vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine
Previously unread.

Continuing the Hugo due diligence reading.

Um, not sure what I think about this book. Well-written, definitely. Captivating? I'd say "morbidly fascinating", I want to know more about the world, but I am not sure I want to now about the world. It's... well... in this case a sign of brilliant writing.
xtingu: (geek)
[personal profile] xtingu
Giant thanks to @styledbyfanci for these killer pants! She has the coolest stuff-- go check out her online boutique! This was my #ootd for the Farewell to World Cafe Live at the Queen show tonight. (Played #tenorsax in two bands, sang and played percussion in another... didn't wanna have to worry about my clothes annoying me. Thanks, Fanci!) #dw #oldpunk #nevertoooldtorock #shorthairdontcare


This was automatically posted from xtingu's instagram account. the Hooray for computers and IFTTT!

Three-dee, continued

May. 25th, 2017 08:12 pm
mmcirvin: (Default)
[personal profile] mmcirvin
Seven and a half years ago I attempted to reverse-engineer some filched pairs of 3D glasses. I successfully figured out that they were using circular polarization to separate the left- and right-eye images. What I couldn't figure out was why the backs of the lenses seemed to have a linear polarizer on them.

I just belatedly learned why: the way you filter circularly polarized light is to use a quarter-wave plate with a linear polarizer behind it. The quarter-wave plate is made of birefringent material in which the speed of light is different for linear polarizations along perpendicular axes. If it's the right thickness, it will alter the relative phase of the perpendicular components such that right and left circularly polarized light turn into different linear polarizations. Then you filter out the component you don't want with a linear polarizer. It works in the other direction too, to make circularly polarized light, which is how I could figure out much of what was going on by looking through the glasses in a mirror.

I'd vaguely imagined a layered construction with a circular polarizer in front of a linear polarizer, but in fact the linear polarizer is itself a vital component of the filter for circularly polarized light. The "fast" and "slow" axes of the quarter-wave plate (which, alone, would leave the linear polarization of light unchanged) are at 45 degrees to the linear polarizer, so there's no way to send linearly polarized light in through the front so it all gets filtered out. But you can do that by sending it through the back, just as I saw in my experiments.

It's interesting that this can be made to work well for all the colors of visible light--the base wavelength over the visible spectrum varies by about a factor of two. I guess the wavelength itself doesn't matter as much as the difference in the speed of light (or index of refraction) between the linear polarizations--all that's needed is for that to be relatively stable over the desired range.

What does "more modern" mean here?

May. 25th, 2017 05:43 pm
bodger: xkcd android girlfriend arc weld cherry stem (Default)
[personal profile] bodger
I got an email hint today reading "The LM741 is useful for many beginner circuits but if you are having a lot of trouble getting it to behave try upgrading to a more modern TL072." This makes sense, as far as it goes, but the 741 dates from 49 years ago, and the TL072 is only slightly more modern, introduced 42 years ago.

These parts are known as "op-amps", short for "operational amplifiers". The concept has been around for even longer than these parts, and is an integral* part of a wide variety of circuits, even today.

It is true that the (slightly) newer TL072 is better in pretty much every aspect than the 741, which was one of the early single-chip implementations, and had fairly poor performance in most categories. However, for many years, it was good enough, and well-known enough that many manufacturers offered it, it was made in enormous quantities, and was dirt cheap.

For a while, people would use the cheap ubiquitous 741 wherever it would do, and the nicer and more expensive TL072 where the better specs were required. Later, the TL072 was the go-to chip, and the more expensive 5532 (1977) would be used where a better chip was required.

Time continued to march on, and now the 5532 is cheaper than the older TL072, and a good choice for whenever you need an op-amp. It's overkill for a lot of uses, but these days it's cheap and ubiquitous. The audiophile crowd pooh-poohs it, and likes to swap in fancier chips to get the sonic character they want.

However, in moderate bandwidth analogue electronics, things are simply not obsoleted as rapidly as they are in the digital arena. All of the chips I mentioned are still made, and easily obtainable. There are, of course, more modern chips out there. Overlooking the bewildering variety of special-purpose chips, there are some newer general purpose op-amps to be had. The OPA627 came out in 1989 (a mere 28 years back), and has some truly impressive specifications. However, it costs nearly fifty times as much money as a 5532. The AD823 appeared in 1995 and is a fine chip, and more affordable than the OPA627. However, perhaps you want to use a chip introduced in this century for some reason. And sure enough, a successor to the OPA627, the OPA827 was introduced in 2006, only 11 years ago.

