Thursday, November 15, 2012

Reaction to Microsoft's hoarding of Halo 4 data

For the better part of a day, I read increasingly furious twitter updates regarding Microsoft's popular video game Halo 4 and the free-to-use website "Waypoint" that serves as a portal for game stats.  The crux of the twitter barrage is Microsoft's lack of an API (application programming interface).  The company that developed Halo 4 is 343 Industries, a clever name borrowed from the fictional story that links all the games in the franchise.  343 serves as the custodian of not only game development but the entire franchise, which includes games, books, comics, and more. Most importantly, they own the game data.

Data Visualization isn't just a trend. It's an effective way of communicating information using pictures. It makes spotting trends and making course-of-action decisions easier, faster, and more accurate. Nearly every industry has benefited from the use of infographs and data visualization.

For gamers, tracking stats has been a means of evaluating personal performance.  So what's changed for the gamer plugged into Halo 4? Previous installments of the game were developed by the software company, Bungie.  A long-time PC game developer, Bungie created Halo for Microsoft's maiden gaming console, the Xbox, back in 2001. Bungie already had a reputation for actively engaging it's fans and the communities spawned from its games.  With Halo setting sales records and a new generation of gamers connected to high-speed internet, Bungie made stats and data available to gamers via its website.

In 2010, Bungie released it's last Halo game and gave the community its first API.  Fan-operated websites like Halocharts and Halotracker quickly began creating applications using the API and were able to create mini-games, online player leagues, and create new metrics for players.  That was then.

Now 343 is at the helm and a lot's changed in two years.  The way companies view data has changed. It's a commodity and they have plenty of it.  An outgoing software company without a stake in a billion-dollar franchise gave the community an API (for a small fee - Bungie Pro).  It's simply not reasonable to expect Microsoft to adopt Bungie's community strategy.  The ability to monetize data has changed the game.

In a way, the current community outcry over a lack of a Halo Waypoint API is a hold-over from the Web 2.0 craze.  "In the end Web 2.0 ended up being an umbrella term for things like user-generated content, AJAX, REST API’s, and social networking,"  -

Today's market includes mobile, tablets, smart TVs, and an increasing number of downloadable apps.  Microsoft unveiled Smartglass at E3 2012 and announced plans for integration between windows 8, Xbox, and tablets.  Without a crystal ball, it's easy to foresee that accessing more data and stats will be easier with the addition of these new tools.

We don't need third-party, community generated applications to view game data and enrich the gaming experience. For developers, the increasing amount of date generated from games is a commodity as well as tool for managing gaming dynamics. The incentive for 343 to provide accessible and meaningful data and stats to it's customers is evident.  The developers that look to the future and adopt technologies that make best use of the data will thrive.  Those that cling to yesterday's technology standards will go the way of Web 2.0.

For now, the angry birds tweeting their complaints about a lack of an API need to be patient. Mama bird, 343, will be arriving shortly with enough data and stats for you to devour.

- Gunner

Thursday, September 27, 2012

[Infograph] Gaming's impact on the classrom

An increasing amount of technology are entering the classrooms. Can teacher's keep pace with the exponential growth of tech? Will school administrations embrace virtual tools and games to enhance learning? The infograph below (provided by shows the benefits to schools that have used games to teach. read more>>

Gaming in the Classroom
Courtesy of: Online Schools

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

TV Review: Revolution, 'Chained Heat' (NBC)

Not getting any better.

I'm not going to continue reviewing this show unless next week's episode offers a story that makes sense. Not every show is perfect, but this is starting to become insulting. We have a premise, some style, reasonable performances, but a ridiculous script.  I'm a huge fan of Alan Sepinwall's reviews, and I like how he described Ryan Murphy's shows as schizophrenic.  This isn't a Ryan Murphy show, and I don't think Revolution qualifies as that.  Because that would require personality.

