Blog

Mornin'. Nice day for fishin', ain't it? Hu ha!

  • Epic NPC Man: Playlist of 182 (and more all the time) little skits from "The World of Sky-craft" aka "Aze-Rim". Some nail exactly what the MMO experience is like, frustrating and amusing at once, some are less so. But I watched most of these in the last 2 days, totally worth it. My brain has melted.
  • Baelin's Route: Movie of the silly fisherman with one line of dialogue, dragged off to adventure. The actor does a LOT with that one line and a fishing rod (that turns into a staff with a knob on the end during fights). If he earns a tiny bit of XP every time he fishes, and he's been fishing nonstop for 20 years since launch, he's probably the most powerful being in Azerim. I don't like the inevitable plot twist 2/3 thru, but fucking Witcher did it, why wouldn't these guys?
  • NPC Dungeons & Dragons: Playlist of the nerds playing D&D (5E, not at all my favorite edition and I dislike the kind of story-driven modules they're been funneled thru, but the play's the thing)

Makes heavy use of New Zealand's fantasy aesthetic and loudly plays celtic music like a certain set of movies set there. Their costumes, props, and film editing "magic" are simpler, but better than those movies. They do OK at getting diverse casting, it's not all honkies.

Sublime or Sub-prime?

Because I'm endlessly evading responsibility^W^W looking for more efficient ways to work at nothin' all day^A^K look, I play with new editors.

Ugly themes, right away, install Package Control, and then the theme Dracula, and it looks like something I can stand. Not as good as Hackerman for Atom.

It's still ludicrously using stacks of JSON files for settings; 700+ lines in the default, OS overrides that, then your user prefs override that. Read lines, figure out if the default is useful, copy & modify in your own.

It does have the advantage it works reasonably fast, and runs on multiple platforms. It has a Lisp syntax highlighter that doesn't completely suck on Scheme.

But it has this terrible minimap, and no setting for it! You have to disable it from the menu every time you make a new window. OR, you can hack on it. Prefs, Browse Packages, make a Python file User/minimap.py (found on StackOverflow, ugh):

#!/usr/bin/env python3
# -*- coding: utf-8 -*-

import sublime
import sublime_plugin

class MinimapSetting(sublime_plugin.EventListener):
    def on_activated(self, view):
        show_minimap = view.settings().get("show_minimap")
        view.window().set_minimap_visible(show_minimap)

Then add "show_minimap": false, to the prefs file, and the stupid minimap never shows back up.

Problem 2, I wanted to insert timestamps in my headers. No datetime function or snippet or whatever.

Make a folder Datetime next to User, file Datetime/Datetime.py:

import sublime
import sublime_plugin
import datetime

class DatetimeCommand(sublime_plugin.TextCommand):
    def run(self, edit):
        self.view.insert(edit, self.view.sel()[0].b, datetime.datetime.now().isoformat())

Note all the name cases matter. See that horrible self.view.sel()[0].b? That's how you get the current cursor position. WTF!

Next to it, make Default (OSX).sublime-keymap:

[
    { "keys": ["shift+ctrl+t"], "command": "datetime" }
]

And now Sh-^T will insert a chunky ISO8601 datetime. Good enough. (originally I did Sh-Cmd-D, but turns out that's duplicate line which I use sometimes)

So, I'm giving Sublime 4 a ★★☆☆☆ out of the box, the API is ugly as hell and they no longer have example code up so ★★★☆☆, but it's pretty hackable if you don't mind getting your hands covered in code guts, so maybe ★★★★☆

I'll give it another week and see if it's worth using longer term. BBEdit's infinitely better for giant text files, but I do have needs other than that.


Man, that Bachman & Turner concert… they're super old, and that was 2012. But Paul Schaeffer, minus the World's Most Dangerous Band, jamming out on the keyboard! The audience are too old to dance. But they still rock out pretty good for guys who are even older than me.

What I'm Watching: Jupiter's Legacy

Well, trying to watch it. It is supposedly based on a Mark Millar comic, so maybe there's something of value in here, but also they fired the showrunner partway thru and replaced him with a new guy, so clearly visions differ. Doing this live-action is stupid; it looks goofy at best, the CGI and greenscreens are hilariously ineffectual, the shitty color grading makes everything look like mud indoors or at "night" (all obviously shot day-for-night but then darkened digitally), it would be so much better as a cartoon. It makes CW superhero shows look competent.

At the start, there's preachy old-school Justice League ripoffs, with a "Code" of no killing, no leading, no going into politics. Which we know is nonsense, it doesn't work, because that much power in Human(-ish) hands corrupts absolutely. They claim the "new supervillains" are "going crazy" by killing, instead of just harmless bank robbery, but we see mundane bank robbers gunning people down at the start, so there's nothing new or supervillainy about it. Utopian, asshole Superman father, chastises his son Paragon for killing a supervillain who had just killed two heroes, and however many more in his inevitable escape from prison. Completely stiff, uncompromising, Christian supremacist. But I do not believe for a second that someone can be like that for 100 years without loosening up or becoming completely corrupt, so the whole premise is a fail so far.

