lovingboth: (Default)
.. contain 'BUNDLE_PRICE_TEST_1M_UK_C', you can tell someone's doing some market research.

If you go to The Guardian's homepage today, what price are you offered if you click on the 'Support the Guardian' banner?

Spoiler?! )
lovingboth: (Default)
Oh noes! Someone's trying to hack an account that doesn't exist!

Unusual sign-in activity
We detected something unusual about a recent sign-in to the Microsoft account 8050303@(me).com
details:
Country/region: Romania
IP address: 869.3.58.913

Well yes, that is unusual...

I don't think I'll be biting.
lovingboth: (Default)
.. is that it reminds you what programs you're actually using when you can't find them any more.

For updating here, I use Drivel as a Linux client. It's not been updated in years, to the point that Debian dropped it as a package at some point since the release of Wheezy in 2013.

I'm a bit surprised that no-one seems to have done anything better, on Linux at least. Is there one I'm not aware of?
lovingboth: (mini me + poo)

Someone I know makes a habit of saying that whenever someone has a serious computer problem like a hard drive failure or stolen laptop or…, and wants their help getting data back. Amazingly, I don't think anyone's punched them.

But it's a reminder that you need a good backup system.

I have gone from paper tape (I might still have one with O-Level computer science coursework on!), to floppy disks (urgh), to 120Mb tapes (better, but since someone stole the PC with the reader, I now have some tapes with ancient stuff I can't read), to writeable CDs (good until multi-Gb hard drives became affordable), to writeable DVDs (only slightly better than the CDs), to online offsite backup.

Oh, there are also some spare hard drives for local copies, but one of the points of an online backup system is that it will survive your house burning down, for example. Plus writeable DVDs and CDs are distinctly fragile! They have a lifespan of only a few years and I have some blank ones that were not blank before. (Fortunately, this has mostly just involved losing some copies of CDs for use 'out and about'.)

As well as having things on Google Drive and Dropbox – fine and free for smaller backups, expensive for larger ones – I've used four online services: Carbonite, Diino, altDrive, and Crashplan.

Carbonite was one of the first and helped set the basic idea: a client on your computer regularly looks at what's changed recently, and automatically backs it up. The less you as a user have to do, the more likely it is that it will happen, and this is much better than only being able to go 'Oh, yes, there has been some important changes since my last backup, I will backup now' as with consumer writeable media.

I might be with them still, but for a few things. They don't have a Linux client for a start, and from 2008 I've quickly gone from working mostly in Windows to barely booting into it. Although you can get Windows to read file systems more usually used by Linux, on Windows PCs, if it's not a local FAT or NTFS partition, Carbonite wouldn't touch it.* At one point, I had /home** on an NTFS partition – "it's not advisable, but it can be done" – to accommodate this, but when Carbonite failed to tell me about a discount for renewing, I ditched them and reformatted /home properly.

Diino had both a Linux client and weren't at all fussy about how your data was stored. In fact, you could install the software on multiple computers on one account. They had a couple of issues with 64-bit Linux back in 2009 – memory tells me that there wasn't a 64-bit version of Java for Linux then, so some workarounds were needed – but those were sorted by the helpful support. They also did versioning better than Carbonite- if you changed a file, you'd always be able to restore previous versions of it.

But then they didn't bother renewing a security certificate which stopped things starting automatically, hmmm. Worse, they announced in October 2012 that they'd be closing – a couple of months after taking an annual renewal fee from me! They got new funding, but it didn't inspire confidence, so I looked for alternatives.

AltDrive was the one picked. It worked ok for a couple of years, and again the support was helpful when needed. (I particularly liked their asides that no-one used some of the neat features they had.) But it stopped working reliably in 2014 and whatever I tried couldn't get it to show me what it had backed up. Erk.

So it was back to Diino. Until last year, when it stopped working reliably for me too and a clearly reduced level of support couldn't fix it.

