I need new tv shows

Nov. 28th, 2014 10:43 pm
skud: (Default)
[personal profile] skud
Rec me TV shows?

Currently I'm watching lots of stupid superheroes (eg. Arrow), cheesey American procedurals (eg. Castle, god, it's STILL GOING), and social history documentaries (everything Lucy Worsley has ever done, also O HAI [personal profile] oursin).

I feel like I could do with some cosy murder mysteries, but I may have exhausted most of the usual suspects (Miss Fisher, Doctor Blake, and Lewis are the most recent series I've watched and enjoyed).

Nothing too realistically dramatic, plz. I don't want to watch normal-seeming people having a shitty time. Unrealistically dramatic (in space! in crinolines! in SPACE CRINOLINES!) is fine. Also no reality shows with a competitive element, as this is actually too realistically dramatic for me. Seriously, I have low drama tolerance at present.

Hello, SF!

Nov. 27th, 2014 11:48 pm
quartzpebble: (I care alot)
[personal profile] quartzpebble

I've been in the SF Bay area since Monday and have been enjoying being here. When I've been down to CA in the last couple of years, I always knew that I'd be going back to Seattle at the end. Now I don't have to, and that makes it so much better to be here. As I've been getting around here, I've been looking around and thinking that in a few weeks, I'll be here to stay. Still don't know where yet! Bay Area people, let me know if you know people who'll want roommates or who are moving. Mostly I'd like to have a reasonable commute to the city.

I have:

  • now seen Sneakers
  • been to a judo class at Keiko Fukuda's judo club (I'm still a bit sore, and it felt so good to get back on the mat, even in something I hadn't done before. Hip throws on someone short are still hard!)
  • gotten to catch up with [personal profile] badgerbag
  • worked at the WMF main office, met my boss in person, had good conversations, met more WMF people (thanks, [personal profile] brainwane!)
  • done actual work!
  • been felt out for another contract, this one where my tech feminist background is an explicit plus!
  • gotten to see [livejournal.com profile] mackenzie
  • drunk excellent tea
  • eaten at least a few pounds of mandarin oranges since Monday
  • decided to apply to linux.conf.au's diversity program for travel funding and started the application for that
  • apparently not told local people I'm moving here? I'm moving here!
  • pointed [profile] gwillen at various Python resources
  • continued to take new!med

Once I land for a bit longer I think it will be time to sit down and do some project planning. I have a lot of things I want to do in the next year or few and I'd like to set myself up to make them happen. I think I'll see if I can make a(n internet) party of it.

SO I FINISHED DRAGON AGE INQUISITION

Nov. 28th, 2014 02:02 pm
alias_sqbr: (dagna)
[personal profile] alias_sqbr
Overall: really liked it! I think I got a but overhyped about it being better than the previous games: it was, but was still the same basic kind of game. Which I like! But part of me hoped for something more unexpected.

No major spoilers, all stuff I would have wanted to know going in )
[syndicated profile] infotropism_feed

Posted by Skud

I seem to have had this discussion a few times lately, so I’m going to save myself the trouble of repeating it and just write down all the problems I have with hackathons. (Yes, I know lots of people have previously posted about what they don’t like about hackathons; I’ve linked some of them at the bottom of this post, if you want some other opinions too.)

They’re too much commitment

Me: I’m kind of interested in your thing. How can I get involved?
Them: We have a hackathon coming up. You should come!

Here’s how that sounds to me:

Me: I’d like to get a little more physically active.
Them: You should come run a marathon on the weekend!

The suffix “-athon” should tip you off here. Hackathons are intense and exhausting, and they’re meant to be. They’re usually a whole weekend of focused work, often with insufficient sleep, and too much encouragement to use masses of caffeine to stay awake and coding for 48 hours.

Sorry, but I’m not going to do that for my projects, let alone yours.

They exclude people with lives and responsibilities

This follows naturally from the marathon nature. A hackathon usually takes up a whole weekend, often starting Friday night and going through until Sunday evening. Sometimes you’re expected or encouraged to stay on-site overnight, or sometimes the norm is to go home to sleep, but either way it chews up multiple consecutive days.

I have other things going on in my life: errands to run, friends to see, a veggie garden to keep watered, and other community events and commitments to schedule around. Attending a weekend-long event means massively rearranging my life. And I don’t have kids or other people to care for; if I did, it would be pretty much impossible.

That exclusion is not evenly distributed

I see fathers of kids at hackathons pretty often, perhaps because their wives are looking after the kids. I see mothers far less often. Domestic and carer responsibilities are unevenly distributed, which means women are more likely to be too busy to attend hackathons than men are.

Until I did some research for this post, I’d never yet seen a hackathon with childcare or which provides information or assistance for parents; not even the women-only hackathon held recently in a city near me. (After some research, I now have heard of one.)

Sure, most younger women don’t yet have childcare responsibilities, but that just points out another unequal exclusion: the older you are, the more responsibilities you are likely to have, and the less energy you have for all-night Red Bull fuelled hacking sessions. Unsurprisingly, hackathon participants are generally on the young side.

It’s well documented that diverse teams have more creative ideas. So why exclude entire categories of people by holding an event that is hard for them to participate in?

They’re unhealthy

I’ve been to a few of these events, and I’ve never yet felt like I didn’t come out of it less healthy than I went in. Speaking for myself, I like daylight, moving around, eating lots of veggies, and drinking lots of water. I work at a standing desk part of the day (looking out the window at trees and birds), take lots of breaks to clear my mind and move my body, and usually make lunch with homebaked bread and something from my garden. I also like getting a good night’s sleep.

