Ric on Twitter

  • 10 September, 2012 - 10:55
    Any watch freaks out there? Time for some early Xmas shopping! http://t.co/kM5C8cyx
  • 25 July, 2012 - 10:14
    Have you kicked the tires on the Joomla 3 Alpha? If so, I'd love to know what you think.
  • 17 July, 2012 - 17:25
  • 17 July, 2012 - 16:18
    The Alpha release of the new Joomla! 3.0 is out now. The release is primarily intended for extension developers... http://t.co/eX31fk0o
  • 9 July, 2012 - 23:45
    My latest book is out: Joomla! Search Engine Optimization http://t.co/3lToGUhh #joomla #seo

Feed Roundup

Where the HELL is my ROBOT BUTLER?

The Register - 4 April, 2014 - 14:03
Forget big-spending globo biz: it's about the consumer... and he's desperate for a nap

Sysadmin blog For decades the development of the computer has been driven by businesses. Businesses bought mainframes, PCs and servers. They bought in such quantity that the consumer was, for most technology companies, a mere afterthought. Today, consumer purchases of endpoints outstrip business purchases by a wide margin.…

Categories: The Essentials

China's Bitcoin exchanges begin pulling down the shutters

The Register - 4 April, 2014 - 13:32
PBOC crackdown taking effect

The Chinese central bank's Bitcoin crackdown, first signalled in December 2013, is coming to fruition as the middle kingdom's Bitcoin exchanges begin halting withdrawals.…

Categories: The Essentials


The Register - 4 April, 2014 - 13:01
What a time to be alive – the wonder cable that will end daily frustration

First pic Intel has been showing off the next generation of USB connectors which will be the first to fit into ports whichever way up they are – thus avoid the Schrödinger's USB stick problem.…

Categories: The Essentials

Yahoo beefs up security in two meaningful and important ways

Boing Boing - 4 April, 2014 - 13:00
Yahoo has taken some serious steps towards protecting user-privacy, writes the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Seth Schoen. After revelations that the NSA and GCHQ had hacked its services, intercepted private video-chats, and harvesting mass data from its fiber optic links, the company has added forward secrecy and STARTTLS to its roster of default-on security measures. Of the two, forward secrecy is the most interesting, as it protects the privacy of old intercepted Yahoo data even if the company loses control of its keys. Bravo, Yahoo!

Categories: The Essentials

Google: Can we please trademark the word 'Glass?'

from News.com - 4 April, 2014 - 12:51
Looking to avoid copycatting, the tech giant tries to get the word "Glass" trademarked. But the US Trademark Office isn't convinced.

Categories: Open Source

Tamil Nadu's XP migration plan: Go Linux like a BOSS

The Register - 4 April, 2014 - 12:32
Indian state dumps Microsoft for Bharat Operating System Solutions Linux

The Indian State of Tamil Nadu will solve its Windows XP problem by adopting Linux.…

Categories: The Essentials

Cheaper Fuel From Self-Destructing Trees

Slashdot - 4 April, 2014 - 12:31
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Wood is great for building and heating homes, but it's the bane of biofuels. When converting plants to fuels, engineers must remove a key component of wood, known as lignin, to get to the sugary cellulose that's fermented into alcohols and other energy-rich compounds. That's costly because it normally requires high temperatures and caustic chemicals. Now, researchers in the United States and Canada have modified the lignin in poplar trees to self-destruct under mild processing conditions—a trick that could slash the cost of turning plant biomass into biofuels."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: The Essentials

Amanda Palmer confronts the 'current nightmare of the modern musician' (Q&A)

from News.com - 4 April, 2014 - 12:21
The controversial musician and performance artist talks to CNET about Spotify, Kickstarter, and whether the music industry is killing the musicians it needs.

Categories: Open Source

Is Google really mulling building a US cellphone network? Allegedly, yes

The Register - 4 April, 2014 - 12:01
Web king seeking to build mobile service around Fiber network, says a report

Google is in the early stages of planning to roll out its own cellphone network, an upstart tech news wire is claiming.…

Categories: The Essentials

Mechanical monster macropod LEAPS out of the lab

The Register - 4 April, 2014 - 11:41
Don't teach it boxing, okay?

