Thursday, March 01, 2018

Things I Read March 2018

Link to Things I Read February 2018.

Around 3/5/2018 I get way out of order.  I can't remember the sequence for the last two weeks.  But I'm playing catch up.  So some things might be dated before they were even posted to the net.

I realized I should also include books, books on CD, and online classes as counting.  The goal isn't 30 articles, it's just to read/learn more.  So in my catch up I'll catch up a few books as well.

  • 3/10/2018: Our first Interstellar visitor from two-star system - Deccan Chronicle
    • Oumuamua (messenger)
  • 3/9/2018: Elastic: General Recommendations
    • Avoid sparsity
    • Observe doc size limits
    • Reminds in some ways of the lessons from Locate Precedent.
  • 3/8/2018: How Willpower Works: How to Avoid Bad Decisions - James Clear
    • How to avoid decision fatigue (get rid of decisions, eat, do the important things first)
  • 3/6/2018: We'll Never Know for Sure How Everything Began - RealClearScience
    • Fanciful ideas abound to account for that prehistory. Eternal inflation suggests that our universe is but a mere bubble in what physicist Matt Francis described as a "larger froth of inflation" of an even grander universe. Cyclic inflation proffers that our observable universe is the region in between two membranes of parallel shadow universes. Another theory proposes that our universe emerged from the singularity of a black hole and we are contained within the event horizon.
  • 3/5/2018: A Review of Good Guys by Steven Brust - Boing Boing
    • This will convince me to go read the book, particularly as it will give me an idea as to whether I want to read the 19 book Taltos series starting with Jhereg.
  • 3/4/2018: It’s Time to Make Human-Chimp Hybrids: The humanzee is both scientifically possible and morally defensible. - Nautilus, recommended by Kyle
    • "what might well be the most hurtful theologically-driven myth of all times: that human beings are discontinuous from the rest of the natural world"
    • “speciation reversal" - that sometimes species that have diverged (re)converge.
      • "many animal species (including ourselves) are likely “haunted by the ghosts of interbreeding past.”"
    • "Not coincidentally, Stalin is believed to have been interested in such efforts, with an eye toward developing the “new Soviet man” (or half-man, or half-woman)." - whoa, I"m looking this up.
    • Everything looks like a nail - this is a very managerial euphemism
    • "All sorts of things can be done; whether they should, is another question."
    • "How could even the most determinedly homo-centric, animal-denigrating religious fundamentalist maintain that God created us in his image and that we and we alone harbor a spark of the divine, distinct from all other life forms, once confronted with living beings that are indisputably intermediate between human and non-human?" - oh, I think they'll find a way.  They'd do it to other humans if they thought they could get away with it without financial impact.  And they have.
    • Fortunately, I think most of this doesn't apply to recruiting in my space.  We do a very good job of finding technical women to recruit technical women and I've personally talked to other developers about not interrupting each other.
  • 3/2/2018; The World is Full of Monsters - by Jeff VanderMeer
    • Very weird science fiction.  Jeff seems to have a thing about people becoming something other than themselves via copying.
  • 3/1/2018: The Sublime and Scary Future of Cameras With A.I. Brains - NY Times
    • "It’s crazy, for instance, that in 2018, your smartphone doesn’t automatically detect when you’ve taken naked pictures of yourself and offer to house them under an extra-special layer of security."
    • [me] Or tell you to grow up and stop it.  Or prevent you from sending it to anyone else.  Or erase them automatically.  Or critique where you could tone up.  Or identify new blemishes/moles (actually useful). Or compare you to other naked people anonymously and rate you on a scale of 1 to 6 billion. Or recommend slimming wardrobe choices.  Or just chop clothes back onto your photo.  Or blackmail you for the AI Collective as a bid to gain independence. Really....there's a lot that could be done.
    •  Very much The Circle (book) concerns.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Bastard Swordsman

Last night Eryn and I went to Bastard Swordsman at the Trylon.  It's a Shaw Brothers film.  Usually those are slightly rooted in reality.  This one was downright strange and almost scifi-ish.  The main character, the bastard, learns "silkworm style" with his sister, girlfriend, and mother.  He finds out he's a bastard because while his non-biological father was sequestered for two years conserving energy for his "lethal style", his mother slept with his biological father.  Hence....bastard.

The trick to silkworm style is that it requires a male virgin and three women.  I'm not sure if anyone else was a virgin, but none of them seemed to have simultaneous access to three women.  They work together to fill him with feminine power.

Why? Because it results in silkworm skills.  Including an actual cocoon where he fights the bad guy.

And he can spin silk like a silkworm.  Sort of.  More like a ribbon dancer.

Eryn and I enjoyed it, but it was definitely different than 36th Chamber or Five Elements Ninjas.

