鋼鐵俠(動畫版) Iron Man

潮流興玩cross over﹐去年看見日本動畫版的「鋼鐵俠」預告片﹐還以為只是為「鋼鐵俠2」的電影打廣告。想不到原來真的有動畫企畫﹐還推了出一季十三集的電視動畫。「鋼鐵俠」是Marvel公司眾多英雄角色之一﹐外判給日本著名的Madhouse公司製作。故事由「鋼鐵俠」之父Stan Lee親自負責﹐日本方面只負責畫面設計和作畫﹐不用擔心劇情暴走或失控。這套美日混血兒動畫﹐有美式英雄漫畫的硬朗明快風格﹐又有日式動畫的精美畫面﹐正是集兩家之長處﹐開創全新動畫風格的先河。

看慣美式漫畫的觀眾﹐知道英雄漫畫有固定的故事公式﹐自然對劇本要求相對降低﹐不可能期望會有什麼新花款出來。但亦同時知道會有一定水準的保證﹐不會好得到那裏﹐也不會差得到那裏。今次的故事很王道大路﹐鋼鐵俠去日本建興新能源發電廠﹐遇上邪惡組織黃道十二宮。鋼鐵俠照例每週打一怪﹐壞人壞得額頭上寫著壞人二個字。最後的大奸角初初扮好人出場﹐觀眾便已經估到他想統治日本。人物造型揉合美式面相和日本畫法﹐與平時看慣的日本動畫人物很不相同﹐品味的問題無從比較優劣。動作場面大部份以電腦作畫﹐充份表達出鋼鐵俠快速戰鬥的流暢感。除了那些例牌開戰前的對話﹐一邊打一邊數說新仇舊恨﹐這些美式老梗的吐嘈位外﹐打鬥的處理令人十分滿意。

未變身成為鋼鐵俠的Stark﹐在劇中也承接電影中的性格﹐常常對身旁的美女口花花﹐而他的美國佬性格碰上日本文化﹐也為故事增添幾分幽默。可能這套動畫作為獨立故事﹐不能影響漫畫或電影的劇情﹐結局只好給女主角派便當﹐讓鋼鐵俠不用拖泥水﹐乾手淨腳回到美國的主線故事﹐續繼追求他的美女秘書。動畫中重新演譯鋼鐵俠的誕生﹐講述他如何從販賣武器的死亡商人﹐變成申張正義的鋼鐵俠﹐比電影第一集更有味道。至於那個從好人變壞人﹐又從壞人變回好人﹐當年救了主角一命的醫生﹐對Stark說的一番話倒刺中問題核心。Stark說自已不再製造兵器﹐可是他不是製造了鋼鐵俠這個最強兵器出來嗎﹖不過動畫中鋼鐵俠的性能未免太遜了﹐常常只有挨打的份兒﹐連新一代鋼鐵俠Dio也打不過﹐不單鋼鐵俠盔甲也被打脫﹐連心臟的反應堆也被搶走了。原本以為鋼鐵俠會像日本機械人動畫般﹐故事中段推出新機體挽回劣勢﹐豈料還是美式漫畫的英雄無敵方便﹐只要是主角最後總會忽然反敗為勝﹐明明敵人可以使出致命一擊也要放過主角。

「鋼鐵俠」中X-Men的狼人客串出場﹐為下一季他的新動畫打廣告。看來這個美日合作的動畫系列會長做長有﹐Marvel這麼多年來素造了那麼多英雄人物﹐逐一過移植去日本也可以拍好幾年了。

The power of posture

According to this research, how your posture affect your projection of power and how other people perceive it. It is interesting to note the powerful sitting posture is regard as bad sitting manner in traditional Chinese culture. Another evidence for my theory that manners are simply rules set by the authority to make people easier to rule.

How you hold yourself affects how you view yourself
Jan 13th 2011, Economist

“STAND up straight!” “Chest out!” “Shoulders back!” These are the perennial cries of sergeant majors and fussy parents throughout the ages. Posture certainly matters. Big is dominant and in species after species, humans included, postures that enhance the posturer’s apparent size cause others to treat him as if he were more powerful.

The stand-up-straight brigade, however, often make a further claim: that posture affects the way the posturer treats himself, as well as how others treat him. To test the truth of this, Li Huang and Adam Galinsky, at Northwestern University in Illinois, have compared posture’s effects on self-esteem with those of a more conventional ego-booster, management responsibility. In a paper just published in Psychological Science they conclude, surprisingly, that posture may matter more.

The two researchers’ experimental animals—77 undergraduate students—first filled out questionnaires, ostensibly to assess their leadership capacity. Half were then given feedback forms which indicated that, on the basis of the questionnaires, they were to be assigned to be managers in a forthcoming experiment. The other half were told they would be subordinates. While the participants waited for this feedback, they were asked to help with a marketing test on ergonomic chairs. This required them to sit in a computer chair in a specific posture for between three and five minutes. Half the participants sat in constricted postures, with their hands under their thighs, legs together or shoulders hunched. The other half sat in expansive postures with their legs spread wide or their arms reaching outward.

