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Running Robot

Sep. 16th, 2014 01:54 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Check out this robotic quadruped which can run and jump.  It's pretty cool.  Legs are more versatile than wheels for traversing uneven terrain and surmounting obstacles.  So this is a fascinating advance.

Although billed as a robotic cheetah, it lacks the characteristic flexible spine which creates the cheetah's famous speed.  I'm thinking more mechanical hound.  This isn't just a random quibble, by the way, it's science in action.  I know how  a cheetah generates so much speed -- that spine acts like a spring -- and I can apply that knowledge to other contexts.  So I knew to look at the spine of the robot.  Now if I were into competition robotics, this would inspire me to experiment with springy-spined robots to see if I could really make a robotic cheetah.  And maybe I'd try to stick a gyroscope in one too, because a cheetah's cornering agility is also a masterful thing, whereas vertical robots have this annoying tendency to wipeout on turns.  (I am impressed by the above robot's ability to stay upright.)  Since I'm not skilled at building robots, I'm putting these ideas online for the amusement of anyone who is.

Just, y'know, don't use it to make mechanical hounds for hunting bookworms.  In this society I feel a need to make that warning.

Poetry Fishbowl Open!

Sep. 16th, 2014 01:13 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Paranormal detective Brenda in a wheelchair (PIE)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Starting now, the bonus Poetry Fishbowl is open!  This is the perk for recent fishbowls meeting the $250 goal.  Today's theme is "P.I.E."  I will be checking this page periodically throughout the day. When people make suggestions, I'll pick some and weave them together into a poem ... and then another ... and so on. I'm hoping to get a lot of ideas and a lot of poems.

You may also want to browse recent discussions about disability in F&SF and the vocabulary of disability on my blogs.

What Is a Poetry Fishbowl?

Writing is usually considered a solitary pursuit. One exception to this is a fascinating exercise called a "fishbowl." This has various forms, but all of them basically involve some kind of writing in public, usually with interaction between author and audience. A famous example is Harlan Ellison's series of "stories under glass" in which he sits in a bookstore window and writes a new story based on an idea that someone gives him. Writing classes sometimes include a version where students watch each other write, often with students calling out suggestions which are chalked up on the blackboard for those writing to use as inspiration.

In this online version of a Poetry Fishbowl, I begin by setting a theme; today's theme is "P.I.E."  I invite people to suggest characters, settings, and other things relating to that theme. Then I use those prompts as inspiration for writing poems.

Cyberfunded Creativity

I'm practicing cyberfunded creativity. If you enjoy what I'm doing and want to see more of it, please feed the Bard. The following options are currently available:

1) Sponsor the Fishbowl -- Here is a PayPal button for donations. There is no specific requirement, but $1 is the minimum recommended size for PayPal transactions since they take a cut from every one. You can also donate via check or money order sent by postal mail. If you make a donation and tell me about it, I promise to use one of your prompts. Anonymous donations are perfectly welcome, just won't get that perk. General donations will be tallied, and at the end of the fishbowl I’ll post a list of eligible poems based on the total funding; then the audience can vote on which they want to see posted.

2) Buy It Now! -- Gakked from various e-auction sites, this feature allows you to sponsor a specific poem. If you don't want to wait for some editor to buy and publish my poem so you can read it, well, now you don't have to. Sponsoring a poem means that I will immediately post it on my blog for everyone to see, with the name of the sponsor (or another dedicate) if you wish; plus you get a nonexclusive publication right, so you can post it on your own blog or elsewhere as long as you keep the credits intact. You'll need to tell me the title of the poem you want to sponsor. I'm basing the prices on length, and they're comparable to what I typically make selling poetry to magazines (semi-pro rates according to Duotrope's Digest).

0-10 lines: $5
11-25 lines: $10
26-40 lines: $15
41-60 lines: $20
Poems over 60 lines, or with very intricate structure, fall into custom pricing.

3) Commission a scrapbook page. I can render a chosen poem in hardcopy format, on colorful paper, using archival materials for background and any embellishments. This will be suitable for framing or for adding to a scrapbook. Commission details are here.  See latest photos of sample scrapbooked poems: "Sample Scrapbooked Poems 1-24-11"

4) Spread the word. Echo or link to this post on your LiveJournal, other blog, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Digg, StumbleUpon, or any other social network.  Useful Twitter hashtags include #poetryfishbowl and #promptcall.  Encourage people to come here and participate in the fishbowl.  If you have room for it, including your own prompt will give your readers an idea of what the prompts should look like; ideally, update later to include the thumbnail of the poem I write, and a link to the poem if it gets published.  If there is at least one new prompter or donor, I will post an extra freebie poem.

Additional Notes

1) I customarily post replies to prompt posts telling people which of their prompts I'm using, with a brief description of the resulting poem(s). If you want to know what's available, watch for those "thumbnails."

2) You don't have to pay me to see a poem based on a prompt that you gave me. I try to send copies of poems to people, mostly using the LJ message function.  (Anonymous prompters will miss this perk unless you give me your eddress.)  These are for-your-eyes-only, though, not for sharing.

3) Sponsors of the Poetry Fishbowl in general, or of specific poems, will gain access to an extra post in appreciation of their generosity.  While you're on the Donors list, you can view all of the custom-locked posts in that category.  Click the "donors" tag to read the archive of those.  I've also posted a list of other donor perks there.  I customarily leave donor names on the list for two months, so you'll get to see the perk-post from this month and next.

4) After the Poetry Fishbowl concludes, I will post a list of unsold poems and their prices, to make it easier for folks to see what they might want to sponsor.

Feed the Fish!
Now's your chance to participate in the creative process by posting ideas for me to write about. Today's theme is "P.I.E."  I'll be soliciting ideas for Brenda, Darrel, Nate, Rick, their friends and family, private investigators, people with disabilities, creatures of urban fantasy, adaptive equipment, interesting weapons, tools of the trade, clothes that are designed to look good while seated, adventures on wheels, bizarre things that happen in cities, urban legends, offices and office buildings, wheelchair-friendly places, mobility-challenging places, romantic spots, life on wheels, things able-bodied people rarely notice, saving the day, annoying things that unwelcome suitors do, side scenes from previous events, and poetic forms in particular.  But anything is welcome, really. If you manage to recommend a form that I don't recognize, I will probably pounce on it and ask you for its rules. I do have Lewis Turco's The New Book of Forms which covers most common and many obscure forms.

I'll post at least one of the fishbowl poems here so you-all can enjoy it. (Remember, you get an extra freebie poem if someone new posts a prompt or makes a donation.) The rest of the poems will go into my archive for magazine submission.

