Alphaville - 11 August 2017

Sep 10, 2017

I've been a fan of the band Alphaville since I was quite small.  They seem to have a knack for catch hooks and lyrics that never fail to make you think about when and why they were written.  If you're not familiar with them, you've probably heard Big In Japan and Sounds Like A Melody, so that should job your memory.  So, when I heard that they'd be coming to the States to tour for the first time in eleven years I bought a ticket immediately.  It caught my attention that Christopher Anton (former frontman for InSoc) had assembled a band and would be opening for them.  I'm sorry to say that Anton did not put on a show of the caliber I've come to expect; they did four covers of classic InSoc songs... they did pretty much all covers, really, and not particularly inspired ones.  It was plain to see that Anton and his band were trying to ride on the notoriety of InSoc, even jibbing at them on their t-shirts.  On the other hand, Alphaville killed it.  They played a wide selection of songs throughout their entire stage career and threw in some new tracks from their latest album, entitled Strange Attractor.  It was like a walk down memory lane for me, finally getting to hear all the songs I heard in the car as a child driving around with my grandparents.  Another concert has been knocked off my bucket list.

Anyway, here are my pictures, taken from halfway back in the crowd and here's their setlist if you're curious.  I'm sorry that they're not the greatest quality, I couldn't afford front row seats (which were sold out, anyway).

iVardensphere and VNV Nation at the Bottom of the Hill - 18 August 2017

Sep 10, 2017

Because I don't have it in me right now to do a full writeup, here are some pictures from the iVardensphere and VNV Nation concert on 18 August 2017.  They were taken at the San Francisco show of the Automatic Empire tour, in which VNV played both the Automatic and Empires albums back to back.  iVardenSphere was a solo act this time around, and performed an all-improvisational set on his equipment, something that one person carefully characterized as an industrial algorave.  VNV Nation took the stage with their usual aplomb and Ronan spent an unusual amount of time talking with the crowd.  He explained that earlier this year VNV Nation had been invited to play a concert to raise money for a German youthclub the night before playing a sold out show in an abandoned factory in Munich.  The youthclub didn't have much in the way of a PA system or lighting but was packed just the same, and it reminded him of how the band got it start in the late 1990's.  This is why many of the shows on this tour are being played in little hole-in-the-wall clubs instead of the usual larger venues.

Neologism: Quantum budget superposition

Sep 10, 2017

quantum budget superposition - noun - A bank account's state of existence during the time in which you're waiting for your landlord to cash the rent cheque so you don't actually know how much money you have at a given time t.  Spend too much and your rent cheque bounces.  Spend too little and you put off important bills for too long.

Cleaning up Firefox... somewhat.

Sep 04, 2017

Chances are you're running one of two major web browsers on the desktop to read my website - Firefox or Google's Chrome.

Chrome isn't bad; I have to use it at work (it's the only browser we're allowed to have, enforced centrally).  In point of fact, I'd have switched to it a long time ago if it wasn't for one thing.  I make heavy use of a plugin for Firefox called Scrapbook Plus, which make it possible to take a full snapshot of a web page and store it locally so that it can be read offline, annotated, and full-text searched.  I never count on having connectivity (I live in the United States, after all, and right now my home connection is running quite poorly and has been for several days due to an ongoing situation at my local CO) so I try to keep both essential documentation and reading material in general stored locally for those dry periods.  However, there is no port of Scrapbook Plus for Chrome, nor is there a workable equivalent addon for same (I think I've tried them all).  I'm not about to do without my traveling hoard of information (which at this time numbers around 10,000 unique web pages and 15 gigabytes of disk space).  Out of desperation last night I did some research into how I might be able to speed up Firefox just a little and get more use out of it until I figure out what to do.  Here's what I found:

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Neologism: Gitmnesia

Sep 02, 2017

gitmnesia - noun - That feeling when you receive an update email about some ticket on Github from a project that you haven't looked at in so long that you don't recognize its name.  Generally a sign that you follow too many projects on Github.

Neologism: Icon blindness

Aug 14, 2017

icon blindness - noun phrase - The state of mind in which you search your desktop for minutes on end for one particular application's icon but don't find it.  You give up and open it from the application menu, whereupon you have no trouble remembering which category it's in or what the name (in text) of the application is.

Keybase, font sizes, and screen resolution.

Aug 12, 2017

Some time ago I wrote an article about what Keybase is and what it's good for.  I also mentioned one of my pet peeves, which is that, by default the fonts used by the Keybase desktop client are way, way too small to see easily on Windbringer.  A couple of days ago somebody finally figured out how to blow up the fonts on the desktop, so I can finally see what's going on without putting my nose on the display (and making the mouse cursor jump around because Windbringer has a touchscreen).  While I wish that this would be a configuration option in the GUI (or, hell, even a config file) I'll take what I can get.  First, some background so everything makes sense...

