May 2009 Archives

31.05.2009 14:18

Tips for Artists Who Want to Sell (1966-68)

Baldessari; Tips for Artists Who Want to Sell (1966-68)

John Baldessari's "Tips for Artists Who Want to Sell". Here's an excerpt from a 2004 interview with the american born (1931- ) conceptual artist.

JB: I always had this idea that doing art was just a masturbatory activity, and didn't really help anybody. I was teaching kids in the California Youth Authority, an honor camp where they send kids instead of sending them to prison. One kid came to me one day and asked if I would open up the arts and crafts building at night so they could work. I said, "If all of you guys will cool it in the classes, then I'll baby-sit you." Worked like a charm. Here were these kids that had no values I could embrace, that cared about art more than I. So, I said, "Well, I guess art has some function in society," and I haven't gotten beyond that yet, but it was enough to convince me that art did some good somehow.I just needed a reason that wasn't all about myself.

Posted by mm | Permanent link | File under: art

30.05.2009 18:07

Fear and Loathing: The Board Game

Fear and Loathing: The Board Game

If you think Monopoly is boring and Cluedo lacks a certain je-ne-sais-quoi, give Fear and Loathing: The Board Game a try. Loosely based on Hunter J. Thompson's seminal piece of gonzo-journalism, jrbaldwin created a riveting mix of drug ingestion and outdoor activity.

Let's take a quick look at the rules: Land on a yellow space, and you have to ingest a certain drug (THC, LSD, Amyl Nitrite, etc.) as specified by its dosage card (a scale is included in the game). Land on a blue space, and perform an activity such as "30 minutes of wandering anywhere within the area you are playing the game". Land on a red space, and you must complete a challenge like "Program the DVD or VCR player". Yes, that's a challenge, more so if you've already landed on a yellow space before. It's designed to play over a weekend, so plenty of time to sober up I guess.

If you think of buying this as a christmas present or whatever, you're in for a surprise. For now it's just a work of art with one copy in existence. Which can be yours for 3500 USD. No, the substances that come with the game are not real, hu-ho.

Posted by mm | Permanent link | File under: games, art

29.05.2009 17:56

The French Doors

The French Doors

New Zealand horror film The French Doors serves as a glaring reminder that renovating your home doesn't pay off. Well not if you do it yourself. Cause if you do, a sucking vortex of darkness might manifest itself in your garden and pull you right in. At least that's what I tell people when they bitch about the state of my bathroom: "No no, guys, it's supposed to look that fucked up, it's postmodern Ghetto-Bauhaus-chic" or some such.

Written and directed by Steve Ayson, "The French Doors" was nominated for best Kiwi short in 2003. Yeah I know that's like six years ago. I stumbled upon that link yesterday, and thought it might be a fun idea to present a series of shorts on this blog. So here it is, the first entry. If you don't like the "slow" build-up (10 min. running time after all), skip straight to the middle of part 2.

I like the idea and Ayson did a good job of transferring it to the screen. Alas that's all he did as a director ever since. If IMDb is right, "French Doors" was his first and only movie to date. Well I wish him all the best and hopefully he'll get a chance at another one real soon.

If you have any genre favourites I should know about, drop me a line (remove SPAM) or write about it in the forum. Enjoy & hope to hear from you!

Posted by mm | Permanent link | File under: movies

27.05.2009 19:37

Demon Winner, the unofficial Golden Demon website

Ork  - by Robert Sakaluk

Demon Winner is a giant picture gallery for all the Golden Demon competitions held since 1987. Whether you like Games Workshop or not, the painting and modelling talent of some of these artists is a sight to behold.

Take Ben Komets for example. His dioramas usually come with a gritty narrative, and not only serve to showcase his awesome skillz. For those of you going "Woah Michael, that's pretty cheesy. Elves and Robots and Dwarves and shit? What's going on?", relax. Warhammer is the epitome of cheesy, so your criticism is... out of place or whatever, I don't really care.

