The con was a lot of fun, but I'm too busy falling asleep to comment on specifics.
The con was a lot of fun, but I'm too busy falling asleep to comment on specifics.
I took a sick day, and seem to be throwing it off finally.
In honor of filker Dave Clement's visit from Winnipeg, Steven Joel Zeve & France Andrews are hosting a housefilk at their home this Sunday from 2PM till TBD. Don't be shy if you don't perform -- we need audience members too!
Dave is a wonderful singer & guitarist, & a heck of a nice guy to boot. If you've never met or heard him, do yourself a favor & come on by.
Relevant info below, cut & pasted from the local housefilk mailing list:
Decadent Dave Clement is visiting, but he has commitments that require to be back to Winnipeg before Contata, so we're having a pre-Contata house filk this weekend. Sunday June 26, 2011 starting @ 2:00pm Directions appended below. Steven Joel Z. ( DirectionsCollapse )
Kimba (in userpic) seems to have learned it from her over the past few months.
The cats mostly get dry food, but the powder works best with soft food so that it will stay on top instead of falling to the bottom. Whenever we give Heidi her special meal, the other cats come crowding around to demand their share. I put some of the soft food aside for the purpose and offered it to the other cats... who turned their noses up at it and continued trying to get at Heidi's.
It could be something about the smell of the glucosamine powder, but I suspect it's just annoyance that one of the cats seems to be getting special treatment.
When I got home and opened up the case, I found (eventually -- let's just say that it if karma works, the designer of the fan casings will one day have charley-horses in both hands that respond only to medication that comes in a triple-sealed childproof bottle) that a couple of the front fans had some dustbunny bits wrapped around the spindles. Also, the power connection to the main fain at the side was loose, so the front fans had to do all the work. The problem seems to be fixed (though, like the one at the office, it's one of those intermittent things that can't really be confirmed fixed for a while).
New Board Game Café Welcomes You, But Not Your Laptop
Ben Castanie's new Koreatown café, at 600 Bloor Street West, just east of Palmerston Avenue, will emphatically not have free Wi-Fi. In fact, laptops and their attendant air of isolation are completely counter to what Castanie is trying to do. "I just don't want people sitting staring at their screens," he says. Then he starts explaining the system of categorization he'd used to organize his café's library of 1,500-plus board games....
With luck, it might catch on closer to here....
WTF? Why would anybody think that's a good idea?
2. I managed to misplace my copy of the Dominion rules. Fortunately, the publisher has a PDF of the rules on its website. Unfortunately, it includes the full-page background graphics, which are pretty when reproduced on a high-res commercial printing press but a text-blurring waste of ink/toner when reproduced on the kind of printers most people have at home. Fortunately, I have a PDF editor program and was able to strip them out (after which I decided to just manually copy-paste-and-reedit the base rules and the tweaks added in each expansion into one document, rendering the previous process moot).
If you thought he'd caught a lot of flak for exposing The Powers That Be trash-talking each other like so many feuding SMOFs, you ain't seen nothing yet....
The amusing thing is that Kimba is 19 pounds (all muscle and frame, according to the vet), while Dorothy is maybe 10 pounds soaking wet (not that I've dared try that experiment).
After considering the range of "competition", such as it is, we're going to Verizon FiOS. I have some misgivings, but they seem less bad than the alternative (Cox cable internet). The scheduled install is in two weeks; once I verify that it works I'll distribute the new e-mail address.
There was a gray kitten hanging around the hotel parking lot, approaching cars and people (possibly looking for her people, who either lost her or -- more likely, given the lack of habitation in the area -- dumped her). A bit reluctantly, since we already had three cats including one fairly recent addition who was only just learning to fit in, we decided that if nobody else took her, we would. Several people at the convention were willing but unable for various reasons, so we started making preliminary plans.
We heard unconfirmed reports that someone had decided to take her in, and she wasn't hanging around as usual Sunday night, but we swung by the hotel Monday after dance-group practice to be sure. Within a few minutes, somebody near the Outback steakhouse pointed the kitten out to starmalachite, and we got her stowed away in a duffel bag that was emptied into my suitcase to serve as an impromptu cat carrier. We got her home, set her up in a walk-in closet isolated from the other cats, and did the decontamination routine of dumping all clothes right into the wash and showering.
