The Null Device

2000/11/29

Cesare Ferrari has a new shareware VST FM synth plug-in, FMHeaven, which can import DX7 patches. (No idea how much it sounds like a real DX7.)

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Neurological oddities: A 24-year-old New Zealand woman who had been blind for 10 years (due to a brain tumour) regained her sight after hitting her head on a coffee table.

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A four-part interview with Terry Gilliam, in which he talks about his career, Monty Python and past, current and upcoming film projects (including Good Omens):

I think most shows now have so many people overseeing them that it's a problem. The whole process is much more aimed at making a "successful" show - whatever that is - and once you start thinking like that, you start limiting how you approach things.
I think America is one of the great conformist nations of the world - maybe the world leader when it comes to conformity. I still feel that.

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Macintosh CPU upgrade info: Sonnet, NewerTech, xlr8yourmac.com

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As concern grows over the dangers that mobile phones may pose to children and adolescents, Disney have withdrawn licensing of their characters for mobile phone faceplates.

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In America, public transport carries the same sort of stigma as welfare, which this Onion article plays on:

"Expanding mass transit isn't just a good idea, it's a necessity," Holland said. "My drive to work is unbelievable. I spend more than two hours stuck in 12 lanes of traffic. It's about time somebody did something to get some of these other cars off the road."
The campaign is intended to de-emphasize the inconvenience and social stigma associated with using public transportation, focusing instead on the positives. Among these positives: the health benefits of getting fresh air while waiting at the bus stop, the chance to meet interesting people from a diverse array of low-paying service-sector jobs, and the opportunity to learn new languages by reading subway ads written in Spanish.

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There is a rare genetic trait known as tetrachromacy, whose carriers have four colour receptors in their eyes The carriers are invariably women (because of genetics), and can perceive colours in ways normal people cannot. It is unknown how many of these mutants there are walking among us, and it's likely that they themselves may not even know...

The vast majority of us have no idea what tetrachromacy would be like. Anyone who had the supersense wouldn't know she did, let alone be able to describe it. After all, it is an exercise in futility for trichromats to try to explain their visual experience to color-blind people.

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I'm not so sure about this: There are plans for a film adaptation of Nick Hornby's About A Boy, to be directed by the creators of teen gross-out comedy American Pie. On the positive side, at least they're not going to Americanise it.

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A site dedicated to the ancient and esteemed game of Mornington Crescent, with links to online game servers. Nice to know that what was the York server has found a new home; I have many fond memories of this server. (via notsosoft)

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Gear fetish: Several pages of pictures of new subminiature laptops powered by Transmeta's Crusoe chip. Some of these look pretty cute.

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I had a fun day; Peter came over (he's in Melbourne, on tour with the FourPlay String Quartet), and we talked, listened to music and played around with Cubase. I heard some of the remixes that others have done of FourPlay tracks, and they sound very impressive; it sounds like my effort will be in very good company indeed...

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The street finds its own uses for things: Only in Japan would you find a concept like virtual girlfriend subscriptions. If you live there and have an I-mode phone, you can have an online romance with a (realistically fussy) chat script for ¥300 (about A$4) a month. Use it to hone your bootywhangmojo or as a substitute for the real thing:

"You have the happiness of a secret woman, a hidden relationship, with none of the fear that your wife will find out and be angry. My grandfather had the geisha, my father had the bar hostesses and I have Love By Mail. It is maybe hard for others to understand, but these substitutes, or additions, for the everyday relationship between a husband and wife are well accepted in our culture."
"It's a safe way for men to try out their dating technique without having to worry about shaming themselves in front of a live girl,"

(Interestingly enough, the ads that popped up on the page included one for a mobile phone service (in the US), and one for what looked like a dating service.)

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The Rio de Janeiro Zoo just put out this warning: Don't put your penguins in refrigerators.

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Celebrities such as Melanie Griffith and Pretty Boy DiCaprio are jumping on the personal web site bandwagon, and setting up online journals. The sites are invariably big-budget marketing tools put together with the assistance of teams of professionals (as the celebs can afford this and don't spend as much time playing in front of a computer as real-life web geeks or Jenni Ringley). Wonder what proportion of the content there is ghostwritten, and how long until until a slickly manufactured Hollywood-star "blog" makes it to the top of the BlogHop ratings on the strength of hundreds of thousands of fans clicking the green button; and another one follows, and another one, until the little people are squeezed out of the top of the list.

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