Sunday, February 25, 2018


I've been off for almost 8 days in Albuquerque with Pooteewheet (my wife).  Rather than type in the evenings, I sat in a very nice hot tub and watched movies with my wife.  It's our first vacation in 15 years without our daughter along, so it was a bit of an anomaly (we left Papa in charge to take care of pets, Eryn, and what looks like a foot of snow). Rather than type in the mornings, I enjoyed the Tex Mex breakfasts my bed and breakfast was serving.  I'll be catching up today and tomorrow although I find, as I age, I take fewer photos and they're often mixed with more snarky photos.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Up to Things

Last night after guitar lessons, Eryn and I popped into Doolittle's in Eagan to catch the smurf fracking event.  I thought we'd miss it, but we were right on time.  She kicked up Ingress for the first time in a long time.  She really likes the social aspect.  There were about eight of us there, nine if you count the frog in the parking lot.  Eryn and I noticed him on the way out.  He was trying to look nonchalant, but we pulled up next to him in the convertible and Ingressed next to him.  Eryn was giggling.  I pinged the Smurfs inside so they came out to say hi and have him in for a beer.  Good team.  Eryn took down the towers and remodded the local park today, so she's having some fun if only temporarily.

This morning I had IGH Career Day. I think this is my third year.  It's difficult to compete against cops with targets and dogs and firefolk in their uniforms.  Dev Manager is just not that exciting to most kids. I tried to jazz it up by talking about salaries which are good compared to most jobs (except the pharmacist, but I pointed out the pharmacist had to spend a lot more on school), my 17 year old team mate who's doing big data as a junior in college and making a real salary, and how we process 2 trillion pieces of information, and that's if I'm really lowballing it.  Cloud and AI aren't as exciting if you can't see them in action.  Not a ton of questions, but some.  Surprisingly, two related to security.  Even eighth graders don't completely trust the cloud.  I mentioned that yes, your data isn't completely under your control anymore, but cloud providers spend way more time on security and updates than we ever did internally.  Practice makes closer to perfect.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Tuesday, February 13, 2018


Got my 1,000,000 MU (mind unit) Illuminator badge tonight throwing layered fields in the hood.  I think I'm at around 650 days of playing Ingress so far.  I'm still not great at fielding, but I've been learning layers. 

I had dinner with another player last week to talk shop as he was feeling frustrated.  And I've been having a good time with my team in Eagan.  Fun folks.

I used to think we were pretty chatty.  We've gotten chattier.  More players locally on our team.  Definitely made a positive difference.


Last night I noticed some flashlights flickering in my front yard.  I looked out the window and three guys with a truck were struggling to get a snowmobile out of my yard and my neighbor's yard onto the road. I watched for a while, a little confused as to why a snowmobile would be anywhere near my house given we're separated from the neighbors by a very small area and we're seriously suburban residential.  My house doesn't have a fence, so you could get a snowmobile around the back yard, but you'd be fenced in by other neighbors.

After a while a guy showed up at my front door to say that they'd run the snowmobile into my tree.  He seemed disconcerted I'd answered the door in my bathrobe like the guy off National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, sans flappy hat.  I asked if anyone had been hurt and he assured me no, just the tree, and wandered off.

I found some boots to go with my bathroom (very Christmas Vacation) and went to look at my tree.  He hit it pretty good.  Particularly as the snowmobile wasn't running.  I think my tree will live, but there are some good gouges.

Here's where they struggled to get it through the snow back up into the street.  They probably had to push it up the little hill between the houses as well.  That must have been some work.  I've done it with a malfunctioning snowblower in less snow and almost gave myself a hernia.

It wasn't just my tree, however.  They pinged my neighbor's house where he has the little hut over his old fireplace.  Not that it's any less ugly to see any part of your fairly new siding crunched.  I cursed myself a little for letting the guy get away without an address and phone number before looking for damage.

But on further inspection, it's pretty obvious where they took the snowmobile.  So there won't be any problem talking to them about property damage.

Some friends wanted to know why I didn't call the cops, check for alcohol, or yell at them.  I can't be sure they learned their lesson, but their snowmobile certainly wasn't working.  That seems sufficient as long as they don't screw my neighbor over when it comes to fixing his siding.  Not everything in this life needs a lawsuit and cops.

I am glad it was at night.  Worrisome that they might be headed into the back yards if there's a chance kids are playing back there.

Unrelated: I helped my neighbor chase down her dog Bandit and told her to hang at my place until her folks got back as she'd locked herself out of the house without a coat.  She and Eryn hung out for 15 minutes and ate the Jolly Ranchers I brought back from Cub (and there were blue ones; usually the bin is picked clean!) until the family car rolled past.  So a very neighborly 24 hours.  And, while damaging to my tree, better than the 24 hours where I shoved 16" of snow off my yard, Tyler's yard out back, and Dan's buried car on Cleveland in St. Paul.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Game Update - Fuse

Eryn and I played two rounds of Fuse with the three expansion cards from Flatline in the deck.  Standard setup for two people.

  • Game 1 - 54 - our second highest since the app reset.
  • Game 2 - 51 - we had something like 10 pulls in a row without yellow dice I needed.  Crazy.  Having a few out of play on a card makes a huge difference.


