An update in point form

Jun. 25th, 2016 08:08 pm
[personal profile] alexbayleaf
1. Still alive and kicking. Living a quiet life. Slowly digging out from under the dark pile of crap that has been the last year or so.

2. I'm still checking in on DW every few days at least to follow those who are still posting here, especially those who access lock. I might not always comment but I am reading and appreciating the insights into your lives. Thank you :)

3. As you may have seen I am handing over Growstuff to people who are better able to look after it. Sad to let it go, but glad to be letting go of the guilt about not having the mental wherewithal to deal with it. Pretty much all my old personal websites/domains are also expired/gone. I'm glad to be leaving it behind.

4. Please note username change. While I hated being forced to use my birthname, I actually like my current name, and have been using it more often online of late. Feel free to refer to me as "Alex" when talking about me in the third person. Pronouns are still "they" or "she" - either is fine, though I aim for mostly being gender neutral when refering to myself.

5. I have a new blog, Spinster's Bayley, which more or less replaces the old "Chez Skud" blog, in that it's about domestic life, but is less just "random crap that I feel like writing about" but has a bit more intent around it. I'm tossing up whether to crosspost it here - feedback welcome. If you're interested in simple/sustainable/resilient living, homegrown and homemade stuff, and subjects of that variety, go take a look.

6. I also recently started blogging at Eat Local Ballarat about locally produced food in the Ballarat region. Don't imagine it'll be of much interest to people beyond this geographic area but if you're interested in local food or relocalisation in general, take a look :) Definitely won't be crossposting that one here, but of course there's the usual collection of RSS, newsletter, and social media for those who want to follow it.

7. I would welcome suggestions of any DWs that talk about simple living, or related topics (as above). Anyone got recs?

Thankful Thursday

Jun. 23rd, 2016 09:43 pm
mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)
[personal profile] mdlbear

It seems unlikely that I'll write 500 words today, unless I write something else immediately after finishing this post. But anyway, today I'm thankful for...

  • Cat therapy. Just being around Ticia raises my mood more than just about anything else. Sometimes I'll just sink into her purr and drift contentedly.
  • An excuse to go back through my river posts. Maybe my idea from a couple of years ago of collecting them into a book is still a good one. They have deteriorated considerably since I started my weekly "Done" posts -- they were actually daily when I started; they took over the mind-space and time that other writing was occupying.
  • Colleen. How she manages to put up with me -- and why -- I will never know, but I'm glad she does.
  • xmonad -- both for providing a great desktop environment, and for giving me something to write about. By extension, Haskell, the language it's written in.
  • Writing. Even if I didn't get anywhere near 500 words tonight.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
[personal profile] mdlbear

As I mentioned about a week ago, I've been trying to write more. And since my current obsession is a program called xmonad, well, ...

This is incomplete: it's about the first day's worth (I've been trying to write about 500 words per day). Comments and suggestions are, of course, welcome.

 

My new 27" monitors arrived at work; I took advantage of the change to rearrange my work space. Before, it was the set-up I've had for most of the last three years -- monitor in front on a stand, second monitor on the right, and my laptop on the left. The new laptop, however, has a decent keyboard (with trackpoint and three buttons), and the monitors between them occupy about 2/3 of the desk.

The new arrangement has the laptop dock under the "middle" monitor; the laptop, being a business-class Dell, has both a pointing stick and a middle "mouse" button. The laptop's keyboard is decent enough that it can replace the thinkpad keyboard I've been using for the last couple of years -- it's a high-end Dell, and has both a pointing stick and a middle button. (The middle button has part of the Unix desktop environment since the mid 1980s; it means "paste", and I use it all the time.) The monitors are about 50% bigger, pixel-wise, than the laptop, and are arranged "traditionally" with the laptop on the left.

You can probably see the problem with this arrangement. The total workspace is about 7000 pixels wide, and it's not even arranged in a straight line -- to get from the laptop to the "middle" monitor you have to move the cursor to the right, but the natural direction would be straight up. What's more, when you undock the laptop the whole thing collapses down to a "mere" 1920x1080. It's no wonder that most of the programmers in my team have opted for a single 30" monitor, and keep their laptop (almost invariably a mac) closed while they're using it.

