February 2, 2014New songs added. More "clumped" than some months, with a big row of awesome female vocalist cover and originals.
Soft Covers and Female Vocalists
- Hold Me Tight (Scraps) Heard this track in in merrit kopas' HUGPUNX, a hugging simulator
- Black Horse and the Cherry Tree + Seven Nation Army (KT Tunstall) More acoustic covers... I had know idea KT Tunstall had that accent.
- Seven Nation Army (Vyvienne Long) A woman, a cello, a great cover.
- Toxic (Juliet Turner) Terrific acoustic cover of a pretty good song.
- Listen to Your Heart (Edmee's Unplugged Vocal Edit) (DHT) Shmaltzy, but I like it.
- Material Girl (Walk Off the Earth)
- Love Has Come for You (Steve Martin & Edie Brickell) Banjo and one of the sweetest voices in music.
- Techno Syndrome (Tha Immortals) MORTAL KOMBAT... (if it's good enough for Batman....)
- Shake a Lil' Somethin' (2 Live Crew) Really, Kirk?
- Timber (feat. Ke$ha) (Pitbull) The Cotton-Eye Joe for our time.
- Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (Kevin and the Octaves) After struggling to id this song that was in my head, I decided I preferred a shortened rock cover.
- Vato (Snoop Dogg featuring B-Real) About twice as long as it should be, but a nice loop.
- Woke Up This Morning (Vinne Pauleone and the Ba Da Bing Orchestra) Been on a Sopranos kick.
- Army Life (Leadbelly) I remember hearing this on M*A*S*H... and Leadbelly is an important figure.
- Stayin' Alive (Bee Gees) Had this in a few mashups, but the original is pretty good.
- Get a Job (The Silhouettes) My friend Zack in middle school sang a variation of this.
- Doo Wop (That Thing) (Lauryn Hill) Pretty cool video.
- Kids In America (Tiffany) Not sure why I liked Tiffany's version more than Kim Wilde's original.
- Caravan (Fanfare Ciocarlia) Saw these guys live at Johnny D's-- great brass band from Romania!
Too early to ask the Carroll vs Belichick thing? #kiddingithink
--Romney on another presidential run, talking with the NY times
http://boingboing.net/2014/02/03/stereographic-music-video.html - "magic eye" music video, if you can see the usual magic eye puzzles, and you get the window to be a good size, it works really well!
Love this New Yorker cover:
"Anything beautiful is worth getting hurt for."
--Prince, on the Super Bowl "New Girl" 32 NFL Teams reimagined as Star Wars entities. The NFL teams are really a rich mix of graphic design launchpads.
"The possibilities are endless, but the probabilities aren't."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traveler's_dilemma This seems a bit bogus, like that on where the judge says "you'll be executed one of these weekdays, but the day will be a surprise to you" leading to the prisoner figuring he can never be executed, or the sum of all positive integers equalling "-(1/12)"... proofs that seem to say more about the misapplication of the logic system than the "real world" situation represented.
A few weeks ago I wondered if I should adopt an attitude of assumed belligerence about the world, assuming every minor or major inconvenience was an assault on my person that I have overcome or at least muddled through, and heaping scorn upon the universe's inability to really stop me. (People on Facebook argued that no, this was probably not a particularly pragmatic stance, unpleasant for wielder and witnesses alike.)