Fortunately, the vet found nothing worse than some fleas and a nasty ear mite infestation (she had a punctured eardrum, but no apparent damage to her hearing); we were apparently successful in keeping them away from the other cats. After getting a clean bill of health and a spaying, she was introduced to the other cats. Heidi generally ignores her (she was an only cat for years, and tends to be a bit reserved toward either humans or felines). Vir bonded with her easily, playing tag and wrestling (a good thing; the vet says he could stand to lose a bit of weight). Kimba hissed and growled at her for a week or so (he was probably feeling insecure, having barely settled in himself), but is getting more tolerant. The kitten takes all this in stride, including being growled at by a cat three times her size.
Everything is going smoothly, with a couple of minor difficulties of feeding her kitten food without letting the older cats (especially Vir) get into it and keeping her inside. She got out at 5 AM Sunday when starmalachite went out to the car to retrieve something and led us on a merry chase around the neighborhood until I caught her. We're trying to get her to accept that she's an indoor cat now, but she's stubborn.
After a bit of dithering, we decided on the name "Dorothy". I'm sure the experience for her was not unlike being dropped into Oz. :-)
After arresting a suspect last night for the armed robbery of a convenience store, Ferndale police observed in a statement that "[t]his is one of the world's dumbest criminals."
The suspect took an undisclosed amount of money from the clerk at knife-point, wearing a Darth Vader mask that completely covered his face. The fatal flaw in his plan was that he entered the store before donning his disguise. That meant that the store's surveillance cameras contained images of the man's face....
( Kimba and VirCollapse )
When they were kittens, they were so hard to tell apart that we suspected that they were identical twins; this seems unlikely now. ("You're not clones; you're just garden-variety twins!")
Heidi (as usual) prefers to stay aloof from the undignified display.
One of the first good pictures we got (after some redeye correction) is under the cut-tag; you can see how much he resembles Vir (in userpic), except for being bigger and darker colored:
( Kimba investigating cat toysCollapse )
After dinner and the masquerade, I felt a more congested and a bit lightheaded, so I went looking for a place to rest a while. Once starmalachite got a look at me and felt my temperature, she insisted that the EMTs have a look. There was no sign of it being anything worse than a nasty sinus-infection flareup (she had a bad cold last week; I seem to have gotten it worse), and everything tested normal except my blood pressure being a bit high (not surprising under the circumstances; she was clearly worried and I was still thinking clearly enough to realize that the situation just might be worse that it seemed). I was starting to feel better, but she convinced me it was probably best to head back to our hotel.
I'm feeling better now, and the fever is broken, so I'll be back at the con. I may decide to take a sick day tomorrow to fully recover, though.
The cats have figured out that the humans are getting ready to shamefully abandon them again....
MOAR COFFY PLZNTNKU
Thousands of people posted ideas or voted on their favorite suggestions. But the project's usefulness in shaping a Republican agenda is questionable.
Last week, the top five entries in the "Liberty and Freedom" category were: ban handguns, "drop the idea that we're a 'Christian' country," declare abortion "none of the government's business," allow gays to serve openly in the military and legalize marijuana.
Imagine my surprise at the next statement in the article:
Alvin M. Greene never gave a speech during his quixotic campaign to become this state's Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate. The mystery man of South Carolina politics didn't launch a Web site or hire consultants or plant lawn signs. There's only $114 in his campaign bank account, he says, and the only check he ever wrote was to cover his filing fee.
Indeed, in the course of a rambling, repetitive and frequently inchoate three-hour interview, this jobless military veteran could not name a single specific thing he'd done to campaign for lofty political office....
Now that people are paying attention to him, matters have taken a turn for the worse:
I suspect that the real explanation is a less comfortable one for the state's Democratic Party chairman, and everyone else in the political establishment -- as an unknown, Greene was effectively a protest vote for "None Of The Above". (Of course, one can reject the candidates and/or the system generally by declining to vote at all. The disadvantage of that is that it produces the same result as not voting for any other reason, which dilutes the message.)
If nothing else, this ought to cause some amusing Headless Chicken Syndrome symptoms in the local political establishment.
It remains to be seen how or why this happened -- speculation centers on the possibility of a prank that got out of hand or a gesture by a disgruntled employee.
1. I should have run it from the master admin account so it could access the data files on both my and starmalachite's accounts. The log had a long list of "could not access file..." complaints.
2. Turning on the encryption would probably be a good idea.
The process seems to run about four hours, so I can try again tonight and have it ready in the morning.
The one useful thing I did get was a phone number for donations. During office hours tomorrow, it will have to do double duty as a phone number for complaints. (If it's another robot... well, I understand that it costs considerably more than a penny to process a one-cent donation.)
Most of the federal and state tax paperwork (electronwork?) is done, pending one or two more bits of stray documentation I might squeeze a few more deductions out of.
There’s less support, however, for allowing homosexuals to serve openly.
