Nikky 2.0: Nikkybot and Nikky Ipsum

A while back, Travis Evans, a fellow staff member at the ticalc.org project, wrote NikkyBot. It was, as you may imagine, a Markov chain based application that he created to essentially simulate my behavior on TI Graphing Calculator IRC channels.

A TI-89 version exists, naturally, but one of the really fun applications of this was that Travis turned the generator into a full-fledged IRC bot that would randomly out spew semi-sentient things. The fine folks at Cemetech have been saving some of the better quotes that it says.

Travis hatched the idea that at some time, late at night when nobody is looking, the bot and I would switch nicks. It turned out just about as you would expect, with lots of confusion, but the more striking thing is that more than a few people simply didn’t notice anything had changed.

Last but not least, I made a Nikky Ipsum, which provides you with lots of awesome Ipsum text for your next web design.

This bot has become somewhat of an existential crisis, as not everyday are you faced with something that can learn from what you said over the past decade of chat. Oftentimes the bot replicates what I’d say in any given conversation. Many times I’ll check an IRC channel only to find nikkybot has already jumped into a conversation and said exactly what I would say.

Fastmail

I’ve been using Gmail as my primary email service provider for a decade now. Gmail is 10 years old today. While it was certainly groundbreaking at the time, Google’s email services have stagnated as of late, and I’ve started to get serious privacy concerns over their practices and unified product lines.

Google, quite literally, controls a large portion of my online life, and I started to counter that migrating my primary email over to fastmail. They’re a group I’ve respected for a long while due to their absolutely awesome IMAP implementation, and I started by moving my @nikkysoutherland.com addresses over a couple of weeks ago. Over time, my primary goal is to get everything transitioned from gmail to addresses under my own domain, and can thus control who and where my messages are saved to.

Its certainly a big change for my workflow, but the awesome K9 email app for Android certainly makes the transition a snap. With CalDAV support incoming soon, I see no reason why I can move my calendaring (also in Google) over to fastmail as well.

Don’t worry. My gmail address will still work fine, you just may get a reply from a new address. :)

The Angst of Touring

One of the perks for working where I do is that I can hop on any of our many tours for free, and my significant other can go as well for essentially very little cost. I figured it may be a good idea to see what our tours are all about since they’re a significant portion of our company and I spend much of my time working on ways to make our business operation software run smoother.

So Tracey and I signed up for the Eastern Europe in 16 days tour. We’ve been throughout Western Europe fairly thoroughly, but neither of us have been to (or spent any significant portion of time) in Eastern Europe. This comes with some angst, however. I’ve always been very much a DIY traveler, and the idea of being a member in a tour group (you know, those people) is a very new idea.

I look forward to seeing what we have to offer, and certainly start exploring Eastern Europe. We have plenty of free time before and after the tour, as well as during, so I hope to get lots of good exploration in without getting too entrenched in the tour group culture.

The Five Year Eye Followup

It recently occurred to me that its been around five years since I suddenly lost a lot of central vision in one of my eyes. I’ve often heard that the brain is fairly remarkable with regards to how it can adjust to visual discrepancies over time, and I certainly can subscribe to that after experiencing it firsthand. While at first I wasn’t able to even properly read without being greatly annoyed, I can now barely notice any difference, and combined vision has regained back to something like 20/16.

The impacted eye, of course, is still significantly reduced in functionality, but I’ve found that I’m able to focus with it much better now, at the cost of losing some independent focusing abilities with the normal eye. Reading can still be a bit of a headache (literally) from time-to-time, but I’m certainly in a much better situation than I was envisioning myself to be in.

And I’m thankful for that.

How to Write a Lovecraft Novella

After a rather odd urge to consume some classic horror, I recently finished reading a wide array of H.P. Lovecraft stories. What I mostly discovered is that Lovecraft found a formula that worked well for him, and mostly stuck to it. Here’s how to write your very own Lovecraftian-style horror.

Setting

Your novella should include one of the following:

  • Mysterious town in New England that people avoid
  • Remote location in the world, preferably Antarctica or Australia

It is very important to use one of the two. Without it, your novella will be a fraud.

Character

Pick one, or mix-n-match if so inclined:

  • Curiosity-seeking traveler who happens to stumble mysterious town
  • Well-educated professor from Miskatonic University

General Plot

Again, pick one:

  • If curiosity-seeking traveler, they will find themselves in the mysterious town, and find some horrible dark secret.
  • If professor, go on some unrelated field expedition that stumbles upon an ancient and terrible place
  • If professor, investigate some experience that links back to a mysterious town. In course of research, discover some terrible secret.

Ending

Main character either:

  • goes crazy and is killed/died
  • is the lone survivor in a twisted plot, and spends the rest of their days in silent horror and terror

Other Requirements

Your novella must include the word “Cyclopean” at least twice, and “non-euclidean” at least once. It would also be a good idea to mention the  ”Mad Arab” Abdul Alhazred and his book the Necronomicon.

That’s it!

Have fun writing your very own novel!

 

Tie Ratio

Long long ago, while working in a much different industry sector, I wore ties to work quite often. As this time period  coincided with high school, and more specifically, high school dances, a small tie collection formed. Today I formed a small idea: the ratio of Ties Owned against Total Wears per year. My number? Somewhat it in the range of 3:1 towards 4:1. While I own 15 or so ties, I could only count four situations in the past year where I actually wore one.

This is something I’m very happy about, as ties are pretty un-fun garments. They’re not especially functional (why do they even exist? What purposes do they serve?), restrict all sorts of movement, and you have to watch out for spinning machinery that could grab the fabric and pull your head clean off.

And thank goodness for that.

Cerebral Crumbs of a Professional Hipster