I’m not saying that everyone can or should do what I do. It’s entirely up to you to do what makes your body feel good, or to balance feeling good with other priorities. But I know that for me, when I attend a hackathon, if I spend two long days in poor lighting and poor ventilation, sitting hunched over my laptop at a meeting table in an uncomfortable chair, eating pretty average catering food or pizza (almost always especially mediocre because I go for the vegetarian option), I feel like crap.

Now, sometimes I’m prepared to feel like crap for a weekend for a good cause. But it has to be a pretty convincing cause.

Competition, meh.

One thing that doesn’t convince me: competition. For so many hackathons, the end-game is “create the best X and win a prize”. I really, really don’t care. In fact it puts me off, and makes me less likely to attend.

To start with, I know how to do a cost-benefit analysis. The last hackathon in my area, I think the average prize awarded per attendee (i.e. dividing the prizes won by the number of people present) was around $100. Though, of course, most attendees actually got zero. I might be broke, but not broke enough to consider that a good use of two whole days of my time.

Surprise: extrinsic motivation isn’t all that motivating!

Quite apart from that, though, I’m not motivated by competition. Tell me you’re going to judge whose hack is the “best” and I get crippled by stereotype threat, instantly flashing back to being the last picked for the team in gym class. And I’m a developer with 20 years’ experience under my belt, who’s worked with dozens of APIs in several languages, and is comfortable with everything from wireframing to git. Imagine if I was new and less sure of my abilities?

You can tell me all you like about how collaborative the atmosphere of your event is, but if you are awarding prizes for the “best X”, you just sound hypocritical. If you want me to believe the event is collaborative, don’t make it a competition.

Why can’t I work on an existing project?

Every hackathon I’ve been to has required that you come up with a new idea to hack on. At some hackathons, I’ve seen people complain that teams are cheating if they come with anything prepared or have done any work ahead of time.

I spend most of my time working on projects that I think are important and worthwhile. My head is full of them, I know my way around my toolkit and the codebase, and I have endless ideas for improvements and new features I want to work on.

Now you want me to show up at your event, put aside all the investment and focus I’ve built up for my project, and work on some new toy for the weekend.

They’re just toys

The result is that people build quick hacks that are cute and flashy, but have little depth. Meh.

And then they’re gone.

People say that hackathon projects are just prototypes, and that great things can later emerge from them. However, hackathon projects seldom survive beyond the weekend of the hack. Sure, I see hackathon organisers trying to take steps to ensure that projects have longevity but does this actually work?

I reviewed a handful of hacks, including many of the prize-winners, from the last hackathon I was at — the one with the longevity page linked above — and found not a single one with a code commit since the hackathon five months ago.

Here’s why: hackathons intentionally select for people who work intensely for a weekend, then give prizes for the flashiest results that can be produced in that short time. There are no incentives for sustainable projects, long-term collaboration, or maintainable code. Therefore, none of those things happen.

So what are hackathons good for?

They can be a pretty good PR exercise.

They can raise awareness of new technologies, APIs, or datasets among developers and give them a space to experiment with them.

They can be stimulate your creativity, if your creativity happens to be stimulated by short deadlines and so on.

They can be a feel-good networking experience for the (overwhelmingly self-confident, young, and male) participants.

Here’s what I want instead

Ongoing projects, that are maintained and used over several years.

A welcoming environment for people of all skill and confidence levels, with opportunity for mentorship, learning, and working at your own pace.

A schedule that makes it possible to participate without having to make heroic efforts to juggle your other responsibilities.

My main project, Growstuff, holds a monthly get-together called “Hackstuff” to work on Growstuff or any other project people care to bring along. It seems to be working well for us so far, and we have several participants who have become regular contributors to the project. I’d like to set up a similar civic hacking meetup in my town, if I can find a suitable venue.

I’d love to hear whether anyone else has experience running recurring, collaborative, low-commitment civic hacking events. If you’re doing something like that, please get in touch and tell me about it!

And some links

Who’s (not) welcome at hackathons?

Finding childcare for a UX sprint showed up when I searched for childcare and hackathons, and I was delighted to find that almost every woman named in the article is a friend of mine :)

Hackathons and minimal viable prototypes talks about what you can actually build at a hackathon (it’s not a product).

On hackathons and solutionism (do hackathons actually solve problems?)

National Day of Hacking your own Assumptions and Entitlement (a spot on satire).

Why Hackathons Suck from Thoughtworks, who I note sponsor an awful lot of hackathons. Huh?

skud: (Default)
[personal profile] skud
This is a crosspost from Infotropism. You can comment here or there.

I seem to have had this discussion a few times lately, so I’m going to save myself the trouble of repeating it and just write down all the problems I have with hackathons. (Yes, I know lots of people have previously posted about what they don’t like about hackathons; I’ve linked some of them at the bottom of this post, if you want some other opinions too.)

They’re too much commitment

Me: I’m kind of interested in your thing. How can I get involved?
Them: We have a hackathon coming up. You should come!

Here’s how that sounds to me:

Me: I’d like to get a little more physically active.
Them: You should come run a marathon on the weekend!

The suffix “-athon” should tip you off here. Hackathons are intense and exhausting, and they’re meant to be. They’re usually a whole weekend of focused work, often with insufficient sleep, and too much encouragement to use masses of caffeine to stay awake and coding for 48 hours.

