July 2017

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Monday, September 25th, 2017 07:24 pm
I was going to explore my reactions to Star Trek: Discovery(AKA "DSC") in greater depth, and you may expect that later in this entry. For the moment, a surprising bit of news from closer to home arrived this morning: Rick Mercer's announcement that the Mercer Report will be closing up shop at the end of what will be its fifteenth season CBC Television.

Allow me to share his announcement via his own recording...



I admit that I see this as another sign of something akin to a Canadian Apocalypse. Some of you who've been watching this weblog for a while will be making informed deductions and/or guesses as to what some of the other signs are.

I'm not happy. But it's Rick's choice to make. Not mine. Not CBC's.

Okay, on to DSC.

What we ended up getting on Sunday night, after delays thanks to CBS' contractual obligations to the NFL impacting on BellMedia's obligations to CBS, was the first two episodes of DSC. Aired back to back, with "The Vulcan Hello" followed immediately by "Battle at the Binary Stars". Together they form what you might call either a prologue or a full Act One of the first season's larger story.

Without giving away too much, it's a good setup for whatever else we're about to get this year.

I'm still getting over my bout of design history dissonance considering this is supposed to be happening about a year after the events of "The Cage" and ten years before "Where No Man Has Gone Before". The uniforms, the user interface designs, the starship architecture...all seem a bit out of place with those two episodes of the original series. We're being promised explanations and evolution over time, to be sure. How fast the production team delivers is up to them. Our reactions to that speed - or the lack of it - are up to us.

Just about everything else: the scripts, the performances of the live actors, the visual effects work...all meet my hopes.

That visual dissonance remains. For now, anyway.

One bit of advice to CBS and its production partners: please show the episode titles in the episode itself.
Monday, September 25th, 2017 07:00 am

Posted by Tim

Hahaha, holy shit.

Promised vs Delivered.

I almost pre-ordered for this (and the statues), because I’m a sucker for all things Marvel. Dodged a bullet there.

Monday, September 25th, 2017 11:59 pm
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Sunday, September 24th, 2017 12:25 pm
"Hotumn" continues in Ottawa-Gatineau. Sweat from scalp to soles is normal-abnormal right now. Sleep continues to be a luxury item by virtue of being a medical necessity.

The Invictus Games are underway in Toronto, as are the German elections, the continuing weather/climate turmoil in the Caribbean Islands, the post-quake trauma in several regions of Mexico...and on it goes. This world continues to be a busy place, defying anyone's ability to fully understand it at any one moment. I can still live with that.

The Big Event for me as a science fiction fan tonight is Star Trek: Discovery's opening episode, "The Vulcan Hello". I can't say that I'm pleased with the idea of the series being available by subscription-streaming over the Net everywhere else on the planet, but at least Canada's managed to avoid that for now via Space Channel.

Also, I'm still getting used to this being the first Trek branch-series filmed on soundstages outside the USA. In Toronto, of all places. Just over four hours away from me by passenger train. This wasn't a thing I'd ever really expected to happen. Sure, I'd imagined branch series created for every language in which Trek is watched these days in the places where those languages were most presently in use. Which was probably less than practical, even nowadays.

Not sure yet about the design aesthetics of the series, but we'll see how it goes. Looking forward to those maps they've been talking about in Lorca's ready room...
Sunday, September 24th, 2017 11:59 pm
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Saturday, September 23rd, 2017 09:06 am
Originated by: Oktoberfest Hero @Palle_Hoffstein

A whole lot of folks on here believe society doesn't owe anyone a job or health care but somehow believe women owe them a date.

Sep 22, 2017

I know I couldn't have said it better meownself.
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Saturday, September 23rd, 2017 11:59 pm
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Saturday, September 23rd, 2017 12:16 am

Posted by Tim

If you don’t use ad block, you’re going to notice some new ad locations on the website this week. If you do use ad block, well, you won’t see them… which is the reason they’re there.

To be clear, that is not a judgement or an accusation. I understand and sympathize with the various reasons to use an ad blocker. Especially since with the ad exchanges, we can’t always control the ads showing up on our site. I’m not going to make some big pitch about the evil of ad block and implore you to disable it; if you choose to use it, that’s your decision and your right. But as a website owner who relies on advertising income, the proliferation of ad blockers and their indiscriminate use has had an unmistakable impact on the way that side of the business functions. And it’s something we have to find ways to deal with.

Let’s get this out on the table right up front: I don’t like the new ads. I don’t really want them on the website, and I’ve yet to decide if they’ll stay. We’re doing a sort of trial with them at the moment so that we can collect hard data on their performance and so I could see them in practice. There’s some garbage at the bottom of the page, and occasionally a video ad in the corner that should not play sound unless you mouse over it.

