Coming to terms with being human.


Wireless Recovery

New Orleans is blanketing itself in WiFi as a move towards recovery. What's more, it is initially free for everyone (in the future the network may be sold off to the private sector). The idea is that having an open medium for communication will stimulate growth in the devastated city.

It will be interesting to see what comes of such innovation. I have wondered how free community internet access could add to developing economies in Africa. Of course, the situations are vastly different. New Orleans is within a nation with advanced infrastructure. Yet, if it is found that the urban poor are helped in new ways, something helpful things could be learned.

In other news:

I enjoy novel attempts to wake people up to issues.
Scroll down for SPUMCO!



Still busy, stop bugging me!

Things are hectic right now. I don't know about you, but when I have a thousand things going on my memory starts getting taxed. So here are two types of memory that will keep going even when you and I are wandering down the side of the freeway in an Alzheimer's stupor.

First, cute monster memory.
Next, a little Lego nostalgia.



for checking if I'd updated.

I am off to my inlaws for the holiday. There is little chance that I will be visiting this site again before next week. More likely I will be pouring myself into a business project that I am attempting. More on that later.

Happy Thanksgiving my fellow countrymen and a fine week for the rest of you. For your entertainment, here's another of those games I am so fond of.


I've Got Nothing

Busy day today. Here are two links to satisfy your lust for content.

For the PSP users out there: Free Comics

Remember those fun paper robots from a month back? Here is some more papercraft. Having a paper Triumph makes you a rebel.


Weekly Scapegoat #2

Way to mess things up, Jeremy. Knowing the history of the Muslim Brotherhood, I understand why some may not desire their political power to grow. However, that does not justify violence in Egypt. Perhaps if government officials would actually help the people they are supposed to serve fringe groups wouldn't resonate with the public? In any case, bad show, Jeremy.


Talk to Me

I just read a really interesting article about language development. It reports on an experiment where two individuals need to develop a form of communication in order to solve a puzzle. The experiment itself is intriguing and yet I couldn't help wondering about it' s application in online worlds (neither could Clive Thompson).

I'd actually ramble on about the topic but the huge amount of caffeine I just ingested has suddenly scrambled my thought process. Off to Second Life, where messed up thinking is par for the course.

To make up for the lack of any original thinking in this post have some fun with today's link.

Super Amazing Funtime Go Go Link of Pleasant Feelings !!!: Dr. McNinja


The British Steven Hawking

Wait...Steven Hawking is British? Damn.

AT&T Labs have a Text to Speech Demo page that can be a lot of fun. I was going to do this entire post as audio using the Charles UK English voice but decided to honor their User Agreement.

Speaking of agreements, the EFF has taken apart Sony's most recent legalese. The direction the music industry has gone with copyright is just over the top. I've been slowly freeing myself from all of it; opting for Copyleft alternatives.

Mad Genius MIDI:
Create music with a program inspired by Steven Wolfram's, A New Kind of Science. I haven't struck gold with any of the tunes yet, but at least Sony can't club me to death for saving them to my harddrive.

Spell Check Error of the Day: suggested replacement for Wolfram... wolverine (That's pretty cool, bub.)


Death as a Feature

I like the Massively Multi-Player Online Role-playing Games. I am not playing any right now (they’re freaking addictive!) but I do keep up on their progress. I am looking for one to break the formulaic mold that has developed over the years (hack, slash, level up…repeat) with no success. So I have been thinking about a new approach to death that could shake things up.

Designers really struggle with player death. In the violent worlds of these games the necessary death of a player avatar and the need to keep the player playing can be a source of tension. Add to that the desire to make the brand’s story consistent. When Star Wars went Massive the decision to “clone” players back to life was controversial. Cloning technology is, of course, banned in the post-Clone Wars universe, so how are tens of thousands of players getting access to this technology? As if there weren’t enough problems in the world. This sort of difficulty crops up in all the games. How can you be killed in the most player friendly way possible? To my knowledge, all the Massives have settled on a resurrection based death system: and this causes problems.

Making death matter is important. Many of the most hated social problems in gaming are results of a weak reaper. In Groundhog Day, Phil Conners commits suicide repeatedly due to the effects of a time loop and the resultant immortality it produced. Isn’t it just as likely that you would kill others indiscriminately if Death took a holiday? I know I would.
Public Service Announcement: Stay away from me in the event of non-heavenly immortality

Well, In the low consiquence worlds of MMORPGs social problems like random murder happen all the time and chat based flame wars don't stop it.

