Category Archives: ebooks

ARphabet Tour


January- April, 2019

the ARphabet tour

With the two topics of AR and Books, The ARphabet tour starts at ARIA at MIT, January 14 and 15, 2019.  AR-themed presentations are one part of the tour, the other part involves readings and writing workshops.

The ARphabet Tour is fun, serious and now taking bookings for the United States and Canada. After stops at SXSW in Austin, Texas and the Game Developers' Conference in San Francisco, The ARphabet Tour will wind down around the first of April.

Although I am planning an AR startup, the talk is about AR trends and developments. I am not using this tour as a way to directly seek investors or partners. I am interested in promoting AR as a whole.

Here is an example, from my workshops last summer, at HK  PolyU.

AR: 2018 State of the Art Workshop @ Hong Kong PolyU

AR Presentations

Presentation will be focused  to provide maximum relevant information to any of the following groups. No AR knowledge or experience necessary. Consultations should be scheduled separately.

  • General
  • Children
  • Grade School Students
  • High School Students
  • University Students
  • Advertising/Media
  • Food Industry
  • Medical
  • Artists, including Dancers and Sculptors
  • Filmmakers
  • Writers and Poets 
  • Investors

Unless requested otherwise, the presentations are not overly technical and consist of personal experiences and observations about the past, present and future of AR.

Introducing  Bubiko Foodtour, an AR character

Readings and Workshops

Son of a book salesman, author of fiction and non fiction, writer for TV, websites and magazines, Stephen is well experienced with the art of writing. One of his books, I  Ate Tiong Bahru, is a national bestseller in Singapore. The readings provide a behind-the scenes look at Stephen's writing techniques, inspirations ad challenges. Stephen's books and related videos and reviews can be found here.

Workshops, as much as possible, focus on ideas and text provided by students. After explaining his own writing process, write and share their own texts and ideas, which are evaluated individually and with the class as a whole. Workshops can be modified for any age group or level of writing experience. I have taught English in Japan,as well as creative writing/poetry performance  in Singapore. I also studied in an invite-only class with Robert McKee, the legendary teacher and author of Story, the definitive guide to screenwriting.

Publishing Magnates
Stephen Black , Book Merah CEO/author , with Stuart Rankin, Chairman of The Dundercats Multimedia Group.
360 films
Stephen Black in Beach Road, the 360VR film he co-produced with Hiverlab. The film has been featured in festivals in Las Vegas, Brisbane and Singapore.

About Stephen Black

After graduating with a BFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology, Stephen Black experienced the growth of digital media from these viewpoints: as a photographer, as a video artist in New York's  Lower East Side and Japan; as a producer/writer/director for Cartoon Network and Turner Classic Movies in Hong Kong, and as a self-publisher of ebooks, books and photography books.

He was first drawn to the possibilities of spatial computing/AR/VR as the creative director for a $3.2 million game-making startup in Singapore. In 2007 he committed himself to writing books, while anticipating the arrival of AR and VR. And here we are...

Presentations and workshops by Stephen Black
A Chinese newspaper review of i ate tiong bahru. iatb is available as an audio book and a softcover, on Amazon. The first edition of the printed version is sold out.

Lotus Mountain

Latest info about Lotus Mountain here.

Based on Leng Mo, a story from Alphabet Spikes by bestselling author Stephen Black.

LOTUS MOUNTAIN

a Weiblack Machine Production

A 360VR FILM

NOW IN PRODUCTION/POSTPRODUCTION

SET IN HONG KONG & CHINA’S SILICON VALLEY

REUNITED, FIVE YEARS AFTER HE BROKE HER HEART.

SHE’S A ROBOT. HE’S THE MAN WHO MADE HER.

Directed by LEO WEI and STEPHEN BLACK (Shenzhen Satellite TV, Beach Road, CNN, Fox, Cartoon Network, game development)

Featuring ALPS BETHNECK

Lead Actor: Changi Murals (director: Boo Jun Feng; his Apprentice film premiered@Cannes 2016)

Beach Road (VR festivals: Singapore, Brisbane & Las Vegas)

Original soundtrack by REI SHIMIZU

Japanese Bassist/Composer for CM/movies(toured HK with Sadato)

with Music by

3how

Since You’ve been Gone

The Riverwalk Session Album (featuring Amith Narayan(compoer/producer + music for a Tony-nominated play) and award winning vocalist Wilson Goh.)

