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Saturday 2 March 2002, 22:50 GMT
Could foveation be the key to delivering streaming video over even dial-up connections? Bob Cringley explains what exactly "foveation" is, and why it's likely to appeal to content providers.

It's not going to happen tomorrow, or even next year, but it's a fabulous idea.
Could Lycoris Linux finally be the Linux distribution for the rest of us? This rave review suggests it just might be. I might have to look out for the edition of Linux Format which is due to have an ISO image of Lycoris Linux on its cover disc. [Via Haddock.org]
A hilarious review of chess:
The latest offering in the rapidly overflowing strategy genre is hard evidence that strategy games need a real overhaul, and fast. Chess, a small-scale tactical turn-based strategy game, attempts to adopt the age-old "easy to learn, difficult to master" parameter made popular by Tetris. But the game's cumbersome play mechanics and superficial depth and detail all add up to a game that won't keep you busy for long.
[Via David Brake's Blog]
Bruce Sterling is getting rather excited at the thought of DNA-based mechanical devices.
"(...) Researchers at New York University have taken a significant step forward (...)"

"The researchers demonstrated the mechanism by making a four-step rotary motor out of DNA." (((What fresh hell is this?)))

"The motor is a four-stranded DNA molecule that, prompted by separate strands of DNA, will go through a mechanical cycle over and over again. Because the process is a reversible cycle, there are no waste products. (((It's DNA. It's a motor. It doesn't pollute. Oh my goodness.)))
That makes two sexy science-fictional technologies in one day's weblogging. We really do live in interesting times.
Friday 1 March 2002, 23:15 GMT
I saw Ocean's Eleven last night. As exercises in sheer star-power go it was a pretty good effort, being both entertaining and stylish. George Clooney has clearly got the hang of this film star thing, Elliott Gould and Carl Reiner had a ball playing the old-timers, and Andy Garcia did well enough in his biggest role in years. (Why don't we see more of Andy Garcia? His career seemed to stall after Mike Figgis' Internal Affairs.)

On the negative side, I was disappointed that Julia Roberts' part was so insubstantial, but it was always going to be difficult for the lead actress to make much of a mark in such a crucial-yet-peripheral role. As for Don Cheadle's attempt at what was alleged to be a Cockney accent, that didn't really bother me too much. It was so far removed from anything I'd identify as a Cockney accent that somehow I couldn't get too worked up about it.
Dead Man's Switch. Software to tidy up after you when you die. What an utterly brilliant idea. (No, I'm not kidding. I've often thought about how something like this would work. Perhaps I've seen too many films where the plot hinges around a posthumous message.) [Via NTK]
Tanya Headon on How To Write A Dido Song.
I'm more curious than I'd expected to be about the forthcoming film of Anne Rice's Queen of the Damned. On the one hand, it has a lot of obvious problems: they're trying to compress two fairly hefty novels into a two hour film, it stars a pop star-turned-actress who certainly doesn't match my mental picture of Akasha, and it's been quite a while since the film of Interview With The Vampire, so whatever interest the first film generated in the prospect of a sequel surely dissipated long ago. On the other hand, Stuart Townsend strikes me as a plausible Lestat - certainly he's a more likely choice than, say, Tom Cruise - and I found the novel which lent the film its title the last readable piece Anne Rice produced. (I found The Tale of the Body Thief tedious and bounced off both Memnoch: The Devil and the Lasher series.) So I've been anticipating the first reviews with some interest.

Judging by this review it sounds as if I might do best to forget about the Anne Rice novel entirely, and try to enjoy the film for what it is. Come to think of it, that's probably sound advice for every filmed adaptation of a decent SF/fantasy/horror novel.
Tuesday 26 February 2002, 22:35 GMT
Helga meets The Debbies. Good, harmless fun... [Via I Love Everything]
The Shit Hits the Fan at ICANN. This is going to get very, very messy.
A British company has announced plans to build a 13-storey tall rotating artificial ski slope. In Wales. What a magnificently bizarre concept. (That's the rotating/13-storey bit, not siting it in Wales, you understand.) [Via Found]
Monday 25 February 2002, 22:45 GMT
TotL.net Human Virus Scanner. Scary. Apparently my most virulent infections are as follows:
British (210%)
No need for cure. Benign virus.

Politics (210%)
Stop caring!

BBC B (190%)
CTRL-Break, and get a real computer.
Repeat: "Mode 7 was not a good thing."

8-Bit (175%)
Polygons, all the polygons you can get are not enough.

Sci-fi (170%)
Stop wearing the stick-on ears.
Seems pretty accurate to me. Except that I didn't own a BBC Micro (I was one of Uncle Clive's followers - heck, I even bought a QL at full price!) and I've never, ever owned a pair of stick-on ears. (However, one of my nicknames at school was "Spock.") [Via jdhewitt.co.uk]
He's Got Mail. James Fallows on the latest round in the never-ending argument about whether the internet makes it easy for us to remain ignorant of opposing viewpoints.

For whatever it's worth, I'm firmly in the camp which holds that the internet makes it easier to run into opposing points of view, or to stumble across facts you didn't know you were interested in. Whether you're minded to follow them up, to engage with them, has little to do with technology and much to do with your propensity for close-mindedness.
Kyle Haight poses a horrifying question (see last two lines of post):
Am I the only person who lives in fear of the Buffy episode in which Anya discovers _Atlas Shrugged_?
[Via rec.arts.sf.written]
Robot Exclusion Protocol. The future of Google? I wonder what damage the MSN equivalent will do... [Via Boing Boing]
Sunday 24 February 2002, 21:30 GMT
The Deadly Follies of Stick Figure Warning Man. Painfully funny reading. [Via Hava Cuppa Tea]
"I was quoted once as saying this is a stallion that became a gelding and now she's a mayor. I do have to say that I've now come full circle and become a member." I look forward to the day when the British parliament has MPs like New Zealand's Georgina Bayer.
Phil Greenspun is not at all impressed with the Handspring Treo mobile phone/PDA. I was thinking that the Treo might be the device that finally persuades me to buy a mobile phone, but in the light of this review perhaps it's not quite there yet.

The good news is that most of the shortcomings Greenspun notes are software- or user interface-related, and thus fixable: the basic concept is still sound, and the execution of the hardware side of the concept sounds decent. I hope Handspring get version 1.1 out soon. [Via Robot Wisdom Weblog]
Over at feeling listless, Stu recounts his very strange entertainment fantasy:
I have a day dream that Leonard Nimoy's music career took off and instead of returning to acting he continued to build a successful following in the business of show. After many years he became a man of stature and a regular fixture on the Vegas circuit.
And from there it gets really strange.
Ben Hammersley has written a rather good story about the state of the internet in Iran. Believe it or not, access to 2MB ADSL connections or 5MB wireless access points in Tehran is better than it is in many parts of the UK.

The really interesting fact highlighted in the article is the lack of attempts by the government to filter content on grounds of "indecency" or "subversion." Not what you'd expect from a member of the "Axis of Evil."
The Second Coming. Russell T Davies has come up with an interesting premise for his next series.
Steve, played by Christopher Eccleston, becomes convinced he is the Messiah after spending 40 days and nights in the wilderness of Saddleworth Moor - where the Moors murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley buried their victims. After performing a series of miracles on live TV, including turning daytime Moss Side to night, he ascends into heaven from Maine Road, the home of Manchester City football club.
Unlike Queer As Folk, I can't see this show being adapted for the US market. [Via I Love Everything]

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