[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

As part of my continuing effort to justify the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription I have, I’ve been playing with my Audition audio software and learning how to use it. Today I learned how to make a multitrack file! Go me. I also played with the various filters in the software to distort and shape sounds.

All of which is to say I recorded a song today and it is very very noisy indeed. It’s “Here Comes the Rain Again,” which is my favorite song from the Eurythmics. Here it is (and no, it’s not actually nine minutes long, I don’t know why the media player says that. It’s, like, five):

Yes, that’s me singing. No, Annie Lennox doesn’t have a thing to worry about.

In case you’re curious, every noise on that track either comes out of me, or out of an acoustic tenor guitar. Audio filters are fun! Let’s just say I let my Thurston out to play, and if you get that reference, congratulations, you’re old too.

No, I’m not giving up my day job. Relax. But I do enjoy playing with sounds. This is fun for me.

In any event: Enjoy the noise.


Blacklight Sunset

Jul. 22nd, 2017 12:44 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

Because sometimes it’s fun to play with Photoshop’s sliders and see what you come up with. This is what happens (in part) when you push the “dehaze” slider all the way to the right. The real sunset didn’t look like this (it looked like this), but I think it might be cool to live on a planet where the sunset did look like that, every once in a while.

Enjoy the weekend, folks.


Facing Away

Jul. 22nd, 2017 06:55 am
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[personal profile] supergee
K. Tempest Bradford tries to find a modus vivendi with Facebook.

Cushlamochree!

Jul. 22nd, 2017 06:23 am
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[personal profile] supergee
Crockett Johnson, the cartoonist who did the Barnaby comics and Harold and the Purple Crayon, also created mathematical paintings.

Thanx to Metafilter

Home alone...

Jul. 21st, 2017 07:37 pm
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[personal profile] jennlk
it's weird.

J is at the annual picnic, which I have skipped, yet again. The seats in his car and my back do not get along -- a Chicago trip (especially coming home after a con) is about as much time in the front seats as is comfortable, and annual picnic is about twice that. Driving would be worse, I think, as the headrests force my head into an uncomfortable position (he replaced the passenger side headrest with one from an earlier model, and it's much better)*. I'd like to go to the UP and see people, both those who live there and those who are visiting, but....

DB has run off to Chicagoland with a friend and her aunt to see a concert. Don't know which one, or where; some K-pop band, iirc.

The birdbath was knocked over this morning when I went out. I suspect one of the raccoons missed a jump. :)

Frog count is 8 in the pond plus at least two tree frogs.

I had intended to get some work done in the sewing room this week, but have been thwarted by cats. Either Ji is outside or Belle wants to "help". sigh. Belle will only get worse when DB goes off to Western in September, I suspect.



(* let's just say that when I replace my car, it will not be with an Escape. The seats don't fit me, and Esme doesn't fit in the back....)

Kellet's Whelk

Jul. 21st, 2017 11:01 pm
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[personal profile] guppiecat

Kellet's Whelk


I posted this on Facebook a while ago, but I’m re-posting here so everyone can see it.


This is one of the coolest exhibits I’ve seen in quite a while. What you’re seeing is a lucite box with whelks on the top and a piece of fish screwed to the bottom. The whelks are adapted to live on the rocky ocean floor, and send their long flexible mouth things down in between the rocks to feast on whatever things they can scavenge. In this exhibit, you get to see a behavior that is extremely interesting and that, gives you a very different understanding seeing it than reading about it.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
[syndicated profile] bruce_schneier_feed

Posted by Bruce Schneier

It's the second in two months. Video.

As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered.

Read my blog posting guidelines here.

dreamshark: (Default)
[personal profile] dreamshark
Huh. I see that Dreamwidth has added the ability to upload pictures to their site. Now what? How do you embed them in a post? Can they be resized when you do that? Linked to the larger picture, like I used to do on LJ?

