solarbird: (tracer)

Remember that novella I’ve been writing, On Overcoming the Fear of Spiders? It’s finished. 32 chapters, a bit under 35,000 words (there is a canon digression linked at the appropriate time, but not contained within the primary volume, that boosts the word count), and I’m rather pleased to hear from a couple of readers who do not know anything about the Overwatch world that it makes sense even to them. They know there are emotional beats they’re missing, but it still works as a story.

I wasn’t specifically trying to do that, but I’m really quite pleased that it happened.

If you don’t know the lore at all, but are interested, here’s the original animated short introducing the world of the game, and here is the animated short “Alive” that featured Widowmaker. You’ll see the latter story in short form in Chapter 10, but in the cinematic, the chemistry between Amélie and Lena is absolutely smokin’, which spawned a lot of ships.

(If you really find yourself getting into the lore, here’s the official site, including the comic that confirmed Tracer – the literal face of the game, she’s on the cover of the box – is a lesbian.)

Also, you should know that in canon, in-universe, we ‘know’ that Amélie Lacroix was kidnapped by Talon and recovered apparently well but in actuality neurally reconditioned to assassinate her husband, the head of anti-Talon operations at Overwatch. After that, she went on to become a supposedly-emotionless assassin who feels only satisfaction at the success of her kills.

We are also given a lot of clues in both lore and game that this is at least in some parts a pile of lies, and that we are supposed to figure that out.

Anyway, this has been an experience like few others for me – it is literally more fiction than I’ve written, combined, before, in my life, and I actually tried writing fiction for real in college. I even got published once, in a little Ontario small-press magazine for a token $20 payment. But it was always like pulling teeth, whereas this was more like just trying to stay afloat on top of the tsunami as it carried me forward. I’ve had that feeling for individual songs before, but never for fiction.

I really liked it. I hope it happens again.

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solarbird: (fox do want)

This Sunday I’m going in to Someone Else’s Studio for what is really technically an academic exercise; the lead singer/songwriter of Leannan Sidhe and her group need someone to record for… it’s not a graduation exercise? But she’s very close to graduation and it’s a big project.

So I showed up yesterday and met with her and her two co-engineers, and poked around at songs to do, and we pretty quickly settled on “Supervillain For I Love You,” which I’ve just recently revised (and I think improved, which is pretty typical for my work as I perform it) and we start talking microphones.

And turns out they’re really into this song, apparently, because suddenly they were all talking about who else they can bring in and how big a band we can assemble, and now we’re in the large studio and besides me and my zouk and the chorus there’s a bassist and a pianist and a guitarist and possibly a horn section and they were working out a drumkit part I think that’s all but I’m not entirely sure.

Now as this is happening I realise, I’ve seen this before, on video, where, you know, Real Musicians Are In The Real Studio, because let’s face it, as happy as I am with the little one I built, it’s still a tiny studio and I can only play so many instruments, and only one at a time. I’m usually working alone.

So this Sunday may in fact be – outside voiceover and radio work, of course – the most “pro”-like recording experience I’ve ever had. Eep?

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solarbird: (tracer)

It might be silly, but for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been doing something I have almost never done before, and never this much: I’ve been writing fiction, and lots of it. Overwatch fanfic, to be specific.

Over the winter holidays, Overwatch held a couple of events, and released a comic, called Reflections. It’ the one where we find out completely and totally unambiguously that Tracer, the literal face of the game, the character on the box, is queer. We meet her girlfriend, they smooch, it is inarguable text.

It was like a second Korrasami just fell out of the air and landed on us, and it was wonderful.

But we also see a single panel of Widowmaker, from the back, standing, looking to me despondent, at Gérard’s grave. (For those who don’t know: he was her husband, and her first official target as an assassin.) It’s one of what I consider to be several hints dropped that her official backstory is a lie. And there have been a bunch of people – since the beginning – shipping Tracer and Widowmaker, which to me is nonsensical in canon, because Lena would never forgive Amélie for killing Mondatta in the cinematic video “Alive.”