If you want evidence for the sad state of science in Australia, here it is: the world's first bionic kangaroo has been developed in Germany.…

Categories: The Essentials

Community revisited one of its best episodes and avoided the sequel curse [Recap: season 5, episode 10]

Boing Boing - 4 April, 2014 - 11:39

“Advanced Dungeons & Dragons” stands as one of Community’s all-time greatest episodes, both stylistically impressive and narratively heartfelt. It’s an immensely satisfying episode of television that forms the peak of the show’s run in the heart of its second season. For the show to tackle that style again flies in the face of how the show has normally operated. The paintball sequel was a chance to make a stylistic adventure cap the emotional narrative struggle within the study group. But this is much riskier. And Abed blatantly states the meta-joke that everyone will ascribe to Dan Harmon, as the group makes the plan for a second role-playing game intervention: “A satisfying sequel is difficult to pull off. Many geniuses have defeated themselves through hubris, making this a chance to prove I’m better than all of them. I’M IN.”

Community tempted fate on sequels once before with the two-part paintball assassins second season finale “A Fistful Of Paintballs” (another all-time classic) and “For A Few Paintballs More” (a good-not-great finale with a truly masterful final scene). But this is the show going to the opposite extreme in terms of one-upping a previous success. The paintball episodes went for more visual dynamism—topping the season one episode directed by Justin Lin—even more paint-based explosions, guest stars, and stylistic homages to spaghetti westerns and Star Wars. It’s the biggest the show has ever gone. But “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons” is the diametric opposite in terms of scope. It’s probably the episode that did the most, in terms of cinematographic style and sound design, with the lowest budget, creating an entire imaginary world within the study room.

So the bar is set astronomically high going in for “Advanced Advanced Dungeons & Dragons,” especially with the focus on Professor Hickey reconnecting with his son Hank with the intent of scoring an invitation to his grandson’s birthday party. But Community knows itself well enough than to set up a moment like this and then let everyone get away with it. Which is why David Cross’ performance as Hank is so crucial. He immediately sees through the ruse, questioning his father’s interest in D&D at age 60, belittling Abed’s ironfisted direction of the group when laying out the campaign scenario, and then jumbling up the character sheets to prevent the paint-by-numbers emotional catharsis the group thinks they can achieve so easily because they’ve done it once before.

Instead of easily dividing the group between supporting the downtrodden Neil in opposition to the villainous Pierce, this time the dispute between Hickey and Hank turns the game into a competition. In an attempt to blow up the game right at the start, Hank divides the group in two through an action that breaks a bridge and drops everyone into a rushing river. Buzz (Tiny Nuggins, a thief), Shirley (a druid), Annie (Hector the Well-Endowed, again), and Jeff (Sir Riggs Diehard) end up on one bank, while Hank, Chang (Dingleberry the troll, Britta (Fibrosis, the ranger)

The show could’ve had a bunch of eyeroll-inducing father/son jokes where everyone tries to contain their joy that Buzz and his son are finally interacting, but once the roles got jumbled up, it was clear that Jeff and Dean Pelton would end up with the contrived emotionally-charged character sheets. It’s the masterstroke of the episode, allowing Craig to indulge in the fantasy of his character and an overly loving familial connection to Jeff—and Joel McHale’s silent exasperation in response punctuates those beats better than any one-liner. That character through-line is probably the best developed bit in the episode, building toward Pelton delivering a climactic “Worth it!” that more than justifies all the overly emotive silliness.

