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magazine

Oddball ENTERTAINMENT

MEDIA

TECHNOLOGY


Letter from the Editors Dear Beautiful Oddball Readers, When the Oddball team was first compiled, there was some tension. Because of the difference in the desired foci of each group member, there wasn’t an obvious path for us to venture down. Once the group figured out that the magazine didn’t actually require a specific topic, we split up into three categories, entertainment, media, and technology. The entertainment section of Oddball Magazine focuses on local topics, relating to Austin and LASA High School. The media section of our magazine targets movies and music relating to consumers. The technology section of our magazine focuses on general technological advances around the world. Our inspiration magazines for the content are Entertainment Weekly and Wired. We liked the composition of their magazines and the way they presented their ideas. Our inspiration magazine for design elements is Metropolitan Home. We liked the color scheme in the magazine as well as the clean-cut yet quirky essence. We hope our design and content appeals and pleases high school students like you. Attractively yours, Oddball Team Purna B. Rebekah P. James P.

Cover image courtesy of

axelstudios.com


Oddball Writers Purna “t3h Pwnz0r” B. is a 9th grader at LASA High School. She is interested in dancing, being awesome, and partying. T3h Pwnz0r hopes to become the ruler of the world, as well as a famous dancer. She would like to thank Rebekah and James for being cool, Mrs. Young for helping her become a better, and stronger person, and the Academy...of Liberal Arts and Science.

Rebekah “Mo-hawk” P. is a ginger 9th grader at LASA High School. She is interested in robotics, astronomy, programming, and shaving her hair at lunch. Mo-hawk hopes to become something cool, but something interesting, where she is allowed to keep her hair in a mohawk. She would like to thank Purna and James for being the best partners ever, Mrs. Young for her awesomeness, and C.J. for his amazing steel drum skillz.

James “Jamesy” P. is a 9th grader at LASA High School. He is interested in running, card games, and wearing the same 5 shirts every day. Jamesy hopes to become a rich person, who can wear the same casual outfits every day. He would like to thank Purna, who inspired him with her pwnz0rness, Rebekah, whose mind is beyond repair, and to you, readers, because you are the real heroes.


CONTENTS part one | entertainment five . . . Missing the Pointe eight . . . Fantastic Freshmen nine . . . Pwn or Get Pwned eleven . . . Austin Spotlight

part two | technology thirteen . . . Why Electric Cars Should Rule the World sixteen . . . Operating System Insanity seventeen . . . The Power of Smart Grid nineteen . . . Smartphones

part three | media twenty-one . . . Ismael Sobek twenty-three . . . Quote Madness twenty-five . . . Avatar: The Billion Dollar Pocahontas twenty-eight . . . Pad on Trial

CONTENTS


Missing

Why dance really


the Pointe

is a sport

Article by Purna B.

Photo by Purna B. and Quentin F. Models: Purna B. & Colleen F.


