Marble Blast: Marble Madness lives!!!

I grew up with Commodore computers, starting with the Vic20, graduating through C-64, C-128, and finally, a smoking Amiga 1000. One of the best things I remember from the Amiga was a game called Marble Madness. A truly great game, but it’s been basically lost since those days.

I got a nice little announcement from Apple today. As a bonus for .Mac subscribers, they are throwing in a license for the game Marble Blast. It had “Marble” in the title, so I had to check it out.

Marble Blast is what Marble Madness would have become with several years of evolution. It’s like Marble Madness Meets First Person Shooter. The marble game from the perspective of the marble. Very well done, from graphics to animation to sound. I’m hooked. I wonder what’s different in Marble Blast Gold

Marble MadnessMarble Blast

UPDATE: I played a couple rounds this afternoon, and 2 separate people walking past my pod said “Cool! Marble Madness!” So, it’s not just me…

Macromedia Contribute 2

I’ve been playing around with Macromedia Contribute 2, which is now available for MacOSX. It seems like an extremely useful utility for editing existing websites, but falls short for creating them. That’s a reflection of the market they’re looking at – newbies editing content (change a phone number on an intranet, update an image…).

For that, it rocks quite nicely. I’m curious to see how/if it mangles a modern web page, since it seems to have some heavy table editing tools, but nothing for divs or css…

I’ve been pointing it at a dummy page to see what it can do. It handled the image upload and display attributes extremely well.

Computer Vision-based Searching

I just got back from a very cool demo by Brad Behm, who works in Dr. J.R. Parker’s Computer Vision Lab here on campus. Very VERY cool stuff. They’ve got an app set up so that you can feed it an image, and it will search its database of several hundred images and return similar images. They run several comparisons simultaneously, checking edges, colours, etc…

It’s not perfect yet, but they’re batting over .500, which is much higher than the other computer-vision search groups are getting (apparently Brad’s software averages about 57% accuracy, but this can go much higher to almost 100% depending on the images in the database and the source query image).

We talked about some of the issues and implications of this type of technology, and it could be an amazingly powerful utility. We’re going to be talking with Dr. Parker about the possibility of hooking it up to CAREO (no promises, but we’re interested – he’s out of town at the moment, though) to provide another set of learning objects, with metadata generated automatically and on the fly by their application.

Full Screen Safari

I’m finally able to run Safari in full screen mode, thanks to a little InputManager plugin called Saft. Very cool. I now have Safari running full screen in desktop #2 on my 18-desktop VirtualDesktop setup. Works like a champ. It even drops the dock and menu bar out of the way (have to remember the menu keyboard shortcuts…)

Saft is a little, well, quirky. It’s not fully integrated, and appears to do some funky patching of the running Safari app. But, it works.