Lost yet? Sorry, there’s no way out but through. Anyway, one of these shippers did a marvellous and touching comic set a few minutes after that single frame of Widowmaker, with her and Venom – the version of Tracer who is with Talon, not Overwatch. And I liked it so much, I started thinking, “How would we actually get here? What would it take?”

Now, I’ve never really been a fiction writer, but I can make take characters’ lives and seriously fuck them up, but good. And, unlike certain writers (cough cough m*ff*t cough) I care about trying to make it work in character. And the analytical engine in the back of my brain started churning.

Then a couple of weeks ago, it just started falling out. I feel almost less like “writer” here than “transcriber.” It’s still short – a novelette – but Chapter 12 went up today. There have kind of been 13, but one is out of continuity and not listed with the main work, because it’s kind of an AU-to-my-own-AU aside.

Fortunately, it’s not all I can think about, but holy crow is it dominating my brainspace. I have new relationship energy with writing? Apparently? Or something? I don’t even know. (Seriously, it feels like NRE. It’s goofy.)

And since I’ve checked with actual writers and am told this is a thing that happens, I’m willing to admit to this story about my story.

I was in spawn point one on offence in Gibraltar, as Tracer (of course), and looking out the upper-floor window to see how the defence was setting up. Surprisingly few people do this, given how useful it is.

And Widowmaker came up beside me, to do the same thing, in full Talon-wear, and we said hello, like you do, and she looked through her scope to get a better view, and suddenly I saw her through Venom’s eyes.

Now, I have issues with Widowmaker’s character design, and a lot of them are probably pretty obvious, but leave those aside for the moment. Seeing her as Venom – as my Talon Tracer – sees her… even for for just that moment, she literally took my breath away.

If that’s what the tracermaker shippers have been seeing this whole time… hoo boy. Now, I really get it.

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solarbird: (tracer)

So where the hell have I been for the last week?

Well, last post as about Anna’s sinus surgery, and first: it went fine, she’s fine, we’re going back today to have the nose splints removed. There’ll still be a couple of more weeks of recovery. But there was a lot more aftercare than I realised – including tending about every 20 minutes for the first three days, all day. And while none of it was difficult, that does kind of disrupt one’s ability to do anything.

Except, apparently, code. So I have my first sizable coding project in a while – if CSS counts a code, anyway – and it makes Dreamwidth work on mobile in a way that looks like it was actually meant to be used on mobile. Seriously. Here’s the latest post on that project, you want the bleeding-edge version and please do report bugs on that Dreamwidth post.

Also, there has been far more Overwatch than usual. I haven’t beaten the current event on Expert yet, but I’ve beaten the levels below. I tried the highest level a couple of times, but we only made it to the church once and barely got there.

So that’s where I’ve been. How’ve you been doing?

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solarbird: (utena-with-anthy)

My partner Anna and I are off to the hospital. Don’t worry, it’s a planned visit, even though it does involve sinus surgery, for her. When she was a very little kid, her brother accidentally broke her nose, and over time that turned into a deviated septum, and, over time, that has turned into sleeping problems, so – we’re off to get it fixed.

It’s fairly small surgery, and outpatient, but any surgery involving general anaesthesia is a big deal. We’ll be there most of the day, and there will be a couple of weeks of recovery. But the blog will be back to normal tomorrow, I hope!

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solarbird: (tracer)

Here at the Lair we’ve been proud of running – as a server, on the actual internet – a machine literally from 1995, with original motherboard CPU and everything. The plan has been to run it ’till it died, because we can.

But unfortunately, we really do need to build a new proper programmable router, so we can put the terrible, terrible Comcast router into bridge mode. (Seriously: this router is terrible.) And the 1995 machine is… not fast, so we can’t use it, even though that was its original job, years ago.

(It’s a P5-166. No, really. Thank you, Debian.)

But I haven’t built a router in a while. I want to run Debian Linux on it so it can also run DNS and a couple of other small services the current P166 runs, and it wouldn’t hurt for it to have three cards inside either – one for the fixed-IP side of the LAN, one for the DHCP side.

