Social Pirate Expirement

An indie game development company named Greenheart Games stirred up talk today over their newest game release, Game Dev Tycoon. Throughout the game, you relive gaming history through research and innovation while you attempt to create the next blockbuster game. The game starts off in the 80’s with a PC being the only available platform. As research ramps up, the first gaming system to be released is the Nivtendo TES.

What’s interesting is that the developers actually ‘leaked’ a modified version of the game to several torrent sites yesterday. This version of the game eventually becomes unplayable thanks to pirates ironically stealing all of your created games.Image

I won’t ruin the best part of the ordeal, but you can check out the full story here. It is worth noting that around ~94% of people who played the game, were doing so on the pirated version. With the digital media advancing as fast as it has been, I applaud these developers for finding a way to raise awareness for a stifling issue that is faced.

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Extreme Pinning

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I know someone has already talked about pinterest but I want to too! I was absolutely against making a Pinterest account because I had heard how addicting it could become. Last semester I took an online class called Education and Computers. One of our assignments was to create a Pinterest account and make an Education themed board. I logged on for the first time and did not really know how to navigate the site. My roommate who was already an avid pinner, showed me the ropes. In no time I was pinning, making new boards, and had downloaded the Pinterest app to my cell phone. I found myself pinning this and that and everything in between. I would be pinning instead of doing what I was supposed to be doing. I was pinning during class, while doing homework, before bed, when I got up. It was ridiculous. Finally after the project for class was done I had to delete the app off of my phone. The app just made it too convenient to log on and get distracted. I wasn’t literally addicted to pinning, I was just bored most of the time and Pinterest was a fun way to pass the time… wow that sounds very similar to what an addict would say. Hmmm. Well anyways I have since re-installed and uninstalled the app multiple times. Whenever I feel like im getting to distracted I uninstall the app. I still keep my account and sometimes log in on my computer.

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With this all said, Pinterest is amazing! It is so much fun and it has so many interesting and helpful resources. There are all kinds of ideas and how to directions for anything you could really imagine. It allows you to browse a large amount of resources at one with just pictures and blurbs and return to them and their full details when you have more time or actually need to know the details. I am actually basing my final blog project on the education board I created. I have taken the ideas and helpful information others have shared and presented them in a way that I feel they are helpful while giving my opinion and such. When I start teaching I will definitely be using some of the material I find on Pinterest.

Rutgers Day

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Yesterday was Rutgers Day here at RU. I went with my family and I have to say, there were some really great things out there. I only got to make it around College Ave but I read about some of the other things that were going on around the other campuses and I would have loved to see them. One of the best things I saw yesterday was this older gentleman at the Asian American Culture Club table. He was a master paper cutter. He was cutting all kinds of animals out of paper plates and making them into hats. He just did it all from memory. In some cases he just improvised and did it from skill. For example, there was this lady in front of me in line and she was with her dog. When it was her turn she asked for something and the man said “I do you and him together?” the him he refers to is the dog. So he has them turn their heads sideways and proceeds to cut their profile out. It was absolutely incredible. I can honestly say that I have never seen anything like this before. The animals he was cutting out were all so realistic and detailed. There was not a list of items to pick from, you just told him what you wanted and he would cut it out. So cool. Unfortunately I do not know how to put the actual YouTube video of Master Cheng cutting but here is the link. I hope you watch it!

More and More News on the Boston Bombings

With technology at our disposal, news can be shared at the click of a button. In this case, the seemingly daily updated happenings of the Boston Marathon bombings have been posted all over the web. I have read two articles (and many more), but I suppose I will share my findings of articles 1 and 2, for now.

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(source: http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2013/04/26/boston_bombers_carjack_victim_danny_escaped_the_tsarnaev_brothers_at_a_shell.html)

The first article was uploaded two days ago and deals with two friends of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The young men (Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev) were arrested for visa violations, and originally hail from Kazakhstan. Additionally, they are charged with possibly sheltering Dzhokhar after the bombings. Apparently, according to a recent update, one of them is actually sharing a cell with Dzhokhar.

