Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

April 30, 2010

A week of tweets

Filed under: friends,the interweb she provides — lexifab @ 12:35 am

In terms of bleeding edge communications technology and social networking media, it’s fair to say that I’m not exactly an early adopter. I don’t yet have an iPhone, let alone an iPad. In fact if Fi hadn’t won a dinky little iPod Shuffle at her work Xmas party last year, I wouldn’t have an iAnything. Sorry Mister Jobs! (But I still have my free copy of iTunes, so all is forgiven, right?)

My mobile phone is a Motorola so old I can’t even find a link to the model on the company’s website. I’ve never posted anything to YouTube or Flickr. I missed the MySpace phenomenon (although to be fair, nearly everybody missed that one, or at least nobody misses it now). I got onto Facebook and Twitter long after they were officially no longer the big new thing*. I cannot understand what bizarre strain of masochistic extroversion could possibly have  given rise to Chatroulette (though I would like to think that its appeal lies at the dark heart of some fringe psychological condition  shared only by bored middle-aged German sex fiends and the sorts of US college kids who appear in movies about US college kids, and safely alien to the rest of us).

I am in all ways less qualified than most to comment on a communications phenomenon that I have consciously allowed to pass me by until after virtually everyone else in the universe has moved on (coming soon: my review of Avatar, which I missed on the big screen…).

So what do I think of Twitter after one week?

Well for one thing the basic web interface is rubbish. It’s all right until you want to search for something or until someone sends you a direct message (i.e. one not seen by the world in general), at which point you quickly realise that it’s not really designed for people who might want to do those things or have attention spans beyond the most immediately recent. Fortunately there are several better options for dipping into the tweet sea: I use  Tweetdeck through a desktop browser. If I had a phone from the modern epoch I would probably mostly just use that.

The second thing, which comes as a mild surprise, is that receiving a more or less constant stream of witty, sarcastic, bemused and/or banal observations, jokes and general blather actually does inculcate an odd sense of connectedness to the greater heaving mass of humanity. Even if that mass is largely confined, as in my case, to a handful of game designers, popular writers and actors, ageing comedians and close personal friends (of varying values of closeness), Americans in the case of most of the former and none of the latter.

It’s largely illusory, I daresay – the various low-key semi-celebrities and 80’s teen sensations I’ve elected to follow** are hardly a shining cross-section of modern intellectual thought – but it at least has the sensation of a genuine, tangible thing. At the very least I got an inexplicable fanboy moment when I received notification that [respected game designer] is following me, despite the fact that he must obviously reciprocate follow requests automatically.  Reality will no doubt crash down upon me when he realises that most of my own tweets are not brilliant analysis of game theory or insightful reports on roleplay but – like everyone else – mean snipes at disappointing politicians and announcements that I am (a) going to bed or (b) awake now.

The third thing I noted is that the celebrity twitterer John Mayer, who is no doubt famous for other stuff, has declared that Twitter is over and anointed tmblr as its natural successor.

Fuck. I don’t have time to open a Tumblr account.

*  Once the wowseriffic Australian morning newsertainment shows are sufficiently up to date with the zeitgeist that you can follow all the news about their crazy weatherman on Spacebooker, then Spacebooker’s place in the zeitgeist may safely be assumed to have passed.

** Don’t call it cyberstalking because it’s, like totally different in ways you wouldn’t understand so shut up and let me and Phoebe Cates bond like we were always secretly destined to.

April 25, 2010

The satisfaction of an easier-than-expected job well done

Filed under: family,the renovated life — lexifab @ 11:35 pm

Finally got around to an oft-postponed job, namely replacing the rotten fibreglass roofing sheets on the shed, which have been leaking increasingly alarming amounts of rainwater onto the workbench in there for some months now. It seemed like a straightforward fix, so I’ve long held the deep suspicion that it would actually turn out to be a nightmare for some reason.

It turns out I was mistaken. It really was pretty straightforward. That might have had something to with Dad, Jimbo and Simon all being on hand to help, actually. It would have been a massive pain going up and down ladders for everything I forgot had there been nobody else around, and come to think of it I doubt I could have managed to wrestle the new sheets into place by myself.

(Fi was couchbound and baby-wrangling in all of this, before you ask. Otherwise she could probably just as easily have done it).

Anyway, the shed now has two  shiny new roof panels that let in a bit less light and a lot less rain than the old ones, so job done, and huzzah for that.

(Today I also baked muffins, shopped, washed, tended to the needs of my descendent despite his new insistence of “why?” when posed with any question or instruction, watched new Doctor Who and Lost (yay!) and continued to build a stupendously dysfunctional fortress full of dwarves. It’s a rich life. Now I’m just killing a bit of time until the live broadcast of the 20/20 cricket final, sometime after midnight. Tomorrow, it will I suspect be a slightly less rich life).

