Improbable Island Message of the Day (MoTD)Random Heart competition
Admin CavemanJoe 2013-05-12 06:36:44
Hello, Islanders! It's been a LOOOONG time since we did a contest, so I figure hey, why not. You can win $100 worth of Supporter Points, by coming up with a new idea for a Robot heart!
As those of you who have met Rohit the Robot will know, most Robots have a hardware-based random number generator inside their chests. The random number generator is important to a Robot because Robots tend to think that the thing that sets humans apart from them is our unpredictability; the random number generator helps them to emulate some approximation of free will, by giving them impulses that they choose to ignore or indulge.
Of course, there's random and there's random; any given heart type could provide random data with different characteristics to other heart types, and that could affect the Robot's personality in all sorts of crazy ways.
We're looking for things that a Robot could use as a heart, so that I can expand the Island's canon and perhaps bring some new game features and storylines. You get bonus points for telling us about the sort of Robots who use that particular heart! Here are some examples:
EARTH: The heart that Rohit uses. An oxidized or rusted metal disc spins at a high RPM, and when the Robot needs to get random data, an optical sensor reads the shade of rust that's currently passing underneath it.
Earth-hearted Robots let their metal discs rust however they will, but once the disc is rusted and placed inside the vacuum of a Robot's chest, that's it - it can't change its rust. Therefore, the data that the heart provides is not truly random at the moment of sampling, but predetermined by the random effects of nature.
Earth-hearted Robots tend to be grounded, peaceful, and in tune with their surroundings. They are very interested in the world around them, and strive constantly to be a functional part of that world.
ROULETTE: An early precursor to the rusted metal disc. The very first Robot on Improbable Island made himself a heart that used white and black markers, to better suit the cheap optical sensor available from the parts bin (see the Museum in NewHome). Later, Roulette-hearted Robots used red and black markers, because it's more awesome that way.
Roulette-hearted Robots build their own hearts. They are very proud to be Robots, very self-sustaining, and very traditional in their thinking - nonetheless, since their hearts are based on a symbol of human-created randomness, they do have some passing interest in humanity.
DRIVE: A hard drive platter spins inside the Robot's chest. Hard drives haven't been used in decades, and the data is naturally quite corrupt - but they still provide a one or a zero at random, whenever the Robot needs it. The data was placed on the drive decades ago, by whatever human used the computer from which the drive was salvaged.
Of all Robots, Drive-hearted Robots want the most to be like humans. They crave humanity desperately, and go to any lengths possible to assimilate themselves among us and be accepted as people.
REACTOR: A miniature nuclear reactor sits inside the Robot's chest. The reactor serves as both power source and, via detection of nuclear decay, the random number generator. Of all heart types, this gives the most truly random data.
Reactor-hearted Robots are unlike other Robots, both in philosophy and physiology. Other Robots are solar-powered, and have glasslike photovoltaic skin - Reactor-hearted Robots naturally don't require such contrivances, and have skin of tempered steel, titanium, or carbon fibre. They're more powerful than other Robots, and also more energetic. They usually have only a passing interest in other life forms. Since their governors are more random than others, these Robots tend to be more chaotic and reactionary.
We need the fifth heart type. That's where you come in. Write up a description for the fifth Robot heart. The heart must:
1. Feature some way to provide random data that a Robot could use - that means that there should be some way to convert the results to electrical signals. For example, a rattly little contraption that constantly cast rune stones could only work if it was paired with an electronic sensor that could read those runes. If you're not technically-inclined, by all means just describe the process by which randomness is generated, and I'm sure we can figure out how to interface the results with a Robot's motherboard via a bit of creative hand-waving.
2. Be no bigger than a shoebox.
3. Have some slightly-plausible way in which it could affect a Robot's personality, or set it apart from other Robots with different hearts.
4. Be awesome.
HOW TO ENTER
There are four ways to enter, and each has a prize for the best suggestion.
1. Post in the Enquirer, in this thread. The best suggestion in that thread gets $50 worth of Supporter Points.
2. Post on our Facebook page, right here, as a comment. The best suggestion there gets $50 worth of Supporter Points.
3. Tweet to @improbableislnd, with the hashtag #randomheart. No need to keep your suggestion inside one tweet, use as many as seems necessary. Again, the best tweet gets $50 of Supporter Points.
