September 24th, 2017
mtbc: photograph of me (Default)
posted by [personal profile] mtbc at 05:57pm on 24/09/2017
On yesterday evening BBC television showed the band Foo Fighters performing in London and I got to thinking about the original foo fighters: lights seeming to exhibit fast movement and direction changes, named before the term flying saucer was coined, though I am not aware that foo fighters' shape was discerned. Nonetheless, they were seen by many wartime pilots from countries on both sides of WWII.

I had been expecting to now be able to search the web and find some reasonably widely accepted explanation for these lights. With the Bermuda Triangle we have a theory about methane release from the ocean floor making the seawater less dense and so on. However, even an article last year in Air & Space Magazine does not give the impression that anything convincing was ever figured out about foo fighters though some ideas were circulated. I wonder what caused them to be seen.
hrrunka: My garden in the summer (garden)
posted by [personal profile] hrrunka at 06:09pm on 24/09/2017 under , ,
Most of the rest of Saturday was more of the same.

It's been a fine sunny day, if not especially warm. This morning I joined the usual radio club Net on 160 metres for an hour or so, and then spent a while trying to sort out some family and radio club loose ends. After lunch I tackled the trimming of the hedge on the western side of the garden. It needed a lot of trimming, and it would probably have been better if it had been done a while back, but the folk next door had also decided to tackle their side of it, and the weather meant it wasn't an unpleasant task. It did take a while, though. Inevitably the garden bin, which was emptied on Friday morning, is now full again, and won't be emptied for almost a fortnight, but that's OK.

Now, time to try to deal with some of the other loose ends that need it. Ingress is done. Duolingo next.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
posted by [personal profile] rmc28 at 01:13pm on 24/09/2017 under , , ,
1. I was just saying to my boss this week that I was quite proud of keeping my migraines under control more lately; guess what I got yesterday? So annoying, especially as I'd been looking forward to a friend's party that I ended up missing.

2. I am very slowly beginning to tackle the backlog of Stuff I Kept Putting Off While Studying; this week has been all about the clothes / fabric. I have assorted piles of worn-out clothes and out-grown clothes accumulating around my room. I pulled out all the actually worn-out stuff, and bagged that up to go to recycling. I bagged up two sets of bedding we never use for the charity shop. I bought myself some underwear that doesn't have holes in, and added all the ones that did to the recycling bags, along with my oldest & least useful bras. I sorted through my socks, and chucked a good few pairs in the recycling bags, and a few others into the charity bag. Finally I ended up sorting through my stash of pretty scarves and wraps and kept only the ones that I really love and may actually wear more than once a year. (I sort of aspire to be someone who routinely wears pretty scarves etc but in practice I am never that put-together very often.)

3. I took the charity bag to the EACH shop, and came back with a very shiny pair of not!DMs and a metallic blue stripey hat. (Amusingly, I had been whinging this week about needing new shoes for winter, and hating shoe shopping, so that was very well timed.)

4. Last Saturday I watched Robocop with [personal profile] fanf . He was inspired by this post (linked by [personal profile] andrewducker ), and I'd never previously watched it - not on purpose, just never got round to it. It's very very Paul Verhoeven isn't it? Gratuitious mixed-sex shower scene, gory violence, horrible-future-media & horrible-future-adverts. Although my reaction to the project manager with the huge glasses was a. love those glasses b. you are really enjoying imagining watsisface having his hand broken c. please tell me watsisface dies horribly after forcing a kiss on you and taking credit for your work (spoiler - he does). Watsisface really is a walking example of the unwarranted confidence of the mediocre white man.

