>> HARD NEWS <<
farewell to WC2?
It's not often - but, we guess, not rare enough either - that
a company gets slashdotted and receivershipped in the same
week. But that's what's just happened to one of Britain's
pluckiest start-ups, UPMYSTREET. The funny little postcode
database thing put itself up for sale on Thursday and, for
once, we can't muster up our usual joy at someone else's
misfortune. UMS gave money and spare cycles to FaxYourMP,
sheltered the people behind Barbelith and the Samuel Pepys
Diary, bitched about usability in all the right places, and
even gently lobbied the government around to accepting Net-
based standards. It had a product which was actually useful
(albeit mainly to people checking on their neighbour's
mortgages), and that was gently sprawling - in the form of UMS
Conversations - into the genuinely innovative. And if UMS
sleepwalked through all the dotcom nonsense - splurged ads on
the underground, won various piles of meaningless awards, took
money from strangers, grew too fast and too thinly - maybe it
was still dreaming about something more important all along.
Now, they'll go to the highest bidder - and we're hoping that
they'll display a little graph of their offers over time
compared to other dotcoms in their area. And hoping more that
they'll go to someone as unevil as they've proved to be.
- guess this just leaves streetmap.co.uk ?
And from Good, to hideous, unmentionable Evil: the shambling
zoo of Cambridge-based codeshop CREATURE LABS. Long-time
readers will remember the CL's gameplay-free series of
Creatures games, where players were encouraged to grow and
preen mutant, helplessly dependent "Norns" and then throw them
to the vagaries of artificially accelerated evolutionary
pressures. Inevitably, the cute but constantly afflicted Norns
that weren't wiped out by their enemies, the Grendels, or
disease, were eventually left to rot on old hard drives, or
else tortured to death by their decadent owners. Well, the
door to this house of horrors has at last been nailed shut,
with the news that Creature Labs has ceased trading and its
servers switched off. Mastermind Steve Grand, however, who
long pondered the - now somewhat easier to answer - question
of whether Norns are "alive", left the organisation some time
ago, and is now fiddling with an "artificial orang-utan", all
the better to haunt your dreams for ever more.
- bloody genetic algorithms getting stuck on local maxima
- rogue sites more like Huntingdon A-Life Sciences
- "Keeeelll meeeeeee!"
- a reader sent this in, apparently believing we're
aiming, adhocracy-like, to *replace* the RSPCA
There's been a magnificent response so far to our appeal for
classic ELSPA anti-piracy ads, in the form of scans of both
the original "One day at the market..." advertisement and an
unofficial follow-on episode published in "Zero" Amiga/ST
magazine. But you needn't restrict yourself to just ELSPA's
contributions to the genre: we've also had a Business Software
Alliance radio ad announcing "Shaun's father is right [...]
kids pirating software is equivalent to them shoplifting -
walking into a local software store, stuffing a program into
their backpack, and walking out without paying" (for the
benefit of anyone unclear on just how shoplifting works?). But
our favourite, bizarrely, is from the back of a recent issue
of Private Eye, clamping down on the menace of those who
illegally photocopy books, journals and periodicals "save in
the limited cases provided by statute". As our contributor
notes: "Yes, turn in your colleagues if you catch them
photocopying a newspaper. That'll help your career no end".
- "English class Henry" clearly the ringleader (1 meg MP3)
- reward's gone up a bit since the old days
- vs http://www.ntk.net/2003/04/04/fastbloggo.gif
>> ANTI-NEWS <<
berating the obvious
BBC would have gotten away with it, if not for those episode
number URLs: http://www.ntk.net/2003/04/04/dohmurder3.gif ...
