|Tonight with Trevor McDonald, or whatever it's called, happened
to be on a nearby cathode ray tube last night, being crassly
over-dramatic about the abusive text-messaging phenomenon - we even
had a shot of a presumably verbatim and entirely surreal "suicide note"
(containing txt msg abvtns) that a particular troubled teenager had
left on her mobile after cruel, anonymous messages drove her to kill
I've no idea how much of it was made up, but it seemed bizarre that
amid all the interviews of distraught people living in fear of their
SMS ringtone, the incandescently obvious "Why not change your phone
number, or get a phone that doesn't support SMS?" question wasn't
raised. I'm sure other people would pay good money to confine their
own persecutions to a small black box that they could throw away.
|An interesting if increasingly barmy essay on free
will and the evolution of cellular automata.
||A nod to Raven
for pointing me at Dungeon
Crawl, a particularly fine
game. Feeling very much "by Nethack players, for Nethack
players", the interface is splendidly clear and useful
(player details to the right, scrollable map close-up to the left,
game messages below), and - as much as I've had a chance
to explore things - the new character races and innovative magic
system seem rather nice. Download it here.
|I've often wondered how something like this might look, but not quite
enough to sit down and code something; it's a
map of interconnecting Weblogs, some fifteen hundred of
them displayed as little squares with lines marking their incestual
hyperlinks. It'd be intriguing to see a hybrid of this and the
Thesaurus. Although I've not coded any Java for years. Hm.
|Hm, apparently black
clothes have a cooling effect, but only if they're loose-fitting, and if there's enough
of a breeze to carry the heat away more quickly than your body can
absorb it. Which seems fairly obvious when you stop to think about it, really, particularly
when - as the article says - the Tuareg
have been wearing loose black clothes for ages. I fear I'll have to stop wearing my
greatcoat at some point, though.
|Despite a deplorable lack of beards and upper-case letters,
Hotel online chat-forum place is quite fascinating -
the visual environment gives far more of a sense of reality
than mere MUSHing (people
being able to wander and cluster in a larger room adding quite a
striking social element to it), and I've
always had something of a soft-spot for isometric
environments. Alas, it's all a bit too blatant to use from work,
is just the sort of thing I've been blathering about for years; that if
there was an easy way to report people for particularly bad driving (with
the police randomly checking on people who get more than five reports,
or something, and maybe forcing them to retake their test), there'd be
less of it about. (Although the system I had in mind was more for people
who play irritating music and throw litter out of their passenger windows.
And involved radioactive paintball rifles.) Surely this site is
crying out for a simple WAP interface, though?
[via my 2p]
||Hm, I'm really rather proud of the Time Machine
Dvorak deck, which Nik and Raven have been helping to
playtest and refine, over the past couple of days.
|The rest of the Advertising
Standards Authority Web site makes for interesting reading, actually,
digging through the archive of previous complaints...
"The Authority considered that claims such as "You have won the £20,000.00 cash award" misleadingly implied that the recipient had already won £20,000."
"They preferred not to mention willpower in their advertisements because they believed that could discourage those who felt they had little or no willpower from trying hypnotherapy."
And best of all:-
"The complainant objected that the advertisement, targeted at visitors to London or England, misleadingly implied that the rooms were once the home to Sherlock Holmes."
seemed quite thoughtless; a poster for a Channel Four "base-jumping"
documentary being the legs and feet of someone standing on a rooftop,
with the large caption "Go on - jump". Although the "look, look,
this arbitrary piece of merchandise is important and will make normal
people happy" mindset that makes up most of the rest of advertising probably
doesn't help potential suicides either, this one seems rather obviously
a stupid idea. I'm just glad this didn't come to light through a body on
|Unable to resist the passive nostalgia from Nik, I've gone and bought Jeff Wayne's
of the Worlds album. And it's strange how implanted all the music is - my dad used to play it on
long car journeys, in my youngest years, and the recurring musical themes
and sound effects all seem intensely 'correct' and familiar, now, like some
Platonic ideal I'd glimpsed and forgotten. Curious.|
It did all seem very
real to me when I was five or six; I remember visualising the whole thing
around the village I used to live in (crows circling a fallen tripod, slumped against
Westbury White Horse), and being
genuinely afraid of the Martians waiting there for us if the album hadn't
finished in time, or if it didn't have the usual ending.
|Playing around with those cellular automata programming languages mentioned
yesterday, I eventually managed to write a bit of a number-sorting machine in
II, although I was too daunted to take it beyond a
simple "five, or more than five, or less?" system,
which occasionally jammed depending on the number sequence. Mm.
A splendidly entertaining challenge, all the same; half-programming,
half The Incredible Machine -
download the necessary stuff here
(and you'll also need ANSI.COM if
you want to run it properly in DOS).
|I own one and a half
pairs of shoes, having mislaid my left slipper somewhen
over Christmas. (Although I suppose I can still consider myself owner of the
other one, unless it's been stolen or reclaimed.) I also have too much money.
There's definitely some sort of correlation going on there.
|Is the BBC cookery programmes' "We'll Do Anything For Food" slogan
actually supposed to be a tactlessly insulting pun on "Will Work
Dope reports on one of my favourite memes; the
filler text. Although a note of doubt is, quite reasonably, cast over
its 16th-century origin.
|A rather trite article on sleep
and its purposes in the Guardian on Saturday came out with a few
interesting theories, although whoever put the article up on the Web
seems to have missed them all out; the Web article cuts suddenly from talking
about nightmares to a sidebar about getting to sleep, and never comes
back. It's odd that they put so little effort into formatting their story
content, compared to the rest of the site. Hm. This old NewScientist
article covers similar ground, anyway.|
Despite some rather unpleasant reports of lab-rats being kept awake and dying
after a couple of weeks, there was little about the effects of sleep deprivation
on us humans, a thing which has always intrigued me - the way the body quietly tries
to override the mind, going so far as to kick in certain sleep mechanisms while
you're still awake. American DJ Peter
Tripp having terrifying hallucinations after a 200-hour "Awakeathon"
on his radio show, and all that.
The idea of REM sleep being a sort of "screensaver" for the brain was a
good one, though - that it keeps relevant cells active during an otherwise
boring night's sleep. I suppose that's why I was being pursued by Ikea
Police for a chair I hadn't stolen, at about 6am this morning.
|An old one, but still amusing if you've managed to forget most of it
since last reading it, as I seem to have;
The Top 100 Things I'd Do If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord:-
My Legions of Terror will have helmets with clear plexiglass visors, not face-concealing ones.
Despite its proven stress-relieving effect, I will not indulge in maniacal laughter. When so occupied, it's too easy to miss unexpected developments that a more attentive individual could adjust to accordingly.
If it becomes necessary to escape, I will never stop to pose dramatically and toss off a one-liner.
I will not grow a goatee. In the old days they made you look diabolic. Now they just make you look like a disaffected member of Generation X.