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hile eating my protein bar and dancers, including Kathryn Holmes who says, “People drinking my Gatorade, I think don’t realize the level of physical skill required because about what will happen in prac- of the artistic level, and because they are not watching tice today. I stretch out my for that [physicality], but for grace and ease.” Interestmuscles in the locker room and ingly, the newsletter adds that to be a sport, there must tie back my hair. Getting out my be natural antagonism between teams and rival organiknee pads, I focus on the perfor- zations. What they don’t understand is that dance really mance ahead. I am both a dancer is competitive. In dance, people strive to be the best, just and an athlete. After twelve years like any other sport. There are also genuine contests beof experience, I can tell you that dance is definitely a sport. tween dance companies where there are a panel of judges, Traditionally, dance and sports have been viewed who critique performance, technique, capability, and synas separate and even opposite aspects in the realm of chronization. Whether in a dance rehearsal or in a dance athletics. To think of them as sharing characteristics and competition, there is an unspoken contest between dancplaced within the same category seems to be a different way ers: Who can cleanly land the triple pirouette? Who is the of looking at these athletic endeavors. In the book Sport, most flexible? These are the questions that go through Dance and Embodied Identities, Noel Dyck and Eduardo dancer’s heads while they master the technique. Just like P. Archetti say that widespread participation, critical ap- in any sport, you strive to be your best, recognizing oppreciation, and endless interpretation by performers and position in all forms, including your own teammates. their audiences put dance and sports into the same cul- Dance is also a very energetic and physically chaltural arena. It seems that schools agree with this as dance lenging activity. According to healthstatus.com, I burn has been integrated into the physical education curricu- about 2,430 calories per week by participating in dance for lum. For exam10 hours; similarly, ple, the Austin a soccer player Independent burns about 2,861 “ D a n c e t a ke s a lot of personal time and School District calories by playing d e d i c a t i o n , j u s t like any spor t.” has incorpo10 hours of soccer rated dance as in a week. My soca physical educer-playing friends cation credit for students. These teachers were expected to and I talk about how thirsty we get for Gatorade after sweatfulfill health and fitness objectives through the dance units ing and losing fluid in our bodies. They talk about the thrill within the overall curriculum. Since students are able to of winning a game or doing well in a competition, and how improve their strength, stamina, and fitness through dance well they performed. I say the same after a great show. My curriculum, schools have therefore accepted dance as a sport. friends also complain about being sore after soccer prac Dance takes a lot of personal time and dedication tice or a game. All I can say to that is, “I know how you feel.” as well, just like any sport. Professional dancers spend In the book Introduction to Kinesiology by Shirl J. many months choreographing and practicing dances for Hoffman, reports that dance’s physical requirements can their companies or students. I participate in a pre-profes- be as demanding if not more, than the toughest sports. He sional dance company and spend at least 10 hours a week discuses the study by Ainsworth, in which, when measurat dance rehearsal, and that is not including dance prac- ing energy requirements, ballet, disco, jazz, latin, modern, tice at home. Tapestry Dance Company’s pre-professional and tap dancing required about the same amount of engroup, that I am currently in, requires at least 4 hours of ergy as hunting, kayaking, gymnastics, climbing and team technique classes on top of 4 hours of rehearsal per week. sports. In both instances, the body is performing diffiProfessional dance companies require much more train- cult movements that are consuming energy and calories. ing and practice. Just like any sport, you must put time The rigors of sports, including dance, can be into practicing improving found in the strenuous practice technique so that you are of technique through repeated prepared for either compractice that concludes with a petition or a performance. performance. All these physi Some people think cal activities although historithat dance is not inherentcally distinct, share many social ly competitive. According characteristics together. Dance to Johanna Goldberg, who is most definitely a sport which writes for The Quindecim takes physical endurance, coornewsletter at Goucher Coldination, practice, discipline, and lege, most people wouldn’t competition, just like any sport. compare dance to a typical Now if you’ll excuse me, I have athletic activity, such as soca dance rehearsal to attend. cer or football. In the article, Goldberg interviews several

Oddball

Spring 2010


Fantastic Freshmen Article by Purna B.

Photos by Purna B.

BAND

ORCHESTRA

Olivia N. is a freshman at LASA High School, who plays the bass in orchestra. Olivia started playing the bass in 6th grade, in her middle school orchestra. Olivia’s goal for playing the bass is to get better at playing by ear. She and her friend are thinking of starting a rock band soon.

Henry K. is a freshman at LASA High School, who plays in the LBJ marching and concert band. Henry started drumming in 6th grade and now plays tenors (quads) in marching band and percussion in concert band. Henry enjoys marching band because he says it’s a better way to express individual and group musicality while combining visual arts and music together. “Band is awesome,” Henry adds. He hopes to continue playing tenors and become drum captain by his senior year. Henry’s favorite drummer is Carter Beauford and believes he is the “King of Groove”.

ART

Lily C. is a freshman at LASA High School, who loves to do art. She started taking an art class in her elementary school and was influenced by her mom, who is an artist. Lily loves to draw her friend, Jacob C. falling asleep on the bus. Lily’s favorite type of art is acrylic painting and loves the works of Monet and Frida Kahlo. “Geogia O’Keef is pretty cool,” Lily adds.

CHOIR

Colleen F. is a freshman at LASA High School, who sings in the LBJ choir. Colleen started singing at the age of 7 in the kids choir at her church and continues to sing as an Alto 2 (and sometimes Alto 1) in the LBJ Varsity Choir. Colleen’s favorite singer is Idina Menzel and she hopes to improve her ability to sing while she is in choir at school. Colleen really enjoys the varsity choir at LBJ because she enjoys singing with the other students. “It’s a cool class,” Colleen says.

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PwN 0r G37 Pwn3d The leet speak sensation spreading around LASA

Article by Purna B.