Fortunately, I anticipated this problem months ago, and started using a window manager called xmonad.

 

One of the things I love most about Linux is the fact that the program that manages the layout of the screen and the behavior and appearance of the windows on it is not part of the operating system. It's a separate program, sensibly called a "window manager", and it runs in user space as a perfectly ordinary application that just happens to have a couple of extra hooks into X, which is the (also ordinary) program that actually controls the display, the keyboard, and the mouse.

Being an ordinary program -- and not even a terribly complicated one -- anybody can write one, and many people have. For a long time I was using one called TWM (Tabbed Window Manager, but the T originally stood for Tom's). Later I started using CTWM (Claude's Tabbed Window Manager), because it introduced the then unfamiliar notion of multiple workspaces. (Before CTWM, these could only be found in an experimental system at Xerox where they were called "rooms". Apple introduced them decades later, as part of MacOS X.)

You've probably heard of Gnome, KDE, and Ubuntu's horrible Unity desktop environments. Down at the bottom, they're just window managers plus a couple of utilities for doing things like putting up the familiar bar (Gnome calls it a "panel") full of menus, launcher buttons, clocks and other widgets. You can, in fact, run gnome-panel under any window manager, and I did for a while. They also include a "session manager", which handles things like starting the panel and making sure that applications get notified when you log out, so that they can save their state and exit cleanly. I've been using Gnome for years, and loved it for its configurability.

But Gnome's configurability comes with a cost -- every time you move to a new computer, you have to spend an hour clicking around in control panels and property windows to get everything set up the way you like it. And every time there's a major upgrade, something is a little different. It's a cost I no longer have to pay.

[Linkspam] Monday, June 20

Jun. 20th, 2016 07:41 pm
tim: A bright orange fish. (fish)
[personal profile] tim
I'm going to try doing a weekly linkspam post, because why not? Maybe it'll motivate me to get through my Pinboard backlog.

  • "Parents, right? Psh, who needs em!", by Talia Jane (2016-06-20). A hot personal take on the silencing of people who were parented incompetently. "Why would you care about the rocky nature of my personal life? Well, why do you think I’d care about how healthy your personal life is? Why would you think I’d enjoy seeing happy photos of you with your parents, outside of the fact that I might be happy you’re not curled up in a ball crying for six hours?"
  • Unsuck It: A bullshit-business-jargon-to-English translator (occasional ableism but on the whole pretty on-the-mark). "wellness: A notional substitute for a decent health insurance plan. Frequently includes chipper admonishments to do obvious things, such as get off your ass and walk or eat more vegetables."
  • "creativity and responsibility", by [personal profile] graydon2 (2016-06-17). On "creativity" as applied to software development: "I think 'creative' also serves as a rhetorical dodge about expectations, or perhaps more bluntly: responsibilities." Tangentially, this post reminds me of a quote from Samuel Delany that I love:
    The sad truth is, there’s very little that’s creative in creativity. The vast majority is submission – submission to the laws of grammar, to the possibilities of rhetoric, to the grammar of narrative, to narrative’s various and possible restructurings. In a society that privileges individuality, self-reliance, and mastery, submission is a frightening thing.