SO!

Anybody have recommendations? I’m thinking about gigabit network cards in particular – what has the best, most reliable, fastest drivers, what specifically to avoid, things like that. As above, we’re going to be running Debian for a a bunch of reasons.

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solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)

Livejournal’s new Russian Federation-compliant Terms of Service has a lot of bad things in it – seriously, real bad, like, half my journal bad – but this is probably the tripwire for me:

[The user must] Mark Content estimated by Russian legislation as inappropriate for children (0-18) as “adult material” by using Service functions.

Any mention of anything LGBT-related (with some exceptions for condemnation) is 19+ in the Russian Federation, by law. It’s part of the legal structure they use to beat down on queers.

They also have a big “no” on “political solicitation materials” and that’s also pretty fatal for me – seriously, have you read my LJ – but this, yeah, I will not mark my journal “adult content” because I’m queer. Fuck that, and fuck them.

So the only question really is whether I hit accept on the ToS and just ignore it. Or whether I delete my journal (which goes back to when it was running in Brad’s dorm room at UW) and then open a new blank one with the same name just to keep the user account solarbird, or some dumbass thing like that.

As of this morning, despite crossposting being disabled since Monday pending acceptance of new terms, I have the 364th most popular LJ, at least in the Latin character set side of the world. It’s pretty obvious now that we’re done here.

(More bits of analysis here and here – both are Dreamwidth links.)

eta: Important translation of applicable Russian censorship laws here, on Tumblr. This is 400% about speech repression.

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solarbird: (poor kitty!)

Heading north to Vancouver Island for a music workshop. Minion Anna has been going to this Qualicum Beach event for a couple of years, and she’s dragging me along this time. I’m even taking the thrift-shop viLOLin, as it is technically an instrument, and, well, let’s see how badly I can torture this cat. It should be painful hilarious a learning experience.

Possibly for others more than me. Just sayin’. 😀

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solarbird: (gaz)

Turns out it’s not just me having racism and misogyny problems in Overwatch competitive. I saw Wil Wheaton reblog this article from mic.com about it, as well as this thread on the Reddit Overwatch forum, and yeah – it did get a lot worse in Season III.

And so far, nobody official seems to be doing much about it. And people doing it won’t stop until it hurts them, so I’m definitely going with my announcement and plan as a de rigueur thing before all competitive matches in Series IV.

Meanwhile, back in quickplay, I’ve started singing what I call the Tracer Tank song again, because Tracer is a tank in the right circumstances and the right levels. NO, SHE IS, REALLY. I have golded so many times for objective time as Tracer that it’s hilarious.

Tracer tank / Tracer tank
movin’ the payload
’cause somebody has to

where the fuck is Reinhardt?
where the fuck is D.va?
i could be that Reinhardt
if i really wanted

let’s all move the payload
i said everybody
okay fine I’ll do it
objective gold again

I mean, think about it. If you’re on offence in a payload level, and you’re good at her dodging motion/blinking/rewind, it works out to an effective hitpoint/armour total of easily 350 points, assuming only one rewind – much more if you’re lucky and good. I have beaten back one-on-three facedowns across the payload, more than once.

How does that work? Base health/armour of 150. Near-double that to 290 from your own health, doubled, with use of rewind. You get 10 points per second back from being on the payload; survive five seconds – not hard if you are good with her movement – and that’s another 100 points (with the single rewind), which gets you up to 390. Survive 10 seconds, that’s 490. Survive 15, 590.

Survive, oh, 2:09 like I did in one game last night as Tracer Tank? That’s 2580+300 hit/armour points (tho’ that assumes more rewinds, as it would), for a total of 2880.

Bulletproof. Reinhardt? Roadhog? Paper people.

And that’s not even getting into how the payload is functionally a motion-restricted shield with infinite hit points and infinite duration.

Tracer is a tank.