Front of senior shirt

From left to right- Rishi,Travis, Kartik

Back of senior shirt Oddball

Spring 2010

t

Photo by Purna B.

o an outsider, the conversation of a group of senior boys at the Liberal Arts and Science Academy High School in Austin, Texas would be impossible to understand. But what was meant to be an inside joke between self-proclaimed “pwnz0rs” Rishi B., Kartik H., and Travis O., blew up to be bigger than they imagined. “At first, [those talking in gamer speak] was just going to be a couple guys like us,” Kartik says, “but it soon blew up because everyone bought into the leet speak.” Leet speak, also spelled 1337, is a language that is used primarily on the Internet by online video gamers that uses numbers in the place of letters and heavily employs acronyms and short forms of words. In 2007, Rishi, Kartik and Travis noticed that their fellow peers at LASA High School were following their lead and talking in gamer terms. They heard their friends and peers saying “lol”, “eff”, and other leet terms (see sidebar on page 10 for all leet definitions) around the school. They had adopted leet terms into their language in middle school and continued to use them in high school. “I think that me, Kartik, and Travis, have given LASA its own identity,” Rishi says. “I think we did [mean to start the trend] because LASA before was just known as this weird school that people apply to. Now it’s known as the leet school, or should I say teh leet school.” While leet speak is now a common language at LASA, it all started for the trio while chatting on online video games in middle school. “All the guys talked really weird [while chatting online] and it ended up being leet speak, and from there, I adopted it into my language,” Travis recalls. Before the three friends knew it, leet terms were automatically coming to their mind in daily talk. Their peers didn’t fully understand everything these three “pwnz0rs” were saying at first. “Unfortunately, only pwnz0rs can understand me so sometimes I have trouble talking to normal people, but I try to come in contact with them as much as possible in my day-to-day life,” Travis says.“True story, I was on a trip, this past spring break, and someone looked at me funny when I said “lol” but it is kind of normal at LASA, but they thought I was really weird.” Soon, those “normal people” started following the trio’s lead and it spread through the school. “See, it’s like evolution,” Kartik says, looking out into the student parking lot, “almost like a butterfly. So they start out as larva, which are like the nubs and then soon, they blossom into beautiful butterflies, which are the pwnz0rs.” The best way to become a pwnz0r, Rishi, Kartik, and Travis say is to play online video games. “If you immerse yourself into the culture, you’ll adapt very


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quickly to your surroundings and 5,6,7…8 hours a day cial class of 2010, LASA senior shirt,” Rishi says. on some WoW [World of Warcrafts], talking to a lot of “Most high schools are known for something specific, guys will help,” Travis says. “You’ve got to live the leet.” and LASA is known for being the leet school,” Rishi says, According to the three pwnz0rs, the typical profile of a “We are the guys that say ‘lol’ and ‘pwn’ in real life. IRL.” pwnz0r is a “strong, valiant, gamer, who is past the level “This nerdy LASA community is perfect for spread80 expansion on WoW”. “This can only be achieved by foling leet because everybody plays games and evlowing the “5 steps of becoming a Pwnz0r”, Rishi says. erybody has at least played video games, includ“Acceptance is the first stage,” Kartik says. First you ing girls, which is pretty rare at most high schools,” must realize that you are nublet that WILL get pwned. Rishi says. LASA, the pwnz0rs agree, is the definition of leet. You should realize that pwnz0rs are your superiors.” “We are leaving LASA next year, but I feel like we have left our “Step two,” Rishi says, “is to find a pwnz0r legacy of leet and pwn behind and hopefully people will continwho is willing to train you, and befriend him ue to pwn and not be n00bs,” Rishi says looking at his friends. on Facebook or other social networking sites.” The trio agrees that they have set the standard of a “Add him to your Gmail chat list,” Trapwnz0r and people should keep following their lead. vis recommends. “This is very useful.” “Basically, if you are a n00b, pwn or get pwned,” Kar“It’s useful because you can be checking your email and doing imtik says. “That’s our motto. Pwn or get pwned.” portant things, all while chatting with your pwnz0r,” Rishi adds. Step three is to make sure your acceptance is confirmed. “In step three, learn from [the pwnz0r you choose] and live the lifestyle of a pwnzor,” Rishi explains. Step four is reflecting. “You have to reflect the lifestyle and Pwn- derived from the verb realize what is going on before you can move on,” Travis says. “own”; means to conquer or What the eff? (WTF?)- a “Go through your notebook of pwn,” Rishi recom- gain ownership phrase made famous by the Youmends. “It’s more of a concept than a physical obTube video with David Blain. ject. Pieces of it exist in various areas, such as webPwnz0rone who pwns sites master pwnz0rs minds, and pwns tories passed OMG- acronym for ‘oh my down by tradition. You have to realize what you’ve gosh’ or ‘oh my god’; said when learned about being a pwnz0r and go back over it.” N00b- derived from the noun surprised or excited The last step, step five, is to pwn and start your pwnz0r “newbie”; a newcomer or lifestyle. This is one of the hardest steps, the pwnz0rs somebody inexperienced in any recall, but you just have to live the life and live the pwn. profession or activity. Other Win- used when indicating that But being a pwnz0r doesn’t just involve pwning n00bs. forms: nub, nublet something is great You’ve also got to find a way to make yourself unique from all other pwnz0rs. Rishi, Kartik, and Travis have FTS- F*** that S***; used if Fail- lack of success all created new terms that also have spread across LASA. something bad every happens or “We have created our own [terms],” Rishi explains. “Nub, W00t- an interjection used to nublet, nub-sauce, nub-biscuit, nub-sandwich, nub-waffle. when in a bad situation express joy and excitement. There are various methods of eating n00bs, or in other words pwning them, and these are just a few that we made up.” IRL- acronym for “in real life” Pwnsauce- the essence of a Along with these words, they made the phrase “What the eff?” popular around LASA and Lol (pronounced ‘lawl’) - acropwnz0r have added it into their leet vocabulary. nym for “laugh out loud”; used “Originally that was just a David Blaine ‘What the EFF?’,” when something is comical Rishi says, imitating Blaine, an illusionist, who made the Winsauce- the natural entity phrase famous in his YouTube videos. “But then it became ROFL (pronounced ‘raw-ful’) of this universe that creates sucpart of our leet speak and it became part of the LASA culture acronym for ‘rolling on the floor cess or “win” to say ‘What the eff?’. Now I hear freshman saying it, and sophomores saying it, and I’m proud that we started that.” laughing’; used when something FTW- acronym for “for the Rishi, Kartik and Travis even incorporated leet speak into is comical win”- an enthusiastic emphasis their graduation year, 2010. Kartik came up with a design for shirts that say “Sen10rs Pwn N00bs” on the front and the LMAO (pronounced ‘luh-mow’) to the end of a comment, mesnumber 10 on the back, with a thought bubble saying “lol” - acronym for ‘laughing my a** sage, or post and LASA at the very top, imitating a jersey. Just like the off’; used when something is language trend, the shirts were just supposed to be between comical World of Warcraft (WoW)a few friends, but soon almost every senior bought one. a multiplayer, online, role-playing “This is basically our official senior shirt and we’re N00bsauce- the essence of a game (gaming consol- computer) all pretty proud that we came up with the offi-

