Sunday 4 February 2024

anniversary edition (11. 320)

Found in the archives of redditor ForeverMozart7, we enjoyed browsing this extensive gallery of screen-grabs from 1990s edutainment computer games. A lot of the titles are stand-alone adventures but quite a few from the late nineties had ties-ins with established PBS programmes and children’s literature. There’s some impressive graphics and renderings to appreciate, even if one is not familiar with the characters and premise—most of the ones I was exposed to were in the classroom computer lab and not commercial software for home use.

 
synchronoptica

one year ago: Karma Chameleon (1984), long walkies plus an archive of 1980s graphics

two years ago: text-placeholders plus the Latin motto drawn by fate

three years ago: your daily demon: Haures, quite a backdrop, the evolution of the day-bed, Facebook launched (2004), schools ban Simpsons t-shirts plus what withstood the explosion in Beirut’s harbour

four years ago: forced equivalence, the Yalta Conference (1945) plus the feast of Hrabanus Maurus

five years ago: the Cleveland museum of art shares its collection online, art on yachts, an official state cryptid, failed prophesies plus California lieutenant governor Mike Curb

Tuesday 30 January 2024

kingdom of daventry (11. 306)

Thinking earlier about King’s Quest (as one does, prompted by the mention in the previous post how rudimentary language subroutines helped enable their popularity and playability), we were happy to be referred to this authorised emulator, portal for rediscovering classic Sierra On-Line graphic adventure games. I remember being especially devoted the first and third iterations particularly and curiously poking around the Police Quest/SWAT series and finding it to be a little too adult-themed and a bit contrarian (a lot of the commands in general had some pushback built into them) but was a good representation of law-enforcement procedurals. See if you can guide Sir Graham to save the kingdom.

Friday 5 January 2024

9x9 (11. 243)

sine cure: many jobs in the tech sector are busy work and inducements to stymie the competition—via the New Shelton wet/dry  

smooth operator: one-hundred eighty songs and other cultural touchstones turning forty this year 

shake your hips, puppet legs: a David Byrne dance tutorial—via Nag on the Lake  

crackberry: a physical keyboard attachment for one’s smart phone  

the rise and fall of ziggy stardust: the chance encounter with Vince Taylor, the inspiration for the David Bowie persona 

 long live friendship: the Cantonese version of Auld Lang Syne (see previously) performed at the handover ceremony of Hong Kong in 1997  

the (disco) sound of music: a Meco-like dance rendition of the classic tracks (see previously) from Sarah Brightman  

pole position: the Vectrex, the 1982 revolutionary but mostly forgotten video game console, gets a second look 

mobile aloha: an off-the-shelf, DIY robot that can perform complex tasks and chores—via Waxy

synchronoptica

one year ago: US mid-term elections

two years ago: two Star Wars adjacent films set in 2022Twelfth Night plus building the Golden Gate Bridge

three years ago: Waiting for Godot, Moonstone plus an unusual patent-filing

four years ago: puffy planets, the asteroid Eris, mobile car-chargers plus Nazi name mandates

five years ago: notes on Dante plus animal sounds in other languages

Wednesday 3 January 2024

8x8 (11. 239)

the year of the dragon: Japanese designer New Year’s cards for 2024—see previously  

virdiphyta: an exploration of the interrelatedness of the Plant Kingdom  

in memoriam: more celebrity obituaries you might have missed  

paku paku: one-dimensional PacMan—see also—via Waxy  

๐ŸŒ: the Moon-Making-Side-Eyes emoji has entered the stock market and had its day in court—see previously—via Slashdot 

shoegazing: TikTok revitalises the indie subgenre—via tmn  

on to other adventures: Tom Scott bids his viewers farewell after a decade of educational videos—with a long explanatory walk-and-talk   

trace loops: hypnotic animation from layered paper

synchronoptica 

one year ago: a comprehensive listing of North American supermarket chain, past and present

two years ago: Saint Daniel plus Monty Python in German

three years ago: the Seditious Dozen, the Fraktur-Antiqua Dispute, Oregon Trail plus Martin Luther excommunicated

four years ago: (You’ve got) the Power, banana republics, more dead malls, Trump’s Middle East policy plus Japanese New Years cards

five years ago: China’s lunar mission plus the introduction bitcoin (2009)