Sorry, but I’m not going to do that for my projects, let alone yours.

They exclude people with lives and responsibilities

This follows naturally from the marathon nature. A hackathon usually takes up a whole weekend, often starting Friday night and going through until Sunday evening. Sometimes you’re expected or encouraged to stay on-site overnight, or sometimes the norm is to go home to sleep, but either way it chews up multiple consecutive days.

I have other things going on in my life: errands to run, friends to see, a veggie garden to keep watered, and other community events and commitments to schedule around. Attending a weekend-long event means massively rearranging my life. And I don’t have kids or other people to care for; if I did, it would be pretty much impossible.

That exclusion is not evenly distributed

I see fathers of kids at hackathons pretty often, perhaps because their wives are looking after the kids. I see mothers far less often. Domestic and carer responsibilities are unevenly distributed, which means women are more likely to be too busy to attend hackathons than men are.

Until I did some research for this post, I’d never yet seen a hackathon with childcare or which provides information or assistance for parents; not even the women-only hackathon held recently in a city near me. (After some research, I now have heard of one.)

Sure, most younger women don’t yet have childcare responsibilities, but that just points out another unequal exclusion: the older you are, the more responsibilities you are likely to have, and the less energy you have for all-night Red Bull fuelled hacking sessions. Unsurprisingly, hackathon participants are generally on the young side.

It’s well documented that diverse teams have more creative ideas. So why exclude entire categories of people by holding an event that is hard for them to participate in?

They’re unhealthy

I’ve been to a few of these events, and I’ve never yet felt like I didn’t come out of it less healthy than I went in. Speaking for myself, I like daylight, moving around, eating lots of veggies, and drinking lots of water. I work at a standing desk part of the day (looking out the window at trees and birds), take lots of breaks to clear my mind and move my body, and usually make lunch with homebaked bread and something from my garden. I also like getting a good night’s sleep.

I’m not saying that everyone can or should do what I do. It’s entirely up to you to do what makes your body feel good, or to balance feeling good with other priorities. But I know that for me, when I attend a hackathon, if I spend two long days in poor lighting and poor ventilation, sitting hunched over my laptop at a meeting table in an uncomfortable chair, eating pretty average catering food or pizza (almost always especially mediocre because I go for the vegetarian option), I feel like crap.

Now, sometimes I’m prepared to feel like crap for a weekend for a good cause. But it has to be a pretty convincing cause.

Competition, meh.

One thing that doesn’t convince me: competition. For so many hackathons, the end-game is “create the best X and win a prize”. I really, really don’t care. In fact it puts me off, and makes me less likely to attend.

To start with, I know how to do a cost-benefit analysis. The last hackathon in my area, I think the average prize awarded per attendee (i.e. dividing the prizes won by the number of people present) was around $100. Though, of course, most attendees actually got zero. I might be broke, but not broke enough to consider that a good use of two whole days of my time.

Surprise: extrinsic motivation isn’t all that motivating!

Quite apart from that, though, I’m not motivated by competition. Tell me you’re going to judge whose hack is the “best” and I get crippled by stereotype threat, instantly flashing back to being the last picked for the team in gym class. And I’m a developer with 20 years’ experience under my belt, who’s worked with dozens of APIs in several languages, and is comfortable with everything from wireframing to git. Imagine if I was new and less sure of my abilities?

You can tell me all you like about how collaborative the atmosphere of your event is, but if you are awarding prizes for the “best X”, you just sound hypocritical. If you want me to believe the event is collaborative, don’t make it a competition.

Why can’t I work on an existing project?

Every hackathon I’ve been to has required that you come up with a new idea to hack on. At some hackathons, I’ve seen people complain that teams are cheating if they come with anything prepared or have done any work ahead of time.

I spend most of my time working on projects that I think are important and worthwhile. My head is full of them, I know my way around my toolkit and the codebase, and I have endless ideas for improvements and new features I want to work on.

Now you want me to show up at your event, put aside all the investment and focus I’ve built up for my project, and work on some new toy for the weekend.

They’re just toys

The result is that people build quick hacks that are cute and flashy, but have little depth. Meh.

And then they’re gone.

People say that hackathon projects are just prototypes, and that great things can later emerge from them. However, hackathon projects seldom survive beyond the weekend of the hack. Sure, I see hackathon organisers trying to take steps to ensure that projects have longevity but does this actually work?

I reviewed a handful of hacks, including many of the prize-winners, from the last hackathon I was at — the one with the longevity page linked above — and found not a single one with a code commit since the hackathon five months ago.

Here’s why: hackathons intentionally select for people who work intensely for a weekend, then give prizes for the flashiest results that can be produced in that short time. There are no incentives for sustainable projects, long-term collaboration, or maintainable code. Therefore, none of those things happen.

So what are hackathons good for?

They can be a pretty good PR exercise.

They can raise awareness of new technologies, APIs, or datasets among developers and give them a space to experiment with them.

They can be stimulate your creativity, if your creativity happens to be stimulated by short deadlines and so on.

They can be a feel-good networking experience for the (overwhelmingly self-confident, young, and male) participants.

Here’s what I want instead

Ongoing projects, that are maintained and used over several years.

A welcoming environment for people of all skill and confidence levels, with opportunity for mentorship, learning, and working at your own pace.

