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In the mid 90’s Ed Templeton started documenting life around him. As a professional skateboarder Ed has been able to travel the world on skate tours, giving him the opportunity to photograph his vision of contemporary culture and life around him. Ed’s camera mainly points towards the people he encounters in his everyday life, seeking for truthful moments to capture.

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Florence Ion

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Although Google's keynote at the I/O conference this week focused heavily on the APIs and behind-the-scenes development of the Android operating system, it looks like there's a lot more in store. This idea was especially apparent in a panel discussion today involving eleven members of the Android development team. The team sat for a forty-minute question and answer session, and while they dodged most inquiries about forthcoming features for Android, they did offer a bit of insight into what the future of Android might look like, what developers could do to help further the platform, and what they’ve learned from their journey thus far.

The conversation began with a question relating to whether or not the Android team would have done anything differently from the beginning. Senior Android Engineer Dianne Hackborn said the team "should have had more control over applications. A big example is the whole settings provider, where we just let applications go and write to it... it was a simple thing that we shouldn’t have done." Ficus Kirkpatrick, one of the founding members of the Android team and the current lead for the Google Play Store team, added that “you’re never going to get everything right the first time. I don’t really regret any of the mistakes we’ve made. I think getting things out there at the speed we did…was the most important thing.”

The team also briefly touched on fragmentation and how they’re working to combat the issue—it was even referred to as the “F” word. "This is something we think about a lot,” said Dave Burke, engineering director of the Android platform. He explained that many silicon vendors take the open source code, break it apart, and create their own Board Support Packages (BSPs) to make their hardware compatible with the software. To streamline the process, the Android team made the code for the platform more layered, so if a vendor needs to make changes, they have a clean abstraction layer to do so without affecting the entire operating system.

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There have been numerous commercial attempts at "games" that are controlled with biometrics, particularly brain waves. There's Mattel's Mindflex, for example, as well as the Star Wars Force Trainer. They're almost purely novelty items, and don't particularly work that well.

Crooked Tree Studios founder Lat Ware (who's programmed games at studios including Realtime Worlds and Crytpic) wants to add some real competitive gameplay to the novelty of brainwave-controlled applications. He's using Kickstarter to try to fund Throw Trucks with Your Mind, a competitive multiplayer game in which players put on a commercially-available brainwave sensor and essentially focus their thoughts to toss vehicles and pieces of the environment at other players to win. Movement is done via mouse and keyboard but attacks are pure thought.

We caught up with Ware to talk about Throw Trucks and pick his brain about the future of biometrics-controlled games.

How does it work?

The headset is an EEG, which is basically a really sensitive volt-meter. It looks at surface voltages in the brain, which decades of research have mapped to specific thought patterns. NeuroSky's MindWave is processing the data for me to extract how calm and focused you are. I do not know the details of the algorithm that they're using, but it does work.

You don't have to think a specific thought to raise your focus, though it is different for different people. In my case, I stare at the dot in the center of the screen and tune out everything else. Some people focus on a specific word on the screen. Some people listen to a specific sound, like the laptop fan. I have one friend who computes prime numbers in his head. The headset doesn't care what you focus on, only that you are focused. Calm is more subject and interesting.

In my case, I have to believe in myself and if I doubt myself, I can't do it. I have one friend that imagines the effect that he wants and trusts that it will happen, and that raises his calm. Focusing on your breathing helps. Thinking about something that makes you happy helps. People in happy, committed relationships often have their calm jump by 30 percent when they think about their significant other. It's fundamentally about mental relaxation, but what makes you relaxed is a complex beast.

What's the difference between this and other biometrics-controlled games? Why is it more responsive?

The biggest difference between this and other biometric games is that this is a fully fleshed out game. Levitating a ball with your focus is not a game. Unlocking doors with your calm is not a game. Filling up a meter is not a game. Those are elaborate meters. Throw Trucks With Your Mind is an actual game, as competitive as the Modern Warfare games, but with a completely new style of play that uses the features of the headset. I have a general rule about games: If you can't win and you can't lose, it's not a game. There are a couple exceptions, but it has served me well.

Where do you see biometrics-controlled games going in the future?

Well, in the next 15 years, a game like Throw Trucks With Your Mind will come out. If my Kickstarter succeeds, it will happen right now. If that is a success, then we can expect a wave of EEG-based games about 10 years afterwards. That would drive not so much innovation, but a reduction in price. Right now, purely brain-controlled interfaces just aren't there yet. We're getting better, and I feel like we might have a good, affordable brain-controlled interface in 15 years, depending on how much is invested in this technology. That said, I don't see the controller going away from mainstream gaming.

Why Kickstarter? Are venture capitalists unconvinced?

