Posts concerning weekly

“Rain Bridge”

22:55 31 Mar 2013

The rhythm of the drive over the bridge was different. The tempo was similar to that of any slow day, but torrential rain an hour earlier had added a new beat.

Now each segment of the bridge imposed its full three dimensions on those crossing: road hiding the bay below and ceiling hiding the sky above, struts and emptiness and landscapes to the left and right, and curtains of water to the front and back.

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16:40 24 Feb 2013. Updated: 14:57 05 Apr 2013

There had been rumors of war, fears that the conflict raging to the south and east would reach out for us, but we didn’t expect anything to happen soon. As I went to bed that night, I felt a mild unease, a concern about what the next months would bring.

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“Morodin and the Thorn of Nothing”

23:54 17 Feb 2013. Updated: 09:35 15 Mar 2013

The shovels made steady progress. Sern and Jerym, the two locals I’d hired to dig, grumbled at my not helping, but digging is what I was paying them coin for. I needed to be free to keep an eye on them both, as they wouldn’t have been there with me if they’d been trustworthy. The lanterns I’d brought provided enough light, and the pile of dirt to one side grew until there was a solid noise, wood struck by metal.

I stood. They looked back at me, and I told them to clear off all the dirt first. More grumbling, but they did it, and when I nodded they levered the wood apart, ripping it up and revealing the body inside.

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“How Afuegan Lost his Eye”

23:32 10 Feb 2013

In the pantheon of old Athrai, still one of the dominant Q’Resti faiths, Afuegan, brother to the god of war Atargan, is the god of archers. Afuegan is also the god of accuracy, the pursuit of excellence for its own sake, and monomania.

His singularity of focus, and his occasional blindness to larger concerns, are both represented by the fact that he is missing an eye. This is one account of how he lost it.

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2012 Winter Holiday

17:13 16 Dec 2012

Light posting for the next while, because I’m on vacation. I hope I see you over the holidays; either way, have fun!

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What I Want From “Bookmarks”

23:50 09 Dec 2012

I mentioned last week that I wanted to work on “better bookmarking” as my next coding project, basing my approach off of my own thoughts and recent Mozilla research. Now I want to examine what that project might be like.

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Too Many Backups?

22:55 25 Nov 2012

Given how often I’ve stressed the need to back up your stuff, it may seem odd for me to claim that it’s possible to have too many of them. But in some senses it is, which is why I’m writing this post as I’m copying files to my main hard drive from a virtual machine running Ubuntu that’s mounting an OpenBSD drive via a USB-SATA adapter[1].

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Tools for Writing reStructuredText in Vim

22:43 07 Oct 2012. Updated: 21:55 25 Oct 2012

I switched to writing in reStructuredText in mid-2009, and to writing in Vim in early 2010. Since then I’ve made a lot of tweaks to improve editing efficiency, and eventually collected these in a Vim plugin (and a Python script). The following discussion of that plugin might be of interest to anyone concerned with writing efficiency and/or editor customization.

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“The Unquenchable Torch of Kelera”

23:49 30 Sep 2012. Updated: 00:53 01 Oct 2012

This longsword is the same blade referred to in older Issilanth texts as “The Firedemon’s Tooth”, as can be seen by comparing descriptions from historical sources.

This is a description from private letters during its possession by the Kelera family:

My visit to Yeemn’s chambers did not go as well; his response to the absence of my maid was to play a trick upon me wherein he took his family’s sword (a prized possession, apparently) directly from the fire, where it had been since before my entrance, and against my will pressed it to my fist—there is no injury, for the sword was somehow cool to the touch. He laughed and told me that it “likes the fire”, and that its sheen was whiter than that of a normal sword, and showed me the glow from letters near the hilt. I could not make them out, but thought they spelled a name beginning with “W”. I did not care for his trick, which frightened me badly and made it ever clearer that unlike his brother Yeemn remains a boy, but conceded that the blade was an excellent one and remarkably sharp—particularly if it was, as he claimed, hundreds of years old.

—Private letters of Seev Denina, 1082 IY.


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Andy Murray Finally Wins a Grand Slam

16:04 16 Sep 2012

The US Open overran its schedule for the fifth year in a row, and once again the men’s final was on a Monday. It was also Andy Murray’s fifth chance to win a Grand Slam final, and this time he took it, defeating defending champion Novak Djokovic 7–6 (10), 7–5, 2–6, 3–6, 6–2.

Further, it was the first time a player from the United Kingdom has won a Grand Slam title since Fred Perry’s US Open win in 1936[1]. More significantly for modern men’s tennis, it meant that for the first time since 2003, all of the Grand Slams have different champions, with the Australian Open, the French Open, and Wimbledon having gone to Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer respectively[2].

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Text Advocacy

14:11 09 Sep 2012

I use plain text formats for all of my writing, and you should at least consider doing the same.

By “plain text” I mean not only a text (as opposed to binary) file format, but also something that is plainly readable when simply listing the contents of the file—that is, a format you don’t necessarily need a specific tool to read. Such formats are more flexible, more robust, more malleable, and more future-proof than more complicated alternatives.

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Breaking Bad Remix Video

12:30 02 Sep 2012

Don’t watch this if you haven’t seen seasons one and two of Breaking Bad yet.