FYI - tumblr

Sep. 16th, 2014 05:29 am
lemon_badgeress: basket of lemons, with one cut lemon being decorative (Default)
[personal profile] lemon_badgeress
So yes I have a tumblr, it's a reblog tumblr, I do not generally post any content myself and very rarely interact with anyone directly.

I've had a few different people now assume that I have seen something they put on tumblr, because they know I follow them, due to handy dandy notifications and also I've reblogged them (I am frequently not a stealth-follower if you check your activity regularly for reblogs is what I'm saying here), and since that's an a-ha-ha-hah-hah-NO, I figured it would be better to be explicit.

I follow, at the moment*, over two hundred and sixty five tumblrs. Not all of them are currently active. 99% I follow because they post a great number of pretty in high, high volume. How high a volume?

Last night I couldn't focus, was extremely depressed, and basically did nothing all night except chat and poke at my dash for pretty things. I went through 51 pages.

Fifty. One. Pages. of tumblr.

Did I manage to run into where I'd last looked at my dash?


So here's the deal. My usual pattern is to go through about the first ten pages of my dash once, maaaaaybe twice a day. Am I probably going to see that thing you posted?


Please do not ever assume I have or will have seen something on tumblr if you consider it important that I know that thing for the thing's sake or for the purposes of interacting with you in a way which is good for your mental health, is what the takeaway is here.

* i am also not currently following some tumblrs and am blocking some tags and types of content because i'm being set off by fairly random stupid ass stuff at the moment, some of which fluctuates.


Sep. 16th, 2014 02:37 am

Gender and the Heliodrax

Sep. 15th, 2014 09:18 pm
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
[personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Fiction has been, for me, a library of symbols, of varying value at different points in my life. Fantasy appealed when I was younger, fairy tales and witches soon replaced by aliens and shadowy figures bent on changing the world from one I knew and recognized to one where the simplest facts were no longer guaranteed. That wasn't a nightmare to me; that was Wonderland, or it might be... if one dared to explore.
Read more... )


Sep. 15th, 2014 08:20 pm
archangelbeth: Another section regarding copyediting, from a parody of the Gor novels. (Copyeditors of Gor 2)
[personal profile] archangelbeth
Edited more of the one thing for a while, grabbed another, shorter, thing (editing a translation of a Russian screenplay to sound more natural; the translation's good, but stilted at times) and finished that one, and have done little else today. Blah.

Edited to add: up to chapter 12 of The One Thing now.

Do wish I could put in quotes here and there from the things I'm editing, but they're as-yet unpublished... OH! I know!

Havva Quote
I don't like parties. Someone always tries to assassinate someone I actually like, and there are never enough of those little stuffed mushroom caps/
--The Winter Long, by Seanan McGuire. (An October Daye book.)

INwatch+Bookwatch )
Adopt one today!
Dragons under fold )
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
 LJ user Kestrels_nest noticed there was a verse missing in "A Strange and Gentle Contagion," which was a previous linkback poem.  That one is now complete.

Vixy & Tony: save the dates!

Sep. 15th, 2014 03:48 pm
vixy: (rock gods)
[personal profile] vixy
In other other news, I'm gonna copy and paste from Tony here, because reasons. Also because I'm still going WAIT HOLY CRAP HOW ARE THESE DATES HERE ALREADY AAAAAAAAA


I just looked at the calendar, and was amazed at how quickly time keeps on slippin' into the future. The Wayward Sereniversary celebration is this very weekend! So soon? YES, SO SOON! It's this Saturday September 20th! Our beloved Sunnie will be joining us on fiddle, and it's going to be a blast! Come join us!


Then the following weekend we jet off to FilkCONtinental with Betsy and Sunnie! What crazy person scheduled a Germany trip right after a Wayward gig? Oh right, it was me.


Then we get a brief rest before being GOHs at Orycon, in Portland, November 7-9, where Sunnie will join us and hopefully we'll catch a glimpse of this guy.


But wait! There's more! Before we stick a fork in 2014 and call it done, there's something special coming up after Orycon that we want you all to be a part of. We don't have all the i's crossed and the t's dotted yet, but you're going to want to save the evening of Wednesday, November 19th on your calendar for so
mething we're cooking up with someone we know. Trust me on this one... More details to come!

Sleepy Hollow (review)

Sep. 15th, 2014 02:20 pm
vixy: (autumn leaves)
[personal profile] vixy
In other news:  I have totally fallen for a TV show and I have to tell you all about it!

When I first saw the ads for Sleepy Hollow, I laughed out loud. That is going to be fucking ridiculous, I thought. That's an even worse concept than "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter" or whatever it was. Well, maybe I'll watch out of curiosity.

I missed the first two or three episodes when they were broadcast, but a friend online said he'd been watching it and that it was actually pretty good. So I got them on Amazon streaming.

And holy crap, they were GREAT.

I've seen the show referred to as camp, and I can't entirely dispute it. We're not talking camp like Rocky Horror or anything, but it's light SF/horror that is not taking itself too seriously, while at the same time not breaking the fourth wall to go "nudge nudge wink wink". It strikes just the right balance between the two. It's also not necessarily for purists of either Christian mythology or American history. The show plays fast and loose with both. But if that won't make you yell, you can sit back and be gloriously entertained.

The effects are wonderful, the writing is fantastic, and the casting... the casting is the main reason to stick with it. Tom Mison is absolutely perfect as Ichabod Crane; the way he speaks, the way he puts in the most delightful mix of knowledge, bewilderment and snark into his character, it's pure joy. Nichole Beharie is also perfect as Abbie Mills, the police officer paired with Crane to figure out the weird shit going on in the town of Sleepy Hollow. She's funny and snarky and dangerous and utterly believable while constantly barraged by unbelievable circumstances. Orlando Jones as her boss (Captain IRVING HEE HEE HEE) is absolute GOLD. Amandla Stenberg, of Hunger Games fame, is wonderful as his daughter Macey. John Cho is delightfully freaky as another police officer turned evil but struggling with himself. And John Noble gave me FREAKING CHILLS in his performance as a sometime assistant of Crane and Mills. There's also Lyndie Greenwood as Abbie's badass sister Jenny; Nicholas Gonzalez as Detective Morales, Abbie's ex and another officer in the force; Jill Marie Jones as Cynthia Irving, the Captain's ex-wife and Macey's mother; Katia Winter as Katrina Crane, Ichabod's wife.

