I hate to say it, but that’s what it comes to in Ashcroft’s Amerikkka: if you express callous contempt for four lynched Americans strung up by a raving mob, there’s a chance you might lose advertisers looking to court a moderate audience.

— Lileks on Kos

Discount Epic Certs, etc


None Shall Pass

Pro tip: when your SSL-enabled LDAP query throws a java.security.NoSuchAlgorithmException error, make sure that your cacerts file isn’t completely empty. It’s always fun when an application startup error turns out to have been accidentally caused weeks ago, making it difficult to find the culprit.

Make Epic RPGs

So, the trailer for RPG Maker MV on Steam is narrated by Epic Voice Guy. I suppose that makes it an Honest Trailer. This is old news, but I only noticed it because MV is steeply discounted right now (both on Steam and Humble Bundle).

Watch that cart!

When I placed this Anker Thunderbolt 3 dock into my cart a few weeks back, it was $320 with Prime shipping. When I went to buy my cart today, I noticed that they’d selected Woot as the dealer for it. That seemed odd, so I went back to the product listing and discovered it was available for $250 with Prime from AnkerDirect. And there was a $20 instant coupon available.

So, um, yeah, I’ll take the $90 discount with no warranty issues, thanks.

Why a new Thunderbolt-3 dock? Because I’m replacing my 12-inch MacBook and its sole USB-C port with a new MacBook Air and its dual Thunderbolt-3 ports. This will likely be my last Mac, between the upcoming ARM shift and the fact that Catalina is about to be replaced while still in beta (most of my old environment will be migrated into a VMware image, so I have a stable OS that still runs 32-bit apps).

Work supplied a 16-inch MacBook Pro, so I don’t need a powerhouse Mac, just something portable that has a non-terrible keyboard. And I’ve got enough time left on the MacBook’s AppleCare that by the time I’m fully off of it, I’ll still be eligible for a keyboard replacement before giving it a new home, if necessary.

I came this close to buying an Asus ZenBook Pro Duo with a 10th-gen Core i9, 32GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD, but decided to hold off on upgrading the Windows side of the house until sometime next year. It is still 2020, after all, and I might need that money for whatever comes next.

Inspired by my purchases, you say?

I purchased a branded item as a gift, and now they think I drink the stuff straight.

One of these things is not like the others…

I’d been wondering what all those vaguely key-shaped items were that have been popping up online, and they turn out to be the latest in fear-of-doorknobs technology. The one-hitter hash pipe is apparently also used to relieve virus-based anxiety.

How about them apples?

It’s all Seg’s fault


Emacs should never refuse to start

Especially with an error like this:

Error in GnuTLS initialization: ASN1 parser: Generic parsing error.
Segmentation fault: 11

Come on, guys, it’s a text editor.

(fresh install of Emacs 27.1 via Homebrew on a machine that’s not crufted up with years of old software; literally the only Google hit for this error message is for Emacs 25.1 from four years ago on Debian GLU/Ninix)

One is never enough

I’m kind of glad Amazon can’t sell cars yet, because the moment you ordered a Toyota Corolla, you’d see:

  • Trending deals: BMW i3, Chevy Silverado, and Fiat Spider

  • Brands you’ve shopped with before: a Yaris, a Tacoma, and three Prius (Prii?)

  • Recommended items other customers often buy again: Mercedes S-Class

  • Inspired by your purchases: Kia Soul

  • Inspired by your shopping trends: Lexus GS

  • Books you may like: 1973 Dodge Dart owner’s manual

  • Recommended For You: “Buy it again in Cars” tile

How much to call me Ishmael?

One of the many Star Trek novels that were better-written than any generation of the shows, Barbara Hambly’s Ishmael was on sale for $0.99 for Kindle. A relatively small number of the usual OCR typos (“doom” instead of “Cloom”, etc) failed to mar the reading experience.

The problems with the Kindle edition of John M. Ford’s brilliant How Much for Just the Planet, also $0.99, were mostly with failure to add white space between the frequent PoV changes, causing the reader to resync at annoying intervals

🎶 If ya liked it then ya shoulda put a steak in it

Ruth Gatling Pluto


Not dead, not sick, still getting used to having a job again, especially the multiple daily Corona-induced Zoom meetings. On the bright side, the first check paid all my bills for the month, and that’s with a substantial 401K contribution. The next one will be smaller due to the ESPP contribution, but still quite healthy.

The Adventures of Pluto Nash

This showed up as something to stream on STARZ, and I remembered only two things from seeing it ~17 years ago: Rosario Dawson and the Big Reveal. Okay, three things: it’s cheesy as hell. To my surprise, I actually enjoyed watching it, largely due to it being one of Eddie Murphy’s more restrained roles. Also, Rosario Dawson.

Gatling

Most of the past week was spent building up a decent load test for our Jira cluster using Gatling. Easy to install, easy to set up basic recordings, heavily documented in slightly-awkward English, almost no online examples of how to really build useful scenarios.

For instance, Atlassian recommends it as a testing tool, but has nothing on how to use it with their products. Honestly, the most useful example I found was a screenshot embedded in a years-old presentation on Youtube. It was a bit fuzzy, but it cleared up a lot.

The recording functionality works great for capturing the info you need and replaying it multiple times to generate background load, but is so full of cruft that I gave up trying to scrub the 5,000+ lines, and extracted about a dozen that were useful.

