I've hit my limit with Acronis's mysterious failures.

Needs to have incremental or differential backup options as well as automatic deletion of old versions.
I think this comment exchange between Rochita Loenen-Ruiz and Abigail Nussbaum encapsulates the struggle I continue to have over whether to put Mixon above or below No Award, which is how to prioritize the very different messages being sent by Mixon's nomination. If this is a topic that interests you, I recommend reading it.
I mentioned the mobile game 80 Days previously, but I'm really liking it and it's currently part of a Humble Mobile Bundle, where you get it DRM-free for Android if you pay more than the average (currently $4.33). As it usually retails for $5 solo, if you're at all interested in any of the other games, this is a good deal.

Why I like 80 Days minor spoilers )

The author (Meg Jayanth, who wrote the incomplete Storynexus game Samsara and is British-Indian) bills it as "decolonised, multicultural steampunk," and there's a little bit more about that in this blog post. If that sounds appealing, or you'd just like half a million evocative words of AU Choose-Your-Own-Adventure very cheap, you should really check 80 Days out. (The iOS is not in the bundle, but: $5. Half a million words.)
O Captain! My Captain! is a poem about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. It is not an appropriate general-purpose form of address to anyone with the title Captain.

Also, here is a large-ish cute kid picture:

sillyheads pretending to be gargoyles, or something )

And now the kids' grandparents are here and I have to go.
Point to be made about public discourse about the Hugo nominations:

The "Rabid Puppies" slate, the one put forth by Vox Day (a pseudonym for Theodore Beale), is the dominant slate here. It put more nominees on (58 v. 51), and 10 nominees appeared only on it, as opposed to three of the "Sad Puppies" slate (Brad R. Torgersen). (Breakdown via File 770; don't read the comments.)

If you don't know why this matters, you can read a short, rather restrained summary of Day's views at Wikipedia (content notes for sexism, anti-immigrant rhetoric, racism, and sizeism).

I still don't care that much about the Hugos, but it frustrates me to see news articles, blog posts, etc., acting as though the "Sad Puppies" is the only slate that exists and ignoring the more significant influence of Beale/Vox Day.
Laura J. Mixon is the only person on the Best Fan Writer ballot for this year's Hugos who wasn't on the Sad/Rabid Puppy Slate. I want to urge people not to reflexively vote for her, that is, to consider no-awarding the entire category.

I assume that she is nominated on the basis of her lengthy post about Benjanun Sriduangkaew / Requires Hate / Winterfox / etc. I did not discuss this at the time—I found the entire topic disproportionately upsetting because RaceFail [*] (speaking of which, do NOT!!! read the comments)—but that post has serious issues. Yes, it managed to get widespread attention to genuine instances of threats; but it also places people on the "target" list for being called "misogynist" ("Anon, MOC Writer") or for criticizing their writing only (Kress, Adrienne; Lord, Karen). There might be more, because I haven't been able to make myself closely read the accompanying text, I just looked at the Appendices; I recall from back in November seeing criticisms of the framing of the post, but I went back through my reading list of the time and couldn't turn up anything linkable.

(ETA 2: I have now read all the text, see comments for a little more discussion.)

As a result, I have serious doubts whether this post ought to garner its author a Hugo. I encourage those voting to carefully consider the question.

(Anon comments are screened; be polite and sign your comment with a handle for continuity of discussion and I'll unscreen you. If you're new here, note that I moderate comments for gross incivility, anon or not.)

