Zork with text-to-speech inside a telephone.

The Goal of GruePhone 2.0 is to be able to play a number of text adventure games using nothing but an old phone. This will be accomplished using a small, ARM based embeddable computer called a "chip". This will read the descriptions to the user via a text-to-speech engine, and listen for user input via a speech-to-text engine and feed that back to the game.

The goal of GruePhone 1.0 was to port Zork I (via a z-code interpreter) to an embedded platform, and enclose that and an old modem inside a telephone, so that the game can be played from a teletype, TDD, or old computer with an acoustically coupled modem.

File this under " payphone goals".

One of the things I've wanted to do to my payphone for a while now is put some kind of game inside it, but I was thinking more of a choose-your-own-adventure kind of thing, where your choices are entered on the keypad: "press 1 to get lamp", etc. I haven't come across a script for something like that yet.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

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2016 music wrap-up, and mixtape 177

I am very, very late with this, but hey, the last few months have left me a little distracted. It's nearly the end of January, and I had to face the fact that I'm just never going to find the time to do a lot of writing about this, so... ship it. As I've said in previous years, I feel that year-end lists like this aren't of much use if the author doesn't say something about what the music is or why they like it, but, well, that's not going to happen this year. Oh well.

So. In only approximate order of favoriteness -- and for the fourteenth year in a row -- and since I didn't force myself to write about them, the order and everything else about this is extremely approximate -- here is my year-end wrap-up. As usual, a few of the entries on the following list were released earlier than 2016, but that is when I discovered them, so I'm allowing some slack. Though most were actually released in 2016.

This year I acquired around 50% more new music as last year: roughly 90 new releases, almost all released within the last 3 years, roughly half released in 2016. That's up 17% from 2014 but still down 25% from 2013.

Number of those bands that I saw perform this year: 22.
Number of those bands that performed at DNA Lounge this year: 11.
Go team!

I like these things. You should like them too. Here's your shopping list:

And finally, here's mixtape 177, which includes one track by each of the above artists.

Join the DNA Lounge Patreon, ok?

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Current Music: as noted

This cafe is playing the Swayze classic, Red Dawn.

Someone has a dark sense of humor.


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DNA Lounge: Wherein the time has come again to HACK THE PLANET.

Last week we had a Harry Potter Party, which was absolutely packed! The promoters' original ambition for this party was fairly modest: they were going to hand out masks and give out a costume prize and that's about it, but when we saw how well tickets were selling, we figured it deserved a bit more than that, and the gang spent two or three days decorating the hell out of the place and constructing props like "Quidditch Beer Pong". It was a lot of fun! Almost everybody who came made at least some effort at costuming, which is always great to see. We will certainly be doing the Potter Party again. A sold out party on a Thursday? Yes please.

We've also been brainstorming about what other similar pop culture parade we could get in front of. I think the sweet spot might be "I was into it when I was 12, and it's still popular today, so the 'sexy costume' version of it makes me feel all funny inside."

Someone left a pretty entertaining message on the payphone that night. Listen! Nobody ever leaves messages on the payphone. You should drunkenly babble at the payphone. Yes, you. It is your confessor. It already knows. But it wants to hear you say it.

Important news! We're doing CYBERDELIA again!

  • A screening of Hackers at 8pm;
  • Hackers costume contest at midnight;
  • Head-to-head Wipeout XL competition throughout the night;
  • Skate ramps! Rollerblades welcome!

We're doing it on a Tuesday, which is a little odd, but that puts it right in the middle of the RSA conference, a massive computer security and cryptography convention at Moscone, and immediately after the B Sides conference happening at DNA on the 12th and 13th. B Sides is a community-run and more technical and political reaction to RSA, and we've happily hosted it since 2013. Anyway, doing a Hackers party during a hacker con seems like a solid plan. (If you're going to B Sides, keep a lookout for the Cyberdelia discount code.)

That Tuesday also happens to be Valentine's Day. You might be thinking, "Wait, Hackers isn't a date movie", but if you're thinking that you're probably dating the wrong people, my friend. Also the plot of the movie itself is totally romantic comedy material. Kate is so mean to that sad-sack Dade. I put together a few short promo videos proving this that I'll be posting on the InstaTwitBooks over the next few days. Here's the first one:

I have come to chew bubblegum and dd if=cyber.img of=/dev/disk3 bs=512 count=2880 and I am all out of bubblegum.

Anyway, that's only two weeks from now! Get your tickets now, because the reserved seating for the movie will go fast.

(Also, Hack the Planet.)