(Really, of course, Tracer shouldn’t be your group’s tank. For one thing, this whole shtick falls apart if they have a Sombra who knows what she’s doing. Even without that, it’s not Tracer’s best mode, and usually if I’m doing it, the team I’m on isn’t very good. But we all know the number of people that just won’t get on the goddamn payload, right? I was on one of those a couple of days ago where I literally solo-escorted the payload from Objective A to (just short of) the Eichenwald castle gate entirely by myself. It was hilarious.)

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solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)

Sorry I haven’t been doing much with the band blog lately. Frankly, all my blogging energy has been used working against the literal fascist movement which has grabbed partial power and is trying to grab more.

I blog at Dreamwidth and it’s echoed to Livejournal. Here’s my post on Milo’s support of child pedastry, for example, which I wrote last night. The Republicans have been fine with his vicious misogyny, overt and savage white supremacy, and slanderous attacks on transgendered people; let’s see if they’re also on board with 28-year-old men fucking 13 year old boys.

I mean, we already know they’re fine with 50-year-old men raping 13 year old girls, but everybody knows the only way to end up dead in politics is to get caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy. Because boys are valuable and girls aren’t.

Apparently, CPAC (biggest conservative political conference, where he has a headline speech this year) and his fans in general all knew about this already – the interview I’m quoting ran over a year ago. And they’re okay with that. Monstrous filth.

Anwyay, I’ve been getting used to being back in full-time war mode for a couple of months now. Since this movement has always hated women and queers (unless, apparently, they’re pederast fascists), I’ve had to do this my whole life – but I had kind of some time off for a little while, and it made me soft. Hopefully I can return to band stuff more regularly, as I start to feel more ramped up on all this again.

Hopefully.

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solarbird: (gaz)

Is it just me, or is Overwatch competitive mode becoming kind of a cesspit? I had to drop from another game due to misogynists going on – at me specifically – about feminist “cunts.” I’ve had to drop other games due to people going off on killing all the “ni**ers” and just chanting white supremacist horseshit into voice chat, too.

I actually called this round’s douchebag leader on a lighter weight rant a couple of minutes before, when they were going off about horrible feminists, saying, “I’m trying to figure out how to respond to this, as the actual feminist on this team who is the also only one actually taking the point,” and they shut up for a minute or two after I’d captured half of the point solo. (We’d’ve taken the whole thing right then if anyone else had showed up, but I can only play one-on-four for so long.)

But after we captured the first point and started our first big push on the second, they doubled down, so mid-push I just said “You know what, fuck this, fuck all of you, enjoy losing, I’m out” and dropped, leaving them five-on-six and without their time-on-point and kills leader.

Unfortunately, while that does cost them, it costs me more than them in ranking. So I’ve come up with something better. Next time I’m in competitive, I’m going to go on team chat first thing and say some variation on:

Hiya! Tracer here. So, apparently, this is a thing you have to say now, which is horrible, but:

If you’re going to hijack team chat to go on some racist or misogynist rant, my response will be to go back to spawn and practice wall climbing and stuff until you quit or we lose. I’m not joking, that’s just what’s gonna happen, ’cause I don’t game with dickbags.

So if that’s anybody’s plan, please, go ahead and drop now, it’s not an official game yet, and we can all go play with better people.

Nobody? Great.

I haven’t done this before now because I’ve been too antsy about getting back into competitive at all, because of how nasty my last several experiences have been. But that is nonetheless my plan.

In related news, in quickplay yesterday there was someone with a Pepe-the-Frog-type name on enemy team. He may have been backfill, because I didn’t spot him at game start. But once I spotted him in the game, I went after and killed him immediately, and made it my first priority the rest of the game to find and kill him first, without fail.

I killed him like five times. As far as I could tell, he was never a factor in the game again, and we completely steamrolled his team. (Even before that. I just accelerated the process, because fuck you you kek-worshipping neofascist numerologist shitfiend, just fuck you.)

