A new song from dEUS : Luxury (Tom Barman by himself actually...

A new song from dEUS : Luxury (Tom Barman by himself actually), live at a belgian festival, plus a bunch of other songs (Supertramp’s Goodbye Stranger cover, great !!). Excellent audience sound recording. It will help me waiting for the next dEUS release, not before 2002 :(
Great great job Jyves !!

Whaddaya mean, you can’t find programmers ?

Whaddaya mean, you can’t find programmers ?

Take skullLately, I’ve been heavily interested in...

Take skull
Lately, I’ve been heavily interested in Interactive Fiction.
Remember the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy ? It’s a full text game, based upon the (in)famous Scott Adams SF novel, that I advised you to play at the office (no graphics, no sound, a small DOS window) a couple of days ago. It goes like this (what I typed is in red) :

You wake up. The room is spinning very gently round your head. Or at least it
would be if you could see it which you can’t.
It is pitch black.

>open eyes
They are.

>turn light on
Good start to the day. Pity it’s going to be the worst one of your life. The
light is now on.

Bedroom, in the bed
The bedroom is a mess.
It is a small bedroom with a faded carpet and old wallpaper. There is a
washbasin, a chair with a tatty dressing gown slung over it, and a window with
the curtains drawn. Near the exit leading south is a phone.
There is a flathead screwdriver here. (outside the bed)
There is a toothbrush here. (outside the bed)

>take screwdriver
You can’t reach it from the bed. The effort almost kills you.

>stand up
Very difficult, but you manage it. The room is still spinning. It dips and
sways a little.

Well, it’s what adventure games have been through the 80s with a lot of success, when computers couldn’t easily handle graphics and not everybody had a mouse.
I’m fascinated by these games. The power of imagination is enough to make you live wonderful adventures, solve tricky puzzles, travel very far geographically or chronogically. No restriction due to the cost of designing a 3D animation, for example. And the limitation of the text interface actually is an asset an author can play with (see all of Raymond Queneau’s works).
Moreover, by searching around on the web, I found that this type of games, called Interactive Fiction are still being played and created by a lot of passionate people around the world ! There’s even an annual competition where authors present their games (of an unbelievable quality), which are scored by players.

Actually, the main resource is this FTP site : ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive (with this mirror for North-American folks : The IF Archive).
This german server archives exhaustively everything that has been done since the beginning of Interactive Fiction, and every serious author upload his game(s) here when it’s released (for free, obviously !)
Add some online newsletters with reviews and author interviews, and two active and civilized newsgroups : rec.games.int-fiction for players and rec.arts.int-fiction for writers, and you’ll get the current dynamism of the genre.

And the most seducing part of it, as far as I’m concerned, is that anybody can write his own IF games, and that the systems to do so are freely available on the net : TADS, Inform and a lot of others, along with free tutorials, extensions etc…
[I'm a bit technical here :] The wonderful thing with these systems is that they provide the parser, the part of the program that analyse and understand your sentence (« take screwdiver », « look under bed »), which would be a hell of a task to develop. These systems generally feature a compiler, to transform your scenario into a cross-platform playable game, and an interpreter, to play this generated game. The beauty underneath is that the game you design (what I call the « scenario ») is written in a dedicated object-oriented language, extremely easy to learn when you’ve already coded in Pascal or C/C++. Look at this TADS example, pretty self-eplanatory :

cave: room
   sdesc = « Cave »
   ldesc = « You’re inside a dark and musty cave. Sunlight pours in from a passage to the south. »
   south = startroom

goldSkull: item
   sdesc = « gold skull »
   noun = ‘skull’ ‘head’
   adjective = ‘gold’
   location = cave

With these few lines of code, we have created a cave where the player can go, that he can leave (« go south »), look at (the ldesc part), and refer to (« leave cave »), plus an object in this room the player can look, take, drop, and refer to in many ways (« take skull », « pick up gold head », etc…).
Now you just begin to see the offered possibilities.
[End of technical part ; Dad, you can read again from now]

What these people do is wonderful. Plenty of terrific games are released each year, I’ll keep you in touch.