Speaking of the InstaTwitBooks, we have a set of Tumblrs for our various accounts now. Someone who seems to know things told me that Tumblr is getting more popular again as people look for alternatives to Facebook. Since I just created them a few days ago, they all have zero followers right now, so how if you use Tumblr, how about giving us a like or a share or two? Our new Tumblrs are: DNA Lounge, DNA Pizza, Codeword SF and ROT13. The full matrix is now:

@dnalounge   Facebook Twitter   Instagram   Tumblr
@dnapizza   Facebook   Twitter   Instagram   Tumblr
@codewordsf   Facebook   Twitter   Instagram   Tumblr
@rot13sf   Facebook   Twitter   Instagram   Tumblr

All of our social media accounts except Facebook have pretty low follower accounts, and I don't particularly know what to do about that. "Be more interesting!"

Our Patreon is still doing nicely, but it pretty much stopped growing a week or two ago. I'm not entirely sure what to do about that, either. What should we do to promote it? Beats me.

I'm also curious about what the public reaction is to the Donate buttons I spammed all across the site, like atop the calendar. We are definitely getting some donations, but is it too intrusive? People tolerate Wikipedia's far more intrusive begging, though, so I'm guessing the answer is no. I always wonder if different words would make people open their wallets faster.

Anyway, give us your money so we can stay open. Thanks.

If you'd like to help in non-financial ways, we're having what Arlo has called a "primping party" on Wed, Feb 8, from noon until well into the evening. As he put it:

Like any other high traffic space, DNA requires a lot of upkeep and maintenance. It takes a fair amount of time with there's ony one or two of us tackling it, but with more hands, the work becomes much lighter!

Please join us for a day of minor hammering, some possible drilling and a fair amount of scrubbing and painting. Rumor has it there'll also be periodic pizza and beer.

To be informed of other exciting hand-dirtying opportunities like this, you can join the DNA Lounge Street Team Facebook group.

Some photos:

Harry Potter Party
So Stoked: Apocalypse
Bootie: Bowie vs. Prince
Bootie: NYE Do-Over

Illinois Space Nazis. I hate these guys.

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It's got what cows crave.

Red Skittles Spilling Onto Wisconsin Highway Were Headed for Cattle Feed. The candy leaking out of a collapsing box on the back of a truck was being used as an alternative to corn.

When a flatbed pickup truck carrying a large box of red Skittles spilled its contents on a Wisconsin road last week, it brought to light a bigger issue -- the candy's destination.

On Tuesday, January 17, the Dodge County Sheriff's Office posted on Facebook that they found hundreds of thousands of red Skittles covering a county highway. Mars, the candy's parent company, confirmed that the Skittles were not going to be packaged and sold because they were missing the classic letter 'S' marking each piece of candy.

Instead, the sheriff's office said the candy was going to be added to feed for cattle, a practice that Eater says has been going on for decades.

Previously, previously, previously.

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99 Problems [WASTED]

GTAV Online Intervention, 2014, Georgie Roxby Smith, 2014

The action of 'playing to win' is neutralised as she ritualistically performs and re-performs her own violent suicide in front of disinterested players and characters. At once, an unheard digital cry for help against a wall of self-absorbed in-game characters, a martyr action of feminist protest against the treatment of her fellow female characters in gaming history and a claiming of her own death prior to her inevitable violent murder. Ultimately her quest is a futile one, not only is her action unregistered and unheard, her reverse gaming against her own survival is redundant, as in all gaming, in dying there is an automatic digital rebirth. There is no purgatory online, she is destined to be eternally punished in a digital hell.

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Sleep Mode: The Art of the Screensaver

Sleep Mode: The Art of the Screensaver is an exhibition curated by Rafaël Rozendaal at Rotterdam's Het Nieuwe Instituut from January 27 until June 25.

I think this is awesome, because screen savers don't get the respect that they deserve.

There are some from XScreenSaver in there but I'm not sure exactly which. I'm also really curious what the physical exhibition space looks like, but there aren't any photos of it yet.

He says :

What fascinates me is that so many people saw screensavers on a daily basis, without really looking at them carefully. I found it interesting that the images could lodge themselves subconsciously in our brains. It was a matter of recognising something you were never fully conscious of. You never wondered where it came from or who made it, or what their intention was. That is why I didn't search for obscure examples, but stuck to familiar screensavers.

For me the idea of staring is very important. When you are tired and just gazing blankly at what is in front of you. Most of the things we do on the computer are done with a purpose in mind, but screensavers relate to a very different part of your brain. That is why I like the title Sleep Mode. Most art is best experienced by just looking at it without thinking too much.

He interviewed me and five other screen saver makers about the purpose and history of screen savers. I am saddened to report that I'm the only one of them who actually uses a screen saver any more! What a world, what a world. In the interview one of the questions he asked was, "Do you see a future for screensavers?" and I am afraid that I felt obliged to deploy the snark:

Any time some pedantic jerk says "YOU KNOW, screen savers aren't really NECESSARY with modern monitors" I want to ask them "How awful is it to have been born without a soul?" Screen savers are art. As long as computers have screens, people will make art for them. I also find it amusing when I am in an art museum or gallery and see a "digital installation" where the only difference between that work and a "screen saver" is that they wrote an "artist's statement" about how it explores the dichotomy between whatever -- and/or someone gave them a grant for it."