But what I do care about is church in space, with battle tanks that use organ pipes for shootin'. Or orks. Orks are cool, what's not to love? Case closed.

Posted by mm | Permanent link | File under: games

26.05.2009 18:26

dig Jazz and dig Jazz Applet for Linux

dig Jazz is a fun little internet radio station from Australia, bringing you the latest in classic and contemporary jazz performances. To be honest, I just found out about dig while browsing for interesting news. Ian Wienand, one of the developers, released version two of his dig Jazz Applet for Linux.

If you want to listen via MP3 stream and not use dig's player, give it a go. It shows various info bits like artist and track name, cover art, duration and upcoming songs. In the past minutes I've listened to the Boss Trio, Vincent Herring, and the United Future Organization. Didn't know any of these acts, but they sure sound cool.

Posted by mm | Permanent link | File under: music

25.05.2009 21:12

Schneier's Movie-Plot Threat Contest

Bruce Schneier is a security consultant, famous for designing and co-designing cryptographic algorithms such as Blowfish and Twofish. His monthly CRYPTO-GRAM newsletter is a must-read in the security community, providing analyses and comments on issues such as Conficker, Data Trading, and Online Privacy.

But the man is also a little bit of a joker, creating events like the annual Movie-Plot Threat Contest. A Movie-Plot threat is, in Schneier's words, good for scaring people, but a silly basis for building national security policy. Think terrorists with crop-dusters, school-buses with explosives, or poisoned water supplies. Read the winning entry for 2009 and Schneier's "call for papers":

Let's face it, the War on Terror is a tired brand. There just isn't enough action out there to scare people. If this keeps up, people will forget to be scared. And then both the terrorists and the terror-industrial complex lose. We can't have that.

We're going to help revive the fear. There's plenty to be scared about, if only people would just think about it in the right way. In this Fourth Movie-Plot Threat Contest, the object is to find an existing event somewhere in the industrialized world—Third World events are just too easy—and provide a conspiracy theory to explain how the terrorists were really responsible.

Posted by mm | Permanent link | File under: politics

24.05.2009 13:41

Riot Police Space Invaders

Riot Police Space Invaders by Michael Maurer

I had another go at my illustration for Auf, Kinder des Vaterlands. Looking back, the first version seems like a draft now. Empty, white, I was too afraid to finish it and take it to eleven. People told me it needed a little extra, hopefully the current color scheme makes it complete.

If you like "Riot Police Space Invaders", feel free to buy the T-shirt.

Posted by mm | Permanent link | File under: art

22.05.2009 19:49

Southern Lord Cover Art

Southern Lord/Earth Cover Art

The picture above is the official cover artwork for Hibernaculum by Earth, a US drone-doom band signed to Southern Lord Records. I really like the photography they choose to represent their acts. Mainly because "sensual" and "poetic" are not usually words that come to mind when thinking about artwork for metal music.

I saw Earth and label colleagues SUNN O))) live on stage two years ago. While Earth felt very bluesy, SUNN O))) was the kind of drone I came for. You can find some live videos on Youtube, but they hardly do the experience justice.

Imagine falling asleep next to a jet engine, except you like the feeling. Brooding, oppressive wall of sounds, emanating from a stage clouded in fog. Performed by people dressed like monks, worshipping gods of nihilism and sonic overload. Ah, holy goat! (... WTF sorry I got carried away)

Anyway, I've compiled a selection of covers for you to look at. SUNN O))), Thrones, Boris, Orthodox, Wolves in the Throne Room, Burning Witch, Asbestos Death - think black, doom or drone metal. And then look at the artwork.

Posted by mm | Permanent link | File under: music

21.05.2009 19:56

The perils of working in the film industry

Death Proof Floydberg

Robin Bougie of Cinema Sewer-fame compiled a list of memorable and notable on-set deaths from 1920 to 2008. Learn about stuntmen and actors losing a leg, drowning, catching fire or getting eaten by a shark, all for the sake of a movie.

