Thursday, October 23rd

Oct. 23rd, 2014 10:12 am
alexandraerin: (Default)
[personal profile] alexandraerin
The Daily Report

Well, I woke up this morning to a very encouraging response to the poem I mentioned the other day. We'll see how things go there. I don't want to say too much and jinx things.

On the subject of encouraging things: as I mentioned in a post yesterday afternoon, I've written a 10,000 word story I'm going to be submitting to an anthology in a week or so (as that's the deadline). That might not seem like a lot of time to polish such a long piece written in five hours, but while it could use some tightening and strengthening, I've honestly had pieces in rougher condition be accepted for publication before. I think at this point, great first drafts are officially one of my superpowers.

I tell you, I talk a lot about how writing (and creative work in general) depends on confidence a lot, and I think of doing random bits of side writing as getting up my confidence by Doing The Thing repeatedly, but this week has been great for my confidence all around.

The State of the Me

My body is all over the place this week: up, down, turn around, please don't let me hit the ground. I'm at the point where hurting a little bit all over is pretty much registering as okay. I think it's got a lot to do with the weather, which is similarly variable.

Plans For Today

I think today's likely to be the day that breaks my "reasonably finished, self-contained work" streak. After this is posted, I do plan to find something to noodle around with but I don't have any real solid ideas. Eh. The point of random writing isn't just the gems.

Linux Container Security

Oct. 23rd, 2014 08:44 am
[personal profile] mjg59
First, read these slides. Done? Good.

Hypervisors present a smaller attack surface than containers. This is somewhat mitigated in containers by using seccomp, selinux and restricting capabilities in order to reduce the number of kernel entry points that untrusted code can touch, but even so there is simply a greater quantity of privileged code available to untrusted apps in a container environment when compared to a hypervisor environment[1].

Does this mean containers provide reduced security? That's an arguable point. In the event of a new kernel vulnerability, container-based deployments merely need to upgrade the kernel on the host and restart all the containers. Full VMs need to upgrade the kernel in each individual image, which takes longer and may be delayed due to the additional disruption. In the event of a flaw in some remotely accessible code running in your image, an attacker's ability to cause further damage may be restricted by the existing seccomp and capabilities configuration in a container. They may be able to escalate to a more privileged user in a full VM.

I'm not really compelled by either of these arguments. Both argue that the security of your container is improved, but in almost all cases exploiting these vulnerabilities would require that an attacker already be able to run arbitrary code in your container. Many container deployments are task-specific rather than running a full system, and in that case your attacker is already able to compromise pretty much everything within the container. The argument's stronger in the Virtual Private Server case, but there you're trading that off against losing some other security features - sure, you're deploying seccomp, but you can't use selinux inside your container, because the policy isn't per-namespace[2].

So that seems like kind of a wash - there's maybe marginal increases in practical security for certain kinds of deployment, and perhaps marginal decreases for others. We end up coming back to the attack surface, and it seems inevitable that that's always going to be larger in container environments. The question is, does it matter? If the larger attack surface still only results in one more vulnerability per thousand years, you probably don't care. The aim isn't to get containers to the same level of security as hypervisors, it's to get them close enough that the difference doesn't matter.

I don't think we're there yet. Searching the kernel for bugs triggered by Trinity shows plenty of cases where the kernel screws up from unprivileged input[3]. A sufficiently strong seccomp policy plus tight restrictions on the ability of a container to touch /proc, /sys and /dev helps a lot here, but it's not full coverage. The presentation I linked to at the top of this post suggests using the grsec patches - these will tend to mitigate several (but not all) kernel vulnerabilities, but there's tradeoffs in (a) ease of management (having to build your own kernels) and (b) performance (several of the grsec options reduce performance).

But this isn't intended as a complaint. Or, rather, it is, just not about security. I suspect containers can be made sufficiently secure that the attack surface size doesn't matter. But who's going to do that work? As mentioned, modern container deployment tools make use of a number of kernel security features. But there's been something of a dearth of contributions from the companies who sell container-based services. Meaningful work here would include things like:

  • Strong auditing and aggressive fuzzing of containers under realistic configurations
  • Support for meaningful nesting of Linux Security Modules in namespaces
  • Introspection of container state and (more difficult) the host OS itself in order to identify compromises

These aren't easy jobs, but they're important, and I'm hoping that the lack of obvious development in areas like this is merely a symptom of the youth of the technology rather than a lack of meaningful desire to make things better. But until things improve, it's going to be far too easy to write containers off as a "convenient, cheap, secure: choose two" tradeoff. That's not a winning strategy.

