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Now Playing - Blather, Rinse, Repeat
March 17th, 2006
10:35 pm

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Now Playing

  • New Toy - as pictured in the icon. Woo - it's got enough room for all the music I want to listen to from my library, a handful of music videos downloaded from iTunes. And I still have about 50% of the device empty.
  • Beatles, Shakespeare, Computer Games - I know I've pointed at this site before, but I figure it's worth doing again. Brian "Professor" Moriarty was part of Infocom back in the day. (Remember adventure games? Remember TEXT adventure games?) Several of the essays were presented at the Game Developers' Conference - but I find the essays engaging in a way that ought to be approachable by anybody.
  • Rush Hour - I recall a moment, driving to high school, hearing "Rush Hour" by Jane Wiedlin on KPLZ. Bubblegum pop bouncy fun. Flipping channels not long ago, I saw the video on VH-1. It's interesting how moments separated by time can be stitched together by music. I found a copy of the CD on Amazon, so I'll be able to wallow in Go-Go spinoff riffs at my leisure.

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[User Picture]
From:heidi8
Date:March 18th, 2006 11:02 am (UTC)
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I don't suppose you'd be able to yousendit Rush Hour to me?
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From:tsmaster
Date:March 19th, 2006 03:01 am (UTC)
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I'm sorry, not in good conscience, no.

I did look for it on iTunes to no avail.


A while ago, I heard that the Supreme Court ruled that emulators of old computer, video, and arcade games were legally excepted from copyright as the original formats (that old Commodore 64 in your basement) were no longer playable, and it served the public interest to keep them "alive". Which, I thought, was terribly forward thinking of them.

If only there was a similar ruling that says that if Capitol Records doesn't want to take your money for a downloadable version of a song, that places it in a "non-commercial distribution" state, where it'd be legal for me (for instance) to place the MP3 up on a server of mine, and you (for instance) could download it for free.

Oh, well. That's not the world where we live.
[User Picture]
From:rechercher
Date:March 18th, 2006 01:33 pm (UTC)
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Text adventures still live. Thrive, arguably. Check this out.
[User Picture]
From:rechercher
Date:March 18th, 2006 01:37 pm (UTC)
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OK, third try. Text adventure competiton

Geez, I wish you could edit comments.
[User Picture]
From:ginsu
Date:March 18th, 2006 05:58 pm (UTC)
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Indeed. I have played and enjoyed Metamorphoses by Emily Short to several different endings. I should really look at her other stuff.

In the eighties, I was sufficiently into these games that I wrote a from-scratch, better-than-Infocom English language parser. In Pascal, yet, and with zero recursion.

I also wrote Norsequest, a Scott Adamsish text adventure and parody of eighties pop culture for the Apple II series.
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From:tsmaster
Date:March 18th, 2006 06:09 pm (UTC)
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I wrote a from-scratch, better-than-Infocom English language parser

I forget, did you put this parser into a game?

What features of your parser were better than Infocom's various parsers? I know they upgraded their parser over time, but I forget in which ways. One limitation of the parser as of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was that proper nouns were only differentiated within the first 6 letters - so there was never a BULLDOg and a BULLDOzer in the same "room". Although, I wouldn't consider that an interesting feature, unless you were trying to run on VIC20s and other platforms very tight on memory.
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From:ginsu
Date:March 18th, 2006 07:55 pm (UTC)
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I forget, did you put this parser into a game?

Sadly, no. I still have the code and a compiled demo version with a 1000 word vocabulary, though, and it still runs on pre-Intel Macs. (Post-Intel Macs don't support that API at all.)

What features of your parser were better than Infocom's various parsers?

The primary difference was that mine could handle a wider variety of sentence types.

For instance, with both mine and Infocom's, these sentences would both work:

give the elvish sword to the troll
give the troll the elvish sword


The first uses a direct object and prepositional phrase; the second uses an indirect object and a direct object. They are semantically equivalent in standard English usage.

