Buckle Up

Jun. 4th, 2009 10:41 am
robotnik2004: (Default)
Buckle up!

"Dear ROBERTMA,

Great news! We've made your Internet even faster! You don't have to do a thing. Your download speed has been automatically increased from 5 Mbps to 7 Mbps.* Whether you're banking online, streaming a video or booking a hotel, now you can do it even faster — at no extra cost.

Enjoy your new speed. Thank you for "choosing" Rogers.

*Download speeds may vary with Internet traffic, server or other factors."

[Graph showing average broadband speeds by country.]

Michael Geist: "As measured by price per megabyte - effectively the price for speed - Canada ranks 28th out of 30 countries, ahead of only Mexico and Poland. This may be the most telling metric, since it confirms that Canadians pay more for less."
robotnik2004: (Mr. Howell)
Paul Ford is amusing me / reminding me of [livejournal.com profile] jeffwik / reminding me of Ferdinand Klotz, which all three amount to the same thing:
If we have a child and the rats do not eat it first I will teach her (or him) to fear Sting.

"Be good," I will say, "or Sting will come with his lute."

"Where does Sting live?" the kid will ask.

"He dances alone in fields of gold. When he sings you fall asleep and die. But if you listen to good music he can never come close. For he is so afraid."

"Does he eat you?"

"No, because he is vegetarian. In Greece he is called Borefeus."

"I hate Sting!"
Thanks for all the thoughts on World of Warcraft, by the way. I'm still wrestling with the article (It's hard to summarize 5,000+ years of human play in 1,500 words, go figger!), but you've been a big help. Though I still kind of need a current events hook, and I had NO INTENTION of emboldening you nerds to post gibberish conversations like this.
robotnik2004: (Default)

Calvert 'Larry 'Bud' Melman' DeForest, RIP

I need to play with the template of this blog so I can elegantly post quick little one-line links to things that amuse me, a la the New New sidebar on the old Old is the New New. Then I can resume linking to things like these:

  • I have to admit I thought Twitter was a pretty stupid idea until I saw this, which almost makes living in the future worthwhile.
  • Edit: Taxipunk is the new Clockpunk is the new steampunk. (“You can now create new subgenres of speculative fiction by simply putting “punk” after anything… Taxipunk delves into the sociopolitical ramifications of taxicabs existing in places and times that, in actual history, did not benefit from taxicabs.)
  • Calvert “Larry “Bud” Melman” DeForest is dead, alas.
  • But did you ever think to ask why Fonzie jumped that shark?
  • Confidential to Planetary readers: a mathematician in Maryland appears to have mapped the Snowflake.

Oh, right: those papers I was grading.

Cross-posted from Old is the New New. Comments welcome.
robotnik2004: (Default)
I posted this way down in the comments to [livejournal.com profile] jeffwik's LJ, but it may be of interest here, in re: the current burblings of the gaming blogiverse, or in re: whatever other internet arguments you may happen to be or become embroiled in.

At JOHO last week, (that's "Journal of the Hyperlinked Organization"), Dave Weinberger linked to some discussions of New York Times editor Bill Keller's complaint that on the internet, arguments never end:
There is a great thread that starts with Jay Rosen picking up on Bill Keller (editor of the NY Times) complaining that in the blogosphere arguments never end. It's a throwaway phrase, but Jay is right to pick up on the mindset in which it's a plausible complaint. Jeff Jarvis solos on the melody, and Scott Rosenberg brings it on home with the observation that the complaint is really about who gets to end the argument.

This is one of the top five most important effects of the Internet*: We are not going to settle our arguments. There's enough room on the Web to permit that. You argue for a bit, maybe you learn a little or maybe the argument hardens your position so that you become a little stupider, and then you move on to something else. That's why the "conversation" meme is so powerful: Conversations are explorations, not title fights.

The big question is whether we can adapt this lesson of the Web to the real world with its finite space and inescapable proximities. If we're never all going to agree, can we at least all keep talking?

*No, I don't have a list of the top five. I was bluffing. [Original Post.]
I like that. Make of it what you will.
robotnik2004: (Default)
I want somebody with a paid LJ account to set up a poll / betting pool: When will Snakes on a Plane and all related references cease to be funny? Because it still cracks me up (because there's all these snakes see... and they're on a plane) but I can feel it waning.

So what do you think? When do the snakes jump the shark?
  • It happened the instant I posted this.

  • The moment the SoaP phenomenon is mentioned on NPR.

