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Crazy Detail

In an interview with a level designer for the video game, Last of Us Part 2, we learn that one part of the game took a “solid two years” to build.

Near the end of the interview, Brown asks Hill roughly how long the entire sequence took to build from scratch and perfect. “Pretty much two solid years,” says Hill. “Pretty much the big secret for all Naughty Dog level design is just iteration and work. We have some fundamentals but there were some levels in this game that were redone about 25 times.”

The Last of Us Part 2’s Museum Level Took Two Years to Make
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Current Events

Lennon meets Wilson

This story of the night John Lennon met Brian Wilson (of the Beach Boys), told by Alice Cooper is too good not to re-publish.

As told by Alice Cooper:  

“I was sitting backstage after the 1974 Grammys with Bernie Taupin (Elton John’s lyricist) and John Lennon. This was when Brian was really having some mental issues. During the course of the conversation, I kept seeing Brian out of the corner of my eye, just kind of staring at us from different angles.”

“Finally, he came up to the table, bent down and whispered in my ear ‘Hey Alice, introduce me to John Lennon.’ I couldn’t BELIEVE that these two men had never met! They were virtually neck and neck in the 60’s as the greatest bands on the planet, and I’m SURE they must have crossed paths at some point. But then I thought to myself, ‘Wow, if they REALLY have never met, I’m going to be the one to introduce them and become a part of rock history!’”

“So I merely said, ‘Brian Wilson, this is John Lennon. John Lennon, this is Brian Wilson.’ Lennon was very cordial and polite, saying things like ‘Hello Brian, I’ve always wanted to meet you. I’ve always admired your work, and Paul and I considered Pet Sounds one of the best albums ever made.’ Brian thanked him and walked away, at which point Lennon went right back to his conversation like nothing had happened.”

“About ten minutes later, Brian came by our table again, leaned down and whispered something to Bernie, and all of a sudden, Bernie was saying ‘Brian Wilson, this is John Lennon. John Lennon, Brian Wilson.’ Lennon was just as cordial and polite as the first time, saying essentially the same thing about always wanting to meet him. As soon as Brian walked away, John looked at both of us and casually said in his typical Liverpudlian accent, ‘I’ve met him hundreds of times. He’s not well, you know.’”

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Dean Elmore

Boston University’s Dean Elmore has the unenviable task of leading BU’s student population safely thru the pandemic. He is normally jolly and approachable and, when you meet him, his love of BU is plainly infectious.

Here he is taking the plunge into the Charles River after challenging at least 2,011 seniors (more than half the class) to donate to the 2011 Class Gift campaign.

But these are different times.

Today, Dean Elmore sent out a letter to the BU students reminding them of their responsibility to their fellow students. His letter was picked up in the local news which is how I found out about it. In it he makes very clear that, “if you host or attend a large off-campus or on-campus gathering, social or party, you will be suspended from Boston University.”

But he balanced his firmness with an aspirational challenge.

Like you, I’ve been cooped up and, sometimes, felt alone. That’s why I am excited to get reacquainted with my peoples – especially since they are close and not always on a screen. However, in seeing my friends, I’ve incorporated a lot more planning in my socializing to be more thoughtful, less hapless and more diligent about thinking about others. Our actions have consequences. We have got to use our collective power to maintain an environment where we can all live and learn. To succeed, we have to work together.

Boston University Dean of Student’s blog

As places of learning and innovation, colleges and universities will have to learn to live together during this pandemic. Students will create a culture and society that will works for them in our “new normal” and teach the rest of us how to go forward. 

Related, kinda:

New York Times is tracking coronavirus cases at all universities and colleges in the United States.

Also:

Boston University’s effort to stay on top of student testing was picked up on NBC News as well.
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Scared Kitty

Turn up the volume and find out what scares the kitty so much.
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Don’t be UNC

This year, more than ever, college students returning to campus will be tested. Not only tested for COVID-19 but also tested for their maturity to follow the health guidelines put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus to other students, their professors, university staff, and the community that hosts them.

UNC-Chapel Hill was in the news two weeks ago when a video surfaced of a large group of students walking out of an off-campus house party without masks, not socially distanced and in clear violation of the university’s ban on large gatherings. This was on August 5th, just two days after the first students started moving back into their dorms. Later the administration took disciplinary action and kicked three students out for not following safety protocols.

Two clusters of UNC students came down with COVID last week and five were sent to isolated housing prepared for students that needed to quarantine from the community. According to the UNC Carolina Together dashboard it looks as if there was not a lot of testing in the weeks leading up to last week which leads me to believe that there were lots of asymptomatic students mingling in the community that revealed themselves once full-scale testing began.

With available beds for those that need to isolate themselves running dangerously low, UNC-Chapel Hill announced today that they are sending students home to avoid further contact and spread.

After only one week of campus operations, with growing numbers of clusters and insufficient control over the off-campus behavior of students (and others), it is time for an off-ramp. We have tried to make this work, but it is not working.

Barbara Rimer, Dean of UNC-Chapel Hill School of Public Health

Both my kids are moving into college this week. I hope the closing of UNC serves as an example of how seriously the actions of a few can spin out of control and impact the entire student population.

