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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.