The second installment was supposed to cover themes of loyalty, tough choices, and impossible odds. I'm not sure what I watched, but it wasn't that.  It's obvious that we will learn more of the back story as each new episode begins with a flashback.  Just like an episode of Lost, these flashbacks will offer some thematic elements for each new episode. Again, the performances were OK.  The story is starting to fall apart.

It was nice to see a C. Thomas Howell sighting.  Seriously, you do one black-face movie and you're never heard from again (see Soul Man).

Is it just me (of course is it, that's why I'm writing for my own blog), or is Charlie a whiner.  I wanted Miles to kill the bounty hunter - C. Thomas Howell if only to prove to her that she doesn't get want she wants.  I understand that she's supposed be the naive kid from the farm - a Luke Skywalker to Miles Matheson's Han Solo.  At least Luke was intrigued by the universe outside his planet and was self aware of his own naiveté.

Charlie's character changes from scene to scene. One minute she's the hardened and resourceful child of the post black-out era and the next she's Carl from the Walking Dead.  Someone should have yelled to Charlie, "Just stay in the house Charlie!"

Unlike the Walking Dead, where zombies are killing everyone not named Carl, This show has given us very little reason to believe that as soon as the lights go out the world falls apart. Panic and confusion is all it took to destroy a 236-year-old democracy. Without cars and internet, whatever remained of the 300 million Americans decided - screw it, lets form a slave-owning, militia-backed dictatorship.

It's only been 15 years and everyone is a sociopath.  It's a lot easier counting how many people die in each episode (and there's a lot) than how many times a character displays any human emotion for another "living" person.  Charlie seems to only care about her brother out of pride or misplaced guilt, but it certainly isn't out of love.  I guess electricity also provides us the ability to share memes as well has human kindness.

This show asks the audience too many times to suspend disbelief in order to follow these characters aimlessly through the wilderness (without a map, compass, star charts, and GPS - at least Aaron noticed).  It doesn't held that the characters are merely an amalgam (my new favorite word - thanks Leslie Knope) from better stories like Hunger Games and well, let's be honest - all of them.

I could keep going on about either the flashback with the stranger or the mercy killing by Nevil, but it would be redundant.  It's as if, having people die allows the writers to abandon their duties.  It's too hard to explain what Charlie is going through - so let's just have a scene in which she witness's her mother becoming a murderer (without context!. Ultimately this show missed an opportunity to allow the audience to identify with one of its main characters.

They want to do too much with Charlie. She'll have a fairy-tale, star-crossed-lovers romance. She's our moral compass and can decide when it's justifiable to kill other people. She's the female heroine, expert archer, and can wrestle a gun away from a full-grown, military-trained man twice her size.  It makes you wonder why Miles is even part of this story.

What they should have done: send Charlie on her quest to rescue her brother with all the naiveté of a girl that's grown up on a farm, living peacefully in harmony with nature.  Because that's exactly how the show started!  If the creators would have done this, we (audience) could have learned about this retro-apocalypse right along with her.

Finally, the scenes don't feel as powerful as the music suggests.  NBC should have made Revolution as an anime.

- Eric McLeroy

Monday, September 24, 2012

Can robots play music and become journalists? Apr 2010 
Saturday afternoon, I was shocked to hear my daughter screaming at the laptop.  She's normally a very restrained, 17-year-old, and not easily provoked into shouting matches with computers.  While submitting her college application to Indiana University, the website repeatedly shut down due to server connection issues. Although she was clearly aggravated, I was secretly delighted.

It wasn't for the seemingly obvious reasons like, "I don't want her to go to an out-of-state school" or "I'm not quite ready for my daughter to grow up". It was because she wants to study music at Indiana.  She's an exceptional orchestra musician and plays the violin and viola with staggering proficiency and grace.  She loves music and would excel in any music program, but I would prefer her and the rest of her generation to start turning their attention toward computer science.

According to the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for those in computer systems design will increase over 48 percent between 2008 and 2018. Many other computer science fields expect to increase at high levels as well. Sure it's a growing field, but the world will still need musicians - right?

