prog: (Muybridge)
Recently posted to Neil Gaiman's contact form, by Y.T.:

Howdy, Neil:

I have a short and hopefully amusing story for you.

A couple of years ago, the subway system here in Boston experimented with a new kind of advertising. It affixed a long sequence of images to a certain stretch of tunnel wall, and shone a strobe light on it. Commuters thus saw a charmingly atavistic moving-picture display as the train trundled past.

The experiment ended after a few months, and the subway stopped installing new advertisements. The last ad for it was for the film "Coraline", put into place 18 months or more ago. The MBTA apparently decided that it was cheaper to just leave the installation in-place rather than tear it down.

And so, Coraline and her friends have been peeping into the Red Line between Harvard and Central squares all this time, ending with the message "In theaters February 2009". The ad has grown increasingly dim with all the accumulated subway-dust, but it remains quite visible, and even attention-grabbing.

A friend [[livejournal.com profile] radiotelescope] suggested that Neil Gaiman might enjoy knowledge that the Boston Underground is haunted by a girl-ghost, dim and flickering but still animated and lively, to whom he is related. So, there you have it.
prog: (Default)
I shall be going to GameLoop on Saturday, the BarCamp-style "unconference" for game professionals. I had a great time at its inaugural event last year, and I've been especially looking forward to it since attending Boston BarCamp in April. I appreciate these sorts of nerdly social stewpots, and the combinatorial ideas that can come out of them.

Big fail, alas, on the work-goals I set for the weekend. I will have neither a finished Gameshelf episode, nor completed personal-bizcards. It's for the right reasons, I guess - I got surprised by a surge of Appleseed work this month, and have been putting in one fully billable day after another despite myself, with no desire afterwards to work on anything else. It's what I deserve to have stuffed into my gob after bitching so much about money problems. Here you go, then! Eat up. Oh well; they'll get done in the fullness of time.

And anyway, showing off one's own shit is a secondary reason to go to these things anyway. I go to meet interesting and smart people, and talk about games with them! My own status as a "game professional" status is very in-betweeny right now, but that doesn't mean I don't have a lot of stories to tell. Since last August, I've:

• Gotten serious about a commercial video game project, and then had it die in IP-licensing negotiation
• Launched an entirely new initiative in the online-gaming space, worked feverishly at it for six months, and am now (slowly but surely (but mostly slowly) ) looking for business partners
• Had more cockamamie ideas about new (as far as I know) styles of online gameplay that get me excited, and also reticent, because having some dork blather at you about their AWESOME completely unimplemented game idea is worse than someone telling you about this CRAZY dream they had last night, but anyway
• Revived Jmac's Arcade and the Gameshelf, and became filled with idears about what I'm going to do with the latter and how it will be different from what I've done so far

Yeah, so, it'll be a good time.
prog: (monkey)
Larry Wall, creator of Perl, is giving two free-and-open-to-the-public talks in Cambridge next week:

• Harvard, March 31, 5:30pm, Science D

• MIT, April 1, 4:30pm, room 34-101

According to the Boston.pm mailing list, the MIT talk will be on "Ballstic Programming", and the Harvard talk might be the same but nobody is totally sure.

I lean towards the Harvard one coz it's closer to me, but could go to either. Anyone want to join?
prog: (Default)
Congratulations, Philadelphia. We remember how it feels, over here. (And then some.)
prog: (monkey)
Anyone going to Ignite Boston 3, May 29 at Tommy Doyle's in Harvard Square? I probably will, and as usual would like to know if I'll recognize anyone there.

(The slideshow on that page features a photo of my talk from last year, while I'm making an odd gesture.)

Apparently they're taking over the whole pub this time so the acoustics will be better than in the second-floor space they used last year.

I just asked them if it's not too late to sneak in a dedication line about Erik into the materials somwhere. (And speaking of Erik, I recently emptied out a tote bag I picked up at the XML 2000 conference he and I attended in DC. It was full of drink tickets I totally failed to notice at the time. Too bad they're eight years past due.)

