Sunday, February 28, 2016

Mitochondrial-Style Supercomputers, Powered By ATP

Mitochondrial-Style Supercomputers, Powered By ATP
By News Staff | February 28th 2016 06:30 AM | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
The substance that provides energy to many of the cells in our bodies, Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), may also be able to power the next generation of supercomputers, according to an article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), which they describe a model of a biological computer that they have created that is able to process information very quickly and accurately using parallel networks in the same way that massive electronic super computers do.

Except that the model bio supercomputer they have created is a whole lot smaller than current supercomputers, uses much less energy, and uses proteins present in all living cells to function.

The model bio-supercomputer came about thanks to a combination of geometrical modeling and engineering knowhow. The circuit the researchers have created looks a bit like a road map of a busy and very organized city as seen from a plane. Just as in a city, cars and trucks of different sizes, powered by motors of different kinds, navigate through channels that have been created for them, consuming the fuel they need to keep moving.

Strands of proteins of different lengths move around the chip in the bio computer in directed patterns, a bit like cars and trucks navigating the streets of a city. Credits: Till Korten

But in the case of the biocomputer, the city is a chip measuring about 1.5 cm square in which channels have been etched. Instead of the electrons that are propelled by an electrical charge and move around within a traditional microchip, short strings of proteins (which the researchers call biological agents) travel around the circuit in a controlled way, their movements powered by ATP, the chemical that is, in some ways, the juice of life for everything from plants to politicians.

Because it is run by biological agents, and as a result hardly heats up at all, the model bio-supercomputer that the researchers have developed uses far less energy than standard electronic supercomputers do, making it more sustainable. Traditional supercomputers use so much electricity that they heat up a lot and then need to be cooled down, often requiring their own power plant to function.

Although the model bio supercomputer was able to very efficiently tackle a complex classical mathematical problem by using parallel computing of the kind used by supercomputers, the researchers recognize that there is still a lot of work ahead to move from the model they have created to a full-scale functional computer.

Citation: Dan Nicolau Jr et al, “Parallel computation with molecular-motor-propelled agents in nanofabricated networks”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS):

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Facebook VR

Inside Facebook's marriage of social media and virtual reality

Oculus Rift Oculus TouchOculus VR
The Oculus Rift is about to hit the market next month, and Facebook is throwing even more support behind it with the announcement of a new social virtual reality team.

The social media giant has announced the creation of the team, along with an effort to improve the 360-degree video streaming qualities on its News Feed.

This news is hardly surprising considering that the News Feed has supported these types of videos since March 2015 (Facebook claims it has 20,000 such ads posted already), and the company has repeatedly said it wants to create a more holistic experience for social and VR.

Daniel James and Michael Booth, two former video gaming executives who are experts in 3D multiplayer gaming, will lead this social VR team. They will build social apps for Oculus and develop community experiences for customers.

The creation of this team is the next step in Facebook's plan to link social and VR. The company debuted Social Alpha, which allows up to five people to watch videos and speak in a virtual home theater, in October on Oculus' Cinema app. It also released Toybox, a game for the Oculus Rift that lets multiple people play games such as ping pong.

Facebook is likely trying to give average consumers a reason to consider purchasing the Oculus Rift, given that the total cost of a Rift ($599) plus a gaming PC with appropriate specs ($1,000 to $1,500) could scare them away, particularly early on in the product's life cycle.

By bolstering and highlighting the social components of Oculus, the company could bring in more casual customers.

We're on the verge of the main stage debut for virtual reality products and when Oculus Rift hits the market, it's going to push the limits of what VR means to the average consumer. But what opportunities will this create?

The tech industry has promoted the prospect of VR for the past few decades. But only now, with headsets backed by big names like Sony and Facebook, is VR finally becoming a concrete product with mass market potential. While VR technology is largely associated with the gaming industry, the platform offers a new set of content opportunities in entertainment, advertising, and more.
But where is it all going?

