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date toy 2001.04.15 
I was redoing my PDA (more on that later) when I noticed that August 16th is my 10K day! I'll be 10,000 days old that day. Funny, I don't feel a day over 8000... Anyway, I was reminded that I once had plans to make this as project, making a web interface to calculate the difference between any two dates, or figure out what date is a certain number of days away from another date. At first I assumed I would do this in Perl with round trips to the server, but javascript turned out to be a better bet...

So here it is. It can calculate in days, weeks, hours, minutes, and seconds. You can give it a start date and an amount of time and calculate the end date, or you can give it a start date and an end date and calculate the time in between. Birthdays are an obvious fun starting point. Or count the minutes between now and Christmas. Let me know if you find something interesting. I've seeded it with 100 days from right now to give you the idea.

start date:
end date:

from difference

between dates
let's make a deal 2006.07.04 
Boingboing linked to a new free eBook on probability... in their writeup, the mention the Monty Hall problem. 3 doors... goats are behind 2 of them, and a new car behind the third. The player picks a door. Monty then opens one of the doors, revealing a goat. Should the player switch doors? (Assume an equal chance for the 3 doors to hold a car, and that Monty will pick one of the 2 goat doors at random if the player has already picked the car.)

The article mentioned that Marilyn vos Savant "encouraged her readers to simulate the game and draw their own conclusions"... Well, here's a simulation! You can modify the speed to run lots of simulations, "Wargames"-finale style. You can select always switch, never switch, or some probability of switching.



1 in 3


2 in 3






patented one-clicker gaming 2002.05.25 
Gamebutton of the Moment

You must steer the Starfighter Hyphen (behind its worthless defense shield) through the oncoming Dashteroids field. Click to move the Hyphen. Due to extensive damage to your craft's navsystem, the Hyphen is steerable in only one direction at a time.
Tip: once you click with the mouse to start the game, the spacebar is much more reliable than the mouse for registering button hits

More gamebuttons on the way!
Game of Last Night
Mo an I went to Macaroni Grill (oddly, owned by the same people who run Chili's) and since they give you crayons and a big white paper tablecloth, we played a game John Sawers taught me, "Mr. Snowman": one player draws a snowman, then the second player draws something to melt or otherwise destroy the snowman, then the first player draws a defense, and then you repeat the attack/defense cycle. She started with a blowtorch, I put an asbestos wall (with the snowman going 'COF'). Later she drew a bulletbroof train with a team of deadly attack ninjas. I drew a happy helpful chef, who threw the switch to divert the train away from the snowman, along with providing delicous pie to distract the ninjas, because everyone knows, Ninjas Love Pie. It's a great game.

Link of the Moment
Hey, today is ArtBots! (I was I was in New York!) Physical machines that make art...Ranjit entered his Sketching Device #1...very cool, everything I make is too virtual...
truisms 2002.01.24 
1 comment 

--A tribute to, or ripoff (err, I mean artistic recreation that stands in its own right as its own artistic work) of Jenny Holzer's "truisms" piece.
the sci fi idea machine 2006.06.30 
To view this content, you need to install Java from
Source code: scifidea
Built with Processing
So recently I read about Georges Polti's list of the 36 Dramatic Situations in literature, the idea that's that's about it for plots. Unforunately, most online versions of the list don't go into much detail. However,'s Plots for Novels and Stories page does the list justice, and has many other related taxonomies. Thought it turns out it cribbed from this page which lays out the details of the 36 in a wonderful hierarchical fashion. I also found Hatch's Plot Bank, as well as the Big List of RPG Plots.

But what grabbed me the most was Julia West's pages of science fiction ideas, with lots of mix and match elements. The thing was I wasn't crazy about the UI for it, so I made the beast you see to the left. You can click on any of the categories to start it spinning, or on the arrows at the bottom to get them all moving. Hopefully it won't be TOO too taxing for people's computers. All of the content (except for the cartoons there) is stuff that she collected.
four buttons 2002.05.22 


1D pong

newton's cradle

(broken on Mac IE)
lights out, uh-huh 2001.08.27 
'Blackhole' Puzzle

include diag.

