Creatures Demo Sketch

Martin Dittus · 2007-12-19 · code · write a comment


... needs Java. Might post a description later.

Update 2007-12-21 I spent a bit of time making swarming actually work, and tweaked some other things. Much nicer already.

/me dreams of being an analyst

Martin Dittus · 2007-12-15 · commentary · write a comment


Yahoo Login Being a Snob

Martin Dittus · 2007-11-24 · drop culture · write a comment

[13:28] • martind is trying to create yet another yahoo account
[13:28] martind: and it fails to do so, in both browsers, without explanation.
[13:28] martind: ("Looks like there was some trouble creating your account. 
Please take a moment to review your answers.")
[13:28] martind: WHICH ONES FUCKASS?
[13:28] martind: the sad thing about it: I'm sure it's a bug in their code, and 
I'd be willing to take the time to send an email, but I'm quite confident
that it would just be ignored.

The Yahoo login system seems to be a great predictor of the upcoming breakdown of civilisation. Creating an account requires filling in a big form, lots of mandatory fields; not even the "Security Question" is optional. It guides you with helpful popups -- entering an invalid birthdate (in my case: 32 Feb 1931) invokes a "Your full birthday is required" message. Add the well-discussed issue of forcing people to guess an unused unique identifier in their overly crowded namespace (just give me a random one already!)

And after I've done all that it won't even let me create the account; no idea what's wrong now.

I guess instead of using Pipes I'll revert to doing it myself with a plain old script... (Only thing I wanted to do is create a podcast feed for the Rinse FM feed that actually uses enclosures. Beats me why people stiff create "podcast" feeds where you have to click on links to listen.)

Podcasts, Mixtapes, and Post-Apocalyptic Lover's Rock

Martin Dittus · 2007-08-25 · pop culture · 1 comment

Over the last couple of weeks I finally revived the old habit of scouting for interesting bits of pop culture produce, and after overcoming work-induced inertia it paid off well. Feels good to be somewhat back on track... I'll start off with some music-related findings.

If you're not listening to anything else atm I invite you to set the mood first by tuning in to my station of the week: The Bug's similar artists (radio URL) [Btw: Elias is already working hard on improving our playlist tuning algorithms, you can expect some huge improvements in our radio experience over the coming weeks and months.]

Among other things I recently spent some time on expanding my podcast subscriptions. Beside Steve Gillmor's grand new Bad Sinatra, which surely attracts only a very limited crowd (it's insider entertainment alright, yet "highly rewarding"), the most interesting podcast by far I found to be the mixtape show. Great music selection (Dex focuses on what he calls "rap/soultronica"), and some of the funniest, inventive, stimulating skits around.

The mixtape show also brought Sa-Ra to my attention, an interesting laid-back blend of "new soul" and hip hop with an André 3000-esque approach to pop music. Their latest album is a tad homogenic for my taste, and I still have to check out their older output, but it seems they bring the right mix to deservedly become a serious pop phenomenon, or at least produce some major club hits.

Another mixtape show gem was the Jay Electronica episode, which consisted entirely of an EP by Jay composed of looped fragments of the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind soundtrack (my most favourite soundtrack ever), and some great lyrics. You can also download the EP at Jay Electronics is the first artist to be signed to Erykah Badu's Control FreaQ label, and we can expect a proper album "soon". weapons of mass distraction links to some additional downloads.

Speaking of interesting mixtures: At Rough Trade today I grabbed a FACT mag, which includes a teaser for an upcoming release that sounds promising indeed. Apparently The Bug's Kevin Martin started a new project with Roger Robinson, King Midas Sound. Subtle, deep, dubby electronics, low-key falsetto vocals. Much less upfront than The Bug. In his own words: "we strived to create a fresh sound, like a post-apocalyptic lover's rock, where hip hop rhythms would sound smacked-out or dubstep would implode." The album will be called "Super Heavy", no idea about the release date. (And you can expect a lot of the reviews for this one to draw parallels to Tricky's Maxinquaye. Listen to the demo tracks to see why this is a fairly obvious comparison.)

Also at Rough Trade I bought Triosk's 2006 release The Headlight Serenade, and have to admit I was a little disappointed. The one time I saw them play live with Jan Jelinek some years ago their energy blew me away, especially their wild nutter of a drummer who was piling one seemingly impossible rhythm onto the next. Compared to that this recording is fairly tame, almost staid.

Prepaid MasterCards: the Missing Link in Financial Privacy

Martin Dittus · 2007-08-25 · a new world, konsum, privacy · 2 comments

prepaid MasterCard

Yesterday on the tube to Brixton I saw an ad for a really exciting product: a prepaid MasterCard. The promise was the possibility to take part in financial transactions that require cards (phone/Internet shops) without having a bank account.

Which is a huge fucking deal. For me personally there are already two use cases that make it worth the fees:

Turns out my local off-license shop sells the card. So I bought one with £50 balance, plus £3 fee. Will now try it out in various situations.