[*] ETA: It has come to my attention, in a genuinely friendly and caring way, that this could use unpacking for people not on my access list. I was upset because I believed, and continue to believe, a number of the first-person accounts of Sriduangkaew's harassment and threats, and because I believed Sriduangkaew's apologies—lousy though they were—were going to work, she was going to get a pass: every time I see, for instance, Elizabeth Bear or Teresa Nielsen Hayden lauded as being especially clueful on questions of oppression, or put on a con panel about codes of conduct (for fuck's sake!), it's like being poked in a bruise, and they never made even lousy apologies for their behavior during RaceFail. My opinion of any of the people who came forward has not changed from what it was, I do not put credit in Sriduangkaew's statements, I do not believe we interacted before her identities were revealed, and I have not interacted with her since.
I announced this earlier in the week, but forgot to mention it here:

Con or Bust's annual online auction, which is its principal source of funds to help fans of color/non-white fans attend SFF cons, is now accepting items for auction. Bidding will begin on Monday, April 20, and run for just under two weeks. You can get more details at the announcement post, which is also a good thing to link to! (I've been swamped this week but will be sending emails to various people who've donated items in the past, but you don't have to wait for that!)

I'm just gonna quote myself from last year:

There are lots of reasons why people don't read things based on their opinions of the authors. Me, if I know that someone holds views I find morally repugnant, or if I personally dislike them, etc., then I can't keep myself from looking for evidence of those disliked traits in the work, which is unfair to the work, and so I don't even bother. Other people refuse to lend support to live authors, but are okay with dead ones. Other people think the author is dead in the interpretive sense to the extent that they don't care. All of these are valid decisions, because the way people read is so personal and because people make different moral and ethical discussions.

[ . . . ]

All that said, I promised agnosticism, which is this: I genuinely cannot find it in me to care whether the Hugos devolve into, as James Nicoll points out with characteristic brevity and asperity, political parties, or whether prior community norms about politicking prevail, or Vox Day et al. get bored, or whatever. Worst comes to worst, a few years of concerted effort results in actual winners instead of mere nominations for hateful trolls, and a few year after that, booksellers and the like catch up and realize that the Hugo is no longer prestigious, and, well, SFF fandom is big, even the bits of it that self-identify as fandom, and WorldCon and the Hugos are only a small part of that. Maybe Locus stops overweighting subscriber votes and becomes the popular award of record. Maybe the Nebulas experience a surge in prestige. Maybe I hit the lottery and endow a juried award in my honor. Who knows? But the Hugos aren't that big a teapot, at the end of the day, and if people want to self-identify with them and participate in the community that votes on them, great, they should do that, and if people don't, great, they should do that too.

(Reference: this year's "Sad Puppies" Hugo slate—hilariously, not even that contained Vox Day; the just-announced Hugo finalists. (ETA: apparently Vox Day also had a slate, but I am not going to his site on principle (see last year's post, linked above, for context.))

The online tax filing through the state is actually good?! As in, I stopped paper filing our taxes because calculating just the tax due in NY (not our taxable income, just, here's a number that's taxable, now what is the tax due on that) had me tearing out my hair. But I had to file a tax return for SteelyKid this year [*], and the state online version added things up and calculated tax due for me, which was great—I had to file a 1040 for her and the fillable PDF doesn't even add things for you. (It turns out I could have gotten free software to efile for her, which I will remember next year, because calculating the tax due on her federal return required a 27-line worksheet.)

[*] Okay, I didn't have to file a separate return, I could have put her income on ours, but then that would cost us more taxes, whereas filing hers separately meant zero tax due on her income. (We put a monthly amount into an account in her name for college, because Chad's college has a really good tuition benefit and so a 529 account doesn't make sense, and this year the earnings on that exceeded the threshold for filing.)

Anyway: New Yorkers! File your state taxes online!
I've just send a check-in email to everyone who signed up for the playlist exchange; if you haven't received it, or more importantly your assignment, email me at knepveu@steelypips.org ?

Also, anyone who'd like to make a treat is welcome to check out the prompts! Email me before Wednesday, April 8 with the music files, the recipient, their prompt, the song order if any, and whether it's okay to share the playlist with all the participants or just the particular recipient. When reveals come, you'll be able to see all the playlists that have been shared among all participants!

I finished this snowflake bookmark a while ago, but haven't got around to editing the pictures until now.

