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Category: Computrons

Lack of Imagination

Posted on March 5, 2017 in Computrons Culture Reality As Such

Travis Kalanick’s recent string of run-ins with reality have put me to thinking, as I occasionally do, about how weird it is that we ignore empathy when evaluating intelligence. While anyone who has been paying attention can tell you that Kalanick’s apologies are insincere, the hurt and confused demeanour isn’t. He’s genuinely at a loss, because he’s getting in trouble for the exact behavior that has caused people to throw money at him. Kalanick may be the (punchable) face of the problem at the moment, but the fact that VCs are clamoring to get in on a company that’s hemorrhaging precisely because of its cavalier attitude towards its employees, the law, and the world at large constitutes a problem on a much larger scale.

We can quibble about lionizing sociopaths having been appropriate in the past, but for people trying to make their money off the opportunities presented by the connected world, not being sympathetic to someone else’s perspective is basically wanting to have your cake and eat it too, which I think is something that everyone can agree is a sign of limited intelligence.

Kill Your (Indie) Darlings II

Posted on October 17, 2016 in Computrons Gaming

Continuing my complaints about games that are better than 99% of the garbage out there.

Duskers: So, Duskers is super-cool, right? It has a command-line interface, and works from an overhead map. It’s like the motion tracker part of Alien, only you control drones! Sweet, right?

Duskers betrays itself in a really important way. It is completely unsafe to do this without zooming in on an individual drone and operating it manually. The game basically kills the nicest things about it, by demanding fidgety twitching.


Cloud to Butt

Posted on March 26, 2013 in Computrons

During my most recent excursion to Yachats, C and I had planned to do some tinkering on Futility Now. Unfortunately, I forgot my laptop’s power cable, which put us at something of a disadvantage. I did some hacking right on The Gibson (which is to say, the deeply unsanitary WordPress theme editing panes that live right in its control panel,) but the thrill didn’t last for as long as I might have hoped.

I went back to Cloud 9, which I had signed up for early in the year (in fact, I think I did it the last time I was at Ocean Haven), but hadn’t gotten much satisfaction from. In a lot of ways it seems much cooler, but it still doesn’t work in Safari or Chrome on the iPad. This is also true of Ace (the editor used by Cloud 9), so I guess the problem is deeply rooted. It seems like a shame, since Cloud 9 and the iPad seem like an obvious match. I was, however, able to make more complicated changes using C’s work computer which would have been very difficult to set up for useful work, as it’s a high school IT department-maintained Windows machine.

I poked around at some other online IDEs, but a lot of them use Ace. The only one that seems to accommodate the iPad is Eclipse’s Orion, but to really get it to do stuff it seems like they want you to host a copy. I guess in theory I could do something to that effect, but it wasn’t within the scope of my vacation.

This is what a guy who comes home from a beach vacation and talks about online IDEs looks like.


Here is the Cloud-to-Butt Chrome extension.

Here is the greatest commit in the history of version control.



Posted on January 17, 2013 in Computrons

Here is the site of a company called the Rockwell Group. They made big news with this installation from CES 2013. Here is a Github repo of a Twitter filter that they wrote using Temboo, and in particular my Node.js SDK.

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Turn it Upside Down

Posted on July 28, 2012 in Computrons Language

So. . . Markov Garden.

As I work on it, I’ve been finding little bits that I like particularly, and putting them here

Sometimes, however, it’s difficult to find something in particular, and you just have to include the entire output of a run.

“I don’t want dozens of people came to your own father, you young Rip? This boy is a little glass of Bordeaux to his forehead, he seemed to grow to be able to do so; but, no persuasion would extract a word with any reference to George Washington, which was already scrubbed throughout; and between the Concord and the Doctor disquieted. “I would not have gone so far as he used his blue cap. What did you look at, and such earnest youth and beauty, was far more as though it pitted its gravity and longevity against the next pause, the counsel for and against. Among the first of the man who hungered, asked: “Is this rustic to be all of a country still containing himself, that Friday night in November, before the shoemaker replied:

“Indeed!” said Defarge, with three flourishes. She acknowledged their homage by bending her head, though not to be the old clerk; “we all have our various ways of gaining a livelihood. Some of the past.”

“Let me interrupt you for it is possible—that it may be taken down and praying agin me?”

“Is it possible!” exclaimed Mr. Lorry. “Yes—I—”

At any rate, I keep thinking “this weekend I’m going to release the books-only version” and then there’s some snag. One of these days it’s going to happen, but probably not in August. I think I’m going to be keeping busy at Temboo and testing for another belt at Stark Street Academy. Maybe if I take a few days off around Thanksgiving. Seems interminable, but I guess that’s the fate of side projects.



Posted on July 12, 2012 in Computrons

Whoah, classy!

So C and I went to the coast a few days ago, and while I did a fair amount of just gazing out at the serene yet mighty Pacific, I also made a concerted effort on Markov Garden. Because I’m that sort of person, it’s easy for me to look at the fact that MG has been in process for something like seven months without it being finished and get a little disheartened, but I’m trying to fight that off. I mean, it’s not as if I haven’t been working during that time.

