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May 2017

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Five things make a post

Sep. 24th, 2017 01:13 pm
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
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.

Earlier this afternoon I did something I rarely do: Post a comment on a youtube video. I'm a veteran of USENET flame wars, so not much phased by the knuckle-dragger insults a thoughtful comment often draws there. But BITD, my newsgroup comments were also likely to yield worthwhile replies. Youtube, not so much.

But comment I did. And then did something I do even more rarely: Shared the video on Facebook. And now I want to share it with you as well. Starting with my FB introduction:

I've read a lot of excellent essays about art — literature, film, theater, even music. I've read a lot more that was crap, of course (or at any rate, started a lot more that was crap, before giving up in disgust). The point being that I know what well-crafted criticism is. And this video essay on how JK Rowling's characters — especially Hermione — changed from book to film is one of the best pieces of criticism I've ever seen. Well worth watching.




And the comment I left on youtube:

Thank you for a tremendously well-observed and thought-provoking close-reading. The Devil's Snare episode was one of my favorite parts of _Philosopher's Stone_ from the first time I read it. And when the movie came out, I leaned forward in my seat and literally waited with bated breath for URupert Grint to say "Are you a witch or what?" And left the movie muttering something about "best line of dialog in the entire book, and _they left it out?!_"

But I entirely failed to see it as part of _any_ larger pattern, let alone the sevaral you bring out. Good criticism is rare. In producing a piece of excellent criticism that's also entertaining and perfectly true, you've hit the trifecta. Great work. Thank you.

Reading Wednesday

Sep. 20th, 2017 10:35 pm
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
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 ...

What phone?

Sep. 20th, 2017 01:44 am
xela: Photo of me (Default)
[personal profile] xela

Short Form

Six months ago, I was all set to replace my iPhone with a OnePlus 3T as soon as my iPhone's deterioration demanded. Then they announced the OnePlus 5. And I started seeing the first negative reviews of a new OnePlus phone I'd ever read. But they were still shipping the 3T, so I wasn't worried.

But now my iPhone's deterioration really is starting to demand that I replace it. And I appear to have been deceived about the OnePlus 3T still being available.

So I have a couple of questions for folks with Android clue.


Long Form

As I mentioned last week, my iPhone is on it's last legs and I've decided to switch to Android. I also decided, early in my current ride on the carrier-subsidized-phone-with-two-year-contract funhouse-ride, that the next time I bought a phone I was going to actually buy a phone. I've long thought that would be preferable in principle, and about when I was gritting my teeth and signing the contract my current iPhone came with, I started hearing buzz about OnePlus.

My memory (not confirmed by reading the Wikipedia article, FWIW) is that part of that buzz was about their US business plan being to sell directly to the consumer, forcing US carriers to get serious about supporting BYOD customers. Misunderstanding or not, it predisposed me to pay attention to OnePlus and to reviews of their phones, while none of the other Android phone manufacturers have garnered much attention from me.

And those reviews — as I remember them, at least — were consistently impressive. When my iPhone started giving me trouble earlier this year, the OnePlus 3T had just come out a few months earlier. And people were falling all over themselves to talk about how good it was. So it went to the top of my list of phones to look at when I could no longer nurse my iPhone along. An otherwise empty list.

Then in July they released the OnePlus 5. And the reviews were not entirely stellar. Certainly not the hosannas the 3T had garnered on its release. But I wasn't too concerned: given things like the Midnight Black Limited Edition page, with its conspicuous "Buy Now" button in the center of the page, it seemed clear that OnePlus was planning to continue shipping the 3T alongside the 5 at least into autumn.

I don't generally go for the leading edge unless I see a potential upside that well over-balances the potential downside. And for smartphones, I haven't seen that in 15 years — not since the Sony-Ericsson P800 was leading-edge. To my way of thinking, the OnePlus 3T is just about exactly in the trailing-edge sweet spot. And that limited edition Midnight Black: the cherry on top! So for the past six or eight weeks I thought I had a solid plan for when it came time to punt my iPhone.

