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Wednesday, May 6, 1998

1000+

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is an animation worth?

Freedom of Taste Animation

Monday, May 4, 1998

Have You Noticed?

....that it is almost impossible to hold ones attention of something that does not relate directly to one's immediate survival or the survival of the genes you happen to be carrying around in your jeans.

Even if you agree that it is a good thing to hold your attention on, it will not be possible to hold it there until it is an immediate threat to your survival. And the threat must be in a form you personally understand. Global warming or the death of the oceans does not count -- leastwise not unless you can perceive those issues as immediate. Anyone interested can confirm this to themselves with just a modicum of research.

What then is one to do when they are dead? Heck-darn being dead one doesn't have threat to one's survival around to drive one into action and to hold the attention for one and a half seconds in a row. Ignoring for a moment the fact that threats to survival don't hold the attention long enough for real work. Let's ignore that part. So moving on to the other part.

What was that about "being dead one doesn't have threat to one's survival around to drive one into action and to hold the attention" part? Well, then what about that?

Have you noticed that even though you are dead you have things that threaten your survival?

Whoa! You mean even though you are dead you have stuff that threatens your survival? Okay, so maybe being dead isn't enough?

Or, maybe you aren't dead enough?

Maybe you have some residual stuff hanging around? You know....things like ego, pride, hunger, envy, jealousy, ... You know things like that.

What do you notice gets your attention?

Thursday, April 30, 1998

What do you know about apes? Part II

Did you actually get some information about apes? Did you even go so far as to see a movie, visit the zoo, or read a book? Come on folks. Talk a moment to check this out.

Sunday, April 26, 1998

What do you know about apes?

Yep. That's the question. What do you know about apes? Have you any information about the social structure of apes? If not check it out. Spend a little time. You may be in for a rather large shock. I'll explain a bit more later. For the moment just head on out into the world of experience and gather a little.

Friday, April 17, 1998

A Story You Might Not Want To Read

Over in the FYI section of the Galaxy eZine is a story about plant genetics and the power of synonyms to make our life more pleasant. Check it out here.

Wednesday, April 15, 1998

A Story

Reprinted here is a story sent to yours truly by a friend.

Obviously one or more jurors in this story had the kind of attention to detail that is needed in the bardos.

A defendant was on trial for murder. There was strong evidence indicating guilt, but there was no corpse. In the defense's closing statement the lawyer, knowing that his client would probably be convicted, resorted to a trick.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I have a surprise for you all," the  lawyer said as he looked at his watch. "Within one minute, the person  presumed dead in this case will walk into this courtroom." He looked  toward the courtroom door. The jurors, somewhat stunned, all looked on  eagerly. A minute passed. Nothing happened. 

Finally the lawyer said, "Actually, I made up the previous statement.  But  you all looked on with anticipation. I therefore put to you that you  have a  reasonable doubt in this case as to whether anyone was killed and insist  that you return a verdict of not guilty." The jury, clearly confused,  retired to deliberate. A few minutes later, the jury returned and  pronounced a verdict of guilty.

"But how?" inquired the lawyer. "You must have had some doubt; I saw all of  you stare at the door."

The jury foreman replied: "Oh, we did look, but your client didn't." 

Thursday, April 9, 1998

Guardians

The meanderings you see here are the results gathered from efforts to work with a pre-beta test team on our new set of video games. (See G.O.D.D.TM for details)

Our games are developed in the Win95/DirectX/DirectPlay environment. Hidden away in plain site on our website are multiple references to the fact that folks need to download and install both DirectX 5 and DirectX 5.0a update in order for our games to function properly.

Weeks into the testing process we find that some of the complaints and malfunctioning of the game can be directly related to the fact that several of our beta testers had not downloaded and/or installed the updated DirectX 5.0a.

This is to be expected. It was during the "How do we prevent this?" discussion that the function of "guardians" was revealed. Here how it went:

One inclination, not necessarily the first, was to get better qualified beta-testers. Maybe with a more experienced crew these kinds of errors would not occur. Possible. Only two problems, 1) does such a class of "better qualified" beta-testers actually exist; and, 2) what do we do about the anticipated final delivery in which one can't pick and choose customers based on "better qualified" or not.