* pun intended: one common use for an op-amp is a lash-up known as an "integrator"

xtingu: (geek)
[personal profile] xtingu
Instagram: Gettin' some practicing in. Come say farewell and THANK YOU to @wclatthequeen tomorrow (5/25) from 5pm-midnight! We're playing horns and singing BVs for a bunch of bands on the big stage downstairs. #hbfb #DW
This was automatically posted. Hooray for computers and IFTTT!

That's a *nice* one, Finnair!

May. 25th, 2017 12:29 am
rbarclay: (laughingcat)
[personal profile] rbarclay
Checking in for a flight, a couple days ago. For 9 people. Choose seats. Sensible layout found (eg. noone of the grouo sits alone), "confirm".
Reset to start. 4/9 sit alone, filling gaps.
Lather, rinse, repeat. Same result.
Plane looks half-empty, though.
Try on a different device.
Same result.
User thinks, "what the hell, first of all: we need to fly" and clicks "ok".

I disagreed. I'm too .. substantial to sit between other folks. Aisle or window, no problem. But not between other people. So I interfere. Change my seat to window, one row further to the front. No problem. I print my boarding pass.
Communication ensues. I click around and get sensible seats for everyone (eg. noone sits alone).

We do a little digging.

Oh, it's only iDevices that get shitcanned - regardless of browser. 'droids? Fine! WinDOS? Fine. LeeGNUnix? Fine! Even on Crackberry: fine! (Set the User-Agent to ""Fuck you sideways, with a 2x4": fine!)

Couldn't happen to more deserving folks. I'm perfectly OK with this concept.
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine

This is a book about swords. It is pretty much just about swords and swordsmanship, through history and in the modern day. I don't think I cam say much else about it, apart from possibly "there are some things that Hank Reinhardt say about some swords that I do not agree 100% with".

Declining use of cash

May. 22nd, 2017 04:07 pm
sweh: (Default)
[personal profile] sweh
So I had to hit the ATM on Friday for some cash, and when I came to record this I found that this was the first time since January. It made me wonder how my ATM usage has changed over time.

Fortunately I keep records, so I can see how many cash withdrawals I've made per year since 2002:
     54 2002
     61 2003
     59 2004
     57 2005
     43 2006
     27 2007
     27 2008
     33 2009
     24 2010
     24 2011
     16 2012
     10 2013
      9 2014
     10 2015
      9 2016
      2 2017

Now part of that is because I don't go down the pub as frequently, and I no longer buy a sandwich for lunch (both mostly cash activities for me), but it's pretty clear how little I use cash these days!

The turns of our steps

May. 21st, 2017 09:32 pm
alfvaen: floatyhead (Default)
[personal profile] alfvaen
This weekend has been my thirtieth high school reunion.  I didn't go.

I considered it somewhat, but a few things militated against it.  It was up in Grande Prairie, of course, where the school is, which would have involved someplace to stay (either out in Beaverlodge, half an hour or so drive away, with my mother, or at a hotel in town, which of course costs money, not to mention six hours drive each way).  Later this week is my eldest son's own high school commencement, and I don't like to plan social events so close together.  Also, there was an expensive country-club banquet involved, and quite frankly I rarely find banquets that worth the cost for the food; maybe I'm just not a big fan of the most common kinds of banquet foods, unless they have an extensive buffet.

And, of course, there's the consideration about whether or not I want to go hang out with the people who are coming to the thirty-year reunion.

I was two years younger than my classmates from like Grade 3 onward, and still did better than them in some classes, so I had few friends for a lot of years.  From Grade 5 through 9 it was almost exclusively just one friend, Jeremy, with whom I shared interests in role-playing games, computer games, fantasy books, and the like.  Come high school, though, I did start to make a few more friends--mostly people I'd known slightly in earlier grades that I got to know better in various classes.  I had started developing my dry wit, to help make me less socially awkward and more somebody other people could perceive as clever.  I like to think that, at least, few or none of my classmates hated me, and that some of them liked me.