Now, I'm wondering about the opposite: the assumption that most things in the world, from software programs to traffic light patterns, are here to help me out, reaching into my fluffy cloud of privilege for my benefit, and that the correct attitude to take on after any given frustration is one of pity for the object, that it's doing the best it can just like everybody does, but was thwarted. (Aww, poor little crashing iPhone app... oh, silly traffic light, programmed for the benefit of me and all people but keeping me waiting here under its blind red eye for the benefit of non-existent pedestrians)
I think the pity springing from assumed Pollyannic Imperfect Pan-Benevolence might be a lot healthier than the triumphal resentment springing from thwarted prevalent Mischievous Belligerence. (I'm also aware both attitudes suffer from a big dose of solipsis, or at least a represent an uncharmingly Kirkocentric view of the universe.) In either case, I am sincere in trying to find an emotion to channel the irrational and unhealthy fury I feel at these events. (To quote Homer Simpson: "Lousy minor setbacks, this world SUCKS!") http://www.asymco.com/2013/10/10/the-five-year-plan/ Kind of a boring article on how Windows PCs are less and less important, proportionately speaking, but what I wonder about is how much they still outsell Macs. Considering I only 100% "switched" last year I guess that might sound rich, but it seems like at least 2/3 of laptops I see on the T and at coffeehouses are Macs. So I'm just wondering if that's more of a Boston-area thing, or a nerd-on-T-and-Coffeehouse thing, or a personal vs business thing (even though Macs are pretty much the standard w/ the hipster companies I'm around these days)
G: Someday I want to go to space
Me: You want to be an astronaut?
G: I'll stay in the spaceship. I want you to hold me when I'm an astronaut
G: But we will have to buy astronaut suits.
Me: That's ok.
--Jack Ross in Robert Heinlein's "A Bathroom of Her Own". I'm trying to find more about the origin of the phrase-- I get the general idea, but unsure of the true context.
Creationism considered Stupid-but-Harmless I think the article is partially right that, by itself, Creationism is misguided by harmless. The real problem is the way it represents bowing to the idea that faith is more important than skepticism, that it's ok to cling to some ideas no matter WHAT the facts are.
Yes, skeptics still tend to have "faith" in the current findings of science, but that's because they know science is a process of finding stuff out, that it holds on to ideas only as tightly as it seems unlikely new facts are going to come along and knock those ideas out. But sometimes those new facts come along, and the body of people who "believe" in science changes its views about the universe accordingly.
Don't trust any system of knowledge that claims to have all the Answers, because the best Answers are the ones that raise new Questions.
I love this set of ASCII-ish graphics from the Sharp MZ-700 computer, via text-mode. Love all the little game possibilities invoked.
--Translation of the greatest announcing from the greatest football goal of all time
" "How do you explain a sunset if there is No God?" Dunno, Copper! Maybe--Earth's ORBIT? How do you explain HEMORRHOIDS and BIRTH DEFECTS and RELIGIOUS WARS without GOURD? Did God also make Chex Mix?"
--Bill the Splut. For a more measured but less entertaining list of those "Questions by Creationists" making the rounds and some thoughtful responses, see this Slate piece
"If the aborigine drafted an IQ test, all of Western civilization would presumably flunk it."
I finally wrote my pseudo-magnum-opus on automated testing, and the skepticism I often have about it. I'd really appreciate any feedback by software folks, because I really need to grow in this area, or get skilled in getting others to agree with me. The link includes this great long passage by Joel Spolsky that I want to include here:
In fact what you'll see is that the hard-core geeks tend to give up on all kinds of useful measures of quality, and basically they get left with the only one they can prove mechanically, which is, does the program behave according to specification. And so we get a very narrow, geeky definition of quality: how closely does the program correspond to the spec. Does it produce the defined outputs given the defined inputs.
The problem, here, is very fundamental. In order to mechanically prove that a program corresponds to some spec, the spec itself needs to be extremely detailed. In fact the spec has to define everything about the program, otherwise, nothing can be proven automatically and mechanically. Now, if the spec does define everything about how the program is going to behave, then, lo and behold, it contains all the information necessary to generate the program! And now certain geeks go off to a very dark place where they start thinking about automatically compiling specs into programs, and they start to think that they've just invented a way to program computers without programming.
