Sep. 28th, 2016 09:52 pm
rbarclay: (Default)
[personal profile] rbarclay
I'll be turning 40 in a couple weeks. Those of you local might want to get a babysitter for Nov. 4th, and no, I'll not be accepting excuses this year - and yes, this means you, specifically, [personal profile] nilasae (and it, also specifically, includes M).

What I still lack is a proper venue; I'd like somewhere that I can just rent and stand behind the bar myself. (Yes, I do know how to pour beer, and once a year I like to do just that (IME it's the perfect place to get to talk to all the attendants). Should I get a wee bit drunk, I have backup). This is not a problem.

Money is not the problem.

The problem is finding such a place. They were about a dime a dozen when I was two decades younger (mostly you got a fridge, and loos, and that was that - yes, you had to bring your own sound system; I still have that (including the .. markings from parties past). What I don't want is servers and/or catering (again, I don't object to the cost, I just want to man the bar myself).
tamaranth: (Default)
[personal profile] tamaranth
2016/49: The Essex Serpent -- Sarah Perry

'It’s a sort of blindness, or a choice to be mad – to turn your back on everything new and wonderful – not to see that there’s no fewer miracles in the microscope than in the gospels!’
‘You think – you really think – that it is one or the other: your faith or your reason?’
‘Not only my reason – there’s not enough of that to set against my soul! – but my liberty.' [loc. 1604]

no spoilers! )
dancefloorlandmine: Me hiding behind camera (CameraEOS)
[personal profile] dancefloorlandmine
While down in Bexhill for the last weekend of August, I happened to be down the road from the Bexhill Classic & Custom Car Show, organised by the Bexhill 100 Motoring Club. As some may know, Bexhill-on-Sea is the birthplace of British motor racing, dating from 1902 (the first race was won by a Frenchman in a steam car). Being only a short walk from the park hosting the event, I took a camera along to get some shots, while the sun played hide-and-seek behind the clouds.

And, in turn, here are some samples (with a link to the full gallery at the foot of the post, for people who really like old cars - and one shot of a BMW i8). I may have concentrated slightly on the American imports and customs, rather than the European cars which are more often seen on the road. (I didn't bother with the early 2000s BMW 3-series, for example.)

Sample photos behind cut )

Link to full gallery

[Photos] Tattoos

Sep. 27th, 2016 05:04 pm
dancefloorlandmine: Me hiding behind camera (CameraEOS)
[personal profile] dancefloorlandmine
Last month, I did a photoshoot with a friend (whose band's album came out recently), as she needed some new shots for their website, so that it could be updated. In addition to the main set of shots (currently being approved by the subject, so they should come up in a while), I took some tattoo shots as an experiment, including using the snoot for the first time. I quite like how they came out - happy to do more, if anyone's interested.

Back tattoo featuring different versions of Spiderman head

tcpip: (Default)
[personal profile] tcpip
Last night was a vist to The Astor for the classic SF double, The Thing and Videodrome. Prior to the movie we ate at Kabul Flavour which is inexpensive, tasty, and with friendly staff. The films were absolutely superb of course - I have seen them multple times previously, and at $12 for the night, a steal. Unlike so much popular SF both films are founded on fairly hard science premises, the notions of an alien life form that mimics and assimilates other life on a molecullar level, or the ideal of extreme subliminal stimuli generating hallucinations and madness. What especially appeals to me (as a founder of a science fiction club at university) is that the stories are disturbing on a psychological level. They are, in my opinion, what science fiction should be about. SF (or fantasy) which is just contemporary culture with spaceships can, at best, provide humour (Red Dwarf, Quark) or even some camp charm (Dr Who, Star Trek). But when a person walks out thinking "that was disturbing", or even better still, "that was alien", science fiction has done its job. Which is part of the reason I play Eclipse Phase and look forward to the day that someone has the courage to make a film of I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.

