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: "We are no bug to no one."

Oh No, It's Devo NewsBruiser!: 1.8 is out, with hot file upload action. Unlike with previous versions of NewsBruiser, I've been using the (effectively) 1.8 code for a week, so you have more cause than usual to think it stable.

So far I've recruited Brendan into my conspiracy to commit themes. Any other takers?

: I sometimes have stupid crises, which you never see, about posting links dealing with something I found on some other weblog. For some reason I feel that this is illegitimate, even though it's obviously not! Anyway, today's edition of such links comes via CamWorld. It's the cutest little thing you've ever seen[0]: Javascript programs whose only control is a form submission button and whose display is the text on that same button. My favorite is "Happy Eater", the game of fructophilia, possibly because it brings new life to the smiley idiom. In addition to providing us with this buttony bounty, Kirk Israel, the author, also has a fun weblog.

[0] May not actually be the cutest little thing you've ever seen.

: For Halloween, Kris shaved his macho goatee and dressed up as the Checkerboard Nightmare ("The Checkerboard Nightmare" makes it sound serious and brooding, like "The Batman"). This reminds me of when I was in sixth grade and I constructed a Nethack acid blob costume out of lime-green gauze and plastic sheeting. I don't think I've dressed up for Halloween since. There was just no way to top that.

Mini Photo Wire Roundup:

: Hilarity exists at The Big Empire Guide to Las Vegas on 25¢ a Day. Includes case studies in squalor and tip sheets derived from said case studies, for the benefit of those intent on being free riders on the Las Vegas economy. There's also a special collection of comically bad gambling advice, and even a tour of the Liberace Museum.

Since this is the Vegas entry (as of now), I need to mention, for those who haven't seen it, the cool Wired article about the MIT blackjack team, which came up with a division of labor to exploit the optimal blackjack strategy without alerting the house to their actions. Sometimes I wish I could be a bad-ass card counter, but then I remember that I already make good money doing actual useful work, and I feel better.

: Last night Sumana and I prepared Zack's minimalist pasta sauce. Tasty! Today I prepared the "wretched excess" version, where you use up as much of the perishable food from last night as you possibly can. Also tasty! Like a Philly cheesesteak, but with pasta.

Secret Clickolinko Interface Revealed!:

Accusations Fly In Clickolinkostan Parliament As Cabinet Resigns Over showtime Scandal

Opposition Leader: "limit Was The Last Straw"

Disgraced PM Neakums Accepts Responsibility For Covert tz Modification

: Today marks the 300th episode anniversary of Tonight's Episode. Don't believe me? You can verify with a click of your mouse.

PS: tonightsepisode.com is completely untaken! Grab it now and put something goofy on it! (Assuming you have nothing better to do today.)

: Added theme support to NewsBruiser. Now I just need themes. I came up with a maximally boring theme called "Poindexter", so at least I have something, but I can't release 1.9.0 until I have a decent alternate theme.

: To the ad hoc NYCB search debugging team (which is Brendan and someone else, I forget who): I found the cause of the index corruption. It was happening when there were outstanding index updates and two people hit the search CGI at the same time. Both CGIs were simultaneously processing the index updates and saving the index, which caused random corruption. I added locking and I can't duplicate the problem anymore on my computer. Hopefully NYCB will be as fortunate.

: Lawrence! You got me!

: More gambling: Kevin claims to have a seedy uncle John who designs slot machines. Kevin also claims that everyone has a seedy uncle John, which is patently false: I have an uncle Jon but he's just about the least seedy person imaginable. But where I'm going with this is that more than I want to be a bad-ass card counter (q.v.) I would like the more profitable occupation of bad-ass slot machine designer.

Right now gambling is only legal in certain parts of the country, which means that almost all opportunities for impulse gambling are squandered on the miserable payoff of state lottery tickets. Slot machines are designed for placement in a featureless wasteland where people go specifically to gamble, such as Las Vegas, a reservation, or the state of New Jersey. If gambling were to be legalized in a new area, slot-machine companies would simply flood that area with their current lowest-common-denominator slots, with no regard for local differences. Slot machine companies need to have a flexible system in place that allows them to instantly deploy region-specific slots to any state or U.S. territory.

