Stormy Weather

Vorticity 2 is one crazy impressive piece of work. Demands to be seen on the largest screen (with the most capable sound system) that you can get access to.

At times, as the lightning made an appearance, I full expected to see a mighty God of Thunder arriving, loudly demanding, “Bring me Thanos!”

[Via Kottke.org]

Enter Sandman (with kazoos)

I am indebted to MetaFilter user Slarty Bartfast for posting a link to this masterpiece in a thread about a (completely different) cover version of Metallica’s Enter Sandman.

Granted, it looks as if it’s going to be very silly, but somehow it really isn’t. Just keep an eye on the drummer. (You’ll soon realise which of them I mean by that. Trust me on this.)

Apparently this has been on the internet for years, but I somehow hadn’t clapped eyes on it until earlier this evening.

[Via MetaFilter]

Casting

It’d be nice to think that we live in the timeline where the most noteworthy effect of Deepfakes will be to swap one Hollywood actor for another but somehow I doubt we’re going to be that lucky:

In some parallel universe, there’s a version of Casino Royale with Hugh Jackman playing everyone’s favorite suave British agent, James Bond. And one in which Matthew McConaughey took the Leo role in Titanic. And DiCaprio and Brad Pitt co-starred in Brokeback Mountain. And Saved by the Bell’s Tiffani Thiessen played Rachel in Friends.

That being said, I have to confess that the biggest effect of my watching Neo-as-played-by-Bruce-Lee having Morpheus ask him if he thinks that’s air he’s breathing now in the digital dojo was a powerful urge to see the best film the Wachowskis ever made again, as it’s been way too long since I last saw The Matrix and it was definitely indisputably very good, whatever you might think of the two sequels plus The Animatrix 1 that followed it. So from Hollywood’s point of view that’s a success, insofar as right now The Matrix isn’t on Netflix and my DVD copies are long since gone so I’m going to have to go and pay someone some money to watch it again. Ka-ching!

[Via The RISKS Digest]

AutoCorrect for your face

Once iOS 13 gets rolled out later this year, I think the prospect of AutoCorrect for your face is going to prompt a great deal of debate:

Why should my phone decide where I should be looking?

Kevin Kelly in a slightly different context, looks forward to a future where the system gets that crucial 10% better at automagically adjusting what it shows the person you’re communicating with rather than faithfully presenting what the camera/microphone at your end of the connection are picking up. It’s all for your own good really:

When a colleague is teleporting in from a remote place to appear virtually, it is relatively easy to translate what they are saying in real time because all that information is being captured anyway. For even greater verisimilitude, their mouth movement can be reconfigured to match what they are saying in translation so it really feels they are speaking your language. It might be even be use[d] to overcome heavy accents in the same language. Going further, the same technology could simply translate your voice into one that was a different gender, or more musical, or improved in some way. It would be your “best” voice. Some relationships might prefer to meet this way all the time because the ease of communication was greater than in real life.

Ease of communication being greater than in real life may not be worth having if the price of that ease is accuracy. Kelly (and Apple, implicitly) assumes that technology can be trusted to be our intermediary, but our experience of AutoCorrect operating on plain text tends to suggest otherwise.

[Rachel Coldicutt tweet via [Interconnected)]

… to the Moon

By some margin the most welcome effect of the media blitz as the Apollo 11 anniversary has come round is that HBO’s From the Earth to the Moon has been rereleased in HD:

Throughout the miniseries, there are scenes where astronauts, engineers, NASA administrators, politicians, and more list all the challenges facing Kennedy’s promise to put American boots on the lunar surface before 1970. In a great scene in the debut episode – titled, plainly, “Can We Do This?” – flight director Chris Kraft (Stephen Root) lists all the tasks NASA must master before even considering a moon mission. And as happens throughout the series, Kraft puts complicated issues into plain English. Describing the process of spacecraft rendezvous, he says: “Come over to my house. You stand in the backyard, I stand in the front yard. You throw a tennis ball over the roof, I’ll try to hit it with a rock as it comes sailing over. That’s what we’re going to have to do.”

