Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pesky details

I’ve long been fascinated by our digital divide. Older folks for whom the internet remains a relatively new game changer don’t view virtual activity over a network with the same emotional resonance as our younger, digital natives do. 
Younger folks who have never known a world without a virtual component ascribe the same emotional attachment to a virtual connection as older folks tend apply to their genuine, face-to-face friendships. The distinction blurs more every year. Evidence suggests that soon there will be no distinction. 
One place where this is already true is in live musical performance in Japan, the Hatsune Miku phenomenon.

Hatsu (初, first)
Ne (音, sound)
Miku (未来, future)
The first sound from the future.

From Crypton Future Media’s homepage:
"HATSUNE MIKU" is a computer music software that enables users to create synthesized singing of unprecedented quality and remarkable realism by just typing in lyrics and melody. Powered by YAMAHA's VOCALOID (Vocal + Android) technology, HATSUNE MIKU was developed by Crypton Future Media, Inc. based in Sapporo, Japan.”

Make a virtual voice, add a cute hologram and before you know it you have a new singing sensation. And it is proving amazingly popular.

An avatar named after the software is playing massive stadium concerts to sellout crowds and becoming a true, Japanese pop diva.
The band, the venue, the crowd and the experience are all real but the headliner is a 3D hologram, she never actually existed. She has a recording contract, a manager, a musical arranger and a publicist, and her tour coincides with the release of the Hatsune Miku Project Diva video game from Sega.
Except she isn’t, y’know, real. Pesky details.
Watch the crowds reaction. It’s intense and VERY real even though the performer is virtual like that FaceBook “friend” you’ve just never actually met.

Before long Elvis will be doing live concerts again.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Werewolf alert

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The web of American retail

135 East 57th Street on the northeast corner of 57th and Lexington is immortalized in American culture.

Built in 1987 by Kohn Pedersen Fox Architects, it features 31 floors in a 430 foot grey granite tower that curves around an open public square on the corner.

Some say it was inspired by the London Guarantee Insurance building built in Chicago, in 1920.
I can see it.

The building is an extraordinary cash cow with retail rentals averaging a stunning $350 per square foot per year. The CHASE Bank which occupies the 6,240 square feet outlined above pays $2,184,000 per year for the privilege. No wonder their ATM’s charge you a buck to get to your own money.

But the real reason why this building has been a familiar image to people all over the world since 2002 is because it served as Norman Osborn’s (Willem Dafoe) OSCORP headquarters in Spiderman 2, the movie.

some images used from wikipedia 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Not anymore

There’s a hole in the roof where the rain comes in.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

'tis the season

I was working up in Rhinebeck all day yesterday.

Monday, October 18, 2010

the same basic skillset of videogamers

Our Clocktower is known for the large wooden posts in many of our lofts. Do you have one? Look at the steelwork at the top. Do you see the bent steel postcap bolted to the big plates that sandwich the post and beam connection? No welding. See? It’s all bolted together. Know why?
That’s because the modern principles of welding were being discovered at exactly the same time the ClockTower was being built, the mid 1880’s. 

Angie’s Pizza just had their sidewalk trap repaired. So how does welding work?
Have you ever seen sparks and heard a loud “pop” from an electrical receptacle? You’ve witnessed the basics of arc welding, the least expensive and most fundamental of all welding techniques. 

A powerful electric charge is sent through a wire to the electrode--- in this case a welding rod--- and a grounding charge is introduced by another wire to the work itself, the hinge and steel diamondplate in the photos. In effect we’ve set up a potential electrical circuit. The electricity wants to jump the gap from the rod to the work and complete the circuit.

When the welder brings the electrode in close contact with the electrically charged steel workpiece--- often brushing it slightly with a very light touch to begin the process--- an intended short circuit occurs. The electric arc leaps across the gap, sparks fly, the rod begins to melt and the welding process begins.

The gap between the welding rod and the work must be consistent for the weld to be smooth, and this is not easy to do. The welder must move slowly along the welding line, a linear movement. But because the welding rod is growing ever shorter the welder must also move the rod slowly closer and closer to the work as it moves along the line to maintain the even gap.

Hand-eye coordination, the same basic skillset of videogamers, is the essential talent of the arc welder.

From Wikipedia:
Nikolay Benardos developed carbon arc welding, obtaining patents in the 1880s showing a rudimentary electrode holder. In 1888 consumable metal electrode was invented by Nikolay Slavyanov. Later in 1890 C. L. Coffin received U.S. Patent 428,459 for his arc welding method that utilized a metal electrode.”

Sunday, October 17, 2010

a birthday cruise for me

Last night my daughter Selina and World Yacht collaborated on a birthday cruise for me that was at once elegant, predictable and still full of funny surprises. We had a great time!

The ship is surprisingly well appointed, not at all the “nightly rental hall” it could have been. The food was perfectly fine, “boat food” Selina succinctly characterized it.

It began with a complimentary bubbly as we arrived then carried on through a good Fumé…

Salmon and chicken and tasty mashed potatoes….

...and finished with a birthday candle. Perfect.

But the real feast was constantly for the eyes.

We went outside to take a wander around the ship and as you might imagine, it was gorgeous everywhere we looked. It’s New York at night! How could it not be?

After dinner the crowd went below to the disco, I’m laughing as I type this... a high energy cheeseball affair that was hilarious and yet genuinely infectious at the same time. With a low ceiling, booming bass and loud speakers, the place was really rockin’!

The people danced their asses off to 70’s disco tunes!  We watched for quite a while.

Eventually it was time to head out.

The views are just amazing.

I recommend it, we had such a fun time! Thanks Selina!

Pier 81, 41st Street and the Hudson River