All posts made in Mar. 2001:

11:11, Thursday 29 Mar., 2001

More abandonware: Forsakenware has a massive list of games and where each can be found. The Underdogs is an abandonware download 'site with an enormous selection of games (including Flashback, Wizball, and more I'm sure to discover later).

Interconnected

A weblog by Matt Webb.

Korbo, Lorbo, Jeetbo.

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10:27

Where else but the www can you get adult game abandonware? Anyone for a game of Fuck Quest? [cheers Dan.]

10:23

Thursday's Upsideclown has an admission from Jamie.

Alcoholism gets a bad press, really. What's the first thing you think of when you hear the word? Probably George Best falling over in a bar, or Ollie Reed offering to whip his cock out at a bunch of feminists. But I'm not one for getting stupidly drunk, especially in public - you'll find that most alcoholics can hold their drink better than others, hardly surprising given the practice we put in. The sort you read about in the papers, or the regular drunks you see in your local, are just that: drunks. I keep my drinking to myself because of bitter experience: when people find out, they try to help, they get involved, they start to care, and then they get hurt.

Jamie is coping with life as an alcoholic, in Sobering Thoughts.

18:34, Wednesday 28 Mar.

Have I mentioned Postershop.co.uk before? Buy posters online -- looks like quality stuff and a large selection. I keep meaning to give it a go.

17:29

Excellent article about the class structure in yesterday's Guardian. Class: there's no way up. The new Guardian Politics section is also very impressive. Just tap in your postcode.

14:19, Tuesday 27 Mar.

This is going to be extremely good: tothepolls.com is a news filter (with comments, natch) for the as yet unannounced UK General Election.

08:49, Monday 26 Mar.

Oh this brand new week is simply begging for fresh Upsideclown. Well, happily...

I was the subject of fourteen operations on my brain during childhood. Ironically, this was the result of a complete absence of faults. The theory was that, starting from a blank slate, you can do so much more. Most brains are pretty unprepossessing things, randomly wrinkled as a septuagenarian's scrotum. Any attempt at invasive surgery is drawing a map in molasses. Not so the taut perfection of my grey matter. Dressed like that, it was asking for it.

Can I have the attention of the class? Presenting Dan's wilderness ramble into footballers, surgery, and oh so many other things. Read you must, Cut and Paste.

08:46

The Associations Blaster is an "interactive text network", automatically hyperlinking words from user input. Includes user and network statistics. See also: Blather and Dirk.

08:42

I'm particularly impressed by the simple, hyperlinked history information at Spartacus Educational. It's exactly the starting level for which I'm very often looking. Recently read: James Keir Hardie, early socialist and founder of what would become the Labour Party, and the London Gin Riots (more, at the Gin Epidemic Homepage).

17:57, Friday 23 Mar.

The thing about the modern world is that it's possible to compare two pieces of information from completely different places. This wasn't always possible: The speed information travelled from England to America was the same speed people travelled there. It is possible, as it wasn't before, to have a world empire, a top-down control system. Once upon a time we could only communicate with neighbours, and the world was bottom up, cellular automaton, emergent. Today there are only neighbours.

This has coloured the way we think. But what if it wasn't like that? What if there was cultural diversity not from any historical differences, but because it was impossible that uniformity could be maintained? If humans conquer the galaxy, that's what it'll be like. And we'll think differently, have different social ideas, different philosophies because of it.

Sometimes I think like this: Imagine a grid of people all standing just within shouting distance from each other, over the entire country. When a person hears a shout, they repeat it. How would that look, from above, seeing that ripple of noise moving around? How would information travel? How would it interact? This is closer to how the world really is, and we forget that.

09:57, Thursday 22 Mar.

The upcoming UK census uses a system based on job (and from there, contract type) to determine your socio-economic class, ranked from 1 to 7 (1 being people with the best "life chances"). You can check your class online. I'm a 1.2.

09:29

Joke just heard: What does a cow with no legs die of? Mouth.

09:28

It's Thursday, it's stinking fresh Upsideclown, and Victor's had some feedback. It's a complaint. Oh dear.

Some of the members of said collective clearly have aspirations to be serious writers: these show potential and, frankly, deserve to be aired in a more salubrious and credible environment. There are others, however, who have wasted their opportunity to speak, and use the medium as a space for mindless rant, monotonous polemic and victimisation.

