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Weeks Beginning
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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 herself. Harsh.

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 Roguelike 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 Java 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 Visual 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, the Habbo 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, very much. [via angryblog]
The splendid Postmodernism Generator - randomly-generated drivel always amuses me. [via Blue Ruin] 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."

This 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 the pavement.
Unable to resist the passive nostalgia from Nik, I've gone and bought Jeff Wayne's War 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.

Aha. It lives. Designed during some server reboots, a Rube machine that sorts numbers. (Sorry if I'm being a bit geeky and obscure today.) Hm, a more robust attempt at Rube design; a widget to multiply numbers by two, modulo 16.
Playing around with those cellular automata programming languages mentioned yesterday, I eventually managed to write a bit of a number-sorting machine in Rube 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 For Food"? The Straight Dope reports on one of my favourite memes; the "lorem ipsum" filler text. Although a note of doubt is, quite reasonably, cast over its 16th-century origin.
The Rube and RedGreen programming languages; cellular automata in a Heath Robinson and Boulderdash style, with the graphics of NetHack. Just look at this source code, for goodness' sake. I feel a strong urge to dabble. [via Hugo@MCiOS] Some amusing stickers for a rather uninteresting-looking band going up around Brighton - "SELF-DESTRUCT" in white text on a black background, above a tiny URL. And stuck above the buttons on pelican crossings.
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.

WikiNomic is beginning to pick up speed, albeit still rather clumsily. "But sometimes I'd feel more fulfilled..." - try the excellent "Morrissey Gets A Job" colouring book.
More or less everything by Kevan Davis.
As Above is part of the Uncertain Organisation.