Tony George – No confidence

I’m an open wheel racing nutcase and long-time supporter of CART/Champ Car/Atlantic Championship, Star Mazda, Formula 2000 Championship, etc….  As described on this blog previously, I am also a supporter of my wife’s racing career and the careers of a few others.  However, the news recently that the CEO of Indy Racing League, Tony George, was experiencing trouble with the board of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway came as a pleasant surprise.
 
Due to his long history of divisive actions and ineffective leadership of the Indy Racing League (IRL), Tony George doesn’t belong anywhere near a management position, much less THE management position of "big league" open wheel racing.  This is a fact well known by racers, team personnel, supporters of miscellaneous types, and thousands of fans, many of whom now boycott IRL events regularly and will not even follow the events on TV, as a direct result of Tony George’s lack of vision. 
 
Incredibly, both the set of IRL team owners and a large Internet community of fans have submitted statements in the past few days expressing their support of Mr. George’s "innovation" and leadership.  These traits couldn’t be further removed from Mr. George’s personality and lack of business acumen.  Therefore, I became part of a group who created a statement of NO CONFIDENCE in Tony George’s leadership of North American Open Wheel Racing.
 
You can read and sign the document here: http://www.PetitionSpot.com/petitions/OpenWheelChange
 
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Nas

Got the new Nas album on ‘now playing’ lock in my Smartphone. This guy has been probably rap’s best lyricist since he first spit.

But now he and his crew have outdone themselves.

As someone who got a film degree to direct videos, I’ve heard a lot of rap. This is the best album lyrically I’ve ever heard.

And in my opinion, it deserves the title of one of the best rap albums in history. Sure, I might like the overall groove of Dre’s The Chronic better, blah blah blah…. But from grabbing you by the throat on ‘Queens’ to telling you about life under a ‘Black President,’ every track with Nas is a winner, musically as well as in your brain.

It’s a sin not to listen.

Underdog for the ages

Well how about that.

My Hawks are an underdog for the ages. Twenty-nine years of never giving up as a die-hard meant something in that stadium last night. What a crowd. Best I’ve ever seen for the Hawks.

And, did you EVER think you’d read this:

"Mike Woodson is outcoaching Doc Rivers during the games." – MSNBC, 5/3/08

Just wow.

World’s largest film studio

After reading an article in BusinessWeek on "cloud computing" (unlimited storage and processing power) I began to form an idea.  Use this computing power towards a webspace that would become the world’s largest–and independent–film studio.  This is how it would work.
 
Shared Scenes
Aspiring and existing filmmakers would join for free and submit clips, short scenes or stock footage, to the site.  These scenes should be brief and desireably not part of any large concept.  As background, the majority of videos on YouTube or MSN Video are self-contained home movies or already complete short films.  The scenes on this film studio site would be a more general "piece of a puzzle," with no specific motives on the part of the submitter, as I will explain.  There would be three basic types of "scenes:"
 
  • STAND-ALONE: this type of scene would be between characters, or tell a small story, and would be shot in a location rather than against a blue screen
  • PIECE: this very important type of scene would be share the traits of a STAND-ALONE but would be required to be shot in front of a bluescreen or greenscreen
  • STOCK: this would be nature footage, city footage, car footage, crowd footage, background footage to use as mattes for the PIECES, etc.
When a user submits a scene involving people, he or she would be required to name the characters with a first and last name.  In every future scene s/he submitted with the same people, they would again reference these characters with the same first and last name.
 
Absolutely key to the webspace would be an editing component.  Any member could log in and work towards making their own feature or short film by searching or browsing for clips.  If she had a character driven PIECE or STAND-ALONE, she could also look up scenes with the same characters.  She could of course add her own scenes if they found something missing as part of the larger story they were trying to create.  The editing tool would allow the member to select PIECE scenes described above, and replace the blue/greenscreen with STOCK clips, which would be rendered into a complete scene that would appear to be in front of the stock background.
 
When any film is declared complete, it would be saved as such on a "Produced" section of the site.  A link to it could be e-mailed; however, the business model would allow any member to pay to receive a DVD of the film or to download the copy to their drive.
 
Perhaps most important, when a film is completed, every single member who had contributed a clip would be notified by e-mail that their clip had been used in a film, and provided a link to the product.  In essence, this is the point of the site, that users small provide clips/scenes and trust that their work will be used for a greater product; they are then rewarded with the ultimate payoff.
 
