June 1, 2005
Man, I hate to sound like one of those "oh thank heavens for the BBC on WBUR" and going on and on about how myopic news coverage is in ths country, but I think France's recent "No" vote on the EU Constitution should be getting at least a little more attention on major US news outlets...
Video Games of the Moment
Making the rounds lately has been this Gamer's Manifesto, 20 things that most gamers would like to see with the new generation of games coming out. I didn't realize that there was a patent on games during loading screens...it seems really odd because the C=64 had that a long time ago, especially in the UK where they tended to use tape drives. I don't agree with the longing for better AI, really...I think realistic AI would make these games not too much fun, because who wants it to be like real war, when you never see it coming? Hardcore gamers might be longing for "serious" competition that might prep them for combat against real people, but for casual gamers, I think some enemy dumbness is appreciated.
The slashdot conversation on it had "Dun Malg" mentioned that a
7th-8th grade algebra teacher, complained to me last night, "They can't figure anything out on their own. Even their video games don't teach them problem solving. It's all 'jump-jump-squat', over and over again."There's something to that. Video Games aren't as cognitively challenging as some gamers like to pretend.
June 2, 2005
|--It took me a long time to realize the cleverness of the Goodwill Industries logo...for the longest time I just saw it as the happy half of a greek drama mask, but look...it's a lowercase G! Clever!|
Quote of the Moment
"For a long time it puzzled me how something so expensive, so leading edge, could be so useless, and then it occurred to me that a computer is a stupid machine with the ability to do incredibly smart things, while computer programmers are smart people with the ability to do incredibly stupid things. They are, in short, a perfect match."
--Bill Bryson, "Notes from a Big Country"--I somehow found this quote in 1999 but now I'm actually reading the book. He's not quite as good in small column format I think.
Trivial Online Tool of the Moment
I'm almost embarassed to post this because it's pretty trivial, and only has a so-so chance of ever being useful to anyone but me, but I just "released" the sorting tool sort of v0.1. I had a bunch of files name, one per line, that I wantd in alphabetical order. I could have written a perl script in a minute or so, or (gak) fired up Excel (or look--TextPad does it too! Sheesh) but it only took a few minutes to turn it into a simple webapp.
If any one can suggest away of making this tool useful to them with a few more options or features, please let me know.
June 3, 2005
Line of the Moment
"How about a soy milkshake?"
"Do you know what a soy cow says?
A soy cow says 'meh.'"
--Today's Diesel Sweeties. I know it's "so 2002", but 'meh' is such a good word.
Thought of the Moment
A while back I was picking up Ksenia from Alewife station, and it struck me that there's something melancholy about all these people in cars waiting for their T-riders, and all these T-riders waiting for their person in a car to pick them up. Everyone has this kind of doleful look as they peer at each other..."are you the person I'm waiting for? -- no."
It seems like there should be some way of making a matchup service out of this, or something.
June 4, 2005
Windows Hints of the Moment
Sometimes when I'm doing a lot of file manipulation from a specific folder in Windows, I find it useful to have a shortcut that opens up that folder directly. However, when I right drag with the mouse and say "Create Shortcut Here" over the start button, it tends to creat an "inplace" shortcut...an alternate view of the current contents of the folder, in a grey pane of the Start menu itself. But that view is a lot harder to work with than a usual explorer window...I want to go to the folder IN explorer itself. The easiest way to do that seems to be to rightdrag "Create a shortcut" to the desktop, then regular drag and drop that onto the start button.
Another idea: I've been trying to sometimes use the two paned explorer view (right click on a file and hit "Explore") but folders aren't always to relocate even after they're opened...in this case sometimes it's useful to rightclick on the folder in the left pane, hit "Properties", go to "Customize", click "Change Icon"...the "power (|) symbol on a red button" icon is often covenient to click on here, and easy to pick out from back in Explorer.
Hope somebody finds this vageuly useful...
June 5, 2005
Head a farewell-to-Sawer's FoKN'A (Friends of Kirk's Nintendo Association, the goofy name for my video game get-together group) yesterday....Sawers and Cordelia were there, Andy and my cousin Ivan, Rick showed up as well. A fun group and we had a lot of laughs and played a lot of games and ate a lot of strawberries and other great stuff.
I'm really wanting to try to revive the group, or even expand it a bit especially since some people are gonna be leaving. 4 player games are just the bomb-diggity, though sometimes if its only like 4 or 5 people you don't have quite enough because someone doesn't like that game's genre. I don't know how to expand it properly though...I guess I should make sure it's open to any gamer friends I can think of before doing something weird like posting on Craig's List.
Forgot to haul out the new "Star Fox" before everyone but Ivan left...it was a good head to head deathmatch, might've been tons of fun for four.
