More from: Random

Challenge: 100 seven ball flashes in a row

Matthew Tiffany asked:

“What is more difficult to achieve…
700 catches of 7 balls,
Or 100 flashes of 7 balls in a row?”

Here is an unedited video of my first attempt at part two of this challenge with numbers beanbags. Juliane had to get involved to put an end to it.

Spoiler: 158 seven ball flashes in a row until I didn’t want to do it any more.

Spring Injuries 2014

In March I was moving a bounce juggling table (a massive slab of marble attached to a big bit of wood) in my cellar. I leant it up against a wall, turned my back on it, and it fell over. It hit the back of my leg. Hard. And stopped on the top of my boot, just above my ankle. A few centimeters difference could have meant a broken leg or a broken ankle.

So that was me out of action for the next three weeks, in terms of running and cycling.

By the time I visited the BJC, I was feeling just about ready to get active again. On the Monday I went out on a bike ride, on a bike I’d borrowed from my parents. I managed to get about 500m from the front gate of the convention site, if that, before skidding over at high speed on some gravel at the bottom of a steep hill and planting my face into the road.

But not just my face hit the road. Also my shoulder (not pictured), my right hip (not pictured), my left wrist (not pictured), my left knee (pictured), and my right hand (pictured). Also where the bike was trapped between my legs caused bruising on the back of my left leg (pictured) and the front of my right leg (not pictured).

I’m just about fit again now, though I still have a painful lump under my left eyebrow.

I could go into more details, but it just makes me feel stupid.

Spring Injuries

Spring Injuries: no description

Spring Injuries: no description

Spring Injuries: no description

Spring Injuries: no description

Spring Injuries: no description

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How Romantimatic

I read a blog post by Greg Knauss, the creator of an iPhone app called Romantimatic, an app “to remind the distracted or forgetful to text nice things to their significant other”. Sounds like a cool app, right?

The blog post is only partially about the app itself, instead focusing more on the “medium-level Internet pile-on” that happened after its release.

Here is a paragraph from the article:

Derision from Cult of Mac. Disapproval from Esquire. The accusation that my goofy project has killed romance as we know it from Elle. Fifteen hundred words of high-minded arm-chair psychology and moral indignation from the Atlantic, including the comparison of the app’s users to — reductio ad absurdum — those who need reminding not to harm animals. And thousands and thousands of excoriating tweets.

Such a harmless app, but such a harsh reaction! It made me think about why people view it as indicating something broken in the person who uses such an app.

I figure it has something to do with people’s perception of being included in a technological solution to a social or interpersonal problem without their consent.

A hypothetical analogy would be a dating website… but one that didn’t connect the user with other users, but showed them automatically created profile pages of non-users using external sources like Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads, and Twitter accounts. All those disparate, but publicly viewable, data streams are out there, and it would only take one startup to use it to automatically create dating site profiles.

The users of the dating site could then pay to get the phone number or email or other contact information of their top picks, and end messages asking for dates.

But that sounds creepy! Right? The Romantimatic app is nowhere near as extreme as this example, but I think the visceral reaction against it comes about because it feels like it lands somewhere along a path that leads to such a world. We want to have social connections that have equal amounts of effort, time, emotion, and even money, flowing both ways.

The smartphone technology element is only one factor in this equation. The technology can be far more simple, like a stranger approaching you for the purposes of romantic engagement in a bar is acceptable and not creepy, but the same stranger approaching you in your kitchen is utterly unthinkable.

The level of social engagement is variable too. It doesn’t just have to be about romantic relationships. The creepiness still arises when there is unequal access to the technological solution; being signed up for email news letters or being added to FaceBook groups without permission gets at the same source of discomfort. Taken to the extreme: email spam.

While it would be a completely different app, one that functions like Romantimatic but was accessible by both parties in a relationship would bypass the creepiness factor and the resulting reactions. I can imagine a game where the user’s partner one would put in some simple keywords or phrases that they’d like to hear from their significant other, but that remained hidden in the app. The user would then compose a new romantic text message whenever they are reminded too, and if they guess the keyword or phrase they get… well, probably nothing but a gold star. The point of the game isn’t the game itself. The game is simply a way to make sure that the partner knows the romantic text messages is part of a technological solution, and their entering some keywords is consent of inclusion.

Robot Table Tennis

Robots playing table tennis is obviously a hot topic of research at the moment. I thought we were going to have an IBM Deep Blue/Watson moment when I saw the trailer for a match between Timo Boll and high precision manufacturing robot.

I was utterly disappointed by the final result. I was expecting an event (though obviously sponsored by the robot company) where Boll actually played against a robot, and the cool trailer was just promo for that event. It turns out the trailer was just a few clips from the final video, the video being a pretty lame and derivative advert.

This is a long way from the reality of robot table tennis:

And even further away from the reality of human table tennis:

Cats and Cars – Strip Search #ElimComic

Elimination home challenge!

The topics were cats and cars. My comic depends on knowing Transformers characters, but I’m not sure that’s a problem for anything published on this geeky little backwater of the internet. While I’m not sure my comic is funny, at least most people will get the joke.

And learning from last week’s attempt (which probably didn’t need the middle panel, the one which kinda spoiled the joke in advance), I decided to not include an extra panel at the end, about a “fur ball” containing bits of cars, and Megatron getting angry about it. Opening with the Bumblebee pun, and having the Decepticat’s name as Snowflake, is funny enough. The start of the unused panel:

Yet again the drawing took only a few minutes, but scanning and other shit made the whole thing take about 45 minutes. If I had art skills, I’d spend more time on it, but after about 10 minutes on drawing I hit the my limit of making any picture better.

For confused readers, you need to keep up with Strip Search, the web comic artist reality talent show. Every week two of the artists face each other in a head to head challenge. They each have to draw a comic strip in 90 minutes, based on the combination of two randomly drawn words, with the loser going home and the winner staying in the contest to win the big prize. Viewers at home are encouraged to do the challenge themselves.

Here are some other home elimination challenge entries I like:

By Blake Blue – @photoroller on twitter

By Alicia S – @superpuzzled on twitter

Disappointingly, almost every other comic is a variation on two or three basic jokes:

1. A cat is driving a car… and cat’s cant drive cars!

2. Someone else is driving a car… and they had an accident involving one or more cats!

3. A car that looks like a cat is funny!

This wouldn’t be a problem if I found these jokes inherently funny. Unfortunately for Tavis (spoilers!), Mike and Jerry didn’t find the idea of traffic accidents involving cats inherently funny either.