All posts made in Sep. 2001:

concept fourth | In an email from Andrew: "And how about an egg with no shell? I'm not sure where I'm taking this but there must be some mileage in it."

concept third | The problem being: That conventional butter is too hard to spread, and spreadable butter is diluted with vegetable oil, and if I wanted that I'd eat margarine. (And that butter tastes good.) Solution: Impregnate the butter with microscopic beads (which we know They have because they're used in shampoo). These beads are a chemical compound which on pressure releases heat and breaks down into tasteless, harmless nothing. The heat locally melts the butter in much the same way ice-skates work by only melting directly under the blade to produce a lubricating water layer. This is nanobutter. The future is now.

concept second | The premise being: That over the past few decades there's been a great expansion in our knowledge about routing, switching and networks; That even after all this time the cyber world and the real world are fairly separate, that they're bound to start cross-pollinating sooner or later, and that it might-as-well be right here, right now; That top-down systems don't fit well with real life, and bottom-up systems do; That cars are a bad thing; That for any system, no matter how good, there has to be a path of growth. Bearing all that in mind:

Consider a network of pipes. The pipes are at least 300mm in diameter (enough so that a stack of DVDs could fit inside) and come in segments, straight or a junction. The junctions are three way, and are able to route a packet coming from any direction to either of the other two, to propel said packet, and to message ahead to the next switch so it can prepare. It's a mechanism for distributing physical objects, in packets (the packet being a cylinder labeled with its destination address), with all the smarts located at the junctions/switches -- and what's more, based on current technology built up on the internet. We're brilliant at routing, but the expertise and the networks haven't yet infiltrated the real world. They're bound to.

The network starts as a single loop around a single building. As other buildings want to join, extensions are made, straight segments swapped for junctions without having to rewire the entire network (no central control, remember). Backbones and ring mains are laid around cities as other infrastructure is buried. Networks are joined together. Eventually we have a distribution system covering entire cities.

But this is only the proof of concept. What is the underground system, or the railways, or the roads other than a network, a switch at every junction? This is the future of transportation. (Although the concept of 5% packet loss scares me a little -- one in twenty commuters accidentally routed 1000km away, never being heard from again.)

concept first | To archive the web, and allow access to the archive via the .gone domain, such that using a url of the format would bring up the BBC News homepage as of the date 28 September 2001.

"The feeling of being a part of a larger machine, of working towards the same goals as my colleagues. There's always a big cheer when one of us gets a bonus. That guy with the Kinder Egg toys on his desk got seven thousand pounds, the other month, just for one call. Amazing."

I reckon it's the best Upsideclone yet, today. And what's more, it feels horribly prophetic. Kevan Davis writes Work To Win.

(See the bottom of the article for how to write for 'clone. Go on, you know you want to.)

Nooface: "In Search of the Post-PC Interface." This is going to have to join my daily list. [via haddock.]

Geocaches in the UK at

"The most distinct of all, of course, were the human heads of varying race, gender and age which were liberally scattered around the carnage. The smell of cooked flesh pervaded all."

Fresh, and slightly disturbing, Upsideclown today. From George: Uncut. Sick clown.

What you see is all you're getting.

Some Vonnegut links.

Vonnegut is the best example I've ever seen of a book as sculpture-in-progress, as a kite that is assembled in your brain and with the last full stop is completed, unfurled, and takes flight. To read an entire book is to build a structure as textured as the real world. And what stuns me is that throughout his earlier books, he tells you exactly how he's going to do it: the values, the style of writing, the characters. And in the later ones, does. And it's perfect.

An alarming number of photos of people in balloon hats [thanks Dan B].

Xmethods is a directory of publically available web services, available through various forms of remote procedure call including xmlrpc and SOAP.