I'm sure we'll need musicians, actors, writers, and bloggers, but for how much longer.  Andrew McAfee,  a principal research scientist at the Center for Digital Business in the MIT Sloan School of Management,  has spoken about the increasingly efficient ways that business is replacing traditionally skilled labor positions with digital tools. Basically, robots are taking over the workplace.

The concept of robots in the workplace conjures up images of either the Jetson's robot maid from the Hanna-Barbera cartoon or an adorable Wall-E from the Disney movie of the same name. We still think of automation as hulking, expensive hardware capable of completely narrow tasks under human supervision. But that's not the case.

McAfee talks about the rise of corporate profits and the decrease of employees during the TEDtalks event in Boston recently.  Those companies are still investing in the future by way of hardware and software, just not people.  And they don't need to. He later gives us an example of digital tools replacing a traditionally human role - journalism. Here's an article about this very subject written by a human at the New York Times 

I don't believe this is the slow rode to a Terminator-led apocalypse, but I do agree with McAfee that there will be vast new opportunities to improve the quality of life for billions of people world-wide. It starts with accepting the notion that automation and artificial intelligence will create new opportunities for innovation.  But we're going to need more computer scientists.

At a recent back-to-school night, I sat in on my daughter's computer science class along with the other parents.  I listened to the teacher recite his syllabus and student expectations, but I was struck by a few things he mentioned during his presentation. My daughter's school is one of the few schools in the area with an AP computer science course. I'm sure that's not jaw-dropping, but consider that this public school is in Fairfax County Virginia. This isn't silicon valley, but considering that this area of the country has one of the highest populations of people holding advanced degrees per capita, it's at least note-worthy.

No part of the country is more painfully aware of the ebb and flow of politics and the economy as Washington DC.  Yet the focus of attention is zeroed on job-creation instead of education.  And I'm not talking about teacher's salaries or class-size. In order to meet the demands of the coming technology revolution, our children need to be prepared.

Traditional manufacturing jobs and some general skilled-based occupations (anything involving customer interaction) can and will be replaced with some form of artificial intelligence. The men and women with the expertise to work with large data sets, code complex algorithms, and push the envelope of information technology will be in high demand.

Is it relevant for American high school students to take consecutive years of a foreign language when a Google app on the mobile device can quickly translate multiple languages? Has English class made our young adults entering the workforce any more proficient at writing a resume or crafting grammatically correct emails? These skills are important, but when compared to science and math, I don't think they are vital.

In the meantime, my daughter has agreed to minor in computer science.  She still dreams of continuing her music education and one day becoming a teacher. I'll always support her and encourage her to chase her dreams. But just as I'd like to be a bestselling author even though algorithms are creeping in on the industry, consider this video of a 17-year-old Ray Kurzweil on a 1965 television game show.  Ask yourself, where will you and your children be when the robots are playing at the Kennedy Center and writing their own reviews.

 - Eric McLeroy

Friday, September 21, 2012

Video Games can make life better?

Maybe they can't make everything better, but they could makes things more enjoyable. There are some smart people that seem to think that the way video games are made could make us rethink the way we look at governments, schools, and even business.  It may seem ridiculous, but it's not. In all three sectors of our society, the goals are always cooperation, success, innovation, and learning.  Imagine a reality in which not only are these things accomplished, but it can be fun.  It's already happening inside virtual gaming communities.

One of the champions for this radical thinking is Tom Chatfield, a British writer, technology consultant, and video game theorist.  During a four-day, TEDGlobal 2010 event in Oxford, England, Tom spoke for about 15 minutes on the ways that video games reward the brain.  You don't have to have a doctorate to conclude that playing video games affects the brain.  Seriously, have you ever looked into a glassy-eyed teenager following a marathon of Call of Duty or Minecraft? Well according to Tom, life is more interesting and rewarding inside the game. Imagine harnessing the energy and enthusiasm for virtual games and applying it to real-world systems.