CrashPlan, another one of the three I looked at in 2012, was where I went. And it's been great! As well as backing up to their servers, their client will manage local backups. Or any other PC that also has the software and gives you permission. Unlike several other services, it doesn't seem to slow you down your data transfer when you use it – the initial backup was quite big, but took as long as I'd expect.

After having some lockups, I recently did a fresh install of Ubuntu MATE as part of working out what the issue is. Having a separate /home partition meant that none of my data was lost, but it did mean that I had to reinstall things that I'd installed over the past few years, like Steam, the Atom editor, youtube-dl, get_iplayer etc etc. And, partly because it's been working away, barely noticeable, I forgot about the CrashPlan client..

.. until I got an automatic email from them yesterday to say that they hadn't heard from my computer in three days, was there a problem? Oops! Reinstalling the client was easy, as was saying 'you know about it already, and you don't need to start the backup from scratch'. Backing up the 500Mb or so of changes in that time took a couple of minutes – sorted!


Both Diino and AltDrive closed this year. It looks like Diino did it more gracefully, but online backup is a brutal business to be in. You've got Amazon, Google and Microsoft as rivals for a start, and they have huge advantages of scale. Plenty of backup firms have tried to resell Amazon's storage and been killed off when they changed their pricing.

So I hope it's not a kiss of death to say that all this has reminded me that my CrashPlan subscription is due for renewal later this month and I've got no hesitation in doing so…

* It wants to stop people using a single licence to back up a whole network, but they never could tell me why they insisted you use file systems they have rejected as too problematic themselves – when they asked Microsoft why NTFS was falling over all the time, they were told it wasn't designed to store lots of files! They will now allow you to back up one (only) locally connected hard drive, like a USB connected one, but charge you more for the privilege.

** Where Linux stores virtually all of your data.

Mirrored from my website's blog, The deranged mad of a brain man.

lovingboth: (Default)
The main PC here has locked up about five times in the past ten days. It normally just doesn't do that.

As it's running the same software (Ubuntu MATE 17.04) as JA's one and the main hardware difference is her's has a slightly slower CPU, I am suspecting a hardware issue. The other difference between the two is that this one is on 24/7 and hers is only on when she's awake at home, and it's possible that a motherboard component is dying. Capacitors are the usual suspect.

As they're nearly four years old and have been great in that time - the AMD APU processors are amazing in terms of how well they can run 3D software without needing a separate graphics card, for example - I would get an updated version in a shot...

.. except there don't seem to be any.

Well, there are two from the makers of these, Zoostorm. One's 'about' JA one's speed, but for the price (£272) I paid for mine (£281). That's just Wrong. The other has a faster APU, but it's also £420. That's just Wrong too. I know evilBrexit has affected the pound's value, but four years of development mean it should be cheaper.


It looks like the site I'm looking on's search is A Bit Crap and doesn't show you everything that fits your search. I can indeed have a better one for the same price* or a even better one for that £420.


* Unless I want Windows. Which I don't - I'm quite shocked at the difference the Microsoft tax still makes...
lovingboth: ([default])
Bundle Stars' Dollar Forever bundle - 27 games, all but a couple running on Linux and Macs as well as Windows, for - in the UK - 95p. Or less than 4p each.

Each one of the Sparkle trilogy is worth at least a quid...
lovingboth: ([default])
The third series of Fargo started last week in the US - it'll be on Channel 4 at some point.

As with the other two, it's looking very, very good if you like your humour warped. 'What could possibly go wrong?' is not a line that's ever used, but it's what so many people are thinking as they do something not necessarily to their advantage.

And I have missed the accents...
lovingboth: (Default)
OpenID is a way of saying 'yes, that's them' that has fallen a bit into disuse with the annoying habit of places wanting you to log in via a Google or evilFB account, but LJ and DW are two places that support it.

One thing this means is that DW can go 'Ah, lovingboth@LJ is lovingboth@DW' (or any other DW account I wanted) and change all my comments on all imported posts here, regardless of which DW journal they are in, to be 'from' lovingboth@DW rather than lovingboth@LJ. (If I've ever commented on an LJ post of yours, have a look...)