[1] Companies using hypervisors! Audit your qemu setup to ensure that you're not providing more emulated hardware than necessary to your guests. If you're using KVM, ensure that you're using sVirt (either selinux or apparmor backed) in order to restrict qemu's privileges.
[2] There's apparently some support for loading per-namespace Apparmor policies, but that means that the process is no longer confined by the sVirt policy
[3] To be fair, last time I ran Trinity under Docker under a VM, it ended up killing my host. Glass houses, etc.

Zophobas morio

Oct. 22nd, 2014 10:10 pm
marnanel: (Default)
[personal profile] marnanel
We got some crickets in the post today, so I put them into a tank we use for feed insects, and there were some Zophobas morio worms in there still. Z. morio is a long wriggly worm when it's a larva, and this is the form in which it's used as spider food. I was surprised, because we haven't had new Z. morio in for months, and I'd assumed that if there were any leftovers they'd be dead by now. But then I noticed the large number of small brown-black beetles in the tank and realised that the worms were (at least) second generation. I don't think I'd ever realised what they looked like when they grew up before: they're small, about a centimetre across, around the size of a new halfpenny.
alexandraerin: (Default)
[personal profile] alexandraerin
...where the past two days I've ended up writing something short that I thought I could possibly place/sell somewhere?

This morning I got a slight inkling to write a short story for a call for submissions a friend had mentioned in conversation to me over the weekend. I started writing at 10:00 a.m., and at 3... after breaks for breakfast and lunch... I had a finished draft that was just 33 words under the 10,000 word upper bound for the publication.

And I think it's pretty good. I'm going to have to do some streamlining because it could definitely stand to have some more physical description in places, but I'm pretty well-pleased by it.

Wednesday, October 22nd

Oct. 22nd, 2014 09:04 am
alexandraerin: (Default)
[personal profile] alexandraerin
The Daily Report

So, both workdays this week so far, I've ended up writing an entirely new (if short) piece: a flash fiction story that I'll be entering in another contest next month on Monday, and a poem that I'm seriously thinking about submitting to a magazine. It's a mistake to look at two days in a row and declare them to be the new pattern, but two days in a row with successful random writing is definitely a nice trend. The fact that they're both pieces that I feel stand a good shot at outside publication is also a nice sign.

I think this is a good alternative to my old attempted standby of writing a flash story every day: write something. If I'm writing something new every day, then a lot of the time it'll end up being a flash fic, but if it doesn't, then it's not a failure. If it's a fragment that goes nowhere, that's okay. If it's part of a short story, that's also okay.

The State of the Me

Doing okay.

Plans For Today

Today I'm got some necessary business that's going to be taking me out and about, but I should be back in plenty of time to

Buttons!

Oct. 21st, 2014 05:01 pm
terriko: (Default)
[personal profile] terriko
This is crossposted from Curiousity.ca, my personal maker blog. If you want to link to this post, please use the original link since the formatting there is usually better.

Buttons buttons, rah rah rah


The first time I got to use a button machine, I was a kid. It was at the Ex (a fair with livestock, music, and a midway, not unlike state fairs in the US only with fewer deep-fried things), and I was kind of astounded by this giant button press because I’d never really thought about how a button was put together, let alone that this might be done by a human-powered machine.


Fast forward, years later, and one day it just occurs to me that as an adult with some income (not much; I was still a student) there was absolutely no reason I couldn’t just buy a button machine and make silly one-off buttons whenever I wanted.


Buttons! (Push button; receive bacon)


I’ve used them for costumes, for befriending random people off the internet who like snarky kitten commentary, for hanging out at abq maker faire and helping people make their own, and for anything else that might amuse me.


Since I sometimes bring the whole machine with me to places like quelab or abq mini maker faire, I often get asked about where I got it and how much it costs, so I figured I’d make myself a post that contained all the info so I can find it easily. This is that post!


The button machine


Here’s what my personal machine looks like:


The button machine


I have a 1.5 inch button machine. It has a visible “top” area of around 1.37 inches, with a bit more visible space wrapping around the edge of the button. The circles I cut are 1.87 inches wide.


Although I realize this listing won’t stay live forever, here’s a current listing equivalent package I bought. It’s the Tecre model 150 1.5inch button machine with 1000 button blanks, and as of this writing it costs $264 (although I think it might have been a bit less when I got it).