April 23, 2010

Assertion

Filed under: geekery,the interweb she provides — lexifab @ 11:15 pm

Dwarf Fortress – I mentioned it a few days ago – may look like a confounding exercise in frustration and futility. It’s got clunky controls. Its visual information is baffling. It’s often horribly uncommunicative about what just went wrong and why you are now force-quitting the game and perhaps restarting your PC. It’s an obstreporous goat of a piece of software that will happily consume your mind and sanity as you wrestle to understand what, if anything, you are supposed to do with it.

All of this is beside the point that what it really is, deep down, an engine for generating fascinating and compelling narratives, like the Boatmurdered saga. Here’s another one, happily conveyed to us by someone with a wonderful flair for design. I give you the Thriving Fortress Bronzemurder.

(Yes, by the way, it probably is just a coincidence with the names. Plenty of dwarf fortresses don’t have “murder” in their name, such as one of my recent spectacular failures Bloodwindow).

April 22, 2010

You know what I miss?

Filed under: fitter/happier — lexifab @ 3:58 pm

I miss the good old days. You know, yesterday, before I shredded a chunk out of my right thumb with the cheese grater. Ow.

April 21, 2010

Is it still a sincere form of flattery when they don’t know you exist?

Filed under: administraviata,the interweb she provides — lexifab @ 5:22 pm

I’m not sure what to make of this, really I’m not. During our Tuesday night gaming last night, Emma decided – I cannot muster an explanation for this, by the way – that I needed a Twitter account. To that end, she attempted register ‘Lexifab’ as my account name, because hey, what else?

It was already taken. Just over a week ago.  By someone called Bonnie in Knoxville Tennessee. Who has registered a “Lexifab.com”  domain name. According to her first tweet, its purpose: “Lexifab.com coming soon…Misuse, disuse, and abuse of English; common errors, oddities, and much more!”

Huh. Well, good luck to her I guess. Hope she does more with it than I ever did. I did once harbour the fantasy that I could get the word “lexifabricography” (meaning, as we all know, the practise of inventing a new word when one is too lazy to determine whether a perfectly serviceable synonym already exists) into common usage. I made a half-hearted pursuit of that goal for a while back at the start of the decade when I was a bit more active on various internet fora than I am now, but it was never a particularly serious agenda. Quite the opposite, obviously.

I confess I feel mildly put out that all I have to show for nearly ten years of more or less continuous if scarcely visible internet self-branding is an accidental and apparently completely oblivious doppleganger. I’m not sure whether to feel slightly miffed that she didn’t bother even to google lexifab to see whether the word was in use or slightly unsettled that she’s aware of my existence but went ahead anyway.

Anyway, I told you that story so I could tell you this: I’m on the Twittermajig now. To be sure you’re cyberstalking the right guy and not someone from Tennessee, use www.twitter.com/_Lexifab/ (that’s an underscore, yo).

April 18, 2010

Also!

Filed under: geekery,political sniping — lexifab @ 10:55 am

New Doctor Who starts tonight on ABC. Watch it in HD if you have the opportunity – it’s beautiful. Also, Matt Smith’s first full episode is, for me, the quickest transition from “This is the new actor” to “This is the Doctor” ever. The food scene is amusing (and such a classic piece of Steven Moffat scripting) but the scene with a glass tumbler a minute or two later is all Smith, and he owns it. Just magic. Karen Gillan as the new companion also makes a brilliant first impression. I’ll blather about this one more once it’s actually screened.

In other news today, Goldman Sachs and Co lost $13 billion yesterday after the US Securities and Exchange Commission charged them with fraud. My heart conspicuously fails to bleed. To quote too-overqualified-for-Fox-News political commentator Nelson Muntz: “Ha! Ha!”

Dad wings in (global weather patterns permitting)

Filed under: family — lexifab @ 10:26 am

At the time of writing, the inexorable crawl of the Pyroclastic Deathclouds of Iceland has not as yet emptied the skies above Canberra. Assuming no sudden meteorologically-implausible indrift of Scandinavian volcano-puke, Dad will arrive in a couple of hours for a visit of a week and a bit. Sadly, tomorrow (and again assuming no atmospheric dust-based groundings, half the household will be getting on a plane to Melbourne for work. Fi’s off until Wednesday, and Jimbo’s gone for the whole week. Luckily, Dad’s here primarily to visit the Joey, whose own first plane trip won’t happen until my cousin Marney’s wedding in Cairns in September. I’m very much looking forward to seeing Dad again. We’ve had barely any time together for years, so a whole week will be a bit of a luxury. And his Grandad hasn’t seen the little rabbit since he was about four months old. That was two years ago now. Jebus, doesn’t time fly?

April 16, 2010

Torchlight wins

Filed under: Games — lexifab @ 10:22 pm

Further to my campaign of resuming blogging with greater enthusiasm, or at least something resembling regularity, I’ve been wracking my brains all day for a useful subject to blather about.

