Pixel Scroll 5/5/18 By The Time You See This Pixel, You Will Have Been Scrolling In The Present Tense For As Long As You Can Recall

(1) CAMERON Q&A VIDEO. Wired headline: “James Cameron Answers Sci-Fi Questions From Twitter”.

A 7:46 video of director James Cameron using “the power of Twitter to answer some common questions about the science fiction genre.”

(2) JUNOT DIAZ. The Guardian reports “Junot Díaz withdraws from Sydney Writers’ festival following sexual harassment allegations”.

The Pulitzer prize-winning author was accused of sexual misconduct by author Zinzi Clemmons after revealing last month he had been raped as a child.

…The acclaimed Dominican American novelist Junot Díaz has been feted for his powerful literary expression of the pain of sexual violence. In 2008 he was awarded the Pulitzer prize for his book The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, the story of a young boy growing up amid abuse in New Jersey, and last month he was widely applauded for writing a confessional essay about being raped when he was eight years old.

But this weekend Díaz has cancelled his scheduled appearances at the Sydney Writers’ festival following a public accusation of sexually inappropriate behaviour….

(3) DINO TAKEOFF. Robot Dinosuar Fiction! has launched —

ROBOT DINOSAURS! Over the summer, we will be publishing a flash fiction about robot dinosaurs each Friday (May 4th through August 31st 2018)….

First up – “Five Functions of Your Bionosaur” by Rachel K. Jones.

Your parents first activate your bionosaur when they bring you home from the hospital. The bionosaur was a baby shower gift from your mom’s favorite aunt. They were nervous about its size, the stainless steel maw, the retractable razorclaws inside its stubby little arms, but the aunt had insisted. She’d programmed it herself, covered its titanium-alloy skeleton in top-grade synthskin featherscales, and pre-loaded it with educational apps.

When your bionosaur’s eyes first flare to life, it scans tiny, squalling you and reaches out a stubby claw to rock you. When it starts humming a jazzy rendition of the Batman theme, you quiet down and sleep….

(4) DELINQUENT DAYS OF YORE. While Jane Sullivan in the Sydney Morning-Herald was sifting trash from the past in “Turning Pages: The literary joys of juvenile delinquents”, out popped a familiar name.

I’ve been having huge fun reading about JD fiction and looking at the outrageously titillating covers in Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats, an anthology edited by two Australians, Iain McIntyre and Andrew Nette. What was once reviled as rubbishy reading is now collected, curated and revered as retro chic.

…Many of these books would make even Quentin Tarantino cringe, I suspect: they sound truly awful. But here and there I came across someone churning out quick books for cash who went on to make a more respectable name for himself. One was the science-fiction writer Harlan Ellison, who went undercover and joined a street gang as research for more than 100 stories and his 1958 debut novel.

He describes how he was later working as a reviewer and picked up a book from a box a publisher sent him. “It’s got this horrible, garish juvenile delinquent coming at you with a switchblade knife and it says Rumble. I thought ‘What is this piece of shit?’ and then I looked at the author and it was me.”

(5) TODAY’S TOY AD. Syfy Wire wants to tell you about “Stuff We Love: ThinkGeek’s plush Facehugger and Chestburster won’t ever want to let you go”.

If you’re experiencing symptoms like tightness and pain in your chest and possible heartburn, that may be because you absolutely need the Chestburster plush to explode into your life. 48 inches of alien protoplasm is going to love you so much that it will literally not be able to contain itself once it’s fully developed from feeding off your innards.

I guess they’re pretty used to this sort of thing around the ThinkGeek’s headquarters

(6) CASE OF THE COUNTERFEIT SJW CREDENTIALS. Beware! “This AI Will Turn Your Dog Into a Cat”Motherboard tells how.

If there’s one thing the internet needs it’s more cat pictures, so researchers from Nvidia and Cornell University developed an algorithm that will turn pictures of dogs into pictures of cats.

This neural network—a type of computing architecture loosely modeled on the human brain—was developed by a few of the same researchers behind the algorithm that can turn winter into summer in any video and employs similar principles.

(7) VOLZ OBIT. German actor Wolfgang Völz died yesterday. He was in a lot of genre films and TV shows over the years. Cora Buhlert pays tribute to him in “Remembering Wolfgang Völz (1930 – 2018)”. This is just part of his resume —

Wolfgang Völz was a German TV legend. If you watched TV in Germany at some point in the past sixty years, you have seen Wolfgang Völz and you have definitely heard his voice, because Völz was also a prolific voice actor, lending his distinctive voice to Walter Matthau, Peter Ustinov, Peter Falk, Mel Brooks, Majestix, the Gallic chieftain from the Asterix and Obelix films, as well as dozens of puppet and cartoon characters. It’s certainly fitting that Wolfgang Völz’s last credited role was the voice of God in the 2012 movie Der Gründer (The Founder).