For when that link no longer works: The vendor is called “button boy” and goes by the username “politicsstinks” on ebay. Here’s a link to the ButtonBoy ebay store. The latest stuff I bought from them also recommended the ButtonBoy etsy store.


It’s a small machine although very heavy, but I did a lot of research and the Tecre machine seemed to be the best type of machine for my needs: It’s physically easy to use, hard to damage, reasonably well designed so that with a bit of adult supervision kids can make their own buttons. I went with the 1.5 inch size because it was large enough to have reasonably legible text or enough space to colour, but small enough to be cuter and easy to fit on a bag strap.


If I were to buy a second machine I’d probably go with the 1″ because I’d love to try the magnetic jewelery stuff they have now, but I expect I’d still want my 1.5 inch because visible text is important a lot of the time!


Recommended Accessories


Button punch


My number one recommendation is that if you’re going to do any larger runs of buttons, it’s worth investing in one of the button hole punches. Especially if you’re letting people colour their own buttons, it’s annoying to colour a teensy piece of paper, so I find it’s more pleasant to punch things out on the spot after the colouring is done rather than cutting the circles in advance. The punch is also great for using magazines or wrapping paper, like I did for these Christmas buttons (although I didn’t have the punch at the time so these were done by tracing circles with the mylar and cutting them out with scissors):


Christmas Buttons


Alternatives:


Scissors work just fine. Invest in a comfortable pair rather than doing like my sister and I did on our first big button run where we gave ourselves bruises cutting out 200 buttons by hand, though.


I do *not* recommend trying to use a a cheaper adjustable circular cutter from the craft store. I have one, and there’s a couple of problems with it:


1. The center has a point, which makes a teensy but noticeable hole in your design. I can feel this through the mylar cover on the finished button and it annoys me. I stuck a piece of rubber on it to compensate, but that just makes it more finicky.


2. It’s very hard to line up the design nicely (at least compared to a hole punch or scissors)


Basically, it turned out to be more annoying than drawing circles and cutting them out with scissors. The punch, however, is way better.


Some folk at my former hackerspace have pointed out that a cricut machine would be excellent for this, and probably the laser cutter would work as well. Both of these are a lot more expensive than a punch, but if you’ve got them, why not? The only downside is that neither is as convenient for on-the-fly button making using magazines or quite as convenient for maker faire purposes.


Paper Guillotine


If you’re printing 8.5×11 sheets of buttons to cut out, you may also want to invest in a paper guillotine. This is handy if you want to hand out smaller segments for kids to colour, and great if you’re using a button punch that can’t punch holes in the middle of a piece of paper.


Again, scissors work just as well, but when you’re spending all day making buttons, little things that make life easier like that are worth it. So once again, I recommend it if you find you’re doing a lot of buttons, but it’s not needed for small runs.


Inkscape


I’ve found inkscape to be the most consistently good tool for making buttons because it’s so easy to whip up a template (1.85in circle with inner 1.375in circle) and import things into it. It lets you do things like fit text to a path, trace bitmaps so they can be converted to fewer, easier to read colours, etc. It’s fast for duplicating buttons and laying them out as a sheet for printing, too. And it’s free software that runs on linux, mac, and windows, all of which I occasionally use to make buttons. http://inkscape.org/


Really, any drawing program will do, but I think Inkscape is particularly nice for letting you set sizes and fix alignments quickly and easily, so although I’m also reasonably capable a few other art tools (I use photoshop, for example, to do photography work), Inkscape is my tool of choice for buttons.


DSC_6775.JPG


Non-button things!


If you look through the Tecre catalog, you’ll notice that depending on the size of machine you have, you can make a few things that aren’t buttons. Not all of them are available for my size of machine; for example, some of the larger machines can be used for small hand mirrors and some of the smaller machines can be used for jewelery-buttons.


I’ve thus far tried the flat-backed magnets (the magnet goes inside the button) and the smaller split-ring keychains. Unfortunately, neither came with instructions so here’s some notes on what did and didn’t work for me:


Flat-backed Magnet instructions


The way the button machine works, you crimp the top half together, then you crimp the top onto the bottom. In the case of these magnet blanks, the magnet part goes with the bottom half (because the machine doesn’t have space for it in the top half die). It’s a nice strong magnet… which unfortunately means that it can pull the top half down if you’re too slow when you flip the machine around and crimp it the second time, and if it gets pulled out of alignment you get a messed up button. I messed up two before I figured out what was going on, and since then it’s been pretty easy to avoid the problem, but hopefully I can save someone else some annoyance.


