Friday, 26 June 2009

Linkables 26/6/9

Broken Picture Telephone is the web-based version of the Chinese-whispers-style game where you alternate drawing pictures from a description and describing what you see in a picture until you end up with a transition of images and pictures that ends up miles away from its origin. It's great fun to do online, and some of the results are brilliant. Here are some of the ones I've taken part in so far.

Great message-board addition, with added dinosaury awesomeness...

Speaking of dinosaurs, an awesome and thoroughly confusing Dinosaur comics guest comic.

And by the same guest, MSPaintAdventures. I really like the idea of writing a story based on user-suggested actions, and though he seems to have moved somewhat away from that according to the description on the site, I still found the latest story to be enthralling and hilarious. Your experience may vary, of course, especially if you're not a programmer who enjoys interactive fiction.

Auto-tune the news. Indescribable madness in the key of C. #2 and #5 are particularly fab.

On a more serious note, you can examine what your MP has been splurging on. I take particular delight in noting that my MP spent £3.67 of my money on paper plates. For what dark purpose, though? Those MPs, always up to something...

The main problem with this digital age in which we live? It's no longer possible to impress people with incredible sheep-related stunts, because everyone will insist that it's faked.

BBC readers react to MJ news

9/10 of the most watched news clips...
...and 8/10 of the most read news stories...
...but at least people are still sharing the wallaby story...

Thursday, 25 June 2009

I'm quite impressed (UPDATED)

http://www.scribblenauts.com/trailers.html
see video under article

This trailer doesn't do it much justice, but it is still pretty impressive. The basic concept is, get star by writing whatever you like in order to help you out.

Two examples I've heard that make it seem even cooler are, trying to get a whale back into the sea using a twister (american telling story) which flung the whale off the wrong way, fail, but fun. And another is writing 'timemachine' being sent back in time and being attacked by dinosaurs, so typing 'robot dinosaur' and getting a robot dinosaur to ride and kill other dinosaurs, yet still failing as the star was sill in the future.

Now i have no idea what the actual limitations are (aside from your own imagination), there must surely be a limit to the programs capabilities, but if this is as good as the few stories I've heard I'll be buying myself a DS so i can play this, as I love that kinda stuff, though I will have to learn how to spell.

Kinda like Crayon Physics (go find the link yourself), but better

UPDATE: This kinda relates to the title, so here we go.

Frickin' awesome headphones

These are utterly ridiculous in so many ways, but totally awesome aswell. If I was gaming more, especially on Xbox Live, I'd buy a pair (even though they are £150, which strangley equates to $150, go figure). As it stands though, i don't play games enough and I don't really have £150 lying around.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

A change of profession, perhaps...?

I just took the BBC News Magazine's online GCSE English Literature quiz. I got four our of seven. Oh bollocks.

In my defence, whilst the questions are all regarding potential GCSE English Literature texts, the quiz is just that - a quiz with multiple choice answers - and not an examination. You would never find a multiple choice question in a GCSE English Lit paper, nor would you find a question which gives you one mark for a "right answer". Of the three I missed out on, only one will I hold my hands up that I should have got it right (the one about Much Ado About Nothing). One I missed because I've never read Jane Eyre, and another because in my view there was more than one "right answer", and it just so happened that BBC Bitesize defined the other one as "right". Essentially, it felt more like a recollection of facts about GCSE Literature texts than an examination of actual understanding, which is what literary study is all about. The question on Of Mice And Men I also felt as an English teacher and graduate was open to debate on which answer would get me a mark. I might write more about the purpose (if any) of the quiz at a later date, but as I'm at work at the moment I'll leave it at that for now.

Anyway, have a go yourself and see if you know more about English Literature than I do.

Also, I should have teh interwebz back at home from this afternoon (finally... *pained groan* [not necessarily from missing the 'net but from the hassle of actually trying to get my account transferred to my new address]), so my entries here should hopefully increase in frequency.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Ryanair

God I hate them.

Part of me wants to leave this post there but I feel I should give some sort of motive. So here's an example of why a part of me hopes that their offices burn to the ground and all the wings fall off their planes, possibly plucked by some righteous, loner, school boy, god plucking wings off flies.