If I remember correctly the show was broadcast in the UK on Channel 4 on Saturday mornings, and it was must-watch TV for me. There’s no word of it showing up on UK terrestrial TV this time round, but assuming that doesn’t change any time soon I’m just going to have to pay £9.99 for the HD version because it was a great, great story very well told.1

[Edited to add: Part of what made the show work so well is that it adopted a strategy of changing the focus of the story being told each week. One episode was about the experience of the astronauts’ wives and how they felt being in the spotlight while their husbands were on missions, and another dealt with the requirement that those astronauts whose missions might involve time on the lunar surface needing to learn enough geology to be useful field workers when they found themselves standing on the moon and required to determine where they could take the next rock sample. Another one was focussed on an individual astronaut, Alan Shepard, needing to find a way back into space in the face of his inner-ear disorder. Not entirely a different cast every episode, but very different angles on the story from episode to episode and a cast of folks who spent the next couple of decades being familiar faces in the age of Prestige TV.]

[Via Six Colors]

Wikihistory

I know I’ve read Wikihistory before a few years ago, but I was reminded of it earlier today and it’s definitely funny enough to be worth posting here:

International Association of Time Travelers: Members’ Forum
Subforum: Europe – Twentieth Century – Second World War
Page 263

11/15/2104
At 14:52:28, FreedomFighter69 wrote:
Reporting my first temporal excursion since joining IATT: have just returned from 1936 Berlin, having taken the place of one of Leni Riefenstahl’s cameramen and assassinated Adolf Hitler during the opening of the Olympic Games. Let a free world rejoice! […]

Or possibly not, as it turns out.

Also, from further along in the same Usenet discussion and very much related: The home of Adolf Hitler, 1933: Doubt creeps in.

[Via Dorothy J Heydt, posting to rec.arts.sf.written]

“All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again.”

Peter Watts breaks the bad news to us:

A couple of months ago, its creators announced that Counterpart is dead after a mere two seasons. It just couldn’t attract enough viewers, out of all the people on two Earths. And I think that’s a shame; Counterpart was more than just SF for people who hate SF.

The first season of Counterpart got a Region 1 Blu-ray release, but that seems to be it for now.

I was looking forward to seeing J K Simmons 1 being great in a great piece of speculative fiction, but being an old person who grew up with a TV world where US shows frequently took a couple of seasons to be picked up by a terrestrial broadcaster in the UK 2 I took it that for a good-but-not-a-smash-hit show like this I just needed to be patient.3

I guess that if I really wanted to see Counterpart I’d look to BitTorrent, but dammit I don’t want to pirate content just because this era of capitalism demands that the players only consider making shows worthwhile if those shows have a decent prospect of turning out to be megahits that generate megareturns on their investment.

I want my Fully Automated Luxury Space Communism, and I want it now!4

Secure

Good advice, doomed to be wasted on folks who just want a quick, easy solution that lets them move on to the next item on their To Do list…

I cringe when I hear self-proclaimed experts implore everyone to “use a password manager for all your passwords” and “turn on two-factor authentication for every site that offers it.” As most of us who perform user research in security quickly learn, advice that may protect one individual may harm another. Each person uses technology differently, has a unique set of skills, and faces different risks.

…because who wants to spend time thinking about all this stuff:

In this article, I’ll start by examining the benefits and risks of using a password manager. It’s hard to overstate the importance of protecting the data in your password manager, and having a recovery strategy for that data, so I’ll cover that next. I’ll then present a low-risk approach to experimenting with using a password manager, which will help you understand the tough choices you’ll need to make before using it for your most-important passwords. I’ll close with a handy list of the most important decisions you’ll need to make when using a password manager.

Visiting the comment thread on the Bruce Schneier post to see just how many different ways a bunch of (presumably) bright people can devise to avoid using a password manager in favour of their own home-brewed solutions.

[Via Schneier on Security]