I did go to the ten-year reunion, mostly since I happened to still be living in Grande Prairie at that point.  I had done a good job of dropping out of touch with a lot of people by that point.  Some of them were at Grande Prairie for my first year of college, some I bumped into when I went down to Edmonton after that for university.  I tried inviting them to my birthday parties, and to my wedding (which was only four years after graduation), and some came, but I fell out of touch.  When I moved in with my wife (and out of the house I'd been sharing with Jeremy and another roommate best forgotten), I managed to basically lose contact with him as well.  I've never been a fan of phoning, so in pre-Facebook days I had trouble maintaining relationships unless there was some kind of regularly scheduled event.

So the ten-year reunion was good for at least getting a chance to see a few people from high school...but there were also lots of gaps among people I'd have liked to see again too.  I also became aware of the saying that the people who are the most nostalgic for high school are the ones for whom it was the best time of their lives, who hadn't really gone anywhere since then.  I'm not sure how true that actually is, but certainly for me I did not feel like my life was peaking yet at that point.  I was still crawling out of my shell (to the extent that I ever did); I developed crushes on some girls, but never actually dated them, and in hindsight a lot of them probably assumed I was gay or something, rather than just being insecure.  Certainly my core musical tastes were cemented during my teenage years, but that was mostly because of the time I spent watching videos on MuchMusic, not like hanging out with friends or anything.

I had the impression that the people I most would want to reconnect with were unlikely to show up at this reunion, which seems to have been the case, and so I'm not actually sorry I elected not to go.  I've seen a lot of people posting messages on the Facebook group about how they wish they were there, and I haven't because it isn't true, and I haven't managed to come with anything that's not just empty words.  I tend to just not say anything rather than say empty words, unless I can make them witty somehow.

I guess there is one exception.  One girl I was friends with at high school, to some extent at least (that extent being that she actually came over to visit one time, if only for help studying Chemistry).  On my website I'd put up a page of "people I'd like to hear from"...and at some point she came across that and sent me a big long message on Facebook about what had been going on in her life, during and after high school.  I was floored and dumbfounded...and did the thing I do when that happens, which was nothing whatsoever.  I let it just sit there in my messages, and I even read it over once or twice more over the years (because yes, it has been years).  She lives in Australia now, so I'm not likely to run into her just randomly (not like I tend to run into lots of my classmates who still live in Alberta just randomly either, but it's more possible).  I actually wrote her a reply a couple of weeks ago, just offline in a text file, thinking that I could just copy and paste it and send it off to her with abject apologies for the long silence.  It's still sitting in that text file, and who knows if it'll ever get sent.  (Unless she reads this, of course, since I'm not making it private or anything...)

I imagine if I had gone, I might have ended up just not talking to anybody much.  Or maybe I would've ended up hanging out with great people who I misjudged based on early impressions (and vice versa).  If I'd brought my wife it would have just been us talking to each other, which is what often happens in those cases.  Instead I went to a writers' group meeting where we talked about writing and stories (and politics, can't get away from those these days), spent the requisite time playing computer games and reading books, and this evening watched "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey" with my kids (first time for them, not for me, of course).  Tomorrow there'll be a board game of some sort.  And maybe dishes and vacuuming and yard work, but I wouldn't bet on it.  And this week my son will get to have his own experience.  (He hasn't done much dating himself yet; not sure what that's about yet, but he is my son, after all...)

Ten bucks' worth of virtual reality

May. 21st, 2017 08:02 pm
mmcirvin: (Default)
[personal profile] mmcirvin
Several years ago Google introduced an extremely cheap and low-end platform for virtual-reality applications called Cardboard, named after a viewer literally made out of a cardboard box with a couple of plastic lenses, into which you put a compatible smartphone. You could assemble one yourself, or buy a pre-made kit for a low price. The idea was that most smartphones already have most of the pieces necessary to do simple VR: they can detect their orientation in space using some combination of mini-gyroscopes, accelerometers and a magnetic compass, and they can display images and render 3D scenes with hardware acceleration. All the Cardboard viewer really did was position a couple of lenses in front of the screen so you could mash it up against your face, and the Cardboard software in various apps would display a couple of appropriately distorted images to each eye so you could look into this virtual space.