Last night we were booking tickets for a family holiday to Spain. The flights aren't really that cheap anyway and then you come to all the additional costs:

Quite annoying - £20 to take up to 15kg of luggage (and woe-betide you if you take more). Luggage, what exatly is in their hold otherwise? I mean, they have bought standard model planes, which presumably have exactly the same hold capacity as every other airlines planes. I can only assume that their holds are somewhat empty because everyone flying with them is wearing as much clothing as possible with as big a piece of handluggage as possible, trying to squeeze into hot, tiny seats.

Also annoying is the card handling fee - £20. £5 per passanger, per flight (two people on returns). I am still only going to be paying once, and presumably they're not going to re-run the transaction at every check-in to take my money gradually. The only card on their list which wouldn't attract a fee is the Ryanair Creditcard, although I wouldn't be surprised if it charged you both to pay for things with it and to then repay it, after all having computers that can run electronic transactions does cost money and is a luxury that more frugal card holders can manage without.

Most annoying however is the £20 charge for online check in. Again, £5 per passanger per flight. This is charging me to save Ryanair money because now they won't need to have a lady waiting to view my passport, and take my bag. Although wait, you will because I'm taking a bag. Maybe that was what the bag charge was for. Anyway, in notes to the side of this is the following warning: If you don't check in online (and print out your bording cards) they will charge you £40 per passanger per flight to provide you with bording cards. Surely part of the cost of a flight should include the right to actually get on the flight? The thing here is that if the flights had just cost more and there had been the option either to pay more for non-online check-in or the option to save by taking online check-in then I wouldn't be annoyed.

Rant rant rant rant rant.

Anyway, basically I find their whole philosophy of getting you to pay extra for every tiny item you want in addition to just having a plane with fuel and a pilot just so that they can claim low prices is wrong. Especially with costs that aren't actually optional and don't appear to bear any resemblance to the actual cost involved. This is a style of business that I don't want to succeed, There's no reason Ryanair can't be cheap and profitable and still act in the reasonable way all other airlines do.

So I pledge that other than this flight (which was forced by family things) I will not fly by Ryanair*.

*Unless of:
- peer / family pressure
- no other option on a particular route
- Ryanair change of policy

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Linkables 11/6/9

How to teach a child to argue.

The story of a longboard rescue.

Charlie Brooker on the BNP

How to start something big from nothing at all, just by standing out.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Who knew?

Report on getting computer-generated nonsense accepted to "peer-review" journals.

And finally, would you go into space if it meant standing on a 15km tall inflatable ladder?

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Just when you thought English politics couldn't get much lower...

...the BNP gain seats in the EU thingy.

Unfortunately I never managed to vote, which is down to a mixture of not having time (I leave the house around 0730 and get back around 1900) and not being organised enough to sort out postal voting.

However I'm a little dismayed that some of those who did manage to vote where either sufficiently stupid, had some kind of brain malfunction or had threats made against them or their families such that they accidentally ticked (crossed) next to the box saying British Nazi Party (I'm so original I know, what bout Bull-shitting Nazi Phuckers? any better?). I realise that people have been angered by what has happened recently but this kind of backlash is pretty stupid as it'll achieve nothing of benefit and potentially lead to worse situations. Lets hope that this doesn't happen for the general election (whenever that is) as I'd leave a country led by the BNP (though I seriously doubt that would happen). Racism shouldn't be stood for and when it's thinly veiled in being proud to be British it's insulting. I'm not a particularly patriotic person, but I don't want to see this country turn into a more divided and negative place.

My mum sent me a link to Hope Not Hate a while ago when the BNP started gaining supporters due to the expenses "scandal" and other such stupidity, and Charlie Brooker has linked to tehm on his twitter. I put scandal in "s as I'm not sure if scandal is the right word for it. It's probably been known to be happening for a while but no one's been that bothered or something like that, I dunno.

Anyway this is their latest campaign Not in my Name, which is simply an online petition to say the BNP doesn't represent the views of the British people (or at least the majority of them), with the hope of discrediting them withing the European Parliament (I guess). Whether or not this will do much I'm not sure, but I urge you to sign it regardless as it's not anything too taxing and could make a difference to this ridiculous turn of events. Hope Not Hate do send out emails quite frequently, which I find slightly annoying as their tone is generally a little on the pushy side, so stick in a not regularly used email address if you don't want to be pestered, but please do sign this and pass it on to people who may care as the more people saying the same thing the louder it is.

Anyway enough vaguely political stuff, go sign and then get on with your lives.