    (I think the software industry could do with a bit more submission to models, and there's probably something to be teased out here about why some people are so resistant to type systems and other forms of static verification.)
  • "To Keep The Blood Supply Safe, Screening Blood Is More Important Than Banning Donors", by Maggie Koerth-Baker for FiveThirtyEight (2016-06-18). We've all known for a long time that the ban on MSM donating blood is based in homophobia and not science, but it's always nice to see more evidence of that.
  • "The Myth of the Violent, Self-Hating Gay Homophobe", by Cari Romm for New York magazine (2016-06-16). No, homophobes aren't all (or even mostly) closeted self-hating queers. Hetero people really do hate us that much.
  • Interview With a Woman Who Recently Had an Abortion at 32 Weeks, by Jia Tolentino for Jezebel (2016-06-15). Long, harrowing interview with a woman who had a very late-term abortion. Makes me feel glad that there are still a few doctors courageous enough to provide this care, and sad that so many have been terrorized out of doing it.
  • "How Bernie Sanders Exposed the Democrats’ Racial Rift", by Issac J. Bailey for Politico (2016-06-08). "To minority voters, Trump’s candidacy feels like an existential threat. It’s one thing for Republicans to either ignore or embrace his racism; the party already seems unwilling or incapable of making the kinds of adjustments it must to attract more non-white voters. It’s quite another for white Democrats to not appreciate how liberal minorities feel about the possibility of a Trump presidency and what that would say about the state of racial progress in America. It would be a slap in the face, the latest sign that a kind of white privilege—throwing a temper tantrum because they don’t get their way despite how much it hurts people of color—is deeply rooted within liberal, Democratic ranks as well."
  • "The Ethics of Mob Justice", by Sady Doyle for In These Times (2013-11-08). Unfortunately, relevant again. "So we’re left with upholding structural principles, and this brings me to the Internet’s other poisoned gift to social justice: Even as it enhances our ability to censure those who violate the social contract, it makes the individual members of that society more visible, warts and all. Where the radicals of previous generations could spout high-minded rhetoric about the Common Man, Womankind or the Human Spirit while interacting mainly with the limited circle of people they found tolerable, we contemporary activists have to uphold our principles while dealing with the fact that actual common men, women and human spirits are continually being presented to us in harshly lit, unflattering close-up..." (I don't read this article as being opposed to public shaming, and I'm certainly not. Just as taking a skeptical eye to the targeting of women for having unacceptable feelings in public.)

Fathers' Day, 2016

Jun. 19th, 2016 04:32 pm
mdlbear: (rose)
[personal profile] mdlbear

Unless the sound of silent thoughts carries up the Rainbow Bridge, I won't be saying "Happy Fathers' Day" to my Dad. He died a little over 17 years ago. He got me interested in computers, over 50 years ago -- I miss him every time I think "I'd love to call Dad and tell him about..."

Science fiction, and folk music -- he would have loved the filk community. He took me to trade shows and conventions back before they stopped allowing kids in; he would have enjoyed a filk convention. He would have loved my CD, Coffee, Computers, and Song!

Songs for Sunday:

  • The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of -- I wrote this a couple of months before Dad died, and sang it for him on my last visit.
  • Rainbow's Edge -- Mom had asked me to write a song to sing at Dad's memorial. I don't sing this one all that often.
  • The World Inside the Crystal -- Dad was a programmer (when he wasn't being a chemist). I don't think he ever said so, but I'm pretty sure this was his favorite.

Not exactly the playlist I'd planned, but...

ETA: as I hoist my glass of gin I'm reminded of the way Dad made Tanqueray martinis: straight gin -- there's a bottle of vermouth somewhere in the house. For a slightly sweeter version, open the bottle.

Done last week (20160612Su - 18Sa)

Jun. 19th, 2016 01:53 pm
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
[personal profile] mdlbear

Moderately productive week. Lots of computer configuration and upgrading work, which is always an easy way for me to feel like I've done something, even if it isn't all that useful. I have a new desktop computer, in a nice little Shuttle box, but haven't fully switched over to it yet. Because browser tabs, mostly. (I also got the raspberry pi booting, finally. Which mostly required looking at the installed card and noticing that, not only did it not have an OS installed, but it wasn't flagged as bootable. The Pi is one of the original 512Mb ones -- it's dog slow. Still, it has a lot of potential as either a media center or a special-purpose controller. I'm guessing that used, older pi's are dirt cheap on eBay.

My new monitors arrived at work; I took advantage of the opportunity to re-arrange my workspace (see notes for 0615We) -- and to get back into writing, with xmonad as my first topic. Xmonad really wins for this, because the physical arrangement of the monitors becomes almost irrelevant. By moving the laptop in front of me (because it has a usable keyboard for once) with the dock under the monitor, I not only freed up a sizeable amount of desk space but freed up my second thinkpad keyboard to come home with me. Win.

Last weekend also included a lot of cleanup work in the garage and the back yard -- the huge piles of junk and lumber have been hauled away. I really hated to lose the lumber, but it had been out in the rain for too long. I was, however, able to save most of the hardwood.

