Simon’s Backup Weblog

Fascinating, Captain…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on May 26, 2004

Excellent keynote this morning at BEA eWorld, from one of the architects who designed the internal portal for the Mars Rover missions.

There was lots of useful information about the tools and technologies used, as well as thoughts about the perils and pitfalls of producing software designed to work in multiple time zones – including two on a completely different planet…

Then there were his completely gratuitous slides of colour pictures sent back by the rovers. On the big screen here at the Moscone, they (to put multiple layers of meaning on a single phrase) rocked big time.

Off to a Giants baseball game tonight. I’m really looking forward to it – it’s been a long time since I saw major league baseball in the flesh.


Superfluous technology redux

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on May 25, 2004

I have just bought a wet-shave razor that vibrates.

The mind boggles at the multi-purpose nature of the device.

The new Bonnie Langford?

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on May 24, 2004

A while back commented on the rumour that Billie Piper was going to be the new Doctor Who assistant.

Well, it’s not a rumour anymore.

Run away!

The BIG screen

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on May 24, 2004

Shrek 2.


It rocks.

And lots of lovely movie in-jokes to play “spot the reference” with… Gotta love the Alien chest burster, and the combined Ghostbusters-ET section.

Next stop…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on May 24, 2004

From Southern California to Northern in a single hop up the coast. Lovely views from the plane as we flew over cliffs, plains, hills and mountains – we’re pretty sure we saw ‘s house as we descended over the Santa Cruz mountains…

Off to the Metreon now to see if we can see Shrek 2…

[And decent fast broadband here in the Marriott in SF, too…]

Volcano webcam games (or “Those Wacky New Zealanders”)

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on May 23, 2004

Someone seems to have placed a small purple dinosaur by the webcam in the crater of New Zealand’s White Island volcano…

[link found on The Inquirer, where they’re looking for other webcam games. Anyone else remember the Toiletcam spoof?]

Revolution is not an AOL keyword

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on May 23, 2004

A remix of Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” for the digital age.

“Revolution is not an AOL Keyword, is not an AOL Keyword,
Is not an AOL Keyword, is not an AOL Keyword.
Revolution will be no stream or download, dear Netizen;
Revolution must still be live.”

Fiction snippet: The dead Matrioska brain filled the sky

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on May 23, 2004

[From a possible short story/novella/novel involving archaeologists, intelligent living starships, some really big dumb objects, the end of the world, and an answer to the Fermi paradox]

The dead Matrioshka brain filled the sky. A billion billion tiny fragments of smart matter

Transcendents never lasted long. Once the flesh was left behind, it was easy to fall prey to Dyson’s folly. Civilisations digested planets, breaking them down and rebuilding them as shells of loosely coupled lumps of smart matter, spheres of processing power and memory, tuned to the optimum size to absorb solar energy and to radiate waste heat. Concentric shells would expand around a star.

Then came the wars. We could only imagine them, wars between aggregate intelligences and hive minds, between upload utopias and wild AIs. Like our oil and water wars, they were wars for resources. But now they fought for bandwidth and processing power, for control of smart matter and to control the flow of ideas. Trapped by the speed of light, by the speed of data packets, the inhabitants of the virtual worlds would be washed over by tides of conflict, buffeted by memes and viruses. Slowly individuality would be lost, and victorious intelligences would absorb new components.

There could be only one result. As minds became absorbed into a single intelligence, network latency turned the systems final mind against itself. In a paroxysm of senility, it would collapse into madness and death. An eternal scream as conciousness was lost in the darkness.

And then we came.

Our deepship came in slow. We were scavengers, looking for fragments of technology we could take back to Earth. Oh, we called ourselves archaeologists, and took great pleasure in the papers we published, but we were really grave robbers, stealing from the rotting corpses of the Singularity.

Zoo Quest: San Diego

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on May 22, 2004

No visit to San Diego is complete without a visit to the famous zoo. , and I spent a pleasant afternoon there yesterday, soaking in the southern California sunshine, and watching the wildlife. No trip to a zoo, especially one as good as San Diego’s, is complete without a compact flash card full of pictures.

And so, without further ado, meet some of the beasts we saw: baby pandas, baby hippos, strange mountain goats, sculptured bears, mobs of meerkats, and extremely stoned koalas.

Shiny shiny polar bears

Doing the splits

Watching over the colony

Spot the baby panda 35 feet up the tree

Unusually active koala awaits its next eucalyptus fix

Even hippos cuddle sometimes

Goose or clown? If the beak is red, it’s a comedian…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on May 20, 2004

There’s a small flock of geese flying around Putney this morning, gently honking in time to their wing beats. For some reason every time I hear them I imagine that they’re a small herd of clowns on bicycles, parping tiny hooters as they pedal up the street.

(This surreal moment brought to you by Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays.)

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