I envision a Sun-like system with a network of dumb slot machines each of which has not only its payoff pattern but also its branding controlled by a central server. Whenever someone walks away from a machine, the machine may undergo a state transformation into a game more likely to keep someone at the machine.

This opens up amazing new opportunities for the house. Rather than relying on crude randomness, slots can play in quasi-legal ways on people's superstitious conceptions of the odds in order to increase revenue (it will also create new superstitions, such that a slot is 'hot' after changing state). As new and flashier themes are created, a casino operator can purchase them online and download them onto the server, which will automatically begin propagating them onto the casino's slot machines. It also gives me license to come up with thousands of bizarre, unworkable slot machine themes like Nethack slots, slots with polynomial terms on the reels where you win if the resulting polynomial can be factored, and slots with Magic Eye icons.

Eventually all the slots will settle to an equilibrium consisting of the same sort of lowest-common-denominator slots that existed in the first place, but by that time I will have retired wealthy and fled the country. (Bizarrely, many of my plans end with "but by that time I will have retired wealthy and fled the country"; I should look into this.)

Game Roundup:

: Phidgets are single-purpose peripherals that take computer action based on sensor data and/or take real-life action based on the computer or network environment. A gallery of whimsical phidgets brings to physical manifestation the little X toys, the load monitors and IRC notification agents and the like. My favorite is the physical biff implementation Marble Mail.

It's all pretty useless, of course, but my cube at work is full of useless stuff that isn't connected to the computer, so why not (for example) make my Godzilla action figure stomp around whenever someone assigns me an issue?

: Ed has semi-moved to Japan, so his coveted Aeron chair is mine! I remember his last tearful words to me on Friday: "Have a nice weekend."

Being An Account Of A New And Cunning Deception: While driving to work (I missed the bus) I saw a garbage truck move into the right lane while flashing its left turn signal. I was amazed. Why didn't I think of that? Unfortunately, the left turn signal kept flashing and it became obvious that the truck driver simply had the left turn signal permanently on and wasn't paying attention to turn signals at all.

: Josh points out that Radio Userland has implemented our RSS email aggregator idea. That's one hardy cactus! It would be nice if there was a site that did this for you, though; I can't get Dan and Manoj off my back by telling them to use Radio Userland.

Update: Aaron reveals that he too has written an RSS-to-email aggregator. "I want to make it a hosted service, but I haven't done it," says Aaron.

: Been very busy this week, but I'm trying to post something here every day (the calendar view is for some reason a powerful incentive for me on this score; I like having every day on the calendar linked). I have a bunch of email which I should write up; probably this weekend. I'm posting this lame entry before I go to sleep so that I can't use it as an excuse for not posting anything interesting tomorrow.

: More potential Twilight Zone hosts: the two cops from Law And Order: Oh My God A Body. Disadvantages: they would have to cross networks to host the show. Advantages: the episode would start just after it would have ended had anyone else been the host, and the cops would come on the scene and spend the entire segment cracking wise about the character's misfortune. "Looks like the victim's face was normal, yet everyone else had a hideous face, so the standards of beauty were reversed!" "Yeah, reminds me of my mother-in-law." "He'll be getting his beauty sleep now, that's for sure." "Twenty years on the force and I've never seen irony like this." Etc., etc.

This reminds me that for my entire life until about a year ago, until I got braces, I thought it was normal in humans for the upper and lower teeth to meet, because that was how my teeth were. Now it turns out that (what I thought was) a slight overbite is normal.

: Evil Entity Linux will make your desktop gloomy and hard to read for you. Find a market segment and go with it, I say.

Many say, "MS Windows has won, and the Linux Desktop is dead!" Now the Linux Desktop is UNDEAD, and it has risen from its crypt in search of virgin blood.

(From LinuxOrbit via LWN)

: Sumana came up with a gimmick I can use when I need to generate revenue from this site: News Too Hot To Bruise. (News You Can Scald?) I'm not sure what it would be news about, but once I have your money I can probably think of something.

: NewsBruiser 1.9.0, "Dancing Elephant Revue". Fixes several annoying bugs and creates theme support. I still need themes (a couple of people are working on themes, but no themes yet); the docs and changelog are sprinkled with rather pathetic requests for contributed themes.