Audio 360 sound mixing by Giovanni Lion

VR Art by SCOBOT (World One: Seattle International Film Festival 2018 Official Selection)

Producers: Leo Wei and Stephen Black

blacksteps.tv@gmail.com

www.blacksteps.tv

August 4, 2018 Hong Kong: From Blockchain to Noodles with Gluten and Black Fungus

Notes on today for Alphabet Spikes, my book-in-progress-as-experiment-on Amazon.

These images are from Dustin Stupp's quietly stimulating On Brink artwork, now on display at the Innovation Tower at HK PolyU. Very thought-provoking, Dustin's piece is a trustworthy way to begin an understanding of Blockchain. First at lunch, and then at the artwork itself, we discussed blockchain. To be most accurate, I asked a few questions and listened a lot. I recorded our conversation and took notes. Block chain is not something that can be written about quickly.Later, I will have at least one dedicated post about my time spent with Dustin and his piece.if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section.(BTW, Dustin is open to exhibiting On Brink elsewhere; please get in touch if you have any ideas. The piece is meant to be experienced in real time; those piles of dirt are visualizations of block frequency and size.)

invisible gold

eating electricity

the size of countries

My mother saw the real thing today.

Just outside of Hong Kong PolyU.

Point A to point B, concluding at one of Bubiko's favorite places in the area.

If you like this, here is another day.

July 21, 2018

6:30 AM Woke up in a black and white photograph of Chung King Mansions.

10:07AM Brilliant photo of a not so brilliant breakfast.

10:45 AM Passing out flyers. This. is. DIY.

Made in 10 minutes, yesterday afternoon, barely in time to get it to the printers. It has a charm I would not like to repeat.(Two days later.. I was scolded! Hurray!)

Ponti discussion

Sharlene Teo and Chip Tsao discussing Ponti.

Sharlene Teo. Her talk was great. She talked about Singapore, read from her book. Story, sentence structure, insight, viewpoints and an agenda that is more lightbulb than bulldozer. Her book features a fictitious movie series about a Malay monster; a beautiful female who traps and mutilates men. I have yet to read it, but Ian McEwan calls it 'remarkable'. (Mental note to self: dig up the notes on Singapore-based artworks and texts that involve fictitious persons, books or organizations. Shubigi Rao, Michael Lee, Gilles Massot, Robert Zhou, Isabel Desjeux)

An interview with Sharlene in the Guardian.

3:18PM Tacos at Confusion./caption] [caption id="attachment_43092" align="aligncenter" width="300"] The shape of Delta Blues Audio in my old neighborhood

4:11 PMQ , balcony of Brinc

4:36 PM Not far from Hollywood Road

8:11 Shortly after a lecture on the English Class System, by M.A. Bennett.

9:20PM Dinner at Mr. Fresh Soup

All of the above were in orbit around the Book Merah ebook giveaway/discount, held during the Hong Kong Book Fair.

Bubiko!

Bubiko is growing daily, moving from 2D to 3D to AR, always looking for interesting food. Bubiko's adventures so far:

2D Bubiko in AR test.

World's first AR Photographic Exhibition, about Ipoh, Malaysia.

Bubiko's eBook, on Amazon: IPOH: 88 iPhone Photographs by Bubiko Foodtour

Bubiko Foodtour prototype

October 15, 2017. Bubiko with Stephen Black and the King and Queen of Ipoh Eggtarts

colored pinwheel and paper doll

Paper tests like these are very helpful for creating the final Bubiko Foodtour AR experience

Bubiko's Instagram

Facebook

twitter: @bubikofoodtour

symphony

THE LATEST INFO AND BROADCASTS ARE HERE: https://www.facebook.com/baliwaveghost/

Records from the first twelve hours are here.

Stephen Black: The Symphony Suite Session

The 60 hour Facebook Live event will be a freeform mix of AR, food, Ipoh culture,videos and readings from books. It begins at 3PM on Sunday, October 15, 2017 (Malaysia time) and ends 60 hours later. Live and recorded broadcasts will appear throughout.

Specific broadcasts will be about the world's first AR photograph exhibition, entitled IPOH 38 iPhone photographs by Bubiko Foodtour. In keeping with the symphony theme, the Dundercats and their musical adventures will be highlighted. (Did someone say Mozart's Birthday?)

Throughout the broadcast, the ebook of Bubiko Foodtour's Ipoh photographs will be given away, especially on the 16th and 17th, when it is available directly from Amazon.