As indicated, I have been writing (see notes for 0614Tu). My goal is to write 500 words most days. (I missed yesterday because I was hacking on my journaling makefiles, which sort of counts in terms of time if not bytes.) This post is intended to hit today's word count, and, no, I'm not going to count the notes.

So that raises a question for you, my loyal readers. The article I'm writing on xmonad isn't done yet, but I do have two days worth of work on it. Should I post "episodes" as I go along? Maybe I should phrase that differently -- would anyone object if I did post what amount to partial rough drafts? Feedback would be useful. Because otherwise, that's what I'm going to do.

Some other ongoing projects will also be included in the word count, notably "Songs for Saturday" (or occasionally Sunday, if I'm being lazy) and the "River" posts. I will find or create a tag for the Linux-related stuff, like the aforementioned xmonad article, and probably "adventures in home computing" as well. Fiction is somewhat unlikely; I'm pretty bad at it, especially plotting. Metafiction and prose poems are a distinct possibility, though.

There. 500 words. Approximately, since wc doesn't distinguish between actual content and markup. At some point I need to do something about that, but I'm not going to worry about it right now.

Notes & links, as usual )

Code push imminent!

Jun. 18th, 2016 06:51 pm
karzilla: a green fist above the word SMASH! (Default)
[staff profile] karzilla posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
Reminder that I'm going to start working on tonight's code push in the next 30-45 minutes or so. I know you just CAN'T WAIT to use the larger icon filesize for your animated gif talents, so I'm going to start a bit earlier than originally planned, closer to 5:30pm PDT. I'll update this post when we're done!

Update: All done! Comment here if you notice any issues that need our attention.

Security Through Obscurity

Jun. 17th, 2016 05:33 pm
brainwane: The last page of the zine (zine)
[personal profile] brainwane
I was at a conference, talking with some men, on our way to an informal group dinner. We started talking about what we were reading. One of them (white, US American) and I started talking about comics; we both like comics. I said something enthusiastic about Saga.

He then stated a disclaimer: that he knew he was a bit of a snob, and that if someone asked him if he knew about/read something fairly popular, fairly mainstream, he sort of internally sighed a bit; he preferred pretty offbeat stuff. It seemed like he wanted to prevent bad feelings down the line by forestalling me from asking "have you read [superhero thing]" or "have you read [current critics' darling]" and triggering impatience. I asked if I'd just done that thing, by mentioning Saga, and he said, no, it was fine.

I asked: "So, what's your favorite Amar Chitra Katha?"

There were at least a few seconds of silence, solid eye contact and silence, before he said that he did not know what that was.

So I, pleasantly, told him about the comics I'd read in childhood, made by Indians for many decades, featuring Indian fables, mythology, history, and legends. We then talked about, for instance, Greek and Norse mythology in Marvel/DC mainstream comics, and so on. He mentioned that it did seem like new Indian comics lines were starting up. He did not ask how or where to get ACK comics, or how to spell Amar Chitra Katha so he could learn more.

He didn't say anything explicitly acknowledging my indier-than-thou move (and I didn't either). I wonder whether he noticed it. I will usually prefer enthusiasm over status play, but I do have a few dominance displays in my toolbox and on occasion I will use them.

Code push tomorrow!

Jun. 17th, 2016 11:06 am
karzilla: a green fist above the word SMASH! (Default)
[staff profile] karzilla posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
We are planning to do a code push around 32[*] hours from now, at approximately 6pm Pacific time on Saturday.

Here's a partial list of changes that will go live with this push, apart from the usual minor tweaks and bugfixes:

  • Icon size limit raised from 40kb to 60kb.

  • Fixed the "hook: enddata returned false" error when uploading multiple icons.

  • Posting DW links on Facebook will now use the "Swirly D" logo for the link image.

  • Added seven new color variants on the popular "Teeny Tinies" mood theme.

  • The user profile page now lists "Other Services" in responsive columns.

  • The user icons page no longer uses "(Default)" in the alt text for every icon.

  • Improved non-ASCII character support in plain text email notifications.


We'll update again to let you know when the code push is in progress!

[*] I had a computer check my math this time, because it was almost wrong again. YAY COMPUTERS.

Thankful Thursday

Jun. 16th, 2016 09:49 pm
mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)
[personal profile] mdlbear

Today I am thankful for...