That Darn Organism!: I'm starting to worry about RSI, and I've found these yoga exercises useful. #2, in particular, helps a lot (in alleviating my fears of oncoming RSI; possibly not in other respects).

: I added some clever code to NewsBruiser which runs the weblogs.com ping in the background so that you're (I'm) not wasting precious post-submit seconds waiting for it to complete. This is a test entry for it.

Update: Yeah, that was faster.

: Itamar Shtull-Trauring, who wrote a very useful HTML stripping tool in Python which I use in NewsBruiser, has on his website a funny Ontological Proof of the Existence of Ernie.

: I just added RSS 2.0 support to NewsBruiser, so RSS people try it out and let me know if it works. I got it to validate, so I must be doing something right. [Valid RSS]

: Happy day! Problems have been resolved and NewsBruiser now has a Freshmeat entry.

: First, I added RSS 2.0 support to NewsBruiser. Thirsty for revenge, I then added RSS 3.0 support to NewsBruiser. Works pretty well. I also integrated Ahoy, making this a nice little maintenance release. Not touching NewsBruiser for the rest of the day.

Game Roundup:

: Note to people coming here via Freshmeat looking for a NewsBruiser demo site: NewsBruiser is very slow on this machine, but it's not NewsBruiser's fault; all CGIs and SSIs are very slow on this machine. It ain't neccessarily slow.

: Google Cache says someone has actually written a (non-musical) play called Kiss Me Kant. It has the archaic wit that I enjoy.

                                    DUC DU DRYROT

Then I take it you don't enjoy the company of women.


Quite the contrary. But must every company be incorporated?

: Celestia is a software package for which I've been waiting years. It's an astronomy program that actually lets you move around space rather than keeping you stranded on Earth looking at the stars. It's got a star catalog and you can hop from one star to another in seconds. My only complaints: an "accellerate but stay in current orbit" mode would be great, the browsable list of objects is currently available only on Windows, and Celestia sometimes causes X to freeze for a while (Graphics card incompatibility? Just computationally intensive?). The Celestia page is updated with new celestial bodies as humans discover or launch them. All in all, a great piece of software.

: Andy Holloway, I think your problem is caused by a bug in the Default theme's entry template. Update themes/Default/configuration from CVS, or try changing "<p class="entry">...</p>" in the entry template to "<span class="entry"><p>... </p></span>". That should fix the problem.

Also, NewsBruiser won't accept an entry if the title is the notebook password (I had the same problem you did when I added title support).

Update: The clickolinko oracle speaks: "now hacking nycb is simply a process of figuring out what title is missing." Unfortunately, as of yet there exists no effective enumeration of NYCB titles.

: So far this year I've gotten 40 megabytes of spam and 46 megabytes of email viruses. But I've only gotten about 325 email viruses, and I've gotten about 5000 pieces of spam. This makes me think that spam and email viruses represent the two reproductive strategies. Spam is the sturgeon strategy where you send out thousands of tiny, defenseless eggs and hope that one or two of them come to fruition; whereas email viruses are the human strategy, where you create fewer, larger offspring, imbuing each of them with the skills they'll need to survive and reproduce.

: Todd Fahrner, master of CSS and hopeful NewsBruiser UI manager, lays the smack down on me:

you advise andy holloway to jump from the frying pan of his horribly invalid html to the fire of even more horribly invalid html. span can't contain p. any inheritable formatting properties associated with the span shouldn't make it into the p because the p essentially terminates the span - if a browser does otherwise it's part of its (nonstandard) error handling. my first concern with theme development/ui is to make it difficult to produce invalid html. it's not productive to try to apply css to html that can't be parsed in a deterministic way.

Shows what I know.

Generic Food Product Name #2: "Dinner Tonight"

: Andy, try NewsBruiser 1.9.2 (Motto: "Now, with functionality!"). If it doesn't help, let me know.

NewsBruiser 1.9.2 also features Brendan Adkins' "Timothy" theme, which is pretty sharp.