I don’t know if this is true with other magnet backs, which may have less strong magnets, but if you’re having trouble it’s worth trying to go faster and see if it helps!


I am *very* pleased with the feel of the flat-backed magnets. They’re smooth and strangely pleasant to hold in a way that I was not expecting.


Short split key-ring instructions


In this case, the bottom half of the blank has a small hole in one side. You crimp the top and bottom together, then insert the keychain clip into this hole (note to self: take some pictures of this later).


Things to note:

1. The instructions I found online implied that you had to be super careful about how much you crimp. It seems like the version I have is pretty well designed to avoid this problem, because the bottom half has a slightly raised edge over where the hole is, and clamping the machine all the way down does not seem to squash the hole, so don’t be *too* nervous about getting it right.


2. While the clip can be inserted either way, if you insert it so the sticking up part of the clip faces the front of the bottom, the piece sits more flat relative to the back of the button.


All in all, I found the magnets harder than expected and the keychains easier.


Button jars, overflowing


Conclusion


When I bought the button machine, I really wasn’t sure how much I’d use it, but it’s turned out to be even more fun than I hoped. The highlight was probably that first big giveaway my sister and I did at the Cute With Chris show. When we walked down to the front to give out buttons before the show started, people actually cheered for us! And then we went around talking to each person at the show while they chose their designs, which was pretty neat.


But there’s been lots of fun stuff since then. In the past year alone, I’ve made buttons for open source projects (real and most desirable), given out slightly subversive buttons at defcon, made silly buttons for one-off jokes and IRC bots, watched literally hundreds of kids and adults make buttons with my machine, even wound up making some blank ones to serve as a temporary whiteboard-style expression-changing doll face for a friend’s guerrilla photography and crafting project!


It’s a bit of a weird hobby, but each button is so cheap that it’s one you can share with a lot of people! (At the current rate of blanks, each button costs me under 10 cents) And as someone who always enjoyed getting free stuff, it’s fun to be on the side of designing and giving! :)

Tuesday, October 21st

Oct. 21st, 2014 10:06 am
alexandraerin: (Default)
[personal profile] alexandraerin
The Daily Report

Yesterday was a very good day, in no small part because I happened to wake up with energy levels that matched my resolve for the week. Today I'm feeling a good deal less peppy.

In addition to having accomplished many practical things yesterday, I also thought a lot about my goals. I've never written as much general short fiction as I want to, and I think this is all wrapped up in the issues I described yesterday regarding short stories in the MUniverse. Feeling guilty/conflicted about any part of my creative output is going to impact the rest.

I've been doing pretty good on that front lately, though. There will be more news on that in the near future, but for now I'm just going to say that I'm doing well.

The State of the Me

Today's a slower, lower energy day, though I'm feeling less hit by a truck after breakfast, pills, and a modicum of caffeine.

Plans For Today

I'm going to keep things modest compared to yesterday. I'm going to focus pretty much exclusively on writing. I have a random story idea bouncing around in my head that I'm trying to sketch out this morning, and a chapter to write this afternoon, and another chapter to give a final coat of polish before posting. (It's nice being ahead again.)

By far and away...

Oct. 20th, 2014 01:23 pm
alexandraerin: (Default)
[personal profile] alexandraerin
...the best ongoing fundraising model I've ever had for my writing is the "bonus story" approach, where every $X, I write and post an "Other Tales" selection on the site, a little side story or standalone or "Meanwhile" or flash backwards or forwards, or whatever.

It's a useful writing exercise because it helps keep me rooted in the world of the story and thinking about the bigger picture, because it means if I'm stuck on the main story I can always change tracks, and because more writing is more good.

And it's a useful fundraising approach because there's a tangible benefit, the benchmarks are low enough that people don't need to be assured that their contribution does actually help reach it, and there's a constant on-screen reminder that while I do this for free, I do depend on it for money, so I have to actively remind people less.

And honestly, some of the stories that have come out of the Other Tales/bonus story approach are among the best things I've written, to the point where I'm thinking about making an anthology out of some of them that I think would appeal to general fantasy fans.

But the thing is, I haven't consistently used this approach for years.