Apple's MacOS X 10.1 is out! Is this exciting? Of course it bloody is. It's a great operating system already, and the point release is putting in all the features that I wished were there to begin with. Especially: Excellent AppleScript, which they've elevated to a full system language and given it enormous power. I'm quite keen on the web services functionality myself, but I just keep on thinking about the interfaces with Unix and all the normal Mac applications so you could do things like... Send an email with an attached image to a Mac, pick up the mail, use built-in Mac OS X image handling to resize the graphic, fire up an InDesign document and populate it with information contained in the email, also running a Perl script to glue together some more complex processing; then... print to PDF, and email the customised document back. All easily.

Global Consciousness Project at [via MeFi]: Using many random number generators (based on sensitive electrical equipment) distributed around the world, what should be random data is continuously gathered and correlated. There are periods of low statistical probability -- and these times appear to correlate with times of mass incident. For example, 11 September 2001. Hoax? Or the beginning of a new dawn, a restructuring of our ideas of science, the mind and the universe?

Because I like other people documenting my life: And now here I am clearing up your ketchup. That was yesterday lunchtime. Yes, swapping theories on how to make the world a better place, but really -- I resent the use of the word "unlikely". I thought some of my ideas were quite good.

(Brief sampling: Talking to bring together the various threads of anti-globalisation in order to articulate the problems in words that corporations understand; designing things to put the market incentives in good places; cheap construction materials in the developing world to move businesses over there; a lump of potassium in a particular shape that for some unknown reason creates free energy; the faults of science and the lack of pathways from lower to higher levels in the models. I sounded like a collision of Design for the Real World and Cities in Flight.)

The other night out with Dan was particularly good. I like the fact he keeps conversation notes. It frees me to drink as much I as need/like/want/can. In related news, Dan's Venusberg is particularly good at the moment. Read that, not this.

That's good news.

There are some really good photographs at

"America is a large continent made up two sub-continents, North America and South America. The USA is the largest country in America. I'm from the USA, so I'm an American. Has the weather been good recently?"

Fresh Upsideclown, and today James brings us an Interview With An Automatum. Strangely funny, but for the life of me I don't know why.

And there are two great pieces I've missed. At Upsideclown, Neil's Flightpath is thoughtful, quiet. Typical Neil, and really good.

Meanwhile, Upsideclone is funny and excellent. Friday's was Don't Book it - Thomas Cook it -- of holidays, asylum seekers, and holidays. Top stuff, more like this please. (It's by Tom Armitage and he has a page of writing you can check out.)

And one last plug: Don't forget you can write for Upsideclone (we'd love to have you), or if you just want to read you can recieve both 'clone and 'clown by email -- just check the bottom of both sites for more details.

I'm so tired of looking for bugs.

And the moral of the story is: Always dispose of unused watermelons safely.

Regarding my previous post: Little does he know that everything I said was lies.

I've just had an interesting conversation with someone researching, oh, many things, but including: new media and "place" (London, specifically); the nature of reading and writing with new media; the words we use for describing the experience; how we perceive it. (He's from Sussex University's Urban Mobilities project.)

I've talked about hypertext before, and I've talked about how I communicate, at least in the context of languages not being concept-easy (and the complexity-exchange limit), but this interview made me apply these ideas to the specifics of this homepage, and to Upsideclown. A few interesting things came out of it:

That instant messaging is to email what weblogs are to Real Content pages. That Upsideclown is taking an idea, packaging it, and sending it as a bullet, in much the way print is -- but weblogs are more like sculpture, like a flow, like a [monologue] conversation in that you're attempting to build the idea in the Reader's head by chipping away at it with every single post. That weblogs are the true structure of the www, and they could be taken so much further: navigating sideways in categories of links, and where trails/weblogs cross. That sometimes we talk about visiting, sometimes using, sometimes fetch sites on the www, but don't have that same kind of relationship with books. (In fact, that books are a linear text, and extreme on the scale, they're meme bullets, chinese boxes [or whatever they're called].) That the way I write my weblog is not very personal, does not have much of a sense of "place", only mentions abstract ideas, is a replacement for my notebook that I carry everywhere. That I write in a certain way, not referring back to previous posts over a single day because the reverse chronology makes that unreadable. That a www browser is a portal or a tunnel, and that I can't program if I'm thinking about anything that interferes in the loop between my eyes and my brain and my hands. That, that, that, all kinds of things. (Oh, and also that the "very plain" appearance of my weblog was some kind of statement, before it was realised that the skinning functionality was somehow broken on his computer and he was just getting the black text on white background look.)

