Do Dirt!

29 June 2006

…and get away clean.

My pal Joey Muck is doing some music/dancing shindig with a few of his pals. “A club night in London’s trendy Clerkenwell”, if you please. 8-2am, tonight – I’m probably leaving well before 2 because nobody appears to have got the message that whilst Thursdays may be the new Fridays, they’re still school nights.

Anyhow. If you like mucky pop, rude raps, sleazy rock, and filthy electro (and god knows I do) get down there tonight and shake some.

(Also, if you’re that way inclined: Do Dirt’s Myspace page)

Warren Spector quote of the day

28 June 2006

From the second page of this interview at Eurogamer with him today:

If all we do with the power of next gen hardware is increase our poly counts we’re doomed. We have to use that power to create new gameplay experiences – up the simulation level… find new ways to exploit physics… create more interactive worlds than we could dream of before… create virtual actors that can do more than run and shoot.

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes (even if the Gabe Newell/Richard Garriott school of game production has its merits, too). It’s a cracking interview – and today’s only the first part… so be sure to check back again tomorrow.

Availabot!

25 June 2006

So, now that Jack‘s show is happening, S&W have finally decloaked Availabot.

Wow. Suddenly lots of cryptic conversations with Matt over the past few months make sense – mass production, Chinese toy factories, the hell of USB serial communications.

It’s a lovely thing. I really like the emphasis on the individuality – rapid fabrication of appearance, username hard-coded into hardware – one physical thing represents one digital thing, and it’s obvious and understandable without the need for a Thinglink idea or a product code. Matt Jones’ Availabot looks like Matt Jones. When I hand you the red-headed one with a quiff, you know it’s mine; plug it into your computer and that’ll confirm it.

Also, it harks back to the peripheral vision idea of Glancing, I guess; I really like this quotation on the page:

Rather than showing up on your screen, it shows availability as a physical object in the world. That means that you can move the puppet out of view when you don’t want to be distracted, watch out for it when you’re working on other tasks, and have a background awareness of your friends from the corner of your eye.

Hiding things by hiding them on your desk, not your “desktop”. Paper bags, stacks of books, not command-H. We procrastinate (or indicate busy-ness) physically, after all. Made me grin.

Anyhow: awesome concept, probably complex in execution, but very elegant nontheless. I hope it goes somewhere!

Where I’ve been

19 June 2006

It appears that I’ve been AWOL for a little while. For that, and many other things: apologies.

It appears to have taken a while to decompress from Reboot and get things back on track. The to-do list floating above my desktop has not really got much shorter for a few weeks now. Even though I’m making my way through it, there always seems to be new stuff that needs adding. Also, the stuffy heat is contributing to a lack of both sleep and energy, so maybe that’s why I’ve been posting here less.

Still, I have been doing a few things behind the scenes. My Flickr stream has seen a lot of updates recently, and you’ll probably have noticed the string of del.icio.us links filling the blog up. As ever, they provide rough hints to where my brain currently is.

One thing I’ve been working on is… redeveloping this blog. Boring, I know. But the last time I redesigned, the purpose was to get me writing again. It kind-of worked, but it was also an experiment at developing a truly generic WordPress theme (which almost succeeded). Now I want to make something just for me (although, it turns out that it shares some aesthetic sensibilities). At the same time, it seems like a good enough resaon to upgrade to WordPress 2.0. That’s a story in itself, I tell you. I’ll write more about the technicalities of redeveloping it once it’s launched; there’s a post in the works on patching tagging plugins, the ups and downs of upgrading and the hell that is wp_rewrite, and also another on faking “offset” with the WordPress Loop. Until then, expect to see this place updated soon.

Other things I’ve been working on: a moderately-sized Rails project, on which I’m sole developer and designer. It’s going quite slowly, due to the concentration it’s now demanding – I’m at the “complicated” part of the development, when things go beyond CRUD, and also start demanding the final templates – so there’s been a big diversion into XHTML work. Still, this is also the stage where it gets *really* satisfying. I’m not going to be able to opensource the project as it stands, but there’s at least one plugin to be released from it, not to mention some useful experience. I’ve currently been adding fragment cacheing, which has been most satisfying – both (relatively) simple and elegant in its implementation.

We’ve also been busy at work, having finally launched Nature Network Boston in beta. There’s still some work that needs to be done there – on my part, fixing the microformats (again, more in the future) and tidying the HTML output – but it’s great to see it in “the wild”, as it were. Out of that, I’ve got an article I’d like to write for this site on “Rails from a design team perspective” – there’s an existing “Rails for Designers” piece on the web doesn’t quite cover the ground I’d like it to, or in enough details, so, you know, rather than whinging, I thought I’d write my own. Expect to see that in a week or two.

So, in short: expect to see more, longer content here. I need to get back into writing, and it seems sensible to start by writing up the stuff I’ve been doing that others might find interesting – or at least want to correct me on. In short: this place is going to be revitalised. I’m looking forward to the challenge I’ve set myself.

Links & notes for this month