Support: Symphony Suites Hotel, The Jewellery Design Management International School , the Emily2u blog, the Dundercats, Thanas Digital Photo and Bridal Studio, and Liew Sunchin

POSTS FROM THE FIRST TWELVE HOURS

Urnovl/121 words: a brief essay about a great big little idea

The concept of Urnovl/121.com is exciting, but it isn’t new. Their ‘texts with a word count of 121 ’ approach is a bigger, prose version of the “17 syllable rule” of haiku writing. Brian Williams once ran Littlerature, which featured stories 1064 words long. I had a few stories on Littlerature, including one about 3how, which is included in red dot SAD. So, the fixed short form is an old friend of mine. I am sure there were, and are, other flash fiction sites based on a specific word count.

The Urnovl/121 website is exciting because it is state of the art literature. Potentially at least: as with any uncurated, free platform, there will be “interesting” submissions. Two Shades of Gray proved that “interesting” stories can have interesting results. “State of the art”, in this case, means mobile-friendly, social media-friendly, attractive design and visuals. One or two things could be tweaked, but the site is still in beta. Two upgrades are planned before September.

So far, I’ve posted three pieces. The word count of 121 is a bit low for my liking, but that’s what makes it interesting. The texts have more depth than tweets, yet can be appreciated immediately; no need for links nor downloading, like ebooks. Readers, and those working in publishing, can quickly decide if a writer is worth learning more about. FWIW: This post has 242 words, the equivalent of two posts on the Urnovl/121 site.

red dot SAD (Stories, Art, Digitalia 2002-2017)

red dot SAD is a collection of stories, essays and images created during Stephen Black's fifteen years in Southeast Asia, mainly in Singapore. An American who has also lived in Tokyo, Manhattan, Hong Kong and Paris, the book documents a creative life that knows no boundaries.

Topics include virtual reality, performance art, network television, food, music, photography, and art projects of all kinds. Physical locations range from an abandoned "haunted" hotel to facilities stacked with IT machinery, from wet markets and beaches to construction sites, the Singapore Biennale, and government built housing complexes. For those interested in Singapore and anyone who enjoys visual arts and well-researched, dynamic writing.

red dot SAD is also an experiment. Presently the book is about 150 pages. Eventually the book will be printed on paper. Those who buy the earlier editions of the ebook receive the updated versions free of charge. For more information on how red dot SAD is re-inventing Amazon and crowdfunding, click here.

To see the current list of topics, click here.

red dot SAD on Amazon

Reviews of i ate tiong bahru, Black's bestselling book are here.

Interviews with Stephen Black and descriptions of his other books are here.

minimal book covers

red dot SAD (Stories Art, Digitalia 2002-2017) book by Stephen Black

Your Super Restaurant (Hugh Howey Must D’yer Maker)

Something impossibly magical has happened to you; a situation you could have never imagined, even when you were young and full of dreams. Something like this: a blip in the universal scheme of things allows you the opportunity to create and sell food of any type, nationality or substance! From salt-packed anchovies to grass-fed beef to organic hand made zuchini tofu; anything you want to cook with appears; you just have to think about it.

Spices, harvested at the peak of perfection. Flours prepared by artisans. Spring water and wild honey from pristine mountains, sacred rice, fresh fish and weird stuff usually found in insanely hot bbq sauce. You can make food ”just like mom’s”. You can provide sustenance for refugees or intergalactic warriors. Baby food. Comfort food from the Song Dynasty, the candle lit dinners that Napoleon shared with Josephine, feasts unknown to Anthony Bourdain: anything.

You take a deep breath, think for a minute, and, voila! A Whopper. Not a Big Mac, a Whopper. People praise your Whopper. You sell lots and lots of Whoppers. Your Whopper wins prizes and goes global. Your Whopper stars in a movie.

And so it goes.

The title of the post references both a song by Led Zeppelin and Hugh Howie Must Die, a book written in 30 hours for NaNoWriMo by Michael Bunker.

HUGH HOWIE MUST DIE by Michael Bunker 

THE WOOL TRILOGY by Hugh Howey 

hugh-howie-must-die-book-coverled-zeppelin-dyer-maker-big

When I read the letters you wrote, it made me mad mad mad

When I read the words that it told me, it made me sad sad sad

D'YER MAKER by Led Zeppelin mp3 download on Amazon 

Hopefully  the dream described above will not be mistaken as anything more than that. I salute all my brothers and sisters who, to paraphrase Nabakov, are also addicted to the Drug called Ink. And, being the son of a book salesman, I have a special and sincere respect for those whose books are sold.

I discovered Hugh Howey because of his inspiring support for self-publishers and his collaboration with Data Guy on the reverse engineering of Amazon's book sales reports. Michael Bunker, the father of Amish Sci-fi, surprised me with the title of Hugh Howie Must Die. His work, as exemplified by Brother Frank, is usually provocative and dystopian, adventure-filed and entertaining.