If I weren't so cynical, I would be....
I think I'll stick to the little ziplock baggies, though, for two reasons. First, the baggies are small enough that I can combine game and expansion into the base game box; the dishes are just too bulky for that. Second, I'd rather not try to explain the labels to one of the Thousands Standing Around....
The good news is that it seems to be working now (the inside temp was below 60 a few hours ago, according to starmalachite; it's now up to 62). Based on the pattern I observed last night (the pilot igniter came on, the gas jets lit for about 10 seconds, the gas jets quit, about 15 seconds later the pilot igniter came on again, lather-rinse-repeat, accompanied by occasional sounds suggesting strained air circulation), my guess is that the snow was blocking an outlet vent, triggering the safeties to shut off the burner when the exhaust wasn't escaping properly. If so, the problem may have solved itself when enough warm air got through to melt the blockage. I'll be monitoring the situation for now.
There were two basic options for sleeves that actually fit standard playing-card size cards (rather than the somewhat larger sleeves designed for the Magic: the Gathering card size). The Mayday Games version is 40 microns; the Fantasy Flight Games version is 100 microns. Normally, I'd prefer the heavier one, except for games with a huge number of cards (the deck gets impractically thick, and of course the thicker and more durable sleeves are priced accordingly). There was one catch, though -- for some reason, the Fantasy Flight sleeves are actually a couple millimeters larger than the nominal size. It's not a critical problem, but it's an annoying one, because it's the one thing that demotes a near-perfect product to a merely-acceptable one.
I'll use up the FFG ones I got for testing purposes, but I don't think I'll get any more unless they decide to make them in the proper size.
Heidi has been taking it more in stride, simply glaring disapprovingly when she notices the signs that the humans are leaving again.
Alas, he's doomed to disappointment for now.
Addendum: A jury-rigged repair with lots of Gorilla Tape held the blade together long enough to get the job done, but I think we'll want a new shovel before the next snowstorm. After I finished, one of the neighbors came through with a snowblower (he cleared all the sidewalks on both sides of the cul-de-sac, so I assume it's helpfulness rather than an implicit criticism).
I hope everybody else in the area is safe.
PS on the new-computer stuff: I removed and started to gradually reinstall the Firefox extensions and turned off auto-updates (in case that's causing a conflict with the antivirus or the "OMG THIS CODE WANTS TO CHANGE SOMETHING" user notifications); so far the lock-up problem hasn't recurred even under the conditions (start Firefox after the computer's been inactive for a few hours) that triggered it before. So far, so good.
So far, the shift to the new desktop is going well, except that it locked up twice when I started Firefox first thing in the morning. I suspect that the underlying problem was that Windows Easy Transfer directly ported all the plugins that had been installed under XP straight into the 64-bit Win7 program (they all automagically showed up in the new Firefox install, just like my bookmarks), and some of them either needed to be properly installed in Win7 or are just incompatible. I've scrubbed and reinstalled Firefox and plugins to see if that fixes it. Anybody else know of a possible alternative fix if that doesn't solve the problem?
On the more positive side, I was able to transfer all my (and starmalachite's) archived e-mail with MozBackup.
I've been slogging through the process of installing my software on the new box. Mostly that's just a matter of going through the motions, except that the Nero help files give "Access Denied" errors when I try to install them (they were a separate download because, as the popup said, it reduces the download file size. Yeah, I wouldn't have bothered if the install file had been a bloated 360 MB instead of a nice svelte 355...).
The laptop was delivered (by FedEx) without incident. The desktop... not so much.
The first indication of a problem was that when I did a check of the UPS tracking page, it claimed that a delivery attempt had been made. I called starmalachite (who had gotten the FedEx package earlier, and was on the alert for the arrival of the other one) to see if something was wrong at home. Everything was normal -- but there had been no doorbell ring or knock (the bell had rung for the earlier delivery, and she re-confirmed that it was working), and there was no delivery-attempt notice on the door.
I called UPS to find out what the problem was. They insisted that a delivery attempt had been made, the lack of note notwithstanding. The kicker: when starmalachite left the house that evening, there was a UPS failed-delivery note on the door (much too prominently for her to have simply overlooked it earlier). I can only assume that my complaint was relayed to the driver, who directed his efforts to ass-covering (i.e. putting up the note) rather than customer service (i.e. knocking/ringing at the door to deliver the pacakge while he was MAKING ANOTHER(?) STOP THERE ANYWAY).
Allegedly, UPS is making another delivery attempt today... but the latest info as of 1:15 PM still shows nothing later than yesterday's "failed delivery attempt". We'll see....