  • Born May 5 – Catherynne M. Valente


  • JJ finds an explanation of “The Nine Rs” at Incidental Comics.
  • Chip Hitchcock laughed at the doctor’s diagnosis in Bizarro.

(10) GENDER GAP IN BOOK PRICING. The Guardian ran an article about a sociological study which showed this result: “Books by women priced 45% lower, study finds”,

A study of more than 2m books has revealed that titles by female authors are on average sold at just over half the price of those written by men.

The research, by sociologist Dana Beth Weinberg and mathematician Adam Kapelner of Queens College-CUNY, looked titles published in North America between 2002 and 2012. The authors analysed the gender of each author by matching names to lists of male and female names, and cross-referenced with information about price, genre and publication.

Books by women released by mainstream publishers, they found, were priced on average 45% lower than books by men….

Reddit followed up with a discussion about the gender pay disparity in publishing. Michael J. Sullivan popped in with some interesting facts; such as the smallest pay disparity is among self-published works.

(11) DON’T BE COCKY WITHOUT A LAWYER. Chuck Tingle sorted this crisis in no time and moved on to bigger challenges –

(12) MAY THE FOURTH LEFTOVERS. More from Dr. Janelle Shane: “Darth Net: Star Wars characters invented by neural network”.

…There were enough Darths in the list that at the very lowest-creativity settings, everyone was a Sith lord. Here are some of my favorites:

Darth Teen
Darth Tannin
Darth Ben
Darth Toes
Darth Teena
Darth Darth
Dorth Darth Darth
Mon Darth
Man Darth
Darth Sans
Darth Band
Darth Mall
Darth Tall
Grand Moff Darth Salt

I would like to see the costumes for some of these….

RedWombat got in on the act:

(13) REDWOMBAT SALES REPORT. And Ursula Vernon says her book sales are keeping the house warm —

(14) STAR WARS FANS GET THEIR BASEBALL FIX. From the MLBshop.com, available for every team.

(15) THE SCARIEST. Victoria Nelson’s picks for the “10 Scariest Horror Stories” were listed in Publishers Weekly. Number one is —

1. “The Trains” by Robert Aickman

Virtually unknown in the U.S. outside a small coterie of dedicated fans, the British writer Robert Aickman (he died in 1981) is a virtuoso of the sophisticated “strange story,” as he dubbed his tales. The scares in an Aickman story come not from gore or violence but from the way he perversely bends reality right before your startled eyes. Not just once but again and again—and still again, all in the same story. In this little masterpiece of Gothic indirection, two young women stranded on a walking trip in the north of England seek shelter in a remote Victorian mansion adjacent to a train track. There is a handsome host, a menacing servant, a mad aunt who died mysteriously, even a murder, but all this is beside the point. The real scares come from the trains that scream loudly past every few minutes on this “main, important line” in the middle of nowhere and their unseen engineers, who always wave at girls. Curiously, the trains pass by less often on the third floor than on the ground level. As a child, it should be noted, Aickman liked to invent imaginary kingdoms complete with meticulously constructed railroad schedules.

Number 10 is C. L. Moore’s “Shambleau.”

(16) SURVEY SAYS. Martin Armstrong at Statistia tells you all about “Yesterday’s World: the old tech that kids don’t know”.

For most people born before the 90’s, a “3 1/2 inch floppy” was once a crucial part of their technological lives; securing and transporting important files and data. Of course nowadays, the 1.44 MB storage space is far from adequate and no new computers come equipped with an appropriate drive for the disks. Little surprise then that the majority of children today have no idea what one is (despite the fact that ubiquitous software such as Word and Excel still use a floppy disk symbol for their ‘save’ buttons).

As a recent survey by YouGov has shown, 67 percent of the 6 to 18 year olds in the UK don’t know what a floppy disk is. Other essentially obsolete tech such as overhead projectors (once present in almost every classroom), and pagers were recognised even less….

(17) DID WE MENTION? Patton Oswalt’s Parks and Recreation appearance in 2015 is a Star Wars-fueled filibuster.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Martin Morse Wooster recommends “Seder-Masochism Trailer April 2018,” where animator Nina Paley previews her latest project, a look at the Book of Exodus.

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Carl Slaughter, Dann, Cat Eldridge, Brian Z., and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kyra.]