There are a lot of scenes that equate with moments from the Neil episode, only translated to fit these characters. The most obvious example is probably the interrogation scene, where Hickey divides up two hobgoblins (taken alive, once he knows they can talk), and works some of his police magic in order to get the directions he needs. It’s another opportunity for Abed to get into character, like he did with the gnome waiter back in the second season. But more importantly, it echoes Abed’s earlier words that Hickey needs to at least take the game somewhat seriously and learn the rules. (His earlier obliviousness got Shirley’s character killed.) Meanwhile, Hank sings to his party in a nice nod to the Lord Of The Rings element to the proceedings, and earns the loyalty of his group

And since this episode comes on the heels of one that illuminated the gaping hole Donald Glover left in the cast, it’s a good thing that the Dean is along for the ride to replace him as the one-liner machine mostly there to provide moments of utter hilarity. He gets the best extended stylistic gag of the entire episode, as he continually writes letters to his father (Jeff) noting that if Joseph Gordon rubs the blade of his sword while Riggs rubs his hilt, they’ll be able to find each other. It’s a great sequence for Jim Rash’s voiceover, Abed’s disbelief at the successful roll that indicates the letter gets delivered, and the one visual effect illuminating the path between the two parties. Not quite the Lord Of The Rings voiceover sequence describing the party walking around the land in the study room, or the sex scene in the barn with Hector The Well-Endowed from the first episode. But it’s still a great extension of the style that uses Abed and Annie’s apartment to suggest a more magical world. Not many shows heavily rely on the imagination of viewers to connect with the comedic style of an episode, but both Dungeons & Dragons episodes of Community easily pull it off.

The Neil episode picked at a lot of the emotional threads that recurred throughout the second season, from Jeff’s egotistical need to prevent Neil from harming himself, to Pierce’s childish jealousy and villainous turns. And that went a long way toward complicating the darker themes of the episode—bullying, suicide—in a way that made it satisfying for the study group to prevail over Pierce in the end specifically because of Neil’s D&D expertise. Over the course of the game the group works through Jeff’s guilt—though there’s a great reference to Jeff’s progress with Neil’s unfortunate nickname early on in this episode—and Neil actually manages to soften Pierce’s anger toward the group leaving him out of things.

“Advanced Advanced” doesn’t tie up as neatly, with nothing to parallel defeating Pierce followed by Neil’s admission that the afternoon was one of the best games he’s ever played. That moment felt earned and significant, a connection between a recurring player and the character that so often acted like Loki, messing everything up out of spite. Instead, the focus is on Hickey and his son, locked in an eternal search and battle, with everyone else dead and useless on the sidelines. Jeff opines that they can’t stand each other but can’t stand being apart either, which is an on-the-nose declaration of the “family is difficult but you need them” theme. But what sells that bow is how committed Jonathan Banks and David Cross are to their parts. Once again, I’m staggeringly impressed by how much work Banks has done in this season. He’s filling the Pierce role and wearing the guest professor hat at the same time. Sure, this isn’t the same power as having Pierce and Troy around, but part of what makes this D&D adventure satisfying—and allows it to sidestep the sequel curse Abed yearns to overcome—is how it allows other characters a chance to shine.

Extra Credit

  • The behind-the-scenes outtakes video that NBC posted from the episode where the cast talks about how grueling a bottle episode can be to film in one location with so many people. It’s an interesting and oft-overlooked element of episodes that I’d normally assume are a breeze to shoot without all the transitions.
  • That nod to how emotional breakthroughs can be difficult to cement as lasting change right at the beginning? Jeff barely saves referencing “Fa…bulous Neil,” and how he’s putting along in the background to this day.
  • The character names are all hysterical once again, but it doesn’t get better than Cross consoling Ken Jeong with, “Rise, brave, sweet Dingleberry.”


[Note: Due to unforeseen circumstances, this post on Community’s D&D sequel episode fell through the cracks and didn’t make it up until now. But it’s a great half-hour, so we wanted to talk about it! A recap of tonight’s G.I. Joe-themed animated episode will post tomorrow. Thanks for the patience!]

