It would seem that the universe has other ideas.

Jan 21, 2011

A couple of days ago I finally got around to posting about what's kept me offline and not particularly feeling up to doing anything, in a nutshell being inundated with everything going wrong in the world (as if this is different from any other year; with life comes suck and fail. It happens.) Then, during my daily newscrawl in which I keep an eye on happenings in the world and look for things that might be sneaking up behind me (the work of a sysadmin is never done), I noticed some things popping up with synchronistic regularity. A couple of recent developments that have given me a fresh perspective on things (okay, okay, pulled my head out of my ass - there, happy now?), and while they're not exactly a batch of warm fuzzies they have made it easier to get out of the bed and face the world.

The first thing I discovered was a post at grinding.be that jumped out of the bushes and started waving pom-poms over my coffee. The post in question links to something Charles Stross wrote which I had no knowledge of previously. In the last ten years AIDS treatment protocols have become sophisticated and very effective, and even cheap enough that you don't necessarily need to be rich to afford them. AIDS isn't precisely a death sentence anymore; it's now supposedly an affliction that one can manage pretty well and the death rates have gone down in much of the world. I didn't know any of that; much of my attention paid to AIDS comes from monitoring research into cures and not palliation. The other appears to be a promo clip for NASA assembled with publically available footage and stitched together nicely. Some beautiful images and footage come out of NASA's labs (I highly recommend going to see the 3D Hubble Space Telescope movie at your nearest IMAX theatre if you can - it's breathtaking).

As if by clockwork the damnable Westboro Baptist Church crawled out of its hole and sent a contingent to hoist its rainbow colored signs (A detail I find darkly amusing) at the funeral of Christina-Taylor Green, who was brutally murdered during the assassination attempt on Representative Gabrielle Giffords last weekend. However, her funeral was protected by roughly one thousand people who turned out to deflect the vitriol thrown by people who seem to have absolutely no idea whatsoever what the Christ was like. A segment of the counter-protestors who turned out wore white and had fashioned angel wings for themselves out of bedsheets and PVC pipe. Graffiti scrawled nearby read "Stop the hate." Also - and I can't leave this out - representatives from the Hell's Angels, the Huns of the Southwest, and the Phoenix Motorcycle Riders Meetup rode in to pay their final respects to the fallen nine year old girl (and shine a barrage of weapons grade stinkeye at the infamous legal trolls, no doubt).

Warren Ellis posted a link to something that aspiring ebook authors will no doubt take notice of. Apple's app market, which is the only way that you can install new software on your iProduct without hacking the firmware is notorious for censoring things willy-nilly which makes prospective application developers wonder if it's really worth spending the money to join the developers' community (yes, you have to pay Apple in order to sell your stuff, or even give it away for free). Some games and ebooks with violent content or vulgar language are okay by their standards, others are not and subsequently get pulled or rejected without an explanation, though a few people are trying to figure out their reasoning, and open source software is right out. Then Brett Jackson, who runs the curiously named web comic Massive Sqwertz (I don't want to know...) came up with a way that just about anyone can sell ebooks for any system (even handhelds like the iPad) without having to navigate Apple's approval-slash-censorship system, without your customers having to surrender some of their rights, and without risking Apple remotely killing every copy in existence if they feel like it (here's the list in question, empty right now but that could change at any time (original source for that link)). All it takes is setting up a Paypal account linked to an SMS capable phone number, a webmail account in which you can configure automatically triggering filters, a pre-written e-mail for said account, and a website in which you store the files in question.

This is a shorter post than I'd originally intended - it was far longer when I started writing it last week, but some of the things I'd added are no longer relevant, or aren't quite as shiny as I'd hoped (plus, I'm kind of busy right now and needed to edit a bit). Still, I was pleased to discover that at least some things are looking up these days.