Give us more rewards

 In life, we either go to work or school based on a schedule. There are also rewards involved like money and education but they can seem too distant.  A bad day at work is an immediate feeling and it's hard to think about the rewards when you're in the midst of office politics. Or try convincing a teenager that 14th century literature is important for their future.

The fascinating aspect of the current video game industry isn't its growing popularity or its revenue dominance over all other forms of traditional media. No, it's the billions of points of data that are captured while the gamers are online.  This may not seem very important at first, but it allows the developers the ability to continuously calibrate the reward schedule to keep them coming back.

If you are one of the 100 million people worldwide that are playing video games, you're familiar with the reward system involved in nearly every game ranging from World of Warcraft to Farmville.  I've written about this before as it to pertains to fans of the Halo franchise. Players feel good about their gaming experience because they are rewarded.  While you may only have 20 minutes during your lunch break to harvest crops, you can feel satisfied by earning new in-game stuff.

You're in a skinner box. But unlike the rat in B.F. Skinner's experiment with scheduled reinforcement behavior, you can get bored performing the same tasks and receiving the same reward.

Make going to work and school a lot of fun

People want to feel some kind of autonomy whether at work or at school. Workers often perform better and are happier when they feel empowered and retain some decision-making ability.  We are starting to see this kind of autonomy in public schools as well.  For example: students are given several assignment choices for the same topic.

The game developers schedule the type, rate, and intensity of rewards based on probability and actions.  Maybe you earn a little bit of virtual gold or experience points for simply logging on.  You kill some monsters or plant some corn, you get something better.  You're rewarded for every action, and most importantly you decide which actions to take. 

"Each contingency is an arrangement of time, activity, and reward, and there are an infinite number of ways these elements can be combined to produce the pattern of activity you want from your players." - John Hopson, Head of User Research at Bungie, Inc. and the author of "Behavioral Game Design"

But it's not just about keeping someone glued to their computer or console. The games are offering something that is addicting on an evolutionary level. Problem solving.

Human beings evolved to become social communicators and problem solvers. Our greatest achievements are a result of many people collaborating  in order to affect a positive change. And we feel good when we do this. I mean - we get high.

Dopamine is the chemical in the brain that is closely related with reward-seeking behavior. That feeling you get when you get an A on a paper, the boss tells you, "good job!", or you simply open the jar of pickles all by yourself (we can't all be Tom Brady) is a result of a little dopamine in your system.  Whether you are working, learning, or playing a video game the positive feelings you get from your sense of achievement is a result of dopamine.

We want to see progress

Nearly every game today has some kind of progress bar.  It's a reminder of how much points, gold, or virtual currency you have at the moment. It also let's you know how much more you need for you're next big achievement. Wouldn't it be a lot more encouraging for a student or employee to track their work like this? 

This would require a much more dramatic shift in our current system, but it's not impossible. By taking the gaming industry's plan for rewarding all game-related behavior, people are more willing to keep playing.  Difficult tasks can be weighted heavier than easy ones for greater progress.  I think this would foster the kind of environment that allows people to explore new ideas and concepts by removing the stigma of failure.

Virtual Living

In today's society, it's not uncommon for people to work from home, connecting via laptop or tablet.  We don't need to fly thousands of miles for meetings when we can video conference.  We maintain extended personal relationships with friends and family using social media platforms. This doesn't mean that going to college of the future means picking up the latest version of Harvard for the Xbox 360 and when you graduate  you can hunt virtual zombies.  But it could mean that our societal institutions will begin adopting new methods to motivate workers, inspire students, and collectively solve problems.

But it would be frakking awesome to be Master Chief fighting off Covenant and Forerunners but in reality, I'm filling out TPS reports.

 - Eric McLeroy

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A review of the documentary: Regeneration

from The award-winning documentary film, #ReGENERATION, explores the galvanizing forces behind the Occupy Movement and the state of social activism in our society. The film takes an uncompromising look at the challenges facing today’s youth and young adults as they attempt to engage on a myriad of social and political issues.