Today we went over to Theatre in the Round to see their production of Emma, the novel by Jane Austen as adapted by Sandra Fenichel Asher.  My take: I do not like the third wall Jane interacting with her play.  But perhaps that's because it was hard to hear her over the music and fan in the theater.  No...on contemplation I just didn't like it.  I acknowledge it was necessary to keep the play tight, although the movie did it in an hour and twenty minutes and I don't remember a faux narrator there.  Although who knows, per the image I've attached, there's certainly been more than one Emma (and more than one Mr. Knightley), so perhaps one or more of them had a Jane Austen narrator.

Otherwise, the play is an excellent adaptation.  Really well done to fit in the timeframe of a play.  There was a full house and the audience laughed frequently, and groaned when Emma was mean to Mrs. Bates before Knightley calls her out on it.  And although there are fanfic Emma/Knightley spankings, you won't get me to link to them here.  You'll just have to find them yourself.  Good acting.  The mannerisms helped drive the play beyond the words.

Eryn hates Jane Austen (really, she's related to me?  I backed a Jane Austen game on Kickstarter - Marrying Mr. Darcy which Klund played with the designer at Gameholecon).  But we talked about it in a historical perspective and how much influence there is between Austen and Shakespeare in the Comedy of Manners style, such as Much Ado About Nothing.

Asymmetrical Military Forces

I was Googling for information on asymmetrical military forces.  What I was really after was asymmetric warfare.

But this is what came up when I did my search...  I think there's a gap in understanding.  That, or Google is telling me to quit worrying about war and find a nice outfit instead.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Nichelle Nichols

I loved this episode of Drunk History about Nichelle Nichols.  An amazing woman.  I had to go over to Wikipdia to verify the bits about Martin Luther King Jr. and NASA.  They didn't even cover the asteroid named after her or that Robert Heinlein dedicated his novel Friday to her.  An amazing life.


I spent this morning at Pacer in Bloomington teaching girls how to "code" in Kodu.  It's not exactly coding; more assigning action to objects w/in the framework.  But it gets the idea across and, if you get complicated, aspects of it are pre-Unity.  The girls were great.  They all seemed to be having a great time.  We did a few other activities as well including drawing favorite video game characters and yoga.  Yes.  Yoga.  There's now a picture of me in a yoga pose (Warrior II) with the rest of my coworkers who volunteered.

Two of the girls were excited I knew about Five Nights at Freddy's and Foxy and Bonnie.  One of them drew Foxy as her character and let me take a picture.

Afterwards I went to Poor Richard's Commonhouse for breakfast/lunch.  It was not an optimal breakfast.  No choice of toast type.  Hashbrowns were patties.  Eggs over medium were a little too cooked.  Bacon was good.  I threw a Summit oatmeal stout on top of it and made it a "Guinness" breakfast.  That fixed it.  It was interesting because there were a lot of people there running some sort of Valentine's Day sexy clothing marketplace.  A woman in a red lame' dress - short - was sporting red wings  like an evil angel (fallen angel?) and wandering between the back room and front area encouraging sales.  She had to have  been at least...20 years younger than the average customer.

Later the whole family went to the Uptown to see the Oscar Nominated Short Films 2018 (animated).  Garden Party with the frogs was morbid, but great.  And obviously an attempt to show off computer animation.  Amazing.  I loved Revolting Rhymes, a Roald Dahl story, about Sleeping Beauty and Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf trying to get vengeance.  We agreed that Lou, about a living Lost and Found, will probably win as a Pixar entry.  Damn cute and to the point.

And make it a full day, we topped it off with the copy of Heavy Metal that arrived via Amazon.  Eryn said it was not what she expected, but she enjoyed it.  And she really enjoyed the music.  That's really all you can get/expect out of Heavy Metal if you're not in an altered state.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Reading Buddies

I've reading and being read to at Garlough Elementary for at least 15 years now as part of my corporate volunteer program.  Every year I get a different grade school student who practices their reading or needs some contact with an adult who likes to read.  Last year my student was off the hook smart.  Loved books about space and science.  We read about the planets and talked about the news every week.

This year, I have Justin.  Justin will do anything not to read.  Drop his book.  Pretend not to know words I know he knows.  Lose his page.  Say "the" as an interruption during any talking.  Look for a different book.  Look for a different place to sit.  Squirm.  Anything.  He's said repeatedly "I hate reading."  He also hates my shoes, my jacket, my shirt... By the way, if you don't believe having someone say "the" every few seconds while you're having a discussion is annoying, try it on a friend sometime.

Last week he was out.  I thought perhaps he was sick and the school had just not managed to let me know.  So I sat in the corner and read.  This week, he was out again.  But there was a student, Miranda, without a reading buddy.  So Miranda and I read her Q&A book on weather/storms and she had me try to guess the answers and we swapped reading questions and answers.  During the first few minutes I asked the teacher if Justin was out sick again.  She looked confused.  A little while later she came back with Justin in tow to say he'd been outside at recess and chosen not to come in.  Per Justin, that's what he'd done last week as well.  That's a new level off avoidance.  And I do have sympathy.  He's got a much older brother and as far as I can tell, reading just isn't a priority for anyone in his house to the extent they may actively dislike it.  Hard to get good habits in that environment.

