Archive for April, 2005

OMFG HAX!

Have been having fun wrestling with strangers* in this fantastically pointless fridge letter game, and suddenly saw all the letters collapse into a corner, then explode back out to form the image on the right– Someone had obviously worked out how to hack it [which is usually annoying, but in this case kind of funny].

Shortly afterward, the following appeared:

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* Although not always strangers, as Shaun and I found out the other day when we realized [after the fact] that we had been playing at the same time.

Scrapbooks and Blogs

Ben links to an article comparing blogs to 19th Century scrapbooks, Test: Gleaning, Exchanging and Vernacular Media

It is rare to be able to find such a wealth of social and cultural production with such ease, but worrying that this material is less likely to last than the gummed strips of the 19th Century. The technological ephemerality of this medium means that we will not have the luxury of stumbling across these intimate mementoes in 100 years time. There will be no scrapbooks lying in attics, no photographs enamelled onto tombstones.

I agree, and this is why I think it’s a great idea to have your blog printed and bound, even if you’re the only one who wants a copy. I’m going to do a new revision of my own sometime soon, and am thinking of trying out Lulu.com for the printing this time.

On the notion of blog as scrapbook, I was wondering recently why we haven’t seen a more graphically oriented blogging medium emerge, where entries are created as collage of graphic elements rather than text. Working out the best way to edit/store/transmit such information would of course be difficult [Flash based probably], but I would love to see someone take a crack at it…

…only now I realize that I am probably thinking about it far too literally, and that blogging is already evolving in new visual directions with the advent of services like Flickr. We don’t really need an online replica of a scrapbook [although I'd quite like to see one anyway].

Beautiful Things

Instead of making up my own comment, I’m going to quote this post on Drawn!– because I would just tell you exactly the same thing anyway:

You must visit the website of Chris Harding now and revel in the dry wit and lovely visuals that consumes his work. Revel in it, I say!

Didn’t you follow that link? Go now! [I love Make Mine Shoebox ]

[via Drawn! obviously, which is a great site BTW...]

Father Dougal’s Chart

Reality vs Dreams

From the glorious Father Ted [my own simplified reconstruction, made with the help of screen captures and some serious procrastination]

Anzac Day

Today is , so it’s a public holiday here in au. I kind of wish I’d gotten up for the dawn service– it’s been years [like 20+] since I went to one, and I think a bit of quiet remembrance is the best way to commemorate the fallen. Unlike the march held later in the day, which [when televised] is about as moving as a cricket match. Now a dawn march would be pretty effective I think– a time so liminal that it might just be possible to catch a glimpse of another era, when hundreds of thousands marched to war…

Funny, I was going to write a bunch of crap about blogrolls and stuff in this entry, but suddenly it all seems so insignificant.

I think I’ll attend dawn services next year.

New Favourite Webcomic

Until now my favourite has been Tom the Dancing Bug – which is pretty amazing since it’s about the only one I don’t get via RSS [and is hosted on one of the worst comic sites I've ever seen, with slow loading crap all over the page]. It’s quirky and fun, with semi-regular characters and a nice mish-mash of styles & formats.

I think I have a new favourite however, in the form of The Perry Bible Fellowship, by Nicholas Gurewitch. It is less political, and more weird, and I think I like it a lot. I also like the fact that it is steadily moving away from dick jokes, which seem to feature prominently in the earlier strips.

I love the strangely varied level of visual detail [with the possible exception of smiley-face people– maybe a little too creepy looking], and can’t help but be inspired to waste even more of my own time drawing comics that almost no one will ever see.

Untitled #448

Why I Fear the Fearers

Devout Christians apparently believe that everything in the bible is true, especially the New Testament. Some of them believe this in a very literal sense, others in a sort of metaphorical/allegorical sense. As an atheist, I of course believe none of it– in any sense. Which is to say, I’m sure there’s some powerful stories in there, and it’s impressive in terms of verbiage, but I see nothing of the divine.

I consider atheism¹ to be a logical consequence of rationalism. Others might argue that rationalism itself is "just another belief system". Which is fine, let’s call it that. My belief system. Some people have faith in their God, I have faith in logic and reason, and there is no logical reason for me to believe in God.

So… out of my belief system and, say, George W Bush’s, which one predicts [nay, dictates] that the world as we know it will come to a violent end so that Jesus can return and reign for a thousand years?²

As a rational human being, I am unsettled by the prospect that the world is being run by people who may believe it is supposed to end, possibly sometime soon. If an impending catastrophe were to closely resemble biblical prophecy, can I really trust a religiously informed leader to do everything in his power to avert it?

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1. Technically I am an agnostic, but many people are unsure about the exact meaning of that term, so it’s easier to just call myself an atheist. Sure, no one can prove that God doesn’t exist, but neither can we prove that unicorns don’t exist, and I don’t see the point in hedging; as far as I’m concerned, for all intents and purposes there is no God.

2. References to the thousand year reign are made in Revelations (20:2 – 7), although it should also be noted: “…one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 PE 3:8), so maybe the thousand year reign will be like, a day, and just seem like a thousand years.

I {SPLEEN} MS

Speaking of proprietary formats, it seems Microsoft still believes in closed standards for Office documents, and in an uncharacteristically aggressive way let me say, regardless of how open they are,

I HATE *.DOC FILES !!!

I have loathed them ever since the bad old days when people were unwittingly emailing confidential information to each other courtesy of the retarded Fast-Save feature [which was on by default]. More recently the revision tracking features have caused similar problems. I hate the stupid ~backup files which appear in the same folder as the document you’ve just opened. I hate it when people link directly to doc files and IE loads its stupid OLE Word toolbar giving you an ugly stupid disk thrashing experience when all you want to do is read a few pages of tech notes [I'm looking at you too, Acrobat Reader ].

I want a word processor that uses HTML+CSS as its primary document format. Any recommendations…?

Improprietary

Adobe buys Macromedia seems like the big tech news of the last 24 hours. As someone else pointed out, that puts one company in control of two of the most important proprietary formats on the web [flash and pdf]. Now they’ve got Flash, does this spell the end of [nearly dead anyway] SVG?

File Formats

If you’re ever designing a file format, please don’t spend any time trying to keep it small, otherwise people like me will end up hating you for making it so difficult to read & debug. If you want to keep the size down, try instead designing a file format that is very easy to understand with a clear, unambiguous structure, and then pump it through a fast, free compression library like zlib when loading or saving¹. It will almost certainly achieve much greater space-savings than screwing around with 5-bit mini integers, and will be much less of a headache to maintain.

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1. More specifically, you should use zlib to create gzip compatible files, since that seems to be a defacto standard for compressed file formats [eg svgz]

Untitled #443

Have disabled the blogroll in the sidebar for now, since Bloglines is down for maintenance and by mapping all requests to a stupid "technical difficulties" style page they have negated all the hard work I put into dynamically updating and caching my blogroll data.

Normally my blogroll is refreshed hourly with a fragment of HTML code returned by a call to bloglines [specifically, this URI ] but since they went offline [and for the next few hours at least] it started looking like this. How crappy crap is that!

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UPDATE: Blogroll is back, since Bloglines is back up again [probably within seconds of me first posting this]