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So the new Star Wars trailer has a new style of lightsaber, and it didn't take long for people to make fun of it.  Honestly I found that collection of joke images more entertaining than the trailer.  Some thoughts ...

1) That kind of ridiculous weaponry development has actually happened  with polearms and handheld blades such as knives and swords.

2) Even imaginary weapons need to be plausible.  If your audience can glance at the weapon and point out flaws, then you haven't done a very good job of design or portrayal.  Imaginary technology should have consistent rules which shape its development, just as the laws of physics and metallurgy shape historic weapons.

Take that lightsaber.  The horizontal quills make it easier to block an opponent's blow, because one lightsaber blade can stop another; but more importantly, they allow strikes to the side.  A drawback is that they raise the chance of cutting yourself.  If the handle of the weapon is not also invulnerable to the lightsaber blade, then quills raise the damage chance by channeling strikes toward the hilt; but if the handle is invulnerable, that's not a problem.  

Far more interesting is that this is a Force weapon wielded by a Sith or Jedi, which means with a little practice they ought to be able to control  those blades not just by hand and technology, but by will.  Imagine having a hilt that can extend a blade in three directions, or four if you remember the original double-bladed lightsaber with a hilt in the middle, as needed.  This adds a great deal of versatility and danger, although it also raises the amount of time required to become proficient in using the thing without slicing your own limbs off.  I'm serious about the risk factors, though; it's basically a giant laser switchblade.  Guys love to play with switchblades and butterfly knives because they're cool, but 9 out of 10 guys will cut themselves on one.  I've seen it repeatedly.  Like true ninja weapons, they're only useful if you know exactly what you are doing.
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Thanks to a donation from Anthony & Shirley Barrette, the poem "No Mind Without Spirit" is fully sponsored. Find out more about why Percy's idea doesn't work in nether-Earth.
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[personal profile] dialecticdreamer is looking for sample webpage code.  If you know of sources for that kind of stuff, please leave a comment.
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 [personal profile] dialecticdreamer has posted a fascinating essay about rights management, collaboration, and crowdfunding.  Try not to get completely lost in the Helidrax  example and do think about the creative rights situation.

But yeah, now I want me some Helidrax.
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This app allows users to record the quality of their interactions with local police.  That will make it possible to identify which law enforcement services have a positive or negative impression in their communities.  With that data in hand, it would become possible to study the good ones for successful techniques to replicate, and the bad ones for mistakes to avoid.
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I was fascinated by this effort to make computers display images that would appear sharp to people with vision defects.
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Lego has introduced three toy sets which interface between physical and virtual play.  Faaaaaascinating. The idea is to build something with bricks, then transfer that into a manipulable model in cyberspace.  This has terrific potential for architects, scientists, and other folks who often transport their imagination from one layer of reality to another.  I'm sure folks will figure out some practical applications for this after fooling around with it for a little while.  In the meantime, it's awesome fun.


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 [personal profile] aldersprig is launching a new multi-platform project, Faerie Apocalypse Live.  It will contain a mix of fiction and demifiction.  I'm excited to see people using technology to tell stories in new ways.  This one is supported by tips.
ysabetwordsmith: (gold star)
My partner Doug found this bit of stuff that networks into a large mesh of issues, some of which I've already touched upon or read elsewhere.

It begins with this piece, where actually the title is what interests me: "We'd Like to Thank Our Commenters Again For Generally Not Being Jerks." That's ComicMix, an excellent source of news and discussions in this field; you've seen us linking there before. The quality of their audience is not an accident. It means they're posting the kind of content, and managing discussing in such a way, that attracts reasonably decent people. That takes work. I'm really proud of my audience here for similar reasons, and it makes me happy to see someone else having a similar effect.

From there we go to the next post, “Let’s see how feminist you are when you’re begging for more”: The violent, sexist world of comic website comments." It discusses what happened in response to a critique, "Anatomy of a Bad Cover: DC'S New "Teen Titans" #1" by Janelle Asselin, a former editor at DC comics. She described how the sexist elements of the artwork could alienate female viewers, driving them away from a title that has historically held a considerable female fanbase in an industry that usually doesn't. The result, predictably, was the usual dogpile of rapetastic abuse. But the response was unusual and worthy of note.