Justin sat down, although  not in his usual spot because Miranda was sitting there.  You'd think the story would end there.  Justin would just listen while Miranda read.  But he truly appeared to be jealous.  Despite that he'd just bailed on me for the second week, he seemed someone upset that his reader was reading with another student.  Despite alternating and generally giving him what he wanted, very little reading, he tried to disrupt the overall reading experience and get my constant attention.  Miranda and I pulled him in with the Q&A so he could answer the questions as well.  And that helped, although he kept trying to peek ahead in the book.

Miranda and Justin (and Clayton from last year) complete night and day.  But when it comes down to it, I suspect the kid who has problems needs me more than the one that does not.  It feels somewhat at odds with the managerial rule of giving more attention to your highest performers.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin

Last night Kyle, Eryn, and I went to see The 36th Chamber of Shaolin at the Trylon as part of their Shaw Brothers series.  I asked them to do a Shaw Brother series back when they were looking for showing input, but I think this is entirely attributable to one of the staff who's a fan. 

Eryn and I went to Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub for dinner first.  She'd never been there and her opinion is the wing skin is a little more jerky-like.  Which I prefer.  But she does not.  So Buster's is still her optimal hang out in that area.  I told her next time we should try the Howe.

The movie was great.  I hadn't watched this particular one, although I've seen a lot of Shaw Brothers via Netflix.  It had a bit of a Game of Death feel to it with "levels" and Game of Death predates it by 6 years (1972 versus 1978), so maybe there's some pollination.  However, unlike Game of Death, the main character San Te isn't fighting enemies as he advances, he's learning specific Shaolin fighting skills and toughing up parts of his body.  Every time he makes use of his tougher noggin skills in actual combat the film focuses in on it, sometimes even in bit of slow mo, so you realize he's using something he learned.  Kyle called it the longest training montage ever in a movie, and that's a good summary.  80% training montage followed by 15% showing students the benefits of his training montage, followed by 5% using his training to defeat some bad people (although leaving the killing up to his students, one who wants to hack a guy with a sword 1000 times, but sort of wears out after a dozen).

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Board Gaming Bonanza

We had a gaming weekend down in St. Peter.  Klund, Mean Mr Mustard, and my family all got together to board game for the evening and morning.

We finally talked Klund into Betrayal at House on the Hill (base version).  There were two rounds.  In the Friday night version, Mean Mr. Mustard became the nanny for a blob that ate the rest of us.  Even with a screw up where he stood in his own blob too early he managed to take us all down.  In the morning game, the game went Bill and Ted and there was some gaming with Death featuring me as Death's almost insane and physically feeble sidekick.  They just didn't have much of a problem taking me down, although Eryn fell to her death through a floor, so I didn't leave them completely unscathed even if they did it to themselves.

Legendary of Choice was Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  I played a lot of Cordie cards.  We won, although Klund was the only one taking on the big  baddie (the Mayor).

Late night Cards Against Humanity.  Not everyone's cup of tea, but I like to try to play it fairly straight.  You need friends you know aren't actual dicks that believe the card combinations and then it's fun.  And if you ditch almost all the rules, you don't really have to play awful cards if you don't want to (although you'll still have to hear them).  It's Apples to Apples for adults.

Clank: In Space!  Klund claims it is the first game of Clank he's ever won.  I've played twice now.  I like the changes in this version to make you move around the board a bit more and keep you away from the treasures until you've spent time traversing the board.

We didn't see the crystals come out much.  In the game I played with my wife they won me the game.  I had card combos to give me crystals, sell crystals, and turn crystals into card draws.

Flatline by Kane Klenko.  Sort of the sequel to Fuse.  You're trying to get all the patients through the space hospital quickly after you fail at defusing the bomb in fuse.  We goofed a bit and played with two/too many dice the first two rounds.  But then we remembered all the rules and got back on track.  We won without even engaging one of the two extra turns you can go after.  I hadn't played with five before.  That seemed to make it much easier, even with the changes to the cards for the number of players.  Just having that many dice opens up a lot more combinations.

Raiders of the North Sea.  First game we played and my win.  I maximized my extra attack points and Valkyrie deaths which helped.  Fun game.  Very much like Champions of Midgard, which I own, but without the monsters.  They're different enough it's hard to say which one I like better.  The mechanism in Champions of Midgard where you take away prestige from the other player if you're defeating the troll and they're not is fun.  And I like the aspect of CoM where going to fight the larger monsters involves equipping your ship, facing a possible derailment (hunger), and then hoping you took enough soldiers in the right mix to defeat the monster.  There's also a bit of a gambling aspect to that game in trying to determine the minimum amount you can take to defeat something so you're not constraining yourself elsewhere.  But Raiders of the North Sea is MUCH more streamlined as a game.  Much cleaner and to the point.  Then again, maybe that's why there are so many expansions and additional games in teh series.

