solarbird: from display at PAX 2011 (ook)

So, yeah, J-List sent this thing:

C’mon, J-list, if you’re gonna anticipate my surprise medical emergencies, at least put the patch on the right eye!

Surgery went well; for a couple of days I felt like I was filming an extraordinarily monotonous documentary on my own feet (Live from Shoetopia?) because I had to keep my head parallel to the floor and eyes down, but now I can look forward even if I still have a bunch of restrictions. (No looking up, no lying on my back or on my left side, no lifting even somewhat heavy objects, no sleeping without the eye guard (above) no strenuous activity, no driving, no altitude changes of substance – I could go to Portland, say, but not to the dry side – weird eye drops 8x daily, it goes on a bit…)

A lot of these get lifted in a week; a bunch, not for a few weeks.

On the plus side, my right eye is now a microscope! No, seriously, it actually is. There’s an air bubble in it – put there by the surgeon to force the torn part of the retina back into place – and the refraction factor between it and eye fluid is like sixty, which is to say, it acts as a lens! Yes, for the moment, I actually did get a super-power out of this. Sadly, it’s one not worth it, but still: moral victory! Or possibly amoral victory, what with the supervillain thing.

I asked the surgeon whether I had X-Ray vision now and he said, “Not yet.” Interesting.

Y’know, when you have an eye that’s a microscope, you can really tell the difference between retina and non-retina pixels. Seriously it’s like lego and duplo.

Also, my eye looks really scary and gross! Check it:

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (molly-oops)

So, I posted a brilliant bit of cosplay to Tumblr that I found originally over on Facebook (and, as here, I did link back and give source), on Tuesday. It got like six reblogs and a bunch of likes and I forgot about it.

And then on Wednesday morning my Tumblr dash was made entirely of reblog notes, and I looked at the post, and it said 3700 notes… and then jumped to 3800.. and 3900… and now it’s 81,463.

I’ve heard people talk about watching things go viral before, but I’ve never seen it from behind the dashboard? All I could think, really, was “… O.o …”

So, hi, some surprisingly large percentage of Tumblr! And hi, surprisingly large number of people who decided to follow my blog! Nice to meet you! I’m Solarbird, the Lightbringer; my band is Crime and the Forces of Evil; we’re supervillains turned musicians. Occasionally I cosplay, tho’ tbh my last big project was a few years ago; mostly I just fangirl right now. :D I run nwcMUSIC, the annual music festival at the Norwescon science fiction convention, and host The Geekmusic Podcast.

And that’s me. What about you?

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (pingsearch)

Do you read in two quick F-shaped scans? That eyescan study says most of you do. It’s an important question if you’re trying to gain notice on the web – which, as a musician, I of course am. I have two lines, maybe one phrase each, to grab people passing by, before they’re done and out.

Fancy formatting doesn’t help; you’ve learned to think that means ads. Honestly, I think that’s positive adaption, even if it leads to amusing results like 86% of test subjects being unable find the US population on the US Census’s web page, despite the fact that it was bright red and the largest text on the page.

Almost everybody threw it away as an ad, because, frankly, it looks like one.

Two months ago, I rebooted this website. I cleaned it up, simplified some pages, improved organisation, added post collections – lots of starch in the collar. Plays are up, hits are up, revisits are up – all those good things.

But I have enough data now to see that there are two audiences here. You? You’re one of them. You pop in, read an article, and you’re done – particularly if reading on an echo. Some of you use the players on the left; some of you read more posts. A small but cool percentage of you browse collected articles. That’s awesome. Go you!

The other audience will never see this post. They’re like dark matter; there, and massive, but invisible.

In two months, hundreds of people have visited the front page of this website. They play music – primary reboot goal attained! – they look at videos, glance at reviews and press pages, and once in a while hit the contact form. They explore more pages per visit than you do.

And they never come over here. Ever. Unless Google is lying to me, not once in two months has even one of these visitors clicked on “Blog of Evil” in the navigation bar. Not even once.

It’s an astounding result, really. I’d like to get them over here, too; get them engaged.

I don’t know how, yet. I’ve made one small change to the front page of the site, tonight – I’ve changed ‘Latest Schemes from the Blog of Evil’ to read ‘This News Just In from Supervillain Central,’ and linked it to the blog front page. Given the special-text-gets-ignored result in the second study above, I’ve also dimmed it from bright yellow to slightly-less-bright and slightly-more-greenish yellow, to blend in a little more. It’ll take a while to collect enough data to know whether it matters, but the theory is sound.