I encourage everyone to watch this movie regardless of your personal and political philosophy.  It's less about what activism is and more about our current behavioral responses to the events that are affecting our society (American society). It's not a perfect documentary, but it does present an honest, self-incriminating view of our increasingly narcissistic society.

Within the first few minutes, we are witness to soundbites from former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Although the clips occurred years apart and clearly not made within the context of the film's message, it provides an early example of the decay that's been eating away at the American spirit for decades. Consumption.

Are Americans more apathetic toward social injustices today, and if so why? The filmmakers do an excellent job of presenting this question, and then exploring a variety of factors that have contributed to the answer. The answer seems to be yes, the current generation is more apathetic, dedicated to consumption, but justifiably.

I don't believe it's fair to compare our current generation of Americans to those of the past.  In today's society, we have access to an endless stream of data.  Whose to say that American's during the 1950's would have responded to crisis in the same manner if they were also inundated with today's mass media. Where the documentary starts, is an example of how media has changed us.

We are undoubtedly a society of narcissistic, self-congratulating, self-absorbed, self-gratifying, consumers. We are addicted to our own self-worth which has been defined by what we own instead of who we are. Tucker Carlson of the Daily Caller website appears in the movie to say that we are taught to believe that we can grow up to be anything we want, but that just isn't true.

The individualism movement of the 1970's coupled with the promotion of self-esteem have created an entitlement among young people. Children are raised to believe they are special, unique, and have a wealth of talent waiting to be unleashed. I don't believe Regeneration is demonizing these movements but instead has made the case that by doing so, we've traded away civic responsibility. We've enabled our children to grow up to become assholes. And this is how our society works.

"Nice guys finish last" - a reference to baseball manager Leo Durocher in 1939, but relevant today. The film repeats the aphorism against images of Wall St and the New York Stock Exchange. The message here is, individuals are rewarded when they seek out their own self-interest, the rest be damned.  I don't think it's fair to suggest that only people operating in high finance behave in this manner. I worked for a newspaper and if you didn't fight for your story, it might get cut to make room for more advertising. Still, the point is made clear, nice doesn't get you noticed.

The movie uses several people from various backgrounds to properly frame the themes of consumption, apathy, and media propaganda.  Inside a Minnesota classroom, a round-table of high school students admit not caring as much about the environment or joining an outdoor protest because they simply are inside on their computers. The cold world of the Internet is where they live.  A hip-hop artist and entrepreneur in the film states, the man who doesn't know how to fish, hunt, farm, and survive on his own will become dependent on the government. I would add that they would also become dependent on business as well.

But who does that benefit? I would suggest that it benefits anyone who holds power.  The media in all it's forms has been a distraction for the American public. When broadcast companies lease public airwaves, they are doing so with the intent to serve the public interest.  But they make money selling advertising...even the news.

It doesn't matter which political party is currently yucking it up on capital hill of sleeping at 1600 Pennsyvalia Ave. They will all seek to employ the media to distract the public.  Democrats railed against the Bush White House and now Republicans are making he same claims against Obama's Presidency.  Whether it's a corporation or a sitting President, the media (both entertainment and news) will be used to keep the people busy while the "smart" people make decisions.

They do it because it works, and according to the film, they also do it because corporations that have homogenized the American landscape are literally paying for it.

We've grown up in front of televisions.  We are looking at some form of screen all day long.  Those screens are also advertising products, encouraging us to want things that we not need. Sometimes those things are even harmful.  If you feel you are immune to advertising or unaffected by propaganda I encourage you to do some research on mass marketing and sociology. But where this starts to rewire us as a society is in the classroom.

The teachers in the movie admit that it's increasingly more difficult to keep students engaged.  They can't compete with the readily available streaming media content that children take with them everywhere.  Kids are learning more from television, media and video games than from school.  Ultimately, these children grow up without critical thinking skills and the patience to discover their own truths about the world they live in.

