“Crossposting isn’t inherently evil, in the same sense that necrophilia doesn’t really hurt anybody. One wonders only whether it’s appropriate to the occasion.”

— Rick Gordon

Freedom-ly!


Twiki gets freaky!


All is proceeding as foreseen…

Microsoft Metaverse will include Excel, Powerpoint.

(where do you want to go today?)

BIDI-BIDI-BIDI

The latest widespread security alert is the Unicode bi-directional text marker. The tech community has finally noticed that almost nobody is capable of correctly implementing the giant mess of committee-driven features shoehorned into the Unicode standard, with completely predictable results.

Emacs falls for the examples, but less, cat, and vi don’t. Apple’s Textedit.app falls for it, too, but nobody would mistake that for a code editor.

Whatever they’re selling…

In fairness, it’s magical thinking all the way down…

Trick. Just... trick.


Little-monster report

45 kids. So, maybe a bit less than half of a typical year, but at least they were out and about without face condoms, and had no fear of socializing. I went to the trouble of reassuring media-frightened parents by pre-packing half-pound assortments into zip-lock bags, and got some thank-yous for that. Half the kids actually squeezed right past the socially-distanced candy bin and headed toward my front door like seasoned troops, though. Warmed my evil maskless heart, that did.

I might have gotten more if the neighbors at the end of the court had had lights on. The downside of being in the middle is that if a group has to pass by several unlit houses to find out if there’s any candy, they’ll often just keep going.

Next year? Well, perhaps I’ll be somewhere else.

503, Microsoft?

The US site for microsoft.com was hard down this morning. Coincidentally, I hope, Pixy commented on a large-scale brute-force login attack on their cloud accounts.

(I do not have a picture of a cloud-based minefield, so please, just think about protecting your vulnerable accounts catgirls)

“I speak QA to my Apple”

…because nobody at Apple speaks it any more, leading to bricked Macs after Monterey upgrade. There’s also a series of crippling memory leaks being reported, but that just puts the cherry on top.

(trash-fire is related)

Crisis On Infinite Housing

I chatted with my parents Sunday afternoon, and sent them my current short-list of houses in the area. My mom emailed back that she’d actually been in #6 for their estate sale, and it was quite nice. Baffling decision on the range, though; the space is clearly designed for a standard range hood, but they went with a drawdown fan and left the hood space empty with a bit of decorative framing on the opening. Also, the custom-built kitchen island has no power whatsoever.

Am I accelerating the move? Maaaybe. Not so much the moving-in part, but quite possibly the buying-and-renovating part. I’ve acquired considerable affection for my top 3 houses, and while they’ve all been listed for more than 30 days in a market where most are being snapped up in 3-4, I’d honestly hate to miss them all. Especially the top one, which just really appeals to me.

I have sufficient cash on hand to put 20% down right now and still cover closing fees, and I could double that a month from now when our stock lockout period ends, making it possible to pay on both for at least six months with no worries, with the final move in March/April. Meanwhile, my mortgage company’s current estimate of my equity exceeds the total cost of the new house, so I’d have plenty when it was all over to rebuild my reserves, and no mortgage payment at all.

(I’d be able to afford regular maid service at the new house, but regular maid-service will continue to be a blog-only feature)

Japan in the Spring?

Gosh, I hope so. We’re rebooking the not-gonna-happen-in-two-weeks trip to the matching dates in March. Which more-or-less coincides with when I’d hand over the keys to the realtors and officially move to Ohio. We’ll still be flying out of SFO, but when we get back, I’d just spend the night at an airport hotel and then fly away to my new home.

Alexa The Too-Friendly Puppy

My biggest gripe about the “classic” Mac OS was that it treated everyone as an eternal beginner. It was always right up there in your face, refusing to get out of your way and let you do the things you had become expert at. They’ve been trending back this way since the limited functionality of the i-devices began to influence their desktop environment, and Microsoft is flirting with it as well in some aspects of the Win11 UI. Both are also motivated by making you dependent on their Clown Services, of course.

