All posts made the week commencing Sunday 23 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.