Doing this is quite simple:

1. Log into LJ, undeleting your account there if necessary.

2. In another browser tab, go to the claim page here and tell it the URL of your LJ account.

3. Using OpenID, it should see that you are logged into LJ.

4. You'll get an email from DW at the address that it has linked to the DW account going 'click here if you are sure you want to do this, you can't undo this'. (It might take some hours to get this, because DW is limited in how much email it can send.)

5. Visit that link.

6. Done!

You can then delete the LJ account again.
lovingboth: (Default)
I am very much enjoying this, partly because of - and not despite of - the pace. It's not afraid to have long minutes with no dialogue or audience hand-holding, typically accompanied by some stunning New Mexico skyscapes.

Spoilers! Up to s3e2... )
lovingboth: (Default)
I did wonder if there was a problem with the importer for getting LJ content here - it's been about eight years since I last used it - but I can confirm that it does get the comments on LJ to posts that were cross-posted from here, if you wait for all of it to finish, ahem.

What I'd love to be able to do, easily, is replace every public post on LJ with a link to the equivalent one here. I could obviously do it manually, but it's far too much work. Is there an automated tool that does it?

It would help if the 'SomeNumber.html' bit of both URLs was the same, but...
lovingboth: (Default)
This will be the last 'me at DW' post with cross-posting to LJ turned on.

I am not surprised at what has happened - an extremely popular social media site in Russia* was always going to be under pressure to do this - but I am disappointed.

If you ever used your LJ password anywhere else, you need to change them.

* Is it still more popular than the differently evil FB there?
lovingboth: ([default])
Oooh, I've had my first ever 'I'm (obviously fake name) from the Windows computer company, please do this to fix the problems you've been having..' scam spam phone call.

Unfortunately, they hung up on me when I expressed my delight at this...
lovingboth: (Default)
Anyone successfully record Jen's talk or know if they're publishing it as a non-live stream?
lovingboth: (Default)
On the way to IKEA on Tuesday, JA and I went through Hucknall, where there was this (click on it to get a bigger version):

That's a bucket of water, isn't it?
lovingboth: (Default)
I've seen three things recently where the attitude to race has been very noticeable.

One of the local churches has a monthly film night and this month it was The Blind Side. I suspect the book is much better - it's one of very few Michael Lewis books I haven't read, and the rest have been very good. By concentrating almost exclusively on the story of one person and the family that adopts him, this is one of the ultimate 'white saviour' films, urgh. Appropriately, Sandra Bullock won the 'best actress' Academy Award and Quinton Aaron didn't even get nominated.

La La Land has the whitest Los Angeles since the last film set there. There are some black musicians in it but they don't say much and if you see it, count how many other BME people get lines. (Also see how many people are smoking: I don't remember spotting any.)

The Netflix version of A Series of Unfortunate Events gives it the space that the film version denied it and it's much better as a result. There's some padding, especially in the first couple of episodes (The Bad Beginning ones) and some foreshadowing that I don't remember from the early books, but I am really looking forward to the next series which has the best books (and, I hope, the third series completing the set).

Xanna's pointed out the way that it's Violet who's almost always holding Sunny - I think Klaus carries her twice, including once when he's hypnotised - but it's the casting that I found so striking: in both books and film, Mr Poe, the hopeless coughing banker is white. He's played by K. Todd Freeman here. In both books and film, Aunt Josephine, their guardian in The Wide Window is white. She's played by Alfre Woodard here. Even Uncle Monty, guardian in The Reptile Room, is played by Aasif Mandvi here.

Three 'motion picture stories'. Only one has gone out of its way to have diverse casting.
lovingboth: (mini me + poo)

I have recently started watching Humans. It's very good, and I'm looking for a copy of the Swedish original to compare it to, but there are some aspects that just jar me out of the suspension of disbelief.

Anita, the android that the family buy, says her processing power is about twenty petaFLOPS – twenty thousand million million floating point operations a second. That'd put her third on the current list of fastest supercomputers. But..

