These luxuries [e.g. Uber, the on-demand taxi service] are not new. I took advantage of them long before Uber became a verb, before the world saw the first iPhone in 2007, even before the first submarine fibre-optic cable landed on our shores in 1997. In my hometown of Mumbai, we have had many of these conveniences for at least as long as we have had landlines—and some even earlier than that.
It did not take technology to spur the on-demand economy. It took masses of poor people.
So when I rant about/against queues, it's because queues will often be (but not always) applied in ways that totally mess up end-to-end principles for no good reason. It's because of bad system engineering, where people are trying to make an 18-wheeler go through a straw and wondering why the hell things go bad. In the end the queue just makes things worse. And when it goes bad, it goes really bad, because everyone tried to close their eyes shut and ignore the fact they built a dam to solve flooding problems upstream of the dam.
Pixie is a lightweight lisp suitable for both general use as well as shell scripting. The language is still in a "pre-alpha" phase and as such changes fairly quickly. The standard library is heavily inspired by Clojure as well as several other functional programming languages. It is written in RPython and as such supports a fairly fast GC and an amazingly fast tracing JIT.
As much as this is an interesting looking little language – and it is interesting; many of the features are best-of‘s from Clojure but built in from the ground up – it looks like a fun example of using the RPython / PyPy infrastructure to build a language. The developer, Timothy Baldridge, says he has been working on the language for just two months which goes to show just how much leverage that infrastructure provides.
Daniel Compton reminded me of this article by Jordan Peacock about the nature of enterprise software, and its usability.
Pelgrane Press is kickstarting a new two book, improvised campaign, The Dracula Dossier for their superspies vs the vampires RPG Night‘s Black Agents:
Dracula is not a novel. It's the censored version of Bram Stoker's after-action report of the failed British Intelligence attempt to recruit a vampire in 1894. Kenneth Hite has restored the deleted sections, inserting annotations and clues left by three generations of MI6 analysts. This is Dracula Unredacted.
Follow those clues to The Director’s Handbook, containing hundreds of encounters: shady NPCs, dangerous locations, conspiratorial nodes, and mysterious objects. Together they comprise The Dracula Dossier — an epic improvised, collaborative campaign for Night’s Black Agents, our award-winning vampire spy thriller RPG.
The mission: Hunt and kill Dracula now, once and for all, before Britain falls to him forever.
I wrote about Night‘s Black Agents previously.
We are crushing the web. Dedicated client-side rendering sucks. Polyfills are used for all the wrong reasons. Those hideous-looking hash routers are bad and we should feel bad. We have been telling each other for years that progressive enhancement is great, and yet we're doing very little about it!
Nick Jaffe demonstrates a prototype guitar pedal that uses a new application of nano technology:
…This groundbreaking prototype built by Dr. Scientist with technology from Canada's National Institute for Nanotechnology, demonstrates "molecular junctions" used in place of clipping diodes in three different overdrive circuits. The circuits also include conventional diodes for comparison. The molecular junctions use quantum behavior of atoms and electrons to create clipping that is softer and potentially more tube-like than traditional diodes. This video demonstrates the op amp, NPN transistor and FET-based circuits using both conventional diodes and two different "flavors" of quantum clipping molecular junctions. The video also explains the tech in detail and explores the possibilities of this new tone-shaping tool which can be tailored for different tones in ways that traditional diodes cannot…
Melting faces with future technology.
For a handful of reasons I found myself looking for a new font for A Lazy Sequence, and after fussing about with a number of geometric sans serif faces, stumbled upon this list.
Maybe it's just the change, but it seems to me that the humanist fonts I tried are more forgiving of my amateur-hour design work than a more geometric face. I ended up choosing Prenton for this site.
Suave is a simple web development F# library providing a lightweight web server and a set of combinators to manipulate route flow and task composition.
Looks like a promising light weight solution for .Net web programming.
…“How big,” asked Arthur, “should a text editor be?”
I’ve known Whitney most of my life. I know what he does. I know his stupid questions. And still I can’t resist trying to give helpful answers. “I don’t know. One could find out, surely? What do Emacs and Vim weigh – tens of megabytes?”
“I’ve got a text editor in four lines of K. Just need to add Copy and Paste.”
The APL family of languages are both amazing and terrifying. Don’t miss the source code for the editor.
Via Tavis Rudd.
A long video excerpt from a panel on audio myths; covers a lot of ground.
Wilfred Hughes catalogs numerous approaches to syntax highlighting, with examples using Emacs.
Mike Senior for Sound on Sound:
I love reading interviews with engineers and producers, but the more of them I read, the more I come up against the basic problem that my brain is like a sieve. I'm forever thinking to myself "I really must remember that technique", but unless I dash off and use it right away the knowledge just skips out of my ear and heads for the hills, probably glad to be free. And even if I vaguely remember reading a fascinating passage about de-essing nose-flutes, I'm damned if I can recall where I read it or who recommended it.