Now, this is the software engineering equivalent of a perpetual motion machine. It's one of those things that crackpots keep trying to do, no matter how much you tell them it could never work. If the spec defines precisely what a program will do, with enough detail that it can be used to generate the program itself, this just begs the question: how do you write the spec? Such a complete spec is just as hard to write as the underlying computer program, because just as many details have to be answered by spec writer as the programmer. To use terminology from information theory: the spec needs just as many bits of Shannon entropy as the computer program itself would have. Each bit of entropy is a decision taken by the spec-writer or the programmer.
So, the bottom line is that if there really were a mechanical way to prove things about the correctness of a program, all you'd be able to prove is whether that program is identical to some other program that must contain the same amount of entropy as the first program, otherwise some of the behaviors are going to be undefined, and thus unproven. So now the spec writing is just as hard as writing a program, and all you've done is moved one problem from over here to over there, and accomplished nothing whatsoever.
This seems like a kind of brutal example, but nonetheless, this search for the holy grail of program quality is leading a lot of people to a lot of dead ends.
There is an amusing (and by amusing I mean annoying) bug with iTunes smart playlists... if a song is only on a device because it had a certain rating and so appeared in specific smart playlists, it's difficult if then loses that rating... its ghost still shows up and automagically streams from the cloud, but anything that could carry the metadata is lost, so the thing stays on the list.
"The true spirit of the Olympics, watching and judging physically glorious men and women, whilst covered in crisps on the sofa."
Weeding out some old laptops. I think the one Windows machine I might keep around is this kind of awesome Thinkpad X41, a decent size screen with a builtin Wacom tablet. (I say decent size to differentiate it from my dinky and ancient netbook-ish tablet, the Fujitsu Lifebook P1510D)
One problem is at the moment I can't get it on the Apple Airport wifi. The equally old laptops have no problem; I think the problem might be the "ThinkVantage" crapware that tries to "help" "manage connection profiles". Man, that was such a stupid era of OEM Windows builds... Windows XP was pretty decent at making wifi connections on its own.
Sigh. This circa-2005 windows sysadmin hat barely fits.
Interesting to notice that this is the first time in my life I've fully switched to Mac. Probably a little overdue!
Cleaning out old Windows. laptops. Lordy, forgot how dumb XP was w/ USB drives; let me scan whole thing to "Autoplay" that for you... and to safely stop the drive, I'll put this tiny icon on the task bar to let you "Safely Remove Hardware" after navigating 2 or 3 levels of menus, there.
Frankly I feel all of Shia LaBeouf's antics are just a long game ruse to distract us from his hilarious name. #neverforget
"HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, has killed tens of millions of people worldwide, and over 30 million people are currently living with HIV. The number of copies of the virus carried in someone's blood can vary dramatically, but across all the people in the world, there probably exists about a spoonful worth of HIV."
--http://what-if.xkcd.com/80/ -- wow. So difficult to grasp the scale of how small some things are.
Been thinking a little bit about "the fear of success" as a way of analyzing my angst about taking on projects. I wonder if some part of that is "fear of success that won't feel like 'enough'".
Two random news thoughts:
1. Hooray for Michael Sam. Being out in a professional sports league takes guts.
2. Aw, Shirley Temple. What an achiever. Movies, Diplomacy, and a famous drink named after her!
"Just enough blacks to show that we care."
--Nixon on the goals for the Oval Office calendar
http://www.blastr.com/2014-2-8/happy-birthday-jules-verne-10-verne-creations-inspired-modern-tech Jules Verne was amazing. Hell, he practically invented science fiction 
http://www.dorkly.com/article/59234/an-open-letter-from-a-death-star-architect So good.
I just enhanced http://kirk.is/sidebar/ with a new 2D UI (instead of the old single column) and an author filter.
It's funny how twitter and FB stepped up and kind of replaced that kind of thing -- a lot more democratic than the blog/sidebar model, but it had it's charm.
Not sure if Dylan ever quite forgave me for opening it up rather than making it the Just Dylan show... http://twentytwowords.com/cat-tries-to-apologize-but-gets-an-icy-reception/ You need to watch this whole video.
