Archive for category The Last Six Months

Video: Mac singing Still Alive

The weirdest thing happened yesterday. I was using Ayu, my as-yet-unnamed MacBook Pro, and suddenly Axis, my old PowerBook G4 booted and started singing Still Alive, the theme to the game Portal. I really should stop naming my Macs; I hear it makes them sentient.

Okay, that’s not really what happened. Actually, a couple of weekends ago, all three of the parties I had been invited to (yeah, I don’t understand how I got this social life either; just believe me) were cancelled or too difficult to get to, so I used my unexpected free time to do something I’d wanted to do for ages: get my Mac to sing Still Alive. You might remember that one weekend way back when I had an excuse to avoid being social, I wrote a parody of Still Alive, and a program to get my Mac to sing it using the TUNE input to the built-in speech synthesiser. Back then, I had to enter the notes and durations to sing one by one, and it was too tedious to do the whole song.

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V Day’s over, because it has to be.

Isn’t it though? The title of this post is an homage to Jonathan Coulton’s song ‘Summer’s Over‘, about things (or in his case, Things) ending because they have to. As Valentine’s Day was ending in my time zone, I recorded a video of my poem about love ending because it has to. It’s Love Letters, from my own Thing a Week. This poem also serves as a mnemonic, should you ever forget the alphabet.

I also added a stanza to Chemistry, a funnier love poem, so that I could participate in the Valentine’s Day challenge over at Fictionaut. Here’s the revised version. I would have liked to record a video of that one, but I didn’t have all the props I needed. Perhaps another time.

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Little Things That Don’t Necessarily Count, But Still Involve Numbers.

The problem with relaxing rules is that they keep on relaxing all by themselves. In an attempt to make up for missing a few weeks, here are some small things I’ve done. Firstly, a big thing which I played a small part in: the video for Gödz Pöödlz‘ song ‘345-5316008’, also known as ‘She Boogies’. The song was written in response to a Masters of Song Fu challenge to write a song about a number, which is why every word of it can be displayed on an old upside-down calculator. For the video, they asked for photos of calculators showing the words, and girls dancing with calculators. I submitted an ‘eligible’ calculator picture, and some dancing with the closest things I could find to calculators. I don’t usually dance, if I can help it, but I thought it’d be a good excuse to wear my Klein Four T-shirt, and I wouldn’t have to show the video to anyone I knew. But they edited it to make my boogying less embarrassing, and the rest of the video is great, so here it is:

Another small video thing I’ve made is episode two of Adventures of Mr. Super-Elephant and Friends, in which Arch-Enemy continues his conversation with Mr. Super-Elephant by inviting her out. I started this series on December 14 with a silly improvised three-line scene to try out xtranormal, and decided I may as well continue in this fashion, since it only takes a few minutes. Don’t expect it to make sense, or be good.

And one final small thing which I’m only adding to make these add up to something less small, is some kind of weird poem-like thing I wrote in a few minutes one day. The first line was something I actually thought would be cool to do, but then it unexpectedly turned grim. But compared with the Adventures of Mr. Super-Elephant and Friends, it makes sense:

I will get married in the snow, wearing white, and noone will see me do it.
We will consummate it at midnight under the new moon, and noone will know.
I will caress your skin, frozen numb, and you will not feel it.
I will give birth to a cold white baby, and it will not be aware.
Then unfeeling, unfelt, unseen, I will go.

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Rhyme-lapse video: Localised Entropy Decrease, or How to Choose Camera Angles To Make Your Room Look Tidier Than It Is

I’m a messy person, and I admit it. But during the holidays I have time to do a big clean-up. The following is a time-lapse video of my cleaning my bedroom, with rhyming commentary. This was all done on the 22nd and 23rd of December, so some of the commentary reflects that. You can probably hear some changes in the sound in places, since I didn’t record it all in one take, but it would have taken far too much practice to pull that off.

I did tidy the kitchen and the rest of the apartment afterwards. From now on, I plan to hire a cleaner to come in once a week to keep it this way.

The music at the end is from ‘Strong Interaction‘ by Les Horribles Cernettes. LHC: Accelerating Videos.

The whole commentary is a ‘quick’ first draft, but still, it takes an awfully long time to fill up six and a half minutes with cheesy rhymes without repeating anything. The footage was originally ten and a half minutes at double the speed it was filmed at, but I had to speed up some sections for lack of commentary, and because a video that long would have been boring and too long for YouTube.

Here are the words… all 984 of them, in 40 quatrains:

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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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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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