A few months ago, I decided that enough was enough, so I began to trawl systematically through Sound On Sound's interview archive, collating and comparing different producers' views on a variety of recording and mixing topics.…
The article is a great survey of techniques for miking electric guitar for recording. Senior has supplied a plethora of sample recordings to illustrate the various techniques mentioned by the producers he has looked at.
If board games are more your think than RPGs, Luke Crane and David Petersen also have a Kickstarter for a Mouse Guard board game going too.
We developed a light strategy game for two players that takes 10 to 20 minutes time per game. It's exactly the sweet spot we hoped for—a game you can play while you're sitting at the June Alley Inn listening to tales, or when you're waiting for your friends to arrive for a game night, or when you're waiting in long lines at comicons!
Hugh Robjohns, Sound on Sound:
In a surprising announcement made at last Autumn\'s AES convention in New York, the well-known American mastering engineer Bob Katz declared in a press release that “The loudness wars are over.”…
…this is about loudness as perceived by human beings, and not simply level. In other words, the ITU-R Loudness Meter algorithm is essentially an electronic ear that perceives audio loudness in much the same way as the average human listener, and it has proved to be very accurate and very reliable. The primary intention behind its development was to enable broadcast automation systems to measure the perceived loudness of supplied programmes and adverts before they were broadcast, so that their loudness levels could be matched in a similar way to that achieved by those trained continuity operators 30 years ago.
A podcast where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made.
Everything from the Bob's Burgers theme to The Postal Service and Converge.
Via 99% Invisible.
When a grape is cut nearly in half and placed in a microwave, plasma is produced. …
Disney, Sony and Double Fine are releasing the Grim Fandango for Playstation and later other platforms.
The classic Tim Schafer title first launched from LucasArts in 1998, offering a dark comedy style within a neo-noir adventure game. Grim Fandango tells the story of travel agent Manuel "Manny" Clavera as he tries to save Mercedes "Meche" Colomar, a newly arrived soul in the land of the dead, during her journey.
malyon-mode is a z-machine interpreter written in emacs-lisp, allowing you to play classic Infocom (makers of games such as Zork and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) and modern Inform games inside emacs.
For bonus z-machinery there is also the
inform-mode for editing Inform 6 games.
I want to address one-by-one all of the strange and misguided arguments for Node.js in one place.
Mark Nottingham announcing the revised and clarified HTTP/1.1 specification:
Don’t use RFC2616 [HTTP/1.1]. Delete it from your hard drives, bookmarks, and burn (or responsibly recycle) any copies that are printed out.
More encouragement to actually look at learning
evil-mode (vi commands in emacs) from
It’s reductionist to say that these two editors were each built around one big idea, but
what the hell, let’s be reductionist. Because what stands out in 2014, looking at modern
editor like Sublime Text and Atom, is how Emacs’ big idea has been thoroughly learned — and
how vi’s big idea hasn’t.
Related: lisp programmer love strutural editing (editing code by changing the structure not the text). Last Alan Dipert and Micha Niskin demoed a prototype editor that combines these ideas with vi like editing.
Via Jim Duey.
Michael Heilemann has posted an amazing feature-length exploration of Star Wars and the films that influenced it.
I suspect that many people don’t engage with the disabled because we are embarrassed, afraid of feeling stupid, of saying the ‘wrong thing’, or have no idea where to start. It has been my experience that most people are willing to share their experience and give you feedback – you just have to ask and be prepared to listen and learn.
The important message is this: web accessibility is not a box to tick. It is not simply an event or a process to follow, even though those are important. It is a conversation, a partnership – one that has to involve those for whom your site exists to serve.
An excellent article from a talk by Maciej Cegłowski. Here's the introduction:
Marc [Thiele] emailed me a few weeks ago to ask if I thought my talk would be appropriate to close [Beyond Tellerrand].
"Marc," I told him, "my talk is perfect for closing the conference! The first half is this incredibly dark rant about how the Internet is alienating and inhuman, how it's turning us all into lonely monsters.”
“But in the second half, I'll turn it around and present my vision of an alternative future. I'll get the audience fired up like a proper American motivational speaker. After the big finish, we'll burst out of the conference hall into the streets of Düsseldorf, hoist the black flag, and change the world.”
Marc said that sounded fine.
As I was preparing this talk, however, I found it getting longer and longer. In the interests of time, I'm afraid I'm only going to be able to present the first half of it today.
Via Cursive Clojure.
ShellCheck is a static analysis and linting tool for sh/bash scripts. It's mainly focused on handling typical beginner and intermediate level syntax errors and pitfalls where the shell just gives a cryptic error message or strange behavior, but it also reports on a few more advanced issues where corner cases can cause delayed failures.
Via Tavis Rudd.
