Editor's Picks: What We Like
BackBy CertMag Editor — October 2009
You Called It
Imagine you have a remote control that can command myriad devices — a modern-day magic wand, if you will. It’s a common fantasy, played out in such movies as “It’s a Wonderful Life” and Adam Sandler’s “Click.”
Well, soon it might be more than just a fantasy. According to a recent CNN.com article, analysts predict that people in the United States will be able to use their mobile phones “to make electronic payments, open doors, access subways, clip coupons and possibly act as another form of identification” within the next five years.
This kind of technology already has a foothold in parts of Asia, with 15 percent of Japanese respondents to a Forrester Research survey saying they make payments and purchase products using their phones.
Though this idea was tested in the United States in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it didn’t catch on, and experts are unsure about whether the technology will be more widely adopted today.
The Cybraphon, a robotic musical band housed in an antique wardrobe, is obsessed with its popularity and its fans on MySpace and Facebook.
A recent Wired blog reported on the odd machine, which was handcrafted by three U.K.-based artists. They designed the robot to respond to its online audience with wild mood swings: When the Cybraphon receives lots of attention on the Internet, it plays a happy tune; when it sinks into the doldrums due to its lack of fame, it sings a melancholy song.
The instruments play live at the robot’s location in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Cybraphon is controlled by a MacBook Pro, which “runs software written in Python and MAX/MSP to monitor the Web and update Cybraphon’s emotions according to [the] rate at which its popularity is changing,” according to the Wired blog.
One of the robot’s creators said the Cybraphon was developed as a “tongue-in-cheek comment on people’s obsession with online celebrity.” You can follow the Cybraphon’s volatile emotions on its Twitter feed.
Autumn’s Awesome Audio and Momentous Movies
This fall has been a veritable avalanche of what we like on the audiovisual front. First, the entire Beatles catalog was reissued on Sept. 9, 2009 (Get it? “number nine, number nine, number nine”). The band’s albums had not been reissued on CD for a staggering 22 years; by contrast, Elvis Costello reissues his early albums seemingly once a year. The albums are available for purchase individually and as one big box of the entire discography. Every disc comes with a video documentary on the making of the album. This release was hyperbolically hailed as the end of the CD era — the last gasp of essential music in a physical format.
On Sept. 11, Jay-Z released his long-in-the-works “Blueprint 3,” which is either a continuation of his post-retirement streak after “American Gangster” or a cameo-cluttered mess and a total letdown. Either way, it’s sure to dominate a lot of attention in the remaining months of 2009.
Over on the silver screen, September saw the release both of “Jennifer’s Body” — which shrewdly cast Megan Fox in a romp resembling films such as “Heathers,” “Jawbreaker” and “Mean Girls” with a sci-fi horror twist — and of “Surrogates,” a “Matrix”-like thriller starring Bruce Willis from “Terminator 3” director Jonathan Mostow.