TEDxABQ, the annual “big idea” presentation by dozens of 505 movers and shakers, has sold out its event at the National Hispanic Cultural Center this coming Saturday, Sept. 10. No surprise there. The good news is organizers have added two simulcasts of the event—one in Santa Fe and one here in Albuquerque at UNM’s School of Architecture & Planning. There are 200 seats up for grabs at UNM. In order to get one, you need to RSVP right away to the TEDxABQ website. Tickets for the simulcast are free, but will go fast. The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. inside the Architecture & Planning School’s Garcia Honda Auditorium. Among the inspiring speakers rattling off their brief, brilliant ideas about art, technology, social change, medicine, finance and more are Dr. Arthur Kaufman, Henry Rael, Ries Robinson, Nancy Judd and Hakim Bellamy. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Listen, learn, meet and greet and be inspired! For more groundbreaking ideas—from discovering new planets to rescuing penguins to ending the war in Afghanistan—head to TED.
Anti-Social is relief for the social media-addicted
Do you have a computery job from which you take breaks throughout the day to check in on Facebook or the Twitter? A software developer has created an application for Mac users that helps quell the urge to engage in the time-wasting habits related to social media. When activated, Anti-Social makes it impossible to log on to certain sites—as dictated by the user—unless you reboot your computer. Read about it, or listen to NPR’s story here.
Jaron Lanier, inventor of virtual reality, critic of progress, to speak Thursday
Virtual reality pioneer (and native New Mexican) Jaron Lanier delivers a public lecture at Albuquerque Academy this Thursday, Sep. 30 at 6:30 p.m. The content of the talk—entitled “You Are Not A Gadget: What Happens When We Stop Shaping Technology and Technology Starts Shaping Us?”—seems likely to be drawn from his new book You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto, a highly critical look at how the Internet of today “aggregate[s] the expressions of people into dehumanized data.” Expect fiery rhetoric and large-scale ideas, if his recent op-ed in the New York Times is any indication:
“Nothing kills music for me as much as having some algorithm calculate what music I will want to hear. That seems to miss the whole point. Inventing your musical taste is the point, isn’t it? Bringing computers into the middle of that is like paying someone to program a robot to have sex on your behalf so you don’t have to.”
Tell it like it is, brother. The lecture is free and open to the public, but registration is required.
Seriously, go to the Telephone Museum
Taking a tip from the Alibi’s Summer Guide, I decided to stroll on down to the Albuquerque Telephone Museum on 110 Fourth Street.
Buried in the middle of the outdoor plaza in Downtown Fourth Street, the Victorian-style building may be difficult to find. But once you locate it, the kitschy little museum inside is well worth the $2 admission fee.
Far from the polished atmosphere of the Natural History and Albuquerque Museums, guests at the Telephone Museum may feel as if they’ve stepped into someone’s living room, or at least a small-town tribute to its local history.
The walls on the first floor are lined with antique telephones, starting with the early 1800s. In the next room, guests are invited to try out 1950s novelty telephones in the shapes of Elvis, Barbie, and Mickey Mouse.
As well as the myriad of telephones and phone equipment, the museum takes visitors back in time with mannequins, including a life-size representation of Alexander Graham Bell. They added color to their depictions of historical events, and just enough cheesiness to endear the museum to visitors.
As no museum would be complete without a gift shop, this one offers visitors a chance to take home dangly telephone earrings, Alexander Graham Bell magnets, and even an outdated VHS tape on how to teach children telephone manners.
If you need a respite from the heat, or the 21st century, ring up the Albuquerque Telephone Museum for a guided tour.
Robo Voices and GPS Girls
In last week's New York Times Style section, there was an article that explored our inherent attraction to the GPS voice, a connection that takes our relationship with machines to a whole new level. According to the article, we were originally supposed to take directions from men. But car companies switched the GPS to a female voice since they rated higher in friendliness and were more likely to be comforting to a lost traveler. Indeed, drivers all over the world have responded to "American Jill," "Australian Karen" and "Español Paulina." Though these faceless ladies have inspired their fair share of lascivious blog posts, Australian Karen, through her website www.thegpsgirl.com, has been praised for her role as a marriage counselor. As quoted in the Times, her soothing voice "takes the focus off blaming one person or another." Australian Karen (aka Karen Jacobsen) has proven she is more than just a pretty voice. A songwriter and inspirational speaker, she has recorded seven albums and helps people find their "inner-GPS" with her goal-setting workshops. Her next album is due out in the fall. The title track? “Take A Little Drive.”