A schedule that makes it possible to participate without having to make heroic efforts to juggle your other responsibilities.

My main project, Growstuff, holds a monthly get-together called “Hackstuff” to work on Growstuff or any other project people care to bring along. It seems to be working well for us so far, and we have several participants who have become regular contributors to the project. I’d like to set up a similar civic hacking meetup in my town, if I can find a suitable venue.

I’d love to hear whether anyone else has experience running recurring, collaborative, low-commitment civic hacking events. If you’re doing something like that, please get in touch and tell me about it!

And some links

Who’s (not) welcome at hackathons?

Finding childcare for a UX sprint showed up when I searched for childcare and hackathons, and I was delighted to find that almost every woman named in the article is a friend of mine :)

Hackathons and minimal viable prototypes talks about what you can actually build at a hackathon (it’s not a product).

On hackathons and solutionism (do hackathons actually solve problems?)

National Day of Hacking your own Assumptions and Entitlement (a spot on satire).

Why Hackathons Suck from Thoughtworks, who I note sponsor an awful lot of hackathons. Huh?

[syndicated profile] brightestbulb_feed

Posted by Robyn

Sephora released their annual $10 Black Friday deals on Pinterest earlier this week (you can see their album here), but I only managed to catch them today. Happy Thanksgiving, procrastinators! If you're trying to decide which items are a good deal, I have organized them from best to worst value.

Unlike previous years, all items have a calculable value, meaning there are no trashy brush sets that are probably worth $1.50 polluting the mix. Additionally, every set is worth more than the $10 purchase price.

Image source: http://www.pinterest.com/sephora/black-friday-2014/

The Full List:

Formula X The Two in Juju & Voodoo
Contains:
Juju and Voodoo (2 x 0.4 oz), retail value $12.00
Total Value: $12.00

Origins Task Maskers
Contains:
0.5 oz Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask To Clear Pores, approximate retail value $3.68
0.5 oz Modern Friction Nature's Gentle Dermabrasion, approximate retail value $4.70
0.5 oz Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask, approximate retail value $3.68
Total Value: $12.06

Ole Henriksen The Clean Truth Cleansing Duo
Contains:
African Red Tea Foaming Cleanser (1.5 fl oz), retail value $9.00
Clean Truth Cleansing Wipes (10 wipes), approximate retail value $5.00
Total Value: $14.00

Tocca A Touch Of Luxury Gift Set
Contains:
(2 x 1 oz) Hand Cream in Giuliette and Stella, approximate retail value $8.00
(2 x 0.10 oz) Rollerballs in Giulietta and Stella, approximate retail value $8.00
Total Value: $16

Kat Von D Lip Love Set
Contains:
0.04 oz Studded Kiss lipstick in Lolita, approximate retail value $8.40
0.10 oz Everlasting liquid lipstick in Berlin, approximate retail value $8.63
Total Value: $17.03

Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Collection
Contains:
1 oz Perfect Hair Day Shampoo, approximate retail value $5.00
1 oz Perfect Hair Day Conditioner, approximate retail value $5.00
1 oz Perfect Hair Day 5-in-1 Styling, approximate retail value $7.50
Total Value: $17.50

Clean Rollerball Collection Trio
Contains:
Warm Cotton, White Woods, and Fresh Laundry (3 X 0.17 fl oz), retail value $18
Total Value: $18

Josie Maran Argan Hand Healers
Contains:
1 oz Whipped Argan Oil Intensive Hand Cream in Sweet Citrus, approximate retail value $9.29
20 x Bear Naked Nail Wipes in Lavender, retail value $9.00
Total Value: $18.29

Alterna Caviar Moisture Trio
Contains:
Replenishing Moisture Shampoo (1.35 fl oz), approximate retail value $5.08
Replenishing Moisture Conditioner (1.35 fl oz), approximate retail value $5.08
Caviar CC Cream (1 fl oz), approximate retail value $10
Total Value: $20.16

Philosophy Purity Made Simple
Contains:
Facial Cleanser (12 fl oz), approximate retail value $20.50
Total Value: $20.50

First Aid Beauty FAB Star Duo
Contains:
2 oz Face Cleanser, retail value $9.50
2 oz Ultra Repair Cream, retail value $12.00
Total Value: $21.50

Boscia Pore-Purifying Duo
Contains:
1 oz Luminizing Black Mask, approximate retail value $12.14
100 x Black Charcoal Blotting Linens, retail value $10.00
Total Value: $22.14

The Art of Shaving: The Four Elements of the Perfect Shave
Contains:
Aftershave Balm (0.5 fl oz), approximate retail value $5.88
Pre-Shave Oil (0.5 fl oz), approximate retail value $8.00
Shaving Cream (1 oz), retail value $5.00
Trial Size Badger Shaving Brush, estimated retail value $5.00
Total Value: $23.88

Bliss Fabulous Foaming Face Wash
Contains:
Face Wash in 6.7 oz, retail value $24
Total Value: $24

Formula X The Two in Chaotic & Hypnotize
Contains:
Chaotic and Hypnotize (2 x 0.4 oz), retail value $24
Total Value: $24

Sephora Collection Precision Makes Perfect Mini Airbrush Set
Contains:
2 X Sephora Collection Sponges, estimate retail value $24
Total Value: $24

Too Faced Primed For Sex
Contains:
0.17 oz Shadow Insurance Anti-Crease Eye Shadow Primer, approximate retail value $9.71
0.17 oz Better Than Sex Mascara, approximate retail value $14.48
Total Value: $24.19

