March 3rd, 2005

Augmented animals

Uplifting thoughts from designers Auger-Loizeau: rodents in night vision goggles, acorn positioning tools for squirrels, dogs with LED tail lights, mice in spiked anti-hawk jackets, scent suppressors. Technology not for humans, but to aid the smaller denizens of this world.

Take the APS: GPS to help squirrels track just where they buried that cache of nuts. It's technology to stop them starving in winter, with Pavlovian training to get things off the ground.

Squirrels with GPS? Why not. I've heard of stranger things...
  • Current Mood
    amused amused

More augmentations...

Uplifts and augmentation are things that make sense to me, as routes to Vingean singularities. They're all over the place in the stories I write...

The main characters in "Virtual Mists" are uplifted gorillas who want to make their mark on the world, and left-over experiments trying to make their way in the world are at the heart of my long WiP, The Ruins of Breakfast. Then there are background fragments I'm dropping into the broken pre-singularity world that seems to be where most of my fiction is living...

From "Tygers"...

The cats were rumoured to be shifting the permanent floating territory game tonight, and anything that moved after midnight was going to be a target. The mapping system in Gant’s car flashed up a safe route. It was going to be a long journey home. The shift in the game meant a drive around the edges of the town, sticking to neutral areas and Maine Coon territory, rather than his usual short cut through the town centre. From the newsflashes it looked like the Alley Cats had appropriated a large section of the eastern half of Yeovil, and the abandoned helicopter factory was now the territory of a crossbow-wielding group of ginger toms. A trebuchet had been reported down by the river, but onsite RSPCA observers said it was just another rumour. A Cats Protection League ambulance rushed past, lights flashing and sirens blaring, carrying fresh casualties to a neutral veterinarian.


Gant’s GPS tracked his route up the curve of the hills, following the gentle climb of the old roads. The road twisted between the wild oaks and limes, a pair of scurrying foxes darting out of his headlights. They were carrying a sack and a toolbox. Not that their tools were doing them any good: they looked very thin and bedraggled. With the emptying of the villages had come a long overdue realignment of the predator-prey relationships

Not so different to mice in spiked, sensor-studded jackets...
  • Current Mood
    amused amused

Verity Stob returns (in The Guardian)

The demise of programming magazine .EXE was a sad day for many in the UK IT industry, as it meant the end of Verity Stob's delightful (and vicious) columns. Luckily for us it wasn't the end, and she wrote the odd column for Dr Dobb's (where many of her polemics have disappeared behind a paywall) and The Register...

There's not been much Stob around recently, leaving IT folk around the world starved of irony and satire. However, all is not lost, and you can now buy a best of compilation - The Best Of Verity Stob - and a as a treat for you all, The Guardian has brought you a collection of her thoughts on recent trends in IT:
Firefox? An exemplar of slick and elegant programming and a jewel in the open source crown. I particularly like the way it displays perfectly the website of its archenemy,, yet garbles the spiritual home of its main supporters, Mere commercial organisations might have yielded to the temptation to fix this after a year or so, but not the Firefoxen. That's what I call integrity.
Her real identity a sworn secret (and I've tried worming it out of the few people I know who know who she is!), the divine Ms. Stob, writes code, poetry and satire somewhere in the Thames Valley.
  • Current Music
    Porcupine Tree - In Absentia - Trains

Microsoft meets Harry Potter

At an internal Microsoft Research science fair, the yearly Techfest, the folks from MSR Cambridge produced a clock that is surprisingly like that on the wall of the Weasley's home in the Harry Potter movies...

Microsoft clock:

Harry Potter clock:

I guess it only goes to show: any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic!
  • Current Music
    - - vaughn williams - Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis