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The Internet To The Rescue

The world watched in shock as Chile was hit by an earthquake 800 times stronger than the one in Haiti -- and it happened even before the sun went up. But while governments around the world scrambled to get moving, social media was already saving lives.

It's amazing what social media can do where traditional media and emergency methods often fall short. While we commend the Chilean people for building strong buildings and having solid disaster control methods in place, we can't help but notice how social media platforms such as Twitter quickly began putting things together again.

Case in point: Sheryl Breuker, who yesterday shared her personal story with Mashable.com. Her sister-in-law was in Santiago, Chile when the earthquake struck, and there was no way of getting in touch with her. Most communication lines were cut. But a vital line to the Internet stayed on, so they began contacting locals via Twitter.

Sure enough, just a couple of hours later, a number of locals found Sheryl's sister-in-law, safe and sound. And I'm pretty sure she wasn't the only missing person that Twitter helped track down.

Similarly, Facebook users around the Pacific rim stayed up late that night, tracking the resulting tsunami threat and relaying information hours before their respective government agencies did. Google also launched their "Chile Earthquake Finder" service, allowing users to choose between "I'm looking for someone" and "I have information about someone."

There wasn't much damage caused by the tsunami, but seeing how coastal communities all over the Pacific rim responded by evacuating quickly and systematically made me feel like a proud father.

Social media's role doesn't stop there -- now that Chile is picking up the pieces, heroes all over the world are sending money, aid, and manpower. And I have little doubt that social media is going to play yet another big role when the next natural disaster rolls around.

And I'm also pretty sure that the conservatives will be sitting in their sofas bitching at their TV's every time they see their heads of state offer aid to Chile. They'll still be saying, "Why help Chile? Chile will never help us back! Stop sending aid!"

Oh, let them be idiots. In the meantime, the rest of us will continue using today's tools to help make the world a little better than yesterday -- as they were meant to.

Hi there. Welcome to Filmcamp Singapore 2010! [#FilmcampSG]

Howdy Filmcampers,
 
Al'righty, it’s 3 more days to Filmcamp Singapore 2010!

Welcome! I hope you are as psyched as we are.

We asked you to write an intro about yourself upon registering. What we got in return were many stories from a very passionate group - closet storytellers and filmmakers in the making...each one of us trying to make or find a path for ourselves.

When I first thought of putting together an event like Filmcamp, I took the first step with a simple understanding that each and every one of us has a story to tell.

Telling stories may be a full-time  occupation or just a hobby for you, but it is exceptionally difficult to do it alone. Why not figure this out together? And that’s the whole point of Filmcamp. I invited a small group of people to be on the organizing team, and started tapping on all my contacts and resources to see who will latch on to this idea and want to grow this "community".

Today we have the first incarnation of  Filmcamp in the form of this event. Make no mistake - *this is* a community-run event where the spotlight is really on you. As a Filmcamp participant, you are now part of a big family -- you chose to make Filmcamp your own. There were no judgments. No boring rants (hence the NC16 no ‘kids’ (or brats) part). Instead, you’ve agreed to come meet people, let loose, be your insightful self, and participate!

So... let's get crackin'
 
Now, some of you may not quite yet be familiar as to how this event works, so let’s start off with some rules.
 
 
 
Rule No. 1
 
There are no rules, really. You may move around however you want to, sit wherever you want, or perform something impromptu - without being a complete pain to someone else, of course.  Yes, expect lots of noise on that day. But good creative noise!
 

Still not clear what to be prepared for? Here are some guidelines for Filmcamp.
 
 

Filmcamp is abso-friggin'-lutely free!
 
It’s so free it's giving the air you breathe a serious run for its money. That’s right, I’ve insisted that our first Filmcamp will not cost you an arm or a leg or even your best friend’s leg. My wonderful organizing team has worked to make sure you get to attend at no cost to you! Of course, wads of cash are always appreciated (*ahem cough cough*). We’re a community-run event, and your donations will go a long way in supporting our efforts to consistently bring you good activities, good people, good food, and fight the good fight... fending off the invasion of the Sepulchronians.
 
 
 
It’s alright for the presenter to say ‘I don’t know’

There is no rating for presenters. Presenters, and participants share, all the same. There is no pressure, we are all friendly people! Your sharing is your biggest takeaway. It always is. No matter how many people say your event doesn’t work, your presentation wasn't quite up to par, you have a bad haircut - believe us we’ve done this a bazillion times - it just works. The naysayers haven’t woken up to this simple reality of learning through sharing, and they will - believe me - remain under their expensive, limited-edition designer rock.
 
