All cool on the Web

Oct 18, 2000 at 12:00 am

Gentle readers, feast your eyes on yet another Netropolis cybersurvey edition. Why a cybersurvey? There's too much going on in Webland this week to limit ourselves to just one topic. Plus, MT's poor copy editor is tired of reading all the love letters I get in response to my usual page-long diatribes. So kick back, relax, and soak up the following tidbits of Internet goodness.


Want to learn about life, the universe and everything? Park your browser at, the fab online edition of London's weekly science publication. Fresh and extremely well-written, it's not just for white-coated thinkers. My recent visit to the scientifically savvy site unearthed articles on laser-powered lawnmowers, hi-tech gym shoes that never stink and a special report on the Internet's potential for developing its own super intelligence.

But it's more than just the content, it's the style … the writing is breezy, easy-to-read and hip (don’t miss the provocatively titled "Just how long does decomposition take?"). It's nothing like your 11th grade chemistry textbook. And it's definitely worth an everyday peek (or at least a once- or twice-a-week peek).


Flash animation may be all the rage, but what about Quake animation? Inventive Web animators have tapped the high-powered rendering capabilities of 3-D action games such as Quake III to create an entirely new cinematic form known as "machinima."

From the looks of it, it's just as much fun to make as it is to watch. According to, machinima is the new form of ultralow-budget, computergenerated filmmaking that’s set to revolutionize the world of movies.

Machinima filmmakers tweak off-the-shelf video games to develop their own animated shorts and even full-length movies. You can too — many popular video game titles come with free "development kits," allowing creative gamers to craft their own playable missions. Machinima artists use these kits for a purpose that game designers never imagined — to create nonplayable films with characters, dialogue and real plots.

So how do they look? Often, very good. Video game graphics have improved dramatically in recent years. It's not quite Toy Story yet, but it's close. Check out ILL Robinson's Hardly Workin' ( — a dumb 'n' dumber short featuring two lazy lumberjacks — for a hilarious look at what the genre has to offer.

Or try your hand at making your own flicks. Visit the utilities section on for a complete selection of moviemaking software, along with tips, tricks, links and advice from other budding digital Disneys.


Steve Jobs may be busy redesigning Apple Computer in his own image, but what does Woz think? Steve Wozniak, that is. Ask him yourself when the "other" Apple founder speaks at Dearborn's Holiday Inn Fairlane this Sunday at 3 p.m. Presented by MacGroup-Detroit, this is your big chance to hear the Woz reflect on Apple's colorful history — and its future. (Maybe he’ll even reveal what it was really like to hang out with Jerry Garcia at the Woz-inspired US Festival in ’82.) Space is limited, so online registration is recommended (go to Or get a preview of what The Woz has been doing in his post-Apple years from his very own home page,


Presto, chango … the former Detroit New-Media Association (DNA) has changed its name. Meet Digital Detroit (rolls off the tongue better, you know). To celebrate their new identity, the Web professional organization is throwing a launch party on Tuesday, Oct. 24 at the Temple, Ferndale's latest 'n' greatest see-and-be-scene location. Show time is 7 p.m., with appropriately technofied DJs spinning throughout the evening.

According to the Digital Detroit team, the party is an ideal networking opportunity and will help "create the 'buzz' necessary for the Detroit region to become a leader in the global technology sector." With complimentary hors d'oeuvres and an open bar, how can they lose? A who's who of tech community types are sure to be on hand for gratuitous schmoozing and boozing.

Oh, by the way, it's an invite-only affair. Digital Detroit members get in free, so go online now ( and sign up.


Last time in Netro ("Debatable beta," Oct. 4-10), I noted the long-awaited arrival of Web simulcasting on public radio station WDET-FM’s Web site. Not to be outdone, DJ Joe Tiboni of Eastern Michigan University's public radio station, WEMU, writes to reminds me that they've been simulcasting their unique blend of blues, jazz and local programming for months.

"Of course, we're on the Web," he says. Hey Joe, I didn’t know!

Speaking of Web casting, I'll be joining Tiboni on his Big City Blues Cruise show this Sunday, Oct. 22 from 3-6 p.m. as part of WEMU's fall on-air fund drive. Call in and make a pledge. And while you're at it, tune in online at

Adam Druckman writes about computers for Metro Times. E-mail [email protected]