As an independent writer,  I must listen to all of the leaders of the self-publishing industry, another being Joe Konrath who, a while back,  defended us against big publishing and people like Stephen Colbert.

But the biggest mistake you made, Mr. Colbert, was a doozy

You pissed me off.

You obviously have no idea how big and important my blog is. How I am the go-to source for all things publishing-related. How this blog can create bestsellers, or destroy careers.

You are now on my shit list, Stephen Colbert. And now I shall use everything within my power to destroy your book sales and ruin your life. Just as you are tying to destroy the book sales and lives of tens of thousands of authors Amazon has helped

Mr. Konrath's  renowned blog is recommended: A Newbie's Guide to Publishing.

I am truly, truly thankful to be able to self-publish my books, though they may be an acquired taste. The ability to create for consumers is  a gift.

..........30............

Self-Publishing: An Insult To The Written Word (my comments in red)

Are You In a Film or In Reality?

We’re on one of the few picturesque streets in the old quarter of Johor Bahru. We see three Malaysians loading a truck with furniture that they are carrying out of a big red colonial house. Now we see a man quickly walking; he is late: BIFF DANKLE, an American with long hair that may or may not be fashionable. He pulls at it constantly; BIFF’s nervousness is obvious. He's carrying a manila envelope. BIFF approaches SIMON MURRAY and smiles respectfully.

SIMON crushes his cigarette and puts his hand out. He is in his early sixties, in excellent shape, and with movie star good looks.

SIMON reads quickly.

BIFF pretends not to study SIMON’s face.

BIFF again recites to himself some of the films that SIMON worked on: The Last Emperor, Life of Brian, Titanic, Distant Voices Still Lives, La Vie de Boheme, Indiana Jones... He’d seen photos on SIMON’s website; his pals like Madonna, Michael Douglas and Robert Downey Jr... SIMON is humble, but not afraid to mention those with whom he’d enjoyed himself, famous or not. One moment SIMON might mention Sir Laurence Olivier, the next moment, nearly in tears, he'd describe the cheerful, sweet innocent face of Jimmy Wu, the bespectacled little boy with Backlington Syndrome who had hobbled six miles through a minefield in the snow in the dead of night to gaze upon the glasses that SIMON had made for Harry Potter.

One moment SIMON might explain the influence his mother had upon British postwar playground design; the next he'd be describing an Oscar party he’d attended with both Playboy’s Miss January 1983 and a former Miss Texas who had “worked with Elvis”. BIFF remembered wistfully how SIMON once had effortlessly segued from a naughty casting couch story set in a Viennese penthouse to a description of his father’s meeting with Gandhi, to tips on how to get building permits in Los Angeles. SIMON knows both the dark secrets surrounding the present location of the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper costumes and the simple joy of sharing 

sewage pipe in the middle of the road.

“This is surreal,” SIMON says.

BIFF’s heart leaps. He hadn’t thought that the script he’d risked his health and sanity for would be considered “surreal”. But if SIMON MURRAY thought it was surreal, then his script was surreal, goshdarnit! Great! Actually, BIFF’s aim was to write a mashup; something like Waiting for Godot meets Mission Impossible. One draft had been titled Waiting for the Pink Panther.

“Absolutely surreal” SIMON repeats.

Eventually, BIFF understands, sadly. His script is not surreal; SIMON's mind is preoccupied with Something Else....The  Meaning of Life. The Undefinable Power Which Pervades Everything Yet Cannot Be Proved. Malaysia. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.The fact that Life is unscripted, yet filled with countless scenes containing countless varieties of brutality, no matter how much we think otherwise.

SIMON lights another cigarette. We hear only the sound of diners in the cafe across the little street. BIFF becomes aware of  the aroma of herbal soup.

”OK… No bulldust”, SIMON says. “Your script. Some good ideas, but... don't do  two things at once. You can’t be both opera and MTV. Ballet or gangsta rap. You must decide. Hemingway or The Bard. Whattsap. Commitment. Your  Mr. Yellow character is unbelievable; I am unclear as to whether he has Parkinson's or just a silly walk. Your script should be a ticket away from reality. It's not."

SIMON looks at the truck. "I had hopes..." Suddenly SIMON  starts barking like a big basset hound; the loudness he makes is the sound of being upset and surprised yet happy. The men packing the truck stop. SIMON is amongst them immediately. He shows them how to pack properly.