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It's much too short, at under four minutes, but "Wanderers - a short film by Erik Wernquist" is a true delight, giving a glimpse of what may yet be, once we begin exploring our solar system in person.



A good little summary of the recent rather significant problem with Cloudflare's DNS, resulting in the possibility of many popular sites and mobile apps leaking passwords and other useful information. It's a good time for some precautionary password changing, particularly on sensitive sites, such as ones with access to financial information, including Patreon, Uber, and TransferWise. Discord appears to be amongst other apps affected.

Rather a fun idea - there'll be an Alan Turing-themed pop-up cocktail bar, from an outfit that's done a few other such themes, including Breaking Bad. Only about 7,500 people on the waiting list, though. ^_^;

Quite cool stuff - Creative Electron, commissioned by iFixit, used their tech to capture and stack 900 CT scans of an AirPod, making for a fully 3D view.

As you've probably seen, DeviantArt was just bought up by Wix, the free website bunch, for a fairly measly $36m. Here's DA's statement, which includes clarification that they're not thereby giving Wix free access to sell everyone's artwork. Has anyone been with them for a long while? I've sort of loosely been aware of DA for a long time, but it wasn't until a couple years ago that I finally set up an account, and began putting a few works up there, so I'm very much a latecomer.

Does anyone have any personal experience with smart lighting? I'm tempted to pick up something like the Philips Hue variable color bulbs, as the idea of being able to control the color of my room's lighting definitely appeals, as well as being able to do so from my bed, rather than the so-20th Century method of getting up and turning it off at the wall. Besides, the room's lighting needs a bit of a makeover - right now, I only have one ceiling light, and a shade that's unfortunately open at the bottom, so if I'm lying facing up, I get the bulb glaring at me. I'd like it to be controllable from either Hazel or the iPad, so macOS and/or iOS control is required. Better yet would be Linux and Android as well, so if the idea appeals to the roomie, he could buy into it as well. Products that aren't useless from a security perspective would be rather welcome, though not strictly necessary here - the neighbors don't set their WiFi SSIDs from their defaults, so I'm not expecting sudden network compromises. =:) (Do you have any amusing WiFi network names locally?)

The rather stylish furry adventure Night in the Woods (macOS, Windows) finally debuted! That's definitely one I want to pick up, but I should probably hold back for now, given my game backlog. ^_^;

I finally got around to watching Arrival! And I'm so pleased I did. Absolutely brilliant. ^_^ But then, I long for real cinematic sci-fi, beyond the usual invasion of the week fare. How wonderful to have a mainstream sci-fi film with understanding and comprehension at its core! True, it's not as abstract as (Tarkovsky's) Solaris, or indeed Stalker, but to see linguistic concepts tossed aroud like that, quietly noting how different some ways of thinking and expressing can be quite fundamentally different to each other, in a big name film like that.. well, needless to say, I'm very pleased I placed that pre-order. ^_^ I can only hope, of course, that works like this and Interstellar will give the studios a touch more courage to embark on big budget science fiction productions with similarly greater aspirations than Planet Saved By Plucky Duo. ^_^ (And let's not forget, it's perfectly possible to have space opera and imaginative concepts coexisting happily - Babylon 5, particularly, but also some Star Trek, TNG especially. And what fun A Fire Upon the Deep could be on the big screen.. has anyone else read that, I wonder?)

And I even saw a film on the big screen! No, really. =:) jayblanc suggested seeing the Lego Batman Movie, which indeed proved to be a huge amount of fun, with surprisingly smart writing. We agreed it's the best Batman film in several years - for me, since Batman Returns. ^_^

Rather interesting little article, I felt: On Making Better Porn. "When people eat badly, we don’t try to stop them eating at all. We hope to improve their diet. The aim isn’t to abolish food, just because some food is terrible. We want good food to be more widely and easily available. The same move could apply to online sex sites. We can’t abolish porn. So the goal is to get good pornography. Better porn isn’t stuff that’s even more thrilling or exciting. It is ‘better’ in the sense of being better for us – less at odds with the rest of our lives. The idea that porn could, under the right circumstances, actually be beneficial, strikes many people as very strange. But it shouldn’t. Looking at a lot of porn tends to leave us feeling disconnected and hollow. That’s because it doesn’t seem connected to anything else we value in the rest of our lives. It’s merely about sex, rather than being also about other things we care about: like self-understanding, kindness, intelligence and good relationships."

