CONvergence – Gods of Geekdom panel audio

I absolutely enjoyed this panel. It was thorough, informative, and hilarious. We discussed gods and god-concepts in various sci fi and fantasy fandoms, including comic books, novels and even video games.

Panelists were Nick Glover, Ryan Consell, Jason Thibeault and Fionnuala Murphy.

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cvg2013-skepchickcon-godsofgeekdom.mp3

CONvergence – Worldbusters!

This one is the second made using the built-in sound app on my phone, and thus it’s also a crappy 8kHz, though I’ve passed it through a few filters to try to get it to a listenable state. It’s a little quiet, but I’ve managed to take out a good deal of noise and level the sounds somewhat. I may yet go back and do the same to the EvoPsych panel.

This panel was fun, though not nearly as popular or populated as the penis panel. In this one we took audience suggestions about specific sci-fi / fantasy tropes and disproved them, with heavy emphasis on the biology behind most of these alien biology scenarios. Sadly, no questions about tech that I could have fielded. Oh well!

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


cvg2013-skepchickcon-worldbusters

Panelists were Jason Thibeault, Siouxsie Wiles, PZ Myers and Laura Okagaki.

Math or maths?

A linguist American living in the UK explains the difference. Apparently there’s a folk etymology built up that “math” is plural because “mathematics” ends with an S. But that’s not the only reason something might end with an S — there’s also the collective noun, like “linguistics”.

Interestingly, she’s gone native, saying “maths” despite knowing better, just to avoid the fight. I’m thinking now about other language patterns or other “in-group signals” that people might evince just to avoid a fight despite knowing better.

Mock The Movie: Expect No Mercy transcript

Again, I managed to forget to start my scrape bot to pull tweets from Mentions directly. CA7746 bailed me out of a bit of a jam by reparsing the raw HTML of Twitter, a trick I’ve done once already but have evidently lost the code for. I was going to rewrite that parser tonight, but CA7746 has evidently spared me the difficulty.

My usual scrape bot, which pulls from @-mentions from the account proper, could only grab the last 200 statuses — a limitation of the API, it seems. Either I haven’t figured out how to paginate through the results properly, or it simply won’t let me do so the same way as paginating through a direct search for @MockTM would. I might rebuild the engine to grab transcripts from @MockTM searches, though that would mean we wouldn’t be able to limit the tweets pulled to only those people @MockTM has followed. That would mean letting potential spam in.

In case there’s anything spammy above the double-dash (haven’t had time to reread it all), let me know and I’ll pull it out.

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Geeks Without God: Crappy Religious Board Game Edition!

Two weekends ago, I went to OmegaCon in Siren, Wisconsin. And by “went”, I mean “was kidnapped and made to go”. There, I played some board games with a whole lot of local board game nerds who frequent the local convention nerdery circuit. Many of these games were fun. The one that Molly and Nick Glover and Tim Wick forced Stephanie, Brianne and I play, though… um… well, that was significantly less so. It was loosely based on the “hit” movie based on the “hit” Christian novel series, Left Behind. “Loose” is definitely the operative word when describing this board game, because it barely qualified as a board game. I shit you not — we played Left Behind: The Movie: The Board Game.

Click the thumbnail below for a fuller experience of the pain we endured for your entertainment. Screen reader users: it’s a picture of the board game. Sorry that you’ll have to make do with the audio descriptions — though really, you’re the lucky ones, with limited exposure to its whargarbl.

leftbehindboardgame

In a desperate effort to make the podcast fun — because the game’s mechanics are unbelievably boring even to someone with a vested interest in proving themselves the best Tribulation Forces fighters and redeeming themselves in the eyes of Yahweh, you know, like me — the Geeks Without God crew helpfully included the following drinking game to accompany the podcast. I need to disclaimer this, though. Unless you’re a bull elephant, you’ll have to drink something piss weak to survive.

Here are the rules (feel free to add your own rules in the comments):

Take a drink every time moonshine soaked cherries are passed out or someone mentions consuming one

Take a drink whenever we make a Ghostbusters reference

Take a drink every time someone mentions game theory

Take a drink every time someone says the game sucks

Take a drink every time someone lands on a Carpathia square

Take a drink every time someone says “Flightplan.”

Take a drink every time we get a question about the bible correct

Take a drink any time someone mentions Omegacon

Seriously, just don’t do it. You’ll die.

Go listen. We played so you never, ever, ever have to.

Though if you really must, it’s fairly cheap.

Evolving pseudo-creatures in computer simulation to run a short course

I love the idea of simulating evolution through computer models. The purpose of such an exercise is not so much to prove that evolution happened, or to prove that complexity can evolve from simple rulesets (though that’s certainly important), but to show that randomness and flexibility in solving tasks can create novel approaches that are more creative even than anything that intelligences like ourselves have worked out.

This particular example shows some behaviours from creatures built out of four types of blocks that emulate hopping, running and dragging themselves along a course, in a simulation where creatures that make it across a trial field quickest are rewarded by having more offspring in subsequent generations.


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Street Fighter X Megaman

I’m trying to download this fan-made (and Capcom-hosted and sponsored!) free Megaman game for PC right now, but its servers are positively logjammed at the moment. If you can manage, the download’s available here. And if I ever get it, I’m considering broadcasting it on twitch.tv while I play it, just for fun.

The game is described as a love letter to Street Fighter and Megaman fans for the 25th anniversary of both franchises — and from what I’ve seen so far via these videos, it almost certainly is. Seow Zong Hui, the game’s creator, obviously had a lot of love for both to have done what he’s done. That Capcom’s throwing their weight behind this is simply fantastic, and I honestly wish more companies would legitimize fan-made derivative works like this because that might have repercussions on copyright law that would alleviate some of the fear within fandom of being cracked down on by the “intellectual property” owners.

Using Netflix on Linux through WINE

Apparently some Linux devs managed to get Silverlight working under WINE, then went on to make a dead-simple install that configures a separate Firefox install to run the app. It’s very slightly lower framerate than running it natively under Windows, but if it weren’t for that damned Silverlight dependency (for the DRM, naturally), we’d have had Netflix working on Linux a long time ago.

The commands, via Nixie Pixel:

To install on Ubuntu / Mint –
Start terminal

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ehoover/compholio
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install netflix-desktop

——

For Fedora (only 32 bit systems)
You need wget first:

su -c ‘yum -y install wget’

Installing Netflix:

wget -c http://sourceforge.net/projects/postinstaller/files/data/Netflixplayer.tar.gz

tar -xvzf Netflixplayer.tar.gz

su -c ‘sh Netflixplayer.sh’

Running Netflix from cmd line:

sh /usr/bin/Netflix.sh

The Four Chord Song

Via CompulsoryAccount7746, Justin Griffith, and the Youtube recommended links on the last video I posted today, every song in the whole universe is identical zomg!!!

Okay, not every song, and not identical, but there’s a crapload that are comprised of the same four chords. This isn’t exactly a new observation, but seeing Axis Of Awesome put them all together back to back like this is pretty damn sweet. This parallels with the fact that you can apparently also sing a large number of songs to a large number of tunes, thanks to a poetic and musical scansion called common meter.