Maybe I need to change it to “news” or something boring like that. Gods, I hope not. (eta: After some feedback on Livejournal, I realised that whether I like it or not, people weren’t hitting the Blog of Evil link. Let’s try “Blog.” Also “Home” instead of “Story.” I mean, one of the bullet points in the article is Clever phrasing drives away clicks, just as effectively as ad-like text.)

Meanwhile, if you’re in this audience, if you’re here off a search, or a trackback, or you’re just new, I’d like to get you engaged in the other direction.

In some ways, you’re a bigger challenge. Most new posts are read on echos – Tumblr, Livejournal, Dreamwidth, via RSS, and so on. But collections and semi-viral articles like Power and Supervillainy have large numbers of readers on the band site itself. Those people – you – you’re difficult to keep. And while I’m thrilled you – whoever you might be, reading this, in the future – you like my writing enough to get down this far… my art is the music.

That’s the goal.

i know what it means
to work hard on machines
it’s a labour of love
so please don’t ask me why

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (molly-kill-everyone-with-sticks)

The new Pussy Riot single (and video) is out. In short: screw you, Putin.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (music)

How goofy is it that the same day John Scalzi updates about Snailquake – as a proposed companion piece to Sharknado – I simultaneously dig up 20 year old goofy fanzine art I did on Bad Ideas in Mecha Design: MechaSnail?


I actually think that MechaSnail would make a fitting opponent for Sharknado. They’d be highly effective as long as the Sharknado isn’t saltwater OH NO THE SAME FATAL FLAW STRIKES AGAIN WHY DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING MECHASNAIL NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (molly-computer-all-lit-up)
Overnight we doubled our webserver RAM and today quietly (as far as you know XD) set up a server-side cache. Is everything working out there, you guys?

This applies to all our domains - not just the elfmetal site but also things like Anna's author websites and the neighbourhood association - excuse me, associations, Mimi's mural site, and so on.

So now would be a good time to hit the podcast link, btw. Just sayin'. :D

The Geekmusic Podcast: Episode 1
solarbird: (podcast)

A sneak preview for the 15 or so people who might actually see this on Sunday night: I’ve got episode 1 of The Geekmusic Podcast uploaded. YouTube, SoundCloud, direct download from Dropbox. All in one convenient place:

Give it a go? See what happens? Let me know?

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (fascist sons o bitches)
[[This is a manual crosspost. The autocrosspost didn't work this morning for some reason. If you see this post twice, that's because it eventually succeeded. Sorry!]]

If you haven't seen this, it's video of Heather Dale of The Heather Dale Band, trying to get YouTube's attention. They tried to sign up to get micropayments off of YouTube's royalty micropayment system, but YouTube has decided that they don't actually own and didn't actually write their music.

Now, this is bullshit, of course, and Heather has provided (and can again provide) all the evidence of ownership needed. But she's not merely been told she didn't write her own material, she's been told she and her band can't even contest this ruling, or even further contact the programme. And all attempts to contact YouTube at any level have been rebuffed.

And this is, frankly, about par for the course for most of the "social media" environment. YouTube routinely makes bad decisions on ownership - not just bad, but laughably bad. I've had three of my own videos - solo live performances filmed myself or by fans - flagged as DMCA violations of other people's work.

So far, I've been able contest successfully through their automated system, which has surprised me. But seeing Heather and Ben's experiences, I'm becoming more convinced that this has a lot more to do with me not trying to monetise my YouTube channel than anything else. If YouTube doesn't have to give me royalties, or even a meagre percentage of some royalty fractional micropayment, they don't have much incentive to deny my counterclaims when someone or something - more likely some software - throws a bullshit DMCA takedown claim at me.

But if I am trying to get money, well, that's an entirely different story, and I think that's where Heather and Ben are running into trouble.

YouTube really doesn't have incentive for this system to work at all. I rather suspect it exists as a guard against infringement lawsuits. "See? We pay out." But if you don't have the money to hire a big enough lawyer to go up against Google when YouTube's lackadaisical system fails, well, screw you.

Because honestly, what's their incentive for having a good process, much less making the right decision? They're a large, public corporation; if there's not a monetary incentive, there is no incentive, and there's not a monetary incentive here.

Simply put, such incentive doesn't exist.

So. It ends up being once again who you know. They're looking for an actual person inside YouTube or Google who can override the autoresponders and let them get the royalties they're due under this programme. Are you that person? If not, do you know that person? Heather and Ben are more sanguine about that person being out there than am I. Hopefully, they're right. Go tell them.
solarbird: (shego-cosplay)

Hi, visitors from The Old New Thing! Nice to meet you! Welcome to rage-driven acoustic elfmetal.