Or maybe it's fan mail. You can never tell with Victor. Upsideclown presents: Point of View.

09:09

Ahead of its release on Saturday, Apple have updated their Mac OS X pages with movies and graphics of the new operating systems. It's those little touches I love: Print previews (even from the web) being save-able as pdf; an Undo option on the desktop; Services (ooooh, Services) -- that last being the ability of applications to easily hook together. I remember from using NeXT having a text editor to edit source, and the Pascal compiler putting an option in the Services menu to compile and run, completely removing the save launch and load intermediate step. Mmm, geek lust. And I've heard that all the Developer Tools are included with the final release. Wow. It's like the 1980s.

All of which makes me think... I've been coming round to the idea that the GUI, as is, has reached the end of its lifetime. The operating system world is in a similar state to DOS before Windows. There was no compelling reason to upgrade the operating system, and that's the state we're in. There are no big differences in new version, between rival products (Mac OS and Windows), and no innovation. But perhaps I've been too hasty with that idea. A universal login, shared contacts/calendar/file-storage between Windows XP, Hotmail, and any other application that wants to (Windows XP and Hailstorm) is indeed compelling and probably something that does indeed need to be done at the OS level. As a www developer, running Apache, a solid database, php, Perl, but also Photoshop, BBEdit, Microsoft Office, on my laptop, on the train, without an internet connection (that'll be Mac OS X then), that is also compelling. Extremely. There are clear differences emerging between products, which is a good thing, and although I'd class none of this as "innovation" there are a large number of growth points that independent and small developers can take in directions that the OS behemoths haven't even considered.

I'd still like to see alternative ways of dealing with my information. I don't believe that the GUI is the be-all of how to store my documents. We can see it's crumbling already: I use my email client to store messages, MP3 software lets me browse my music, I use the www (and not my Finder or file explorer) to hunt for documents. Why shouldn't all these pieces of information be treated in a universal way? Perhaps it's a good thing that the focus of all these new services is the www because it takes the constraints off the desktop so it can move, change and experiment in new ways. I want timestreams. I want dynamic views instead of folders. I want built in versioning. I want to browse a database as a file system, and do sql on my mailbox. I want to see new ways of working, even bad ones as long as they're new. The GUI is too hard.

09:05

Every day I barge my way on to the tube in the morning, eat mouthfuls of other people's hair (not voluntarily) for fifteen minutes, push and shove through the station, and listen to sarcastic tube drivers ("Stand clear of the doors. If you don't get out the way, it's your journey you're delaying.") the whole way to work. But this morning... This morning the tube was empty. I mean, there were seats. At Liverpool Street the driver announced that we were running a little ahead of schedule (who ever heard of schedules when there's a train every minute?), that if we were moving on to remember to take all personal belongings with us. On the platform it was announced - to the no people standing there - that there was another train behind this one, and please stand clear of the doors. I'm not accidentally up an hour early. I haven't heard of it being National Stay At Home Thursday or anything similar.

I think I've stumbled into that mythical parallel London where the public transport system is good. I like it here.

18:41, Wednesday 21 Mar.

GZigZag is an open-source version of Ted Nelson's ZigZag [thanks Paul].

18:35

Look, look, this is useful. Or something. Web service listings of public SOAP services.

18:31

Hack an ecommerce 'site with only your browser, somehow news at ZDNet:

Here's how it works: After choosing a product and receiving pricing information, a hacker can use a standard browser's "edit page" feature to show the hidden HTML code on the page. The thief then saves the page to his computer, alters the price information and then hits the "publish" key on the browser. In many cases, that page is then accepted by the shopping cart software - and that $999 watch becomes a $3 special.

Hacker? Hidden? Thief? Alters price information? Price information? In the url? Like "cost=5"? The only valuable information this article gives me is the exact percentage of kill-them-now-for-their-own-good stupid people running dot coms. [via MeFi thread.]

14:09, Tuesday 20 Mar.