Margaret Boland of Business Insider Intelligence has compiled a detailed report that examines how various VR headset categories will shape VR content development and looks at the trajectory for mobile gaming revenues to get a sense of how spending on VR content might develop. The report also lays out what types of content users and developers can expect on VR platforms, including gaming, video entertainment, and advertising.
virtual realityAP/Christof Stache
Here are some main takeaways from the report:
  • VR headset manufacturers are driving both the development and distribution of VR content by investing significant technical and monetary resources in developers, in an effort to build up an exclusive content library.
  • High demand for VR headsets by mobile and console gamers will fuel demand for VR content. The VR content market will take an increasing portion of the mobile gaming software industry.
  • Beyond gaming, VR video entertainment will remain short form until demand for VR headsets increases.
  • Ads featured on VR headsets will likely have higher view-through rates than standard video ad spots.
  • Other industries are also beginning to experiment with VR content. Travel companies, publishers, e-commerce merchants, and social platforms are beginning to see potential in this new category.
  • VR content faces major hurdles that could keep developers from investing: The VR experience must be good enough for people to take up the devices. In addition, developers need to know that a sufficient user base exists to be worthy of the resource investment in VR content.
In full, the report:
  • Provides a breakdown of each type of VR headset, what platforms they run on, and how content will differ for each.
  • Includes estimates for global VR headset shipments by category.
  • Includes a mobile gaming forecast to give a sense of the most important market that will drive spending on VR content in the next five years.
  • Lays out what other industries are developing VR programs.
  • Discusses some of the potential barriers that could dissuade developers from investing in VR content.
To get your copy of this invaluable guide to the VR universe, choose one of these options:
  1. Subscribe to an ALL-ACCESS Membership with BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report AND over 100 other expertly researched deep-dive reports, subscriptions to all of our daily newsletters, and much more. >> START A MEMBERSHIP
  2. Purchase the report and download it immediately from our research store. >> BUY THE REPORT

Monday, February 15, 2016

Advanced 3D Printer Shows Potential for New Tissues, Organs

MONDAY, Feb. 15, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- A new type of 3D printer may be capable of making muscle, bone and other types of tissue that are good enough for implanting in humans, scientists report.

So-called 3D "bioprinters" are machines that can print out cells in layered patterns, with the goal of creating body tissue or even complex organs. But until now, a major stumbling block has been the scale of the printed structures.

"If you try to make something that's larger, it turns gooey and falls apart," explained Dr. Glenn Green, an associate professor of pediatric otolaryngology at the University of Michigan.
Another limitation, Green said, has been the lack of blood vessels in bioprinted tissue: Larger structures are not possible without blood vessels to supply nutrients and oxygen.
The new technology, described in the Feb. 15 online edition of Nature Biotechnology, seems to surmount those challenges.

"This is exciting," said Green, who was not involved in the research, but has studied 3D bioprinting. "This is a big breakthrough in identifying a way to make tissue that is larger and could be applied to humans."

Ultimately, the hope is to have 3D printers that can churn out any kind of human tissue -- to replace tissue damaged by trauma, disease or birth defects, said Dr. Anthony Atala, the senior researcher on the new study.

To make that replacement tissue, cells would be taken from a patient's own body, which should avoid the risk of an immune system attack, said Atala. He directs the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, in Winston-Salem, N.C.

But that's the goal for the future, and many hurdles remain before the technique might be used in humans.

For now, Atala said, his team has shown that it's feasible to create ear, bone and muscle tissue that are "human-scale."

The researchers developed the new printing system over 10 years. It creates a biodegradable, plastic-like material that gives the printed tissue its shape, along with cells suspended in a water-based "ink." The tissue also has a system of "micro-channels" that allows nutrients and oxygen from the body to diffuse into the structure until a system of blood vessels can form.

Atala's team found that when it implanted bioprinted bone, muscle and cartilage into rodents, the structures matured into functional tissue, complete with a network of blood vessels.
The researchers also printed a human jawbone fragment that was the right size and shape to be used in facial reconstruction surgery.

According to Green, there's "no technical barrier" to implanting such printed tissues into humans -- but there are some critical questions.

"We don't know what happens with these tissues long-term," Green said. Plus, he added, the experiments described in this study used materials that are not approved for use in humans. The jawbone fragment, for instance, was created with stem cells from human amniotic fluid.
As 3D bioprinting moves forward, Green said, it will probably focus first on simpler structures that don't move or bear weight -- including the ears, nose or bones in the skull -- before trying to tackle more complicated tissue, or organs such as the heart, kidneys and pancreas.
Atala said his team plans to implant bioprinted cartilage, bone and muscle tissue into patients in the future, with funding from the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine. The institute, which partly financed the current study, focuses on using regenerative medicine to treat battlefield injuries.
More information
The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more on regenerative medicine.