Unfortunately my top hot buttons (hypertext, communication) were pushed and I spent an hour and a half in incoherent babbling. Oh well.

"Sorry to rub it in. (The suntan lotion, of course.) Just a cheeky factor 4 for the moment, build up a lovely golden base before we get onto some serious bronzing with the old vegetable oil. Pass the Pimm's, dear."

Jamie's been on holiday. Still bloody on holiday, judging by the farce that has been getting this week's Upsideclown on time. But mustn't grumble, mainly because his piece is pretty darn good: Postcards From The Edge (of the pool).

(Upsideclown is going to be a little late today. Stand by.)

Modern life is an either-or decision, by AA Gill in the Sunday Times. You'll find it funny. Or you won't.

Site update: I've thrown up some rough notes about why prices are wrong. Unrevised and not deeply thought out, but there for friends who know more about economics than me (and I know almost nothing) to educate and correct. Comments are welcome.

I took some photos in my garden the other weekend, closeups of things I found. I'm particularly pleased with the butterflies, and also with bee.jpg which I rather suspect is actually a wasp, but these yellow and black flying things are all much of a muchness honestly.

Why does the definition of 'bosom' make me laugh so? I quote: "6: either of two soft fleshy milk-secreting glandular organs on the chest of a woman [syn: breast, knocker, boob, tit, titty]"

I mean it's true, but - somehow, um. Well.

"George's blissed-out mood perhaps explained why he didn't see the light in the sky. Swooping down towards him from a point just below, and to one side, of the moon, and partially obscured by the clouds, a point of white light moved swiftly towards the beach." What happened to George? is today's fresh Upsideclone by Giles Turnbull. It's how it's going to happen, just you wait and see.

(You can write for Upsideclone yourself, or receive articles by email -- details are below Giles' new piece.)

You know, I've been working for one year and four days. Now there's a thing.

"Photographic memory is at best an inexact terminology, a condition that only characters in cheap spy novels ever have in the pure and perfect sense of being able to remember anything, from any time in their life or anything they had ever encountered."

Dan has a photographic memory, and he's flicking through it in today's Upsideclown: Mother of the Muses. It's an excellent piece. Just brilliant. Enjoy.

How to include the communal infoshare. That's the box below, and it'll bring you information and links about the events of Tuesday.

I still can't believe it's real. It's absolutely beyond comprehension. All I can do is read what people are saying and try to understand just how utterly awful this all is. (Kottke is posting links to personal accounts and information sites.)

And, breathe.

High water. Drop an anchor. Remember this moment. Where are you? What's happening? Decide what you feel. Tell people, talk to people, remember how lucky we are. We live in a world of wonder and beauty. Don't forget that. This is terrible. Care.

(Important news sources today: Eyewitness accounts on both the Barbelith Underground and on haddock, and thank you to my primary source, Dan, my internet-via-telephone.)

Writing updates:

Upsideclown is is brought to us by Victor, down by the canal: Blind weed. Peaceful.

And Upsideclone is graced by RavenBlack this week: "Contrary to popular belief, not all mental states are in America (though some, such as Ohio, are). My particular mental state can be found in my head." I really like this, and you should all go read Mental States. (And after you've read, think about contributing. Just think about it.)

The posters of Toulouse-Lautrec, and more larger images. (I saw Moulin Rouge this weekend. Excellent.)

Historical Fact is back up (it's better than the default Apache page. Just). There's a wap version too.

This is sheer genious. Dutchbint got sick of people finding her weblog from dirty words, so now if there are obscenities in the referrer, you're redirected to the Online Decency Bureau page. And it's a classic. The responses are hilarious. Read.

