Ubisoft is launching a new ecosystem, whatever they mean by that, and to celebrate you can go out to their webpage and have them generate a summary of the time you’ve spent playing Ubisoft games since they started keeping detailed stats around 2015 or so. I’m guessing on that last bit as that’s when they start my review even though I know I’ve played Ubisoft games for several years prior to that.
This was interesting. If nothing else, it shows that I don’t tend to play Ubisoft games a whole lot. I mean, I have some impressive hours in here, but not when you consider this stretches back over five years. I’ve spent way more than 313 hours on just a single Call of Duty in a single year before.
For example: Advance Warfare – 432.2 hours, the original Black Ops – 469.3 hours, Black Ops II – 603.1 hours, Black Ops III – 838.2 hours, Ghosts – 762.4 hours, Infinite Warfare – 790.7 hours, Modern Warfare II – 704.5 hours, and one of the grand-daddies of time sinks, Modern Warfare 3 – 1,017.2 hours. Those are just the ones from Steam that I can easily look up. I’m sure I’ve put in similar amounts of time since they moved to BattleNet. Glancing at my combat record in Back Ops Cold War I’m already at 1 day, 5 hours, and 17 minutes for a game that’s been out a week.
So, yea, 313 hours over 5 years on multiple Ubisoft games isn’t as impressive as it sounds. You can also tell I don’t tend to do PVP in games like The Division what with my 0 rogue agents killed. I’m just not good at third-person shooter PVP. I was very surprised that none of the Far Cry games showed up in my review. I thought for sure I had played the last couple more than I had played The Division 1, but apparently not.
As for what the new Ubisoft ecosystem is, I think it’s just a new games launcher. I just realized I hadn’t reinstalled it since the last time I had to restage my system (again, shows you how much I play Ubisoft games) so I just did and… it looks more or less the same. Not sure what’s different about it. Still, it made for a mildly amusing video for the morning and a bit of reflection on how much time I waste playing Call of Duty.
I love a good summer storm and the physics involved is always fascinating to me, but nothing quite brings home the sheer immensity and power of a storm like time lapse photography. Mike Olbinski spent two years putting together this compilation of storms he filmed into one incredible YouTube video in 4K.
I made the tough decision last year to save everything I shot that spring and combine it with whatever storms I captured in 2019 and make the best possible time-lapse film I could. It was incredibly difficult to sit on that collection of footage for over a year, but I’m glad I did. When you’ve done a few of these, at some point you gotta work even harder to top yourself and I did my best to make that happen. Even though I’ve lost all perspective at this point having watched this a million times during editing, I do feel it has some of the best footage I’ve ever compiled into one of these films. I had such a high bar set and many, many clips did not make the cut.
You really need to watch this full screen to appreciate it fully. Better yet, if you have a streaming device hooked to a big screen TV that will playback YouTube then watch it on that. This took my breath away. Best of all, it’s one of two:
You can read more about what he uses to capture these stunning events and see other clips at his YouTube channel.
What unholy hellspawn gave birth to this abomination?
Seriously, who the hell saw the final result from the CGI tests and said, “This! This is what we want! Something that looks like a mad scientist’s fever dream of human/cat hybrids gone horribly wrong.”
To be fair, I’m not a fan of the Broadway musical of the same name. I’m familiar with the songs because people I know and love really like the musical and own the soundtracks and have played them many times over the years in my presence, but all I’ve seen of the stage play is the clips they use in the advertisements when it’s in town. I thought the play’s costumes were a little funky, but they worked.
This? This lands solidly in the uncanny valley which is weird because those are real humans prancing about that look like someone forcibly inserted an animatronic tail in their assholes while injecting them with the world’s worst hair growth formula. They look vaguely cat-ish with realistic ears, but they have human eyes and teeth. And I thought the CGI hedgehog in the upcoming Sonic movie looked disturbing. This takes it to a whole other level. The oddest part is that they somehow seem even more naked than if they were actually naked.
I suppose if you’re a fan of the Broadway show this will do nothing to dissuade you from seeing the movie, but at the same time this does nothing to lure non-fans into the theater.
What has been seen cannot be unseen so my only relief was to share my pain.
A recent United Nations report warned that up to 1 million species are facing extinction thanks to the impact humans are having on the planet.
“The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever,” Watson says. He emphasizes that business and financial concerns are also threatened. “We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide,” he says.
The report lists a number of key global threats, from humans’ use of land and sea resources to challenges posed by climate change, pollution and invasive species.
“Insect pollinators are unfortunately an excellent example of the problems caused by human activities,” Scott McArt,an entomology professor at Cornell University, says in a statement about the report.