Fortunately for you, that process failed. I say fortunate, because I can’t see any good coming of a thought process that begins “What random subject do I need to blog about today”? I will mark this revelatory moment with the presumption of your gratitude.

Instead, I’m going to point at the couple of games that I’m planning to play instead of doing any writing of any kind tonight.

First of all is Torchlight, a cheap and cheerful Diablo knockoff that was on sale at Steam a few weeks ago for a paltry five bucks (which is a paltry five bucks and change in the prevailing currency climate). At that price, it’s a steal – good old fashioned dungeon bashing employing implausible weapons, armour and spells with which to summon a screenful of epilepsy-threatening visual effects. As an added bonus, your cave-exploring avatar is followed by a faithful pet who will dutifully lug your hard-won trinkets to the surface and negotiate a fair price for them with the local merchant, leaving you free to commit yourself fully to the business of bloodthirsty sparkle-mayhem.

Next up is the latest release of the completely insane Dwarf Fortress, a graphics-free fantasy city-building simulator, the complexity of whose environmental engine is dwarfed (hah!) only by the stupendously frustrating user-non-interface and the incredible richness of the narratives it is possible to glean from getting the frigging thing up and running and then watching it, well, go. (Indeed, on and on it will go, until the titular dwarf inhabitants of the titular fortress descend – as they inevitably do – into insanity and murder sprees). I want to give an example of an incident from one of the earlier games I played, involving a female guardswoman fending off a goblin invasion with a newborn infant under one arm, but while it was at time equal parts hilarious and horrifying to watch unfold, I doubt I can really recapture the context that makes it seem other than repulsive and off-putting. Instead, I will just invoke the famous tale of the doomed Fortress Boatmurdered, and leave you discern its bizarre delights for yourself. (If you do follow that link, by the way, and you can fathom what the hell they are talking about, stick with it to at least part 5 by StarkRavingMad, in which the elephants get out of hand. Alternatively you can read a quick summary).

Both of these games come with my highest recommendation (accompanied by a thick cloud of caveats). And now, to bash some orc pygmies and load up my dog with looted hauberks.

April 15, 2010

Not (Blog-)Fade Away

Filed under: administraviata,family,friends — lexifab @ 12:38 pm

Okay, okay, so with a break of something like nine weeks between Lexifab entries, His Former Clamness does have some justification for making a rhetorical enquiry after the Death of the Blog. I feel unqualified to pontificate on the subject – yes, even on the internet – but I will assert the ongoing wellbeing of Lexifabricographer as your primary source of all news me-and-mine-related, where “you” are assumed to be someone with an inexplicable interest in that particular corner of human learning and also in clumsy run-on sentences.

Rather than delve into the minutiae of the yawing gulf of missing time – I don’t have the patience or frankly the powers of recollection – I’ll hit a couple of highlights, before making a well-meaning but ultimately irresponsible promise to try to write more regularly in future, fooling nobody.

Bring on the dot point parade:

  • Septuagenarian – Dad celebrated his 70th birthday a few weeks ago, probably with a day’s hard labour in the garden followed by a nice dinner. He’ll be arriving in Canberra for a week-long visit this Sunday, so hopefully we will have time to take him somewhere nice to eat in between sessions of monstering by the Joey and drinking cups of tea.
  • Holidays – Over Easter the clan finally made it up to brother Gazza’s homestead on the river up northern New South Wales way. The peace and tranquility of the long weekend was only marginally disrupted by an alarming proliferation of nerf-based armaments and profoundly annoying talking Easter eggs. Very lovely part of the world they’ve chosen to settle in. Given that the Joey was surprisingly good about the 12-hour drive, I’m guardedly looking forward to regular family tours up north again. Now all we need is for Mum and Dad to finally move to somewhere in that vicinity and we will have no excuse not to make the trip a couple of times a year.
  • Marco – Marco and Kylie dropped in for a surprise visit with their vast clan. It was more vast than the last time I saw them, at Andrew and Von’s wedding, with the addition of the adorable Abby (who is an inexplicable 14 months old, despite the fact that it can’t have been more than – ohmygodit’sbeeneighteenmonthssinceAndrewandVon’sweddingwhatthehell! It was a pretty chaotic morning since Gazza and his boys, and their friend Jessie, came by at the same time. I don’t recall teh last time our living room hosted such Extreme Chaos, but it was pretty amusing in a loud and boisterous way, especially the part about trying to have a grownup conversation with ten kids racketing about (well nine really – Marco and Kylie’s eldest Belinda is hardly a kid and was in any case rather quiet). Anyway, we had too little time to catch up before they bundled off to Questacon. A good reminder that this blog, to which Marco occasionally drops a comment or two, actually does serve a vaguely useful purpose in my life…
  • Other news – Hell, I dunno, the past couple of months have been a total blur. Let me get back to you on that.

[Insert obligatory implausible claims at greater blog-diligence in the future, followed by self-disparaging disclaimer. End with flippant comment that could stand to be delivered with greater brevity to strengthen its impact]

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