Archive for December, 2009

Poem: We Haven’t Had Ice-cream All Year

Here’s a poem I wrote at the beginning of 1995, when I was 14. It seems like a good enough occasion to drag it out.

We haven’t had ice cream all year;
nor have we cooked a roast,
we haven’t opened any wine,
we haven’t made a toast.

We haven’t baked a cake all year,
or watched the television.
Superman and Wonderboy
have yet to take a mission.

We haven’t eaten sweets all year
or climbed up any trees.
Our unbrushed teeth are pearly white,
and free of cavities

We haven’t played a game all year,
not chess nor hide-and-seek.
We haven’t swung from our old rope,
and jumped into the creek.

The car hasn’t broken down all year,
just when we needed it.
The weatherman has get to lie,
my tongue I’ve not get bit

We haven’t done our chores all year.
Whoopee! Hurrah! Hooray!
So much to do, so little done,
this year, on New Year’s Day.

I’m working on a video/poem thingy which should be up later tonight. Happy new year, everybody!

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The apronym submission form is back

About a dozen years ago, when the emails between my friend Tony McCoy O’Grady and me seemed too clever for the standard LOLs or ROFLs, we began to invent more interesting alternatives to these acronyms, such as LAUGHTER: Launched An Unexpected Guffaw Hearing This. Encore Requested. This soon expanded to acronyms on many other topics, until we had so many that we created a HyperCard stack to contain them, and let it loose on the world. I also gave the stack the ability to create web pages, and put all our acronyms online. Later Tony even coined the word ‘apronym‘ for these acronyms where the acronym itself is a word appropriate to what it stands for. You can read a more interesting and apronymic version of the history of the stack here.

The website went through several changes to make it more manageable as we went from the original 1375 apronyms to more than 10 000 apronyms by several hundred people. It went from static HyperCard-generated pages to dynamic pages created by CGI applications written in C using the HyperCard stack’s data files, to PHP scripts reading those same files, eventually to PHP scripts reading from a database. This last step resulted in the site being offline for a year, because the old site slowed down the server too much and I just didn’t put aside the time to develop the new version, although it didn’t take very long once I finally did sat down to do it. Even then, a few pages didn’t get upgraded to use the database — most notably, the submission form to let other people add apronyms to the site.

A while ago, I wrote a new version of the submission form, but there was a small configuration problem with testing it on the server, and by the time this was fixed (not long after) my attention was already on other things. So, like many things in the history of the site, it got set aside. But it’s been bugging me for a while, and I’ve had a lot of emails from people asking how to submit apronyms.

Well, now I’m doing some kind of thing a week again, this is one Thing I really wanted to get done. It turns out the submission form already works fine, it’s just the supporting tools to help streamline the apronym approval process which I hadn’t finished. I still haven’t finished them, but I will over the next few days, and then I can start working through the backlog of apronym submissions.

In the mean time, feel free to submit some apronyms. It might be a while before they’re added to the site, since I do have a backlog to get through, but once I’ve finished writing these new tools to help me process the submissions, it should be much quicker than it used to be. In fact, there’s a good chance that apronyms you submit now will be added before the ones I have in emails, since they’ll already be in the new system. Please browse the site a bit first using the links on the top left, and read the guidelines to make sure you’re submitting the right kind of thing. If you need some help creating apronyms, have a look at Tony’s tips. It’s a lot of fun.

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Get your own Mac to sing Happy Birthday to the London Science Museum

Somebody on YouTube asked where I got the file to make my Macs sing happy birthday to the London Science Museum. I realised I’d forgotten to upload it anywhere. Or perhaps I didn’t think people would be interested, since in general if they wanted their Macs to sing happy birthday, they’d want to customise the name. The software I wrote to do this (and other things) is really still a prototype unintuitively bolted onto an unrelated prototype, with the default CoreData interface, so I’d rather not release it yet. But just in case you do want your Mac to sing happy birthday to the London Science Museum, here’s the file. There are instructions in the file on how to get it to sing.

I also just made this file where you can put the name of your choice instead of the London Science Museum; just search for ‘your name here’ in the file, and change it. It will just speak the name rather than singing it, since to get it to sing it you’d have to figure out how to write the name in MacInTalk phonemes.

Alternatively, if you want to personalise the song while still having the name sung, you could record your Mac singing to a sound file using the ‘Text to Audio File’ Automator action, and then open that in GarageBand and splice in a recording of yourself singing the appropriate name.

Addendum: I just thought of another possibility: you could use the Repeat After Me application (which comes with the developer tools) to get your Mac to sing the name however you do. This is not what I used for the rest of the song, since it’s made with normal speech intonation in mind rather than singing, and it gets quite tedious for anything long, but it is a very cool program and would be great for just recording the name.

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Poem: Urgent Journey

Her heartbeat brings you rhythm, love, and nourishment and life
Till muscles push you out and out, and out and out and out and out
and out to meet the world.

Cold, kaleidoscopic cacophony,
warmed with awed caresses,
melts into your new cocoon
of boundless metamorphosis.
Everything to touch

to play

to know

to be

Freedom jostles safety,
your everything expands.
You brace it with your own faint beat
and feel a lifetime in your hands.

You start to think you’ve found your groove,
and life is full of fun,
and then you see the finish line
and know you have to run.

Reach potential, reach new heights,
reach for all of Earth’s delights,
leave the nest and leave an heir,
leave your traces here and there,
make a fortune, love, relax,
spend ahead of death and tax,
Smell the roses, make your mark,
lighten up and light the dark,
take it easy, take a breath.

Take it all before your death,
know and teach and hear and see,
know the stars of cult TV,
take it easy, make the time,
make the hay while in your prime
make your day, and make it count,
count your days, a small amount,
amount to something, race the clock,
earn a tick for every tock…

Give it all you can… or not.
you’ll reach the end no matter what.

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Recording: Why?

Here is a very rough robot choir recording of Why? a song I wrote during Writing Cards and Letters which looks at 24 different Queens of Hearts and asks of each the titular question. It might make more sense if you read the original post.

I didn’t have much time this week, what with editing We’re Having a Party until Tuesday, and meetings all Sunday. In fact, technically I’d already finished We’re Having a Party this week and didn’t need to release anything else this week for the ‘The Last Six Months’ thing. But I did anyway, because I said I would. I’d like to fine-tune it a bit more, improve the pronunciation, add some instruments, and then make a video, but I’ll do that some other week. This version is so rough I don’t think I’ll even put it on the podcast yet.

For the video of this song, I’ll just show the cards for the ‘why?’ lines, but I might need some help drawing pictures for the rest, taking each three-line ‘answering’ verse as one picture… e.g. a picture of somebody suave (e.g. wearing a top hat) not shutting his eyes to a free-falling turd for the appropriate verse. If you can draw something for one of the verses, please do, and I’ll credit you in the eventual video.

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A birthday, a half-birthday, a video and an announcement

Yesterday was Jonathan Coulton‘s birthday. Here is a collaborative video put together in about 14 days by 13 people (at least, 13 who contributed video; others contributed ideas) on his forums, as a birthday present. It’s a cover of Jonathan’s song ‘I’m Having a Party‘, with a few changes in the lyrics (and a title change to ‘We’re Having a Party’) to make it more suitable for a group of fans to sing to him. I’m posting it here because I did all the video editing (under the pseudonym Angelastic) except for the awesome tiling in the final chorus. See below for details on how this little idea blossomed into something scarily huge which was nonetheless sculpted into a less scary huge thing in the nick of time. You’ll also see why I’m a little too tired for fancy metaphors tonight.

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