Friday, 30 March 2012

Friday Flash Fiction - The Listeners

Today is a big day for me at Westbridge Magical Academy. I am presenting my doctorate thesis to the Mage's Council, one on which I have worked for the past six years, and they are not going to like it.

I take a fortifying breath before pushing open the door to the large Council Hall. It is empty except for their stately oak desk at one end, engraved with all manner of magical symbols. The Mages watch me with slightly disdainful looks as I approach the long distance across the echoing wooden floor, passing in and out of the sunbeams streaming in the windows. I stop abruptly and my robes sweep forward, kicking up a little dust. It would be usual to conjure up the title of my thesis, "The Language of Magic" to float in the air beside me, and to make full parchment copies also appear on the Council desk, before each long-bearded member. I have delivered handwritten copies to each member of the Council in advance, and I do not conjure my title at all.

"Proceed" says Head Mage Arcturum when it appears I will not be conjuring anything. I nod slightly and clear my throat.

"We have long known magic to be bound to language. Incantations, whether spoken or written, appear to be essential, and the symbols and signs we use are also language, though in pictographic form. That realisation of the centrality of language to the magical arts, and the observation that incantations and symbols are both forms of language, led me to explore in detail the different forms of language that may be used to invoke certain well-known spells and effects, particularly basic levitation, production of fire, illusion and far-sight.

"My research and experiments eventually proved that all of these basic elements of magic are reproducible in almost any language known to man, spoken or written, including the isolated natives of many small island nations, but also sign languages, dead languages, and even music and mathematics. I also demonstrated that a known incantation in a language unknown to the speaker, failed to produce the same results as the same incantation in his or her native language.

"This last anomaly led me down an unexpected and puzzling path. Why should a wizard need to know the language of an incantation before it produces the desired result, and why do incantations translated to new languages still produce those results?"

I had their attention now.

"We know that three things are required for language: a message, a shared code, and two or more entities. Mages, we wizards are not the most powerful beings on this planet. You yourselves are not even the most powerful beings in this very room, nor am I. Someone, something has been listening to our incantations, learning our languages, and doing our bidding at their whim for centuries. They are here. They are all around us, and we do not know what they want. Until we do, I cannot, in good conscience, perform any magic, though I intend to continue my research. Thankyou."

I wait for the stunned outrage, the nervous whispers, the quick flicking of pages to check the details of my research, or even just a dismissive smile and handwave. I get none of these. They stare at me, deadly serious.

Arcturum speaks slowly to break the silence. "You were, I take it, under the impression that this was unknown to the Mage's Council?"
My jaw works up and down a few times, apparently unwilling to form any words. "I ... yes, sir."

"We are," he continues, "well aware of such entities, though, as you say, unaware of their ultimate motives. You will be assigned to work under Doctor Millinum as he attempts to unravel the entities' intentions. Doctorate granted."

He taps his wand on the desk with the sound of a gavel that echoes through the big empty room, and the Council files out silently, leaving me alone. That ... did not go as planned, but in hindsight, it probably could not have gone any better.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Personally, I think this is the only way magic could actually work.
PPS - Which makes it a bit non-magical, I suppose.

A lot of clouds

Cloud services I currently use, where "cloud" means some form of data or file synchronisation between a server and a machine of mine:

Windows Live Mesh
Google Calendar
Picasa Web Albums
Google Tasks

Is there a better way? Maybe. I think private, peer-to-peer, serverless clouds are the future, and they can provide one standard synchronisation service for all attached data. Building something that can take over from all these systems (perhaps even the closed Kindle) is a vague goal of mine.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I just have a few details to work out first.
PPS - And a lot of fundamentals.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Shaving economics

I have an electric shaver. I've used it as long as I can remember. The cutter and foil need replacing now, and that costs $75 (yes, even on eBay). They recommend you replace those parts every 18 months, which comes out to about $4.15 per month. And if you manage to double the cutter and foil lifespan, as I did, you'll only spend $2.08 per month. If you buy a pack of good disposable razors once a month, that will probably cost you about $10. I'm ignoring shaving cream and aftershave. So the cutter and foil starts to look pretty good.