4. Post on our Google+ page, here. Yup, the best one here gets $50 of SP's too.
So, the best suggestion on each site (Enquirer, Facebook, Twitter and G+) get $50 of Supporter Points, and the best overall suggestion gets another $50 of Supporter Points and gets incorporated into Island canon!
The winner will be announced next Sunday. Have at it!
Good luck and have fun!
Jamie's book is free today!
Admin CavemanJoe 2013-04-24 07:37:50
Hey, Islanders! My good friend Jamie Lackey's book of excellent flash and short stories, which I hurled in your general direction last month, is free until Friday! Your downloading it will help Jamie make it big in the ebook world, won't cost you a penny, won't take you more than a minute, and will get you some awesome sci-fi for your Kindle, computer, iOS or Android devicethingies! Grab it here!
Meanwhile, Island-wise, big things are coming - big things that might take a little while. Watch this space.
Admin CavemanJoe 2013-04-02 05:35:01
Good morning, Islanders! I would like to direct your attention to the lack of adverts on this site; Improbable Island is, was, and will remain funded entirely by your generous contributions.
And speaking of generous, I could sure go for a generous cut of meat in a McDonalds® Big Mac, because the patties in McDonalds burgers are made entirely out of animal. I'm eatin' it.
I would like to address the urban legend going around that McDonalds burgers and buns do not decompose. McDonalds dislike urban legends about their products, and in my role today I would like to dispel these wild rumours.
For an urban legend to qualify as an urban legend, it has to be a fiction. It is easily verifiable that McDonalds hamburgers do not in fact decompose, so this nonsense does not qualify as a myth or an urban legend - just simple, honest fact. Like McDonalds' simple, honest burgers.
I would like to point out that McDonalds hamburgers contain remarkably little fecal matter. Really, hardly any at all. I'm eatin' it!
There seems to be a little confusion over my last update. When I say that McDonalds' hamburgers contain very little fecal matter, I mean truly tiny amounts - not even enough to chew. Guys, the poo in those burgers is not a big deal at all. In fact, I bet you won't even taste it.
Update, 11pm: I hear your concerns, and will answer them here: guys, for the last time, we're talking about the amounts of poop allowed by the FDA, here. Tiny, miniscule amounts. Less than a teaspoon per burger, and that includes ground-up insect parts and "foreign matter" (sawdust, factory floor sweepings, the oil in the cogs of the processors etc) too. Look, if you're biting into a delicious McDonald's burger and a ripe, pungent nugget of literal animal dung squidges between your teeth, then you should definitely alert the restaurant's management, because that would be a defective burger. You should not expect hot, squirting pockets of liquid shit in your fresh, juicy McDonald's burgers. That is not the status quo. That amount of feces in one burger is very uncommon.
I hope that lays the subject to rest, and alleviates some of your concerns. *whistle* I am in love with this food.
Final Update: I have been asked to stop recommending McDonalds' burgers. I seem to not have the knack of this whole advertising thing. We will now return you to your regularly-scheduled nonsense.
New Mount! Also, another book for you!
Admin CavemanJoe 2013-03-12 04:36:09
Hey, Islanders! A new mount is available for purchase in AceHigh; you might like it!
Also, I have another friend who could use the Island's love in her writing life, and this time it doesn't involve lesbian porn! My good friend Jamie Lackey has published a book on Amazon! This is a years' worth of her flash fiction, and it's a fiver for the Kindle version or thirteen bucks for the print version. I know it's tax time and you're all skint, but if you could show her some love, it'd be much appreciated - and you'll get some really awesome writing in return.
Help a friend out?
Admin CavemanJoe 2013-03-07 15:23:48
UPDATE: Mittens is free today, Thursday the 7th. Grab it while you can! Original MotD follows...
Hey, Islanders! As you might remember from previous MotD's about various Kickstarters, restaurant openings, fiction anthologies, indie games and so forth, whenever a personal friend of mine needs some help getting something off the ground my default response is to go "Well, I'll just throw the Island at it then!" There's a reason for that; you lot are a force for good, and if I think that something deserves to succeed, I have no reservations whatsoever about hurling your combined might at the project.
Well, usually I have no reservations. This time, a friend of mine wanted some help formatting an ebook and designing a cover, and - tactfully - did not ask me to promote it on the Island, for fear of putting me in an awkward situation. The book is not normally something I'd promote to you guys, but the characters in this are honestly pretty damn adorable. It's a light, happy, fun, positive story, very much in line with the sort of story I'm trying to tell here on the Island - I'm trying to raise your spirits and brighten your day, and I try to do that by giving you awesome things to read that (although there may be some scary bits along the way) always come with a happy ending guaranteed. This story is very much in the same spirit. It also... uh... happens to be hardcore lesbian erotica. Really rather kinky erotica, at that. Stop giggling, there, at the back.
