This site showcases the (mostly) digital work of Andrew DiFiore from both Virtual Arts Studios and answerYES Interactive as well as random thoughts and experimental projects too volatile to be contained anywhere else.

 
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    Billions and Billions

    On October 31, 2011, the 7th billionth person was born (give or take six months according to United Nations demographer Gerhard Heilig). It seems like it was just 1999 when we were a mere 6 billion.

    Arriving amidst global recessions, this news may sound a bit scary (apropos for Halloween) but it doesn’t have to be. Hint: It is not about the volume. Watch this video by National Geographic and when you’re done check out the United Nations Population Fund’s 7 Billion Actions for inspiration from individuals and organizations around the world.

    Happy Halloween 2011

    Anytime you’re looking for inspiration, the immensely talented artists that inhabit deviantART never fail to deliver. This piece is called Samantha and the Anatomy of Halloween by Grelin Machin from Montreal.

    Happy Halloween!

    Forward This!

    As if spam wasn’t enough, every Tom, Dick, and Grandma seems hellbent of polluting your inbox with tired hoaxes, lame jokes, and celebrity chain letters.

    Well, the godfather of music parodies “Weird Al” Yankovic has composed a suitable anthem in the Gothic style of Jim Steinman (think Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell). Now you can forward this to all them Toms, Dicks, and Grandmas the next time you get a video email of a cat playing keyboard.

    “Stop Forwarding That Crap to Me” is the final track of Weird Al’s latest album Alpocalypse. The video by Koos Dekker is made up of the lyrics in kinetic typography. Enjoy!

    Cool Tool of the Month: Onswipe

    I was actually going to post Onswipe as a Cool Tool back in June but found the start-up was still experiencing some growing pains. Nevertheless, I was optimistic that the good folks at Onswipe (namely co-founders Jason Baptiste Andres Barreto) would grow up fast. And they did, culling $6 million in VC funding for trailblazing.

    Onswipe bills itself as a magazine-style publishing and advertising platform for tablet devices. They have some big name publishers like Ziff Davis, Slate, and Marie Claire. Nice. But the idea I really like is Onswipe makes it “insanely easy” to convert ordinary WordPress blogs into a slick touch-screen friendly e-zines. They do this with open-souce PHP and NodeJS with a MongoDB database on the back-end and HTML5/CSS3 (and their own JavaScript framework called SwipeCore) on the front-end.

    It is pretty simple to get started: create an account, select a layout, and pick a custom URL like touch.virtual-arts.com. You can have Onswipe auto-detect the user’s device and redirect to this URL but you will have to update the primary domain DNS settings with a CNAME record (call your domain registrar to help you with this step). The application also lets you specify a Google Analytics ID for tracking site usage.

    Overall a nice first step in the right direction if you don’t mind relinquishing some design. Clearly the greater advantage is to ad-driven sites with lots of content. I’ve yet to delve that deep into the publication end and suspect there are some limitations but the convenience of delivering content to touch-screen devices without the hassle of redesigning your site is compelling (at least for the short-term). Something to keep an eye on.

    Zombie Love?

    I really want to like Frank Darabont’s directed adaption of the acclaimed comic book series The Walking Dead.

    I really, really, really do.

    My initial reaction to the first season was this is going to be the coolest program on TV. AMC gave producers a wide berth and the show received a great deal of press prior to its debut (all of which paid off with a zombie horde of 5.3 million). But after last night’s season premiere I’m concerned that the series is going to be nothing more than a self-indulgent gore-fest.

    I know, I know, that’s what zombies movies are all about. The show is being true to Robert Kirkman’s vision. And I’m sure die-hard fans are enthralled (even as they barf up a liver).

    I guess I was just hoping for something more. Something better. Something that took the zombie apocalypse idea seriously enough to flesh it out with strong character development and provocative plot lines. Gore is fine. I expect gore. But the stories are being defined by it, requiring the audience to suspend their belief not in the existence of zombies (that’s a given) but rather in the “reality” set by the genre itself. Rick Grimes can’t outrun a zombie in the woods? Really? Have you hiked in the woods? Try it with rigor mortis! Let’s disembowel a zombie to see who it ate. Really? There are plenty of plausible opportunities to gross people out, you really don’t need to go that far afield.

    I would love to observe survivors of a hellish post-apocalyptic world. Social mores breakdown. Religious convictions tested. But once pass the gruesome reality that undead stagger among us, it is a matter of rebuilding. Though it would be nice to know how the zombie outbreak occurred (government experiment gone awry, despotic alien extermination of the human race, unholy retribution from primordial beings) but in the end, zombies are ultimately a transient threat. The zombies on The Walking Dead are slow-moving dullards in a state of decay (let’s not forget that we are in Atlanta amidst 100 degree weather) so their bodies will eventually be incapable of locomotion in a matter of months. Survivors just need to wait it out (preferably where there are no zombies)… but what fun is that?