magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
Because definitely what I need is more webapp ideas that I don't have time to develop.

Anyway, following on from a Twitter conversation, I'm wondering how it would work to make a writing program which could track the genders of a number of characters and then arbitrarily shuffle them. What I'm picturing is, simplified, something like this:

• At the top of the document are a number of fields which ask for a character name (or a list of character references, such as name and nickname and other variations) and pairs the name with a gender (and its associated set of pronouns).

• Each character you add is arbitrarily assigned a color (or icon or other distinguishing visual marker).

• As you type, a parser will keep track of which name (or referent) has been typed last for each of the original genders. When you type a pronoun, it will look at the last character reference matching that pronoun's set, and highlight the pronoun (or assign it the correct icon) to associate it with the specific character. It'll also have some kind of (mouseover?) menu to allow users to correct its assumption about which character it refers to.

• When you finish writing, each pronoun will be associated with a character. So you can hit a shuffle button, and then the characters' genders will be shuffled, and each pronoun can be brought back into compliance with the character's gender.

Needless to say, this would fail in a lot of situations. Take, for example:

• Dialogue. "He's not coming today," he said. (I mean, I guess I could set up a sub-parser which kept track of the last character reference inside a set of quotes?)

• Ambiguiety. We'll just call this the Randall Munroe exploit. I guess people would just have to make close, personal friends with the drop-down menus?

• Gay porn. I am reliably informed by people who have tried to write gay porn that pronouns are a nightmare anyway. And humans are better at parsing language than computers are.

• Unexpected cases. Language is complicated, yo!

I feel like there should be a way to handle this, and that it probably involves algorithms. I'm a bit worried that trying to write a general-purpose pronoun shuffler would actually require re-inventing Google Translate. Any computational linguists out there who want to point out things I'm missing?
magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
I'm not going to get to this right now, and probably won't get to this today, so this is just a note so I remember:

It would be pretty neat to have a calender generator on my fun pages. I.E., it takes a random list (like the Bingo generator), but instead of telling it the dimensions of a bingo card, you tell it a month and year, and it'll generate a calendar of prompts for you.

Advanced options would include turning off certain days (so, setting Sundays to have no prompts, for example), or turning certain days to certain prompts (so, setting Fridays to "wild card" days, or something). Probably not granular "I want the 15th to be this topic, and the 18th to be this topic, and take off the 12th", because at that point you're... not doing random generation any more.

It'd also be really nice to tie the random sets generator into it, like I did with the bingo generator: you can load response sets into it, and get cards like this one. So, you could set up something to generate random sets of a person, in a place, with a problem, and assign each of those to a day. Etc.

magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
Today, in an effort to avoid actually writing anything (because writing is scary), I programmed functionality into my demographics/random sets generator which let you import comma-delimited lists of values. This, combined with the option I worked up a while ago which let you import random sets from the demographics generator into the bingo generator, means that I can do wacky stuff like working up a bingo card with a bunch of randomly-generated sets of things like fandom, trope, and wordcount. See below:

I sound my fearsome procrastination across the land. )

Now, the demographics generator (unlike the bingo generator) is still in alpha, is desperately ugly, and lacks a ton of stuff that would make it easier to use – like, say, paging down to show you that your options have, in fact, been added when you click the button in the comma-delimited list options. That's because I'm a back-end developer by trade, and just getting jQuery to play nicely enough that it would import the comma-delimited list in the first place meant an hour of hand-to-hand coding. Nicer stuff will happen later, once my urge to procrastinate on writing exceeds my frustration with front-end technologies again.

But, you know, if this sort of challenge appeals to you, there's now a clunky interface on my site that allows you to set up bingo cards like this.

In other news, today I have learned that jQuery does not like passing data out of its AJAX scope, and that you have to tell it not to run its AJAX asynchronously if you actually want to provide its information to another part of your script. Even if that part of the script comes after the AJAX call. ...I feel like that one, I should have known.
magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
Yesterday's xkcd had an interesting challenge in its mouseover-text.

Wikipedia trivia: if you take any article, click on the first link in the article text not in parentheses or italics, and then repeat, you will eventually end up at "Philosophy".

So far, I've tried it with Spark Plugs, Banana Slugs, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Chuck Palahniuk, Infantry, Carnarvon (Western Australia), and Fatal Hilarity. It all works. Usually inside of twenty-thirty clicks. After doing this long enough, you begin to see certain patterns and get a feel for when you're getting close to the Philosophy goal. For example, once you hit Natural Science or Social Science, you know there's no escape.

I think it has everything to do with the format of defining everything in more-general terms. So you can start with something that seems entirely unrelated to anything philosophical like Vilii, a "type of yoghurt (a mesophilic fermented milk) that originated in the Nordic countries," with a "ropey, gelatinous consistency and a sour taste resulting from lactic acid," but Viili is a kind of yoghurt, which sends you on through dairy product » food » plant » living (and here you start thinking, uh-oh, we're on the track for philosophy) » objects » physics (and here, the physics link is marked as already visited; you end up at physics in a lot of the paths) » natural science (remember how I said there was no escape?) » science » knowledge » facts » information, sequence, mathematics (admittedly, once you get onto the "information" leg, it does circle around a little), quantity, property, modern philosophy (uh-oh), and finally, philosophy.

There's already a significant amount of talk on the phenomenon on the Philosophy "Talk" page. People have found articles that put you into an infinite loop (as of this writing "understatement" was the first qualifying link in the Ernest Hemmingway article, and the first qualifying link in the understatement article was "Ernest Hemmingway"), but it seems to hold true for the majority of articles people have tested.

So, there's your random minor mindblow for the day.
magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
Below is an answer to your support question regarding "Inline CSS in journal comments using the style="" attribute"


Thank you for your report. The HTML permitted in comments was recently changed to prevent automated spam accounts from exploiting these HTML tags. If you would like to start a discussion about the tags permitted in comments, you are welcome to do so by submitting a suggestion to the official Suggestions community. The procedure for submitting a suggestion is described here: [].

So, apparently I'll be arguing the literary merits of RP and hyperfiction when I have enough brain to form a post about it.

ETA: I've written out a post and submitted it to the Suggestions box. I'll let people know if/when it gets through the moderation queue.
magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
LiveJournal, for reasons known only to them, has begun stripping out any inline styles written into a tag using the style="" attribute.

This one really has me frothing at the mouth, partly because the RP I'm in (and have been for the better part of three years has always been a place to explore a lot of different modes of storytelling, and those modes extend to things like hiding easter eggs (links and whitetext) in the tags, playing with formatting to represent the mental state of characters, coding certain types of psychic activity to certain colors... even things as simple as letting a character scribble out what they've written. Basically, we've enjoyed playing with hypertext as a medium. The internet makes something that's only beginning to show its head in traditional literature (see, for example: House of Leaves) accessible, and it's been a great deal of fun channelling our assembled creativity into this.

Now, that's rendered impossible. Worse, the work we've already done has also been stripped of its styling. In some cases, the tags have degraded gracefully. In others, they've been rendered almost unreadable.

I've set up a side-by-side comparison of the styled and unstyled tags here:, and I've started a support ticket here: as well as brought it up on a news post here: .

I hope that this is a bug; or, if it was a deliberate choice on the part of the developers, that they can be persuaded to reverse it. For a service which advertises itself as a place to express yourself, this is a very disheartening occurrence.


magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)

January 2017

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