SOURCES: Anthony Atala, M.D., director, Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Winston-Salem, N.C.; Glenn Green, M.D., associate professor, pediatric otolaryngology, University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, Ann Arbor, Mich.; Feb. 15, 2016, Nature Biotechnology, online

Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

iPad Pro + Pencil + Procreate = Greeting Card

You probably don't recognize the name of Dutch artist Leendert Jan Vis, but an awful lot of people enjoy his work every day. Over the past three decades, his cheerful and quirky animals have appeared on over 250 million greeting cards as well as in picture books, as stuffed animals, and on a variety of products.

Vis counts Hallmark among his publishers, though his cards aren't available in the U.S. He's stuck with pen and ink even as many artists have gone entirely digital by using a Mac or Windows PC with one of Wacom's graphic tablets or Cintiq pen-enabled displays. But when he tried Apple's iPad Pro tablet and Pencil stylus, he liked them so much he's now using them exclusively.

What sold him on the iPad Pro? Pretty much the virtues you might expect, including the ability to work quickly without waiting for ink to dry, the availability of layers for breaking a drawing down into its component parts, and the ease of sharing, He uses Procreate, the iPad painting and drawing app with the most ambitious and customizable features for producing artwork using an array of natural-media art implements.

For Vis, expressiveness is more important than polish. "I love art that has the feel as if it is spontaneous and not completely overdone until it is perfect—which you won't reach if you go for perfection," he says. "It will lose the raw feeling. Which I think is very attractive." It turned out that the iPad Pro and Pencil let him preserve that feel of spontaneity even more than his traditional tools did. "Nowadays, I don't have to trace my first sketches or scan them. I work straight away on the iPad Pro, and it does the trick for me."

Here are a couple of videos showing blank Procreate documents turning into nifty Valentine's Day cards by Leendert Jan Vis:

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Google VR headset

Google Is Reportedly Building A Standalone VR Headset Not Powered By A PC Or Smartphone

Google may be preparing a consumer virtual reality headset for a release as early as this year that defies existing categorizations and doesn’t rely on a PC or mobile phone as the central brain, the WSJ reports.

Rumors have been bubbling up on the company’s VR hardware ambitions over the last few weeks. The Financial Times reported a few days ago that Google would be releasing a mobile-based Samsung Gear VR competitor in the near-future, possibly at Google I/O in May.
The WSJ report today suggests that Google will be building this untethered headset utilizing “high-powered” chips from Movidius that will power the device and its associated head-tracking technology made possible by external cameras.

Interestingly, Movidius just announced a partnership a couple weeks ago involving its Myriad 2 processing platform, detailing that the company was working with Google “to bring machine intelligence to devices.”

“The technological advances Google has made in machine intelligence and neural networks are astounding. The challenge in embedding this technology into consumer devices boils down to the need for extreme power efficiency, and this is where a deep synthesis between the underlying hardware architecture and the neural compute comes in,” said Movidius CEO Remi El-Ouazzane in the blog post from last month.

There have been other significant movements from Google in the past several months on the consumer side of virtual reality, though most have been devoted to more broad platforms like Cardboard and Project Tango which give third-party VR and AR hardware manufacturers and content creators a system to build upon.

While Project Tango is still in its earlier stages with Lenovo currently building some of the first Tango devices to be released this summer, Google Cardboard is already strapped on the faces of eager consumers who have ordered 5 million of the bare-bones devices.

These rumors also come in the wake of some interesting changes at the company over the past several weeks. Clay Bavor, Google’s VP for Product Management, left his work on other Google products to exclusively focus on managing the company’s virtual reality offerings.

Some interesting job postings on Google’s site also raised questions with postings detailing a need for a VR Hardware Engineering Technical Lead Manager that would lead a team in building “multiple” consumer electronic devices while also directing “system integration of high-performance, battery powered, highly constrained consumer electronics products.”

A battery-powered HMD device that isn’t attached to a PC or mobile phone would definitely be a major development in an industry largely-dominated by developer and consumer devices situated at either end.