So I encourage everyone else who is not a total douchebag Overwatch player to join me in one or both of these routines, ’cause there’s sure as hell no way PSN is going to do anything about it. I’ll probably get some shit – particularly for the speech – but I don’t fucking care anymore, I’m sick of this.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love this game. I was in pretty early and re-optimised our network and even bought a PS4 Pro so I could play it better. (Minion Paul’s PS4 was crashy.) But you pull this crap, and I will make it cost you, on my team or not. And if I earn a rep, so be it. This is a rep I am perfectly fine with earning, because I am done.

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as expected

Feb. 7th, 2017 01:52 pm
solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)

As expected, Betsy DeVos has been confirmed as secretary of education. When the two GOP “no” votes were announced a few days ago, I knew that meant the other 48 were locked down; I’ve been around this carousel before.1

But the fights right now are mostly not about winning. We’re going to lose these. The GOP have power and don’t give a fuck about you, and that’s been official since the Hastert Rule.2 What these fights are about are having the ability to keep fighting. About keeping possibly meaningful elections, things like that. We’re fighting a six-month war to fight a two-year war to fight a four-year war, as a start.3

So I’ve been beating this drum for a while and I’m going to keep beating it: until opposition start paying attention to state and local elections, nothing will change. The situation on the ground for the Democratic Party is nightmarish, because Democrats much of the time just can’t be bothered, and gerrymandering will continue to make the Federal level worse. There is no – I mean zero – probability of a Republican turnaround on gerrymandering for the foreseeable future, and therefore no likelihood of political relief on that front except possibly through citizen initiative.

They have power; they don’t care about how they get it; they will use all tools possible until and unless they are forced to stop. Do not appeal to decency, do not appeal to fairness, because they do not fucking care. Get it through your head: no fucks are given beyond “do Republicans keep power”? There may be some local pockets of exceptions, but push comes to shove, they will go along. All but without fail. Know this.

(Also, people are talking about terrible poll numbers for Trump? 86% of Republicans approve of his performance as of day 16. That’s all that matters to them. If those numbers start to fall in-party, then the situation changes – but not before.)

So. If your state is Republican but has has citizen initiatives, your Federal option is to put together a popular state initiative to force meaningful district reform. This will take some time. Outrage, complaints, do it because it’s good PR – and more importantly, keeps you within the Overton window – but it won’t change results. You need initiatives. There are rumours of some kind of coordinated effort to start working on this, but I haven’t seen anything I can pin down. That’d be a good thing to pin down.

The bigger deal is that you have to start PAYING ATTENTION to the BORING LOCAL CRAP. Learn that it matters. Figure out your state and local governments, know who your reps are, and get working on them. Because in the end, that’s where political power starts.

It’s a long fight. Don’t get yourself burned out, because it’s going to get worse before it gets better; there is no magic solution, there is no fast solution. It’s a long haul grind, and even when you win, don’t think it’s over – we thought fascism was over, and oh look, now we’ve got neofascists and white nationalists in the White House.

Deal with that, accept it, because this is what it takes. Not dealing with that – well…

…that’s how we got here.
 


1: Don’t be fooled; we never had an actual shot here. The Republican Party has the discipline of an authoritarian parliamentary party and gives no fucks outside its own. The two “no” votes were allowed solely to give them political cover for the constituencies; they were knowingly-harmless-to-DeVos “no” votes, as political cover. If their votes were actually needed, they would’ve been “yes.” This is standard party procedure in the Senate; has been for decades, as anyone who has gone through this enough times can tell you – Harry Reid was a master of this, and this was simple Reid playbook copypasta. THAT DOES NOT MEAN DON’T FIGHT: first, all resistance makes them expend money and time (the latter being in shorter supply than the former), and second, it keeps the Overton window where you need it. The fight still matters, just… don’t expect to win these.

2: No bill can proceed without a majority of Republicans in support, regardless of House total support or popular support. That’s the weak form. The strong form – aspired to by the “Permanent Republican Majority” crowd – was “no bill can proceed unless it can pass entirely by Republican votes.” The explicit intent of the strong form was to make opposition parties irrelevant. I think it’s pretty clear they’re going for the strong form now.

