Merry Christmas

A Nautical Noel, by Admiral Jota

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the ship
Not a pirate was workin'; none feared Bosun's whip.
The bottles of grog were all empty and dry,
Along with the brandy, the scotch and the rye.

The Captain and Mate were both snug in their beds,
While everyone else had a hammock instead.
Cook in the galley and I in the nest
Were the last to succumb to an uneasy rest.

When I saw on the waves and across the dark ocean
A vague ghostly shape was quickly approachin',
I grabbed for my spyglass and squinted an eye
To find out which standard this spectre would fly.Collapse )

And as a small Christmas present, I have wallpaper to go with the poem this year: the Jolly Elf, in 1600px × 1200px and 1024px × 768px resolutions.

Dream Logic

Recently, I had a dream where I met Doctor Who (Tom Baker, I think) and wanted to join him as one of his Companions. He resisted, for reasons that weren't initially clear to me.

However, throughout the course of the dream, I gradually came to realize that I was mentally ill and delusional, because Doctor Who wasn't real. It's all just a work of fiction.

I'm still not quite sure how I feel about that.

Variable Voltage USB

I assume there is a very good reason that it would be impractical to design an extension to the USB standard that allows devices to use the data lines to request power that matches traditional in-home electrical outlets (e.g. 110V or 240V AC). Unfortunately, I do not know enough about USB to know why that is.

Is it just because most things that supply USB power can't easily supply high voltage or AC (since they're already operating off of their own power supplies which don't supply them with that kind of power)? Or is there some reason more intimately tied to how USB works?

Support Ticket Priority System

This was a random idea that came to me while the topic of support ticket priorities was being discussed on ifMUD. Someone has since asked me to post it, so here it is:

Internally, the support system has five priorities: Low, Medium, High, Urgent and Critical.

All users start out as standard-level users.

When a standard-level user is creating a support ticket, they have access to three priorities: High, Urgent and Critical. Once a ticket has been submitted, the system will silently map the priority indicated by the user into an internal priority. For a standard-level user, it goes High->Low, Urgent->Medium, and Critical->High. It's still three levels of priority, but the internal names reflect how IT will look at them, while the external names reflect how the users see them.

If a standard-level user asks for the ability to report tickets for things which are lower priority than High, Urgent or Critical, because they have issues they'd like to log which they do not consider to be "High" priority, then that user is converted to a second-level user.

When a second-level user is creating a support ticket, they have access to four priorities: Medium, High, Urgent and Critical. Once this ticket has been submitted, it will be translated internally from Medium->Low, High->Medium, Urgent->High, and Critical->Urgent. Thus, because a second-level user has shown that they have an understanding of what lower priority levels are for, the priority levels of their tickets are taken more seriously than those of standard-level users.

If a second-level user asks for the ability to report tickets for things which are "Low" priority, because they do not feel comfortable reporting unimportant things as "Medium" then that user is converted to third-level. Third level users have access to the full range of Low, Medium, High, Urgent and Critical priorities when reporting tickets, and their priorities are not re-mapped internally.

Optionally, the system could also include a zero-level user type, to accommodate users who complain that "Critical" is not a high enough priority level to properly represent the issues they're having. Those users would be given access to "High", "Urgent", "Critical", and "Ultra" priority levels. Internally, those would be converted to "Low", "Low", "Medium" and "Medium" respectively.

Not exactly your typical 80's movie

Here's an idea for a movie plot:

A young architect has a dream of building a new apartment building in a poor neighborhood. He believes that he can bring affordable housing to an area desperately in need of it. He's found some investors who are willing to fund him partway, and he's poured in his own life savings to make up the difference. He's even just signed the papers on the perfect empty lot in the perfect empty neighborhood. Now nothing can stand in his way.

Except for the local gang of kids who play baseball there.

They've claimed this lot for their own, and they're not going to let anyone take it away from them. They'll stop at nothing -- legal or illegal -- to keep that property out of the hands of some evil land developer.

I'm thinking that at the end of the movie, the kids win. They always do in this kind of film. Then the family of the ringleader has to move away: his parents couldn't really afford to stay where they were living after his father took that pay cut recently. They were counting on being able to rent a place in that new housing development that was being planned, but when that fell through, they had no choice but to move on to an even worse part of town. Someplace away from all his friends. Someplace away from that old empty lot that they'd saved.

Since the kids win, it's a happy ending!

Retroactive Subtitles

Another idea: Retroactive subtitles for television, movies and videogames. If you're like me, you don't normally want to leave the English subtitles on while you're watching things in English: it's distracting, and it can ruin the delivery of a line if you read it just before the actor does.

But on the other hand, every once in a while someone on screen will say something that just makes you go "huh?" Sometimes, you can rewind and listen again -- and often as not, still have no idea what they're saying. So you've got to go back again, turn on the subtitles, read the subtitles for that line, turn them back off... and now you've already ruined the flow of whatever you're watching with all the back-and-forth and re-configuring you've had to do just to hear one throw-away line.

Hence, retroactive subtitles: press a button on your remote (or keyboard or what-have-you), and it shows you the subtitles for what people just said in the last half minute or so. Then they vanish a few moments later, once you've had time to check what you missed, without ever interrupting what you were watching.

As featured in the New York Harmoniphilic Orchestra

My brain does strange things. If crude sexual terminology offends you, I would recommend skipping this entry.

So for some unknown reason, the word "glockenspiel" floated through my head today. Not long after, my brain had decided to morph this into "cockenspiel" -- which it immediately informed me would necessarily be a music instrument comprising an array of male members whose lengths were proportionate to the notes in the chromatic scale. Which one presumably would then hit with some sort of padded mallet. I don't know exactly how this would produce a sound, and to be perfectly honest, I really don't want to know. If you have a picture of a real-life version of one of these, please keep it to yourself. I'm scarred enough already just by thinking of it.

But a few moments later, I realized I was wrong: this would not be a form of glockenspiel. Because a glockenspiel is made of metal.

This was, of course, a xylophone.