Called shot: I'll do some damn thing with the Volity web thing by the time Ignite happens. So that if anyone sez "Hey where's that thing you talked about last year?" I will have something to say.
prog: (Default)
It was thundersnowing around noon. By the time I took my lunch walk it was sunny and the dampness on the ground suggested that maybe it had rained a little several hours ago. Now it is dark and thundersnowing again.

Fine with me.

yay etc

Oct. 29th, 2007 12:23 am
prog: (jenna)
I just figured out what happened by somebody driving by saying WOOOOO

I read it as a validation that the 2004 win wasn't a fluke, which is nice. I'm ready for them to go back to being tragic heartbreakers for another 80 years if they want.
prog: (Default)
Other things I forgot in my description of last weekend:

Saturday attended that art salon in Union Square, which featured paintings and prints by [livejournal.com profile] cthulhia (including her celebrated Surly Pink Bunny Tarot), poetry by Mary and recorder music performed by Carolyn. The funny thing was that I knew all of them were up to something but I didn't quite realize until the weekend itself that they were conspiring on the same event (and had been for months). It was altogether delightful, made moreso by the surprise of my boneheaded last-minute realization.

Here's Mary's Flickr set of it.

Friday entertained [livejournal.com profile] lyricon and her dood as they passed through town en route to a friends' wedding in Vermont. We had yummy lunch at one of my favorite nearby restaurants, Porter Square's Passage to India, and had fun catching up and chatting through our respective grogginess, mine from cold medicine and theirs from Hawaii-to-Boston jet lag.

L's been a pen pal - there's really no better term for it - since we met online in 2000, over (what else) Looney Labs fan website administrivia. This was the first time we had actually ever met! Pretty good.



Had a very good Gameshelf shoot last night. I cross my fingers coz I haven't actually gone over the footage yet, but it went much more smoothly than April's shoot, and the crew already thinks it's the best work we've done. Some of the improvement was reacting to my list of criticisms from last time, but a lot also came from the fact that I scripted almost everything. We were able to film several takes of each bit and still wrap early.

The only completely unscripted bit was our do-over of the Joe-n-Jmac dialogue about the games, but I kept these to 5 minutes or less of raw footage each, mostly of Joe waxing on about the bits he liked. This was good because I'm worried that the episode is otherwise me talking and talking and talking so it's good to give Joe some time, and also in reviewing the March episode more recently I've decided that the weakest part of the show is the unscripted host dialogues. I still want them in there, but they shouldn't be longer than a minute or two, each. After that they're just dead boring, compared to the rest of the show.

I'm giving myself a deadline of, oh, October 15 to get this thing afloat. And in a beautiful world I'd like to have another whole ep done before the year's out, but let's talk about that when it's time.
prog: (doggie)
Some friends of mine are puttin on a multimedia art thingy Saturday evening in Union Square. Here is a FAQ assuring us that there will not be bad cheese. I'll be there! (Also [livejournal.com profile] cthulhia needs easels apparently.)
prog: (Default)
Ugh. I can't believe this is an AP headline.

"MIT coed with fake bomb 'art' arrested"

Problems here:
  • Co-ed is an outmoded term. I am pretty sure that the AP style guide explicitly stated this when I studied it over a decade ago. Do they make an exception for headlines? If so, what difference does it make what gender the person was?

  • There was no fake bomb. It was a sweatshirt modified to have a light-up message, and by all accounts one that the person frequently wore. But every other headline is saying the same thing, and such was the best general knowledge in the first few moments after the arrest, so I can give this a reluctant pass. I'll be pissed if it sez this in tomorrow's print newspapers, though.

  • I know that putting 'art' in quotes is ostensibly the headline writer saying that someone in the story is quoted as calling it art, but it ends up just sounding really snotty, as in my two year old kid could do that or whatever.
prog: (ambrose)
That last post reminded me:

For some time I've wanted to make a page on jmac.org about my freelance programming business, more than the front-page blurb and link to my resume that's there now. One element I'm missing from this is a nice photograph of myself, with a big fat alpha channel as a backdrop, letting me work it into any layout.