Anecdote of the Moment
The other week I was over at Ksenia's family's friend. At one point the TV was on a Russian cable station. At one point I saw a dubbed show which was odd for two reasons...one was I think it was a German show, some 70s detective or action drama (taking place at a small amusement park, I think part of the plot was about sabotage or poor maintenence of a small roller coaster leading to one of its cars being thrown into a concession stand with a guy in it.) And of course it was being dubbed into Russian. The other thing was the dubbing method...it wasn't subtitles or attempted lip-synching...instead, the original audio track was on low (which is how I knew it was in German) and a guy repeated what the actors just said in in Russian, and I think did any other needed translations, like of onscreen text. It wasn't quite as simple as one guy acting as the translator/narrator, they also had a woman who would repeat the women's dialog in the show...but besides that there was no attempt for the translators to switch voicees.
I know I'm horribly conditioned to think of English as a default, either for translation to or from for media, but still there's something odd in hearing two different languages you don't understand piled on top of each other on TV.
Videos of the Moment
Kind of like porn for people who are into car accidents, Crash Test Videos from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. If you're in a hurry (and using Windows, I guess) check out 2005 VW Beetle Side Impact...multiple camera angles and everything!
June 6, 2005
Quote of the Moment
"In the end that's all we have: our memories - electochemical impulses stored in eight pounds of tissue the consistency of cold porridge. In the end they define our lives."
--Remembrance of the Daleks. (Hi Catherine!)
Stuff on Kirk's Camera, Day 1
--Thought this place was looking a little too texty lately, so I'd put up some digital photos. This is
Article of the Moment
Slate slideshow on Basquiat and his place in the New York art scene. That movie really did do a lot to increase his recognizability I think, at least for people like me who were too young to remember that part of the 1980s.
bouuuuum bom bom bedahm, bom be barbedarm bedabedabedabeda, bbrrrrrimm bbrrrrramm bbbrrrrrrrrraammmmm ddddddraammm(30 comments)
June 7, 2005
Video of the Moment
Huh...I guess this has already made the rounds, especially in Europe, but somehow I completely missed it...the Crazy Frog Axel F video (WARNING: contains tiny little froggy dingle.)...the core is that old Insanity Test sound of a guy imitating a 2-stroke engine, but this video takes it into all sorts of really strange and compelling places. Insanely entertaining.
I guess this is that ringtone that's a huge hit in Europe, though I'm not sure if the ringtone is just the guy or the guy plus the tune. Of course, using the same ringtone that everyone else is is a bit counter productive in the "is that my phone or yours?" sense.
Stuff on Kirk's Camera, Day 2
Here comes the bride...
But wait there's more!
Yeesh! Nothing succeeds like excess, I guess...sometimes it's really odd living across from a church.
Rant of the Moment
I was thinking about including a profanity-laced rant about the recent Supreme Court ruling against Medical Marijuana but I decided to try to keep down the cussing. So...jeez, what is up with this? This from the court who has bent over backwards three ways from Sunday to keep up states rights over that of the federal government? I mean heaven forfend some seriously ill people might have a little FUN along with managing their illness. Thank heavens we can keep our jails filled to the brim with bajillions of marijuana offenders. Such a good plan. I am filled with delight at my tax dollars, LOTS of them, being used to keep these guys where they belong...I'd hate to think of someone having a joint without the risk of the man laying the legal smackdown right on their head.
The Supreme Court. Idiots. Prudes. Puritanical megalomaniacs who will put their own twisted and bent sense of dour morality ahead of the good of the people, outright, unabashed two face hypocrites who will trumpet states rights right up to the point people might do something that might make them frown.
The feds. "Oh, jeez, if these AIDS and brain cancer patients start having a little weed....that's a slippery slope! There's no way we can enforce any drug law then!Anrachy! Dope fiends on every corner! Opium dens next to every McDonalds! Dogs and cats, living together!"
June 8, 2005
I just finished a fascinating book.... "The Mezzanine" by Nicholson Baker, the same author who wrote "Vox" which was associated with the whole Lewinsky/Clinton thing. The book has what seems like a slightly gimmicky framing device, the narrative officially takes place during the course of a single escalator ride, though there's a strong flashback focus on his late morning and lunch hour, and then various childhood recollections.
What makes this book amazing is its attention to the tactile and design details of all these objects around us...it's astounding, kind of like "The Design of Everyday Things" meets "Rain Man" with just a dash of "American Psycho" and maybe "Still-life With Woodpecker's" respect of inanimate objects thrown in for good measures...from the mechanism of the escalator itself, to changes in milk carton design, from the evolution of paper towel dispenser in public restrooms to the little red pullstrings for bandaids that never worked. The book leaves you with a profound sense of recognition, a constant stream of "oh yeah..." when you realize how much thought has gone into the mass produced material objects that we are surrounded with.