Nucleus: page 31 [Opinion], from November 1998. Large scanned magazine page. I must get back to doing Nucleus again. That's most recent issue, three years old.

An Exquisite Corpse, surrealist imagery every few days. I like. [via dollarshort]

Hi-tech homes: The future as viewed from 1983 plus Ashley Pomeroy's comments. I love the text on the hifi page. "... if a blank record doesn't produce absolute silence when played at full-blast, there's something wrong. I imagine this is how audiophiles spend their days - listening to silent records at incredible volume, with oscilloscopes."

"The Americans and part of the Pacific were permanently in the light, in the end. Slowing and stopping took the best part of a hundred years -- a century of storms and monsoons, but the weather eventually settled down into a different pattern as these things do. We never had a chance to find out whether the system was stable however. Second, the Sun began to grow."

New Upsideclown today: The world is ending.

(If you like Upsideclown, why not write for Upsideclone, our sister site?)

I've done so much today, really good, fun stuff. But now, and I'm not really sure why (just general people doing things that make my life awkward), I'm soo pissed off you wouldn't believe. And knackered. And I need to vent. And the problem with being annoyed with the sort of stuff I [you] encounter at work is that it's so esoteric, nobody understands it when you complain. Sleeping more and more every night just isn't helping. Deep breath.

Zeldman has an archive of considered covers for his book. I'm not keen on the final version (it's a bit too much like every other web design book out there), but the alternatives were crisp, vivid designs, reminiscent of 1970s science textbooks (when people cared about great design for items like that), and well worth using for inspiration.

Excellent. George Monbiot has a site with his articles archived and categorised. (Monbiot writes insightful columns for the Guardian about globalisation and the environment. You can see a list of his Guardian articles, at Byliner.)

Because not all of us have graphics: ascii pr0n archive.

Ann Widdecombe MP supports this weblog.

Zuadobank: although it's supposed to be a bank of messed-up photographs (ones that you can use for background texture), there are still some pretty stunning images. Worth exploring for some gems.

There are 133 stars within 50 light years visible to the naked eye (about 10% of all star systems within this volume). News of my birth is currently passing star HR753. Hello all out there. By the time you read this it'll be 2045, and I'm on to your little game.

(This atlas of the universe is a pretty good way to get an idea of scale.)

The Ident Zone (tele corporate branding over the decades) and the Test Card Gallery both have large galleries of television imagery. Particularly good are: BBC Test Cards (see also the rationale behind Test Card F); Children's BBC branding (which alarmingly means I have no memory before the age of 9. What happened to me?); and old BBC branding (which is all the more impressive because the graphics are actually mechanically made).

Kottke's installing Linux? You don't want to do that. The installation of FreeBSD from two floppy disks was the most painless server install I've done, and Greg Lehey's The Complete FreeBSD explains everything really well (properly explains, so you can look after the server yourself).

nb. Greg Lehey has a large beard.

"Porn Pants! The answer to all of your lingerie dreams! They're the neon, black and white sparkly wisps of knickers (and they have matching padded bras, but they're only half the fun) that Linda Lovelace would be proud of."

George - sorry, Dr Georgina - introduces us all to the joys of Porn Pants in todays Upsideclown. Ooh, I think I might have to get myself a pair. Fun.

Acts of god aren't going to keep the Upsideclone down. If your dns has caught up with the server move, you'll be treated to Kevan's new piece: Walking Distance. Of cars, and of people. You'll enjoy it.

(If you'd like to write for Upsideclone, we'd like to have you. Find out how to submit at the bottom of Kevan's article.)

Well I was going to warn you that this server would be down overnight, and that you might not see it for a couple of days because the dns changes needed to propagate. That was before, five hours before the move, a lightning strike took out the leased line. But we're back on the air, snappier than ever.

And if you want any shithot web work done, you should go and talk to Cambro, enormous database driven sites their speciality. Tell them thanks from me.