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My micro life: 11:42am, 22 July 2008

Apparently the name ‘Aaron’ is Hebrew for “Doomed to receive calls from friends who forget to lock their mobile phone keypads”


My micro life: 2:33pm, 3 July 2008

Ah, Microsoft Word… only a mother could love your default heading styles. Like a Tourettes fit in a type foundry.


Fixing flat, grey input buttons in Safari 3

I’m not too proud to admit that this problem had me stumped for ages.


My micro life: 1:36pm, 1 July 2008

Apple’s lowercase-personal-pronoun ‘i’ thing has gone too far; takeaway joint iSushi just got added to the list of things to which ‘iObject’


My micro life: 8:03pm, 26 June 2008

In the 70s, people truly believed that the identity of a man named Mott could be clarified by the addition of the cognomen ‘the Hoople’


My micro life: 3:51pm, 24 June 2008

C-3PO is not only fluent in 6 million forms of communication, he also manages to sound like an asshole in every one of them


My micro life: 4:00pm, 17 June 2008

Booked in for an appearance on Carson Kressley’s new show Why Have You Got Two Of Those?.


My micro life: 3:52pm, 10 June 2008

Chatting with a work colleague just as they enter the toilet is awkward; you both know that they’ll shortly be, to some extent, minus pants


Open Library

Another way to access the mind-bogglingly huge archive of full text digitised books at the Internet Archive; very neat site design and great options for refining searches.


My micro life: 9:33am, 5 June 2008

According to the email in my junk folder, all I have to do is email a chap named ‘Burton Wolf’ and my ‘rodney’ will become ladies’ new toy


The ebb and flow of movies: box office receipts 1986-2008

A very attractive graph showing how some movies are like mayflies (are they the ones that don't live for long?) and others are like, um, much-longer-living flies.


Public domain weird fiction at Wikisource

Includes a selection of horror and Gothic fiction, scientifiction, fantasy and sword and sorcery.


Lovecraft jottings (or, jotcraft leavings)

From the man himself: "This book consists of ideas, images, & quotations hastily jotted down for possible future use in weird fiction…" (H.P. Lovecraft). Frightening that any of these mind have found their source in, as he calls them, "casual incidents".


Found object: 2:28pm, 17 March 2008

Discovered while looking at Wikipedia entries on people more successful than me. (By definition, anyone who has a Wikipedia entry.) But at least failure and obscurity are effective safeguards against this kind of Wiki-vandalism.

(Wikipedia)


Critically missed (cont’d)

In the days since news went ’round the interwobs about the death of Dungeons & Dragons creator Gary Gygax, I’ve come across a number of tributes to the man who was truly the Dungeon Master’s Dungeon Master. Some of these have taken the form of fond — and surprisingly candid — reminiscences about old D&D campaigns.

Two pieces in particular caught my eye: Jason Heller’s piece at The A.V. Club, about the impact of D&D on his “lack of a life”, and a piece by Wired editor Adam Rogers at the New York Times, which has some interesting things to say about yesterday’s D&D nerds being today’s Web 2.0 cyberlords.

I have a clear memory of being introduced to D&D in Grade 4. I’m fairly certain that the adventure involved an encounter with a carrion crawler (but then, show me an introductory D&D adventure that didn’t) and, possibly, a living statue. Or living ooze. Or living ooze on a regular, non-living statue. There was a statue, anyway. It may have been booby-trapped and concealing treasure.

At first I was fascinated mainly by the dice and the maps. By Grade 5 I was playing in a campaign with my friend’s Dad as Dungeon Master, and including among its players a number of guys from Melbourne University. Which was kind of intimidating for a 10 year old.

I started to get a sense of the storytelling at the heart of the game, the freedom to invent. One day while visiting my friend I discovered his Dad’s handwritten notes for an upcoming adventure, and piles of exercise books describing the campaign universe in exacting detail. The whole enterprise seemed huge, and compelling, and so much richer than regular life, or even the world of fiction. This was a fiction in which I was a player.

When I moved schools in Year 8 I discovered that people were playing D&D 550km away from Melbourne. Our Saturday night games through Year 11 and 12 weren’t dissimilar to today’s marathon internet gaming sessions in terms of duration, involvement of junk foods and surrounding air of fuggy fartiness.

I was still playing D&D a couple of years ago, playing in one campaign and running another, a gothic horror, slightly steampunk campaign set in Victorian London.

Adam Rogers’s New York Times piece describes the exhilaration of rolling up a new character or creating a new dungeon, and there’s a parallel to be drawn with the way we’re constantly signing up to new webapps:

Every Gmail login, every instant-messaging screen name, every public photo collection on Flickr, every blog-commenting alias is a newly manifested identity, a character playing the real world.

It’s true: every time we fill out a new profile and start hailing fellow internet travellers, it’s an opportunity to re-imagine ourselves, to roll-up a new character and go looking for rumours at the tavern.


The best laid plans lead writers astray

“If novels are going to combust imaginatively, shouldn’t they be written spontaneously?” writes Hannah Davies.


Hidden iPod controls revealed

Apple Inc. is renowned for hiding delicious features in its computers and gadgets, little operating system ‘easter eggs’ that pop up one day when you least expect it to enrich your computing life in subtle but important ways.

I recently discovered a new way of controlling an iPod without laying a finger on the scrollwheel. Mine is a 5th generation video iPod, so your mileage may vary (or as the computer geeks say, ‘YMMV’).

Step one: Travel on public transport. Find a seat next to the window, or otherwise ensure that your iPod is in your pants pocket on the side of your body nearest to a vacant seat.

Step two: Wait for an obese person to sit next to you.

Step three: Marvel at the genius of Steve Jobs as the pressing of your fellow passenger’s arse-flesh against your iPod causes tracks to skip backwards, forwards, pause and suddenly play at unbearable levels of volume.


Hilary Mantel on the lure of the unexplained

"To many of us, a great deal of what we encounter daily is unexplained. It is possible to have received a good education and know nothing of science or technology."


Compendium of lost words

A list of over 400 of the rarest modern English words, including a long list of unusual adjectives of relation.


How we work

The habits, rituals and small (and occasionally big) methods people use to get their work done. Includes a number of writers and artists.