But here's where things get silly. You can buy a whole new electric razor for $50, and if that lasts you three years, you'll only be spending $1.35 per month, until you have to replace the whole thing again. So the cheapest option of all is to treat your entire electric shaver as disposable and just buy a new one when its parts wear out. And that is a demonstration of how our world generates such prodigious waste. We have optimised our manufacturing for brand new products, not repairs.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I have started using disposable razors.
PPS - At least until I can justify replacing my electric shaver.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Ideas vs execution

Ideas are cheap and easy. Execution is hard. So take those ideas you've been sitting on and go do something about them. Got an idea for a novel? Start writing. Been meaning to make a coffee table for home? Go buy some wood. An idea that's actually been implemented is worth far more than an idea that is hypothetical only. I am terrible at this, which can be seen by the number of posts here where I speculate on something that might be cool, then leave it at that. I rarely execute on my ideas, but I am much more satisfied with them when I do.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Particularly the software I write.
PPS - But also the things I physically build.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Human computing tools

How should computers work for us these days? I think we are ready to move forward to a new generation and I do not think anyone has it right yet. What are we trying to do, what should that look like and how do we get there? We need to know what are the primary, top-level tasks people are doing with their computers and how we can help with that. We Play (including read and watch), Communicate (email, IM, voice and video), Create (draw, write, record, remix) and Work or Organise. I probably haven't covered everything. For instance, shopping online doesn't easily fit into those categories.

There are some simple human-related things that computers need to do well, but they don't tend to come with tools that work that way. We need some messier programs for some things, like holding loosely-correlated notes, videos, sound bites and pictures, and better ways to search them and display those search results. We need to have good ways of displaying search results for events (history), places and people. When, where and with whom did things happen. Those are basic human-centric things we think about, but they're not here for us.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - My point is, there's a lot of humanity missing from computers, and what else are they here for anyway?
PPS - Why build machines that don't work well with us?

Monday, 26 March 2012

Health care for prisoners vs the homeless

If we will give a man better health care for being a felon rather than unemployed or homeless, our society has made a wrong turn somewhere. I'm not saying we shouldn't take care of certain people, even people who have wronged us, but I am saying that if the level of care available to a prisoner far outstrips that available to someone starving and dying on the streets, or someone who just can't afford to pay, then something has gone horribly wrong.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Then again, some people would refuse it as "charity".
PPS - I don't think health care is one of those helping hands you should turn down.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Friday Flash Fiction - Mossworld

Under a nondescript bench seat, beside an unremarkable inner city road, grows an unassuming patch of moss. Within the miniature rolling hills of that moss, however, lives an entire world that mankind will never know, blazing along at speeds that make mayflies look like ponderous mountains. A conglomerate of civilisations figuratively dancing on the head of a pin. As abruptly as their caves and huts became cities and highways too small for human eyes to see, their world is dying. The moss patch is shrinking and the air is growing stale. Micronations rise and fall in the blink of an eye, and entire wars are fought over precious real estate in what looks like a tiny puff of smoke, or a fungus spore release.

But before their unknown universe collapses, the nano-inhabitants manage to band together and hold on to peace long enough to begin digging down into the earth. Tiny machines manned by tinier people drill deep into the bedrock and hollow out a space for themselves. There they remake their world in miniscule artificial caverns lined with the mosses of their topside lands. They are easily self-sufficient, and their technology would be the envy of any human scientist, if such scientists had any chance of discovering them. But the little world digs deeper and makes a new and better home for itself, unaware of the bigger world in which it lives, never to be seen by human eyes until the end of time.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Not far from my office, there is a patch of moss like this.
PPS - I can neither prove nor disprove that it has microscopic civilisations living in it.

Google closing in on itself

The funny thing about Google consolidating and promoting its own services is that it starts feeling like Google is shrinking. When Google was merely the search gateway to the web, it felt like it encompassed everything. Now that they are pushing and preferring their own services over others, it feels like Google is a shrinking corner of the web where if it isn't on Google, it doesn't exist. That's the problematic mindset the walled-garden services had back in the days before the proper internet took over.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - What made Google start thinking this was a good idea?
PPS - Maybe it was Android, at least in part.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Accidentally or manually breaking the DMCA

I wonder, does copying out the contents of a copy-protected PDF by hand constitute a breach of the DMCA? Also, taking photographs of an on-screen document doesn't trigger any copy protection software at all, and requires no special equipment. Technically, it is circumventing a digital lock, but if that's what you were going to do anyway, how would you know the lock was there in the first place? And if the lock fails somehow, you might be able to make a copy in a perfectly ordinary way without triggering it, and again you wouldn't know you had done anything wrong. So what, according to DMCA, actually constitutes circumventing a digital lock, if it might be possible to do so without any intention of bypassing copy protection?