“There’s actually a newly coined phrase for insect declines — the ‘windshield effect’ — owing to the fact that if you drove your car at dusk 30 years ago, you would need to clean the windshield frequently, but that’s no longer the case today,” McArt says.
There’s a very real danger at this point that if this high number of extinctions does to come to pass that we’ll end up going down with them. So the folks at Jimmy Kimmel Live went out on the street to ask people if we should save ourselves. Specifically, they used the scientific term for humans, Homo sapiens. These are some of the replies people gave:
To be fair, these segments only ever show you the clueless replies and the sample size here is very small, but humans being classified as Homo sapiens is a basic scientific fact that we were all taught (or should have been taught) in grade school. It’s similar to how a lot of folks don’t know that Dihydrogen Monoxide (H2O) is literally water, but that one is a little easier to understand folks not knowing if they didn’t take basic chemistry — not completely understandable as I never took basic chemistry and I know it, but a little more understandable.
I’ve ranted previously about the sad state of science literacy in America and things really haven’t improved much. Periodically the folks at the Pew Research Center conduct a survey to find out what Americans know about science. Their latest was done on January 7th to the 21st, 2019 and consisted of 11 fairly basic questions:
Americans give more correct than incorrect answers to the 11 questions. The mean number of correct answers is 6.7, while the median is 7. About four-in-ten Americans (39%) get between nine and 11 correct answers, classified as having high science knowledge on the 11-item scale or index. Roughly one-third (32%) are classified as having medium science knowledge (five to eight correct answers) and about three-in-ten (29%) are in the low science knowledge group (zero to four correct answers).
The biggest factor in determining how well someone does is the level of education that have managed to acquire:
Americans with a postgraduate degree get about four more questions correct, on average, than those with a high school degree or less education (9.1 of 11 questions vs. 5 of 11). Roughly seven-in-ten (71%) Americans with a postgraduate degree are classified as high in science knowledge, answering at least nine of 11 items correctly. By contrast, about two-in-ten (19%) of those with a high school degree or less perform as well on the scale.
And on each of the 11 questions, those with a postgraduate degree are at least 27 percentage points more likely to choose the correct answer than those with a high school degree or less.
There are also large differences between different ethnic groups which you would think could be tied to the fact that minorities often don’t have the same educational opportunities are whites, but it appears that may not be the case:
Whites are more likely than Hispanics or blacks to score higher on the index. Whites get an average of 7.6 correct out of 11 questions, while Hispanics average 5.1 correct answers and blacks 3.7 correct answers.4 Roughly half of whites (48%) are classified as having high science knowledge on the scale, answering at least nine questions correctly, compared with 23% of Hispanics and 9% of blacks.
Differences by race and ethnicity on science knowledge could be tied to several factors such as educational attainment and access to science information. However, differences between the racial/ethnic groups on science knowledge hold even after controlling for education levels in a regression model.
In a society that is increasingly reliant on technology and understanding the complexity of things such as the climate it’s more important than ever that folks have at least a basic understanding of science and the methodology of the scientific method. This survey suggests we have a long way to go. It’s no wonder we’re letting the planet burn.
You can take the quiz used for this survey yourself by clicking here. My own education level isn’t fantastic; I’ve had some college but I’ve never finished a degree. Yet I managed to get all 11 questions correct which is better than 83% of the public.
There were two questions I had to stop and think about before answering (and, no, I didn’t cheat and Google the answers), but the vast majority of these questions were answerable off the top of my head. That should be true for most people.
On the bright side, at the least I don’t have to worry that I’ll end up on one of Kimmel’s idiots-who-don’t-know-basic-science videos.
I often surprise myself by being fascinated by things that, had you told me I would be fascinated by them, I would tell you you’re out of your mind. I blame PBS’ This Old House for making me like this.
You see, for three years or so I worked for a fleet tracking/stolen vehicle recovery service called Teletrac here in the Detroit area as part of the graveyard shift. It was part tech support and part service job. Not only did I keep the computers that ran the system up and running, but when calls came in or a car was stolen I was the person who interacted with the customers and police. The system was pretty stable and calls were infrequent so there was a lot of downtime where my job consisted of breathing and trying to stay awake.
Fortunately we had a TV available to us. Unfortunately it was only over-the-air broadcast capable and at 3AM there wasn’t a whole lot on the big four networks worth watching. Hence my first real appreciation for PBS in general and TOH in particular. Keep in mind, this is a good 30 years before I would actually own a house and I and my co-worker had no real home maintenance experience, but it wasn’t long before we were offering our critical takes on the floor tile choices the people on the show were making. I don’t make a point of watching the show anymore, but when I did I really enjoyed it.