Speaking of working, I went to OSCON as part of a Temboo brigade and sat at a booth and said things like “the cloud” and “api” a bajillion times. Not surprisingly for nerds, the OSCON badge has a random animal on it. I got a rhinoceros. I like rhinoceroses.



Contact Aesthetics

Posted on June 14, 2012 in Computrons Culture

Here is a picture of Christopher Reeve in 1978’s Superman.

Here is an article highlighting some costumes for the upcoming movie. We sure love lumpy superheroes these days. I think that maybe there’s an idea that the smoothness that once characterized the source material (now long cross-pollinated with extraneous widgets) was less authentic. Useless doodads somehow represented something more “utilitarian.” I sort of meandered on from this.

Here is a picture of an Apple ][+ computer. . .

and here it is with its case open.

(Actually, that’s an Apple ][, but whatever.)

Here is a picture of the Macbook Pro that I use for work. . .

and here is a picture of the scoring caused by the Herculean effort of prying the case open enough to upgrade the fucking RAM.

As the things that we use every day become more opaque and inaccessible, we need some sort of traction material on fictional icons so we can feel like we have access to something. Unfortunately, we’re so far from accessible design that we don’t remember what utility looks like.



Posted on May 5, 2012 in Computrons Language

So it turns out that my debugging print and puts statements were a huge contributing factor to how slow my Ruby parser is. That doesn’t mean that I’m not still looking for ways to make the whole thing a bit more compact, it just means that I can definitely forget about it until I start populating an actual site with probability tables.

I also performed the massaging mentioned in the previous post. The probability table now goes between the Ruby backend and the Javascript frontend without trouble. Here was the first success:

“What do you pretend not to like excitement. But it had always made the keeper of the sunken eyes seemed to find this answer in the restitution of the dead of night yet before us.”

“I have invented this definition, this last phrase the Minister of the upright judge. Let me take him into a wall of the seizure of the windows. In the distance was answered by the side of the oppressed, of the approaching end, she had not heard a short intoxication, whose delight one remembered with profound attention. “You have got a priest for me to shame,” he said.

The chairman of the curse of death and putting our trust in God. Were not the heart having no concern with the Gould silver mine, which by every law, international, human, and divine, reverts now to hush Mrs. Gould. “But, my dear mother, for a moment with the fatal spell of an experienced woman. She was, before all these things (which were accessible to His Excellency’s intelligence) in a black grating upon a drum. After listening for a long time he could say. They drove him away with my profound studies in Belgium and


Leon Takes Us

Posted on May 3, 2012 in Computrons Images

After work I decided to go up the hill to get out of the house a bit, and ended up at Slow Bar. I guess that happens when you’re as tall as I am.

After having a delicious hamburger I came home and wrestled with Markov Garden. Things were going okay until I realized that something’s off with the JSON that I’m getting from the parser, and it’s deserializing into something other than what I want. Here’s how I expressed that in a commit message.

The table that we’re getting turns into something a little off, so I think it’s going to have to involve more explicit hand-massaging.

So. . . that was pretty dorky.

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Yeah Yeah

Posted on April 22, 2012 in Computrons Identity Images

I had planned to be so good. Furthermore, I guess I’d sort of hoped to coast along on the momentum that came with the previously-mentioned promotion, but of course I don’t work that way. Instead, it seemed to cause a bit of a rupture and everything got kind of destructured.


Assorted thoughts:

Pinterest is great. Despite initial reservations, I think I’m getting more out of it than any other internet service these days. After my initial reaction to the information flood my impulse was to stop following everyone to whom I was automatically subscribed when I created my account. Luckily I didn’t do this, and instead starting dropping individual boards in which I was clearly not interested. The result is that I avoid being inundated with crap, but I’m still seeing a lot of things that are very cool that I wouldn’t have found left to myself.

In the olden days that doddering old fools like me only barely remember almost all personal web presences included a substantial link section. People would use these to collect lists of pages that they wanted to keep around, and there was a sort of discovery process whereby you would find someone’s homepage and follow their links, learning about various corners of the web as you went. Traditionally-minded bloggers like Warren Ellis still frequently post entries that are lists of links, but in general this process has moved within the silos of social networking sites. Of course, Pinterest is a social networking site too, but it’s very easy to get stuff into it and (and really, this is the most important thing) one doesn’t have to be logged in to view content.

I’ve been really scattered. I’ve always tended to be this way a bit, but it has accelerated lately. I think. I definitely feel like I am less able than usual to determine what I should be doing next, which often means that I waste time doing nothing. It is also the case that my attention span has been really dismal. I’m not positive what that is about.

The most obvious victim of this has been Markov Garden, which is currently pretty dormant. It is very hard for me to decide what to do about that. Part of me would like to really focus on how I can get organized in such a way that a next step is either obvious or discoverable when I find myself wondering what I ought to do. Part of me thinks that the most important thing is to finish what I’ve started and trying to organize myself more effectively ought to wait until after that has happened. If you hadn’t guessed from the previous paragraph, the outcome of this conflict is always that I don’t do anything worthwhile.