  • My therapist.
  • My family.
  • Scraping by.
  • Stock vesting.
  • Whisky Wednesday, and gin in the fridge.
  • Writing.
  • Xmonad, in part for giving me something to write about.
  • More generally, Linux.
  • The Demoscene, and the coworker who introduced me to it.
jesse_the_k: BBC Sherlock atop a tor in Dartmoor, captioned "Looking all dramatic on a cliff top" (SH drama on cliff)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k
In summer and winter every year, the holmestice [livejournal.com profile] holmestice community hosts a fanworks exchange. Many dreamers and scholars claim Sherlock as the founding stone of modern fandom, since these works have been redone and remixed all over the globe for so many years.

This year a brilliant vidder (their name will be released on 20 June) has created

Something Good Will Come From That
http://holmestice.livejournal.com/409720.html

featuring one hundred years of Sherlock Holmes fandoms set to a bouncy dance tune from the 1920s.

If anyone ever asks you, "so what's with the vids?" you now have the perfect bookends:
This one to start, and Lim's canonical multifandom US to introduce the vidding of now.

So it's been a while ... and

Jun. 15th, 2016 02:44 pm
jesse_the_k: White girl with braids grinning under large Russian beaver hat (JK 10 happy hat)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k
...it will be a while longer.

Luckily, I went to WisCon panels that also interested [personal profile] firecat and [livejournal.com profile] sophy, who provide excellent notes.

One of firecat's
http://firecat.dreamwidth.org/878485.html

All of sophy's
http://sophy.livejournal.com/1400437.html

I had many thoughts, and I hope to capture them. But in summary: this was the best WisCon I've ever attended.
tim: Solid black square (black)
[personal profile] tim
CW: violence, homophobia, victim-blaming

Read more... )


"I am so tired of waiting.
Aren’t you,
for the world to become good
and beautiful and kind?
Let us take a knife
and cut the world in two —
and see what worms are eating
at the rind."
-- Langston Hughes

Done last week (20160605Su - 11Sa)

Jun. 12th, 2016 11:20 am
mdlbear: (g15-meters)
[personal profile] mdlbear

I've gotten a lot done this week, at work but mostly at the house. We have a truck coming Wednesday to haul away the pile of junk that's been sitting in the back yard getting water-damaged since last year when we sorted through the stuff in the garage. This week I've been adding to it, and especially yesterday when I disassembled the pile of wood sitting on top of the old blue workbench. The latter, and most of the wood, were in sorry shape. It hurt a lot to see how bad they'd gotten. I did manage to save most of the hardwood and vertical-grain Douglas fir, so it wasn't a total loss, but close.

Well, we didn't really have room for the workbench, anyway.

I've also been through a couple of the boxes behind my desk. Including the one labeled "tiny computers". It seems that, over the years, I've spent an inordinate amount of money on small Linux-based devices that I mostly haven't taken the time to get working. There's a list in the notes, under 0611. And then there are the laptops (all but one of which have been recently upgraded to the latest Ubuntu, so that's good), the two Linux boxes in tower cases that are still perfectly functional, but I don't need them, the old Android tablets, ...

*sigh*

I've found other "treasures", too. I'm not sure nostalgia is good for me. Too many reminders of things I haven't done, or started but abandoned. It's easy to blame depression, and I do, but that doesn't make it any easier. Or less depressing.

I think it says something -- damned if I know what it says -- that while I noticed last Sunday that I had put in a good day's work and accomplished a lot, I didn't connect that fact with a feeling of accomplishment, or any other emotion. (If "accomplishment" even counts as an emotion. I think it does, but I'm not sure. That probably says something, too.)

Music note (see 0611 -- yesterday was busy, too): At the suggestion of the guy who sits next to me at work, I looked up the Demoscene and watched a couple of videos, and a documentary, on YouTube. Mind-blowing. Especially when you consider that, say, "Chaos Theory" by Conspiracy -- the whole thing, music and video -- was entirely generated by a 64K program in real time.

The demoscene reminds me a lot of the filk community, and it makes me want to see what could be done for World Inside the Crystal that way.

Notes & links, as usual )
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