Okay, so I've read the Microsoft Hailstorm White Paper, and read a whole load of articles about it. It's a fascinating and complex concept. My executive summary is roughly as follows:

Taking all the services that people have on intranets, usually with Outlook, like contacts management, calendaring, appointments auto-added across calendars, expenses, the whole lot, and taking it to the internet, for the masses (with one interface the MSN Instant Messager). All remote calls are done using SOAP, all data in XML. Buzzword city. Information is kept on centralised servers, authentication performed using Microsoft Passport.

I like it. But: Okay although there are many ways to feed into the storage area, there's no way for me to swap the backend. There's no way I can build my own Hailstorm that would interoperate with the Microsoft version. And these are services that many people can and do offer already: Microsoft aren't providing any way for people to work together; they're duplicating online wallets, calendars and so on, the only advantage being that more people will use the same service (so it can be hooked into websites in confidence that people will be using it). Oh, and it provides lock-in for Windows. So I like it, but I'm concerned.

00:23, Monday 19 Mar.

As another week begins, Monday carries with it fresh Upsideclown:

It isn't beyond the realm of possibility that the way it happens is one day he sees a woman stepping on a snail and (unconsciously recalling that long Summer when he was six watching his beloved mother stomping on the beasts on the patio) thinks: "My goodness, that's what I've been missing all these years," shortly followed by, "I'd better go to the bathroom. I wonder where the handcream is?"

Fetishes, sexuality, snails. My very own Upsideclown, none the less. An exploration of sexual deviance and discovery thereof, in Hit Me Baby, One More Time. References supplied, as they say, on request.

14:43, Saturday 17 Mar.

See my girlfriend cook my sock (uncensored sock cooking action).

14:36

For some reason the term "cheese 'carrier' foods" makes me feel distinctly uncomfortable.

16:55, Friday 16 Mar.

It's terrifying that people take edge-of-model science, like tachyons and then turn them into weird mystical pseudoscience (which I hate). Tachyon Healing and the Physics of Love has a title like an Upsideclown article, and says that these superluminal particles give you superpowers. Relatively tame, compared to the insiduous nature of Tachyon Field Theory which starts off in solid physics then collapses into unsupported declarations of biologic energy and so on and so forth.

16:45

Thanks to Byliner [via Blue Ruin] I can be alerted to new columns by Bel Littlejohn. That's a Good Thing, btw.

16:41

Yay! Myst IV mooted! And the Riven Unofficial Home Page has loads of great info on Myst III, including screenshots which look extremely promising.

11:10

Brief summary of last night: Blagged an invite to the UK launch of Data Return. Got free beer, free binoculars, a bit of a dance later in Home after we sneaked down the back stairs. Oh yeah, and literally strong-armed away from one of The Register journalists by a Data Return exec. I've never been lifted out my seat before.

And I lost the keys from my phone. Bollocks.

Update on that: The keys were in my pocket. Which is a sentence that in this case doesn't mean what it usually means.

18:02, Thursday 15 Mar.

I love Useless Facts. "The plastic things on the end of shoelaces are called aglets".

Not too sure about this one though. "According to Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity, it is possible to go slower than light and faster than light, but it is impossible to go the speed of light. Also, there is a particle called tackyon which is supposed to go faster than light. This means if you fire a tackyon beam, it travels before you fire it". [Sic, as they say. All of it: Sic.]

17:46

Um. Book your Angel Cruise now. "Enjoy 7 glorious days at sea with friends from around the globe. Share your stories, experiences, and your angelic dreams". Argh.

11:51

Today's fresh Upsideclown is brought to us by James.

As a starting point, we take the basic philosophical tenet that all the conscious actions of an individual are caused by some personal mental impulse to perform that particular action over any another alternative action. For the purpose of simplicity, we shall state that the way an individual chooses between alternative actions is by assessing the utility produced by each action. Where one action is determined to produce more utility than any of the alternatives, then that action is the one pursued.

For your information, education, and to tell you exactly why (with diagrams) you arse around so much when there're things to do: An Essay in Procrastination.

14:46, Wednesday 14 Mar.

Firstly, I can't quite believe that Rate My Profile really think they have a viable business. Secondly, user labare19 cracks me up. For the question "what is the one thing you most regret doing?" she says: "Taking pics of myself topless and posting them on the internet". Riiiight.

And then in the additional comments section, she has a link to those very photos.