And the reason I haven't, essentially, is the Centipede's Dilemma. (Warning: Link to TVTropes. Clear your schedule as needed before clicking.)

It was fine when I was just doing bonus stories, but then I added in side stories, like the story with Mackenzie's brother that was supposed to run once a month for a 13 months. And other stories earned as perks for specific fundraisers. And things like that.

See, when I've got all those things to juggle, I start worrying about how it all works... what "counts" as a bonus story, what "counts" as fulfilling the terms of the fundraisers, how it all fits together with the general publishing schedule, and so on. And I don't just think it, of course, I overthink it. Because I'm naturally an analytical and reflective person. And the thing is, there's no clear answer on any of it, which is why I spend so long thinking and not doing that it eventually gets overshadowed by present and future crises, and then forgotten except for the odd moments when I remember it, think about it, and get worried. And that's how the whole thing falls apart.

But the thing is, there's a reason there's no clear answer for things like this, and that is that I'm not following anyone else's model here. I'm doing what works for me and making it up as I go.

And with that in mind, I'm going to go ahead and revive the bonus story bank idea. While my long-term goal is going to be to get enough money through Patreon every month to serve as a living wage, until my sponsorship levels are quite a bit firmer, I'm not going to be taking Patreon donations into account here. This is strictly bonus. I don't think I need to worry too much about making sure my current patrons still have an incentive to support my work, since "supporting my work" is already the main goal there. But in order to up the ante a bit, I am going to make my MU drafts folder visible to patrons starting at the beginning of next month, which will allow them to see potential future stories shaping up, alongside the current drafts.

Slightly re-shuffling the "support blurbs" on Tales of MU to make them more noticeable (as static things have a way of fading into the background, and I no longer feel like Patreon is a thing that requires as much explanation as it did when I first joined it) was already something on my "I should really do this sometime/more often" list, but I went ahead and added a bonus bank back on to the website when I did it. It's very bare-bones for now, but I'm still playing with it, as I'm playing with the other content there in the sidebar.

Monday, October 20th

Oct. 20th, 2014 10:01 am
alexandraerin: (Default)
[personal profile] alexandraerin
The Daily Report

First of all, last night I decided to put into action my plan to consolidate the short stories I had for sale into a single volume. I had thought about putting some of my new stories in with the old ones, but after thinking about the numbers I decided it's big enough with the seven existing ones, especially since this lets me move forward immediately. And no one who's purchased all of them in the past will need to buy a whole collection to get one or two new ones.

It's currently available on Kindle and Nook. As with all such books, it's not necessary to own a special device, as there are free apps for computers and most tablets/phones. I'll be putting up my indie bundle later in the day, which includes versions that can open right in your browser with a click.

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OO8Z9NW
Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-lands-of-passing-through-and-other-sundry-alexandra-erin

We've had some financial discussions in the family over the weekend, and it's definitely past time I started making more of a push on the crowdfunding than I have since the move, being that I am a crowdfunded author. I've done some little stopgap emergency things when the need was pressing, but that's not an efficient alternative to just doing the work of crowdfunding to begin with.

I'm going to be focusing on Patreon in the long term and medium. We're less than $20 away from the next big funding threshold, which is when I'll take Tales of MU ad-free for patrons (with a log-in, of course, since it can't magically know who's a sponsor or not).

Any pledges now will come to me early next month, within about two weeks from today, and getting more regular sponsors on Patreon will solve a lot of problems in the long run... including the problem of never being quite sure when in a given month Patreon is going to pay out. If I'm making enough money there that I'm not going month to month to begin with, that matters so much less. They do seem like they're getting their act together on that front, but it's still early to see if they're going to be consistent with the consistency.

On the subject of getting ahead vs. going month to month, I'm currently paying monthly subscriptions to a lot of the services I use, when annual or longer subscriptions are markedly cheaper in the long run. It's simply a matter of it being easier to find $10-15 a few times a month vs. putting together an extra $100 a couple of times a year. So that's going to be a priority for me as I go forward: get off the monthly service plans onto the annual ones.

More immediately, we have needs like groceries and other living expenses that we generally manage to cover, but that I've been contributing far less to than I need to from here on out. Which, again, is a problem that can be solved by getting my sponsorship up where it needs to be. I think it's going to be a while before it completely eliminates the need for me to rattle the cup from time to time, though. I think I just have to accept that this is part of the job.

So, that's why I'm going to be doing it today, starting here.