5. Nicholas saw Trolls at holiday/after school clubs and asked for his own copy. It's not awful, and I like the music, but after sitting through it with him three times in less than a week, I think I have had enough of it for now. The trailers on it include Home (based on The True Meaning of Smekday) which I've been meaning to watch, and Nicholas is keen to do so too, so hopefully I'll enjoy that more.
mtbc: maze J (red-white)
posted by [personal profile] mtbc at 07:54am on 24/09/2017 under
Now I have been told that I could find cheap +1.00 glasses helpful I find that the next step is not as simple as I naively hoped: consumer research indicates that some ready-made pairs of glasses are not carefully made, optical issues including positioning of the centers and accurate lens strength. In the UK it seems that those from Boots and from Superdrug's Foster Grant range get good reviews consistently, albeit from a rather small sample size.
mtbc: maze I (white-red)
posted by [personal profile] mtbc at 07:05am on 24/09/2017 under
These days I no longer have to do remote system administration professionally but I still occasionally help out on a personal basis. With modern Linux systems I find it most awkward to help with font issues; perhaps I do not understand enough of GTK+ and whatnot for me to detect what is happening and why.

I have been working on a different longstanding display issue with a decade-old Nvidia graphics card: X.Org was persistently setting only a 1024×768 display mode and my various adjustments failed to change that. Of course, trying to fix display problems from a distance is rarely easy.

Yesterday I finally hit upon the culprit: in /etc/default/grub I found included among GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX the option vga=791. This seems to cause the direct rendering manager to complain, KMS not enabled. I guess that the VGA mode directive somehow gets in the way of the later mode-setting. I am afraid that it is all rather unobvious to me but at least this problem is now fixed.
September 23rd, 2017
mtbc: maze B (white-black)
posted by [personal profile] mtbc at 09:22pm on 23/09/2017 under
From Oxfam I am pleased to have obtained an old hardback in good condition of Dorothy Hartley's Food in England. From her writing she seems a positively interesting person. I have been curious about what English cuisine was like before the changes in society wrought by the twentieth century and she does a very good job of providing a detailed picture of what people ate and how they made it, especially in rural communities; clearly she has been a curious traveler. While the book does have organization, it is also delightfully random: one never knows quite what the next section will bring. I appreciate how she keenly relates so much about ways that are now largely forgotten, at least in the world I know.
posted by [personal profile] swaldman at 08:54pm on 23/09/2017 under , , , , ,
Last week was my last at my short-term research job. I have the coming week full-time to get my thesis finished. I've committed to delivering a complete draft by the end of the month. This feels achievable.

This weekend is Edinburgh Doors Open (the equivalent of London's Open House weekend). This morning I went on a walking tour by the Scottish Waterways Trust along the Union Canal. It was a nice walk through some countryside, and I also learned about some of the industrial heritage of the city. I used to be fascinated by this stuff in London, and I'd missed that.

In the afternoon I took a bus over to Portobello to visit the house of two architects and their family. They have a child who is a full-time wheelchair user, and they designed the house from scratch around the idea of step-free access - it's interesting, and beyond the whole "ramp" theme, it's always nice to see what happens when creative people can be daring without worrying about their clients' reactions. I remember thinking, years ago, about the lighting scheme I would put in my own house if I had the cash, which I would never dare propose to a client.

Lothian Buses had an open day at their depot today, and to co-incide with that they had lots of vintage buses running on a particular route, which would take me home from Portobello. That didn't especially interest me, but by pure fluke the bus that came along first was not an old one but a very new one - one of the first all-electric buses that is on trial in Edinburgh. I'd never really thought about electric buses as a possible thing, for the same reason that I'm sceptical about electric taxis or trucks, at least with current technology - heavy load and long continuous use. We only drive our cars for about 5% of the time, but commercial vehicles get used a lot more, which had made me discount battery power. BUT buses spend an awful lot of that time stopped, or moving slowly, and electric ones don't need power when they're stopped, and regenerate a lot of what they've used when they slow down.... so range is relevant rather than time-in-service, and a 150 mile range probably is enough for a city centre service to go all day, and then some. This bus had some fan noise on the back seat, which is next to the batteries, but was otherwise quiet, vibration-free, and not pouring particulates into Edinburgh's air. I like!

Tomorrow I must start work on the final chapter of the thesis. Also, clean the house.