22:58, Tuesday 13 Mar.

The Yahoo Gerbil is best ever form of sponsorship. "The lifecycle of a gerbil is around a year, the same length of time of our sponsorship. We could think of no cooler way of filling the airtime than to follow this fascinating creature, each day, during the Channel 5 Movie, for the next 12 months". Around a year? What happens if it pops off early?

17:33, Monday 12 Mar.

I like different ways of looking at commonplace things, like desktop/OS metaphors Lifestreams (Wired 1997): "Every document you've ever created or received stretches before you in a time-ordered stream, reaching from right now backward to the date you were born. You can sit back and watch new documents arrive: they're plunked down at the head of the stream".

11:06

Looks extremely good (quality links in the archive). The Kumo weblog covers Perl. php, xml, information design and more [via Glish].

08:49

It's Monday. Fuck this for a game of soldiers.

This is the problem with war; the mess. The blood which only washed out with cold water - not hot, which cooks the plasma proteins like egg yolk and leaves a stain that no housewife can remove. Limbs everywhere; eyeballs popping underfoot as your men run towards the enemy to mow them down, and enough gore to swim in.

Yes, it's Monday, and it's fresh Upsideclown with George. She's not angry, oh no, not a bit. Well... maybe. Kill 'Em All. Good clean clown, like the old days.

17:47, Friday 9 Mar.

A collection of chronically ugly ties. I want these.

16:57

I'm on the hunt for an open (read: free) application to compare database structure, tables, indexes and contents. A diff-like program that would generate sql patch files. It should be able to connect to almost any database (or even read the files directly).

So far I've found dbdiff2, a 1994 Unix app that appears to work on Informix databases and maybe others -- I'll have to check. There's also the commercial application DBDiff which has pretty much exactly the functionality I'd like, but it runs on Windows and it's a closed app. So, I'm almost there. Hints, as ever, extremely welcome.

Also found: XML Diff, a Java app to aid merging differences between xml documents. Worth a look I think, but a little later.

15:30, Thursday 8 Mar.

The only decent PostgreSQL documentation available online.

09:42

A new Thursday and dripping fresh Upsideclown of the classic style.

It's not really that I hate stupid people per se. They can be great company, they tend to be good for a laugh, and if they're attractive, female and single as well, all the better. There's something refreshing about a conscious lack of intelligence and a knowledge of one's own boundaries (take me for example - physically, I may not be Johnny Depp, but I make up for it with my sparkling wit, sexual charisma and hilarious anecdotes). I just don't like it when ignoramuses try and talk about things they clearly don't understand.

Jamie's Upsideclown, today, is Stupid, Stupid, Stupid.

09:32

This PLIF storytime is extremely funny [via angryblog], and the Parking Lot is Full is a comicstrip I've never seen before but it's bloody hilarious. Just sit on the random strip page and keep hitting that button.

08:54

Tom Lehrer's New Math. Makes me laugh, but I still don't understand it.

08:49

What is new math? I've always wanted to know. It turns out I was taught new math. In face, I remember consciously thinking back to the maths I learnt when I was about six or seven (fill in the box type: 5+[ ]=6) when I hit algebra years later -- so for me, the technique worked. I wonder why it's so maligned?

09:34, Wednesday 7 Mar.

Unamerican: anti-capitalist rants, stickers, tshirts and propaganda. "This town eats their children". Intense.

16:57, Tuesday 6 Mar.

There's some good [gritty, techno] art at meta.am. Worthwhile picture galleries and rand is an enjoyable experience.

And, this appeared on rand: "Neophilia -- the fetishization of the new -- is the buried engine that drives consumer society, from the one-minute megatrends that carpet-bomb pop culture to the enduring vogue for plastic surgery". Where's that phrase from? I'm sure I've heard it before.

16:45

The Stock Market Planetarium looks extremely cool. I'll have to go to the Art and Money Online exhibition at Tate Britain (March 6 till June 3 2001).

Talking of which, Signatures of the Invisible is an exhibition of art and physics (March 1 till March 29 2001 in East London) which appears to tap into one of my favourite images: That of the track left by particles being created and destroying in an accelerator. Should be good; I'll be going soon.

