Todd Lecture: Rachel Armstrong “Icological Cities”

Tonight, Norwich University will present Dr. Rachel Armstrong for the latest entry in the Todd Lecture Series. Her talk, titled “Icological Cities”, will take place in the school’s Plumley Armory at 7pm.

From the school’s press release:

Armstrong is a co-director of Advanced Virtual and Technological Architectural Research (AVATAR) specializing in architecture and synthetic biology at the Department of Architecture and Landscape, University of Greenwich, London. Her TED lecture titled “Architecture that repairs itself?” has received more than 750,000 views.

Armstrong is investigating a new approach to building materials called “living architecture,” a movement that suggests buildings can share properties of living systems.

Frequently regarded as a pioneer, Armstrong is named among the Future-ish.com 2014 Citizens of the Next Century. She also appeared in the “Wired” 2013 Smart List and among the 2013 “ICON” magazine 50. In 2012, “Director” magazine called her one of the ten people in the UK that may shape the UK’s recovery, and “Chick Chip” magazine recognized her as one of the year’s nine most inspiring women. In 2011, the BBC “Focus” magazine placed her in a list of “big ideas, ten original thinkers.”

The event will be livestreamed on the school’s website. Watch it here at 7pm EST.

You can also watch Armstrong’s TED Talk, which is pretty interesting.

The Todd series is a fantastic offering from the University, and just about every single one I’ve gone to is enlightening and interesting, opening my mind up to new things and new perspectives.

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The Making of ‘The Rookie Plague’

 

Over the last year, Norwich University students went forward and filmed a short Zombie film. I’ve yet to see it online, but recently, Norwich University posted up a short ‘making of’ video about the filming process:

It takes a lot to bring the living dead to life.

Two communications students, with a small group of helpers, spent much of the spring 2012 semester and all of their free time shooting a 30-minute movie, “The Rookie Plague,” on Norwich University’s campus. While not a class project, the film required a big commitment by students and employees.

The project got off to a slow start in the previous semester, but after completing the necessary writing, permitting and planning, Director Paul Barnard and Assistant Director Ben Garmise turned to Norwich’s drama troupe, the Pegasus Players, and quickly had a healthy cast of actors, extras and technical assistants to make the movie work.

Norwich helped out by allowing them to shoot in the buildings and grounds on afternoons and weekends. After a marathon editing effort just before the spring 2012 exam week, “The Rookie Plague” debuted in front of an enthusiastic crowd of NU students.

Geek Things for July 13th

  • Book Sale, 9:30AM–5:30PM, Stowe Free Library, Stowe. Free. (Books)
  • Community Bike Shop, 5–8PM, Bike Recycle Vermont, Burlington. Donations accepted. (Bikes)
  • Family Fun Night, 7–9PM, Vermont Institute of Natural Science, Quechee. $6-8; preregister. (Outdoors)
  • Walk Williston – Lisa Dunne leads a 1.3-mile nature hike. 5–7PM, Five Tree Hill, Williston. Free. (Outdoors)
  • Green Mountain College Morning Speaker Series – “Green Science,” 9–10AM, The Station, Poultney. Free. (Talk)
  • Burlington Downtown & Waterfront Plan: Developing innovative and practical solutions to transportation problems. 7–8:30PM, Film House, Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center, Burlington. Free. (Transportation)
  • Karen Lipinczyk & Brenda Egbert – “Labyrinths: What They Are and How to Build One,” 6:30PM, Bradford Public Library, Bradford. Free. (Labyrinths)
  • Summer Speaker Series, 4PM, President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site, Plymouth. $8. (Talk)
  • Yestermorrow Summer Lecture Series – “Future Components: A Primer on the Impact of Digital Technology on Design/Build.” 7–9PM, Yestermorrow Design/Build School, Waitsfield. Free. (Design)
  • ‘I’ll Be Back Before Midnight’, 8PM, McCarthy Arts Center, St. Michael’s College, Colchester. $29.50-38.50. (Theater)
  • Readings at the Athenaeum – Katie Hays and Baron Wormser, 7:30PM, St. Johnsbury Athenaeum, St. Johnsbury. Free. (Reading)
  • Magic Booster Draft – $12, 6pm – 11pm, Quarterstaff Games, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • Pathfinder Society, 6:30pm – 11:00pm, Game Lounge, Quarterstaff Games, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • Magnets, 11:00 a.m., Monshire Museum of Science, Norwich. (Kids)
  • Who Sank the Boat? 3:00 p.m., Monshire Museum of Science, Norwich. (Kids)
  • Learn About NOOK Color!, 6:00 PM, Barnes and Noble, South Burlington. (eReaders)
  • Planetarium presentation, 11am-12pm, Fairbank Museum, St. Johnsbury. $5/person. (Astronomy)
  • Red Cross Blood Drive. 12-5:30pm, Northfield High School, Northfield. (Blood Drive)
  • Naruto, 4:30pm – 8:00pm, The Gamer’s Grotto, Bennington. (Gaming)
  • Wednesday Night Board gaming at Triple Play, 6:00pm – 10:30pm, Triple Play, Lebanon, New Hampshire. (Gaming)
  • D&D Encounter, 6:00pm – 8:30pm, The Gamers Grotto, Bennington. (Gaming)
  • L5R Night at Triple Play, 6:30pm – 10:00pm, Triple Play, Lebanon. (Gaming)

