dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)
Idly considering the idea of starting a WorldCon bid to take place in Moon 13, The Moon.

+ Great spaces
+ Civilized surroundings
+ Proven display facilities

- Long way to go
- Ruled by evil mad scientist with incompetent assistant
- Fictional

On backups.

Aug. 4th, 2017 03:58 pm
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)
There are two rules of backups.

1. A backup which can't be restored isn't a backup.

2. A backup which requires manual action will eventually not be made.

"Store it on other people's computers" is a valid approach, but while it reduces the likelihood of you doing something to lose the data, it places responsibility on other people to keep your data safe.

And nobody (except your enemies) thinks your data is more valuable than you do.
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)
Google just paid me 40 cents to guess which of two instrumental covers of Metallica songs I would prefer.
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)
There's a certain kind of technically-inclined person who says that they want to take their smartphone out of their pocket, plug it into their monitor and keyboard, and use it as their desktop.

I don't think they've thought this through very well.

What I think that they mean by this is that they want seamless integration of state shared between environments. That is, they want to have access to all the same information, applications and capabilities regardless of the device that they are currently using.

That is approximately what Google is trying to do with the Google Apps system: stop using your calendar on your phone, start using it on your desktop, just with a bigger screen and better keyboard. It might not be that hard to build a secure state-sharing system to make every phone application migrate to your desktop when it's in range.

The phone itself, though, has the affordances of an always-carried pocket device. Every time you stand up to go consult with a colleague, use the bathroom or stretch your legs, you expect the phone to be with you. Even if you only need to unplug one cable, that's still a significant inconvenience, and a major strain on the connector. Short range wireless connections might be enough in the future, but can't possiblly be as performant as a direct cable.


dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)
- *The Last Good Man*, Linda Nagata
- *In Evil Times*, Melinda Snodgrass
- *The Scorpion Rules*; *The Swan Riders*, Erin Bow
- *Kris Longknife: Emissary*, Mike Shepherd
- *Kangaroo Too*, Curtis Chen
- *Final Girls*, Mira Grant
- *Down Among the Sticks and Bones*, Seanan McGuire
- *Nothing Left to Lose*, Dan Wells
- *To Fire Called*, Nathan Lowell
- *White Hot*, Ilona Andrews

If you wish to be completely unspoiled: I liked every one of these books,
enough to recommend them (or their series) to people whom I think might
like things like that.

After this, my low-spoiler notes on what kind of things they are.

*The Last Good Man* is a near-future military thriller posing
philosophical questions about the ethics of automated weaponry and
the place of private military companies  amidst battles on four
continents. It's also about justice and revenge.

*In Evil Times* is the second book in at least a trilogy and perhaps a
longer series, set in the FTL Imperio de Humanidad, a moderately nasty
aristocracy built on a theme of human superiority and alien servitude.
In the first book, La Infanta Mercedes became the first female cadet at
the space force academy; this book chronicles the middle decades of her
life, before she presumably ascends to the throne. Youthful idealism
gives way to realpolitik and easier paths.

*The Scorpion Rules* and *The Swan Riders* are the first and second
books set in a 400-year old all-Earth empire ruled by a handful of AIs
that got the keys to an orbital laser grid. Sadly, the AIs are faster
and more observant but not wiser than humans. Their pax is based on
limited self-rule of nations guaranteed by hostages from the rulers and
the threat of laser-glazing cities. (The energy requirements do not seem
to have been calculated well.) Intriguing characters, though.

*Kris Longknife: Emissary* is the fifteenth book about the
Admiral Princess; this time she's sent to become ambassador to the
Iteeche. Remember how little is known about the Iteeche? Now we get to
find out. Shepherd is now self-publishing this series, which means about
the same level of publishing and copy editing but a schedule closer to
his natural pace -- which seems to be 2-3 books a year instead of one.
Don't start with this one; it's a milSF-space-opera popcorn series and
you should get the whole set.

*Kangaroo Too* is the sequel to Chen's hilariously funny *Waypoint
Kangaroo*, and it manages to be nearly as good. Not a trilogy, I think,
but a long-running series. It's multi-planetary espionage of the Bond
variety which takes itself seriously enough to be worth investing
your time.

