Crowdsourced Participation on Zooniverse

 

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I recently had a look at Zooniverse which is a website that allows users to participate in many different collaborative projects. I browsed the site where a lot of the projects caught my eye. In the end I only fully collaborated in two of the projects “Operation War Diary” & “Chicago Wildlife Watch”.

When using Zooniverse I had to make an account to have input on the projects available which only took a few seconds. The site had many projects that required users of Zooniverse read something or take statistics. I chose “Operation War Diary” & “Chicago Wildlife Watch” as they were the ones that most intrigued me and were ones where I felt as a user I can do the best input. Other projects I found on Zooniverse had one of the following issues. The topic of the project did not appeal to me, the interface was not really good and some projects required the users to know some knowledge about the topic of the project.

The project “Operation War Diary” allows users to access the diaries belonging to soldiers on the front lines. The diaries come from national archives and have not been available to academics till recently. The aim of the project is to get users to transcribe the large amounts of data to make is usable for academic use. I found the project interesting as I am a fan of world war history and I see the importance this project has in developing an understanding of a key part in history. The users will read scanned diaries and highlight important pieces of information using tools provided. The types of information a user can isolate includes basic details like dates names and places to more specific details such as soldier Id numbers and ranks.

When using “Operation War Diary” I choose one of the diaries to analyse after going through a very informative tutorial. The diary I choose was a diary of a soldier who was stationed at a hospital in France in 1915. The first thing I did was tag the various dates on the page followed by any names I could see. The tags I used for names had sub tags that included the person rank in the military and their number and other minor details. By putting in these details I am helping academics gather a story about the soldiers under those names and number so that their entire story can be tracked through many other diaries. The other things I was able to tag where the patient numbers and events such as resupplies and casualties.  My only difficulty in participation was that I had a very difficult time reading some of the handwriting.

The second project I got involved with was “Chicago Wildlife Watch” that ask collaborators to look at photos captured in certain areas of Chicago that have been affected by urbanization. The users must look at a photo and if they see an animal weather it is a small bird or a raccoon they must add a tag to the photo for that animal. The photos are captured on motion cameras that are deployed multiple times during the year for the purpose of capturing the local wildlife.

In my participation for the project I was shown a photo that was taken from one the cameras. Since they are automated motion cameras my job is to go through the photos and say if there is an animal in the photo and what animal is it. A majority of the photos given to the users to look over are empty as they were photos that where taken as a result of something else moving other than an animal such as a branch. Through my participation I have contributed in the sorting of these photos to make the data within them easier to access for researchers interested in the distribution of animal species in different areas in urban Chicago.

In the use of the Zooniverse I learned that collaborative projects could be very appealing depending on what they ask of their users. If I were to make my own collaborative project in the future using something like Zooniverse I would think of the following based on my own experiences. The task given to users should not require users to have an equal level of understanding as the people behind the project. The point of a collaborative project is that users are any member of the public and not someone of a certain profession. Some projects failed in this category as they assume all users to be of a certain profession and have made it difficult for a majority of users to participate in their collaborative. If my project was to create an archive for a certain group of documents, I would have it so users can point out that key data in similar fashion to how it was done in “Operation War Diary”.

The “Cyborg Manifesto” My Thoughts.

I recently read a paper known as the “Cyborg Manifesto” by Donna Haraway which discusses the topic of us one day becoming cyborgs. The paper is about 30 years old and very hard to read due to the way Haraway wrote it out. The way it is written out leaves it open to many different interpretations for the reader. This leaves some terrified about the possibility of cyborgs while other fascinated. While I am scared of the world of the cyborgs I am bit more fascinated in some aspects of the world of the cyborgs Haraway has described.

Firstly after reading the cyborg manifesto I was intimidated by the cyborgs described by Haraway for the reason that if we became cyborgs we would lose aspects that would make us human. In the manifesto it is said that a cyborg society is the ultimate control. This factor is what terrifies me about the human race becoming cyborg because it is said ultimate control is possible due to certain human traits being removed to ensure control is kept which was also noted to in the manifesto as a possibility. Even though the article does make the cyborg society look sinister to me I can’t help but compare it with our times where we cause bigger problems due to the traits the cyborgs would remove. Haraway made some notes on how our society has its own bad’s and after reading I have come to reflect on these.