  • The moment the SoaP phenomenon is mentioned on the CBC. (Bonus points if Cameron Philips calls it "Snakes on Planes" or "The Snake Plane" or otherwise gets it wrong.)

  • The day the movie comes out.

  • About twelve minutes into the movie, opening night, after you've dropped $10 on a ticket and $5 on snax, and everyone cheers when the title comes up, but then the movie itself starts, and the realization sets in that this is a crap movie, it's always been a crap movie, made by the star of Sphere and the director of Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco and the writer of Mermaid Chronicles Part 1: She Creature, and yeah, it's gonna take a hell of a lot more than ironic amusement at the title to carry you through 86 more minutes.

  • When I'm visiting my parents next Christmas, and my Dad says, "Hey, guys, check out this great Samuel Jackson movie I rented for us all to watch!"

  • When I'm walking down the street wearing my SoaP t-shirt, feeling like an ironic hipster, and I run into a friend wearing his Vote for Pedro t-shirt, and we chat a little about our mortgages, and then I realize all these kids born in the 1990s are laughing at us, and I shake my fist and try to chase them but get winded after half a block, and also my son/daughter spits up all over me.

  • Never! What is funny now will always be funny!! ALWAYS!!!*

This, on the other hand, will never stop being funny, ever.



(Via Chris' Invincible Super-Blog.)

Edit, redited to be less bitchy: It's been brought to my attention that, hard as it is to believe, some people never thought SoaP was funny. They are of course entitled to opinions. Part of the appeal of SoaP is (was?) the randomness of it: if it hits your brain at the right angle, it cracks you up, and if it doesn't, no amount of explaining it will make it funnier. But I did delete some comments along the lines of "it was never funny", because I thought they'd offer little help to those of us who do/did find it funny in analyzing the complex neurocultural chemistry of when it will cease to be so. That was probably rude, and I apologize, but come on: snakes! On a! And so forth!

*See also: "Yeah, baby! Do I make you horny?"
robotnik2004: (Default)


"Remember the Forge Diaspora, and how wonderful it was supposed to be? And yeah, it's wonderful now. Anything can be wonderful for a few months, on-line. Guess what - I can see where it's going, it's going straight to dogshit. ... Unless you want the Forge Diaspora to result in five or six arid little ego-based islands, then drop by the mainland regularly and post."

That was Ron Edwards, in a rare moment of testiness back in August. I don't have any particular reason to repost that. Mostly, I like his phrase for the gaming blogosphere: "arid little ego-based islands." Except that there are, by my count, now about a zillion of those islands out there, anything but arid, with volcanic activity bringing dozens more to the surface every day.

But I'm making a note to myself that January 31, 2006 is the day I gave up trying to keep up with it all. See, I've got the RSS aggregator and the del.icio.us account and the Forge and RPG.net and the number of LJ friends I feel compelled to read inches ever upwards towards triple digits and I listen to [livejournal.com profile] judd_sonofbert and [livejournal.com profile] ptevis's respective podcasts (which are great, btw, I'm not bitching about quality here, just quantity) and now people are putting actual game sessions online and I log on tonight and this Story Games forum, which twenty minutes ago I'd never heard of, is already a thriving community, like that scene in Tintin in America where they find oil, evict the Indians, and build a city before Tintin has a chance to change his chaps. It's too much!

As recently as, oh, about twenty-one minutes ago, I maintained the illusion in my mind that I might be able to keep tabs on all of it, not just reading it but posting ocassional roundups of links to good stuff at 20x20. My inspiration in that regard was Ralph Luker, a colleague at Cliopatria, whose "Things Noted" posts are nigh essential for keeping track of the equally sprawling history blogiverse. Granted, I almost never got around to actually posting any of these imagined roundups, but I've carried around the intent to do so for ages. Honestly.

Finding myself with a spare half hour and a handful of links, I thought I'd get started. See, there was this funny actual play thread at the Forge where the adorable dating rpg Breaking the Ice proved to be ideal for playing slashy fan fiction (in this case Supe/Bats), and [livejournal.com profile] ezrael is launching a Lexicon game with [livejournal.com profile] calamityjon, of all people, tentatively signed up to play (LJ worlds... colliding!), and Vincent Baker's once inexhaustible patience with newbies and naysayers finally seems to be running out, and I think it's hilarious that [livejournal.com profile] foreign_devilry wrote a real game in response to [livejournal.com profile] unrequitedthai's offhand lesbian stripper ninja rpg challenge. Plus I'm kinda curious about everyone's reaction to this little gem (via [livejournal.com profile] krustukles).