The story is called "Mittens," and you can buy it here. This is Phoenix's (not a real name, of course) first foray into online publishing, and I think it deserves to succeed. If you're even slightly interested in this sort of thing, I encourage you to give it a go. It's two bucks and novella-length, and only available on Amazon for now (I tried to insist Phoenix do an epub version too, but Amazon apparently has a really sweet deal if you stay exclusive to them for three months so fair do's I guess), but you can get the Kindle app for iOS, Android and even Windows Phone, or you can read it online. Or, since this particular book is DRM-free, you can buy it and then use an online tool to convert it to any format you like!
Happy, uh, reading I guess!
In other news, things have been proceeding a little more behind-the-scenes of late; I've got some nifty new Mounts that I'm almost ready to unveil (including, FINALLY, a Mount for AceHigh), so stay tuned for some awesome new stuff!
New Museum content!
Admin CavemanJoe 2013-02-19 07:34:12
Hey, folks - Mister Stern has added a new room to his Museum! Maybe you should check it out, I guess? See you in NewHome!
New Jill story content!
Admin CavemanJoe 2013-01-15 20:42:04
Hey, folks! There's a new story available for site supporters - the first part of a new series called Jill and the Jokers!
The story will go live for everyone this time next week. Until then, if you've got a Story Pass for Jill and the Jokers Part 1 from the Hunter's Lodge, you'll get to play the story straight away!
So, buy a Story Pass and see the story right now, or be patient for a week and save fifty cents. Your call!
Zombie Donkey shenanigans, and an interesting Enquirer thread
Admin CavemanJoe 2013-01-07 03:29:31
Hey, folks! Long-time riders of the Zombie Donkey will soon have a surprise in store for them!
Also, our beloved Hairy Mary has made a thread in the Enquirer for the showing-off of particularly awesome player-owned Places - now's your chance to tell us about yours!
Also also, my telly has broken again and, although I'm reluctant to admit it, I think a horizontal deflection rebuild is outside of my area of expertise. I don't even own an oscilloscope, for one thing. So, I turn with a heavy heart towards Craigslist, to offload my old telly to some mad scientist and try to get a new 'un. So, the Christmas Sale is still on, and will continue for a few more days yet - I'm hoping to get about three hundred bucks together, and go for a nice mid-2000's DLP.
As always, have fun - and don't fear, I know things have been quiet this month what with moving house and everything, but things are settling down now and I've got some good stuff heading your way real soon. :)
Admin CavemanJoe 2012-12-28 23:57:44
Christmas post! But late. My basement flooded, destroying a lot of my stuff, and then flooded again with vengence in mind, so it's been a preoccupied Christmas this year and I didn't get time to sort this out until now.
Anyway. The winter solstice and all of its various celebrations are upon us, and it sets me to thinking about the last Christmas that I spent in my home country, and particularly, how tired I grew of Dickens that day.
Throughout most of Christmas day, flopping around with my mum and dad, we basically ate ourselves into a stupor and then sat and watched the telly, drinking cup after cup of tea, followed by cigarettes, followed by sherry, then a mince pie, then another cup of tea, then let's see if we can stuff one more turkey sandwich into some spare orifice somewhere, then another cigarette - my dad on his hand-rolled Amber Leaf, my mum on her Richmond Menthols, me alternating between Richmond Menthols ("The Taste of Jobseeker's Allowance!") because it was Christmas, damn it, and Drum rolling tobacco ("The Taste of Prison!") because, Christmas or not, I was still broke. I haven't watched TV in years, and it'd been a while since I'd been home for the holidays too, so I got a double hit of nostalgia. Followed by a triple hit of Scrooge.
First, we watched the Muppets Christmas Carol. Then, almost immediately after, Patrick Stewart came on the telly and did a fantastic performance of Scrooge in another adaptation. Then, Bill Murray appeared in "Scrooged," my favourite of all Christmas Carol adaptations, but by that time I was feeling pretty Scrooged out myself. Followed shortly afterwards by a Christmas-Carol-themed episode of some animated show or another, I can't remember which exactly and in any case I turned it off halfway through, because damn it, that was enough.