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Ignorance is usually no defence.
PPS - So they tell me.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Software project leadership

Software projects, whether games or business software, need a central vision and a leader. For solo projects, that's easy, because there's only one developer, but for bigger projects, if there's nobody in charge and no clear direction, there's going to be a mess at the end. Open source projects are particularly hard to direct if there is no leader with the final say. Once they lose that leader, that vision, they fall apart.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Even professional projects fall apart without leadership and a goal, though.
PPS - And some of them start out on a road to nowhere.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The ultimate MMOG

What would the ultimate, unstoppable MMO look like? Well, it would need to be fully peer-to-peer, so that it could outlive the rise and fall of any given company, or at least free and easy to run a server. And anyone who runs a server (or the world on their personal machine) would need full power over what goes on there. It would need to incorporate gameplay that's both exploration and world-building, combat and defense, and all the best of elements that have made other games successful, preferably through add-on modifications so that it can incorporate any new features that come up, too. And finally it would need to have infinite possibilities for new fun, so that existing players don't burn out on the whole concept and go play something else. That means players need to be creating new content all the time, as part of the game.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Actually, that sounds a lot like the internet itself.
PPS - Except that's not so much a game we're playing.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Portable software

If I were to design an operating system from scratch, I would make every program install and run in a portable way. The only trouble would be saving user preferences, since they might refer to a particular machine, an app, the operating system itself or just the user in any location.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - And that's before you consider the same machine on different networks.
PPS - But in general, portable software installations are better.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Friday Flash Fiction - Bitten

Late at night, I was just drifting off to sleep when I heard a sound in my back yard, like something was rummaging around our bins. I was tired, and I figured it was a stray cat, but then I heard the bin tip over, so I figured I'd better investigate. I padded downstairs, bleary and annoyed, then stepped outside into the night to survey the damage.

There seemed to be a small feral child digging through our food scraps. He was injured and wearing just an old nappy, but otherwise seemed healthy. I know it sounds nuts, but believe me it gets worse.

I wasn't sure what you're supposed to do when you find a stray child in your back yard. Take him in? Call the police? Try to scare him off like an animal? I know, I've never been good with kids. I settled on bringing him inside to warm up and then calling the police to handle it.

I called out gently, not wanting to startle him. It turns out he was easily startled. His head snapped up to look at me with equal parts fear and surprise, plus just a little bit of crazy. I tried to approach slowly and say generic soothing things, but when I got close enough to reach out my arm, the little urchin struck out, quick as a snake, and bit me!

I think he ran off, but I don't know for sure. I felt woozy and passed out, then woke up a few hours later, shivering cold. I got myself back inside, took a quick hot shower to warm up, washed and dressed my bite mark (can't believe I got bitten by a feral child), made a mental note to get a tetanus shot or something in the morning, then found my bed, comfy and cozy, to sleep the rest of the night.

I actually slept until sundown, woke up relaxed but hungry. All I had in the fridge that looked appealing were two punnets of strawberries, which I wolfed down. They were really good.

I had a ton of energy, so I went out for a run through the park behind my house. When I saw a couple sitting on a bench I just don't know what came over me, but I felt like I wanted to shoot him with an arrow, and it felt ... positive somehow.

You want to know my theory? It's super-crazy, but ... I think I got bitten by Cupid. And for a while now, I've had to suppress archery-related urges. I don't know if it's going to last, but I really hope it goes away.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - What would it be like if cupidity was transmissible?
PPS - And would it be called "cupidity"?

Google Cloud Print and Chrome

Should Google Cloud Print be a part of Chrome? I don't think so. It doesn't feel like a browser feature to me. It should be a separate service, perhaps installable as part of some hypothetical Google Cloud Services Suite. I realise I may be drawing too much of a distinction between "client" and "server" features here, especially since it's more of a peer-network thing, but Cloud Print is a server-like feature, making your printer available over the internet. That just doesn't seem like a feature that should live in a web browser.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - You shouldn't need to install another browser just to share your printer.
PPS - Also, why isn't there a Cloud printer driver to make use of your Cloud Print services?