The State of the Me

Doing okay. I had a fun weekend, although not without some ups and downs.

Plans For Today

Over the weekend I talked in a couple of places that I usually hangout online about how I'm going to be refocusing my energies. That includes here where I talked about getting out and pushing more. The trick is actually going to be one of balance: making sure that what I'm doing gives me enough momentum to keep going without taking so much from me that I burn out.

Today's day one of that.

In terms of practical goals, I'm going to be working on e-book stuff and getting my ducks in a row for the week's writing. I'm also going to be looking at a better solution for a personal website, a central presence where I can link to my works for sale and talk about what I'm doing.

(no subject)

Oct. 20th, 2014 05:51 am
copperbadge: (radiofreemondaaay)
[personal profile] copperbadge
Good morning everyone, and welcome to Radio Free Monday!

Ways To Give:

Anon linked to a fundraiser for Jennifer and her family, who are facing homelessness after their house was foreclosed on. They're raising $7K to find a new home and get moved in; you can read more and help them get shelter here.

[personal profile] secondsilk linked to Jez Pez, who is raising money for two transgender refugees in Victoria, Australia, with basic living expenses. You can read more about their plight and help them with basic necessities here.

[livejournal.com profile] rurounihime linked to a fundraiser for Tashina and her family, who are living out of their car after several financial misfortunes; they're at the point where they're considering putting their kids into the foster system just to get a roof over their heads. You can read more and help them get housing and help for their kids here.

[personal profile] brainwane linked to Strange Horizons, an online nonprofit magazine which publishes speculative fiction by diverse authors and on diverse themes. Because they are no-ad, they're funded by donations, and they're in their yearly funding drive, trying to raise between $13.5K and $15K. You can read more about the magazine and support their work here.

[tumblr.com profile] levynite's city, Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia, has been badly affected by Typhoon Vong Fong, and the local SPCA has been flooded out. The animals have been rescued, but they need funds to shelter the animals and to rebuild. Their facebook page has donation details, but the money transfers always incur an extra fee, so Levy is doing an informal collection; if you're interested in donating, contact levynite at gmail.com and Levy will send you a paypal request (Paypal got...complicated).

Help For Free:

[tumblr.com profile] donotlookatthedogpark is asking for askbox distractions this winter, as they work on their sobriety and deal with the depression winter's dark and cold can often bring on. You can read more and find a link to their askbox here.

[livejournal.com profile] frenchroast has entered their cat Sherlock in the Publix Paws Photo contest that I mentioned last week, with the winner receiving free groceries from the store. Frenchroast is donating a portion of the prize, if they win, to a local rescue organization; you can vote for Sherlock here.

And this has been Radio Free Monday! Thank you for your time. You can post items for my attention at the Radio Free Monday submissions form or via email at copperbadge at gmail dot com. If you're not sure how to proceed, here is a little more about what I do and how you can help (or ask for help!).
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
Mondays, every week, let's celebrate ourselves, to start the week right. Tell me what you're proud of. Tell me what you accomplished last week, something -- at least one thing -- that you can turn around and point at and say: I did this. Me. It was tough, but I did it, and I did it well, and I am proud of it, and it makes me feel good to see what I accomplished. Could be anything -- something you made, something you did, something you got through. Just take a minute and celebrate yourself. Either here, or in your journal, but somewhere.

(And if you feel uncomfortable doing this in public, I've set this entry to screen any anonymous comments, so if you want privacy, comment anonymously and I won't unscreen it. Also: yes, by all means, cheer each other on when you see something you want to give props to!)

Credit card numbers

Oct. 19th, 2014 09:58 pm
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
As I believe I've mentioned here before, I have a pretty annoying case of dyscalculia. It mostly makes me transpose digits, confuse certain numbers (3 and 8, 2/5/9), and have difficulty with orders of magnitude. Since discovering that dyscalculia is a genuine honest thing (the schools I attended really should have picked it up, but it was too early for there to be much attention on the condition and we had a nasty case of Gifted Children Can't Have Learning Disabilities) I've learned a bunch of workarounds and coping techniques; I'm getting better at it not disrupting my life.

I also have a really shitty memory for numbers, except when I have a really good memory for them -- fucked if I can remember specific phone numbers for years and years, for instance, even ones I manually dial regularly instead of using the phone's address book, until all of a sudden, like with the flip of a switch, I'll remember it for years past when I'm actually using it regularly. Right after I moved out of my parents' house the first time, I was writing checks for a lot of my regular shopping, and I wrote my drivers' license number on the checks often enough that I found I'd memorized it -- and still remember it, 10 years after surrendering my NJ license for a MD one. (I don't know my MD one; I don't write checks that often anymore.) That kind of thing.

