This is BrainLog, a blog by Dan Sanderson. Older entries, from October 1999 through September 2010, are preserved for posterity, but are no longer maintained. See the front page and newer entries.

February 2009 Archives

February 27, 2009

Amazon Backs off Text-to-Speech Feature in Kindle. The Authors Guild complained that the Kindle's ability to read books aloud might cut into audio book revenues, asserting a specious claim that it violated authors' rights. Amazon believes private text-to-speech is legal, but wants to keep publishers happy.

Thankfully, Amazon's proposed solution is to allow publishers to selectively disable the feature for some books, so we can all see when a publisher chooses to violate our rights, and punish those books in the marketplace. I strongly suspect no publishers will do this, and I also suspect that Amazon suspects this as well.

Sita Sings the Blues, a deeply charming feature-length (1 hr 21 min) animated film, now available online.

Jason has a nice summary, including a link to Roger Ebert's review, and anecdotes about how it was made on a home computer, and prevented from release until now due to exorbitant licensing fees of the music, the copyright for which has now expired.

February 16, 2009

NYTimes The Medium: Being There, The Subtle Art of the Facebook Update.

"Unlike ALL other walks of life, status updates are the appropriate places for spontaneous bursts of joy and being. You shouldn't do it at work, you shouldn't do it in the middle of a conversation, you shouldn't do it on the street, you shouldn't turn to a stranger on the bus, you shouldn't leave it on someone's cellphone. But on this grand constantly updating Christmas card that we are all free to access or withdraw from at any time, we FINALLY have a polite space for 'My sponge smells like a hot dog.' "

February 12, 2009

emacs-fu introduces emacs --daemon, a feature of the upcoming (but you're probably already using it anyway) Emacs 23.

WhatTheFont for iPhone, a free iPhone app that identifies typefaces in photos you take with your iPhone camera using a networked service. Also works with screenshots of Safari, Mail and other apps, using the iPhone's built-in screen capture feature.

February 11, 2009

Sony Releases New Stupid Piece Of Shit That Doesn't Fucking Work.

Seriously, what is the budget for these Onion pieces? They're amazing.

February 7, 2009

TED: MIT Students Turn Internet Into a Sixth Human Sense. Wearable computer + visual recognition + projector = augmenting real world objects with computing interfaces. Must see video.

February 6, 2009

The once and future e-book: on reading in the digital age, by John Siracusa. I love John's writing.

February 4, 2009

Independently Speaking: Best of Global Game Jam 09, a multi-part series.

NYTimes interactive animated visualization of Twitter traffic during the Super Bowl. This really highlights the newness and potential of Twitter's product category—or maybe just Twitter. You couldn't do this with data from regular blogs, or telephone polling.

February 3, 2009

2009 Global Game Jam Keynote by World of Goo creator Kyle Gabler, in his distinctive whimsical style. The keynote is as inspiring in non-game-related ways as World of Goo is, by which I mean a surprisingly large amount.

Kyle's blog entry includes follow-up links to games shown in the keynote.

Global Game Jam 2009 ended on Sunday. The site includes a directory of 48-hour game projects produced during the jam.

February 2, 2009

LÖVE, a free 2D game engine using the Lua programming language. Pure geek fun, from the adorable name and web site to the quality documentation to the use of a fun and clean language. Somehow the fact that I don't normally use Lua makes LÖVE more fun.

Obligatory Lua links:, the official Lua site. You don't need to download the Lua interpreter to use LÖVE, but it's good to have around for command-line use and interactive experimentation. The site also has the 1st edition of Programming in Lua (now available in a much improved 2nd edition in print) and the Lua 5.1 reference manual.

Lua Nova, a blog about Lua that hasn't been updated since March 2008 but I'm linking to it because I'm about to crib his Lua installation instructions. :)

To install the original Lua interpreter from source using Mac OS X:

curl -O
tar xzvf lua-5.1.2.tar.gz
cd lua-5.1.2
make macosx
sudo make install INSTALL_TOP=/usr/local

To install the Lua bundle for the TextMate text editor:

mkdir -p /Library/Application\ Support/TextMate/Bundles
cd /Library/Application\ Support/TextMate/Bundles
svn co

Then there's lua-mode for Emacs, and Lua support for other editors. has a wiki, mailing lists and a chat room. hosts Lua projects.

A 1981 TV news segment about getting the San Francisco Examiner on your home computer. (Via the New York Times tech blog, Bits.)