(One of many thought-provoking text adventures by Spatch.)

And so you were taken from this place to another place, where you had absolutely no damn idea what it is you're supposed to be doing. It's OK, you'll be all right. Just don't pick up the phone
booth, or else you'll die.

a NyQuil nightmare by R. Noyes
Release 619 / Serial number 960409 / Inform v1502 Library 5/12
Standard interpreter 1.0

The Town Square
You are standing in the middle of a pretty town square in the center of a nondescript New England town. Like most any other nondescript New England towns, there's not much to see or do here, but
maybe you'll find something amusing and enjoyable to do.

A shiny metal phone booth sits in the center of the square.

>get booth
You grunt with all your might and heave the phone booth onto your shoulders. For a moment or two it looks as if you're not going to be able to lift it, but heroically you finally lift it high in
the air! Seconds later, however, you topple underneath the weight, and the booth crushes you fatally. Geez! Didn't I tell you not to pick up the phone booth?! Isn't the name of this very game
"Pick Up The Phone Booth and Die"?! Man, you're dense. No big loss to humanity, I tell ya.

*** You have died ***

In that game you scored 0 out of a possible 100, in 1 turn, giving you the rank of total and utter loser, squished to death by a damn phone booth.

Would you like to RESTART, RESTORE a saved game, give the FULL score for that game or QUIT?

(Note: this post was written in February 2007 — which shows how far behind I am…)

And you thought /your/ project had problems!

So why wasn’t Sinistar [for Atari 400/800] released? Around the time Sinistar was being completed (mid 1984), the video game market was crumbling fast and many games were canceled. Apparently marketing decided that the game wasn’t going to make enough money and canceled the project… without telling the programmers! Jeff and his team continued to work on the project for almost two months after it was canceled, due to lack of communication between marketing and the programming department. Incidents like this were not uncommon, and just goes to show how badly out of touch the managers were at the time of Atari’s collapse. [AtariProtos.com]

(MP3 audio)

That game was hard, too. With the adrenaline flowing through your veins as you scrambled to evade the warrior ships, the voice of Sinistar — preparing his attack — was enough to scare you out of your wits. (I can personally attest to this 🙂 Being overtaken by a taunting, screaming, giant space head is just plain unsettling; when it happens while a random six-year-old is tugging at your pant leg pleading for game tokens, death is swift and certain.

Odds & Ends

Some random thoughts:

    • Never name your JavaScript onload handler onload().


  • Proposed: ICR as standard net acronym for “I couldn’t resist.”

    Example from Amazon internal mailing list:


re: Recommendations for demolition
(sorry, ICR)


  • My uncle Mike’s website: ILResources.com – large body of information on independent living, disability, and senior care. He knows his stuff.



I got the job at Amazon!

I started at Amazon.com on May 22, 2006. So awesome. Yes, kiddies, I moved to Seattle. (And basically didn’t tell anyone I was leaving. Sorry if that wasn’t very nice.)

Anyway, Amazon.com treats their employees pretty well. New hires are stored in facilities like the Shelby, which is a pretty decent apartment building. I think I like living in the city. The biggest problem is the rental prices. Belltown is a historic party zone just minutes from downtown Seattle, the Space Needle, a dozen Starbucks, and an extremely cramped RiteAid pharmacy. I looked at renting a studio in the Shelby and they wanted $945 for 430 square feet. That’s less than the surface area of an ironed-out Sharpei.

We’re still trying to figure out what my day-to-day role is — most teams in my organization don’t have a specialized HTML/CSS person, so I’m going to cross-train with the software engineers on our projects. A major tool for this will be code reviews … hopefully I can share some knowledge without turning into the Markup Nazi. (“No more TABLEs for you — 1 year!”)

Will write more later … this weblog will be the main way of staying in touch with everybody.

Always Caturday

This song is dedicated to /b/.

Always Caturday

In the place that I call home
The cats are everywhere
Today is always Caturday
Furry purry everywhere

Caturday, restful Caturday
And if my kitty sheds
then I’ll chase him away

Eyes are glowin’ in the dark
On my chest up at 5am
Purr so loud it wakes me up
He wants to be fed again

Caturday, oh stressful Caturday
And if my kitty sheds
then I’ll chase him away

Cats are growlin’ in the hall
Hissin’ clawin’ rivalry
Alpha cats jus’ can’t back down
And they think that I don’t see
Lick each other peacefully

Caturday, peaceful Caturday
And if my kitty sheds
then I’ll chase him away

In Defense of “A.I.”

Many people have faulted Spielberg for the feel-good ending of A.I. but this is not entirely fair. Kubrick’s working title for this project was “Pinocchio,” and theme of wanting to be loved was his.

These comments in the Kubrick FAQ describe the problem Spielberg inherited:

It was the relationship between David and his mother that most occupied Kubrick and [novelist] Sara Maitland. An alcoholic whose ‘Bloody Mary’ cocktails David would mix for her in a vain attempt to win her affection. The mother was the to be emotional center of the film that would eventually come full-circle.

At the story’s conclusion, the robots that have inherited the Earth use David’s memories to reconstruct, in virtual form, the apartment where he had lived with his parents. Because his memories are subjective, the mother is much more vividly realized than the father, and his stepsister’s room is not there at all; it is just a hole in the wall.

For Ms. Maitland, the film would end with David preparing a Bloody Mary for his mother, the juice a brighter red than in real life: “He hears her voice, and that’s it. We don’t see him turn to see her.” Kubrick, however, wanted a coda in which the new race of robots, because of a technological limitation, cannot keep the mother alive after reviving her. The movie would end with David in his mother’s bedroom, watching her slowly disappear.

Ms. Maitland was displeased this scenario, and was furious with Kubrick for insisting on it. “It must have been a very strong visual thing for him,” she says, “because he wasn’t usually stupid about story. He hired me because I knew about fairy stories, but would not listen when I told him, ‘You can have a failed quest, but you can’t have an achieved quest and no reward.’ ”

Kubrick’s Pinocchio enters the world in a dysfunctional family. Can he win his mother’s love? Nope.

Spielberg’s change was to change the mother. When resurrected for one last day of quality time, she . Did she love him? She responds that she always had. They fall asleep together, Teddy turns out the light, and the fairy tale ends.

If Spielberg destroyed anything, it was the last 30 seconds.

Review: Amazing Magnets Superball kit

Dan’s Data reviews the Superball kit: “It’s shiny. It’s weighty. It’s geometrically… intense. And although it looks like something a Man In Black would use to store spare singularities, you can actually build it yourself.”

Amazing Magnets seem to be a perfectly good source for these things, and their extensive line of steel balls is a neat addition. They don’t have any really huge NIB magnets, but that’s really just as well; giant NIBs just want to smash themselves, and you. They’re about as fun to play with as alligators.”

See also his review of kittens. (thanks Tim 🙂

eBay item 3873979525 – STAR WARS LANDSPEEDER

From the eBay auction listing:

Harley Davidson powered “Star Wars” Landspeeder / perfect for “Burning Man” art car For Sale !! […] I have to sell the Landspeeder because I’m building a full-size mockup of the shuttlecraft Galileo used in the original 60’s Star Trek series. But Punkin’ says there’s only room at our house for one sci-fi vehicle.

Let’s keep Punkin happy and pool our lunch money for a good cause!

This vehicle is not considered street legal, unless you live in a location which allows golf-karts to be driven on the street. Check your local regulations.