This, apparently is the first view of Alphonse from the forthcoming live-action Full Metal Alchemist. =:D

Hmm.. not bad prices on some film bundles on the US iTunes Store at the moment - $25 for "kids", including The Neverending Story, Space Jam (which I still enjoy, nyah =:), The Iron Giant, the original Willy Wonka, and Happy Feet; or the same for "classics", with Singin' in the Rain, The Wizard of Oz, Citizen Kane, Casablanca, and Gone with the Wind. (Would you believe I've still yet to see CK or GwtW?) Not always, but often including extras as well, and all in HD. I'm tempted, but, I've already picked up Moana, which came out on Tuesday, as well as Black Swan for $5, so I'll likely leave those for another day.

Chris Chibnall, incoming showrunner for Doctor Who, has confirmed he's keeping all options open for the next Doctor, female or male. As for the bookies, Oddschecker's currently reporting Tilda Swinton as the front runner, followed by Kris Marshall, Maxine Peake, and Olivia Colman, apparently David Tennant's pick. I wonder how the odds have compared, on previous such transitions, with the eventual outcome? Did anyone see Matt Smith coming?

Somehow, I'd missed this story at the time: Homer Simpson's car design was brought to life, and put to the test at LeMans. =:D

Rather an interesting graphics app: Vectr, for vector graphics design/artwork. It's cross-platform (macOS, Linux, Windows, Chromebook, and web), and free; currently, it's all free, though they intend to make a "pro" offering to keep the lights on in the future, as well as maintaining a well-featured free offering.

There hasn't been much to report on the rabbiteering front - it's been quite dull weather much of the time lately. I suppose I ought to simply get out there regardless - it's always good to see them, even if there's no chance of outstanding shots. (There! Finally remembered to pick up some raisins for them. Well, adding them to the next delivery, at any rate. Hypercharged tinybuns ahoy! =:) That said, I did manage to get to enjoy some good rabbiteering on Friday afternoon. No tremendously dramatic results, but maybe one or two worth sharing. ^_^ One of the local red kites was nearby, however, showing off their relaxed aerial style.



Once in a blue moon, I'll find a need to hop onto IRC. It's a bit of a strange world.. ^_^; I think the last time I was there for any real period of time was somewhere around 2000 or so, mostly for anime, before BitTorrent became de rigeur. Oh, the joys of having to search through channels for fservs likely to hold what show I was after, waiting maybe hours in the queue to get access, and then find it wasn't there, or it served files at a few K/s.. ^_^; And even with a relatively good one, there was the likelihood of disconnection before the transfer was complete.

It's feeling like it's time to get the iPad's battery replaced.. it's still got good life, but it's down to maybe six hours on a charge, where, when new, it was more like ten. I suppose that's not bad going - FSM knows, it sees plenty of use, on and off charge. Most likely I'll go with Apple's own replacement service - more expensive than a corner phone shop, but this way, not only am I guaranteed a faultless repair, but indeed, a replacement device, so, no cosmetic imperfections, and fresh flash.

Speaking of repairs, maybe I'll have another shot at resurrecting Dandelion, Hazel's predecessor, which died in October 2013, with what seems like a duff SMC (the microcontroller that coordinates applying power to everything else, and keeps an eye on the power button, battery, fans, display case closure, and so on). I rediscovered that I've got a copy of Apple's service manual for the model, which notes various other unlikely, but possible, faults that could be connected. If it does prove to be something like a loose connector, I'd be delighted - Dandelion was still a perfectly capable system when its end came, and I'd definitely enjoy having that lovely 17" display again. (True, Hazel's is better quality and resolution, but that extra little bit of space - 17" vs 15" - makes a surprising difference) The fact that vaguely encourages me that maybe it'll be possible to bring it back is that its demise seemed to come about only after it took a fall; in the coming weeks, it'd sometimes just abruptly turn off, with no warning from the OS. Eventually, it required SMC resetting to come back, and ultimately, not even that helped, so whilst almost everything is fine with it, there's some crucial factor that's basically preventing it from turning on (and staying on). Besides, it's a mystery, and I want to find out what's been ailing it. ^_^
 
 
 
 
 
 
Despite interest in smart lighting, I have not gotten around to it.
My main concern is security. Recent DDoS attacks have used
pwned IoT devices such as security cameras and WiFi-linked lighting.
WiFi routers are clueless. Even dual-SSID ones
typically let the "guest SSID" access only the Internet, nothing internal.
That is the exact OPPOSITE of what you want for untrusted IoT devices :-/
Mmm, and it's set to only get worse, with pretty much zero regulation or even just some kind of "seal of approval" from some outfit like UL - how are people to know whether their system's been carefully designed, or just thrown together? If there can be regulations regarding electromagnetic interference, why not network integrity?