Our next inclination was to address the question of improving the instructions on the website -- dummy proofing the installation steps. Given that we need to anticipate all variety of skill and experience levels, how can we create instructions that are truly "dummy proof".

We thought our instructions were pretty clear. Unless we personally take the user by the hand and walk them through the instructions step by step what is to prevent a user from blasting through our instructions, scrolling past our carefully detailed "dummy proof" instructions?

This is where the function of the "guardian" comes in. We have determined to put a version test in the game. Now when the game is loaded it will look around and ask the simple question, "Is the proper version of DirectX present?" If the correct version is present the game will continue loading and all is well. If the correct version of the DirectX is not present the game will print a message to screen advising the user that they need to install the proper version.

The user is free to ignore instructions or not, read the manual or not, scroll past important information or not, do whatever they wish or not. We don't have to anticipate because we know beyond a shadow of doubt that only a qualified user (in so far as they have the correct version of DirectX) will enter into the game. Why? Because we won't let them in unless they do.

Now, we can relax. The user will eventually stumble upon the valued instructions, or perhaps they will call and ask for help, or maybe just email. We are guaranteed that they will somehow "qualify" themselves before gaining entrance.

As responsible "gate keepers" we will redouble our efforts to make sure the instructions are there and easy to find and perhaps even easier to follow. We aren't off the hook of needing to expend the effort necessary to provide appropriate help. Getting out of writing clear and easy to follow instructions is not the motivation behind building a "guardian" into the system to act as a gate keeper.

The motivation behind building a "guardian" into the system to act as a gate keeper is to ensure that someone will stay in the outer corridor where instruction is provided before moving on into the next chamber. This is only fair. In the next chamber will be instructions and training that focuses on preparing for the chamber beyond that. Hence, if we allow a user to move beyond the proper instructional chamber, we will allow them to move into a place devoid of what they need. That wouldn't be very compassionate would it?

So next time you balk and complain about a guardian preventing your passage through the gate into the next chamber take a moment to thank them for not allowing you to move past the place that holds the key.

Tuesday, April 7, 1998

General Xxaxx, Writer?

Well, the ol' son of a gun has put up a newly revised fiction page. You can can check it out at "General Xxaxx, Writer?"

Friday, March 27, 1998

From a Friend

This little news bit is either an extract from an actual experiment or it's an apocryphal story. In either case the punch line has some bite. Start with a cage containing five apes. In the cage, hang a banana on a string and put stairs under it. Before long, an ape will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the Banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the apes with cold water.

After a while, another ape makes an attempt with the same result - all the apes are sprayed with cold water.

Turn off the cold water.

If, later, another ape tries to climb the stairs, the other apes will try to prevent it even though no water sprays them.

Now, remove one ape from the cage and replace it with a new one.

The New ape sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs.

To his horror, all of the other apes attack him.

After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five apes and replace it with a new one.

The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked.

The previous Newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm.

Again, replace a third original ape with a new one. The new one makes it to the stairs and is attacked as well.

Two of the four apes that beat him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs, or why they are participating in the beating of the newest ape.

After replacing the fourth and fifth original apes, all the apes which have been sprayed with cold water have been replaced.

Nevertheless, no ape ever again approaches the stairs. Why not?

"Because that's the way it's always been around here."

Sound familiar?

Thanks Cathy.

Friday, March 20, 1998

It's All In How You Assessorize

This reported by AM News Abuse for March 23 1998:
- The WSJ reported on how technology is changing the death business. Vendors like Viewlogy offer audio/video tombstones. Computer-guided saws and lasers can cut headstones into any shape for half the price of the manual process. Popular: Mickey Mouse for children, Harley Davidsons for motorcycle accident victims, and of course personal portraits at 200DPI. Illuminate it eerily with the solar-powered Peace Light. . . . .Interactive holograms are about five years out.

