Pratchett Presents

Jul. 20th, 2017 10:30 am
cvirtue: CV in front of museum (Default)
[personal profile] cvirtue
I made this neck roll for my spouse:

Neck roll pillow in the form of a wizard who is an orangutan
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)
[personal profile] dsrtao
There's a certain kind of technically-inclined person who says that they want to take their smartphone out of their pocket, plug it into their monitor and keyboard, and use it as their desktop.

I don't think they've thought this through very well.

What I think that they mean by this is that they want seamless integration of state shared between environments. That is, they want to have access to all the same information, applications and capabilities regardless of the device that they are currently using.

That is approximately what Google is trying to do with the Google Apps system: stop using your calendar on your phone, start using it on your desktop, just with a bigger screen and better keyboard. It might not be that hard to build a secure state-sharing system to make every phone application migrate to your desktop when it's in range.

The phone itself, though, has the affordances of an always-carried pocket device. Every time you stand up to go consult with a colleague, use the bathroom or stretch your legs, you expect the phone to be with you. Even if you only need to unplug one cable, that's still a significant inconvenience, and a major strain on the connector. Short range wireless connections might be enough in the future, but can't possiblly be as performant as a direct cable.

 


Bah

Jul. 19th, 2017 10:12 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Reliable sources report the death of Jordin Kare.
sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey: passion)
[personal profile] sovay
My poems "A Death of Hippolytos" and "The Other Lives," published last October in The Cascadia Subduction Zone 6.4, are now free to read online with the rest of their issue. The first was inspired by Jules Dassin's Phaedra (1962) and especially by this afterthought, the second was written for Rose Lemberg after discussing Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness (1969). [personal profile] gwynnega has poetry in the same issue.

I had heard absolutely nothing of Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water (2017) until this afternoon, but the trailer makes it look like something I should very definitely see in December. It looks like William Alland and Jack Arnold's Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) retold through Jane Yolen's "The Lady and the Merman," which has haunted me since elementary school when I first read Neptune Rising: Songs and Tales of the Undersea Folk (1982). It looks sea-deep.

Speaking of oceanic things for which I may existentially blame Caitlín R. Kiernan: Delphine Cencig, "Poulpe Fiction."

In fact, I have another doctor's appointment tomorrow.
sovay: (PJ Harvey: crow)
[personal profile] sovay
Second doctor's appointment in as many days, coming up. First, links.

1. [personal profile] spatch sent me this handy-dandy list: "Times Doctor Who Was Ruined Forever." The site is snarky and some of their tags are jerkass, but the article itself is gold. "21/03/1981 – The best Doctor ever is replaced by a vet. Doctor Who dies."

2. Following my belated discovery of Jack Buchanan, I am pleased to see that the HFA will be showing Ernst Lubitsch's Monte Carlo (1930) on Friday. I wonder if I have ever actually seen Jeanette MacDonald.

3. I had no idea one of the performers of "The Grass Is Always Greener" was Lauren Bacall (and I think I had forgotten the song came from a musical by Kander and Ebb, although listening to its brassy swing, I don't know who else it could have been). Standing Room Only on WERS used to play it all the time. I like how her voice softens on the repeated line That's wonderful, but her unimpressed What's so wonderful? could pass for Elaine Stritch. This makes me desperately sad that Bacall never recorded "The Ladies Who Lunch."

4. This is a gorgeous photoset, but I would love to see the on-set photos from the shoot. Like, the backstage stuff. People just standing around on snack breaks, being Klimt paintings.

5. This was true last weekend as well, but I was at Readercon and couldn't do anything about it: [personal profile] spatch swapped in for one of the hosts of the PMRP's Murders and Scandals: Poe and Doyle at the last minute, so I'll see him this weekend on one of the nights I'm not seeing Jack Buchanan.
[personal profile] osewalrus
"A Communications Oligopoly on Steroids: Why Antitrust Enforcement and Regulatory Oversight in Digital Communications Matters" is a fun and exciting romp through our current messed up market and why we need to care about this.
http://equitablegrowth.org/report/a-communications-oligopoly-on-steroids/

Perfect summer reading for your inner wonk. 

Saaaaaaaaavvvvvvveeee mmmmmeeeeeeee

Jul. 19th, 2017 10:00 am
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
It turns out you can connect Calibre directly to Project Gutenberg.