And see, here's one of the big things that everyone's talking about with regard to this show. One of the two leads, and many of the supporting cast, are people of color. One of the two leads is a woman of color, in fact. And that's already all too rare in media nowadays. Let alone in science fiction media. And on top of that, which other reviewers have pointed out already... the people of color in the story aren't there just to suffer, sidekick, or teach the white folks a lesson. This was something I hadn't thought enough about until I read some other reviews on it, but even when there are leading or major supporting roles for people of color, they're all too often There for a Purpose (tm). They're the Magical Negro, or they have some morality lesson to teach, or they're there to be saved. It's depressingly rare that viewers of color get to just identify with characters in a story, having adventures and doing things and interacting with the other characters. And here, there is more representation than I've seen in any other genre show I can think of, and it is a fabulous cast telling fabulous stories.

The show doesn't put its hands over its eyes and go "la la la I don't see color" either. In the pilot episode, Crane, who's been revived from revolutionary war times, first meets Lt. Mills and says he assumes she's been emancipated from enslavement?  Her reaction has about the level of WTF that the comment deserves. Race isn't ignored, but it's also not the focus. The focus is telling this delightfully weird interpretation of (and extensive elaboration on) the story of the Headless Horseman.

The show isn't without problematic aspects. There's been no queer or trans representation at all, so far. There's been one mention of the slur "g*psy" (though at least only in regards to a language being translated; thankfully there were no stereotypical characters brought in). And there was an episode involving a Native American "demon" and shamanic ritual that, while I'm completely unqualified to judge as to whether it was at all sensitively done or gross cultural appropriation, I can't say is likely to be flawless given the liberties the show takes with Christian mythology and history.

While acknowledging its problematic aspects, I'm still really pleased with its overall level of representation, and just plain super enjoying the stories. It sort of pokes a similar spot that Buffy used to, with similar snappy dialogue and unexpected humor in the face of supernatural shit, but without Joss Whedon's weirdness about women. If you miss Buffy's good parts, or if you just love a good science fiction/supernatural story, I really really recommend Sleepy Hollow. One catch: it's not really easy to jump into the middle of. Season 2 premieres on the 22nd, but you can get all of season 1 from Amazon streaming and probably other places, and it's TOTALLY worth it. (The season 1 finale made me go AUGH I WAS NOT EXPECTING THAT YOU GUYS.)

(Bonus: Audible released a free download of Tom Mison reading Washington Irving's original "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" aloud. I just listened to it this morning. I didn't get a lot of work done.  Damn, that man's voice.)

ETA:  I *think* this is the review I refer to above. Not 100% sure because I don't remember reading that super cramped format, so maybe I was reading it quoted elsewhere in large parts.

This is also a good one, and makes some points that I missed, including points about gender-- the female leads display no jealousy, cattiness, etc. regarding each other's interaction with the male lead, and the show doesn't go the obnoxious "a male and female lead MUST have sexual tension" route. Katrina and Mills both stay focused on the apocalypse at hand rather than "who gets the man".  Crane and Mills become close and caring friends. It's refreshing.

Zombies, walk.

Sep. 15th, 2014 01:42 pm
vixy: (screaming)
[personal profile] vixy
Since I have less impetus for walks now that my company no longer has a PO Box at the local post office (it used to be my job to go check it every day), I'm trying to make a point of taking walks. I'm woefully out of shape, in the stamina sense-- I get out of breath waaaaaaayyyyyyyy too easily. On Brooke's recommendation, I finally got around to downloading "Zombies, Run!" and giving it a try.

After a couple of problems which turned out to be mainly user error, I've got the thing working, including playing nice with Google Play Music (it says this is an experimental feature and may not work, so I was all happy when it worked for me!) My playlist for the purpose is called "All You Zombies".

I'm enjoying the app so far. I've only done a couple of stories, but the very first story mission knocked my socks off. Like, I was not expecting right away for them to go for the tragic, and the voice acting is exceptionally well done, so it wasn't cheesy like it might have been with bad acting. When we got to (rot13 for spoilers) gur mbzovr punfvat zr jub jnf npghnyyl gur qrnq-naq-mbzovsvrq ybir vagrerfg bs zl pbagnpg ng gur onfr, jvgu fnvq pbagnpg tbvat "bu... bu tbq gurl'er fubbgvat" juvyr gur bgure crefba ng gur onfr jnf yvxr "lbh xabj fur jbhyq unir jnagrq guvf, lbh xabj fur jbhyqa'g unir jnagrq hf gb yrnir ure nf n mbzo" and I was like HOLY CRAP THEY ARE NOT FUCKING AROUND HERE. The story is not fluffy, is what I'm saying. Torrey told me that Elizabeth Bear wrote a chapter for them, and some other authors like her as well. I'm looking forward to the rest.

So far I've been walking along our stretch of the Interurban Trail. This amuses me somewhat, as our stretch of the Interurban borders directly on a verrrrrrry big cemetery. My 30-minute-ish walk is pretty much the length of the cemetery and back home again. So far no actual zombies spotted. (It's got a quite nice old rusty wrought-iron fence, though. Atmospheric!)

I doubt if I'll ever segue to running. Ever since my knee started clicking whenever I go up stairs (putting an end to my career as a stealth assassin), I'm a little leery of anything that high-impact. I dunno, we'll see if I ever get bored with walking. Small steps. So to speak.

Read "The Genie" by Lb_lee

Sep. 15th, 2014 03:30 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
LJ user Lb_lee has written the story "The Genie" based on my prompt. It has been partially sponsored out of the general fund, so if you want to see more, you can toss in a donation.

U2 album on iTunes followup

Sep. 15th, 2014 01:13 pm
annathepiper: (Aubrey Orly?)
[personal profile] annathepiper

For those of you who, like me, were startled to have an unwanted U2 album show up in your account library on iTunes, Apple apparently has received a lot of flak for this. Because the BBC is now reporting that they’ve released a tool to remove it.

I’ve just tried it and can confirm that it removed the album from my list of hidden purchases, so the tool does appear to do the trick. If you want to completely nuke the album out of your library, go to the link mentioned in the BBC article and follow its instructions.

I hope now that this will be a lesson unto Apple about not messing with user data like that in the future. And hopefully next time they want to do a massive promotional giveaway like that, they’ll actually, y’know, tell people. As I said before, if a massively famous band like U2 wants to give their album away for free, more power to ‘em, but they need to make sure that recipients actually know it’s going to come to them BEFORE it shows up in their libraries, and they should make sure the recipients actually WANT it.

Mirrored from


Sep. 16th, 2014 02:26 am
jeshyr: Blessed are the broken. Harry Potter. (Default)
[personal profile] jeshyr
Universe hating on me ... Stubbed my toe about four hours ago, did enough damage that the blankets touching it is hurting. Finally have in and got up to tape it up so I can sleep ....

... Yup. Stubbed the other foot on the same obstacle.

I put the stool away this time though!

