networking

Met a few friends of Leannan Sidhe’s, from Shoreline – other musicians with their own band(s) – this weekend, dropping by a joint recording session for a big school project. (They’re all in SCC’s audio engineering and music programme.)

Turns out they know SJ and Betsy and Alec and all of that crowd, which was great, and we shared stories and jammed a little, which went well. I didn’t stick around too long, for supervillain reasons (and also, they had a lot of tracking to do in their studio session and a limited number of hours in which to do it), but it was fun.

Annnnnd maybe, with a bit of luck, something might come of it this summer. Maybe. Y’never know.

the most amazing thing

The most amazing thing about 2016-2017 is that I managed to write, record, and release as a single an actual song about Republican politics and pee obsessions

…and it’s not about this.

They managed to come up with a completely different pee obsession scandal.

Wow.

huh, it has a riff

Looks like “You’re not comin’ for us / we’re comin’ for you” isn’t just a slogan, it has a riff.

Lots of atonal power chords, go fig.

No idea if it’s a whole song yet, but here’s hoping.

the question on everyone’s lips

“Gosh, Solarbird, what kind of articles did you publish in your old print comics fanzine?” “Oh, articles on religious theory that required half a page of small-print footnotes, exo-music-theory articles that came with a flexidisc, the usual fannish fluff.”

Extreme Geekiness Closeup:

This post inspired by getting a few of my old digital ducks in a row, courtesy the Big Clean I talked about earlier. I guess my new year’s confession is that the reason I love crazy, crazy fanac is because I’ve done so very much of it.

(If I’d been really properly serious about all this, those would’ve been correctly labelled as endnotes, not footnotes. XD )

Anybody got a turntable?

so let’s say there’s an emergency

The new year is here, which means it’s time for the annual BIG CLEAN! But – living in earthquake territory and surrounded by active volcanoes – it’s also about emergency prep! Because it’s wise to have right the hell now, one-day, and two-or-three days plans for getting out.

(Some people also talk about having a month’s notice plan? But really, that’s a move, and I think it’s silly to think of that as ’emergency.’ Even one week isn’t a whole lot worse, even if you have a lot of junk – most of what people own that takes more than a week to sort out doesn’t really need to be sorted out.)

So! Let’s say you have one day, or worse, Mt. Rainier has just gone up and the Cascadia fault just tripped and everything is completely pear-shaped but a rescue boat is outside. For someone like me, who creates a lot of content, the key to getting out quickly without massive losses is already be ready.

What’s that mean? Well, you hear a lot about the three-day bag, of course. (At least, you do in Cascadia. It’s not really adequate, you should be prepared for at least a week, but three days is a start. Is this just us?) The three-day bag is one you can grab and take out the door as the building is falling down around you.

You should have data in that too. At very least, a recent backup of key data. For example: we back up our servers to USB flash drives. This sounds hilarious but it’s actually pretty good, because it means we can swap the flash drives monthly, and have a completely offline set of backups as well. And the monthly swap means they never have data-loss issues related to being unpowered for months.

Where do those offline backup flash drives live? The three-day pack.

If you have your creative works scattered across a bunch of formats – by which I mean other-than-digital formats – scan your stuff. And have your digital work collected – at least in backup form – in one place, and let that live in the three-day bag too. (But don’t use flash drives for this, they drop storage over time if left unpowered. They aren’t a good archive format.)

Alternatively, back your data up somewhere off-site. But that’s not always the best idea, for a lot of reasons – bandwidth being one of many, but there are many. If you can do it, great.

So as part of this year’s Big Clean, I’ve been getting my data situation together. I’ve made an image of my recording archives, and I’ve ripped all those old Commodore and Amiga floppies, and right now, and I’m scanning those old fanzines I put out back in the 90s, because why not? All that old stuff’s so small it can live in backed-up archive directories on my laptop, and the laptop is effectively part of the three-day kit anyway.

This is me, following my own advice, and being generally ready, like y’should. I was hoping to be done with all of this by the end of the 2nd, New Year’s Day Observed Bank Holiday Whatever, but I’m not quite done. But I’m close.

Anyway, here’s my RIGHT THE HELL NOW list:

  • three-day pack (yours should have a solid week of meds, if any)
  • laptop
  • instruments (at least the zouk)
  • phone
  • purse (which includes passport)

That gets me almost all of my creative output, food, meds, srs bsns ID, and so on. If you don’t have a passport – or passport card – you should have one if you can afford it. It’s better ID than a driver’s license or ID card, and doesn’t get questioned.