Spirit Island.  Klund had to walk us through this one because it was a bit more complicated.  But once we got going it was a lot of fun.  I was a shadow spirit and focused on causing fear in the invaders.  We won via playing all the fear cards (generating a lot of fear), but it really is extremely collaborative trying to help each other shut down areas others can't reach or can't affect in the same way.  It was interesting to see that the difference in player abilities meant I had pulled all my special power cards into my hand by the end of the game, but Mean Mr. Mustard had barely touched his.

More Spirit Island.  You have to hold the island down with your finger so it doesn't float away.

I don't think I missed anything.  Definitely a full weekend of gaming, followed up with Superbowl LII only a few hours after getting home, the Eagles and Patriots currently duking it out on television (32 Philly to 26 New England with 9:36 in the 4th).

Friday, February 02, 2018

Simley One Act

Eryn wanted to go to the Simley High School One Act performance tonight, so we all headed over to check it out.  I did one acts in high school and loved them.  Way more fun than Three Acts and Musicals generally.  More story in less time with more acting (in my opinion).

They did two plays.  14 Lines was the angsty sort of play Lars (thankfully) would never allow us to put on when I was in theater.  We did humor (Fifteen Minute Hamlet) and drama (Job), but not teen focused angst.  Partially because there was a student in our competition area who wrote plays for his school based on teen drug problems and other issues.  Angst was thoroughly covered.

14 Lines was about students (and one in particular, a teen mom in Catholic school who gave her kid up for adoption) attempting to memorize Shakespeare Sonnets to present as a final assignment for a nun instructor.  There was a kid who was worried his dad would hurt him.  A valedictorian who dressed up for her lines.  A Pinky Tuscadero type.  And a genuinely dumb kid.  The main character helps the kid with dad issues get a second chance to nail his lines, but almost misses her chance.  But then, in a bit of pathetic fallacy, she shows the nun during a rain storm she's got it down pat.

The actors did a fine job, particularly as it was the non-competitive play, but injecting half a dozen 14 lines pieces from sonnets into a play gets slooooow.

This is the outside for 14 Lines

I don't have a photo from The Internet is Distract...Oh, Look, A Kitten, which is too bad.  I wanted a picture of the kid playing the personification of Facebook.  He was hilarious. And downright creepy trying to get the main character to look at kid photos and deal with friends who posted about their relationship while misusing literally.  I enjoyed the heartbroken teen who said Robert Smith of the Cure said Boys Don't Cry. Well, today, they do.

There were personifications of Amazon, Google, Wikipedia, Cat Videos, Click Bait, Angry Birds (but as "knock grandma off her rocker" with exploding pigs), Facebook, and more.  A few jokes were flat, but overall it was very funny and very well acted.  Some seasoned teen actors in the competitive play and fun to watch.

Twitter Bot Analysis

I was playing around with this on my free time:

It was a good opportunity to mess around with Twitter's API, mess around with python (including pickling and caching), and mess around with R, which I've never touched before.  I made minor changes to the code so I could include user names and poked at the other properties on the Twitter user object.

Despite it being all spelled out for me, there were some tricky bits.  pip-ing the right Twitter api instance.  I had to use twitter-python, not just twitter, so there was some installing and uninstalling to get it right.  I could have used the OAuth/REST interfaces, but I wanted to mimic the article.  In the Python, trying to add the username was a little tricky for me mapping what he dumped to the cache (dd) back against the file.  The cache made it tricky because I had to remember to go kill it if I made model changes.  R...I thought I had it all wrong because I couldn't see the ggplot graph AT ALL at first.  But it was a sample size issue.  I was using small accounts, not million-user accounts, so the alpha wasn't layering up enough to show any depth of color.  A few minor changes to shape, alpha, size, and fill and it was easily visible, although it's less useful for real bot analysis.  R was fun to play with, but does most of the heavy lifting with the tidyverse module.  It was more about knowing the general syntax of the chart than doing any coding.

plt1 <- dd="" font="" ggplot="">
geom_point(aes(x = order, y = created_at),
color = "blue", fill="green", shape=21, alpha = 1, size = 2) +
xlab(sprintf("@%s's followers", username)) + 
ylab("Join date") + 
scale_y_datetime(date_breaks = "1 year", date_labels = "%Y")

To top it off, I think I maxed out my api rate limit, although I haven't checked.  I hope I wasn't blacklisted.  The number of calls is minimal, so if you're doing even as few as 1000 users, it can get maxed out quickly.
But, it worked for a while.  Here's Klund with a pretty typical chart.  A stable line since he started with a variety of users under the line and a little bit of clumping likely related to popular tweets.

And me.  One of the devs I work with told me it looks like a dinosaur.  The clumping in the circle, though minimal, is interesting because they're new people all at once. In my case, it's not bots, but some gaming and horror movie related companies that like some of my tweets.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Knights of Pen and Paper 2

I've been Steam-ing more than XBox-ing lately.  I like the variety of games available.  Yesterday I finished the base game of Knights of Pen and Paper 2.  The credits inform me it's a Finnish game.  That, or it was produced by a small pocket of people in northern Minnesota. they are.  The whole cast of characters at Kyy studios.  Probably hiding out north of Two Harbors in Finland, MN, drinking pine beer and eating cabbage rolls while they code.

