“Paranoid Machines” talk in NYC

Off the beaten path: Jason Brown is giving a talk called “Paranoid Machines”.

When: Sat, April 4, 7pm – 9pm
Where: 300 Nevins St, Brooklyn
Free. Organized by Machine Project, Los Angeles

Jason Brown’s talk will examine contemporary gnostic mythologies of technology and paranoia, focusing on Vannevar Bush as a self-embodied allegorical emblem of information perversity. Bush’s famed “memex” and the modern UFOs are both hypothetical machines—devices which use association and performativity to spin information out of noise. In modern techno-myths, this process is often represented as an alchemical self-destruction resulting in god-like power. Not coincidentally, all these issues are illustrated with disturbing density and prescience in the 1981 Disney film “Tron.”

This is just old-school enough to be interesting to some readers, and I like to think I find things you won’t see on Reddit or Slashdot. (via my second favorite magazine)

Art & Code, EuroBSDCon, projects

The FreeBSD Foundation is looking to give people money to work.   (pdf)  Specifically, they have USD $30K to give to people wanting to work on FreeBSD subsystems.   Fight global recession!

EuroBSDCon 2009 is being held September 18-19th in Cambridge, UK.  That’s a long way off, but they just opened their call for papers.

Art & Code is March 7th, at Carnegie Mellon.  “Programming for Artists” – it’s cheap, and the output should be interesting.  (via)

10 years of textfiles

txtfiles.com is having its 10th anniversary.  Read up on Jason Scott’s history, which parallels the development of computer and the Internet for a lot of people (myself included), and then waste your afternoon browsing through all the data he has saved.  If I had encountered something like this at 14 on my local BBS, it would have been amazing.  For fun, look at the Hacking UNIX section, or perhaps Programming.  (via)

Musical digression

On an entirely personal note, I was having a conversation with my coworkers today about the change in technology within my lifetime; when I was young, there was no world wide web, no digital music, no timeshifting of TV programs, etc. etc.  My workplace has an intern young enough to have never encountered these things.

Now, I noticed this musicmaking tutorial on Youtube.  In 1985, this would have been done in a room filled with electronics, probably hand-built, with cabling run all over the place.  Now, the software that accomplishes that, with a single computer, is expressly designed to simulate those old analog connections.  It’s very wierd, and probably meaningless to those under 30.

Also, yay dubstep.

Why a BSD license?

I had a conversation with a coworker today about what phone to buy, and I thought about this: iPhones are pretty, but you don’t get to own your software or fully choose what to run.  This developer’s blog entry sums up all the things you can’t do with Apple’s App Store, and by doing so manages to describe the opposite of open source.  (via, I think)  The point I’m making: BSD licensing is more valuable than you think.

Open systems

This Wired article on Android is worth reading.  Not because it’s directly related to DragonFly, but because it’s a open source platform.  If you’re interested in DragonFly, you must have at least a passing interest in open source software.

We’re all used to being able to install and configure (and break) our BSD systems the way we want, when we want, without having to seek permission or necessarily pay a fee to someone who isn’t the author of the software  we want.  This is not generally possible with phones, which, after all, are specialized computer systems.  Keep an eye on this.


@Play: lost software

The @Play column at GameSetWatch has another article on roguelikes. This covers early roguelike software that has become lost; a strange concept in today’s world where everything is saved somewhere out there on the Internet. For an added bonus, the column has a link to a newspost from Moria’s original author, which includes this interesting quote:

I plan to download it and Angband and play them… Maybe something has been added that will surprise me! That would be nice… I never got to play Moria and be surprised…

Is that perhaps the worst part of game development? You always know how the story ends.


Another linkdump!

  • Waxy.org has a complete version of the 5-part series, The Machine That Changed the World. This aired in 1992 and is both an excellent history of computing and also an interesting glimpse of the computing world before the World Wide Web steamrolled into the public eye. Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5 are available. If you don’t have a Flash-enabled browser to watch them, part 5 has a link to a torrent of H.264 MP4 files that contain the same complete broadcase.
  • More old school nerditry: Dungeons & Dragons history, plus a rebuttal, all in far more depth than I thought possible.  (Via)
  • New school (rejectionist) nerditry: Ten ways to make an iPhone killer.