I ended up with roughly 100 lines of code for a test that scales up to ~180 simultaneous users logging in and each browsing 50 random Jira issues selected from a CSV file, with small random delays between requests. Aiming that at a test instance pounded it just hard enough that 9 requests out of 28,000 timed out and failed, while interactive use from a browser was obviously impacted but still functional. The output is quite readable and useful (including things like finding particular issues that render very slowly even without load).

I worked a bit with Selenium way back when, and this was a much more pleasant experience. Except the looking-for-useful-examples part.

(ordinarily I’d end a rant about “no examples online” with a clear, commented one, but I need to double-check the various documents I docusigned about “code written on company time”…)

Supreme Court Follies

I have never previously mentioned Ruth Bader Ginsburg on this blog. It seems odd to do so now that she’s passed, so I will merely wish her family and friends well, and say that the timing of this sad event just made 2020 even crazier.

Further comment on that deferred for a few days.

Unicorn Chaser: Eri Tokita

“I pledge allegiance, to the flag, …”

(more here and here, sites obviously NSFW)

Unrelated

I am in the process of migrating my pantry storage from Oxo POP containers to Neoflam Smart Seal. I first spotted these at Safeway and tried one out, then bought some more online. I like the twist-seal better than Oxo’s push-button, which doesn’t seal as well and can pop up as you’re moving things around in the pantry. Neoflam bonus: people unfamiliar with your kitchen won’t just try to pull the lid off without releasing the seal. Also, the lids are much easier to clean.

Kitchen Sputter?


Okay, Amazon, ya got me on this one: Toribe Kitchen Sputter:

The box label does (fuzzily) actually say キッチンスパッター, implying a loanword sputter/spatter, and an Amazon Japan search for that string returns a mix of kitchen shears and fire blankets (“sputter sheets”), but a spot check of the shear listings doesn’t include the word スパッ ター anywhere, except for the exact same product.

Which leads me to think that the only reason other shears showed up in the results was because of this product. But why does Toribe call their scissors sputters?

And why does Amazon US include this in the listing?

(recommended because I recently bought a completely different brand of Japanese kitchen shears recently, naturally; scissors are like toaster ovens, apparently, in that you can’t have too many)

Unrelated

The air is rather chewy today. Thanks, Oregon; your forest management is as inept as California’s, although it looks like your fires are a more direct threat to major cities (leading to some suspicion as to how they started).

Of note to me is that the Mt. Hood Resort I spent a week at last year for a Kumihimo conference is in the “be ready to evacuate” zone, and so is the Timberline Lodge, along with a good chunk of Mt. Hood itself.

Thanko, can you hear me?


Ear-cleaning in Japan is apparently not as romantic as anime has led me to believe:

And I have a hunch that these don’t look as good in reality as claimed:

These seem more practical and attractive:

…assuming your phone still has a headphone jack, that is.

Losing Customers, Delivery Edition


Since it’s over 90 today and the smoke from the more distant fires is in the air, rather than firing up the oven or range, I ordered a pizza from Round Table, and accidentally failed to de-select the new default contactless delivery:

Claim:

Step 1: Order online and select the Contactless Delivery option during checkout. Please pay with a credit card and tip online to complete your contactless order.

Step 2: Your pizza is removed from our 400+ degree oven, sliced, placed in the box and is never touched.

Step 3: The driver will let you know they have arrived by ringing the doorbell or knocking.

Step 4: The driver will leave your order on a protected barrier, step back to a safe distance and wait for you to pick up your pizza.

Reality:


Step 3: The driver places the pizza on the ground in front of the door, ignoring both the side-table of the grill and the large wooden bench, both less than three feet away and in clear view.

Step 4: The driver rings the bell and pounds on the door, then flees before you can walk twenty feet. (seriously, he was already back in his car and putting it in gear)

Step 5: The manager faux-pologizes without any sign of giving a damn.

Losing and Winning Customers


Dear Blurb Writer,

I’m pretty sure no fan of either of those graphic novels has ever thought that was the one thing they were really lacking:

“In the tradition of Watchmen and The Dark Knight, but with more cussing. Zephyr is the superhero fiction series you’ve been waiting for.”

Vaguely related, the author of Konosuba apparently has a tech/fantasy isekai crossover series, Combatants Will Be Dispatched! (novel, manga). In which Our Hero is the top agent of an Evil Corporation sent to conquer a fantasy world with the help of his loli android sidekick.

In the color teaser pages for the second volume of the manga, Our Wrong-Genre-Savvy Hero laments the fact that absolutely nothing ecchi has happened to him yet, despite being the protagonist assigned to a group of sexy female adventurers.

Why, yes, there will be an anime version.

Death and Taxes


Bring It On, Ghost

Korean rom-com series on Netflix, featuring a clean-cut college boy who works part-time as a one-punch exorcist, and the amnesiac high-school-girl ghost who moves in with him. Difficulty: not Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs, so it’s not filled with fan-service shots of the delightful young lead actress (note: she was 17 at time of filming to his 28). He does at least manage to land on top of her in a compromising position, but he lacks Kogarashi’s talent for optimizing hand positioning. Also, not a harem comedy, although Our Hero’s college has a well-furnished eye candy department.

And that is called paying the CoC-geld…

The CoC-blockers are trying to destroy Linux again with another coordinated attack on Linus. This is your daily reminder that “codes of conduct” in open source are not about civility, they are about control.

Zeroslotlan

The Scott Who Comments By Email wins the no-prize: it was Avatar Technologies.

Update

Oh, cool, the River and Carmel fires are officially out. They no longer appear on the LA Times wildfire map.

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”