Fun Fact: as much as we roll our eyes at low-cal sodas targeted at Bros, the UK has us beat. Thanks to some gender-focused ad campaigns Diet Coke is like the girliest thing you can drink there, and my Coke Zero-addicted coworkers over from Wales go for the normal, sugar-laden stuff when the main other option in the office is Diet.
"A 'butt' was a Medieval unit of measure for wine. Technically, a buttload of wine is about 475 liters, or 126 gallons."
http://everytimezone.com/ is a nice bit of visual display
http://www.qwantz.com/index.php?comic=2574 real life go-back-in-time machine. It works!
Flappy Bird as metaphor for romance: you think the long flights are gonna last forever- then thwack. And overthinking is a quick death. http://www.pointerpointer.com/ -- most excellent.
--http://twitter.com/juskewitch The Robocop Archive had this kickin' prototype sketch from the first movie:
fuck the poets of the past, my friends.
there are no beautiful suicides
just cold corpses with shit in their pants
& the end of the gifts.
I sold a Macbook Air 11" to a friend-- but I'll miss its stickers:
I am changing jobs again, with a week between. I'm having a week of "staycation" between gigs, and right now, stronger than the second guessing about deciding to move on from my old job and the usual trepidation of starting at a new place (no matter how cool it looks) is my feeling of anticipatory regret that I am not going to get as much done this week as I'd like, from finishing up the web edition of my comic on mortality, to arranging my birthday, to finishing my a "Flappy Bird Game Jam" game, to scanning a ton of old photos, to finishing shoving some old VHS tapes to DVD, to organizing and consolidating my computer files and getting a backup strategy going, to starting on that timeline application I've been dreaming about--
But I guess I will get a chunk of it done. More so if I stop whining about it here.
Oy. As I remake a version of JoustPong/FlapPing (for http://itch.io/jam/flappyjam ) I look at my developer blog for the Atari 2600 version I made, and realize that was exactly 10 years ago. http://alienbill.com/2600/flapping/
Man, 5:2 Fasting Days go sloooooow when you're at home all day.
(Thank goodness for the (zero cal but high salt) miracle of pickles with mustard.)
But it feels so satisfying to be in bed at the end of that kind of day, having kept on the straight and narrow, and knowing that there will be plenty to eat tomorrow.
"You're uncountably smelly!"
--Bonus Cartoon after this smbc comic about Cantor's early experience with infinity
http://www.theawl.com/2012/06/all-the-presidents-menus I guess I knew coffee has been with us for centuries, but still striking to see how modern some of these meals sound. Also, that whole "Zachary Taylor died because of cherries and iced milk" always sounded kind of ridiculous... personally I think http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/05/29/117856/-THE-STRANGE-DEATH-OF-ZACHARY-TAYLOR makes a pretty good case for assassination by a Southern conspiracy. Or at least one that fits my prejudices.
February 19, 2014Some of my thoughts of a super-productive staycation have been thwarted by the arrival of the video game "Earth Defense Force 2025", a solid sequel to my (previous) favorite B-movie game "EDF 2017". I am enjoying the heck out of it, honestly- it mashes together two of my favorite things in video games: gun battles with simple tactical decisions to be made (what the earlier game had in spades) and flying and gliding over a city's landscape. (thanks to the addition of a Valkyrie-like character with a jet pack.) Plus, Spoiler: flame throwing dragons. They're done quite beautifully, often set against a moody twilight time... pity you have to shoot them!
"Binge gaming" seems to be my preferred way of consuming games these days... but it makes me ponder why this type of gaming is so appealing in general- it certainly has its tedious moments! And it's a bit hard to defend as a cerebral exercise. I think it's a combination of two things: a viscerally appealing simulation of exciting things I can't do in the real world (flying, saving the earth from endless hoards of homicidal robots and giant insects) along with an environment were dogged persistence guarantees success, and where it doesn't, these days that's probably a "fault" of the game designer and not the player.