For a company like Google with such clear ties to the mobile ecosystem, at first impression this feels like a bit of an odd move to me. Mobile VR offers major accessibility to users that are already sporting well-powered smartphones and tethered VR offers an unparalleled experience that prioritizes crazy resolutions and rapid frame rates.

We may just have to wait and see. While the WSJ reports that the device could be coming later this year, other sources told the paper that the development was in its early stages and Google could still choose not to release it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Why Twitter?


No Excuses! Why And How Writers Should Embrace Twitter

02/10/2016 01:04 pm ET
"You should get on Twitter, I think you'd like it." Or so said a friend of mine while we were catching up in our local, four years ago. Frankly, I wasn't convinced. But partly out of curiosity (and partly to allay the constant badgering) I registered an account, picked my @name, followed the usual slew of friends, family, and famous names, and tweeted my first tweet.

And that might have been that, were it not for the fact that all this took place in the same week as the 2012 Olympics. The hashtag #OpeningCeremony began trending, and clicking on it brought up a flood of tweets from all around the world--people I had never and will never meet, nor likely hear from again--all talking about what was unfolding live in London. There were the funny tweets. The clever tweets. The beautiful tweets. The appreciative tweets. The sarcastic tweets. And so it went on.
Twitter was in its own unique way reminding me that, at its very best, social media can be wonderful. I was hooked.

Fast forward to today, and Twitter is now a huge part of my work and writing: I manage an account called @HaggardHawks that has been quietly tweeting facts about the English language and rare and unusual words since December 2013. From its somewhat humble beginnings as merely a means of publicising an etymological book I had written online, @HaggardHawks now has more than 16,000 followers, 2 million impressions (views) a month, a tie-in blog and YouTube channel, and its own spin-off book, Word Drops. Through it I've been approached to write articles for everywhere from BuzzFeed to The Daily Telegraph; been ranked alongside the CIA and the Mars Rover as one of the nerdiest Twitter accounts going; chatted to a former Doctor Who and the daughter of a Hollywood icon; and been told by Richard Osman that a quiz I put together was too hard.

Compiling all the material that @HaggardHawks tweets everyday now takes almost as much research and planning as any other writing project I've worked on, but it's fun, stimulating, and immensely rewarding work. More importantly, it gives me an engaged and appreciative audience to talk to, interact with, and--crucially for an author--to point in the direction of all my work, both published and forthcoming, both online and offline.

That might be my experience with Twitter, but meeting with other authors I'm often dismayed to find that that it isn't everyone else's. If the conversation happens to turn to social media, the response is often muted. Twitter is dismissed as a waste of time, shunned without question as "not for me". Just as frustratingly, I often encounter authors who have Twitter accounts, but never use them. "Oh, I wouldn't know what to talk about..." "I tried it, but I got bored with it...." "I don't know anyone else who's on there..." "I've only 20 followers, it's pointless..."

At the other extreme, scarcely a week goes by without either my personal account or @HaggardHawks being followed by a fellow writer or author (typically, it has to be said, one of whom I have never heard) who has a seemingly gargantuan 100,000+ followers, but scroll down through their timeline, and you'll see that their output is falling on stony ground. Despite a multitude of followers, one tweet might have a solitary "favourite" here, a handful of "retweets" there. Wait a few days, and their account be gone--I am "unfollowed" because I didn't choose to follow them back and swell their numbers even further. Social media gurus call this follow-for-a-follow-back technique "fishing" or "chaining"; it would be more accurate to call it folly. After all, there is little point in having legions of followers if your online audience simply isn't listening.
So how do you do it? How can you find an audience, build an audience, and maintain an audience online? Admittedly, everything I have learned on this topic has taken a great deal of time and just as much trial and error--and in the larger world of social media, @HaggardHawks is still small fry, certainly--but based on my experiences, I have found a number of steps that writers and authors looking to build a profile online would benefit from taking.

Let's start with the basics--for the uninitiated, long before you even tweet your first tweet, Twitter allows its users to add a brief bio (of up to 160 characters) to their profile, ostensibly to explain a little about who you are and what you do. It might seem a throwaway gesture, but it's worth bearing in mind that those 160 characters are, in practice, part of your principal means of being discovered among the hundreds of millions of accounts online. So whether you're setting up a personal account to build your own profile, a professional account for just your work or writing, or even an account for a single book or project, the rules are the same: compile a clear and concise bio, being sure to include any key words pertaining to you, your work, and your area of interest or expertise. Yes, "author" or "writer" are necessary of course, but be sure not to omit the specifics ("biographer", "mediaevalist", "food blogger", "military historian") to ensure that your account is visible to the right like-minded people.