My ONE DAY’S NOTICE list – basically like going on tour with less gear but more paperwork. All of the above plus:

  • one suitcase of clothes
  • all hard drives
  • the One Day Warning box (important legal papers, pretty much)
  • studio tablet and custom studio hardware (one box max)

Anything more starts getting into “well, now, it’s just a move,” but with 2-3 days, I’d start with more general lab and studio gear, and favourite books and art.

For an emergency, doesn’t that sound luxurious? I’d have that luxury – all that time – because my Right the Hell Now and One Day plans are together. If you live anywhere that can get Abruptly Dangerous? Yours should be too.

let’s make it “you’re not coming for us, we’re coming for you” 2017

You wouldn’t’ve seen this if you don’t follow me on Twitter or Tumblr, but just after midnight Saturday morning, I went around posting “Happy ‘Hey Fascists, you’re not comin’ for us, we’re comin’ for you’ 2017!”

That’s not a joke. Fascism and white supremacy and overt misogyny – all manifestations of the same underlying urge, really – are back on the menu, and you are not your own private Switzerland. Shit’s real, shit’s gonna get more real, and one of the real things is that you don’t bother trying to argue with actual literal neo-Nazis and fascists and white supremacists or anybody else like that. There’s no rationality there to argue with, so you’re only wasting your time.

You don’t game with ’em, either. I ran into a fuckhead neo-Nazi on Overwatch yesterday. The correct response is to go on voice and say, “You fuckin’ serious? I don’t play with Nazis. Fuck off.” Then drop out of the game. Do not play with fascists.

Be that example, because exclusion works. Shame works too – not so much for them, but for people looking at what happens to them. Hurting ’em socially, economically, that works. Bring that pain. You don’t negotiate with mosquitoes, or bacteria, and you don’t negotiate with this crap, because they’ve all decided they want to believe this because it all it makes them feel all puffed up and studly, and science and data and reason won’t do crap about that.

And that’s the thing, right? That’s what it really is. White supremacists, misogynists – they’re the biggest, most pathetic whiny-baby clowns in the whole goddamn world. You want to talk about entitlement culture? Let’s talk these dickbags. They are literally going out and saying that they deserve everything and you deserve nothing because – and I am quoting one here – “[their] ancestors built this country.” Leaving aside how completely full of shit that happens to be, and all the historical revisionism necessary to believe that (see again: fuck rationality), that is literally “I deserve to rule over you for no fucking reason at all, except maybe bein’ born. It’s not talent; it’s not skill; it’s not work; it’s not creativity; it’s just boundless egomaniac me. And my sneer.”

So pathetic. So lazy. So entitled. And so very, very, very stupid.

And if you’re thinking, “how do you argue with that?” stop, because the answer is, again, above: you don’t. You shame it, you exclude it, you make being that big of a festering cockbasket a serious fucking liability, and you get everybody else to do it too.

Because there is not one rational, reasonable, thoughtful thing to be said in defence of any of that horseshit. Not one. And it’s been given way too much of a pass for way too goddamn long as people have wrung their hands about understanding their needs and figure out why they want to fuck Those People up, and when it all comes down to it, none of that matters. They get off on hurting people: that is the underlying motivator. It gets them all chubby.

So shut that shit down. Fascists don’t get debates; fascists get deplatformed. Fascists don’t get accommodated; fascists get fired.

I saw a good line on Twitter: people of the 1930s and 1940s were called the Greatest Generation because they killed fascists indiscriminately. I like it. We’re not there yet, and I sure as hell hope we don’t get there, but the way we avoid that is to hammer this shit down yesterday. If there is anything at all these fuckers respect, it’s a boot to the head, and I say it’s time to start kickin’.

Metaphorically, of course.

So Happy New Year 2017, everybody. This is the year to make fascists afraid again. “You think you’re comin’ for us? I got news. We’re comin’ for you.

now with even more bonus malware

The Digital Reader has an article up on how the new Nook Tablet 7 comes preloaded with some of the most complete rootkit/malware/spyware packages on the planet, which is a tough competition.

Here’s a more complete technical overview on Linux Journal, but the short form is burn it with fire, or, to quote page three: “Realistically, the only safe way to use the BNTV450 would involve a format of the eMMC, and the installation of a third-party ROM, should one become available.”

