Saturday, November 29, 2008

Announcing "Bollywood Steps"

After much consideration, i have settled on a title for my upcoming documentary.


“Bollywood Steps” is an inspiring documentary featuring the story of American-born Indian boys discovering their heritage through the magic of modern Bollywood dance.

They’re the definition of the modern American - enjoying the opportunities that the USA has to offer, but at the same time, celebrating their own culture.

I look forward to sharing more with all of you very soon!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Gadgets, Gadgets!

Since the new James Bond film, Quantum of Solace, doesn't have any cool gadgets, I've had to seek out my own for the season.

My two favorites are:

The Optoma Pico Pocket Projector, which is the perfect companion to any small video-capable device, such as the Iphone or Ipod.  It's a $350-$400 pocket-size LED projector, and offers almost everything for a great pocket presentation (I say almost because audio is limited to the onboard speaker, or the speaker or audio output on your video device.  It's pretty cool, though.  Here's a fun British demo (with some over-the-top bad hosting):

Another, more practical innovation that will be great news to Iphone users, is the Power Slider Case (below), an enclosure for the Iphone which includes its own battery, and so adds many more hours of battery life (the current Iphone, which also serves as a computer device, sucks up more energy, so the battery lasts barely a day - if that).   Not as sexy as the projector, but much more useful.  It will be available for about $100 starting this Friday.  This is one accessory I'll be adding to my collection.

For you non-Iphone users....more to come.....soon or later!


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Things You Wouldn't See Today

I recently came across a 1976 issue of the "Portola Press," my junior high school's student newspaper.  The May issue that year included news on some activities not likely to be found on any junior high / middle school campus today.

One reporter wrote of "Slave Day," explaining that "the boys were to carry the girls' books for four periods to each of her classes. They were allowed to leave five minutes early and arrive at class five minutes late. In return for their services they received a lunch from their slave master."

Another story wrote of "Disco-Skate '76," which featured roller skating in the gym, followed by a dance. "For those who did not want to dance there was ping-pong and caroms."  The story concluded with the mention of a particular student "that did a terrific 'Robot'."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

YouTube Live

I watched YouTube Live today, a celebration of all those who owe their fame to the success of their YouTube channels.  If not for the ultra-democratic YouTube platform, most of these people who have remained anonymous in their individual corners of the country (this seemed to focus primarily on American YouTubers).

The performances were amusing, if not all stellar - the show had the feel of a 21st century variety show - with singing, dancing, and outrageous stunts.  Most had achieved internet fame in the comfort of their own homes, so their comfort levels in front of a large audience varied widely.  

Still, the creation, just a few short years ago, of this new outlet for artistic expression hints at an  entirely new entertainment genre.  It will rise and fall organically, and provide a form of entertainment independent in form and design from television or motion pictures.   YouTube is already entertaining, and sometimes even politically relevant - but it's really only the beginning.

Too Much Information

I was a bit under the weather for a day or two, and found myself watching a bit too much news.  At this point in time, we're being bombarded with desperate reports on the state of the economy, and dire predictions of where we're headed.  Watch too much news, and it seems like the Collapse of Western Civilization (or the world!)

If history has taught me anything, it's that there are no absolutes.  As horrible as everything sounds, the likelihood is that this downturn will not be as deep as the Great Depression - nor will the recovery be instantaneous.  

Most people I know are taking steps to prepare for a deeper downturn - exploring job opportunities before they need them, cutting back on spending, and so on.  They're being more creative with their time, and more practical with their needs - in a way, we're developing as a nation the same habits our parents and grandparents developed to survive the Great Depression. I believe the same shift is also occurring internationally, on a governmental level. The world in interconnected like never before - as is our collective response.

This great historical drama in which we're living will, like all great dramas, move in an unexpected direction.  Our future will not be what we expect, or what history has shown us.  This is a unique moment in time. 