If you freelance or contribute to publications, link to their Twitter accounts (@HuffingtonPost) in your bio. If you're a published author or are setting up an account to publicise a book, link to your publisher (@panmacmillan, @PenguinPbks), or else somewhere it received a rave review (@guardian, @TheTLS). There's a field in your bio to supply a website--so supply one! Don't have a website or blog? Link to your publisher, your agent, or your Amazon page.

So you've set up your Twitter account, written your bio, followed your friends, family, and Stephen Fry, and your friends and family (but not Stephen Fry) have all followed you back. You may even have tracked down and followed the usual assortment of Twitter accounts that are useful for writers, from the trivially informative and inspiring (@LettersOfNote, @mental_floss, @LiteraryInterest) to the downright useful (@OED, @guardianstyle). But don't stop there--there are more than 300,000,000 active Twitter accounts worldwide, so take the time to look far and wide for those that share your interest.
Taking a look at who
 the accounts you are following are following themselves is a great place to unearth new and worthwhile contacts, but just as you have written your bio with the intention of being discovered by like-minded individuals, use Twitter's search function to do the same yourself. Search for fellow biographers, mediaevalists, food bloggers, military historians, whatever your inclination may be, but remember: this isn't Facebook. There's no need to be acquainted with someone to "follow" them, nor is there any need to limit yourself geographically. Indeed one of @HaggardHawks' most loyal and engaged followers is the Department of English at the University of Georgia.

Of all those 300,000,000 accounts, there are bound to be thousands that are relevant to you and your work, the vast majority of which you will simply never have heard of--yet they could prove the most fascinating or useful new contact of all. It goes without question that you will of course want to follow the big names that you read and admire (and a number of the world's literary behemoths, notably Margaret Atwood, Paulo Coelho, Salman Rushdie, Stephen King, and Neil Gaiman, are all prolific tweeters) but don't ignore those further down the tree. Search for writers and authors, bloggers and reviewers, journalists and academics, YouTubers and podcasters who share your interests, regardless of their prominence. Twitter can be a superb resource for sharing and collaborating, asking advice from those who have achieved what you aspire to, and discussing experiences with those in a similar position to yourself.

Now that you're following an array of like-minded accounts--and your timeline is now a tailor-made live-feed of your own personal interests--chances are, as an author, you'll be looking to build a following of your own. So how best to get noticed?
A great place to start is by simply talking to and interacting with the accounts you follow; this is, after all, a "social" media. And as the conversations and interactions grow, you'll find that your audience will too. Retweeting other Twitter users' material into your timeline can help to get you noticed and keep your timeline active, but don't ignore Twitter's neat "quote tweet" function: it allows you to share tweets from other accounts while adding your own comment above, which both helps to get you noticed by the author of the original tweet while keeping your own timeline focused on you. And if the original author reciprocates, by retweeting your quote tweet back into their timeline, you'll be introduced to their audience, and so on.

Like any social media platform, the more you use Twitter the more you will get out of it. So keeping your account as active as possible--i.e. tweeting as often as possible--is perhaps the most valuable tip of all. But that raises a common anti-Twitter excuse: "Oh, I wouldn't know what to talk about..."
To pro-Twitters like me, this is perhaps the most frustrating excuse of all, especially when it comes from otherwise idea-rich writers and authors! But admittedly, it's an understandable one: Twitter (if not social media as a whole) finds it hard to convince its detractors that it isn't merely full of cat videos, Star Trek memes, and everyone's everyday inanities ("Time to walk the dog LOL!" "Back to work tomorrow *sad face*!"), and the desire to eschew these kinds of trivialities can lead to a point-blank avoidance of social media, or else see burgeoning social media accounts falling silent.
But being a prolific tweeter doesn't have to entail imparting your entire life onto the Internet. If you're struggling for talking points, how about passing verdicts on a film you've seen? A book you're reading? A radio show you've head? An article you've read? As a writer, what are you working on at the minute? What research are you doing? What intriguing morsel have you unearthed in the process? What authors have you recently discovered, or rediscovered? What resources are you exploring? What are you struggling to find out?