Apart from that the past few days have been relatively normal; went to The Luwow on Saturday night to catch up with Stean V's visit to Melbourne. They've done a 'tropical gothic' aethsteic really well, if you can imagine such a thing, and a couple of quite good psychedlia and psychobilly, respectively, bands playing. Preparations for Europe continue as I power through revisions on Duolingo for the four languages of choose (German, French, Spanish, and Esperanto), and bookings of various train connections and hotels between cities. I've also made some progress on Papers and Paychecks, but with a lot to go before the Kickstarter launch date, and played a somewhat truncated session of GURPS Middle Earth on Sunday. My review of Castles and Crusades, originally from RPG Review, has been posted on Finally, the relative break in the training programme at work has meant that I can get back to preparing presentations for eResearchAustralasia and OpenStack in Barcelona, and a bunch outstanding software installs and job scripts.
the_siobhan: (book skeleton)
[personal profile] the_siobhan
And just like that, it's fall. Glorious. Of course because nothing can be simple, the weather is making tippy. But I'll take that over not being able to breath any day.

Our next Big House Project is to try and empty the storage locker. The comics are gone but the locker is still full, packed to the rafters with everything that was stored in the basement before D moved in. Having the locker costs money + we have to reduce our expenses = we have to figure out a way to empty it.

I have a bunch of boxes of things that are "souvenirs" so those are the first thing I'm working on. Not sentimental like love letters or anything, but things like old Convergence programmes, concert stubs, the posters for the Chameleons gig, the ridiculous Wasp Factory bar bill that I made everybody autograph. I started going through one of the boxes yesterday and found a folder full of the faxes that Fiona and I used to send back and forth with my sister Dee when she was living in Grand Cayman, back before everybody had email. We had a designated time to send them so she would remember not to answer the phone when it rang and we would tell her all the family gossip and include messages to the kids. Reading them over made me cry a bunch of times.

Everything paper is getting scanned and getting turned into an electronic scrapbook. The non-paper stuff - that I'm not sure about. Maybe I'll take photos of it? I'll figure something out.

I have sooooooooooooo much to doooooooooooooooo at work. And I have to get it all done before Friday, because then I'm off for for the first two weeks of October. I plan to write every day. It's gonna be great.
tamaranth: (Default)
[personal profile] tamaranth
2016/48: The Many Selves of Katherine North -- Emma Geen

The shiver of my cheeks is slowly becoming more pronounced. When I turn my head from side to side, it’s as if the water varies in excitement. And there – my whiskers fizzle, hitting the zenith of a gradient but what that means, I don’t know. Understanding a new sense can take hours, sometimes days; in the end all you can do is get on with the work. I push along the line of agitation. About me, water dances in a lime glow; the disturbed silt a cascade of stars. [loc. 1948]
unspoilery for majority of plot )

Flax attempts

Sep. 26th, 2016 06:05 pm
flick: (Default)
[personal profile] flick
This year, a big field near us was planted with flax. It looked very pretty when it was flowering, and then it was time for harvest.

They cut a bit of it it (and presumably stripped the seeds off at the same time), and then stopped for a few days. Then they cut a bit more. Then they finally decided that they'd got it right and cut the whole field.

A few days after that, they made square bales with some of the straw. The bales looked kinda crappy. A few more days, and they tried making round bales, half of which just immediately collapsed.

A few more days, and they went 'sod it', burnt the collapsed bales and harrowed the rest of the straw across the field to rot.

I really hope that it was the first time they'd grown flax....

ION, Jo is still doing really well, and pretty much officially better now. She even had a little run around with her boyfriend in the woods today, and she's been to the beach a couple of times as well. I had our first riding lesson in *ages* on Bugs, and he did very well (although by the end of it he was distinctly unimpressed with how much he was having to do). Ang's leg has started to get bad for the winter but, as ever, he's having good days and bad ones. We're going away for a few days (note to self: must decide where we're going and book hotels; ferry and sitter are both booked), so hopefully he'll continue to be fine while the sitter's looking after him.

We've gone straight from 'too hot to do anything in the garden' to 'succession of visitors', with added torrential rain for a couple of days: the garden is distinctly jungle-like, and I really must get out there and do some weeding....
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine

Taking place not that long after The Winter Long, it starts with some complications. These generate more complications, when Toby ends up being sent as the diplomatic emissary from Mists to Silences (the kingdom bordering Mists to the north), to try to avert the war that Silences just declared. There's, thankfully, a three-day grace period before hostilities begin, so there's a sliver of time trying to fix things before things go war-shaped.