Some other companies like Samsung introduced more elaborate variants of the same scheme that added an external controller. 

Today on a whim I bought an even more stripped-down variant of the Cardboard-style viewer, ten-dollar plastic "VR glasses" made by Homido. This thing reminds me even more of a 19th-century stereoscope, which is basically all it is--it dispenses with the box, and just clips directly onto your phone and suspends the lenses in front of the screen. It folds flat in a clever way and comes with a little carrying pouch with a QR code printed on the outside (more on that below). Homido has a player app they want you to download, but it's garbage and there's no point in using it. The device is Cardboard-compatible. It dispenses with any click-generating mechanism; you just click the screen directly with your finger.

So I belatedly got to try out the Google Cardboard platform. It seems half-baked, with inconsistent app support, but clever as far as it goes. You install a Cardboard app on your phone, which establishes systemwide VR settings by scanning the QR code that comes with your viewer. (If you try the following steps and the image is all messed up so your eyes can't fuse it, it means this step probably didn't work. You may have to separately install "Google VR Services" on Android, something it took me a while to figure out.)

Then apps like YouTube and Street View have a "View with Cardboard" icon in the corner of their screen view, which you can use to switch to a view that's compatible with the Cardboard viewer. You can look around the virtual space by moving your head around, and it's cool. Kind of.

The system is limited in a number of ways. Most of these Google apps don't really have a user interface designed to be used through the Cardboard viewer, so you have to periodically stop using it to do a lot of things, which is awkward. There are nice demos that come with the Cardboard app that cleverly leverage Street View and Google Earth capabilities, but the actual Earth app doesn't seem to support Cardboard at all and Street View's support isn't nearly as fancy as the demo's. I haven't, however, done a great deal of exploration of what apps are out there to make better use of this.

Beyond that, the basic concept of smartphone VR has limitations. Lots of 360-degree videos have started showing up on YouTube that are fun to look at with a Cardboard viewer. They don't look quite as good as you'd think, simply because each eye only gets half of the phone screen to look at, so you're sort of peeping at the virtual world through a square window that only has half as many horizontal pixels as a regular landscape view.

What makes it more frustrating is that, in the case of YouTube, there isn't even any real stereopsis to the image: with a recorded video shot with cameras as opposed to a dynamically rendered 3D scene, you can have stereo 3D or a pannable 360-degree view, but not both at the same time, because that would involve continuous changes in parallax. So you're basically looking at 2D video projected onto a virtual spherical screen, and given that, it'd be just as well to somehow present the same pixels to both eyes and get twice as many, for a nice wide field of view. But the optics to do that wouldn't be simple or cheap.

Still, what do you want for ten bucks (plus a smartphone)?


May. 18th, 2017 10:12 pm
emperor: (Default)
[personal profile] emperor
I'm rubbish at films. I read a review or see a trailer or somesuch, and think "Oh, I should go to see that". But then somehow I never quite get round to it, and then the film's no longer on. One such film was Calvary, which I imagine I saw reviewed in the Church Times or similar. This evening, idly browsing iplayer, I saw it was available (for another 11 days at the time of writing), so thought I'd watch it.

It's a very good film, but deals with a number of difficult themes (clerical abuse, guilt, suicide, sin, forgiveness). The main character, Father James, is a priest as real person rather than the stereotypes that priests in fiction often are, and that makes him believable as well as sympathetic. He's trying to live out his vocation and make sense of it in difficult circumstances. It's a very witty film, as well, quite sharply observed in places, with a number of lines that feel like they're commenting on the film itself.

90 minutes feels quite short for a film these days, and you might find yourself wishing there was more of this film. Well worth your time, but not easy watching.
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine

Fourth book in McGuire's InCryptid series. We're folloing the "Tanner girl" and the "Price boy" all the way to 'Straya, where there's a wee were problem. As in lycanthropy. Not a good thing, in an ecosystem as hostile, and fragile, as the Australian.

Um. I guess I culd say more, but that's pretty much all I would need to know to go "READ NOW!".
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine

This is written in a somewhat comedic style. If it wasn't for the plot, I'd not hesitate for a second to call it a "comedic fantasy". But the actual plot is, well, somewhat serious.