I modified this pattern from Kincavel Krosses to make it shorter—and as you can see, it's still really too big for all but hardcovers:

[Image: bookmark over open copy of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell]

I could've left the border off, but I was stitching without a hoop or frame for the first time and I was having so much fun—so fast when you're doing whole stitches!—that I kind of didn't want to stop. SteelyKid saw it as a WIP and demanded it, and she doesn't care if it's flopping out of her books, so it's fine, but yeah, I have no idea why the original design is so long and still purportedly a bookmark.

details and more pictures )

So that's that. And experimenting with stitching the hand went great—I didn't even have to think about the tension in the stitches, it just came naturally. Works less with for things with lots of quarter stitches, a.k.a. the knotwork bookmark I'm finishing now, but OMG fast on whole stitches. I'm a convert.

(If anyone wants, I can give them the edited image file I used for the pattern, because shortening it means moving the interior slightly to center it.)

(Also posted to [livejournal.com profile] cross_stitch.)

Y'all. I am boggled.

From Bujold's blog post:

I am pleased to report that a new Cordelia Vorkosigan novel has been sold to Baen Books for publication, tentatively, in February of 2016.

The title is Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen.

It is not a war story. It is about grownups.

And that is probably all I ought to say right now in a venue read by the spoiler-sensitive. It is, after all, a long haul till next February.

spoilers if you somehow managed to miss spoilers for Cryoburn )

So yeah, that kind of threw me into a tizzy this afternoon, which I really haven't yet recovered from. What do you all think?

Big Hero 6

Mar. 13th, 2015 09:27 pm
Okay, I spent most of the movie trying to explain the plot to the Pip, because it's really above the level of a three-year-old (SteelyKid loved it), so I cannot say I gave it 100% of my attention, but I am pretty sure it is absolutely adorable. Nothing surprising plot-wise but charming and nicely diverse (I don't know what I think about the San Francisco-Tokyo mashup, though), and I want a Baymax—but the plush ones you can buy and the movie one I can't.

(Note: does contain a significant character death, as is common for superhero origin stories.)

That I have played and liked since the last time I wrote about this. A lot of these are really well-known, but I just beat 80 Days and thus was in the mood to jot down quick notes.

  • The Room and The Room Two, puzzle-box (usually literally) games. I have zero idea what the purported story is, and don't really care, but the moving things around to open/unlock/etc. is great. I don't think there are any jump scares, despite the horror trappings, but I'm open to correction on that.
  • Monument Valley, in which you use optical illusions in impossible architecture to travel through a very pretty world. Occasionally I felt like the solutions were more brute-force than something I could reason out, but then, my spatial skills are really weak, so maybe I'm just not good enough. Beautiful, though.
  • Another Case Solved, via [personal profile] rosefox. Mixes single puzzles of different types with "cases" that use multiple puzzles (see the screenshots for examples), has actual ongoing narrative with a definite ending. Does have in-app currency for purchase but you get enough of it just by playing (open the thing up every day) that you don't need to pay to win.
  • Out There, in which you are a frozen astronaut newly-woken in the far future and trying to make your way... home? I wish it wouldn't force you to play as a straight dude, but the combination of exploration, resource management, and tiny snippets of SF worldbuilding, were pretty addictive. After I got all three endings, I set myself to visit every solar system on the map (hey, I once ran an extinctionist in NetHack, I have these completionist urges, okay)? Ended up being 181 of them. So, it's a big map.
  • Quick Logic Problems, you know, the kind with the grids that you check things off. Includes a free puzzle every day.
  • 80 Days, a choose-your-own-adventure in which you're Passepartout but in an AU world with lots more gender parity and steampunk machines. I got this free from Amazon and then, when I couldn't get it to install on my phone, bought it so I could have it on both devices. Great writing, fabulous worldbuilding (I suspect Verne is rolling in his grave at my Passepartout kissing a mixed-race man in New Orleans), slightly fiddly inventory management system, and a incentive to bone up on my geography so I can ask characters about plausible routes to take.

