Wednesday: Hili dialogue

September 13, 2017 • 6:30 am

by Grania & Jerry

Good morning! Jerry is still in transit this morning, and will check in with us later. It’s a fine sunny autumn morning here in Ireland.

The first commercial computer to use disk storage,  IBM 305 RAMAC was publicly announced today in 1956. Test units had been in use in the U.S. Navy and at private corporations. It weighed over a ton and had 20 tracks of drum memory which could store about 5MB of data. It was so expensive that it was not produced for sale, but for monthly lease—and a hugely expensive lease at that. How time has changed the computer! It’s no wonder that at the time IBM did not think there would ever be a high demand for computers in business, let alone at home.

In 1985 Super Mario Bros. was released in Japan and then in the USA, number two in a seemingly endless series of platforming and racing games. I’m not a fan, but 310 million fans can’t be wrong.

Am I the only person who thinks that Mario stole his look from George the handyman in Newhart?

Back in 2008, Hurricane Ike laid waste to Galveston having tracked devastation through Haiti and Cuba first. It went on to cause massive damage over a large area reaching from Louisiana to Texas.

On the birthday front, Joni Sledge (1956 – 2017) from Sister Sledge was born today. Their hit song We Are Family guarantees them their immortality.

Over at the news site, there is a report in Japanese (Chrome will translate it) describing Hiroko Kubota’s new embroidery book (featuring Hili on the cover) and reporting on the exhibition in Sendai City of some of her cat embroideries (there’s one d*g, too). Here’s a photo of the framed Hili embroidery with the translated caption:

The automatic translation says this, which I’ve copied word for word (my emphasis). Those who can read Japanese might give us an accurate translation of the fate of that embroidered d*g.

Kubota is known for “cat shirt” embroidered on a shirt with the appearance of a cat appearing from his pocket, and the sophisticated and adorable cat is domestically and abroad with many fans.

In the embroidery exhibition, Mr. Kubota exhibited six cats and one dog stabbed for the full-length English masterpiece “The magic process EMBROIDERED CATS” (The Magic Process Embroidered Cats). You can see the delicate coloring and stitching that creates lively facial expressions and patterns, fur coat.

A tw**t after Michelangelo: Ceiling Cat creates Da Hooman:

Matthew found this David Attenborough tw**t with a lovely video of kin selection in raccoons; I think it’s been on this site before, but the video (and Attenborough’s caption) are worth seeing:

Matthew also sent this cute tw**t, although perhaps Maura doesn’t know what “nutsacks” means in American English. On second thought, perhaps she does:

And finally on to the busy doings of Poland’s most famous cat.

A: Hili, what are you doing here?
Hili: I’m doing traineeship. I’m helping to edit Jerry’s website.
In Polish:
Ja: Hili, co tu robisz?
Hili: Jestem na praktyce, pomagam redagować stronę Jerrego.

25 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. I can recall in the late 70s, the systems folks at the company where I worked said, they would never allow other parts of the company to have access to the company computers. Only the systems types would be allowed. Just a few years later computer access was everywhere and on every desk.

  2. A small capacity micro SD flash memory card you can buy today is 1GB, which is 250 times the capacity of this computer’s “mass” storage and about the size of the nail on your little finger. It also has far better bandwidth and latency. You can buy a 128GB micro SD card for $35, which is 32000 times the capacity the 4MB capacity of this computer.

    1. You can tell a persons approximate age by having them describe the equipment they used in their first computer course. Mine was punch cards run on the local bank computer.

      1. A cruel prank at my college was to take a bunch of punch card chaff and throw it into someone’s dorm room. The static charge on the tiny pieces made them stick to everything. It took hours to clean up, piece by piece.

      2. Mine was at university engineering school. We had to (IIRC) fill out a form for the program, the cards would come back a day later punched, we would check them and they went to the university’s science department computer (which we never saw) and come back a day later with the printout. Usually full of errors. Rinse and repeat. NOT very intellectually satisfying. The contrast with modern programming where the development environment gives you an instant error report couldn’t be greater.

        Legend had it that one student managed to crash the computer. So they returned his cards (without printout) and he (unaware of any problem) sent his cards over again and crashed it again… It’s so good it must be true. 😉


  3. The Mario games are works of interactive art – joyous, tactile experiences. The Super Mario Galaxy games in particular are full of moments that make you laugh out loud at the imaginative brilliance of the level design.

