Interesting Finds: Issue #28

Bowling Alley x Drone, Space Invaders Multitasking, Breathtaking Nature Photography and Birdcasting

I started this newsletter last fall as a creative outlet while we were still neck deep in the pandemic. If I’m being honest, I didn’t think I’d make it this far as I fully expected the novelty to wear off for me and I’d get depressed with my lack of readership since I wasn’t focused at all on “marketing” this in any formal way.

Fast forward 7 months, I’m still here and now on Issue #28! While my readership is relatively small compared to “successful” newsletters, I’m pleasantly surprised by how many of you read this weekly, and send me personal notes commenting on what you liked or didn’t like. Regardless of when you signed up or how you found this, thank you for taking the time to read this weekly!

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In Issue #28, we’ve covering a smash of topics: single take drone footage (in a bowling alley no less!), Space Invaders Multitasking, Breathtaking Nature Photography and using machine learning to predict bird migrations across the USA.


Incredible Bowling Alley Drone Video

Hat tip to my pal Justin for sending this my way.

A video shot by an FPV drone flying through a Minnesota bowling alley in one take has gone viral. The one-and-a-half-minute-long clip titled Right Up Our Alley was filmed in a single shot, albeit after 10-12 attempts. "I think there's some scepticism there of it being a true one-take. It is a true one-take. There's no CGI," said the video's director, Anthony Jaska. The sound was added in post-production as the buzzing from the drone's four blades make it impractical to use natural audio. The filmmakers said the goal of the video was to remind people of local businesses such as the bowling alley as public health measures from the coronavirus pandemic ease

Multitasking++

Tomohiro Nishikado is the creator of Space Invaders which is frequently cited as the inception of the “shoot ‘em up” genre of games. It turns out that Tomohiro is quite the talented multitasker. He made Space Invaders himself where he was the software engineer, sound mixer, artist and also created the game’s microcomputer from scratch. Absolutely bonkers.

If you aren’t familiar with Space Invaders, here is a sample of the game play:

First some background on him from Wikipedia:

Tomohiro Nishikado (西角 友宏, Nishikado Tomohiro, born March 31, 1944 in Osaka) is a Japanese video game developer. He is best known as the creator of the fixed shooter Space Invaders, released to the public in 1978 by the Taito of Japan, often credited as the first shoot 'em up and for beginning the golden age of video arcade games. Originally Nishikado wanted to use airplanes as enemies for Space Invaders, but would have encountered problems making them move smoothly due to the limited computing power at the time (the game was based on Intel's 8-bit 8080 microprocessor). Humans would have been easier to render, but management at Taito forbade the use of human targets.

Now about Space Invaders:

In 1977, Nishikado began developing Space Invaders, which he created entirely on his own. In addition to designing and programming the game, he also did the artwork and sounds, and engineered the game's arcade hardware, putting together a microcomputer from scratch. Following its release in 1978, Space Invaders went on to become his most successful video game. 

[…]

The game also introduced the idea of giving the player a number of "lives". It sold over 360,000 arcade cabinets worldwide, and by 1981 had grossed more than $1 billion equivalent to $2.5 billion in 2011

2020 World Nature Photography Awards

I look forward to the yearly World Nature Photography Awards. Each year, the stunning collection of photos are awe inspiring and this year is no different.

Thomas Vijayan is the overall winner and crowned the World Nature Photographer of the year based on this photo:

Story behind the photo:

I had this frame in my mind so, to get this shot, I firstly selected a tree that was in the water so that I could get a good reflection of the sky which makes the image look upside down. Then, I climbed up the tree and waited for hours. This is a regular path for the orangutans to cross to another small island, so I felt I was sure to get this frame if I wait patiently. It was a tough task but the end result paid off. Borneo is a photographers’ paradise. I really enjoyed shooting in such an untouched part of the world.

The most striking photo to me was taken by Gunther De Bruyne, of a White Rhino being dehorned:

A white Rhino is dehorned to prevent being killed by poachers. It’s a highly effective strategy as well as a conservation measure of last resort. All rhino species are, or have been, on the brink of extinction due to the popularity of their horn in Asia. But to clarify: rhino horn is composed of keratin, the very same substance that forms our fingernails. Nowadays, even in Asia, it’s widely known that rhino horn has no medicinal value or any other beneficial effect. However, the fewer rhinos there are, the higher the price of their horns, which unfortunately has made rhino horn consumption a status symbol.

Birdcasting

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Colorado State University have created a system called Birdcasting that uses machine learning to predict daily bird migration forecasts. The system was trained back on 20 years of historical bird movement data.

You can even get alerts for local bird migration for your city to know when birds may be passing overhead! Here is the forecast for Seattle for Friday, March 12, 2021:

Even better though, is the look over the entire country on the live migration patterns. Here’s what it looks like for tonight:

Real-time analysis maps show intensities of actual nocturnal bird migration as detected by the US weather surveillance radar network between local sunset to sunrise. All graphics are relative to the Eastern time zone. The yellow line moving east to west represents the timing of local sunset. Areas with lighter colors experienced more intense bird migration. Orange arrows show directions to which birds flew. Green dots represent radar locations for which data are available; red dots represent radar locations with no data available. Note that many radars in mountainous areas (e.g. the Rockies) have obstructions that restrict radar coverage, providing the appearance of no migration where migration may be occurring.