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Subtle acting choices

It's often a tiny little touch that impresses me about an actor's performance on screen. For instance, in one episode of Dexter, where he believes he has been caught, Dexter is walking into someone's office under escort. He has not been arrested, but actor Michael C. Hall holds his hands clasped in front of him, just the way he would if he were handcuffed. That little detail stood out to me as a way of expressing that Dexter feels like he's been caught, even though he doesn't know his status right now. Then there's Carrie-Ann Moss playing a spy on Chuck who has a crush on one of Chuck's coworkers/handlers, played by Adam Baldwin. As she walks away from him, she looks over her shoulder to say "Bye, Casey", and her ankle rolls just a little, putting a wobble in one step. That little motion brings to mind all those awkward crushes of our teenage years into one subtle motion, and I really appreciated its expressiveness. Not a bad impact for two tiny physical motions, is it?

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'm not sure if either of those things were in the script.
PPS - If so, then they were performed perfectly.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Blogs vs Journalism

The question is not whether all blogs have value as journalism, but whether journalism can be done in blog form. Journalists who don't want to be known as "just bloggers" will point to a 12-year-old girl's half-grammatical rants about her teachers and schoolyard enemies on a pink explosion background and say that obviously no journalism can be associated with such as this. And there are plenty of bloggers who wish they were journalists that are doing nothing but rehashing existing reporting with limited commentary. Journalism is hard work, and being respected as a blogger is doubly hard.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - This blog is not journalism, and it's not meant to be.
PPS - Most other blogs are the same: ongoing opinion columns.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Mobile devices and local networks

Local mobile or roaming networks are probably going to be more important as time goes on. We network the computers in our homes, but when we're out and about, the only networking we get to do is between each phone and its service provider. The only multi-player games on your phone or tablet are connected to Facebook. The only data sharing you can do is up to a server and back down again, even if we are right beside each other. The mobile network is stressed enough as it is, and it's only going to get worse as more people sign up for more phone and data plans. Eventually, we will need our mobile devices to talk directly to each other.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Imagine a mobile phone network that gets better the more people that join up.
PPS - That's the future.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Extra traffic light colours

Straw-man argument time: we should have an extra warning light in between red and yellow. Something orange, perhaps. That way, you can tell when the yellow light is about to change to red, and make sure you don't go through it. This is a stupid idea because that's exactly what the yellow light is already supposed to do. Adding another layer between yellow and red means that the true meaning of yellow - "stop if you can, this is about to be a red light" - has already been lost or mutated somehow into "go if you want, it's not red yet". How long would it be before the orange light starts meaning that same thing? My guess is that those people who speed through the yellow light will start to really gun it when the orange light comes on. Whatever the real solution, we need something that will automatically make people err on the side of stopping rather than going.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Something like armed drones that fire on anyone who runs the red light.
PPS - Or severe tyre damage spikes that pop up on red.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Friday Flash Fiction - The Scrap Yard

The visitor approaches nervously as I sit atop the pile of rusted car bodies we call my throne. A few acolytes circle silently behind him. I recline and put on my best "disinterested monarch" airs. It's all for show, but it's what people expect.

He clears his throat to try and get my attention, but I don't look down yet. He tries again, then ventures an "excuse me?" I wait just a second more, then as I sense he is turning away I say loudly "Sir!"


"You will call me 'Sir' if you want me to listen without taking your voice box as a souvenir."

"I'm sorry. Sir."

I sit on the edge of my throne. "Go on."

"Sir, I have lost something. I heard this was the place to find anything."

"Well, most things. What was it, when and where?"

"A gold necklace, in my apartment," he hesitates "six years from now."

"A lot of lost things turn up here, but six years ago is a long time."

"No not six years ago, six years from now. The future. Sir."

I try to see if he has crazy in his eyes, but he looks like every other supplicant, nervous and hopeful.

I wave to dismiss the other residents of the scrap yard, so we can talk alone. They go quickly and obediently, but every one keeps looking back over their shoulders until they are out of sight. I'd expect nothing less.

I skip over all the incredulous questions - the how and why - to ask what he thinks I can do.

"I've heard rumours," he says, "that you've found things from the future."

"And why would I do this for you?" I ask.

"I'll be very grateful..." I wait. "Sir."