 

Some suggested essentials to bring along with you to Filmcamp 2010

  • Laptop
  • Mobile phone
  • Your Twitter gadgets
  • Lunch money
  • Video cameras, Mobile phone cameras, etc.
  • Tools for meeting people and exchanging contacts
    • Name cards / Business cards
    • Pokens (used when meeting cool people like myself)
    • Bump (an app for the iPhone/Android-based phones - also used when meeting cool people like myself)
  • Dress comfortably. You will be moving around a lot.

 
 
 
Help out where you can
 
Photographers: we always need photographers to help take photos of sessions throughout the day whenever possible.
Videographers: with video cams to shoot footage which we can compile into a post-show Filmcamp trailer.
Timers: to help make sure that each session starts and ends on time.
If you have extra iPod/iPhone or laptop chargers, please do feel free to bring them to Filmcamp and share the love. You’ll never know when your batteries run out of juice.
 
 
 
Tweet / blog / spread the word about Filmcamp
 
It’s a community-based and participant-run event with no marketing budget. We believe in organic word-of-mouth to keep ‘Filmcamp’ alive. Filmcamp is for you. If something is good for you, share it. If it’s not good for you, well, in the words of singer-songwriter, Mick Jackson, “Blame it on the Boogie” (I have no idea what he means here but it was a good song, nevertheless). Pass this e-mail on to a friend who may be interested in coming along.
 
 
 
Do not use Filmcamp as the "babysitter" for your little brother or your niece while you sneak out to visit your girlfriend without your parents' knowledge
 
Seriously. Don't.
 
 
 
Come with no other expectation other than to have fun
 
Believe me, if the Internet connection becomes unstable or even the electricity goes out, you’ll still have fun. If you didn't meet the people you wanted to meet, by expecting to have fun, you *will* meet the people who want to meet you. Trust us. The more you're open to this concept the more you'll surprise yourself with how much you learn and be amazed by the cool people you meet.
 
 
 
Last but most definitely not least
 
Bring along your sense of humor. We can’t wait to meet you!
 
 
 
Essential notes:
Our updated schedule & speakers' topics can be found here:  http://j.mp/a5dlQq
Our updated participants list can be found here:  http://j.mp/90kZIt
Our participant sign-up form can be found here:  http://j.mp/9RidP2

For your convenience, please print out a copy of the schedule a day before the event, and bring it along on event day - any minor on-site updates to the schedule will be announced then.

 
 

Bear in mind, the planets will all be aligned for us on Filmcamp. And when the virgin moons of Jupiter cross over the path of the 18th Mudath, the mighty Sepulchora will return. And he will bestow his favor upon those who have shown him loyalty through the test of blood and Coco Puffs. The favorable ones will be told to banish the unfavorables for eternity. Darkness will then befall the earth, and for generations to come its inhabitants will only witness acts of pure evil. We must unite to bring back the old believes of the Jerhalis. For the one who walks the path...
 
...er... you guys stopped reading this already, right?



When you see me at Filmcamp come over and say "Hi"
Chris

 

Chris Gomez
Founder / Curator, Filmcamp
producer  |  angel  |  emergent media prophet  |  deity
Web:  www.enginealpha.com www.filmcamp.sg
Twitter:  www.twitter.com/chrisgomez   (@chrisgomez)  |  www.twitter.com/filmcampsg   (@filmcampsg)
==&==




YouTube Debuts 'Lite' Version

Image credit: Adapted image from YouTube's Feather beta signup page

I like YouTube for two different reasons -- one, it helps keep me up-to-date with the latest trends in film and media. (After all, watching videos can sometimes be easier than reading some bad article.) The other reason is, quite simply, it's a fun way to schmooze. I still haven't gotten tired of the "sneezing baby panda" video, for instance.

But YouTube does (or rather, DID -- more on that later) have its pitfalls. In Singapore and the surrounding region, ISP's are pretty slow in offering higher-bandwidth offerings owing to the relatively slim competition. So, yup, we deal with a quite a bit of buffer time and staring at that annoying "loading" wheel indicator.

Thankfully, Google does listen to its users, and has recently launched the beta version of YouTube Feather. This feature of YouTube strips down YouTube pages to the bare essentials -- minus ads, ratings, bells and whistles, and simply presents the video with as little latency and bandwidth-hogging as possible.

This means good news for casual viewers -- you can now spend more time watching and less time groaning while on YouTube. This is particularly important in bandwidth-starved areas of the world, such as Southeast Asia, where there are people who actually still use Dial-up (or broadband with Dial-up speeds).