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One again operating at diminished capacity.

Aug 07, 2017

This week, it was my turn to suffer a somewhat debilitaring kitchen accident.

Last week, Lyssa nearly took the tip of her thumb off with a chef's knife while helping to make pizza for dinner, an accident which resulted in several stitches to reattach the flap of skin that ordinarily formed the end of her left thumb.

Last night, while helping to make dinner I accidentally grabbed the handle of a skillet that had spent the previous half-hour in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven.  With my entire hand.  There are (still closed) blisters on four of the five digits on that hand (the irregular whitish oval patches), the web of the thumb (not shown), and parts of the palm (barely visible in that image) (my hand's wet-looking appearance was due to soaking my hand in ice water for about half an hour to stop it cooking).  Dinner was spent with my hand submerged in ice water, but the rest of last night was spent in the emergency room when the blistering became readily apparent.

Diagnosis: Second degree burns on... let's say 45% of my hand, lacking a scientifc metric.  The pain was somewhere around a 6 on the numeric scale; I'd carefully say that it was as uncomfortable as having one or two broken ribs due to how difficult the gnawing pain made to concentrate.

I've got a pile of prescriptions that I need to get filled today, and I most certainly should probably not be typing right now because it'll aggravate the discomfort (though it'll probably keep the damaged skin from shrinking and seizing up).  All I can really do is manage pain and prevent infection until the skin regenerates.

Looks like I'm on the shelf for the next couple of days.

Defcon 25.

Aug 01, 2017

Well, I'm finally back from Defcon 25 and writing up my notes while in the throes of con drop before too much of the experience fades from memory.  Suffice it to say that I have opinions about last weekend, which I will attempt to write as concisely as I can.  I don't like being negative about things because my experience is my own, and I much prefer that people have their own experiences and make up their own minds about things.  However, I would be lying if I painted a rosy picture of my attendence of the largest hacker convention on the planet this year.  I did not have a good time, I was not the only one, I learned just about nothing new, and it left me with very few fun (or even good) tales to regale people with.  It also felt like the weekend flew by - three days came and went before I knew it, which is both a little disorienting and not actually a bad thing when looking at the thirty thousand foot view.

After a protracted period of getting ready, most of which involved fighting with trying to get my designated burner phone reactivated after sitting for a year in the box I was finally ready to hit the road.  You can, in fact, purchase functional SIM cards for just about any cellular provider from eBay and buy a pre-paid plan.  Upon arriving in Las Vegas and accepting the 106 degree punch in the face, I hailed a shuttle to my hotel and climbed aboard.  This year, Vlad found us lodgings within easy walking distance of Caesar's Palace, where Defcon had moved to this year.  I hauled my kit upstairs, ordered a pizza, and plopped myself down to read and relax for the first time in a couple of days.

I'd love to tell you how much fun I had at Defcon and give you detailed write-ups of all the talks I went to (taken from copious handwritten notes, of course), but I didn't make it to a single talk, and was able to visit only one village (the Biohacking Village) twice.  Mind you, this was after waiting in line for roughly two hours and not getting into the talks I'd originally come to see.  Not that the talks I wound up seeing weren't interesting, they were, but they weren't what I was trying to attend.  In addition, the Biohacking Village (that I know of) and other village rooms (that I only heard about and thus cannot confirm firsthand) have made a practice of flushing the room (throwing everybody out) to prevent camping, so as to keep the lines moving and thus making sure that most everybody in line gets into something.  The lines for just about every talk I saw were around the corner, sometimes two corners, and most of the way down the hallways.  I didn't bother trying to get into the talks in the main tracks.  Unsurprisingly, go ahead and laugh, I kept getting lost in the labyrinthine hallways of Caesar's Palace.  Possibly much to your surprise, many people who actually have a sense of direction kept getting lost there, too.  Some of the maps posted on the corners and at the infobooths gave incorrect directions to various locations.  Many of the Goons I spoke to didn't know where things were, either.  I don't blame them for it at all; a few admitted to me that they had no idea where anything was, either, so I don't feel alone in my frustration.  I can't speak to how well organized Defcon was this year because I'm not in a position to know what was going on.  What I do know is that Caesar's Palace is very difficult to navigate, and if I'd known how hard it would be I would have gone up a couple of days early specifically to sneak around and learn where everything was ahead of time.

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Back from Defcon 25.

Aug 01, 2017

Back from Defcon 25.

Exhausted.

Dealt with multiple crises at home.

Didn't spend as much money as I usually do, which isn't a bad thing.

Spent quality time with some old friends.  I hope I made a few new ones.

I have opinions.  They'll have to wait until I get some sleep.