The Cyborgs might sound like restricted creatures but compared to us they are more logical and are possibly more attached to nature then we are now. The “Cyborg Manifesto” discusses a lot about feminism in terms of cyborgs because gender equality means not basing someone’s ability’s based on their gender. A cyborg as stated by Haraway will not judge the abilities of other cyborgs based on gender because it would not take note of gender. I agree with all these statements and I note that cyborgs are the better as we still have issues with gender equality in times we live in now and more so in the times Haraway wrote the paper.

It was also stated with gender cyborgs do not judge another unequally based on race, religion and history. I think this is what is personally best about the Cyborgs because that type of thinking does not cause problems or conflict in relationships. I see the communication of the cyborgs like our social networks today which are a collection of minds that discuss topics and correct each other. The social networks I see as an example of ourselves becoming more like cyborgs because when someone states something that is not logical or morally wrong the majority would state why it’s in the wrong. I see the cyborgs having a society without opposition or where opposition can’t survive like in the social networks as I stated. As stated by philosopher Eric Fromm “The danger of the past was that men became slaves. The danger of the future is that men may become robots. True enough, robots do not rebel.” (Fromm  1956, 360)

This whole Idea is what fascinates me most about them but it is also what causes concern. The fact that there is no opposition means things can’t really change either or humane actions might be avoided in certain situations for the more logical approach. I think this is in the case of a decision where luck, chance and risk is involved to get something good but with a loss if there is failure. I can see the cyborgs not making that type of decision rather avoid it and that is another issue of the cyborgs I could see happening.

The Cyborg Manifesto – Donna Haraway

Quote – Eric Fromm (1956) ‘The Sane Society’ , Henry Holt and Company, pp. 360

D3DGear (Game Recording Software) Review

These days gamer’s are hitting it big with the use of website’s like You-Tube & Twitch to post or stream there best moments in games. All these people would use different types of software to record their game play to get their videos to be the best quality possible. D3DGear is an example of one of these software applications for recording games and I bought it a month ago since I am interested in recording.

I have so far used D3DGear to record about 20 hours of game play footage from various games that include Hearthstone , TF2 , Resident Evil , Garrys Mod, Metal Gear Solid V and the Star Wars Battle-Front beta, First I will get into the interface of the software.

The interface of D3D is pretty simple despite all the features and setting. The settings you can alter include quality of the footage, frames , resolution, audio and other various things in terms of recording. Voice recording is included as long as you have a microphone. The software also include streaming capabilities that are easy to change to due to simplistic design of the interface. To be fare I think people who are very new to this kind of software might be a bit confused with the interface if they are unsure of the meaning of some of the settings but if you know your computers it should be fine.

The streaming is very straightforward if you know what is involved with streaming to websites like twitch. You must have a good internet connection for streaming games so if you are planning to stream be sure of that before buying the software. Apart from streaming and recording of games D3DGear also can measure benchmark and it can also be used to record your desktop. Recording of the desktop is handy if you plan on making videos that involve teaching people how to use computer, programming and how to use other types of software.

So the important question for the gamer’s is how does D3DGear run with games. D3DGear unlike other recording software doesn’t take a lot of resources away from your PC so the main factors are if the hardware on your computer is really good and how optimized is the game your playing. Games like TF2, Heartstone and Garrys Mod record effortlessly due to the low requirements on those games. Metal Gear Solid V and Star Wars Battle-Front beta had about three frames dropped but those games in my opinion ran greatly in my opinion. DayZ and Resident Evil was where there where complications.

DayZ still is not optimized I feel but when I used the D3DGear on the game it dropped by around 20 frames which forced me to bring my settings to low but that did not help much. The Resident Evil game Revelations 2 which was already suffering before I used the recorder crashed during key moments in boss fights. Considering Star Wars Battle-Front was a beta not a finished game I feel it really depends on the game how performance works with the recorder.