: Something strange is happening to me, a sort of culinary Stockholm syndrome. I no longer want to eat foods that I can't eat because of my braces. For instance, candy bars no longer hold any interest for me. I can no longer fathom why someone might want to chew on ice cubes. I'm even not terribly interested in crusty bread anymore. The only exception is popcorn, particularly Cracker Jack.

: Brendan came up with another theme, "Laurie", which duplicates the look of his weblog. Cool! This was one of the things I was hoping NewsBruiser was now flexible enough to do.

: "As you know, Bob..." in the wild.

: The morning rain ran noisily through the walls of the house and soaked the carpet outside my room. To get rid of the rain-stench I sprayed the carpet with foam from a can and vacuumed, twice. The foam itself smells pretty bad, but it doesn't last, and it's a lot better than the smell it replaces. Which is strange, because the name of the scent on the can is "morning rain".

: (Via everyone) MAD's parody of The Onion is pretty good, and preempts the "Headline Funny, But Article Drags On Way Too Long" Segfault story I was never able to force myself to finish.

: By this time next week I'll be in London. I've discovered a strange mental behavior: I think that facts about the future are facts about the present. For example, "In the future I will be going to England". I don't viscerally understand that at some point in the future the present state of affairs will be that I am in England, and that shortly thereafter the present state of affairs will be me returning from England. I think that it will always be the case that in the future I'm going to England, as though this were something on a huge list of things I plan to do one day and not something for which I'd already bought tickets. This makes it hard for me to prepare, except in spasmodic flurries of activity after which I think "OK, I'm ready", even though all I did was buy some cheap sweatshirts to wear while there and then jettison to some deserving UK charity, filling the space on the return trip with moon rocks and cheap gin.

it's ok to contact this poster with fun things do do while in England
this is in or around London

: A wealth of mola mola pictures, including some great schools of molas and basking molas. Warning: not all of these pictures are pleasant. Some depict molas subject to ectoparasites, a dead mola being preyed upon by starfish, and molas in every condition being menaced by huge, translucent copyright symbols.

: Joe Barr asks Linus Torvalds 10 goofy questions, including the real-life "Does UNIX have eBay?"

2) Does Linux run on Red Hat?
Torvalds: That's just too strange a question.

Disturbing Sci-Fi Product Disclaimers: "Caution: Filling Is Sentient"

: A worthy NewsBruiser competitor: MOD. Written in PHP, no database requirement, focusing on reader interaction (which NewsBruiser abjures; interact with someone else, you losers! (just kidding)).

: The Baen Free Library, online publishers of a Retief anthology, [Hey! Write about Retief! -Ed. Okay, I will, geez.] have recently published The Wizardry Compiled, which I'd heard of but never before actually seen. It's a magic-meets-software fantasy novel that warms my heart like a AM/PM cheap chili dog by occasionally actually mentioning some specific thing about programming, and by always using "programmer" to describe a type of person, the way Roast Beef does (hey, two Achewood references in one day today).

Anyhoo, I found this book, and many others, through this valuable resource at Penn: The Online Books Page. I hope they're mirroring all these books.

: Seth David Schoen takes the bait, inviting me to visit one of Simon Finch's bookshops while in London. "You might see things which you would otherwise only see in museums," says Seth. "(Of course, you could also go to museums in London and see similar things.)"

This is the first NYCB entry in a while I've posted in Lynx. The list of categories is pretty long, but there's not much I can do about that.

Progress: It used to be that someone at every BART station had written "NO WET TICKETS" on a piece of paper and taped it to every ticket-taking machine in that station, because the ticket-takers would choke on wet tickets. But times have changed, and now all those ad-hoc signs have been replaced by a standardized "NO WET TICKETS" sign with a graphic on it.

: In the long run, we are all Keynesians.

: NewsBruiser 1.10.0 is out. It includes new date grouping stuff, which is demonstrated by a theme that makes NewsBruiser look like Kevan's weblog (I was going to clone a LiveJournal theme as a demonstration, but Kevan's looks better).

: Shweta stars, and Zack is mentioned, in today's Narbonic. Also, there are pirates!

Leonard's Peeves: nth in a Series of nn: A "mile" in an airline's frequent flyer program has absolutely no relationship to a "mile" of space. The 'miles' should be called 'points', like they are in every other point-based currency scheme. Also, the relationship of a "point" in the frequent flyer program would have about the same relationship to a "mile" of space as a geometrical point has to a line segment one mile long.