Failing that, what's in the headlines today? Not just on the front page, but in the arts section? The books section? The sports section, whatever interests you? As straightforward as that might sound, sharing and commenting on online articles--in particular articles that not everyone will have seen--is a great way to spark conversation and interaction. If you find it hard to track down articles online to suit your interests, there are plenty of third-party apps you can use to compile a personalized newsfeed. The tablet and smartphone app Flipboard, for instance, collates articles from hundreds of online resources to produce a daily, tailor-made bulletin that you can link to your social media accounts to make sharing what you're reading easy.

There's a lot of talk of Twitter upping the 140-character limit it imposes on tweets this year, but whether it does or not the fact remains that you can do a lot in a relatively small space.
The author Joanne Harris (@Joannechocolat), another big name to have fully embraced Twitter, is a perfect example of just how much can be achieved in posts of 140 characters: among several other astute Twitter projects, she posts short stories, a line at a time, to her Twitter feed, with each tweet linked by a #Storytime hashtag so that readers can collate them all and read from start to finish. She tweets Top 10s of tips for aspiring writers, Top 10s of her experiences as an established author, Top 10s on libraries, book festivals, publishing contracts, all giving neatly potted advice and insight.
The poet and broadcaster Ian McMillan (@IMcMillan) often posts single-tweet poems, raiding his vocabulary to make even a train journey from Barnsley to London sound full of life and interest. The artist Moose Allain (@MooseAllain) tweets a staggering array of witticisms, unique artworks, and even short animations. The linguist and editor Stan Carey (@StanCarey) recently posted a light-hearted A-to-Z poem of language terminology that was picked up by and shared by a number of websites and blogs.

Over on @HaggardHawks, I run a yearly search for everyone's favourite words on World Dictionary Day, a yearly April Fool's Day competition to spot an untrue tweet, and have employed Twitter's new polling feature to light-heartedly pit the likes of beautiful words (mellifluous vs. ethereal), unpleasant words (verruca vs. phlegm) and linguistic pet peeves (would of vs. expresso) against one another.
Far beyond commenting on the headlines and tweeting about your work, original, sharable, interactive content like this can prove key to amassing and maintaining an engaged audience. The bottom line is simply to be creative: Twitter need not be a blow-by-blow account of your day, but a tool for new and intriguing projects, and the more creative and intriguing your output, the more likely it is to be shared, building your profile along the way.

Having a 140-character limit has its disadvantages, of course, and so alongside being creative with Twitter itself, it's helpful to provide longer but no less sharable or interactive content elsewhere. If you write a blog, share your blogposts (or reviews, recipes, short stories, poems, essays, critiques, whatever it is you produce!) to your social media, but in light of the examples above, keep in mind what kind of content--Top 10s, "listicles", A to Zs--might prove most popular, most likely to be shared, or most likely to "go viral". Polls and quizzes are a perfect example of popular, interactive, sharable content, and websites like Sporcle and Qzzr allow their users to compile and personalize quizzes and games free of charge, which can then be embed into a blog or website. And who doesn't love a good quiz?

Moreover, if you're open to freelancing then writing for websites is an excellent step: not only does it provide contacts and flesh out your writing portfolio, but many websites give their contributors space to include a bio alongside their work, which these days almost always include a link to their Twitter accounts. And as these websites tend to have well-established social media followings themselves, writing for them can also help to drive an audience to you rather than waiting to be discovered.

Lastly, Twitter is now so firmly established online that there are plenty of third-party apps and websites that can help you to truly get the most out of it, and so spreading your wings to some of these can help keep your account active, 24 hours a day, without your constant involvement or management. Services like Buffer, Hootsuite, and Tweetdeck allow their users to compile and schedule their content days in advance, which is then tweeted out automatically at pre-designated times. Personally, as many of @HaggardHawks' followers are in North America and Australia, I use Tweetdeck to keep the account active overnight, UK-time, while the rest of the world is online--because Twitter feeds are chronological, try reposting your content overnight or at unsociable hours to ensure it finds as wide an audience as possible.