The only other problems I found with the recorder is the lack of a face cam setting cause I know a few gamer’s who see that as a deal breaker when getting this software. The last problem I have with this software is the amount of disk space the videos it produces takes up which can be after ten hours of recording over a hundred gigabytes. To edit the video clips for YouTube upload you will have to get a movie making software separate to D3DGear.

Overall D3DGear is a good recording software for playing most video games and offers flexibility to the user. It offers a lot to the user if they are gamer or a fan of messing with computers. If I make later post I might use the recorder to make some video content.

Dublin Comic Con 2015: My Experience

I enjoy going to Dublin every now and then for a day trip, I always make sure one of these trips is to the Comic Con convention. I have been going to these conventions for three years now and I always have a blast when ever I attend this year being no exception.

The Comic Con in Dublin is one of few events of its kind held in Ireland. Last year and the year before it was held in Swords near the airport in Dublin. To get to Swords me and my friends would have to take a four hour bus trip followed by a 1 hour walk to get to the convention. This time the convention was held in the convention centre near the center of Dublin city by the river, this location was much easier to access than swords and it catered for more people.

The story of the day of my attendance begins with a alarm not going off and a slice of toast followed by many a trip by train. As we got off the train we walked the streets of Dublin by the river until we saw a some Doctor Who’s and daft punk confirming that we where close to our destination. As we approached the convention centre people became more numerous and where in amazing costumes.

The sight of the the convention centre was immense as it was a large building. The sight of the building was more exiting with the numerous amount of people outside socializing, dressed up and taking photos. The line to get in wasn’t that long and only took about 5 minutes to get through as the staff where very organised. We had to go in a side door to access the building as the front door can only be used by people with bands on who have given a ticket.

When inside there was a atmosphere of excitement as me and my friend’s roamed the ground floor which was filled with other attendees and many various stands, props and sets. The stands included those that distributed comic books where I bought myself a couple of issues of “Hawkeye Vs Deadpool” which I couldn’t find at my local comic store near home. I looked for other comics such as issues six to twelve of “The New 52” story “Futures End” but failed to find it.

In other stands the many interesting items such as clothing, bags, action figures and decorations. I got myself a couple of posters at this one stand so that was that. As I went along the ground floor I saw many set and displays which featured props, people in costume and photo opportunities. One of the sets was a recreation of a futuristic door from a video game series known as fallout a friend of mine who had been playing the game that week should get a photo with it. The where many interesting sets like it on the ground floor which included a zombie cage with actual people dressed as zombies and a set featuring people dressed the Predator from the film series.

On the second floor of the convention there where stands for local artist who where showing off and selling their works. The artist had some great talent as their work was indeed amazing. Among the stands where books as well which were being promoted by the authors who wrote them. I got to talk to these pair of authors who where promoting their book “Cult Fiction”. The two authors seemed very passionate about their book and I have just been after reading “Battle Royale” a few days before so I got a copy of their book cause the story seemed interesting.

On the same floor where the guest of Comic Con which included actors and various comic writers and artist. The year before when I went to the convention in swords I took two hours to get through a line to meet a guess. This years convention was so organised that I had to only wait twenty minutes in a line to see Michael Rooker who would of been the most busy of the guest at the convention for playing a role in “The Walking Dead” and “Guardians of the Galaxy”, Rooker was a very cool person to meet as I am a major fan of “The Walking Dead”. I wanted to meet the other guest such as Billy West but by the time me and my friends came back from lunch most of them where at photo opportunities or in the hall giving a Q&A.

I also attended the “End Of The World Carnival” at the convention which was held in support of Child-Line. I didn’t participate in many of the games only the raffle but I thought what they had done with it was amazing none the less. Near the end of the convention I did some last minuter shopping on the ground floor for two relatives and witnessed a portion of the Cosplay competition. There where many amazing hand made costumes but the best where in my opinion this one lad dressed as batman from the the Nolan trilogy and this one Guy dressed as Yondu from “Gaurdians Of The Galaxy” where the winners in my opinion. I love to see how things can be topped next years convention.