[I]t looks like QuickBasic, but it's a .NET console app that lets you write modern Visual Basic code. QuickVB shows off APIs from the .NET Compiler Platform ("Roslyn"), where we've been reimplementing the Visual Basic compiler in Visual Basic itself.
This book is a collection of bitesize examples that illustrate various rustic concepts and the Rust distribution libraries.
Fred Gabrsek shows how he made a ribbon microphone from scratch inside an broken condensor microphone enclosure.
Ash Law explains his (process for converting the stats for fourth edition monsters into 13th Age. Looks straight forward.
James O Coplien writes a great deal on testing. Lots of interesting insights, no easy decisions on what to quote. Read it all.
Matthew Colville dives into the assumptions and rules of the original Dungeons & Dragons as he attempts to build a Fighter character in every edition of the game.
The video's about 45 minutes long because we explain a lot of the assumptions of this edition, why Gary Gygax created certain rules, why Dwarves can detect sloping passages, but actually making a dude in OD&D probably takes about 7 minutes. There's just not that much to him!
A great look back at the origins of a hobby.
Matt Sweeney interviews Josh Homme (of Queens of the Stone Age) about playing guitar. Homme shows some of the tricks and techniques he uses to play, including his ‘own’ scale.
Part of an amazing series of videos.
The Incomparable podcast selflessly rewatches Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones to provide us with catharsis.
Also available: Attack of the Clones part 2 and Phantom Menace part 1 and part 2.
…And the finding is that, once social influence is introduced, not only does the inequality-generating “critical mass” or “cascade” happen, but we cannot accurately predict which goods it will happen to.…
Via John Siracusa
Tridiv is a web-based editor
for creating 3D shapes in CSS.
As well as being completely crazy, Tridiv is remarkable. The interface is pretty straight forward: orthographic views and a 3d project of the model you are building, simple primitives and some tools for manipulating (WYSIWYG and property editors) them. The amazing part is its all done with CSS and div elements.
I found it straight forward to build a model to replace a small raster image that needed to animate in 3D. The hard part is not building the model, but integrating it into a design and rest of the document.
Derived from photobombing, clownbombing means to respond to any social-media discussion by posting an unsettling photograph of a clown, with no text or caption whatsoever. When someone responds to your clownbomb, the only response should be a different clownbomb. This repeats.
She spent sixteen days clownbombing every Tweet posted by Bill O'Reilly.
…The pilcrow is not just some typographic curiosity, useful only for livening up a coffee-table book on graphic design or pointing the way to a paragraph in a mortgage deed, but a living, breathing character with its roots in the earliest days of punctuation. …
Via Chas Emerick.
I quickly discovered that a good metric for higher-quality fonts was the presence of at least one alternate. The Google Web Fonts directory does not allow that type of filtering, so I built this simple one-off page that allows you to browse multi-variant typefaces.
There certainly is a lot of rubbish in the Google Web Fonts library. Weibe’s simple metric appears to have done a reasonably good job of highlighting some decent fonts.
Via the Changelog.
Annoy friends and enemies alike with this cool in-browser touch based theremin-esque instrument.
Composer Jonathan Berger:
We conceive of time as a continuum, but we perceive it in discretized units—or, rather, as discretized units. It has long been held that, just as objective time is dictated by clocks, subjective time (barring external influences) aligns to physiological metronomes. Music creates discrete temporal units but ones that do not typically align with the discrete temporal units in which we measure time. Rather, music embodies (or, rather, is embodied within) a separate, quasi-independent concept of time, able to distort or negate “clock-time.” This other time creates a parallel temporal world in which we are prone to lose ourselves, or at least to lose all semblance of objective time.
Via Bayard Randel.
Jason Santa Maria:
We talk all the time on our personal and periodical sites about the latest techniques for design, but how often do we break down new designs? I mean really discuss them, not just add them to a gallery of notable sites.
…The problem is that we don’t have the right words to talk about this stuff, let alone the right context to find common ground for real discussion inside our industry or the folks just outside it. If our eyes are only attuned to the latest shiny thing, we can’t possibly understand anything of influence or consequence.
Rob Donoghue has spent so many words on 13th Age that there’s practically no good one quote that sums it all up. Instead there is this article which collects all his other articles together and wraps it all up. There are whole games with fewer words and less thought than this exploration.
I have previously ignored 13th Age because why do I need yet another fantasy RPG? Recent discussions (and character creation with Pathfinder) in my weekly tabletop group have changed that. Whether it is a game I want to buy remains to be seen.
Christophe Grand has announced Enliven, the successor to his great – but slightly flawed – Clojure HTML-templating library Enlive (which I use here on A Lazy Sequence).
Enliven looks like it will remove the warts of Enlive with a cleaner and more regular model for selection and transformation, while expanding beyond just HTML, and promises performance improvements to boot. Very exciting!