Passsage of the Moment
"Are you here for good?" I said, looking up at Chenault.
She smiled. "I don't know. I quit my job in New York." She looked up at the sky. " I just want to be happy. I'm happy with Fritz-so I'm happy here."
I nodded thoughtfully. "Yeah, that seems reasonable."
She laughed. "It won't last nothing lasts. But I'm happy now."
"Happy," I muttered, trying to pin the word down. But it is one of those words, like Love that I have never quite understood. Most people who deal in words don't have much faith in them and I am no exception-especially the big ones like Happy and Love and Honest and Strong. They are too elusive and far too relative when you compare them to sharp, mean little words like Punk and Cheap and Phony. I feel at home with these, because they're scrawny and easy to pin, but the big ones are tough and it takes either a priest or a fool to use them with any confidence.
--Hunter S. Thompson. A front page pick for this month's edition of Love Blender.
Stuff on Kirk's Camera, Final Day
--This vehicle is sometimes seen around Arlington...car of 1,000
June 9, 2005
Art Article of the Moment
Slate on the history of reactions to American Gothic...go get yerself some culture! While we're at it, check out this New Yorker piece on the history of recorded music. It's possible impact on classical music is quite interesting. (Linked to from this blog entry which is still good if not quite as compelling reading.)
Musing of the Moment
So I was sitting in a dull meeting I knew I wasn't going to get much out of, and I started wondering...if I had an option to fast-forward through unpleasant or boring stuff, would I take it? Even though I have a feeling that life is short, and shouldn't be made shorter?
That reminded me of an idea I had when I was a kid...what if everyone had the same superpower, like flying, or teleportation, but could only use it a small, fixed number of times? Would people save it for emergencies? Special occasions? Would there be a ritual time set up for it, maybe gather all your friends and family? Kind of like a bar-mitzvah, perhaps.
And maybe some people would save, save, save the power, and then die of old age never having tried it.
When would you use YOUR power?
June 10, 2005
It's Ksenia's Aunt's birthday, and we found out she wanted the video of "The Thorn Birds" miniseries from the 80s.
Man is this thing hard to find...I must have called and/or checked like 7 places. Every place has like 4 copies of the crappy sequel "The Lost Years" and none of the original, even the places I called and asked "is this in stock?" "well, our computer says it is." Finally we stumble into Borders right as it's about to close and find their one copy.
Anyway, I think it's so funny in a pathetic way when a store clerk in a bookstore or place with DVDs says "we don't have that in stock, but we could order it for you..." I worry that they don't understand that their niche (for me) in a post-Amazon.com is totally dependent on instant gratification. I guess there might be some people who don't use the 'Net, or maybe people are smarter than me and realize they can save on shipping or something, but still, it seems really optimistic.
Apropos of nothing: I was paging through my co-worker's kid's coloring book in English and Spanish and found out that "Zorro" is Spanish for "Fox". All this time, a few years of Spanish, and I never even noticed. I always thought Zorro was just a guy's made-up name. (And actually now I'm almost surprised it's not "El Zorro".) Learn something new every day...some days, two things!
Photoshoppery of the Moment
|--from a Worth 1000 Great M.C. Escher contest. Great stuff.|
June 11, 2005
Urban Legend / Joke of the Moment
When NASA was preparing for the Apollo project, they did some astronaut training on a Navajo Indian reservation. One day, a Navajo elder and his son were herding sheep and came across the space crew. The old man, who only spoke Navajo, asked a question, which the son translated: "What are the guys in the big suits doing?" A member of the crew said they were practicing for their trip to the moon.
The old man got really excited and asked if he could send a message to the moon with the astronauts. Recognizing a promotional opportunity for the spin-doctors, the NASA folks found a tape recorder. After the old man recorded his message, they asked the son to translate. He refused. So the NASA reps brought the tape to the reservation, where the rest of the tribe listened and laughed, but refused to translate the elder's message to the moon.
Finally, NASA called a official government translator. He reported that the moon message said: "Watch out for these guys; they've come to steal your land."
June 12, 2005
So the other day I was driving in Brookline and I saw a building with signage that indicated it was of the "Assumptionists". I googled it, turns out there some kind of Catholic Sect, Augustinians of the Assumption.
Man, I bet they hate line about "well, you know what ASSUMING does, don't you?"
Dialog of the Moment
"We'll be okay, unless we have to stop for gas, again! There wasn't much more'n a gallon in that gas can."