Sorry for radio silence so long - been spending all my energy on

Sent from my iPhone
solarbird: (music)
[personal profile] solarbird

I listened to the mostly-completed Bone Walker today, seeing what’s left to be done, and the answer is honestly not all that much. We’re still waiting for the readings, I’ve got one (1) more flute track to put down, there’s a special surprise still outstanding, but… yeah. It’s about time for final vocals, and then we’ll be done.

So I’m looking for people who will post reviews (50-100 words or more, about the length of an Amazon customer review) if they receive an advance review copy. DO YOU WANT AN ARC? That could be you!

You don’t have to review music regularly to jump in here, and you most certainly don’t have to promise what kind of review (positive, negative, etc) – just give it some actual words and thought. And it has to be posted publicly online somewhere. PODCASTS TOTALLY COUNT. So does print, I guess, if you have that sort of thing. Fanzines? CAN DO SPORT. I just want a copy. :D

Interested, or have a pointer? Here’s the contact form. Let me know. Thanks!

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

Story: "Up the Water Spout" Part 8

Sep. 15th, 2014 12:13 am
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This story belongs to the series Love Is For Children which includes "Love Is for Children," "Hairpins," "Blended," "Am I Not," "Eggshells," "Dolls and Guys,""Saudades," "Querencia," "Turnabout Is Fair Play," "Touching Moments," "Splash," "Coming Around," "Birthday Girl," "No Winter Lasts Forever," "Hide and Seek," "Kernel Error," "Happy Hour," "Green Eggs and Hulk,""kintsukuroi," and "Little and Broken, but Still Good."

Fandom: The Avengers
Characters: Natasha Romanova, Phil Coulson, Clint Barton, Betty Ross, Bucky Barnes.
Medium: Fiction
Warnings: Mention of human trafficking and nonconsensual drug use. Slightly offstage sexual violence. Dubcon/Noncon.
Summary: Sometimes the Black Widow needs to hunt, and sometimes she needs help settling her personality afterwards. Uncle Phil arranges an extra ageplay session.
Notes: Hurt/comfort. Family. Fluff and angst. BAMF!Black Widow. Black Widow is creepy. Spiders. Coping skills. Asking for help and getting it. Hope. Nonsexual ageplay. Caregiving. Competence. Girl stuff. Toys and games. Gentleness. Trust. #coulsonlives

Begin with Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7.

Read more... )

Done this week (20140907 Su - 13 Sa)

Sep. 14th, 2014 09:58 pm
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
[personal profile] mdlbear

Not really a terrifically good week, though Colleen's friend Bun-Bun has moved up from central CA, which brightened things considerably. And Colleen spontaneously told me how much she loves the house -- it helped a lot.

The main stressor is the fact that I'm basically broke. The San Jose house (I'm starting to not think of it as the Starport anymore -- that's a good thing) is a drain on our resources, my credit cards are mostly maxed out, and my checking account is in the red. (The bank kindly pays up to about $1500 in overdrafts, but still charge me a $33 fee for each item. It helps, but not quite enough.)

It's depressing to think about, especially knowing that it's all because of a long series of stupid financial decisions on my part. Plus a lot of letting things ride instead of making a decision. As I remarked on Facebook, this probably wasn't the best week to start trying to cut back on my SSRI in hopes of reversing the weight gain.

I got a lot of good, and encouraging, feedback from that post. Thanks, folks! It helps.

I've basically spent all weekend puttering, which at least accomplishes something. Still a lot to do, mostly paperwork-like things that I hate. Grumph.

Links, as usual, in the notes. Including Radio3, which I might be able to use to simplify logging links.

raw notes, with links )

Edit, edit, edit...

Sep. 14th, 2014 10:37 pm
archangelbeth: "I'm in strike-UR your friendslist, fixing strike-UR your spelling. (Editing Your Posts)
[personal profile] archangelbeth
Working on editing (OH HELLO CREEPY TWILIGHT ZONE CHARACTER O_O;), in between various other family stuff.

(Speaking of the latter, did you know that trying to write on a short story, when in a restaurant, makes the food show up? STRANGE BUT TRUE! ...I think I got a couple of sentences added. O:p )

In the spirit of "Griping On Social Media Sometimes Gets Me What I Want" (See also being told the secret fix for Word to make it act like I wanted)...

So. In various states (including the one I'm in... no, not the State of Exhaustion, blah), one can get solar panels that get wired into the grid such that you can theoretically "sell" power back to the power company. "Sending electric power back to your utility's transmission lines is called net metering." (See also and .) On the down-side, if the grid isn't available to put energy back into, or take from -- such as during a power-outage -- your fancy solar panels won't give you any power at all! For backup power, you have to go get a gas-powered generator, which is noisy and, well, powered by a flammable liquid.

Or one can be "off the grid" and put in solar panels and a battery (that costs some $20K+ and only lasts 8-10 years, IIRC).

What I want is something that normally works in the Net Metering way, but in the event of a power outage (such as an ice storm that brings down wires and/or tree branches on the lines and can do so over enough area that it can be a few days before one gets power again; this is not hypothetical), you go down into the basement and flip a switch and the solar power runs to critical systems: heat (so the pipes don't freeze) and the fridge. Okay, it might only run during the day -- but in a decently-insulated house, it would hopefully cool slowly enough that the pipes would not be in real danger, and the fridge (if not opened) would keep most stuff okay through the night. (Or you could put a bowl of snow in there, too...)

(One cannot simply put the food outside because the deer, squirrels, raccoons, possum(s), skunk(s), chipmunks, some birds, groundhog(s), and potentially a bear would be delighted by the free food. Also, at those temps, stuff that merely wants refrigeration, not freezing, would be... frozen.)

So. That's my use-case. Does this exist?

Havva Quote
Your mother is so illogical [that] she often chooses option that are not as beneficial to her as they could be. #VulcanBurn

INwatch+Bookwatch )
Adopt one today!
Dragons under fold )

Heliodrax- Blighted

Sep. 14th, 2014 07:03 pm
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
[personal profile] dialecticdreamer

One or, extremely rarely two young are hatched each generation (about a century) who lack properly developed scent/chemical sensors; they are considered profoundly disabled, and most accident-prone in the hatchling stage. If they survive without a life-threatening accident, their development is otherwise normal, but with two exceptions: they may or may not ever achieve a human-form shapeshift, and they never achieve reproductive shift. They are unable to make or process key biochemical sensors, which permeates all of Heliodrax biology, and thus its society and culture, from education through creating Families to make new Broods.

Read more... )

Read a Poem by Bookblather

Sep. 14th, 2014 06:09 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
 [personal profile] bookblather has written a poem based on my prompt, about good and evil.