Our education system is failing. But it's also suffering from self-inflicted wounds that has contributed to the growing number of young people who are apathetic and frighteningly cynical. Teachers are starting to realize that our adherence to a mythical version of American history is doing more damage than it's worth.  I personally have always cringed at the way my kids learned about our founding fathers. I don't believe they were evil men, but they weren't two-dimensional characters in a short story fighting for good either.  They were as human and flawed as you and I. When children start to realize this, they become cynical about everything they are taught in school.

It's a movie about how we got here.  Why are so many Americans affected by the same social issues, but unwilling to affect any meaningful change?  It doesn't discuss the validity of war, but asks the question, "If you don't like it, why aren't you demanding that your voice be heard?"

I would point out that there seems to be a small amount ironic self-promotion in the documentary for the band STS9. I'll forgive them for their transgression, if for but one reason. At about 65 minutes into the movie, Mos Def,  delivers a poignant rant from inside a Brooklyn, independent bookstore.  It's the best part of the film.

I am aware that some will view this movie as a call to action for the Occupy Wall Street movement.  This is a documentary about us and our problems. If we don't accept that we are willing participants of these problems, they will grow exponentially.  Finally, the movie doesn't offer any answers or solutions and neither do I.  The irony is that it's a very entertaining film.  That's OK, as long as we are critical about the media we consume and honest about our consumption.

please leave comments whether you agree or disagree, if you have seen the documentary, I'd like to know your thoughts also. 

- Eric McLeroy

follow on twitter @gunn3r11

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

TV Review: Revolution, NBC (Pilot)

Bottom Line Up Front: The show is well-produced, but lacks depth.

To be fair, Revolution does provide some new wrinkles to the old blueprint.  I'll start with the bad first, and finish with the good, because there's still enough interesting moments in this sci-fi/family drama to make it into your DVR schedule. Oh, you can watch Revolution on NBC/Monday 10/9c or on the interwebs whenever you you feel like it.

The show is about a family (particularly an uncle/niece duo) living in a post-apocalyptic America where every single piece of technology - computers, planes, cars, phones, even lights - has mysteriously blacked out. According to NBC, it's a drama with sweeping scope and intimate focus, "Revolution" is also about family - both the family you're born into and the family you choose.

We'll start with that.

If the hook for the show is about a family that you were either born into and the one you choose, then it doesn't feel like it.

At least the first episode doesn't.

The show begins with the blackout. I suppose we need to see lights shutting off to understand what a blackout looks like. Sure the special effects were cool to watch before dropping us into a totally green Chicago suburb, but that's not what the show is about. If the premise was to stop or deal with an appending blackout, then sure, but otherwise just trust that the audience will figure out that machines don't work anymore.

If I hadn't watched AMC's The Walking Dead, I wouldn't mind this kind of scripting. The Dead didn't spend time giving us scenes to illustrate the zombie outbreak, instead we stayed close to our main characters and experienced it with them. If Revolution hopes to develop intrigue and mystery, less is always more. I'm sure we're going to get plenty of chances to watch flashbacks in future episodes. I don't know about you, but I'm more interested in watching suburbanites live like 19th century American pioneers anyway.

Did anyone notice how similar that view of earth looked like the intro to Heroes? I almost wish they would have just rebooted that show.

Now that we've watched the end of the world as far as texting is concerned, 15 years go by and we meet our family.  The show centers on a teenage girl, Charlie Matheson (Tracy Spiridakos), that likes to collect post cards and provide the exposition to every scene. That's not fair, every scene tries to beat us over the head with exposition. But that's ok, to a point.

This is why it doesn't work for me. Instead of being true to the characters, the show is full of scenes written with viewer reactions in mind. If Charlie Matheson (Tracy Spiridakos) is our protagonist why does she spend so much time daydreaming about the past. She is now part of the post-tech generation. I would expect her to have accepted her reality and be working to make her cul-de-sac village a better place to live. Here's why this is bad for the show.

