Jul 242011
 

image

At Galaxiki.org, each star, each planet and each moon in this online fictional galaxy is represented by a wiki page that can be edited by its site members. Users can make changes to solar systems, add creatures and write stories. One of the main goals is to invent and write collaborative stories, which requires users to make sure their solar system histories remain compatible.

You can also edit most of the solar system physics, add or edit planetary rings as well. There are also social networking features including solar system ratings and comments, bookmarks, user awards and user status updates.

Galaxiki membership and editing community stars is free. Though some users want to own a personal solar system that cannot be edited by other members, you can get your own personal system by making a donation.

 Posted by at 9:54 am
Mar 302011
 

The following is a guest post from Lokesh Vishwakarma, an IT graduate from KC College, Mumbai, India. The topic is the role of social networking in the recent historical events occurring in some Arab countries.

From Morocco to Yemen the Arab world is burning, and fueling this fire of change is the 21st century panacea ‘The Social Networks’. These agents of change helped the Arab civilization achieve what they couldn’t, for decades, in just a few days or weeks. Be it Facebook, Twitter, Google or usual blogosphere, they have found themselves central to the action in an unprecedented way. Lets us take a look at how some of these new found tools have spurred the actions on the ground.

Facebook and Twitter – The cradle that rocked the despots

#Sidibouzid, this twitter hashtag gave rise to a movement which toppled not only the Ben Ali regime but also inspired a dozen other mutinies. The picture of Mohammed Bouazizi, the youth who set himself on fire in the Tunisian town ‘Sidi Bouzid’ in protest against the unemployment spread like wild fire on youtube and other social media. This was for the first time the internet spawned a feeling of enough is enough among the Tunisians.

Soon after Tunisia happened, Egypt was getting ready to herald in to the new dawn of democracy, the first salvo being “We are all Khaled Said” facebook page. Khaled Said was the young Egyptian man who was beaten to death by police in June 2010. The online activists began protest groups with Khaled as their ‘martyr’, some anonymous activist also came up with the Arabic version of the facebook page, who was later revealed as Google executive Wael Ghonim. #Jan25 made its presence felt on twitter, the day Wael called for young Egyptians to take to the streets. Twitter was abuzz with videos, pictures, data and links tagged with #jan25, which became an effective way to group together online information about the protest. The influence of social networking was such that, an Egyptian man named his newly born child as “facebook”. By now one thing was very clear, that the social networking websites have become a force to reckon with.

The events in Tunisia and Egypt inspired a whole lot of generation and Yemen was no different. The “Yemeni Anger Revolution” group has almost 20000 members on facebook, those who were not bitten by the social network bug were encouraged to pass on the word via traditional methods like SMS and cards. After the Yemeni government cracked down on internet, many nonresident Yemenis settled outside Yemen shared their contact numbers with their friends and relatives in Yemen in wake of internet shutdown, to help them share news about Yemen, many of NRYs tweeted and retweeted news and also links with the international media.

The hashtag #feb17 has categorized the Libyan movement and given a fresh identity to the Libyan protest amid unrest across the Arab world. Feb 17 is the date when the Libyan protest against the megalomaniac colonel began. Information – what little is accessible from the country – has been pouring in on Twitter and Youtube, where activists are uploading news the minute they are able to get online. A dedicated facebook page for the Libyan revolution has more than 82000 members and another key facebook page by the name of ‘RNN Libya’ has 22000 members. Libya being the most oppressed and closed nation of the region has caught the fever of Internet-driven dissent passed on from their friends in Tunisia and Egypt, as young Libyans are been exposed to the power of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter to voice opposition to the regime.

Just like the #feb17 Libyan protest, the Bahraini activists have #feb14 as their identity on twitter. Internet providers were shut down and facebook accounts were deleted across Algeria as thousands of Pro-democracy demonstrators were arrested in violent street demonstrations. President Abdelaziz Boutifleka’s government first cracked down on the internet to nip the protest in the bud.

In Morocco, the facebook group “Movement of freedom and democracy” has attracted more than 90000 members. The Iraqis had their own twitter tag as #iq4c but many of them tagged news of protest in Iraq with #feb25 so as to reach a larger audience of the internet by linking their cause with other popular revolts.