    I’m an embarrassing evangelist for games, just because I think so many people who don’t even consider picking up a controller would be blown away by the brilliance of Mario, or the latest Zelda.
    For the kind of person who visits WEIT I can recommend ‘The Witness’, a slow, beautiful, explorative game which revolves around a kind of logic puzzle governed by supremely elegant mathematics. Or ‘Abzu’, or ‘Journey’, or any number of wonderful, intelligent indie games.

    Games aren’t for everyone I suppose, but they’re not a fad, or something that’s inexplicably popular. They’re not going away. They are the only mainstream medium that is still evolving, still progressing, and eventually people will accept them into the pantheon of ‘art’ as readily as they accept cinema and music and literature.

    Often people who criticise games are like the humanities side of the Two Cultures – people who never even bothered to acquaint themselves with the thing they’re trashing. More than that, they’re missing out.

    1. Agreed. Games are what I do whenever I have a spare moment. I’m just not a fan the of Super Mario franchise, mostly cos I suck at platforming. 🙂

      1. Yup, some modern platformers are pretty tricky. Mario can be deceptively so. And there’s a brilliant little Mario-style platformer called Super Meat Boy which is frankly mental. Playing some of its harder levels is like trampoline-jenga.

        More than difficulty though, the biggest impediment to democratising the gameplaying experience is the average control-pad, with its arcane layout and daft number of buttons. In my experience that’s the biggest hurdle when getting non-gamers to try a game. Just the sight of a Playstation pad makes them freeze up like you’ve pulled out a calculus textbook and told them to get reading.

        Good to know there’s at least one gamer at WEIT though.

        1. Daft number of buttons, as opposed to the PC keyboard? :p

          I’ve played on a few other platforms over the years, and while they have their strengths and weaknesses, and I can see the appeal, I am sticking to PC gaming. Admittedly, I am prepared to sink as much money as it takes so that I have a beast of a gaming computer, which makes it a way more expensive choice than most are prepared to pay for a console (or a home computer).

          1. Yes – introducing a middle-aged relative to games by showing them…I don’t know, Starcraft or something…well, I wouldn’t even bother. Although I suppose they’d probably be more familiar with a keyboard than a control pad. There’s a reason the Wii was so unprecedentedly popular.

            I know all the arguments about why PC gamers are the Master Race 🙂 – I hear them quite often online. But IMO there are only really two significant areas in which PCs have had the edge over consoles in recent times: indie gaming and graphical oomph.
            And the indie scene is migrating almost wholesale onto consoles, while demands for graphical oomph are catered for by the various deluxe editions of the Xbox and the Playstation 4 that are being released. I don’t buy them, but I suppose the option is there. Besides, I’ve seen nothing on the PC that competes, technically-speaking, with Uncharted 4. Really, it’s an obscene-looking game. And the best thing I’ve played this decade is the latest Zelda, which is basically running on a souped-up smartphone. So I’m pretty satisfied. It’s a good time for gaming, especially console gaming I think.

    2. Another gamer here 🙂 I grew up with Mario on the NES and SNES, and am actually currently playing through Mario Galaxy on the Wii. Where other platform games might get close, Mario games always just feel right. You can tell some incredibly talented people work on them and the Galaxy games are really creative in many different ways.
      But yes even for people who don’t enjoy that type of game, there are so many different genres now that anyone can find something of interest. It’s not all cartoony platforming or adolescent gunfights and there’s some really interesting stuff around, especially from indie developers. Some games I really enjoyed have hardly any “game” element in them, like Dear Esther. It’s more of an interactive story, but the visuals and music made for a more emotional experience than I’ve had from, say, movies in a long time. Another nice one was “To The Moon”, which looks like a Super Nintendo-era RPG, but is also more of an interactive story and actually quite emotional as well. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter was great too, similar to Dear Esther but more like an (occult) murder mystery. Beautiful atmosphere. I also enjoyed Firewatch and Soma (if you can stand the horror, the story and atmosphere really sucks you in)
      If you like The Witness (which I started but haven’t finished yet) I can also recommend The Talos Principle.