Wednesday 13 December 2023

life is omniperiodic (11. 185)

Via Good Internet, we are directed towards a research paper that posits that in Conway’s Game of Life, the cellular automata within a defined framework of an environment demonstrates periodicity over a vast amount of generations and this repeating pattern is called an oscillator. Complex behaviour emerging from simple rules on a grid, oscillation (the hunt for these stable organisms, a wandering jam or mould pictured, beginning in the 1970s with such taxonomy as pulsar, tumbler, pinwheel, glider gun, queen bee shuttle, dirty splitters, toad hasslers) over all periods of the game. The full cycle of only two catalysts remained elusive until just recently with the final two being cribbage and 204P41, another reflector loop that looks like a circuit of marching insects.

synchronoptica
 
one year ago: assorted links worth revisiting, a Christmas Number One plus a collection of seasonal drinks
 
 
three years ago: St Odile plus a Christmassy version of Hamilton
 
four years ago: the Feast of St Lucy plus a Ford concept truck
 
five years ago: young pioneers, more links to enjoy, Brutalist Brussels plus isogloss maps

Tuesday 7 November 2023

9x9 (11. 101)

dark universe: Euclid space mission to map the Cosmos and glean insights into the mysterious majority of matter and energy composing it  

the earth dies screaming: an effective but bare-bones 1964 British apocalyptic horror flick from 1964  

go fish: the (possibly apocryphal) origin of the name of the city of Slow Low, Arizona  

qr-monster: the artistry of AI prompters—see previously  

๐Ÿš‰: a teaser for a Backrooms-like game taking place in the Tokyo metro Shinjuku station 

lignum vitae: looted leaves of the Golden Tree of Lucignano recovered 

purity pals: new US Speaker of the House of Representative announces that he and his seventeen year old son monitor each other’s web consumption  

future imperfect: a strangely engaging 1974 series of filmstrips warning against the utopian novel and utopian-thinking orbital plane: an exoplanet’s singular path around a binary star system—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links  

synchronoptica

one year ago: Operation Able Archer (1983), Ukraine to change the date on which Christmas is observed plus a gallery of bad Jane Austen book covers

two years ago: a documentary on picking the wrong venue, a bombing in the US capitol plus the Riace bronzes

three years ago: your daily demon: Bifrons,  awaiting US election results, the collection point for cataloguing art looted by the Nazis plus the first female US vice-presidential candidate announced

four years ago: an unused deck of tarot cards by Salvatore Dalรญ

five years ago: assorted links to revisit, Nixon’s concession speech (1962) plus more from the Center for American Politics and Design

 

Monday 25 September 2023

featured ruinations (11. 023)

Via Kottke, this is more fun than expected. Admittedly though I had seen musician Dustin Ballard’s intriguing series “There I Ruined It” but dismissed them as a bit too jarring (of course delivering as promised) after a few seconds, however, we know have a restored appreciation for favourite songs, lovingly destroyed—like Eminem v Mario.Whoops there goes gravity.

Saturday 9 September 2023

7x7 (10. 991)

trochilinae: a look at the evolution of evolution of hummingbirds—see previously  

uranometria: a comparative study of constellations across cultures—via Web Curios  

portfolio: photographer James Mollison documents children’s rooms, collectors and their collections around the world plus other projects—via Things Magazine  

lightning 4-2: a record-setting speedrun of Super Mario Bros  

zero width non-joiner: let AI generate a custom emoji—note the cursed thumbs up/down icons—via Waxy

extended-stay: Plato’s Cave (previously) will be raising its rent—via JWZ  

halcyon days: a slow-motion look at the kingfisher’s dive 

synchronoptica

one year ago: Stone Temple Pilots plus the proclamation of King Charles III

two years ago: more on DC statehood, the Battle of Teutoberg Forest (9 AD), rewilding begins at home plus assorted links to revisit

three years ago: the establishment of Washington, DC (1791), the disputed Hans Island, a lighthouse transformed plus AI supervillains

four years ago: more on the moons of Jupiter 

five years ago: Trump threatens to remove US troops from Germany plus an expansive pattern library

 

Tuesday 22 August 2023

8x8 (10. 957)