*Final Girls* by Mira Grant and *Down Among the Sticks and Bones* by Seanan
McGuire are of course by the same author. Both are horror novellas;
the first in a SFnal horror-movie sense, and the second in the fantastic
multi-dimensional universe of *Every Heart A Doorway*. More blood and
gore on the SF side of the house, which would make an excellent movie.

*Nothing Left to Lose* wraps up the six volume series of Dan Wells' John Cleaver,
a teenage serial killer who restricts himself to killing demons. Luckily,
there are a bunch of demons in that world to kill.

*To Fire Called* is the second book of the second series about Ishmael Wong,
who is now trying to set up an interstellar transport company of his own.
Unfortunately... spoilers. Lots of spoilers. Lowell continues to try to
solve his characters' problems non-violently, but doesn't quite succeed

*White Hot* is the second book of a romance-marketed urban fantasy /
PI-with- psychic powers series. I assume it's romance-marketed because
that sells better; there's no particular reason to categorize it
that way otherwise. Good plot twists.
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)
Nearly every name has a one-character misssssspelling that will produce enough search results to be confusing.

This is separate from the number of sites that accidentally use that misssspelling, which is also separate from the number of sites deliberately typosquatting.
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)
Amazon helpfully informs me that people who bought Eileen Wilks' novels also purchased books by Ilona Andrews, Patricia Briggs, Faith Hunter, Seanan McGuire and a bunch of other well-known urban fantasists.

There are now 13 novels and a bunch of short stories in this series which I flippantly described to my son as "He's a werewolf and she's an FBI agent: they fight supernatural crime". The covers feature a dark haired woman wearing a black sleeveless vest and tight pants; she might, perhaps, have some Asian ancestry. The books feature Lily Yu, a short Chinese-American woman who was born and raised in San Diego and tends to wear the sort of jacket and pants combination that countless police detectives have made a virtual uniform on television. Her Grandmother becomes a major plot elephant.

Worst aspect of this series: werewolves are all polyamorous males with low fertility and major fears of commitment; but, they know as soon as they have impregnated a female human, at which point they start making plans to care for the baby and adopt it if it's male. (There appear to be no gay or bi werewolves, although there is a fair amount of representation of LGBTQ people otherwise, some of whom are major characters.)

Second worst aspect of this series: once in a while a werewolf is granted A Mate by their Goddess-whom-they-don't-worship, in which case it is Bonding At First Sight for both the werewolf and the woman. That's not the same as love, mind you. The Goddess enforces the bond by inflicting pain on both parties when they get too far away from each other; the precise distance varies a lot over time. This happens at least twice in the series. 

Best aspect of this series: the world-changing events actually change the world, repeatedly and with well-thought-out consequences.

Contains multiple universes, horrors from before the beginning of time, species constructed to the specification of gods, limitations on deific powers, demons that don't really make sense, and the persistent feeling that somebody knows what's going on but won't tell you For Reasons.


Apr. 7th, 2017 12:11 pm
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)
Things I've read lately:

Seanan McGuire: Magic for Nothing (Cryptid book 6).
- in which one of the Price-Healey women runs off to join the circus.

Mishell Baker: Phantom Pains (Arcadia Project book 2).
- in which everyone gets manipulated and at least three new truths about the universe are revealed. Also features a manticore who isn't so bad once you get to know him.

John Scalzi: The Collapsing Empire
- Yep, it's non-milSF space opera, with politics and probably romance in the next book.

Matthew Quirk: Cold Barrel Zero
- a thriller in which the bad guys/good guys remain ambiguous until near the end.

Neil Gaiman: Norse Mythology
- adapted to modern sensibilities

Joe Lansdale: The Hap & Leonard series, books 1-10 or so
- in many of these books, one or both of our protagonists gain $100K or so and manages to spend or lose it before the next book. Also contains murder, assault, and righteous arson.

Annie Bellet: Dungeon Crawl (Twenty-Sided Sorceress book 8)
- in which the ramifications of past deals are revealed.

Marshall Maresca: The Holver Alley Crew (Maradaine book 5)
- in which there is a heist! in the interestingly-multi-ethnic medieval fantasy city of Maradaine

Patricia Briggs: Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson book 10)
- in which someone explicitly acknowledges that Mercy is one of the 2-3 most powerful people in North America. Also, vampires, werewolves, and witches.

