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the-future-of-you_entry_14-37-35
Recently I’ve worked with VR and AR specialists M Theory to create a story for the world’s first virtual reality experience to help prospective university students choose their course of study.

Quite a mouthful, but here’s the blurb.

‘The Future of You’ (Torrens University Australia) takes students on an interactive journey designed to help them find their future career paths. It’s a fully immersive VR environment where students make a series of decisions to discover their personality profile, which uncovers courses that might suit them best.

Launched this month at Torrens University Open Days across Australia, ‘The Future of You’ features a virtual fortune-teller, developed using face mapping technology, who guides students through a series of questions and tests based on American psychologist John L Holland’s theory of career and vocational choice, The Holland Codes.

The virtual environment within ‘The Future of You’ is beautiful and mysterious, with the landscape shifting and changing as the visitor completes each series of questions. Sound and visual cues enhance the experience and create an engaging and lasting memory. At the end of the journey, the fortune teller presents visitors with their personality type in tarot card format, a brief descriptor and suggested career paths best suited to this personality type.

Which sure beats a visit to the school’s guidance counsellor.

‘The Future of You’ operates on Samsung Gear VR headsets. It will also be delivered through schools via Cardboard VR headsets and will be available for public download from the Oculus store from October.

speilberg

I’ve been reading Steven Spielberg: A Biography. Talk about 10,000 hours. He started making films at 10. And here’s why his names suits him so well:

‘The original roots of the Spielberg family may have been in Austria/Hungary, where some of his ancestors before immigrating to Russia may have lived in an area controlled by the Duke of Spielberg.  The Spielberg family name means ‘play mountain,’ a fittingly theatrical name for a playful adult who works in show business and ever since childhood has loved to build and film miniature mountains.

‘Play mountain’ appears as an essential plot device in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and a film production company Steven Spielberg formed early on when he was a college student in Long Beach California was called ‘Playmount Productions.’

bill-murray

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Good news! If you have an avid short(ish) reader in the house, I have a signed copy of my middle grade novel Shot, Boom, Score! to give away. 10th person who emails me will win.

Here’s what the book is about:

“Toby, if you get twenty wickets and ten tries before the end of the year, Mum and I’ll buy you a new GameBox V3.’

Can you believe it? One minute I’m in trouble for double-bouncing my sister and the next Dad is telling me I’ve got the new GameBox V3! And it’s not even Christmas. Shot!

Toby thinks this will be easy — after all, he gets Player of the Day all the time. But he hasn’t reckoned on Malcolm McGarvy. McGarvy is one of the biggest kids in the school and he’s got a huge scar which he got in a shark attack — he wears one of the teeth around his neck. You know McGarvy is near because you get goosebumps up your arms. And he’s going to make sure Toby doesn’t get that GameBox V3…

A hilarious story about a boy who is promised a Gamebox V3 by his dad if he scores 20 wickets in cricket and 10 tries in rugby, but is foiled at every turn by the class bully.

shot boom score

Harry Potter

Philosopher’s Stone – 77,325
Chamber of Secrets – 84,799
Prisoner of Azkaban – 106,821
Goblet of Fire – 190,858
Order of the Phoenix – 257,154
Half Blood Prince – 169,441
Deathly Hallows – 198,227

Lord of the Rings

The Hobbit – 95,022
The Lord of the Rings – 455,125
The Two Towers – 143,436
The Return of the King – 134,462

Other Famous Books

22,416 – The Mouse and the Motorcycle – Beverly Cleary
30,644 – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
36,363 – Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis
46,118 – Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
47,094 – The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
49,459 – Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut
59,900 – Lord of the Flies – William Golding
63,766 – Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
64,768 – The Martian Chronicles – Ray Bradbury
66,950 – Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
67,203 – The Fault in Our Stars – John Green
67,707 – The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway
73,404 – The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
78,462 – The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
80,398 – The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
84,845 – Gilead – Robinson, Marilynne
85,199 – The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera
87,846 – Pere Goriot – Honore de Balzac
87,978 – Persuasion – Jane Austen
88,942 – Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
91,419 – Joy Luck Club – Amy Tan
97,364 – Anne of Green Gables – Lucy Maud Montgomery
99,121 – To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
100,388 – To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
112,815 – The Golden Compass – Philip Pullman
123,378 – Atonement – Ian McEwan
127,776 – Life on the Mississippi – Mark Twain
134,710 – Schindler’s List – Thomas Keneally
135,420 – A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
138,087 – Moll Flanders – Daniel Defoe
138,098 – Snow Falling on Cedars – Guterson, David
138,138 – 20000 Leagues Under the Sea – Jules Verne
144,523 – One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
145,092 – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – Betty Smith
145,265 – Cold Sassy Tree – Olive Ann Burns
145,469 – Last of the Mohicans – James Fenimore Cooper
155,887 – Emma – Jane Austen
155,960 – Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
156,154 – Watership Down – Richard Adams
157,665 – Alias Grace – Margaret Atwood
159,276 – The Kitchen God’s Wife – Amy Tan
161,511 – Cold Mountain – Charles Frazier
166,622 – Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe
169,389 – White Teeth – Zadie Smith
169,481 – The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
174,269 – Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
183,349 – Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
183,833 – Little Women (Books 1&2) – Louisa May Alcott
186,418 – Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
198,901 – A House for Mr. Biswas – V.S. Naipaul
206,052 – Moby Dick – Herman Melville
211,591 – Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
316,059 – Middlemarch – George Eliot
418,053 – Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
591,554 – A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