Having downloaded a bunch of public domain books, I then went looking for the proper cover art. Interestingly, although I am convinced I owned mid-1970s editions of both Blackman's Burden and Border, Breed nor Birth, I can find no evidence those editions actually existed.

Another interesting thing. This is the list of science fiction books on PG and this is the list of science fiction works by women on PG.
mermaidlady: heraldic mermaid in her vanity (Default)
[personal profile] mermaidlady
1. Barre Class: I love Pure Barre, but between working downtown and rehearsing in Cambridge it's difficult to get to Brookline for a class. I just discovered a Bar Method studio two blocks from my office. And they have showers there, so I could take a lunchtime class. Also, their monthly membership is much cheaper than PB. But I still have a bunch of classes on my Pure Barre account. They're good for *five* years and a new studio is going to open in Harvard Sq., with the same owner as the Brookline one. I think they'll let me transfer my account and then I'll go there before rehearsals.

2. Easy fixes: I got a dunning notice form the MA Department of Revenue yesterday, saying that I hadn't paid my taxes. Which is of course absurd. Have you met me? I checked my bank records and there was the canceled check. I called this morning and the situation was remedied in 5 minutes. They had filed my payment under 2017. I was all set to get belligerent, but fortunately that was unnecessary.

3. New water heater: We now have a tankless water heater. It's so small! There's so much more room over by the laundry area. It does take a while to get hot water to the third floor, but we'll never have to worry about running out (or the tank failing) again.

4. Working from home: I work from home once or twice a week now. Some things are harder to do because I'm working on a PC remotely through a Mac and my home "office" isn't actually set up for all day working. On the other hand, I can do laundry, make a really nice lunch, maybe run out to the gym, snuggle with Albert, sit around all day in a big soft t-shirt, and still get all my work done.

5. Organization: The corner cabinet in our pantry was a mess. My baking supplies were in there as well as some junk and apparently some mice from time to time. Things were hard to find and inefficiently stored. Also, I hated my flour canister. It's supposed to be sealed, but the gasket always falls off the lid into the flour.

The other day I hauled everything out. I scrubbed the cabinet (can't find where the mice get in though). I bought some great containers for sugar and flour (and will probably get more. Yay, Prime). Reorganized everything. All the baking supplies I rarely use are now in the basement -- equipment in a box, oddball flours in the freezer. I just need to get another storage box for the empty tins, which should also live in the basement until needed and figure out where my enormous cake topper mold goes.

Bonus: Albert. He's just the best.
sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey)
[personal profile] sovay
Van Heflin's first starring role and the feature debut of director Fred Zinnemann, MGM's Kid Glove Killer is not a lost classic of crime cinema, but it is a fun little procedural of a B-picture with some sharp dialogue and more forensic detail than I've seen in this era until John Sturges' Mystery Street (1950); its technical tickyboxes include ballistic fingerprinting, fiber analysis, spectrography, endlessly labeled slides, and the first-rate chemistry in-joke of mocking up a reaction with dry ice so that the flask looks like it's got something really fancy going on inside it. The film's heroes are a pair of underpaid scientists working for the crime lab of the Chicago-ish city of Chatsburg, which has lately suffered the shocking double loss of both its crusading DA and its sincerely incorruptible mayor, neither of natural causes unless ropes, ponds, and car bombs can be filed under acts of God; despite the necessarily painstaking nature of their work, Heflin's Gordon McKay and Marsha Hunt's Jane Mitchell find themselves expected to deliver miracles on command, conjuring a killer's name out of the stray threads and burnt matches and dog hairs that might as well be so many oracle bones as far as the impatient police, press, and public are concerned. No one outright suggests railroading the small business owner seen loitering around the mayor's house the night before the explosion—furious that the new DA's vaunted crackdown on crime didn't extend to the hoods shaking him and his wife down for protection—but there's a lot of official pressure to connect the dots to Eddie Quillan's hot-headed innocent. In the meantime a sort of love triangle is progressing between the two scientists and one ambitious lawyer, although the viewer can't invest too much in the romantic suspense since our privileged information includes the identity of the murderer. I confess I'm not sure where the kid gloves came into it.