For bonus points, it’s still vulnerable to the utterly amazing Stagefright exploit which made such news last year. Nice.

So, yeah. If you have one of these, or receive one of these, do not use it at all. Don’t even turn it on. Take it back for a refund immediately. Sorry.

ps: I am no longer surrounded by floppy diskettes. Thank the gods. But check out this floppy diskette that, perhaps unsurprisingly, I could not recover:

That’s not reflection: that’s light showing up through the diskette. Is that nuts or what? This is a 5.25″ floppy diskette pulled from its envelope, showing that somehow, on both sides, the media in those tracks got scraped off down to the clear plastic underneath.

I now have a little collection of media I refer to as ULTRAFUCKED, and this one is their god.

sometimes data recovery involves a flatiron

Check it out – this 5.25″ floppy from a Commodore 128 literally warped. Basically, the outer plastic envelope enclosing the (very floppy!) diskette inside shrank, but only on one side. And none of the others did it either.

It wouldn’t read that way at all, obviously. It threw a “Drive Not Ready” error, which is pretty old-timey hilarious. So I cut the old envelope off along the edges and put the floppy into a different envelope, at which point I got a directory…

…though wow did it still throw a lot of errors when trying to image it. I was thinking, ‘well, 50% is better than 0%, I guess?’ Even though, really, that’s pretty dumb, because there is no real point to this, this is just old Commodore 128 software.

But there wasn’t much Commodore 128-specific software written, so I kept at it, and persistence, sometimes, it pays off!

I still had two block errors, but that’s 99.88% recovery, so that’s pretty awesome.

Most of what I’m looking for here is the first piece of non-mainframe software I had published. It’s on these disks, and it was C128-specific, and 80-column specific, which used to be a thing. And it was kind of a BBSer’s ultimate package – phone book, wardialer, password manager, loadable keyboards so you could talk to PETSKII and AtASCII and IBM-character-graphics systems all equally well (and were attached to each entry in the phonebook, so they’d load automatically), xmodem file transfer, expandable “sidekick” mini-applications like a notecard manager – all written intentionally in uncompiled, interpreted BASIC.

Open source before there was a special word for it, more or less.

But the real point was that I’d just got this amazing new machine, the Commodore 128, and the terminal software that came with the high-speed 1200 baud modem was garbage, and what freeware I could find either didn’t do 80 columns, or, worse, despite being machine language, could not handle the blinding 120 characters per second of 1200 baud modems. They’d drop characters.

So I set out to prove that this was horseshit, and that this machine was being savagely underappreciated. And did. It even got published in a diskette-based magazine called Uptime! – twice. (Version 1.0, which was pure BASIC, and Version 1.1, where I added the sidekick functionality and also said FINE A LITTLE MACHINE CODE IS NOT A BAD THING which added some raw 6502 code to do the xmodem checksum math which made file transfer speeds a lot better.)

Seriously, the terminal emulation loop that did all of these things was 38 bytes long. And it has no apparent exit, because if I had one, it wasn’t fast enough. I’d trapped the system interrupt generated by the RUN/STOP key on the keyboard to use as a COMMAND key, which is a little like making toast with a butane torch, and I’m pretty sure nobody else ever did that. It was hilarious, but it worked.

And that’s how I spent my summer vacation, circa… 1987?

I was a weird kid.

i have never seen a hard drive head crash this pristine

Seriously, this is like the canonical hard drive head crash. This should be some sort of textbook photo or classroom example piece. It’s goddamn beautiful in an elegant-termination way.

If the canon Widowmaker from Overwatch made a hard drive crash, this is what it would look like. Pow.

I’m just glad this was not a studio hard drive. It was one of the old laptops, and had failed a couple of years ago – did I mention that I am dead serious about cleaning out acres of old junk going into the new year? Well, I am.

But… damn. This is almost worth keeping.

more STUFF

I have NEC Multisync (original, 1987) and Multisync II (1988) CRT monitors that both need to have their power supply boards rebuilt. The CRT in one is very good, the CRT in the other is good but has some mild burn-in. I forget which is which and can’t test because they don’t power on now.

Anybody know some old-school CRT hax0rs looking for projects? The CRTs being good is what makes them worthwhile.

(Yes, I am still crawling through the Old Tech Closet. But the end is in sight. Cheer me up by checking out the 2016 singles, all still on hit-the-tip-jar pricing. ^_^ )

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THE NEW SINGLE