.. where's the evidence elsewhere that this sort of processing power is (relatively) really cheap? The cost of getting Anita's said to be about the same as a car and she has full language capabilities and excellent vision processing for example. But people are using current style computers and laptops via keyboard and mouse, and not talking to their toasters.

.. it turns out (micro spoiler) that she's quite an old model. Fourteen years old in fact. Why hasn't there been any significant advance in CPU processing power since then?

.. why's she built to do so many floating point operations in the first place? As the great Chuck Moore likes to say, robots use integers, not floating point. The real world may be analogue, but robots measure it with analogue to digital devices that have a limited resolution. Even if you're (pointlessly, in many cases) sampling audio with 24 bit resolution, you're still working with integers that easily fit in 32 bits. It's a lot easier and faster (and cheaper in terms of silicon space and power requirements) to do integer maths than floating point.

.. there have clearly been major advances not reflected elsewhere in the world – one of the biggest problems with real supercomputers is cooling them because they take a lot of electrical power, never mind Anita etc being charged for at least a day's use with a few hours plugged into a low voltage charger and not having a visible heatsink, they're not even human body temperature.

Ah yes, temperature. Read more... )

Lazy cinema

Nov. 3rd, 2016 10:57 pm
lovingboth: (Default)
My preferred film genres do not include 'uplifting' and/or 'feel good' romantic comedy dramas.

Looking at British and American films,* there are some exceptions: the glorious fantasies The Princess Bride and Stardust, for example, along with the more bitter sweet examples of A Life Less Ordinary, The Tall Guy, Tamara Drewe, Chasing Amy, Earth Girls Are Easy, His Girl Friday, Grosse Pointe Blank, Intolerable Cruelty, and the original 'Pete and Dud' Bedazzled. That's out of about a thousand titles listed on WP and I don't think I missed many I like.

What others should I consider?

* There are more French / Italian / Hong Kong etc ones, but we tend only to get to see the best of those.
lovingboth: (mini me + poo)

Following on from my previous post on this, Aldi have been continuing to change things. This lead to at least one frightening* period when all three stores in vaguely easy reach didn't have any of the not-so-good stuff, never mind the good stuff.

To my surprise, they're now back to selling 750g packets… but in cartons that are almost the same thickness as the 1kg ones. It's at times like this that I'm glad I kept one of the old 750g cartons! Sadly, I don't have any receipts from that period, so I can't check if the price per 100g has changed, but I don't think it has.

I am now wondering what's behind this: a couple of months wasn't very long to try a marketing the new size. Was the move to 1kg a complete disaster in terms of sales?

The related** change is that their clone of Muller Light yogurt six packs have changed from being half strawberry and half raspberry and cranberry to being half strawberry and half cherry. I'm not nearly so keen on the cherry one. It's fine to have with pies etc, but not for breakfast.

Fortunately, Morrisons currently have a 12 for £3 offer on the real things – cheaper than the typical offers of a pack of 6 for £2 or two packs of 6 for £5, depending on the date – and you can pick your own flavours…

* Well, fairly scary.

** To me, anyway, because I have my museli with fruit and yogurt.

Mirrored from my website's blog, The deranged mad of a brain man.

lovingboth: (mini me + poo)

The current season of ENO opened with a new production of Don Giovanni, and I gave a little 'eek' when I realised that it was nearly at the end of the run before I'd got around to arranging to see it. I have seen 'quite a few' productions before,* but it is the greatest opera ever written and each of them has shone a new light on it even if, as in the case of ENO's last but one production, it was on how not to do it.** But if I am ever allowed to direct it, it's this one I shall shamelessly steal – erm, improve – the idea of the opening from.

For those of you who haven't seen it yet, the opening features Don Giovanni being disturbed with his latest conquest, Donna Anna, by the arrival of her father, the Commendatore. The latter is killed and given how long it is since it was first performed, it shouldn't be a spoiler that this is not the last we see of him… Watching and commentating on all this is Don Giovanni's servant, Leporello.