I think overall I'm more relaxed playing the game all Tuesday and Wednesday night than I was coding up my own game all day Monday; no angst eating, almost no ducking over to twitter or Facebook to get away.
I do wish I had a gaming buddy... it has an excellent splitscreen mode. I played the earlier title with my Jonathan and it was a great bonding time... alas he's a family guy now and I am on my own.
--Roger Angell @ 93 Years, in this terrific New Yorker Piece making the rounds. Interesting that it ends talking about still finding companionship via OKC on the like, an unexpected bit of connection between him as author and me as soon-to-be-40 reader.
This bit by Ricky Gervais on "Extras" makes me laugh. It's such a human thing to do.
"The name of the anti-gay governor of Idaho is Butch Otter. I repeat: The name of the anti-gay governor of Idaho is Butch Otter. #forrealz"
FUN THOUGHT EXPERIMENT -- Answer in your head quickly, don't over-think, then check below...
You have a meeting scheduled for Wednesday. The organizer then tells you "We're got to move the meeting forward by two days"
When is the meeting?
I got this from the last few minutes of http://onpoint.wbur.org/2014/02/20/time-wrapped-experience -- according to them, the idea is if you say "Monday", you probably conceptualize yourself as fixed, and time and events coming toward you. If you say "Friday", you see time and events are set, and you see as traveling toward them.
I'm a strong "Friday" myself.
The other interesting thing from the episode is how people some people (with a touch of synesthesia, perhaps) visualize a calendar year; apparently other people also see it as an oval or circle, and counter-clockwise is somewhat more common than clockwise. (Again this is from the end of the episode, from 40:50 til the end is really worth listening to)
Anyway, I've always had that mental image of a year as a circle... I always assumed it came from a puzzle or something I had as a kid, but now I wonder...
"You know what they say the modern version of Pascal's Wager is? Sucking up to as many Transhumanists as possible, just in case one of them turns into God."
--Greg Egan via the short story Crystal Nights ( http://ttapress.com/553/crystal-nights-by-greg-egan/ )
Interesting. Wii U has a "Dr Luigi" game. Still no 4 player mode, though :-(
February 22, 2014
click to play
Has a tuba version of the original theme song and everything! At first I did a version with the walls of the "Poorlords" variation, but I think I prefer the simplicity with the original, though with Pterodactyl of the 2600 version replaced with an annoying crow.
it's funny how stress builds in layers, and in the end I snap at dumb stuff-- probably there's that baseline of new
job in the back of my head, not getting as much done on my comic as I hoped... it means that ridiculously awful Nintendo Wii U UI and friends accidentally ordering off the menu is irritation amplified beyond what is reasonable.
Enjoying my final "Rhubarb and Custard" hard candy from the UK. Why isn't this flavor combination more known here?? It's awesome.
Can we ever really know what the inside of our nose smells like? Or is that truly the only smell we can ever really know?
http://www.lostinmobile.com/ - heh, I've loved this little UK-based mobile/gadget blog for a while, and they promoted a longish comment I made (on a previous story about who is "more influential", Steve Jobs vs Bill Gates) into a top level story.
here's the comment:
In some ways it seems unfair, because the jury is still out on Gates, but certainly his foundation is out to make some awesome change.
In terms of "computers to the masses"-- the thing is, maybe there's more a feel of inevitability of what he did? IBM decided to make a "Personal" computer, risking their golden goose of big hardware to make sure they didn't get left behind home computers. (Which, come to think of it, was primarily the Apple II) Gates was savvy enough to catch that train with super clever licensing of someone else's DOS... but someone would have done that if he didn't? Similarly, it seems likely some form of Xerox -> Macintosh WIMP interface would have gained traction in the 90s on PCs even in a Gateless world.