The big thing, though, is credit card numbers. I buy things online pretty often, and I don't ever let my browser or most websites save my CC#, so I type it pretty regularly. It usually takes me no more than a year or two to memorize a credit card number after something like a CC fraud/identity theft thing happens and I have to cancel the card and get a new one. I always struggle like hell for the first few months of a new card number (wanting to type in the old one and always misreading/mistyping the new one as the transpositions and digit confusions kick in), then have a little while of not remembering the number but not having trouble typing it with the card in front of me. Then I'll find that I'm remembering the expiration date and the CVV (confirmation code), along with a few sequences of the 16-digit card number, but I still need the card for confirmation. After a bit, though, it's like a switch flips in my head, and I never have to pick up the physical card again when I'm making online purchases. (Until the next time there's a data breach and I have to get a new card number, of course.)

I'm curious as to how common this is! Sarah says she's never memorized a credit card number in her life, whereas I currently have our main credit card # (last changed about 2 years ago) and the DW business card # (about three years old) memorized but not our backup card (which is about three or four years old, I think, but I type it in way less frequently).

So, a poll:

Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: Just the Poll Creator, participants: 250

For your current primary credit card:

I don't remember anything about it, no matter how long I have the number for.
19 (7.6%)

Eventually I will learn some parts of it (small sequences, CVV, expiration date) but I always go for the card anyway.
70 (28.1%)

Eventually I'll remember larger bits of it (whole segments but not all of the #, CVV and expiry, etc) but always doublecheck
45 (18.1%)

I'll remember it if you get me started but I don't rely on memory in case I get it wrong
8 (3.2%)

I will memorize number, expiry, and CVV eventually but I haven't had this card long enough yet
41 (16.5%)

I have number, expiry, and CVV memorized and don't need to pull out the card
62 (24.9%)

I don't have a credit card/I don't use it for online purchases
4 (1.6%)

If you do memorize credit card numbers, about how long does it take you?

Less than 6 months
57 (34.5%)

6 months to a year
45 (27.3%)

12 to 18 months (1-1.5 years)
35 (21.2%)

18 to 24 months (1.5-2 years)
16 (9.7%)

24 to 30 months (2-2.5 years)
4 (2.4%)

30-36 months (2.5-3 years)
2 (1.2%)

Longer than 3 years
6 (3.6%)

If you do memorize card numbers: do you deliberately try to, or does it just happen?

I deliberately try to memorize them as quickly as possible
8 (4.6%)

I try haphazardly but I don't sweat it
31 (17.7%)

It just happens
136 (77.7%)

I wish to complain about the options in this poll:

Yes
43 (100.0%)

alexandraerin: (Default)
[personal profile] alexandraerin
A year and two weeks, in fact. I really meant to mark it in a more dramatic fashion, but the whole thing with Dorian knocked a lot of the wind out of my sails.

As I've said a few times in the past year, if I could have predicted exactly how things would have gone and what obstacles I would have faced after moving here, I would have officially given myself a year to get settled in and established before I started holding myself to my goals for after the move, including the perk-fulfillment on the moving fundraiser, the more regular and better quality updates on Tales of MU, and the more writing in general.

Though, sometimes I think that if I could have seen the magnitude of the obstacles, I wouldn't have bothered. I would have given up in despair. And sometimes I think that if I could have seen them coming, I would have been able to avoid, deflect, or plan around them.

But that's not how life goes. We adjust to reality and we keep moving on. I've had a year to adjust and reflect... not a year ofF by any stretch of the imagination, but a year. I have a much better sense of what I'm doing and what I need to do than I did a year ago. I've learned from everything that's come my way, including the loss of Dorian.

I've talked about this before -- which makes me nervous about talking about it again, but this is something I need to get over and if it means talking about it until I'm through it that's what I have to do -- but I really do get stuck in these negative spirals that take me nowhere. It has to do with the nature of my work, which is creative, and my revenue model, which is crowdfunded.

When I feel like I'm not getting things done -- whether the degree to which this is true is exaggerated in my head or not -- I don't do the necessary fundraising activity that I need to contribute my share of the rent and groceries and pay my own bills. Which increases the stress that I work under, and also makes it feel less like what I'm doing is worthwhile. And it just... spirals.

