Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Love Story, Via YouTube

We're all vaguely aware that the fairytale/Hollywood presentations of love are a bit twisted; there's always a happily ever after and you can always sort of see it coming, no matter how long and annoying the story leading up to it might be. No one above the age of about twelve really expects that that is the way love actually is. It is generally taken for granted that the whole world isn't quite as romantic as pop culture would like.

I happen to be really into my comedy musicians. As in, beyond what is ordinarily considered healthy. And I have noticed that comedians tend to know a hell of a lot more about love than songwriters. Instead of arguing about this, I am going to take a handful of chosen songs and let you decide for yourself whether or not you agree. (This is also my way of pressuring my friends into listening to more of my silly music, but they don't need to know that.)

So. You see someone, and they make you feel like this...
(Song starts at 1.10)

And they probably make you feel a bit like this too...

And you're terribly afraid that this might happen...

But eventually you pluck up the courage to say something like this...

And if you're lucky, you get this...

Although it'd be a shame to end up like this...
(Song starts at 1.23)

And (if you're anything like me) there may be a bit of this...

But, ultimately, it's going to work out okay, because...

See what I mean? They know their stuff. And frankly half of these are more romantic than most of the bog-standard love songs floating around...

That was too easy. I apologise. I don't regret it though.

Incidentally (haha; it's a pun), I personally think that these are two of the loveliest love songs ever written and they were both written by comedians:

"Incidentally" by Scott Edgar.

"I Think I Like You" by Paul McDermott.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

The Future of Gaming is Oculus Rift!

Given the advances of gaming technology in recent years, there is little left preventing us really getting into the virtual world of our games.

Now Oculus VR has developed a virtual reality headset which is said to have the potential to hugely shift gaming as we know it a step closer to that ideal, which is especially impressive as it began life as a project on Kickstarter. It managed to raise nearly two and a half million US dollars and has been doing some pretty awesome shit with it.

Specifically, this awesome shit:

The Oculus Rift got loads of attention at its CES debut this year and was said by TechRadar.com to "easily surpass every other virtual reality headset". It is designed to make the player feel like they are actually in the virtual world, rather than looking at a flat screen or even a 3D screen. This will mean that gameplay changes will be necessary to implement the "head-tracking" technology, but that sounds nothing less than amazing and definitely not much of a sacrifice.

The technology works by providing a separate image for each eye, in the same way that eyes work in real life. The visuals that this creates have already been described as being "extremely fluid and natural" (TechRadar) and update at a pace of 60 frames per second. However, it does have the potential to cause unpleasant nausea in people who suffer from motion sickness. Oculus VR's representatives say that this is common among first-timers, but that most players get used to it.
Testing the developer kit

At the moment, a developer kit is being built so that the prototypes can be tested. For the time being, it has relatively low resolution (720p rather than 1080p) but, according to the Oculus VR website, apparently still "delivers a compelling, immersive 3D VR experience". The resolution will be improved in time for the launch of the finished product. The current prototypes work only on PC, but there are plans to expand it to mkae it compatible with Xbox, Playstation and Wii consoles in the future.

Sadly, we have missed out on being developers and the Oculus VR website advises against ordering a developer kit (unless you're a really hardcore gamer and want one just for its value as a piece of gaming history), which will be shipped out to testers in April 2013, but the consumer version is promised to "improve on almost every aspect of the developer kit".

In November 2012, it was announced that DOOM 3 BFG Edition and Hawken would be the first official Oculus-ready games. The developers hope that the technology will become popular and get integrated into other new titles and maybe have new games designed specifically for it. There is even talk, in the distant future, of improving the gear so that it can be used for other activities like watching films, although for now it is specifically for gaming.

Something that pleased me about the headset is that it is said to be surprisingly beneficial for the eyes; I have to wear glasses and I put it down to reading by moonlight and letting my eyes relax in front of close screen for many hours longer than is healthy. The Oculus Rift is designed to allow the eyes to focus as they would normally, converged in the distance at all times and able to relax without causing eye strain.

For now, Oculus VR is being somewhat vague about when the Rift will be launched to the consumer market and how much it will cost, but the website is adamant that they are "working tirelessly to make it available as soon as possible" and that it will "deliver the highest quality virtual reality experience at a price everyone can afford".

I personally think that, once this is commercially available and if it is even half as good as it is expected to be, I will retreat for a while from society and resurface some exhausting weeks later greatly dissatisfied by reality.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Finally, A Break for the Bacon-Loving Vegetarian!

A little while ago I came across this lovely story. Featuring bacon at its centre, it inevitably caught the attention of nerds (such as myself) from across the world.

Probably the chickeniest
McNugget ever made...
Basically, some clever Dutch bunnies have developed a way of growing bacon, and other kinds of meat (but mostly importantly bacon), from stem cells. This means that a burger can be grown in a lab. It means that there is no need for a chicken to live, suffer and die horribly just to end up as whatever sliver of a McNugget actually is chicken.

Although still in its early stages, this innovation has the potential to remove the need to farm animals for food from modern civilisation because meat - and all it's lovely, protein-y, meaty goodness - can go from stem cell to plate without the bother of raising and harming any animals.

Accepting for the time being that stem cells are all very well and good (which they are), this could mean massive benefits to the world. It would mean less animal cruelty on farms and it would mean that there is a more efficient way to feed the starving millions in third world countries who are in desperate need of more nutritious food.

Plus, it would mean that pigs could be bred for cuddling instead of eating...

It's so fluffy I'm gonna die!!!!

And now I sort of understand why you would avoid eating them...

But I do have a question for those who choose not to indulge in the general loveliness of bacon.

Look at that. How can you resist?

The point is, if you have up until now, do you still have to?

I am genuinely curious about this, but I am not really close enough to any vegetarians or vegans to demand that they read articles and offer opinions purely for my benefit. So, Intenet; it is up to you.

Excusing those people who choose not to eat meat for medical reasons, and focussing instead on those who choose to avoid meat because they think that eating the flesh of a once-living thing is immoral, would this meat be alright to eat? Would you consider trying genetically-engineered, no-animals-harmed, test-tube-to-frying-pan bacon?