Archive for January, 2008

A Meeting With Paul Erdős

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

So FAWM is almost upon us again, and like so many other participants I’m finding myself hoarding song ideas and trying very hard not to inadvertently write them before February comes round. I can’t help but think that this is missing the point of a contest which is meant to push you into writing more music, so perhaps it’s just as well that this one slipped through the net and turned into a two-thirds-finished song before I could stop it.

I set myself a personal target of finishing it off in time to premiere it at last weekend’s pre-FAWM open mic meetup at the Green Note, and actually succeeded in finishing it off as well. At 1am the night before the gig. Which meant that I’d only had about half an hour of practice, and duly stumbled through the first two verses on stage before throwing in the towel and playing Graham The Caveman instead. (It wouldn’t have been so bad, except the first two verses were the old bit that I really ought to have learnt already.)

So, to quote Mark Lamarr, here’s how it should have sounded. For anyone wondering about the slightly odd subject matter, it was inspired by a moment on the journey to last year’s Forever party, where I was at Cologne Hauptbahnhof trying and failing to figure out some equations to do with raytracing, and thinking “oh, if only Paul ErdÅ‘s were here”. (Overlooking the fact that he’d died 10 years previously, obviously.)

Download matt_westcott_-_a_meeting_with_paul_erdos.mp3


New album from Glencoe Horse!

Monday, January 14th, 2008

Tonight I’m thrilled to be able to bring you an exclusive first glimpse of Are Great Things Born, the forthcoming album from Glencoe Horse.

[cover art: Are Great Things Born by Glencoe Horse]

…okay, so that’s a lie. Glencoe Horse (and their album) are a figment of random chance, generated by the following fiendishly complicated algorithm as introduced by Burr on the FAWM forum:

A general call went out to come up with an automatic online generator, and, well, how could I resist? My first attempt at an application in Camping (chosen so that I could take advantage of the wonderful HTML-parsing capabilities of Hpricot without the monster truck of Rails sitting underneath), it took about 3 hours to complete starting from no knowledge of the framework whatsoever, of which half was taken up finding out the best way to deploy it.

It lacks the human touch of the lovingly-photoshopped artworks that have previously come out of this concept (and replaces it with some rather horrific random colour schemes instead) but it’s still a curiously addictive way to pass a few minutes, with your finger poised over the Refresh key.

I invented a new cinematic genre last night. In my sleep.

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

Dear the internet,
I have a question. Are there any movies where the story is told in the form of an assortment of authentic-looking video/TV clips – anything from news footage to YouTube videos – which initially appear to be unrelated, but then after a while odd coincidences between them start to emerge, until a common thread appears?

The reason I ask is that last night, I had a dream that I was watching one. Realistically, I’d be surprised if I’d managed to invent a whole new cinematic form in my sleep, so I’m curious to know where I subconsciously nicked the idea from.

My colleague Dave suggested Traffic (which I’ve not seen, but probably should), which satisfies the “seemingly unconnected stories which gradually assemble into an overall plot line” aspect of it, but misses out the crucial ingredient of being composed of primary footage, to give it that Orson Welles War Of The Worlds-broadcast-meets-alternate reality gaming kind of immersive atmosphere. In the dream, I was watching the film on DVD with a friend:

OpenZXRom 2008-01-07 (the PRINTworks)

Monday, January 7th, 2008

[Skool Daze: "700 lines ERIC - Don't do it again..."]It seems like only last week that… hmm, yes, well. After the last release in the closing hours of 2007, I was all set to put OpenZXRom aside for a while. But then Philip Kendall and a merry band of anonymous people did phenomenal work on the OpenZXRom wiki page, documenting a mountain of games that did and didn’t work – and the list of bug reports was a carrot dangling in front of me and whispering “fix me. fiiiiix meeeee.” And I don’t even like carrots.

So, this is the result. Biggest news this time is the arrival of the PRINT statement – yes, it’s been long overdue, but now OpenZXRom can run that legendary masterwork: 10 PRINT “the c64 was crap” / 20 GO TO 10. (Actually, it briefly works and then dies in a burst of attribute clash, because I haven’t bothered to test for running off the bottom of the screen yet. Still, eh?) We’ve also got FLASH, BRIGHT, PAUSE, and beefed-up keyboard scanning for the benefit of games that piggyback on the interrupt routines. Despite the “let’s make a bunch of games work” focus of this release, it’s actually only made modest progress – for all too many of them, fixing the simple bugs just replaces them with progressively more obscure ones. But it’s still fair to bask in the successes of the 15% or so that do work now, including Skool Daze.

Download OpenZXRom 2008-01-07