"In a one-gallon gas can. Huh."
"I cannot believe I just said that."
--Bo and Luke Duke, "The Dukes of Hazzard". Man, I LOVED that show when I was a kid, and my parents HATED me loving that show...
June 13, 2005
Snark of the Moment
Piercings and tatoos say something about a person. What they say varies, just like with any art, but many of them say "I'm angry and I make bad life choises." Those are the ones I'd avoid in IT.
--"egarland" in this slashdot article on whether body mods are a drawback for IT jobs. The quote is a little bit reactionary, and poorly spelled, but funny. (Reminds me of the guy saying "I like gals with tattoos...women not afraid to make a decision they'll regret later.")
Ramble of the Moment
So for a while I've had this thought that I can't criticize anything my parents, or any of my ancestors did, up to the time I was conceived, since there'd be a good chance of me not being here. After that time, however, it's all fair game for second-guessing.
I mentioned this at Sawers' farewell bash and extended bullsession, and someone pointed out that this kind of attitude could be extended for everyone, that if no one in the world carried a grudge against anything that happened before they were born (otherwise, like the flapping of butterfly wings causing a hurricane, they might not be here) then there might be a lot more peace in the world.
It's not how people actually think or act but it's a nice thought, limiting your grudges at LEAST to things done in your lifetime.
June 14, 2005
Dialog of the Moment
"For over 1000 generations, organic food like us lived in harmony with the ways of the farm..."
"Yes, Cuke. The farm is what gives us our power. It's a kind of a... field. That creates all edible things."
--Obi Wan Cannoli and Cuke Skywalker in a very clever and Organic Foods propaganda movie Store Wars. The stormtrooper eggs were very clever. Heh heh, "kind of a... field".
Update of the Moment
The other week I posted a photo of a dramtically lit bridge-like structure, turns out it's the Canton Viaduct that even has its own website. It's "one of the two oldest surviving multiple arch stone railroad bridges still in active mainline use in the United States" and supposedly has some twin structures in Russia. Like I said, it's a little disconcerting how the road just veers under it. It reminds me a bit of this Roman Bridge in Portugal.
Reproductive Rights of the Moment
Slate on how Italy is providing us a lesson-by-example on what happens when rightwing-prolifers get control over in vitro fertilization. (They already pointed out that prolifers probably have mixed feelings about mixing it up with the millions of people who have tried IVF.)
June 15, 2005Quote of the Moment
Perhaps for our last words on the subject of usage we should turn to the last words of the venerable French grammarian Dominique Bonhours, who proved on his deathbed that a grammarian's work is never done when he gazed about those gathered loyally around him and whispered: 'I am about to -- or I am going to -- die; either expression is used.'
--Bill Bryson, "Mother Tongue" -- a truly delightful read, a short history of where English has been, where it is now, and where it might go from here. Easily in the top two or three books I've read this year.
He mentioned a city in Wyoming called "Maggie's Nipples", though I think there's the chance it has since changed it name, or something. But what an idea! Man, I can't help but think those must be some amazingly inspirational nipples, to merit being the name of the place, right up there with Helen of Troy launching 1000 ships, but sexier.
Animation of the Moment
|WARNING: MILDLY OFFENSIVE|
--Been a few days since I've had an image here, so I thought I'd post this animation of Penn (that I guess already made the rounds) urging people to be quiet.
June 16, 2005
I've been getting into "Laffy Taffy" lately, it's a tasty candy that comes with two small riddles on each wrapper (and that tends to leave your tongue in some amazing shades). The jokes are pretty hit-or-miss. Generally miss. One I did like was "When is a car not a car? When it turns into a driveway", although I think that it was mostly nostalgia for the Princess Diana one-liner "Did you hear about the princess who stayed out past midnight and turned into a pillar?" which is both wonderfully macabre, as well as literate, referencing both Cinderella and the Book of Genesis. Then of course are some that sort of play with the form: "Why did the girl run into the door? She forgot to open it."
I was kind of offended by the illogic of one, however: "Why is a baker mean? Because he beats the bread." First off, it might be a little funny if "beating the bread" was actually a common expression. (Hm, it sounds kind of like an euphemism as it is...not appropriate for a product aimed at kids!) Second, it seems to be mixing up cause-and-effect about the mean-ness of the baker...he beats the bread because he's mean, not the other way around. Though maybe for the sake brevity the joke is a bit loose with its grammar, and it should be "How do you know a baker is mean?"
UPDATE: Catherine pointed out that bakers are known for beating dough, not bread, which I meant to point out. But tha reminds me, this seems like the bastardization of a much better joke, Why Do Bakers Rob Banks? Because they knead the dough. Now THAT joke is reasonably clever.