12:07

I posted this before, a year ago today, and I still find this comment stupidly funny: Carl Steadman 18jan2000. I just can't help myself.

11:56

Little webapps, number 2. Inviting people to an event and need a signup list? Use Evite.com to manage inviting guests by email and the web.

Yahoo Invites (UK 'site) does the same thing.

11:53

Little webapps number 1. Use Quizlet to run a poll on your 'site, the quiz and results popping up in a little window.

11:15, Monday 5 Mar.

Looking at the posts from a year ago today [in the One Year Ago box if you're using the Forest skin] about Youdraw (who are collecting a half million sketches by different people), I couldn't remember whether I drew a picture or not.

So... I did a search for pictures from March 5 last year and I had. It's soo me.

10:23

Monday's Upsideclown is brought to us by Neil: "My dearest Roger, Although I understand entirely your unwillingness to administer the substance to the boy without his consent, surely you must agree that it is only fear and suspicion holding him back from tasting the freedom inherent in the transformation it offers? Come up to Brunswych and let us discuss the matter further! Your devoted conspirator, Casper Harding".

A sinister tale of death and intrigue: The Shadow Over Brunswych.

22:03, Sunday 4 Mar.

I've spoken before about the arcs, loops and knots that life describes. I've spent a happy day squeezing under park benches to catch my lifeline on something solid, so the knot can't tighten, so that loop can't close, so that period of my life can't be forgotten.

Once a month I buy a tube season ticket. I take the train to Bournemouth (and back) every other weekend. Five days out of seven my alarmclock starts its nuclear klaxon at 7am. A birthday once a year (once a year feeling older, feeling underfulfilled, feeling restrospective, nostalgic). Once a month, another month going out with Es, tick tick tick, we move on, and even the rhythmic ticks are loops, spirals getting higher and higher. My life is loops within loops within loops, helices in spacetime.

I graduated this weekend, and my four years at university - the absence from which until now had just felt like an extended holiday - was most definitely over. The loop closed as I sat down in the theatre. Bow once, make a figure 8. Bow twice, over under over under. Bow a third time, round and under. Out the hall, change the gown, walk back in, bow for the final time to the Vice Chancellor and the knot tightens, the loop shrinks to zero, and there it is, this chunk of my life, over. Snagged on a park bench, almost completely gone apart from that, but over.

And so the loops continue. My great arc arcs on as arcs do. The cogs keep turning, the cycles keep cycling. But I feel as though this is Ptolemic. What if it's all just a matter of perspective? And in looking for where to stand to see my true orbit, my path, I have a horrible suspicion that I'm searching for meaning where there is none. And just that I'm doing that can't be good at all.

09:22, Friday 2 Mar.

"At DTD School you will learn what DTD is. You will know how to use a DTD to define the legal elements of an XML document." Start Learning DTD!

09:17

Afghanistan are destroying Buddha statues, two huge 2000 year old ones. It's cultural vandalism, but I can't help admiring the kind of courage which makes it okay to completely obliberate the past.

And the government department responsible is the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. With a name like that they can do what they want.

08:44

Huge amount of reading material linked from Booknotes: What is hypertext? [via wood s lot].

15:33, Thursday 1 Mar.

Hey, I've got my own webcam haven't I? Temporary location only.

11:33

I'm glad that Dan posted all our topics of conversation from the other night (the first Wednesday on the page, most of the posts for that day) because I could remember barely any of them (simultaneously knowing they were all good) and I was about to email and ask for a copy of his notes.

Yes, we went to three bars, and he kept notes.

10:57

I very much like this Java 3-D Satellite Tracking applet. Zooming rotating Earth and satellite fun. Space-station too.

10:34

Brilliant free abstract desktop wallpapers

08:56

A new month, a new Thursday, and fresh thinking at Upsideclown:

Redemption is a funny old thing. Or, more precisely, "redemption" is a funny old thing. It's one of those words that only ever occur in highly specialised context. Christians, of course, talk about redemption, by which they mean the sacrifice whereby Christ took upon himself the burden of original sin and thus gave mankind the possibility of heaven.

And redemption continues, though coupons and Blake's 7, to make an Upsideclown with that mix of new ideas and story that I find so appealing. Dan is up today: Redemption.

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