I actually spoke to eight venture capitalists and a number of investors about the game and the feedback I kept getting was to prove user traction, then come back. So, I had a conundrum because I needed user traction to get funding, I needed a product to get user traction, and I need funding to get a product. The minimum viable product doesn't work so well when it requires an $80 piece of hardware. Kickstarter broke me out of that loop.

What happens to the game if the Kickstarter fails?

If Kickstarter fails, I don't know. Maybe the project will be salvageable as I will have shown that I was able to raise $27,000 (at the time of this writing), even though I didn't get it because of Kickstarter's rules. Maybe that would still show solid demand for the product, since it was raised entirely from customers. Maybe that would be enough to convince an incubator or investor to pick me up. I am unsure. I haven't given it any thought, because all of my energy and time has gone to campaigning for the Kickstarter as hard as I possibly can. I haven't given myself any time off.

[Kris Graft wrote this article originally on sister site Gamasutra.]

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Protest gegen Neonazi-Aufmarsch in Berlin

Bundestagsvizepräsident Wolfgang Thierse (SPD) hat das alltägliche Zusammenleben mit zugezogenen Schwaben in dem Berliner Stadtteil Prenzlauer Berg als mitunter “strapaziös” bezeichnet. “Ich wünsche mir, dass die Schwaben begreifen, dass sie jetzt in Berlin sind – und nicht mehr in ihrer Kleinstadt mit Kehrwoche”. Thierse konkretisierte, er ärgere sich, wenn er etwa beim Bäcker erfahre, dass es keine Schrippen gebe, sondern Wecken. “Da sage ich: In Berlin sagt man Schrippen, daran könnten sich selbst Schwaben gewöhnen.” Ebenso störe es ihn, wenn ihm in Geschäften “Pflaumendatschi” angeboten würden. “Was soll das? In Berlin heißt es Pflaumenkuchen”, sagte Thierse der Zeitung.

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Interview mit Hans-Ludwig Kröber, einer der gefragtesten Gerichtspsychiater Deutschlands. Seine Gutachten entscheiden mit darüber, ob ein Schwerverbrecher wieder in Freiheit kommt.

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Moebius, featured in Ken Viola’s 1987 documentary The Masters of Comic Book Art, hosted by Harlan Ellison. It’s one of Moebius’ few on-camera interviews in English, and certainly the earliest one that I’ve seen.

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Ben Pier is a photographer who captures moments of youth and portraits of the young at heart in his recently published collection TEENAGE TEETH. Shot over the past decade, Ben’s photographs are an honest ode to sloppy ink jobs, to being drunk and crushing, to bedrooms that feel like fish tanks and that weird girl you met by the lake, who you just can’t stop thinking about. The release of TEENAGE TEETH was accompanied by a launch party and exhibit at Ed. Varie, a gallery/bookshop in the East Village. I chatted with Ben at the event and after via email about teenagedom, the suburbs and losing your “teenage teeth.”

Angela Melamud: Your work screams: I’m an awesome juvenile delinquent! What were you like as a teenager? Stories?

Ben Pier: I have stories. Buy me a drink, and I’ll tell you a couple. I think I was a pretty OK kid. I wanted to be a badass, but all the total burnouts scared the shit out of me—but I liked that. Those kids don’t last long, and it’s really fun being next to them while they’re around. As a teenager, I was went through the awkward comic-book-nerd stage, then into a metal-head phase, then I got really into punk, then I started a band, skated, skipped class and ate acid. But that didn’t seem too crazy. I was also on the hockey team and dated cheerleaders.

Angela: Although you live in New York City, most of your photographs seem to be set in the suburbs. Do they reflect your own childhood in Missouri?

Ben: I’m drawn to suburban/domestic life because it’s so foreign to me now, and it’s fun to explore what’s foreign, right? I love NYC, but I don’t totally love shooting personal work here. I like to get out of my surroundings to make my work. I like to go on the road and search people and places out, like a hunt. My eyeballs go crazy as soon as I leave the city. It’s great.

Angela: [The term] “teenage teeth” is evocative of baby teeth. What do you think is the transition for when we loose our teenage teeth?

Ben: Some people hold onto them forever. Others slowly lose them, while some people never have them. You know that quote from The Breakfast Club when the basket-case girl says, “When you get older, your heart dies?” It’s kind of true. The things you feel deep inside you when you’re a certain age—those things, they tend to fade away. But when you’re young or when you feel young and you’re totally immersed in everything you believe in, you can somehow exist inside that world you create—before the actual world comes and takes a dump all over your face.

Angela: Is the collection inherently optimistic because it captures the joy of youth? Or is it pessimistic because that joy has to pass, like teenagers have to become adults?

Ben: It’s both—you can’t have one without the other. Total yin and yang, dude.

To purchase TEENAGE TEETH email the Ed.Varie gallery at

Above and below photos from Teenage Teeth

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Like the modulars themselves, an upcoming documentary on these analog synth beasts has been lurking behind closed doors. But that won’t be the case for long. “I Dream of Wires,” the crowd-funded documentary that probes artists’ fascination with making music by connecting patch cords, will see a public showcase at Montreal’s MUTEK Festival. This and an upcoming film release, atop a big get-together in New York, could make this a proper summer of modular.