The mother's also a superhero, but fairly ineffectual, she's like Edith Bunker with even less of a spine to stand up to her asshole husband (who, admittedly, could pull her spine out if she did more than talk back). The son's a whipped dog who does what daddy says. There's a mostly-absent daughter who doesn't pretend to fight "crime"; she's chased off when she does show up. The telepath uncle is maybe the only likeable character in the first few episodes.

Long sections are set in the 1920s, at the start of the Depression, and the father's origin as an asshole; but they seem so far to be completely irrelevant, a few throwaway lines would've told us as much.

The power sets are ridiculously cartoony. Most can fly just by wishing at the sky, Utopian has laser beam eyes of course, a few others have weak pew-pew-pew energy powers. They all seem to be made of steel, but the fighting sets don't reflect that, a couple bits of fake marble break but the bad CGI grass doesn't even dent when a superhero is smashed into it at mach speed. Zero effort on detail and realism.

Invincible, despite being a cartoon with intentionally cartoony physics including throwing baseballs around the planet at something like 1% light speed and then fighting aliens coming thru portals, is both physically and psychologically more realistic.

Now I'm down to fast-forwarding over anything with the family, unless Uncle Walt's involved.

Oh, finally end of E2/start of E3 we get to see some origin story, where the rich (or ex-rich, as Depression starts) get superpowers, the poor don't even get a pension. George in the 1920s story, and his son Hutch and his little gang of petty near-supers in the present, greatly improve the show. Like, this is an entirely different and better show when they're on screen, than the whiny, horrible Utopian family.

★★☆☆☆ with the Utopians on screen, ★★★½☆ with Hutch. Maybe the show will average out to ★★★☆☆.

What I'm Watching: Army of the Dead

This is a zombie flick, the most worn-out of genres, by Zack Snyder, the most worn-out edgelord filmmaker of the millennium. And it's vastly, vastly better than I would expect.

The title credits show the rise and fall of Las Vegas zombies with Elvis singing, you think "oh that character's totally surviving"… no mercy. Over the top but not quite into comedy range, tho I did laugh at some of the machine gun scenes.

So now years later, Vegas is walled off, the few surviving heroes are in dead-end jobs, or refugee camps. A fixer (Hiroyuki Sanada) hires ex-hero/fry cook Dave Bautista to gather a heist team to extract wealth from Vegas before the inevitable military solution.

The team's full of fun character actors, from Garrett Dillahunt (Francis from Deadwood, Ty from Justified) as the Carter Burke company man type, to Ella Purnell, one of the girls from Miss Peregrine's. And a lot of the crew are stunt performers. Samantha Win does a great job channelling Vasquez from Aliens, right down to the red bandana, tho there's no Lieutenant Gorman analogue in this.

The gunfights, knife fights, and brawls are quick and bloody, nice honest squibs it looks like in most shots, with a few cartoony but generally blurred-out CGI shots for machine-gun fire melting armies of the dead.

The crawler zombies are slow, dumb, and follow Night of the Living Dead tradition of just being extras in makeup, not too much effort. The ghouls, or "alpha zombies" as they call them, are heavily made up and sometimes CGI'd, especially their bright yellow eyes. There's some interesting zombie ecology/culture built up here, especially Valentine, and the showgirl, and Zeus.

I make a lot of comparisons to Aliens, because this is clearly like 50% Aliens + 25% original Dawn of the Dead + 25% Zack's Dawn of the Dead. Which is fine, Snyder needs a better template than just "dark superheroes brood and kill people", and here he's got one. This is shockingly superior to anything Zack's done since… Sucker Punch?

There's a spinoff TV series already in production, it seems, covering the zombie war, I'm definitely watching that.

★★★★★

Death to Freenode, Long Live the New Flesh^W^W Libera Chat

So, on Tuesday, Freenode IRC blew up: FAQ
This is where a lot of software development chat happens. So for a rich, Trumpian, bitcoiner, Korean royalty, asshole to take it over by treachery is just unacceptable.

And so the staff and users have moved over to Libera Chat — as of today, it has more online users than Freenode.

Most of the channels I'm in have moved quickly, so I shut off Freenode this morning. If you need me, I'm in and others, as mdhughes.

A few usage & system bot notes:

  • Staff info channel:
  • NickServ: /msg nickserv help
  • ChanServ: /msg chanserv help
  • Channel List Service: /msg alis help list
  • Cloak: join -cloak and /topic

What I'm Watching: Adventure Time: Distant Lands: Together Again

Third, following Obsidian, for Finn & Jake.

