This is another recent hacktivity log of what I have been up to recently, as far as software development and writing is concerned.
“Every Publicity is Good Publicity…”
True to my belief that “The Gods help them that help themselves”, I have been working much more on publicity recently, utilising my Twitter account, my Reddit account, my Facebook account and other online resources. I am not exclusively promoting only my own works, and also share/retweet/etc. the posts of my friends. I had great success with this /r/xkcd subreddit post which so far received 150 upvotes (and 36 down votes) about my new screenplay Summerschool at the NSA which has a strong xkcd (= the web comics) theme, and also had some lesser success with posts to other subreddits. As usual, I also upvote and comment on other people's posts and comments.
It seems that the main problem with my site up to now has not been that it lacked good content, but that most people were not aware of the site.
I’ve also been experimenting with buying Project Wonderful web advertisements, but so far they did not yield too many clicks.
The Olamot Sci-Fi/Fantasy Conference
As I reported on the Hamakor mailing list, I attended the Olamot Science-Fiction/Fantasy/etc. conference that took place during Passover in Tel Aviv, Israel, and had a great time. I didn't bring a camera to the first day, so people on IRC did not believe me that I saw many highly attractive geeks there, which I remedied by bringing a camera and taking many photos during the second day.
The conference was colourful, zany, and inspiring and most of the people I saw agreed to be photographed. I spent most of the time there helping with the booth of the open source community and we were better organised and more prepared than a similar conference several years ago, where we only had a very huge and heavy Sun CRT screen that did not yield to our attempts to get it to display something on the computer.
Work on Selina Mandrake - The Slayer (a Buffy Parody)
I was able to mostly complete my work on the screenplay Selina Mandrake - The Slayer, which is marketed as a parody of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but which also crosses over many other elements, including from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Judaism, history of the Near East and Europe, and computer geekdom. It is in a usable condition now, but there are still some missing scenes, and the screenplay may also need some polishing.
Buffy and Clarissa Facts
In the name of girl power, and FOR GREAT JUSTICE, I have continued to collect factoids about females: Buffy Summers from the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and and Clarissa Darling from Clarissa Explains It All (which I fear no one is familiar with or remember now, but still makes for some awesome factoids). Additions are welcome.
Summerschool at the NSA
I got the idea for the screenplay Summerschool at the NSA during the Olamot conference mentioned above, and I am thankful for such great conference for providing a lot of inspiration. I was able to complete the screenplay in less than two weeks and it is in a usable condition now (but likely still has many rough spots). Quoting from the abstract:
The Hollywood actresses Sarah Michelle Gellar (of Buffy fame) and Summer Glau (of xkcd notability) conspire to kick the ass of the NSA (= the United States government’s National Security Agency), while using special warfare that is completely non-violent.
This screenplay crosses Judaism, the Mother Goose nursary rhymes, My Little Pony, substance/etc. addiction, xkcd, Buffy, the song “99 Problems” by Jay-Z, and some personal insights and memes, and despite all that is actually mostly realism for a change.
“All Truth is God’s Truth”
Some people, with whom I talked on the Freenode chat network, complained that I didn’t stay loyal to my Jewish roots, and instead crossed Judaism with other idea system, and some newer sources of influence. However I’d like to quote Larry Wall from his “Perl Culture” keynote:
I have a book on my bookshelf that I’ve never read, but that has a great title. It says, “All Truth is God’s Truth.” And I believe that. The most viable belief systems are those that can reach out and incorporate new ideas, new memes, new metaphors, new interfaces, new extensions, new ways of doing things. My goal this year is to try to get Perl to reach out and cooperate with Java. I know it may be difficult for some of you to swallow, but Java is not the enemy. Nor is Lisp, or Python, or Tcl. That is not to say that these languages don't have good and bad points. I am not a cultural relativist. Nor am I a linguistic relativist. In case you hadn't noticed. :-)
Furthermore, like Ayn Rand noted in her journal, a good work of fiction requires a solid philosophy, and so one can learn a lot from works of fiction. Furthermore, Peter Ustinov noted that “Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious.”, so even humorous works of art convey a good philosophy.
I think the main difference between contemporary or old works of fiction, such as the Greek mythology, Aesop’s fables, the works of Alexandre Dumas Pere, Star Trek, Buffy, etc. and “holy” works such as the Holy Bible or the Qur’an is that some people still take the latter too seriously, and consider them the final word on how to lead your life, rather than just another step in the road to enlightenment.
So I’m not going to let my personal philosophy stagnate by sticking only to traditional Judaism, which itself was never pure, and always incorporated many useful ideas from elsewhere, and still should.
XML-Grammar-Screenplay / XML-Grammar-Fiction
When working on the screenplays, I noticed that some of the error messages were quite unhelpful, so I implemented more informative error messages in XML-Grammar-Fiction / XML-Grammar-Screenplay. I noticed that the code was getting quite complicated, so I refactored it a little, but there is still a long way to go.
Someone reported problems understanding the solutions of the online (JS-based) port of Freecell Solver, and I decided to convert the card suit identifiers to their Unicode equivalents. So from:
Foundations: H-0 C-0 D-0 S-0 Freecells: : 4C 2C 9C 8C QS 4S 2H : 5H QH 3C AC 3H 4H QD : QC 9S 6H 9H 3S KS 3D : 5D 2S JC 5C JH 6D AS : 2D KD TH TC TD 8D : 7H JS KH TS KC 7C : AH 5S 6S AD 8H JD : 7S 6C 7D 4D 8S 9D
Foundations: ♥-0 ♣-0 ♦-0 ♠-0 Freecells: : 4♣ 2♣ 9♣ 8♣ Q♠ 4♠ 2♥ : 5♥ Q♥ 3♣ A♣ 3♥ 4♥ Q♦ : Q♣ 9♠ 6♥ 9♥ 3♠ K♠ 3♦ : 5♦ 2♠ J♣ 5♣ J♥ 6♦ A♠ : 2♦ K♦ T♥ T♣ T♦ 8♦ : 7♥ J♠ K♥ T♠ K♣ 7♣ : A♥ 5♠ 6♠ A♦ 8♥ J♦ : 7♠ 6♣ 7♦ 4♦ 8♠ 9♦
Moreover, Shirl Hart informed me that he/she have uploaded a Java port of their Freecell Solver to GitHub, which runs much faster (70x reportedly) than the Perl version (but might still consume more RAM than an equivalent C port). All the power to Shirl!
DocBook EPUB generation
I ran into some problems with getting the EPUB (an Electronic book format) generation of the DocBook/5 XSLT stylesheet to work properly, but it was fixed in this commit thanks in part to help I got on the docbook-apps mailing list.
I have been desperately trying to find a usable photo (under a Creative Commons licence/etc.) of Christina Grimmie (= the singer and musician known for her YouTube videos) for her Wikipedia pages, without luck so far.
I also have been trying to protect the English Wikipedia page of Tiffany Alvord (another superb artist) from deletionism, and it’s ironic that the Spanish Wikipedia page about her is longer and more comprehensive, even though Alvord is American and almost always sings in English.
Thanks to protist (Jonathan Avery) and Gabor Szabo for reviewing this post and commenting on it.