The Null Device
Nifty Python hack of the day: a C-style switch() construct, implemented without using dictionaries (instead using a class and yield).
Walking along Regent St. (a block or two south of the AppleTemple), I noticed that a shop had opened for the sole purpose of demonstrating and selling the Gizmondo game units. These are handhelds, looking sort of like the ill-fated Nokia N-Gage. They're developed by a British company, cost about £220, run some form of Windows CE, have a handful of games available, and also include a digital camera (of unknown quality), GPRS mobile phone functions and a GPS receiver (which one game, a gang-warfare simulator, is said to use; which could be either nifty or daft). There's a version available for £100 less, which requires the user to view an ad a day to keep using it; the era of attention rights management could be beginning.
They had a few units attached to the wall for people to play with. I started a game on the unit, and was presented with a metal sphere moving along a road of coloured tiles heading into the distance. This looks familiar, I thought. Then I realised that it's a remake of the old Commodore 64 game Trailblazer, right down to having a late-90s-rave-techno version of the tuneless in-game music.
I suspect that the price of Gizmondos will come down dramatically after the PlayStation Portable comes out; after all, the PSP is about the same price and has a much larger screen and more titles.
Also: given that it's a WinCE machine that uses standard SD cards for storage, I wonder how hackable it is. Most game consoles are designed to prohibit the use of unauthorised software, because the business models are based on the manufacturer collecting royalties on each game sold, and the consoles being often sold at a loss (for example, Microsoft lost money on each X-Box sold, and only profited if the user bought about two or more games for it; which undoubtedly made it all the more satisfying for penguinheads to buy X-Boxes and convert them into improvised Linux machines just to stick it to Darth Gates). Presumably the Gizmondo would be a similar case, and would have some sort of cryptographic measures to prevent users from running unauthorised code on it. Though if the Gizmondo could be hacked, it could be an interesting platform; perhaps once the PSP stomps the price down, it'll be worth picking one up.
One of the Memepool people has drawn up a table of buzzword prefixes and suffixes, (i.e., "pod-", "mo-" and "blue", and "-casting", "-ster" and "-zilla"), and filled in the squares with definitions of the buzzwords that currently exist, speculative definitions of concepts that may one day exist, and the obligatory "exists but isn't called that" squares:
- wikijacking: replacing wiki stuff with your content en masse
- modating: surely they are doing this in japan
- netcasting: fish procurement technology
Some of the empty squares suggest definitions; i.e., "friendblogging" could be either going on about mundane details of one's life that only concern those who know the author, or possibly LiveJournal-style friends-only blogging with social-network authentication.
(via The Fix)
Music Thing looks at the important question of why ice cream vans sound the way they do, with a subtext of finding ways of emulating that sound in a studio:
" Early models consisted of a hand tuned Swiss musical movement (like a music box) fitted with a magnetic pick up and the amplifiers used radio-type valves. In 1958 reliable transistors came on to the market and efficient amplifiers were built to work directly of the vehicle's battery."
British vans traditionally use 'Grampian Horn' loudspeakers (which cost about £60), pointed down at the road to disperse the sound.