Well, Finn. Who's old, nearly dead in some dungeon, and goes through to Hell looking for his long-dead brother. Instead he finds a bunch of returning characters who are all dead, including Tiffany (sigh) as the main rival/annoyance.

The designs of the Hells, "Dead Worlds", are fantastic, except the crappy 1st one, but you don't get to spend long in each, there's no exploration or sense of wonder, just fancy backdrops for a few death angels & New Death chasing Finn who's chasing Jake. The cosmology is sort of Buddhist by way of Dante's Inferno; but it's never explained enough for that to be a major element, either. In the silly 12-minute episodes, they could do a long dreamlike song or mystical exploration, and then next ep be back to kicking butt. In these 46-minute movies, they don't really seem to do that.

It is nice having the brothers back together, having adventures.

But, BMO had a great setting, kind of a good story, but terrible characters other than BMO and the bugs. Obsidian had a boring setting, boring characters except P.B. and Marceline, no plot. This one has the best characters, a plot… but an unexamined setting. Are they doomed to just make sequels with different failures?

★★★½☆

What I'm Watching: Love Death Robots S2

Previously, part 1 and part 2.

A short set of S2, maybe not trying to flood us like S1 did. I will note, S1 had very little diversity; a couple girl MilSF authors, and the worst story of last season was by a woman who writes vamp-fucker books. S2 has zero, 0, none, not a fig: It is all white male honkie dudes. Probably all straight. A couple are English, Dutch, kinda imperialist. Look, I'm not saying "you can't use stories by honkie males", some honkie males are my friends and I pass for one, but I am saying in every video, they're fucking all honkie males?! I'm very disappointed in you, Netflix.

Anyway, the shorts:

  • Automated Customer Service, by John Scalzi: Too obviously a Scalzi piece, so it's trying to be super funny but instead at best gets a snicker or chortle, and then has a terrible ending because Scalzi can't write his way in or out of a plot. Accurately captures how I think Judgement Day will go: Stupid consumer electronics and overzealous marketing AI start terminating all the Humans. I dislike the weird stretchy big-head geriatric Humans, and the dog has creepy Human teeth which is NOT OK, but the robots are cute so it gets a better rating than the writing deserves. ★★★☆☆

  • Ice, by Rich Larson: short story has a much less kind tone than this video. The premise that you can't genetically engineer someone after birth is just false, a pre-CRISPR/mRNA view. I dislike the art style in this, shadow puppets with minimal detail. ★★★☆☆

  • Pop Squad, by Paolo Bacigalupi: Blatantly ripping off Blade Runner, from the grim cops in black murdering innocents, cars flying up above a grimy city, punching thru clouds to sunlight, Vangelis-lite ripoff music, fake geisha looking entitled rich wench. Zero subtlety or writing, just blunt: "not having kids seems a small price to pay for getting to live forever".

    Done exponentially better in Ad Vitam despite its many flaws; yes, that's 6 hours instead of 15 minutes, but this had more money in it.

    I'd be more impressed with the sets if they were anything but stock "grimy cyberpunk city" and "house inexplicably next to ruins", probably bought directly from the Unity store. Ends with a direct ripoff of the Roy Baty "tears in rain" scene. This is so preachy, obvious, and trite, it's like every trashy non-SF writer's condescending opinion of SF was true. And I fucking hate Blade Runner ripoffs. ★☆☆☆☆

  • Snow in the Desert, by Neal Asher: An old survivor, albino (but incorrectly blue-eyed, not pink; I think an error by the filmmakers, but I don't remember the Asher story well) and full of weird surprises, tries to stay ahead of bounty hunters. Very nice modelling, the desert and scrapyard bartertown are spartan enough you don't really hit uncanny valley, and the not-always-Human people don't look cartoony. Plot's kind of trivial, the reveals aren't surprising if you know anything about Neal's Polity series, but it's all well-done, never stupid. ★★★★½

  • The Tall Grass, by Joe Lansdale: Fantastic oil-paint art style. HP Lovecraft-looking protagonist gets off a train and wanders into the grass. This is a very very dumb idea, but we have the advantage of having seen Children of the Corn. I'm extremely unimpressed by what's out there, the mood is great until they're revealed and then it's just "oh for fuck's sake". Ending is moody again, it's just the whole middle bit that needed a rethink. ★★★½☆

    Notably this is vastly superior to Stephen King & Joe Hill's In the Tall Grass.

