threemonkeys: (tick)
I did some housekeeping recently - chopped virtually all of my twitter follows off and about half of those on facebook (with more to go). I also deleted a few accounts I'd never really used (e.g. tumblr). Its all about removing web footprint I don't actually need, want or use.

But I do keep using DW/LJ - I like the way they work. So I was interested to see the following...

Originally posted by fengi at Serious Suggestion: instead of chasing Ello, why not push LJ? (via jack_ryder)

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I'm going to go all pitchman/cheerleader for a moment:

Instead of joining the stampede to half-baked ello, let's encourage people to join the Livejournal. It's far from perfect, but it's more viable than most other options.

It has the features ello testers and disgruntled Facebook users want now. After 15 years of experience, it has slowly learned from drama and errors. It survived the original dot bust and seems ready for the next one.

The free-to-paid membership model has provided ad-free, adult-friendly options for a decade plus, something earnest manifestos usually don't (see tumblr's broken promise).

So why deal with more inflated startup promises and fumbling? Say goodbye to Facebook and hello to Livejournal -- a customizable global social network that doesn't require real names and provides an easy, logical way to avoid ads. [Forgive me for the infomercial language.]

As a longtime user and occasionally harsh critic, I think LJ is flawed but less adversarial and predatory towards users than Facebook, Google and others. Yes, it has an "old meme" image and notorious past service dramas, but in the long term it's become a solid product.

It's a viable alternative to Facebook which is ready to serve users immediately. Click here for their new promotional video, which you can post to Facebook.



--------------------------------------------
*Recently when an error appeared to override my preferred friends display, a complaint ticket received a polite response and a fix in less than 24 hours - from what appeared to be an actual human. Even in the worst days of LJ, my tickets were handled in a relatively coherent and timely fashioned compared with the inscrutable silence of bigger networks.
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threemonkeys: (cat)
It is the general election on Saturday. I find that my usual local barometers have broken - the garbage in my "no circulars" mailbox test no longer seems to apply. The ill-founded public demonstrations test has failed. Even the boring fallback of trying to decide based on policy and credibility has failed due to the complete lack of any of the latter from any of the candidates (and precious little sanity in the former).

So how to decide my party vote? I am one of those people who believe that if you don't participate in the democratic process then you are in no position to complain. It isn't going to be easy.

So I read with interest the story of Jón Gnarr whose term as mayor of Reykjavik has come to an end. He ran as a joke candidate and got elected. He did the job as seriously as anybody else could do and, most importantly of all, at the end of his term he stepped down and dissolved his political party.

With that in mind, I draw your attention to the Civilian Party. In particular the policy position which simply states "Ice Cream". I could vote for that.
threemonkeys: (tick)
I don't usually do this, but I like it so much - Prof Brian Cox on "The difference between science and entertainment"

The consensus scientific view is the best we can do at any given time, given the available data and our understanding of it. It is not legitimate and certainly of no scientific value (although there may be political value) to attack a prediction because you don’t like the consequences, or you don’t like the sort of people who are happy with the prediction, or you don’t like the people who made the prediction, or you don’t like the sort of policy responses that prediction might suggest or encourage, or even if you simply see yourself as a challenger of consensus views in the name of some ideal or other. It is only appropriate to criticize a prediction or theory based on specific criticisms of the data, methodology or the underlying theoretical framework. It is content-less to criticize a scientific prediction because you don’t like it.

This Cox quote came from Apollo's Children Blog - read the whole thing.
threemonkeys: (cat)
I'm all in favour of warning messages or alerts. You know, those little pop up messages that tell you when a task is due or that there may be a problem with whatever system you are running.

But there is a key caveat to that. Those warnings must be able to be dismissed once read. It is very irritating to continue to receive alerts over and over again. That is something Microsoft failed to do properly when they implemented Vista and boy did they receive flak for it. By contrast, the calendar software I use does it perfectly - I can set whether reminders are to come up and at what time before an event. After the box pops up I can click on "Dismiss" and the message goes away forever.

So what about servicing my car. The next expected service date is written on a sticker on the windscreen and I get an email and a postcard from the garage. But the car also has a built in reminder system - it is just a timer, not something which reports a detected issue or anything serious. And remember that it is just a recommended service - there is plenty of flexibility around when you do it.

So the car's reminder puts a message in the middle of the speedo dial every time I start the car. I have to press the "Read" button to make it go away. It also puts it there every time I turn the car off as well. Every single time.