Friday, March 20, 1998

Rash is almost gone

For awhile there we had a rash (I use the word advisedly) of very strange and unprintable Dead Elvis Sightings. However, that momentary trend in the aethers seems to have passed and, for the moment anyway, we are experiencing printable and mostly interesting Dead Elvis Sightings.

Wednesday, March 18, 1998

Dead Elvis Finds Some Marbles

I ran across this little ditty bouncing around inside my head today:

1: Life is tough.
2: Then you die.
3: Then the afterlife it tough.
4: Then you are reborn.
5: See Part 1.

At first blush, this might look like bad news. But hey, who says tough is bad? We aren't talking prime rib here, we're talking challenging enough to make it interesting. You got a better way to spend eternity?

Monday, March 16, 1998

Dead Gives Address at Canteen Workshop

The dead guy was invited to give the opening address at the recent Canteen Experimental Online Workshop. You can catch the results as a reprint from the event. More general information can be found at the Workshop Index

Saturday, March 14, 1998

More Dead Elvis Sightings

The past few days we have had a bumper crop of Dead Elvis Sightings. There are some "you should miss these" entries.

Wednesday, March 11, 1998

A Not So Subtle Question

Here's another question for all you dead guys and gals: Knowing what you know about Planet Earth at this moment, what could induce you to take an incarnation back on that mud ball?

Sunday, March 8, 1998

Motion

"Going through the motions" is not a replacement for "being in motion".

Thursday, March 5, 1998

Words

Is the opposite of Proactive amateur-active or anti-active? Oh, well. Let's wait around and maybe the answer will come to us.

Wednesday, March 4, 1998

Why Today?

Consider the possibility that it was necessary you return from some other far off place because there was something you needed to do today. What was it you needed to do today that was so important?

Tuesday, March 3, 1998

Consider This

Consider the possibility that you planted this news item on the Dead Elvis News page to remind yourself of something. What was it you wished to remind yourself of?

Friday, February 27, 1998

Who would have thought.

This reported by AM News Abuse for Feb 25 1998:
- The latest Year 2000 problem involves gravestones. To save money, many are already pre-engraved with the 19-- part.

For me this little new bit was a shocker. "How so?" I hear some of you asking. Well, after seeing the news bit it seems obvious that such a thing would be happening. Makes sense in a strange sort of way. But, until confronted with the new this was totally invisible to me. There was a shadow of a thought about this.

Just makes me wonder what other unforeseen, equally obvious and fun mysteries abound.

Wednesday, February 25, 1998

That'll Be $500, 6 Months in Jail or Your Liver

This reported by AM News Abuse for Feb 25 1998:
Confirming fears of prison abuses in China, two Chinese nationals were arrested in a NY FBI sting after trying to arrange the sale of transplantable organs from Chinese prisoners executed there. Offered were corneas, kidneys, lungs (promised from non-smokers), skin, pancreases, and livers. They wanted 25% of the transplant fees. . . . . . http://www.amnesty.org/ Amnesty International says China executed over 4,300 in 1996, more than the rest of the world combined and 20 times more than second-place Ukraine. . . . . China's Foreign Ministry is denying everything.

Anyone familiar with science fiction saw this coming. Just wait and see what happens when they perfect anti-rejection drugs. Of course on the upside, third world countries will start to get more food and help with disease prevention. After all, ya gotta keep those organ crops healthy.

Tues, February 24, 1998

You Gotta Love a Comedian

This reported by AM News Abuse for Feb 24 1998:
- The founder of eToys.com and Shopping.com announced he'll launch GoTo.com, a radical new search engine that will rank search results purely according to whatever advertiser pays the most money to be on top of the list.

Who says there's no way to get sleasier?

Friday, February 20, 1998

A Couple of Riddles

Here's a couple of riddles: "Do you know when a plant is not on a vegitarian's diet? When it's a meat packing plant."

Speaking of Oprah, here's another riddle for you: "Do you know when it's safe to make a social commentary? When there's no chance of your comment having any effect."

I don't eat meat because I don't trust the ethics of the meat packing industry. I read Upton Sinclair. Will I be sued? I doubt it. So Oprah is not being sued for making a comment. She is being sued for lack of obscurity.

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