"Come back in a week." I say, finally, "And I'll have your necklace. Be prepared to be very, very 'grateful'. This isn't easy, and I don't have to do it."

"Thank you! Thank you, thank you!" he gushes. I wave him away and rub my temples. I should have kept quieter about the future stuff. It only ever makes things worse when more people come looking for it. But now it looks like I'm searching that way again. I wish it had been the past. The past is so much easier.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I've been watching The Finder.
PPS - I guess this story owes something to that show.


I've seen many videos of mini-quadrotor helicopters and they seem to be the most stable and most maneuverable of small-scale hovering aircraft. So my question is why all the toy helicopters in shops are shaped like actual helicopters and are so hard to control when we have something so much better.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The most popular retail quadrotor available seems to be the "Draganflyer" which is for aerial photography.
PPS - Other than that, it's build-it-yourself instructions.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Training for taste

I find it a very interesting experiment that Mark Serrels performed, trying to force himself to like olives by eating one per day during January. Before, he says, his body retched at the taste of olives. Now, after a month, he actually sort of enjoys them on their own, but when you put them in another context (eg salad, pizza), he still doesn't want them. So here's the question: can you force yourself to develop a taste for a food you physically hate by eating it on its own, or might we still need to overcome some mental barriers to push that tolerance into other contexts?

For me, the food to work at would be prawns - disgusting bottom-feeding vermin of the sea who come to your plate complete with heads and eyeballs. I know most of my fellow Australians get a completely different picture when they think "prawn", something more like "delicious bite-sized package of pink-white meat", but for me it's always been more like "poison spider-flesh with a thousand horrible legs". Perhaps I should try to develop a taste for them, and expand my pallette to be truly Australian.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I don't have a taste for much seafood, really.
PPS - But I have recently come to appreciate plain old fish.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Teaching programming through gaming

I wonder if you could teach people to program by including programming as part of a game's mechanics. For instance, imagine that you have a game centred around magic, but that magic is cast by means of program-like spells written on scrolls. In order to cast spells for whatever purpose, you need to be able to write a kind of program that does what you want on a scroll. The game would have to teach you some of the necessary skills, of course, and there's still the matter of making sure it's fun.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I am, of course, not a game designer.
PPS - So I may be way off base here.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Minecraft inspiring other games

I think a game as popular as Minecraft is bound to inspire other games. The retro, low-res cube style is simple and easy enough to be done almost anywhere, so it looks like a low barrier to entry, and the fact that everyone likes Minecraft means that people are not just willing to accept low graphics demands, but some actually crave it. It makes Generic Shooter 2012 with its trademark Fluid-modeled Mud Splatter System, Photorealistic Lens Flares(TM) and so on seem overblown. That's more like graphics getting in the way of games, and it also seems like those games put other things ahead of fun as well. Minecraft doesn't bother with flashy graphics at all - it has just enough for the game and that's it.

What will be interesting to see is whether it inspires more new games than modifications to standard Minecraft. That's the difference between "wouldn't it be great if Minecraft did this?" and "I like Minecraft, but what I'd really like is...".

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I have played a little more since my Christmas break.
PPS - Look at Cube World and tell me it doesn't owe something to Minecraft.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Action lists programs

I've tried to use Google's Tasks program to keep track of my action lists, but it has always proven inadequate, at least as far as proper GTD practices go. The main reason I use it and not something else is that it's a Google product, so it works well with my phone. But if it doesn't work well with me, then what's the point? It's not Google Tasks I want, but some program that I can access online or offline, on my desktop or my phone, that allows me to set up sequences of tasks easily and to tag them with contexts so I know what type of action they are and can call up the appropriate list when I need it (such as when I am shopping). Google Tasks is just not doing that, and every other program I've looked at so far seems to omit at least one of those requirements - usually offline desktop access and subtask sequences, and quite often context lists. So if I want this imaginary program, I'll have to write it myself.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - For now, I'm giving Astrid a try.
PPS - It's not bad.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Friday Flash Fiction - The Invisible Predator

The girl was hallucinating, no question about that, but it was up to us to figure out why. Nobody wanted an outbreak of some unknown hallucinogenic contagion. Once we'd brought her down from the ledge, they shoved her into a plastic room and only allowed two of us in heavy biosuits to go in. Now she was restrained and sedated, but still muttering in her pseudo-sleep.