From: « Manur » To: « ...

Cliquez pour l'acheter !From: « Manur »
To: « Carlier Richard »
Subject: =C’est quoi au juste ton métier ?
Date: Sat, 13 Jan 2001 18:56:28

Bonjour monsieur le webmaster,

J’ai récemment fait l’acquisition de votre précis intitulé « Profession : Webmaster », que j’ai trouvé fort utile pour caller les pieds de ma table de jardin (qui était auparavant branlante).
J’ai désormais toute l’utilité de ce meuble, et avec l’arrivée imminente des beaux jours, je me préoccupe de trouver quelques chaises de jardin afin d’en profiter réellement. Or, j’ai remarqué en quatrième de couverte de l’opuscule une magnifique prise de vue (agence Magnum ?) où l’on peut vous voir en compagnie de trois ou quatre sièges qui ont immédiatement attiré mon attention pour leur artisanat irréprochable. Seriez-vous prêt à me les céder ?
Mon prix sera le vôtre (euros, US dollars & pingouins en peluche acceptés).

Bien à vous,
Blague à part, et je ne dis pas ça parce que c’est un ami, mais le bouquin est très bien fait et extrémement intéressant. Je vous en dirai plus lorsque je l’aurai entièrement lu.

I promise, next post will be in English.

Ma prophétie : « La Bourse est une institution...

Prophéties autoréalisatrices

Oncle Bernard, Charlie Hedbo (n°446, 03/01/2001)

Ma prophétie : « La Bourse est une institution inutile et néfaste. »

Faites suivre et prions le Ciel.

I’m taking a few days off. While I’m away,...

I’m taking a few days off. While I’m away, go reading Joel on Software and all the funky people linked on the sidebar.
Happy new year. Dropt the debt.

A Music EntryAny folk even slightly interested in music...

A Music Entry
Any folk even slightly interested in music is putting online his top-ten CDs list of the year these days, especially among fellow webloggers, and I’m not going to be an exception.
Some people might find this showing of strictly personal taste, full of redundancy, pretty boring. If somebody tells me he couldn’t care less whether I put Grandaddy or Venus as my number one, he’s definitely got a point.
What I think, and what IMHO allows me to write this, is that the large number of published lists may eventually convey a statistical « truth » about what were the best albums in 2000. Last year, a lot of Guided by Voices fans had the Dismemberment Plan Emergency & I record in their top-five, so I got this CD and I haven’t been disappointed at all. If you buy your new CDs with respect to the advertisement, you get Blink 182, and if you buy it thanks to music papers, you’ve got to be very rich, as most publications claim for finding the new OK Computer every week.

Anyway, back to the tunes. I don’t think 2000 was a tremendous year for pop music, as 1999 had been (see dEUS, Venus, GbV, my top-three last year). Big stars made damn good and promising albums (Kid A), but no groundbreaking stuff ; newcomers were rare and modest (except ATDI). But all of the music presented below is certainly worth a listen, and the top-five are definitely must-haves (in all categories).

Category #1 : Top-Ten Best Records of 2000

1. Grandaddy – The Sophtware Slump
2. Venus – The man who was already dead
3. Coldplay – Parachutes

[... find the whole lists here]

Concerts coming in Paris, Feb-Mar 2001 : Don’t feel afraid to mail and join me !!
* At the Drive-In, Trabendo, Feb 04 (110 ff !)
Punk-rock sensation from the Grand Royal label, one of the best live acts this year, they say.

* Grandaddy, Feb. 22
Third gig in Paris in less than one year. Excellent band, #1 in my top-ten.
Space rock and soft-punk, the only rock band that knows how to use keyboards today.

* PJ Harvey, Feb. 26
The miss is still angry, but she’s in love (or so it seems). A perfect career, a perfect musician.