So, I have got the message and I want to dismiss the message for good, I tried obvious things like holding the "Read" button down but that just makes the message come back up again. I even resorted to reading the manual, but that told me nothing, nor did the manufacturers web site. Eventually I resorted to youTube. I thought I'd share the procedure with you which is as follows:

With the ignition on, turn the trip computer to T2. Turn off the ignition and remove key.

Put the key back in and hold down the trip computer stalk for a few seconds and then turn the ignition to position 1 (which means pressing the start button with your foot off the brake pedal).

While still holding down the trip computer stalk, also hold down the start button for a few seconds (with foot still off the brake).

When the car starts to beep and flash a warning light, release the trip computer and then the start button. Make sure you do this before the car stops beeping - you have about 3 seconds.

Remove the key.

That appears to do the trick. Obvious eh?
threemonkeys: (boxes)
If I unfriend/unfollow/un-whatever you in the next while, don't be offended. I'm just having a cleanup on platforms that I don't actually read anyway. The only linkages I'm leaving there are for people I don't have any other mechanism for contacting.

With a bit of luck this is preparatory to the daunting process of deleting those accounts altogether. If you need to ask why, just read the Guardian for a bit - you will soon find an article explaining it.
threemonkeys: (cat)
Thought I'd better post something. The DW theme where I post this has a calendar on it and it is looking so sad without any entries.

So there has finally been a leaflet drop in my no circulars letterbox. Guess who? It was the conservatives. Y'know because I really needed another reason to not vote for a bunch of fundamentalist god bothering, moon landing denying, nutjobs.

Interestingly though I did get rung up by the Labour party. Talking to other Hutt Southers it seems as if they are ringing everybody in the electorate. Of course they rang as I was in the middle of preparing my evening meal. Just like all the scammers, beggars and insulation sales people.
threemonkeys: (drowning)
OK, perhaps Hutt South is not as boring as I thought - see this article about campaigning in the area. I appears that this electorate is morale central for Labour.

Still no unsolicited advertising in my mailbox though.
threemonkeys: (Default)
General election time again. Boundary changes mean I am no longer in the interesting Ohariu electorate, but rather the boring Hutt South area.

In previous elections I have used mailbox etiquette to influence my vote. So far this year, the material I have received has been personally addressed so I can't criticise them for ignoring my "no circulars" sign this time round.

But one of the letters wasn't addressed to my name although it did have my address. So is one of the parties so incompetent that they can't even organise a bulk mailout correctly? We may have a decision criterion.

On the other hand, the dude the envelope was addressed to may have just screwed up his electoral roll entry. I'll give the party the benefit of the doubt until I can check.

In the meantime I may have to (shock horror) look at actual party policies.
threemonkeys: (tick)
The Fan Fund for Australia and New Zealand was created to strengthen the ties between Australia and New Zealand fandom. FFANZ assists fans with travel to the Natcon of the other nation, and assists with as many of the attendant costs of travel as practical, as well as facilitating connections between fans.

This years FFANZ race is a westward bound one, facilitating travel by a New Zealand fan to the 53rd Australian National Science Fiction Convention, Continuum X, to be held in Melbourne from the 6th - 9th of June 2014. It is expected that after the trip the winner takes over as administrator of the fund, engage in fundraising for the fund, and that they promote links between the two fandom’s via a trip report or other means. Please note that although there is only one candidate this year that the ballot is also a fund raising venture, so please vote.

The ballot form for this race can be found on the FFANZ web site or you can track down Jan & Steve at Conclave 2 to get a printed form. Vote for GUFF while you are at it.
threemonkeys: (tick)
The GUFF ballot form is now available. Alternatively, and possibly more conveniently, there is an online form here.

Under normal circumstances I would just be encouraging you to vote. But if you look closely you will see that I actually nominated one of the candidates. So please vote for Gillian as she would be a great ambassador for down under fandom. Alternatively, just vote for whoever you want to - the important thing is to vote (and pay).
threemonkeys: (boxes)
I'm not going to be at Conclave2*, but that doesn't mean I'm not interested. Has anybody heard anything at all from them - any emails or news updates? I say this as somebody who is on many email lists and actually runs a news service for the national SF association. I haven't heard a peep. I'd ask directly but since I'm not attending I thought I'd ask around first to see if I'm missing something?.