Mood:: 'tired' tired
bens_dad: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] bens_dad at 08:36pm on 23/09/2017 under
If Uber doesn't employ its "partners" (drivers), how does its licence to run mini-cabs in London cover them ?
If partners are sub-contractors, don't they need their own licences ?
Mood:: 'confused' confused
hilarita: trefoil carving (Default)
posted by [personal profile] hilarita at 03:55pm on 23/09/2017 under
Cut for boringness for many people. But I won a Line Sprint, pretty vanilla Minotaur Fighter of Uskayaw
Read more... )
hrrunka: A small radio transceiver (morse)
posted by [personal profile] hrrunka at 10:51am on 23/09/2017 under , ,
On Wednesday evening I listened a bit to Morse on the 80 metre band, which was busier than usual thanks to a short contest. Then I joined the local radio club VHF Net for an hour or so of chat.

On Thursday morning I was up in good time for the GB2CW Morse practice broadcast, and didn't do too badly. I did get one word of the 8wpm passage and one digit in the numbers wrong, when usually I copy everything just fine in those, but I also only got one word wrong in the 12wpm passage, which is a few fewer than usual.

The weather on Friday was fine and warm. I did quite a bit of Ingress in addition to my normal walk to the shops. There was no gaming in the evening, but I managed to tie up a few travel loose ends in the course of the evening.

This morning's started rather grey, weather-wise. I hope it will improve. There's stuff I need to get done, and some of it demands dry conditions. The forecast for tomorrow is, at the moment, brighter, so I guess some of that may wait.
mtbc: maze C (black-yellow)
posted by [personal profile] mtbc at 08:23am on 23/09/2017 under ,
The current iteration of our website at work is well-received but some of its a tags for the hyperlinks use a target="_blank" attribute which means that a new tab or window is always opened when one clicks on the link. That this persistently irritates me makes me suspect that I may be an atypical visitor to the website.

For the most part I think of browser tabs as to-dos. For mouse-like peripherals I use input devices that offer me at least three buttons. For hyperlinks I expect one of the buttons to replace the content in the current tab and another to open the content in a new tab. So, I always have effortless means at hand to select one behavior or the other and this manual target override feels like that choice is removed to no good end.

I hypothesize that we may have gone with this website design because it works better for people with more normal setups and that mine is abnormally useful by default. Alternatively, I may be unusual in being mindful of the choice of where to open the new content as I click around.
September 22nd, 2017
mtbc: maze N (blue-white)
posted by [personal profile] mtbc at 07:42pm on 22/09/2017 under
Via [personal profile] andrewducker I found a recent YouGov poll revealing that a majority of the British public does not consider it unacceptable or racist to sell or display a golliwog doll. Liberal Democrats tend to be among the minority but they are used to that. Regarding golliwogs I am in the majority so I felt obliged to reflect on this. For me it is not just about if things are in fun because I would have a problem with, for example, somebody using a Ku Klux Klan costume for fancy dress at Hallowe'en. So, why the difference in my instincts?

I suppose that I regard golliwogs as being of a more ambiguous character and I do not wish racist people success in defining things according to their favored interpretation. The significance of a KKK costume is unambiguous but many have used golliwog toys without ill meaning. My feeling is usually that it is worth the risk of reminding people of bad things if it allows other interpretations to prevail through still being used, or at least not to die into obsolescence without a fight.

This is why I have been irritated by the acceptance of words like oriental as being offensive. That a once fine word has been used offensively does not require that as a community we should accept that it now entails intent to demean. Offensive meanings gain power and they occupy increasingly many symbols if innocent uses are denied currency.

Naturally I am open to being persuaded that I am wrong to want to preserve an innocent view of golliwogs but I suspect that whatever insulting baggage they bring is rather more a symptom than a cause of the societal issues that need fixing.
hilarita: trefoil carving (Default)
posted by [personal profile] hilarita at 07:51pm on 22/09/2017 under ,
And some other things that aren't otters. But mostly, otters.

Before going to the Lib Dem party conference, Drswirly and I went to stay in Christchurch, because of its proximity to the New Forest Wildlife Centre, which has a lot of otters. Did I mention the otters?
I found Christchurch a bit stultifying, and the kind of place I don't at all feel at home in, because it's quite clear that I'm not really their type of person. Christchurch was the kind of place that had a UKIP office prominently on one of the main streets. (It's now shut, which is definitely an improvement, but Christchurch was definitely a UKIP heartland.) It was next to a curry house, which I found mildly pleasing, though I'm not so sure the curry house owners would have agreed. We went to otters first, and then later wandered round the town. (I haven't posted pictures of the town; it's not that interesting. There's a mildly interesting bit of castle, and a mildly interesting Norman church (in places), but it's not really a particularly notable example of the genre. I may upload some bits to wikimedia commons, if I can be arsed to manage their categorisation system.)