The Northfield Bookstore To Close

Sad news coming across the internet this morning: The Northfield Bookstore, located on Depot Square in Northfield, Vermont, will be closing down.

From the store’s facebook page comes this announcement:

Friends and neighbors, it’s been a good run, but I’m putting my bookstore up for sale. Please pass the word to anyone who might be interested. Buy the entire store (in rented space) – custom shelves, equipment, & almost a decade in the same location – or move it to your site…. My hope is that someone from town will take it on. About 80% of it is working very well; it might be that I’m not the person for the other 20% but someone else, with deeper connections in town, would do better.

It’s another casualty, it would seem, of the difficult environment in which to operate a bookstore, and businesses in general.

This is hard news for me to swallow: the store is right across from where I work, and I often find myself wandering over during a lunch break to look through the shelves. I didn’t always buy things there, but I’ve found a lot of books that I might not have ordinarilly have come across, and for that, I’ll always be very thankful.

Geek Things for May 17th

  • Essex CHIPS Community Forum, 9AM–12PM, Essex CHIPS & Teen Center, Essex Junction. Free. (Awareness)
  • Transition PechaKucha, 7–8:30PM, Big Picture Theater & Café, Waitsfield. Free. (Energy)
  • Way to Go! Commuter Challenge. Visit waytogovt.org for details. 12AM–11:59PM, Various locations statewide. Free. (Environment)
  • Raptor Encounter, 11AM, Vermont Institute of Natural Science, Quechee. Regular admission, $8.50-10.50; free for kids 3 and under. (BirdS)
  • Talk to the Trainer, 2PM, Vermont Institute of Natural Science Quechee. Regular admission, $8.50-10.50; free for kids 3 and under. (Birds)
  • Creative Tuesdays, 3–5PM, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington. Free. (Kids)
  • Open Computer Time, 3–4:30PM, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington. Free. (Teens)
  • Science & Stories – Fireflies and why they light up. 11AM, ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, Burlington. Regular admission, $9.50-12.50; free for kids 2 and under. (Kids, Science)
  • Wild Edible & Medicinal Plant Walk – Preregister. 6–7:30PM, Wisdom of the Herbs School, Woodbury. $10; no one turned away for lack of funds. (Plants)
  • Howard Coffin – The Civil War’s effect on Vermonters. 7:30PM, Ohavi Zedek Synagogue, Burlington. Free. (History)
  • Bill Schubart – ‘How easily food can overwhelm a life’, 6PM, Phoenix Books, Essex. Free. (Food)
  • Henry Homeyer – ‘Organic Gardening (Not Just) in the Northeast’ 7PM, Bear Pond Books, Montpelier. Free. (Organic)
  • Boardgame Night, 6pm – 11pm, Quarterstaff Games, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • HeroClix!, 7:30pm – 11:00pm, Game Lounge, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • CLiF Authors and Illustrators – John Steven Gurney, Fisher Elementary School, Arlington. (Kids)
  • Red Cross Blood Drive, 12-5:30pm, Northfield High School, Northfield. (Blood Drive)

