Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Dawn of delivery drone 6-wheelers?

Is 2019 the year delivery drones will finally take off? Or at least, roll out (pun intended)?

After we saw Amazon’s flying drones capable of delivering parcels in the air, we now have a glimpse of what that might look like on land: cute autonomous 6-wheeler robots delivering food and possibly other small parcels to specified location. The idea was first started by Skype co-founders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis back in 2014, when they founded the robotics firm called Starship Technologies (I know, we love the name too). In the UK you can already find these fun autonomous bots wheeling around Milton Keynes, fulfilling grocery deliveries. Just this week, Starship just announced a partnership with George Mason University to allow their robots to deliver food anywhere on campus as well.

And it’s not hard to understand the appeal. Not only do the robots look cool and futuristic, but it’s also very practical for those who are stuck in the library or on campus without much time to spare, or simply for those students who have the munchies and don’t want to venture far from their dorm room. In the age of Uber, why not have an app for food delivery to your door as well? Not to mention it’s 100% eco-friendly.

Not to be outdone, Amazon has created its own 6-wheeler system as well, called “scout”. Able to accommodate small and medium-sized parcels, scout would only work with Amazon Prime accounts, of course, and is currently still being tested at Washington State University. However, sources indicate it looks considerably less cute, and is surprisingly quite late to the party, all things considered.

Revolution in Progress as National Assembly Leader Proclaims Himself President

venezuela protests

This is truly a revolution of the people happening in real time.

Due to the hyperinflation, rampant homicides and countless food and medical shortages wracking the country, the 35-year-old head of the national assembly declared himself de-facto president on Wednesday, claiming the current president illegitimate due to the questionable nature of his electoral win last year. Guaido is trying to create a transitional government to help reshape Venezuela’s government, in the process painting himself a target as he attempts to save Venezuela from itself and Maduro.

Surprisingly, Donald Trump was the first to recognize the new leader, along with Mike Pence. Many other countries then followed suit, such as Brazil, Chile, Peru, Canada, Colombia, Argentina, and Western Europe. As a response, Maduro decided to cut ties with the US, giving US diplomats 72 hours to get out of Venezuela. However, the US secretary of state Mike Pompeo refuted the statement, claiming Maduro doesn’t have the authority to break diplomatic relations. Mexico and Bolivia, however, still support Maduro, along with Russia, China, and Cuba. Some are denouncing the interference from the US and other countries in Venezuela’s affairs.

Many are worried about a potential disaster if the military support Maduro instead of Guaido, such as civil war. Internet watchdogs have also noticed that Maduro seems to be limiting social media websites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, in order to try to contain the rampant protests against his government.

Why are thousands and millions of people taking to the streets to protest Maduro’s government, you ask? Simply because after Maduro took power, Venezuela has become a country with rampant hyperinflation. Shortages for everything from food and medical supplies to basic necessities like toilet paper and diapers have crippled the entire country, along with the highest homicide rate in Latin America due to all the corruption. The ‘Maduro diet’ has led to hundreds of thousands starving, with some resorting to killing animals in zoos in order to eat, and many avoiding hospitals because the facilities are more disease-prone than simply staying at home.

As a result, three million Venezuelans have left the country since 2014 in a mass exodus.

This story is developing and is surely a turning point for the country, as leaders around the world are deciding which side to support. We have yet to see how this will affect the world stage, with countries taking different sides in the economic and humanitarian crisis.

Le Matos: Chronicles of the Wasteland

Le Matos: Chronicles of The Wasteland

Of all sounds that best fit Cyberpunk, I often find that the retro-80s roots and electronica of Synthwave are a snug fit. One great example of such an up-and-coming artistic group is that of Canadian band Le Matos.

Le Matos

Their music combines retro synthwave in a beautiful Canadian blend of Electronica. Inspired by the likes of Vangelis, John Carpenter, Tangerine Dream, and other 80s movie soundtrack composers, Le Matos was founded by Jean-Nicholas Leupi and Jean-Philippe Bernier in Montreal in 2007. The group released their first singles, 88mph and 58 minutes pour vivre, in a digital album labeled Coming Soon 2007-2011. The group then released a proper debut in 2013 called Join US, but the group didn’t become as well-known until the created the soundtrack (and subsequent remix) for the incredible independent film Turbo Kid. When the movie was presented at the Sitges International Festival of Fantastic Cinema in Catalunya, it won a best music award. They also released their single, No Tomorrow featuring Pawws, with a music video that also serves as a prequel to the film. Although the music video is really interesting and explains how Apple came to be where she was when she meets The Kid, I personally didn’t like Pawws’ vocal contribution to the song. It felt too bubble-gum peppy for me, although the electronic synths from Le Matos are good as ever.