The second article was also posted two days ago, and recounts the experiences of a carjack victim of the two suspects. A 26-year-old, Chinese immigrant student of Northeastern University, known only as “Danny,” was lucky and quick enough to escape from the vehicle. Danny apparently pulled over his car to answer a text, and his responsible habits were rewarded in a twisted way.

He was carjacked by the marathon suspects, more specifically Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Danny cleverly pretended his English was lacking enough to not understand the brothers clearly. His chance of escape came in the form of a gas station, where one of the brothers stepped out to buy gas, and he grasped his chance. He ran, fearing bullets at his back, but was able to flee just in time. Danny was able to alert the authorities, and his call was able to most likely prevent even more casualties. The brothers’ next target was reported to be Manhattan.

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(source: Anna Silman from http://observer.com/2013/04/new-york-on-heightened-state-of-alert-after-boston-bombings/)

With the internet, specifically news sites and social media sites like Twitter, we instantly are informed of any new developments of literally almost everything. Hopefully we will all be informed of the details of the bombings, which are still a bit shaky and ambiguous. This last link, offers a comprehensive list of the facts about the whole situation.

Online Petition Against Orson Scott Card

I was suddenly reminded of this article after the influx of interest in superhero comics/movies that popular upcoming Marvel Comics titles such as Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World drew in these past weeks. Especially on websites like Tumblr, where users have been furiously posting and reblogging gifs of Tom Hiddleston as Loki with unruly long hair.

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(source: http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/notyetamovie/news/?a=74216)

As always, the internet proves itself as a powerful means of communication. For those who are not in any way, comic book aficionados, there has been a huge controversy over the hiring of famous science fiction writer Orson Scott Card, who is conversely “infamous” for his unrelenting opposition of homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

It is quite an understatement to say that this is a very delicate issue. A month ago, the backlash from the fans of DC concerning Card’s anti-gay views drove artist, Chris Sprouse, to withdraw his involvement with the project, ultimately putting the the series on hold.

Why is there so much backlash, one would ask? Perhaps it is not merely the opinions of the writer, but the particular superhero he was hired for. Orson Scott Card and other various writers and artists were hired by DC Comics for the new Adventures of Superman series. Superman has long been a figure synonymized with freedom, justice, and “the American Way.” Regardless of whether Card’s views on homosexuality are his own rights, many fans feel that by hiring Card, DC is essentially abandoning its accountability to its fans.

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(source: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/enders-games-orson-scott-cards-422456)

Card is known for his highly acclaimed novel, Ender’s Game (which is set to be a future movie this year), but unfortunately, he is more recently recognized for his caustic views on homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Some store owners are apparently boycotting DC Comics, refusing to stock issues of the Superman series. Even a studio executive for Card’s own film, Ender’s Game, expressed concern that Card’s direct involvement with the film might serve as a detriment to sales. Ouch.

In the aforementioned article, as well as other similar articles chronicling the lengthy, polemical issue, the comments posted by guests and users are equally just as heated. The main debate is that by hiring Card, DC is demonstrating that they support a bigoted, hateful person, consequentially . On the other hand, others say that forcing Card to leave due to his views is extremely hypocritical. The debates range from religion, civil rights, morality, and the list goes on…  

All DC Comics had to say on the matter, “As content creators we steadfastly support freedom of expression, however the personal views of individuals associated with DC Comics are just that — personal views — and not those of the company itself.”

The petition has currently drawn up about 17,000 signatures from fans.

Documentary against CISPA, SOPA, etc.

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(source: http://act2.freepress.net/sign/cispa/)

Luckily, as of today, the CISPA bill will be shelved (for now, at least). But what exactly is the CISPA bill? CISPA stands for “Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act,” and if passed, would have meant the internet privacy and civil rights of internet users everywhere. The need for cyber security is very important, but restricting the rights of citizens would not have been a wise move by the Senate. Like the equally as controversial SOPA, CISPA was met with a lot of derision and backlash by the large majority of the internet community.