Geek Things for May 5th

  • ‘Growing Strong Roots in an Evolving Farm-to-School Landscape’, 3–7:30PM, Green Mountain College, Poultney. $20-25. (Agriculture)
  • Raptor Encounter, 11AM, Vermont Institute of Natural Science, Quechee. Regular admission, $8.50-10.50; free for kids 3 and under. (Birds)
  • Talk to the Trainer, 2PM, Vermont Institute of Natural Science, Quechee. Regular admission, $8.50-10.50; free for kids 3 and under. (Birds)
  • Chess Club, 7PM, Faith United Methodist Church, South Burlington. $2-3. (Chess)
  • Open Computer Time, 3–4:30PM, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington. Free. (Teens)
  • Café Scientifique – “Emerging Contaminants: Sex, Drugs and Vices That Affect Our Waters.” 6:30–8:30PM, ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, Burlington. Free; for ages 21 and up; cash bar. (Science)
  • Warmachine / Hordes, 5pm – 11pm, Quarterstaff Games Gamespace, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • The Battle of Lake Champlain. 7pm, Milano Ballroom, Norwich University, Northfield. (History)
  • Electronic Music by Middlebury Students, 10:10am – 12pm, Mahaney Center for the Arts Concert Hall, Middlebury College, Middlebury. (Music)
  • Author Appearance: Rick Riordan, 6pm, Manchester Elementary School gymnasium, Manchester. (Authors)

Geek Things for April 21

  • Raptor Encounter, 11AM, Vermont Institute of Natural Science, Quechee. Regular admission, $8.50-10.50; free for kids 3 and under. (Birds)
  • Talk to the Trainer, 2PM, Vermont Institute of Natural Science, Quechee. Regular admission, $8.50-10.50; free for kids 3 and under. (Birds)
  • Chess Club, 7PM, Faith United Methodist Church, South Burlington. $2-3. (Gaming)
  • ECHO Earth Weeks’ MudFest, 10AM–5PM, ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, Burlington. Regular admission, $8.50-10.50; free for kids 2 and under. (Kids)
  • Open Computer Time, 3–4:30PM, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington. Free. (Teens)
  • Booked for Lunch – “Reporting Vermont.” 12–1PM, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington. Free. (Talk)
  • Deborah Thomas – “Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.” 5pm, Special Collections Reading Room, Bailey/Howe Library, UVM, Burlington. Free. (Talk)
  • Polly Mahoney – “Life in the Yukon.” 7PM, Northwoods Stewardship Center, East Charleston. $5. (Talk)
  • Robert Braun – “Investments in Our Future: Exploring Space Through Innovations and Technology.” 11:30pm, Campus Center Theatre, University of Vermont in Burlington. Free. (NASA)
  • ‘Bat Boy: The Musical’, 7PM, Dibden Center for the Arts, Johnson State College, Johnson. $5; free for the JSC community. (Theater)
  • Footprints on the Land: Back to the Land (1960-2000). 1-3pm. Vermont History Museum, $5/$3 members, Pre-reg. 828-2180, Montpelier. (Kids)
  • Crazy Horse: Why the US Army Wanted to Kill Him and Why He Let Them Do It – Thomas Powers, 12-1pm, Kreitzberg Library Multipurpose Room, Norwich University, Free. (Talk)
  • Warmachine / Hordes, 5pm – 11pm, Quarterstaff Games Gamespace, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • “Is There Courage to Change America’s Diet?”, 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Given Carpenter Auditorium E131, UVM, Burlington. (Talk)
  • “Green Gone Wrong: How our Economy is Undermining the Environmental Revolution,” 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Davis Student Center, The Livak Ballroom, UVM, Burlington. (Talk)
  • Miniatures Camp, 9am – Fri, April 22, 3pm, The Gamers Grotto, Bennington. (Gaming)
  • The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI): Is It Working, 12:30 – 1:30pm, Franklin Environmental Center 103, Middlebury College, Middlebury. (Talk)
  • The Progress of Palestinian-Israeli Negotiations: Towards The Rights of Israel: Negotiating the non-Negotiable, 7 – 9pm, Robert A Jones ’59 Conference Room, Middlebury Collete, Middlebury. (Talk)