Buxom Power Players
Contains:
0.02 oz Mini Hold the Line Waterproof Eyeliner in Call Me, approximate retail value $8.50
0.33 oz Sculpted Lash Mascara in True Black, retail value $19.00
Total Value: $27.50

Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick Duo
Contains:
(2 x 0.7 oz) Travel-size Legendary lipsticks in Posy Pink, Fig, approximate retail value $28.00
Total Value: $28

BareMinerals the Incredibles Dynamic Eye & Lip Duo
Contains:
0.1 oz BareMinerals READY eye shadow 2.0 in The Phenomenon, retail value $20
0.07 oz Marvelous Moxie lip gloss In Rebel, approximate retail value $8.40
Total value: $28.40

Tarte Magical Moments Deluxe Best Sellers Essentials Set
Contains:
0.05 oz LipSurgence lip gloss, approximate retail value $3.52
0.15 oz Amazonian Clay 12-Hour blush in Magic, approximate retail value $19.50
0.13 oz Lights, Camera, Lashes mascara, retail value $10
Total Value: $33.02

Bite Beauty Lush Lip Trio Minis
Contains:
(3 x 0.06 oz) Lush Fruit Lip Gloss in Strawberry, Currant, Rambutan, approximate retail value $36
Total Value: $36

MAKE UP FOR EVER Get Glossy
Contains:
Lab Shine (2 x 0.09 oz) in Shimmering Beige and Shimmering Indian Pink, retail value $38
Total Value: $38

NEST Fragrances Rollerball Trio
Contains:
(3 X 0.6 oz) in Midnight Fleur, Dahlia & Vines, and Indigo, approximate retail value $68.82
Total Value: $68.82

My picks:

I think the Art of Shaving Kit is a great little inexpensive stocking stuffer, the Bare Minerals duo is lovely for anyone who wants to experience the awesomeness of their eyeshadow, and the Tarte kit is likely worth it, if only for the blush.
marnanel: (Default)
[personal profile] marnanel
Gentle Readers
a newsletter made for sharing
volume 2, number 5
27th November 2014: the land of green ginger
What I’ve been up to

I've been preparing for the funeral tomorrow of my grandmother Joy, who died earlier this month. I've written her a poem which I'll be reading in the service; I'll post it in the next issue of GR. I shall miss her a lot.

I don't have much of a Something Wonderful to write this time, except that in York there is a street called Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate, and in Hull there is a street called The Land of Green Ginger. Suggestions of other excellent street names are welcome to the usual address.

A poem of mine

SOLSTICE

Perhaps I might compare... oh damn it. No.
It's four, and it's already almost night.
The land lies suffocated under snow:
they say "the dead of winter", and they're right.
My life's on hold until the first of May:
until that morning comes I have to cope
with dragging on through every darkened day.
July will come: I have to live in hope.
No. You're the one I'm missing, not July.
Yours is the warmth, not April's, that I miss.
I miss your smiles far more than May, and I
lie longing, not for June, but for your kiss;
I'm cold and tired. I don't know what to do.
Shall I compare a summer's day to you?

A picture

https://gentlereaders.uk/pics/emotional-rollercoaster
Emotional rollercoaster

 
Something from someone else

Because it's that time of year, and because I remember that Gentle Reader Toby likes it:

NO
by Thomas Hood (1799-1845)

No sun — no moon!
No morn — no noon —
No dawn — no dusk — no proper time of day —
No sky — no earthly view —
No distance looking blue —
No road — no street — no "t'other side the way" —
No end to any Row —
No indications where the Crescents go —
No top to any steeple —
No recognitions of familiar people —
No courtesies for showing 'em —
No knowing 'em!
No travelling at all — no locomotion —
No inkling of the way — no notion —
"No go" — by land or ocean —
No mail — no post —
No news from any foreign coast —
No park — no ring — no afternoon gentility —
No company — no nobility —
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member —
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,
November!

Colophon

Gentle Readers is published on Mondays and Thursdays, and I want you to share it. The archives are at https://gentlereaders.uk, and so is a form to get on the mailing list. If you have anything to say or reply, or you want to be added or removed from the mailing list, I’m at thomas@thurman.org.uk and I’d love to hear from you. The newsletter is reader-supported; please pledge something if you can afford to, and please don't if you can't. ISSN 2057-052X. Love and peace to you all.

thanksgiving, 2014

Nov. 27th, 2014 09:34 am
metaphortunate: (Default)
[personal profile] metaphortunate
Ah, parenting small children on this particular Thanksgiving morning. Lazing about in bed, cuddling, being a wrestling referee ("NO BITING!") explaining that people want to shut down the Thanksgiving parade because the police keep killing black guys, explaining that their parents are sad and what death means. Relaxing!

And Rocket is cutting FOUR molars, poor little thing. No wonder he's been so fussy and demanding. I keep trying to tell myself that there will come a day when no one wants any of my time, and I probably won't be happy about that either, so I should try to enjoy this while I got it. True, I don't really want two or three decades of that, but could I have like a weekend of it right now, though?

