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Game Author Roundup: One of my favorite things on the web is the webpages of people who wrote famous pieces of software (usually games, as it turns out) back in the pre-web era. If they humor me by putting up a little page about what it was like to write the software, I'm happy. If they remain obsessed with the software that brought them transient fame, and can talk of nothing else, then I start to worry a little, but so far I don't think that's happened.

I've got several of these websites and I'm thinking of doing one every once in a while as an NYCB mini-feature (suggestions for mini-feature title welcomed). Today's entry is one I just found: Jeff Lee, one of the authors of Q*Bert, has a Q*Bert page. I have never been any good at Q*Bert, but I've always admired its sheer strangeness and eclectivity, and the page demonstrates how this occurred: it looks to have been designed by a committee of geeks with no management pressure to make it coherent and marketable. Other interesting fact: an early version of the Q*Bert code was equivalent to that OpenGL screensaver with the Slinkies.

: Because I live in a fantasy world, I like making up political systems. Here's one I call the "single transferable vote" system[0]. This is a direct democracy in which, for any electoral decision, you can either vote or designate another person as your proxy. A proxy gives up their right to a secret ballot in exchange for having their vote multiplied by the number of people who chose them as their proxy. If you want the participation of direct democracy you can vote on all decisions yourself, or you can designate as a proxy a politician whose stances approximate yours, and just keep an eye on that politician.

I know many noted political theorists read NYCB, and I'm interested in hearing what these people think of this system. Is it interesting at all? How vulnerable is it to attack (assuming it's implemented well)? The main problem I can see is coercion to designate someone as your proxy.

[0] Ha ha.

: Got some good work done on the configuration framework; I was able to move all the NewsBruiser-specific stuff into a helper class, and now I've got a generic framework that I can turn into something usable for my talk. The generic library is called "I Want Options".

: This has been unobtrusively hanging around on the front page for a while now, but I should mention it because I generally mention such things. You can now receive NYCB by email every night, thanks to Bloglet. This is the realization of the hosted email RSS aggregator I mentioned earlier. "I'll never need to visit Crummy again!", said Manoj. If this idea appeals to you, go to the bottom of the front page and sign up. Heck, you can do it here!

: Pete Peterson II reminds me of the Canadian army surplus Geiger counter that's long been a mainstay of the American Science and Surplus catalog. Since its power source is obscure and you could almost get a new Geiger counter for what they want for that one, it's not surprising that they haven't sold many--as they say, it's mainly useful for its retro cool.

I got my AS&S catalog in the mail yesterday, and I'm looking forward to another romp through the cheap but useless. I recommend signing up for the catalog; it's a lot of fun, and they don't seem to sell your address to other catalog companies.

Pete Peterson II is also in the enviable position of having the actual AS&S store "just down from the street" from where he lives. I used to imagine the AS&S store as an enormous warehouse in the middle of an Illinois cornfield, maybe next door to a pesticide reseller with a corrugated metal roof, but Pete says "it's just a medium sized store inside a strip mall that is wall to wall packed with stuff."


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