3: The six-month war at the Federal level is keeping a court system. That’ll be hard. At the popular level, it’s maintaining some elements of consensus reality. (“Anything I don’t like” being “Fake news.”) We lose that, we’ve lost everything, and it’s harder than keeping the court system. Bannon, Trump, and both the fundamentalist and authoritarian movements want to eliminate the courts as a check-and-balance, and override fact-based media and decision making, both to clear the way for complete power. If we win the six-month war, the two-year war is probably going to add focus around fighting Attorney General Sessions. You’ll note I’m already using the title – his appointment won’t be stopped, and it’ll probably be 54-46. If somehow we can make it 52-48, I’ll consider that much a big victory. But the two-year war will be around preserving voting rights, and it will also be hard. Very hard indeed.

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factory

Jan. 23rd, 2017 08:30 am
solarbird: (gun good job)

Several months ago, Klopfenpop loaned me a teenage engineering CA-16 pocket operator, a.k.a. the “factory” model, a synth-sequencer-noisemaker in pocket-calculator form. And then Anna bought me one a few weeks ago! Which was amazing.

I’m still pretty confused by it (I’ve never used a sequencer for anything except drums which is somehow totally different even though it’s not) and I am trying to get my head around the actual feature set. I’m not traditionally good at interfaces that require you to just kind of remember what’s stored where? So I’m going to have to learn to use this thing by actually reading the instructions, which is totally unlike how I have learned every other instrument ever, which has always been “fuck with it until neat sounds come out.”

Like, right now I’m kind of confused about the factory patterns vs. patterns you store yourself and I’m not sure if the ones you store yourself overwrite factory patterns or not. I’d think they must but the instructions are not specific and being a “Never Erase what you Can’t Replace” person I’m hesitant just to, you know, try it. Because DATA.

(yes, this is goofy. but still true.)

But I certainly like making it make really annoying noises so I guess really it’s all okay. 😀

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solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)

Well, it’s zero day, a.k.a. go time. What do we do?

Shore up some bulwarks, is what.

First: get your local governments into non-cooperation mode with the new administration’s overtly racist, misogynist, and fascist agenda. Yes, fascist. Maybe not Mr. Trump; he’s just an egomaniacal authoritarian, but people like Steve Bannon? Absolutely.

Work on that now. Don’t just try to get them to oppose it until it starts happening for real – because if he keeps his campaign promises, it is going to happen – but to get them to refuse to cooperate from day one. Particularly with the mass deportation plans and Muslim registry plans, as a start.

Whereever you are, you need to establish: we don’t do this. Our governments don’t do this. We Don’t Do This Here, full stop.

We’re talking local governments because those are the ones you can actually reach. If you write to your city council, odds are real good you’ll get a response. Same with county, most of the time, and generally, state representatives. Occasionally you’ll maybe even get something from the governor.

So you need to phone or write:

  • Your local city council (if you have one)
  • Your local county council
  • State representatives and state Senators (or equivalents)
  • Your Governor

With messages hitting these points:

  • Mr. Trump has promised to deport 2-3 million people effectively immediately.
  • Mr. Trump has promised to create a registry of Muslims, and throughout the transition, continued to develop that plan.
  • This is unacceptable. (Neither these plans or any plan like them can be done under colour of law; they are intrinsically barbaric, uncivil, indiscriminate, and unlawful; they are immoral, illegal, and wrong; pick your phrasing. It’s all true.)
  • Your [city|county|state] must refuse to cooperate in any way. (This is not who I am as a person, this is not who we are as a (city, county, state), this is not who we are as a people, and this must not be what we become. Pick your phrasing.)

I think the phrase “refuse to cooperate” is critical, because it means “even once it starts, don’t give in, don’t stop fighting.”

Once you’ve done it, try to get other people to do it too. We need a meme of non-cooperation; we need to normalise non-cooperation, and states matter. Counties matter. Cities matter. The Feds get a lot less done if they have no local help.

Talk it up. Tell other people. Make it happen.