The Junebug verbally asked me for a hug the other night, for the first time ever, though. It was wonderful, although also pretty funny, because I think the cunning little bugger played me. We were out getting burgers for dinner, and he went to grab my arm with his greasy little hands, and I said "DON'T touch my sweater with your greasy hands, you know the rule!" And he said "Mama, can I have a hug?" And I knew this was manipulation and you know what, it didn't matter. When they offer you the bait you want just that much, you see the hook and you take it anyway. Because it's worth it. Didn't even hesitate; hugged the crap out of him and he hugged me right back and I'm pretty sure I got grease and ketchup all over my sweater and in my hair and I didn't even care.

To be fair, it's not that he doesn't ask for cuddles. It's that the way he does it is, he says "I'm the lobster and you are the shark that ate me." - or the lion that ate him, or whatever. This means he will curl up on my lap in a little ball and I will wrap my arms around him and tell him that he's in my tummy and he was delicious. This is because no matter how Freudian my life gets, parenting is one long streak of the universe telling me it's just not Freudian enough yet.

Got to see some friends last weekend that I don't get to see nearly often enough, which was wonderful. Why is distance? :(

Rocket got his first haircut and I held him on my lap and he did not even cry once. He's a hero!

PD James has died

Nov. 27th, 2014 03:58 pm
[syndicated profile] crooked_timber_feed

Posted by Henry

Guardian story here. Harry is, I think, the official Crooked Timber PD James aficionado, and likely has far more interesting things to say than I do. Obviously, I disagreed with her politics, and I disliked her main character, Adam Dalgliesh, in direct proportion to the tender regard that she lavished on him. But she was excellent in describing disagreeable but interesting characters, and especially disagreeable but interesting women. She also had an astute sociological eye for the distinctive worlds that middle-class women in certain vocations and professions (viz. nursing in Shroud for a Nightingale) created amongst themselves in the interstices of the workplace before feminism. While she was unsentimental about the dynamics of mutual dislike and competition among women in these worlds, I felt that she missed them, and I sometimes wondered how much of her conservatism was grounded in a positive sense of loss.

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[personal profile] sophie posting in [site community profile] dw_dev
I have just install Template Toolkit 2.26 on the Dreamhack machine. We were previously using 2.20, which is still installed but in such a way that the later version should take precedence.

As this is a core module for Dreamwidth, it's recommended that you restart Apache when possible. Things won't break just yet if you don't (since the old files aren't gone just yet), but according to my sources, the Dreamwidth codebase will require this new version of Template Toolkit soon, so things may break in the future.

As always, if anything breaks on the Dreamhack machine because of this change, please comment to let me know, or open a GitHub issue.

(no subject)

Nov. 27th, 2014 09:48 am
copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
I know I haven't been around much this month; I seem to only show up to do RFM and post fanfic, and sadly this post is no exception. I'm going to try to do better in December, though! This is my THANKSGIVING RESOLUTION.

Anyway in the meantime have some fic. :D

Title: Steve Rogers Vs. The All-American Feast
Rating: G
Summary: Steve can't resist a challenge, even when the challenge is a five pound pulled-pork sandwich.
Warnings: This story involves several eating competitions and contains some potentially dysfunctional attitudes towards food; people with food-related triggers or issues may wish to skip this one. There is also fairly frequent discussion of puke (no actual puking) so emetophobics should beware.

Here at Dreamwidth | Here at AO3

what a day

Nov. 26th, 2014 09:26 pm
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[personal profile] inlovewithnight
Today I worked 8:30-12 from home, then went and had a root canal. The dentist was really nice, and REALLY good with dental anxiety/trauma; this is the first dental appointment I can remember in my life where I didn't cry at all.

(I cried later, when I got home and started doing finances while groggy and xanaxy post-nap, so I forgot that APR stands for ANNUAL percentage rate, and I had been calculating my credit card interest at 12.99%/month. Annual is better.)

I'm hopelessly behind on all of my holiday exchange fics, I completely bombed my second interview with a job I actually was excited about, I'm sad about Mikey Way. But. Fall Out Boy is releasing the most ridiculous song in the entire world, American Beauty/American Psycho, which is mid-90s-pop-punk-polka and makes absolutely zero sense. I imagine Pete Wentz wakes up in the morning, looks at himself in the mirror, and says "Today I am going to be SO MYSELF that nobody even knows what to do with it." Then he makes finger-guns at himself, does the baby wolf face, and puts on silky underpants.

Thanks for being there when I need you, Wentz.

First-person plural, indeterminate

Nov. 23rd, 2014 06:55 pm
[syndicated profile] kith_feed

Posted by Jed

I've now encountered this interesting and unusual PoV in multiple works of fiction:

The narration is in first-person plural. It uses the pronoun “we” to collectively refer to a small group of ordinary humans. And it mentions each of the individuals in the third person, so the reader can tell that it's not just one specific person talking about the group.

The first time I consciously noticed this PoV was in Karen Joy Fowler's Jane Austen Book Club. (I wrote about that in more detail in a 2006 blog entry.) The second time was in an as-yet-unpublished story in a writing workshop earlier this year. And the third was last night, in Theodore Sturgeon's 1970 story “Crate,” which I read long ago without noticing the interesting PoV.

(There's also something pretty similar to that in a Zenna Henderson story, “One of Them”; the narrator is one of a group of five women, but she isn't sure which one she is. But even though it has a similar effect, that's not quite the same thing; she is one specific one of them. See my abovelinked entry for more about that story too.)