The most in-your-face slobbering puppy on the block, though, is Alexa, which started out as the “AI” sage who set your alarms, turned on your lights, and answered your questions, and gradually shifted to yapping at you after every interaction and shitting on the carpet if you try to make her stop. And it’s the same canned advice every fucking time, no matter how you respond.

“by the way, did you know that you can…”
“while you’re waiting, how about…”
“to hear the rest of the album, say…”
“would you like me to…”
etc, etc.

Apparently there’s an executive at Amazon who thinks that everyone adores the experience of dealing with an attention-starved and slightly incontinent pet.

(this dog is welcome to get in my face and slobber, as long as he brings his handler…)

Expired Semaphore Timeout Period


Restaurant To Another World, episode 2.5

Slight slip in character art, as they fill the restaurant back up for two first-timers; this week Sarah was the recurring character to get a bit wonky-eyed in a scene. First up, pretty boy gets some tail, followed by an adventurer chasing a different sort of treasure, with the latter framed by a conversation with Our Chef’s dessert supplier.

I’ve decided that I need to rip a copy of the “cuisine triumph” tune, so I can play it whenever people eat my cooking.

The simple pleasures

James Hoffmann, a man who has a strong preference for light-roasted “specialty” coffee, freshly roasted, ground right before brewing, and prepared with care, just reviewed every Nespresso-branded pod he could buy. There were a number of knee-jerk defensive reactions on the trash-fire that is Reddit (I don’t even try to look at Youtube comments), but the folks on the Nespresso Discord came away grudgingly approving of his fairness. (update: except for a few of the (actual) teenagers)

(Kumoko is unrelated)

Update: HP Aero 13.3

Still liking the new Win11 laptop, but just ran into an annoying issue: trying to copy data from an SSD connected to the right-side USB3 port threw up semaphore timeout alerts, every time (error 0x80070079). Worked fine on the left, or on the USB-C port. Searching for the specific error shows it’s a long-standing generic message for driver issues with network and storage interfaces (with some very scammy “solutions” high in the search results). So, yeah, fix yer shit, HP.

Speaking of Win11…

Tentatively, I’m using Edge as my default browser, since I needed something that I could quickly set to default to wiping all cookies and local data on exit, but preserve them for whitelisted domains. The interface isn’t as convenient or detailed as the Cookie app for the Mac, but I was able to export the list from there, reformat it in Emacs, and paste it in pretty quickly.

I’ve also imported the Rocky Linux 8.4 image that I set up with my usual shell environment, and a decent set of RPMs (which is how I found the USB issue above). It’s nice that they have official instructions for WSL-ifying Rocky. Like many other custom distros, they start with a Docker image, so you end up needing to reinstall a lot of things for general-purpose use, but that also means that you’re spared a lot of the usual Anaconda cruft.

For font management, I have a test-install of FontBase, but honestly, after all the praise they give themselves on the site, it’s pretty bare-bones. I’ve been using FontExplorer X for a long time on the Mac side (they abandoned their Windows software years ago), and this is… not remotely comparable. It is, however, completely integrated with Google Fonts, putting the entire collection a few clicks away.

This weekend I want to do some side-by-side performance comparisons for Lightroom and Photoshop, and maybe test Hugo build performance in various configurations.

(…or maybe I’ll just feed cats)

Update: Synology Active Backup for Business

So far, the nightly backup job for the new laptop has been running smoothly at 3 AM each day, as long as the lid is open so that it’s just idle or sleeping, not hibernating.

(backups are kid of like maid-service, right? close enough)

Notes:

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Upgrade, Retry, Fail


Anime update

This season is a Wed/Thu/Fri schedule for me, with the only things I’m watching being Super-Pharmacist And Clingy Princess, the two-week delay of Komi-san, and Restaurant To Another World 2.

On the bright side, I got an advance copy of Richard Roberts’ new book, A Spaceship Repair Girl Supposedly Named Rachel. Need to read that tonight and give some feedback. Fortunately I recently learned what “sus” means, so it didn’t baffle me when it turned up in the first chapter.