Hmm. "Laffy Taffy" is a "Willy Wonka" product...it's an interesting idea, a real brand having its roots in fiction. (In this case, the book and then the movie.) I guess you see the same thing happening with Harry Potter spinoffs, like "Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans". It seems like something must surely be lacking when superlative fictional products are being translated into the real world. Anyway, can anyone think of other examples of fictional brands brought to life? (Saying "brands" leaves out some obvious prop-knockoffs, like fake Light Sabres from Star Wars...) I guess there is "US Robotics" -- I don't know if they were influenced by Asimov's "US Robotics and Mechanical Men". There's another example that's on the tip of my tongue, a recent tech company, but I can't quite place it.
June 17, 2005
Quote of the Moment
"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson, fwd'd to me by my mom this morning...I'm not usually a big fan of the transcendentalists, but it's a good quote. Actually it reminds me of that old philisophical idea of sleep being a small death, and morning being a new birth...
Laffy Taffy of the Moment
"What is the begining of eternity and the end of time and space?"
"The letter e"
--Ooh, I like the apocalyptic bent of that one. It's like Sesame Street meets Billy Graham.
June 18, 2005
Article of the Moment
All such content - as well as the long, beautiful, uncluttered shots of desert, sky, jungle and mountain that filled the early episodes - was banished in the first of the prequels ("Episode I: The Phantom Menace," 1999). In the 16 years that separated it from the initial trilogy, a new universe of ancillary media had come into existence. These had made it possible to take the geek material offline so that the movies could consist of pure, uncut veg-out content, steeped in day-care-center ambience. These newer films don't even pretend to tell the whole story; they are akin to PowerPoint presentations that summarize the main bullet points from a much more comprehensive body of work developed by and for a geek subculture.
--Neal Stephenson in this NY Times Editorial. It's an interesting point; the first trilogy was also supposed to be "powerpoint", except the rest of the movie universe wasn't explained, so it seemed much biggger than the "yeah, Darth built 3CP0 back in the day and Chewbacca fought along side Yoda and Boba's dad is the model for the troops" etc etc. (5 comments)
June 19, 2005
Information Toy of the Moment
Just an enhancement of a script I made a while ago, this tells you the day-of-the-week for a given date for a series of years rather than just one year. Mostly I wanted to see for what years my birthday was going to fall on a weekend...
June 20, 2005
Passage of the Moment
And then she hears the sound of a helicopter, from somewhere behind her and, turning, sees the long white beam of light sweeping the dead ground as it comes, like a lighthouse gone mad from loneliness, and searching that barren ground as foolishly, as randomly, as any grieving heart ever has.
--William Gibson, "Pattern Recognition"
Dream of the Moment
I had a dream last night that I met Kirk, but his face was Patrick Fugit's from 'Almost Famous'. I was at some crafts festival in a cold state, and I had on a black beanie, (I don't even own one) and he just walked up and introduced himself with a big smile. It was so vivd.
--scqueen on the Blender Bosrd, 18 June 2005
June 21, 2005
In Chicago for some technical training...I might be around online, but here's a good chance to clear out some of the backlog...
Sidebar people...feel free to fill in the lack of witty wry observational and situational humor by making some dang sidebars already!
UPDATE: So it turns out my hotel in the City of Broad Shoulders (a suburb thereof; the Suburb of Narrow Hips, perhaps) has WiFi in every room, so I'm pretty connected.
Anyone have any suggestions for the must-sees of Chicago? I realize everything I know about what to see comes from the movie the Blues Brothers (i.e. the Picasso statue..I think my fondess for white T-shirts with B+W photos on 'em came from a shirt I had of that) and the controversy about the Bean in Milennium Park.
Finally, I realize it's less "witty wry observational and situational humor" that I look for in the sidebar and more anecdotes, pointless or pointed...
- Science and Technology on Why are humans nearly hairless? And why do some wish to become more so?
- A FAQ about Bollywood movies, including Why Don't They KISS already? Not that I watch much Bollywood, but it's good to know.
- "The major advances in civilization are processes that all but wreck the societies in which they occur." --A.N. Whitehead
- Stop Motion Studies--not-quite-still-lifes from the Tokyo subway.
- "Academics get paid for being clever, not for being right." --Donald Norman, from How to Deconstruct Almost Anything--My Postmodern Adventure...an engineer's view of pomo literary criticism.
- Don't know if there's anything like this here...shazam is a UK service that can identify the name and artist of any 30 seconds currently playing on the UK radio, as heard over your mobile phone. Cool idea.
