I feel a little guilty because I haven't been spending enough time with the one I really love, the one whom I can't live without; I'm speaking, of course, of my poor neglected mp3 player. However, since the October trip to Egypt, I've amassed a considerable playlist. Here are ten almost randomly selected lyrics from that playlist:

1. "You're the reason for the word 'bitch.' " ([livejournal.com profile] deevalish nails it as "Roses" by Outkast.)

2. "New York City really has it all."

3. "Dreams are strewn across the sand."

4. "Hip shakin' mama, I told ya."

5. "And don't try to dig what we all s-s-s-say." ("My Generation" by the Who, as identified originally by [livejournal.com profile] ladystarlightsj.)

6. "You'll always find us . . . out to lunch." (Correctly named by [livejournal.com profile] londonkds as the Sex Pistols' "Pretty Vacant.")

7. "Do things do things do things bad things with it."

8. "I like the Whopper, fuck the Big Mac."

9. "Jingling a wish coin that I stole from a fountain that was drowning all the cares in the world "

10. "Hugging like a monkey see, monkey do."

<FONT COLOR="white">Around your answers would be appreciated.</FONT>
Symantec would like me to give them money -- my subscription to Norton AntiVirus is about to expire and my 2002 version is no longer supported, supposedly; I would like to tell them to blow it out their ass. Has anyone experience of ClamWin or another free AV program?
I am updating from the library -- not just any library but the (and I cannot find the HTML tag suitable to this without recourse to <MARQUEE>) Library of Alexandria, the symbolic restoration of the world's greatest center of intellectual exploration and free inquiry; you are not allowed to access Gmail from the library's computers.
Deep within The New York Times's write-up of the new computer game adaptation of Walter Hill's The Warriors, Dan Houser, Creative Vice President of Rockstar Games, says:
"There were other things that we would watch once or so, but we kept sort of going back to 'The Warriors' and watching it sort of obsessively," Mr. Houser recalled. It turns out that the episodic pacing and cartoony visual style of "The Warriors" were just about perfect for adapting the film into a video game.

"When you watch it as a 7-year-old kid, it seems super-weird and terrifying," Mr. Houser said. "When you watch today, it's over the top. It's sort of surreal in most of the points. But the structure and the style translate perfectly into a video game world. The structure of the journey - encountering people and defeating them on the route - was a fighting game in a movie format before it was ever a video game.

"In a lot of films you look at the way the narrative is designed, and the way the focus is so heavily on characters or the period means they wouldn't translate into good video games," Mr. Houser said. "Maybe in 20 years time you can make a game that's more sophisticated at a character level, but we're still at a point in the evolution of games that physical actions are more effective to convey than emotions or conversations."
The Warriors itself is loosely based on the Anabasis of the classical Greek historian Xenophon. I wonder what then would be the literary equivalent of Pac-Man. Probably one of the Homeric Hymns.
Not only is the cause of LeBron James's pulled left pectoral curious, so is his language:
Afterward, reporters were trying to gauge the seriousness of his injury. Asked whether he was 75 percent, James said, "I'm nowhere near close to playing live basketball right now."
Live basketball: it's not only a retronym as yet untracked by William Safire, it's another celebrity endorsement for the Xbox 360.
Yesterday's icon made me expand my wishlist. Making complex animations would go a lot easier if only I had my own East Asian sweatshop. After all, the producers of Futurama have their Korean animators, and they're able to get forty-five frames of a scene; by myself, I can manage only twenty-two. Yes, I definitely will be looking into this unfair labor practice idea. Maybe I could take on an unpaid iconing intern.

Speaking of unfair labor practices, my favorite quote in today's New York Times comes from this article on Wal-Mart's successful resistance to unionization:
Cody Fields, who earns $8.10 an hour after two years, said that he had originally backed the union "because we need a change" but that the videos had been effective. "It's just a bunch of brainwashing," Mr. Fields said, "but it kind of worked."
I guess it did.

Personally, I have no problems boycotting Wal-Mart; I find shopping there unpleasant and I am glad to avoid it. It's just that all the standard complaints about Wal-Mart can also be levelled against Target, which is often non-union, drives out local mom-and-pop stores, etc., and I love shopping at Target.

Also in today's Times is an article on some Alaskan bacteria that were revived after lying frozen in a pond for, possibly, 32,000 years. There's a techno-thriller plot in that; Michael Crichton might have to revise his stance on global warming.

And finally, the Times also contained an ad: "My kingdom for your old jewelry!" it proclaimed, above an etching of Henry VIII. "Henry VIII loved jewelry, and he didn't care about the cost. Windsor Jewelers is like him in this respect." Windsor Jewelers, Inc., apparently wants very much to associate itself with the British Crown and isn't too particular about those who wear it being distinct individuals.

Today I assembled a rolling tea cart from a cheap, drugstore-bought kit. The last line on the page of instructions was the boldfaced "CAUTION: Do Not Injured Yourself When Installing." That should hold up in court against any claims of liability. My East Asian sweatshop will have better proofreaders!
I like to think that I'm up on my stereotyping, but having just, due to some positive reviews and a chance link, impulsively downloaded Sunday's Simpsons, I was quite surprised to hear Lisa insinuate that Ethiopian restaurants are notorious lesbian pick-up joints. You know, in all the times I've eaten in Ethiopian restaurants, I had never noticed.

