There was a kid called Joseph
He’d been dealt a bad hand
Was born poor and a bastard
But grew up to be a preacher
Made a new friend called Franz

Joe went over to Franz house
Said: see this poem I once wrote
I feel like it’s got something
Can you please put some music
To my words

Looking down at the paper
And the title read:
 Silent Night

Today is the 200th anniversary of the first performance of Silent Night, and the best Christmas hymn of 2018 is Annika Norlin’s meta-song about how it was written and popularised. It’s beautiful.

(If you want more Christmas music, here is my 2018 mix.)

Life imitates art… In Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon, Roger Wilco accesses a secure area of the ScumSoft headquarters by holding up a picture of the boss to fool a facial scanner. Now, a 3D-printed head can be used to defeat the facial recognition locks on Android phones.

A poacher in Missouri — one of a group who illegally slaughtered hundreds of deer for “trophies — was sentenced to a year in prison, and:

At least one time per month, that Defendant is to view the Walt Disney movie Bambi, with the first viewing being on or before December 23, 2018, and at least such viewing each month thereafter during the Defendants incarceration in the Lawrence County Jail.

Could watching a cartoon film change someone’s attitudes? Perhaps. On a recent episode of The Allusionist, clinical psychologist Jane Gregory described a study that found viewing Charlotte’s Web as part of exposure therapy had a measurable impact on people’s fear of spiders.

The English-language version of the Shonen Jump manga magazine is dead — but it has been replaced with a US$2/mo digital subscription that unlocks the entire Jump back catalogue.

A little while ago I considered picking up a couple of long-running series, but couldn’t justify the expense. For instance, My Hero Academia and World Trigger had about 15 volumes each at US$7, so it would cost almost AU$300 to catch up. And they are relatively short — Bleach has 74 volumes! Now all of these are available as part of the $2 subscription.

That’s my summer comics reading sorted…

My favourite thing about this CastlevaniaBot project is that it had to be programmed to be imperfect so that the game remained interesting:

When speedrunners play through Castlevania, they perform maneuvers that make the game as deterministic as possible. For example, at the end of Level 1, they discovered that if they break the block and collect the shot upgrade with a particular timing sequence, then the boss will respond with a favorable pattern, resulting in a quick win.

No matter how skilled they are, humans cannot fully tame the RNG [random number generator]; however, since CastlevaniaBot can control button presses at frame granularity, it could take that speedrunning concept to the extreme by playing exactly the same game during each run. If it did, it would hardly be better than a TAS [tool-assisted speedrun] recording. Instead, CastlevaniaBot deliberately introduces minute errors and delays into its actions using its own external RNG to avoid deterministic gameplay. For instance, when it whips a high candle it intentionally delays the jump and the whip strike by a few random frames. Tiny changes like that have a significantly effect on how the game plays out.

I’ve never enjoyed Super Smash Bros because it is just a kaleidoscope of getting my arse kicked, but anyway this Smash Bros-themed performance is lots of fun.

We’re, what — three-quarters of the way through the PICO-8 Advent Calendar, so there are a bunch of fun little games there if you’re looking for a 5-minute diversion.