But is it bad news for content creators? After all, content creators rely on ads and "subscribe" features on their videos to grow their businesses.

Thankfully, content creators don't have to worry -- when YouTube knows the video comes from a content creator, it reverts to the regular YouTube, complete with all its functions (including HD).

When YouTube Feather goes live, it should make it much easier for people to appreciate and enjoy the benefits that YouTube brings to the computing experience. You can activate and use YouTube Feather by clicking this link.


Yeah, it seems not a day passes by without an update from Google. One worth mentioning is probably Google's crusade to create a "new" Internet -- or at least a faster one. Google is still asking for more community feedback and participation in its development of SPDY -- if you haven't heard of it before, it's going to be the next big thing in the Internet. It'll replace HTML one day, already being at least 50% faster in development stages.


Meanwhile, Microsoft is scrambling to deal with report after report after report of the Black Screen of Death plaguing Windows 7 users. Kinda shows you what's up in the Microsoft vs Google wars.

Sesame Street Turns 40!

I don't think any kid's TV show has had a more sustained, more far-reaching, more worldwide reach than Sesame Street, which celebrated its 40th anniversary yesterday. Every generation that grew up since 1969 (that's basically most of us) has fond memories of Big Bird, Elmo, Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch, Bert and Ernie, and other friendly neighbors they meet on Sesame Street.

Sesame Street began in November 10, 1969 as a simple experiment to help underprivileged kids learn through TV. That simple experiment has since landed on the shores of more than 140 countries, teaching kids the values of honesty, eating healthy, reading and writing, and -- this year -- global warming.

Okay, not global warming per se -- but this year, Sesame Street is all about knowing about the Earth and loving the world we all live in. Climate change, apparently, is a grown-up topic, but that doesn't mean kids can't do their part in making the world a better place.

Guess who got to Sesame Street on its 40th birthday -- US First Lady Michelle Obama. Popular for teaching kids about home-gardening at the White House backyard, the First Lady gamely played with a multi-ethnic group of kids at Sesame Street and told Elmo and Big Bird that vegetables were what made her "big and strong." Yup, take it from her.

YouTube videos about Sesame Street have enjoyed a surge in popularity lately, owing to the approach of the Street's 40th anniversary. My favorite? Cookie Monster teaching Rocketboom's Ella Morton the finer points of eating a cookie. See video below, for a good dose of nostalgia.


This article has been brought to you today by the number "40."



Happy Birthday, Internet | #media #technology #internet

Many people think the Internet is technology's most recent innovation, but it actually began almost 40 years ago. US scientist Leonard Kleinrock had the idea of using an "interface message processor"(IMP) to access a computer from another location back in 1969, and while the first test was rather dismal, it was obviously the beginning of something new.

Back in October 29, 1969, Kleinrock hooked up a computer to the IMP and began to type the word "LOGIN," to be sent to a colleague in Stanford. But after typing the first two letters, the system crashed. So accidentally and aptly, the first word sent over the Internet was "LO" -- and behold!

happy+birthday+internet+xkcd+wrong+on+internet+Chris+Gomez+Engine+Alpha

Image credit: Found on xkcd.com


The Internet has come a long way since that first word was sent over the first connection. Most people think the Internet only started out in the 80's, because that's when its more primitive forms first became commercially available. What do YOU remember about the Internet's early years?

I remember how e-mail changed the way people communicated. Telegrams were all of a sudden obsolete, and people now had an inexpensive way of communicating with their loved ones and colleagues out of town.

Sometime years later came the browser wars, Google, Wikipedia, and the row over music copyrights (and later general file sharing). Whether we liked it or not, the Internet was here to stay.

I think the biggest impact the Internet has made so far comes in the form of -- okay, I'll say it just this once -- social media. All of a sudden, it opened the doors for a tech-savvy underdog US Senator to reach unprecedented numbers of people and raise unprecedented amounts of money, wresting power from an otherwise immovable opposing party.

But for the rest of us, the Internet simply makes life a lot more interesting. Work is almost always more efficient with the Internet, and productivity levels haven't increased this much since the advent of air conditioning.

Many people say that, at 40 years, the Internet is still a teenager. If life truly does begin at 40, let's see what the next 40 has in store for us.

The Weekend's Superhero Roundup #film

When it comes to superhero movies, I'm pretty much looking forward to three -- "Green Lantern," "Spider-Man 4," and the next "X-Men" movie. Here's a quick roundup of what's going on with plans on all three movies.