Discover more from File 770

Subscribe to get the latest posts sent to your email.

79 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/5/18 By The Time You See This Pixel, You Will Have Been Scrolling In The Present Tense For As Long As You Can Recall

  1. [facrificial fourth]

    @16, I know everything but “ceefax” — but apparently that’s British, so I have an excuse. I have sent a telex; does that count for anything….?

  2. (12) “Well, every day at school, all I hear is how wonderful Darth was at this or how great Darth was at that. Darth, Darth, Darth!”

    The File and the Pixel-scroll went to space
    In a runcible manxome file
    They took some fiction, and wonderful diction
    All heaped in a whopping great pile.

  3. 7) Thanks for the link, Mike.

    16) I’m surprised that UK teens don’t know what an overhead projector is, because here in Germany, they are still found in pretty much every classroom, even if they are no longer used as frequently as they once were.

  4. 13) excellent to hear, Ursula. 🙂

    16) I had a younger co worker express surprise that I still use an IPod. So yeah…

  5. I was at the Nationals-Phillies game yesterday (May 4) and did notice two STAR WARS fans wearing their t-shirts, but they weren’t baseball-themed.

  6. 16
    I explained keypunches to a co-worker, some years back. (The last time I used one was in the early 80s, when a couple of my classes required it. I found that I still remembered how to do stuff, from 1970, when I’d first met one.)

    Here in 6236, we’re dealing with direct-to-neural-net communications.

  7. 16) Whatintheheck is a ceefax? I’m oooooold, and I still don’t know that one!

  8. (12) I did come across a Darth Mall once in the early days of the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMORPG. (I admired his dedication to the bit – he was a Sith Warrior, so he had to get to a pretty high level to get the Darth title.)

  9. @ Paul: What did he think you were supposed to use? Your phone? My music won’t FIT on a cellphone. Right now I have an 80-gig iPod, but sooner or later I’m going to have to move up to a 160-gig.

  10. @Cora: possibly “overhead” projectors have been replaced by truly overhead projectors — i.e., video projectors hung from the ceiling? They have the obvious advantage tha; they can be operated from the front of the classroom (as well as substituting for movie projectors, not just static slides) — but I don’t know whether they’re in UK schools’ price range.

  11. @Lee —

    @ Paul: What did he think you were supposed to use? Your phone? My music won’t FIT on a cellphone. Right now I have an 80-gig iPod, but sooner or later I’m going to have to move up to a 160-gig.

    You just don’t have the right cell phone. My iPhone is 128 gB. I like to fill it up with audiobooks. 🙂

  12. (3) awww.

    (6) mwha ha ha

    (8-2) Neato.

    (9) Hee.

    (11) Still a national treasure.

    (13) Awww. Happy to help our favorite marsupial.

    (14) I like the more colorful Alliance ones.

    (16) I thought the kids today like the retro vinyl albums?

  13. HD failure knocked me off the net for few days, so I’m way behind on F770 stuff. I’m temporarily back via a loaner box; hoping to have my main system restored in the next day or two. It’s been fun and excitement. 🙁

    Ticking the box for the first time this month.

    Filers in New York City
    Chased a scroll right through the park.
    In a case of godstalken identity
    They put a pixel through his heart.

  14. Dear Contrarius,

    100GB of audiobooks? How many books is that?! Sounds like a whole library’s worth!

    pax / Ctein

  15. (12) I blogged as DarthBunny for several years. I had several similarly named MMO characters but the only one that still exists is my blood elf death knight in WoW. Some days you just need to be a darth.

  16. (13) Sounds like a win-win to me!

    (16) Kids today! 😉

    Something recently prompted me to wonder if young persons today would recognize a rotary dial telephone. Seems to me it could go either way.

  17. About the link to the articel about Wolgang Völtz thank you , and thanks Cora for writting it.
    Congrats to RedWombat for her success.

  18. Contrarius on May 5, 2018 at 8:45 pm said:
    16) Whatintheheck is a ceefax? I’m oooooold, and I still don’t know that one!

    The BBC’s teletext service – broadcast in spare bandwidth and available on your telly. I was coincidentally explaining it to a gen-z only the other day as a button on the tv remote must have been a legacy for that kind of service.

  19. @Contrarius The BBCs’ Ceefax (and its ITV equivalent, Teletext) were a great piece of 70s technology – they used a few lines at the top of the analogue tv picture to transmit text (and blocky graphics) which would cycle round several hundred pages (you would enter a page number from 100 to 999 on your remote to directly access your favourites – from memory the 100’s were news, and 300’s were sports news, and there were holiday adverts somewhere there, too). It was surprisingly quick to respond, too. Also, in the middle of the night when regular tv programming would shut down, they’d transmit “Pages From Ceefax” so there’d always be something for night-owls to watch!