* Placebo, Zénith, March 20
If there’s somebody to join me, I’d be OK to see again the most glamorous punk band in Europe and the #1 reason to become gay : Brian Molko.

A very cool link : emulations of the first and second generation browsers (Mosaic, IE and Netscape <2, had you ever seen them ?). Surf the web of today with the tools of yesterday. Pretty interesting ! [via Webmaster Richard]

Speaking of computing « history », the X-Web Abandonware is a great site (in French) where you can download the forgotten games of your youth. I got Indiana Jones 3, so cooool !
Piece of advice : get (on another abandonware site) the Hitchhiker’s guide…, a full text-mode adventure that opens in a small window (based on the famous novel). Great to play at the office (low-profile…).

«J’ai écrit ce livre dans une amertume...

«J’ai écrit ce livre dans une amertume sans fond. Un sentiment desepéré le traverse. Je ne crois plus qu’aux choses ; l’esprit sait y pressentir ce que leur apparence renferme d’éternel. La philosophie la plus éclairée n’est-elle pas celle qui enseigne à se méfier de l’homme ? De cet optimum, de cette créature suprême, qui forme l’aristocratie naturelle du monde vivant ? De celui qui apporte – quand par exception il devient vraiment lui-même – l’excellent mais aussi le pire ? Vainqueur des monstres et monstre lui-même à jamais…»
François Bizot, Le Portail

Comment, nanti d’une telle préface, le livre de Bizot eût-il pu ne pas être absolument passionnant ? Français vivant au Cambodge à l’époque où la guerre du Viet Nam s’achève et les Khmers Rouges réalisent leur terrible ascension, l’ethnologue se fait écrivain le temps d’un récit magistral, revenant sur le drame sanglant qui eût lieu, fruit des utopies et de l’aveuglement (maoïstes, colonialistes, anti-américains).
Ce livre nous touche en premier lieu car Bizot y raconte son amour perdu, celui d’un peuple d’une bonté incomparable et d’une terre aux traditions séculaires, assassinés par les actes conjugués du dogme importé et de l’orgueil académique. Détenu dans un camp de maquisards communistes à vingt-cinq ans, témoin et acteur de l’évacuation de Phnom Penh tombant au mains des Khmers Rouges cinq ans plus tard, il retrace ces évènements dans cette langue précise et simple qui est la marque des grands écrivains, dans un souffle qui le place au côté des Malraux et des Cioran.
Témoin trop téméraire, chroniqueur minutieux, homme desespéré, impuissant mais stoïque, Bizot nous fait vivre par ses yeux et par son corps les derniers instants, forcément irréels, avant le désastre. Terriblement destabilisants sont les rapports ambigüs qu’il va nouer avec des bourreaux qui n’en sont qu’à leurs premiers faits d’arme, ou les instants suspendus dans le calme trompeur des rues de Phnom Penh envahie.
Le scepticisme de Bizot, né de la douleur de la perte, de la contemplation de la cruauté humaine, de la culpabilité inévitable et du dégoût engendré par la suffisance des intellectuels, ce scepticisme renvoie à leurs études tous les cyniques de salon. Par des phrases simples, un vocabulaire soigné, sans effet de manche, sans affectation, ce livre rejoint pourtant pour la profondeur de ce qu’il révèle de l’être humain les abîmes dévoilés par Primo Levi ou Hannah Arendt.
S’il faut être tout-à-fait honnête, on pourra reprocher au Portail une construction pas toujours à la hauteur de la narration et des ellipses qui rendent le contexte historique malaisé à distinguer dans toutes ses nuances pour le non-initié que je suis. Malgré tout, c’est là un livre à lire absolument car il se range dans la catégorie des classiques, de ces oeuvres qui atteignent le tréfonds des questions posées à l’âme humaine. N’oublions pas que l’apogée génocidaire de la tragédie khmère, qui prit place quelques temps après que le récit de Bizot ne s’achève et dont les évènements décrits annoncent l’arrivée, ne date que d’à peine plus de vingt ans et que les principaux coupables n’ont toujours pas été jugés.