I'm having quite a lot of fun with BitTorrent. It has had one unintended consequence, though: I've been so conscientious about seeding that I haven't turned off my laptop for three days. And this sucker gets hot. Last night, I ended up taking both the battery and the CD-ROM drive out and leaving the computer upside-down so it wouldn't burn out while running all night.

(Apparently, I am the sort of person who has no compunctions about violating Time Warner's copyrights, but feels painfully guilty if I do not get my share ratios up to 1.000.)

My BitTorrent binge was occasioned, by my intent to get caught up with Justice League, and I can for once claim that I've seen every episode factored into the arc of Sunday's "The Doomsday Sanction." Watching the watchmen? It seems the government has just finally cottoned on that Superman is a dick. (Via Avedon Carol. Several of these covers have been bouncing around the internet for a while, but isolated, individual, they lack a certain cumulative force. I could not stop laughing during the run of eight classic Batmans starting here, but my absolute favorite must be this.)
Away in Michigan, missing tabbed browsing and absolutely frustrated with the glacial loadings of Internet Explorer on my mom's cast-off old PowerBook, I decided to start using Camino, which had been installed but largely left fallow, instead. It's like Firefox for Macs! Except that I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to set Camino so that my home page brings up multiple tabs. Anyone out there have any idea?

Also, while I'm obsequing, [livejournal.com profile] lynnmonster? I finally watched Full Metal Alchemist on Saturday like you asked all that time ago, and I'm afraid I might have been hooked, though lost. Any chance you could whip up some VCDs?
From [livejournal.com profile] yhlee and Ogged of Unfogged, a meme in which one moves from A to Z over the internet. The variation here is to type each individual letter into the address bar and take the first site that comes up.

A: amygdalagf.blogspot.com/
B: bloglines.com/myblogs
C: coldfury.com/reason
D: dutchfurs.com/~haze/islove/?step=generate
E: evolvethought.blogspot.com/
F: fafblog.blogspot.com/
G: google.com/
H: highclearing.com/
I: imdb.com/
J: j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/
K: kinja.com/user/dHerblay
L: livejournal.com/userinfo.bml?user=dherblay
M: markarkleiman.com/
N: nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/
O: oracleofbacon.org/cgi-bin/oracle/movielinks?firstname=Bacon%2C+Kevin&game=1&secondname=robin+sachs
P: poptext.blogspot.com/
Q: query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F10913FB3B5A0C738FDDA80994DC404482
R: reason.com/hitandrun/
S: scalzi.com/whatever/
T: theagitator.com/
U: us.f503.mail.yahoo.com/ym/ShowFolder?rb=LiveJournal
V: voy.com/14567/
W: washingtonmonthly.com/
X: xrrf.blogspot.com/
Y: yglesias.typepad.com/matthew/
Z: zip4.usps.com/zip4/zip_responseA.jsp

I understand where all these blogs come from, and tabbed browsing means that my home pages provide five of the letters. It is, though, readily apparent which letters drove Firefox to desperation.

What URLs starting with D, O, Q or Z should I add to my daily surf?
Anyone ever heard of the process xSBFWtXpt.exe?

Don't everyone speak at once.

Ad Verbum

Apr. 9th, 2004 02:34 am
If you enjoy witty wordplay, devious dilemmas, annoying adherence to alliteration and throwing your computer and/or palmpilot across the room, then you'll love Nick Montfort's Ad Verbum, a wicked little text adventure that reads like what might have resulted had Infocom ditched Douglas Adams and hired John Sladek. Set in the condemned mansion of the Wizard of Wordplay, the game features several rooms that can be escaped only with words that meet specific criteria, a robotic dog who plays the dozens ("Yo mamma goes down more often than Windows 98"), and a cameo by Robert Pinsky.

The game is relatively short; it took me about an evening and a third. There is plenty of help available, though if you have a thesaurus you won't need most of the hints. Spoilery anecdote )

The game's author, I discovered, contributes to Grand Text Auto, a group blog dedicated to Interactive Fiction and surrounding issues. (If you build it, I suppose, they will blog.) On that site I learned that Sony and Philips Electronics will release the first book made with digital paper. At only $375 (in Japan at least) it won't take too many iterations of Moore's law for this to trickle down to the impulse buy level (depending, of course, on one's impulsiveness). Sony seems to be planning on selling it as an e-book, but if they'd just make the screen touch-sensitive and throw in a stylus and some Optical Character Recognition programming, they'd have the ultimate crossword puzzle machine.


Apr. 5th, 2004 03:36 am
One of those gratuitous icon posts, in honor of my first ever screencaps. I've been wanting to do this for ages, but I have never found a suitable source of Kim Possible screenshots. Tonight, anticipating an episode with one of my favorite exchanges in it (which will be iconized soon), I investigated some of the features of my digital camcorder. Apparently, there are illogical means by which it can be used first as a VCR, and then as an instrument with which to capture still photographs from video. The process is anti-intuitive and tiring, so I doubt I'll do this that much, but I'm glad to have the capability.