Apps and services like these, however, are at the relatively more advanced end of the social media spectrum, and if you're just starting out or are merely looking to establish a personal account as a basis for future work it is unlikely you'll ever need them. But either way, the bottom line remains the same: Twitter is a fantastic platform for new and established writers, and the opportunities for career advancement and profile-building it offers are amongst the best in the social media world. By networking with other writers, tracking down new and unfamiliar contacts, being original and creative, sharing and producing original content--and, importantly, investing a little time and effort into the process--hopefully you will be able to build a worthwhile online profile and gain an engaged and attentive audience.
--The original version of this blog appeared on the website of the Andrew Lownie Literary Agency,

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Palpatine compilation & dialogue

Emperor Palpatine quotes

Send the fleet to the far side of Endor... there it will stay until called for.

Soon the rebellion will be crushed and young Skywalker will be one of us.

I wonder if your feelings on this matter are clear, Lord Vader?

Welcome, young Skywalker. I have been expecting you.

Oh no, young Jedi. You will find that it is you who are mistaken - about a great many things.

Everything that has transpired has done so according to my design. Your friends, up there on the sanctuary moon, are walking into a trap, as is your rebel fleet. It was I who allowed the alliance to know the location of the shield generator. It is quite safe from your pitiful little band. An entire legion of my best troops await them. Oh, I'm afraid the deflector shield will be quite operational when your friends arrive. [shows evil, condescending smile]

Now witness the power of this fully armed and operational battle station. Fire at will, commander.

It is unavoidable. It is your destiny. You, like your father, are now mine!

Good. I can feel your anger. I am defenseless. Take your weapon! Strike me down with all your hatred, and your journey towards the dark side will be complete!

Good! Use your aggressive feelings, boy. Let the hate flow through you.

Good! Your hate has made you powerful. Now, fulfill your destiny and take your father's place at my side!

So be it... Jedi.

If you will not be turned, you will be destroyed! Young fool. Only now, at the end, do you understand. Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the dark side! You have paid the price for your lack of vision!

Now, young Skywalker... you will die.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Louis C.K. Releasing Series Direct-to-Digital Series as He Shoots It

/ Feb 8, 2016 
Louis C.K. has quietly released a new series as an online exclusive. The comedian, who stars in the FX show “Louie,” made an announcement on his web site on Jan. 30, informing fans that episode one of his new series “Horace and Pete” was available for download for $5. On Saturday, he offered up episode two of the series for only $2.

“Warning: this show is not a ‘comedy,” Louis C.K. (real name: Louis Szekely) wrote in his Saturday post. “I dunno what it is. It can be funny. And also not. Both. I believe that ‘funny’ works best in its natural habitat. Right in the jungle along with ‘awful,’ ‘sad,’ ‘confusing’ and ‘nothing.'”
Set in a bar of the same name run my family members Horace (Louis C.K.), Pete (Steve Buscemi) and Uncle Pete (Alan Alda), it features a theme song written and performed by Paul Simon and guest stars including  Jessica Lange, Aidy Bryant, Steven Wright, Kurt Metzger  and Edie Falco.

Louis C.K. is financing, producing, directing, writing and distributing “Horace and Pete” on his own, following a model he established with his stand-up comedy specials, which he has been self-producing and distributing direct-to-digital for $5 since 2011’s “Live at the Beacon Theater.”

C.K. releases the specials sans digital-rights-management (DRM), making them sharable to non-paying fans. He also sells tickets to his live concerts online in the same manner, eliminating the high service fees charged by corporate ticket sellers such as Ticketmaster and keeping them out of the hands of scalpers.

In a Feb. 4 post on his web site, C.K. was apologetic about the pricing of the first episode of “Horace and Pete,” which is shot sitcom-style with four live cameras on two standing sets.

“So why the dirty fuckballs did I charge you five dollars for ‘Horace and Pete, ‘where most TV shows you buy online are 3 dollars or less?” wrote C.K., who is producing the show through his own Pig Newton Productions. “Well, the dirty unmovable fact is that this show is fucking expensive.” He added, “Basically this is a hand-made, one guy paid for it version of a thing that is usually made by a giant corporation.”

But the multi-camera studio format speeds up the production process, so “we are able to post it very soon after each episode is shot. So I’m making this show as you’re watching it,” C.K. wrote.