Venom and Diamonds

Finally, a role call

23:29 January 31st '04

Back in November I promised to provide more links to the projects of my former coursemates on the Masters in Electronic Publishing course at City University, London, but never really managed to follow up on it. The reason is quite simple: very few voluntarily offered their links up for peer-scrutiny, and we don't exactly keep in touch much, so I never got to confront many people face-to-face about it.

Thankfully our department has had more success, and I just noticed that their past projects page has been updated with a dozen new links. Haven't had a chance to look through them yet, but couldn't resist posting the link up straight away. I may point some out individually later, if they take my fancy.

Sorry for the delay in posting, I've just been on a break to lovely Paris, and though I haven't forgotten you all, there hasn't been much chance to sit down and write. Hopefully the trip will spawn some future musings, though.

A civilised FLAvour

23:06 January 22nd '04

While patiently sitting on my hands and waiting for the new album from NIN/Slipknot/Fear Factory/Rammstein/etc, I've been quite at a loss as to what music I should be spending my money on in the meantime. On the one hand it means I've been living cheap CD-wise, on the other that I'm horribly deprived of fresh audio. Well, except for last year's brilliant Bowie release, that is (more on that soon).

Thankfully today my dilemma was solved as I visited my favourite little purveyors of fine music, and had an idle look through their industrial shelf. Which, despite it's small size, always seems to instill a need in me to spend money. Never was that more true than today, as I looked through their Front Line Assembly selection, only to find a shiny album dated 2004! Now, I don't keep very close tabs on FLA most of the time, and I don't think they're the greatest band ever, but there is a certain something about them that makes them the best and only thing to listen to when doing some creative projects. You might have heard the men behind it, Messrs Leeb and Fulber, in their more chart-friendly guise of Delerium.

Anyway, the point I'm getting at is related to something you might have noticed: I haven't linked either of the band names. And that's not due to laziness, but the fact that they just don't have official sites. For people that have been working with electronic music for something like twenty years that's a bit surprising, and I have no explanation.

What I do have is a link to Mindphaser, a fan site for all the FLA-related information you could ever want. I should point out that that is no mean feat: the Front Line Assembly discography has fifty items by itself, and there are at least a dozen other projects/bands around involving FLA members. All of them are reviewed and cross-referenced: just have a random poke at the 'projects' and 'people' menu items, and you'll see what I mean.

When I woke up today, my knowledge of FLA was a bit shaky at best, and not at the top of my mind in any case. Yet with a site like Mindphaser I've refreshed my knowledge in a matter of minutes, know what other releases to look forward to and appreciate the power of well-organised information all the better.

Online longevity

22:18 January 20th '04

You know you've spent too many years online when you find sites you'd completely forgotten about, even though back in the day you lived and breathed them.

For me, one of those is Subspace Continuum, which I used to know as just plain ol' Subspace back in around '97-'98. Here are a few thought-provoking things about it:

1 - It's still around, and it still attracts new players -- after nine years, although reading up on the history makes it clear that that's thanks to a lot of tech-minded, hard-working fans, and a couple of happy coincidences. Also, had I tried to look it up again a few years ago, I might not have found it, at least in the form I remembered. However:

2 - The game hasn't changed, despite all the incarnations. Sure, the novelty arenas and things come and go, but the default zones look and play exactly the way they did on my first time 'round. Someone has really stuck by "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

3 - Online gaming, that's a new thing, right? Being a member of that (in my opinion) lucky generation who still remembers a world without the internet, heck, a world without PCs, getting online and playing against hundreds of people from all over the world in real-time space combat is a novel idea to me. Or I thought it was, 'til I came across Subspace again and realised it was part of my hazily-remembered teenage years. This stuff is old now, no-one gives it a second thought.

4 - Why aren't there more games like it? It's fun, it's lasted for nearly a decade already and it's relatively simple tech-wise, at least compared to it's modern 3D-tastic colleagues. OK, one reason is that it's free, which makes it easy to get into, but that also means that no-one's going to get rich on it. Virgin Interactive Entertainment tried to, but didn't pull it off. Hence it returned in 2001 again as a purely fan-driven project. The only reason I picked it up again was because I was looking for any free online multiplayer game. Just happens to be that it seems to be the only one of it's kind, which thankfully isn't too bad, as it's a great, balanced game.

So whatever the reasons for the continued existance of this exquisite dinosaur in amongst all the hectic, short-lived hype that we perceive the net to be, I'm glad it's there. Make's you believe that there might be something akin to permanence out here, after all. Also gives me the chance to virtually blast any of you folks foolish enough to go against me in the Trench Wars.

Just one more request: if I ever say that I've started playing Tanarus again too, please report me to the men in white coats. Thank you.

An award!

21:14 January 13th '04

Good news: nthposition won Reader's Choice for Online Cultural Coverage at the recent Utne Independent Press Awards 2003!

Then again, it is just a one-line mention, and the voting started before my redesign went live...but still, I can't help but feel a bit excited about being so closely involved with a bona-fide successful site. Not that it wasn't that before this one: nth has picked up a fair few nominations and favourable reviews in its two years on the block, but I think this might be the first actual win.

Vanguard? Yeah, that's me

10:02 January 10th '04

The latest issue of A List Apart has a very good article by Patrick Griffiths on something called elastic layout, a new contender in the debate about fixed vs fluid layout.

What's particularly heartwarming is that Mr. Griffiths's method is almost identical to the one I came up with, five months ago, for my nthposition redesign!

Now the only thing that bothers me is that I should've written an article about it back then... ah well.

Ooh! Javascript can be useful after all

19:24 January 9th '04

Hotdiggidydamn, I just came across the sweetest real-time comment preview function while spending some quality time at hicksdesign.

OK, so it's got some things it can't do (like some problems with line breaks), but heck, it even works on my copy of Mozilla that usually hates any kind of javascript interaction!

I'll be keeping that in mind for when I have a commenting facility, then...

They're back...well, for some of us

13:44 January 8th '04

It seems that the Slipknot website is back up as more and more 'coming soon' studio reports get posted on Roadrunner's news page. Not much joy to me, either because I don't have the appropriate version of Quicktime or because I'm not running Windows XP.


Well, I'm not too bothered, as long as the new album won't require XP to play! And even though I believe in making websites accessible to as many as possible, I suppose the XP-using demographic is the biggest these days, so if you're going to have to pick one... don't pay any mind to me and my four-year-old laptop...

Meanwhile, I'll continue to play Iowa, which I've so far been doing on most days for the past eight months. A bit strange as I originally considered Slipknot to be a bunch of fools in silly suits. Of course, now I see that they're a bunch of talented musicians in silly suits. Big difference, eh?

First Knight

23:48 January 3rd '04

I suppose this'll be one of the more widely-linked pages on blogs all over, but heck, it's a good story about a smart guy, so I feel like I should run with it anyway: Tim Berners-Lee is to become Sir Tim. Nice.

Oh, and a happy 2004 to all of you! I'll be trying to get back into this 'online presence' thing again now that the holidays are out. So bear with me!

we are eternal / all this pain is an illusion