They Died With Their Boots On (1941)
Three horseman perished during the cavalry charge, one of whom was extra Jack Budlong, whose horse tripped as he rode alongside Errol Flynn. As he fell forward, he had the foresight to toss his sword ahead of him. Unfortunately, it landed handle down and stuck in place. Sound familiar, Charge Of the Light Brigade Fans? Jack was impaled on his own sword, and died in a L.A. hospital a few hours later.

Twilight Zone: The Movie (1982)
During the filming of a segment directed by John Landis on July 23, 1982, actor Vic Morrow and child actors My-Ca Dinh Le (aged 7) and Renee Shin-Yi Chen (aged 6) died in an accident involving a helicopter hovering above them. Without warning, the copter spun out of control and crashed, decapitating Morrow and one of the children with its blades. The remaining child was crushed to death. Landis, Steven Spielberg, and several other crew members were brought up on manslaughter charges, and were clearly in violation of several child labour laws. Chen’s parents also brought them up on a $200m damage suit without realising that rich famous people have awesome lawyers. Despite a long court battle, everyone charged walked away scot-free.

Posted by mm | Permanent link | File under: movies

20.05.2009 19:25

Love, the MMO

Love, the MMO

This is a game to play with your friends, and for them to play with their friends. Never enough to be crowded; never so few to be alone. You can make your mark, but as in life, it’s not a contest. It’s not about who you are; it’s about the things you do. There is a small planet waiting for you to explore. There is an empire waiting for you to overthrow.

Love is the solo-project of swedish game designer Eskil Steenberg, an ambitious MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online Game) about building and manipulating structures in a procedurally generated world. Or in other words, "Anything you can see you can build and destroy".

But why would you want to destroy it? It looks so lovely. A welcome change from the standard fare of post-apocalyptic Blabla and Dungeons & Dragons fantasy settings. The teaser trailer and gameplay demo both look promising. I wasn't able to find a release date, probably because it hasn't been set yet.

Eskil prefers to work alone, or as he puts it, "to get stuff done" and not depend on volunteers. Considering he's pretty much created his own genre (artsy adventure for sensitive gamers?), it probably takes this kind of stubborness to conceive and complete a gargantuan task like Love. I wish him all the best.

Posted by mm | Permanent link | File under: games

19.05.2009 20:10

Writing fiction with PREVIEWS


Two weeks ago I blogged about using GURPS for writing fiction. The gist of the article was that RPG-systems provide a myriad of templates for creating scripts, novels, short-stories and anything else that involves a narrative.

PREVIEWS is not a RPG-system, but a monthly catalogue for comics and comics-related merchandise. So instead of dissecting the world into convenient building blocks (like GURPS), you get myriads of covers, teasers and descriptions for the latest graphic novels. Flipping through its pages is like getting a sensory overload of pop culture. Fantasy, Indie, Sci-Fi, Horror - if you want to catch a trend before everyone else does, you've come to the right place. Sure, the bulk of its 450 pages is made up of pulpy Superhero-stories, but there's always a gem buried somewhere in-between.

Looking at the Toys & Apparel-section gives you a good idea of the marketing potential behind successful IPs like Star Trek or Gears of War. Dolls, T-Shirts, mugs, miniatures, replicas - if you want it, they have it, whether that's a Klingon Cloaking Ship Mug for $12.99, or a life-size alien-bust from Gears of War for $650. Give PREVIEWS a try - it's good brainstorming material and costs only $4.50. Available at your local comic store.

Posted by mm | Permanent link | File under: writing, books

17.05.2009 21:11

Anne Sexton at home

Anne Sexton@Youtube

I'm currently making my way through Anne Sexton's Complete Poems, and it's nothing short of breathtaking. Born in 1928, she belongs to the group of american writers known as "confessional poets", championed by contemporary Robert Lowell.

Her poems are highly personal observations on life, death and the "interior female experience", introducing issues specific to women such as menstruation and abortion to the poetic discourse. If you don't know anything about her, check out Anne Sexton at home, a 14 minute video featuring the poet talking about work and family.

