Archive for October, 2005

Toy of right now

Saturday, October 29th, 2005

Hat-tip to HomicideCFDG is a very cool hybrid of Logo and, uh, a context-free grammar parser. Slightly reminiscent of Processing, but more vectory.

Starship Troopers

Saturday, October 29th, 2005

Nearly a year after I left, Starship Troopers is finally available for you to buy in the shops. Lacking the requisite ninja kickass PC hardware necessary to play it, I’m unable to comment on whether it’s actually any good or not (and even if I did have the requisite hardware, I’m pretty sure I’d say it’s awesome either way, because even without the last year I was still involved in at least 50% of the development so I’ve got a certain amount of pride resting on it :) The screenshots over at IGN look very sexy indeed, anyway.

But anyway, go and buy it and pay the wages of my friends over at Strangelite.

J “XTREEEEEM” Allard

Wednesday, October 26th, 2005

The thing is, I thought it was impossible to take the piss out of J. Allard, given just how effective he is at taking the piss out of himself. But apparently it is. Weebl is a hero.

nayfnu is the most important person who has ever lived

Monday, October 24th, 2005

We all know that nayf is awesome. But what we perhaps didn’t know is just how awesome he is. I’ve managed to prove that, actually, he’s the most important person who has ever lived.

Nayf claims that every time (well, it’s happened three times out of three so far) he steps out of a bus shelter, the rain slows or stops completely. He also claims this is a significant occurrence. Fortunately for us, there are methods we can use to determine if this is significant. We’re going to use a test called the chi-squared test: it allows us to test observed results against a null-hypothesis and see if they differ significantly. In this case, our null-hypothesis would be that a person stepping in or out of a bus shelter should have no discernable affect on the weather whatsoever. So, with that in mind, we can construct the following table:

Weather affected Weather unaffected Total
Observed 3 0 3
Expected 0 3 3
O-E 3 -3 0
(O-E)2 9 9
((O-E)2)/E 3 ∞+3

To perform a chi-squared test, we compare the value of the sum of all ((O-E)2)/E with values in the chi-squared table with appropriate degrees of freedom – in this case, we have one degree of freedom. For it to have a probability of 5% we would expect a value of 3.84. For it to have a probability of 1%, we would expect a value of 6.64. We have a value of ∞+3, which isn’t actually on the table, but extrapolating I think it’s reasonable to assume that the probability of this result occurring randomly is pretty low. Infinitely low, in fact. More than infinitely low – because our value is ∞+3.

So, this make the result more than infinitely significant – which, of course, means that Nayf himself must also be more than infinitely significant – and thus, the most important person who has ever lived, ever. All hail Nayf!

Colour pictures of Russia circa 1907

Friday, October 21st, 2005

Some Russian photography worked out that if he put coloured filters in front of his camera and took three photographs of the same scene, he could reconstruct a coloured image using only B&W film. The results are here and are very, very cool indeed.

More truth from the BHT

Thursday, October 20th, 2005

Josh speaks the truth.

Louis Theroux: The Call of the Weird

Tuesday, October 18th, 2005

I meant to write this a while back, but as is the way, I forgot. Anyway.

Louis Theroux is one of the best makers of documentaries about people in the world, ever. His disarmingly warm and charming style enable him to get much closer to his strange – and often disturbing – subjects than a mainstream journalist would perhaps be able to. He is a master of the art of remaining just distant enough from someone to dissociate himself from them yet allowing them to feel they can trust him – and in many cases, this gives them just enough rope to hang themselves in spectacular fashion. In the cases where his subjects aren’t headed for the gallows from the off, we get an unusually intimate – and often unexpectedly moving (see his documentary about the Bunny Ranch in Nevada) – view of their life.

And this, in a way, is the biggest problem with this book.

“The Call of the Weird” is a followup to his Weird Weekends TV series. It’s ten years since the series was first broadcast, and a lot has changed in America and in its relationship with the rest of the world. The premise of the book is that this anniversary is a good opportunity to revisit the people Louis met during that series – prostitutes, UFO nuts, Nazis, Gansta Rappers, fringe religious groups and more – and find out how they’re getting on. Each chapter follows a set formula – focussing on a particular individual, we get a recap of Louis’ first meeting with them, then a story about what happened when he tried to track them down, and finally (assuming he finds them) an update on what they’re up to now.

And, in itself, it’s an enjoyable read. It’s entertaining, moving, and funny, and easily and confidently sits on the bookshelf alongside similar books by the like of Jon Ronson. But there’s always this nagging feeling that it could be so much more: and the reason for that is that it’s just not the same as the TV series. He’s a perfectly good writer – entertaining, balanced, literate and still hugely characterful – but his true genius really shows as a broadcaster: the writing is good, but you get so much more when you see him interacting with people. Additionally, you get the feeling that, for many of his subjects, the glitzy pull of the TV camera is far more appealing that the relative mundanity of the written word, and without that camera over his shoulder, Louis is perhaps unable to get some people to open up (or, perhaps, perform?) as much as he usually would.

But ultimately, this is like criticising a Ferrari 360 for not being as good as an Enzo. When placed next to his TV work, it falls short – but don’t let this put you off, because it’s still absolutely a very good book indeed.

Addendum

Tuesday, October 18th, 2005

I saw Wallace and Gromit last night. It made me laugh.

So, er, that’s a big fat “no”, then.

People that I saw or spoke to on my way to work

Monday, October 17th, 2005
  • Endless scores of rich young mothers pulling up in BMWs and Mercedes to drop their kids off at the nursery on Wilbraham Rd.
  • Jobsworth Stagecoach bus driver who wouldn’t let us off the bus until he was pulled up exactly next to the stop, meaning we had to sit pointlessly in a queue for 5 minutes.
  • Confused but cute goth/punk girl looking lost around Picadilly, who eventually ran off down Market St and veered into HMV, presumably to take refuge in amongst the heavy metal/alternative music section.
  • Crazy Japanese dude whistling along to the music on his walkman who made me smile and made me think I was in Tokyo again for a minute or so.
  • Simon from my office who walked straight past me without noticing, and then said hello to me once I got into work without even realising he’d passed me only seconds earlier.

Check back to see if my life has got any more exciting tomorrow!

Santa Claus

Monday, October 17th, 2005

Apparently, Santa is now American, leaves messages on my answerphone and wants me to ring a number in Ghana so that I can “win” a “free” holiday in Disneyland.

I think I’ll pass on that one, thanks.