May 23

Our new verification system, which tests for correct behavior in bioinformatics software packages. We crafted tests to unify correct behavior when tools encounter various edge cases—potentially unexpected inputs that exemplify the limits of the format. Inspired by the web standards Acid tests.

May 21

Mel's Loop - A Comprenesive Companion to the Story of Mel
TL;DR: On this date 39 years ago The Story of Mel was published on Usenet by its author. Today, we launch Mel’s Loop project (, with some fascinating details about the epic hacker folklore tale, its characters' biographies and origins! [more inside]

May 19

Hyper: A Bookmarklet to Optimize Reading Speed
This bookmarklet enables one to optimize reading speed by bolding the first few letters of each word in text. It operates on any HTML and can also be accessed within the webpage. [more inside]

May 17

Corkery’s Farewell (1875): a Peaky Blinders ballad.
The term “Peaky Blinders” was still a decade away from being coined when Jeremiah Corkery and his thuggish mates murdered a Birmingham policeman called William Lines in March 1875. But it's only the name they lacked. Corkery's execution four months after the killing produced at least two songs about him and a great deal of press coverage lamenting the lawless state of the Victorian city's streets. PlanetSlade’s latest gallows ballads essay has the full story, plus a look at how the real Peakies differed sharply from their TV counterparts. [more inside]

May 13

The Daily Brief -- News as Information
A reboot of a project we ran from 1995 to 2000, the Daily Brief is a news summary intended to provide our readers with unbiased, no-agenda, clear, and timely information that is needed to maintain essential awareness of important events and information from around the world. Maybe MeFi needs a News link up there in the header where the Daily Brief can be repurposed for intelligent ingestion and commentary? [more inside]

May 5

How the age-appropriate debate is altering curriculum in Tennessee and nationwide  
A story we've been working on at Chalkbeat for a little while, on the challenges faced by curriculum in Williamson Co., Tennessee. A lot of these kinds of moral panic stories concentrate on the things that individual actors say, but for this reporting my team dug into the report for all 31 texts that had been challenged, and tried to put them into context of exactly what the complaints were, and how they were addressed. [more inside]

Datasette Lite
I've been working on Datasette, a Python application for exploring databases for a few years now. Today I released a new tool built on top of it: Datasette Lite, which runs the existing server-side Python application entirely in your browser, using a WebAssembly version of Python. [more inside]

May 3

Every .horse domain  
A simple website which lists every .horse domain. All of them. In one place. It is not alphabetised because horses are not alphabetised.

April 30

8+ Years of Painting Slideshow
Since about 2014 I have been trying to learn to paint, specifically with acrylics. If you ever wondered what an 8+ year timeline of paintings might look like, the good and the bad and the very bad, the steps forward and the steps backward, then I have made one of those. [more inside]

Lexigram is a bespoke word delivery service. Receive a single unique handwritten word, personally chosen by our resident wordsmith and delivered to you anywhere in the world, for as little (or as much) as £3 a word. [more inside]

April 29

Every Bad Thing That Could Possibly Happen to You: Creepy Stories for Kids and Adults
A blog of short stories detailing every awful fate that might befall someone, written for both kids and adults. Some are creepy, some are sad, some are funny. All are strange, weird and bizarre. New stories every Wednesday evening. [more inside]

April 24

saneens, nubians, one lamancha: poems
Winner of the 2021 Quarterly West Chapbook Contest, saneens, nubians, one lamancha is a collection of poetry recounting my first six months as a novice farmhand on a small raw goat milk dairy in the southern United States. The poems seek to expand the frame of the pastoral by leveraging the specific experience of a black body learning to work, live, and exist in the agrarian. [more inside]

April 22

Ancient Animals  
I have no experience with clay or sculpting, but I wanted to learn. I needed a project, so I started copying ancient animal sculptures that I found on the web. These were all made between November 2021 and April 2022. They're made with air dry clay, and painted with acrylic paints. I haven't tried kiln firing or glazing yet! [more inside]

April 21

BOKEH game
I wanted to make a simple webgame similar to those old Flash ones where you eat smaller fish & avoid bigger ones. A 'budget' of 1-1.5 days seemed sensible and I tweeted updates while building it.