one way of informing you "the instant there is any problem":
http://www.ntk.net/2003/04/04/dohlife.gif ... topical GOOGLE
GOOFS: http://www.google.com/search?q=%22chefs+of+staff%22 ,
shite muslims, afterbumer - or, for the more sub-aqua scholar:
top hit for "West Midlands Ambulance" no longer safe for work:
... http://login.lycos.co.uk/lsu_password.php offers quiz-fans
option to "Answer your reminder question", or can just mail
you password anyway... hotel "can accomodate a maximum of 3
... http://www.bccmarketing.co.uk/ sends out email boasting of
"minimum level of proficiency and quality we promise to
attain" - to 550 recipients listed in cc: field... she's back:
>> EVENT QUEUE <<
goto's considered non-harmful
SONY continue their well-funded, yet risible attempts to get
games taken seriously with the "Portrait of the Artist as a
Video Gamer" PRIMAL ART season (from Sunday 2003-04-06, the
ICA, London, individual event/ membership fees apply). Panels
will be tackling everything from old chestnuts like "Women in
the video games industry" (with ALEKS "Bits" KROTOSKI) to "the
British artistic heritage and its influence/presence in video
games" (with MARK "Exorcist fan" KERMODE), all with the aim of
promoting new Gothic anime-style release "Primal" on the PS2.
The game itself is described as a "compelling, original
experience of dark fantasy that transcends the typical video
game adventure formula", apparently via the noted thespian
skills of Hudson Leick (Callisto in "Xena: Warrior Princess"),
Paul Darrow (Avon from "Blake's 7") and Andreas Katsulas
(G'Kar from "Babylon 5"), plus the ground-breaking innovation
of getting a soundtrack from the techno-industrial band 16
Volt. And if that doesn't make the "Late Review" panel of Mark
Lawson, Germaine Greer and Tom Paulin sit up and take notice
then what, for the love of God, will?
- we dunno, maybe a game that makes some sort of point?
- if you want to book for London Unconvention next weekend
- or just turn up to London b3ta party next Fri
>> TRACKING <<
sufficiently advanced technology : the gathering
Python is like the Lament Configuration in Hellraiser: looks
like an exotic puzzle, is actually a gateway to a world of
programming discipline and pleasure beyond pain. God knows,
for instance, how many sick Python initiates now write unit
tests for all their code - hell, before they even *write*
the main code. For those poor souls who are so helplessly
test-infected, the PYUNIT TEST BROWSER is the the last word
in obscene self-flagellation. Like the GuiTestRunner program
that comes with PyUnit, it's a little Tk app that collates
and shows you the results of running your Python tests on
your existing code. But it's also trained to kick up your
favourite editor (Kate, Idle or Vim) on the errors you
select. And then, the moment you save in those editors, it
runs all the tests again automatically. To test you. To
*punish* you. And, oh, you've been so very bad, haven't you?
- go on, browsssse meeee
- Programming The Cenobite Way
>> MEMEPOOL <<
ceci n'est pas une http://www.gagpipe.com/
now seeking research assistants to help expand the James Soame
collection of badboy kickdrums: http://www.museumoftechno.org/
- vs http://gstsp.red.co.uk/popup/popup_ray.htm ... sadly,
doesn't give a link where can you buy the Kubrick figures:
http://www.mikegerhardt.com/static/kodomonews/ ... once again,
real war: http://qwer.org/bbcpic.html imitates Counterstrike:
http://cestiny.cz/obrazek/counterstrikemensi.jpg ... the guy
behind: http://www.bloggerheads.com/out_of_order.asp brings
you: http://www.tom-watson.co.uk/teens.html ... CYBIKO in "2
for 1" deals in UK mobile phone shops?... nothing to do in
Bedford?: http://www.tomchance.uklinux.net/uglygardens/ ...
Northern Ireland over its explosive recent history, thinks
... "Help to prevent the sabotage of the Iraqi Oil Industry":
... April Fool: http://www.ensembl.org/Tyrannosaurus_rex/ ...
or not: http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/s819685.htm ...