But now that day's arrived. And it turns out that actually clicking that "Buy Now" button takes me to a page that — disappointment #1 — lists only the other two other colors. And — disappointment #2 — says, next to each,

Out of stock

And going back to that Limited Edition page and looking more closely, I find near the bottom:

Sold out
This limited edition release is no longer available in your region.
Disappointment #3.


Questions

  • Am I grossly over-reacting to the bad press the OnePlus 5 has gotten? (I'm certainly over-reacting. The emphasis here is on grossly.) Should I just buy a OnePlus 5 and stop gnashing my teeth?
  • Are there other Android phones readily available new, unlocked, and with full warranties, that are comparable to recent OnePlus models? Comparably priced? If so, which? Would you recommend any of them?
  • While no longer available directly from OnePlus, the 3T is still available from third parties. Some ostensibly new-in-box. None, that I've found, with any sort of warranty. At prices not much different, and sometimes more, than OnePlus' retail prices when they were available. Run screaming? Approach with caution? Does anyone know of a reliable vendor, perhaps in the tradition of small Japanese companies that help Americans get Japan-only products without having to personally fly to Japan?

Thank you!

My Bitcoin pundit career is going great guns! I got to go on BBC Newsnight and call cryptocurrency garbage. Don't ever buy into cryptos, btw, they're a car crash. Trust me, I'm an expert.

Soooo I just got a note inviting me to speak at a seminar, about why blokechain is pants, to a small number of people who have money. I'm gonna charge for my time of course, but I can sell books there. Which means physical paperbacks I bring in a box.

Now, one of the great things about this self-publishing racket in TYOOL 2017 is 0 capital expenditure. Has anyone here done this, or anything like it? Was it worth it? Did you end up with a box of books under your bed forever?

The books are $3.03 each to print, but all author copies come from America (because Createspace is dumb), at some ruinous shipping rate to the UK. Assuming Kindle and CreateSpace pay promptly I'll have a pile of money on September 30, but I sorta don't right now.

Does anyone have suggestions as to how to approach this? Doing a talk with a box of nonfiction books - good idea, bad idea, no idea?

(I'll no doubt do a pile of flyers for people who haven't got cash on them right there. Who carries cash in the UK these days? Less people than you might think.)

[work] "Okay. Where are we?"

Sep. 14th, 2017 09:16 am
mangosteen: (Default)
[personal profile] mangosteen
Things I say non-ironically: “I’m used to occupying a weird spot in the corporate realpolitik orgchart… the big open spot in right-center field where the outfielders aren’t because someone read the play wrong.”

More on that later, but I wanted to get the thought out.

Reading Wednesday

Sep. 13th, 2017 09:21 pm
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
So, it has been nearly 5 months since I last did one of these.  This is necessarily incomplete because I didn't keep notes, and also because where I did keep notes (e.g. Daily Science Fiction stories), I have way too many to post all at once, so I'll dribble them out over the next weeks.

What I've read: poetry
I Speed Toward The Moon by Constance Hanstedt
At The Forestry Institute, Hanoi by Pepper Trail
Father Son Haiku by Kelvin River
Fallers by Alex Harper

What I've read: short stories
The Family Ghost by Jamie Lackey
Vervain, Grasshopper, Sun by Marissa Lingen
The Thing About Heisenball by Stewart C. Baker
Last Long Night by Lina Rather

While we were in Helsinki I noticed that Lois McMaster Bujold had another Penric novella out - and that it was in the middle of the existing novellas so she'd renumbered the series.  I enjoyed it very much, both for the plot in itself and for the additional worldbuilding about the shamanic and sorcerous magic systems. Then I reread my way through the entire series:
Penric's Demon
Penric and the Shaman
Penric's Fox
Penric's Mission
Mira's Last Dance


What I've read: long fiction
Bookburners: Season 1 by Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, Mur Lafferty and Brian Francis Slattery.  If I'd read this as it was published weekly at Serial Box, I'd probably have listed each episode up in the short-fiction section.  Instead I read one collected ebook with all 16 episodes. A New York police officer ends up getting drawn into a secret society of magical book collectors operating out of the Vatican, and joins the team in hopes of helping her brother.  The overall arc plot gets resolved satisfyingly while leaving an opening for more, and I note that Series 3 is currently unfolding on Serial Box.