I found this javascript puzzle I made last year. The goal is to get all the stars 'unlit'. I think; the goal might also be to get all the stars lit, but that's pretty easy. The 3x3 version of this game (you can change the size of the grid with the select box) is pretty trivial. To be honest, I'm not positive the center star -> none game is possible; after 20 minutes of fiddling with it I didn't find the solution. Anyway, assuming you do solve it, you can use the "Random" button to come up with a new puzzle, or see if it's any different if you include the diagonals in. It's kind of fun to play with in any case, messing with the symmetry and asymetry of it.
take your number 2 pencil and... 2003.05.10 
Idle Boast of the Moment
Hrm...some guy was out to make a point about recent inflation of SAT scores by getting as low a score as possible. One tidbit he mentions that thanks to the recentering in 1995, exactly the score I got in 1992 would now be considered a "perfect 1600". Damn! Take that, you punk Rosser!

Mo gently reminds me that "uh, Kirk, isn't it time to move on?" Ok, so I'm being a petty Al Bundy reliving his high school football glory years...still, for some reason "bubble tests" were one of those things I was really good at, and it's annoying to think I missed having an aura of "perfection".

Of course I heard they're adding a third 800-pt section in, so that soon all of our <1600 scores will make it sound like we were rampaging idiots.
Gamebutton of the Moment

It's the Magic 8 Bar! Concentrate on your Yes or No question, then click and all will be revealed... (You may also wish to visit A Magic 8-Ball Unofficial Home Page, or my own gamebutton arcade)
Academic Observation of the Moment
One of the Elizabethans' favorite Classical verse form was the pastoral allegory, which had reached its peak in Virgil's Eclogues. In such poems simple shepherds discourse on country life, which would all be pretty boring except that the whole thing is a disguise for comment on contemporary affairs. Actually, most of it is still boring.
--Michael Macrone, "Brush Up On Your Poetry!"
snowish 2005.01.06 
Lots of snow today...I heard a bunch of people at work are working from home today so I guess I might as well follow their lead...

Quote of the Moment
"Of course I can't see anything! I'm standing on the shoulders of idiots."
--Bel, the mostly sane.

Javascript of the Moment
this is
where the
"According to Patrick Mahoney of Nashua, NH, there are 292 ways to make change for $1.00."
--My Nantucket Nectars Orange Juice's Bottle Cap. Being a geek, I wrote a program to prove that to myself...and got 242. Turns out that's because I don't consider half dollars to be "real money". (But Patrick Mahoney doesn't consider dollar coins to be real money either, or else it would be 293.) Anyway, I had the big list of combinations, but I prefer the idea of a little computer program that does nothing but obsessively come up with different values of quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies that equal a dollar...kind of a dollar changing savant. And here it is. (It's a bit like the old SNL routine "First Citiwide Change Bank", Parts one and two: "At First Citiwide Change Bank, Our business is making change"...All the time, our customers ask us, 'How do you make money doing this?' The answer is simple: Volume. That's what we do.")

Random Kirk Factoid: 292 will always be near and dear to the hearts of people who attended Tufts University in the first half of the 1990s...that was the rank Tufts got (out of 300) for "fun" schools. Some people were bitter about Tufts' lack of fun, or something, and painted 292 on "Jumbo II", a then-new lifesize statue of Tufts beloved mascot.

adventures in photo printing 2005.05.10 
My mom asked for full printout of me on Mt. Monadnock so I decided a nicely framed version would be a good Mother's Day Gift. It turned out to be slightly more difficult than I expected to get good print made.

For starters, there's the dimensions/ratio issue. Most of my digital cameras use the same ratio as a computer monitor, 4:3 (640x480 is the most famous value for that ratio, my current camera shoots 1600x1200.) However, most frames and digital printing options go for other ratios like 4x6 or 5x7. I'd rather do the needed cropping myself, rather than leave it to the tender mercies of the person behind the counter or some computer program. The math for that was pretty simple, but annoying to do for different ratios, so I decided to make a little toy to do it for me in the future, an online photo-cropping calculator, rather than repeat the process in the future:

Enter Original Photo Size:

Enter Desired Ratio:

(Let me know if you have any suggestions for the default digital photo dimensions or the desired ratios...)

