Victorian Laptop

November 24th, 2007

This Steampunk Laptop looks gorgeous:

This may look like a Victorian music box, but inside this intricately hand-crafted wooden case lives a Hewlett-Packard ZT1000 laptop that runs both Windows XP and Ubuntu Linux. It features an elaborate display of clockworks under glass, engraved brass accents, claw feet, an antiqued copper keyboard and mouse, leather wrist pads, and customized wireless network card. The machine turns on with an antique clock-winding key by way of a custom-built ratcheting switch made from old clock parts.

If it came with Apple hardware inside that lovely casing and had Mac OS X installed it'd be perfect…

[Via Ghost in the Machine]

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Data protection

November 24th, 2007

The UK Department of Social Scrutiny has some helpful advice for some 25 million of my fellow-citizens:

Protecting your compromised identity
The following is a list of steps you should take to safeguard your identity.

  1. You should, without delay, change your date of birth. This has the added advantage of enabling you to pick a more suitable star sign than the one you already have.


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Trigger Happy

November 23rd, 2007

Steven Poole has made a PDF copy of Trigger Happy, his book on "the inner life of video games" available as a free download under a Creative Commons license.

Trigger Happy is a book about the aesthetics of videogames — what they share with cinema, the history of painting, or literature; and what makes them different, in terms of form, psychology and semiotics.

I haven't read Trigger Happy yet, but I've enjoyed what I've read of Poole's work at Unspeak so I'm expecting an intelligent, nuanced look at the subject.

[Via MetaFilter]

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November 23rd, 2007

I don't know whether this cover version of Crazy is really "The Worst Studio Session Ever", but it's unquestionably a … what's the word I'm looking for? … memorable performance.

Don't assume thirty-odd seconds in that you've seen all there is to see; it's worth watching right up to the end, I promise you.

[It looks to me as if the there's something amiss with the soundtrack; in places the 'singer' moves away from the microphone but his voice doesn't get any quieter or less distinct. Still, even if the vocal was overdubbed there's no denying the gusto of the singer's performance.]

[Via GromBlog]

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Covering the Mouse

November 22nd, 2007

Covering the Mouse is a site devoted to cover versions of Disney songs.

I'd imagine that the site will be nuked from orbit by the Disney lawyers the second it's brought to their attention, but in the meantime there's some good material there. My favourites are Marilyn Manson's take on This is Halloween from The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Vandals' cover of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

[Via MetaFilter]

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November 21st, 2007

Following up on the story about the use of bicycle locks to secure Britain's nuclear deterrent, a comment from an insider:

My brother's response to the Newsnight story:
"Senior Service officers can be trusted with bicycle lock keys and Allen wrenches … though they may need the assistance of NCOs to actually operate them."

[Via montedavis, posting to James Nicoll's LiveJournal]

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Microsoft Gmail

November 21st, 2007

In the spirit of the Microsoft iPod, we have What If Gmail Had Been Designed by Microsoft?

What would be the differences in that web mail client for users today? What if we apply some of the same design rules that brought us Hotmail, for instance?

As you can probably guess, it doesn't end well.

[Via Memex 1.1]

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November 21st, 2007

The Bile Card:

In the even of my death I would like my gall bladder to be hurled forcibly at the Editor of the Daily Mail.

[Via LinkMachineGo]

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Data loss

November 20th, 2007

UK's families put on fraud alert:

Two computer discs holding the personal details of all families in the UK with a child under 16 have gone missing.
The Child Benefit data on them includes name, address, date of birth, National Insurance number and, where relevant, bank details of 25m people.
Chancellor Alistair Darling said there was no evidence the data had gone to criminals – but urged people to monitor bank accounts "for unusual activity"
In an emergency statement to MPs, Mr Darling apologised for what he described as an "extremely serious failure on the part of HMRC to protect sensitive personal data entrusted to it in breach of its own guidelines".

Two predictions:

  1. Within a year, a minister or senior civil servant associated with the National Identity Register project will argue that if all that data had been available to different government departments on one centralised system there wouldn't have been any need to post data CDs to pass information from one department to another.
  2. An awful lot of civil servants are about to undergo a course of refresher training in Data Protection procedures.

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Review: The Falklands War

November 19th, 2007

David Flin on a particularly absurd alternate history storyline:

Review of the alternate history: The Falklands War


The book is best described as a modern Boy's Own Paper Heroic Action Adventure wet dream brought into the modern day. Plausibility goes out of the window, with logistics, politics, economics and common sense all being disposed of in short order. The author may as well have called the book "The Empire Strikes Back", and be done with it.


The British suddenly notice that supplying an army at the end of a supply line over 8000 miles long might be a bit of a problem. So a bunch of civilian merchant ships (is this a tip of the hat towards Dunkirk?) are called on to help out. This includes such high-profile vessels as the QE2 and Canberra. It also includes a Ro-Ro ferry – we assume that its captain is under strict instructions not to open the bow doors.

There is one notable absence from the Task Force. Britannia, which was always said to be used as a floating hospital in time of war, is nowhere to be seen. One can only assume that the Queen didn't want her nice floating hotel damaged. Still, she did allow Randy Andy to go down, presumably hoping to lose him. Keep Britannia, lose Andy, sounds like a good deal to me. Nonetheless, the author manages to get a Very Senior Royal Family Member involved in the war. Is the author aware that this is supposed to be the late 20th century, not the age of Monarchs?


[Via shimgray, posting to a comment thread at James Nicoll's LiveJournal]

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