Ant Man: Movie Review

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I walked into Ant-Man blind by not watching the trailers and such that could spoil potential things in the film for me. Now I expected since the concept of the film was a human turning very tiny I was expecting to not enjoy Ant-Man because the films concept has been done in many movies before it in the past fifteen years. Films where humans become extremely tiny tend to have very cheesy effects and an equally cheesy story that makes me not want to watch the film anymore and watch something else. Ant-Man compared to those films is a breath of fresh air after a long day stuck in a classroom.

Ant-Mans story is a combination of the superhero movie with a heist movie where a cat burglar named Scott Lang must work with a man named Dr. Hang Pym to pull off heist that can save the world. The film plays through like your average heist film where you have your main characters doing some actions to prepare for the main job. The usual heist films have stuff like sneaking into casinos however in Ant Man scenarios of a more superhero nature are presented. This made the film interesting and fun to watch and got the audience pumped for grand finally the heist itself.

The acting by the cast in Ant Man was well done with the best performances by Paul Rudd who played Scott and the other best performance by Micheal Douglas who played Dr. Hang Pym. Scott Lang compared to other characters in other Marvel movies is really average, what made the character more interesting was how witty the character was and how he was introduced as a man who wants to care for his family. Dr. Hang Pym is that one character who can be poisonous but in a good way as every rude remark he has with someone can get a chuckle out of the audience.

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The special effects and the use of CGI in the film are among the best I have seen from a film in so long. The effects don’t take away any realism from the film. There are ants inserted as special effects in the film but they are very well animated and don’t look like plastic which can be expected. The budget on special effects for the film appears to have been used wisely.

Ant-Man is one of Marvels characters and so there are reference to many other marvel films especially Avengers Age Of Ultron. If you are Marvel fan you would really enjoy Ant Man as there is a lot of jokes in the film that reference other Marvel movies like Ultron.

Ant-Man is very appealing as it feels like a really new film in a time where many studios decide to make sequels or reboots rather than create new story’s. I would give Ant Man a nine out of ten rating for feeling fresh and making a superhero that is minor in marvel comics a major hero for the big screen.

Mad Max Fury Road: movie review

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I went to see Mad Max Fury Road at a local cinema a few days ago with no experience of watching a Mad Max film before. With that I still enjoyed the film as an action movie and it has been talked a lot about since its release. This film fits the apocalypse traits with settings of harsh environments, gun totting psychos and suited up vehicles that are famous for the Mad Max universe.

The movie story starts off with main character max in a prison run by a group of scavengers and a tyrant. A convoy is sent across a dessert to get fuel. One truck driven my the lead female character Mysteriosa drives away and the film because a all out chase scene. The majority of the movie is action rather then character development, Mad Max for example doesn’t talk much throughout the film and is mostly silent but the fans are expected to already know his backstory. Mysteriosa is more the central character and Max is the fan favorite bad ass he is expected to be.

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The action scenes are very interesting and fast paced car chase moments. The cars in the movie are literally designed to look as dangerous as possible. One of the vehicles which was a beetle  covered in spikes looked like a roaming death trap while the trucks where heavily armored as if they where facing tanks. The cars were intense but in a majority of the film they where falling like flies to their own engines exploding as a result of bullets and bombs that had a longer script then the actors. The action scenes where really well done and you would have to give credit to the people doing stunts in this movie as they must have been dealing with a lot of moving vehicles.

Mad Max is a good action movie but it lacks in completely fleshing out its two main characters, however if you did come for the action moments like I did you will be real pleased. I haven’t watched many new action movies in the past few years that really appeal to me or be memorable. Mad Max’s chase scenes are really strong and feels like watching a performer doing stunts on the street. Apart from the avengers there have not been any good movies out this year so if you are looking for something till to keep you amused I would recommend the new Mad Max film.