I know you’re here for the triple-rainbow pictures and the aftereffects of the Rainmaker 68000, but if you get a chance to listen to our music or watch any of Dara’s solo-performance video, that’d be awesome too.

We’re currently in studio working on our new album (Din of Thieves), a second project involving a book soundtrack for a fantasy novel series, and a couple of side-projects with other bands. Lots of planning, lots of plotting, lots of mayhem, hopefully lots of sales! Ah, a supervillain musician can dream, can’t she?

Anyway, no rest for the wicked and all that. We’ve moved a bunch of wires around so more of you should be seeing this. Thanks for coming by, and thanks to Raymond for the link. ^_^

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (gypsy mst3k)

Hopefully I’ve talked about nwcMUSIC enough that you know, but if you don’t: it’s a geekmusic festival held at the Norwescon SF convention, and I run it.

We’re having our first ever away-from-convention event in two weeks, on Sunday, October 28th, from 2-8pm. It’s a play event; what filkers would call a housefilk, what nerdcore people would call a cypher, and not entirely unlike what Irish musicians would call a session, but with people taking turns instead of everybody playing all at once.

However you count it, it’s a chance to come and play with other musicians across geekmusic genres. Or that’s what I’m hoping for, anyway. Relaxed and fun, and there’ll be snax. :D You can also come just to listen, but it’s not a stage show, so don’t expect anything that formal.

Email me for details! RSVPs are requested but not required, because I want to know what snax to buy. I don’t want to post the address because, um, it’s my house. We can’t afford to rent a venue yet. XD

Relatedly, remember how I posted the 80s stage fan musical Wrath Side Story a couple of months ago, recovered from dying VHS videotape?

There was a sequel. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, also recovered from ancient VHS videotape (but with far better sound and marginally better video)…

Star Trek III: Spock Pacific

Again, the sight gags are broad enough that they work okay even with the video, and most of the humour is in the dialogue, anyway. It’s very, very silly. Enjoy. ^_^

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (Default)
[ profile] annathepiper points everybody at [ profile] save_liz, which is helping [ profile] denelian with her medical issues and the resulting school clusterfuck, which you can read about here. Also you can read Anna's post about it here, which would probably be good.
solarbird: (cheating-at-scrabble)
So LJ is being skeevy and stripping your referral links for online retailers and substituting their own. This is true for Amazon and several other retailers, so instead of you getting your micropayment for referring someone to a retailer for a purchase they get it instead. I hear that now that it's been found they're supposedly going to stop, but jeez, guys, skeevy or what? Also violates the fuck out of Amazon's affiliate TOS, which matters because LJ has to be an affiliate to be able to receive the moneys, and so is bound by it.

Anyway, be aware. Dreamwidth isn't doing this shit, so if you don't have a DW account, you could get one, mirror posts, and tell people to click on the DW link instead of the LJ link. Also, the stripping doesn't work if you use TinyURL or or the other URL shortening services, so you could just use those instead.
solarbird: (molly-computer-all-lit-up)
% whois

Record expires on 21-Jan-2018.
Record created on 24-May-2009.
Database last updated on 18-Dec-2009 01:36:19 EST.

Domain servers in listed order:


% host NS1.P26.DYNECT.NET
Using domain server:
Aliases: has address mail is handled by 10 mail is handled by 20

% host has address mail is handled by 20 mail is handled by 10

The traceroutes, of course, lead off to entirely different directions. The best part is that the server they, um, borrowed couldn't begin to handle the twitter load, so they've kind of DDOSed themselves.

eta: Courtesy whoever this is, a screenshot resaved locally here.

eta2: See also Fandom Lounge.

eta3: They really didn't plan this well; they didn't even manage to set up all the servers they wanted to use.

eta4: Well, that didn't take long. Back up. But:

% whois

Record expires on 21-Jan-2018.
Record created on 24-May-2009.
Database last updated on 18-Dec-2009 02:23:20 EST.