Geek things for 420

  • Raptor Encounter, 11AM, Vermont Institute of Natural Science, Quechee. Regular admission, $8.50-10.50; free for kids 3 and under. (Birds)
  • Scrabble Club, 1–3PM, Dorothy Alling Memorial Library, Williston. Free. (Gaming)
  • ECHO Earth Weeks’ MudFest, 10AM–5PM, ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, Burlington. Regular admission, $8.50-10.50; free for kids 2 and under. (Kids)
  • High School Book Group, 5–6PM, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington. Free. (Teens)
  • Middle School Book Group, 4–5PM, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington. Free. (Teens)
  • Benson Lecture: Rick Bass – Protection of the Montana wilderness from development and logging. 7–8PM, Green Mountain College, Poultney. Free. (Talk)
  • John Cramer – Theories of quantum physics, and Penny Penniston’s play now then again. 7:30–8:30PM, Whallonsburg Grange Hall, Whallonsburg NY. Free. (Physics)
  • ‘Bat Boy: The Musical’, 10AM, Dibden Center for the Arts, Johnson State College, Johnson. $5; free for the JSC community. (Theater)
  • Book Discussion Series: ‘Orchestrated Stories’ – Tananarive Due’s Joplin’s Ghost, 6:30PM, Hartland Public Library, Hartland. Free. (Reading)
  • Magic Booster Draft – $12, 6pm – 11pm, Quarterstaff Games, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • Pathfinder Society, 6:30pm – 11:00pm, Game Lounge, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • Footprints on the Land: You Can Get There from Here! (1930-1960). 1-3pm, Vermont History Museum, $5/$3 members, Pre-reg. 828-2180. Montpelier. (Kids)
  • Books & Book Collecting, 1:30pm, Noble Hall, VT College of Fine Arts, $5 for non-members, Info. 454-4675, Montpelier. (Books)
  • Book Discussion: The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. 7pm, Brown Public Library, Info. 485-4621, Northfield. (Books)
  • Environmental Forum, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., The Jost Foundation Room, Davis Student Center, UVM, Burlington. (Environmental)
  • Horace Bartilow – “Drug Wars Collaterla Damage: Human Rights Effects of the US Funded Drug War in Latin America,” 3:15 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Old Mill John Dewey Lounge 325, UVM, Burlington. (Talk)
  • Hoopster Gilder Build a glider that flies! 11:00 a.m., Monshire Museum of Science, Norwich. (Kids)
  • Sink or Float Test, 3pm, Monshire Museum of Science, Norwich. (Kids)
  • W. D. Carpenter Lecture – “Cap and Trade: The Evolution of an Economic Idea”, 4:30 – 6:30pm, Franklin Environmental Center 103, Middlebury College, Middlebury. (Talk)
  • MCAB Guest Speaker: David Sanger, 8-9:30pm, Mead Chapel, Middlebury College, Middlebury. (Talk)
  • NOOK It with NOOK Color! 6:00 PM, Barnes and Noble, South Burlington. (eReaders)
  • Miniatures Camp, 9am – Fri, April 22, 3pm, The Gamers Grotto, Bennington. (Gaming)
  • Naruto, 4:30pm – 8:00pm, The Gamer’s Grotto, Bennington. (Gaming)
  • Wednesday Night Board gaming at Triple Play, 6:00pm – 10:30pm, Triple Play, Lebanon, New Hampshire (Gaming)
  • D&D Encounter, 6:00pm – 8:30pm, The Gamers Grotto, Bennington. (Gaming)
  • L5R Night at Triple Play, 6:30pm – 10:00pm, Triple Play, Lebanon NH. (Gaming)

Norwich to offer Gaming & Algorithms Course

This in from the Norwich Guidon:

The dining hall may serve the same food each semester, the same professors may teach year after year, and some traditions are forever, but there is one change for Norwich students to look forward to next fall: Brand-new classes.
Instead of assigning a textbook, Professor Jeremy Hansen, an assistant professor of computer science, is asking his students to choose one of their favorite games and purchase that for class.
Hansen is offering a new course titled Gaming and Algorithms.
“Although the class is a 400 level course, the material is not that advanced,” Hansen said, “It’s more for non-computer science and non-computer security folks to be introduced to the things people really shy away from in computer science like algorithms, probability and gaming theory.”
This elective course is explained nearly entirely through games, according to Hansen. “Most people know how to play chess or checkers, but we are going to find out the purpose and strategies of the games,” Hansen said.
Meeting once a week, Hansen plans to divide the three hours into sections.
“(The students) will not be simply sitting at the computer and playing Bejeweled for an hour and a half, but the students will document things like rules and analyzing the state of the game,” Hansen said.
The course itself does not get into computer programming but, “if there are students with any programming backgrounds in the class, I may have them build the stuff because they have the resources,” Hansen said.
“It really boils down to games and problem solving,” Hansen said, but outside of the problem solving, he plans to look in the role of theme in a game.

Full article.

eBooks vs Print Books

illustration

Seven Days has a fantastic article in their latest issue on the rise of eBook readers and the relationship between hard-copy books, new and used:

But are e-readers the solution to a rising tide of books? Or do they spell the end of the book? To find out, I talked with local authors, bookstore owners, librarians, a publisher and an expert on e-waste. I heard from people who love e-readers and people who revile them. I learned that the new tech doesn’t have to put you in thrall to Amazon. I also learned that, if you want to assuage your eco-conscience with a shiny new iPad or Kindle, forget it.

E-books cannot be ignored: Their overall sales increased by nearly 165 percent in 2010. Best-selling Vermont novelist Chris Bohjalian has seen the meteoric change firsthand. “Only about 3 percent of unit sales for my 2008 novel, Skeletons at the Feast, were digital, while easily 40 percent of unit sales for my most recent novel, 2010’s Secrets of Eden, have been digital,” he writes.

But, if e-books are popular, they aren’t exactly beloved. Bohjalian notes, “As a culture we have a totemic connection with paper books that is a half millennium long.” Michael DeSanto, owner of Phoenix Books in Essex, compares paper books to daylilies. “When I buy a book,” he says, “I’m buying more than the brief life of an electronic image on my screen. I’m buying a lovely flower for my garden.”

Penny McConnel sells e-books through her Norwich Bookstore, thanks to a new agreement between the American Booksellers Association and Google Books. But she says her customers mainly use e-readers for convenience when they travel, not because they like them. “About 99 and four-one-hundredths of the people who come into this store say, ‘Oh, yeah, I have an e-reader. But when I’m just reading, I want a book,’” she says.

A dissenter from the Books Are Better chorus is Jim DeFilippi of Colchester. When he started using an e-reader, the retired high school teacher had doubts, he says, but “now that’s all I read. I’ve gotten completely used to it. A lot of traditional people will say, ‘No, I need the feel of a traditional book in my hands,’ but give them a week with a Kindle, and that’ll be all behind them.”

Full article.

As someone who’s worked at a chain bookstore, I can remember some of the inherent waste that we’d incur over the course of a business cycle: paperback books that weren’t sold had their covers stripped, while the books were tipped into the dumpster in back. We’re receive a regular box with a single paperback inside, while we’d receive more books that we sold, shipping the hardcovers back to the distributor to be resold. The entire book distribution industry felt incredible inefficient and wasteful on a number of levels. On one hand, Borders (which owned Waldenbooks), was not all that great in the first place – I think that a large reason for their failures in recent years has been because they haven’t been able to eliminate these problems, or even recognize them.
eBook readers allow for a smoother transition from author or publisher to consumers, and I’m sure that there’s some savings in costs – environmental and fiscal – there, but one also has to keep in mind (as this article does) the costs of putting together a complicated electronic, from the environmental cost of mining, shipping it across the ocean and the cost of labor in a country that doesn’t treat their workforce all that well.
That all being said, I’ve been using an iPad for almost a year now, and I’ve found it to be good for reading books – at night, it’s helpful read without an extra light keeping my fiancée awake, or on the road when I’ve got a limited amount of space. That being said, to read, I prefer the hard-copy book, because I’m not likely going to delete the file, or worry about my iTunes library deciding not to show up for the day (which has happened, several times), and picking up a book means it’s reading time, not a time when I can be more distracted with more functions.