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Spit (AKA Speed/Slam/Stress)

20:15 19 Aug 2012

Spit is a two-player card game played with a standard 52-card deck. It is a game of speed, and is conceptually similar to a competitive two-player version of patience. The rules I lay out below are close to the Irish two-handed version, with minor tweaks that evolved along with intense play of the game. This is one of my favorite card games.

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Androids in Alien and Prometheus

23:55 24 Jun 2012. Updated: 01:25 25 Jun 2012

(Spoilers for Alien and Prometheus, clearly.)

What is an android? The first Wiktionary definition is “a robot that is designed to look and act like a human (usually male)”. Looking like a human is the easier of the two components, particularly when not in motion, despite the potential difficulties in artificially replicating skin in a convincing manner. The real difficulty is acting like a human. Our stories are full of creatures (döppelgangers, aliens, golems[1]) that look like use but are not us, and this familiarity with the concept may mask how difficult accomplishing such a thing would be—an oversight that forms a core weakness in Prometheus.

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Nadal Hits 7-11

22:49 11 Jun 2012

Today, one day behind schedule[1], Rafael Nadal won his record[2] seventh French Open, breaking a tie with Björn Borg. He also gained his 11th Grand Slam title, tying Borg and Laver. He also got back on track in his pursuit of Federer for the all-time Grand Slam record—and at the moment it looks as if he could catch him simply competing at Roland Garros alone[3].

He defeated Novak Djokovic in the final, halting a couple of streaks in their rivalry: Djokovic had won seven straight finals against Nadal, and had defeated Nadal in the previous three Grand Slam finals. Perhaps more significantly, he prevented Djokovic from becoming the first man since Rod Laver to hold all four Grand Slam titles at once, and from completing his own career Grand Slam.

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“End After End”

23:32 27 May 2012

Bethany couldn’t believe they would actually kill her. For what? In some kind of insane ritual? They looked like cheap horror extras, with a cramped basement for their stage and an altar that was despite its appearance certainly not solid stone.

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“Dream, 2012-05-05 04:21”

10:40 06 May 2012

Afternoon, a sunny suburban backyard. In the background, fluttering like clothes on a line, is a large sheet of white paper. Unintelligible writings in blue and black cover it. In the foreground, white-shirted Benedict Cumberbatch[1] drinks from a beer bottle, talking to unseen others.

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23:42 29 Apr 2012

Caroline gestured, and the two acolytes came forward, hustling Bethany between them. She was gagged and her arms bound behind her, but she tried to struggle anyway, her eyes wide and wild. While they tied her to the slab, Caroline began lighting the candles in sequence, waiting for them to finish and step outside the circle before she lit the final one.

Agent Gastusky reversed fast, too fast, out of the driveway. 20 minutes of sneaking around, 10 minutes of brandishing a gun and threatening, and finally the realization that someone had transposed numbers on the address. Someone along the chain, or him, he couldn’t swear it wasn’t his mistake. He yanked the wheel around and shifted into first, flooring it. The delay likely meant the girl’s death, and if she died he knew he’d have to account for it in his report—and that no-one would likely own up to the address mistake.

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PixelJAM’s Snowball

23:21 22 Apr 2012

PixelJAM won me over with Dino Run, and I like pinball games—and who doesn’t like snow?—so I was happy to see them take on the genre in their own way with Snowball, which feels more relaxed than your usual pinball game. Oh, and snowballs are apparently magnetic.

(Blog posting of the usual length will hopefully resume next week.)

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Impressions of the Grand Canyon near Supai

23:57 15 Apr 2012. Updated: 02:16 16 Apr 2012

The very first time I saw the Grand Canyon, it had a helicopter in it, rising above the sides. I was looking from the car as we approached, and the blue and white helicopter was there, hanging in space, space with walls of rock behind it, white and ochre stone.

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Some Clues to How Creativity Works

20:43 08 Apr 2012

Last Wednesday I went to a talk by Jonah Lehrer on the topic of creativity, and left it feeling quite inspired. This post is a brief summary of why.

(Any inaccuracies in this outline are my own, as there is no guarantee that I understood what Jonah Lehrer intended to convey; I intend to read his book Imagine: How Creativity Works for more insight, but have not yet done so.)

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Considerations for a Space Opera Setting: Neuroscience

21:07 26 Feb 2012. Updated: 23:47 02 Mar 2012

A clear implication of my having settled on some kind of “bioAI” in my examination of AI in the setting is that neuroscience must be quite advanced indeed, given that a strong understanding of brains and how they work would be necessary to bio-engineer them. In the gap between bio-engineering and “pure” manufacture there are clearly many mysteries, but even so, the setting’s neuroscientific understanding must be formidable.

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Q’Rith: Sketch of a New Town

23:37 23 Oct 2011. Updated: 21:23 14 Apr 2013

While filling out background details for an upcoming episode of my D&D campaign, I came up with this town and its history, which I thought worth sharing. It’s strongly rooted in Q’Rith, but could easily be transplanted to another setting, and it looks promising to me as a potential base for a series of adventures, although I’m not sure I’ll actually use it as such.

It’s a harbor town of about 3000, far north of any other urban areas, independent, surrounded by sparsely-populated cold country, and run by a group of six, its founders.

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