Le Matos is still growing in the Synthwave sphere, where they have also created a song called Kiyoko that went to the credits scene of the fan-made live action tribute trailer called The Akira Project (http://www.akira-project.com/ )

Akira Project OST Le Matos Album Picture

While much of their music is excellent, my particular favorites of theirs are found in the 50-track album Chronicles of the Wasteland. I stumbled upon them via Pandora, which is great because it means that they’re gaining traction in streaming websites such as Pandora and also Spotify, in addition to traditional venues such as Soundcloud and Bandcamp.

The track that hooked me was the mellow beauty called “Like Faith or Some Shit”. I actually listened to their tunes before I had ever seen Turbo Kid, and as I listened to their tracks on repeat via Soundcloud I pictured myself in the wastelands of Blade Runner or behind a tinted glass with loglo outside being driven somewhere clandestine in the rain.

Le Matos is slang for “equipment” in French, and although all members come from the hardcore scene, they are described as straight edge (no drugs and no alcohol).

If you haven’t already, or even if you have, I recommend checking out Turbo Kid again.

Turbo_Kid_poster

I’m not sure if it would qualify as Cyberpunk or not (I’m leaning towards Dystopian future with a couple cyberpunk elements in it) but it’s an excellent fun film, made particularly memorable by the quirkiness of Apple, the silly over the top gore and excellent costumes, and the unusual yet familiar storyline. What’s more, you can enjoy the film that much more if you pay special attention to the soundtrack. This is one way you can revisit old movies, after having listened closely to the soundtrack independently from the film and then upon seeing the film again you get a better appreciation for the whole product.

Listen to the full album on Soundcloud here: https://soundcloud.com/lematos/sets/chronicles-of-the-wasteland-1

For Le Matos’ website, check them out here: http://www.lematos.com/

Ready Player One (2018): Movie Review

Ever since I read Ernest Cline’s excellent book by the same name, I had been so excited to see this movie ever since I saw its first trailer in the movie theaters. Ready Player One was the kind of book that I finished in a couple weeks, couldn’t put down, and found myself saying “Man, this would be an amazing movie!” as I read it.

So here’s my SPOILER-FREE review of the movie, and some thoughts about how it was different from the book.

First off, let me say that I really enjoyed the movie. Perhaps part of the reason why I really liked it is because it’s different enough from the book, that watching the movie felt like a different piece of entertainment altogether. Sure, the story was still basically the same, but a lot of the action sequences were completely different, leaving me to guess and experience the same surprise and thrill as the rest of the crowd.

A little about the story, in case you have no idea what it’s about. The basic premise is that this movie is about a young man who’s searching for a hidden “easter egg” (read: treasure) within a virtual reality world that serves as place of commerce and entertainment for the majority of human civilization in the future. Although it takes place in a dystopian future, there isn’t much in the movie that addresses that, neither was there in the book. The virtual world, conveniently called the OASIS, is a place to escape the real world and both works leave it at that. The real story comes in the chase for the treasure, as both forces of good and evil race against time to get the hidden egg before the other. In the movie Steven Spielberg masterfully crafts his characters, although they do feel a bit simplistic at times, as if the target audience is primarily young adults.

Which makes sense. After all, the book also felt like a fun bubble-gum kind of story, with little suffering or grit or real violence. This is also mirrored in Cline’s irreverent, lackadaisical writing style.

The other thing that is quick to notice, and the media will also be quick to point out, is how chock-full the movie is in references. From Jurassic Park to Back to the Future, the movie adds to the 80s references with more modern, often video game, references like Halo or Overwatch.

It was definitely fun to see these references pulled out in the movie, sometimes literally from thin air (such as a weapon from one of your favorite video games you’ve spent hours using and picking up suddenly appear on-screen in the main character’s hands). I also thought the direction was very well done, with the camera swiveling to catch fluid actions and angles of the action, especially in the virtual world’s action scenes.

The transitions from virtual to real also felt very fluid, and overall the pacing was excellent as well. There were a few scenes that I felt needed a bit more gravitas, but this didn’t stop me from enjoying the movie.

Overall it was a very fun movie, highly enjoyable if you don’t take it too seriously, and an excellent adaptation. My final verdict: 9/10.

Juno Reactor: My favorite Cyberpunk Jam

I discovered Juno Reactor, along with a lot of my favorite music, by listening to the original soundtracks and scores to the Matrix trilogy. Along with Fluke and Rob Dougan, Juno Reactor is an excellent musical performing group that are very much electronica, considered in the subcategory GOA trance or psytrance. Although I’m not a fan of all of their material, their album Beyond the Infinte (1995) has an excellent list of tracks. You can check out the full album in the link below on Soundcloud. Let me know what you think, and enjoy!