I am actually looking to lay down a little dough on getting a nice couple of smart-lookin studio-made portraits that I could bend to this sort of use. I have also run into multiple instances in the recent past where entities - conference applications, "professional" blogs, et cetry - have requested high-quality photos, and I've had nothing to offer (I attached a manky iSight photo to the ETech app).

Any of y'all have any recommendations of where I could make this happen locally? (This includes you yourself, possibly; I really have no idea.)

(Also held back from making the page by a basic hesitation to promote myself as a freelance programmer when my "real" job is being the president of Volity Games. But hell, if putting a lot of work into it would have a just-my-luck effect of causing Volity to suddenly get a million bucks, forcing me to abandon my freelance job? I wouldn't cry much.)
prog: (Default)
This snuck up on me. It's near North Station this time, 6 to 10, and they're promising a better venue, and a free beer.

I'm of two minds about it right now... my main motivator is just to passively troll for follow-up conversations from my May talk, and just staying reasonably plugged in to the local scene. But I don't have any active agenda.

Here's the speaker list. Any of y'all interested in going?

Edit: I am now planning on attending.
prog: (khan)
I had an especially fun game night at [livejournal.com profile] rikchik-n-Mary's last Tuesday, but I accidentally messed up [livejournal.com profile] magid's awesome hand at Gang of Four by not making an obvious move when I shoulda (I was enchanted watching people play Toppo in the other room and absentmindedly passed my turn), and allowing [livejournal.com profile] queue to go out a round or five earlier than he really shoulda, and sticking magid with 100,000 cards, making the game end earlier than it shoulda too. (Not to say [livejournal.com profile] queue didn't have his victory coming to him, but I kind of carved it up nice and served to him with garnish, which is not optimally fun.)



I enjoyed an especially fun brunch that [livejournal.com profile] cthulhia hosted in honor of [livejournal.com profile] zyxwvut's visit to the east coast. Lots of Rabbits/Arisia peeps in attendance and lots of good food that they broughted and I eated it. I volunteered to help with coffee, but through miscommunication I ended up leaving my own coffee equipment at home. I used Cth's equipment as if it were mine, even though it wasn't, and long story short ended up spilling scalding water all over my sous-barista [livejournal.com profile] classicaljunkie's right hand. I feel awful about this and have put myself at her beck and call while she convalesces. I would write more but she just told me to go fold laundry, so OK.
prog: (Default)
I am having a good day.

In the wee hours this morning I played two games of Tic Tac Toe against a bot with the Volity web client. The application is not in a state where anyone other than me can use it, but we have nonetheless acheived target depth. It's all lateral digging from here. I IMed [livejournal.com profile] radiotelescope around 1a.m. to share the moment. He said "WTF, mid-August?" and told me to go see a movie.

I've suffered discomfort from zits growing deep in my left ear over the past couple of days, and they burst while I was showering this morning. It was briefly horrible, but after spending a while mucking the ear out with Q-tips I felt my old self again. If it weren't for [livejournal.com profile] classicaljunkie I probably wouldn't have had any Q-tips on hand. Truly, this is what love is all about. (Actually now that I think back I originally bought the Q-tips to clean my keyboard. Wev.)

Walked to Kendall to squirrel the spoils of my July contracting work into the one ATM in town that accepts deposits for NetBank. Buoyant and listening to favorite podcasts, I thought upon Zarf's advice and looked at the movie theater, but they had no noon shows, so instead treated myself to lunch & beer at the CBC. I think I ticked off the server when I changed my mind about outdoor seating and asked to go inside instead; though the restaurant had few people in it he sat me next to a couple of grumpy people talking business, ignoring their cranky protests about why I had to sit there. I listened to my iPod and enjoyed my meal anyway, and said hello to [livejournal.com profile] modpixie on my way home.

Now it's pouring out even though I was walking through the sunshine. Who knows!
prog: (Default)
Not online for a compressedly extended period while I help [livejournal.com profile] classicaljunkie move in to her new place and go to shows and restock my own pantry and stuff.

