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Experimenting with a new layout

I'm feeling sunny and nice.  Let's try some new website layouts.  And let's also completely drop support for Internet Explorer six.
Like a fucking ROCK.

(seriously though, if you're using IE6, go away and don't come back until you're running something that properly supports 24-bit .png's)
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Paintings for sale...

I know, I haven't updated this (or Culture Shock) in ages. I've had other things on my mind.
But this post is to pimp some excellent paintings done by a very good friend of mine, and going cheap on eBay! Grab yourself a bargain, here:

Tank Girl!

Happy bidding, and expect actual updates at some point soon. :)

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Never "Work" with your computer again

While I was beginning my self-employment, I took a couple of agency jobs here and there – one or two-day affairs, for a little extra cash as a safety net – and some of them were data entry jobs.

In a data entry position, you carry out the work that nobody's gotten around to automating yet. You copy rows and columns of numbers from one application to another, all day, every day, until you quit, get sacked or write a script that does your job and sell it to the company.

Naturally, you get extremely bored doing this sort of work. And really, when you think about it, isn't using a computer to work a perfect waste of both a computer and a human being?

Humans invented computers to do our work for us, not to simply be a sinkhole in which to throw our time and souls. They're supposed to do the boring stuff – our job, as human beings, is to tell the computer what to do, and then let it sit there and do it while we go and do something more interesting. If you use your computer in any other fashion, you're doing it wrong.

A computer can do menial, unskilled jobs a million times faster than we can. If there is no decision making involved, or if said decisions can be based on predetermined parameters, then there's no need to waste the precious time of any human being in performing this sort of worthless task.

Computers are for working. Humans are for creating.

I realised with my last data entry position that most people's conceptions of what computers are actually for are at best extremely vague, and at worst outright wrong. That's when I decided to write a series of articles for newbie computer users, detailing a few ways in which you can help your computer better understand your intentions, and how you can more reliably interpret the computer's feedback. This is the first of those articles – future articles will include more practical advice of steps you can take, in line with these concepts, to ensure that you never “work” with a computer again.

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Where's Culture Shock gone?

If you're looking for Culture Shock, it's moved!  It's now available at (took me EIGHT FUCKING YEARS to get that domain name), and I'm in the process of rebuilding it. is gonna be my Blog of Random Articles and Such, and not a dumping ground for other projects.  Woo!

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There was a common but secretive saying among the few humans left on the factory floor; “It's not over 'til the fat bitch screams.”

The fat bitch was screaming while Julia made her way down the production line, PDA and stylus in hand, cringing at the stench of rotten vegetables and fear. At the shouted command, the machines wound down to idle and their monstrous operatives stood silently, staring straight ahead, on “break.”

Julia turned back to Fat Bitch, replacing her scowl with an obvious fake smile. “You don't have to shout so loud, you know – they can tune out the noise of the machines and only hear your voice.”

Fat Bitch returned the fake smile with another one even less convincing and far more patronising, yellow teeth showing. “That as may be,” she said with an air of condescension, “I'd like to hear my own voice sometimes, thank you very much Julia.”

Julia nodded and turned back to her PDA, directing it towards the bruises evident on loader nineteen's shoulders, the burns around its flanks, taking pictures. “Do you often have to beat the loaders? Have they given you problems?”

“Ah, Nineteen. Imogene. That one in particular, yeah, it gives us problems. The others, you know, you can give them a good slap and they'll know they've done wrong. Nineteen just doesn't learn. You can beat it and whip it and shock it, but it just doesn't sink in. It's like banging your bloody head against a brick wall.”

Julia grimaced. Ever thought of trying something else? “I can imagine so, Miss Hammond. We can take it in for retraining, if you can spare the loss of productivity.”

Hammond shrugged. “We've got spares."

Julia looked up, the loader's muzzle eighteen inches above her head. It was looking down at her, watching as she took pictures. She showed it a weak smile. It blinked at her, painfully - one eye was clearly infected.

Hammond called over to her. "What're you gonna do, electro-shock therapy?”

Julia fought back an impulse, and responded neutrally. “When punishment doesn't work, we essentially tear down their personalities and rebuild them as we do from when they're new. It's mostly psychological.”

“You'd not be far wrong to give it a good kick around every now and then, too. It's the only thing these buggers understand – but then, they're like that, aren't they? Stupid.”

Julia shook her head, seething, unable to stop herself. “Not that stupid. If they come across a problem, they'll try a variety of things to overcome it. If it's clear that one approach isn't working, they'll try something else.”

Julia looked very carefully at Hammond. She wished she could be surprised that the barely-veiled insult went totally over her head.

Fat, Stupid Bitch shrugged. “Whatever.”

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Projects update

Here's a quick update to what's going on lately regarding my myriad projects:

The new version of Dinosaur Comics - The Arcade Game is in playtesting phases, and you can download it from the JAMMAForever website.  For those unfamiliar, DCTAG is the world's first open-source arcade game.  By arcade game, I mean a game to be fit into an arcade cabinet, that takes coins and has an operator's menu and everything.  You can download the game for free, fit it into a cabinet, put that cabinet in your local chip shop / coffee house and earn money from it - the license lets you do just about whatever you want with it.  It's based on Dinosaur Comics, by Ryan North.