Read more... )
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Here's an interesting article about people who spread information.

This is actually my vocation.  I sift through the vast amount of stuff going on and then highlight what seems interesting or important.  I can add a few other points of interest: 

* Repetition matters.  An item might not catch my eye the first time if it's posted without commentary.  But if someone says something insightful about it, I'm more likely to forward.

* Meaning matters.  Some people just echo fluff, which is fine.  But some people are hunting and relaying things that are thoughtworthy or actionable, not just casually amusing.  These differences are important if you want to convince people to do  something.  I tend to favor high-impact content, although I also include lighter stuff to avoid burnout.

* Attention matters.  It's not just about connecting outward to other people with many connections.  It's about whether people actually treat you as a hub, a place they go for information.  I've repeatedly had people tell me that they use me as a newsfeed because they like my topic selection.

* Saturation matters.  If you know most or all the people in a group, that's meaningful, whether or not the rest of them have a high connectivity of their own.  You've got a lot of penetration in terms of reaching people in that group.  I'm still active enough in Paganism to have good connectivity, and back when I was running PanGaia, either I knew someone personally or I knew somebody else who knew them.
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This poem is from the May 6, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] rosieknight, [personal profile] mdlbear, and LJ user Siege. It also fills the "dreams" square in my 3-30-14 card for the [community profile] cottoncandy_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette

Read more... )
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 Take back your data with the Indie Box, a personal web server designed to make it easy to use the web while protecting your privacy from corporate and national spies.  I like seeing new privacy tools.
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Here's a detailed article about novel lengths and why they are the way they are.

The FIRST consideration should be story need.  Write the length that the plot requires.  A novel can be anywhere from 40,000 words to well above 120,000 these days.  

Publisher demands have depended partly on popular format, so as prices went up, people made fatter books.  The problem is, most of that is bloat; it degrades the product quality.  I hate  bloated novels.  A fat book makes me suspicious unless I know the author is good for it.  If you give someone a target in advance, though, at least they know where to aim.

But the worst problem is when people take a story that's already written and cut it down without regard to its infrastructure.  This is butchery, and the result is often illegible.  You can write a book and subdivide it into serial chapters if you know what you're doing.  But to take, say, 800 pages and divide that into thirds when it wasn't meant to be?  Chances are it will suck mightily.

Never, ever do anything which degrades the base product quality.  Movies are having a big problem with this currently where the fulminating mess that is copyright has interfered with the ability to tell a good story.  Fuck you, my money can stay in my pocket.  People are reading fewer books today.  Part of that is changing culture, but part may be because of really stupid publisher decisions like these.

On the bright side, electronic publication removes the size constraints.  You can write and publish whatever size your story needs to be.  Your readers can buy whatever size they want.  This is an advantage that paper will never be able to compete with, and it's bringing back gutter-length fiction: stuff in the 10-30,000 range that's all but impossible to sell in print.  I'm not into ebooks but I am very happy with the impact on size diversity.  There's much less temptation to hack or bloat in an electronic environment.
ysabetwordsmith: (gold star)
This fundraiser aims to create a fantasy game where the magic works like computer code.  The setting is gender-neutral and the protagonist is female.  It is well past the initial goal and very close to the stretch goal that unlocks a level editor.

I am massively in favor of anything that teaches about computers in a fun way.  But this project has extra awesomesauce: it basically presents a reality in which science and magic are the same (go quantum physics girls, go!) and it teaches that making mistakes is no big deal.  You can debug on the fly, and if your character dies anyway, the level resets very quickly so the stakes are low.  All of this encourages kids to try new things, experiment, fool around and see what happens.
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I found a couple of good posts about ubiquitous damage.  These are cases where abuse is so widespread that it is treated as normal, it's difficult or impossible to avoid, and is presented as the price of having a life at all.  You either "willingly" submit to the abuse or you don't get to be a part of most of society.  Objecting to it, trying to change it -- you can do those things, and sometimes make a little progress, but it also makes you a target and means there are many things you can't or won't do.

These include user abuse and employee abuse.

I have a tendency to look at abusive situations and say, "I am not that fucking hungry."  I've passed a lot of opportunities because they were more toxic than I would tolerate.  True, I'm not a very good fit for this culture.  But I maintain that "It is no great sign of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society."

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