>> GEEK MEDIA <<
get out less
TV>> right-wing historian Andrew Roberts suggests that Martin
Luther King deliberately provoked violent confrontations -
including getting himself shot? - in SECRETS OF LEADERSHIP
(9pm, Fri, BBC2)... "design icon" Lara Croft is among the
subjects of the 1990s DESIGNING THE DECADES (7.10pm, Sat,
BBC2)... and the topic of "books" mysteriously continues to
be televisually uninteresting in THE BIG READ (from 8.10pm,
Sat, BBC2), culminating in one of the most disappointing nude
scenes of Charlize Theron's career in THE CIDER HOUSE RULES
(10.20pm, Sat, BBC2)... the role of Kryten from "Red Dwarf"
is now played by Henry Rollins in home-made-car "Scrapheap
Challenge" spinoff FULL METAL CHALLENGE (5.30pm, Sun, C4)...
George Clooney battles the elements, Wolfgang "Air Force One"
Petersen's trademark aerial action sequences in THE PERFECT
STORM (9.20pm, Sun, C4).. but Kryten is back in HOLLYWOOD
SCIENCE (7.30pm, Wed, BBC2), recreating the urine-drinking
scene from Kevin Costner's largely unpalatable WATERWORLD
(10.55pm, Sun, BBC1)... Waterworld's Jeanne Tripplehorn
reappears - with Bob Hoskins - in FRASIER (10.35pm, Mon,
C4)... there's yet another recreation of the UK's favourite
bombing of an arguably civilian target in DAMBUSTERS (9pm,
Mon, C4)... and Eddie Izzard has a midlife crisis, starts
dressing as a man, in bleak grown-up drama [30 THINGS TO DO
BEFORE YOU'RE] 40 (10pm, Tue-Thu, C4)... THE AUTISM PUZZLE
(11.20pm, Tue, BBC2) tracks down some of the first people to
be diagnosed with the disorder, not all of whom work in IT...
the psychiatric disturbances continue with one of those "we
only use 10% of our mental capacities" docus, THE WOMAN WITH
THE MYSTERIOUS BRAIN (8.30pm, Thu, C5), plus a repeat of Chris
Morris' JAM (11.45pm, Wed, C4)... and the current US tradition
of using British soldiers for target practice is historically
commemorated in Mel Gibson War of Independence drama THE
PATRIOT (9pm, Thu, C5) - as memorably endorsed by Capalert:
FILM>> ham-fisted comedy duo Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson
reunite in Victorian England for anachronistic kung-fu buddy
sequel SHANGHAI KNIGHTS ( http://www.imdb.com/Goofs?0300471 :
Arthur Conan Doyle was never a detective for Scotland Yard; at
Stonehenge, modern rubber radial tires can be seen on the
automobile; firework makers could not make strong blue colors
at the time)... there's a special "swimsuit" edition of the
old "smalltown teen follows their dream" plot in BLUE CRUSH
( http://www.cndb.com/movie.html?title=Blue+Crush+%282002%29 :
[Kate Bosworth] is taking a shower and only her naked back is
shown with the barest glimpse of her round upper rump)... Vin
Diesel takes on his greatest opponent yet - scenes of non-
action drama - in filmed-before-XXX revenge thriller A MAN
APART ( http://www.screenit.com/movies/2003/a_man_apart.html :
we see a bare-breasted dancer in a thong bottom)... or it's
Sean "Never Mind The Buzzcocks" Hughes and Elliott "M*A*S*H"
Gould - together at last! - in wacky Spike Milligan Oirish
border satire PUCKOON ( http://www.bbfc.co.uk/ : contains mild
bad language, nudity and sex references)...
>> SMALL PRINT <<
Need to Know is a useful and interesting UK digest of things that
happened last week or might happen next week. You can read it
on Friday afternoon or print it out then take it home if you have
nothing better to do. It is compiled by NTK from stuff they get sent.
Registered at the Post Office as
"imagining this guy getting down this far,
then falling off his chair in sheer astonishment"
NEED TO KNOW
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