- "stick your finger in the hole / now you have a tootsie roll" -- One of First Grade's greatest hits, a little practical joke, you'd try to get a friend to insert their finger into your curled pointer finger and thumb, and then inform them it was actually a toilet...ha!
- "Mueller Hall"...this was an interesting meta-injoke when I sang with Tufts a cappella group sQ. We were really bad at coming up with skits back in the day...one idea we had was a skit making fun of the genre of a cappella skits...one of our gripes was long rambling stories that ended with a stupid joke only people who went to the school would get, so in the background of multipart skit would be a guy telling a long rambling story, and when the focus went back to him he'd wrap up with "well you could have been in MUELLER HALL!" So "Mueller Hall" became a meta-injoke from meta-skit. And now you know.
June 22, 2005
UPDATE: Laffy Taffy from Macrovision (It didn't sink in that such an "evil" company bought the product I'm getting training on, Installshield...)
"What Did Yes Say To No?"That's poetry!
So it turns out my hotel is REALLY close to a REALLY big mall. It's big...seriously, the distance from my hotel room to its door is probably not that much more than the distance from end of the place to the other. Making it worse, it's 3 stories in some places, 2 in others, with a lot of weird ramps in the middle, and the whole thing is in the shape of a giant T...actually more of a stunted J. It's just odd.
- "I'm surprisingly relaxed for someone as neurotic as I am."
"That's because as long as you have Mo your life is pretty much very solid." --Me and Evil B. November 2003 or so...he was helping me with my PC whose hard drive just blew up, and was unaware of the irony of the statement (things were in the process of crumbing twixt me and Mo but I wasn't telling people yet.)
- No holds-barred-advice from rabbit blog...I think the author or at least the illustrator worked on the sadly, SADLY defunct suck.com, which is still a decent read despite being in permanent rerun mode.
- Litiholo...make your own holograms. I was in a special hologram class when I was in sixth grade. Unfortunately, I decided "minimalist" would be cooler than the piles of small objects the other kids were making holograms of, and so I made some very boring plates.
- Slate points out that it's unPC to call the anti-PC folks members of the Christian Right...
- Art made out human remains (ashes) -- macabre, but cool, and I think beautiful.
- I loved this old program called "Kai's Power Goo" that came with my kodak digital camera... Dr. Warp is a bit similar but without the cool "real time" factor or "shrink/grow this area" by making circles with the mouse. it looks like maybe there's hope for running the original if I can dig up the original CDs. (Interestingly, Google has a buttload of reviews of this thing...it's like it caught a sweet spot in artsy geeks getting on the web in the mid-90s.)
- A guide to making your own isometric pixel art. If I wasn't in such a hurry I'd try to make some of my own to show...
- Making the rounds a long time ago...Real Life Mecha...nifty!
June 23, 2005
Science of the Moment
Wired up to a scanner, they were asked to play a game involving navigating through a complicated bunker, killing attackers and rescuing hostages.
Mathiak found that as violence became imminent, the cognitive parts of the brain became active and that during a fight, emotional parts of the brain were shut down.
The pattern was the same as that seen in subjects who have had brain scans during other simulated violent situations.
--Yahoo News, Brain sees violent video games as real life -study. So in other words, "the pattern seen during the simulations of violence was the same as that seen during simulations of violence." I guess there is SOME science here, it's interesting that, much like a dream, you don't need full holodecks to convince the brain "this is real, sorta", but still that's not what the press is picking up on.
Anyway, on with the usual backlog flush:
- The History of Commander Keen, a footnote in PC gaming.
- Ooh, More Kids Say The Darndest Things About Classic Video Games...also check out the original.
- "Pluto's namesake was Roman mythology's ruler of the underworld -- seemingly an apt inspiration for a locomotive-size missile that would travel at near-treetop level at three times the speed of sound, tossing out hydrogen bombs as it roared overhead. Pluto's designers calculated that its shock wave alone might kill people on the ground. Then there was the problem of fallout. In addition to gamma and neutron radiation from the unshielded reactor, Pluto's nuclear ramjet would spew fission fragments out in its exhaust as it flew by. (One enterprising weaponeer had a plan to turn an obvious peace-time liability into a wartime asset: he suggested flying the radioactive rocket back and forth over the Soviet Union after it had dropped its bombs.)"--The story of Pluto, a fortnately scrapped flying nuclear reactor / bomber.
- Artsy Nudes by Maria Gracia Subercaseaux.
- Way old but still amusing, sexy, sexy Bill Gates
- Worst Game Ever.
- Matt "Simpsons" Groening did some cool work for Apple.
- How to make banal thriftstore art cool.
June 24, 2005
Still in Chicago...going to spend the weekend here.