I finally read A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers and found it pleasant enough but less amazing than some of the hype had led me to believe. It's a good found-family series of minor adventures (in fact, in that sense it reminds me quite a bit of Bookburners) and I'm glad I've read it and will happily read more by Becky Chambers.  But it didn't grab me in the way that e.g. Ancillary Justice or All Systems Red did.

Bewitching Benedict by C.E. Murphy came out last week. It's a historical-romance comedy of manners, which I really enjoyed, especially the grand farcical climax. I am hoping it does well so that the author feels like writing the books to pair off the rest of the eligible bachelors she's introduced here.

Listen to the Moon by Rose Lerner is another in her Lively St Lemeston series, this time focusing on a valet and a housemaid who have lost their jobs due to events in the previous books.  There's a good job for both of them in the local rectory, but the vicar insists he only wants a married couple in post. Luckily they fancy each other like mad; it takes them a bit longer to figure out how to solve some trickier conflicts.

What I'm reading next
Well, now my degree is done, anything I like!  Ahahaha. 

A Taste of Honey by Rose Lerner just came out and is waiting on my kindle, which is what prompted me to read Listen to the Moon first. From my long-neglected physical to-read pile, I've pulled out The Scientist in the Crib by Alison Gopnik and The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. 
My phone is still in boot loop. I posted about this problem in passing on August 21. Nothing about the phone has changed.

I still have many images and some text messages I would like to recover from it. I am willing to pay someone to get them back for me.

If you have had good experiences with a service and you would like to recommend them, please let me know.

Leaving Apple's warm embrace

Sep. 12th, 2017 10:03 pm
xela: Photo of me (Default)
[personal profile] xela

My now nearly four-year-old iPhone has been flaking out on me with increasing frequency for several months, and for variety of reasons I've decided to replace it with an Android phone. One of those reasons is that Apple's warm embrace increasingly feels to me like that of a boa constrictor. And today That concern became less general and more specific when a friend posted about their difficulties sending SMS messages to a friend who recently punted their iPhone. Apparently it is a known problem that when you switch from an iPhone it becomes difficult or impossible for someone who is also using the Apple ecosystem to send you SMS messages: Apparently — I'm hypothesizing at least as much as remembering here — Messages.app takes over when two iPhones SMS one-another, and if one person switches to a non-Apple phone, that person has to jump through some hoops with the Apple infrastructure or their iPhone-using friends' messages will go only to that person's Messages.app instances (wherever they happen to have it running, or possibly nowhere) but not to their new phone as SMS messages.

I'm writing this here not least as an aide de memoire because I don't have time to look into it in detail right now. If one of you happens to know of good guide to switching from an iPhone to an Android phone without getting entangled in this mess, please leave a pointer in a comment. Thank you.

And DONE

Sep. 11th, 2017 07:22 pm
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
I took my exam this afternoon, and unless I completely failed to understand the requirements, I should have passed comfortably.  So now it's all over bar the marking and formal graduation. 

Apart from the specific course content, I have learned:
  • I love to learn new things when I actually sit down and do so
  • I default to deadline-driven when it comes to other people's deadlines
  • but I can manage to do 'a little bit most days' and I'm happier when I manage that
  • blocking out specific times to get a little bit done most days works a bit more than 50% of the time
  • given the choice between producing 'good-enough' and 'truly excellent' work with 25% more effort ... I will do good-enough work and spend the 25% extra on something else
I have ceremonially deleted my recurring daily 'study' reminder.

Now for all the things I have been neglecting for the last few years, especially this last year ...
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Sep. 10th, 2017 07:45 pm
coraline: (Default)
[personal profile] coraline
[personal profile] flexagon said she'd encountered a tasty "people chow" type food in the cafeteria, and it sounded like something I might like, so I found a recipe and tried it.

How can Serious Eats and Ottolenghi go wrong? Well... )