Anyway, I have thought of a new death paradigm for MMORPGs. It’s based in reincarnation not resurrection. It goes like this.

Create an avatar. Play avatar. Eventually get hacked/fireballed/etc to death. Create new avatar with only a remnant of the past avatar’s stat and skill set to build on. Continue.

A reincarnational system makes death matter. As a result, player interactions would develop differently in these games than in resurrection games. Gamers would think twice about attacking someone if their present avatar is at all interesting. Or perhaps players would care more about the path of their experience than the actual character they are playing. Players may also be more likely to experiment with various types of avatars, since the time spent playing something new isn’t absolutely wasted, but is folded into the experience of the next avatar.

The necessary rethinking of the game experience could result in a new genre of game. Game balance would dictate a less deadly world (creating a new avatar every few hours would be pretty lame). Adventures, instances, or what have you could be based around breadth of skill instead of levels. Due to the “remnant effect” of reincarnation, long time players could develop vast skill sets while still being low leveled in their present avatar.
So yeah, that’s what I’ve been thinking about. I could write a paper or two on the implications but I’ve already bored you all to tears. So to wrap this up, I think everything boils down to one lesson. Um...let's see.

Death is good?


Weekly Scapegoat

Life is complex. Often the reasons behind events are non-intuitive. Thankfully, human nature allows us to skip the hard work of thinking and embrace the first "explanation" of life's hardships that comes our way.

As a public service, I have decided to harness the power of simplistic thinking for good. Let me present, Paxton.

Paxton is the reason that France is experiencing riots. Now, I know you've heard some talk of racial and religious tensions. Perhaps some high and mighty person with a doctorate and an accent has mentioned cultural assimilation. Forget all of it. Blame Paxton.


Late Night Find

Weekend Game Update:

I was just introduced to a web experience developed for The Polyphonic Spree. I suspect it was designed by the same person (team? company?) that created the last click-puzzle I gave out. The similarities are vast. I enjoy the integration of the Spree's music into the game. The design and the music complement each other very well.

In any case, may this game get you through a few minutes of your weekend.

Purple Headed Blogging

5c11 isn't dead. I thought maybe the author was gone and his ghost was condemned to haunt this site as an IP visit but thankfully I was wrong.

It does make me wonder about the ghosts of the future. I foresee apparitions appearing before the pale glow of a monitor, forever clicking at a ghostly mouse. How many televisions will mysteriously switch to reruns of The Apprentice in the middle of the night? What will the Gap workers of tomorrow think when they find ectoplasm all over the credit card scanner? Thank God that we'll all be immortal by 2100, ending the spiritual population boom.

Today's spell check error: recommended change for blogging: flogging


Over the Hump

I've got the mid-week blues. Just in case any of you do too, here is a little game to distract you from life. I like the feelings the design invokes. It isn't Myst URU (I recently saw a still shot of the game and started misting up) but that may be a good thing for me.


I Voted for Teen Wolf

It's voting day in the land of The Running Man. I was able to check the box for Donna Frye (again) and then vote against everything Arnold wanted. Now, I pay attention to the issues but my real motive for going to the polls is a simple one. I just like getting the "I Voted" sticker to wear around. I would prefer indelible ink, which plays better to the camera, but I take what I can get.

So when was the last time you heard a Teen Wolf reference? I don't know if it's Michael J. Fox's impending death by shaking or what, but I've heard three Teen Wolf remarks this week. I've also read one, which was hilarious. By the way, we all need to heed Coach Finstock's advice.
There are three rules that I live by: never get less than twelve hours sleep; never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city; and never get involved with a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on her body. Now you stick to that, and everything else is cream cheese.


E...Snail Mail

Forbes has set up an email time capsule system. Write a letter, click the number of years you would like it to be stored and hope your gmail account isn't clogged up by then.

I'm not sure what is worth saying to my older self. I suppose it would be interesting to look back at the particulars of my present situation. No news clippings though. I can only assume that everything will be sufficiently archived by our Google overlords. Unless a 1984 type system rises up, in which case sending some present facts would be a great way to stand against the revisionist tyranny of the future. But then I'd get a bullet to the back of the head.

What do you think? Send my some questions I can answer. I promise to send the answers into the future.