In Syria, the case is bit different; people are still learning about the arab revolution through facebook, media, twitter, newspapers and blogs. The facebook page “Syrian Revolution 2011” has received more than 25000 followers. People in Syria have slowly started to come out in open against the Syrian authorities.

As the crusade for democracy and basic human rights rages on, Today’s youth have a lot of tools at their disposal which the earlier crusaders didn’t posses. The Internet has become a conduit for disseminating the idea of democracy which was till now alien to the Arab civilization. For a change the Internet is applauded for its power to influence and change history for the better.

 Posted by at 6:02 am
Aug 112009
 

definr

I stumbled across a site that describes itself as an “incredibly fast dictionary”. It’s known as definr (http://definr.com/).

The first question I asked myself is whether we need yet another online dictionary. Some folks use Wiktionary, much like Wikipedia it’s only as accurate as the folks making the entries want it to be, so most folks probably leverage something they trust: Compact Oxford, American Heritage, Merriam-Webster’s to name a few.

Yes definr is fast, blazingly so partly because it caches the top 10,000 definitions in memory. It also tries to guess what you’re typing as you’re typing a word to search, by the time you click Enter it’s got a definition at the ready.

The quality of the answers is ok, nothing to write home about when I compared some sample words to three dictionaries I trust listed above, but it’s better than some. While it’s not the best, it is worth taking a look at in my opinion. The value of seeing it propose possible words as you’re typing is interesting because it offers me an opportunity to discover new words previously unknown to me and that gets me excited because I’m a word geek. For instance, when I tried testing it’s ability to handle Gen Y lexicon such as “Fark”, by the time I got to the ‘k’ it offered the word farkleberry. Where the heck else would I have been offered an opportunity to learn about the farkleberry and sparkleberry bushes from eastern United States? :-)

BTW, ‘Fark’ was not in the definr dictionary, this is a good thing. The database is based on Princeton’s open WordNet 2.0, believe it or not you can download this lexical database yourself.

The verdict? I’m going to stick with OneLook as my first stop for dictionary searches, but I’m adding definr to my browser’s search plugins as a quick/available alternative because I think it has promise and it offers me a learning opportunity.

UPDATE Jan 2015:

Samuel Chong from Pasadena City College has assembled an amazing collection of wordnets for many languages. Check it out.

 Posted by at 4:37 pm
Jul 132009
 

Shelf Life

James Spencer from pixel eyes productions alerted me to a new machinima series they’ve posted called Shelf Life, it uses the models from Half Life 2. I honestly think this stuff is a masterpiece! The quality if this video blows me away.

The audio is spot on and the music adds to the creepiness factor of this mind-bending thriller. The cinematic aspects are something you’d expect right out of Hollywood movie, not a machinima. For instance there’s a couple of pan shots early on, one of them is pretty complex that occurs outside the protaganist’s house and i recall thinking at the time ‘now this is what’s cool about this medium, there aren’t many films that attempt something like this’.

Synopsis:

It’s about two scientists, one with the ability to visualize advanced theories related to the power of memory and the human brain, and one with the determination to do whatever it takes to reach a scientific breakthrough. They are both parts of one big puzzle, a puzzle that is a project that poses a bigger danger to humanity than anything else in history, and it’s up to one of them to expose the danger, even if it means putting himself at great risk.

Here’s part 1 below, go to their youtube channel and subscribe to keep up with each part to this thriller.

 Posted by at 9:04 pm
Jun 232009
 

The World Series of Poker is happening right now, this 40th annual event started May 26 and ends July 15th. If you’re like me and not a good poker player but want a couple of tips to get involved in the game, I tracked down a few resources to get you going.

First, get yourself a copy of Winning at Internet Poker For Dummies. Once you think you have knack of it, find an online poker room. For god’s sake, spend within your limits :-)

Bonus tip:

Follow all the poker Tweets to keep up with your favorite players and events during WSOP: http://www.bluffmagazine.com/poker-twitter.asp

 Posted by at 9:30 pm