UPDATE: My class at Macrovision (boo, hiss, but it's just about the Installshield I swear) has pop (not soda, here) at 25 cents a can which by my calculatin' is "practically free". One of the offerings is called "Deja Blue" -- "Purified Drinking Water Non-Carbonated". There's something somwhow disconcerting about drinking flat water from a can...no bubbles, and not a tea or a juice.
Also, Chicago has a weird habit of putting up a bunch of coin-only tolls with non of the booths staffed, so if you don't have change you're out of luck. So be warned.
Oh, and I watched the Spurs beat the Pistons last night, the second half of that game. I was kind of rooting for both teams...the Pistons because Detroit as a city is kind of down and its luck and I think need something like this more, the Spurs because...well, it's nifty to see white people still able to do something on an NBA team. That Ginobili guy from Argentina seemed pretty cool. (I think I thought he was Italian or something...) He looks like a tall, drawn out Balky from "Perfect Strangers".
- Samples used in popsongs...includes soundclips.
- From The Human Body Project...lots of naked people all centered on their bellybuttons.
- What We Can Learn from Dogs.
- "A rolling stone gathers momentum" --Mimims, the "opposites" of maxims.
- "Unless you love someone, nothing else makes any sense." --E.E. Cummings
- Militant Agnosticism: I don't know if there is a god, and NEITHER DO YOU! --This Page of Theisms. It was a big hit at my UU's Science and Spirituality group.
- "The eggs come from real chickens, the cheese comes from real cows, and the sausage comes from Jimmy Dean" --from From the Department of Really Unfortunate Advertisements Department
- Notes from Raph Koster's Keynote: A Theory Of Fun For Games...guess he wrote a whole book on it.
June 25, 2005
UPDATE: Good Rant about the Flag Burning Amendment. I love the "VFW Test". I swear the need to pass a law against something that's not even happening much anyway is a retarded crossover of church and state...making it a holy object suggest a church MADE UP of the state. Yes, I'm very grateful to everyone who has fought for this nation; no I don't think this is a good way of making sure they're treated with proper honor.
- Unfinished Essay of the Moment
So lately I've been thinking about this question: "what's the point of acting like a grownup?" To quote Paul in the bible, "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." The thing is, I was kind of a precocious kid, read some fairly advanced books, developed a rationalistic worldview, tried to foster a taste for jazz and classical. And of course now that I'm knocking on the door of early middle age, my tastes veer towards that of a younger person...I like video games, I'm the supplier of office toys for my workroom, I really like "graphic novels", all that stuff.
"As I get older, I don't enjoy the same things I once enjoyed.
But I enjoy new and different things!
I just don't enjoy them as much as I used to enjoy the things I no longer enjoy."
--Arlo, "Arlo + Janis"
- Slashdot on a book talking about How Employees who play Video Games are different. It reminds me of one thing I liked about school relative to work; in school, if the challenge was outside of the whole class's capability, that was more or less the teacher's responsibility. Work doesn't have that kind of safety net.
- Lots of Old Commercials
- The truly terrible film "What the BLEEP do we know" did tell me about Masaru Emoto, who claims water resonates with the good or bad thoughts people have around it, and claims to be able to capture that on film. The pictures are pretty if nothing else, though consensus is it's a far cry from a doubleblind study...
- indienudes, "art & porn links"
- Photos of the feet of famous musicians in performance.
- My dad hated gangsters, just had a visceral dislike of the whole scene, just the brutality and domineering nature of 'em. Couldn't stomache Sinatra, thought "The Godfather"'s glorification of the lifestyle was horrendous. So now I alwayas feel a little guilty when I like some bit of that, like "The Sorpranos". I mean the whole idea of "respect" is pretty compelling, but they do tend to underplay what a threat they can be to innocent people not in the group.
June 26, 2005
- Read "The DaVinci Code". It mentions the Merovingian line, said to be Christ's bloodline and the founders of Paris, or something. It was kind of cool to use that name for a character in the Matrix movies.
- Slate on Why Strict Churches are Strong and King Tut = Boy George?
- 11 Steps to a Better Brain. I sometimes feel my mental capacities are diminishing, though I guess there's some chance its just relatively harmless changes; or possibly my self-monitoring is actually improving, so I'm more aware of my own limitations.
- My backlog said "RANT - HOW THE HELL DO PEOPLE MAKE INFORMED CAREER CHANGE DECISIONS?" Seriously...sometimes I think I should try a radically different career, but I have no idea how to find out how to ask the right questions about what that should be.
- Kittenwar! Head to Head battles of cuteness. Better than the usual "Am I ??? Or Not" interface.
- PostSecret -- amazing, amazing stuff, people write their secrets on anonymous postcards and send them in.