Went to a Negativland show with [livejournal.com profile] cthulhia and another friend of hers last night. It was a lot of fun, if a bit long. I hadn't heard these fellows before, and I like em. As Cth predicted, they appeal to my appreciation of AV editing, since their whole act (at least in this show) involves putting together a meaningful sound collage on the fly, using a mix of analog decks and digital devices (and lots and lots of cassettes, LPs and CDs) arrayed all around them. Thematically it was a rich and lengthy pro-atheism rant, so not the most daring thing in the world to me, but it was definitely fun to watch them throw it all toegther.

I found that I couldn't stay standing more than a couple of hours and had to fade to the back of the room to sit through the last couple segments. Had a great time, modulo exhaustion and a little psychic pollution from drunk crazy people both inside and outside the club. (And did Central smell mostly of piss and barf back when I lived there? Probably. Yuck.)

Anyway, I hadn't been to the Middle East before, so I think that completes my checklist of Boston venues that have shown up (lightly disguised) in Harmonix games. (I did briefly visit the Rat while it existed, more than a decade ago, though I didn't go into the club per se. It's funny how the place has stayed legendary so long after its demise!) (I also met the late Mr. Butch while I was in there!)
prog: (Default)
Ricky's leaving tomorrow afternoon. It's been a fine visit. You may have seen a post I made a few hours before he showed up on Friday, detailing some concerns I had; several hours after meeting him at South Station he was acting so wonderfully together that I regretted the post, and eventually went back and privated it.

He did say a handful of politically poor things to me, but at the same time he mixed happily with every manner of humanity that the Greater Boston Area had to offer him. I think his notion of "Arabs" (as he calls them) is something like many Americans' notions of "Communists" a half century ago; not so much a type of person as a sort of invisible, monstrous infection which could be inside anyone, and you can't know one until the moment he's blowing himself up at you. So while he is quite terrified of the "Arabs" in his mind, this seems to have zero effect on how he acts towards or around anyone, regardless of appearance. My fears were groundless.

Some of my misgivings also because when he was at his worst, circa 1990, he was so racist that he was like a grotesque parody of a racist. He shocked my parents, who are racists of the more casual stripe that peoples' parents tend to be. He even made my dad's obligatory racist friend kind of uncomfortable, when he got going with his talk. I can't pinpoint when he gave all that up, but golly gee you would never imagine he was ever like that, to see him today.

More later; all is well, sleep time now.
prog: (Default)
Picked out new glasses yesterday. My insurance gave me a good discount, so I opted for an expensive and tiny pair of jet-black titanium wire-frames. When we went last week [livejournal.com profile] dictator555 had me right on the verge of picking up a phat black geek-chic number, but a chorus of alternate fashion consultants I had since sought drowned her out. (This started when the dictator took a cellphone picture of me with the phat frames in the opt shop and sent it to [livejournal.com profile] classicaljunkie, who then called me from the airplane to ask if it was a joke.)



On [livejournal.com profile] rikchik's advice I also visited the local Brooks' crafts aisle to buy 100 leetle zip-lock bags for a dollar and change, perfect for storing loose game bits. I immediately deployed a couple dozen to reorganize my BattleLore legions, storing between one and three complete multi-figure units in each baggie (one unit type per bag), and then dumping all of them back into the box. With those ridiculous plastic trays out of the way, the box now closes completely. Whee



Almost definitely not going to Gen Con, since I just missed the pre-reg window, making securing hotel space much harder and more expensive. It's too bad, because it didn't occur to me until way late to ask gamer-fiend [livejournal.com profile] classicaljunkie if she might want to go, and when she said yes, my answer is like "Well... ya can't." Feh.

Still, my mumbling about weird timing WRT the web client is still all true. When it's in beta you better bloody well believe I'll be tromping all over the convention circuit, OK?



Last night's HoRGN was fun, though the only game I played was Toppo (which I won once, woo). Delighted to meet [livejournal.com profile] jaq, who has just relocated from way out yonder to the Boston area.

Also got to play with an iPhone, and was excited to see that its version of Safari can run the DHTML Testbench demo just fine (I didn't think to check out the SVG version that [livejournal.com profile] daerr just posted, though). The iPhone will surely be my next phone, but I cannot say when that will be. Almost certainly not the device's first generation.
prog: (Default)
Today (GMT)'s Wikipedia Featured Article is Boston.