#1 - Bryan Singer may helm the next X-Men movie. That's right, the man who brought the first and second X-Men movies is back, and has expressed his interest in returning to the franchise. He sat out of the third X-Men film to direct "Superman Returns," and also sat out "X-Men Origins: Wolverine."

However, I think Singer may have his work cut out for him. I personally didn't like the third X-Men movie because they killed off so many characters, and "Wolverine" left so many plot holes to fill. It'll be interesting to see how well Singer would do if the job was returned to him.

#2 - Spider-Man 4 will thankfully NOT have 4 villains. Sam Raimi returns to direct the fourth Spidey film, and it's good to know that he agrees with many Spider-Man fans -- having three villains in a movie can be pretty distracting. What's more, Raimi claims he learned a few things after directing "Drag Me To Hell," so it's likely the fourth Spider-Man won't be as unvaried as the third.

#3 - Recession hits the Green Lantern. Warner Brothers Studios has canceled plans of producing "Green Lantern" in Australia because of the US dollar's faltering value. They are now in the process of looking for alternative areas of the world to shoot, most likely Canada or Mexico.

As of last week, one Australian dollar was worth US$0.95, which was a nearly 30% increase from six months ago, when Green Lantern was given the green light. Production costs would have increased by around $20 million, apparently something Warner Brothers wasn't willing to risk. Looks like the movie industry isn't as impervious to the recession as we thought it was.

This Year's Animated Feature Oscar Is "Up" For Grabs #film #animation

"Up" is one of Pixar Animation's best animated offerings yet -- some say it tops "Wall-E," though I'll have to get back to you on that. Anyway, "Up" is so far the third-biggest movie of 2009, only behind "Transformers 2" and "Harry Potter 6." Everybody's thinking it's going to run away with the next Animated Feature Oscar -- but I don't think it's going to be that simple.


Pixar+Up+Animation+Film+Engine+Alpha+Chris+Gomez

Image credit: Pixar Animation Studios


The Oscar for Best Animated Feature has seen slim pickings in recent years. But next year, it's likely we're going to have five nominees for the first time in a long while. It's been a great year for animated feature films, and we may see as many as sixteen vying for the five nominee slots. My picks?

#1 - "Up." Hands down, one of the best animated films ever made. Pixar always shines the brightest when it tells fun, original, out-of-this-world stories. You can't get any crazier than an old groan with a flying house, a clumsy but determined Boy Scout, and a talking dog, but at the same time, you can't help but get teary-eyed after the montage of Carl's life with Elly comes to an end. Brilliant.

#2 - "9" by David Acker. What started as a dark, mysterious short film about living puppets trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world has evolved into a full-length feature film, thanks to the discerning eye of Tim Burton. The original short film had caught my eye after being nominated for Best Animated Short a few years ago, and I definitely think it has what it takes to get the top prize.

#3 - "Coraline." Alice in Wonderland gone wrong? "Coraline" shows that stop-motion can still hold its ground against bigger-budgeted 3-D animated films by simply telling one of the most engaging stories told all year.

#4 - "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs." This one's probably my least favorite of the bunch, but I've always liked the Ice Age movies. I always thought they deserved an Oscar if only for bringing us the most hilarious squirrel in history. The first "Ice Age" almost won the 2002 Animated Feature Oscar, only to be upset by "Spirited Away" by Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki...

#5 - ...who happens to be back with "Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea." I think "Ponyo" is the underdog of the bunch, being drawn traditionally (with crayon, at that). But with his brand of magic, Miyazaki stands poised to upset the guys behind "Ice Age" once again.

So ultimately I think it's Pete Docter's "Up" vs. Hayao Miyazaki's "Ponyo," although "9" winning the Oscar would be pretty cool too. My money's still with "Up," though an upset won't upset me in the least.

Paranormal Activity -- The Next "Blair Witch Project" #film

Film-making is a business among many other things, and like most other businesses, the more money you invest in it, the more likely it's going to succeed. But right now, there's a film going around that's doing extremely well in the box office -- and it was shot with a mere $20,000 budget.

"Paranormal Activity" is a feature-length movie produced and directed by Oren Peli, a video game programmer who thought it would be cool to shoot a "Blair Witch"-esque movie -- hi kids, "The Blair Witch Project" was a $60,000 film that grossed over $140 million in the box office back in 1999. With a handful of unknown actors, Peli went on to produce "Paranormal Activity" over a span of one week in 2006, shooting and editing all at the same time.