Super-Pharmacist And Clingy Princess, episode 4

I could have done with less male nudity (this episode’s focus is “let’s save the local sauna”), but Rit and Nao shrink-wrapped in bath towels was adequate compensation. And I refuse to believe that Rit isn’t getting up early and arranging the view that Red wakes up to.

Bonus for Rit’s shy confession of why she was suddenly craving a particular beverage, and for Nao’s completely-unsubtle teasing about their relationship progress, or lack of same.

The Trouble With Komi-san, episode 2

So far, so good. I haven’t followed the source material, so this is all fresh to me. Fingers crossed that Komi gradually improves her communication skills over the season; it would get old fast if she doesn’t.

Fun with MS365

The Microsoft 365 service enforces a comprehensive list of rules on all user passwords, and will not take no for an answer. One of those rules is that the username cannot appear as a substring of the password, upper or lower case. So, a randomly-generated 24-character password like sQaHT88LCdx4Mq9z*fTUDTJv is rejected if the email address is j@example.com.

I understand the logic of avoiding “joe” passwords. The very first time I sent out excrutiatingly-polite change-your-password email, a Senior Researcher blew his top at the next faculty meeting. How dare this undergrad tell him what to do!! My manager looked at him and said, “the problem, mike, was that your password, mike, used to log in to all of our servers, mike, was trivial for any student to have guessed, mike.” He received no sympathy from the rest of the faculty.

Sure, block “mike” and “mikemike” and “jeepmike” and “mIkepass2”, etc, but it seems a tad extreme to completely ban a letter of the alphabet.

(zombie idols are unrelated)

Fun with Apple

So, let’s say you’re running iOS/iPadOS 14.8 and you don’t want the beta of 15.x.

Good: for the first time, you can install the 14.8.1 security update even on devices that support 15.x.

Bad: as an over-the-air update only. If you try to do it by connecting the device to your computer over USB, you can only upgrade to 15.x.

Which means that if you want a local pre-upgrade backup, you need to connect via USB, then disconnect and upgrade.

In other news, Safari 15.1 is out for Catalina and Big Sur, disabling the horrifying amateurish tab redesign.

Fun with Adobe

A big update to all the Creative Clown apps came out this week, which took quite a while to install. They really want you to auto-update, which is a terrible idea, but they’re pushing it so hard that you have to enable that option just to get it to transfer your saved settings from the old version of the apps. And then remember to shut it off again as soon as the updates finish.

In other Adobe news, the anime tie-in of the day is that the brush fonts used in the Demon Slayer series are now available in CC. Along with the first Adobe Original Japanese font in several years. Nice to see that they still have a few people in that department; I’d been wondering if it was all pretty much outsourced these days.

Interesting note: the new version of Photoshop no longer accepts the built-in graphics on my Macbook Air for GPU acceleration, insisting I need a driver upgrade. Which is a subtle way to say “install the beta of Big Sur or Monterey”. Nah, I’m good, thanks.

(unrelated, and a lot more fun than updating Photoshop and Illustrator)

Fun with Edge

I want every application to support this option. I’m getting really sick of having to remember to mash down all the modifier keys any time I want to paste text as just text:

Hard to read the gray text, but setting plain-text paste also enables an option to get rid of some background site-loading fuckery that’s even worse than just pasting rich-text. Baby steps, Microsoft.

Master Of His Domain


Seems legit

Everyone knows that the best chow mein comes from Guatamala.

Everyone knows about shrinkage, right?

Went to my doctor for a physical today, and despite being several pounds lighter than she’s ever seen me at, somehow the summary of my visit reported a record-high BMI. Because I somehow got four inches shorter. On paper, anyway.

Is that a camera in your pocket?

Or are you just happy to see me? Sony’s latest ($1,800) phone uses the same sensor as the RX100 VII ($1,300). Fortunately it doesn’t also use the 24-200mm f/2.8-4.5 zoom lens, or every customer would be packing suspicious bulges. Why so big? To shoot 20 megapixel stills at 20 frames/second, plus 4K video at 120 frames/second. They also included a chipset that can keep up.