1337 5p34k 73rm5

n00b

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Austin Spotlight Article by

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Purna B.

1) The Texas State Capitol is the fourth building in Austin to serve as the seat of Texas government. Picture courtesy of: http://www.morguefile.com/ archive/display/211969 2) The University of Texas Tower was built by Paul Cret of Philadelphia and was completed in 1937. The Tower is the University’s most distinguished landmark. 3) The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum was named after former Texas Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock, who fought for it’s creation of telling the “Story of Texas”. 4) The Deep Eddy Pool in Austin is the oldest swimming pool in Texas. Before forming into an eddy, the pool started as a swimming hole in the Colorado River. Picture courtesy of: Steve Hopson 5) The Pennybacker Bridge, also known as the “360 Bridge”, is a rusted, steel bridge that crosses Lake Austin to connect north and south Loop 360, which was completed in the mid-1980s. 6) The Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail is 10.1 miles long. The trail connects to many other trails, both North and South of Town Lake. Picture courtesy of: http://www.daysinnaustintexas.com/images/ zilker.jpg

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Why Electric Cars Should Rule the World Article by

Oddball

Spring 2010

Rebekah P.


f

An Electric Car our years ago in 2006, the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” was released. The whole movie was Al Gore telling the public that temperatures were rising, and important ice features of the world were melting. Many industries, including car companies, attempted to capitalize on the fear the public was feeling by “going green”. The Toyota Prius was released in

able to the general public, thereby reducing the pollution caused by the emissions of modern day cars. Even though more people switching to electric cars would perhaps put more strain on the grid and increase the price of electricity, but if we as a society could become less focused on obtaining so much oil for our internal combustion engine cars, we would be able to put money, time, and resources into more renewable energies, and the cost would go back down. With such advances as Nanosolar’s printable 2001, and it was not solar pan“ As humans continue to deplete the resources we curthe first commercially els, more rently rely on to transport us, it will be necessary to find available hybrid car. r e n e w a new source of energy for our transportation .” One might assume that able energy the next logical step could be would be a widely availavailable able electric car, but the 2010 model year has come and gone, for more people who could then be less reliant on the grid. and America has still not seen an electric car for the masses. Electric vehicles have had a brief debut in the past, Electric vehicles should be more widely avail- but failed due to the unexpected lack of advancements in able for the general consumer. With electricity ob- battery technology. From 1996 to 1999 General Motors tained through renewable sources, an electric vehicle produced and leased an electric car called the ev1. They would be completely emission free. An electric system eventually crushed all of the ev1s except for a few that were is also easier to maintain because it is centered around disabled and donated to museums. The ev1s were only disthe flow of electricity rather than the flow of flammable continued because GM had anticipated an advance in batfluids. With the focus of major car companies, electric tery technology that did not happen in time for them, so cars could become more and more commercially avail- they had to discontinue the line. Now however, batteries