My parser could also understand these phrasing variations, though, whereas Infocom's could not:

to the troll the elvish sword give
the troll the elvish sword give


There were other differences too. I seem to recall mine was better with compound sentences and sentences in which the user is directly addressing someone or something.
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From:tsmaster
Date:March 19th, 2006 03:06 am (UTC)
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to the troll the elvish sword give

I can only imagine that Yoda was constantly bugging you: "Always rejecting my sentences your program is! Perfectly good sentences I'm entering!"


the user is directly addressing someone

I do recall this being a particularly clumsy part of Infocom's best efforts. I recall reading the instruction manual that laid out how you had to form your sentences to get them to be interpreted as being directed to another character, but they were so rarely used and so strained, it never felt right.


For what it's worth, Python's string manipulation routines are frightfully useful, should you ever get an itch to resurrect this project.
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From:ginsu
Date:March 19th, 2006 04:39 am (UTC)
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I can only imagine that Yoda was constantly bugging you: "Always rejecting my sentences your program is! Perfectly good sentences I'm entering!"

Hey, I was studying German at the same time I did that hack -- how well do you think Infocom games did over there? They're very fond of sentences with verbs ending.

Python's string manipulation routines are frightfully useful

I think I might take a look at Inform, Graham Nelson's reverse-engineered Zork Implementation Language, too. Athough really, I had all my own versions of the key algorithms aced out by the time I was 18, and I see little reason to reinvent the wheel.

The impression I've gotten looking over Inform code is that they use a wildly different (and to me, counterintuitive) system for things like keeping track of exits from rooms, language exceptions, mapping verbs to appropriate prepositions, distinguishing between different objects via an associated adjective, etc.
[User Picture]
From:tsmaster
Date:March 18th, 2006 06:51 pm (UTC)
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I think I'd fall on the con side of the "thrive" argument - seems like text adventure games and buggy whips are each anachronistic curiosities anymore.
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From:rechercher
Date:March 21st, 2006 08:51 pm (UTC)
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Well, I'd say "thrive" in a very limited way. Sorta like Vatican City could be considered thriving. Still there, still interesting, but really small.
(Deleted comment)
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From:tsmaster
Date:March 18th, 2006 06:03 pm (UTC)
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It's a 60GB iPod - I could probably shoehorn into 30GB, but this one gives me room to grow into. Or fall behind on my podcast subscriptions.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:scoreboard
Date:March 18th, 2006 07:55 pm (UTC)

$$$$

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I went 60 rather than 30, mainly because I'm using the spare space for backing up my home directory. The problem with beling a laptop junkie is that there's a pretty firm cap on how much digital media you can accumulate on your hard drive...which is probably why things like ripping all 3 seasons of Moonlighting isn't going to happen, no matter how sweet it would be to have "Atomic Shakespeare" in my pocket.
[User Picture]
From:tsmaster
Date:March 19th, 2006 03:47 am (UTC)

Re: $$$$

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A thought occurred to me just an hour ago or so -

My "high rotation" playlist is 297 songs, with 20.3 hours of music. That takes up 1.46GB of space. If I recall correctly, the battery life of this unit is just about long enough to play this playlist. So, I've got around 58.5 GB of space that I won't get to on a single charge.

Which is interesting.

Granted, I might be using it in the car, with the iTrip I got, and some sort of cigarette lighter adaptor. That would allow me to drive for 40 days straight (longer if I pull over to sleep and/or eat).

Now, I've got the 1GB shuffle, which is good for certain things, but I can appreciate one particular freedom afforded me. Let's say I'm 8 hours into my 16 hours of Mike-and-the-Mechanics dance mixes, and maybe it's wearing a little thin. With the 60GB device, I could switch over to my 16 hours of Tiny Tim podcasts, or (hey, it's video) watch archives of 50s era 16mm instructional movies about the nutritional value of beef.
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