  • All Through the House, by Joachim Heijndermans: It's Xmas in May! Brats sneak up on Santa and find out why you should stay in bed and be good. This was just delightful, and doesn't overstay its welcome. Every child should be shown this one, in between Frosty the Snowman and episodes of The Cinnamon Bear. ★★★★★

  • Life Hutch, by Harlan Ellison: So far there hadn't been any dumb Call of Duty videos. Well, here it is. After attempting to murder aliens in space, space murderer crash-lands on a planet, finds an automated survival shelter, and then the systems don't like him much. Which sentiment I share. Possibly unfair. The short story was Harlan's second published, and it fits in an arc of a Human-alien war with a little more question about "why", and the robot isn't self-motivated like in this video. BUT. It's still a dumb piece. ★★☆☆☆

  • The Drowned Giant, by J.G. Ballard: A long, talky, introspective story by Ballard turns into a long, talky voiceover video over a dead giant on the beach. Bored out of my skull by this. Narrator does nothing, learns nothing. Purpose and origin of the giant is unknown. Almost literally anyone else visible in this video would be more interesting to follow. ★☆☆☆☆

What I'm Not Watching: Mare of Easttown

Kate Winslet is no longer a Heavenly Creature, nor a Titanic starlet, but a disappointed middle-aged detective in the rust belt with a broken family and a cold case she can't really cope with. She starts dating a writer passing through, played by Guy Pearce (Shotgun Ed in L.A. Confidential). A local girl with another broken home is murdered, and a much, much younger, fetus-like even, detective played by Evan Peters (a bunch of American Horror Story series) joins her to investigate.

I bother mentioning the actors here because that's often the only entertainment. The plot is glacial, not helped by HoboMax releasing these one a week like some old-timey 20th C TV series. I don't care about "Mare" or her family, she's a sullen, bad-tempered, constantly-vaping wench who supposedly made a basketball shot 25 years ago. Kate's made no attempt to control her ever-expanding hips and ass, which, I'm not judging her much on that, but it makes her role less plausible. She's about in shape for a 60-year-old near retirement, not a 45-year-old active-duty cop.

The family stuff is really dire, ex-husband is remarrying, and Kate shows up to annoy him or accuse him of various crimes. Cousin is a priest, and so he's dirty in some way. Her mother-in-law is just the worst. The victim's ex-boyfriend, father, and friends are all awful, she's better off out of the script.

On ep 3, and I'm not making it thru this. I watch an ep and feel like someone living in the rust belt, like life is pointless and ugly. Is there any payoff possible that'd make it worth going on? This is what happens when someone decides they need an Oscar, so they make some misery porn for a few hours and hope the tired old men of the Academy remember when she wasn't old.

★☆☆☆☆ This just sucks.

Computer Lib/Dream Machines

Someone has finally uploaded a (possibly legal?) copy of to archive:

Read it from either end, there's two coherent books written back-on-back like an Ace Double, happily you don't have to turn your monitor upside down.

The first personal computer book (before the Altair came out!), though the PCC Newsletters predates it (and he mentions them). Fascinating time capsule, political tract about use of computers to control you (CYBERCRUD as he puts it).

Any nitwit can understand computers, and many do.
Unfortunately, due to ridiculous historical circumstances,
computers have been made a mystery to most of the world. And
this situation does not seem to be improving. You hear more
and more about computers, but to most people it's just one big
blur. The people who know about computers often seem unwilling
to explain things or answer your questions. Stereotyped
notions develop about computers operating in fixed ways--and
so confusion increases. The chasm between laymen and computer
people widens fast and dangerously.

This book is a measure of desperation, so serious and abysmal
is the public sense of confusion and ignorance. Anything with
buttons or lights can be palmed off on the layman as a
computer. There are so many different things, and their
differences are so important; yet to the lay public they are
lumped together as "computer stuff," indistinct and beyond
understanding or criticism. It's as if people couldn't tell
apart camera from exposure meter or tripod, or car from truck
or tollbooth. This book is therefore devoted to the premise
that

EVERYBODY SHOULD UNDERSTAND COMPUTERS.

Computers are simply a necessary and enjoyable part of life,
like food and books. Computers are not everything, they are
just an aspect of everything, and not to know this is computer
illiteracy, a silly and dangerous ignorance.

In many ways as relevant as ever. Just because you have a computer or "smart" phone, doesn't mean you know anything about its operation, purpose, and purposes you can put it to. Most people just use them as glorified TV sets and newspapers, mass media delivering people.

Unredacted 1st ed, includes some very… Ted Nelson is a white male born in the 1930s, his language about race and sex are, uh… not acceptable sometimes. Be aware.

Also, cover price $7 in 1974 is $37.61 in 2021, not $120, as Ted currently charges for a photocopy on his website. But at least he managed to publish this, unlike Xanadu which took 50 years to ship nothing.

I have a much longer draft of notes about it, that I'll probably finish up at some point. Now that I can just point you at the original, that gets easier.