☃️: brr (previously) on electricity and power generation at the South Pole 

blogoversary: Miss Cellania reflects on eighteen years of blogging  

©️: judge rules that generative art is not subject to copyright protections 

ascertainment bias: people who submit to genetic testing and studies are predisposed for it—via Kottke  

pulmonic egressive sounds: an individual who can talk backwards—via the new shelton wet/dry 

lending-library: appealing an injunction, the Internet Archive removes commercially available titles from its public database—via Waxy 

it’s-a me: the voice of Mario, Charles Martinet, retiring after a quarter of a century 

ษ™สŠ: lignuists observe the birth of a new accent forming among Antarctic communities

 synchronoptica

one year ago: the State of Idaho, assorted links to revisit plus the plague of overtourism

two years ago: Petra rediscovered (1812), the moon Iapetus, more links to enjoy plus My Little Occult Book Club

three years ago: a canine saintAI poetry plus happy birthday Ray Bradbury

four years ago: returning to the Bretange

five years ago: dualling Trump trial coverage, a Romano-Gaul called Ultragoth plus gravity wells and potential energy

Wednesday 19 July 2023

6x6 (10. 895)

tijuana brass: Herb Alpert and Lani Hall cover “Maniac” from Flashdance for the Oscars (1984)  

choose your own adventure: the rise and fall of type-in narrative games, an addendum to Fifty Years of Text Games (previously)—via Waxy 

collective nouns: a group of butterflies is properly a kaleidoscope, whilst a swarm of caterpillars is an army—see more 

tayme that crabbe: a medieval guide to food presentation 

the blobs are happy in their new, hand-build wizzinator and that’s all that’s important to me right now: experimenting with a fun physics sandbox—see also  

jennyanydots: a favourite Mountain Goats’ character returns

Wednesday 21 June 2023

8x8 (10. 825)

the restaurant of mistaken orders: a pop-up establishment in Japan serves a lesson in compassion along with its dishes  

specimens of fancy turning: these late nineteenth century lathe patterns look like spirographs 

dwarf fortress: an interview with the author of 50 Years of Text Gamessee previously 

mercurial: more on the found and lost planet Vulcan  

monk parakeets: over a decade living in Wiesbaden, these invasive birds went from rare, doubtful sightings to absolute flocks  

area sacra: assassination site of Caesar and since taken over by semi-feral cats opening to the public 

รฑ: the origins of the letter with a diacritical tilde  

evergreen appeal: once considered dire sustenance only, pine-based cuisine in Nordic countries is becoming fine-dining

Saturday 29 April 2023

famicase (10. 705)

In what’s become an anticipated yearly tradition, various artists, like the pictured from Zach Roy, conceive, develop and design cartridges for Famicom video games—what might be more familiar as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was first released in Japan in 1983 as the Family Computer. Exhibitions have been hosted annually since 2015. What 8-bit everyday adventure would you create?

Thursday 20 April 2023

126³ (10. 687)

Via Present /&/ Correct, we are directed to the superb Tiny Voxel Shop series by Shin Oh. Working with three-dimensional pixels—from volume + pixel, which in turn is from pics + element—became therapeutic for the artist working through depressed and dispassionate point and hopes the collection of typical Malaysian shops and stalls will be an inspiration for others to cherish and conserve small local businesses and the distinctive character that they bring to communities, once lost gone forever.  More at the link above.

Friday 14 April 2023

9x9 (10. 673)

photo booth: a self-meme generator that uses AI—via Web Curios  

1up: the Super Mario Brothers’ theme inscribed in the US National Recording Registry—via Miss Cellania 

martin chuzzlewit: Dickens’ illustrators  

acta et vita: today is the feast of Lidwina, patron saint of chronic illness and ice- and roller-skaters 

spring break: a look at the highdays and holidays of Old London—via Strange Company 

jubilee: US Supreme Court ruled against blocking cancellation of student loan debt—see previously  

the real macguffin: the Holy Grail of grail stories—with plenty of references to pop-culture  

double-feature: raw footage from a video rental store on a Friday night in 1987—what titles would you have picked?  

robo boys: an untethered large language model builds on a college years group chat with insights on the process of AI fine-tuning—via Waxy

Sunday 9 April 2023

hidden mickeys (10. 663)