Well, let's try this... I went to "View your images" Grid View, copied the "Embed" link under the thumbnail, went back to edit my post, shifted into HTML mode, and pasted in the Embed link.
June 2017 - Grandpa Richard reading to Lena (30 months)
OMG, that is awkward. Please tell me this isn't the only way.
On the plus side, it DID put in a smaller picture that links to the fullsize one in the back room.

New Books and ARCs, 7/21/17

Jul. 21st, 2017 08:53 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

As we ease on into another summer weekend, here are the new books and ARCs that have come to the Scalzi Compound this week. What do you like here? Share your feelings in the comments!


[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

Here’s Sugar curling up with a good book, in this case the ARC of Don’t Live For Your Obituary, my upcoming collection of essays about writing and the writing life, which comes out in December from Subterranean Press. And you can win it! Here’s how:

Tell me in the comments which Beatles song I am thinking of right now.

That’s it!

The person who correctly guesses which Beatles song I am thinking of wins. In the case where more than one person correctly guesses, I will number the correct guesses in order of appearance and then use a random number generator to select the winner among them.

“Beatles song” in this case means a song recorded by the Beatles, and includes both original songs by the band, and the cover songs they recorded. Solo work does not count. Here’s a list of songs recorded by the Beatles, if you need it. The song I’m thinking of is on it.

Guess only one song. Posts with more than one guess will have only the first song considered. Posts not related to guessing a song will be deleted. Also, only one post per person — additional posts will be deleted.

This contest is open to everyone everywhere in the world, and runs until the comments here automatically shut off (which will be around 3:50pm Eastern time, Sunday, July 23rd). When you post a comment, leave a legit email address in the “email” field so I can contact you. I’ll also announce the winner here on Monday, July 24. I’ll mail the ARC to you, signed (and personalized, if so requested).

Kitten not included.

Also remember you can pre-order the hardcover edition of Obit from Subterranean Press. This is a signed, limited edition — there are only 1,000 being made — and they’ve already had a healthy number of pre-orders. So don’t wait if you want one.

Now: Guess which Beatles song I am thinking of! And good luck!


Leadership - Horses v. Trump

Jul. 21st, 2017 04:29 pm
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[personal profile] mrs_sweetpeach
We've belonged to Costco for many years and I generally leaf through their magazine when it arrives. I did so with the July issue and ran into this article, Lessons from horses. It's one page, worth reading, and when I got to the part on the Alpha Mare, I thought "No wonder I don't trust Trump, he has none of these things."

Agent to the Stars, 20 Years On

Jul. 21st, 2017 06:10 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

So, on July 21, 1997, which was a Monday, I posted the following on the alt.society.generation-x newsgroup:

Thought y’all might like to know. I’m happy, pleased, tired.

96,098 words, cranked out in a little under three months, working
mostly on weekends, grinding out 5,000 words at a sitting.

Learned two things:

a) I *can* carry a story over such a long stretch;

b) like most things on the planet, thinking about doing it is a lot
worse than simply sitting down and doing it. The writing wasn’t hard
to do, you just need to plant ass in seat and go from there.

I did find it helped not to make my first novel a gut-wrenching
personal story, if you know what I mean. Instead I just tried to write
the sort of science fiction story I would like to read. It was fun.

Now I go in to tinker and fine tune. Will soon have it ready for beta
testing. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

That novel? Agent to the Stars. Which means that today is the 20th anniversary of me being a novelist. Being a published novelist would have to wait — I date that to January 1, 2005, the official publication date of Old Man’s War — but in terms of having written a full, complete (and as it eventually turned out, publishable) novel: Today’s the day.

I’ve recounted the story of Agent before but it’s fun to tell, because I think it’s a nice antidote to the “I just had to share the story I’d been dreaming of my whole life” angle first novels often take. The gist of the story was that my 10-year high school reunion was on the horizon, and having been “the writer dude” in my class, I knew I would be asked if I had ever gotten around to writing a novel, and I wanted to be able to say “yes.” Also, I was then in my late 20s and it was time to find out whether I could actually write one or not.

