Ouya – Programming Begins at Home


I’m cautiously optimistic about the proposed new gaming console, the Ouya. I like big budget AAA games, but I also like smaller indie games, and the current consoles don’t really seem to support indie developers very well.

The Ouya, built on Android and with decent specs, is promising a more open and accessible approach to developers.

Well after backing the Ouya’s kickstarter campaign early on, I got to watch it shoot past its goal in it’s first day, so either it’s a brilliant scam or the console is on its way.

The makers of the Ouya foolishly asked for advice and suggestions from backers. Most advice seems to be hardware related (more RAM! More ports! More/better controllers! etc) or game related (ship with this game!). Here’s what I sent them, based on what made me fall in love with computing so many years ago:


Congratulations on your kickstarter success!

I realise you’re probably inundated with ideas for your console, but since you asked, and as one of the first 1000 kickstarter backers, here’s mine! 😛

I’d like to see it ship with a really simple development environment built in, sort of an updated version of the BASIC that shipped with the Commodore64 (showing my age now). Perhaps you could use a customized version of this successful (and open source I think) android version of BASIC:


The idea of being able to create and distribute apps on the device itself (after plugging in a keyboard and mouse) just appeals to me somehow.

It might lead to younger kids getting into programming, or at least allow them to appreciate it more.

Plus there’s just something magical about plugging a device into your TV and making software with it (wipes nostalgic tear from eye).

That’s all for now!

Skevos Mavros

Kinect for Filmmakers

I was hoping that people would take the Kinect, Microsoft’s new controller-less gaming add-on for their XBox360 games console, and somehow hack it into an affordable motion capture system for low budget filmmakers.  But I didn’t expect the progress to be so rapid.  Already cropping up on YouTube are videos of people using it to control virtual puppets, and using two of them at once as a real time 3D scanner.  The future looks bright not just for controller-less gaming, but for low budget filmmakers.  To complete the circle, here’s an actual real puppet reviewing the Kinect – a device which might not only cause the demise of his own felty kind, but by the end of the video seems to cause his.

I blather about Kinect for filmmakers for five minutes on AudioBoo here.

Quantum Jumping

Quantum Jumping can go jump.

Quantum Jumping
The Quantum Jumping Box

Quantum Jumping.  The idea behind this several hundred dollar “course” is that we can learn to mentally jump into alternate universes and get advice and insight from more successful happier versions of ourselves in those alternate universes.  There’s so much wrong with this idea I barely know where to begin.

Firstly, I originally visited this website a while ago (link sent to me by an online friend) and back then it was just one of those standard, simple, mostly-white, long-scrolling, selling pages – the same template used by people selling DIY Solar Panels and One Weird Tip for Losing That Belly diets etc etc.  But today I saw a Facebook ad for it, remembered seeing it a while back, and visited it again only to see that the site has now been upgraded with fancy graphics and custom layout.  This suggests to me that the course is selling well and making money — how depressing that something so obviously full of hot air could actually make money.  Once again I find myself realising that I’m in the wrong business, or that I have too many scruples. Or both.

Secondly, what if it’s true?  What if there are multiple universes, many of which with alternate Skevs living in them?  Am I okay with the idea that there are potentially infinite numbers of universes, each with their own Skev, each more successful than me?  It’s cold comfort that there are presumably just as many or even more universes with worse-off Skevs.  Or already-dead Skevs.  Or never-existed Skevs.

Thirdly, what if I Quantum Jump to another universe to ask the fabulously successful, happy and wealthy Skevos that lives in that universe for advice, and he just tells me to “Get lost, loser!”?

Fourthly, what if I’m ALREADY living in the universe which has the Skevos that is maximally happy and successful — that is — me, what if this is as good as it can possibly get for me in all universes?  What a terrifying thought.

Fifthly, if Quantum Jumping is possible and I’m a relatively successful Skev, then I shall soon be constantly hassled by Quantum Jumping Loser-Skevs from other universes whining about their lives and asking for advice.  I reckon I’d tell them to get lost, bunch of losers.

Lastly, and depressingly, if Quantum Jumping IS possible, then the unavoidable fact is — not a single alternate Skev has ever Quantum Jumped into this universe to ask me for my advice.  This means I must be one of the least, if not the very least, successful Skevs out of all the infinite Skevs in all the infinite universes.



I just tried Omegle (chatting with strangers) for the first time.  I don’t think I’m the target audience.  This is the transcript of my first (and probably last) conversation on Omegle:

Connecting to server…
You’re now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!
Stranger: Horny gurl? ;D
You: Hello
You: Ah, no, I’m not a horny girl.
Stranger: That’s a shame. : (
You: Sorry to disappoint
You: I’m not sure I get omegle
Stranger: Are you a girl?
You: No, I am neither horny nor a girl.
Your conversational partner has disconnected.

I think I now get what Omegle is really for. 🙂



ZoomIt is the best PC-desktop-screen-zoomer-inner-thingy I’ve ever seen – and it’s free!  Great for zooming in on presentations or during software demos – both of which I do at home and at the QSFT.  I wish I had found it earlier.  Here’s a quick video of me using it (be sure to select HD mode when viewing it).

I’ve been looking for a smooth screen-zooming tool ever since I saw uber geek Chris Prillo use one on his desktop when demonstrating software and websites during his YouTube videos. His PC is probably more powerful than mine, but I could see he wan’t using the standard Windows magnifier, which magnifies a screen area into a separate window – his zoomer was zooming the whole screen into itself.  ZoomIt seems to offer the same effect, and as well as being free, it’s also tiny – less than 300KB, allows you to draw and write on the zoomed in desktop, and on Vista the magnified desktop is “live”, rather than a freeze-frame.

And yes, Mac lovers, this desktop zoom effect is standard on recent Macs – I know, I know.

Star Wars Meets Dallas – “Dallas Wars”? “Stallas”?

It probably only works for people my age or older, but this YouTube video of the opening credits for Star Wars done in the style of the TV series Dallas made me smile.  I particularly like the way the creator used a shot of Tarkin turning around for his credit – Old School!  The whole thing was inspired by this Star Trek one.

Squashed Head

Proposed Sculpture
Proposed Sculpture
Scaled Sculpture
Scaled Sculpture

Thanks to twitterer JamezRC, I saw this article about an oddly elongated, and slightly controversial,  sculpture being built in the UK, and as soon as I saw the picture of the proposed design (on left) I, it struck me that it was just a normal head that had been stretched in software before being created.

So by squashing the image by about 66%, I ended up with a normal looking head (on right) – I wonder if the face belongs to a real person?