Bikers, Cyclists, Pedestrians. Oh My!

The other day after I spent my time taking photos around the city, I decided to hop on a streetcar. Usually people don’t chat with the driver because their focus should be the road. However looking at the face of the driver, I felt this guy needed a change of pace. So what did we talk about?

Aside from photography which he was more versed than I would ever be with techniques principles and hardware, we got into talking traffic in the city. We swapped stories as vehicle operators and pedestrians, agreeing and disagreeing on a bunch of topics. The entitled cyclist and racing bikes and cars sprinting through the roads. Hearing from him, he mentioned he wants more warning especially for pedestrian crossing. However I quipped about the confusion about pedestrian crossings.

Here we have a countdown timer for pedestrians. As simplistic it sounds, the countdown was originally meant for the vehicle committing a right turn and to tell pedestrians to stop. Whoever planned and engineered these signs made it look like the lighting system makes you think you have a certain time to cross. I said to him the only way to stop pedestrians from dashing across is if all signs just told everyone to stop. A red light for cars and a solid hand for pedestrians. In lieu of a countdown, just a hidden timer until the next green light.

Sometimes a good idea just involves talking to people who have to live through those mistakes.

The city here is filled with literal and figurative signs of actions upon the infrastructure. Senior zones that cover just 2 city blocks, defunct or aging neighbour watch, unenforced school calming zones on 6 lane thoroughfares; there is no consistent idea what the city wants but works on the whims of those affected by them. In a chaotic system like traffic infrastructure, I would side with anyone who builds a logical and intuitive system of signage.

Advertisements

More travelling?

So mid-June now, probably put aside to a lot of game time and been buckling down. Mostly for photography in nature, but at the moment I’m still planning. “Still planning” is a term I really dislike because I’m starting to feel more indecisive. I recently took a trip to a local tourism office to really find somewhere to take my camera. Somewhere local and old school, with a bit of historic and artistic value and vistas. Also everything has to close to the hotel room as well.

In-province, I’m thinking of a small town. I went to Niagara Falls this spring and it was a great. So it’s just a matter of finding the place that’s worth taking a shot and perhaps something less seen by other. Niagara Falls has been a tourist trap for ages but I really knew the beauty of the place when you leave the casino area. Really see what Niagara Fall really is when you take away the neon lights. If I can’t replicate the success of that trip, I’m going to exceed it. I want have extraordinary photos and memorable moments.

For the time being, I’ll just be window shopping for a nice place to visit. Hopefully before the end of summer.

Editing Photos

img_1110

I’m getting pretty good with my camera. I’ve managed to take some good photos of scenes and portraits recently. Summer’s almost over and I think I’ve shot over 1000 and uploaded only under 50. I personally learned a few things just by shooting. More importantly I learned to shoot the same scene about three times using different settings. I usually find a better shot through the three photos; better in a way of how it looks and the colours I’ve captured.

Ever since I got my computer (almost a decade ago now), I downloaded a nifty image editor called paint.net to replace Microsoft Paint. Out of the box, the program is an improvement on MS Paint and feels has more control familiar to Photoshop. Recently I’ve jumped into the forums to find plugins for the open-source application, trying to find stuff I can use for editing photos. The community did deliver, I managed to find a package of plugins which focused on photography. After installing the files, I’ve been experimenting with a few of the effects. On some photos I used more effects than some I tweaked the white balance and the histogram.

While tweaking and playing around with the photos, I’ve noticed a few things about my photos. The problem I have is I can’t take pictures of the sky without having shaded objects look dark and vice versa. So for me to take pictures of sunsets, the foreground would appear dark while I get white out if I focus on a subject that is darker than the sky. Even with this, I’ve managed to snap a few photos. In the future I might try and take pictures using Canon’s .cr2 format which is a RAW format. Hopefully my system with an upgraded GPU can handle it.

Oh yeah, I bought a 950 GTX. But that’s a post for another time.

img_1062

Break’s Over.

Last week, I came back from my vacation. Honestly it was work related and I had to be away from my computer for two weeks. What was interesting was to rediscover my life when I returned. In my sanctum of my bedroom, writing room, sanctum of my inner thoughts and outer release, it describes my life and all my achievements within it.

No one and I mean no one has stepped into my room asides from myself. In this small cubicle with a curtained window, is a open panel computer; aging but holding on as clutter fills the space of my table. cables shunting data and power to a couple sockets in the walls. Creaky hardwood floors as my fan hums away as books and notes from a former life strewn across the top of this so called mess. Underneath are trickets poking out, a multitool, game controller, expired medications, a recently purchased watch. Surprising there is enough to place my phone to charge through my computer.

Behind the chair is a bed fit for one, not much for company but it’s a designated area where I sleep and keep warm in winter. As a guy, I own very little in shoes; a pair for work, casual for getting around, runners for the gym and semi-formal for job hunting. I have two backpacks, one filled with stuff from work and one with my camera gear which I recently purchased stowed within a camera bag itself. I don’t have a headboard but a small shelf sitting next to the door with boxes of games I bought long before Steam – collecting dust. CD’s I’ll never listen because I stream.