Weekend News Break

A luxury cruise ship was raided by pirates on the 5th. This quote sums it up.
At first I didn't know what was going on, but when I saw the rocket launcher I started getting a bit scared.
All I can say is...wuss.



I, like so many of my fellow countryfolk, can only speak English. Oh, I know a phrase or two from various tongues but realistically after a polite, "hello, how are you" I'm basically spent. Bilingualism does not seem to be much valued in American culture. Which is why, while enjoying an old Deep Space 9 episode, I began to dwell on the question of American geeks and manmade languages.
We love the fake languages. Heck, I'll be hunted down and ritually killed just for referring to something like Klingon as "fake". After all, Klingon has its own institute. The bible's being translated into it. Klingon receives more air time than Navajo. Why question devotion to a language that will only help you understand fellow trek/ies/ers/freaks?

It's unfair, I admit. Europeans are as likely to geek out on fantasy languages. Look at Tolkein. He worked on elvish (in various forms and "historical" eras) for years and he didn't have any conventions to show off at. I suppose the modern form is Potter Pig Latin. Go hangout at any middle school playground and you'll find a coven of muggles in Hogwart's clothing sputtering nonsense with the flick of a pencil. You'll also get arrested for hanging out at a middle school playground.

Potter fans are a prime example of the difference between Klingon or Quenya and a more usual conception of what a language is. A standard language, for all it's exclusionary properties, develops and is passed on for the purpose of communication. Where as Klingon is learned for the purpose of clique formation. A cry of tlhIngan maH is comparable to fo' shizzle my nizzle. It fills the same psychological need as slang; the desire to signify bonding through exclusion.

Now, I'm all for bonding through exclusion. Which is why I have learned to write my full name in elvish (both Quenya and Sindarin...goosebumps!) You too can join the club. Think of it as inspiration for a tatoo. Maybe arching across the shoulder or banded across the arm?


The Only Thing I Have to Fear...

Call of Cthulhu is doing a good job of freaking me out. At this point my character is muttering to himself, nearly constantly. My favorite quote is, "What am I doing here?" which is a question more horror genre characters should ask themselves. It's also a question I should ask myself as a player.

As a card carrying member of the Anxiety and Paranoia Society of America, one may think that I wouldn't seek out blatantly stress provoking experiences. Yet, like so many people, I relish a good fright. In fact, that is my problem. My brain is hooked on stress inducing chemicals. Horror games just feed my need in a more interactive manner than a hammerhead. There are stressful games I defiantly would not play though.

If somebody created a Seinfeld RPG I would avoid it like the avian flu. Just the idea of being in a George Costanza situation makes me ill. I still can't watch an entire episode. Instead, I sit with the TiVo controller in my hand, waiting to fast forward past the most awkward situations, all the while laughing (much too loudly) as a coping mechanism. So pathetic...



I have often commented that, in the event of my death, I wouldn't mind being buried in a burlap sack with a tree planted over me. I like the idea of the tree gaining sustenance from my remains. I leave it to my wife, or friends, to choose the appropriate tree to represent my essence with the stipulation that it not be any form of fir. God forbid I be used as a Christmas tree!
It is now possible for me to add a new element to my burial fantasy. I have recently learned that Biopresence is willing to entwine my DNA with the tree of my choice. In their own words,
Biopresence creates Human DNA trees by transcoding the essence of a human being within the DNA of a tree in order to create "Living Memorials" or "Transgenic Tombstones". Biopresence is collaborating with scientist and artist Joe Davis on his DNA Manifold algorithm, which allows for the transcoding and entwinement of human and tree DNAs. The Manifold method is based on the naturally occurring silent mutations of base triplets, this means it is possible to store information without affecting the genes of the resulting tree.
I imagine a future, far beyond the Human DNA tree fad, when genetic scientists studying ancient flora uncover this hidden coding. What will they think? Actually, what if this is an explanation for the "junk" DNA in our own coding! Perhaps alien entrepreneurs have left bits of themselves for posterity. It may be that abductions are nothing more than alien relatives paying tribute to the dead ancestors whose memorial we are.


Steamboat Willie

It seems that mice sing. Their tunes are outside of our human hearing range, but the Guardian has clips none the less (scroll to the bottom of the article). Hopefully science will develop baritone rodents soon. Petco stock will soar with the announcement of new, improved Melody Mice. Besides, old houses will seem less haunted with singing in the walls instead of squeaks and skittering. Well, maybe that would still be weird but in a Haunted Mansion sort of way.