Having decided I was going to write one, I decided to make it easy for myself, mostly by not trying to do all things at once. The goal was simply: Write a novel-length story. The story itself was going to be pretty simple and not personally consequential; it wasn’t going to be a thinly-disguised roman a clef, or something with a serious and/or personal theme. It would involve Hollywood in some way, because I had spent years as a film critic and knew that world well enough to write about it. And as for genre, I was most familiar with mystery/crime fiction and science fiction/fantasy, so I flipped a coin to decide which to do. It come up heads, so science fiction it was, and the story I had for that was: Aliens come and decide to get Hollywood representation.

(I don’t remember the story I was thinking for the mystery version. I’m sure death was involved. And for those about to say “well, you didn’t have to stick with science fiction for your second book,” that’s technically correct, but once I’d written one science fiction novel, I knew I could write science fiction. It was easier to stick with what I knew. And anyway I write murder mysteries now — Lock In and the upcoming Head On. They also happen to be science fiction.)

I remember the writing of Agent being pretty easy, in no small part, I’m sure, because of everything noted above — it wasn’t meant to be weighty or serious or even good, merely novel-length. When I finished it, I do remember thinking something along the lines of “Huh. That wasn’t so bad. Maybe I should have done this earlier.” In the fullness of time, I’ve realized that I probably couldn’t have done it any earlier, I wasn’t focused enough and it helped me to have some sort of external motivation, in this case, my high school reunion.

Once finished, I asked two friends and co-workers at America Online to read the book: Regan Avery and Stephen Bennett, both of whom I knew loved science fiction, and both of whom I knew I could trust to tell me if what I’d written was crap. They both gave it a thumbs up. Then I showed it to Krissy, my wife, who was apprehensive about reading it, since if she hated it she would have to tell me, and would still have to be married to me afterward. When she finished it, the first thing she said to me about it was “Thank Christ it’s good.” Domestic felicity lived for another day.

And then, having written it… I did nothing with it for two years. Because, again, it wasn’t written for any other reason than to see if I could write a novel. It was practice. People other than Regan and Stephen and Krissy finally saw it in 1999 when I decided that the then brand-new Scalzi.com site could use some content, so I put it up here as a “shareware” novel, meaning that if people liked it they could send me a dollar for it through the mail. And people did! Which was nice.

It was finally physically published in 2005, when Bill Schafer of Subterranean Press published a limited hardcover edition. I was jazzed about that, since I wanted a version of the book I could put on my shelf. The cover was done by Penny Arcade’s Mike Krahulik, who among other things knew of the book because I was one of Penny Arcade’s very first advertisers way back in the day, advertising the Web version of the book (those guys have done okay since then). Then came the Tor paperback edition, and the various foreign editions, and the audiobook, and here we are today.

When I wrote the novel, of course, I had no idea that writing it was the first step toward where I am now. I was working at America Online — and enjoying it! It was a cool place to be in the 90s! — and to the extent I thought I would be writing novels at all, I thought that they would be sideline to my overall writing career, rather than (as it turned out) the main thrust of it. This should be your first indication that science fiction writers in fact cannot predict the future with any accuracy.

I’m very fond of Agent, and think it reads pretty well. I’m also aware that it’s first effort, and also because it was written to be in present time in the 90s, just about out of time in terms of feeling at all contemporary (there are fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors remaining, to pick just one obvious example in the book). At this point I suggest people consider it as part of an alternate history which branched off from our timeline in 1998 or thereabouts. Occasionally it gets talked about for being picked for TV/film. If that ever happens, expect some extensive plot revisions. Otherwise, it is what it is.

One thing I do like about Agent is that I still have people tell me that it’s their favorite of mine. I like that because I think it’s nice to know that even this very early effort, done simply for the purpose of finding out if I could write a novel, does what I think a novel should: Entertains people and makes them glad they spent their time with it.

I’m also happy it’s the novel that told me I could do this thing, this novel-writing thing, and that I listened to it. The last couple of decades have turned out pretty well for me. I’m excited to see where things go from here.