This room I consider mine is commandeered from it’s former purpose as a living room, so I have a couch. The couch like my desk is filled with clutter. Mostly everyday clothing I take and interchange from a pile. I do laundry on the regular but this pile is my week’s worth of clothing in a quick grab.

Coming home to this after staring at this for a decade is refreshing. It has given me the impression of the person of who I am from a third person perspective. What I see after a two week absence? Someone who is stuck holding on to the past while looking faithfully in the future. A person who wants to reach out but feels a bit of shame yet pride for all they have accomplished.

I am still here.

For Future Fallout

In my hiatus, Bethesda announced Fallout 4 and providing a bit of gameplay in their E3 demo. While most of the world has seen the video thousands times over and speculating over every pixel, I just saw the reveal in past Saturday. Though the next game shows a lot of progress between New Vegas and now, there is always some room for improvement. From what I’ve seen, the next Fallout has taken the best of the modding community for Fallout 3 and put them into the this game. Most obvious is construction settlements and weapon modifications. Though weapon modifications was touched on in New Vegas, settlements however were seen in Fallout 3 as a mod. Regardless, the next instalment to the series will feature the universe we have seen and probably more. However as I said, there is always some room for improvement.

Vehicles

There were some scenes in the presentation which saws the player in a vertibird as well as views of a zeppelin over post-apocalyptic Boston. Though aerial combat would be a nice addition to the game, I would like to see a fleshed out vehicle system. My suggestion would be the ability to build and salvage vehicles. Either building from shells and hulks in the wasteland or melting scrap into components to build the entire vehicles. Even with that, the vehicles would require a fuel source. With it’s limitations, it would benefit the player into travelling the world. Though the fast travel system in the last two games would turn vehicles obsolete, but how cool will it be to cruise around in style?

Weapons and Power Armour

From the presentation, one thing I was impressed was customizable weapons. Rather than swapping parts, you build from a set of modifications. Each weapon a shotgun, a machine gun and an assault rifle. This from my point of view opens the player to play by their rules. They can be as hard hitting, quick drawing, lead slinging as they want. In the Fallout universe, we have ballistic weapons as well as energy weapons. In the last couple games, the energy weapons did have an advantage over ballistics; slight if not nothing. I think projectile weapons should get deeper if not for all the weapons. Right down to the triggers, barrel, springs and capacitors. Being module is great, but having an intricate gunsmithing system can nitpick each stat.

This goes the same with Power Armour. In the past, Power Armour was something most desired. It had the most resistance to the damage but it would be heavy too. I think in the future, modifying power armour would be impressive. Make it lighter, denser, have special capabilities; it would make the armour more versatile in the end. Especially modifying it down to the pieces; rather than helmet and suit, maybe including the shoulders and appendages.

Settlements

Within the presentation, you can build within certain parameters; I would assume from the presentation, on foundations of older buildings. Though it’s a step in the right direction, it would be more free if the player allowed the ability to create their house and settlement anywhere. Though this is a new feature to the universe, I am like many expecting to explore it. They have included tools to make these settlements something we would be willing to fight and defend. It would be tough to imagine something I have little experience in, but it would great if the game blurred the feature into the world. They tried to blurred the lines in allowing NPC and traders interact with these settlements, however it would expand further. I’m talking about factions trying to take your towns over or trying to subvert your authority through espionage or by use of violence (like raids as seen on the demo). Perhaps the authoritative factions are choices you can pick as the law enforcers of your settlements? Maybe even setting laws in towns and allowing NPCs to develop into these roles like a simulator?

Farfetched as these ideas are, we all can hope Fallout 4 will outdo its predecessor and improve on developing its universe. Doing bigger and better but even then, there is always room for improvement.

The Raccoon “Problem”

In recent local news, there has been a lot of talk about preventing raccoons from getting into the garbage. Not only rolling out new bins which are deemed “raccoon proof”.The idea of stopping animals from getting into my trash is laughable. Not just the idea of an impenetrable plastic box but also the fact that change how it opens would fully stop the raccoon. Classically we categorize animals as hunters, prey and scavengers with their own techniques for survival. The predators outsmart their prey. The preyed learn to evade. The scavengers; well they do what they do best, stay out of the way and survive. The do this well by coexisting with other animals and learning to outsmart other animals while keeping their distance. They are in between prey and predator, they can adapt easily and think independently. This intelligence is critical when surviving in the human cities.

Ever since cities have been around, there have been scavengers claim this as their territory. Mammalians and avian, they lay wait to pick apart our waste to use for shelter and food. So far as a species we tried to eradicate one species at a time since they bring in diseases and disrupt life within these cities. Ever since cities have been area, pest control has been an issue. Many of which are ingenious involving new technologies and innovations to push them out while some are simplistic as declaring open season on these creatures. While wildlife preservation is positive in it’s own right, we have to realize some of these buggers are bloody smart. With warm weather, these raccoons are going to be all over the place. In early May, I went to the gym early in the morning. I found a lot of raccoons foraging through the garbage bins left overnight for pickup. If you live in the city, you have seen these  raccoons. They’re massive; when they become road kill, they become organic speed bumps. We look for humane and conventional means to eradicate but perhaps our past could help with this dilemma.