But it's too much! Ralph posts 3 or 4 times a day at Cliopatria. I'm never going to do that. And I guess I have to question my motives for wanting to. It would be nice if there was more traffic at 20x20. And it would be nice to be tight(er?) with some of the cool kid gaming blogger cliques. Vincent and Jonathan and Shreyas and Ben and Judd and Brand and Mo and Emily and Chad and [insert your name here, I'm just going off the top of my head, so don't feel hurt if you're left out, my whole point is there's too damn many of you to keep track of] all seem like smart, fun, cool people, and I would love to be be buddies with any of them. But it's not like the world's going to end if one gaming blog is a little less active, and if I'm just seeing Blogtown as a nicotine patch for the gaming I'm not doing, or for a social life that's taken a hit this year from work and the move... well, that way lies madness. So I guess I'm posting here to tell you that I'm not going to start doing something that you never knew I was doing or thinking of doing anyway. From your point of view: quel whoop. But from my point of view: big stupid weight off my shoulders.

That doesn't mean I don't want to talk about gaming. Geez Louise, when was the last time somebody posted a mash-up or a crazy Game I'd Like To idea around here?
robotnik2004: (Default)
While we're talking about great animal movies, past and present, is everybody out there aware of the onrushing steamroller of absolute awesomeness that is Samuel L. Jackson's Snakes on A Plane? As my friend Steve put it, "It's like if in 1976 you knew ahead of time that Star Wars was coming to change cinematic history and your own personal narrative. Like that, only more awesome because, let's face it: Star Wars? Not enough snakes." MAN TRUE.



(Does anyone remember the two Weekly Week headlines: 'SNAKES ARE EVERYWHERE!' and then the next week, 'SNAKES ARE NOT EVERYWHERE!'?)

Standing Up

Sep. 6th, 2005 01:58 pm
robotnik2004: (Default)
Wow. That is the longest I have ever gone without internet access. Except, I suppose, from birth until 1993. I still don’t have internet at home—or a @%#$! telephone—but finally my office is equipped. You might think I could have logged in over the summer at the library or something, but come now: a grown man doesn't blog standing up.

So. What did I miss in the last three months?

1999

Jun. 18th, 2005 11:53 am
robotnik2004: (Default)
Hey, kids: do you remember 1999?



Do you remember when there was a New Economy and we called the internet "cyberspace" and websites "new media" and the stock market was going up and up and up and "nobody can be told what the Matrix is" and every week another kid was a software billionaire? In 1999, half my students were cutting classes to sweet-talk venture capitalists and launch IPOs, and I thought about when I was 12 and split my time between playing D&D and programming Apple BASIC, but then I only kept one of those geeky hobbies going over the years, and in 1999 I asked myself, is it possible I backed the wrong horse?

Well, do ya? )
robotnik2004: (Default)
[Poll #450423]

BE HONEST! Or try to lie convincingly. We're all friends here.

Edit: Hmm. I think, based on the time that usually elapses between a post and its comments, some of you might be deceiving yourselves. No shame in that. I know I'd rather read what all of you are up to than work on the paper I'm presenting in Delaware next week. But I've been procrastinating a lot lately and I'm going to try to segregate my working and email/LJ/weblog time much more strictly in future.

Related Links:
robotnik2004: (Default)
I'm off to Canada, hunting for jobs, the most dangerous game of all. Everyone be good while I'm gone/there! (Alas, I won't make it to Toronto. Nobody seems to want me there. DRAMATIC SIGH.) [livejournal.com profile] ratmmjess, great to meet you! [livejournal.com profile] jeregenest, keep healing! Everyone else, go visit the Creationist Science Fair. Courtesy of my friend Steve (still LJ-less and couch-less, but now with pants).

Edit: Yes, the creationist site is a fake, but an elaborate one. Which is greater: the effort people will put into web hoaxes, or the crackpottery of creationists? Kind of an irresistible force/immovable object problem, come to think of it. I'm still amused by excerpts like this:

Patricia Lewis (grade 8) did an experiment to see if life can evolve from non-life. Patricia placed all the non-living ingredients of life - carbon (a charcoal briquet), purified water, and assorted minerals (a multi-vitamin) - into a sealed glass jar. The jar was left undisturbed, being exposed only to sunlight, for three weeks. (Patricia also prayed to God not to do anything miraculous during the course of the experiment, so as not to disqualify the findings.) No life evolved. This shows that life cannot come from non-life through natural processes.
robotnik2004: (Default)
The best LiveJournal you are not already reading belongs to: [livejournal.com profile] crisper.
robotnik2004: (Default)
So I've been slacking on LJ posts lately.* Not any more than usual, I guess. Pretty much exactly the same amount of slacking as usual. Yeah.

