“Debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place. Therefore, if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it.”

— Brian Kernighan

Dark Matter (the series, that is)


I’m not sure why I’ve never mentioned watching the SciFi Channel’s series Dark Matter. I just caught up on the start of the third season, and I can’t really say anything to praise it, but somehow I keep watching. It’s shallow and clichéd and cheesy and Canadian, …and just as good as it needs to be.

Three, Five, and Six have plenty of sf-ghetto cred, and of course series regular Truffault goes all the way back to Forever Knight, making her time in service longer than Five’s life. Three did the best job of selling his character at first, but I’d say he and Six hit parity about halfway through the first season. Five is fun, but she suffers from having to be the genius teen who can do amazing things with technology (perhaps it’s no coincidence that Wil Wheaton has been a guest star…).

Two is a newcomer to the SF ghetto, moving from Canadian Idol and Broadway Éponine to “mildly-psychotic semi-superpowered space mercenary captain”, but she’s doing a solid job, and quickly grew out of the “badass eye candy” they wrote her as initially. Android is an acquired taste, but the actress has been able to have fun with the role.

If you’re counting, you’ll note that I’ve left out One and Four. While Four’s been driving the plot recently, so much of it revolves around him being King Of The Assholes that I kind of wish it was over (“dear writers, pleasepleaseplease kill off Misaki before her dialog and delivery kills me”); the more central his story has become, the less interesting he is as a character. One was Captain Whitebread from the Planet of Sensitive New Age Guys, so I can’t say that I object to his story being wrapped up abruptly.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the show is that the original pilot graphic novel had Two as the only female, which would have made things a lot less interesting. And a lot less decorative, even though Android rarely lets her hair down, and Five’s awesome bosom is generally concealed to pretend she looks like a teenager.

In the end, maybe I like it because most of the actors have managed to make their characters work. It’s no SG-1, where the entire cast hit the ground running, but it works.

[Side note: the gang’s handler Calchek hasn’t showed up nearly as much as Truffault, but not only was he a villain in Forever Knight, he goes all the way back to Friday The 13th: The Series.]

Reasons to have an OpenBSD router at home, Amazon Wand Edition


Since the new Amazon Dash Wand is effectively free for Prime customers, and it gives you a home-automation controller, bar-code scanner, and a hand-held Alexa device that is not always listening, I ordered one.

When it arrived this morning, I followed the instructions, opened the Amazon app on my iPhone, and went through the setup process. Wifi Fail. Wifi Fail. Wifi Fail. “You should contact customer service”.

The first 20+-minute call went through a bunch of cookbook questions about who my Internet provider was, and how to change the channel on my router. I had a brief flashback to the Seventies, then realized their script assumed Comcast meant “all-in-one cable modem, router, and wireless access point”. I played along, knowing this would make no difference, and the call eventually ended in an RMA.

I was curious to see if it really was a wireless problem, so I logged into the OpenBSD router, checked the DHCP logs, and found an entry for a new Amazon MAC address. I fired up tcpdump and went through the setup again, and sure enough, the device got DHCP, connected to the Internet for DNS, connected to an Amazon server, and then started trying to talk to a public (non-Amazon) NTP server to set its date and time.

It failed every time. Annoyingly, it wasn’t even looking in DNS for its NTP server; the addresses were hardcoded in either the build or the config it had downloaded.

So, armed with the knowledge that the hardware was fine, I tried to get back through to customer service with this knowledge. An hour later, after two different people tried to debug phone app, wireless and bluetooth problems (including telling me to turn on GPS on my phone!), I finally got someone to twiddle the right bits so it could connect to servers that were up, and then cancel the RMA.

Now I have a Dash Wand. Ho, ho, ho.

Inevita-Bell, Flashback, Lost


DanSora 10

If the goal of the writers was not for me to hope that Lefiya falls into a pit and gets devoured by monsters, they have failed. As expected, we’re up to Bell’s minotaur fight, but they didn’t let it consume the entire episode. So, if it’s going to be 13 episodes, I figure we have “getting to level 59”, “discovering the secret of level 59”, and “finding Bell on level 18” left.

Eromanga-sensei 11

After two episodes with minimal Sagiri, the animators (or as they’re better known, “still-panners”) have resumed their lusty exploration of her under-developed body, and have upped the ante in flashbacks of her at age 7. At least the expository lumps finally introduced Mr. and Mrs. Brady, answering several questions and raising a few new ones. The worst thing about revealing The Secret History, though, is that an episode without Elf is like a week without sunshine.

Sagiri’s biological father is apparently alive (it was a divorce, not a death, that made her withdraw the first time), but there’s no such thing as joint custody in Japan, and it’s apparently not unusual for the other parent to never see their kids again.

Doctor Who 10.10

I get the impression that they suddenly realized they’ve never actually shown Bill’s character development, and decided to just present it as an accomplished fact. And is it just me, or was the Doctor’s “plan” the most pointlessly melodramatic phony dilemma of the entire Capaldi era?

Especially since the audience doesn’t believe it would actually happen. “Wait, wouldn’t that just end the show?”

Update: No apologies…

🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶
Doctor, Bill, and Nardole,
on a Tardis expedition,
met the lostest Romans ever known.

Light-eating dog-thing,
hand-waved as major threat,
led cowards to noble self-sacrifice.

In the Moffat Puppet Show.
I can’t wait to see him go.
Can Chibnall save this frickin’ showwwww?
🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶

Dear Hello!Project Costume Designers,


I hadn’t realized that the entire wardrobe department was out with the flu, forcing the company to bring in some temps to outfit the girls. I’m sure this will come as a shock, after our years of peaceful conflict, but I hope it’s a long flu season.

…although I do have a few questions about how “trainee” Kurumi Noguchi (age 15) got into those pants. And who else is trying to get into them…

Vir Cotto, Sleeping In Light


R.I.P. Stephen Furst.

Cheesecake: insect


Hey, I shut down our Bugzilla server last night, so what could be more natural than a bug theme? I figured I’d get girl-with-bug, girl-as-bug, girl-vs-bug, etc, but damn you, Rule 34, I wasn’t expecting quite so much girl-raped-by-bugs. No, no, not going there; all cartoon girls pictured on this site consist of 100% consenting pixels.

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“Goodnight, Bugzilla”


Just shut down our Bugzilla server as Our Little Elves start the task of migrating all the data into Jira. Which would have been done six weeks ago if Someone hadn’t demanded at the last minute that we rearrange the product structure to reflect Our New Way, and then spent a month being too busy to actually reveal the new design. And then IT still had to do all the work of creating the new products and components, and actually updating the bug DB.

(in fairness, I volunteered for that last bit, because I knew exactly how to do it; Someone (yes, The Same Someone) had asked me to do it at Digeo, over ten years ago…)

Meanwhile, the team responsible for designing the Jira ticket workflow finally delivered a picture of it at 7:55pm. Our Little Elves were scheduled to start the migration at 8pm.

I have a hunch there’s going to be widespread panic on Monday, as they get what they asked for, good and hard.

“Dear Bugzilla, please take us back. We’ll never cheat on you again.”

Amazon to buy Whole Foods


For a measly $13.7 billion, Amazon will gain 431 brie-and-mortgage outlets in upscale neighborhoods around the country. I’m wondering if they even care what products they currently sell…

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