But you really should pick up the Complete Poems from Mariner Books. Here's the first part of one of my favourites, The Double Image:


I am thirty this November.
You are still small, in your fourth year.
We stand watching the yellow leaves go queer,
flapping in the winter rain.
falling flat and washed. And I remember
mostly the three autumns you did not live here.
They said I'd never get you back again.
I tell you what you'll never really know:
all the medical hypothesis
that explained my brain will never be as true as these
struck leaves letting go.

I, who chose two times
to kill myself, had said your nickname
the mewling mouths when you first came;
until a fever rattled
in your throat and I moved like a pantomine
above your head. Ugly angels spoke to me. The blame,
I heard them say, was mine. They tattled
like green witches in my head, letting doom
leak like a broken faucet;
as if doom had flooded my belly and filled your bassinet,
an old debt I must assume.

Death was simpler than I'd thought.
The day life made you well and whole
I let the witches take away my guilty soul.
I pretended I was dead
until the white men pumped the poison out,
putting me armless and washed through the rigamarole
of talking boxes and the electric bed.
I laughed to see the private iron in that hotel.
Today the yellow leaves
go queer. You ask me where they go I say today believed
in itself, or else it fell.

Today, my small child, Joyce,
love your self's self where it lives.
There is no special God to refer to; or if there is,
why did I let you grow
in another place. You did not know my voice
when I came back to call. All the superlatives
of tomorrow's white tree and mistletoe
will not help you know the holidays you had to miss.
The time I did not love
myself, I visited your shoveled walks; you held my glove.
There was new snow after this.

Posted by mm | Permanent link | File under: books, art

16.05.2009 20:55

The Illustrated Beginner's Guide to Eurovision Block Voting

Eurovision Cartoon

Ah yes. It's that time of year again. No, not christmas. Much better. Much, much better. Instead of letting a fat bearded man sneak into the house while everyone's asleep, today Europe will gleefully sit down in front of the TV and listen to a bunch of crap that passes for music. And why? I don't know. I guess that's why they call it "tradition".

Hey, that punchline wasn't as clever as I hoped it would be. Guess I have something in common with the participants of the Eurovision Song Contest 2009 in Moscow. Hohoho! Wow, the jokes won't stop. Because public voting in the last years was only interesting for sociologists studying migration (Hohoho!), they've decided to change it a bit.

Apparently now we'll have expert judges giving points. Expert judges. Sounds like inviting a wine connoisseur to a party where people drink nail polish just to get drunk. Ah well I'll stop now. Just take a look at this Illustrated Beginner's Guide to Eurovision Block Voting, if things prove to be a little confusing.

Posted by mm | Permanent link | File under: fortune

15.05.2009 19:20

Grand Theft Commodore

Pizza City

Drive around town and deliver Pizzas, upgrade your car with Nitro and don't try to hit pedestrians. But *do* hit clowns, robbers and mimes.

Pizza City is a fun little retro game, vaguely reminiscent of Grand Theft Auto. Or what it could be, if it were a game for the C64. Complete with funky 8-bit-style visuals and soundtrack. Get in the car and start deliverin'. (Found via Rock, Paper, Shotgun)

Posted by mm | Permanent link | File under: games

14.05.2009 19:20

Sponsor a room at the Kibaale Childrens Centre

Kibale Childrens Centre Kibale Childrens Centre
Kibale Childrens Centre Kibale Childrens Centre

I've blogged about Vim before, little did I know that the man behind the open source editor also runs a charity. ICCF Holland's Bram Molenaar just came back from a trip to Uganda, where the NGO set up a clinic and a school for the people of Kibaale.

Kibaale itself is a town in the poor southern region of the East African state, known to suffer from the highest HIV infection rate in the world. With parents dying of AIDS, children are often left to themselves. That's why the ICCF Kibaale Childrens Centre pays for their school fees, provides medical aid and most of all tries to help them grow up.

The new clinic has become very popular, so popular in fact that Bram is in desperate need of money for medicine, salaries and equipment. If you want to help, you can sponsor a room at the clinic, either by a one-time donation or a monthly subscription.

