Dispatch 6: Leon's Island jams

Nanowripod's final chapter

For the past 4 years I produced (and originally hosted) a podcast about National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) called Nanowripod. By the number of listens, downloads, and comments, it is probably the most successful things I've worked on outside of my "civilian" career.

However, the core group (Jim, Ed, and I) have found our interests diverging and the workload of trying to do a Nanowripod season without our hearts really being in it didn't feel like something we should do. We also didn't want to just abandon the podcast, as happens to so many shows.

So we recorded our "Omega episode" a couple weeks ago. Please give it a listen and don't hesitate to go back to the whole show.

Leon's latest mix on Soundcloud is something else:

It turns out that the guy with the Yoshi's Island twitter avatar has a thing for sunshine-y bouncy dance music. Go figure.

While the days are getting shorter and colder, this is something to help keep a bit of summer going.


20 year old Doom videos look better than ones from 10 years ago

I'm still on my Doom kick from the past few weeks, so why not share this interesting nugget from decades ago.

I was a bit young, and my computer was a bit too isolated to participate in Doom deathmatches, but I remember that multiplayer was definitely a big selling point for Doom, and even moreso for Quake. Unlike with most games, if you wanted to record a video of you playing a game back in the 90s you either needed a very specialized piece of hardware that could capture the video output, or you would just point a camera at your monitor.

Doom, however, had a brilliant feature that let you record "demos" of yourself playing. The demo is the gameplay that occurs when the game first starts and you're still navigating the menu. By default there is some pretty rudimentary gameplay in the demo, but players can basically record anytime they're playing, including multiplayer matches. These demo files used the game engine for playback, so they didn't require a video encoding to be saved. Anyone with the game (millions of players) could load up a demo and watch it run.

What this meant was that players could record high quality, low filesize, 'videos' of their gameplay which could be shared easily even back in the old dial-up days. Because the game engine plays back the demo, a player using modern HD capture software can now make high quality videos for Youtube of classic Doom deathmatches and speedruns from decades ago.

Check this out:

And that'll do for this dispatch. It's a bit lighter than I would like, but I've been holding out on this one for a while and I want to put together a properly spooky dispatch for all you groovie ghoulies.

My Beautiful Robot Son

Something that has been bothering me in the past few weeks was the rise of "alt" accounts. The first was an alt Badlands national park account, but quickly other twitter accounts popped up. Their similarity being that they stood in opposition to government bodies that would be more tightly regulated in their communication under President Trump.

The flipside of this is that, of course, anyone can create a twitter account and many of the accounts seemed to be doing very little other than taking up space and attention. And, as a supporter of rebellious and resistant action against this president, I was concerned that people who shared my views may getting bad/inaccurate information from accounts that are playing at being more authoritative than they are.

 The notable @Roguepotussstaff account has backed off from claiming to be a source of "news" (if it ever could have been) and now considers itself a source of "commentary." If it's an anonymous way for employees to bash on their boss, I guess that's of some value, but it's not exactly Deep Throat, either.

But it got me thinking. Since it's so easy to create twitter accounts, why not have a little fun instead of feeling frustrated? What if a "Rogue account" was actually a robot? Or something similar to the venerable @horse_ebooks account? Something that was somehow significant and weird and unique among rogue accounts?

Thus was born, @POTUS_hugs.

As it turns out, it's REALLY easy. I followed these instructions, and after realizing how bad I am at catching stray spaces or putting double quotes when I needed to do single quotes, the thing was running in a few minutes.

The initial build included only content scraped from @roguepotusstaff. I quickly realized that handing POTUS_hugs only a couple hundred tweets was not going to be enough. You can look back at the earliest stuff (Feb 1) and they read almost like copies of the regular roguepotusstaff tweets. As a digital Geppetto, it was not enough that POTUS_hugs merely parrot, but he needed to speak with some experience. So I had to figure out how to add multiple accounts into one corpus (the collected body of tweets that the bot will cull from to make its own tweets), and I had to be selective in who I picked.

I then tried mixing together roguepotusstaff, Reince Preibus, Edward Snowden, and @utilitylimb for bizarre humor. Priebus was a mistake. His tweets are inane and it seems like 90% of them mention Hillary Clinton. POTUS_hugs just sounded like a conservative pundit. No son of mine would be a beltway pundit.

Another thing was that the funny accounts I tried mixing in generally had larger corpuses than the other accounts, so I tried to balance that out by adding in content from @alt_nasa and @alt_cdc, each of which only have a couple hundred tweets max. Being that @roguepotusstaff seems to spend much of it's time blocking people asking for proof of their identity, it can't hurt to diversify the corpus.


The results, literally, speak for themselves.

A beautiful moment.

A beautiful moment.