Imported From Epistula music

Sound in body and image

Lastgraph is cool.

Lastgraph is a Thingy – technical web-dev term alert, see more of those when my company releases ‘Stuff’ ‘Whatsemacallits’ and ‘Thingamabobs’ in a future content release – that takes your data and turns it into a pretty graph.

This is a link to mine, instead of a thumbnail, because even the thumbnail was too wide to display. This is 7140×1200

This is the large version. It’s 11900 pixels wide [ svg ]

In it are all my constant companions, minor obsessions, major love affairs and – if you track it alongside the entries in this website – a microcosm of my emotional state.

Lastgraph is currently down while its author finds it new hosting.

Computer Games Imported From Epistula


Today has mostly been spent playing Super Paper Mario.

Which is crack.

And has an evil bad-guy who narrates his actions in the third person.

And kidnaps Princess Peach (suprise) and Bowser (Hmm?) to force them to marry each other. It is a game where you find out what the backs of Goombas look like.

It’s also a game where you can skip the traditional “Don’t let the falling rocks hit me” by flicking to 3D mode and realizing they don’t have a thickness and you can walk around them.

It is also crack. More crack than the photo indicates.

But I have hit the annoying game crashing bug which has stopped me playing for now.

On a related note, the point of people running their own Team Fortress 2 servers is overridden slightly when we can only play for ten seconds before they realize the Valve Anti-Cheating Server is down and kick us off. Rar.

Computer Games Imported From Epistula

Team Fortress 2

Because I am a Valve Fanboy, I preordered the Orange Box, which will contain Half Life: Episode 2 (Which is the second part of Half-Life 3, confusingly enough), Portal (An action/puzzle game involving – come on, you’ll never guess – portals), and Team Fortress 2.

Some history, briefly. When Aquarionics first started in its original form, as my website, sometime in 1998/9 far and away the most popular section of the site was called “Follow That Game”, in which I took five games I was looking forward to, wrote a small fansite about them, and invited readers to predict a release date for them, closest wins.

The four original games were Quake 3, Age of Kings, Sim City 3000, Alpha Centuri and Black & White. Interestingly, four out of five of those have since produced sequels, and the fifth only hasn’t because Sid got distracted back to Civ. Age of Kings got released, and was replaced with C&C2, and then I got distracted by Black & White and became staff member on a long since departed fansite called Garden of Eden. Shortly before I did that, however, I coded an update which never went live, adding to the list a far rumored sequel to Team Fortress.

It’s been a while, and I’m lucky I didn’t add Duke Nukem Forever at the same time.

This site is now ten years old, though not at this address – the only thing that keeps me running and hiding from that fact – and is only slightly older than TF2’s development time. My mobile phone could run the original now.

People who pre-ordered the Orange Box get to play the Team Fortress 2 beta. This means me. And this is what I have been doing:

At the time of writing I have clocked in over eight hours playing TF2 over the week it’s been available to me, which means I have basically been sleeping, waking up, going to work, coming home, playing TF2, then going to bed. I don’t actually like multiplayer FPS games. You can tell, can’t you?

Most of that time has been spent playing the Medic. In most of these type of games, the job of the medic is to wander close to the front lines, shitting health packs to keep your team alive. In some games this extends to resuscitating your corps. In TF2, your medic has a healing gun. You shoot people, and they heal, and so do you. This leads to a feedback loop with something like a heavy weapons tank, where you stay out of the line of direct fire pumping him full of good-juice, and he pumps the badguys full of lead. Being a medic is actually useful.

Second place has been playing the Engineer, who can build one each of sentry, supplies dispenser, teleport entrance and exit, and can upgrade the sentry. For this he needs metal, which can be grabbed from dispensers, spawn points or – faster – the unused weaponry of your former comrades/enemies. This puts the engineer on the front lines too, no back-room classes here.

The graphical style is also wonderful, with an early 20th century paper-cut-out feel to it which is very pretty to watch, but wouldn’t be half as fun if it wasn’t for the characterisations of the classes. If you haven’t seen them, I would recommend watching the character videos:

Gaming Imported From Epistula

Virtuality, your laws do not apply to me


I am not a massive fan of Second Life, though I do have an account there – as Jascain Switchblade – which I visit on occasion. I dislike it because I don’t like the interface, I find the graphics engine flakey, the streaming content jittery and skippy even before they added voice chat and a lot of the residents to be out of their minds.

To be fair, I have many of the same problems with real life.

My main problem is that I can’t see what it’s for, apart from being an end to itself. It’s not a very good place to talk to people due to everyone talking at once, it’s not good for presentations because of the graphics (although I admit this presents a low bar to entry) and a lot of the customization of the world – without limits as it is – results in the kind of “This is my head, isn’t it fucked up? WATCH IT, WATCH IT NOW” that makes places like 4chan so entertaining/scary, only without the soul saving grace of that site – that they are over there, instead of everywhere else.

And yes, this is kind of an elitist thing, possibly. I want a place where I can be comfortable, and express my unique snowflakeness, without the having to look at the yellow snow drift.