Commander Le Portail à la Fnac
Lire le premier chapitre du livre
Lire l’interview de François Bizot par Libération

Sorry for the rarity of my posts these days. The end of...

Sorry for the rarity of my posts these days. The end of the year is a very busy era.

Do It Yourself
At a recent dinner, a friend asked me why I’m doing this whole weblog stuff I had just told him about (one says that France is technologically three years late with respect to the United States, and weblogs are totally unknown here, even in the I.T. community). This question made me really uncomfortable : WHY am I doing this ? Unable to find a satisfying answer, I must have replied with a neutral comment about alternative ways of using the internet, or something…
When I come to think again about the underlying purpose(s) of running a weblog, I end up comparing this activity with the panel of other ones offered to us.
Consume. Most of us, most of the time, when we want to enjoy ourselves a bit, to relieve our souls tired by corporate work or university courses, we GET stuff. Drinks, DVDs, books, restaurant meals, furniture, clothes, CDs, and so on… But think about it a minute : how long does the pleasure last ? How long are you uplifted by this brand new leather couch, or this damn good fine dinner, or even this wonderful novel ? Very soon it melts with the rest of our environment, as an unnoticeable sign of our fading ability to enjoy the treasures of life. Go to your bed, you’ve got to wake up early in the morning on weekdays…
Now, I’m talking to you guys who ever tried to create something with your own hands/brain/heart. Whatever you’ve done, painting, writing, composing, coding, building etc…, doesn’t it shine as one of the few worthwhile moments ever in your life ? Don’t you feel proud, fulfilled, caring towards others, a true human being, when you happen to experience again the fruit of your dedication (reading your article, standing near your building, running your software, looking at your sculpture…) or even merely think about it ?
When I have to sum up my life in a few words, I end up mentioning composing songs (lame ones, you can’t imagine, but who said you’ve got to be Mozart ?), gaining a degree, writing articles, building a relationship, and I realize I forgot writing role-playing games, arranging gaming nights, recording stupid radio-shows, and so on…
This is what life, for me, is about. Giving away bits of myself, sweating over my creations to do the best I can. This is why internet in general, and weblogs in particular are choice tools. Your potential audience is the world, your actual public is only made of the people who choose to come and see what you have to offer. No limit, no obligation.
(This is also why I hate all those websites designed to sell me stuff, bringing me down to my condition of consumer I should never have left in this neo-liberal society.)

But, hey!, what’s that need to offer the world something coming from me ? A lot of people just live and let go. Why do I feel almost compelled to leave something out of my brain, heart and hands ?
I plead guilty : I’m afraid to die. Like everyone of us. I will get back to dust and that scares the hell out of me, true. The most moving thing on earth is those people who survived through their work, their kindness, the love they still inspire, the friends they still bring together.
So, next time, I will swallow my pride, and to this same question about the reasons that drive me doing this weblog, I will answer : « Because I’m scared to die sooner or later, dude, and that you could forget me all ».

Now, more relaxed stuff :
- « quite a lot of percussion, big, sweeping sort of stuff » : this is the pleonastic way Tom « Chemical Bros » Rowlands describe the new material for the fourth album of my favourite duo and this is the best piece of news heard lately !
- While browsing again the Annals of Improbable Research, I found this hilarious article about sex in an elevator.
- A genius dude has wonderfully re-made the three Star Wars episodes in 5 minutes each and in Flash. Congratulations.

Quelques mots en français :

De nombreuses analyses montrent qu’on est en face d’un marché de surconsommateurs d’images, des gens qui achètent quantité de DVD et vont quand même au cinéma, ont le câble, Canal +. Ils achètent au delà de leur goût et même de leur simple capacité physique à les regarder, il y a un désir très fort de posséder l’objet dès qu’il parait.