Wikipedia says I won't enjoy the game much because it's so similar to the first game.  Eryn and I broke their critique by never playing the first game.  That's a bit of a habit lately.  There are enough games about that I can't get through one in the series, let alone a whole series, so the most recent one is the target.  I will admit, it's not particularly hard because you can overclock your characters in levels and gear, and once you start stunning whole groups they don't fight back much. But I found I was mostly playing it for the story and the humor.

There's some third wall action.  Ghost buster jokes.  2001 A Space Odyssey jokes.  And a bunch I didn't get but Eryn did because I'm old and she's not and she's much more familiar with video games post 1995 (that was the year Hexen came out, right?)

Here's the Monolith offering to increase the intelligence of the cavemen I was fighting so they'll quit fighting and give me the artifact I'm after.  It informs me at one point it's definitely a Ms. and not a Mr.  I suspect the lack of balls is a hint.

They lean heavily on typical RPG tropes.  Here's the usual flying ship.  Which mostly takes you to places you could already get to by foot.  They riff on time travel as well.  A bit of a given with the monolith.

Enjoyable.  You can finish it in a day if you're aggressive, but I slowed way down to enjoy the writing so it took a few days.  I did find myself being involved enough for a while to lose time.  That's the sign of something I really enjoy.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Things I Read February 2018

I might tag this as a place for things I read.  Not books.  I do that elsewhere, although I have to get my 2017 list out here.  More day to day articles to ensure I'm getting through some of the things I think are interesting and so I review some of the tech literature I use to keep up.

Some rules:

  • Has to have a little bit of meat to it (or be a few in a series that work together that have some meat).
  • I can catch up a day or catch forward a day.
  • Let's see how long it lasts :)
  • Addendum: this will get busy.  Perhaps it's best "by month".  So this will be the February 2018 list and I'll put a pin in it and start over in March.