Scaly Tube Snail

Jul. 21st, 2017 06:01 pm
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[personal profile] guppiecat

Scaly Tube Snail_1


I hadn’t heard of these guys before, so I looked them up.


Apparently you can’t really find them in subway systems.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
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[personal profile] lsanderson
Mister Universo


The Italian directors Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel’s hybrid of a film follows a young man on a sort of odyssey across Italy.
By GLENN KENNY
NYT Critic’s Pick
Directors Tizza Covi, Rainer Frimmel
Writer Tizza Covi
Stars Tairo Caroli, Wendy Weber, Arthur Robin, Lilly Robin
Running Time 1h 30m
Genre Drama

The Girl Without Hands


In Sébastien Laudenbach’s animated adaptation of a Grimm fairy tale, after her father’s deal with the Devil, a young girl loses her hands and must navigate the world without them.
By MONICA CASTILLO
NYT Critic’s Pick
Director Sébastien Laudenbach
Stars Anaïs Demoustier, Jérémie Elkaïm, Philippe Laudenbach, Olivier Broche, Françoise Lebrun
Running Time 1h 16m
Genre Animation

Dunkirk


In his brilliant new film, Christopher Nolan revisits a harrowing, true World War II mission in a story of struggle, survival and resistance.
By MANOHLA DARGIS
NYT Critic’s Pick
Director Christopher Nolan
Stars Fionn Whitehead, Damien Bonnard, Aneurin Barnard, Lee Armstrong, James Bloor
Rating PG-13
Running Time 1h 46m
Genres Action, Drama, History, War

-- Of Possible Interest --

The Untamed
A slimy, many-tentacled alien has sex with several unhappy residents of the Mexican city of Guanajuato in Amat Escalante’s movie.
By A. O. SCOTT
Director Amat Escalante
Writers Amat Escalante, Gibrán Portela
Stars Kenny Johnston, Simone Bucio, Fernando Corona, Jesús Meza, Ruth Ramos
Running Time 1h 40m
Genres Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Valerian


If you can summarize the plot of Luc Besson’s film adaptation of the graphic-novel science fiction series, you weren’t paying attention.
By A. O. SCOTT
Director Luc Besson
Stars Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke
Rating PG-13
Running Time 2h 17m
Genres Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

The Midwife


Not Rated Drama Directed by Martin Provost
Two great French actresses, Catherine Deneuve and Catherine Frot, share the screen in this film about forgiveness and redemption.
By GLENN KENNY
Director Martin Provost
Stars Catherine Deneuve, Catherine Frot, Olivier Gourmet, Quentin Dolmaire, Mylène Demongeot
Rating Not Rated
Running Time 1h 57m
Genre Drama

Two-spot Octopus

Jul. 21st, 2017 02:00 pm
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[personal profile] guppiecat

Two-spot Octopus_5


I got a paint-by-numbers book of octopuses once. That was a confusing day.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Hacking a Segway

Jul. 21st, 2017 11:23 am
[syndicated profile] bruce_schneier_feed

Posted by Bruce Schneier

The Segway has a mobile app. It is hackable:

While analyzing the communication between the app and the Segway scooter itself, Kilbride noticed that a user PIN number meant to protect the Bluetooth communication from unauthorized access wasn't being used for authentication at every level of the system. As a result, Kilbride could send arbitrary commands to the scooter without needing the user-chosen PIN.

He also discovered that the hoverboard's software update platform didn't have a mechanism in place to confirm that firmware updates sent to the device were really from Segway (often called an "integrity check"). This meant that in addition to sending the scooter commands, an attacker could easily trick the device into installing a malicious firmware update that could override its fundamental programming. In this way an attacker would be able to nullify built-in safety mechanisms that prevented the app from remote-controlling or shutting off the vehicle while someone was on it.

"The app allows you to do things like change LED colors, it allows you to remote-control the hoverboard and also apply firmware updates, which is the interesting part," Kilbride says. "Under the right circumstances, if somebody applies a malicious firmware update, any attacker who knows the right assembly language could then leverage this to basically do as they wish with the hoverboard."

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