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april 2010 microblog digest
minutiae Posted 2010-05-02 23:28:53 by Jim Crawford
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Apr 1st

  • New release of Dwarf Fortress is out: -- Hopefully the joke is that it has a decent UI now.
  • Youtube won't let me apply the text filter to Foolish or the Nethack game from the NF2 credits. Do they know when the video is already text?
  • The entirety of "Dark Side Of The Moon," arranged for the NES sound chip:

Apr 2nd

  • The first hour of Just Cause 2 was designed with appalling ignorance of what's fun about Just Cause 2.

Apr 4th

  • -- This Flash tool has a pretty terrible interface, but I'm impressed by the power. You can make real music with this.
  • -- "Did you feel that?"
  • "Easy" difficulty is for people who want to get better at your game; "casual" is for people who couldn't care less. There is a difference.

Apr 5th

  • -- Okay, I'm going crazy here: is Prince Charles II wielding a fancy sausage holder or what?
  • Just Cause 2 has a miraculous LOD system. Mountain, forest, jungle, ocean, all gorgeous all the way to the horizon. (Desert kinda sucks.)
  • Our water is off. Outside, the gate is ajar next to the knob that I assume controls the water for the building, but nobody's around. MLIA.
  • Synth update: Danny brought the synth to Abby's birthday party on his Android. Was a big hit, I'm told!

Apr 6th

  • Hm, the Chumby has a touchscreen. Wonder what the CPU is like. We're already running into performance issues with the Android and iPhone.
  • Is it me, or does every app that tries to implement an "augmented" clipboard break even the simplest copy/paste operations half the time?
  • Defeating a sliding chain lock using a rubber band:

Apr 7th

  • Scrabble isn't World of Warcraft. You're not locked to a central server with fun-hating idiots at the rudder. Play using the rules you like.
  • -- I IV ii V iii vi ii V, right? I feel ridiculous doing analysis of this, but the Circle of 5ths fragment caught my ear.

Apr 8th

  • -- "An electric ?p?e, with a pistol grip." We really are living in the future.
  • -- Apple's hatred of Flash has become a blood feud at this point. Other cross-compilers are just collateral damage.
  • Git seems to really enjoy choking on trivial line ending issues.
  • The latest Radiolab, on the limits of human capability, is pretty fascinating:
  • More on the new iPhone dev license: "If Microsoft were doing this, people would be burning buildings out in the street."

Apr 9th

  • You know what? Since the synth uses a custom preprocessor to generate C++ from a not-quite-C++ base, the new iPhone license disqualifies it.
  • Let's be clear: this does not benefit users, developers, or Apple. This is not a Machiavellian chess move; this is Steve's personal tantrum.
  • -- "Before leaving a parking lot, check your back seat for anyone you might be trying to abduct and sexually assault."
  • I just got back from climbing, and boy are my arms tired.
  • "What would it be called if you vajazzle with googley eyes instead of crystals?" -- Isn't that the original definition of a Shoggoth?

Apr 10th

  • Never trust anyone over 31.
  • Starting to get followers I don't know. Is there a way to separate the "happening in my life" posts from the "interesting to others" posts?
  • @pnewnan "Level of detail"
  • @Laroquod I wouldn't call it earning a pass, but yeah, it's not even evil. It's just stupid.
  • @sugigrl Not that I know of! Yet!

Apr 11th

Apr 12th

Apr 13th

  • -- But what happens when somebody writes a virus that makes everyone feel like they're being hugged *all the time*?

Apr 14th

  • Um, Jesus, no wonder Tom Hall hadn't tweeted in four days:
  • Library of Congress gets the entire Twitter archive: -- Awesome. I didn't think the older stuff was archived at all.
  • Sean donated a Chumby to the synth cause. Playing with it now.
  • It's a pretty weird beast; under normal usage it's just a Flash player pointed at, but you can also SSH in and get a bash prompt.
  • Frikkin' gender roles!

Apr 15th

  • Video games are promoted as brands, because promotion is publisher-driven. But devs are getting more credit more often:
  • 2010 Lyttle Lytton winners:
  • Yes, Deus Ex 2 was ugly even for the era and had frequent loads. Now, it's only as ugly as any 2003 game, and loads instantly. Try it again.
  • IW has imploded since Zampella and West's firing: -- Unfortunately for justice, Treyarch makes a competent enough COD.