So looking at what Gates did, it was that clever licensing where he could make money selling DOS to PC clone manufacturers... that was the world changing bit, perhaps? This was all in the wake of the Great Video Game Crash of 1983, which provided a window for Home Computers to really take off. But the Apples and Commodores and Atari 8bits (while running rings around PCs in terms of fun, graphics and sound) lacked the gravitas of IBM for business. So it was a combination of the reputation of IBM, Gates clever licensing, and good ol' free market competition on the hardware that pushed to make computers so ubiquitous.
But Jobs did more at the leading edge of technology -- all with a little (lot of) help from his friends. With Woz, the Apple II made the home computer happen. With Xerox, the Macintosh brought WIMP UI to the peoples. Jump forward 2 decades, and he made the next level of touch screen computing on ubiquitously connected devices occur. Jobs led Gates et al on all these things.
From the first world perspective then, Jobs without a doubt - if Gates hadn't existed, someone would have done most of the same stuff, but Jobs changed things with a personal vision and sense of design. (who knows, maybe a world where IBM clones hadn't strangled the market in the 80s and 90s, with a richer variety of products from Amiga and Atari and others, would have been cooler?) From a global perspective, the Gates Foundation will really help more people, with the focus on medicines and education. So is that "influential"? Maybe. Mostly it was one great idea, licensing the software so the hardware could have competition, that made him a ton of money, and that he then turned into helping people.
(Side note, it's interesting thinking of that summary and, say, the launch of Windows 95, and the INSANE amounts of testing of Win 3.1 software they did, and the hacks they put in place, to ensure that no one would have "well my program doesn't work on the new system" as an excuse not to upgrade. That was a consequence of "Microsoft on All Hardware". It's also important to remember how untouchably powerful Microsoft seemed in the late 90s, that they had enough cash to buy anyone who seemed like a threat. Luckily, they never saw the threat the Internet would be...)
Welp, guess I won't be getting back to sleep.
I feel like I'm going to be more compelled to do that personal timeline software I've been thinking of; charting out where I've lived, who I've loved. There's been a lot of life here in these 4 decades, I don't have too many regrets, but I do wish I could visualize it better, memory can be -- not elusive, but uneven.
http://www.slashfilm.com/the-tobolowsky-files-ep-29-the-classic/ A friend points out hearing Ned Ryerson the Insurance Salesman from Groundhogs Day talk about out Harold Ramis approach to directing that great film is a good way to mark his untimely passing. (I kind of didn't realize he was also Egon from Ghostbusters)
"A pomegranate can be an HTTP resource, but you can't transmit a pomegranate over the Internet."
--Leonard Richardson et al, "RESTful Web APIs". Pleased to be able to name drop the author of the book my new team is into.
Slate on the new Gay Denialism. I think the really insidious thing is the truth that Hannon et al do sport, and how one twist of assumption changes the whole core of the their message. The assumption they make is "gay behavior is wrong". From there, a truth like "most people aren't 100% gay or straight" takes on a completely different meaning, because it's a slippery slope to thinking "so people can easily choose how gay to be and it's about the same choice for everyone".
I do feel that homophobia leads to less intimate same sex friendships, though, which is sad. And it has some roots in "gay as identity" thinking; people are homophobic, and if being gay is all-or-nothing, they will go out of their way to make sure they're on the "right" side of river.
Such a morass of truth and lie, good intentions and bad.
http://annyas.com/screenshots/warner-bros-logo/ Warner Brothers Logos! Dig the design work.
I enjoyed this image of a parrot having a nice scratch with a pointy feather
Outlook on Mac is such a hot mess.
Man, OSX Mavericks has a bug where you can't get the Dock to move to a different window if you keep it on the side. I hate UI stupidity.
I unceremoniously passed the USA male median age (36.8) which means on average I'm seeing more people who are younger than I am, especially in a college town like Boston.
Still the inner-child has free run of the place, so maybe it balances out a bit.