April 18

Aura is my latest album. It's a jazz album featuring me on bass with three great musicians playing songs I wrote. I don't know what style I'd call it, but it's definitely influenced by various artists on the ECM label.

Quality-adjusted life days: quantifying wellness
I've found that the traditional 1-10 scale on which doctors ask me to rate my mood or physical pain doesn’t capture the full range of my experience. I've developed a framework that I find more meaningful, and want to share it.

April 17

London's Ukraine War street art
The first bit of London street art I saw addressing Putin's war against Ukraine appeared on Day Two of the war itself. More and more examples followed as I wandered round London over the next few weeks, including graffiti murals, home-made posters and protest stickers. I've stitched together 26 photographs of the best witty, angry and inventive pieces I've found so far into a couple of PlanetSlade collages here. [more inside]

April 16

For iOS devices, a "shortcut" to quickly create links/quotes from a web page for posting to an HTML-based forum (like MetaFilter.) [more inside]

April 15

Reunion Tour
I contributed three songs to a collaborative Blaseball album, Reunion Tour, the fourth in a series of "Away Games" albums that collect songs about teams other than the Garages. [more inside]

April 14

My latest painting
This is my latest painting

April 13

Milk Barn Farm
After a couple decades of making websites (and often talking about them here), I was burnt out, unable to sleep, and in constant physical pain. So I moved away from SF and started growing hemp for CBD, and it helped! Milk Barn Farm is my attempt to share that with the world. [more inside]

Polyidus: identifying viral integration sites from chimeric sequencing reads
The free Polyidus software identifies the exact genomic regions for integration of a known virus. We developed Polyidus to identify viral integration sites with chimeric sequencing reads from any paired-end sequencing data. First, Polyidus aligns reads to a viral genome. It allows for partial mapping using local alignment, and removes any sequencing fragment where neither read maps to the virus. Second, Polyidus aligns the selected reads to the host genome, permitting partial mapping. Third, Polyidus identifies chimeric reads: those reads mapped partially to the host genome and partially to the virus genome. Fourth, for each chimeric read, Polyidus reports the start and strand of integration in both the host and viral genomes. Polyidus also reports the number of chimeric reads supporting each integration site. [more inside]

April 10

Set Side B
I thought to myself, what was the least zeitgeisty thing we could create in this year of our frog 2022? As a result, me and a couple of friends have started a new gaming blog, called Set Side B! I was inspired by the final loss of the archives of old GameSetWatch, where I wrote @Play long ago. You can still find it on the Wayback Machine, but even so, that site hasn't been updated since 2011 anyway. Set Side B is our effort to do something about its loss. I will be writing on a bunch of topics there, both shortly and longly, but mostly shortly. Including roguelikes. Please enjoy our overbearing randomess!

April 9

Dog of the Dead
My first novel in a new fantasy series called "Ms. Whitaker's Last Year" is up on Kindle! Martha Whitaker is a middle school English teacher who refuses to let anything interfere with what she thinks is important, not even her own possible death, an immense egg on her kitchen table, or a mob of the deceased trying to retrieve their escaped dog. Martha is both utterly focused and utterly wrongheaded, but she will do anything, including braving the bleak concourses of the Afterlife, to help out the various young people who rely on her.

April 7

Crafting: Ceramics and Metal Wire Trees
Posting some of the metal crafts I’ve made during the pandemic – particularly my “quarantine trees.” Also posting examples of ceramics pieces I've made since I started taking pottery classes in 2019. Ongoing.

April 5

The Flaws of Gravity
My first novel's out! It's an urban fantasy set in Montreal and the Niagara Region of Ontario. If you like urban fantasy, or more specifically: mysterious Faeries, gravity-defying action, museum heists and lovers to enemies's complicated? then please check it out! [more inside]

March 30

I’ve been experimenting with AI/machine learning recently, and trained my latest build on the complete set of 898 pokemon currently included in the database (as of 2021). To avoid contaminating the results, only information gleanable from the official pokedex was made available to my AI. Everything here therefore was clearly extrapolatable by inference from the dataset, even in cases where this seems unlikely. In the course of the experiment, 49 non-official Pokemon were generated. The full results (with notes) can be found at the link above. [more inside]