Domain servers in listed order:


Seriously? Are you shitting me? The hax were so lame that this is all it took? Oh man, somebody is so fired.

eta5: Over on metafilter, people are speculating about mass password grabs, and I don't want to diss that possibility, but I don't think they appreciate how quickly (and spectacularly!) the lamehax servers fell over, and how at least one of them didn't even get set up right (see eta3).
solarbird: (cheating-at-scrabble)
Interview with Richard Cleland of the FTC regarding new rules requiring individual bloggers - specifically including unpaid bloggers of any kind - include disclosures with reviews of any sort - books, devices, and so on. Book reviews are the big cranky right now, because it's normal for publishers to send out a bunch of copies of any book for review, for free, with no expectation that they be returned. This has been true for decades. I've received an assload of such books and I still have a fair number of them. Newspapers, et al, don't have to disclose that; the FTC is taking the position that bloggers should be treated differently and be subject to disclosure requirements. Even when, say, tweeting a picoreview. No lie. Oh look, I think it's time for a visit by

...yeah, there we are.
solarbird: (pindar-most-unpleasant)
There is a newly discovered Flash/Adobe Reader vulnerability with a day zero exploit requiring no user interaction. All you need to do is visit a webpage with Flash on it (and I note that most ads are in Flash) with the exploit. There is no patch at this time.

Aspects of this vulnerability affect all Intel platforms with Flash, Adobe Reader, Acrobat, or other Flash-enabled software packages, including OSX and Linux. The currently-existing exploit has a payload; it is not just proof-of-concept.

eta: By "Intel platforms," I mean, "Intel instruction set platforms." That includes AMD, and is not a fault of the chipset. The exploit runs Intel/AMD instruction set code, so will of course be meaningless on PPC, Alpha, and so on.

now wait

May. 3rd, 2009 11:59 am
solarbird: (cheating-at-scrabble)
Why isn't WOM a word? For Lexulous, I mean. Neither is NARM or LOM. I mean, c'mon, they're perfectly good fake internet words! And this is perfectly good fake internet scrabble! What the hell, people? WHAT THE HELL?

Also )
solarbird: (Default)
Good morning! All you new people really picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue start reading my LJ, because this week is the week of Norwescon, and I work this thing, and it's a big convention, and I have an absolute crapton of stuff to do this week, so there won't be a lot of updates. Sorry!

That said, I'll try to throw a couple of things up this week anyway - at least, until Wednesday evening, when I'll be on-site for the convention. Like, check out the Yen action today. The dollar is stronger against the Yen than it has been in months, and it's out of line with other trading, so interesting. I don't know what it means yet, though. And Glenn Greenwald has a long and rather depressing column outlining the personnel swaps that allow regulatory capture by the financial system over the regulators. It sounds dull, but it's not; you really should read it. These relationships are why and how we see looting operations like this one, which will be executed to get around to get around executive compensation and other limits attached to taxpayer bailouts by Congress, just for example. So you probably should read that. C.f. also this commentary on Treasury Secretary Geithner's Gift To Pimco, one of the bailout plans shilled as likely to make a profit that in fact only actually works if taxpayers take huge losses.

You might also find Mish's in-depth analysis of the housing data from March to be of interest, as well as the sleepy ol' New York Times finally noticing how gosh darn it those initial jobless numbers just keep coming in way too rosy, and getting revised sharply down a month or two later when nobody's paying attention. He notes:
Here are the total job losses reported for recent months, as originally reported and as shown in the latest revisions.

August 2008: Initially 84,000, revised to 175,000

September 2008: Initially 159,000, revised to 321,000

October 2008: Initially 240,000, revised to 380,000

November 2008: Initially 533,000, revised to 597,000

December 2008: Initially 524,000, revised to 681,000

January 2009: Initially 598,000, revised to 655,000

February 2009: Initially 651,000, as released today.

On average, from August through January, the first estimate was too optimistic by 112,000 jobs.
Pretty cool, huh? Mish also has some more hammering on the BLS's "birth/death model" here - you know, the one that's adding tens of thousands of theoretical jobs to the employment data every month in the middle of this recession.

Also, courtesy Karl at Market Ticker, we have this tasty article on mortgage insurers not paying off in whole - only in partial payments with IOUs for later. Good luck with that, guys. It's making life harder for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are of course now taxpayer responsibility!

But the biggest and mostly not covered story - it's still developing - is that the data indicate that foreign central banks aren't going to finance much of the US's 2009 fiscal deficit, at the same time that deficit is going to be hugemongous in ways that redefine both huge and mongous. Central banks aren't buying treasuries; there have been some very strange T-bill auctions lately; it appears as though purchases are going to have to be domestic, which means you're going to have the recent tricks you've been seeing with the Fed et al buying Treasuries. And there's no good way out of that. There just isn't.

There'll be more, should I have time later.

eta: Holy crap: "The world's leading central banks on Monday said they would set up swap arrangements that would allow the U.S. Federal Reserve to provide foreign-currency liquidity to U.S. financial institutions." And the dollar index is up today?
solarbird: (cake)
Courtesy [ profile] ursulav: Rum health diet drives deer to snack on chicks.

Just the heads.


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