In 2008 the new clinic building has been built and opened by Janet Museveni. I went to visit it the first day and was very impressed. There are more than twice as many rooms as we had before, and they are all being used. In two of them patients are on drip. This is used to give strength to those who are weakened by a disease, often malaria. In the lab blood is taken from a man to be tested for HIV. When he gets the results later, a counsellor is there to help him cope with the consequences when the test turns out positive. About a dozen others are in line for a lab test.

Posted by mm | Permanent link | File under: politics

12.05.2009 22:10

Combing the web - Ode to the seeker

Combing the web

European linguist and hacker Fjalar Ravia, better known as Fravia, died of cancer on Sunday the third of May, aged 57. He was best known for his papers on reverse engineering techniques, influencing people like Jon Lech Johansen of DeCSS-fame.

According to the (very) short obituary on Wikipedia, he devoted his later years to "searching the web further than by traditional ways". This piqued my interest, so I went and had a look at Web Searchlores, his one-stop resource for all things search. With titles like How to access and exploit the shallow deep web and How to search the web - volume, diameter and structure, his papers are not for the faint of heart.

Fravia prefers his own terminology (deep web, seeker), and has a rather hypertextual way of reasoning and writing. If you've ever played 3D Chess, you'll know the kind of fun that awaits you. That's not to say his train of thoughts are without value. His essay on Combing the web (searching those that have already searched) might very well become the basis for future search engines. Who knows? Come to think of it, "search your buddy's history list" sounds like prime material for Google Labs' next Beta offering. But let's not end this on a negative note. Let's end it with Fravia's "Ode to the seeker":

Ode to the seeker
Like a skilled native, the able seeker has become part of the web. He knows the smell of his forest: the foul-smelling mud of the popups, the slime of a rotting commercial javascript. He knows the sounds of the web: the gentle rustling of the jpgs, the cries of the brightly colored mp3s that chase one another among the trees, singing as they go; the dark snuffling of the m4as, the mechanical, monotone clanking of the huge, blind databases, the pathetic cry of the common user: a plaintive cooing that slides from one useless page down to the next until it dies away in a sad, little moan.

In fact, to all those who do not understand it, today's Internet looks more and more like a closed, hostile and terribly boring commercial world. Yet if you stop and hear attentively, you may be able to hear the seekers, deep into the shadows, singing a lusty chorus of praise to this wonderful world of theirs -- a world that gives them everything they want. The web is the habitat of the seeker, and in return for his knowledge and skill it satisfies all his needs.

Posted by mm | Permanent link | File under: fortune

11.05.2009 19:22

Escaping from prison is funny

RE/Search Pranks

Timothy Leary: I would say, that one of the greatest pranks that I enjoyed was escaping from prison. I had to take a lot of psychological tests during the classification period, and many of the tests I designed myself, so I took the tests in such a way that I was profiled as a very conforming, conventional person who would not possibly escape, and who had a great interest in gardening and forestry.

Excerpt from the interview with Timoty Leary, part of Pranks! from RE/Search Publications. Learn how Abbie Hoffman, Monte Cazazza, Jello Biafra, Earth First!, Joe Coleman, Karen Finley, John Waters and Henry Rollins (and more) challenge the sovereign authority of words, images and behavioral convention. From what I've heard, the story from Henry Rollins more than justifies its price.

Another book from RE/Search that was featured on this blog is J.G. Ballard's The Atrocity Exhibition.

Posted by | Permanent link | File under: books

10.05.2009 21:43

Hanging out in Lower Austria


No big update for the tenth of May, except to tell you that I've spent the afternoon in Lower Austria, enjoying a barbecue at my brother's place (that's him on the picture btw, not me).

The layout of this entry changed dramatically during the day: Initially I planned to link to bacon salt and bacon lube and write some funny stuff about flesh, meat and barbecuing. But that was before I saw his garden. I have decided not to besmirch my memory of mother nature's pristine beauty with cheap jokes about pork-flavored lubricant.

