21.34, Thursday 3 Jan 2008

Benoit Mandelbrot Fractal Art Contest 2007, winners. Next year I'm going to enter a photo of a rainforest and claim I just hit on the correct l-system parameters.

A random tree.

SpeedTree is a software component to procedurally generate, light and render vast forests of trees in real-time. What I would give for a slowly panning, generative, Mac desktop background of the Trees of Pangaea, the species mix of which would respond to my shifting continuous partial attention.

Dynamic traffic simulator. Click 'Zufahrt' and see the pressure wave propagate backwards through the traffic jam from the on-ramp. I could watch these simulations for hours. See also the shortcut.

VATSIM networks people all over the world to simulate air traffic control together. This is a service provided to people using flight simulator software, via plug-ins. TerraNova have a good thread on this. When Wired covered sim ATC in 2003, they mentioned a curious failure mode: O'Hare was having four emergencies a night, and they don't get four a month in the real world. They'd call the tower and say, 'Emergency! Engines out.' I know what people are doing: Maybe they need to go eat dinner, so they call in an emergency so they don't have to wait in a holding pattern to land.

Ageing superheroes. Who was I talking about this with? An old folks home for superheroes would need to be stocked with the equivalents of incontinence pants for the special forms of excretions these people have. Like Superman would have leaky heat ray vision the whole time, and everything in-front of him would get mildly toasted. And Green Lantern would have little accidents where the power ring would make manifest glowing greens pairs of slippers and cups of tea. Or I suppose he could just take it off.

Omar Elsayed's website, dessalles.com, is utterly gorgeous: a Google Maps satellite view drifts in the background. I left the window open all day, and it wound up over a handsome desert somewhere. Like being in a hot air balloon, lost and rapt in the baking heat. He also gives a smart response to my question, how to design a sign-in system for a group, switching the focus from authentication to permissions. I like this approach, for a TV that tracks usage for multiple users: let anyone can use any profile they wish and instead protect the ability to remove content from a specific profile.

Interrupter 1.0 is a preliminary prototype of a device that interrupts you while you move through the city. I have an ongoing problem with presence - sometimes unable to feel fully in the world for days at a time - and I value highly the moments of coming to or surfacing this device would provoke. So, inspired by Interrupter I've made a presence machine on Twitter: follow it, then every 5 minutes there's a small chance the machine will say 'Look around you.' It should work out as once every 12 hours, more or less [update], and being in the world twice a day ought to be enough for anyone.

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