  20. Samsung has a 256 GB Galaxy S9 available for preorder, with an micro SD reader that supports at least 256 GB cards, and probably support the latest 400 GB cards. There are plenty of options for phones with a micro SD reader if you don’t buy a Google or Apple phone. I’ve never used an iPod, so I have no idea how painful it would be to copy your iPod to an Android phone, but it appears to be at least a two step process that probably takes hours if you’ve got 100 GB of music.

    When I moved 100 GB of music to my Galaxy S8, I put the SD card in a reader, plugged it into a computer, and copied it to the SD card. I think that’s a lot faster than trying to copy it to the card that’s already in the phone.

  21. Martin Wooster, the Nationals did their Star Wars Day promotion on May 5th for some reason (weekend game, I guess), so I’m not surprised you didn’t see too much SW stuff.

  22. The ITV equivalent was Oracle, Teletext was the generic name for the technology.

    Oh yeah, but didn’t they change the name later on? I think they changed the franchise holder to “Teletext Ltd’, another of the weird things they did to ITV franchise holders after the 1990 Broadcasting Act.

  23. I was a bit disappointed that the latest iPhones didn’t go up to 512GB — my music collection is slightly too large even for a 256GB phone.

  24. @Chip Hitchcock
    Over here video projectors are standard in universities and vocational schools, but in high schools and middle schools, only a few rooms are equipped with them. You can get a mobile video projector from the media room, if there’s one available and the media room is open. So you still have to use the old overhead projectors quite often. By now the printable foil for overhead projectors is hideously expensive, because the only people who still use it are teachers.

    Of course, there are also older teachers who use only overhead projectors, even if video projectors are available in the room.

  25. Lis Carey on May 6, 2018 at 12:00 am said:

    Something recently prompted me to wonder if young persons today would recognize a rotary dial telephone. Seems to me it could go either way.

    I was reading a video game walkthrough where you had to dial a number on a rotary phone and the author had to stop and explain to the readers how to dial a number on a rotary phone. Apparently enough of the people who were playing the game didn’t know how to use one and were getting stuck there.

  26. @Ctein —

    100GB of audiobooks? How many books is that?! Sounds like a whole library’s worth!

    Heh. My “whole library” of audiobooks is more than two TERAbytes. Audiobooks take up a lot of space — roughly 100 megabytes to 1 gigabyte per book, depending on length, format, and kbps. I have 1231 books in my Audible account alone, and I have books from many other sources as well; I don’t know the total number of books. In some cases I have multiple versions of the same book, for instance when they have been recorded by more than one narrator. It’s fascinating how different a book can sound with a different reader.

    I’ve been listening to audiobooks since the days of cassette tapes and books broadcast on NPR with Dick Estell (back in the 70s!); I even did a very brief stint of book recording myself in the “books for the blind” days (lesson learned: it’s hard!). Love them audiobooks!

    @Cam and @Arwel —

    Thanks for filling me in. Sounds like some weird science-fictiony gimmick to me! 😉

  27. “Thou Scroll! Thou Pixel! Thou File! Thou Fifth! Wouldst Stalk me Godly, Wouldst Tick the Box?”

  28. Meredith Moment:

    Strange Toys by Patricia Geary (a Philip K. Dick award winner 30+ years ago) is available at Amazon US for free on Kindle. I read it back when it came out and I think it’s GOOD!

  29. Ah, Teletext, the jetlagged 90s kid’s worst nightmare…

    Also I doubt I could identify a pager from a still image alone. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one IRL, let alone used one, although I’ve watched TV and movies where they’re used and could recognise and describe one in context.

  30. I think they changed the franchise holder to “Teletext Ltd’, another of the weird things they did to ITV franchise holders after the 1990 Broadcasting Act.

    Hmmm, could be. The “Get Thames” act took out my then employer, TSW, too and when it became obvious the new companies wanted Cheap rather than Experienced I stopped paying attention!

  31. Oh-my-gosh; Ceefax did ASCII art?

    Part of the character set available was a set of 3×2 blocks with all combinations of the six ‘pixels’, and there were control characters (which IIRC still took up a space) to set foreground colour, background colour and double height.