I went looking for more information about “Crate” and found that the Wikipedia entry for First-person narrative includes a list of first-person-plural works:

  • William Faulkner's “A Rose for Emily.”
  • Frank B. Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey's Cheaper by the Dozen.
  • Theodore Sturgeon's “Crate.”
  • Frederik Pohl's Man Plus.
  • Jeffrey Eugenides's The Virgin Suicides.
  • Karen Joy Fowler's The Jane Austen Book Club.
  • Joshua Ferris's Then We Came to the End.

But not all of those are exactly the kind of thing I'm talking about. In the Faulkner story, the “we” is the whole town; you could easily look at it as being from a specific not-named-in-the-story person's point of view. Cheaper by the Dozen is a memoir, so if you know the authors' names, you know which two specific kids they are. (But if you don't know the authors' names, then it does fit my category.) And I haven't read the rest of the works on the list, so I'm not sure whether they're quite what I'm talking about either.

I'm also told that the first section of Ed Park's Personal Days uses first-person plural, but I'm not sure whether it falls into my category or not.

So I'm curious whether any of you know of any other works that use this first-person-plural-indeterminate viewpoint.

Again, not talking about just use of “we,” which isn't terribly uncommon (and often appears in sf in contexts like an intelligence in multiple bodies); I'm talking specifically about use of “we” to refer to a specific group of individual humans, but where it's clearly not just one of the specific individuals talking on behalf of the group.

iPhone 6 Plus thoughts so far

Nov. 23rd, 2014 06:42 pm
[syndicated profile] kith_feed

Posted by Jed

I bought an iPhone 6+, mainly because it's almost exactly the size that I've been wanting for an ebook reader for years.

I was nervous during the week between ordering it and its arrival; despite my attempts at making paper mockups, it seemed plausible that it might just be too big for me.

But when it arrived, it turned out to be a good size for me.

(Shortly after it arrived, I noticed that it was nearly the same size as another item, so I made a little movie about that. (30-sec video; you may have to turn up the volume to hear the sound.) That's on Facebook, but I think it's publicly viewable by everyone. If not, lemme know and I may upload it to YouTube or something.)

The 6+ is especially lovely for ebook reading. I compared iBooks on the 6+ to iBooks on the iPhone 5s and on the iPad mini; I found that (at a font size that's comfortable for me) the 5s shows about 120 words/page, the 6+ shows about 220 words/page, and the iPad mini shows about 350 words/page. Which means the iPad mini is very close to an average mass-market paperback in terms of words/page, but the device is wider and higher than a paperback, and it has much wider margins than a paperback (at least in iBooks). So the iPhone 6+ seems to me to be an excellent compromise for this purpose; about 2/3 as many words per page as a mass-market paperback, and fits easily in my pocket.

It's also lovely for showing Apple Maps or Google Maps on the car dashboard. For the past couple years, I've been using a ProClip modular dashboard mount; you buy a clip that's specialized for your car model and a mount that's specialized for your phone, and you attach them to each other. I like that well enough, but I just discovered the Kenu Airframe+, which is a one-piece and one-size-fits-all mount that attaches to most cars' vents and holds most phones, and can be carried around in your pocket. So that's my new favorite dashboard mount. And it shows the 6+ screen to excellent advantage. It gives me a small taste of what Tesla's giant dashboard displays are like.

I know that a lot of people have said the 6+ barely fits in their pockets, and a very very small number of people have reported the 6+ getting bent in their pockets. (Consumer Reports did some tests and, iIrc, found that the 6+ is less subject to bending than the 6 or the 5s.) For me, none of that's been an issue. It fits easily in my front pocket, and the way I walk and sit doesn't put any pressure on it that could bend it.

I've also seen several reviewers report that it's slippery and easy to drop. That hasn't been my experience at all. With both the 5 and the 5s, I dropped them for the first time within a week or so of buying them; with the 6+, I didn't even have any particularly close calls in the first two weeks. I've had several close calls since then, but I think have only dropped it once, out of my shirt pocket. (It does not fit comfortably in a shirt pocket, but I still sometimes carry it that way, around the house, for convenience.)

One reason that I may be having less trouble with it than some reviewers have had is that I don't normally try to do things like texting with one hand. A lot of iPhone operations are two-handed for me. I do sometimes hold it in one hand for ebook reading and probably some other tasks (I haven't kept close track), but when I do hold it in one hand, I don't normally wrap my fingers around it; the phone rests on top of four fingers, and I tap and swipe with my thumb. I think that was how I tended to use the 5s as well, but I'm not sure; it feels very natural and unconscious most of the time, so I'm not thinking about it a lot. That grip does mean it's hard to press the home button while holding it one-handed, though. It's also probably a less secure grip than wrapping fingers around it would be, but again, dropping it hasn't really been an issue.

Someone I showed it to suggested that it's almost more like a mini-mini iPad (an iPad micro?) than like an iPhone. I agree, and that's a lot of how I'm using it, to the point that I get a little unreasonably annoyed by the ways in which it doesn't behave like the iPad mini. For example, Google News in Safari displays the iPhone version (which I don't like) instead of the iPad version (which I do). So I'm still using my iPad mini for various things around the house; but I'm now even less likely to carry the mini outside the house than I used to be.

I had occasion to pick up my 5s again after a couple weeks of using the 6+, and was struck by how small it seems. So I guess I got pretty used to the 6+ pretty fast.

The one way in which the 6+ does still feel too big to me is when I hold it up to my ear to use it as a phone. That makes me very aware of its size, and a little self-conscious about it if I'm in public. But I'm getting used to that over time. And anyway, much of the time when I use it as a phone, I'm using it with earbuds or a headset, in which case holding it up to my face isn't an issue.