Main problems being that Toby is perhaps not the most diplomatic person around. And Silences is very traditional, in that they really do not like changelings, or fae with animal traits. Or a whole slew of things that are exemplified by Toby and gang.

This is a series I liked at the first read and it holds up to re-reading remarkably well.
rosefox: A painting of a peaceful garden. (peace)
[personal profile] rosefox
I wrote this last year, on October 2:

All the fans and air conditioners and open windows that noisily let us survive the summer are quiet now. The dryer and dishwasher have finished their tasks and fallen silent. The laundry is folded and stowed. The people and cats are asleep, except for me. There is such contentment in this moment of stillness.

My brain promises me that if I do enough, and if I do it well enough, I will reach a moment of the house being perfect, at which point I can finally relax. My own work on coming to terms with my brain has helped me to expand my definition of perfection. There are little untidinesses around me, to be sure, and I'll tidy a few of them before bed; but those untidinesses also make a house a home. I don't want to live in a museum exhibit. I want to live in a place where the stray bits of cat fur and scratched-up furniture remind me of our adorable cats, and J's shirt draped over a chair and X's water bottle abandoned on the corner of the table remind me of my marvelous spouses. Soon there will be toys underfoot, and parts of bottles scattered over the kitchen counter, and tiny mismatched socks in inexplicable places, to remind me of my beloved child. And I will sit in this battered but extremely comfortable chair, and put my mug down on the fluff-attracting but gorgeously vibrant red tablecloth, in my beautiful lived-in home, and it will be perfect.

Tonight I turned off the ceiling vent fan for what is probably the last time this year, and such a beautiful hush fell. I tidied just enough to make the morning easier for J and X, and did a load of laundry mostly out of habit. Now all the machines are silent, and I'm sitting at the table in the comfy broken-in chair, and there are candles casting shimmery golden light on the red tablecloth, and everyone is asleep. There was even a tiny unmatched sock in tonight's laundry.

I was right: it's perfect.
pseudomonas: (eyebrow)
[personal profile] pseudomonas
Dear Mr Corbyn,

I realise we probably don't agree on Europe. That's fine. It's a big world and there's room for different opinions. What I can't stomach is the feeling that you think it doesn't much matter what happens.

It seems to me that this is the biggest challenge facing the UK in the short to medium term. Yet you seem resolutely tight-lipped about it — the fact that you haven't been bringing it up at Prime Minister's Questions is just the most obvious manifestation of this.

You seem, based on comments in the media, opposed both to a parliamentary vote on triggering Article 50, and to a referendum on the negotiated terms of an exit deal. The effect of this is that you're happy to let the Conservative government negotiate whatever terms suit them, with minimal scrutiny or restraint. Do you believe that they are the best people to conduct matters? Or do you just feel that it doesn't much matter what happens?

To your credit, you have mentioned your concern for workers' rights in a post-Brexit UK. But you haven't set out definitive positions on membership of* the Single Market, freedom of movement, research collaboration, Common Agricultural Policy, financial passporting, and so on. These are all issues that affect hundreds of thousands of jobs and lives. Workers' rights don't mean much if the jobs have all evaporated.

I'm a member of the Liberal Democrats, who have set out a clear summary of their policy position in a format that Labour might usefully copy. It's fine if you don't agree (though I hope you'd set out your rationale!). It's not fine if you don't care.

Yours &c.

Adam ([personal profile] pseudomonas)

* As distinct from "access to" which is not usefully informative.
Declaration of interest: I work in biomedical research, a field that is likely to suffer particularly heavily under a "hard" Brexit.
tetsab: (morning)
[personal profile] tetsab
So I've been home sick today with a cold (that is maybe a bit more than a cold at this point since it also feels like someone is standing on my chest). This means I've done very little all day and so feel a bit more up than usual to capturing a recipe for Posterity in LJ. I think this is the first time I've done this but I should plan to do it more 'cause multiple times I've made something great and then not been able to re-find the recipe. In this case I think I have a better shot than most 'cause I could probably remember that I first got it from [personal profile] sabotabby.