I'm going to put a cut in, because there are a lot of otters.
Read more... )
For those people who didn't wade through the pictures of mustelidae, you should at least look at:
a gif of a contact-juggling otter!

and a short video of a giant otter squacking on command.
marnanel: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] marnanel at 03:39pm on 22/09/2017 under
I've always dressed androgynously and worn my hair long since childhood, because of being nonbinary, but this was the first time I'd got this treatment. I think it gets more common after puberty?

When I was about fifteen, I participated in a thirty-mile walk to raise money for charity. The final checkpoint was a pub, and of course everyone went into the beer garden and lay down on the grass.

Now you know how when you've been exerting yourself, you can walk fine until you stop, whereupon your muscles seize up. Well, after lying on the ground for a few minutes I got up because I needed to go into the pub and find the toilet, and of course I could hardly walk. So I hobbled towards the pub door.

A middle-aged man walked up and held my elbow, saying, "Let me help you, my dear."

First thought: wtf?! Why has this creep grabbed my arm without asking?

Second thought: Oh! In these baggy walking clothes, he thinks I'm a girl.

Third thought: Wait a moment. That means that girls get this sort of treatment all the time and I'VE NEVER NOTICED.

It was seriously a life-altering moment.
September 21st, 2017
mtbc: maze C (black-yellow)
posted by [personal profile] mtbc at 07:14pm on 21/09/2017 under ,
At work we seem good at accumulating to-do items. Our Trac has many open tickets. Back when our workload was lighter, from Trac I would pick off the occasional longstanding bug and fix it. We since moved to Trello where we already have many labeled cards spread across many long lists on many boards. Trello is a virtual version of how I used to array post-it notes on my cabinets and walls. I have some thoughts about how this large backlog of Trello cards can be organized but in general there is an interesting management problem to be solved that our move from Trac to Trello does not much address.

I wonder how other large projects manage. Our increasingly many backlogged Trello cards do capture a lot of useful ideas, knowhow, investigation, etc. even if they must presently lie dormant. It is difficult to maintain enough awareness of them to know which to promote when to a more active board. We have other non-backlog boards for specific versions and products that reflect intent to act on their cards. Personally I fear that, as with Trac, we are already approaching a point where whole regions of our Trello space are largely neglected and forgotten, though by no means worthless.

I find Trello far from ideal but, assuming that we keep using it, I wonder what approach is best. Personally I favor dividing the backlog among our team, handing items around as best fits what we know. The idea is that we would each spend just a little time each week organizing our part and cycling a little further through it. Many of the to-do's in our brief review should be quickly handled as it still not being their time or accepting that they will never happen. Then, management need only consider those that members of our team put forward as candidates for acting on.
hilarita: casting my stoat (stoat)
posted by [personal profile] hilarita at 03:26pm on 21/09/2017 under ,
...as a member of the Lib Dems.

tl;dr - Conference is a pretty excellent place, provided that, unlike me, you have more social skills than a dead hermit.

Quite a lot of Conference is for the srs activist and/or candidate for some kind of political office. There is a fuckton of training, if that's your sort of thing.

However, they've also put quite a lot of effort into general activities, and activities for newbies. Sadly, some of those activities clashed with Important Brexitty debates (which was a bit of a problem this year, because of the number of new people who'd joined specifically because we're one of the less fuckwitted parties over Brexit*). Also, some of these were in the evening, by which time my energy had buggered off somewhere and was having a little lie down. 8/10, would work better for those people who aren't snooze stoats.

They're also encouraging of having new people speak at Conference, which was extremely good. They were very keen to put new members to good use. I found the info on how to fill in Speaker's Cards and so on very useful. 9/10 (I'm docking one point because I'd dearly love there to be a web form, not a pdf or a piece of paper.)