I think we're all about to be surprised.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

And If That's Not Enough

Here's a look at the technology behind the photo on the previous post.  Immersive Media didn't simply create the photos you can find on Google, they have also created a video technology with the same manipulative abilities.  You can turn the camera in any direction as the video plays.

Make sure you click on the little VW in the upper right hand corner of their home page, to find out more about where their 360 degrees have gone across the US so far....

Monday, November 17, 2008

Google Maps

I just discovered an incredible feature on Google Maps. For those of you who have been following my blog, you've seen satellite images of the neighborhood where I grew up in New Hyde Park, New York.  Using the Google Earth program (available free from Google), you can zoom in to varying degrees virtually anywhere in the world.

Google also maintains a Google Maps site - a mapping site similar to MapQuest.  What Google has added, in some cases, is the ability to actually see street level images of addresses in question.  Here's what came up when I brought up the street-level view of my childhood home on Country Village Lane:

View Larger Map
What's even more amazing is the ability to pan 360 degrees from this spot, and to zoom in and out. Click on the controls - those features are active on this image!  Take an immersive journey into my childhood world!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Political Firestorm

We're in the midst of a political firestorm.  Our dire (word-of-the-day) economic situation, combined with the election of Barack Obama, has brought us into an era the demands massive government action.  The fight, just beginning, will determine just what that action will be.

As I write this, the immediate debate relates to the support the government should lend (figuratively and literally) to the so-called "big three" automakers, which are on the verge of collapse.  Without in immediate infusion of perhaps $25 billion dollars, they will close in a matter of months, leaving over three million people out of work, and deepening the financial collapse. A bankruptcy of an automaker, according to the New York Times, could cost the economy at least 175 billion dollars.  Some argue that the automakers are suffering for years of mismanagement and should be allowed to fail now, instead of postponing their bankruptcy.  Others claim the they are turning the corner, releasing more hybird vehicles than ever, and should be rescues from the current crisis.

T. Boone Pickens, the legendary Texas oilman, speaking on today's edition of "Meet the Press," just expressed his primary concern:  "Where does this all end?"  How many businesses can we afford to "bail out?"

We are in an strange time of both optimism and panic - elements that contributed in no small part to the nationwide street festival that broke out on election night when Barack Obama was elected.  

The Obama administration hopes to keep the electorate as engaged as they were during the election.  Any government action will require substantial public support.  Ideas and proposals are already being presented, but until January 20th, we're stuck in a leadership vacuum.  People are waiting to see what will happen.

As a nation, we're terrified  - but hopeful. 

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Gamble Question

There are quite a few challenges in determing the truth about Simon Gamble.

First, in our Google-ready age, "Simon Gamble" is one of those especially British names.  Google him - or, better yet, Facebook "Simon Gamble," and the list is long, making actually finding the right Simon Gamble a challenging task in a world of perhaps thousands of Simon Gambles.   

Second, I am, of course, assuming that "Simon Gamble" is this individual's true name.  Unlike today, when online monickers can take on infinite variations, using a fake name with a street address might have caused too much confusion in mail delivery.  I'm betting he is actually named Simon Gamble.

Now, if I was adequately obsessive and wanted to spend the money, I suppose I could hire an investigator to explore the last known addresses I have for him in the early and mid-eighties, and trace him up to the present day - but I think that would be a going off some sort of deep end....

Picking a random letter out of the pile, written on September 9th, 1981, Simon writes about returning from a three week vacation in Greece.  He'd stayed previously on Greek islands, but this was his first time on the mainland, and in Athens, in particular.  He mentions that he had planned to go on to Israel to stay with relatives, but changing his plans after he "got through more than a huge amount of money" and returned home instead.  He wrote that he had given his notice at his current job in Northampton (where he lived on "Shakespeare Road") and was hoping to find a job in London and move there.  In the meantime, he would be living off of his savings.  He doesn't indicate what the job was - but perhaps other letters will provide clues, particularly if he advanced in that same field (though it's been 23 years since his last letter, so anything is possible).