You know how you'll be straightening up your abode and at first it's
pretty easy? I know where this goes! I know where this goes too! And
then you get down to the stuff that you can't find a good place for, so
you just shove it in the closet? Welcome to the closet. If you're
looking for any rhyme or reason to what follows, I'm so sorry.
The Lyttle Lytton Contest
Quite possibly the most popular thing on this site, the
Lyttle Lytton Contest has run annually since 2001. The basic
idea is this: the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest challenges
entrants to pen the world's most atrocious first line to a novel.
The problem is that most entries are so long that they're not
amusingly bad — they're just flat-out unreadable. So
the Lyttle Lytton Contest forces entrants to keep their
masterpieces down to 200 characters or less. It runs year-round,
so check it out!
A few years ago I coded up a little PHP toy that would pull up
a random spot on
Earth. Now imagine running that script every day and
archiving the nearest photo on a Tumblr blog. Except you don't
have to imagine it, because Stochastic Planet is already doing
it! If you tumbl at all, go check it out — once
you've seen a few dozen of these you might have a different
sense of what the land mass of the Earth is actually like.
|I am in some books|
Gaming Hacks edited by Simon Carless
I wrote half of an interactive fiction tutorial for this
O'Reilly & Associates book. Andrew Plotkin wrote the other
half. If you've ever wondered what a game by Zarf and me would
Twisty Little Passages by Nick Montfort
This book has a short chapter on my '90s interactive fiction.
The Inform Designer's Manual, 4th ed. by Graham Nelson
This guide to the interactive fiction language Inform discusses
several of my programs. It also says I have "a rare gift for the
Millennials Rising by Neil Howe and William Strauss
Howe and Strauss, on whom I did my undergraduate honors
thesis, quote me a couple of times, even though I have since
disavowed their generational model.
|Paintings of rectangles|
I ripped off this idea fairly blatantly — I once
commissioned video game art from clearfour.com, but thought I
ought to do this one myself since it was for Jennifer's
||CGA 1 (fake Jo Baer
Jo Baer is an artist who painted a number of "black band" paintings
that I like a lot. Here's an homage using the palettes offered by
IBM's Color Graphics Adapter of 1981, on which I deeply imprinted
as a child.
I used to have a whole page of links, which basically amounted to
"here are some sites that I thought were cool on a Wednesday three
years ago." This section is basically the Fun Size version of that.
Hundreds of courses from my beloved alma mater, available
online! I got an MP3 player specifically so that I could
download these lectures and listen to them in the car.
(Often while driving to Berkeley to audit another class in
The standard RGB color wheel has large areas with little apparent
variation and then rather small areas with great variation; as
art professor Albert Munsell observed circa 1900, this is because
the perception of color is a psychological response to light, not
an inherent property of the light itself. He therefore conducted
rigorous tests of human visual responses to color stimuli and
created an irregular solid with perceptually uniform steps
along each axis. I used this tool to rationalize the color
scheme on my Calendar pages.
And then, for the stuff that doesn't even belong on any of the closet
shelves, there's that box on the floor way in the back. In real life,
mine has, among other stuff, a raccoon hand puppet, a bunch of old license
plates, an empty box that once held some crêpes dentelles, and my
psychological evaluation from when I was five. Online, it has this stuff.
I try to audit at least one class every semester, and the one I
picked for 2013/Fall was a combined astronomy and integrative
biology course called "Origins: from the Big Bang to the
Emergence of Humans."
In one lecture, the professor showed off an analogy for genetic
Take a few dots with different colors, and simply flip coins, two
For each head, give the dot an offspring.
Watch how a very small number of colors will quickly dominate the
population, not because they offer any type of selective
advantage, but simply randomly.
I thought this was neat so I coded it up as a PHP toy.
Check it out.
I made a
Youtube movie about date formats. (When I told Elizabeth
about this, her reply was a resigned sigh of "You and your date
Geographical representations of election results are especially
misleading in Canada, with its vast swaths of uninhabited tundra
and tiny pockets where people actually live. Cartograms to the
rescue! Feast your eyes on the
41st Canadian Parliament.
Speaking of maps, the end of Daylight Saving Time on 2009.1101
got me thinking... you know how most of the world cheats a little
where time zones are concerned, so that even during standard time
the sun rises and sets later than it technically should? What
would a map of time zone deviance look like? Answer: like
this, if you're colorblind.)
For ages the only picture of me in any kind of circulation was
the photo on my book jacket from
1999.11. But eight years later I was interviewed for a documentary
about interactive fiction, and apparently this
clip from that movie is now the
first image that comes up if you do a web search on me. As you
can see, I look massively different. (Actually, I've lost a fair
amount of weight since that last picture was taken.)
Gull is a guide to Glulx
Inform, which is used to create interactive fiction. It is also
mentioned on the IF page, but I figure it
can't hurt to mention it here as well.
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