I'll be posting pictures of this green oasis in the coming weeks, probably to spice up articles on bash scripting or using vim. For now, I'll leave you with a shot of his fig tree. It's too nice outside to waste your time blogging or reading blogs anyway, don't you think (yeah, I'm lazy, I know)?


Posted by | Permanent link | File under: fortune

09.05.2009 17:16

Writing fiction with GURPS

GURPS Basic Set: Characters

Lately I've started to rekindle my interest in GURPS, the Generic Universal Roleplaying System from Steve Jackson Games. If you don't know about GURPS, it's basically a system for roleplaying adventures, very much like AD & D. If you don't know what that is, go read the Wikipedia entry on RPGs, ho-hum.

The beauty of GURPS lies in the fact that it wants to be universal, and as such tries to cover every aspect of the human condition that might find its way into an RPG adventure. So instead of getting a rule book that defines the experience of some medieval castle or dungeon, you'll get books exploring Russia, Japan, Ancient Rome or Europe during World War II. Sure you can go and buy historical books on any of these topics, but none of these will dissect and organize the material in the way GURPS authors do.

You see, it's written with the premise of providing the Game Master (the creator or organizer of a roleplaying campaign) with enough material to write his own interactive stories. So you've got character traits, folklore, architecture, economics, political and social background neatly explained and refined for your world building pleasure.

But I don't see why Game Masters should have all the fun. Script writers, novelists, short fiction writers - anyone that needs to tell a story will profit highly from browsing through the GURPS library of books. It's like a giant bag of LEGOs that'll help you construct mystery, sci-fi, fantasy or historical storylines.

Myself, I'm currently reading the Characters and Campaigns books, which make up the basic set. It's fun reading about "Common Sense", "Cowardice" or "Compulsive Behaviour" in terms of character advantages and disadvantages, or realizing how political systems like anarchy or monarchy can influence your story. If you're not too happy with the cost of some of these books, try scouring Ebay for second-hand-bundles of older editions. I've managed to buy Religion, Ultra-Tech, Imperial Rome, Fantasy and I.O.U. this way. On second thought, maybe you shouldn't to this. Because, you know, you might be bidding against me, and you don't want that, do you? (No, you don't).

Posted by | Permanent link | File under: writing, games, books

07.05.2009 18:49

RFID Jewelry


Fancy a bracelet that starts glowing red every time you're close to an RFID-Scanner? Sure you do.
RFID is short for "Radio Frequency IDentification" and is used to track goods and packaging via small embedded chips. These things are everywhere: clothing, food, passports - basically everything that's able to carry the "dust" sized chips (at the time of writing, Hitachi holds the record for smallest RFID at 150 x 150 x 7.5 microns).

Why should you worry about this? Because RFID not only tracks the product, but also the buyer - a fact that can be exploited by marketers, government agencies, and criminals. Apparently Benetton tried to sew millions of RFID tags into women's garments in 2003 - a plan that was successfully boycotted by consumer group CASPIAN. Educate yourself about RFID at FoeBud or Wikipedia.

The FoeBud shop not only sells the aforementioned bracelet, but also envelopes and cases to protect consumer cards from RFID-scanners.

Posted by | Permanent link | File under: politics

06.05.2009 19:55

Command Line Fu & Snipt

/ dd if=/dev/dsp | ssh -c arcfour -C \
\ username@host dd of=/dev/dsp       /
        \   ^__^
         \  (oo)\_______
            (__)\       )\/\
                ||----w |
                ||     ||
< python -m SimpleHTTPServer >
        \   ^__^
         \  (==)\_______
            (__)\       )\/\
                ||----w |
                ||     ||
< :w !sudo tee % >
        \   ^__^
         \  ($$)\_______
            (__)\       )\/\
                ||----w |
                ||     || is a public repository for handy bash one-liners like sudo !!, python -m SimpleHTTPServer or cp filename{,.bak} (run the last command as root, serve current directory tree at http://$HOSTNAME:8000/, and backup or copy a file). You can sort the entries by date or by popularity. I like it - it's a convenient way to explore new commands and see what other people manage to do with the shell.