We follow Gerald Dunwoody, Wizard Third Grade (from inference, any less brilliant and you're not a wizard) who, as the book starts, is an inspector for the Ottosland Department of Thaumaturgy, off to inspect missing safety inspection paperwork from Stuttley's, one of the finest manufacturers of specialist wands there is.

Well, things do perhaps not go as well as they could, one thing leads to anotherh, stuffs escalate and the nexxt thing you know, you're the Ryal Court Wizard in New Ottosland, in the middle of a desert. Remember I said "comedic fantasy" up there.

All in all, eminently readable.

Vehicles? What vehicles?

May. 18th, 2017 12:15 am
rbarclay: (Default)
[personal profile] rbarclay
Last week, Tuesday, the bicycle stayed in the shop, for reasons of getting its steering fixed and a new rear deraillleur. Should've been ready by Friday. Well, on Saturday it still wasn't - delivery problems with the derailleur, should arrive Tuesday. Called today, still not ready. Customer pretty much pissed off.

Brought the car to the mech this Monday, for reasons of summer tires and small repairs (one windscreen-washer-outlet b0rken, mount for the emergency triangle b0rken). Got it back yesterday. Oh, hey, party @mech today. Cool. On the way there something in the front suspension (or with the axle mounts/cuffs) started to loudly creak, so we just left it there.

And the SOs motorbike needs a new battery (actually already in my backpack, just need to fill & charge it).

But sum of actually working vehicles in this household: zero.

(For Friday, I plan on at least waking the toys from winter slumber.)

checking in

May. 16th, 2017 04:17 pm
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)
[personal profile] ilanarama
It's been six weeks since I posted about my slow increase of running mileage and my upcoming racing plans, and (knock wood) things are going pretty well. From 118 running and 41 cycling miles in March, I managed 157 running and 135 cycling miles in April, and if I can stay healthy, I may get to the vicinity of 200 running miles this month. My paces are still fairly slow, but improving relative to my heart rate, and last week I hit 46 (running) miles for the week with a 12-mile long run, both of these high points since last October.

I've started joining our running club for Tuesday night track workouts, which I haven't done in a few years. Usually when I do speedwork I just program a workout into my Garmin and run intervals on the rec path, but I have to admit that I work harder in a group, with other runners around me, and of course tracks are flat and have measured distances that don't depend on the vagaries of GPS. So far I've gone twice, and enjoyed myself both times (for values of 'enjoyment' that include 'finishing an interval feeling like I might throw up'). I'm about mid-pack out of the dozen or so club members who have shown up at these, as far as speed goes, so I don't feel too bad about my ability level. In only two sessions my short-distance speed has improved, which is encouraging!

I've also started doing tempo runs, which I do at half marathon pace and so are a key training run for me. These have been going well also, though I have to remember not to compare myself with my 2013-self - my expected HMP right now is slower than my marathon pace was that year, sigh. But the real test will come in (gulp) just under four weeks, when I will be running the Steamworks Half Marathon for the, hmm. Sixth time? Wow.

I also have a race on the calendar in July: The Kendall Mountain Run, which is six miles and 3200' vertical up a jeep road, and then a 300 foot scramble to the 13,066 foot summit - and then back down again. A non-running friend won a free entry in a raffle and gave it to me, and I gladly accepted. It's going to be tough, but I am hoping I can do it in under 3 hours. (The course record is just under 1:35; for a woman, a bit more than 1:55.) To train for this, I'm going to do more of my runs on trails (right now I run once or twice a week on trails) and do a lot of hills.

After that, my plan is to cut back on running slightly and ramp up the mountain biking in preparation for our mid-September Telluride-to-Moab ride. We'll probably be doing some backpacking as well, so I expect my weekly mileage will vary wildly, but as long as I can maintain fitness and get a few long uphills on the bike, I will be happy.

I have vague ideas for running another half marathon or two in the fall - maybe the Other Half, which I always enjoy, maybe something else instead or in addition. And if things are going well, I may try to schedule a marathon in the late fall or early winter. But that's so far off it's not even worth thinking about yet!