All locals should prepare themselves for a day-long memetic barrage. Whole swaths of the city may vanish and be replaced with JEFFRY SMELS LIKE PENUS. Do not be alarmed; normality will revert within seconds. Usually.
prog: (Default)
It has been a full weekend.

Saturday saw a lot of Volity hacking, breaking ground on the web client's server-side component. Once the complete skeleton is built I'll commit it as v0.1, but my fugue state didn't last more than a few hours and I had to be all "whoah" and raise my hands and step away before I could quite get there. Maybe I'll finish it today. Anyway, this will be the first Perl-based Volity sub-project that I've started since I got religion via Perl Best Practices, which taught me to start major projects by writing the tests (and, in so doing, designing the interface) first. So that's exciting. If you're me.



In the evening, [livejournal.com profile] radiotelescope, [livejournal.com profile] cthulhia and I saw Day Watch, the sequel to last year's Night Watch, a.k.a. the crazy Russian vampire movie that everyone except for me and the people I saw it with hated. I liked this movie too, though not as much as the first. It replaced the crazy imagery and action of the first movie with some fun plot development. I dug it, but I missed the other stuff. It also contained one completely irritating character, who (among other things) failed Mo's Movie Measure the instant that she was able. Worse was that this occurred during an egregious and overlong "Freaky Friday" sequence, and so I spent five or six minutes in a sustained wince in the middle of this otherwise enjoyable flick, and that was unfortunate.



Sunday was [livejournal.com profile] classicaljunkie's birthday! Following plans that [livejournal.com profile] dougo initiated a while ago, and also accompanied by Cthulhia, we drove to Kimball Farms to play miniature golf, or "putt-putt" as CJ calls it in her native language. I hadn't played since I was a kid but I'll be damned if I still didn't have reasonably good chops for it. My friends laughed when I said it was all the golfing video games I play, but I wasn't entirely joking! The place has two courses, and we played both, with me winning the first round and CJ the second (after Cth left), though the point spread was fairly tight.

The courses were enjoyable but rather bland, with one real standout whose like I had never seen before: one hole split in a vee a few feet away from the tee, with one arm snaking towards the cup in the usual fashion, and the other dumping into an artificial stream. As it turns out, the best solution involves purposefully putting into the water, which carries your ball under a platform and through a hidden tube, ejecting it right at the cup. But there's no explicit documentation about this; you either need to watch someone do it, or be intrepid enough to figure that there had to be some reason for the hole's stairway-to-nowhere design, making the leap of faith yourself. Doug was the brave one in our party, and he and I both got holes in one.

The rest of the course was really nothing special, but I just couldn't shut up about that one hole. Great design!

Also did some unexpected networking: the dad of the family playing behind us turned out to be a publisher of some computer and video game magazines from the 1980s and 90s that I loved as a kid! He couldn't help but overhear Doug and I talk about Volity and iPhones and such, and we chatted for a while. he was interested to hear about my startup, so I need to email him a little follow-up today. Had no business cards on hand, but wrote my info on the back of an extra scorecard for him.



Then we went to dinner with [livejournal.com profile] dictator555, at Pigalle, in the Boylston vicinity. This was the first time I'd really experienced a fancy-dan restaurant where you pay exorbitantly for very little edible mass. It felt like something from a New Yorker cartoon. I ordered a $15 a menu item describing itself as gnocchi, and it meant this quite literally, featuring a gnocchi, one single piece, on a little bed of vegetables; an island in an otherwise large and empty plate. I did appreciate this, though perhaps not in the way they meant me to.

It was delicious, what there was, and I also quite enjoyed the sampling that my dining companions allowed me from their dishes. I said that I'd consider returning the next time I felt the need to really impress someone.

T minus 24

May. 29th, 2007 12:35 pm
prog: (Default)
The Ignite Boston agenda is up. There will be 24 speakers! Now I know why they asked us to keep it to five minutes.

My bit is right in the middle of the pack.

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