March 29

How many apples?  
A couple of years ago, Harvard statistics PhD student Kareem Carr ignited a firestorm of debate when he talked about 2+2=5. Apples kept coming up in the debate as the quintessential example of a countable thing. "I have two apples. I get two more apples. Now I have four apples. Always. Math is never wrong." For some reason the example was always apples. Thinking about that finally bore fruit in the making of this: How many apples do you count in this image? [more inside]

March 25

Brain Tape
Dogg, it is brain tape since young times. A deep dive / sacred reading podcast around the seminal webcomic Achewood, specifically the arc known as The Great Outdoor Fight. One of us knows everything about Achewood, the other knows basically nothing. Which one of us is Beef and which one is Ray is still undetermined. [more inside]

Brass sextet for 6 trumpets and epic digital signal processing
I haven't been able to make music with my brass quintet since the start of the pandemic. I ended up redirecting that grief into a 10-month quest to use extensive digital signal processing to transform live trumpet audio into realistic horn, trombone, and tuba, so I could play a sextet with myself.

A narrative game system over 200 years old: "The Impromptu Tale"
I worked up a rough translation of one of the collaborative story-telling games linked in this post: Pre-Surrealist Games. It's called "The Impromptu Tale," and there's a lot to it that modern tabletop gamers may find familiar.

March 23

A VR Schizophrenia Simulator for Us All
My senior year of college, I had a mental crisis of sorts. I was struggling with intrusive thoughts and was afraid that I’d blurt them out loud in class, thereby humiliating myself and inflicting emotional damage on both myself and my peers. I became convinced I had schizophrenia, although I wasn’t exhibiting any of the symptoms... [more inside]

March 20

Hermit Crabs of Paradise Cove, Vanuatu
I lived in Vanuatu for 4+ months pre-pandemic and was intrigued by the variety of Hermit Crabs on the beach. I decided to photograph them. These are my favorites. [more inside]

March 19

You think you're addicted to Spelling Bee?
Here's my NYT Spelling Bee inspired game, Spellbound. Besides coding it up, I created all the word lists. Compared to the NYT, there is more food and plants, fewer chemicals and fish, and no words that would embarrass anyone playing with their children. Free, no ads, no shared data, just for fun. And you don't need a subscription to the NYT to play it.

March 16

This is my fan blog about the game Noita. I'm not great at the game; I just enjoy dying in novel ways, then sharing my photos of my trips, in the manner of an immortal tourist.

OpenCV AI Game Show
OpenCV AI Game Show is a trivia show all about artificial intelligence and computer vision. 3 contestants go through 3 rounds of questions in different formats. In our pilot episode folks are playing for a charity of their choosing. It's sponsored by Intel, and I'm the showrunner / co-host. [more inside]

March 14

Post-Gogol World  
Daniil Kharms' (discussed here and here) texts (specifically, 8 texts) were translated (into English) and recorded (on analog tape) with improvized jazz (by musicians). The Musicians' Improvized Jazz Analog Tape English Translations of 8 Specific Daniil Kharms Texts was supposedly "too long" and "not great", so we titled the album "Post-Gogol World" instead. It's now available on Bandcamp. Give it a spin! x

March 8

Hunter x Hunter Ladies Fanzine - For International Women's Day
Happy International Women's Day! I'm back again with another fan project! This one is a fanzine for Yoshihiro Togashi's anime and manga Hunter x Hunter, possibly the only Weekly Shounen Jump manga where the co-protagonist ends the series by deciding to look after his beloved trans kid sister instead of embarking on further adventures. To celebrate all the great female and fem characters in this series, we put together this free fanzine, which you can read at the link above. It was important for us to create an inclusive zine, and I'd like to ask in comments for your suggestions for trans-inclusive feminist charities, especially European ones, as we are still deciding where we'd like to put any money left over at the of this project (the digital zine is free, the print zine is at cost, and we might do a merch drive for charity if we can find the right one). [more inside]

The Gender Bias Inside GPT-3  
In honor of International Women's Day, I decided to do an experiment to see what GPT-3 might reveal about human gender bias. And boy did it reveal a lot!