: JCSC is a souped-up lint for Java. Looks pretty nice.

: I've mentioned it before, but there's more good stuff on Footnotes To History, the gallery of ephemeral states. Thrill! to the Jesse Ventura-esque antics of the maverick governor of North Dakota! Spill! off the edge of Ernest Hemmingway's brother's tiny platform nation of New Atlantis! Mill! around the utterly defenseless Minerva, which got annexed by Tonga, for heaven's sake.

: What connects two buzzwords? It's JMS4Spread!

(Spread is not really a buzzword, but it deserves to be.)


<kmaples> Subject: Hate Typing? You Talk, It Types Software
<kmaples> well, that puts us out of business

: Lie justification footnote... co-opted!

Nostalgia: My favorite extended ASCII characters, the happy faces, are also HTML entities! ☺ ☻ In Mozilla on Linux they look just like they do in the DOS old-school. Lynx renders them as smileys. How do they look in your browser? HTML also has a token unhappy face (☹), which to me looks rounder, smaller, and like it just has a droopy moustache.

: More London, from Kevan:

A place for you to go in London, by the way - Cynthia's Bar, a bar staffed entirely by robots! Apparently. I've never actually been sure where to find it, but someone mentioned recently that it had a web site (http://www.cynbar.co.uk); it seems to be hiding under London Bridge somewhere. It might be terrible, I've no idea. But it's staffed by robots!

Beyond that, I only ever seem to go to the Tate Modern gallery (which is worth a glance, they usually have some vast, insane installation in the entrance area) and Mornington Crescent (the Tube station, which may or may not mean anything). And the London Science Museum is fun and free, if you've got some time to wander. Aside from lots of new toys and gadgets to poke at, they haven't updated the computing section since the 1970s, and it's become a bizarre brown-wallpapered history of itself.

Tomorrow: Michael Stack's teary-eyed reminiscences of his native land, and lands adjacent.

: Busy packing. Sorry for the lack of stack; his solliloquy is in an IRC window at work, so I can't paste it in now, and when I was at work I was too busy to remember putting it anywhere I could access it now. To make up for it, here's a picture from October.

: Sorry for the big build-up; here's stack.

<stack> Man. Its going to be so great.
<leonardr> if there's something they have there that you can't get here, lemme know so i can get you some
<stack> What I want you can't bring home (Pint in a country pub... train ride through english country-side).
<stack> England is beautiful.
<stack> Or... least, can be.
<stack> Tate modern is pretty amazing. Otherwise I always liked the portrait gallery. Its to the side of the national gallery.
<stack> Then if your in london for a w/e, get up early and go to brick lane mkt. Its in old part of london, whitechapel (Jack the Ripper, where marx used live, now its indians and south asians... amazing restaurants... biggest mosque in england)... market is good taste of old england...
<stack> My brother is manager at camden mkt which your sister might drag you too... I worked there for years. Its touristy now... but if she takes you, go to the compendium bookstore there.

Stack's brother is no doubt the celebrated Eamon Stack. I may look him up and say hi.

: Atticus, who looks a bit like I did at his age, now has a little brother, Samuel.

: My award-losing photo of the poorly-designed Lord of the Rings game box ("Where does Sauron go? Why the huge plastic depressions to hold small things like little cardboard punch-outs? A game within a game!") gets hit by a lot of Google image searches for "lord of the rings". This actually makes some sense; it's one of the only pictures of its kind which is a picture of "lord of the rings" rather than a picture of some specific part of Lord of the Rings, like Tom Bombadil. So I assume that all the vague people who got it as a search result are happy.

: OK, I'm off. I'll be back on the 30th. Amount of news to be bruised between now and then: unknown.

: I'm in London! I'm also tired; I walked about 5 miles today. More later; I'm just checking in.

: Well, once again I walk the green grass of freedom (except I'm inside, and there's no grass). I forgot how to use the mouse, and I got 350 email messages, some of which might actually not be spam, but other than that I'm okay. I don't feel like it's 3 in the morning or anything. Much, much more later.

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