Adult
As for adult content, which seems to invariably become a part of any shared site, it would be allowed in a special section protected by age verification.  Any adult scenes accidentally or purposely added to the general pool would be reported by users using a link, and moved to the age verification portion.  Thus, adult users could also piece together sexual scenes to form a complete adult film, or include single mild sex scenes in their produced films.  These films would contain a rating calculated by the site based on a level of sexuality (say, 1-5) described by the submitter, and would be protected from the general public.  As before, a user could pay to receive a DVD of the film for their own personal enjoyment.
 
Legal
The most important ramification I have not addressed is legality.  For the site to charge for DVDs or downloads, I am sure a special contract would have to exist regarding the independent scenes that had been submitted.  But I’m sure such a thing could be done.

3D Tour of the Grand Prix of Atlanta (Proposed)

As an exercise for the Champ Car Inner Circle (http://www.ChampFans.com), I designed a fantasy temporary street course in the heart of downtown Atlanta.  Then, I used Microsoft’s amazing Virtual Earth mapping technology to present this 3D Tour!  I think this technology is especially excellent for Champ Car track tours, but make your own 3D Tour at http://www.3DMapTours.com!

Southern Co Grand Prix of Atlanta (Proposed)

 http://images.video.msn.com/flash/soapbox1_1.swf
Video: Southern Co Grand Prix of Atlanta (Proposed)

Dreaming of a virtual city emporium

During the night of September 29th-30th, 2007, I had a very vivid dream about another possible development regarding virtual cities, and the public’s interaction with them. 
 
Previously I have written on this blog about my hope for "off the shelf" virtual cities, allowing end users to purchase cities that they could use in conjunction with home, office, or classroom computers and virtual immersion equipment (glasses and equipment to sense head movement are available today at fine prices).  This not-too-distant frontier will hopefully allow students, urban planners, the elderly, and the handicapped to instantly "visit" places that they could not practically see in real life.  These off the shelf cities would allow interaction with interiors like museums, famous signature outdoor events, and other delights.
 
However, in my dream, I experienced a virtual city emporium of sorts!  Perhaps the size of the Mall of America (Minneapolis) or Eaton Centre (Toronto), this was in effect an amusement park of virtual cities projected onto walls of completely blackwalled rooms.  The visitors (which in my dream included myself, my wife, and a couple friends) can choose to travel to Los Angeles, Paris, New York, and other destinations by just walking into specific sections of the emporium.  A single entrance fee was required, and add-ons were available on the top level (see below).
 
For example, in my dream my entire party visited New York, which had a bridge in the center of a large black room, but with 3d projection on all surfaces of a virtual city (with pedestrians in the distance and landmarks), it was as if we were walking across an actual city bridge.  A few rooms over was Los Angeles in much the same vein.  And there was a top floor which contained huge booths with flat-panels of more than 100 inches, where visitors could take their pick of any virtual experience.
 
Interestingly, aside from the true darkness, with projected light trying to provide a sense of daytime, which was somewhat eerie, there was one haunting feature that I understood upon waking but which was jarring in the dream.  The emporium had its own police force which patrolled the cities as well, to prevent real crime in virtual environments.  Sirens did go off and doors in the black walls opened when police had to enter and exit.
 
I think with the rapidity of virtual city development on home computers and major geographic servers, this vision could be implemented today, using data from such common sources as Microsoft’s spectacularly evolving Virtual Earth (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=75722), or gaming software.  However, in 10 years, places like these may be commonly available for our amusement.

Towards off-the-shelf “real” cities

For years, I have been envisioning the availability of off-the-shelf real-world digital cities.  These living, breathing ("real-time 3D") models would have everything the actual cities did, including animated or interactive theme parks, Champ Car or F1 races, AI public transit, enterable actual museums, airports with flight simulation.
 
3D gaming already offers some amazing 3D world and city editors, especially Auran’s Trainz editor and the new City Life game, but even applications like Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 can be used to create a full city with interactive places and a working culture.  Building actual 3D cities using a base 3D engine, and these and other tools, would be a great step forward for reasons far beyond gaming.
 
I imagine individuals–handicapped people, educators, students, parents, children, the elderly who had previously seen a city but can no longer travel–being able to buy "Atlanta," "Mexico City," "Toronto," "Los Angeles" in a form beyond what has been done in games.  They could "visit" places that they would not be able to otherwise, for applications like urban planning, tourism, and other important uses.
 
Dr Andrew Hudson-Smith seems to be taking similar steps: http://digitalurban.blogspot.com/2006/07/city-life-first-steps-in-render-engine.html.  In fact, his entire blog is very valuable.
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