C’est dans le libé d’hier et c’est symptomatique.
Le site ultime en matière de mp3 ringards (ou parfois pas). « Où est passée ma chemise griiise », de patrick topaloff et sim, est un hit au bureau.

The bio/about me page is online. I’ve been postponing...

The bio/about me page is online. I’ve been postponing to « design » this one for ages, but now I’m really satisfied with the way it looks.

A small Xmas wish-list, in French. May be updated in the coming days (as ideas will come). It’s a pity that amazon.fr doesn’t make this service available (as the US or the .co.uk sites do), so this is a list in the good old not-linked way.
Ma liste pour Noël
Michel Houllebecq, Lanzarote (livre)
Bebel Gilberto, Tempo Tango (musique brésilienne)
Chemise / Cravate (sobre svp)
Une montre (pas trop chère !)
Tori Amos, Under the Pink (CD)
Elliott Smith, X/O (CD)
…mais j’aime aussi être surpris :)

Friend-o-thon – If you find this guy hot, let me...

The mixtape covers page has been updated.

Friend-o-thon – If you find this guy hot, let me know (this is an emergency) :

As Charles Darwin (1871) sagely noted over a century ago...

Your gestures of kindness move me

As Charles Darwin (1871) sagely noted over a century ago, « ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge »

And now, this hypothesis has been scientifically confirmed by psychologists. Very nice research article.

Ever felt like murdering your cat after one of its walk on your keyboard ruined your work ? PawSense is the solution to your problems : this is the first software that detects cat walking on the keyboard and locks your workstation. Did you thought your job was useless ?
[last two links are 2000 IG NobelPrize Winners, from the Annals of Improbable Research.]

I’ve found the first relevant French-speaking weblog : Emmanuelle.net is run by a young and brilliant journalist from Libération (living in California !) and mainly focused on new technology. It’s nice, and i’ll keep visiting it.

ESCOM rules !
Congratulations to Thibault, Dominique and Jérémy for their unbelievable achievement : the folks WON the 6th « Défi Expérimental Laboscope ». This is a contest for chemistry students, with practical experiments, where the best schools from France compete. I’ve been brilliantly eliminated during the first turns two years in a row, so I bow to your greater talent !!

A big thank you to all the people who’ve been coming since a few days. And for you that are just looking for info about the Aiwa MM-VX100 MP3 player, the manufacturer website is www.aiwa.co.jp/eu/vx. Sorry for the detour.

Today : dicks and boobs. Lucky you.>Did you ever wondered...

Today : dicks and boobs. Lucky you.
>Did you ever wondered if it is possible to do that with your « Johnson » ? And… well… there’s a website and a mailing list.
>It seems to me that plastic surgery has been invented just to let you roll your mouse over the picture. The best achievement so far in the noble art of medicine, sure.

From now, you can come here thanks to this new redirection : manur.isfuckingcool.com. A fucking pop-up appears, so you’d better use www.manur.com anyway. I just thought it may be fucking fun.

Venant aussi des Inrocks : leur papier sur l’abum...

Halo 33 is a nice weblog I like to read.

Now, those links are french :

Tonight I long for innocence…

Last Friday : Conversation with the guy in charge of computers...

Last Friday : Conversation with the guy in charge of computers maintenance at the new job this morning :
me: I have this problem with my new computer : when I listen to an audio CD, its plays at a somewhat slower speed than the normal, ruining the music. [much like a slow pitch on a turntable..]
guy: you mean, it goes like this : « meowowowii » [he makes the sound of a slow-pitched record on a turntable]
me: yes!
guy: hum…
me: …
guy: I don’t have any solution to this problem. Feel free to download a new driver at your-computer-brand-name dot com. [he LEAVES !]

Thanks, man, you’re a real prince.

(this exact same day, i missed half of Grandaddy’s show. just great.)