The web site is scarcely any better. It has no progress news posted - there aren't even any forums created in the forum area. There isn't even a draft programme - just a rough sketch of a few major items.

Did I mention that it starts Thursday of next week.

ETA: Oh, it appears there is a facebook page and there is some activity there. Who uses facebook anymore?

(*Conclave 2 = New Zealand Natcon for 2014. If you don't know what a natcon is then there is every chance you have stumbled across the wrong blog.)
threemonkeys: (tick)
Are you a New Zealand based fan who wants to attend Aussie Natcon Continuum X in June. The have a look at FFANZ - go on, you know you want to. Added fundraising jolliness thrown in free.
Announement is here.

Actually, I'm tempted to run myself, just to keep it going. Except that I don't realistically think I'll be able to make it to Continuum this year. I've already flagged away going to the NZ Natcon. No single problem - just too hard generally.
threemonkeys: (cat)
I can't let this pass unremarked. Geoff Robinson is retiring from National Radio. I have been waking up to his voice on week-day morning for at least the last 30 years. All I can really say to him is thank you - it just won't be the same without you.

At least Simon Mercep has proven a good co-host. But the last thing we need now is for RNZ to try to find one of those rabid attack dog interviewers. We don't ever need another Mike Hosking in the mornings. Morning report should be about information not confrontation - Robinson understood that better than anybody and did it superbly.
threemonkeys: (boxes)
It appears that GUFF nominations for 2014 are open and have been for some time. They close on Friday. I only found out when I got an email offering to organise nominators for me. Oops.

Not that it matters. Sadly I find myself in the position where I cannot stand in good conscience. I can't guarantee that I'd be able to make the trip or be able to do all the activity required of a delegate. Oh but I'd so much like to.

By way of a proxy, I'd be prepared to nominate anybody interested.
threemonkeys: (cat)
Here is what you don't want to hear when you are on a ship - a loud bang, a shudder and a grinding sound. Another thing you don't want to have is silence over the intercom - it must have taken 15 minutes before the captain came on to say there has been an incident. I can't say I liked the sensation of drifting without power in the middle of Cook Strait either.

Anyway, no great harm done for me and the other passengers. The crew did get into communication mode and we got going, albeit at a reduced speed. We ended up being a bit over an hour late. News item if you are interested in details.
threemonkeys: (tick)
I'm heading south for a trip for a family reunion. There have been a bunch of (four) provincial rugby finals this weekend. The connection?

There are 26 rugby provincial unions in NZ, 6 of which make up the Crusaders provincial catchment area. I'm traveling through 4 of those Crusaders union areas this week. They are:

Marlborough - part of Tasman - Championship winners

Canterbury - Premiership winners (for the the 6th time in a row)

Mid Canterbury - Meads cup winners

South Canterbury - Lachore cup winners.

Do you think rugby will be a safe topic on my trip?


Notes
1 - One of the losing finalists was a Crusader catchment union as well.
2 - Lets not mention the Womens NPC final shall we ;)
threemonkeys: (books)
I recently read a book that many times made me look at my watch and then grumble. The book in question was The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter. The basic premise of the book is that it suddenly became easy to transport yourself between parallel Earths. The one key caveat to this transfer was that metallic Iron would not transfer over with you. Obviously organically bound Iron would transfer over or you wouldn’t live but the hard shiny stuff just got dropped behind. A big chunk of the world building of this book was based on that. The implication being that technology levels for people transferring over to a parallel earth would be very low. There is a scene where somebody is trying to bury bodies with a wooden shovel. The crippling effect of not having iron was mentioned in many places and in a variety of explicit and implied ways. It is fundamental to the book.

So why did looking at my watch make me grumble? Because the case and strap of my watch are made of Titanium. It isn’t even a particularly expensive watch. Iron may be very common to the point of ubiquity in our technology, but there are plenty of alternatives – Aluminium. Carbon fibre, ceramics, Titanium, Magnesium* and so forth. Generally speaking there are actually superior alternatives to Iron/Steel for pretty much any role you care to mention. Sure they are more expensive, but they do exist. What is more, given a few years of development after the discovery of parallel Earths (as the book suggests), you can expect industry to have come up with a whole range of non-iron tools – particularly firearms - the lack of which was particularly noted in the book.

So what bugged me was that alternatives to Iron were not addressed by the book. Not even a line to discount the impact of other materials as being too expensive. That wouldn’t necessarily be valid but at least it would show the authors recognised the situation and were trying to address it. Instead it looked as if they had found their macguffin to create low technology and were sticking with it. It just seemed sloppy and every time I struck it, it pulled me out of the story.