BUT, I have gotten hooked on del.icio.us, which is this social bookmark right-click weblog feed thing dealie [livejournal.com profile] bryant turned me on to a few weeks ago. (Hope that explanation wasn't too technical for you.) So now you can go to del.icio.us/robotnik, see, and you'll see all the websites that have held my spastic little attention for a moment or two over the past couple of weeks. Many links are just there for my own future reference, but there is some funny / interesting stuff there too, if you explore. It's like watching over my shoulder while I surf the web for you! And if you get your own del.icio.us account, we can subscribe to one another's feeds and have yet another fun & incestuous way of masking our deep, existential loneliness.

Off to Paris in three days. Bon voyagey!

*Though, to be perfectly honest, I think all of you have been slacking on comments to my posts. Seven measly comments for the Bon Jovi quiz? That was a work of bizarre dada-ist genius!

Edit the First: Note that you can scroll back through my del.icio.us/robotnik links by clicking on "Earlier" at the top of the page. I urge you to do so. Many of the boss links (**cough**HYPNO-TOAD!**cough) are from a few days ago or more.

Edit the Second: [livejournal.com profile] bryant, though drunk, is correct. If you make your own del.icio.us account, you must then tell us your user name. There's no way for us to spy on your linking habits otherwise.
robotnik2004: (Default)
I'm off to The Canada today for a vacation from my vacation. This weekend at Wolf Lake, next weekend in Toronto. Tough life, I know.

We played the first episode of Starchildren last night, and I certainly had fun but I also definitely felt like I could have done better. The players and characters were great but I handled the rules and rolls sloppily and was off my game in terms of playing NPCs. I've since realized a few things I was doing wrong with the rules, but mainly I just need to prep a little better. If everyone hangs in there I'm sure the pace will pick up as we figure out what the rules can do. Also, I was going to actually bust out my guitar at one point but with an actual musician like Dan there I totally chickened out. Also, any game would have trouble living up to a year or so of pre-game hype. Also, shut up and stop fishing so blatantly for reassurance, you big baby.

The game naturally led to discussion of Iggy Pop fan fiction. Here is the comic I mentioned last night. This is probably not the only Iggy Pop fanfic on the internet, but I suspect it's the only Iggy Pop fanfic composed in an IM conversation and then illustrated by a third party as a comic strip. Scatological and stupid, yeah, but some of us dig that sort of thing. It's really the glee of the teenage authors rather than the story itself that I like. To tell the truth, the original text may actually be funnier without the illustrations. And all of [livejournal.com profile] abescott's posts are like that. This argument about Vincent Gallo and Christina Ricci is another good example. An acquired taste, maybe, but he cracks me the hell up. MAN TRUE, as Abe would say.

That is all.
robotnik2004: (Default)
I read a Douglas Rushkoff piece today about the inefficiency of clinging to digital "possessions" like files, MP3s, and the like. The practice of bookmarking hundreds of URLs for hypothetical future use was singled out for particular ridicule, since web search engines are generally much more efficient than the preposterous bookmark management interfaces in the major browsers. Thus chastened, I have just deleted about three years worth of "oh, I might want to look at that again" bookmarks.

Except... about half way through, that neurotic packrat instinct took hold, and I couldn't quite bring myself to delete them all. So instead I'm unloading a random selection on you, or on the LiveJournal servers to be precise.

Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here. Seriously. Don't Bother. )

Now my Favorites list is lean and mean, with only the dozen or so sites I actually visit on a regular basis. I have an RSS Aggregator and LiveJournal to bring me my brainless weblog content, and Google for everything else. I feel virtuous and clean.
robotnik2004: (Default)
This weekend's reading:
Douglas Thomas' Hacker Culture,
Ron Rosenbaum's Little Blue Box article,
Larry Lessig's The Future of Ideas,
Stephen Usselman's Regulating Railroad Innovation,
and Nightwork: A History of Hacks and Pranks at MIT.

What do these have in common? Read more... )
robotnik2004: (Default)
Curious about intellectual life at Harvard? Ever wonder how America's favored sons and daughters pass the time? Meet Strong Bad, the hottest meme since All Your Base within Harvard's ivy-covered walls.

A musical introduction to Strong Bad is here. And Strong Bad answers your letters and emails here. (My favorite so far is the letter called "Techno.")

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