Enough Scrooge for one day. Enough to get you thinking on why it's such a popular and powerful story, why it's been retold so many times, why we keep coming back to it and revisiting and remaking and remastering and reconfiguring, like a kid insisting on the same bedtime story every night, the same Coca-Cola adverts every Christmas.
In most adaptations, we begin the tale with Scrooge at his lowest, a miserable man obsessed with raising his own fortune and dismissing the hardships of those closest to him. The important thing to remember is this is what it was really like. Dickens didn't write this story from thin air, he wrote it as a damning indictment of the hardcore, cutthroat capitalism of mid-19th Century industrial London. Dickens as a child was a proper posh young brat, heavy sense of class, dead superior, a right smartarse, thought himself better than anyone. Then his old man got thrown in the slammer for being in debt, and little Dickens realised that his whole life until then had been on the "Fur Coat, No Knickers" installment plan. He ended up, aged twelve, in a shitty job that'd normally be done by paupers. His workmates teased him, made fun of his accent, the fact he'd been dragged down into the muck with them. Called him "The young gentleman." The despair that permeated that period of his life is what inspired him to write "A Christmas Carol."
He wrote it because it was true.
Earlier this year, I was on Facebook (because that's pretty much how I get the news these days) and someone linked to a story about the worker's strike at Wal-Mart over black Friday. For those outside of the USA, black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving (the easiest way to describe Thanksgiving is that it's like a half-Christmas; you have the turkey and the massive quantities of food in late November (always on a Thursday), and then you have the presents a month later, rather than doing them on the same day). On black Friday, shops open at stupid o'clock in the morning, and give a hundred bucks off televisions, or twenty bucks off phones, and people literally beat each other up to get there first before all the stock sells out. Imagine the queues outside game shops when a new console is coming out - the ones where people have tents and everything - except with more violence and anarchy, broken bones, staff knocked over and trampled, sometimes hospitalized, by tidal waves of frenzied humanity. Meanwhile, people with larger egos tut and shake their heads and post pictures of the carnage on the Internet and say "You'd have to be crazy to subject yourself to that," overlooking for now that for at least some of these poor bastards it's the only day they'll be able to afford the things their kids want for Christmas.
Wal-mart sought to start their black Friday sale at 8pm on Thanksgiving evening itself - normally a time when their employees would be relaxing at home with their families. No matter what your views on unionisation or labour laws, it would take a cold heart indeed to see this as anything other than an indecent, inhuman, indefensible decision to make, but make it they did, and there was a strike - not a big enough strike to actually hurt this huge company, but a strike nonetheless.
And I read about the strike, and I went back to Facebook, and someone had posted a comment:
"Surely these people are free to find employment elsewhere?"
I'm not one for waving my dick around on the Internet arguing with my mates' mates, but it took an awful lot of restraint to not immediately jump on that commentor and point out to her that what she'd just said was precisely, word-for-word, what Ebenezer Scrooge himself would have said, prior to his redemption. Ebenezer Scrooge who, let's not forget, was despised. Nobody liked him, everybody either hated him or pitied him, and they were entirely correct and justified in doing so.
I'm noting a worrying trend, though, that during this recession, where resources are slim, people seem a little too fast to blame the poor themselves for their predicaments - and the poor sometimes blame those even poorer than themselves. People seem to be forgetting miserable old Ebenezer Scrooge, even though we tell his story a thousand times every Christmas.
In America, some Christians wear bracelets engraved with the initials "WWJD." It stands for "What would Jesus do?" - the idea is that they have a constant reminder, whenever unsure of something, to act in a peaceful and loving manner. The efficacy of the bracelet is, as always, down to the wearer, but it's a nice idea anyway.
I'm not a religious man, so my next best mental bracelet-equivalent is to ask myself, "What would Scrooge do?"
And then, whatever the answer is, do the exact bloody opposite.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Admin CavemanJoe 2012-12-22 00:30:16
We moved all of our boxes into the basement of the new house. That basement has now flooded.
We've lost... not everything, not the items we use every day, because we moved those upstairs fast. Everything related to the Island, thankfully, was saved. But... it's a lot. I just got off the phone with the insurance company, Emily is on the phone to her family, my family's three thousand miles away and can't really help, so here I am.
We think that it might have been the water heater, but we're not sure.
Work on the Island will likely be sparse for a few more weeks yet. (or, hell, it might pick up as I'll need the distraction)
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