Which brings me to this YouTube video by the folks at My Mechanics which I stumbled across over at Boing Boing. It’s simply 26 minutes of some guy who bought a nasty old metal coffee grinder refurbishing it to pristine quality. That’s it. No real narration other than the occasional bit of text.
In this video i’m restoring an old coffee grinder. A few weeks ago I bought an old bench grinder to restore on eBay. The guy who sold it was actually selling more antiques, he had a room filled with old items. I took a look at his other stuff and this unique coffee grinder caught my attention right away. So I ended up buying it for $35. The one thing that really impressed me on this coffee grinder was the metal body, usually they’re made of wood. I also liked the colour very much. The restoration itself turned out to be a lot more challenging than I first expected. I’m very happy with the final result of this coffee grinder. I really like how the handle turned out.
I don’t know if it’s the fact that I have neither the know-how or the patience to do something like this that makes it so fascinating, but I watched the whole thing and was impressed with the results. The video doesn’t cover every single second, but it does appear to cover every step and meticulous is definitely a good word to describe the process. There is a part of me that wishes I could to this sort of thing, but another part that knows it’s not something I’d actually enjoy. Watching someone else do it on YouTube? Yeah, I can get into that because what was likely days — if not weeks — of work was compressed down into a mere 26 minutes. Me doing it myself? Probably not a good idea.
I have become quite the fan of YouTube videos over the past couple of years. At this very moment I am subscribed to over 302 different channels and, ever since we cut the cord, flipping through YouTube videos after dinner has replaced flipping through channels on Cable TV. There’s a lot of good content out there and when watched through the YouTube app on our Roku the commercials are few and infrequent. One of my favorites is The Try Channel where Irish folks try foods and drinks from other parts of the world. As a result, YouTube sometimes recommends other similar videos.
Like this one where French folks attempt to say difficult English words:
To be fair, I often have a hard time with that last word. Thankfully, I don’t have occasion to use it very often. This goes all the way back to 2017 because sometimes YouTube takes awhile to get around to recommending some things.
This commercial for IKEA beds is pretty impressive:
What’s even more impressive is the work that went to making it possible.
The “Beds” protagonist, Max the dog and many of the beds were hung from cranes and suspended over buildings during the 3-day shoot in Johannesburg.
The VFX team at MPC (Moving Picture Company) collaborated with film director Juan Cabral and advertising agency Mother London to create a detailed matte paintings, adding CG beds and embellishments and compositing elements including the NASA rocket and plume.
Led by 2D Creative Director Bill McNamara, MPC’s 15-strong team utilized the innovative filming techniques – which captured a great deal of the action in-camera – to then create the VFX and embellish the shots. In order to build the bed staircase, Ikea beds were filmed against green screen on the ground.
I haven’t been as active in uploading gameplay footage to my YouTube channel as of late and I realized I hadn’t uploaded anything from Black Ops 4. Considering I’m already at Master Prestige and have ground out the Dark Matter camo for my weapons I figured it’s probably about time I put something up. As it turns out I just had what was probably the best round of Hard Core Team Death Match ever so that seemed like the natural one to go with.
However, rather than just upload straight gameplay, I took the time to record a voice over trying to explain what’s going on. My buddy Greg told me that my best CoD video so far had been the first one I uploaded because I had commentary on it so I figured I’d try the same with this one. It’s not as good because things happen quickly, but it adds a little more to the footage. Frankly, I’m impressed I got the audio to line up considering I recorded it in real time while watching the playback and then overlaid it in the editor.
The folks over on the Magnetic Games YouTube channel put up an absolutely amazing demonstration using magnetite sand and a couple of powerful magnets that allows you to see a magnetic field in action:
What surprised me about this video is how it looks like scientific illustrations of magnetic fields. I had always assumed it was much like so many other scientific illustrations in that it was an approximation of reality. Kind of the same way as our models of an atom don’t look anything like what an actual atom looks like as explained by the folks at SciShow:
So, yeah, I was surprised when you could clearly see the lines of the magnetic field as they pulled in the sand. And that’s my science geekery for the day.
I used to watch the Super Bowl for the ads, but thanks to the Internet I don’t have to anymore. This is especially good as many of them aren’t that great, but this one for Amazon Alexa? Yeah, it made me laugh.
Funny, but it probably won’t get me to buy an Alexa when I already have two Google Home Minis in the house.
The only other ad I found interesting was a short one for the upcoming Captain Marvel movie, but I won’t bother including that here.