She had been running through the streets, knocking people down, screaming at the top of her lungs about pigs and lions. The local police cornered her in an office building, but she got out on a ledge somehow. She wasn't going to jump, she said, she just needed to be somewhere the invisible lion couldn't get to her.

In a few moments of lucidity, they had talked her inside, then ... all the officers' accounts were a little different. Some said she went crazy, called them pigs and knocked them down. Some said one of their own got a bit gung-ho, burst through the ranks and subdued her. Whatever happened, she was our problem now.

We drew some blood, hooked her up to a brain monitor, watched and waited. She was sweating like she was in a feverish dream, and her bare feet were cut up pretty badly from the running. Then there was the gash on her arm - deep and fairly long. We took swabs from that for testing, too.

About an hour into the examination, I thought I saw something outside the plastic walls of the temporary isolation chamber. But then when I turned my head to look, it was gone. I went to ask Dr Stevens, the other doctor, whether he'd seen anything, and just for a flash of a second I thought I saw a pig snout inside his glass bubble helmet. I blinked and that was gone, too, but then the low, white shape outside the walls flashed again.

"Stevens? I think I might be infected."

"Yeah, I think maybe I am too. Did you see anything outside the walls?" he asks me.

"Something low and white, like an animal?"

"Wait, shh..." said Stevens, and I refrained from asking "What?". We both hear a sound like claws clicking on the linoleum floor in time with soft padding steps. Then one wall of our plastic bubble room splits open suddenly, and our patient snaps awake and yells "THE LION!" at the top of her lungs. In a tense moment, I have to admit that I don't see a lion there. I see a white wolf. Dr Stevens, backing into a corner, is stammering "B-b-bear! B-b-b-bear!".

The analytical part of my mind is still operating beneath the panic. We are all infected, but we're all seeing a different creature. It is definitely solid, because it split the plastic with a claw, but whatever it is, we can't see it without the infection.

Stevens is calming down, and I motion him to help me wheel the girl's bed out the door, as slow and calm as possible. Keeping our eyes on the creature as it also eyes us, we disengage the wheel brakes and start backing out, through the plastic doors, towards the solid doors of the outer, permanent office where the girl was subdued. The creature keeps pace with us, quietly menacing, and as we reach the wooden doors it crouches back, getting ready to jump.

I shout "GO!" and we hurl the gurney through the doors, jump through after it and somehow manage to close them in time to hear the strange creature thud against them from the other side. It makes no other noise, and doesn't seem to have all the weight you'd expect from a wolf, bear or lion. We brace the doors and radio down for help - we are infected, the girl is safe, but we have a wild animal trapped in the office.

The response is quick, and before we are bundled off to another floor with a bigger plastic room and probably a long quarantine, I see the office through the reopened doors, trying to glimpse the creature again. There is no sign of it, but on the outer wall I see the open window where the girl climbed on the ledge and, for the life of me, I can't remember if we left it open or closed.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - This one is based on a dream I had the other night.
PPS - It doesn't feel completely finished, but I'm out of time.

Good enough computing

With today's desktop computers, we've pretty much hit "good enough" processor speeds at 3GHz. We're still squeezing more power out of RAM, multicore architectures, hard disk space and video cards, though. Personally, I wonder at what point we'll get to "good enough" in each of those components, and which one will top out first. Will people be perfectly happy with a 5TB hard drive, and anything larger is a waste, or will we never hit that mark? People are pretty bad at cleaning up after themselves and many consider a full hard drive the signal that it's time to buy a new PC, so it's entirely possible that there is no point where most people will have enough disk space for the indefinite future.

Another reason we may never hit "good enough" is that we always think of bigger, better and more powerful things to do with our computers. A 3GHz processor might be good enough for now, but soon enough people will be wondering why we can't do real-time video processing or some other task, so we'll need more powerful machines again. "Good enough" is relative.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - When you push these boundaries, you get bigger boundaries.
PPS - Eventually.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Unsustainable TV

Maybe TV is not a sustainable model the way we've known it. Maybe there is no way to produce high-quality weekly shows in 20+ episode seasons without broadcast advertising. Maybe that means we need to explore new ways of producing and consuming our entertainment. It won't look much like what we've got now, but maybe it will be better.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Or maybe it won't exist at all, and we will just get YouTube.
PPS - And countless low-value indie productions.