I think it bugged me more because the book is clearly Science Fiction. I may not have held a fantasy world building up to quite the same standards - or perhaps not. Whatever, I’m sure the readers here who run world building courses will be saying "see – I told you so".


*Magnesium alloy as used in car wheels actually has a standard that says no more than .005% of the alloy can be Iron or it affects the corrosion resistance. In the scenario of the Long Earth I can see an industry of carrying rims across to a parallel Earth and back again to remove all the unwanted Iron from the alloy wheels.
threemonkeys: (cat)
I thought I'd try to watch some coverage of the Aussie elections last night - in between rugby coverage...as you do.

But the only coverage locally was from Sky News. I didn't watch for long. What a nasty, biased, gloating piece of work. Actually considerably worse than checking out Fox news during the last US presidential election. Over here we did hear accusations of the media bias, but they were just that - accusations. The Sky coverage served proof.

On a brighter note, I have been remiss in not noting another "Australian system" vote last weekend - the Hugos. Tansy won for best fan writing! Such brilliant news and so completely deserved.

Oh yes and the Wallabies lost. I have no reaction to that.
threemonkeys: (drowning)
I don't think many people watched the series Mr Sunshine starring Matthew Perry as the manager of a sport stadium. I did though - it had some genuinely funny moments along with a fair wallop of lameness.

There was one episode where Perry's character is trying to hook up with a "lingerie football" player playing at the stadium. Not having ever heard of this variation of football before I assumed it was probably invented purely for the show. Even if it did exist, surely it would be on a par with jello wrestling or foxy boxing - i.e tasteless, demeaning (and many other bad things) and not a real sport at all.

So last night I was scrolling through the program guide and there on ESPN was a listing for "Lingerie Football". For real. They certainly don't put jello wrestling on ESPN, so I thought I'd take a look.

So, as you might expect, the players were attired in what looked like bikinis. But they were also wearing serious heavy duty shoulder pads - just like the men playing Arena Football wear. The reason became clear in a few seconds. The women were playing this game just like the men play Arena football. Full contact, full pace and hard hits. In other words, players were playing for keeps - serious sport. And no, before you suggest it, I do know full well that women can and do play serious full contact sports - this is all about the context y'know.

So great, a serious sport - and yet they are still playing in underwear. Clearly there is still a big old chunk of exploitation there. It is a contradiction and I find myself torn. Although not that torn - I don't watch Arena football, so I am not going to watch another version of it despite the amount of skin on show - so I'll just stop watching and stop being conflicted. BTW I don't watch volleyball either so the parallel with the women's beach version is in there too

The above is all background really. One thing did impress me in the time I watched. The commentators were two men. The covered the game exactly as they were covering a men's Arena game. They described the play and the game situation. They evaluated how well the players were playing. And they did it in a fully engaged but professional manner. At no point could I discern even the tiniest amount of condescension or titillation. I really didn't think they could do such a thing. Small steps eh?
threemonkeys: (cat)
A little virtual aftershock from the July quake. We had a bunch of windows cracked on our floor from the first quake and the work to repair them has been going on for the last few days. It is very very noisy. The window frames are pretty old and metal the guys replacing them have to hammer & chisel out the now very hard putty/glue used to put them in place. The frames reverberate and cause a lot of noise.

I should mention at this point that they are doing this work from outside - we are on the 5th floor.

We have a few spare desks and the people closest to the work can relocate. I did that when they were fixing the window right beside me. But now I'm struggling with the noise as they move further along.

I've got ear plugs in - they are pretty good ones and are absolutely essential for the levels of noise being generated. But that's the thing - I really don't like the isolation of ear plugs. I can't listen to music through earphones either. I just don't like the way that they cut me off from the world. Some folk seem happy to isolate themselves away like this all the time. I'm sure some of you even prefer it. I just can't do it.

Time for another break.
threemonkeys: (drowning)
Another decent sized quake this afternoon. No problems - its all fine (this side of the Strait anyway). But it does answer one question. Just how long does it take to empty the city when everybody decides to go at once? Turns out not long at all.
threemonkeys: (cat)
Got up early to try to avoid the expected extra heavy traffic on the roads this morning. Then got a call from the boss to say that we weren't to come in until our building has been inspected and given the all clear. That won't be until mid-morning or later. Silver linings eh?