Considering how subpar my cable reception is when the channel's in the upper reaches, as Disney is, I'm glad LJ icons are limited to the very forgiving 100 pixels square. In fact, what most disappoints me with this icon is the text.

ETA: As promised:

Let it not be said that though I do not wish to see space science slighted, I oppose manned exploration of space. To that end, I should mention that Google is hiring.
Happy birthday wishes for [livejournal.com profile] aliera_!!!

I think I got the tag right; things change so quickly around here.

I was thinking about birthdays the other day. I had a great deal of success finding [livejournal.com profile] lynnmonster with only a hunch that she might be on LJ, so I've been trying to replicate that success with other people from my past. I've been completely stymied in this pursuit, though, so I've been looking for better strategies. It struck me that people may represent themselves under names I'm not familiar with, they may change their locations and their interests, but their birthdays will be the dates I remember (not that I was ever that good at remembering them). Unfortunately, birthdate is a category not provided by LJ's Directory Search. But then I remembered the trusty old Google site search. All of a sudden I had hundreds of possibilities -- the vast majority of which I could dismiss without ever leaving the page.

I didn't have any success with this new technique (I tried only one birthdate), but it did lead me to investigate my own friends (which is what reminded me that [livejournal.com profile] aliera_ lists today as her birthday) -- and I was surprised to discover how few of my friends list a birthdate in their user infos. Having just attempted (and failed) to stalk people by this very feature, I can understand people's reluctance to put such a clear identifier on the internet. My reasoning was much more hopefully paranoid -- I figured that including my birthdate might encourage people to buy me stuff. (They're all out to get me . . . presents!)

But what most surprised me, for some reason, was that three of my LJ friends were born on September 11th.
Google's home page is all fractal today!
With any luck, today is my last day on dial-up, my last day obsessively entering numbers into Excel to make sure I do not exceed AT&T's stupid 150-hour-a-month quota (which didn't seem all that big a deal when I signed up for it, pre-ATPo and pre-[livejournal.com profile] rahael), my last day not receiving summonses from the RIAA.
Apparently, my house is too far away from the cable drop to make installing a cable modem worthwhile. It's about 500 feet to the drop; the installer claims that there's too little signal for a modem after 200 feet. I'm disappointed.
Does anyone know of a good wireless router with a USB port for my printer? My mother's AirPort has a USB port; but of the routers I looked at, the only one that declared which sort of printer connection it had used a parallel port. I'm not planning to task the network too heavily, so 802.11b will be fine.

Gary Farber points to this article:
Smart soldiers decided to flee the Rings battle
Digital warriors thought for themselves - and their first thought was to run away


CanWest News Service

Monday, December 15, 2003

It's the greatest and most spectacular battle in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

But filmmakers faced one surprising challenge - how to keep the computer-generated soldiers from fleeing the battlefield.

Director Peter Jackson had laid down his requirements for the Battle of Pelennor Fields - the climactic engagement in The Return of the King in which the heroic defenders of Middle-Earth face the overwhelming might of Sauron and his armies of Darkness. Jackson wanted the computer-generated antagonists to have absolute authenticity on the big screen and to be indistinguishable from the real actors.

Computer wizards responded brilliantly, not only with Sauron's swarming armies but with such additional lethal adversaries as the massive winged Fell Beasts and the giant elephant-like Mumakil. The next step was to ensure that the confrontation itself have detail and authenticity.

"I want battles like nothing anyone has ever seen on screen," Jackson said. I want every soldier fighting for himself - you have to come up with something."

Special effects designer Richard Taylor says this led to the writing of a "massive" principal code for the battle to give more than 200,000 digitized soldiers and some 6,000 horses distinctiveness and individuality.

"So to create these individual agents, there was a code that was especially written and developed," Taylor says, adding that it was like being involved in a living work of science fiction.

"It was the fact that you could get a computer to think for itself, that you could get 200,000 agents within the computer to think for themselves.

"So each of these computerized soldiers is assessing the environment around them, drawing on a repertoire of military moves that have been taught them through motion capture - determining how they will combat the enemy, step over the terrain, deal with obstacles in front of them through their own intelligence - and there's 200,000 of them doing that."

Basically, all the necessary information for decision-making was fed into this network of computers without determining for them whether they would win or lose.

But this attempt to ensure that they acted spontaneously almost sabotaged the the battleground sequences.

"For the first two years, the biggest problem we had was soldiers fleeing the field of battle," Taylor said.

"We could not make their computers stupid enough to not run away."

So some extra computer tinkering was required to ensure that the trilogy's climactic battle worked the way Jackson wanted.
It's a good thing Chris Columbus doesn't have Jackson's FX people, or a Dobby who had been programmed with an instinct for self-preservation would have deserted Chamber of Secrets and worked out a development deal with Miramax.

It seems that I've been fleeing a number of battlefields of late. If it's good enough for the forces of Mordor, it's good enough for me. Suffice it to say that my strategy is to sympathize with those who embrace sympathy.



April 2009

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