Fees and Limitations

You pay £3 fee for getting a card, plus the amount of money you want to charge it with. The maximum charge is £100. You can't charge it again, instead you'll need to buy a new card. (Which means you might loose some money with each card you 'almost' discharged.)

There is a transaction fee of 2%, with a minimum of 50p and a maximum of £1.

But for me there are two limitations that bother me more than these fees. The first is that you first need to activate it via an 0800 number, which I have yet to do (I'm going to use a public phone), and which is an inconvenience.

The second is that according to their Terms & Conditions Internet and phone shopping will only work after registering the card (presumably because every MasterCard needs a card holder.) Registering happens either via the Internet or for a fee via the phone. I have yet to try this out.

Other than that it's imo the best thing that happened in the financial sector since we invented those little plastic cards. Looking forward to see this develop as competition evolves.

(I briefly mentioned this on the internal IRC channel. RJ's comment: "ah yeah, kids are using them to buy online porn apparently..")

Rough Trade East: Gorgeous

Martin Dittus · 2007-08-18 · konsum, pop culture · 1 comment

Rough Trade East

Oh boy. The new Rough Trade store (inside the Old Truman Brewery, just off Brick Lane) is the bomb. Seriously. Lots of space, great music selection (with a slant towards post-punk, but also lots of stuff between German minimal, Independent Hip Hop, Americana, ...). Most artefacts decorated with brief one-sentence descriptions. Great personnel. An entrance area with lots of seats, a bar for coffee, drinks and snacks. Open wifi, which I used to rip the CDs I just bought so I could listen to them on my way with all metadata in place.

Beautiful interior, somewhere between bleak Berlinian Hard Wax factory floor aesthetic, slaughterhouse neon lights reminiscent of Munich's Ultraschall, and a Starbucks-esque level of professionalism without the soulless corporate mentality that usually accompanies it.

And they seem to be very successful -- lots of people browsing and buying. I guess it helps that they're pretty much the only record store of this sort in East London...

Was here yesterday for the first time, bought a CD and ordered two; came back again today and bought two more.

I defy you to browse around and not buy anything.

MovableType 4: New License

Martin Dittus · 2007-08-15 · tools · write a comment

Your use of the Software is limited to a fixed 
number of users and weblogs, as defined below 
and enumerated in Exhibit A of this agreement.


Unlimited Free Version
Term: Perpetual
Number of Servers: 1
Number of Authors: Unlimited
Number of Weblogs: Unlimited
Support Level: none included or purchasable
Updates and Upgrades: free Updates
Maintenance Fee: None

Am now seriously considering to update (from 2.64). Since I'm not planning to ever make any kind of money from this (including ads) all my previous reservations are moot.

Edit: Hah. Turns out they're about to GPL the MT core. Not sure yet which features that will contain.

JRuby as Interactive Java Shell

Martin Dittus · 2007-07-06 · tools · write a comment

Get the JRuby Console, and then do stuff like this:

irb(main):001:0> require 'java'
=> true
irb(main):002:0> p = java.util.regex.Pattern.compile("/music/[^/]+/\\+images/[^/?]+?(?:\\?.*)?")
=> #<#:0x5efe34 @java_object=/music/[^/]+/\+images/[^/?]+?(?:\?.*)?>
irb(main):003:0> p.matcher("/music/Christopher+Willits/+images/?").matches
=> false
irb(main):004:0> p.matcher("/music/Christopher+Willits/+images?").matches
=> false
irb(main):005:0> p.matcher("/music/Christopher+Willits/+images/").matches
=> false
irb(main):006:0> p.matcher("/music/Christopher+Willits/+images/34523").matches
=> true

Awesome! I've been waiting years for a convenient interactive Java shell -- and not to run the language, but to interactively test behaviour of library features under certain conditions. Don't want to write & compile a new class just because I want to check something out.

internet publishing software still sucks.

Martin Dittus · 2007-06-16 · drop culture · 3 comments

internet publishing software still sucks.

Interesting how they managed to make a simple URL much more cryptic. I imagine the author simply pasted this into an email, and the editor had no clue about web resource addressing schemes. Why should he. (Someone at least knew that you can omit the http:// protocol prefix.)

Homework for today: write a 1-page essay on the effect of popular digital resource addressing scheme implementations and how well they they transcend media boundaries. (For extra points: address the ephemeral character of such schemes, and how search engines fit into all this.)

new wallet £5

Martin Dittus · 2007-06-10 · konsum · 1 comment

new wallet £5

Unfortunately the stationers was out of black tape. I like the simplicity of this model, it's even more reduced than the old one. Less movable parts. The old one was a large piece with small bits glued on -- this one basically consists of two large pieces and some tape to close the sides. Four pockets inside, one outside for bills. Am now considering cutting the continuous flap in half, to create one flap for each side.