What have you all been playing lately? (I wish I could play Sunless Sea, but the pace and the need to be at my desk is just no good.)

Lovely person, by all accounts; not a perfect writer, but a very good and important one; and, I can't tell if this is odd or not, but the thing I keep coming back to, and tearing up over, is that of all the fiction I've read, his is the one that gave me the most tools to deal with death and my lack of a belief in an afterlife.

“I know about Sending Home,” said Princess. “And I know the souls of dead linesmen stay on the Trunk.”

“Who told you that?” said Grandad.

Princess was bright enough to know that someone would get into trouble if she was too specific.

“Oh, I just heard it,” she said airily. “Somewhere.”

“Someone was trying to scare you,” said Grandad, looking at Roger’s reddening ears.

It hadn’t sounded scary to Princess. If you had to be dead, it seemed a lot better to spend your time flying between the towers than lying underground. But she was bright enough, too, to know when to drop a subject.

It was Grandad who spoke next, after a long pause broken only by the squeaking of the new shutter bars. When he did speak, it was as if something was on his mind.

“We keep that name moving in the Overhead,” he said, and it seemed to Princess that the wind in the shutter arrays above her blew more forlornly, and the everlasting clicking of the shutters grew more urgent. “He’d never have wanted to go home. He was a real linesman. His name is in the code, in the wind, in the rigging, and the shutters. Haven’t you ever heard the saying ‘Man’s not dead while his name is still spoken’?”

Going Postal

GNU Terry Pratchett.

(Also, this is petty, but my anal-retentive self has been twitching all day seeing people quote variants of that. To be fair, “A man is not dead while his name is still spoken.” is in the quasi-table-of-contents for that chapter, but damn it, I have searched the ebook and “Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?” is not in Going Postal.)

Okay, we've got more than ten people, let's do this.

What

Sign up to (a) get a song playlist from a person I will match to you and (b) give a songplaylist to a person I will match to you, based on prompts and preferences you both provide. The playlist should be at least thirty minutes long (no maximum), and may be "songs in a specific order" or "songs to be put on shuffle." You'll provide me with the songs (edit: by which I mean, the digital files) (and playlist order, if applicable) and then I'll distribute them to the recipient.

If you don't want to commit, but are interested by this idea, I'm asking people whether they give me permission to make their sign-ups public, in case a non-participant is inspired. You can find those here (I've put mine up as a demonstration). If you end up making a bonus playlist, email me (knepveu@steelypips.org) to let me know.

When

  • Sign up through Sunday, March 15.
  • Assignments out by Wednesday, March 18.
  • Playlists due by Wednesday, April 8.
  • Playlists distributed by Wednesday, April 15 (sooner if everyone has a playlist before then; I'm building in a week's grace in case pinch-hitters are needed).

How

Sign up at this Google Docs form. Comment here if you have questions (no DW account necessary to comment or to participate).

This is going to be so much fun, y'all. Thanks!

Chad just finished making a mix "CD" as part of an exchange run by a music fanboard he participates in, and it seemed like fun. Is there any interest in doing a playlist exchange among us all? Say, oh, at least 30 minutes; can be either listen-in-this-order or put-on-shuffle; uploading files is fine, no need for physical media; provide a loose selection of prompts & preferred/prohibited genres.

Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 19


I would participate in a playlist exchange as described above.

View Answers

Yes!
11 (68.8%)

Maybe.
5 (31.2%)

Only if there were some other aspect/condition not mentioned above, that I will describe below.
0 (0.0%)

Ticky?

View Answers

Ticky.
14 (73.7%)

Record
0 (0.0%)

Tape
1 (5.3%)

CD
6 (31.6%)

Thumb Drive
3 (15.8%)

Cloud
10 (52.6%)

April 2015

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