Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome (2012)

Sorry everyone for being MIA for the past few months. I have been having a very hard time dedicating time to this site since the birth of my new baby girl! Anyway, last week my wife and I found some time to watch the new Blood and Chrome web series on YouTube. Overall I think the acting, special effects, and plot are pretty good. I am glad to see that they didn’t try to make everything seem old. One thing that I found very annoying was the overuse of lens flare. I am pretty sure it was to hide the fact that there really weren’t any big sets to film on. Blood and Chrome is being released free on Youtube, then will air on SyFy then on Bluray, DVD, and digital download early next year.

I personally would have rather waited until all the episodes (~12 minutes each) were out, however my wife refused. I think it might be possible she’s a bigger BSG fan than I am. That’s saying a lot! If you are a big BSG fan like myself, you need to check it out.

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When I first heard of Flash Forward, I was intrigued. Time travel stories always have piqued my interest. This new show isn’t a typical time travel story. One day all of humanity is knocked unconscious, and most of them see what appear to be hallucinations (2:17 minutes worth) of the future. The rest of this pilot episode is the main characters picking up the pieces from the fallout of this event. Can you imagine the scale of destruction if that would really happen? Interestingly enough, by the end of the day everyone is home and contemplating what their visions actually mean. I would think they’d be busy cleaning stuff up for weeks after all of the crashes and looting that took place. I’m not sure if it was poor scripting or what, but quite a few times I felt like I was being spoon-fed information and “insights” as the actors tried to piece things together.

For example, some of the visions were disturbing. They didn’t like what they saw and were afraid the vision of the future would come true. The flipside of this is also touched on, but what about those that had no vision?  Also, how will seeing the future affect the future? It is apparent that some will fight FOR the future, while others will fight AGAINST it. Who will win? Can both sides succeed?  I am waiting to see how the writers can add a unique twist of their own.

Anyway, give it a try and judge for yourself.

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IBM’s Watson beats Jeopardy champions Ken Jennings and Brad RutterIBM’s Watson beats Jeopardy champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter

For all of you geeks that have had your head in the sand, artificial intelligence has hit a milestone. Yesterday, IBM’s Watson trounced these bags of meat known as Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter in Jeopardy. If I ruined the result of the match, I apologize, but I figure posting a day after is enough notice for anyone that was following this from the start. For some more background on Watson and behind the scenes info, check out my original post on this. I have to admit that I was rooting for Watson from the start. I was a bit worried when after the first day in the tournament Watson was only tied for first place. I’m not sure what happened between the first and second matches, but Watson rocketed ahead in the second day and never looked back.

I think IBM might have been in a rush to show off their new creation. It was interesting to see the answer confidence levels during the rounds, often revealing some really wacky possible answers. Watson crashed several times during the second day of filming, nothing a regular viewer would notice while watching the recorded match on TV.  One criticism I’ve heard about the match was that Watson was fed the questions electronically rather than relying on voice and character recognition. I have to agree that the electronic delivery could have been an advantage.  Had voice recognition and OCR  functionality been used in Watson, the victory would be quite a bit more impressive. I could clearly see the two mere mortals struggling to buzz in and shake in frustration when Watson was faster. The producers touted the physical buzzer plunger that Watson had to activate, but I still think that Watson had the advantage.

I would be interested to see a rematch in a year but with only inputs into Watson be voice and video of the Jeopardy board. After all, Deep Blue was given a second chance versus Garry Kasparov, so why not give the humans a second chance on more equal footing? It is quite possible that programming algorithms over the year would improve enough so that Watson still would win, despite the reliance of voice recognition and OCR. In that case, the victory would mean that much more. Even if you know the outcome already, I still recommend watching the matches. I already saw the Nova special, so I skipped through most of the background stuff from the IBM folks. Here is a link to my YouTube  playlist that has the three episodes broken into 6 videos. Check it out! Then you can tell your grandchildren how you watched a computer beat humans in Jeopardy for the first time. Then they’ll ask, “Humans were allowed to play Jeopardy back then?”

Foundation coming to HBO!Foundation coming to HBO!

Home_Alone_Boy1

Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!

This is it! Isaac Asimov’s Foundation will finally make it to visual media. After the rights passing through a few hands, they’ve finally made their way to HBO. Check out the entire article at The Wrap where Jonah Nolan talks about the new project. I’ll definitely keeping tabs on the development. No dates were given, so I’ll try to hold back most of my excitement until I hear more.

The Wrap via The Verge