Snipt goes one step further and provides a database for all things related to coding, scripting and administration. Python, PHP, Ruby, Apache, C++, OS X - if you're looking for a quick way to solve a specific problem, or want to explore a new language, give it a try.

Posted by mm | Permanent link | File under: technology

05.05.2009 17:45

Listen to Cop Scanners

Police Radio Map

I found Police Radio Map via advertising on Since is known for its satirical content, I wasn't sure at first if the site was a joke or not. After listening to the radio of the New York City Fire Department for the last 15 minutes, I'm pretty sure it's real.

The only problem I face is that, because I'm not a native speaker, some of the transmissions become hard to understand. Maybe I'm too lazy to focus or the FDNY mumble a lot, but I had trouble figuring out what's going on. I mean I need to know *exactly* where the fires are raging. That is important vital information to me.

To choose a certain radio, you can either explore the Google map on the front page, or browse the feed list. At the time of writing, only radio stations from the continental US are covered. To listen to any of the feeds, you need the Flash-plugin, so nothing special there. The interface itself resembles Winamp, just press the "Play"-button and start listening.

Posted by | Permanent link | File under: fortune

04.05.2009 20:25

This is a drink ticket

Drink Ticket from Pinakothek

This is a drink ticket. It was currency at one time--actually it was better than the greenback equivalent, because it contained added value in the form of prestige. A drink was a drink, but a drink ticket was a badge of rank. If you wanted to impress a potential pickup, buying them a drink with a ticket carried more weight than flashing a roll. (Found via Pinakothek)

Posted by mm | Permanent link | File under: writing

02.05.2009 16:49

BrikWars or how to use LEGO for wargaming

Got the flu late last year and started tabletop gaming, to make a long story short. That is, I started collecting the miniatures but still haven't played a single game. But at least they're cool to look at.

Anyway, before I went and gave all my money to Games Workshop, people recommended BrikWars to me. All you need is a bunch of toys or small objects, preferably LEGO, and a couple of six-sided and one 20-sided dice. The Rulebook has been around since 1998 and is so nicely done, it puts commercial wargaming systems to shame (it's free btw). If you're still sceptical about the amounts of fun that can be had with such a simple setup, take a look at this battle report.

BrikWars is a marvelous Pandora's box, an endless fount of destruction and mayhem, where every coincidence falls in favor of maximum violence, where life is cheap, plastic, boxy, and bears only the most superficial resemblance to our world of flesh and mortgages. Time is marked from moment to moment by oscillating peaks of melodrama and troughs of sheer ridiculousness. (BRIKWARS 2005: The BrikWars Universe)

EDIT: BrickArms sells weapons and modifications to give your toys that extra-militant look.

Posted by | Permanent link | File under: games

01.05.2009 19:57

Google Tech Talks and MIT's OpenCourseWare


I stumbled across Google Tech Talks while browsing the python mailing list for snippets of code I might abuse here and there. Some people were discussing the merits of semi-free tutorial-website ShowMeDo and whether its design is functional enough for daily use. I'm not going to deconstruct all the arguments that were posted for and against it, better read the whole flame yourself.

Google Tech Talks got mentioned because - alongside MIT - they offer a wide variety of free educational videos. While MITs OpenCourseWare is more about covering fields of research like Mathematics or Media Arts and Sciences, Google offers podcasts of talks that were presented at the company. Topics range from The Secret History of Silicon Valley and How Open Source Projects Survive Poisonous People to How to Count ALL Human Carbon Emissions in the US. If you've got trouble managing your E-Mail, give Inbox Zero: Strategies for dealing with high volume E-Mail a try.

One more thing comes to mind, and that's Stanford on iTunes. Never gave it a try since iTunes no worky on Linux, but I thought I should mention it. Sure there are many more resources on the web offering similar services, the problem is separating the wheat from the chaff. If you've done some separating, feel free to drop me a mail.

Posted by | Permanent link | File under: books