Source: Paul Buchheit’s Blog

Paul Buchheit

Paul Buchheit is the mastermind behind Google’s Gmail and AdSense, and founder of FriendFeed (now part of Facebook). Click the pic to read the post being described.

A familiar storyline? Computer programming genius Paul Buchheit has his own blog (who doesn’t these days?), and while most of his posts have been geared to the techno-geeks, a post from last week has a certain, eerily familiar ring to it:

Sometimes we catch a glimpse of the truth, and discover the actual rules of a system. Once the actual rules are known, it may be possible to perform “miracles” — things which violate the perceived rules.


Shortcuts and Loopholes. Paul describes how he feels that hacking fits this description of violating perceived rules, and gives his work with AdSense as an example. Hacking these days goes beyond the computer:

Hacking isn’t limited to computers though. Wherever there are systems, there is the potential for hacking, and there are systems everywhere. Our entire reality is systems of systems, all the way down.

This hacking of systems results from a certain mindset… the “hacker mindset”… that breaks from the “straight and narrow” path in favor of “shortcuts and loopholes”; That there are always undiscovered areas of opportunity, and those who can exploit them become incredibly successful at the expense of others (an old obsolete system or innocent victims). Of course, these hacks can result in a vast improvement of something (Google’s rise as the predominant search engine) or an apocalyptic failure (bailouts).


Hack the future. Most don’t bother about finding the truth or even care if someone else does. Some people are content with just finding the truth about reality, but hackers try to bend that truth to see if it breaks or if it holds up. Those are the people, Paul says, who will make the future for us:

To discover great hacks, we must always be searching for the true nature of our reality, while acknowledging that we do not currently possess the truth, and never will. Hacking is much bigger and more important than clever bits of code in a computer — it’s how we create the future.

This post has been filed under Internet Find by Mr. Roboto.

Source: Wired’s Beyond the Beyond, elsewhere as indicated.

Augmented Reality HUD (from How Stuff Works)

Imagine being able to look at something or someone and having instant access to its information right in your eyes. This is the basic idea behind Augmented Reality: Using computerized information over reality.
NOTE: Click the pic for more information on Augmented reality on

For the past five months Bruce Sterling has been blogging about the emerging augmented reality technology. With the first story being about an AR geisha, there has been a rapid progression of the technology, and with it the proliferation of applications for portables that are making AR more probable than VR.

Here’s an demo of an AR zombie blast-a-thon game.

We’re not just playing games here. Browse through the 12 pages of Augmented Reality articles from BtB and you’ll see more than just zombie blasters. There are city guides, movies, presentations, world maps, … even T-shirts are getting into the AR craze. All are currently… or soon will be… available for your portable devices.

But, they’re currently working on AR without the need for portables.


In the eyes of the beholder…

Bionic contacts for AR

In the Terminator movies, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character sees the world with data superimposed on his visual field—virtual captions that enhance the cyborg’s scan of a scene. In stories by the science fiction author Vernor Vinge, characters rely on electronic contact lenses, rather than smartphones or brain implants, for seamless access to information that appears right before their eyes.

Source: IEEE Spectrum Work is currently underway to create contact lenses that can beam information AR-style directly onto the retina. The circuits will be small and/or transparent enough to not interfere with normal vision, while radio frequency waves will provide power.

These lenses don’t need to be very complex to be useful. Even a lens with a single pixel could aid people with impaired hearing or be incorporated as an indicator into computer games. With more colors and resolution, the repertoire could be expanded to include displaying text, translating speech into captions in real time, or offering visual cues from a navigation system. With basic image processing and Internet access, a contact-lens display could unlock whole new worlds of visual information, unfettered by the constraints of a physical display.

A single LED is only the beginning. In 5-10 years, they are looking to incorporate bio sensors into the lenses, with possible full AR capabilities by then.


Somehow, AR shooting with an iPhone doesn’t quite compare to using an AK-47.

Is AR the future, or is it another VR? Before you go googling for the latest AR development system or learning how to program in ARML, you might want to refresh your memory banks regarding the “potential” that virtual reality (VR) had in the 90s, especially while you read stuff like this:

“First, Mobile AR is going to be bigger than the web. Second, it is going to affect nearly every industry and aspect of life. Third, the emerging sector needs aggressive investment with long term returns. Get rich quick start ups in this space will blow through money and ultimately fail. We need smart VCs to jump in now and do it right. Fourth, AR has the potential to create a few hundred thousand jobs and entirely new professions. You want to kick start the economy or relive the golden days of 1990s innovation? Mobile AR is it.

Don’t be misguided by the gimmicky marketing applications now. Look ahead, and pay attention to what the visionaries are talking about right now. Find the right idea, help build the team, fund them, and then sit back and watch the world change. Also, AR has long term implications for smart cities, green tech, education, entertainment, and global industry. This is serious business, but it has to be done right. I’m more than happy to talk to any venture capitalist, angel investor, or company executive that wants to get a handle on what is out there, what is coming, and what the potential is. Understanding these is the first step to leveraging them for a competitive edge and building a new industry. Lastly, AR is not the same as last decade’s VR.”

Not the same? We’ll see about that, once the consumers have had their say…

This post has been filed under Cyberpunked living by Mr. Roboto.