However, I tend to be super lazy both about following instructions and about buying anything outside of my usual range so here is what I actually did: )

This was one of the tastiest things I've ever made and I consider fate to be Bloody Cruel to give me a cold for the last half of eating it where I can still kinda taste it but nowhere near as well as when I was not sick.

You know what else dried coconut milk is good for: bread! )

If vegan korma / bread recipes are not your bag here is a picture of a cat stealing my sick bed when I went to the bathroom instead:

Do the wardrobe shuffle

Sep. 22nd, 2016 10:43 pm
lovingboth: (mini me + poo)
[personal profile] lovingboth

Yesterday was spent shuffling furniture about. From a house that's being cleared came seven dining chairs, a dressing table, a small table and some garden furniture. Out went six not very comfortable dining chairs and a cheap chest of drawers. That was fairly simple, although the existing – borderline unsafe – gardening furniture is still here. Whether it'll end up as a pile of decaying wood in the garden for insects or at the recycling centre, I don't know, but having seen some stag beetles in London, it'd be nice to see some here.

A friend down the road got two disassembled wardrobes and a chest of drawers. That involved moving out a chest of drawers and a sort of coffee table sized chest of drawers from one room, then moving an existing wardrobe and chest of drawers from another room into the first room, and leaving assorted bits to assemble in the second room.

Someone's garage now has the 'out' furniture, plus a couple of other things from the cleared house, including a writing desk and a tall rusty metal storage thing that may end up going to London somehow.

Now 'all' that needed to happen was assembling the wardrobes. These are Stag flat pack designs from the 1960s. It was interesting to see that some basic ideas are still used in IKEA etc stuff today. The person who'd broken them down hadn't taken photos of the process of doing that, but helpfully labelled which bit was from which and suggested that I do the simple one first. That might have been sensible except that they'd broken, either in taking them apart or in transport, one critical bit of the base of the more complicated one. A metal combination screw and 'secure this end' part hadn't been removed from the base where it was supposed to hold the middle vertical 'wall' and had broken the base, fortunately at the underneath side.

Fortunately, again, the two bases were identical – presumably it saved money only having one design – so it was possible to use the simple one with its intact screw holes instead. Having started, it seemed a sensible idea to continue with the more complicated one.

Which went fine up until the back. As with many IKEA ones, this uses some thin hardboard with a wood-coloured veneer on one side as the back. With much flat pack furniture, this can't be one sheet of the correct size or the packing box would be too big. So you get it in two or three pieces and join them together. Tape or nails is the current way, depending on whether there's something to nail it to or not. The sides are typically in groves of the real walls.

But for some reason – part of which only became clear later, instead of doing the sensible thing and having two vertical pieces, each roughly the size of one of the doors, it has four horizontal pieces, one smaller than the other. Attempting to stack them on one another failed, even with some duct tape, but then it was then that the use for some odd bits became clear: four bits of woodish stuff, the length the width of the wardrobe but otherwise quite small. And with a grove in two sides. Ah ha, these go on top of one bit of hardboard and hold it in place while proving the base for the next bit. Ah ha2, they have some thing that can be screwed into the sides, behind the hardboard, to keep it all fairly rigid too.

Which would have been great, except that only one of the two screws on the first of the three bars was anywhere near the right place. The other end was too high. There's a limit to how much you can hammer the side of hardboard to get it to go down (it breaks the hardboard if you're not careful!) and no amount of pushing it would get it to the right position. So of course the next layer starts too high, neither screw fits, and you end up not being able to get the top / roof wall on.

It was at this point that I gave up until the new owner came home.

When she did, we decided to do without all but the first bit of hardboard, but just use their support bars instead. I for one have always said that wardrobes shouldn't have a back.* The metal bits that hold the roof on aren't screwed in, so you have to get them just right for them to drop into the holes in the sides. Which isn't easy, given that the roof is much thicker and is the second heaviest bit of the whole thing. Get it wrong, and they drop to either side and then you've got to lift the whole thing again, usually taking the connectors that did get in their holes out and have to do them again too.

