I love Questacon! August 19, 2011Posted by pacejmiller in Canberra, Technology, Travel.
Tags: Australia, Canberra, High Court of Australia, Museum, Questacon, science, science fiction, science museum, scientist
I’ve always loved science museums. In fact, a visit to a science museum as a child may have prompted me to tell everyone that I wanted to be a scientist when I grew up. Having the worst science teachers (one threw a metal dust pan that narrowly missed a student’s head) and performing poorly in science during my formative school years (I was told to stand in a corner after tracing light rays on the table instead of my workbook during an optics experiment) quickly put those dreams into a permanent coma. But my passion for science museums remains alive.
And so during our recent trip to Canberra, my number one must-visit was Questacon, Australia’s National Science and Technology Centre. Questacon is located at King Edward Terrace, home to a bunch of other galleries and museums such as the National Portrait Gallery, the Museum of Australian Democracy, and is adjacent to Parkes Place, which is where the High Court of Australia current sits. By the way, Australia’s highest court of law is a dump.
Questacon is undoubtedly designed for curious children, but that didn’t stop me and many other adults from trying out the 200+ interactive exhibits across the 8 galleries in the museum. The layout is uniquely designed. You start off on the first exhibition hall on the top floor, then slowly make your way down the circular walkway through the various halls until you reach the eighth and final one on the ground floor. Reminded me a little of the astoundingly good aquarium at Osaka (Kaiyukan), which has a similar design.
For us, we started off with a dry ice show in one of the theatres on the ground floor (there are a few throughout the day, and this one was supposed to be the best), which was very cool. I learned a few things and was surprised by how many children were willing to volunteer to answer questions they clearly did not know the answer to.
I’m not going to bother going through all the exhibits they had — you can check them out for yourself at the Questacon website. For me, the coolest were the ‘Perception Deception’ gallery (especially the ‘phantom limb’ — that was freaky!), the ‘Awesome Earth’ gallery (where you could experience earthquakes and massive lightning strikes) and the ‘Sideshow’ gallery (like a free theme park with those rotating clowns, roller coaster simulators and a six-metre free fall slide!).
Questacon was a lot of fun. It was hygienic too, with free hand sanitizer pumps in every gallery. We went during school holidays, so there were a lot of kids (though I imagine not as many as there would be on the weekend), but the good thing is that as an adult you can just shove them out of the way.
Questacon is open 9am-5pm every day except Christmas Day
Adults $20, Concession $15, Children (4-16) $15, Family (2 adults+3 children) $60 + $7 for each additional child.
Dictating a novel? May 20, 2011Posted by pacejmiller in Misc, Novel, On Writing, Study, Technology.
Tags: Apple, Arts, books, dictation, fiction, iPad, novel writing, recording, transcribing, writer, Writing
I’ve really been struggling trying to get my novel project into shape the last few days. When I’m away from the computer I have a million thoughts running through my head, and I feel like I am ready to write the best shit ever. But as soon as I sit down and start typing, I’ve got nothin’.
The other day, just before heading out, I was taking a shower when I pretty much planned out an entire chapter of my novel in my head, or so I thought. I was really excited, but I didn’t have time to write anything down because I had to head out immediately.
I was driving when I had an idea. Using the recording app on my iPad, I started dictating the chapter to my novel that was in my head during the shower. It was surprisingly effective. In about 25 minutes, I had more or less dictated the entire chapter.
That night I went home and transcribed it. It wasn’t great, but at least I got it out of my system and it allowed me to fix it as I went along, almost like editing a rough first draft.
All of this amazed me, considering as a lawyer I never used the dictation systems they had in place because I found it all too hard and awkward. I also wasn’tMaybe it was just because I didn’t know what to say.
Could this be a new way for me to write? Has anyone else tried it?
Unfortunately for me, writing first drafts of chapters is no longer my concern anymore. I now have to actually shape the drafts into good shit, which I have discovered is even harder. D’oh.
Stop this 3D madness! December 13, 2010Posted by pacejmiller in Entertainment, Movie Reviews, Technology.
Tags: 3-D film, 3D, 3D films, 3D glasses, 3D movies, Avatar, Clash of the Titans, film, Hollywood, movie, prices, rip off
1 comment so far
I’m so sick of watching a promising trailer for a new film, only to see in big letters at the very end, “Coming to you…in 3D”!!!
Here I go again. I have been consistently vocal in my objection towards this current tidal wave of 3D films hitting our cinemas. Sure, there are some movies that provide an enhanced experience in 3D — for example Avatar, or dare I even say Resident Evil: Afterlife, but ther vast majority of 3D films out there charge a hefty premium and give you a shitty time with the uncomfortable and darkening glasses and pointless 3D effects.
Worst of all, 3D films aren’t discounted at all, even on cheapo days, and even those that use movie money have to pay a few dollars extra. For instance, if you go watch a 2D movie on cheapo Tuesday (in Australia), you can catch a film for around $10 (or less if you use movie money on any day of the week). But if you watch the same movie in 3D, you can fork out up to $24 for an adult ($17.50 + $3.50 for 3D + $1 for Vmax + $1 for internet booking) and $19.50 for a child. Enough said.
I thought after films like Clash of the Titans (where the 3D actually made the film worse) , the backlash against 3D will make studio execs think twice before making their latest release in 3D, but it hasn’t appeared to slow the trend at all. According to this article from the Economist, 3D is relatively inexpensive, adding only a 10-15% to the cost of production, with a huge upside and low risk of piracy. No wonder they’re even trying to re-release a bunch of old films in 3D to cash in.
Much of the blame of course rests with moviegoers that continue to go to 3D movies. These days I choose 2D whenever the option is available, but I admit there have been times when I have wondered: will the 3D finally be good this time? Needless to say, it never is. I’m a frequent visitor to the cinema, but with a lot of people or families who only go a handful of times a year, 3D can seem like a real treat, especially if you haven’t experienced it before. So I guess as long as people keep paying up to 240% the price of what they ought to be paying, the 3D rush will continue.
It was interesting, though, to see this New York Times article that discussed the backlash against 3D films in Hollywood. Perhaps it is filmmakers who will take the charge to stop this 3D madness.