6.5

Jul. 21st, 2013 05:40 pm
threemonkeys: (boxes)
Hmmm, that was the biggest quake I've experienced in a long while. Did not like it at all.

Originally rated at 6.8 or 6.9 (now reviewed down to 6.5), Stuff have a short article up. But as at the time I'm posting this (it may change), it starts with the sentence "A large 6.8 earthquake has hit Wellington, sending office workers diving under their desks.". I don't know about your town, but there aren't many people working in their offices at 5.09 on a Sunday afternoon. I'm beginning to wonder if Fairfax have an automatic headling/story generator. It might explain a lot about the standards of some of the writing I see on Stuff.
threemonkeys: (tick)
I just noticed, the loo rolls at work are described as "mini jumbo". I suppose it isn't all that hard to come up with a scenario or two to explain it. Nevertheless... I'm amused.
threemonkeys: (cat)
Oh dear, Mick Aston has died. It is only a few months since the Time team show folded.

He wasn't in every show and not in the last season at all. That was telling for me because the shows where he wasn't present were just not as good as the ones where he was there. His genial nature and his obvious passion to share and educate people about his passion were obvious. I admire his decision to walk away rather than participate in the "dumbing down" of the show. Other dig chiefs had their agendas or just didn't have the personality for the TV side of the job. Mick was always smiling and always prepared to explain and share.

Sad.
threemonkeys: (Default)
The power just came back on after 18 hours. So so cold. This is the problem with neglecting other heating options. When I finally got out of bed, the temperature inside the house had got up to 8 degrees. It was 4 degrees outside.

In case you are wondering - have a look at this. People probably think that it is like this in Wellington all the time - I assure y'all that "winds gusting up to 200km" are not normal even here in wind central.

Didn't go to work. Debris on the road. Talked to my boss who had gone in - there wasn't any networking out of our premises anyway as our local hub site was out of action.
threemonkeys: (drowning)
Iain Banks has died. Given his prognosis, nobody is surprised I guess. Nevertheless, it is still very sad when an author of his importance and skill goes. The obituaries were all written in advance and are appearing everywhere. I just want to add my thanks to him for producing some of the very best stories anywhere. He was something special.
threemonkeys: (drowning)
I find myself mildly curious about compact cameras. There used to be lots of them on the market. But today in Dick Smith I noticed that the formerly large display now only has a handful of models on it. Now that is hardly surprising with the ever increasing quality of cameras in phones. On the other extreme, serious photographers don't seem to use compact cameras - they use DSLRs or some other "full size" items*.

But there still appears to be a gap there for the compact cameras. They still have better lenses and better sensors than even the best phones (not forgetting optical zoom) and they fit in a pocket. But I don't know when I last saw anybody using one. Is the gap more illusion than actual? Are they an obsolete technology?

The reason I'm curious is because I have just finished watching a documentary series about a properly obsolete technology - bulletin board systems. They were a technology that went from peak usage to being properly obsolete in about 6 months. I couldn't help wondering if these small cameras are in the same category. And yet, there was a tiny Panasonic Lumix with 10x optical zoom and 16Mpixel and I couldn't help thinking what a nice thing that would be to own.

Anybody out there still using a compact camera?


*Really I have no idea what those full size cameras entail - I an not a serious user of camera technology. Not ones that don't fit in my pocket anyway.
threemonkeys: (books)
So I wasn't feeling to good today - you might even say I was feeling "a trifle dead". So when my eyes stopped hurting I decided to read A Trifle Dead by Livia Day. No, that line isn't exactly high wit - indicative of my state of mind. The book did however raise my state of mind and state of humour. But then it was always going to. When an author with a fine humourous touch turns her hand to a novel of food and murder it was always going to turn out well when the folk at Twelfth Planet got their hands on it.

So it was a good book and it got me through the day, but it does pose a slight problem. See, where do I shelve it? It is a problem I strike from time to time when authors stray outside their genre boundaries (think Michael Marshall Smith). Not that I object to authors crossing boundaries - I positively encourage it.

But that still leaves the shelves. All the crime/mystery stuff is on different shelves in a different room. So should this book go in the SF/F section specially set aside for Australasian authors. In particular, in the part set aside for TPP titles. Or should it go on the crime shelves between Chandler and Evanovich.

At this point a few of you are thinking that the placement is because D comes between C and E. Hah! That would be too easy.

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