In this recent enough article, an up-and-coming documentary film by the name of “War for Web,” calls attention to the Internet, specifically, the conflict of the aforementioned CISPA and SOPA bills, amongst other similar proposals. The documentary film will also feature 17 comprehensive interviews, most notably, one by the late internet activist, Aaron Swartz (who was charged with violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act).  

Other important figures that were interviewed include “Google’s Vint Cerf, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), former government cybersecurity aide Richard Clarke, and Susan Crawford, a professor at Cardozo School of Law who’s been talked about as a possible next chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.” (McCullagh) “War for Web” writer Michael Woolridge additionally expressed his interests in interviewing “Google’s Vint Cerf, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), former government cybersecurity aide Richard Clarke, and Susan Crawford, a professor at Cardozo School of Law who’s been talked about as a possible next chairman of the Federal Communications Commission,”  an adamant enemy of the past SOPA bill. (McCullaugh)

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(source: http://blog.timesunion.com/schenectady/schenectady-welcome-big-brother/2748/)

Yes, there is no doubt that cybersecurity is an important matter that should not be overlooked or ignored. However, there are other ways of protecting ourselves online besides intrusive bills like SOPA and CISPA, that stir up such rampant disapproval and paranoia by the general masses. The United States is a country that is built upon the principle-the right-of freedom. But the very freedom of the people is at stake, and that is a huge contradiction with out very beliefs.    

The Power of Kickstarter

This morning I was delighted to read on Huffington Post that Zach Braff, star of the hit television show Scrubs, was embarking on his second directorial debut since his cult-film Garden State (which is one of my favorite films). What made this interesting is that Braff is not going through a major studio. Instead, he has decided to take the project onto Kickstarter and crowd-fund the entire project.

Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. Everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. Kickstarter is full of ambitious, innovative, and imaginative projects that are brought to life through the direct support of others.

Thousands of creative projects are funding on Kickstarter at any given moment. Each project is independently created and crafted by the person behind it. The filmmakers, musicians, artists, and designers you see on Kickstarter have complete control and responsibility over their projects. They spend weeks building their project pages, shooting their videos, and brainstorming what rewards to offer backers. When they’re ready, creators launch their project and share it with their community.

Every project creator sets their project’s funding goal and deadline. If people like the project, they can pledge money to make it happen. If the project succeeds in reaching its funding goal, all backers’ credit cards are charged when time expires. If the project falls short, no one is charged. Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing.[1]

The best part about funding a project is that it tends to come with perks. Generally speaking, the project creator will create some sort of incentive for people to give more money. It can range from a complete script, first listen to the soundtrack, tee-shirts, free screens, and even roles in the film. Kickstarter allows for the project creator to not only provide a product but it allows for them to connect with their audience in a whole new level that would not have been able to be conceived in any other fashion.

What astounds me is how viral and fast Kickstarter can work. When I had first heard the story, I saw that Braff’s film Wish I Was Here had made $250,000 of its $2,000,000 goal. I checked it only about 10-12 hours later and was shocked to see this:

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Braff’s film had successfully gained 17,194 backers of the project who have all contributed a total of $1,294,873 as of this screenshot. It astounds me because in the past an individual would have had to deal with the big shots of Hollywood, but with this innovative idea any single person who has a great idea and wants to be able to make it happen can find find a home here. It warms my heart a bit because I have always been a fan of the indie directors, people like Kevin Smith or Wes Anderson, who put out a product they envision and try their hardest to keep that vision from being altered by the movie business. They put the audience first rather than seeing them as a faceless consumer. It shows that the world has a soft spot for these underdogs too and it makes me very interested in how projects like Braff’s on Kickstarter will challenge and change how the movie industry works.