be out. I found myself working there longer than I had planned, even though I had all the tools I needed. There's something about security that the mere idea if it is so inviting, we choose to see it where there is none. We talk ourselves into the benefits of the perceived stability and safety in just doing what's easy.  

Easy I suppose being a relative term, there's nothing easy about construction and for those who aren't in the field, you should truly appreciate all the blood sweat and tears going into every square inch of the world around us. It's hard on the body, and you do things for the sake of the job that may not be the safest or smartest, but they get the job done. Was it worth it in the end? Certainly it was. I learned a lot, worked with a lot of great people, and came out at the perfect time to make a change.

Which brings me right here. I'm not yet sure what this will be, but for now it's my foot in the door of the internet. My goal is to create content that is worth both your time, and money so that I can make a living and you can laugh, cry and otherwise get it in the feels. While it may not be immediately apparent just how awesome I am, just spend some time with me and you'll see why I just did the internet a huge favour. Yes, favour, I'm Canadian that's how we spell it.

Here in Canada, underground forts are just a rite of passage.

Ok so you may have heard about the big underground tunnel they found in Toronto, and of course because this is Canada it has likely the most boring possible story behind it. Two dudes dug it to hang out in. That's it, that's all case closed. Wait, what? It's the case closed part that got my attention. The only way these guys convinced the cops that they had no criminal intent is by showing them documentation of it's creation. That is to say, these guys must have a blog or something they've been posting or planning to post their work in. So where is it? Where's the CHUD blog? Now I'm curious.

here's the story if you're not familiar: http://time.com/3728658/man-cave-toronto/