I don’t like them, but I’m also faced with having to at least seriously consider their use. Advertising income is directly responsible for keeping this site running. I don’t mean that in a “I need to eat so I can keep working” sort of way, although that is certainly part of it. I mean the revenue generated by advertising pays for the server to keep this website online and the personnel to monitor/respond to issues.

And so I’m torn between not wanting to cover my website in ads, and not wanting to leave money on the table, so to speak. Especially now that I have a family to support, I feel added pressure to take steps I might not worry too much about if it were just me alone. It’s hard not to be keenly aware of the percentage of traffic that uses ad blockers, and not wonder if that deficit could be made up at least in part by certain ads that offer a higher payout, even if they are a bit gross.

Ideally, I could convince more people to support the website with $1 a month via Patreon and not even need ads. But that requires active participation whereas placing ads on a page is a passive method of the support; the reader doesn’t have to do anything extra. They’re already loading the page for the comic. They visit the site, and someone else gives me some money.

So, that’s the long and short of it. It’s why ads are there to begin with, and it’s why we’ve added some new ones. Like I said, it may or may not be permanent. Part of me wants them to not be worth it so I can get rid of them, and part of me worries about what the next step is if they don’t work out.

Friday, September 22nd, 2017 11:59 pm
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Friday, September 22nd, 2017 05:05 am

The Moon, three planets, and a bright star gathered near the The Moon, three planets, and a bright star gathered near the


Thursday, September 21st, 2017 11:59 pm
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Thursday, September 21st, 2017 04:32 am

Most photographs don't adequately portray the magnificence of the Most photographs don't adequately portray the magnificence of the


Wednesday, September 20th, 2017 06:26 am
I learned last night that apparently my iPad can take the update, so apparently it is an iPad Mini 2. So that's cool. And I may go ahead and risk upgrading my phone. I'm pushing my departure back to Thursday from Wednesday: I didn't get everything done that I needed to do, including reviewing five long boxes of comics in case there's anything that I want to keep (possible but not very likely), and the difficulty of loading my car since I recovered four banker boxes of comics from my storage unit yesterday afternoon. I'm not sure if it's all of my comics, I know there's three or more long boxes at my parent's that I'll deal with when I get there, but that'll be a vast bulk of them and a lot of space recovered.

On top of that, only 3 hours of sleep last night. AND one of the nose pads fell out of my reading glasses. Found the nose pad, fortunately I have a spare screw from a previous broken set of reading glasses.

I forgot to mention a new feature of iOS 11 that should be interesting: you have a Do Not Disturb mode for driving: anyone texting you receives an autoreply saying that you're driving and will get back to them later. I like that. Definitely appealing when you're about to set out on a 500 mile drive. I'm doing a different outbound route that a friend says is much more picturesque, so we'll see. It's also rather cellular dead, which causes me a slight amount of apprehension. Just need to fuel up and hit the restroom before hitting that 200 mile stretch.
Wednesday, September 20th, 2017 01:34 am
Maybe that was midnight Cupertino time, I don't know. Regardless, both of our iPads are too old, as is my wife's iPhone 4S. That leaves my iPhone 6 as the only device that can run it, and since I'm about to head for Phoenix and I won't have my iMac with me for a system restore should something glitch, I think I'll hold off a bit. For that matter, the new MacOS is supposed to drop in a couple of days, and I won't be upgrading to that until I get back from Phoenix, so I'll probably just do a device upgrade frenzy when I get back.

Some of the features in iOS 11 are pretty cool. I like the 'press the power key 5 times to disable the fingerprint reader', definitely cool. It doesn't materially affect me as I don't use the fingerprint reader to unlock my phone, but that's OK. And they've apparently made the reverse video mode more intelligent for not reversing images, which is good. I really wish they had an override for web pages and such so you could force white letters on black background, for example. That's what I love about Ars Technica and hate about most others, I find white on black to be much easier on my eyes.

But I DO NOT like updating my phone apps over WiFi (as I wrote about last week), I thought loading apps through iTunes was easy and one-stop syncing. They've just increased the hassle and it's likely to increase the time between me doing updates from daily to weekly or monthly or whenever. Which increases potential security vulnerabilities, which ticks me off. iTunes should be a framework that supports plug-ins, then all they'd have to do is write a plug-in that reads the app store for just iPhone/iPad/Watch apps, and re-casts them in to the iTunes framework. It's still just one app store, it just looks like two.

Twits.

GET OFF MY LAWN! Kids these days.