It is rare for me not to like Heflin in a film, even when he's playing kind of a dick, and he makes an engaging proto-nerd here, a slouchy, grouchy smart-ass in a lab coat who has managed to figure out that he's in love with his educated, attractive coworker but not yet that flirting by insult only works for Oscar Levant. (His eventual apology is legitimately adorable.) Hunt as Mitchell is nicely, unequivocally competent and has little time for her colleague's negging even as it's clear from space that she'd reciprocate his interest if he were only a little less schoolyard about it, but her character feels like a conservative compromise when she insists repeatedly—despite sufficient aptitude for chemistry that she has a master's degree in it—that forensics is "no career for a woman." I do appreciate that heteronormativity is defused at least once by McKay conceding wryly that it's "not much of a career for a man, either. No prestige, no glamour, no money. People holler at you when there are no miracles." I suppose it is also sociologically interesting that the script's anxiety about science and gender runs both ways—unless it's to prove that spending nine-tenths of your life behind a microscope doesn't make you less of a man, I have no idea why McKay is apparently incapable of confronting a suspect without a fight scene. He is otherwise not very macho, which I am fine with. He can't throw a dart straight to save his life. If the human heart were located in the right elbow, though, that firing-range target would have totally had it.

The extremely spoilery original trailer suggests that Kid Glove Killer was intended as the start of a series and I'm almost surprised it didn't happen—if Thin Man stand-ins Joel and Garda Sloane could get a trilogy, I don't see why we couldn't have enjoyed more McKay and Mitchell. As it is, the one film is all we've got. It runs 72 minutes and they are worth it all for the scene in which Heflin performs a precise, self-annotated mime of catching, cleaning, preparing, and then jettisoning a trout, all with the serious concentration of the slightly sloshed. He handles plain air so confidently, you can see the glint of the butter knife he's cleaning on the tablecloth and want to hand him one of those modern-day rubber grips for the ketchup bottle with the sticky cap. I have no idea if it was part of the original script or improvised on set or what on earth, but now I want to know where I can find more Van Heflin doing mime. He and Zinnemann would later reteam to superb and less comic effect in Act of Violence (1948). I appear to have seen Hunt as the Broadway-bent eldest of Frank Borzage's Seven Sweethearts (1942), but I don't hold it against her. Ava Gardner cameos as a cute married carhop. I hope to God mineral oil salad dressing is as much a thing of the past as the constant chain-smoking in chemically sensitive laboratory conditions. [edit: WHAT THE HELL IT'S NOT.] This investigation brought to you by my scientific backers at Patreon.

Fig and the big window

Jul. 18th, 2017 06:07 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Things that do not inspire Fig to go into hunting mode:

A baby rabbit

Things that do inspire Fig to go into hunting mode:

A robin
A 50 kilogram dog

adventures in pyromancy

Jul. 18th, 2017 12:51 pm
[personal profile] herooftheage
Today I tried out my new Weed Dragon flame thrower.

It is definitely not a WWII clear-out-the-bunkers flamethrower - fortunately. It's also more than a glorified heat gun. When fully operational, it spits out approximately a one-foot blowtorch-style flame. Today I just did a small test run on some weeds growing up out of the cracks in my driveway. It looks like it killed everything, but I'm going to check on Thursday to see if there's any regrowth involved.

My tentative conclusion is that this is a very useful weeding tool, but for me, at least, it takes two people to operate: one to run the blowtorch, and one to operate the garden hose. It's another thing Meredith and I will get to do together.

The smart pills apparently work

Jul. 17th, 2017 09:10 pm
[personal profile] herooftheage
So I've been having problems opening up the blister packs for the smart pills I take (basically, lithium and some other stuff). Today, I discovered that removing the thin plastic seal that covers the pop-out section makes getting the things out much easier. So apparently, the stuff works. :)
sovay: (Claude Rains)
[personal profile] sovay
So there is a famous scene in Sidney J. Furie's The Ipcress File (1965) in which Michael Caine's Harry Palmer impresses Sue Lloyd's attractive fellow counter-espionage agent with a home-cooked omelet prepared and plated as deftly as a fine restaurant; it impressed me, especially when he cracked the eggs one-handed (in a close-up cameo from author Len Deighton) without crumpling fragments of shell everywhere. I've still got this brace on my right hand, so [personal profile] spatch cooked me an omelet for dinner before he left for work tonight because he had made one for himself last night when he got home and it had looked beautiful and I'd have needed two working hands. With my one working hand, however, I can now crack an egg on the side of a bowl without crumpling fragments of shell everywhere two out of three times (the third time required some fishing) and I am genuinely pretty proud of this fact.

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Alexx Kay

June 2017

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