Years and years ago, I wrote a story for kids about how email gets delivered. It’s a bit dated—it talks about modems, and the graphics are GIFs—but I hope it’s still fun to read.
I enjoyed the first three episodes of BBC’s Sherlock. I was disappointed by how episode 4 (the first of the newest trilogy) resolved episode 3′s hangover, but immediately forgave the writers as A Scandal in Belgravia unfolded. But then came episode 5, The Hounds of Baskerville, which was frankly awful.
So it all came down to episode 6, The Reichenbach Fall. Good opening, great development, tension steadily ratcheting up, and then bam, the final three minutes ruined it all. Completely. It was completely implausible, inconsistent with what we’d seen of the characters up to that point—frankly, it almost had me expecting Moriarty to reveal that he was Sherlock’s long-lost twin brother.
My ending is below the fold. Enjoy.
A free preview of And Then…, the children’s book Ellen Hsiang and I created, is now online. We hope you enjoy it (and there’s still time to order a printed copy for Christmas .
Ellen Hsiang and I are pleased to announce that And Then…, our children’s book about life, the universe, and climate change, is now available for purchase from Lulu.com. We hope you and the young people in your life enjoy it.
We’re close… we’re very close…
I have posted a much longer version of my story Still, which ran in On Spec last summer. It’s intended for young adult readers, but feedback from readers of any age would be welcome.
Later: no comments came in, so I’ve taken the story down.
I’m three weeks into 2011, and two weeks behind on everything. Where does the time go?
- I’m supposed to be working full-time on Software Carpentry, but between Jon Udell’s visit, the architecture book (#2 below), and trying to help the professional master’s students find internships (#3), I only booked 19 hours last week. Most of that was spent trying to raise more money, and trying to get people to contribute content. I did get some of the high-performance computing lecture drafted, though, thanks to help from Jonathan Dursi and Andrew Petersen, and I hope to post the first couple of episodes this week.
- The Architecture of Open Source Applications is winding down, but there’s still a lot of editing to do, and several contributors to chase up (if only to confirm that they’re not actually going to contribute).
- Last fall, the University of Toronto launched a new M.Sc. in Applied Computing. I finally got to meet the first six students a week and a half ago; they’re an impressive bunch, but I was dismayed to discover that no one had done anything about lining up the eight-month internships that are supposed to be the core of their degree. I’ll post again soon with a longer description of who they are and how they can help move new ideas and technology from academia into the real world.
- Ellen Hsiang has finished storyboarding the artwork for And Then…, a children’s book about the history of, well, just about everything. We hope to have a draft of the book on the web in about a month.
Tomorrow’s another Monday; let’s see if the week coming up is more productive (sorry, if I’m more productive) than the three gone by.
The Summer 2010 issue of On Spec has published my short story “Still”. I hope those who read it enjoy it…
Lots of people have said that computer science students should read code as well as write it. Not many people have gone the next step and designed a course around that idea, which is why I was excited to read Jason Montojo’s recent post, and the course outline he has put together. Jason did several undergrad projects with me, is one of the co-authors on Practical Programming, and plans to finish his M.Sc. in a few months—if anyone can pull this off, he can, and I’m sure he’d welcome your feedback.
Everyone who writes does so for their own reasons. I got into it because I got tired of coming to the end of an article or story and thinking, “I could do better than that.” (OK, to be honest, my friends got tired of me saying that and told me to put up or shut up.) I don’t write much any more, but I still have that reaction.
For example, Aliens 3 was on the other day. It sucked. The first two films were great, but the third just felt tired. You know what would have been a better plot? Ripley discovers that there’s a third stage in the aliens’ lifecycle, one that’s intelligent and civilized. They drop eggs on a new planet, wait for stages one and two to wipe out everything dangerous, then poof, out comes Stage 3 to give you paved roads and quantum physics and what-not. The tension in the film would be whether or not Ripley could leave her “unfortunate” early experiences behind and connect with the third stage aliens or not, which would have been very topical for an American film as communism came to an end in Europe.
And what about Battlestar Galactica? Lots of great writing in the first two seasons, but come on, the ending? They walk away from hot coffee and decent medical care to breed with Australopithecines and make us? Bah. Bah, I say, and double bah. You know what would have really rocked? If they’d found the two-thousand-year-old hulk of the Galactica in orbit around Kobold, and spent the next two seasons figuring out how it—how they—have traveled back in time, and whether the past was written in stone, or if they could change it somehow. If nothing else, it would have been a much better use of the black hole that the evil Cylons’ base was parked in front of at the end of the series…
What makes this more than just sour grapes is the prospect of actually being able to make “my” versions of these movies. Digital animation continues to go from strength to strength. Ten years from now, studios will be able to reverse engineer digital actors from old footage; not long after that, I expect technology to reach the point where dedicated amateurs can sample and remix film, just as they now do with music.
So, what would you re-write and re-make? A Terminator 3 in which Arnie plays the (human) scientist chosen to carry on with Miles Dyson’s work, and John Connor tries to stop him? What would you do first?