What would be nice, of course, would be some attempt to bring security to home routers, especially preventing those kind of "internal only" devices from being able to initiate external connections, only receive in the intended manner. (Cue some bright spark designing a bulb that needs to phone home.. =:) Of course, even routers aren't always exactly carefully thought through, given the number of backdoors that have been found. =:P

I'm afraid leaving it to the industry is useless, like the "Linux ready" routers with IE only admin pages. Or the Zigbee pay-to-play consortium.

I wish I knew dd-wrt and open-wrt better: the embedded Linux for home routers such as Linksys. They're totally under your control. I suspect there are IoT profiles already.

Here's one possible solution:
http://events.linuxfoundation.org/sites/events/files/slides/Intelligent%20IoT%20Gateway%20on%20OpenWrt.pdf
Public Intelligent IoT Gateway on OpenWrt
Andrzej Wieczorek, Bartosz Markowski


Edited at 2017-02-25 05:47 am (UTC)
Agreed. I would be very cautious deploying Phillips Hue, I've heard of specific vulnerabilities with them. It might have been on Brian Krebs' blog, I don't recall. I'm personally not a fan of IoT since in far too many cases the OS of the device can't be updated.
Really? I'll have to go sniffing around. My vague understanding was they're fairly decent in security terms (or, I suppose, the bridge unit is). But yes, it's not a trivial concern - a lot of IoT security is either absent entirely, or fabulously half-assed; and with even smartphones often abandoned by their suppliers after a couple years, it's difficult to imagine something as near-commodity as a bulb seeing any kind of maintenance, especially with the cheap Chinese clones.
I just read an article on Ars about a guy who is technologically strong whose home router was rooted and used for DDoS attacks. Unfortunately while trying to patch it, he bricked it. The story is not IoT specific, but it does highlight the importance of software updates and hardware that can be updated.

I did a Google search and the first non-ad was from November last year:
https://www.google.com/#q=philips+hue+security&*
Indeed, here's a worthwhile account on the security of these things.

Rather interesting little article, I felt: On Making Better Porn. "When people eat badly, we don’t try to stop them eating at all. We hope to improve their diet. The aim isn’t to abolish food, just because some food is terrible. We want good food to be more widely and easily available. The same move could apply to online sex sites. We can’t abolish porn. So the goal is to get good pornography. Better porn isn’t stuff that’s even more thrilling or exciting. It is ‘better’ in the sense of being better for us – less at odds with the rest of our lives. The idea that porn could, under the right circumstances, actually be beneficial, strikes many people as very strange. But it shouldn’t. Looking at a lot of porn tends to leave us feeling disconnected and hollow. That’s because it doesn’t seem connected to anything else we value in the rest of our lives. It’s merely about sex, rather than being also about other things we care about: like self-understanding, kindness, intelligence and good relationships."

I like the food analogy. Indeed, I've always felt that food is really held back by being merely about eating, rather than also about self-understanding, kindness, intelligence and good relationships.

Well, snark aside, I do agree that there's good porn and bad porn, and I wish the former outweighed the latter rather than vice versa. I'm not sure that's gonna happen – markets for lemons and all that –, but surely any debate on good porn needs to start with the admission that porn really IS about sex (just like food really is about eating), and the realization that this is perfectly fine.

And some good porn does exist. I watched a few of Andrew Blake's movies years ago, for instance, and found them to be quite appealing at the time: sensual, arousing, and with high production values, not just the usual "wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am".

On the BDSM/fetish side of things, Insex had an interesting, if rather different, approach, one that rested on honesty and realism. It's a shame that they were forced to shut down by the Bush regime.

(All this said porn is very much "different strokes for different folks", too, and I'd hesitate to readily distinguish "good porn" from "bad porn", much less campaign against the latter. As they say, "erotica is what I like, porn is what my friends like, smut is what my enemies likes". Though that said I also think that high production values and acting that exhibits at least a modicum of passion should be fairly uncontroversial to wish for in porn.)


Edited at 2017-02-25 10:37 am (UTC)
As a civilian I did database and network admin work for a major police department in the '90s. During that time they set up their first computer forensics unit. Once I went in to their lair to talk to one of the detectives and he was watching a video from a seized computer of a man and a woman with one of these ridiculous 'home casino' setups that you buy in a toy store with the green felt roulette betting cloth that's like 3' long and 1' wide with this tiny little wheel. The woman was idly rolling dice on the cloth while talking to the man.