In fact, neither of these tests was what it seemed. The questionnaires were irrelevant. Volunteers were assigned to be managers or subordinates at random. The test of posture had nothing to do with ergonomics. And, crucially, each version of the posture test included equal numbers of those who would become “managers” and “subordinates”.

Once the posture test was over the participants received their new statuses and the researchers measured their implicit sense of power by asking them to engage in a word-completion task. Participants were instructed to complete a number of fragments (for example, “l_ad”) with the first word that came to mind. Seven of the fragments could be interpreted as words related to power (“power”, “direct”, “lead”, “authority”, “control”, “command” and “rich”). For each of these that was filled out as a power word (“lead”, say, instead of “load”) the participant was secretly given a score of one point.

Although previous studies suggested a mere title is enough to produce a detectable increase in an individual’s sense of power, Dr Huang and Dr Galinsky found no difference in the word-completion scores of those told they would be managers and those told they would be subordinates. The posture experiment, however, did make a difference. Those who had sat in an expansive pose, regardless of whether they thought of themselves as managers or subordinates, scored an average of 3.44. Those who had sat in constricted postures scored an average of 2.78.

Having established the principle, Dr Huang and Dr Galinsky went on to test the effect of posture on other power-related decisions: whether to speak first in a debate, whether to leave the site of a plane crash to find help and whether to join a movement to free a prisoner who was wrongfully locked up. In all three cases those who had sat in expansive postures chose the active option (to speak first, to search for help, to fight for justice) more often than those who had sat crouched.

The upshot, then, is that father (or the sergeant major) was right. Those who walk around with their heads held high not only get the respect of others, they seem also to respect themselves.

LapGear Deluxe Computer LapDesk

Since I have hooked up my old computer to my big screen TV in the living room, I have been facing a problem, how can I use the wireless keyboard while sitting comfortably in the couch. If I put the keyboard on my lap, I have to sit up tight or the keyboard will move around. Moreover, the position of the keyboard is too low to type and there is no place for the mouse. An alternatively solution is put the keyboard and mouse on the coffee table, but I then can’t lay back on the couch and defeat the purpose of setting up the computer in the first place.

Then I come across the LapGear Deluxe Computer LapDesk in Staples when it’s on sales for $24.99. The LapDesk is very comfortable, it has micro-bean pad on the bottom and the lap desk sits comfortably and stable on my lap. It has a large surface big enough for the wireless keyboard and a mouse. It also come with mouse pad on both side for right handed and left handed mouse users. It has two small pockets to store the mouse and some pens. Now I can sit back and relax on my crouch while I am surfing the net on my big screen TV.

In fact the LapDesk is so comfortable that when my friends visiting my place who has a similar setup at home, not one but two friends like it so much that they went out to buy one for themselves.

Product website

To Really Learn, Quit Studying and Take a Test

That’s why the most effective way to learn is taking a course with the home work assignments and exams that force you to learn.

By Pam, Belluck, New York Times, January 20, 2011

Taking a test is not just a passive mechanism for assessing how much people know, according to new research. It actually helps people learn, and it works better than a number of other studying techniques.

The research, published online Thursday in the journal Science, found that students who read a passage, then took a test asking them to recall what they had read, retained about 50 percent more of the information a week later than students who used two other methods.

One of those methods — repeatedly studying the material — is familiar to legions of students who cram before exams. The other — having students draw detailed diagrams documenting what they are learning — is prized by many teachers because it forces students to make connections among facts.

These other methods not only are popular, the researchers reported; they also seem to give students the illusion that they know material better than they do.

In the experiments, the students were asked to predict how much they would remember a week after using one of the methods to learn the material. Those who took the test after reading the passage predicted they would remember less than the other students predicted — but the results were just the opposite.

“I think that learning is all about retrieving, all about reconstructing our knowledge,” said the lead author, Jeffrey Karpicke, an assistant professor of psychology at Purdue University. “I think that we’re tapping into something fundamental about how the mind works when we talk about retrieval.”

Several cognitive scientists and education experts said the results were striking.

The students who took the recall tests may “recognize some gaps in their knowledge,” said Marcia Linn, an education professor at the University of California, Berkeley, “and they might revisit the ideas in the back of their mind or the front of their mind.”

When they are later asked what they have learned, she went on, they can more easily “retrieve it and organize the knowledge that they have in a way that makes sense to them.”

The researchers engaged 200 college students in two experiments, assigning them to read several paragraphs about a scientific subject — how the digestive system works, for example, or the different types of vertebrate muscle tissue.

In the first experiment, the students were divided into four groups. One did nothing more than read the text for five minutes. Another studied the passage in four consecutive five-minute sessions.

A third group engaged in “concept mapping,” in which, with the passage in front of them, they arranged information from the passage into a kind of diagram, writing details and ideas in hand-drawn bubbles and linking the bubbles in an organized way.

The final group took a “retrieval practice” test. Without the passage in front of them, they wrote what they remembered in a free-form essay for 10 minutes. Then they reread the passage and took another retrieval practice test.