      1. I bought The Vanishing Of Ethan Carter because it looked so beautiful – I thought it was a touch dull. Same with a lot of those games, and I really think I’ve given them a chance. I bought Firewatch, Dear Esther, Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture…all of them left me cold, even Firewatch, which I did at least finish. One of my least favourite things about modern games is the fashion for telling stories through in-game emails/letters/audio files/answer machine messages, etc… Or they have the player watch some kind of holographic recreation of past events. You really might as well not be playing a game at all.
        It’s a shame because I’m drawn to these games atmospherically. If they could tell a story like Valve do with Half-Life, so that you’re taking part in the narrative, rather than just reading through archival accounts of it, they’d have more of a claim to being actual games. As it is I’ve kind of sworn off them for a bit.

        I was brought up on Nintendo too :). I can recommend(highly…very, VERY highly) the latest Zelda.

        1. Fair enough. For me one of the draws of these games is precisely the fact that you’re not jumping or shooting your way through the story. There are no enemies or monsters, just the environment. They are really more about the atmosphere. I understand your point about the emails/letters/audiologs kind of storytelling, but then I don’t really see much of an alternative. You either do something like that, or you need lots of npc characters to talk to you about the story. Half Life was great in the way it told it’s story, but that was novel back then, in the time where pre-rendered cutscenes were still a thing. If you compare it to modern games I don’t think there’s really so much story there, and you still have npc’s explaining stuff to you. For the rest it’s mostly shooting monsters.
          With Firewatch at least I thought it was a very novel way to have the story be told by communicating with an unseen person on the radio. Surely this was more like taking part in the narrative than Dear Esther, or Ethan Carter, which are more about someone exploring an environment AFTER certain things have already happened there, and trying to piece together what it was (I think Rapture is the same, but I haven’t played it yet).
          I remember being quite impressed with the game Alan Wake on the XBOX 360, which I thought combined interesting and atmospheric storytelling with more action oriented gameplay. So maybe something like that is more your thing (the developer recently release Quantum Break, which may be similar). Obviously Zelda games do this rather well tooo, although the story is usually quite simple.
          And yes I’m really, REALLY looking forward to playing the new Zelda, but I’ve promised myself I’ll buy a Switch around Christmas time, when they have the new Mario game ready as well. Until then I still have so many unfinished games to play (curse you Steam sales! :))

          1. Both Alan Wakes came free with(I think) Quantum Break so I played a bit of them. Quantum Break had some nice ideas but the mishmash of live-action and game never gelled and the gameplay was a bit unsatisfying. Titanfall 2 did everything QB did, and more, in half the time.

            I did actually finish Firewatch, and I enjoyed it, but I found the story and the characters a touch disappointing. OTOH I think it’s the best example of these kinds of games, and it’s lovely and atmospheric.

            As for Zelda…I still have my Nintendo Wii-U so I bought Zelda:Breath Of The Wild when it came out. I really wasn’t expecting much, as I’ve disliked the more recent Zeldas, and even the ‘classics’ never really grabbed me. I say that to emphasis how absolutely extraordinary a game it is, and how little that opinion is influenced by its status as a Zelda game. After all Zeldas always get good reviews, even if with hindsight they were not that great. But this Zelda is…phenomenal. I’ve played a lot of games, and my top five of all time has been locked down for fifteen years or so. BOTW crashed into it. It’s so wonderful, so teeming with life and humour and beauty. I plan on getting a Switch for Mario, and considering the run of form Nintendo is on I have high hopes it’ll be as good as Galaxy 1 and 2, but it’s this Zelda that should motivate people to get Switch. For once, a game really is THAT good. You’ll love it.

  4. Also, re. Mario’s look, I seem to remember they added the moustache because they didn’t have enough pixels to differentiate the mouth from the rest of his face. The moustache served as a kind of kludge. I think the cap was added for similar reasons. So unfortunately I don’t think Mario was based on George the handyman.

  5. Hedgehogs are incredibly cute.

    We had one wandering around our garden at night, you could hear him grunting or snuffling to himself. Hunting snails, probably (we have plenty of them).

    We had one nesting in our basement for a while. I never saw it, I just occasionally used to step on a discarded spine (barefoot, as I usually am). Haven’t done it for a while. Whether the little fella has moved on, or whether he’s passed away under one of the piles of junk, I don’t know.


  6. Hurricane Ike continued on to do damage in central Ohio that year! We had a dry hurricane with winds up to 70 mph (quite high outside of a tornado in these parts). Took down trees all over the area. Some people were without electricity for 2 weeks! I lost a beautiful tree and juice for about 13 hours. The no rain was strange.

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