Categories: The Essentials

IEEE signs off on 400 Gb/s Ethernet development

The Register - 4 April, 2014 - 11:21
And we shall call it P802.3bs

As we foreshadowed last month, the The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has green-lighted development of 400 Gb/s Ethernet.…

Categories: The Essentials

Google to Supremes: End this Street View fight once and for all

The Register - 4 April, 2014 - 11:02
Company asks top court to hear appeal, citing danger to common security measures

Google is taking the battle over its Street View data collection to the US Supreme Court, seeking a final decision on the legality of its Wi-Fi snooping activity.…

Categories: The Essentials

Google's Project Loon balloon circles Earth in a record 22 days

from News.com - 4 April, 2014 - 11:01
The tech giant may have found its darling with Ibis-167. Surfing air currents and dodging the polar vortex, the Wi-Fi carrying balloon beat all odds in its recent journey.

Categories: Open Source

Imogen Heap's musical gloves

Boing Boing - 4 April, 2014 - 11:00

Sean sends us, "a video interview with Imogen Heap describing her homemade electronic interface gloves that control her music interface software by the movement and positions of her hands." Heap is kickstarting an open source hardware version of the gloves.

"What this glove enables me to do is access mappings inside my computer so that I don’t have to go to a keyboard or a fader or a button," she says.

For example, instead of using a finger to push a fader on a mixing desk, Heap can raise her arm to achieve the same affect. By raising her hand, she can move through a scale of notes, or through pinching together her thumb, middle and forefinger and rotating it, she can apply filters to the sound.

Each gesture-control glove contains a wifi-enabled x-IMU board developed by x-IO Technologies containing an accelerometer, a magnetometer and a gyroscope.

These work together with a series of motion sensors incorporated into the fingers of each glove that track the degree of bend and the spread of the fingers. The gloves can also understand postures such as an open palm, a finger-point or a closed fist.

These gloves will "change the way we make music," says Imogen Heap

Categories: The Essentials

Qualcomm unveils MU-MIMO silicon

The Register - 4 April, 2014 - 10:29
A bit of spectrum space-saving

A hyped and highly-anticipated feature of the next generation of WiFi kit, MU-MIMO (multi-user multiple in, multiple out), has taken a step towards commercial reality, with chip vendor Qualcomm announcing its first silicon to support the feature.…

Categories: The Essentials

Amazon Fire TV: World domination through video games

from News.com - 4 April, 2014 - 10:17
Last to arrive to the streaming party, Fire TV has powerful insides, a controller, and the backing of an in-house game studio. But is that enough to set it apart?

Categories: Open Source

Apple: Samsung made 'false statements' during opening argument

from News.com - 4 April, 2014 - 10:03
In a court document, Apple asks the judge in a California patent case to let it present previously banned testimony and evidence. Samsung says the motion should be denied.
Categories: Open Source

UK Tories call for a national of slaves

Boing Boing - 4 April, 2014 - 10:00
Charlie Stross is on fire in this essay on the true meaning of the UK Exchequer George Osborne's promise to produce a Britain with 100% employment: he is proposing nothing less than a nation of slaves.

Categories: The Essentials

Study: Exposure To Morning Sunlight Helps Managing Weight

Slashdot - 4 April, 2014 - 10:00
jones_supa (887896) writes "A new Northwestern Medicine study reports the timing, intensity and duration of your light exposure during the day is linked to your weight — the first time this has been shown. People who had most of their daily exposure to even moderately bright light in the morning had a significantly lower body mass index (BMI) than those who had most of their light exposure later in the day, the study found. It accounted for about 20 percent of a person's BMI and was independent of an individual's physical activity level, caloric intake, sleep timing, age or season. About 20 to 30 minutes of morning light is enough to affect BMI. The senior author Phyllis C. Zee rationalizes this by saying that light is the most potent agent to synchronize your internal body clock that regulates circadian rhythms, which in turn also regulate energy balance. The study was small and short. It included 54 participants (26 males, 28 females), an average age of 30. They wore a wrist actigraphy monitor that measured their light exposure and sleep parameters for seven days in normal-living conditions. Their caloric intake was determined from seven days of food logs. The study was published April 2 in the journal PLOS ONE. Giovanni Santostasi, a research fellow in neurology at Feinberg, is a co-lead author."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: The Essentials
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