Note:
Oct 16, 2009 - Updates to this story have been added to the following paragraphs.
Oct 17, 2009 - Added limited-release movie trailer


After a series of post-production problems, Peli was finally able to debut "Paranormal Activity" on a few select screens around the United States. Audiences all over the place unanimously agreed the movie was "pretty scary" -- with some people leaving midway through the film simply because they couldn't take any more. Even director Steven Spielberg couldn't watch the entire movie in one go.

Word of mouth and, of course, participatory media was instrumental in bringing the film to mainstream popularity. Obviously when people think it's cool, they're going to Tweet it to death -- another bit of proof that there's more than just the traditional way to get your movie the mileage it receives.

The movie's reception has been so good that it's scheduled to open in cinemas all over the United States today. It's likely a big blow to most Hollywood studios, who only a few years ago turned down Peli's offers to have the film made into a feature. That was until Jason Blum, who also produced "The Reader," came across it -- and was so spooked the night after watching it that he decided not to pass on it.

"Paranormal Activity" is doing so well that it's bound to garner Peli -- and the actors he worked with -- some due recognition. There aren't any details as to when the film will reach Malaysian and Singaporean shores, but when it does, it's bound to show local filmmakers -- both professional and independent -- a thing or two about good storytelling.

Archon Defender -- Feature Film Created On Second-hand Computers

Archon+Defender+premier+poster+Engine+Alpha+Enginealpha+Chris+Gomez

Image credit: Found on Digipendence.com   - Link -

If you were into movies or video games when you were growing up, you probably fantasized about coming up with your own feature-length production all by yourself. Later you may have realized that there's a reason why the credits at the end of a movie can last a full half-hour -- you get the idea that to come up with a good feature, you'll need a team. No, not a team -- an army.

David T. Krupicz busts the myth.

David is an ordinary guy who works in a call center as his full-time day job. But during his free time, he tinkers with obsolete animation software and second-hand computers to create animated shorts. If you've come across the "Rocketmen vs. Robots" series on YouTube, then you're familiar with David's work.


But now, David has finally finished his first feature length animated film -- the 65-minute masterpiece, "Archon Defender." The film is set in a sci-fi/fantasy world called Echelon, where the evil Empress Lucia is waging war against all who oppose her, particularly the magical "Shard Sensitives." Collette, a young girl whose Shard powers have recently awakened, must set aside her feelings of loneliness and isolation to face the Empress.

What's great about "Archon Defender" is that it's totally free for viewing -- David posted his entire film on YouTube, and is now offering paid downloads of the movie. It's a great way of sending the message, "If you like this movie and would like to see more in the future, please buy a copy." That way viewers would be funding David's next project. Brilliant -- it pulls the chair from under video piracy.

Sure, the animation may look "unusual" to the masses, and the computer-generated voices (in the YouTube video, though David has hired voice actors since then) may be a little monotonic, but David still shows what old software, second-hand computers, and three years' worth of free time can do.

N.B.: I strongly urge you to support Dave's work by purchasing a copy of Archon Defender here: http://www.filmbaby.com/films/4289

Amazon Kindle Goes Global -- Well, Almost

Amazon did a great job getting us on our feet when it recently announced it was coming out with an international version of the Kindle electronic book reader. Readers outside the United States have long wanted to get their hands on the most popular e-reader today, and it would seem that the wait will be over in October 19. Well, for most of us, at least.

Possibly the biggest buzz-kill of the season, Amazon surprisingly isn't offering the international Kindle in some of the biggest markets in the world -- Canada, China, New Zealand, South Korea, and (you guessed it) Singapore. Readers around the world have e-mailed Amazon asking for an explanation, but all Amazon could say is that they're working to make the international Kindle available in all countries down the line.

Adding salt to the wounds is the fact that Zimbabwe, with its million-percent inflation rates, are getting the Kindle. What gives?

There are two major hurdles to offering the Kindle in a particular country -- the first are local publishers, who may argue the Kindle may be stepping on some touchy copyright issues. The other reason are the local carriers, who need to offer AT&T's WhisperNet service to reach Kindle users -- and this might take a bit of negotiation.

In most countries, local publishers are saying they're not the ones holding things up.

I'm an optimist, and I like to think that this is just the first of many stages in which Amazon plans to make the Kindle available to the rest of us. I'd like to think that Amazon is really negotiating with Singapore's carriers, and I'd like to think that I'll still have the chance of getting my own Kindle before Christmas.

Let's just hope Amazon gets moving soon, before Sony and other rivals move in with some new stuff before them.