I asked my cop friend what that was supposed to be. He said it was supposed to be a casino. I all but LMAO. Ridiculously silly. But that is home production values for you. He had to watch it to see if children were involved, I really felt sorry for those detectives.
Having just finished playing it, I heartily endorse Night In The Woods. It's a clever blend of adventure, exploration and mini-games.
Bah! I know I'm going to weaken at some point.. ^_^; it's just, as I said, I've got so many games in the To Play pile, including the new chapter of Agent A, the rest of Lumino City, A Darker Shade, Back to the Future, Broken Age, Night of the Rabbit..

Still, it is inevitable. ^_^ I love the artwork style. If that's indeed backed up with careful puzzle design where appropriate, and characters you can actually enjoy sharing your time with, it'll be a good use of £15 or so. I do hope it works out financially for the developers - FSM knows, with the intense downward pressure on game pricing now, there's no shortage of twits willing to castigate a dev for pricing their work at the lofty heights of, say, $3. ^_^; (Fine if you're selling numbers like Monument Valley, yes..)
Eeee, the Bletchley Bar looks amazing. But what if I didn't manage to crack the code to get in??

The Safe House in Milwaukee has been on my list for decades...
I was rather disappointed, actually - I'd sort of girded my brain into expecting some fiendish mathematical conundrum, when it was actually purely observational. =:/ And thus I became number 7,438 or thereabouts. ^_^; If they're staying around for three months, I wonder how many folk they can serve.. if they generously allowed two hours per admission, and there's maybe thirty seats, and open for twelve hours a day, that'd be 180 people per day.. wow, indeed, they may well be able to please everyone on the list!

(I wonder if one's place in the queue is good for only oneself?)

Hee! Oh, you're going to have to wrangle a birthday bash at the Safe House someday. =:D

I'm sure I read of some kind of spy-related speakeasy in London, but I think it was only quite lightly themed, rather than going all-in - once inside, it was all quite normal. =:P
Oh, you do the code-solving to get in the queue? That's much better - I thought it would be on arrival at the venue, yikes.
Egad, that would be positively evil! Maybe they can keep that for the Dr Forrester wing of the MST3K pop-up. =:) Yep, it's all ahead of time - solve the puzzle, and you're then given the opportunity to register in the queue. I think I saw something about it likely being in a former bomb shelter underneath Chelsea..

I'll have to bring the camera along, of course - the theme has such scope for being a memorable experience.
(Deleted comment)
Oh, wow! That's exactly the kind of reply I was hoping for. ^_^ I can definitely see the appeal of "starry night" - that'd surely be wonderfully relaxing. And the flexibility of being able to go between a vibrant, "morning" light, and duskier, cooler tones later on.. mmm, yes. ^_^ As is, my sole room light is a daylight-style LED bulb, which is indeed quite pleasant, but even I feel I could use some cooler light in the final hour or two before finally curling up to sleep, even if that tends to be more the kind of hour you're waking up. =:) (One thing the roomie definitely did right with this place is getting hotel-style curtains, so when they're drawn, it's dark inside, whatever's going on in the big blue room. Or more usually, grey..)

Ahh, right, Hue needs that bridge between the lights and the local WiFi, ne? So the starter kits I've seen with that included have a good reason for being.

Mm, I definitely like the HomeKit operability - not just for the ease of use with Hazel and the iPad, but also that Apple tends to be quite the stickler regarding security of any approved devices. Not that that's any guarantee, but having a sane baseline of security's rather better than the maker just leaving a hardcoded backdoor in place, as we've seen on some routers.. !

Hmm. I wonder if I could tell the kitchen light to come on when I leave my room.. though there, I suppose we'd probably want some kind of plain switch as well, as the roomie's oddly set on always turning it off when he leaves, despite it being another of the same LED bulbs, taking maybe 8W. That'd have the nice benefit of being able to position the new switch in a more sensible location, too - as is, it's at the back of the kitchen, for some odd reason, so you need to first get to the switch to operate it, rather than just reach around by the doorframe somewhere, as one might anticipate.

I'm really liking the sound of what's possible, I must say. ^_^

I do notice a couple quite evil SSIDs in there.. but you're not evil, are you? ^_^;
That kite photo is awesome! How long of a lens was that? I really should try some bird aerial shots as the weather is warming up here. When we left for Phoenix last week Wednesday afternoon, the temperature was around 25f and there was 2-3" of snow everywhere. We got back about 4am yesterday and not only is all the snow out front gone, but the backyard is only white in the northern shadow of our house!

I did a lot of shooting at the renaissance festival and at the Lowell Observatory where Pluto was discovered. Unfortunately the Pluto Discovery Telescope is out for a refurb, so we didn't get to see that, but I got what look like some good photos of the Clark telescope which is the one that Percival Lowell made is observations of Mars with.