Read "Return to Sender" by Lb_lee

Sep. 14th, 2014 02:25 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
LJ user Lb_lee has written the story "Return to Sender; Addressee Deceased" for my prompt about nightmares within a multiple system.  They're superheroes, and sometimes that can be nerve-wracking.  It's creepy and sweet at the same time.  Special thanks to AnonSwede for sponsoring this!

and here we go

Sep. 14th, 2014 09:23 am
solarbird: (Default)
[personal profile] solarbird
Would you download a car from the internet?

vroom vroom
solarbird: (gaz)
[personal profile] solarbird
So I was poking around for new LED decorative bulbs - specifically, clear bulbs, because the selection there has been a problem for a while, and no frosted bulb looks good in a ceiling fan. Just for example. And I stumbled across something on Amazon, or more specifically, two somethings, both made by the same company originally: LED filament bulbs, in various tiny wattages.

I noticed that the 4w bulb was being claimed as a "40w replacement," and honestly, while I've seen improvements in output per watt, that's less than half the power draw of any legitimate LED or CFL replacement I've seen at the claimed output lumens. So I imagined that really, it's putting out more like 200 lumens or so, and the output is whiter, which makes people think its brighter. The one customer photo made me think the same, but that'd be okay anyway, so I ordered a couple in different bases, to test.

Which, of course, I have done.

Test setup

When I got the bulbs out of their boxes, I immediately felt the lightness - they felt like incandescent bulbs, not LED or CFL. The weight isn't there. And they don't look like LEDs. I mean, seriously, look at this thing.

What the hell.

The electronics are down in the base, such as it is. They're visible from the top. There's no vacuum inside; the globe is to protect the electrics and such.

I'm going to cut straight to the chase: IT'S NOT A LIE. I kept remeasuring output and power consumption levels to revalidate it. They're 2700K as claimed. The 4w bulb actually draws between 3.6 and 3.7 watts; the 2w bulb draws 2.1-2.2. But compare for yourself.

Here's a side-by-side of the outputs. Bulbs in same location, camera set to manual and the same settings (ISO400, f3.5, 1/30th second exposure) in both cases.


This photo is mostly the incandescent, but with horizontal rectangles of the LED Filament bulb overlaid. A couple of them are obvious, where the LED's output is more obviously brighter; a couple of the others are harder to find.

Stripe Overlays. 3.8w source image, 40.1w source image

The 3.8 watt LED Filmament bulb, in the fixture, and also, a photo of the consumption reading (in watts) on the metre.

And the 40 watt incandescent (actual draw 40.1w) used for comparison purposes, with its load level as well.

As you can see, the spread is wider on the 3.8 watt LED bulb, but I think that's mostly a function of the fixture and relative location of filaments. If I had a way to do true equivalent spread, the 3.8w output photos would be even brighter in comparison to the 40.1w decorative clear bulb.

I kept thinking something had to be fraudulent here, but... I can't find it. I kept checking back on the power metre to see if it had jumped up somehow, just because this is literally twice the best efficiency per watt that I've ever seen.

The bulbs are rated in the 15,000-hour range. One source says 15,000 hours; another says 25,000 hours. I'm going with the lower to be more cautious.

I checked for strobing, too. I have one way to test for that only. According to it, the LED strobes less than the incandescent.

And as far as most places are concerned, this doesn't even seem to exist. I can't buy it anywhere reasonable, I have to order it from obscure sellers online. And they aren't brand new; Amazon reviews go back a while. They're $8 each, cheaper(!) than the frosted and less-efficient LEDs I've been buying, even on a per-lumen sort of basis.

So yeah, genuinely, it's like finding a little alien artefact my mail. Seriously, what the hell?

These aren't dimmable. That's explicit on the packaging. Make them dimmable and the excuses for incandescents are pretty much gone. So we're not there yet - but we're close.

Scotland the Brave

Sep. 13th, 2014 09:21 pm
solarbird: (Default)
[personal profile] solarbird

solarbird: (Default)
[personal profile] solarbird
More video proving the Ferguson police explanation of Michael Brown's murder is a lie. I've had to go from transcripts and descriptions of the video, because it's region locked against me, but they're pretty detailed. Too bad the law doesn't apply to cops.
archangelbeth: An anthropomorphic feline face, with feathered wing ears, and glasses, in shades of gray. (Default)
[personal profile] archangelbeth
Getting something approximating eight hours of sleep makes one hate the world less, yay!

I have written s'more (whilst waiting to pick up spouse, who took his uncle to check on uncle's house, and then shopping). On my phone. With a bluetooth keyboard that's like 5 times its length. *snicker*

I have edited. Not as far as I would've liked, but I was busy researching bathtubs in the 1800s.

Note: free story (not mine) at Smashwords ( ) and everywhere else Smashwords distributes to. This is the one I linked the Amazon page of, yesterday-I-think-it-was.

Havva Quote
C_______ [to arcangel]: And then he starts /lecturing her for screwing it up by being good at killing/.
arcangel SNRKS.
C_______ [to arcangel]: Like, not even in crazy 'you ruined everything!' villain mode. In /douchy entitled boyfriend/ mode.
arcangel [to C________]: He's mansplaining the master plot?
C_______ [to arcangel]: YES!
C_______ [to arcangel]: Oh my God, YES!
--hopefully spoiler-free commentary from the MUSH

INwatch+Bookwatch )
Adopt one today!
Dragons under fold )


Sep. 13th, 2014 09:27 pm
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Default)
[personal profile] naamah_darling
Pokin' my little head up for a minute to say


for everyone's help.  We're still screwed, but it's not an IMMEDIATE screwing.  We still need help, but we're going to be okay this month and most of next.

I'm hella tired and just want to sleep for a million years, but . . . whatever.  I have shit to do.

Thank you for your generosity.  I can't do it individually, I'm exhausted and today I'm really feeling shitty physically, but I am grateful to every single one of you.  I hate having to do this, and I hate even more that it's not my fault and it's thus not something I can stop having to do.

Please, PLEASE for the love of god, encourage everyone you know to vote against people who want to cut benefits to anyone but the rich.  This is killing people like us slowly.  It's not sustainable.

I love you all.

Also, my girlfriend is a lovely person who calls me lovely things and I am very happy with her.

Necessary Conversations, Part 2 of 7

Sep. 13th, 2014 09:33 am
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
[personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Necessary Conversations
by Dialecticdreamer/Sarah Williams
Part 2 of 7
word count: 1037

:: As always, this is written with the gracious permission of Ysabetworsmith. I have borrowed her characters, but have /hopefully/ maintained their characterizations. As always, anything I've added to world-building is hers to develop in any way she prefers.