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source of energy for our transportation. There are already a few concept cars that could meet and possibly exceed the public’s expectations including the well advertised Nissan leaf, or the Chevrolet Volt which definitely has a more concrete release schedule and has stayed with, or kept ahead of their schedule despite the GM Chapter 11 reorganization. If these cars can be released in a timely manner, with proper marketing, and can satisfy the public need, many people will buy them possibly as a secondary car to supplement a larger and more powerful car. As the industry gains more momentum, more advances will be made, and the electric cars will become more powerful, and can begin to fill the available niche. Based on the pricing of a conversion kit from electroauto.com it is much cheaper to convert an old chassis to an electric car than to buy a new (or even a moderately priced used) car. A reasonably priced car is probably around $20,000, while a generic conversion kit costs $6,425. One will however need a chassis to convert, preferably something new enough to be able to find parts easily, and converting the car will, of course, take quite a while, but buying a new car merely consists of finding an acceptable model and spending a day signing papers. Once Henry Ford’s extremely effective invention, the assembly line, has been applied to the electric car though, it will become a much more competitive marketplace because electric cars will be manufactured quickly, and at low cost. This should prevent companies from ending up at a loss because of their electric vehicles, and based on the past reception of electric cars, the demand will be high enough that the assembly line will keep up with it at a good pace. The electric car is a much better choice for the consumer who is the slightest bit concerned about the environment, or their spending. With the proper focus and funding, the electric car could become a more reasonable option for such consumers.

Oddball

Spring 2010


Operating System Insanity Article by Rebekah P.

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Windows 7 Windows 7 is often viewed as the operating system that Windows Vista should have been, especially because 7 focuses more on upgrading the inferior features of Windows Vista and adding user friendliness. The taskbar has received a redesign, allowing for easier use of programs and of the taskbar itself.

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Windows XP Windows XP is one of the more common operating systems especially in businesses and other institutions who need a stable, well known OS that many have used successfully through the disastrous reign of Vista. XP features choices including that of the classic ME taskbar, and the ability to create and apply setting themes.

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Ubuntu Ubuntu is an operating system that students at LASA have referred to as a good starter Linux system. It has an easy to use graphical user interface (GUI), which is what the user sees and manipulates. Ubuntu is up-to-date and stable, and due to it being open source, there are many free programs including games

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Fedora Fedora is another open source operating system, created in 2003 after Red Hat Linux was discontinued. Fedora has a relatively short maintenance period of approximately 13 months, but that allows for issues to be quickly resolved.

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Mac Mac operating systems are extremely user friendly, and for people who do not need the customizability of a Windows or Linux system, or who want to use the programs made especially for Macs, including software for artists. Since Macs are not as mainstream as Windows, they do not get as many viruses, and they are much more stable than Windows.

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Left: a smart meter Below: a solar panel

The Power of Smart Grid An international alternative to an ineffective electric system With the Smart Grid, people can make money from their own home with solar panels.

Oddball

Spring 2010

a

Article by

Rebekah P.

family sits around a table, all holding candles and waiting. There’s nothing else for them to do until the electric company determines where the problem has occurred and sends someone to fix it. Instead of using a remotely accessible system to determine where the fault is, trucks have to go out and search for a visible problem. The electric company may not even be aware that the power has gone out until a consumer calls to report it. The Smart Grid would prevent this situation from occurring in the future. The Smart Grid is a system of intelligence for power production and distribution. A complete imple-

mentation would include such amenities as automatic systems for the detection and correction of issues like blackouts and brownouts, and the ability for household appliances to communicate and negotiate the price of energy based on the time of day or other relevant factors. Elements of it are already being implemented even today, and soon it could be something we rely on completely for our electric power nationwide, even internationally. “As people consume more power, they have to find ways of being more intelligent about using power; that’s the inspiration for the Smart Grid,” IBM employee and Smart Grid engineer Sadu Bajekal says. As people continue to use more powerful and higher quality appliances and gadgets, they require more energy, and the current system cannot increase as