So the sizing issue out of the way, getting good printouts was more of a problem than I expected. At first I got the help of my Uncle...they have a photo printer they didn't mind sharing. He mostly had 4x6 stock, which was fine, except his printer couldn't do edge to edge at that size, it left a centimeter or two of border on one side. (Also it would give 3/4 of the way through printing that GIF of Ksenia until my Uncle converted it to a JPG.)

So that border was really bugging me, and also I found a frame that needed a 5x7 printout. I decided to go to Staples...I made a properly cropped version for 5x7 as well as resizing it with a border adding up to 8.5x11. I asked the lady which she wanted to try to print...she guessed the 8.5x11 version, but that didn't work because the print auto-scaled the whole thing down, probably it had to add its own border. They didn't charge me for the mistake though and then she used their software to scale the 5x7 version to just the right size. The result was not too bad but the color transitions weren't as good as on my Uncle's. (One note about Staples, though...later I wanted to help Ksenia print out a CorelDraw file, and the guy couldn't tell me over the phone if they could read it...and that they'd charge us money just for trying. So some of my good feelings about the place were swept away.)

Eventually I changed my mind about the frame and needed a 4x6 print again...this was Sunday morning, and Ksenia needed her file printed (CorelDraw but we dumped it to JPG) so we went to the 24-hours Kinko's at Harvard Square. That worked out pretty well, it's a bit more DIY, but it was a cheap place to get an 11x17 printout. (You have to ask for help selecing the right printer tray, however) I made some 4x6 copies, laying out the page in Word. Then I also decided to try a self-serve color photo machine they had there, which was really cheap, like 60 cents. That probably would have been the #1 way to get a 4x6 printout, except on this particular machine the colors were a bit washed out. (I know I'm old fashioned, but for some reason I kind of distrust these machines and their ability to read straight from a CD I've burnt, or a memory card...I keep wondering what happens if the photos are in subfolders, or if there's some other weird data problem.)

So I guess I would suggest going to Kinko's over Staples, just bring a CD with your stuff. Though I'm getting an idea to just do 8.5x11 photo printouts on my cheap color HP, and thumbtacking them up...I kind of like the idea of how now that I'm digital, I don't have to treat the prints with nearly as much respect, they're easy to replace if something happens without hunting for a negative.
two's complementary 2004.02.03 
Geekery of the Moment
So, this is really pretty geeky, even by my high standards. A lot of Atari 2600 coders on the Stella list thought that my ongoing JoustPong game could benefit mightily from "fractional movement", meaning the game keeps track of object speed and position in smaller-than-pixel detail. So I finally got up the guts to give the 16-bit-math it requires a try, and the results so far are very promising.

But I've had to reacquaint myself with a bit of semi-hardcore computery known as "Two's Complement Notation". It's a way of letting computers easily work with negative numbers, very cool in a mathy-geeky-philisophical way. But it's kind of a pain in the butt to convert a negatic number into binary this way by hand: you have to convert to binary, flip the bits, and then add 1. So I wanted an automated tool to do it for me, as I experiment with different values for Gravity and Flap Power in JoustPong.
decimal value:
number of bytes:


break on bytes
high bytes first
I'm sure someone's already made this kind of tool, but I couldn't find it, and it was kind of fun to do by hand. I'm sure I did it the most difficult way possible, one binary digit at a time in javascript...still, I couldn't think of any other way to make it work with specific number of bytes.

Cartoon of the Moment

Harharhar, get it?

Highlight the following text for the explanation (or hit Ctrl-A), but think about it for a bit first:
It's a two...saying something nice...a compliment in fact...two's compliment...look at the rest of the page...get it now? Look, I didn't say it was very good. The "harharhar" was sarcastic.

Article of the Moment
More fodder for my neuroses, The Pentagon's Weather Nightmare, strategizing about what to do if Climate Change et al. brings us to the brink of a Mad Max-esque scenario...

Quick Link of the Moment
Fun with state shapes.

best of
creations digital art | comics | animations | projects | virtual toys
writing personal history | essays | technology | creative writing | introspection
other photography | snapshots | convos | videogames | misc