K. B. Spangler: A Girl and Her Fed series (4 Rachel Peng books, 1 Hope Blackwell book)
- in the universe next door where there were significant advances in neural interfaces, the cyborg community has the best parties. Fantasy with science-fictional trappings.
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)
About 75% of the calls I received last month were tagged as spam by Google's phone service.

They were right in every case, and did not mis-tag any spam calls as legitimate or vice-versa.
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)
"reanimated zombie Hitler is bad and shouldn't be invited to speak at your conference"

I agree with this statement. Even if you are hosting a conference of historians addressing the occult beliefs of Nazi Germany, don't invite reanimated zombie Hitler, or anyone who could be mistaken for him.

And I will go further and say that there are certain political opinions -- that "race" among humans is an objectively real thing, rather than a social construct; that it's ok to deprive people of rights because of their beliefs, ancestry, gender, sexuality -- which are sufficiently abhorrent that actively advocating for them in any context is sufficient for me to not invite you to anything, ever.
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)
I started this book because several people with good track records had recommended it. I was expecting it to be competently written but probably not exactly my thing, because it was clearly a Book with an Issue that was going to be at the center of all the protagonist's motivation.

I was wrong. This book is really well-written, and it is a Book with an Issue -- which uses it really well to instill empathy and the Sense of Wonder that is the big reason that I love science fiction and fantasy, and is especially one of the ways that I judge superhero comics.

The book is Dreadnought, by April Daniels. If you enjoyed the recent Ms. Marvel, the television Supergirl, or Steven Gould's Jumper,  you're probably going to love this origin story.
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (current)

... means that http://dsrtao.dreamwidth.org is crossposting to LJ, and i properly reset my password over there.


Dec. 27th, 2016 11:01 am
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (current)
In superhero universes, Science is a skill that allows the user to make predictions about the way the universe functions and then to create or understand technology that exploits that.

Science has two main fields: Physics and Biology. Superpowered characters may be experts in both fields; normal characters are experts in one or the other but have a reasonable bonus to their non-specialty.

Research is a form of wealth created in character background generation and world generation which can be discovered, protected or accessed just like treasure. In most cases, research can be destroyed, too.

Invention is the main reason for Science to exist. First a character successfully theorizes something relevant, then access to a lab lets them invent a device, serum or program. This takes between one scene and a few sessions to finish.


Nov. 6th, 2016 07:00 pm
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (current)
Doves and Figs is a Boston-area preserve maker; I know the owner and her husband pretty well.

Every so often I reach into the fridge and dip the tip of a fork into their cherry-chocolate-chili chutney. It makes me happy.
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (current)

Is there a story or novel in which, upon attaining an age of majority, the new adults must either explicitly sign on to a formal social contract or be exiled?

It seems like the sort of thing that should have been done, but I can't think of any examples. (Several rite-of-passage novels come to mind, of course, but that's different.) It seems like obvious Prometheus Award bait...

Not quite what I'm looking for:

  • Starship Troopers (service for citizenship is not mandatory, not age-linked, they won't throw you out)

  • Coventry (participation in society is assumed, exile is an option for felons)

  • Those Who Walk Away From Omelas (almost right, but there's no explicit social contract, just a utopia powered by evil)

  • Divergent (not sure, but appears to be about cliques and conformity rather than governing rules of society)

  • anything where you have to lose or win citizenship rights rather than just agreeing with them

dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)
I decided to make a custard rather than the Philadelphia-style that I usually do. Basically, this means heating the dairy, carefully mixing in egg yolks, and then cooling it before spinning it in the ice cream machine.

The downside of this method is that small bits of coagulated (cooked!) egg yolk can appear as, really, little bits of scrambled egg in your ice cream. Somewhere there is room for this (I think it would be great to do a breakfast ice cream, maple flavored with scrambled egg...) but it's not really what people expect.

So I took the cooled mix and whizzed it in the blender for several minutes. This also had the effect of aerating the mix.

The resulting ice cream is far superior in texture to what I have been making. At least, right out of the machine, it is. And the Philly-style is not bad at all; this is very close to a high-quality premium ice cream... only with more cayenne pepper.
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (current)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
3 tablespoons Calvados or brandy

to go in the usual ice cream base. I'm thinking that I might use my four-year-old orange-clove liqueur, or maybe the Licor 43, which is orange-and-honey.
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