Repeat, several times, possibly breaking the base – the middle wall did bend over more than it should have done at one point, until it works.

The doors were almost simple, but there's a lot of work in the almost. You can see where modern door hanging designs come from, but the subtle changes since the 60s mean they are notably better for rehanging doors. These almost properly fit – but do close! – and it's not clear how you would adjust things so they do fit properly. About the only thing I can think of is start again, making sure that everything that is supposed to be a right angle is exactly 90 degrees.

Having done that one, it was going to be much simpler to do the simple (no middle wall) one. And it was! It did have a fixed top shelf that the first one didn't and this was the reason for having horizontal hardboard bits for the back: instead of having the back 'behind' the shelf, the top shelf has the top and bottom grooves for the hardboard. This probably also explains the asymmetrical sizes of the pieces of the hardboard – because you could choose to have this shelf, the last bit had to be the vertical size of the space left underneath the top shelf because that makes the maker's life easier in terms of stock control. As with the base unit, you then only need to have one sort of back.

This time, the three larger bits of hardboard fit (with a little hammering…) and it's only missing a back on the top shelf – there was no way you want the top to slot into that and have the annoying connectors fit too. If it had been lighter, perhaps, but not this lump.

The result worked perfectly in terms of its doors and is a tribute to the quality of the original design. It looks horrid to my eyes, but its new owner is seriously into retro stuff and loves it.

Except that she wanted it on the other side of the room. Push, shove, push. No, it's too big there (it blocked part of the window). One reason for wanting it there is that she wasn't convinced they'd be enough space to open the doors fully because of the bed. But.. push, shove, push.. yes there was. I thought there would be, just, having had a play with an unattached door earlier.

After that, the chest of drawers was simple…

* How else are you going to get to Narnia if they do?

Mirrored from my website's blog, The deranged mad of a brain man.

vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine

Again with the Toby. This is #8 in the series, seeing the return of a character presumed dead, some information on the Torquills, the Luidaeg, and some historical information in Oleander de Merelands.

We also get to know Toby's backstory a bit better.

Quite enjoyable, I would say.

Gaming and Training Updates

Sep. 22nd, 2016 07:19 pm
tcpip: (Default)
[personal profile] tcpip
It's been a interesting past week for various gaming endeavours. The next issue of RPG Review is coming out soon, although it will be slightly delayed as our guest interview subject - Frank Mentzer - will be away for a couple of weeks. Meanwhile I've been working on Papers and Paychecks, along with several reviews, with a planned Kickstarter launch on October 24. In actual play the Eclipse Phase session last Sunday involved transporting alien eggs (what could go wrong?) to a transhuman habitation and a visit to the cold water world of Droplet. Tonight will be running Delta Green Mimesis, a home brew system that is a stripped down version of GURPS on a simulationist perspective and a built-up version of HeroQuest from a narrativist perspective.

Today was an gruelling day in training, running a course on parallel programming, covering issues in computer architecture, data parallelism using job submissions, library and package extensions in existing applications and programming languages, usage of OpenMP shared-memory programming, finally MPI distributed memory programming. Most of the people were already fairly experienced in the subject, so I hope it wasn't too simple for them. That will be the last training course for several weeks, as Europe beckons. After that courses are being planned for economics (primarily maths and stats), and engineering (numerical solvers and continuum mechanics) It was meant to be an introductory course. Afterwards was the HPC Users Forum where I gave a short presentation on various transition actions from the Edward to Spartan systems and updates on the latter. Not a huge attendance, but a worthwhile one.

Printers I have known

Sep. 20th, 2016 11:59 pm
lovingboth: (Default)
[personal profile] lovingboth
Teletype - when I was one of the small group doing a Computer Science O-level, we had to go to the local FE college who were just starting to teach it. They didn't actually have a computer for us to use, but they did have a Teletype with a connection to the Open University. You wrote your BASIC program on the Teletype, and a leased line to the OU enabled it to run. When, not if, the program didn't work. I can't remember how we edited it (some extremely simple line editor or just over writing lines by entering a new line 100 or whatever?) but you could also get the Teletype to save it onto paper tape for fast - something like ten characters a second! - upload next time.