A week later all four groups were given a short-answer test that assessed their ability to recall facts and draw logical conclusions based on the facts.

The second experiment focused only on concept mapping and retrieval practice testing, with each student doing an exercise using each method. In this initial phase, researchers reported, students who made diagrams while consulting the passage included more detail than students asked to recall what they had just read in an essay.

But when they were evaluated a week later, the students in the testing group did much better than the concept mappers. They even did better when they were evaluated not with a short-answer test but with a test requiring them to draw a concept map from memory.

Why retrieval testing helps is still unknown. Perhaps it is because by remembering information we are organizing it and creating cues and connections that our brains later recognize.

“When you’re retrieving something out of a computer’s memory, you don’t change anything — it’s simple playback,” said Robert Bjork, a psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved with the study.

But “when we use our memories by retrieving things, we change our access” to that information, Dr. Bjork said. “What we recall becomes more recallable in the future. In a sense you are practicing what you are going to need to do later.”

It may also be that the struggle involved in recalling something helps reinforce it in our brains.

Maybe that is also why students who took retrieval practice tests were less confident about how they would perform a week later.

“The struggle helps you learn, but it makes you feel like you’re not learning,” said Nate Kornell, a psychologist at Williams College. “You feel like: ‘I don’t know it that well. This is hard and I’m having trouble coming up with this information.’ ”

By contrast, he said, when rereading texts and possibly even drawing diagrams, “you say: ‘Oh, this is easier. I read this already.’ ”

The Purdue study supports findings of a recent spate of research showing learning benefits from testing, including benefits when students get questions wrong. But by comparing testing with other methods, the study goes further.

“It really bumps it up a level of importance by contrasting it with concept mapping, which many educators think of as sort of the gold standard,” said Daniel Willingham, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia. Although “it’s not totally obvious that this is shovel-ready — put it in the classroom and it’s good to go — for educators this ought to be a big deal.”

Howard Gardner, an education professor at Harvard who advocates constructivism — the idea that children should discover their own approach to learning, emphasizing reasoning over memorization — said in an e-mail that the results “throw down the gauntlet to those progressive educators, myself included.”

“Educators who embrace seemingly more active approaches, like concept mapping,” he continued, “are challenged to devise outcome measures that can demonstrate the superiority of such constructivist approaches.”

Testing, of course, is a highly charged issue in education, drawing criticism that too much promotes rote learning, swallows valuable time for learning new things and causes excessive student anxiety.

“More testing isn’t necessarily better,” said Dr. Linn, who said her work with California school districts had found that asking students to explain what they did in a science experiment rather than having them simply conduct the hands-on experiment — a version of retrieval practice testing — was beneficial. “Some tests are just not learning opportunities. We need a different kind of testing than we currently have.”

Dr. Kornell said that “even though in the short term it may seem like a waste of time,” retrieval practice appears to “make things stick in a way that may not be used in the classroom.

“It’s going to last for the rest of their schooling, and potentially for the rest of their lives.”

Kirby’s Epic Yarn 毛線卡比

卡比曾經是任天堂的招牌電玩角色之一﹐可惜上一次出遊戲已經是十年前的事。這次在Wii上推出「毛線卡比」﹐遊戲最大特色是可愛萬分的畫面﹐人物以毛線﹐鈕扣和布碎貼圖效果組成﹐軟綿綿給人毛公仔的感覺。加上粉紅色的主角卡比﹐連老婆也奇怪我怎麼玩女生遊戲。

我沒有玩過舊版卡比﹐無從比輕新舊版之別。「毛線卡比」與瑪利奧同類﹐都是2D橫向捲軸動作遊戲﹐從左到右走過關然後打大佬。操控方式也很懷舊﹐十字按鈕控制方向﹐AB掣則分別跳和攻擊﹐差不多完全沒有運用Wii的體能功能。與瑪利奧最大的分別﹐是卡比擁有不死身﹐死掉了只會扣寶石﹐並在原地重新開始。所以若不求分數只求破關不難﹐只要試多幾次一定可以過關﹐又不用重覆已經通過的地方。這樣每天打一兩關輕鬆一下﹐玩了幾個星期不知不覺便打爆機了。

雖說是打爆機完成故事﹐但遊戲玩成度只有50%。遊戲中有很多寶物可以收集﹐可以用來佈置遊戲中的房間﹐大慨為照顧女孩子市場。另外還有很多隱藏關卡﹐要超過某個指定績分或收集某些寶物才能開啟﹐我可沒有心機去全攻略了。其實玩到後半也有點悶﹐關卡的設計變化不出那幾款﹐卡比的變身模式甚至出現重覆﹐不過竟然開了頭便繼續玩下去。

每次破關﹐便會有隻粉藍色王子出來﹐與粉紅色的卡比跳舞。初時我以為一隻粉藍一隻粉紅﹐想必然他們是一對情人﹐公主救王子之類的結局。到後來網上看資料﹐才發現原來卡比是男兒身。噢~ 這個遊戲豈不是宣揚同性戀。