I saw Lego Batman last Sunday, my wife and I went to a multiplex and she saw Star Wars Rogue One and I saw Batman! I also got a Lego kit for building something out of the Phantom Zone, one of these days I may put it together. I was also able to find a good price on getting the Lego movie on DVD and am looking forward to watching it possibly tonight.

Good luck resurrecting the computer! I have no recommendations for what to do with what appears to be an SMC problem, that's a level of hardware that I know nothing about.
Just my usual 300mm! I actually caught their entire wingspan, but felt as they'd been obliging enough to be that bit closer than usual, it might crop down well. ^_^ I really do like the Nikkor 300mm f/4D AF-S. It's fairly easily affordable, light enough to be portable all day long without a tripod or monopod involved, no CA, and wonderfully sharp. There's actually a newer version available with half the weight and length, using a Fresnel element, which also adds stabilisation. Tempting someday, but I'm not strained with this, and the bokeh's gorgeous to boot. ^_^

Whew! Would've been fun to check an animation of the temperature gradients over that period. ^_^

Ooh, that reminds me - I need to try getting in touch with Reaction Engines sometime, and see if there's any chance an outside could get to photograph any test firings of SABRE. =:D Oh, if the day comes when Skylon actually flies.. wow. It's such a phenomenal engine, able to migrate from ramjet to rocket, for single-stage-to-orbit operation. Promisingly, the core of what's required - the precooler - has been tested and demonstrated to work, cooling the incoming air from 1000C down to -150C in the odd millisecond or so it takes to pass through at those speeds.

The Lego Movie was a lot more fun than I'd been expecting, I'll admit. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Unikitty remains my favorite character. =:)

I know it'd be a lot easier just to replace Dandelion, given its vintage, but if there's the chance of actually fixing whatever ails it, at no extra cost, that'd be a real boon. Of course, then I'd be back in the quandary of which iTunes account to associate it with - US or UK. The US store gets most releases earlier, but the UK store tends to get the original language soundtracks versus English dubs for animation, and often has very good specials running, like Interstellar for £5. (You can switch accounts, but then it's locked for 90 days. On the other paw, I might just keep it on OS X 10.10, and thereby maintain an environment suitable for Requiem, which can strip the DRM from iTunes purchases. On the tailtip, I could probably just use a Windows 7 VM for that..)
One thing that I absolutely loved about the Lego Batman movie was the bad guys going 'Pew! Pew!' when they fired their weapons! I thought that was hilarious.

I don't know if I'll ever get around to it, but I'd love to set up a weather station here and get detailed temperature recordings. But I'm kind of insane for collecting data. Another thing that I'd like to do is set up a outdoor-proof web cam to record the front yard over a winter period, seeing the brown go away as it's covered in snow and then go back and forth as winter starts turning to spring.

I get most of my music off of Amazon, which is MP3 by default when I download it. When I do buy the occasional album off iTunes, I always convert it to MP3.
$36m, gosh.

For lights, I DIY with RGB LEDs and some Arduinos. Depending on the wall colour, you don't need many.
It's a surprisingly modest figure, ne? Given how much of a userbase it has - but then, I suppose it's also one of those that's difficult to "monetize", as they say. (See also LiveJournal. ^_^; I've always maintained a paid account, though - same with Flickr. It's a small price to pay to be rid of ads, without adblockers involved, given every site needs funding to continue, and I'd far sooner it weren't reliant on being tracked everywhere by Google and Facebook)

I probably will wind up getting some kind of new Pi and/or Arduinos just for the fun of it - whether anything homebrew makes it into being used around the house for lighting, well, then we get into the fun of ease of use, as well as simplicity of installation. It'd be a fun project, in any event. ^_^

The wall's a sort of wishy-washy "not white, but light enough grey nobody's going to argue much", so, fairly useful from a lighting perspective. Though where to actually position any light sources, I'll have to work out - strips might work, perhaps behind some kind of diffuser, which would be that much easier than floor-standing torchieres, given how packed everything rather unfortunately currently is.
Did you hear about the new RasPi? Built-in WiFi and Bluetooth! Definitely something for me to look in to, and as it happens, I have lots of unused keyboards and a spare 28" monitor in the other room....

$10 US....

https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2017/02/new-10-raspberry-pi-zero-comes-with-wi-fi-and-bluetooth/
Heh, one of my favorite authors (@dduane - http://dduane.livejournal.com/) retweeted this: https://twitter.com/landpsychology/status/837363918116880384

I was about to mention you in reply (even though I know you don't use the twitters all that much anymore), but someone else beat me to it - one of yours, apparently?