March 7

Guess the AI Jukebox artist
AI Jukebox is a fascinating project from OpenAI that uses cutting-edge neural neworks to perform all sorts of musical magic -- it can take a clip of a song and continue it in a new way, sing text lyrics in any artist's voice, make a song sound like it's being sung by someone else. My favorite? Tell it to generate music by an artist without any other info, and it will produce a gibberish song with nonsense lyrics... that still sounds 100% real and just like the actual singer or band with their unique style. You can hear instruments, melodies, sometimes an audience, the breathing of the lead singer -- but the whole thing is generated completely from scratch by the AI, not with samples or digital sounds. It's not flawless -- some of the songs ramble, with glitchy effects or a mutating voice. But these just add to the vibe, like it's from a dream or a parallel universe. I went through their database to find the best examples of these tracks from the most famous artists, then turned them into an audio quiz on Sporcle -- complete with AI-generated art of the artists I made to serve as hints in the second round. How many of the artists can you name? [more inside]

March 5

A cryptic clue a day for Enigmarch
For Enigmarch instead of writing a full-fledged puzzle every day, I'm just writing a daily cryptic crossword clue. [more inside]

March 2

Polyfluous: MIDI-enhanced keyboard polyphony
I wanted to play polyphonic music (e.g., Bach) on my keyboard and give each voice a different sound, so I wrote some software to make it so. Link goes to 2 min. youtube video of a somewhat rough demonstration of my progress so far. Still lots to do, but I think there's something there.

March 1

Like Wordle for Quantum Computing [more inside]

February 27

The World's First Granny Square Pattern  
While doing research for an article on the history of the granny square (a crochet motif), I managed to find what is very likely the first published pattern for a granny square. With the help of another researcher, I was able to trace the connection between its first publication and what was previously thought to be the first published example. I then contacted some historians to do some myth-busting about previous theories of its origins. [more inside]

February 19

Saturday morning cartoons
Classic, weird and wonderful cartoons streaming on Twitch for your watching enjoyment, picked from my collection of old and odd stuff [more inside]

February 18

Le Grand Tour (Echoes from Jupiter)
My band's (post-rock, from Québec, Canada) third LP, a 42-minute journey through space and (hopefully) time. For this one, we chose to tell a story through a kid's point of view.

February 16

Vmail newsletter
I wanted to try something different, so I've created a weird mixture of discussion list, newsletter, bulletin board & letters page. Anyone can submit text/Markdown and images with retro filters, then selected messages get sent out in a single-email 'inbox'. [more inside]

DNDle - Wordle, but you're picking stats to guess D&D monsters
It feels like there's a Wordle clone for everybody nowadays. But I decided to go in a slightly different direction when I made DNDle, a game in which you try to guess the Dungeons & Dragons "monster of the day" by assigning values to its attributes and being told where you've got them right. [more inside]

London is Stranger than Fiction
… was a 1950s newspaper cartoon strip by the artist and historian Peter Jackson (not that one). Appearing weekly in London’s Evening News and modelled closely on Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Jackson’s strips recounted the true stories and fascinating trivia of London’s bizarre past. They’re as eye-opening today as ever, and still an excellent guide for anyone with a sense of curiosity about the city. In one 1950 strip alone, Jackson covers London’s earthquake panic of 1750, the reinforced hats worn by Billingsgate fish porters, a remarkable tomb in Bunhill Fields and where to find the West End’s clock in a barrel. Elsewhere in his career, he succeeded the great Frank Bellamy on Eagle’s Marco Polo strip and painted dozens of historic scenes for the British educational comic Look and Learn. You can see a handful of my own favourite LISTF strips in this Twitter thread and read my full PlanetSlade essay about the series and Jackson’s other work here. [more inside]

February 11

Flowers, vase and petals
This is a painting I commissioned from a local artist. I've had this idea / image in my mind for several years, it started with a rose being handed to me as a new student somewhere, a table and a boring lecture... I ended up separating every petal from the flower and arranging the petals into perfectly even rows. It means a lot to me, but I think the most important attribute of an art work is what it makes the observer think or feel.

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