I don't think I have any of the paper tape, but there's at least one printed program somewhere.

Some dot matrix - after a month or so, the college got the bill for the leased line, went 'HOW MUCH?!?' and decided that getting a Research Machines 380Z would save money, even at over £3k for the version with 8" floppy discs.* Plus at least another thousand for a dot matrix printer, because it wouldn't work with the Teletype properly.

I can't remember what it was, but it could do 132 characters on a line which rules out the next one. I do have a couple of printouts from it though, including a program that simulated radioactive decay by turning a rectangle of asterisks into dots over several passes - my first encounter with e, after I noticed that if my little asterisk's half life wasn't 'one' loop, doing the obvious calculation** didn't work properly - and two games. Doubtless someone somewhere could look at them and go, 'ah, a Centronics..'

Epson FX-80 - I'm quite surprised that WP doesn't have a page on this, even though it gets a mention on the dot matrix printer one, because to those of us of a certain age, it's iconic. I didn't own it - they were about £700 around 1981 - but my university department had several because they were so (relatively) cheap. They also ended up with some MX-80s that could do graphics (not very well, but even so..)

Some line printer - dot matrix printers print a vertical slice of a character at a time, a typewriter prints a character at a time, and a line printer does, gasp, a whole line of text at a time. As this is done by 80 or 132 or more little hammers hitting the paper and something solid at the same time, five or more times a second, they're quite noisy. I SAID THEY'RE QUITE NOISY! Consequently, it was kept in another room under a noise insulating cover, and we only got the results.***

ZX Printer - the first one I bought, £49.95. That was the end of the good news. Narrow and nasty and needing special paper (about a fiver a roll) it worked by having an electrical spark burn off a layer of aluminium from the paper to reveal the black paper underneath.

You tell the young people of today that, and they don't believe you.****

I do have a couple of printouts from it, but the printer and some paper got donated to the computing museum at Bletchley.

Tandy / Radio Shack plotter - in one sense, another bonkers design: a small cartridge held four tiny pen-like ink cartridges. By moving it and the paper in the right way, you drew lines on the 15cm or so wide paper. Draw the right lines and you've got text! I think it was in a sale to the point it was cheaper than an inkjet and did colour that meant I got one.

Some OKI 24-pin dot matrix - not mine, but the person I worked with for many years. They paid £1,500 for it, the same cost as their Zenith 8088 PC clone running at 8MHz, so almost twice as fast as a real IBM PC. The reason for the price tag was that unlike the FX-80 et al which created their characters with a maximum of nine dots per vertical line, this used up to twenty four. Some of the 9-pin printers could bodge this by printing each line three times, moving the paper very slightly each time, and calling the result 'near letter quality' (i.e. as good as a typewriter) but it never was.

Neither was this, but it was over three times faster. The design meant you could also reuse the ribbons quite easily too. I can't remember what eventually failed on it.

Citizen Swift 24 - another 24 pin dot matrix, got largely because of the price (£200ish??) and the way we didn't need the width of the OKI. Only used by me with DOS, Windows XP had printer drivers for it.

Canon BJ-10 - the first inkjet I used. These were neat - a bit shorter than a ream of A4 paper lying down, but otherwise more or less the same size, they were virtually silent and did produce high quality results. As a result, when it died it was replaced by a..

Canon BJ-10e - slightly better version. I think this was the one that had a lovely tall but narrow bold font that was perfect for printing speeches on. It also died after about 18 months.

HP Deskjet 500 - Going back to an older machine! Bought second-hand off cix, this wasn't as neat, but was much more reliable. The quality wasn't great and inkjets are expensive to run, so..

HP Laserjet 6P - the first laser printer for the office in question. Alas, this was after the marketing people took over HP. The print quality was very good - some very nice brochures for a potential Millennium Commission project were done on it - but who thought it was a good idea to have the paper intake be a dust and crap magnet at the top of the printer? Most of the rest was plastic rather than metal too.

Panasonic KX P4420 - I recognise it, and I wrote a printer driver for my word processor (Borland's Sprint) for it, but I can't remember if it was the replacement for the LJ6P or if it replaced the LJ IIs of the LibDem by-election team.