Boston University has an extensive program for returning students that includes an on-campus lab that can process 5,000 test results every 24-hours shared on a public dashboard. The students have launched an online awareness campaign with a name designed to be provocative. Daily self-reporting of symptoms and regular testing are required and, if you miss either, your wifi followed by access card stop working until you eventually are asked to leave campus. All results are collected into an app which students use to check in their locations throughout the day. This same app also notifies students if anyone with positive test results was in proximity and will automatically limit the mobility of potentially infected students. All of this is at great cost to the university. They are not bringing kids back to school for the money.

Clark University sent test kits to all students at home a couple of weeks ago to prevent asymptomatic carriers from coming to campus until they can show a negative result. This week Clark is welcoming students and, like BU, are requiring every student to sign a Commitment to follow safety protocols or risk “dis-enrollment.” The university offered all students an online course over the summer, Pandemics. From Horror to Hope, to put our current situation into perspective, and hosted discussion groups for students including tips on how to politely tell someone to put on their mask on (and how to acknowledge someone’s request without sounding snarky). In full transparency, and to help put anxious parents and surrounding community at ease, Clark is publishing all test results on a public website.

All parents want the best for their children. We want them to experience all that college has to offer. We also want them to stay safe. It’s easy to question the trade off in sending our kids to live together during a pandemic. I have to keep reminding myself that they are not kids anymore, they are young adults, and there will be valuable lessons to learn from working together to “stop the spread.”

Universities are places of learning and innovation. This year, students will learn to live and study together in a time of pandemic. They will develop a culture and society that works in our “new normal.” Unlike the UNC community, successful schools will collectively enforce acceptable behavior and redefine what is cool. We will have much to learn from these pioneers.

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Current Events

Old Film, Transformed

Two cities, each on the other side of the world, captured on old film which has been digitized, colorized, and upscaled using neural networks to 4k and 60 frames/second.

Tokyo 1913 – 1915
New York City 1911

Some of the technical details about what Denis Shiryaev, a YouTuber known for restoring vintage videos does to achieve his magic:

4k upscale – Each frame can be upscaled using specifically-targeted data that perfectly aligns with your footage. Our neural network will “redraw” the missing data and increase the frame resolution 4x or more.

FPS boosting – A neural network trained via slow-mo movies will artificially generate additional frames for your footage. Even 14 fps films can easily be boosted to 60 fps.

Denis also ran his algorithms across the famous Trip down Market Street film (recorded just days before the 1906 earthquake). As he narrates, over the course of half a month, he upscaled the origianl and transformed it into a 50,000 frame, 380 gb file, using the algorithms to fill in information that was not captured in the original.

More examples of his work and services at https://neural.love/

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Current Events

Nike – Can’t Stop Us

My kids are sick of me showing them Nike’s latest commercial which was just released this morning and already has almost 5 million views on YouTube and over 50k retweets on Twitter.

It’s just so good.

Not only does Nike tap into the deep longing we all have to get back together and enjoy sports, it also cleverly brings together two sides of our divided world into a message of unity. The message is that unity brings strength with the underlying theme being that we need to work together to fight the challenges we face.

The campaign is for a Nike’s membership and is by Wieden + Kennedy, the Portland agency that does all of Nike’s commercials. More details here.

Earlier spots in the series include LeBron narrating Play for the World

Play for the World

and the iconic, For once, Don’t Do It

For once, Don’t Do It
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Context

An on-going collection of layout blunders. If you have some to add, link them in the comments.

Contextual targeting a bit on point.
The photo editor is just having fun
Real Estate Irony
When the crime and lifestyle desk don’t talk to each other
Absolutely placed their on purpose

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Our New Future

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Current Events

Masked

City council meetings give us a glimpse into the soft underbelly of the American democracy. I remember having to sit through a Pennington, NJ neighbor debate at length with a Verizon representative who wanted to place a cell tower on top of the local firehouse. “Make it a ziggurat,” he said to the perplexed Verizon rep as I walked out the door.

Streaming video technology has opened the proceedings to the rest of the world. What used to be only open to those attending in person is now available for everyone to see. And mock.

Which brings me to Provo, Utah where they recently held a meeting to go over the state’s mandate that everyone at school must wear a mask.

Utah meeting on masks is canceled when residents without masks pack room

“A public meeting in Utah about a mask policy for schoolchildren was abruptly adjourned when people without masks packed the room.” This is how the NBC news report started out. If you watch the video above, the County Commissioner of Provo, Utah opened the meeting with, “This is the exact opposite of what we need to be doing,” and was met with a chorus of boos from the packed gallery.

“Science should not stand in the way”

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany

This the where we are today in America. The rest of the world is on the other side of the curve, they worked together, looked out for their fellow citizens, wore their masks and are now on the road to recovery.

They are winning while we’re still arguing over the rules.

Italy, remember how bad it was there? Just 230 cases yesterday. Here in the US, we are setting new records with over 70,000 new cases today and convoys of refrigerated trailers are making their way to Arizona and Texas hotspots to serve as mobile morgues for the anticipated surge in deaths.

Yet people insist on their freedom of choice.

No one wants free masks in Huntington Beach
Bummed out tourist

Meanwhile, as people try to take their attitudes elsewhere, they are being dealt harshly. Americans are blocked entry into many European countries, and Hawaii has strict rules demanding quarantine for any arrivals from outside the islands. Check out the tourist from Utah who has to spend his Kauai vacation behind bars because he didn’t think the 14-day quarantine applied to him. Boy does he look bummed.

Like Tom Hanks says – it’s simple – “do your part, we’re all in this together.” Wear a mask for the your house, your work, your town, and society as a whole.”