This morning, I was shaken to learn Heather B. Hamilton (formerly Heather Armstrong) aka Dooce is no longer with us. I learned the news from a post to her Instagram, confirmed by several friends after and then the Associated Press, announcing the tragic news that she died yesterday at the age of 47.
Using robots to make a bookmarklet for the Wayback Machine
As I dig through and repost the archives of J’s Notes I’m finding a ton of dead links because twenty plus years is a LOOOOOONG time on the Internet and things go away. But thanks to the Wayback Machine you can find a lot of lost digital history with a quick search. But cut and pasting each link into a search is tedious, so maybe there’s a way to shortcut with a bookmark that has a little code to do the work for me.
So let’s ask ChatGPT!
After a little tweaking, some testing, minor back and forth with ChatGPT, and a total of 15 minutes, the following code did the trick:
- Create a new bookmark in your browser.
- Edit the bookmark’s URL field.
- Copy and paste the code above into the URL field.
- Give the bookmark a name (e.g. “Find Archive.org Cache”).
- Save the bookmark.
And this is where I think the true value of ChatGPT is (right now at least). Rough first drafts that you can then edit and build off of and make your own. I wouldn’t recommend it for “original” content — because it’s not original, it’s aggregated and filtered from other people’s work — but for non-proprietary work or learning the basics of something it can go a long way to saving some time and effort.
A Novel Dungeon and Letters as Random Number Generators in a Diceless RPG
I’m a nerd. Shocking, I know.
So last year I made a game, A Novel Dungeon (https://serialprizes.itch.io/novel-dungeon), that is a fully diceless solo table-top RPG you can play with just a book, pencil, paper, and the rules.
It still uses randomization, but instead of dice it relies on the frequency of letters used in English.
There are a few different resources and frequencies floating around but I ran with numbers from a 2004 cryptography writing by Cornell Math Explorers Club.
So using the frequency of each letter, I assigned numbers to approximate the same odds you’d have rolling dice. In some cases this means fewer instances of a number in the table, but the letter frequency balances it out for the most part.
Does it hold up? Let’s see… I’ll take a blog on itch.io and use the d6 table to assign numbers to the letters in the first couple lines.
Not an exact 16.67% but you wouldn’t necessarily get that rolling a die either. And the more letters we include, the closer we get to an even distribution. It’s not an exact replica of rolling dice, but it’s close and still varies enough to be suitably random.
There are limits of course – with only 26 letters and E’s frequency alone being more than 12% you’d have to force a reroll to approximate a d10 and d20 may be a bridge too far, but you could utilize this system for most games that use d8 and under.
I’ve broken out the No Dice No Problem chart for d2-d10 into a bookmark for ease of use and to show how it’d work.
Now to keep playing with it a little more.
Accidentally discovering Eyebombing – Alastair Johnston
(or how we learned to make the world a nicer place with a small packet of googly eyes) We were standing in Tesco’s technology area looking at computer keyboards, headphones, TV’s, and assorted paraphernalia. This was the bargain struck by my 10 yr old, in return for him following me…
— Read on alastairjohnston.com/eyebombing/
BuzzFeed News will shut down
BuzzFeed News is shutting down, the company announced Thursday. The move, which was confirmed by BuzzFeed Chief Executive Jonah Peretti in a memo to staff, is part of a 15% reduction in BuzzFeed’s workforce.
After All That, I Would Still Publish the Dossier
But I would do some things differently. When I realized the power of online journalism in the early aughts, I saw transparency as key to its promise. I’d watched Gawker X-ray New York’s media scene, and seen bloggers tear apart mainstream reporting on the 2004 presidential campaign.
This Mom Didn’t Know She Was In A $250K Candy Crush Tournament, But She’s Killing It
Erryn Rhoden is an ordinary person who works at her family’s roofing company in Columbus, Ohio. She’s also the top-ranked player in her semifinal bracket for the Candy Crush Saga All Stars Tournament, the biggest Candy Crush tournament in history, which she entered by accident.
Nobody ever became a writer just by wanting to be one
As someone who attempts to write in short bursts on a regular basis, I find the process of placing and arranging words on the page to be torturous and intimidating, so I can only imagine the anguish felt by actual writers, who must constantly summon their powers to create something out of nothing, a
‘Dad jokes? That’s the way eye roll…’
Whether you laughed or not – and I have my doubts – this is, at least technically, a joke. Specifically, it’s what has come to be known as a Dad Joke.
Wargames and the 1991 Iraq War
Wargaming featured prominently in US efforts during the 1990-91 war in the Persian Gulf. On the morning of August 2nd, with Iraq’s conquest of Kuwait still not complete, the Pentagon looked around for some quick wargaming on what was going on and what it all