Sincere, honest question

May. 15th, 2017 09:13 pm
xtingu: (walking)
[personal profile] xtingu
Honest, sincere question:

What does a news article or report need so you'll consider it "not fake"?   I imagine some folks may just dismiss any news they disagree with as "fake news."  But I'm trying to assess what criteria need to be satisfied in order for someone to accept that what is being presented, whether they agree with the article's viewpoint or not, as "reported accurately."

I acknowledge that humans are gloriously imperfect, and that it is physically impossible to report something without imparting some molecule of bias/slant.  But anyway.

If you are left-leaning, are you capable of reading an article from Breitbart or PrisonPlanet and evaluate it with the mindset that it could potentially be accurate? If the Washington Post cites a source "who only spoke on the condition of anonymity," would you be more apt to believe it's "real" and not "fake?" What if Breitbart cited an anonymous source? Would you instantly think, "This is bullshit" and roll your eyes? What if they interviewed Comey directly?

If you are fervent Trump supporter, is it even possible for you to read something on The Huffington Post or even the Washington Post and believe it's within the realm of possibility that it may be accurate? What if they cite an anonymous source? What if they cite a primary source? What if they interviewed Comey himself, for example? 

What criteria need to be met for you to feel satisfied that the reporter is reporting accurate information?  Do you need unedited video from Trump himself? If he were incriminating himself, would you dismiss it as doctored video? 

I'm struggling with this.

(x-posted to OPW.)


May. 15th, 2017 09:24 pm
j4: (kanji)
[personal profile] j4
A dropped stitch will gather dust.

I am left undone.

Alone I can put out my light,
can lighten my darkness. I must.

No matter how many days I wait
nobody will move this stone.

Mine are the only footprints,
every misstep is my own,

it turns out you never carried me
and now you are gone

I am the light

Over, here

May. 15th, 2017 07:19 pm
j4: (Default)
[personal profile] j4
I think I've successfully imported my LiveJournal here. It's all still in boxes and I don't know if everything survived the move and maybe eventually I'll unpack it and put things where they should be, or maybe I'll just leave it where it is and wonder occasionally why I ever thought any of it mattered.

I didn't plan this move. The writing has been on the wall for some time (by which I don't mean everybody moved to Facebook instead), but I hung on far longer than sensible until the Terms & Conditions suddenly became actually untenable. Sometimes it feels as though everything in my life is merely a clumsy metaphor for something else.

I don't have a Plan for doing something Different with this journal. Life won't wait while I sit around trying to think of a way to reinvent myself.

Is anybody even reading this? Does anybody want a recap of the story so far, or at least the latest significant plot points? Or shall we all just keep on keeping on?
mangosteen: (Default)
[personal profile] mangosteen
In my previous posting, I was following the rabbit hole of an exercise equipment supply chain. Specifically the scenario of "Only a couple of different product variations over several dozen brand names, that is all clearly coming from the same supply chain."

Folks, there is a whole world of possibility, here.

Thinking about it more, I need to find a set of other exercise equipment that meets the same criteria, and then do some Steampunky old-timey thing like "Dr. McGillicudy's Devices of Vigor", complete with ornate scrollwork in the logo and everything.

For example:
Speed Rope: "Dr. McGillicudy's Rope of Velocity"
Wobble Board: "Dr. McGillicudy's Disc of Stability"
Wrist Supports: "Dr. McGillicudy's Stalwart Bracers"

Heck, if you're really good and can sacrifice a little bit of margin, you include a piece of paper in each one giving the story of how Dr. Elias McGillicudy DISCOVERED this MAGNIFICENT DEVICE and how it will help you BUILD YOURSELF INTO A TOWER OF HUMAN STRENGTH WITH THE LITHENESS OF A JUNGLE CAT!

Every now and then, I'm convinced that my inner child has an inner lemonade stand, with a healthy inner balance sheet and inner cashflow statement.
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine
Previously unread, sort of.

I've previously read mst of the shorts in this volume, but there were a few that I hadn't previously read. Not sure if I simply read an earlier edition, or have read then in other collections.

This is a bunch of shorts and one or two novellas set in Asher's Polity ('Grim meathook Culture'), so if thats not your thing, you're likely going to dislike these.

January 2017

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