(In a totally unrelated incident, I got "Sir'd" last week! I was sitting in a barber shop waiting for my guy to finish with his current client, and the other guys started talking about horror movies. I'm not a big horror movie fan, so I didn't participate until later. Now, this barber shop is an actual barber shop, not a hair salon, run by 30-somethings with tattoos up to their necks and possibly beyond, smoking their e-cigs and playing that reissued Nintendo Classic that came out last year when they're slow. I don't really care. So what if they're young. I piped up about some movie, I don't remember what, throwing in my $0.002 worth, and this one barber later comes over and apologizes, saying that he didn't know that he had an older gentleman in the shop and they wouldn't have been talking like that if they'd known! Yes, dude, I'm 55, and some day you'll be there, too, if you're lucky. Maybe I'm moving towards the far side of middle-age, but trust me, though I am growing older I definitely have not remotely grown up. In my headspace I'm still a 30-something, though my body constantly reminds me that I am not. I laughed at him, reassured him that I was not offended, then told them a pretty grizzly story about a quietly spectacular suicide that happened while I was working for the police department. The crime lab was in the basement as was computer services, and the car that this guy offed himself in was so pungent that finally I told my boss that I'm taking off for the day. The fire department later used that car as burn practice.

I'll go in to no further details, unless people want it, in which case I'll put it in a new post under a cut.)
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Wednesday, September 20th, 2017 11:59 pm
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Wednesday, September 20th, 2017 04:13 am

Wisps like this are all that remain visible of a Milky Way star.  Wisps like this are all that remain visible of a Milky Way star.


Tuesday, September 19th, 2017 09:10 am
Apparently. In March they brought in the company that is investigating the May-July breech. These seem to be the same intruders.

From Slashdot:
Equifax Suffered a Hack Almost Five Months Earlier Than the Date It Disclosed (bloomberg.com)
Posted by BeauHD on Monday September 18, 2017 @05:20PM from the earlier-than-expected dept.
Bloomberg is reporting that Equifax, the credit reporting company that recently reported a cybersecurity incident impacting roughly 143 million U.S. consumers, learned about a breach of its computer systems in March -- almost five months before the date it has publicly disclosed. The company said the March breach was unrelated to the recent hack involving millions of U.S. consumers, but one of the people familiar with the situation said the breaches involve the same intruders. From the report:

Equifax hired the security firm Mandiant on both occasions and may have believed it had the initial breach under control, only to have to bring the investigators back when it detected suspicious activity again on July 29, two of the people said. Equifax's hiring of Mandiant the first time was unrelated to the July 29 incident, the company spokesperson said. The revelation of a March breach will complicate the company's efforts to explain a series of unusual stock sales by Equifax executives. If it's shown that those executives did so with the knowledge that either or both breaches could damage the company, they could be vulnerable to charges of insider trading. The U.S. Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into the stock sales, according to people familiar with the probe.

In early March, they said, Equifax began notifying a small number of outsiders and banking customers that it had suffered a breach and was bringing in a security firm to help investigate. The company's outside counsel, Atlanta-based law firm King & Spalding, first engaged Mandiant at about that time. While it's not clear how long the Mandiant and Equifax security teams conducted that probe, one person said there are indications it began to wrap up in May. Equifax has yet to disclose that March breach to the public.


https://it.slashdot.org/story/17/09/18/230234/equifax-suffered-a-hack-almost-five-months-earlier-than-the-date-it-disclosed

The Bloomberg original story has auto-start videos.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-18/equifax-is-said-to-suffer-a-hack-earlier-than-the-date-disclosed
Tuesday, September 19th, 2017 05:55 am
On fictional user interface design for film and TV:

http://www.idnworld.com/imprints/FUI-DesignFilmGames

On Brexit's campaign against anti-corruption efforts (and yes, I wrote that as intended):

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/19/opinion/brexit-britain-corruption.html
Tuesday, September 19th, 2017 11:59 pm
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Monday, September 18th, 2017 09:30 pm

Posted by Costello

Every convention we attend, the lovely and talented Lar deSouza takes commissions from LFG’s legion of fans, creating original art tailored to their hearts and minds. You already know that Lar is a creative genius. What you might not know […]

The post Top Comments and Best Con Sketches appeared first on Looking For Group.

Monday, September 18th, 2017 09:42 pm
Since the series is going to air on Space Channel here in Canada - thank the Great Bird, the Prophets, the Grand Material Continuum, Surak and Kahless for that! - I do plan to watch the series. I do not like this "streaming-subscription" business model.

Noting the first four episode titles per trekmovie.com:
  • The Vulcan Hello
  • Battle at the Binary Stars
  • Context is for Kings
  • The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry


Some attention-getters as episode titles go, yes?
Monday, September 18th, 2017 07:25 am

One of the brightest galaxies in planet Earth's sky is similar in size One of the brightest galaxies in planet Earth's sky is similar in size


Monday, September 18th, 2017 11:59 pm
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