From subtle homages, hidden tracks and hidden levels to surprise features and the first known such subversive addition—in a text-editor in 1968 that completed the maxim “Make love—not war” when the first half of the chant was keyed in—which gives a credit, an attribution to an otherwise anonymous programmer, Tedium presents an omnibus edition of easter eggs in software applications. Comparing the moment of serendipity that the discovery presents both for the finder and the culprit coder to the burst of joy—fleeting or enduring and inspired that—that one gets with the unexpected virtuosity of a human-AI collaboration, everything about the usually interfaced being terribly planned and predictable, albeit one of the many present detractions from its use as a tool as something more convincing rather than reliable, introduces an interesting sidebar about the fate of such surreptitious gems once machines take over programming and entertainment. There’s also a link to the Easter Egg Archive listing hidden surprises in other media including films, television and home appliances. My favourite sort of easter eggs come in the form of a visual reference hiding in plain sight from the Disney tradition, and the reminder that She-Ra: Princess of Power—and more recently Adventure Time—has a cameo-character appearing in the background of one scene per episode. In the case of the Etherian series, the figure was called Loo-Kee, a chipmunk type creature, who (and happily have no memory of this) would reappear before the closing credits and ask the audience if they had found him before relating the moral of their just concluded narrative. What are some of your favourites?

Saturday 4 March 2023

๐Ÿ”™๐Ÿ”›๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ”œ (10. 589)

Language Log directs us to the ongoing puzzlement over a grouping of four emoji—from the original set created in 1998 for DoCoMoNTT (the only symbol predating this innovation being the ❤︎) and what cultural context prompted the inclusion of these four particular characters, surmising that they were a reference to gaming menus but with no compelling narrative for their inclusion—instead, like most other stories about these glyphs, have found novel and dynamic use outside of the laboratory—see also here and here.

Saturday 18 February 2023

8x8 (10. 555)

konekon no rakugaki: an imaginative 1957 cartoon from the studios that would become Toei Animation  

the riddle of today: Nelson Riddle’s “Sunshine Superman” and other tracks 

the six-triple-eight: the WWII all Black, all female postal battalion—via Strange Company  

the remorse of professor panebianco: a selection of short fiction one can read from its annals for the centenary (today) of Weird Tales—see previously  

ai mirror test: misattributing software for sentience to review before exploring this two-hour conversation with a robot interlocutor—via Waxy  

80s cold war techno thriller: the trailer for a Tetris movie—see previously, see also  

secondhand songs: an exploration of original versions upstaged by later covers—via the Awesomer  

my green crocodile: a 1966 stop-motion Soyuzmultfilm

Tuesday 7 February 2023

7x7 (10. 531)

business vulnerable: dress codes for your wedding to confound invited guests 

boom and bust: in stark contrast to last year’s showcase dubbed Crypto Bowl, no cryptocurrency ads have been purchased for Super Bowl Sunday  

fanilect: more eggcorns and mondegreens in misheard lyrics to Taylor Swift songs  

gaming like it’s 1927: annual public domain table-top project playing and remixing expired IPs—via Things Magazine  

overworld theme: beatboxer recreates the songscape of Super Mario Bros. 2

only the shadow knows: a noir short by Fabrice Mathieu  

family dining: Facebook to open Metaverse to children to try to rehabilitate flagging interest 

assistant to the regional manager: the Great Resignation and unethical reclassification practises helped create inflated job titles

Monday 6 February 2023

tetromino (10. 530)

Via the Awesomer, we are treated to the musical stylings of the artist JER and his rendition of the Tetris theme as a super-energising Ska cover. The folksong ‘The Peddlers’ (ะšะพั€ะพะฑะต́ะนะฝะธะบะธ) has a ironical O Henryesque twist—the comedic courtship of two young fabric-sellers takes a tragic turn when one rejects the gift of all of the other’s wares in order to encourage him to stay in the business and ends up being mugged after a successful day of sales—somehow seems ripe for the genre. More chiptune adaptations from The Skatune Network at the link above.

Sunday 5 February 2023

native client (10. 528)

Via Clive Thompson’s latest Linkfest, not only are we directed to a collection of emulators of graphing calculators like the example pictured but are moreover educated in the method reproducing these classic interfaces using MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, an open-source tool to re-create hardware as software, previously)—a collaborative bit of programming by Nicola Salmoria to ensure that historic coding isn’t lost to the ages and that virtual consoles can exist within all sorts of operating system and browser environments. More at the Emulation Station at the hyperlinks above.