Like fur trading of old, we should try and lower their numbers by hunting them. Using their big pelts to craft clothing, perhaps turn it into an internal economy. People can hunt the raccoons for pelts and the pelt scan be traded to turn them into clothing and the meat (if it’s not too gross) can be fed to humans or pets. My city has a lot of people who specialize in designing clothing, there has to be one person who can turn a raccoon pelt into an awesome cap. This would lower the raccoon population and at the same time have something to wear in the fall or have something to export to the world as a clothing material.

I’d say when a common creature like a raccoon populates the city, we should try more direct approach to decrease their numbers especially if they’re carrying parasites and diseases.

Crowdfunding, Space and STD’s – Random Thoughts

I’m off the wall this week. I’ve been getting active and creative recently which has been churning out some random thoughts. Once again, I would like to be open about them regardless how random, dark or silly they are; here we go again, sit tight folks!

I am starting to think those people who want to never age are very self centred. You probably know some people  who go out of their way to say “I want to live forever.” First off, bad idea to go around to say that because I would get judgemental. Secondly, why would you ever want to wish immortality on yourself? To each day of your life at one age as others die around you. Your friends, family and pets; they will move on and you will be stuck as yourself at one state for the rest of your life. In this hypothetical if you were to live every day normally and remember everything, you will still be the same as you are forever. So in 60 years you will look like you and have the same vitality but at the same time, everyone you known and loved have passed on. You would become the loneliest survivor of death. What if everyone lived forever? That would be even more catastrophic. Considering the world and its resources, you have about 9 billion people on the planet all wanting the same things. They all want food, materials and shelter; what if they give birth to the next generation. Assuming the entire population was at adulthood and was split fairly between gender, we would have 4.5 billion children wanting the same. That would be 13.5 billion people wanting food! I don’t even think we have enough space at the moment to feed everyone let alone 13.5 billion. If we lived forever, our food demand would increase and it would be exponential. If immortality was existent, I wouldn’t want it because either my future will be lonely or crowded.

With all the conflicts and arms proliferation in the world, what if we took all the money which bought our weapons and war machines and put it into scientific pursuits? What can we human accomplished if we put money into developing new technology? Would be be able to solve our famines with science? Could we build space travel technology within the next 50 years? Perhaps viability for our first warp drive? If we had the money from all our recent wars put into colonizing Mars, would we even be there already? I am still optimistic about our society doing bold and amazing things if we tried hard enough to put aside our differences and do something to help us all. That’s how societies and nations are created, why can’t we just all get along and solve the problems with science?

There has been a lot of gadgets for PC developing at the moment, mostly toward immersive virtual reality. I’m all for VR for video games but I still like the tactile controls of mouse and keyboard; perhaps the occasional controller since most games don’t support controllers on PC. I’m still baffled on why can’t we just consolidate on one or two devices for PC. I have 3 attached to my computer for user input. Of course some manufacturers unify their devices to work on one port. I’m talking about have the one device that can do most if not all the input. I wouldn’t mind having a a device the size of a controller have keyboard functionality with a joystick that can be used as a mouse. When not for work, this nifty gamepad can be my game controller for games that require it. With smartphones, it’s a definite proven fact we can type with our thumbs. I think there may be an untapped market in having an all-in-one device for PC which is you keyboard and mouse and when combined turns into a nifty controller. Someone get on it!

I realized recently I’ve been looking through crowd-funding website for games. You can literally crowd fund for a lot of things now, want a shirt? Crowd fund! Need a video game idea come to life? Crowd fund! Really weird porno? Crowd fund! What about something big and huge, could we crowd fund a space program? Could we crowd fund a cure for cancer? I’ve read article of people having a go at space travel from homemade means. I wonder if they went public and allowed people donate, how much money would they gain from crowdsourcing a space program? I wonder what the rewards would be; if 15 bucks gets you a t-shirt, what would you get for 15 million? Perhaps a seat on the maiden voyage? What about stretch goals, would there be something worth doing as a stretch goal? Science is always trying to find new and cheap ways to do more science, maybe someday I might want to get on board crowdfunding a mission to the Moon or even Mars.

When I was a kid, I was into the first Matrix movie. The idea of plugging in and experiencing a network through firs person. At the time, the notion sounded amazing because then video games become very realistic. Looking back, maybe realism shouldn’t be so realistic. It should suck to die repeatedly in a video game. With my luck, I would sprain my ankle or get shot up like swiss cheese. If I remember correctly, if you get hurt in the Matrix then you get hurt in real life. With the current state of the Internet, I wouldn’t want to “jack in” to the world wide web. For one thing, the trolls; so many trolls that the beauty that is a city would be vandalised. Lastly viruses, there’s a lot of computer viruses. What if we have this technology and we have malware that can infect the brain. What would be the repercussions of of having your brain infected with rogue data and information? STD’s are scary enough, would you want a System Transmitted Disease?

This has been another random thoughts. Until next time, keep being random!