Minolta SP101 - back to my ones. Many laser printers of the early 90s had 512kiB of RAM. While that was plenty to print text and small images, it wasn't enough to do a whole page image at 300 dots per inch resolution This one did some compression of the image data, so it could. You could also 'easily' fit some more RAM but the Minolta sales person at the show I bought it at gave the wrong info so I ended up buying the wrong chips at first.*****

Even so, this is what the London Bisexual Group newsletters and other stuff were printed on for my years as its Hon Secretary.

HP LaserJet Series II and Series III - I've written about these before. As they went out of fashion, they became dead cheap while staying extraordinarily versatile thanks to an host of companies doing add-on stuff for it.

Dell laser printer - I can't remember which. I can remember getting it from a Freecycle event in Forest Hill c2010 and being pleasantly surprised it worked. When the LJ III stopped picking up paper reliably and the usual cures involving sand paper didn't work, it got replaced by this. The speed - about 16 pages a minute - was nice, but it failed to pick up paper after a couple of years and nothing I did could get it working properly. The first printer I had that used USB rather than a parallel port.

Brother HL-2250DN - the current one, bought for £85 in 2013. Does duplex and has a Ethernet port as well as USB so it's shared with everything here. Replaced in Brother's line by something slightly faster but more expensive, grr, but it's showing no sign of going worng.

* I'm sure I've told the story of breaking it by putting a floppy in the wrong way up. They were very nice about it...

** If the half-life is say three ticks rather than one, then 1/6 - a third of a half - must die each time, yes? No!

*** Several hundred compiler errors ending with 'Missing ; in line 3137' usually, indicating that you'd left one out somewhere in the preceding three thousand or so lines.

**** I've just tried.

***** Every cloud has a silver lining: the 256kiB chips ended up expanding a sound card, the lovely Gravis Ultrasound, the sound card to play DOOM with.

(Hmm, that's interesting - this didn't crosspost from on the 20th.)

Getting the rules wrong

Sep. 21st, 2016 10:58 pm
lovingboth: (mini me + poo)
[personal profile] lovingboth

Yesterday, someone found out they'd been playing a favourite board game wrongly / 'not according to the printed rules'. In this case, the missed rule makes a better game and the judgement involved is half the skill in something that has a lot of luck already.

But lots of people ignore rules. Few people play Monopoly without adding some variant or other, usually making it a worse game* by increasing the money supply or reducing limits on houses or.. Even the current rights owners have been guilty of that, including by adding another die to make it easier to land on squares you want to land on / easier to avoid ones you don't.

I've been taught games wrongly – the classic example was the game where the owner had missed that each turn you could do only one of four things and thought you could do all four, every turn. The game didn't last long…

Some people make a fortune out of it: Othello is Reversi with a restriction saying you have to start with one of two opening positions. Somehow, the Japanese patent office granted a patent on it anyway and the 'inventor' cleaned up.

Some games are improved by tweaks. I think one favourite has one mechanism, a favourite of the designer, too many and so do without it.

What's your missed / ignored / improved rule story?

* Feel free to substitute 'an even worse'…

Mirrored from my website's blog, The deranged mad of a brain man.

[personal profile] mjg59
There's a story going round that Lenovo have signed an agreement with Microsoft that prevents installing free operating systems. This is sensationalist, untrue and distracts from a genuine problem.

The background is straightforward. Intel platforms allow the storage to be configured in two different ways - "standard" (normal AHCI on SATA systems, normal NVMe on NVMe systems) or "RAID". "RAID" mode is typically just changing the PCI IDs so that the normal drivers won't bind, ensuring that drivers that support the software RAID mode are used. Intel have not submitted any patches to Linux to support the "RAID" mode.

In this specific case, Lenovo's firmware defaults to "RAID" mode and doesn't allow you to change that. Since Linux has no support for the hardware when configured this way, you can't install Linux (distribution installers will boot, but won't find any storage device to install the OS to).

Why would Lenovo do this? I don't know for sure, but it's potentially related to something I've written about before - recent Intel hardware needs special setup for good power management. The storage driver that Microsoft ship doesn't do that setup. The Intel-provided driver does. "RAID" mode prevents the Microsoft driver from binding and forces the user to use the Intel driver, which means they get the correct power management configuration, battery life is better and the machine doesn't melt.