Internet geeks, which more and more look like a cross-section of society than the soda guzzling guy who lives in mom’s basement, got all atwitter earlier this week when the New York Times supposedly banned the word “tweet” when referring to the action of posting to Twitter. An earth-shattering controversy it’s not, but one that leads to an interesting debate (which I shall kindly spare you) about technological advances and the effect on language. By the way, New York Times writer Philip B. Corbett has responded to the drama writing, “I had suggested that outside of ornithological contexts, “tweet” should still be treated as colloquial rather than as standard English.”
Uh, 140 characters or less dude. Jeez.
Anyway, if you’re a bigger fan of the word “tweet” than, say, “ornithological,” you might just want to head to the New Mexico Tweetup. From 7 p.m. to a touch before midnight Saturday, June 19 at the Hyatt (330 Tiejeras NW).
Tweeters will gather and talk to each other in person, in full sentences (maybe even a paragraph or two), no less. Talk about an experiment in language. No longer will the format be: [snarky comment] RT @whoever [headline/snarky comment] [link].
Instead, it’s going to be, “Hey, did you see that article in the New York Times about I Can Has Cheezburger?”
“No, what did it say?”
“I don’t know, I didn’t read all of it.”
Or hopefully not.
Still not sure about the whole Twitter thing? Or maybe you’re just embarrassed by your ancient phone, which barely has texting capabilities, let alone being high tech enough to allow you to install a Tweet Deck app. Have no fear. Alibi.com will have a little widget installed on Saturday so you can keep up with all the action from the event.
For you tweeters, here’s the entirety of this article in readable (and retweetable) terms:
The iPhone/iPod Touch Apps Announced At WWDC
The iPhone/iPod Touch Netflix player that was revealed in April headlined the software demonstrations, and now has a semi-solid release date of "this Summer." It looks to boast the same functionality you get with both the home and iPad versions; you'll be able to see your instant queue, browse for titles, pick up movies where you left off etc. It works on both Wi-Fi and 3G, though now that ATT has removed the option of an unlimited data plan, that could be a bit of trouble.
The Facebook phenom Farmville is coming at the end of June. The integration with Facebook is all there, so you'll have the same farm, same friends, etc. Is this exciting? If you play it, you already know what it is. If you don't play it, you still know what it is from getting spammed in Facebook about it. Also, I'm not sure if it's such a great idea to have bent-necked Farmville junkies out wandering the streets, though that touch control tractor does look pretty awesome! Yikes.
Finally, the Guitar Hero iPhone was announced during the WWDC keynote for immediate release that same day. To my untrained eyes, it looks nearly impossible, though seeing the Activision guy 5 star "Death By Diamonds and Pearls" by Band of Skulls was completely impressive. The packed in track list includes: Queen - "We Are The Champions", Rise Against - "Savior", The Rolling Stones - "Paint it Black", The White Stripes - "Seven Nation Army", Weezer - "Say It Ain’t So", and Vampire Weekend - "Cousins". Currently, 15 more tracks are available from the in-game store.
iPhone 4 Announced
Apple's World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) kicked off yesterday with the traditional packed-to-the-rafters Steve Jobs keynote. Beyond the expected self-congratulation over the iPad's phenomenal success, the big news was (despite the Gizmodo spoilarz in April) the iPhone 4.
Here's the rundown:
The shell is a complete redesign, and now acts as part of the antenna to improve reception. The newer, faster, and substantially smaller A4 chip leaves room for a much needed larger battery.
The new camera is 5 megapixels, and now sports an LED flash. HD (720p) video recording is available, as well as the ability to edit the video directly on the iPhone. At 960 by 640 pixels, the Retina Display is double the resolution of previous iPhones. This won't, of course, make the most of your 720p video, but the iPhone can display 720p via the dock with VGA adapter (not included).
A forward-facing camera allows for true face to face chat, and Apple has packed in their own video chat application (kind of nauseatingly) dubbed FaceTime. One wonders how this will compare to Skype? The iPhone 4 hasn't forgotten gaming, and significant improvements have been made to the motion-sensing/tilt control as well.
As usual, Apple never reveals something until they're ready to sell it, so pre-ordering through ATT begins in about a week.
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