25 November 2009

Lego Matrix

Found these youtube videos posted on /Film. The filmers recreated the roof-top bullet-time scene from the original Matrix, using Lego. 440 hours to film 1 minute 24 seconds.

This second video is a side by side comparison of the original with the Lego Matrix version:

16 November 2009

Swimming and an Autonomic Reflex

Once upon a time I watched part of a BBC documentary on the human body, in which they revealed that babies, under a certain age, will automatically hold their breath when dunked under water. As the babies get older, however, they lose this reflex. The video of babies "swimming" by themselves was kind of neat. Cute, too.

Being too cheap to purchase prescription swim goggles, I haven't as much as dipped a toe in a swimming pool for decades. Nevertheless, I still remember that I never required a nose clip to prevent water from flowing up my nasal passages. I just held my breath, and that was it.

As a young child I vaguely remember wondering, upon first viewing some competitive swimmers wearing nose clips, why they bothered. After the split second I considered this weighty conundrum, I concluded that as they obviously swim much faster so water must as a consequence threaten to go up their nose with greater force... thus nose clips as a preventive measure. Kids, eh?

Anywhoo, I never thought about it again, until recently (hence, this post). Apparently the use of nose clips is all dependent on how people were trained. In the beginning, everyone's nasal passage will close off and prevent water from going up their nose -- assuming they hold their breath underwater, obviously. However, those who first learn to swim with nose clips lose this autonomic reflex.

So this is an ability acquired in the womb... still possessed in young babies... then lost... then regained... and then, perhaps, lost again.

Interesting, eh? Well... I think it's interesting.

09 November 2009

Just Say No?

On CTV local news tonight there was a news report about a woman missing in Toronto area for the past two months or so. In the report, police stated that they would be asking all tenants of the missing woman's apartment building to let them enter their homes to take a look for any possible clues (aside: the report said that was 6 000 units which, if accurate, is one huge apartment building). Apparently this is the second time the police would be making a search of this kind in this case.

My first thought was that the police must be fishing. My second thought was that perhaps the police have a suspect, but not enough evidence for a warrant, so to avoid unduly forewarning the suspect plan to search all residents' homes, perhaps in the hope the suspect won't decline police entry in order to not appear suspicious.

This led me to wonder how I'd react if I was placed in a similar situation, with police knocking on my door, asking to search my home without a warrant on the off chance they'd find something to help solve a case.

My rational self thinks if it's the former, fishing, then it's idiotic, unreasonable, and given a world with no repercussions I'd say a definite, "no". If it's the latter, part subterfuge, then the police wouldn't really care about searching my place, anyway, so that's another, "no".

But then there's the inevitable fear, guilt, and resentment because, realistically, I'd find it difficult to say no, even though I'd probably want to. Fear of appearing guilty by declining. Guilt because if searching my home would help the police solve a case -- no matter how fantastical a possibility -- how would I possibly say no? Resentment at having to let police search my home for fear of appearing suspicious, resentment at being made to feel guilty, resentment at the loss of privacy, and guilty for feeling resentment.

Another not so involved thought popped in to my mind after the CTV broadcast about police asking to enter homes without warrants. I wonder if there will be any criminals trying to take advantage of the news report, impersonating police to gain access to apartments and stuff to steal, pretending to be looking for clues to the missing woman.

Finally, a question: what's the protocol for something like this? Would it be appropriate to ask police to first take off their shoes?

03 November 2009

PS3: Playstation Network

I've never used my PS3 to browse the web or purchase anything, but recently I inadvertently discovered what I consider to be a major bug in how Playstation Network accounts are managed. I say 'bug' but I suspect it's intentional, another example of some proprietary protection overkill by Sony.

What am I talking about? I purchased my PS3 when I was living in the United States so when I set up my PS3 user account I used my U.S. address. Now having relocated to Canada, I recently tried to update my information -- inexplicably, I am unable to update my address because Sony doesn't allow you to update the country of residence. Eh!?

After some cursory research, as far as I can gather Sony - unlike Nintendo with Nintendo Club - has no intention whatsoever of changing this policy.

Hmm... any work arounds? First I tried creating a new account/user with my current Canadian address. This worked fine. I could then transfer all my save games to my new user and delete the old account, right?

Not quite.

In this case a little paranoia paid off. Fortunately, prior to deleting my old account I decided to verify that I could use the save games with my new account. Kudos to Valkyria Chronicles, Assassin's Creed, Fallout 3, and Oblivion for letting gamers do this. A big disgusted boo to EA Sports NHL10 for not.

So... in order to not lose three completed seasons and the start of a fourth in NHL10 Be A Pro, I am forced to keep two user accounts on my PS3, one with my current address in Canada and the other with my previous address in the United States. Not a major fiasco by far, but definitely a major irritation for someone who very much prefers to avoid opening multiple accounts to the same service.

Anywhoo, I find myself blaming Sony more than EA Sports. All this hassle could have been easily avoided if Sony merely allowed people to update their country of residence.

I can only assume Sony designed it this way because different countries/regions have access to different content on the PS3, and Sony doesn't want PS3 owners changing their country of residence willy-nilly in order to access other regions' content.

Which is odd when I think about it, because I'd have thought more people purchasing downloads would result in more money for Sony. It's also odd because it seems a very crude and inadequate method. People can still create as many PS3 user accounts with international addresses as they have e-mail addresses.

This oddness, then, begs the question, "What's the point?" The only answer I can come up with is that this is merely another example of Sony being anal.