(Why not offer the option to disable it? A user who does would end up with a machine that doesn't boot, and if they managed to figure that out they'd have worse power management. That increases support costs. For a consumer device, why would you want to? The number of people buying these laptops to run anything other than Windows is miniscule)

Things are somewhat obfuscated due to a statement from a Lenovo rep:This system has a Signature Edition of Windows 10 Home installed. It is locked per our agreement with Microsoft. It's unclear what this is meant to mean. Microsoft could be insisting that Signature Edition systems ship in "RAID" mode in order to ensure that users get a good power management experience. Or it could be a misunderstanding regarding UEFI Secure Boot - Microsoft do require that Secure Boot be enabled on all Windows 10 systems, but (a) the user must be able to manage the key database and (b) there are several free operating systems that support UEFI Secure Boot and have appropriate signatures. Neither interpretation indicates that there's a deliberate attempt to prevent users from installing their choice of operating system.

The real problem here is that Intel do very little to ensure that free operating systems work well on their consumer hardware - we still have no information from Intel on how to configure systems to ensure good power management, we have no support for storage devices in "RAID" mode and we have no indication that this is going to get better in future. If Intel had provided that support, this issue would never have occurred. Rather than be angry at Lenovo, let's put pressure on Intel to provide support for their hardware.
reddragdiva: (geek)
[personal profile] reddragdiva

One critical aspect of the plagues, though, was quickly refilling earth’s population. The Horvath had hidden a subtle genetic change in several of the viruses that were spread. The change had to do with female reproduction, especially in the “blonde” genetic subgroup. Women who were effected, and the spread had been very nearly one hundred percent, were subject to a “heat” cycle similar to male reproductive drive and pharmaceutical contraceptives were functionally useless. The Horvath had anticipated their plagues essentially depopulating the planet and wanted to ensure a steady supply of new human slaves.

Friendly Glatun medical AIs and doctors had stopped the plague from killing most of humanity but since most of the world’s population was infected by the orbitally distributed plagues, they were left with the problem of what was called “Johannsen’s Syndrome.” The only way to fix the global issue was a reverse plague. But not only were the ethical considerations against infecting people without their consent, to stop the Horvath plagues they’d immunized most of humanity with advanced nano-bots that stopped virtually any biological or nannite in its tracks. To undue the damage required multiple medical visits and advanced technology that, at that point, was fairly rare.

This left virtually every woman on the planet with so much as a trace of blonde gene as a baby factory. The first year after the plague, Germany had one birth for every reproductive aged female. Scandinavia at one point hit an average birth rate of 9.1, meaning that if the rate continued the average Scandinavian—Dane, Swedish and Norwegian—woman would bear nine children in her life. The teen pregnancy rate got completely out of control for about five years before education and cultural effects started to get a handle on the new reality.

It was all very well to say “be fruitful and multiply.” Johannsen’s made the situation simply insane. The nature of the plague meant that, in some cases, there were serial pregnancies meaning that more than one viable fetus was in the womb from multiple inseminations. Some women had three children in as many months.

There's more of this satirical Swiftian takedown here.


Sep. 20th, 2016 01:44 am
rbarclay: (Default)
[personal profile] rbarclay
Called my grandmother (paternal side) today, to announce we're back from the vacation safe&sound.
"Why haven't you called earlier do you still smoke have you shaved off the awful beard yet bet you didn't eat healthily why haven't you visited in 8 weeks when have you last been to church for confession do you sremeber that thing I bought you 30 years ago which I had to saaaave soooooo much money for and it was a hardship you know .." and then I finally managed to tune out.

This call made me, again, realise that, and why, I miss my (maternal side) grandfather so much. He was just happy when you called or visited, and never cross when you didn't - for whatever reason - for some time. I once asked him why he was so different, and the answer was "hey, you live your life, I live mine. If you've got a minute and use it to drop by, that's as much as anyone could ask for". It's too far to his grave to justify "dropping by", but here's to you, grandpa.