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— Scott Adams, yanking chains

Flash! Aa-aaah! He’ll generate random words!


I’ve been reworking the code behind my random word generator, to generalize the methods of modeling the source word sets and creating the output. The first fruit of that is one tuned for Pinnacle’s new Savage Worlds Of Flash Gordon RPG (slowly trickling out for Kickstarter supporters, and being vigorously edited on their forums).

For the source file, I took every Mongo-ish name/word I could find from the original comic strips, series, and movies (all hail the concept of wikis), and added everything Pinnacle has created in their new books. They’ve done a great job of mixing their own names with the originals, IMHO.

Unfortunately, it’s still a fairly small set (285 words at the moment) with wildly divergent phonetic patterns, making it unsuitable for either trigrams or n1grams, so I kept the lessons I learned and threw away most of the code, creating a brand-new digram-based generator that preserves more flavor than the obvious implementation.

As configured, mongowords can generate at least half a million distinct words, and even at the end of the list, a fair number of them are usable. With the new code, it will be easier to merge back the full feature set from the old one, while supporting a wider range of generation techniques.

Now that that’s out of the way, back to finding errors and tyops in the new rulebooks!

Ursula K. Le Guin sails for the farthest shore


Rest In Peace.

Cheesecake Champloo 8


More random items of interest…

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Broken by design


The Touch Bar on Apple’s current MacBook Pro line was obviously a solution in search of a problem. Unfortunately, the designers were so in love with their hideous mutant child that they didn’t look at how people actually use the top row of keyboards. More likely, they simply assumed that everyone uses keyboards the same way they do, the same arrogance that leads to using low-contrast tinyfonts everywhere.

The Escape key has been annoying me all weekend as I’ve gotten my work stuff migrated to the new machine, and I finally sat down and carefully tested it to understand why:

the Touch Bar isn’t tied into the keyboard buffer

That is, if I type three keys in a row, they will be processed in that order. If I press a “key” on the Touch Bar and then type two keys, the Touch Bar “key” is often the second result. So instead of typing Esc-x, about a third of the time I’m typing x-Esc; more if I’m in a hurry.

And the only “solution” available is to convert one of the other modifier keys into a physical Escape key. And they’re all in the wrong place for muscle memory.

There is no reason other than prettiness (or pettiness) that the Touch Bar doesn’t have a physical Escape key at the left edge. It does have a tactile key on the right edge, even though it sits flush.

Enlightening searches…


In the App Store, I searched for “philips hue”. Under related searches, the first choice was “girly wallpapers” and the second was “girl wallpapers”. Not sure if they meant my naughty novel cover art desktop wallpaper or not…

Cheesecake Champloo 7


No theme this time, just the first batch of pictures out of the leftovers folder that caught my eye. Haven’t done one of these in six months, and I’ve got around 1,500 images I never used.

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Dear Apple,


Next time you update the MacBook Pro line, could you add an option for a decent keyboard? Maybe call it the MacBook Dev, for use by people who do more than fingerpaint on the trackpad. I just finished migrating all my work stuff over to a new one, and while the completely-non-tactile (and mis-positioned) Escape key is the worst part, the physical keys aren’t that much better. At the office, I’ve got a CODE Keyboard hooked up, but at home I tend to use the built-in.

Well, I did, when I still had a laptop I could type on.

And this is going to sound odd coming from me, but it’s too damn loud. Mind you, I go out of my way to buy the clatteriest mechanical keyboards I can find, but this thing annoys me because it sounds hollow and cheap.

While I’m on the subject, if the only port you’re going to supply from now on is USB-C aka Thunderbolt 3, could you possibly produce adapters and accessories that aren’t ranked worst-in-class? The only ones you make that don’t have a terrible rep are the power brick (which no longer comes with a cable…) and the Thunderbolt 2 adapter.

Dear Amazon,


Recently, the following graphic has been showing up on a lot of products:

At first glance, it seems like it’s saying “we think this is the best product of this type”. But then you start to notice:

Doesn’t really mean much now, does it?

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”