October 4, 2009


Review By: Mr. Roboto

Version Reviewed: 2.2, aka “Beyond Dome of York”

Year: 2002, 2004

Developed by: Reakktor Media GmBH

Platforms: Windows

Official Site

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Very High

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Very High

Rating: 9 out of 10


“By the end of the third millenium, Earth has changed…
Global pollution, excessive wars and a perforated atmosphere have turned the planet into an almost lifeless sphere of toxic mud. Radiation is everywhere and most animals have either gone extinct or have mutated into bizarre monstrous creatures.

The remnants of mankind seek protection from the desolate, scorched world and gathered behind the protective walls of giant cities. These few mega cities became the last lights of hope, in the darkness of Earth’s final dusk…”

Overview: While World of Warcraft has captured the online world’s attention, cyberpunk fans have had their own MMOFPSRPG to explore. Neocron was initially released in 2002, with the current 2.2 originally planed as on add-on but has since become its own game. Featuring a dark, gritty cyberpunk future setting, Neocron is the very definition of the genre as you deal with robots, psychopaths, mega-corporations, drugs, guns, implants, naked chicks, mutants, …, and an intricate political backdrop among the factions in the future city.


The Story (so far): A nuclear war in 2143 wipes out most of humanity, and causes massive tectonic activity that decimates what was left. It would take some 300 years before humanity recovers to the most basic levels, with two cities rising from the ruins: Neocron and the Dome of York. It is now the 28th century, and the last two cities are now in decline; The Dome of York was nearly destroyed in a war with Neocron, while Neocron has had several coups, the most recent has ousted the ruling Psi Monks and installs Lioon Reza as ruler.

You enter the arena of Neocron from MC5, a sort of “proving grounds” where new citizens are tested to see if they are strong enough to become productive. If they survive, they become “runners” and get to be teleported to their apartment where Mr. Jones awaits to give them starter missions to show what their selected career can be like.

Mutant Aggressor

The welcoming committee

Career Paths. So many choices to make in Neocron, but some make better sense than others. First off, you need to select a “class,” the main type of person you want to be. The class selection not only determines what type of careers are available, but also how your character develops in the game. GenTanks (Genetically Engineered Human Tanks) are the muscles whose strong bodies and weak brains make them the main guns of Neocron. They can be soldiers, fighters, bodyguards, and even vehicle drivers. The Dexterous spies are not as strong as the Tanks, but they have abilities to be scientists, scouts, drone ops, assassins, and most importantly, HACKERS! The Psi Monks get to develop their psionic skills to become medics, inquisitors, and preachers. They can even use their intelligence to take up a spy-type job since their physical abilities don’t develop as fast. For the Private Eye, the world is their oyster. They can follow any career path they want, but since their skills don’t develop as well as the specialists, their abilities may not be the best.


The places you will go. Neocron is divided into several areas, with each area having one to four “sectors” in which you will explore and work in. The Plaza is the main area where several factions have headquarters and even recruiting offices. Plaza-1 is the main gathering place for players, especially in the Medicare building.

Via Rosso seaside

Via Rosso is the high-rent district of Neocron. Some of the corporate factions have headquarters here, including the Neocron City Police. This seaside view shows why the rent is high.

Neocron’s red-light district is Pepper Park. Here is where players can find plenty of “entertainment,” from the various clubs to NeoFrag, the deathmatch game-within-the-game. Also, several criminal factions have headquarters here.

On the outskirts, there are the Industrial Areas and Outzone. These areas are mostly abandoned and devoid of life, but beware of some crazies who will take pot-shots at you if they don’t like your faction.

Neocron’s Main Gate

This is the main gate from Neocron, the exit to the wastelands beyond the city walls. There are outposts, mutants, and some anti-city factions out there, not to mention the Dome of York.


Hacknet - the playground of the 1337 hacker. One who is skilled enough can travel between different areas of Neocron… and beyond. The best ones can find valuable data other players can use.

Patience is a virtue. There is so much to learn about in Neocron that one needs to be patient to learn them. The main thing is learning how to distribute their skill points appropriately for their career. Players may also want to use some skill points for “tradeskills” such as implanting, construction, and recycling. I’ve seen so many requests for construction and implanting (”poking” in gamespeak) that I’m considering implanting as a main tradeskill, though I’ve already attributed some to recycling. If you want to prepare or educate yourself for Neocron, I’d suggest checking TechHaven and NeoTerm along with the official site. They have FAQs and guides to help you in your career, and forums where you can ask for advice.

Another reason for patience is due to some bugs in the game, and not just the ones in the sewers. Reports of items disappearing is the most common, though it hasn’t happened to myself. The main problem I’ve had, other than pulling myself away or encountering creatures I’m not strong enough to deal with, is “fatal program error.” Probably a connection problem I need to look into. Other than that, not many technical problems.


Conclusion: Neocron has that certain potential to be a Warcraft killer, though it is certainly a cult-favorite at best. Makes me wish I was hacking and poking around Neocron 1 when it came out. I’m glad to have had a chance to do my stuff with 2.2 and would like be there for 3.0. Even so, I do need to pull away to some more reviews here… must… log… out… of … Neo… cron…

This post has been filed under Cyberpunk Games by Mr. Roboto.

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