DiscoverTopic Lords59.


Update: 2020-12-07


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  • Programming industrial robots to lift really heavy things.

  • Trying teach kids Python when you don't know Python, but it's okay because knowing how for loops work gets you 90% of the way there.

  • The consequences of buggy code when the robot is lifting a test tube vs. a car.

  • Whether three rotary axes mounted on a big linear slide counts as a robot or is just a fancy conveyer belt.

  • A failed branch on the evolutionary tree of keyboard instruments.

  • Having to retune your harpsichord multiple times a day if not multiple times per song.

  • A harpsichord jumping into organ territory.

  • A medieval troubador who is not playing power chords.

  • The Famichord.

  • Omitting the note that is most heavily implied by the other three notes.

  • Conflating Super Mario World and Link to the Past because they both use spooky harpsichord music.

  • The difficulty of synthesizing a piano sound.

  • A really slow early version of machine learning.

  • Conveying musical intensity when you have no volume control.

  • Sharpening your own crow quills to maintain your piano.

  • Sneaking broken harpsichords into somebody's house while they're sleeping.

  • Rompler rock.

  • Recognizing a Bach piece because once you typed it into your Commodore 128 as a PLAY statement.

  • A floppy disk that you bought in a grocery store when you were six.

  • Whether Sir Mix A Lot is actually dead or just represents a dead person in this analogy.

  • The internals of the Quake engine.

  • A C-like language with no arrays so you need to do everything with linked lists.

  • How long humans have been taking square roots for.

  • Real-time operating systems.

  • Putting your audio code in the same thread as your game code so the audio breaks up if you frame rate dips too low.

  • Sending Jim a sample of moustache man.

  • A pinball game that plays sound effects at significantly different rates depending on the version of the sound chip.

  • Buying a shareware game on a floppy disk at a grocery store for the same price as a blank floppy disk.

  • Playing the shareware episode of Doom and being like "I played Doom already, I don't need to pay for it."

  • Getting a call from your harpsichord landlord because you haven't paid your harpsichord loans and he refuses to take the harpsichord back.

  • Harpsichords requiring daily maintenance or they break down over the span of months.

  • Putting your harpsichord in a sauna to keep it moisturized.

  • A squirrel in ancient Rome fighting with gladiators over pizza.

  • A folder hidden by your mom's inability to do a recursive directory listing.

  • Deciding, as a culture, that the way to advance the 2D platformer as a genre is to make it as hard as possible.

  • Getting perforated printer paper at the library and drawing your own Prince of Persia levels.

  • Writing your opus with fire flowers and station wagons.

  • Whether or not it's cool that Mario Paint Composer graduated to twelve tones.

  • Back when there was a point to writing songs in different keys.


  • Delving into Neopets as an outsider and seeing real life principles of economics mirrored in a distorted reflection.

  • Making a bad search engine for the player shops so non-competitive shops run by inexperienced players get as much shop traffic as the competitive ones, and so finding a particular item feels like a discovery rather than a given.

  • Exploring the outcomes of a search engine that is bad in an interesting way.

  • Neopets voter fraud.

  • Designing daily quests to keep player shop prices high.

  • Writing gradient descent optimized algorithms to optimize your Neopets casino strategy.

  • Learning to code because you want the nicest Neopets shop.

  • Pushing HTML5 to its limits to get a really big sparkling snowflake in the middle of your ice themed Neopets shop.

  • Intentionally broken search bringing back the art of gift giving in the digital age.

  • Intentionally not buying something for yourself so someone can give it to you for your birthday.

  • Winning a trophy for reading books to your Neopet.

  • Reading 140 of the 150 possible space themed books to your Neopet to get that Neopet on the space themed books high score table.

  • A nine year old running a Neopets crime syndicate.

  • Pre-PayPal digital currencies.

  • Convincing your grandma to get you a PO Box and bank account so you can run an underground Beanie Babies empire.

  • The minimum and maximum permitted age for legal Beanie Baby arbitrage.

  • Editing a magazine and asking them to pay you in online gift cards so they won't figure out you're ten years old and not a 55 year old graduate of the University of Vermont.

  • The responsible young scammer who takes the profits from their Beanie Baby arbitrage and uses it to pay for less than their first semester of college tuition.

  • Getting an insider tip that Ty is going to retire every Beanie Baby at the end of 1999 and the market is going to tank but not being able to act on it because eBay kicked you off because you're 12 years old.

  • Going to juvie for insider trading.

  • Living off of Wonder Bread for four months after you get out of your oppressive parents no-wheat household.

  • Asking your dad what the internet is and the next day he prints the W3 consortium HTML spec at work and comes home and hands it to you.

  • Meeting your best friend in college because you both learned a variant of C++ that will only compile in Microsoft's compiler.

  • Making your own podcast, "Ask a Harpsichord," to put all the remaining harpsichord facts that didn't fit in this episode.

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Jim Stormdancer