Review Part ONE

Read more... )

Amish Technology

Sep. 13th, 2014 01:37 am
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Here's a cool article about the Amish adoption of technology. They all follow one basic rule: if a new thing is more trouble than it's worth, they won't use it.  Different Amish communities draw that line in different places.  

I actually use that rule myself, again with a different threshold.  I've had people call me Amish, meaning it as an insult, for not using things they think I should be using that I don't use because they're worthless or troublesome for me.  I say, "No, but that is where I got the idea."  It's a great rule.  It saves so many headaches.  I'm neophilic in many ways.  But I've seen society make a lot of stupid mistakes, and its safety precautions are abysmal.  This contributes to my caution about adopting new things myself.  I look for the drawbacks.

Most people don't.  Their default is to accept new technology.  They often don't consider the costs.

Symbols: Working the math

Sep. 12th, 2014 11:01 pm
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
[personal profile] dialecticdreamer
If there are symbols all around us in the modern world, and /some/ symbols are hardwired, with natural associations that make it almost entirely unnecessary to explain the connection, then the symbols, in turn, can have very /powerful/ effects.

Obvious so far, yes.


What happens if the individual, for personal reasons, doesn't /agree/ with the symbolism? I'm not talking about misunderstanding it, or simply lacking fluency with symbols. I'm certainly not talking about the kind of disconnect which is sometimes labeled as “processing disorder” or 'dyslexia” or a dozen other things.

I mean that, for whatever personal reason, this individual's view of the same item has a far different symbolic association.

If there is a marvelous, well-scripted, acted and directed film where someone chooses to behave heroically while carrying a shield-- which is supposed to represent protection-- well, what happens when an individual can't agree with that interpretation? What if they see a shield as a symbol for deception or treachery?

There's a reason to have /one/ outlier, if you'll bear with me for a few paragraphs.

If the vast majority of the audience sees the film one way, but one person has an entirely /different/ interpretation, based in part upon their previously encoded symbolism... what happens?

How open is our culture to different symbols? How permeable? Will it take weeks, years, or decades for a new symbol to become part of our culture, not simply a bit of borrowed 'otherness'?

In earlier times, efforts were specifically and systematically made to eradicate the 'otherness' of languages, both in the Native American cultures and in Wales, Ireland and Scotland, just to name two locations continents apart. (The utter degradation and deliberate obliteration of South American native cultures and languages by Spanish newcomers is a different type of effort.) For the most part, the forced amputation of culture and language did exactly what was intended: the individual had no other remaining frame of reference, save that of the dominating, “acclimatizing” one.

Whole generations were cut off from each other, language and stories and symbols /all/ pushed out of reach across a chasm of 'acculturation.'

Whatever survived, usually only did so in fragments, in parts and blends and single-word symbols. That means, of course, that the cultural symbols blended together. They changed.

This is generally seen to be a terrible, destruction, a waste of knowledge at best and a crime against humanity at the most extreme.

But we're specifically /not/ talking about an entire culture. It's one person. One set of meanings given to one particular symbol.

That person now has to make a choice: defend their current definition of that symbol, or adopt the majority's definition. Pretty straightforward, isn't it?

Except that omits the possibility of fusion, of synthesis into a new symbol. Equally, it presumes that the person will no t abandon any effort to use symbols or maintain the one which is at odds with society.

Fracture a society in key places. It only takes a few taps, hardly noticeable amid the larger issues of survival, family, and work.

Then make a subtle change to a key symbol. A police badge, a judge's gavel, a red cross or blue caduceus... just one symbol, just a little change.

It barely has to be tailored for the genre of the stories we tell; just quietly insist that nothing has changed, if anyone speaks up.

Now, I leave you with two last, interrelated questions: which symbol best represents the future? When did you first express that idea?

Free-floating irrational hatred.

Sep. 12th, 2014 08:26 pm
archangelbeth: Female frowning; upper arms have black chains around them. (Malak1)
[personal profile] archangelbeth
Overall, ups and downs to the day. The main cause of the free-floating irrational hatred of everything and everyone is probably hormonal, and appears to be somewhat tied to actually working on a short story. Possibly when I am low on general overall cope.

Amusing: I am writing it in Pages ON MY PHONE. I started it with the screeboard (screen keyboard), but I happened to bring along my bluetooth keyboard (which can be bound to up to 3 devices) and was using that. It's a little better.

Ups: yay, chai and corn chowder at favorite restaurant.

Boo: hearing that the kid's computer teacher was having to go to her case manager.

Boo: using my spouse's computer for much typing makes my watch impinge on a nerve in my left arm, which makes my left fingers tingle.

Yay: despite having a stressful computer class (though MUCH LESS SO than was conveyed by the case manager's email to us...), the kid was perky. Let us hope she continues with the trick of this.

Boo: apparently the kid's computer teacher cannot tell the difference between a Mac and an iPad. PRO-TIP! If you say a kid wants to do everything on a Mac, it is NOT THE SAME as the kid wanting to do things on her iPAD, WHICH IS WITH HER. (My thought bubble: "You keep calling it a Mac. I do not think this means what you think it means.") The relayed statements make much more sense when the correct noun is put into place. O:p

(Other tip: no, constant crashing is not "normal." My up-time on this machine is 6 days, and so short because I did an update that required a restart, six days ago. O:p )

Yay: kid had fun horn lesson. (Well, horn-plus-music-theory-weekly-conversation. >_> )

Yay: iced tea at local restaurant.

Boo: I need to do some copyedit grinding.

Yay? I may be editing more translated-from-Russian screenplay stuff next week.

Havva Quote link to a cute pic!
Smile like DIS!

INwatch+Bookwatch )
Adopt one today!
Dragons under fold )

Read "Fealty" by Clare_dragonfly

Sep. 12th, 2014 03:02 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
 [personal profile] clare_dragonfly has posted the story "Fealty" in the Ursulan Cycle, introducing Morgan Tud to the court of Queen Ursula.  It's beautifully told in four perspectives.


Sep. 12th, 2014 02:57 pm
thnidu: A maze. (moire)
[personal profile] thnidu
I subscribe to SurveyMonkey, not because I consider their surveys worthwhile but because for each survey you do they contribute 50¢ to a charity of your choice: for me, Doctors Without Borders: $35 so far.

But they don't seem to put much effort into instructing their clients. I  have seen too many screwed-up surveys where I was forced to submit one or more inaccurate answers because the question was laid out badly.

On today's there were two checklists in a row, both with OTHER at the end and a field for descriptive text. I used the second one to answer the first one as well:

I answered the previous question only as OTHER, filling in the field as "useful but with care"... but there's no checkbox for "Other", so your survey rejects it. Careless of you. For this question, my answer is: "used to".
I resisted my initial impulse to say "YOU IDIOTS", on the grounds that a civil comment might have at least a snowball's chance in Hell of being heeded.