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facebook-exchange-thumbs-down-hed-2016

I don’t have shares in Stayfocusd but I wish I did. It’s a Chrome app. Here’s how they sell it. ‘StayFocusd increases your productivity by limiting the amount of time that you can spend on time-wasting websites.’

I downloaded it because I was addicted, mostly to Twitter and Facebook. I’d jump in first thing in the morning and before I knew it I was stuck to the newsfeed like chewing gum on a car seat. Here I was trying to write a treatment for a doco, or trying to finish a scene in a novel, but instead I chose to effectively work for Facebook and Twitter. For free. I was their slave – but I had shit to do.

Since downloading the Stayfocusd app, life is far cheerier, thank you very much. I have limited myself to ten minutes of social media per day. Sounds pathetic, right? Na, come on. It just means I need to get a hurry on. It’s a quick hit. Like getting served in the pub when you’re 15. In those ten minutes I can see all I need to see, check notifications and even upload a status.

Perhaps not this piece.

Most importantly, I get shit done. The app will tell me when I have 60 seconds left. There is no aimless wandering. It also tricks your brain into having to think of another sentence or thought over the typical reaction of heading to the URL bar and typing www.fac….

If you want to get really gnarly, turn the wifi off at the source. I know, crazy, right? I’ve told myself I’m only allowed another hit once I’ve reached 1000 words on whatever project I’m working on. No email, no web, cold turkey. Please note, this technique is not for the faint of heart, but trust me, make it through to the other side and the feeling is akin to that well-deserved first cold beer after mowing the lawns.

Damn, I’d love to devour those little red notifications right now but that bloody app won’t let me back in.

cleese

cleese

In almost every Neil Gaiman interview I’ve seen or heard he is inevitably asked the question all creative types despise. Where do you get your ideas from? At least Gaiman has a sense of humour. In the past he has answered this by saying, ‘From the Idea-of-the-Month Club,’ or ‘From a little ideas shop in Bognor Regis.’ Nowadays he keeps it simple: ‘I make them up. Out of my head.’

Because the truth is no one knows where ideas come from. I once heard a poet say his best poems fizzed past on a runaway train and if he didn’t grab them with both hands, at that very second, they would be gone forever, never to return.

I always loved the way John Cleese and Michael Palin used to write. They knew ideas don’t arrive fully formed. It takes work to find them. The stars of Monty Python would sit in a cabin in the woods and talk absolute shite, sometimes for hours, before the bare-boned idea for a sketch popped out. They’d worked out the magic ingredient. Riff and talk and riff and talk and risk.

Sometimes you’re lucky. Sometimes, for whatever reason, ideas do just arrive. But it doesn’t mean they’re any good. How many times have we scribbled down an idea at two in the morning and woken too embarrassed to even read it aloud to the dog.

The master of surrealism Salvador Dali pushed the limits of creativity, almost forcing his brain to dance on the spot. He used to slouch in his chair and in his right hand he held a key. Beneath his hand was an upside-down plate. The second he fell into a deep sleep, his hand released the key which clanged onto the plate, at which time he awoke to a fresh pallet of ideas. Which is cheaper than drugs.

Feel free to share what works for you in comments. I’ll think about what’s worked for me and post some more ideas next time.

Over and out.

Justin

As a writer, I keep all sorts of notes in all sorts of little black books. Thinking being, these notes might come in handy for a book one day. Months later when I find these notes I have to wonder what we were thinking. Here’s a select few:

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‘Should the hippo fart or burp?’
‘Fart.’
‘No, I think it’s too silly.’
‘But the bubbles are coming from its butt!’

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‘Can we swap feelings?’
‘What have you got?’
‘Anger.’
‘Oh no, I don’t want that.’

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‘I was useless at maths, ask me anything.’
‘Whats 2 times 2?’
‘Wellington.’

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‘Mum, is Sophie in charge of the bread?’

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‘Hey let’s name our ears. I’ve got Lilly and Ryan.’

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‘Dad, I just need some penguin time!’

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Have a great weekend,
Justin