Both of these are going so well, now, that I can officially call myself self-employed.  No more turning up at some office at 9:45am and answering to angry short men demanding explanations for my lateness, yay!  More time for updates, double-yay!

"Loaders" is coming along brilliantly, at fifteen and a half thousand words.  I'd post it on the site, but I've got an eye on a publisher for this one, so... no.  If I know you, E-mail me and I'll send it to you.  Critiques are always appreciated.
(well, maybe I'll post the first chapter.  Maybe.)
Culture Shock is, of course, totally fucking stalled as always.  As it has been since I wrote Saint in 2000/2001.
Saint is also stalled, although less so than Culture Shock.  The whole concept of Culture Shock is too big, too zoomed-out for me to concentrate on it like I used to.  Saint was always just a story about a boy and a girl, which made everything easier.  It was based on the assumption that the reader was already following Culture Shock, so I could leave out all the details about the race, the world, and the physics - which actually worked in its favour for people unfamiliar with Culture Shock.  In CS, I have to look at the race from a human's POV, so everything has to be more detailed.
Also, I'm still dicking about with illustrations and animations for Culture Shock - although I love doing these, they distract time from actually telling the story, which sucks a bit.
Right now the plan is to finish Loaders before I commit any more time to Culture Shock.  And, probably, to finish Saint first, too.

I'm a partner in a project that involves as much social and physical engineering as it does software engineering.  It's taking up quite a lot of my time - but unfortunately, I'm not at liberty to discuss it here. :) (at least, not until the patent comes through)

And that's about it.  Now, I decide whether to post the first chapter of Loaders or not.

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God-Awful Spammers seize cancer awareness domain name, fill it with incest porn

I got some pretty nasty spam posted in my Comments a while back - and decided to do a little research on the spamvertized domain, try to find out IP ranges they use for posting, that kind of thing. Already pissed off that they'd be posting this kind of crap on my site, I wanted to take some kind of retaliation. is an incest video site. That doesn't even make the needle twitch on my give-a-shit-o-meter, I'm a grown up and can handle these things. Posting a hundred links to it on my site, though - now that's got me a tad miffed.
I tapped the domain it into Google and had a little look around. What I found was... interesting.

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This is a quick post to pimp my girlfriend's site, Twisted Librarian. We designed it together, and I don't think I've been so pleased with the layout of a site that I was involved in since... well, a good couple of years. It runs on GeekLog, like this site, so all the functions should seem familiar.
If you want to buy anything from Amazon, please consider doing so through TwistedLibrarian, as we get a cut of the sales. Moreover, I've been giving Culture Shock away for free since... what, 1999? 2000? Something like that, anyway, and I've still not got enough cash to buy a pizza. :)
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How to cheat at dialogue - write in Real Time

I submitted my new story, "Loaders," to a critique group recently.  Of course, since it was a critique group, it got picked to bits, the good parts highlighted with the bad - but the majority of the positive attention was paid to the dialogue.
The dialogue in "Loaders" was intended to be as realistic as possible.  People make inefficient use of words, swear, ramble, let their sentences run on, allow themselves to be distracted, and in general completely fail to communicate as effectively as someone would if their dialogue had been pondered over, written out and revised umpteen times before they said it.  Thus, the characters came alive, and it prompted me to write a little article on dialogue.
Among a human's list of Big Things That Must Be Done, the need to communicate is set just under the need to eat, drink and sleep.  It ranks higher, even, than our need for love, or sex.  Given that communication is one of the most important features in the life of any human being, rendering effective speech patterns in fictional characters can often prove difficult.  In this article, I'll be examining some of the best ways to write your dialogue for use in fiction, games or indeed any format in which you must decide how your characters will communicate, making use of the Real-Time Cheat and showing examples from "Loaders."
Hit "Read More" for the full thing.
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Once again, a new website...

I got pissed off with the whole Web 2.0 thing. I was getting tired of blog engines, content management systems, RSS feeds and all that them new-fangled bells and whistles that all the cool kids have. I missed my 1997 website - yes, the one that used frames, DHTML effects, static backgrounds, and even a Flash introduction. In short, it was a mess - but it was my mess, made from scratch. When I wanted to update it, I wrote the HTML myself.
I kinda miss having a website that I can piss about with to such an extent. So, I wiped the old Geeklog site clean, and put up a page that would serve as a "hub" to all my other sites - just a collection of images pointing to links. God Damn, but did that get boring fast.
I had a bit of a fiddle with Joomla, another CMS system based on the Mambo core. It's an impressive engine, but there are still things, important things, that I would miss about Geeklog. The ability for people visiting my site to leave comments using their LiveJournal logins, for example.
So, yeah, I've gone back to Geeklog. :) It's not perfect by any means, but it's still the nicest CMS I've ever used.
Anyway, you can expect updates to Culture Shock in here, along with new fiction, programming projects and other Caveman Joe stuff.