Wind farm in Texas

company can also remotely turn power on and off in particular places, such as uninhabited houses or apartments. Power companies sometimes are not aware that the power has gone out until someone calls in; with the Smart Grid, alerts will be built in, to inform the company of malfunctions, and where these malfunctions have occurred, rather than them having to make educated guesses. “People generally tend to keep the PCs on and everything, they don’t unplug things, so they consume power, and as you consume more power, you have to generate more power too,” Bajekal remarks. Some of the ways Bajekal suggests for conserving energy are turning off lights, unplugging devices and gadgets that are not in use, and using electricity at off-peak hours. The Smart Grid provides opportunities for people to be more involved in the power distribution system, even though it may cause jobs in the current electric system to be cut due to the relative efficiency of the Smart Grid. “The world is going to need more and more power,” Bajekal says, “there’s lots of areas where the whole electric industry is getting revolutionized, that’s what the Smart Grid is.” For more information about the Smart Grid, please visit: www.oe.energy.

Instead of a fixed price for energy, prices will vary depending on the time of day and the demand.

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much as it will need to in order to accommodate these impending increases in power demands. This is where the Smart Grid comes in. Bajekal says that with the focus nowadays on ‘green’, or sustainable energy, the Smart Grid really assimilates into the current cultural environment. “To generate power you need lots of materials, oil or gas or water. These resources are scarce, and there’s been a lot of focus on preserving the existing resources, or at least reducing [the usage], because nobody wants another power plant very close to their city; it causes pollution,” Bajekal explains. Bajekal says people generally wouldn’t want to have a new power plant close to their home, but they would not necessarily be opposed to having their own solar panels on their own roof. As part of the Smart Grid, personal energy generation systems could be integrated into the city’s power system, and offset the electricity bill for users, even to the point of consumers getting paid for their contributions, rather than being billed for energy used. “In the old days somebody had to come to your home to disconnect the power, so now you can do it from outside, from the electric company” says Bajekal. One of the main features of the Smart Grid is the relative autonomy compared to the current electrical system. The meters can communicate remotely, rather than regularly sending workers to record the meter readings. The power

gov/SmartGridIntroduction.htm

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smartphones Article by

Rebekah P.

[1]The Acer Liquid A1 is a smartphone by Acer. It is Acer’s first to use the Google’s Android operating system. Photo by Kai Hendry. [2]The Acer X960 is one of Acer’s first five mobile phones featuring a 2.8 in touchscreen operated by a stylus and five-way navigation button. [3]The Neo Freerunner is an open source smartphone developed by the Openmoko project. It is intended for users with a high demand for customizability. [4]The neonode n2 runs off of an sd card. It runs Windows CE 6.0 Pro. [5]The Palm Pre has a multi touch screen and a sliding keyboard. It runs webOS whick is based on Linux.Photo by James Whatley. [6]The Blackberry Storm is RIM’s first touchscreen smartphone, and its first without a physical keyboard. Photo by Resolute.

Oddball

Spring 2010

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Ismael Sobek, a sophomore at LASA, has already designed two “for profit” websites and a theme for google reader.

Ismael Sobek An interview with the student website designer Article by James P.

Photos from online sources

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he talented up and coming website designer Ismael S. is the kind of computer prodigy who will, according to his former teacher Kendra Young, “either end up a billionaire or in jail.” During his career thus far, his achievements have been nothing short of prolific. He has already designed two “for profit” websites, in addition to a theme for Google Reader and countless personal projects. While this may sound like a profile of a professional designer, Ismael is actually a sophomore at LASA High School. Technology is a hobby, not a full-time job. He codes sites for friends and relatives for fun and to make some extra money in his spare time. Ismael has been interested in technology ever since the 3rd grade. His elementary school had a big lab full of Macs. “I thought they were the coolest thing in the world, even thought we didn’t use them much. They sparked my love of technology,” he recalls. Years later he took a class at Kealing Middle School that taught him basic html and the roots of programming, which gave him the base he needed to learn the skills he uses today. “I’ve been learning ever since then,” he says. The rest of his computer knowledge and skill has been largely self-taught. He began spending more time on his home computer, installing web servers, hacking, and teaching himself how to use technology. In the summer between 7th and 8th grade he got his own Macbook. “I had a computer over which I had complete control,” says Ismael. This newfound freedom allowed him to take his coding to the next level. “My first website was probably something God-awful I can’t remember. Just some links on a page,” says Ismael, “the kind of thing you make while learning how to program.” However, he remembers well his first fully developed site: an information site about John Coletrain. It was his first heavy use of cvs (a coding language) and marked the beginning of his career as a designer.