On the first one, none of the answers were suitable. I chose to sabotage it, or balance it out, by checking all of them.

Not in Need of Quests

Sep. 12th, 2014 01:50 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
 [personal profile] haikujaguar has a new coloring book featuring men of fantasy who aren't in warrior poses.  Fathers, pet owners, scholars, and more!


Sep. 12th, 2014 05:17 am

Story: "Up the Water Spout" Part 7

Sep. 12th, 2014 12:22 am
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This story belongs to the series Love Is For Children which includes "Love Is for Children," "Hairpins," "Blended," "Am I Not," "Eggshells," "Dolls and Guys,""Saudades," "Querencia," "Turnabout Is Fair Play," "Touching Moments," "Splash," "Coming Around," "Birthday Girl," "No Winter Lasts Forever," "Hide and Seek," "Kernel Error," "Happy Hour," "Green Eggs and Hulk,""kintsukuroi," and "Little and Broken, but Still Good."

Fandom: The Avengers
Characters: Natasha Romanova, Phil Coulson, Clint Barton, Betty Ross, Bucky Barnes.
Medium: Fiction
Warnings: Mention of human trafficking and nonconsensual drug use. Slightly offstage sexual violence. Dubcon/Noncon.
Summary: Sometimes the Black Widow needs to hunt, and sometimes she needs help settling her personality afterwards. Uncle Phil arranges an extra ageplay session.
Notes: Hurt/comfort. Family. Fluff and angst. BAMF!Black Widow. Black Widow is creepy. Spiders. Coping skills. Asking for help and getting it. Hope. Nonsexual ageplay. Caregiving. Competence. Girl stuff. Toys and games. Gentleness. Trust. #coulsonlives

Begin with Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.

Read more... )

Halloween Bingo Fest Card 9-11-14

Sep. 11th, 2014 11:22 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
[community profile] allbingo is having a Halloween Bingo Fest in October.

Here is a Halloween / Horror themed card that I made.

Underlined prompts have been filled.

or Evil Twin
VandalsAt the End of the RopeWerewolvesKnife in the Back
FrankensteinIt's a Trap!Lost in a Cave or MazeCostumesPumpkins
Ghost / Monster HuntersExtra-Sensory PerceptionWILD CARDWitching HourYou Are So Busted
Lost ChildMagic Wand BreaksUnexplained NoisesLocked in with MonsterCreepy Relatives
Body HorrorStumbling in the DarkAngry MobVampiresMad Scientist

dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
[personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Symbols are everywhere. English is a gigantic, swirling agglomeration of symbols. All speech is, with writing another layer, and graphics another layer... you get the idea.

But here's the thing, different cultures may assign very different meanings to the same symbol. I know that, even though my experiences are 20th- and 21st-century, mostly Anglo, American, and shaped as much by my economic class as my disability or skin tone or gender.

For those of us who /like/ finding symbols or discussing them...

I want more information about cultures which are very different than mine, with different interpretations of the same symbol... A tree, for example. Yet just looking up “symbolism” +trees, isn't going to make me any more culturally literate than playing copy-paste games with Wikipedia or other sources.

Even research, the real, get-into-the-brain-and-scratch-the-itch kind of research which I /adore/ can't really affect the core problem with trying to understand /others'/ symbols. Symbols become shorthand for entire /forests/ full of information. If I say “Doctor,” you have a a library of cultural symbols to apply to the term, all shaped by your culture and its norms. If I say “the Doctor and the Dalek,” well, that narrows down all of the 'Doctor' variations and adds in a different set of interrelated symbols which tie in to that one, particular kind of doctor.

It leaves me wondering if one of the reasons /why/ we have such trouble understanding different meanings for the same symbol is that we're confusing mathematics, with it's “right answer” versus “wrong answer” focus for a universal toolbox.

Math is great, but most people never get to the part of mathematics which has more than one right answer. I certainly see that kind of ethnocentricity when talking about economics, or crime, so why should something considered by most people to be /utterly/ peripheral to the business of keeping up with everyday life be spared the same treatment?

But then, I still wonder... If everyday life doesn't hit you in the face with /symbols/ every single hour... are you paying attention?

I want to open this up to discussion-- is there a way to /graft/ symbols into one's own internal forest? How? What are your favorite borrowed symbols and why?

Disabilities in F&SF

Sep. 11th, 2014 09:24 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Here's a post listing speculative novels that address disability

Over on [community profile] access_fandom there's howling that The Ship Who Sang  is a bad example, not a good one.  Here's a poem and a post.

Now, I'll admit that it isn't as good as some things we have now, like the Vorkosigan saga.  But it came out when nobody else was writing anything about heroic characters with disabilities, and the rare examples of disability were stock characters like Igor.  0_o  And then came Helva, and after her came other shellpeople who were ships and cities and all sorts of things.  To me, a shellperson's ship was basically adaptive equipment, like a wheelchair.  That could fly between stars.  I think that's awesome.  Hell, I'd consider that a trade up from the body I have, which is mobile but not what I'd call reliable.  The part of that image that spoke to me was about not being limited by the meat you're born with.  You could imagine something bigger and better.  You didn't have to be physically perfect to be an astronaut.  You could have a wreck of a body, and be the ship,  and go have adventures anyway.  So the society was kind of a mess in places, well, that's humanity for you.  You don't have to be perfect to have a future either.

And that wasn't the only time Anne McCaffrey wrote about a protagonist with physical or mental challenges.  She did that a lot.  Sometimes better, sometimes worse, but I count her as an icebreaker for a lot of what came after.  The Ship Who Sang  wasn't one of my favorites.  But if not for that, we wouldn't have The Ship Who Searched  and The City Who Fought,  and probably a lot of others tangentially inspired, that I have greatly enjoyed.

If you don't like what's being written, do something else.  You don't have to get it perfect the first time.  Try again, fail again, fail better.  Do something new.  

Narratives of Diversity

Sep. 11th, 2014 09:03 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
It matters what stories we tell and pictures we paint.  Here's an essay about narratives of diversity in F&SF.  

That's why I write diversity and, especially, pay attention to the mix of heroes and heras in Polychrome Heroics.  Danso is there to provide a positive, nurturing example of a young black man.  He's very powerful; mess with his family and he'll fuck you up.  But he'd rather not have to.

Computer Limbo

Sep. 11th, 2014 09:30 pm
archangelbeth: Bleach's Captain Byakuya, three-quarters view. Captioned: sigh (Sigh)
[personal profile] archangelbeth
The part they ordered was not the right part, and it will be a week till the right part gets in. This still gives me enough time to wait and see if I can get the edited version of the GURPS thing, before I start re-doing it.