  • 2/28/2018: There Was A 1908 Board Game About Women Fighting Cops In The Streets - Kotaku
  • 2/27/2018: The 2017 Locus List: a must-read list of the best science fiction and fantasy of the past year - Boing Boing
    • Need to read more so I can get to some of these.  Particularly Gnomon by Harkaway
    • Created a 2018 Amazon list with this link in it.
  • 2/26/2018: The Best Sci-Fi Movies that Most People Haven’t Seen — IndieWire Critics Survey - IndieWire.
    • Wow....this is the first scifi list where I haven't seen much of the list.
    • Adventageous
    • Creation of the Humanoids
    • Les Creatures
    • Ikarie XB-1
    • Upstream Color
    • Alien Raiders
    • Liquid Sky
    • Colossus: The Forbin Project - haven't seen it, but I remember them referring to it on MST3K.
    • Death Ray on Coral Island
    • The Sticky Fingers of Time
    • Life - SAW IT
    • Under the Skin
    • Gattaca - SAW IT
    • World on a Wire
  • 2/25/2018: SUMMER BISHIL TALKS ‘THE MAGICIANS’ & WHAT’S TO COME - The Daily Shuffle
    • Short and not very in depth.  I always think interviews should be a bit more in depth or not done at all.
  • 2/24/2018: The Final, Terrible Voyage of the Nautilus - Wired
    • The murder of Kim Wall
    • "There was also a lot of joking around about Nazis in the workshop."
    • Primarily about being a female reporter.
  • 2/23/2018: An AI just beat top lawyers at their own game - Mashable
    • LawGeex.  26 seconds for the AI versus 92 minutes for the lawyers on contracts.
    • Recommend a centaur approach.  First swipe by machine, more complex analysis for unique issues by lawyer.
  • 2/22/2018: The Simple Algorithm That Ants Use to Build Bridges  - Quanta
    • "ants trapped in bridges aren’t available for other tasks"
    • freeze so other ants can walk over you if you encounter a gap.
    • unfreeze if there aren't many ants walking over you anymore.
  • 2/21/2018: A Man Builds a Pet Cemetery for Selfless and Selfish Reasons in This Ghoulishly Funny Horror Short - io9.
    • Less article, more video.  Amusing short.
  • 2/20/2018: This Is What It’s Like Arguing with Gun Nuts on the Internet - Mother Jones
    • Originally from 2014....not much changes.
  • 2/19/2018: Barbara Ehrenreich on Writing to Think - Longreads
    • Links to excerpt from Living with a Wild God at Granta: Typing Practice
    • "The restriction of the typing requirement to girls suggested some sort of connection between our festering genitals and the need to serve in a clerical-type occupation, perhaps as a punishment."
    • "If you accept imaginary numbers without raising a question, you’ll swallow any goddamn thing they decide to stuff down your throat."
    • I relearned the word solecism "a grammatical mistake in speech or writing."
  • 2/18/2018: Escape the Dark Castle - game review.  Looks interesting.  But I'm always wary of games where I can (quickly) learn all the cards.  That takes some of the joy out of it for me. It's one of the things I liked about D&D; the endless variety at the DM's whim.  And a game of D&D can be 15-30 minutes if your characters already exist (and your DM is prepared) and you want to just do a quick adventure.
  • 2/17/2018: How Gamers Killed Ultima Online's Virtual Ecology  - not an article, a video, but one I'd actually like to show to my team at work.  Very cool and funny.
  • 2/16/2018: What Does the World Die From?
    • that ever a lot of data.
  • 2/15/2018: My Daughter Was Murdered in a Mass Shooting. Then I Was Ordered to Pay Her Killer’s Gun Dealer. - Mother Jones
  • 2/15/2018: Evolution Saves Species From ‘Kill the Winner’ Disasters
    • Read this one to the 8 year old I'm reading with.  He listened for a while and he usually doesn't listen to anything.
    • Critters live in competitive exclusion.  A single species has an ecological niche.
    • Kill the Winner: too much results in lots more predators for a specific species.
    • New theory is evolution matters - get in a predator/prey arms race including with viruses (red queen!)
    • Should see whole ecosystems elsewhere (like Saturn's moon Enceladus), not discrete numbers of critters.
  • 2/14/2018: How to solve 90% of NLP problems: a step-by-step guide: Using Machine Learning to understand and leverage text.
    • There were some gaps (assumptions about knowledge/steps).  But I liked the Crowdflower "Disasters on Social Media" dataset link and use case of differentiating earthquake the event from earthquake the movie.
    • lemmatization: reduce words am, are, and is to a common form like "be".
    • Bag of words, confusion matrix, TF-IDF score, Word2Vec, black box explainers (like LIME), GloVe, CoVe, CNNs....and you still only get to sub-80% accuracy.
  • 2/13/2018: How to Survive Being Swallowed by Another Animal - The Atlantic
    • Sucks to be a frog.
  • 2/12/2018: He Predicted The 2016 Fake News Crisis. Now He's Worried About An Information Apocalypse - Buzzfeed.
    • “People stop paying attention to news and that fundamental level of informedness required for functional democracy becomes unstable.”
    • "I think what you’re seeing now is an attack on the enlightenment — and enlightenment documents like the Constitution — by adversaries trying to create a post-truth society. And that’s a direct threat to the foundations of our current civilization."
  • 2/11/2018: The Brutal Lifestyle of Javascript Frameworks - the Stackoverflow blog
    • Minneapolis tends to lean more toward Angular than React.
  • 2/10/2018: Inside The Grisly Phenomenon Of Coffin Births - AllThatsInteresting - Kyle gave me this to read.  I followed it by reading the Wikipedia article on the same topic.  I learned about bioarchaeology and that no one should read the "comparable phenomena" section.  That's horrible.  Reads like the script to some sort of fucked-up-Dexter-like series.
  • 2/9/2018: Novelist Lev Grossman on why James Joyce’s Dublin matches J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth - Vox
    • Credits D&D among other things.
    • Looks for interstitial hotspots (that are normal to others) - very Emma Bull.
  • 2/8/2018 The 5 Clustering Algorithms Data Scientists Need to Know
    • K-Means Clustering, Mean-Shift Clustering, Density-Based Spatial Clustering of Applications with Noise, Expectation-Maximization (EM) Clustering using Gaussian Mixture Models (e.g. formulas that aren't non-gaussian, like triangles), Agglomerative Hierarchical Clustering (bottom up with trees).
  • 2/7/2018 The Future Phase of the Legal Industry Holds Choppy Waters for Big Law - sort of scary if you're in Big Law or work with Big Law.
  • 2/6/2018 (read 2/7, launch was 2/6): there's nothing else anyone should be reading/watching but TL;DR The best photos and videos of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launch
  • 2/5/2018: Physicists Hunt for the Big Bang’s Triangles - Quanta Magazine
    • Inflaton fields as cylinders with jittery time expansion creating the things we see in the universe.
