Wii news channel serves the living room

Today, starting up my Wii, I noticed a system update available and voilá: the Wii News Channel has arrived! Mixing news and entertainment is an age-old, and often critiqued trend, but now Wii succeeds in displaying news attached to a virtual globe (which is a step towards contextually aware news systems in home environments), and makes “news as a slide-show” function something that I might actually sometimes keep on the background, to be informed by a nice selection of global, regional and science/tech/entertainment related pickings. But the information sources in this system might be a bit narrow, still? More here: PlayWii – Nintendo News

Today: Helsinki, the future

Today: Helsinki, the future
Originally uploaded by FransBadger.

Today I decided to take the train rather than venture anything air-related. In Helsinki, the morning was spent in an intensive brainstorming session about the next 15 years of digital games and gaming — arranged by Pelit Magazine, which celebrates this year its 15th anniversary (congratulations!) Much visionary and/or realistic stuff by Tony Manninen, Sonja Kangas and myself, to be reported in magazine’s next issue. Now, in Messukeskus, preparing to talk to the leaders of our educational system about games in Forum Dynamo conference. Lets see how this goes…

Savonlinna. The flying frustration

Savonlinna, OKL
Originally uploaded by FransBadger.

Leena Vartiainen’s lic thesis examination in Savonlinna went as nicely as this kind of interrogations can do. Much talk about Grounded Theory, and I was asking after certain game studies points. All well. But then they messed up my connections again, and I was stranded in Savonlinna, missing my flight home. Finally, in Helsinki they put me — in a taxi! Taking an “intercity-cab” twice in one day, this must be some kind of record. I don’t really know what to say.

Flying the Finnish way: take a taxi

Flying the Finnish way: take a taxi
Originally uploaded by FransBadger.

Second time within few days, I am packed into taxi from the Tampere airport, and rather than flying, there will be a mad car ride to Helsinki. Weird, and nerve-wrecking. I wonder what is wrong with Finnair, Aero, Golden Air: all Finnish carriers seem to be struggling with some kind of problems?

The perfect knife?

The perfect knife?
Originally uploaded by FransBadger.

Laura gave me a gift: a very nice Japanese cook’s knife (“MAC JU-65″ among friends, a 6,5” Nakiri vegetable knife). The quality of steel and touch of handle feels very good (I am not a professional, though). Blade is traditionally ornamented and so sharp you don’t actually need to use force while slicing vegetables: you just let the blade rest on top of a tomato or cucumber, and enjoy seeing how the knife silently goes down by its own weight, and almost cuts on its own. Wow. I shall be slicing veggies every day from now on. (I suspect this was Laura’s original plan, too 😉

Geotagging for the future

As sites like Wikipedia inform us, geotagging is the process of adding geographical or location information into media, such as digital images or videos (or basically any entity: it is wide field). While we are currently looking into linking various games related tools and processes with the social media initiatives in our pervasive gaming research (read: within IPerG), I am also interested in the simplest possible way of making location tagging available for large audiences. While there are also developments of building GPS into digital cameras, and software tools for automatic location tagging with GSM cell data (in cameraphones), I still think that the approach of Flickr Maps is probably going to be most popular by short range, at least. It is so easy to drag your photo into certain location in the world map, and also browse photos with the same intuitive map interface. Example: link to few images I have mapped in my Flickr Map. (I think you need to zoom out a bit in order to actually see any of them, though.)

wii-moting afternoon

wii-moting afternoon
Originally uploaded by FransBadger.

Tampere Gamelab folks spent this afternoon discussing Japanese culture and games (thanks to Aakoo, who just spent one month in Tokyo) — and then with some hands-on research with our lab’s new Wii console. Fun — and also thought-provoking.

Mallorca travel, blog notes

Mallorca travel, blog notes

Few notes, in case I’ll get online at some point during the Balearic Islands.

— Monday.
Flying over Italy somewhere between Verona and Milan. It is dark already, I can see lights of villages, roads, towns below.

It is easy to love Europe in a night like this. Not an abstract idea of Europe, nor the Europe as an administrative-commercial unit. Rather, to see the face of the earth, and the place of man in the history — in the arrangements of narrow streets going back to times Medieval, or even the Antiquity. To be reminded of a book you once read, an encounter in a crowded Interrail train cabin, of the hungry alley cat you gave your last sardine pieces from the bottom of a tin can.

The old Spanish lady on the seat next to me falls asleep and starts to snore faintly. I try to think about life, your place on the earth, about concepts like family and home. Some things you need some distance from, to be able to see clearly, or at all.

— Tuesday.
Today, after the meeting, I tried to climb to the hill overlooking Palma and its harbour, but dark fell quicker than I had anticipated. I could see rows of sailing boats and a few big cargo ships down there, in the distance. Lights form golden paths over the salty Mediterranean sea. Back in the hotel, I join the Swedes who have staged a Wii Sports tournament. Even later, in “Pizza Industria” the “anchoas” and “aceitunas” are tasty, and oregano fresh. Young, smartly dressed men are kissing each other to the cheek; the Spanish language pop music has distinctive Latin, passionate and wailing tone to it. I eat and look at the traffic passing behind the window.

— Thursday.
Yesterday was almost too long day for me, pervasive game design and technology discussions lasting to late evening, and I made my excuses rather early from the joint tapas dinner. Today was easier, more focused in work terms, and I even got free afternoon (got up at six am to write a lecture I needed to deliver today, though).

Afternoon walk took me to the harbour, then to La Seo, the cathedral. But it was closed for renovation. Palma appears to have that certain quality that tourism creates to otherwise poor areas: fashion boutiques and department stores exist next to street beggars and low quality shelters. Newspaper writes about new drug rehabilitation program. But sitting here, in ‘Bar Minimal’, sipping an Illy double espresso, and listening to soft tunes of Sade in afternoon sun, it is easy to like Mallorca.

— Friday.
The walk was perhaps a bit too much; I have been a bit feverish since I came back. Sudden changes of temperature, foreign viruses. It is good to go back home, like always, even if an occasional look to other parts of the world, other ways of living is good for your world-views. Albeit, the only English-language tv channel for the entire week has been CNN, which means that rise of radical Islamism and storm disasters have been the only stories in the air.

Now. Some hot nachos, ice-cold Heineken, and sleep, before 5 am start to the airport. Home, here I come 🙂

— Saturday.
4:45 am. I am awake in the dark, few minutes before the alarm sounds. Check out. In taxi, we are suddenly caught in wee-hours traffic jam; the discos of Palma are about to finally end their Friday night celebrations, and young people are blocking the roads around the city centre. Looking back, I see the shapes of buildings, the cathedral, last time, attached to vulcanic rock, surrounded by salt water. Goodbye, Mallorca.

Two airport check-ins, two airport security checks. Then, watching the sunrise in Barcelona. The Spanish speaking weather guy smiles and points symbols of suns in the map. I feel the need of coffee. It has been a long week.

Wii and Fon – a no-go?

As I have written earlier, I have joined the Foneros, the growing network of Wi-Fi (WLAN) users who are sharing their connections through Fon.com routers. And I also enjoy playing with my Wii. Bleak was the moment thus, when I realised that these two marvellous examples of the advances of wireless Internet and social services are incompatible. Yes: since a Fon router does not allow any network traffic before login/authentication, and as Wii does not register any Internet connection which it cannot use for direct access into its test server, it appears to be impossible to be both a Fonero and use it for Wii’s Internet connection. How sad. Or does anyone know of any workaround solutions out there?

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