Apr 16th

  • Try this one: "Oh, being good at X? That's easy. You just have to let your brain build up the right neural patterns." Works every time!
  • Despite the wacky camp rep, Deadly Premonition is straight up survival horror. Prepare to spend hours fighting zombies and bad controls.
  • Distinct stages of an explosion:

Apr 17th

  • The "are games art" thing again? I've linked to this before, but here again is the final word on games and art:
  • "76 Trombones" performed on assorted foghorns:
  • -- Hey, sweet parking job!
  • The only thing "art" consistently means is "sophisticated and significant." Both are subjective. Debate has to *begin* with a definition.
  • Synth performance solution: let patch designers specify sample rate per module instance. For control modules, e.g., 100hz is often fine.
  • @Johnicholas True enough. But the debaters don't seem to realize that they're working from different intuitions.
  • -- Wow, it's like that "Kitties Forever" Andy Richter bit ( except totally ethical and not a joke!
  • Wow, the Ustream chat for the Blockparty live stream is lousy with Internet-famous sceners:
  • @xobs They're pretty amazing. Actually, the "Spring Break" party was hosted at UCSD from '97 to '99. You only missed it by 11 years!
  • Meant to post this earlier: here's the lowdown on 100+ existing games that Section 3.3.1 bans from the iPhone App Store:
  • -- "We are looking for a Feel Engineer who excels at creating environmental ambience, player interactions and gameplay."
  • Basically, they're looking for the kind of coder/artist/designer superhero that used to be the only kind of person who made video games.
  • @xobs If you can wrangle it, I actually recommend demo parties with fewer than 100 attendees. Those were the most fun, in my experience.

Apr 18th

  • Some perspective: Roger Ebert reviewed an adventure game, rather favorably, in the September 1994 issue of Wired:
  • Is there an established term for the SF phenomenon I've been calling "typewriters on the moon"? I'd check tvtropes but I'm scared to look.
  • Much like The Onion, The First-Person Observer is hilarious if you stick to reading only the headlines:
  • Have I already linked to "Boss Rush," Paper Dino's tasteful inversion of the shmup boss battle? Well, here it is again:
  • Hm. Trillian, Trixia, Trinity... Are there any women whose names start with "tri" who aren't sci-fi love interests?

Apr 19th

  • -- Just add some glitchy bass and you have a breakcore remix.
  • You know what's even more reassuring than promising not to abuse my Twitter account info? Convincing me that a non-abusive use even exists.
  • All value systems -- all systems of categorization, moreover -- are necessarily sapient-centered, because nothing else is capable of either.
  • Pilot over PA system: "the maintenace guy has done the equivalent of ctrl-alt-delete." -- He brought up the task manager?
  • Dreams as stories: Have you ever learned a useful life lesson from a dream? How about a bad lesson that influences your behavior anyways?
  • Laptop screen got broken in transit. I'm sure I clicked through something, but I still blame whoever put the inspection notice in my luggage
  • -- Are games ert or are they not ert? I'm waiting for the T-shirt that expresses my opinion on "fon" simultaneously.

Apr 20th

  • Every value system implicitly values itself most. Anything else would be equivalent to the Liar's Paradox.
  • Our radio usage has peaked and is declining. A technical civilization may transmit powerful broadcasts only for a small window. Sorry, SETI.
  • But believe it or not, rarity of life would actually be very good news for our own long-term prospects:
  • See where I'm going re value systems? "Value" is a sapient invention. Only sapience can assign value, so sapience is the locus of all value.
  • -- "I'm NOT Drunk: The Game." "Give me your keys, player 1." "[Decoy keys]" "[Belligerent rampage.]"

Apr 21st

  • @Johnicholas Yeah, it mostly was. I probably should direct something at them. I legitimately am at a loss as to why they're a Twitter app.
  • "Killing leaders of a religious terrorist group seems to increase its chances of survival from 67 percent to 83 percent."
  • -- "Yo momma so easy, my guild has her on farm status." "Yo momma so fat, she?s exalted with Burger King."
  • -- "The redesigned salt crystal, with more surface area, [tastes] just as salty with only 20 percent as much salt."

Apr 22nd

  • -- "Optimization hinders evolution." "The proof of a system's value is its existence." "Notes only in the note spaces!"
  • @Johnicholas I don't remember the idea you refer to, but my mental model of a human has any number of value subsystems bouncing around.
  • @Johnicholas Which could be modified by the primary system. Gets fuzzy when I try to isolate my primary system from the rest, though.
  • -- Hm, you don't see many musicians with just mustaches. Full beards don't count. P.S. I so want an "Oh Yeah!" cube hat.
  • This video is so preposterously sweet I was certain it was about to turn violent at any moment: -- Spoiler: it doesn't.
  • @Johnicholas I remember that now, and it's clearly related to value systems, but I don't know quite what you were getting at bringing it up.
  • To those from countries accustomed only to put-ball-in-goal games: if you think Baseball is a weird game, wait til you try Super Mario Bros.
  • Science is the best known way to understand the universe, but it's not *defined* as such. It's a specific thing.
  • Which means that before science, there was The Suck, and it also means that science will probably be superceded some day.
  • What that would be, I can only guess. But, e.g., reading the universe's source code would qualify.

Apr 23rd

  • Tim on Camden, NJ: "You think it's only going to be as bad as the worst thing you've ever seen, but it's so much worse." (
  • Since arriving in Princeton I've seen four cemeteries and zero emergency vehicles.
  • To those wondering how often I re-braid my beard: if the braids are hanging straight, I've re-braided them since I last slept.