Instead of giving us a character that is comfortable in this blacked-out future, the writers want to make sure the audience can relate to important characters. We, the audience, don't want to live in a world without netflix, turn-by-turn navigation, not to mention lights, plumbing, and ferris wheels. We want our tablets, phones, and Google. So they give us some scenes of Charlie daydreaming about the way things used to be. This way the audience and she have something in common, for example: ice cream. Except, that would have worked better if the Dad (you remember the guy from the intro and previews who knew about the blackout ahead of time and downloaded some secret matrix stuff to his USB drive/goth necklace) was our protagonist.  But that can't happen, because we need a reason to go on a quest.

I guess a show starring an old guy that knows what he's doing doesn't resonate with people.

Charlie's brother, Danny  (Graham Rogers), is taken prisoner by the local militia early in the episode. Charlie sets out to find her Uncle per the wishes of her dying father and then rescue Danny.  She's joined by her dad's girlfriend (we learn early on that Charlie's mom must have died sometime after the black out) and an overweight dude that used to own Google (at least enough to make 80 million dollars).

The show quickly gives us a prelude to romantic tension between Charlie and a Taylor Lautner stand-in that carries a bow around.  Evidently archery is very cool.  This would be ok (the love interest of course not the archery) if I cared about Charlie at all. So far she's not presented as a sexy twenty-something in tight clothing as much as she's someone's daughter that just lost her immediate family. We don't have any meaningful scenes or dialogue that would bring Charlie and her new Bo together romantically, except for the fact that they are roughly the same age and are both healthy.

Let the romance build naturally. Don't throw these characters together out of obligation.  It feels forced.  So do the fight scenes.

The action scenes are pretty good.  But when we are told ahead of time that the uncle is "good at killing", you set yourself up to deliver some Jason Bourne-type bad-assery.  Sadly, Miles Matheson (Billy Burke) doesn't deliver. It's good, it's just not great.  Either you are going to make Miles into an invincible action hero that can perform his best impersonation of Denzel Washington in The Book of Eli, or you let him bare knuckle his way out of trouble.  I think Revolution wants Miles to do both.

The show does other things very well, and for a network pilot, this show has a lot of upside. The concept is great and can tell a range of stories that can exist in the future world they've created and remain just as relevant to the audience watching. Ronald Moore did a great job of this with his reboot of Battlestar Galactica.  BSG was able to tell stories about terrorism and and wars of ideology without stepping out of the fictional universe. Revolution will undoubtedly explore the destructive consequences of our current addiction to electricity and power both figuratively and literally.

It looks amazing.  With J.J. Abrams and Jon Favreau involved I would hope so.

This is becoming the standard for network television and that's good for TV watchers.  Every penny spent producing this pilot was worth it. The acting, effects, cinematography, choreographing, and direction were all on point. I could have done without stock video of New Orleans post-Katrina, but maybe that was just a reminder that people are suffering around the world without power whether it's caused by natural disaster or otherwise.

The fall TV line up includes some ambitious original dramas. I like that. Chances are only one or two will survive the winter. I hope this is one of them. So much of this show reminds me of the promise that Heroes offered fans.  After one episode, we know enough to at least check back next week to get to know these characters a little more. I hope we do, because I don't think watching special effects and hollow relationships will be enough to extend this Revolution.

 - Eric McLeroy

My predictions for the show just in case it doesn't last.

1. The Matheson's knew about the black out and wanted it to happen for environmental reasons.

2. Danny chooses the militia.

3. Lots of spys and people switching sides.

4. We'll see more people using secret computers. Why else would he have a central character with Google experience. He's the go-to tech guy.

5. The secret USB sticks aren't like yours. They're not only protected from whatever keeps engines from not working, but they have their own power and can fire up a homebrew commodore 64.