Oddball

Spring 2010


lauralatimer.com: An online gallery he has made for a visual artist.

visit .

his

website

at

ismaelsobek.com.

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ismaelsobek.com: Ismael Sobek’s personal website, with links to his various social networking profiles.

So far, he has designed two sites, both of them for connections of his friends and relatives. He also recently had an offer from an outside party which didn’t pan out. “I was surprised,” says Ismael, “I had never had an offer like this before and it could mark a major advance in my design career. I was disappointed it didn’t work out.” When building a site for a client, Ismael gathers basic information, such as budget and purpose, but leaves the design mainly to himself. “I ask you not what you want it to look like, but how you want it to work, what you want it to convey … I show you my design later and make sure you’re okay with it,” Ismael says. “I’m mainly interested in the graphic design aspect of websites.” He enjoys crafting the look and feel of the sites to match their functionality. “I’m not really a programmer, more of a coder and a scripter. I pride myself on design,” says Ismael. That said, it is no surprise that he feels his greatest coding accomplishment is the Lucidia theme for Google Reader. “In this project I took what was a very bare, functional program and made it beautiful,” he comments. “I enjoy taking something ugly and making it beautiful.” For people wishing to learn programming, Ismael recommends reading about the concepts of programming and thinking. “You should learn the basic theories first. Only once you have done that should you choose a programming language. To learn a language just Google search to find a tutorial,” says Ismael. “The most important thing is to immerse yourself in a culture of smart people. Surround yourself with smart people who make cool things.” For more information on Ismael

zast.ismaelsobek.com: Ismael’s current project, a website he is building for the LASA club, ZAST. 22


Quote Madness

A look at the most famous, coolest and oddest quotes of all time Article by

“My momma always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.’” -Forrest Gump, Forrest Gump (1994)

“I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.” -Micheal Corleone, The Godfather (1972)

James P.

“Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” -Rhett Butler, Gone with the Wind (1939)

“A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.” -Hannibal Lecter, Silence of the Lambs (1991)


“Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship..” -Rick Blaine, Casablanca (1942)

“Enough is enough! I have had it with these

“I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that. ” -HAL, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

“I’ll be back. ” -The Terminator, Terminator (1984)

mother****ing snakes on this mother****ing plane! ” -Neville Flynn, Snakes on a Plane (2006)


AVat ar: The Billion DollAr Poc ahontas Article by

James P.


i

It used to be that in order to make exceptional special effects that bring the world a good film you had to have an in- to life as was never before possible and these do teresting plot. Producers didn’t contribute to its entertainment value. However, have a lot of visual imagery to rely not a single one of the major online critics has said on, so they had to make up for it anything negative about the film’s plot. In fact The with a good script. However, things Hollywood Reporter goes so far as to say that “the may be changing. Avatar has record believable romance is the beating heart of the film.” box office returns, and yet the plot The romance, between the film’s hero, a human in is clearly crap, unable to hold up to a temporary alien body, and an alien girl, is as fake any close analysis; the movie relies as it gets and is never seems realistic. While I was entirely on its special effects. I find it unfortunate watching the film, even I was sucked in by the spethat today such success can be achieved by a movie cial effects, the world and its life forms are depictthat is esed with sentially incred“ Why critics such as RottenTomatoes.com have rated a billionible realthis movie as highly as they have, stating that the movie dollar ism, but has a “compelling storyline” is beyond me.” version of whenever Pocahonit took tas with a break aliens. Other entertainment films holding box office from the stunning imagery the thought ran through records, such as Dark Knight, manage to use strong my head, “This is such a waste of time.” Lookimagery, while still creating a convincing plot and ing back, I couldn’t remember anything positive character depth. Special effects shouldn’t com- about the film other than the imagery and special pensate for a weak plot, and, in Avatar, they don’t. effects. The film’s plot didn’t have a lot of value. *Spoiler Alert* In short the movie’s plot is The movie’s plot is very unimaginative. this: a crippled marine is taken to an Alien world Most of the twists and elements are so obviwhere he is transferred temporarily into an alien ous they can be seen coming from space. At body in order to befriend the natives, who are living the end of the movie the main character opens on top of a reserve of precious metal. He goes on to his eyes suddenly, having transferred into his have a forbidden romance with an alien girl, while new body, after which the screen goes black. the humans try to destroy the aliens to get the met- This is just so expected that it loses all value. al. The film ends after the humans are defeated with The Hollywood Reporter’s film rethe help of the God Ewa, after which the main char- view says Peter Jackson made the movie alacter is transferred into an alien body permanently. most from scratch. This is false; this mov Why critics such as RottenTomatoes.com ie is packed with film making clichés and its have rated this movie as highly as they have, stat- plot is stolen from Pocahontas. Of course the ing that the movie has a “compelling storyline” main character falls in love with the native girl asis beyond me. I have to admit that the movie has signed to train him in their ways. Of course it’s a forbid