In anticipation of their showcase, MUTEK has released two significant excerpts from the film. One talks to Carl Craig, Detroit techno legend, top. Craig describes how this tech has influenced his music, and what inspired him to look at modulars. The other clip – true to MUTEK’s Canadian home base and the origin country of the film itself – looks at Canada’s contribution to electronic music history. Detroit’s place in techno certainly needs no introduction, but it’s about time Canada got its role in synthesis recognized (below), having given the world pioneer Hugh Le Caine and the University of Toronto Electronic Music Lab, among other highlights. This excerpt turns the clock forward to modern-day synth goodness. We’re of course happy to know of a certain digital synth designed in Canada, but here the modular Renaissance gets the spotlight. As the film creators explain:

Recently, Canada has again come to play a significant role with the modern day resurgence of modular synthesizers; it is home to two highly respected manufacturers: Modcan, founded by Toronto’s Bruce Duncan, was the first company to reintroduce modular synthesizers to the post-MIDI marketplace, and Intellijel, founded by Vancouver’s Danjel Van Tijn, is one of the fastest growing and most respected lines of Eurorack synthesizer modules.

The MUTEK showcase will include live modular performances by Sealey/Greenspan/Lanza (Orphx/Junior Boys), Keith Fullerton Whitman (Kranky/Editions Mego), Solvent (Ghostly International/Suction Records), Clark (Warp Records), and Container (Spectrum Spools).

The film itself is a production of director Robert Fantinatto and Jason Amm (aka Ghostly International recording artist Solvent); Solvent is also composing the musical score. This isn’t simply a history of electronic music; instead, it focuses on the modern revival of the instruments. (The history is a subject of a future film, but we’ll let them finish this one first.)

It’s worth saying that modular synths aren’t all pleasure – they bring some pain, too. That’s why it’s worth watching the interviews excerpted in the November promo for the film. In that piece, even as they sing the praises of modular analog’s joys, musicians talk about challenges ranging from live performance setup to tuning. It’s impossible to understand the love for these instruments without grasping some of their idiosyncrasies. In the earlier clip, you see everyone from builder Lori Napoleon to pioneer and custodion of electronic music history Joel Chadabe to composers like the late Richard Lainhart and the legendary Morton Subotnick, as well as builders and the film’s own Solvent.

The filmmakers continue to raise funds from fans. A recent West Coast USA tour, funded by IndieGogo, added interviews with Trent Reznor, John Tejada, cEvin Key, Jack Dangers, Bernie Krause, Richard Devine, Make Noise, Cynthia, The Harvestman, SynthTech/MOTM, Metasonix, Intellijel, and others.

Round 3 funding:

Keep tabs on the film on Facebook:


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The above two-month old trailer of Dark Computer Enterainment's Vektropolis made the rounds this month thanks to Pixel Prospector originally, charming gamers with its classy 80s arcade vector style. IndieGames caught up with developer Frank Travaini to find out the latest on his team's retro rescue game/first person shooter.

"[The above] video shows us playing around with just some of the features, but it's still very much a tech demo at that point. Andrew Crawshaw's been working on fine tuning the challenge of the game, and trying to tie together as much of our feature set as we can in a way that make sense but most of all is going to be fun. The video might make it look like an out and out shooter, but there's going to be a strategic element, too."

Lead Vektropolis developer Daniel Gallagher is no stranger to 80s vector graphics, seeing as he co-founded Vektor Grafix, which ported the 1983 Star Wars arcade game to several platforms.

Travaini shares that Gallagher's "been refining the surviving features; make the buildings look more elegant, improving the flight controls, and the not inconsiderable task of creating a brand new AI system so that the enemies can work their way around our cities like seasoned taxi drivers. A game like Vektropolis is full of technical hurdles to overcome, but we're ticking them off at a healthy rate."

As for the game's present look, Travaini notes, "Right now absolutely all of the artwork in the game is still being generated by Danny's code, but we're looking at modelling the enemies in 3D packages and bringing them into the game."

What's an 80s vector style game without a sci-fi story? Travaini reassures, "It's kind of crazy, but completely fits with what we're trying to achieve with the gameplay. People are going to think it's awesome, or they're going to be saying WTF?"

Travaini says the team is open to all platforms. "We had some good interest from publishers; however, we are really waiting for the demo to be out before making a decision about self-financing the game, Kickstarter or sell." This demo, Travaini urges, will only go out to select members of the press (and publishers) in the next month and will not have final graphics, art or a story line in place.

Travaini passed along these current WIP photos to IndieGames, so you could see it a little clearer than in the video:



For more photos, check out the game's official Twitter collection.

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