All posts made the week commencing Sunday 22 Apr., 2001:

Hey, this is quite cool. ShellShell is a Mac OS X application that takes a small metadata file, and wraps a lovely GUI around a shell script. This could be extremely useful if you write a command-line script and need to let someone with no Unix experience run the program. Like it.

For no good reason, here are the old five iterations that the Upsideclown went through before we settled on the current one. And here's a mockup of the first Interconnected design too, sans posts. I love the thinking, changing and tweaking process.


Blogmeet last night. Meg says all the important stuff. We were doing so well. So many people. We'd almost taken over the top floor of the Rat & Parrot - only the two sofas left - and were only a few people away from attaining critical mass, that point at which webloggers from all over London, maybe even the country, feel drawn towards Soho and spontaneously appear in the pub, a gathering the likes of which has never been seen before. But then we were moved on, saved. Some vile enemy, perhaps, had decided that the time was right to take us all out in one fell swoop, and we had to leave, an exodus, the sea of people parting before us as the column of UK-based Independent Content Providers marched through the night, foraging for food, babies being born, old women being carried by fearless leaders, tribal politics, pronouncements from Heaven, following a fire in the sky, arriving eventually at the promised land, some pub or another I can't remember the name, a place of milk and honey - but mainly beer, in fact almost exclusively beer, maybe a spirit/mixer too - and there we rested, and settled, and grew. And then went home.

Still, a good night. Apologies to all the people I was pissed at (but I still must have that tshirt), and if you weren't there why not?

Currently entertaining the office are flying giraffes [via As Above].

Presenting Thursday's Upsideclown: "And what difference does it make, what's it to me when the bombing's decided in Washington, both wanna cut my taxes and I'll be pushing up daisies before the serious flooding kicks in."

I urge you to read Neil's Voter Apathy.

Btw, check out the article on Anoto in this month's Wired. That wasn't quite urgent enough: Check out Anoto. This concept is the most important one of the last ten years, possibly more. I've talked about this before. Smart pen, dumb paper: And suddenly ticking a box on a magazine can be a trigger for anything clicking a mouse button can be. And the way the system is being implemented there's incentive for the pen manufacturers, paper producers, and the merchants. Believe me, this time next year you won't be able to move for this shit.

You know, if there were web servers in all my lights, I could write a script to run daily and check whether any bulbs were broken, then sms me at work to buy new ones. And if my phone could talk http, I could stream my answer machine messages as mp3s. If everything passively reported what state it was in - I don't care about accepting remote commands at this point - then I could write the software to integrate my house with the rest of my life. The wired life will only come about when we decouple infrastructure from implementation. And on that day, there will be adverts on my toast, and my spaghetti shapes will be Nike swooshes, cheaper than normal hoops.

Bloody hell, I sound like Dave Winer.

Fuck me, when did the Society Guardian web site start? It's pitched at the public and voluntary sectors (in the UK) and has news and comment about local government, unions, urban regeneration and the like. I'm seriously impressed. Simply repurposing the content from the various Guardian 'sites, and dynamically building them into personalised news 'sites: I could never see the benefit of this sort of stuff before, but wow, this is the wave of the future.

Metamath [permanent url] has an archive of mathematical proofs, cross-references, for you to explore. And a very odd section dedicated to translating those proofs into music.

The Encyclopaedia of Integer Sequences is a searchable database of 50000 interesting number sequences.

Hey, loads of cranky 'sites at I've been browsing the physics pages.

Human design aesthetics: It seems that each feature on the human body is either

  1. a pair, symmetric about the plane dividing the body between left and right; or
  2. a single feature, existing on this plane.

Furthermore, each double is paired with a single of comparitive scale. Singles, on the other hand, can exist on their own.

For example: The head is a single. Ears and eyes are both pairs; nose and mouth are both single of the same scale. The philtrum is paired with the nostrils. Testicles, arsehole. Arms as a pair go with the head; legs as a pair with the torso. Nipples, bellybutton. You see, on every size scale the rule is obeyed.

I don't pretend to know why, but I feel that if we are to genetically engineer humans we need to be aware of and guided by these principals so we can create something that looks "right". An extra arm placed off-centre wouldn't do, you see, but Medusa-style hair of snakes would be fine (so long as it was balanced by a single of similar scale -- say, a large beard).

Incidentally, this also explains questions of more theological concerns. Devils have horns to balance the tail. And we can even make predictions: Given that we're only adding wings to the human form to make an angel, and we aren't adding a balancing single, the wings must be enormous so as to be the right scale to use the whole body as the balancer. This means that angels can justly be regarded as superhuman rather than (if they had smaller wings and a single balance) submen, or even (if they had no balance) simply mutants.

How better to start the new week than with a fresh Upsideclown?

In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And now look at us. Microsoft Word has more followers than most religions; people are more likely to lend credence to a Bill Gates press release than to the latest papal edict from the Vatican. In short, the Word just got blown out of the water.

Branding is the new religion. Jamie dishes out corporate punishment, in Show me the Logos.

The only thing odder than the topics of conversation Dan and I stumble into when out is that fact that there's more of my life documented on Venusberg, his weblog, than there is on mine.

It's worth reading up on my life simply so you can learn why so much effort is made to biograph it (Dan has a prodigious memory, or failing that - after too many beers - he tends to keep notes).

  • 22 January 2001
    Terry Pratchett being, or not being, a cunt.
  • 2 February 2001. 1, 2.
    Shaving hawks and balls, and Anglo-Saxon pronunciation.
  • 9 February 2001
    Geek nature.
  • 28 February 2001. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
    Hoxton, several bars, and even more conversation. Film and orgasmic models of writing. Alas, nothing about my theory of balance and symmetric aesthetic in the human form -- but more of that later.
  • 5 March 2001
    Comments on my beliefs.
  • 6 March 2001
    My flat.
  • 4 April 2001
    I'm not very good at slapsies.
  • 9 April 2001
    Cold, meta, wives and spunky trousers.
  • 10 April 2001. 1, 2, 3
    Extraordinarily bad American pop rock, kebabs, and far too much to drink.
  • 22 April 2001
    Knightmare (spellcasting), psychogeography, ranting at old ladies (foot! bag! prison! death!).

And people say I don't put enough personal content up here. With others to do it for me, why would I need to?

Aside: When I started hunting through Dan's weblog I thought I'd find maybe three or four references to me and my life (the two being, as you know, quite separate). As it is, I had to leave several out. Does anybody know whether I can buy Restraining Orders over the counter at the Post Office?

Urbanbite is an interesting dotcom currently advertising in London. Premise: Tap in your postcode, see a list of restaurants in your area, order online for delivery or collection. It's a good idea, I think. We tried it last night, and the UI is exceptionally brilliant. But to be honest, I can't see how they're going to make money. It's no faster than ordering by telephone, and as useful as a restaurant finder and online menu is, that's not what they're pitching as. Another difficulty - one I hadn't anticipated before using them - was that the food places themselves aren't that keen on giving a cut of what they make to Urbanbite. When I took the food, it came with a plea to order direct next time: look here's the menu, phone number there, really please order straight from us.

The only advantages I can see of ordering online are if you order the same thing continuously (which, I must confess, I do), or if you don't have cash (they accept Switch). Or maybe if you have a really difficult unpronounceable address. But apart from that... hm.

It's like that sudden realisation when shopping from Amazon that, hang on, it's not that cheap, you're going to have to wait three days, and there's a book shop just outside anyway. No wonder the tech stocks have been tumbling.