(meanwhile, the camera body I want might be back in stock in mid-January, lord willing and the creek don’t rise)

MS365

I’m testing out Microsoft 365 Business as an email provider, mostly because it’s $30/person/year through the company store, and there’s only one of me. I moved one of my idle domains onto it first, to see how much work is involved in setting up dozens of incoming aliases, a handful of outgoing addresses, and a catchall mailbox for the domain.

There’s no official (GUI) support for a catchall, but it can apparently be set up with a few quick web-CLI incantations and a shared mailbox that doesn’t consume an additional license. It also looks like you can easily put the same user into multiple domains (with different sets of aliases), so one license can span them all. Some of this I was familiar with from when we moved Ooma from Intermedia to Office 365, which was… entertaining.

Migrating an existing domain that I control the DNS for was pretty painless. There’ll be a lot of testing before I move a domain that I actually receive significant email on, especially my primary, which has an extensive list of vendor-specific aliases (~400) that need to be entered once I’m sure the catchall works.

And, of course, I need to test the Synology backup app for MS365; if it works as well as the Windows backup has so far, it will add to my peace of mind.

Virtual house-hunting

I am not (yet) moving out of California back to Ohio to be near my family. I am, however, idly checking out the housing market near their place, and I’ve found several houses that I would cheerfully buy right now if I had a commitment from work that I could be 100% remote forever, and I knew what sort of regional compensation adjustment was involved. My direct manager is on board, but the pre-Covid policy required approval at at least the director level, and they haven’t finalized the post-Covid policy yet (“January…”).

There are a lot of folks in Silicon Valley and elsewhere pushing to reduce or eliminate the regional adjustments, because fundamentally you’re paying for their talent, not the size of their mortgage payment. Based on the prices there and my equity here, I wouldn’t have a mortgage, and I have no other debt at all, so (shh! don’t tell!) some amount of adjustment wouldn’t be a deal-breaker for me.

Which means I’ve been looking at Zillow listings for a lot of houses in the $250,000-$500,000 range in the general vicinity of Kettering, OH, occasionally peeking at things up to around $750K. If you’re curious and wish to play along, my searches are currently centered on zip codes 45440 and 45429.

(I don’t want her view, I want the view of her…)

This has led me to add some new rules to my existing preferences:

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Spam from an alternate universe...


The batshit-crazy is strong in this one…

I just checked my tertiary spam folder (the catchall for my domain that catches randomly-generated usernames, as well as things I’ve explicitly blocked due to spam-harvesters). It had this little gem, that arrived Saturday, October 23, 2021:

Subject: Exposed: This Could End Trump’s Presidency

Whether he knows it or not, Trump’s actions just set in motion one of the most terrible events in human history…

An event foretold 2500 years ago!

(.buzz url redacted)

This documentary was banned in most Christian states, but took the Internet by storm…

(and, yes, the garbage characters are in the original; sloppy cut-and-paste from some program with smart-quotes enabled in the wrong character set)

(picture is unrelated, because if you’re going to contact me from another universe, it had better be one that has catgirls)

…and here’s when you should: never

“When you can download macOS Monterey”.

Basically, Software Update will stop nagging you to install the beta of Big Sur and start nagging you to install the early beta of Monterey.

The betas of iOS 15.1, iPadOS 15.1, and watchOS 8.1 will be released later in the week. I’m sticking with the previous major release until at least 15.1.3, because I like it when my devices function.

(Nurse Misty will not kiss it and make it better if you upgrade your Mac too soon)

Dear Apple iFucktards,

Related, WTF is this?

  1. This alert blocks me from seeing what’s on my screen or otherwise using my phone until I respond to it.

  2. It purports to be warning me of a potential security issue, but offers no options but “OK”, and no information about what to do if I didn’t sign into iMessage.

  3. It’s about 90 minutes late, since I put the watch on at 9:30 AM and the alert didn’t pop up until 11.

  4. I didn’t send or receive any messages today.

  5. Note that it’s not a “new Apple Watch”; it’s the only one I’ve ever had, and has been continuously connected to my account since I bought it nearly three years ago.

  6. I’m on the highway doing 65 MPH! If this isn’t a real security warning, why the hell is it blocking my screen and demanding attention under those circumstances?