  32. Over here video projectors are standard in universities and vocational schools, but in high schools and middle schools, only a few rooms are equipped with them

    Just agreeing here. Recently schools are getting equipped with Smartboards as well, but its a slow process. In my school overhead projectors are mainly used in the labs though, because they are more robust to smoke etc. (I assume)

    (12) what would calendrical rot do to May the Fourth, is what I like to know. What does Science say about THAT?

  33. @Giant Panda

    Oooh, German telextext still exists:

    I recently found this out to my own surprise, when I accidentally clicked what turned out to be the teletext button on my TV remote control.

    I used teletext all the time in the 1980s and 1990s, mostly to check for up to date programming information and also to check sports results and the like. However, the TV I had before this one no longer supported teletext, so I was surprised that this one does.

    School renovations and tech upgrades are going slowly and high schools are suffering from priority being given to kindergartens and elementary schools. Smartboards are slowly coming in, as are firmly installed video projectors, but chances of finding yourself in a crappily equipped classroom are still very high. Quite often the only thing you have at hand is an old-style blackboard. Everything else, whether a TV/DVD Player combination, video projector, even a CD player, must be gotten from the media room.

    Coincidentally, the training centre of the German federal disaster relief organisation THW had all the tech equipment – video projectors, TV/DVD/VCR, smartboards, etc… – more than a decade ago, when I worked there. At the time, even universities were only just getting the tech.

  34. Samsung has a 256 GB Galaxy S9 available for preorder, with an micro SD reader that supports at least 256 GB cards, and probably support the latest 400 GB cards.

    You mean the latest 512 GB cards?

  35. @Darren —

    You mean the latest 512 GB cards?

    Oooooo, ahhhhhhh.

    One of my few gripes with the iPhone is its failure to accept any variety of SD card. And that’s one of the things that I used to love about my old Palm PDAs. Sigh.

  36. I once wrote a system for Swedish television (SVT) that took the teletext signal that they were broadcasting (under the name “texttv”), parsed it and converted it to web pages.

    The address where this was available, http://www.svt.se/texttv, now redirects to a system that is almost certainly more modern, and among other things allows you to switch between a parsed ‘web’ look and simulation of what the original would have looked like.

    I also built, at university, a gadget that would similarly parse the incoming teletext signal and display it on a hand-held device with a 40-column-by-4-row LCD display; the idea was that such a device would allow access to news, stock quotes, etc, while out and about and without any wired access to information. It worked.

    The signaling rate is about 6 megabits per second, quite quick, really.

  37. I started with CD-based mp3 players. My last one is still a lovely machine, but it’s hopelessly behind the curve on storage. Got an RCA 40GB jukebox, then an 80GB iPod, and then a 120GB iPod. Then that bit the dust, and it was just too expensive to consider replacing with another iPod, so I got a Fiio X1, which cost just $100 and plays compressed or uncompressed audio, and it holds a microSD card. Currently, I have a 256GB card in it (which cost around $140) that holds everything I had in iTunes, plus a bunch of files I just keep on the drive, including a few operas, a couple of books on CD, and a hella lot of radio shows and adaptations. I’m currently listening to the BBC’s 4-hour version of The Hobbit.

    The 128GB card I used to have in the Fiio went into my Android tablet, and the 64GB card went into my phone, which gives me enough room to have a ‘battle bridge’ version of my music library (about 15GB nowadays) as well as my library of eBooks.

    Give a little pixel, and always let your Con badge be your guide.

  38. I’ve got about two terabytes in Doctor Demento shows alone, let alone other music, so using my phone isn’t going to cut it.

    Besides, when I’m on a bike ride, I’d rather use my (1 inch by 1 inch) clip-on MP3 player and cycle (no pun intended) through music on that rather than using my much larger phone.

    I wore a pager for work up through late 2005 (I’m thankful that I haven’t had an on-call job since then). I still cringe when I hear a pager go off on a TV show or movie.

  39. My Dad briefly had a pager in the 1980s. Then he got a bulky car phone installed in his company car. At the time, I found the idea of being able to phone someone while in a car incredibly cool.

  40. Dear Contrarius,

    Huh– learnt sumthin’ ! I’d have thought that audiobook data would be compressed a lot more than that. Now I knows bettah.

    Still, even at .1-1GB/book, 2 TB is quite a few books. Color me impressed.

    Backed up offsite, of course, I presume?

    pax / Ctein

  41. In 1986, my senior year in college as a computer science major, I needed a cross-discipline elective and “Technology in Education” seemed like just the thing – educational software was a big chunk of the market at the time.

    Day one: the overhead projector.
    Day one, that afternoon: the add-drop line.

Comments are closed.