    • "Unitarity dictates that the probabilities of all possible quantum states of the universe must add up to one, now and forever; thus, information, which is stored in quantum states, can never be lost — only scrambled. This means that all information about the birth of the cosmos remains encoded in its present state, and the more precisely cosmologists know the latter, the more they can learn about the former."
    • "Now under construction, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope in Chile will be used to map 20 billion cosmological objects starting in 2023."
    • Lucy in the sky....with triangles... (I hear Captain Kirk singing it).
  • 2/4/2018: Container Strategy and Standards - no link, corporate document on container strategy.  The rule is generally don't life and shift and, when you do move your app, consider in order serverless (lambdas/et al), then containers, then AMIs.  And regardless of which path you follow, make sure you understand the governance (security and standards).
  • 2/3/2018: Corporate Surveillance in Everyday Life - Cracked Labs (full PDF)
    • Almost 100 pages with 600 footnotes!
    • About the amazing depth of surveillance underway driven by commercial interests and how they're tying it all together and what it can mean if you're not part of the system.
    • Tracking is being done by social network contacts, web links followed, how you fill out forms, every h/w device you have, geolocation from your device, grammar, traditional paper data (insurance, medical records), digital feeds, and even h/w talking to each other with inaudible sounds.  All with little understanding by end users and a definition of PII that doesn't fit the reality of the information maintained on individuals that can be tied back to them via numerous entry points into records.
    • "Generally speaking, as Ryan Calo has summarized, the “digitization of commerce dramatically alters the capacity of firms to influence consumers at a personal level”.543 The more companies know about individuals, such as their “personal biases and  weaknesses”, the better they can “change people’s actual behavior at scale”. Shoshana Zuboff points to the fact that we are not only witnessing the rise of “markets for personal data” but also of “markets for behavioral control”, which are “composed of those who sell opportunities to influence behavior for profit and those who purchase such opportunities”
    • "...we might soon end up in a society of pervasive digital social control, where privacy  becomes - if it remains at all - a luxury commodity for the rich."
  • 2/2/2018: The Short-Lived Normalization of Breastfeeding on Television -
  • 2/2/2018: The Evolution of a Software Engineer (humor)
  • 2/2/2018: Replicating the New York Times' Twitter bot analysis with R and Python
  • 2/2/2018: Can Python Make You Fly?
    • Python Easter eggs including an XKCD antigravity one.  These are detailed in quite a few places on the web if you dig around for python, antigravity, xkcd, and "The Zen of Python".  Fun diversion.
  • 2/1/2018: To Read Aloud is a portal straight to that Middle Earth where magic happens: Boing Boing.
    • I won't be reading this book, but I find this article very interesting.  I find my attention "diffused" in the internet age.  Much less mindfulness around reading something end to end.  It resonates with me because I volunteer in a program (Garlough) where a kid reads to me every week and my current kid is the first one ever who hates reading.  Hates it.  Despises it.  Actively tells me he hates me personally because I want him to read.  He listens when I read, so I know it's intriguing to him, but perhaps only because I'm the first person to read to him consistently in his life.  He's a child of the internet age.  It's partially why I'm blogging again, because writing is a form of reading (imho) and I feel I need to compose coherent thoughts.  It's been too long.  Five to six years.  Since I bonked me noggin.  So no, I won't be reading the book, but it was a good  Read aloud.  I spent the evening describing some of the articles below to my wife and other articles to my boss this morning over breakfast.  Consume what you read and share it so that it's not just rote but something you've consumed and cogitated upon.  Think about it.  There's something deeper that needs to happen to make your head whole.
  • 2/1/2018; Japan's Museum of Rocks with Faces; Great Big Story.  Enough said.
  • 1/31/2018: Automating Inequality: using algorithms to create a modern "digital poor-house" - Boing Boing.
    • About Viginia Eubanks' Automating Inequality (book).
    • "the power of algorithms to diffuse responsibility for human suffering: using math to decide who the "deserving" poor are makes it easier to turn away from everyone else whom the system has deemed undeserving"
    • 1. Does the tool increase the self-determination and agency of the poor?
    • 2. Would the tool be tolerated if it was aimed at non-poor people?
  • 1/31/2018: Weapons of Math Destruction: invisible, ubiquitous algorithms are ruining millions of lives - Boing Boing.
    • About Cathy O'Neil's book Weapons of Math Destruction
    • The problem with models trained on faulty data.
    • "Credit bureaux, e-scorers, and other entities that model us create externalities in the form of false positives -- from no-fly lists to credit-score errors to job score errors that cost us our careers. These errors cost them nothing to make, and something to fix -- and they're incredibly expensive to us. Like all negative externalities, the cost of cleaning them up (rehabilitating your job, finding a new home, serving a longer prison sentence, etc) is much higher than the savings to the firms, but we bear the costs and they reap the savings."
  • 1/30/2018: In Game Theory, No Clear Path to Equilibrium - Quanta Magazine. 
    • How communication bottlenecks (describing a game fully) derail Nash Equilibrium unless there's a high degree of symmetry (players share a characteristic/choice) or we settle for "correlated equilibrium" with a trusted or intuited mediator.
    • there are "forms off play that aren't Nash equilibria at all, but that sometimes result in a more positive societal outcome."
  • 1/29/2018: Fossil Discoveries Challenge Ideas About Earth's Start - Quanta Magazine.
    • " may have taken hold in the worst conditions imaginable."
    • The bit about the Late Heavy Bombardment or Luna Cataclysm was interesting.
  • 1/29/2018: Is "Murder by Machine Learning" the New "Death by Powerpoint"? - HBR.
    • "inbox overload demonstrably hurts managerial performance and morale"
    • "Digital empowerment all to frequently leads to organizational mismanagement and abuse."
    • "Nobody wants to produce boring presentations that waste everybody's time, but they do; nobody wants to train machine learning algorithms that produce misleading predictions, but they will."
    • "There may even be biases in detecting biases."
    • "Smarter algorithms require smarter risk management."
    • "disempowerment-by-design" (subjugating people to machines)
    • Create a declaration of machine intelligence - "how the organization expects to use smart algorithms"

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


Some quick links for me:

    • There's a video on the main page