Alec Baldwin’s negligent homicide

There are very, very few gun “accidents” in the world today, basically limited to wear on moving parts and/or defective manufacture. What there are are negligent discharges, in which someone pulls the trigger and the gun does exactly what it’s supposed to do, while pointed in an unsafe direction.

While the precise legal definition of “negligent homicide” may not be met here, especially if money and influence are passed around freely, the bottom line is that Alec Baldwin picked up a gun and pointed it at human beings, killing one and injuring another. That’s negligence, and that’s homicide.

The latest version of the facts claims that he was practicing his draw for an upcoming scene:

Baldwin removed the gun from its holster once without incident, but the second time he repeated the action, ammunition flew toward the trio around the monitor. The projectile whizzed by the camera operator but penetrated Hutchins near her shoulder, then continued through to Souza.

Since they were shooting a Western, this was a single-action revolver, which must be cocked before it can be fired. If this description is correct, then one of two things happened:

  • the gun was placed in the holster with the hammer cocked, either by the previous person who handled it or by Baldwin, possibly after his first “successful” draw.

  • Baldwin cocked the hammer when he drew the gun from the holster, either deliberately or by somehow catching it on something.

Following that, there are two possibilities:

  • he pulled the trigger.

  • the hammer fell from a full or partially cocked position due to wear or manufacturing defects.

Given the other facts and claims about this shoot, including two previous on-set “accidental” discharges that didn’t kill anyone, I’m willing to believe the gun was both stored incorrectly and defective. My guess is that someone had been using it for fanning, a common Western trope that puts a lot of wear on the working parts.

But Baldwin was the one who broke every basic rule of safe gun handling that would have stopped that bullet from hurting anyone.

(no cute anime cheesecake for you, Alec!)

Commu-show


“War never changes”

I used to think that the world-building of Fallout 4 was the least-believable thing about the game, with people failing at even the basics of creating a pre-modern society after a full 200 years, and still living in rubble-filled open-air unheated shacks in Boston. They’re not even keeping out the rain, much less the snow, and are wearing filthy clothes scavenged from the ruins. Twenty years, sure; fifty years, maybe, but two hundred years of taping together rotting lumber and pulling clothes off of mannequins?

Then I saw how people responded to Covid-19. China didn’t need nukes to destroy American society…

Komi-san: Our long national nightmare is over

“Hey, Netflix, after delaying it for two weeks, this had better be good.”

Episode 1 did not suck.

I find it interesting that male lead Gakuto Kajiwara sounds remarkably familiar, despite the fact that I’ve never seen any show he’s had a significant role in. I can’t say the same about female lead Aoi Koga, because I’ve seen Kaguya-sama, but then again, Komi isn’t really much of a speaking role.

Komi’s mom, on the other hand, is a major player.

Clarification

コミュ症, Komyu-shou = difficulty speaking

コミュニズム症 Komyunizumu-shou = Leftist’s disease

Restaurant to another world, #2.4

The character art was significantly improved this week, apparently by the simple expedient of letting the Diners Of The Week have the place to themselves. First, not-Hansel and not-Gretel find out that not all witches are wicked, and then a pair of enterprising halflings clean up both in the market and in the restaurant.

Good clean fun, as usual.

Dirty books are contagious?

So, the Mandarake “banned publications” store was shut down for being within 200 meters of a medical clinic; yeah, I don’t get it, either. The initial complaint was that it was right across the aisle from a store for teenage girls (one-stop shopping!), but the criminal charge they managed to come up with was based on a doctor’s office and two dentists being in the same building.

H!P Update

Momona Kasahara (笠原桃奈) was only 12 when Hello!Project promoted her into the group ANGERME, with pictures that made her look a lot older than 12. I decided to set an alarm for her 18th birthday to see if they’d toss her like kleenex once her sexy-loli appeal was used up. That would be today, and it seems she’s still with the group… for another month.

(this is the first time I’ve actually looked at the current H!P stable for several years; I’ve been playing a lot of Melon Kinenbi music recently, but the glory days of H!P are long, long gone)