It's definitely not the right phone for everyone, and I'm still sad that Apple is now not serving the needs of people with smaller hands. But so far, it's a very good phone for me.

(Wrote most of this entry in early October, didn't get around to posting it 'til now.)

Nifty squaring technique

Nov. 23rd, 2014 06:22 am
[syndicated profile] kith_feed

Posted by Jed

I just encountered this nifty way to easily square numbers in your head:

To calculate n2 for n between 40 and 50, first calculate n-25, then calculate (50-n)2, then concatenate the two numbers.

So, for example, to calculate 46 times 46:

46 - 25 = 21

50 - 46 = 4

42 = 16

So 462 = 2116.

If the second number is one digit, then put a zero in front of it:

47 - 25 = 22

50 - 47 = 3

32 = 9

So 472 = 2209.

I assumed this was some kind of trick that just happened to work, by coincidence, for squaring one or two specific numbers. But nope, here's what's going on:

“Concatenation” really means you're multiplying the first number by 100 and then adding the second number. So what you're really doing is calculating (n - 25) * 100 + (50 - n)2.

Which is (100n - 2500) + (502 - 100n + n2).

Or 100n - 2500 + 2500 - 100n + n2.

Which is n2.

And it turns out that it isn't only numbers between 40 and 50 that this works for; it's just that concatenation per se only works for numbers in that range. But using the mathematical formula above (rather than thinking of it as concatenation) works for any integer. For example:

262 = (26 - 25) * 100 + (50 - 26)2 = 100 + 576 = 676.

Note that we needed to know the square of 24 there. So to be able to do this quickly in your head for numbers between 25 and 50, you have to have memorized the squares of the numbers from 1 through 24.

But if you know those squares and can do a little more mental math, then applying the technique to numbers in the range from 1 to 100 isn't too hard. For example:

12 = (1 - 25) * 100 + (50 - 1)2 = -2400 + 2401 = 1.

992 = (99 - 25) * 100 + (50 - 99)2 = 7400 + 2401 = 9801.

(And how did I know that 492 is 2401, for use in both of those examples? Well, it's (49 - 25) * 100 + (50 - 49)2.)

For numbers over 100, you have to do more calculations or memorize more squares. But still, the formula applies to all integers.

This technique is described in the book Cheaper by the Dozen, which my father read to us when I was a kid. But somehow I never learned it or never understood it or just forgot it along the way.

(Made some small changes to this entry about twelve hours after posting it, when I realized that concatenation per se doesn't work for numbers in the 25 through 40 range.)

[syndicated profile] kottke_org_feed

Posted by Jason Kottke

21c Busy Town

Oh, this is great. The butchers, farmers, doctors, and children's book librarians of Richard Scarry's original Busy, Busy Town give way to the non-lending officer, one-percenter service provider, fart-sound app maker, and lowly immigrant in Tom the Dancing Bug's 21st century Busy Town.

Tags: Busy Busy Town   Richard Scarry   books

Wednesday, November 26th

Nov. 26th, 2014 05:20 pm
alexandraerin: (Default)
[personal profile] alexandraerin
The Daily Report/The State of the Me

Well, I've been trying to get back into the swing of things here, but I've needed to nap during the day both yesterday and today the point that I haven't done much writing. With the holiday weekend coming up, I'm just going to declare it a wash and resume Tales of MU on Monday.

Thank you for your patience and support.

The Denim Breaker Club

Nov. 26th, 2014 07:59 pm
[syndicated profile] kottke_org_feed

Posted by Jason Kottke

I don't recall if I ever tweeted about it, but a few months ago I had this idea for a service for the wealthy who wanted properly broken-in jeans but didn't want to bother wearing them around for months first without washing.1 It's basically a dog-walking service but for jeans. It was mostly a joke, but in the age of Uber taxiing kittens to your office for you to cuddle with, no such idea is truly off the table. Huit Denim Co. is experimenting with a beta feature called the Denim Breaker Club.

You are going to break our selvedge jeans in for our customers.

You will have to agree to not wash them for 6 months.

You will have to agree to update what you get up to in them on HistoryTag.

And before you get them sent to you have pay a small deposit, which we will refund on their safe return.

When we get them back, we will expertly wash them.

And then we will sell these beautiful jeans.

You will have 20% of the sale.

So in effect you will be paid to wear jeans.

Have to admit, that's pretty clever. (FYI: HistoryTag gives individual pieces of clothing tracking codes which you can use in social media. A Social Life of Clothes, basically.)

Update: APC offers a similar Butler program:

Nothing is created or destroyed, it is merely transformed. This adage is fulfilled in every respect by the Butler jeans concept. Customers are encouraged to bring their old denim jeans to any A.P.C. store or send it to the online store, where they will be exchanged for a new pair at half price. Broken in naturally over time, their attractive patina created and preserved in accordance with washing instructions, the jeans thus reappear, beginning a second life. But not until they have been washed, mended and marked with the initials of their former owner by our workshops. Each pair is therefore truly unique.

(via @endquote)

  1. Methods of breaking in a new pair of unwashed raw selvage jeans vary, but as an example, Michael Williams of A Continuous Lean waited an entire year before washing his jeans for the first time. And yeah, you can buy them broken in, but jeans aficionados insist the proper way to break in jeans is by wearing them.

Tags: fashion

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