Apr 24th

  • Jason Rohrer describes using a "Sleep is Death" scenario to tell his wife the story of his wife going to the hospital, from his perspective.
  • "I thought the hospital was calling to tell me that I had died," she said.
  • Tim and Lucy's is the first wedding I've attended that I've been cognizant of. Still working out how I feel about the whole thing.
  • (But congratulations, Tim and Lucy!)
  • "The point here is that if you want to see videogames considered seriously as true art, all you have to do is not die."

Apr 26th

  • Monkey Island 2 Special Edition will have a creator commentary track: -- Michael Land isn't in there, unfortunately.
  • The combatless, literary roguelike in which hurricanes chase you around an island that I mentioned at Tim's wedding:
  • Danny Carey drumming along to the last 3 minutes of Lateralus: (They should've told the cameraman about the gong bit.)
  • On the plane home, I showed Indy the Chumby and he tried to convince me to support fixed-point math in the synth. We were both really tired.
  • He concocted a scheme to set the exponent per-module using the existing code to find each module's output range. It might *almost* work.
  • -- "There is no safe wish smaller than an entire human morality. There are too many possible paths through Time."
  • "The only safe genie is a genie that shares all your judgment criteria. ... With a safe genie, wishing is superfluous. Just run the genie."
  • Huh. Banned from the IRC server I use, for "flooding." Been idle for hours. Theory: isn't such an awesome IRC client after all.

Apr 27th

  • Maybe your favorite political group was *founded* on a preponderance of evidence or at least a convincing argument, but it's a religion now.
  • Regardless of your reasoning, every individual belief you hold is also held by a tribe of irrationals living in a cultural echo chamber.
  • -- Quicksand exists? I just assumed the phenomenon was invented for 1930s serials or something.
  • The Double Down is marketed as all-meat crazy, but if you look at the ingredients it's just a chicken and bacon sandwich *minus* the bun.

Apr 28th

  • -- "Porn Star Appears in Court to Clear Man Facing 20-Year Sentence for Transporting Child Porn"
  • Six-month pinhole camera exposure of the Sun's path through the sky:
  • When writing boilerplate C++ methods, I sometimes get the soothing, zoned-out feeling I used to get playing World of Warcraft. It scares me.
  • Do people consider Java to be a higher-level language than C++? I always had to do way more typing in Java than in C++ to get anything done.
  • The best reason to participate in NaNoWriMo is that if you ever do so again, you get to tell people you're working on your *second* novel.
  • Geocities circa 1998 is quite similar to MySpace today. Also, this may be the worst MIDI rendition of any pop song ever.
  • Never finished Super Mario Bros but totally kick ass at Mega Man or Contra? Now's your chance to rescue the princess:
  • Imagine how much more like "Super Mario Crossover" there could be if the you didn't have to remake Super Mario Bros from scratch to make it.
  • -- Abdul Ahad Momand, hero cosmonaut who fled Afghanistan as a political refugee, on his new job: "It is not in space."
  • @Johnicholas Yeah, consensus over on Facebook seems to be that it's not about expressiveness but abstraction. It makes some sense.
  • @Johnicholas I haven't tried GC in C++. Does a given GC library tend to be locked to a given compiler/platform?
  • Added a mini profiler to the synth. Surprise #1: on Windows, input is using ~40% of execution time. This probably won't hold on the iPhone.
  • The six chapters on the Quake engine from Michael Abrash's enthralling Graphics Programming Black Book:

Apr 29th

  • Some blog engine genius really needs to solve the problem where blog posts in a series never have navigation to the next item in the series.
  • -- "Visitors gather in front of a huge animated baby mannequin displayed at the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai."
  • "I suspect the US health insurance industry is actively suppressive of entrepreneurial start-up ventures by older folks."
  • Coherent Extrapolated Volition is still the most robust attempt at an objective definition of "good" that I've seen:
  • -- Why "MAXIMUM"? Because all the letters are symmetrical, so artists could just flip the sprite rather than redrawing.
  • Other possibilities they could've used: "WAXY VOMIT," "WHAMMO UMAMI MOUTH."
  • @xobs I think between us we've discovered terrible negligence on the part of SF2's artists: every character should've had symmetrical text.
  • Designing technical notation to look like natural language is a great marketing tool, but a terrible drain on actual use.
  • You'd be surprised at how many movies that ostensibly aren't male-centric don't pass the Bechdel test:

Apr 30th

  • -- "You have to be careful when playing is no longer in the mind but in the fingers, going to happy places."
  • Apollo 11 Saturn V Launch at 500 frames per second:
  • -- "I'd always been fascinated by the idea that consciousness had a chemical component, and I wanted to play with that."
  • In this hour, I review the opening of Digital: A Love Story:
  • What is it like to have Lupus? The Spoon Theory of debilitating illness:
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