26


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den love and the son of the chief opposes his entrance to the tribe. Of course the natives defeat the enemies with the help of their god, Ewa, in a deus ex machina fashion. This film couldn’t be anything farther than made from scratch; nothing unexpected happens! Anyone who has watched a reasonable number of films can guess everything that will happen in a scene from the very beginning. In order to have a good plot, you have to be at least somewhat original, and you certainly can’t have one if you stole it from a Disney movie. In addition, the alien culture depicted in the film is pretty much what you would get if you put the cultures of everyone who was trampled on by Europeans and put them in a blender, to make a culture smoothie of sorts. Nothing against these cultures, but it gets annoying when many of the main plot elements are based off character motivation like, “You have a strong heart. Since I come from a mash of nonwhite cultures I have the wisdom of nature or something so I can magically sense that stuff.” This kind of motivation may be okay once or twice, but when it’s used constantly, for almost every decision, it leads to a lot of plot holes. Characters in movies should have actual motives and emotions and using cheap motivation such as this creates an extremely weak plot. In addition, it adds a borderline racist slant to the film, implying that native cultures are somehow inherently better then those of the modernized world. The special effects in Avatar are stunning and the world of Pandora is depicted visually as if it were completely real; however, this movie’s plot is terrible and you should not see it. If you’re dying to see the imagery, just watch some clips of the scenes that are particularly impressive. You will avoid dealing with the god-awful plot. As a final note to Hollywood, special effects are not enough to make a good movie. You can play with imagery and special effects all you want, just add a plot next time.

Oddball

Spring 2010


Pad on Trial Is the iPad the technology of the future, or a glorified clipboard replacement? See what people are saying. Article by

The Good:

iBooks! The iPad has thrown down the gauntlet for other electronic book readers like the Kindle with its capability to download and read iBooks. Ooh... Shiny! The iPad is really REALLY shiny. By that I mean it has a really pretty interface and is fun to use. Movies The iPad is portable, but also has a large screen and full video viewing capabilities. This in combination with the Netflix app (which is free if you already have an account) makes it one of the best items on the market for watching videos on the go. Size and Portability The iPad is perfectly sized and weighted, to be portable while offering a variety of features not available on the iPhone because of its small screen.

James P.

The Bad:

Not So Revolutionary... The iPad isn’t as revolutionary and game changing as it’s made out to be. Everything it does is done by some other device already. No Camera Why not? This feature is popular with all age groups and is a no-brainer with the iPad’s great photo-viewing options. Awesome Slip-Inducing Design As a large flat object with no good handholds that requires you to have a free hand for many of the features, the gravity of this item is totally off balance. The design seems to be made to cause disaster. No Multitasking Why not? You can’t even listen to music and surf the web at the same time. The lack of this capability really subtracts from the device’s quality. iPhone...iMeanPad The iPad seems a whole lot like an iPhone that can’t make calls. It does add a few new features, but the similarity is extreme.

The Verdict: Clipboard

28


Oddball Thanks You Oddball Magazine was made possible by contributions from viewers like you. We would like to give a shout out to those who have allowed us to interview them, helped us in times of distress, and have just been awesome. Please hold your applause until the end. Thank you. Mrs. Young —for being so awesome and helpful to make our magazine the best that it can be Henry K., Olivia N., and Lily C. — for letting Purna interview you about their talent. YOU GUYS ROCK! Colleen F— for letting Purna interview you about your talent and modeling for “Missing the Pointe” Rishi B., Kartik H., and Travis O.— for being pwnz0rs and enlightening Purna with your leet knowledge Sadu B.—for educating Rebekah on the power of the Smart Grid Ismael S.— for taking time out of your day to talk to James about the webbernets Alex from axelstudios.com— for letting us use his amazing design for the cover Quentin F. — for taking the picture of Colleen for “Missing the Pointe” Wikipedia— for giving us all of those free pictures and information when we were in desperate need And to you, Oddball Readers for having faith in us through the entire journey. We hope you enjoyed the magazine!

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