The internet – including the web – is good at this. I don’t like 4chan, so I can instead go to a discussion media with a different tone and feel, like the bits of Usenet I still – sporadically – inhabit, and the half-dozen or so IRC channels I’m on. The people who develop content for the web go to great lengths to develop sites with tone and style to attract a readership. Nothing like that exists in the virtual world.


You could argue that things like There, Sony’s Home or Active Worlds are what I’m talking about, aimed at different people these could become their own thing. But that’s not strictly what I mean. I could never, for example, create my own version of “Home”, run it on Cenote (My hosted machine) and visit it with the same client I use to log into Sony’s own Home servers. Yet.

Two announcements that entirely passed me by due to being slightly distracted by the imminent launch of the thing I’ve invested the last eight months or so in included Linden Lab’s announcement of an architecture for people to build their own grids, which is pretty much what I mean up there. The other is Metaplace – one of the other presenters at Techcrunch 40 (where trutap launched).

Of the two, I’m more interested in Metaplace. Partly because my neophile tendencies drift me towards the more shiny tech, mostly because the architecture announcement looks like ways things can connect to Second Life, rather than each other, but I intend to watch both with care.

For now, though, back to Team Fortress 2.

2007 Imported From Epistula

Because nothing says piracy like youtube

From Monkey Island:

(The fact that this video appears to be titled “A pirate I was mean’t” to be just makes my brain hurt)

And, while we’re on Monkey Island, here’s “Press Play on Tape”: playing it:

And, returning to Aquarionics after a long absence, We wants a training day

Happy Talk Like A Pirate Day, internet


Imported From Epistula trutap

truth of the tap

Interestingly, it appears I have now actually been with a startup long enough to launch a brand new product.

So, we – and by ‘We’ I mean “some of us and the lead designer” – went off to San Francisco to be one of the TechCrunch 40 (Who apparently believe just because their name is intercapped so is ours), and we did our presentation.

I shall, for the sake of my sanity, draw a thick veil over the leadup to the presentation, because a) I’d like to turn it into an episode in the corporate blog, and b) I do not particually wish to be murdered in my sleep.

Most fun has been reading the reports of our presentation, which include things like

My god´┐Ż¦ Trutap developers take stage and peform Boys-II-Men-style jingle. What a multi-talented bunch (and apparently quite at home with public humliation.) John Paczkowski From Digital Daily


I’m in London. I can see the entire development team from my seat. Trust me, not only are we not in San Fransisco, where it’s sunny for starters, we’re also not being publically humiliated quite yet.

On the other hand, we have just launched a new service, so there’s still time.

It wasn’t us on stage. Really it wasn’t. I really am not joking. From the dev chat room this evening:

(Vivek) what was the audience reaction to me? also, which of us do they reckon is going to be the breakaway developer?

Incidentally, we’ve launched trutap, which is the name of the product I can actually say now. It’s a messaging platform with a useful and easy to use mobile client, which also does IM from the phoen. As CTO Carl said on stage, we’ll be releasing things like APIs soon.

Imported From Epistula Personal

Tasks for today

  • Recharge brain.
  • Laundry

    Methods to do this:

  • Mindless flash games.
  • Mystery Case File (Which is basically “find these objects in this picture” done on computers, but done with skill and artistry. Plus: three quid.)
  • Bioshock (Put on hold because I broke my mouse playing it)
  • Catching up on unread news items brought on by spending last weekend Maelstroming and this week busy.
  • Writing letters from my Maelstrom character to other people’s
  • Doing laundry.
  • Extreme Peggle.
Computer Games Imported From Epistula

Flash: Savior of the universe.

A small flash game

on which my record is 27.494

Computer Games Imported From Epistula


From the the ex-maxis creator of Tower of Goo, Kyle Gabler.

Comes this:

World of Goo Gameplay Trailer
Uploaded by 2dboy
Imported From Epistula Larp

Glitches in the Maelstrom

So, this weekend I went to Maelstrom, which is a LARP event. Further updates will appear at some point in the IC Diary. If you want to know more about the setting, you can watch the promotional video (Which, Maelstromers, is the same thing as is on the DVD you got in an event pack) or visit their website

Stuff that was good:

  • The sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realise that that major bit of drama going on over there is partially your fault.
  • The “Explode on death” blessing as a concept
  • Finally making it to Jade Lotus (IC japanese resturant) which was nice.
  • Playing croquet.
  • Group angst! Yay!
  • Singing songs around the fires.
  • The ginger cider
  • My character making his mind up about something cool.
  • The weather not being too hot or too cold.
  • The trebuchet.
  • Meeting Shebit & Rhiannon IC.
  • FOIP

    Stuff not quite so good:

  • New tent is too small.
  • Campsite is a deathtrap in the dark, due to pools of well-lit areas with black pits of rocks, sudden slopes and guy ropes between them.
  • Campsite is too small for the event – event isn’t going back there, though.
  • IC traders (ie, us) being too far off the beaten track
  • OOC traders being too far off the beaten track.
  • There not being much of a beaten track, really.
  • The musicians who were playing in the OOC camping area at 4am on Sunday.
  • Leaving my pirate hat on the train.