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Using my own tumblr as a glorified note-to-self for a possible research project. I am on a Number Stations kick. UVB-76 (or however you want to call it) has been very chatty lately… I pulled the March 20th recording myself for the thrill of finding a few seconds of vocals in 24 hours of continuous beeping.

I discovered first hand how problematic it is that the archiver has a slight time domain compression problem. It drifts 15 minutes in 24 hours which means that the timestamps on Priyom (11:23 and 12:56) are both several minutes later than where the transmissions are found in the recording. I think the 11:23 one worked out to be at about 11:16 in the MP3… but the important part is about halfway through the minute of 11:08.

When I originally listened it just sounded like some blipping interfering with the buzzing. After I applied noise reduction, however (using a noise profile of both the silence and the beep), it became much clearer it was vocals. You can clearly hear the word Dmitri (which is part of their callsign, and the D in the Russian version of alpha-bravo-charlie), or at least I can. The indiscernible voice goes on for a while. In other words, they were transmitting a message without turning off the buzz. I imagine they realized their mistake and retransmitted a few minutes later.

I have been trying to get an authoritative answer on how common this is on IRC but it seems everyone is asleep :) All I know is that it’s not unprecedented. In the meantime I feel quite proud to have found it all by myself on the first try.

If wav->mp3->tumblr has slaughtered the quality, here’s the wav.


kiteinspace asked: hi, i got here from a link to your twitch plays pokemon essay, kept reading on your blog, loved the way you write, read the first section of your book sample and you totally sold me, haha! just wanted to say hi, i love every word you've written that i've read so far.

Thank you very much! :D

In other news, the Tumblr for iPad’s UI is confusing and I thought I was answering this privately.

Defending the “ideological compromise” of Twitch Plays Pokemon

I won’t include here the complete history of Twitch Plays Pokemon, which you can grab from the news. I am writing this at 5 Days, 20 Hours and 40 minutes into the “social experiment,” which many people say has “failed” with the introduction of Democracy Mode.

The experiment has not “failed.” The experiment has collected a trove of fascinating player experiences and made an adjustment in the face of a plateau to revitalize it and collect more fascinating player experiences of a slightly different sort. In artificial intelligence, plateauing refers to an AI getting stuck in a situation where it can no longer meaningfully improve itself. The players got stuck in the same small maze for more than a day straight due to an inability to further improve their co-ordination with the tools provided. At this point, Democracy Mode was introduced (and the original mode named Anarchy Mode) and a mechanism for toggling between them was installed some small time afterwards. The maze was then solved.

This has upset many fans of the game because it “ruined the point” or otherwise seemed to them to have fundamentally damaged the experience. The suggestion put forth by some of them was to simply let the game remain stuck indefinitely, until players quit by the tens of thousands so that a small number of hardcore true fans could co-ordinate their way through the maze. Ostensibly, the thousands of ejected players would then be expected to return.

I hope these people do not apply the same philosophy to everything. They are clinging to absolute ideological purity in the face of undeniable evidence it currently isn’t working. The experiment has not “failed” because a new mode of operating was established. The experiment has shown that Anarchy Mode worked well for a small number of players, was somewhat tenable for a few tens of thousands of players, and become deadlocked when there were many tens of thousands of players faced with an intricate task. When a vote-based system was introduced, it showed that Democracy Mode could sustain the game through the massive playerbase growth.

The game is now toggling between Democracy Mode and Anarchy Mode on a fairly regular basis as people tip the meter through mass voting and occasional use of the “start9” deadlock protest. Democracy Mode is more effective for intricate footwork and Anarchy Mode for battles. Both are equally ineffective at taking care of things like getting out of a dungeon to go heal and getting back, because the exact plan is not necessarily evident to all players, or agreed upon - whereas in puzzles and battles, the goal is completely unambiguous. In puzzles, in particular, the only “dissenting” option is that of the troll, attempting to destroy progress for the sake of ruining others’ fun.

Imagine you founded a town with a few hundred people, and agreed upon some laws with some novel features. All went very well as your town expanded to a few thousand people. At about twenty thousand, however, serious congestion and sanitation issues started becoming evident, and at fifty thousand, it had practically devolved into a war zone. Some relatively minor changes to the laws would clean up the situation substantially. Do you a) make minor changes to the laws or b) tell everyone that 90% of them need to leave the town they moved to because they saw something desirable about it?

Since implementing Democracy Mode, the max simultaneous views has increased by about fifteen thousand, so I don’t think the changes have “ruined the fun” for most people. It allowed the game to remain functionally a game without having to resort to kicking most of the players out. This is not a “failed experiment,” this is an absolutely awesome ongoing experiment which is allowing more and more people to participate.