- For a brief time there I was getting into what Star Wars fandom head to say... there's a cool article on trying to explain away all the inconsistencies and goofs (I remember reading this stuff in Star Trek books back in the day.) THere's the "opaque window" point of view, which says in effect, what we see in the movies "really happened" but the movies and books aren't quite perfect viewscreens into those events. Perhaps the ultimate in this whole effort is trying to shoehorn the obscure but pleasant "Yoda's Stories" puzzle game Yoda Stories into the main Star Wars storyline.
- Hmmm...Slate things that a "Consciometer" could radically change the prolife/prochoice debate. Maybe not though, if it turns out an embryo really doesn't develop 'til later, because people who believe in souls wont say that consciousness is the same thing.
June 27, 2005
Doodle of the Moment
|--Paint.exe doodle during a slow stretch of training last week, click for full size. Maybe there's something nicer about sketching with a mouse that uses a rollerball.|
Thought of the Moment
On the flight back from Chicago the Pilot mentioned that one of the channels of inflight audio entertainment was a feed of the Air Traffic Control chatter. Fascinatin' stuff for the geekly type--you really have admire the cordial efficiency of it, the clipped call and response, sometimes the whitewashed irritation when a flight is forced to be delayed. For some reason I liked the kind semi-formality of the "Good Day" or "Good Night" that would often indicate the end of a flight's passage through a certain airspace.
How Stuff Works has a description of the air traffic control system, and here's an interview with an air traffic controller about "Pushing Tin", an ok (if way overdone, acording to the controller) film about the people at the radar screens.
Of course it's not always perfect...there was that near miss at Logan on June 9...
June 28, 2005Quote of the Moment
"Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future."
--Paul Boese, via Candi's LJ. It's a great point
Why I Think I Might Not Be A Romantic
"A man may fight the greatest enemy, take the longest journey, survive the most grievous wound- and still be helpless in the hands of the woman he loves."HAHAHAHA---WHIPPED! *whikCHH*! *whikCHW!*
~Quotes from Frank and Brian Herbers Dune chronicles
--BK and myself on the Blender of Love comments page. I'm right cynical for a guy who has a site called the loveblender...but I'm reasonably happy with my attempt to transcribe the whip sound.
Link of the Moment
Dang, I was about 2 days late to this Slashdot thread on one-button-gaming but some friendly person mentioned my own JoustPong...I followed up with a mention of the gamebutton arcade.
Actually, the original gamasutra article is pretty cool, with some simple flash demos of the movement ideas they're talking about.
Also I want to check out oneswitch gaming...but they're not limiting it to one button to be "cool", they seem to have the interests of disabled people in mind.
June 29, 2005
Still haven't gotten around to putting up the Chicago photos, so here's another cartoon for the meanwhile...
Politics and Sports of the Moment
Heh...Patriots' owner Bob Kraft may have inadvertantly given his superbowl ring to Russian President Vladimir Putin...I had a similar thing happen to me when I was showing off my Atari game "Flap-Ping" to the guy who was running Coolidge Corner Cinema's Atari night...he seemed to assume it was a gift and I figured "why not"...
Gripe of the Moment
Damnation, I see the Spam bots have gotten into the sidebar comments as well. What self-centered assholes these pricks are, writing such idiotic posts just to try to crank up their Googlejuice. I'm going to take corrective action soon, hopefully without disrupting the usability of the site...I think that "type in what this graphic says" is just awful, one time tokens should be good enough, at least for homebrew sites like mine.
I guess content filtering might be my best bet. It looks like spam almost always has "http" in it...so if there's no http, it's probably safe to let it through. If there IS http:// , cause I want people to be able to share links, I might see what happens if I just put up another form, which then might require some additional action to verify the human-ness of the poster.
Damn spammers screw up the net for everyone. Frickin' product whores.
June 30, 2005
Activity Suggestions of the Moment
Zen Pebbles - Buy a bag of aquarium pebbles at a pet shop and scatter over the top of a bank of horizontal file cabinets. Pause in your busy day and rearrange them as the mood strikes.
Local Delicacies - In Ellicot City, Maryland, Mr. S.J.Yates shoves peppermint sticks into lemons. You can drink the juice through the candy stick as if it were a straw! [...] If you can't visit Mr. Yates today, try making this lemon treat yourself.
Fiddle Away Your Entire Weekend - "There is nothing so hard for us to understand, as so eazy for others, az that we hav fiddled our time out. Kindly Yurz, Josh Billings, 1874"
Fun at Work! - Keep a water balloon at your desk as a pet to create a frisson of excitement--it might someday pop.
--Excerpts from 2003's How To Draw a Radish Calendar. Love the "water balloon as office pet" idea.