Have finished Chunk 2 of the thing I'm copy-editing. (Oh, hey, one of the author's things is free right now at the US site? -- dunno if it's at other sites. might be.)

The kid went to school today! And had a reasonably good day! EEEEEEEE!

Havva Quote
G____ says, “I also approve of the function I just found that will let me dance on top of a boss monster after asploding it.”
--Random MUSH Commentary. I think we all can approve of this.

INwatch+Bookwatch )
Adopt one today!
Dragons under fold )
annathepiper: (Eleven Wants Tea)
[personal profile] annathepiper

So there I was reading my feed of articles coming off the Mary Sue when I saw they’d put up this: “101 Things We Wish Apple Gave Us Instead of That U2 Album and How to Get Rid of It”.

And my immediate reaction was “wait, WHAT?” And I found another article on Ars Technica, here.

Because apparently not only did U2 hand their album out for free over iTunes as part of Apple’s big event this week, the album’s also now been added to everybody’s iTunes libraries.

And sorry, Apple, sorry, U2, but that’s just obnoxious. If the band wants to hand out their album for free, dandy, more power to them. Promote the hell out of it and tell everybody on iTunes ‘hey look! A free thing! Click here to get the free thing!’ And stand back and watch the downloads roll in, because sure, people like free things.

But you know what people don’t like? Editing their online data without their consent.

I just logged into my iTunes account and clicked on ‘Purchases’, and yep, there it is, right there at the top of my recent purchase list. Except I didn’t ask for the damn thing. I don’t want it. Even aside from the matter of how I’m not a fan of this particular band or of most rock in general–’cause as you all know, if your band doesn’t have a fiddle player and at least one bouzouki, I do not care–the thing that annoys me here is the editing of my account data. And giving me no way to delete it, either. It’s useless data to me. It’s taking up space in my purchase history, and okay yeah fine I can apparently ‘hide’ it, but my point is, you shouldn’t be messing with user data like that to begin with.

And okay yeah sure fine, the album does not appear to have actually shown up on my phone; I’ll need to check my computer to see if it showed up there. And I’m aware that there’s an easy answer here: “if you don’t want the album, Anna, don’t download it or listen to it”.

Thing is? If that album shows up on my computer without me having asked for it in the first place, that’s pretty much the equivalent of Apple not only standing on the street yelling FREE ALBUM GET YER FREE ALBUM HERE, but actually walking up to people and stuffing CDs into their pockets, no matter how you try to say “NO THANK YOU”.

It’s not a big problem in the grand scheme of things. It’s absolutely a petty first world problem.

But dammit, have some respect for the integrity of your user data, Apple. Don’t go stuffing things into our pockets that we didn’t actually ask you for. You wouldn’t do that if we walked into your Apple Stores in person, would you? (You’d BETTER not.) So don’t do it online either.

ETA: Okay, further investigation shows that this album does not appear to have actually invaded my iTunes library, no doubt because I do not actually have Automatic Downloads turned on. I am however hearing from friends that THEY have had it show up. userinfoscrunchions tells me it startled her quite a bit because she KNEW she hadn’t purchased any U2, and for a long bit there she was afraid she’d gotten hacked somehow until she saw the news going around about the promotion.

The takeaway here: I don’t care what you’re promoting. I don’t care if it’s the finest album in the history of music. Any promotion that alarms your users and makes them think their account security might have been compromised is seriously not cool.

Mirrored from

annathepiper: (Music All Around You)
[personal profile] annathepiper

I got into an interesting online discussion with Dara and our friend Rod, pertaining to recent research indicating that early musical instruction in childhood contributes to one’s language skills, by improving one’s ability to recognize meaningful sounds and reject noise.

As I am both a language geek and a music geek, you can imagine that this subject is of interest to me! So I went googling and found this article from back in February of this year, which talks a bit about this. According to this article, people who have early musical instruction have a better shot at learning languages even in adulthood.

Now me, I don’t know how well I match up to this, but it’s very interesting to consider nonetheless. I started playing flute in fourth grade, which would have been the year I turned ten. By age 12, I was in middle school band and I pretty quickly took over the first chair of the flute section, holding onto it until my eighth grade year when I was trumped by the girl who could play oboe.

I didn’t get to take language classes until high school, though. By then I’d had six years of school band, and it’s a very interesting question as to whether that musical instruction helped me out learning German. I had interest in German regardless–but it’s worth noting that I chose German partly because a) my dad had been stationed in Germany when he was in the Marines, and b) Elvis had been in Germany. He even had a bridge in one of his songs in German, and that was a not inconsiderable part of why I chose to take German instead of, say, Spanish. Even then, my language interest had a musical connection.

The language interest stayed with me into my adulthood and has certainly formed a significant part of my computer experience, since I do a lot of testing of stuff localized into other languages. A big part of that is pattern recognition, especially if the thing I’m testing is in Japanese–I have to rely on visual pattern matching just because Japanese characters don’t parse as ‘letters’ to me. So it’s a different kind of pattern matching than, say, on our German or French sites, where I know enough of the words that I can actually understand a good bit of what I see.

But that’s also visual pattern recognition. Part of what Dara and Rod and I talked about had to do with how this plays against aural pattern recognition in music–and whether the ability to learn patterns aurally in music affects your ability to match patterns visually, and vice versa. Does ability to read sheet music help you when you’re trying to learn to read a new language? Does ability to pick up on the structure of a song, or on a smaller scale certain repeated patterns of notes, help you identify recognizable patterns in spoken language? Do they all play well together in your brain?

I’m no researcher. But I can say this. It does all feel connected to me–I’ve absolutely noticed it all seeming to tie together as I’ve been studying French the last couple of years, as I’ve posted about before. Listening to a lot of Quebec trad improves my ability to aurally pattern-match words, and at the same time it’s got the song structure of the genre working in there too. Not only is Quebec trad heavily call-and-response driven, there are also distinct structures to songs, like the ones where you sing the last line of a verse and have that same line roll over to become the first line of the next verse.

And I’ve absolutely noticed that words or phrases I learn as part of a song have a much better chance at staying with me, too. They’re the ones most likely to pop out at me when I’m slowly stepping my way through reading something in French, or when I’m listening to a brand new song as well. Or if I’m reading the lyrics to a song, too.

Plus, I’ve been trying to use pattern recognition to learn to pick up tunes by ear in a session environment, too. It feels like a very similar skill to matching words–because there’s a definite grammar of how note patterns work in trad tunes, and I find myself slowly trying to learn that grammar and match it up with what I need to do on my flutes to make the correct noises. It feels exactly like trying to pick words that make sense out of spoken or sung French.

And I love the lot of it! Anybody else out there have similar experience?

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