Thousands of people controlling one Gameboy have co-ordinated sufficiently well, in the face of hordes of trolls, to get four of eight badges and counting. We’re going to Victory Road.


letsplayamongthestars asked: Thank you for what you said about what a disaster snow and ice is for the south! No matter how many times I try to explain that to people who didn't grow up down here, they never seem to understand just why snow is such a big deal to people who are not remotely equipped for it. I always get the "We get 6 to 7 inches on a good day don't be so dramatic" or even the "Southerners are too stupid to figure out how to drive in the snow" so thanks for getting it!

In exchange, you’re not allowed to giggle when I welcome the sweet embrace of Death as soon as the thermometer hits ninety 8) 


Snow is a natural disaster

Mini-rant time! I grew up in the North (of these fair United States), then moved to the South, and now I’m in the North again, and it’s been a snowy winter. It has been the tradition since time immemorial for Northerners to make fun of Southerners for not being able to handle snow.

I don’t think the average Northerner appreciates just how much of a natural disaster snow really is, and how much work and money goes into keeping the North functioning as a matter of routine infrastructure. When it starts snowing here on the north side of Boston, I can go to sleep secure in the knowledge that when I wake up, all of the roads for miles and miles around me will be (reasonably) safe to use. There is an entire army of plow trucks, sand trucks, and salt trucks that work throughout the night. All that equipment costs a lot of money. All the people operating it cost a lot of money. We have invested in all of this cleanup infrastructure, because we live in the North.

I own a shovel and an ice scraper and keep them by the front door, because I live in the North.

I own good, waterproof boots and a heavy quilted jacket and a knit hat and gloves, because I live in the North.

I know how to walk on solid ice without slipping, because I live in the North.

My grandfather owns his own plow that attaches to his own pickup truck, because he lives in the rural North.

It baffles me that so many Northerners think it’s totally hilarious and pathetic that the South shuts down when they get plastered with freak snow. Yes, it’s only two inches! Two inches of WHITE POWDER THAT COMES FROM THE SKY AND CONSUMES EVERYTHING. They have almost no snow recovery infrastructure, and why would they? They have almost no experience in dealing with it, and why would they? It simply doesn’t happen often enough.

In the most recent freak southern snow storm, kids were stuck on busses or at schools overnight, which is pretty terrible. Think about it, though - how many of these kids would just so happen to be dressed appropriately to be going any distance in freezing weather? You can’t ask a child to walk more than a few hundred yards in the snow in sneakers and jeans, even if it is only two inches. You’ll have a thousand cases of hypothermia on your hands. You can’t send school buses with no snow tires and inexperienced drivers down unplowed roads, or you’ll have a school bus full of injuries on your hands. (The response was to deploy the National Guard with blankets and food, and to get busses unjammed where they could.)

Don’t forget, by the way, that buying a whole set of snow clothes for growing kids every year is expensive. Northerners do it because we live in the North. It’s not optional. How many kids in Atlanta even own snow boots that remotely fit?

All of this is not to say that the people in charge of managing Southern cities can’t learn from mistakes and implement better procedures for future freak snowstorms. Of course they can. It’s just utterly unsurprising that the South would treat literally tons of cold, heavy stuff covering everything they own as some sort of disaster. Because it is.

Now if only our pathetically poor educational system could find a way to explain that the idea of “global warming” does not mean all snow goes away forever. A casual survey of social networking will reveal that people fundamentally do not understand what causes snow. Hence, every time there is snow in a southern clime, they jump to the conclusion that everyone who studies climate simply doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Sigh.


The surreality of Skyrim: when at a crossroads in the wilderness you find a dead dragon, a dead Boethiah cultist, some Stormcloaks, and one Thalmor woman who looks you dead in the eyes and says “this doesn’t concern you, citizen”


The SSL Smiley Song ˙ ͜ʟ˙

Sing it with me:

Dashing through the cloud
On a ten gigabit link
One packet in a crowd
Falls into the data sink!
Draw a smiley face
On the diagram
Suck up data, leave no trace
It's all for Uncle Sam!

SSL terminators at the datacenter
Just gotta get on the other side
Just gotta break and enter!
No need to hack that server rack
Just gotta tap that fiber
Download all the private data
Win the war on CYBER!


This is my real voice. I swear I am an adult

I drew Mega Gengar and then my husband was surprised I had one

I drew Mega Gengar and then my husband was surprised I had one


Glory in the Thunder: Some background for how this happened


I doubt that I shall ever be some sort of author of great renown. Nonetheless, I have finally done what I said I would do since I was thirteen years old – put out a real, true, completed novel – and so there are some thoughts I want to make permanent before time obscures them.

This is a story…

So I wrote a novel -

So I wrote a novel -