And the spiral doesn't move constantly in one direction, obviously, or else it wouldn't be a spiral. I have good days, good weeks, good months, good things, good signs. And I get excited, and this brings the dedication and drive.

But then I think, "It's time to make a push. It's time to attract new readers, time to attract new sponsors, time to rattle the cup and remind people that I do do this for a living." and then I remember all the things I haven't done, all the things I have left undone, all the plans I haven't delivered on.

And it falls a little bit more apart.

And maybe the only way to get past that is to get past it.

That's a big part of why I'm writing this post now, today, on Sunday, not a work day. Tomorrow's Monday. Tomorrow's the start of a work week. Tomorrow I'm going to be making a push. I'm not yet fully sure what form this push will take, or what direction it will be in.

I just know that it's time I was doing things.

It's time that I put my head down not in shame over what I haven't been able to do so far, but because that's the way you walk when you're walking in the wind, or when you've had to get out and push, or when your shoulder is to the proverbial grindstone. That's the way you get things done.

I offer him my lap,

Oct. 19th, 2014 03:44 pm
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
But he's more interested in standing there and yelling at me.

Read more... )

RIP, Velma Bowen

Oct. 19th, 2014 11:09 am
whump: QR code for "http://whump.dreamwidth.org/" (Default)
[personal profile] whump

Before LJ, SL, or any of that other stuff, Velma was one of the first people I got to know through letters. I was in the Turbo Charged Party Animal APA with her starting back in 1989.

In real life, I saw her a handful of times. The first time I met her in person I was in Nevena Smith's Toyota where we were driving from Madison to Chicago to see the Cocteau Twins play, and then driving straight through to Minicon (back when Minicons were huge) with [personal profile] bibliophile after the show.

The last time I saw her was at a WisCon three years ago after she and her partner had moved back to Seattle.

To read my email this morning, and learn that she's gone opened the floor under me. Her APA zines and LJ posts were slices of her life: what it was like to live in New York, and how to properly behave at a piano bar, and there will be no more of those.

I still meet people who think it impossible to have friendships online (I wonder if they would think the epistolatory kind was more real being that there's atoms moving around,) and I think that attitude contributes to the never-ending misogynistic campaigns waged online and offline by masculine culture.

synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
So I replaced them yesterday. Popular! She can't decide which to kill first.

Read more... )

(no subject)

Oct. 19th, 2014 08:37 am
copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
Happy Sunday morning, everyone!

I am slightly hung over, banged up around the edges from a spill I took coming home, and POSTIN' FANFIC.

Title: The Son Of Man
Rating: PG (language, violence)
Summary: JARVIS did not want to be a real boy. He was quite happy being a building.
Notes: Beta thanks to Hailtherandom and Knottahooker on tumblr!
Warnings: This story contains extensive discussion-of/scenes-regarding body dysmorphia which may be triggering for some individuals.

Here at Dreamwidth | Here at AO3

and now, a word from 13-year-old me

Oct. 19th, 2014 03:00 am
marnanel: (Default)
[personal profile] marnanel
A few years back, sorting through some of my old papers, I found this poem. It's dated 11th December 1988, when I was nearly fourteen.

FRIENDS

They will stand beside you
When all things are good.
And in the times when things are bad
Beside you they have stood.
They always tell the truth to you
As every good friend must
And they are reliable:
Friends you always trust.
They never will say nasty things
About the clothes you wear
They'll stand up for you against others
When you're not there.
You can always trust your friends
To hold your place in queues.
They'll always tell you "You played well",
Even if you lose.
Always keeping by your side:
Friendship never ends.
Yet, after all, we're only human:
Who has friends?

(no subject)

Oct. 18th, 2014 05:45 pm
copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
I'm over at R's today, a habit we've begun to develop due to the epic amounts of college football you get on Saturdays, and how R needs his college football because we've both quit watching the NFL in disgust. But of course, conversation wanders from football frequently.

R: I'm going to a wedding next week.
Sam: Oh yeah? Where is it?
R: It's out in the woods.
Sam: The woods? That narrows it down.
R: You know, the woods!
Sam: Oh sure, the woods, you take The Road to get to The Woods.
R: It's way past West City. You know where Beaten Path is?
Sam: Don't you dare --
R: IT'S JUST OFF BEATEN PATH.

Bless.
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