That said, it's time to look at fallback plans. (And, ultimately, we may want to move to a service that will support higher speeds in any case, but I'd prefer to do so in my own time.) The two main alternative options seem to be Verizon FIOS and Cox cable internet; does anybody have any rants or raves for those services?
Thanks for any useful tips.
ADDENDUM Tuesday Evening: The new DSL box was waiting at home. I installed it; after an initial failure it worked when I pulled and re-planted the phone and ethernet lines. So far, so good, but given that the problem was an intermittent one it'll be a while before I know whether replacing the box is going to make a difference.
( FootnotesCollapse )
So far, I've been playing with a trial edition of Corel VideoStudio, which looks like it has all the functionality I'd need (but behind an interface apparently written by programmers who hate the end users). There's a good deal on the full version at the moment, but I'm also looking into free (as in beer and/or as in speech) alternatives.
Any useful advice would be greatly appreciated.
Saturday night was a bit abbreviated because starmalachite hadn't been sleeping well, so we left as soon as I acquired the aforementioned sketch (a two-part sketch, actually, part by outgoing artist Jamie Noguchi and part by incoming artist Xin Ye). On the other hand, we returned Sunday (originally, we'd been planning to make one last visit to the Maryland Ren Faire for the season, but between the mud and starmalachite not really feeling up to that long a drive, we decided to catch the rest of the con instead). That gave us a chance to see a panel on the significance of the Civil War (featuring author GoH Harry Turtledove, of course) and get in one more Kingsburg game.
The con also gave me a chance to experiment with the video camera we got last week. So far, the results look good; now I need to figure out how to do format-conversion and turn the pictures sideways. (I held the camera sideways, figuring that that would better frame a single standing person; this may have been a mistake.)
Now to get ready for OVFF (first step, review this example of How Not To Deal With Airport Security).
Well, this is shaping up to be one of the biggest disasters in the history of cloud computing, and certainly the largest blow to Danger and the Sidekick platform: T-Mobile's now reporting that personal data stored on Sidekicks has "almost certainly has been lost as a result of a server failure at Microsoft/Danger." They're still looking for a way to recover it, but they're not giving users a lot of hope -- meanwhile, servers are still on the fritz and customers are being advised not to let their devices power down because anything that's still on there will be lost the next time the device is turned on. Another communique is promised from T-Mobile on Monday to give everyone a status update on the recovery efforts, but at this point, it's not looking good at all.
FBI Director Robert Mueller was banned by his wife from doing online banking after he nearly fell for a phishing scam, he said on Wednesday during a talk at the Commonwealth Club of California.
He received an e-mail purporting to be from his bank that looked "perfectly legitimate" and which prompted him to verify some information. He started to follow the instructions but then realized that that "might not be such a good idea," he said.
"Just a few clicks away from falling into a classic Internet phishing scam," Mueller "barely caught himself in time" and admitted he "definitely should have known better."
He said he changed his passwords and tried to pass the incident off to his wife as a "teachable moment," but she was having none of it and told him, "It is our money. No more Internet banking for you!..."
However, she seems to be mellowing out in middle age....
Before I got home, she was soliciting attention from starmalachite (and not for the usual ONOZ I SEE THE BOTTOM OF MY FOOD DISH reason). Later, after we we got home from the dance group meeting and dinner, she let starmalachite hold her and even relaxed into it.
This made Vir (the tabby-point Siamese) jealous. He started complaining about the injustice of it all, and capped it off by ostentatiously jumping up onto Heidi's favorite perching spot on top of the rolltop desk and giving the humans his Tragic Neglected Face.
Oh, the injustice of not having the humans' undivided attention....
Just yesterday, one of the others finally got around to giving me a call. If that's typical, I wonder how they stay in business....
Work is going to be a bit busier than usual as the end-of-fiscal-year rush hits, but I was able to distract myself by getting ready for the next batch of conventions.
Usually, I spend most of Capclave in the gaming room, but the programming (especially some of the new-media stuff) looks more interesting this time (and I definitely want to catch the Erfworld party). I'm planning to bring more of the travelling game collection than usual, though; somebody has to pick up the slack now that Hal Haag is no longer with us.
I also made final arrangements for OVFF* (found an excellent deal on Southwest flights in and out of BWI for a little over $200 for the two of us). I'll probably bring a few games along (one advantage of Southwest is that they haven't followed the lead of most airlines in nickel-and-diming passengers for checked baggage).
(*Their site has been hit by malware attacks over the last few weeks; it seems to be OK now but I thought it was prudent to warn people to have shields up just in case.)