The debates were generally very well run - there's a clear protocol, and people follow it. Most of the motions seemed well-chosen; I'm grateful for those people who've blogged about the process involved with choosing motions and amendments - it really helped me to work out what was going on. 9/10

OK, you get some points for having a Conference app. But you lose several points for the navigation system. Sorry. 5/10, must try harder.

And I'm incredibly glad that I got to take part in Lib Dem policy making, because, as a member, I got a vote! I could turn up, and vote on motions! It's almost like it's a democracy or something! 10/10

So - good Conference. I'm not sure I'll go again, because I'm almost totally incapable of spontaneously talking to people (I can respond when people come up to me, but this is generally insufficient for these kinds of events). Also, just being around so many people (lovely though the people were that I spoke to) was very draining. I've spent most of the past 48hrs on the sofa, with the Internet and computer games (and my partner). Fortunately, this Conference was at a time when I could roll it into my annual leave, so I have time to recover. It didn't really help that Bournemouth and my asthma don't mix well, especially with a hotel on East Cliff. I'd prefer flatter cities for Conference.

I'd like to be more involved with LD policy making, but preferably from my sofa, where I don't have to go anywhere and pretend that I can pass for a reasonably sociable human being.

* We're still being rather incoherent, split, and downright confused about how to present our extremely strong support for the EU, because every so often people whinge But The Will Of The Peeeeople... We're managing to clear the low bar set by the Conservatives and Labour, but frankly, toddlers can step over that bar nine times out of ten.
September 20th, 2017
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
What I've read: short fiction
Actually read this week:Some of the backlog (all DSF):

What I've read: long fiction

Banishment by M.C. Beaton, which is the first of six apparently-fluffy Regency romances about six beautiful sisters and a malevolent stately home, recommended as a Yuletide fandom (thanks [personal profile] ceb for the pointer!)  This one was indeed the promised fast, lighthearted read, in which the family lose their beautiful stately home and much of their wealth, and (some of them) begin to learn Important Lessons About Not Being Awful To Other People.  And the first of the beautiful daughters finds true love, etc.  The remaining five in the series are now on their way so I can find out just how malevolent the house gets ...

hrrunka: A small radio transceiver (radio)
posted by [personal profile] hrrunka at 06:58pm on 20/09/2017 under , , , , ,
The radio club meeting on Monday evening was a busy informal fix-it evening. A number of strange bits of kit were being worked on. I just went for the chat, and was feeling tired enough that I didn't stay all that long.

On Tuesday the weather was slightly lees grey and damp. I finally got round to doing a bit of work in the garden. I gave about ten feet of hedge a bit of a trim, and that left the garden waste ben almost completely full. In the evening there was another radio club meeting, but this involved a couple of short talks. They seemed to generate a fair bit of interest. I got home a bit later than usual, and discovered that my home *DSL was not performing. A bit of research using the mobile's data eventually revealed a notice about "Planned Maintenance" affecting about 150 exchanges including the one I'm on. As the maintenance was scheduled to run from 10pm to 6am I decided I'd have an early night. I think the network actually came back sometime around 2am...

This morning I decided I needed to get out of the house, so I packed some radio and geocache kit into the car and headed off. First stop was a geocache I hid back in 2002 which was in need of a fresh logbook. I took the opportunity to clean it out a little, removing the rubbish and adding a few new swaps. The weather was a bit grey and the path a little muddy, but the walk wasn't a bad one.

After that I headed back to a view point car park which is a good starting point for the nearby SOTA summit. I'd taken a packed lunch, so I ate that while looking at the (rather grey) view, then grabbed my radio kit and walked to the summit. Now, this particular summit is one I'd normally not have considered bothering to re-visit, but it is the one nearest my home. There's a large water tank and a couple of communication towers at the summit. Today there were four work vans at the summit, and work going on. If I'd taken a hand-held and a suitable antenna I could have considered activating the summit on VHF or UHF, but there was nowhere accessible I could set up my HF antenna sensibly, so I decided to abandon the SOTA idea and come home. Frustrating...
hilarita: trefoil carving (Default)
posted by [personal profile] hilarita at 06:37pm on 20/09/2017 under ,
Apparently, when on holiday with less internet, I read books.