So there are two questions that the director has to think about because they affect how we see the Don from the start. The first is how consensual is the relationship between Don Giovanni and Donna Anna. The libretto has Don Giovanni masked and one of the problems between them is that he won't tell her who he is, but is it attempted rape? The second is how accidental is the killing of the Commendatore: is it murder, manslaughter or misadventure?

During the overture, this one has a series of women walk past Don Giovanni and Leporello, stop, turn round and go through one of a series of doors with him before coming out again. I've seen others where this sort of thing has happened, including ones like this where there's also been one man in the queue of conquests. What doesn't convince me is that he doesn't do anything to pick them up: we're expected to believe that merely walking past is enough to get the stream of nine or so people into bed. It's fair to say that the role isn't performed here by Brad Pitt. The other improvement would be to have some of the people exiting the door be adjusting their clothing / having their skirt tucked into their knickers at the back or something.

I guessed that the last in the queue would be Donna Anna and indeed it was. The moment I sat up was where the set opened up and there were two rooms, one of which had the pair inside. There is some mimed negotiation and Donna Anna wants a masked man wielding a knife to 'assault' her. Even better, her father enters the other room with a woman very unlikely to be his wife who he begins to top! He hears Donna Anna's cries, enters the other room and is 'You want it? You have it' stabbed by the Don.

It fails to work with the plot – Donna Anna is supposed to only realise later that Don Giovanni is the one who's killed her father etc – but it's nearly brilliant.

What I'd do is project something like the screen of someone using Tindr etc during the overture. With a masked profile picture, the Don is going 'yes' to anything in a skirt, and ends up in text conversation with Donna Anna who says that her fantasy is… But I'd keep the Commendatore being up to some extra-marital sex in the next room.

Alas, that's the highlight. Some of the other ideas – like having Donna Anna's boyfriend, Don Ottavio, be her husband rather than just engaged to her – are pointless and contradict small bits of the plot. Some – like having the statue of the Commendatore be as unlike marble (what they're singing he is) as it's possible to be.. up until he enters the room, when he's a bit marble, but more like the resurrected body – are 'huh?' Another of the latter is the number of doors people go through for no very good reason. Some ideas – like having Don Giovanni attempt to seduce a servant over the phone rather than by standing underneath her window*** – are mostly harmless, but serve to raise a question or two. The call's made from a phone box with a rotary dial, so when is this set?

The final idea – having Don Giovanni escape Hell by sending Leporello in his place – is something I've never seen before, is sort of in character, but only works here in terms of explaining WTF someone looking like Leporello's clone has been pointedly wandering through the scenes throughout: he just replaces Leporello as the servant and it's back to the opening corridor and its stream of walking past, stopping, and… It could work, perhaps, but my favourite ending is still that of the Francesca Zambello production for the ROH, where we see a naked Don in Hell, carrying an equally naked woman.****

The set design – a series of greys and drab olive (taken from tank camouflage paint tins?) – is uninspiring and the rest of the design isn't up to much either, with the exception of having Leporello look like Michael Caine. The English translation is also ok rather than great.

But you could close your eyes and listen to this one, and I'm very glad to have seen it.

Two more performances: Monday and Wednesday. I'd bought a 'secret ticket' – you pay £20 and only find out where you're seated the day before. I'd guessed that it having been at the Tkts booth in Leicester Square for £30 meant that it was likely to be a good seat rather than up in the balcony, and ended up in the middle of the fourth row of the dress circle, normal price £125.

* A quick count says about twelve 'live in theatre' ones, some of which were seen more than once, plus a couple of 'live from..' satellite broadcasts and at least half a dozen on DVD.

** Normally, if the production is badly directed and designed, you can shut your eyes and listen, but even the singing was poor in this one.

*** Best line from any 'outside the window' production was one in the mid-90s: 'This worked quicker at Kensington Palace…' Now Princess Diana is long dead but we've another woman PM, you could have 'Downing Street'.

**** This was the production I paid HOW MUCH to see live and was definitely worth the money. Sky Arts were showing it at one point and it's also available on DVD.

Mirrored from my website's blog, The deranged mad of a brain man.


lovingboth: (Default)

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