Second: don’t let other people normalise any of this. Not media, not anybody. One explicit goal of the white supremacist and misogynist ~~alt-right~~ shitheel pack is to make their racism and overt hatred of women socially acceptable, to move the Overton window even further over into douchebag territory. Deny it.

Last night gaming, I ran into some guy who started gleefully chanting racist slogans and n****r n****r n****r into Overwatch team chat. For fun. That can’t stand, so I hit my mike and said, “Fuck you, I don’t play with racist motherfuckers. I’m out” and dropped on them mid game. Even if he didn’t individually care, even if nobody else dropped after I did, everybody got a tiny demonstration: this will cost you something, even if the momentary cost is trivial.

Do not game with fascists, do not work with fascists, do not cooperate with fascists, do not negotiate with fascists. Do not hand fascists a platform.

Why? Because their agenda is intrinsically uncivil – as all eliminationist agendae are – and therefore, they do not get civility. They have abandoned any legitimate claim to it. The only claim being made is to raw power, and that’s the only thing they care about – or that matters. They don’t get a debate, they get a – metaphorical – boot to the head.

So never let any of that shit just go by. Resistance has to be personal. Fascism, misogyny, racism – it has to have a daily cost. In social life, in standing, in money, in whatever way it can be had. When all that matters is power, when all that counts is what you can get away with, then all that works in response… is taking that power away. Yeah, it might be socially uncomfortable at times, but deal with it – because if they have their way, they’ll make millions of peoples lives a whole hell of a lot worse than “socially uncomfortable.”

So get out there, and give ’em hell. Everywhere you can, be it small change, be it big money, be it grit in the gears, be it sand in the eyes, scale doesn’t matter when it’s coming in from every front.

Every chance you get: make ’em pay.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
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solarbird: (Lecturing)

All those posts I made about data cleanup and old hard drive data recovery got someone I know from my old SF club interested in his old Amiga hard drives, which he sent me, and which I imaged for him, and did as much file recovery as I could.

One of them was just fine – complete image, files pulled off separately as well, life is good. The other…

This is what’s actually in the disk’s partition table.

And for those who have no idea what that means: disks can be divided up into smaller disks, more or less. There are reasons to do this, mostly on servers, mostly not workstations, but whatever. These are called partitions.

This particular drive is cut up into six, count ’em, six partitions, sort of, except that two are completely broken and one is made up of parts that are also at the same time parts of two other partitions, and just kind of… overlayed atop each other.

Spoiler: this don’t work.

It’s like if you got to chapter two of a book, and midway through, chapter three appeared, overprinted and interleaved with the second half of chapter two. And after chapter two ended, chapter four picked up, printed underneath the rest of chapter three, making chapter four unreadable. But you can still make out chapter three if you squint.

There is no partition utility in the world which would let you do this.

The amazing thing is that I managed to recover the contents of both “TWork” partitions, which is a lot like getting chapters two and three from my analogy back and sorted out separately and readable. Couldn’t do anything for chapter four, though. And chapter six… I don’t know what happened there. It’s some kind of goddamn chainsaw murder scene with horror movie implications.

Sadly, both of these drives did the all-too-common very-old-drives-out-of-storage thing, where I managed to image them and pull contents, but after one last heat up/cool down, they just said “aaaaand we’re done here” ’cause that seems to be that. They’ll work long enough to come online, but the Viking won’t even stay up long enough to format it, and the Quantum ST will format, but will only let you write between 10 and 60 megs before taking itself offline and hiding from the controller until you reboot the machine. So no eBay listings for these.

Still, I’m happy. I made enough auctioning off all this old stuff to buy another microphone kit and I am closing in on another toy. Expect more DIY studio gear posts! It’ll be fun. 😀

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solarbird: (Lecturing)

“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?

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
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solarbird: (Lecturing)

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.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
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solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)

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.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
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solarbird: (Lecturing)

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.

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more STUFF

Dec. 16th, 2016 11:08 am
solarbird: (pingsearch)

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. ^_^ )

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
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