Previously, previously.

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There is nothing more American than punching Nazis.

The "alt right" are Nazis:

However, for too long now, when we consider questions of race, especially questions concerning the Black race, we have been framing things in completely the wrong way. Instead of asking how we can make reparations for slavery, colonialism, and Apartheid or how we can equalize academic scores and incomes, we should instead be asking questions like, "Does human civilization actually need the Black race?" "Is Black genocide right?" and, if it is, "What would be the best and easiest way to dispose of them?" With starting points like this, wisdom is sure to flourish, enlightenment to dawn.

On The Propriety Of Punching Nazis:

What happened to letting the other guy throw the first punch?

Nazis don't throw the first punch. Nazis burn the first Reichstag.

What about dialogue?

Dialogue is for reasonable people acting in good faith. Dialogue is between two acceptable positions. "Taxes need to be raised" vs. "taxes need to be lowered" is grounds for dialogue. "Taxes need to be raised" vs. "Jews should be thrown in ovens" is grounds for a beating.

But isn't this sinking to their level?

That depends. After you punch the Nazi, do you espouse the tenets of National Socialism?

Isn't this a slippery slope?

After we defeated the Nazis in World War II, did we keep shooting people or did the troops come home and start having babies?

The second thing.

There you go. The slippery slope argument is nine times out of ten bullshit. Human beings are good with slippery slopes: we build stairs.


So no, I don't feel bad that a white supremacist got punched in the face. I don't think dialogue is the solution. And I think those things because I and people I know dealt with actual Nazis for years. If you want to clutch your pearls, fine. If you want to understand the flip side, talk to some folks from the ARA or a SHARP. Because old punks are some of the only folks in America to have dealt with actual Nazis on a regular basis.

Of Kirby's first major superhero creation, Captain America, Evanier observes that not everyone loved the flag-draped hero, and that Simon & Kirby received threatening phone calls and anti-Semitic hate mail:

Another time, Jack took a call. A voice on the other end said, "There are three of us down here in the lobby. We want to see the guy who does this disgusting comic book and show him what real Nazis would do to his Captain America." To the horror of others in the office, Kirby rolled up his sleeves and headed downstairs. The callers, however, were gone by the time he arrived.


In 1977, when the American Nazis were planning to march on Skokie, my family was really worried. Not about the march (well, sure about the march, too) but mostly because my grandmother - who had survived Auschwitz with damages from beatings that never healed, who had received those beatings trying to save her 8 and 3 year old sons from the lines when she realized what was going on, who had lost almost her entire family - was gleefully talking about how she was going to buy herself a gun and shoot herself a Nazi. There was no hand-wringing, or irony, no way to get her to acknowledge that the people marching weren't the same Nazis - she didn't care. This was her opportunity and no one was sure how they would actually stop her from shooting someone if she somehow managed to get a gun. Fortunately the march fizzled and it never came up again.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, while I understand the 'violence never solves anything and can make things appreciably worse for those of us fighting' argument, and while I am not sure I would ever have it in me to punch a Nazi myself -- I'm not only 100% okay with this punching, I would be glad to say that this one's for my Bubbe.

bile and syntax:

Many of us, myself included, are socialized to be more outraged at breaches of etiquette than breaches of justice. Etiquette is largely about maintaining an unjust social order, where it's worse for you to tell your racist relatives to shut the fuck up at Thanksgiving than it is for them to spew their nonsense where your little cousins can hear. I've had it up to the eyes with respectability politics - we have never gained anything by smiling and being polite and waiting for others to recognize our humanity, and we won't gain any ground by trying to reason with people who want us dead, or enslaved, or sent to conversion therapy, or marked permanently as second-class citizens in some other way.

"Local College Professor in Altercation with Alt-Right Serviceman"

Christopher Sebela:

My favorite Dead Kennedys song is definitely "Nazi Punks Let's Calmly Discuss How Your Views Are Wrong"

Warren Ellis:

Yes, it is always correct to punch Nazis. They lost the right to not be punched in the face when they started spouting genocidal ideologies that in living memory killed millions upon millions of people. And anyone who stands up and respectfully applauds their perfect right to say these things should probably also be punched, because they are clearly surplus to human requirements. Nazis do not need a hug. Nazis do not need to be indulged. Their world doesn't get better until you've been removed from it. Your false equivalences mean nothing. Their agenda is always, always, extermination. Nazis need a punch in the face.
Robbing fascism of its virility and hyper masculine pretence is to rob it of its primary capacity to grow and survive.

In this particular instance, we must utilize fear to our advantage. The continuation of protests and the show of strength must not only intimidate fascists, but also send a clear message to the three most important institutions that fascists require for total power: big business, media and state institutions. They must constantly fear any form of collaboration with Trump's administration. They must fear how the nation's history books will view them but to accomplish that we must compel them to think that future historians will not be fascists. The fascist future must be cancelled, today.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

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