Raven Stratagem, Yoon Ha Lee (2017)
The second in the series. Once again, really, really horrific things are happening (mostly off-screen). Our main character from the first novel isn't our POV - we see them through others' eyes. It does quite a good job of misdirecting us, doing some very interesting plotting and politics and stuff. I don't think it's quite as good as its predecessor, but it's a pretty damn good book

All Systems Red, Martha Wells (2017. Novella)
Our protagonist is called "Murderbot"! It's great. Main story of conspiracies, survival, with a side order of AIs, augmented humans and personhood. Murderbot is a fantastic character to get to know.

The Last Good Man, Linda Nagata (2017)
Near-future thriller, looking at the way robots and drones are taking over military operations. Also, usual military morality stuff (when is shooting the shit out of things and/or people justified? what should you do when your people are captured by The Enemy (TM)). It's a pretty good example of the genre, if you like that kind of thing (which I do).

The Prey of Gods, Nicky Drayden (2017)
Set in South Africa. Proper SFF (with robots, AIs, and demigods coming to fuck your shit up). Comes with a mild caution that I can't comment on how sensitively the relevant cultural stuff with the demigods was handled - the (non-South African) author mentions sensitivity readers, so I'm going to guess it's not terrible :) . I found it very striking, quite gory, and I do look forward to seeing other stuff by them, though possibly not just before bedtime.

Undertow, Elizabeth Bear (2017)
I think this was probably the best of the things I read while away (the charms of the Murderbot not aside). It contains aliens, big business, exploitation, probability, and some fantastic world-building. Complex, full of compelling detail, and I don't want to spoil the plot, because bits of it are really interesting.

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter, Theodora Goss (2017)
This is quite a good novel of the "let's stick Sherlock Holmes into anything set in the late 19th century" genre. It also draws on the early SF novels of that century, with the first character we meet being Dr Jekyll's daughter. It's generally fun, aware of its genre, but - pedants beware - there are 21st-century colloquialisms in the asides in the writing and Americanisms in the speech of 19th century Londoners. Including Sherlock Holmes. This means I can't wholeheartedly recommend it, because it's just Wrong.

I'm also very nearly through a re-read of Ann Leckie's Ancillary series (what would Fleet Captain Breq do?), and am looking forward to Leckie's new novel later this year.
gerald_duck: (quack)
posted by [personal profile] gerald_duck at 05:48pm on 20/09/2017
Suppose you wish to designate an option to a piece of hardware. You could stick down a little EEPROM, but maybe you'd prefer to make links, or join PCB tracks, without any active componentry.

You have Gnd, and N configuration lines each with weak pull-up. How many different values can you represent?

The most utterly naïve solution would be to encode N options by tying one of the lines to ground.

The marginally less naïve solution — and one that's very widely used — is to encode 2N options by tying any subset of the lines to ground.

However, if the configuration lines are independently bidirectional you can also tie them to one another. Denoting a ground connection by 0, n/c by 1 and commoned groups of lines by A, B, C, etc. the options with 2 lines become: 00 01 10 11 AA. With 3 lines: 000 001 010 011 100 101 110 111 0AA A0A AA0 1AA A1A AA1.

With 4 lines, things explode rather:
  • 0000 0001 0010 0011 0100 0101 0110 0111 1000 1001 1010 1011 1100 1101 1110 1111 (=16)
  • AA00 A0A0 A00A 0AA0 0A0A 00AA, AAA0 AA0A A0AA 0AAA, AAAA (=11)
  • AA01 A0A1 0AA1 AAA1, AA10 A01A 0A1A AA1A, A1A0 A10A 01AA A1AA, 1AA0 1A0A 10AA 1AAA (=16)
  • AA11 A1A1 A11A 1AA1 1A1A 11AA (=6)
  • AABB ABAB ABBA (=3)
…for a total of 52 options.


More generally, the number of options is BN+1, where B denotes a Bell number. My maths is rusty, but it looks like that grows faster than exponentially with the number of pins.

Is this a technique people actually use? Is there some reason I'm overlooking why it's a bad idea?

I mean, OK, I'll probably just use an EEPROM, but…

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