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Bug

Journal Journal: Who Screwed Up Rendering This Week? 3

My browser didn't change (firefox 38.0). My OS didn't change (ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS). My internet connection didn't change (nope, not telling you who). I was travelling this week and thought maybe the craptacular rendering of slashdot was the result of it detecting me to be coming from some place else. Now I am back home and the page is still rendering poorly.

In particular:
  • When I view a comment there is no right banner, and the "the fine print" message is printed twice
  • When I click on messages (from the front page) it renders a mess as well; the right banner renders above the rest of the text and there is a nonsensical grey bar going across the screen left-to-right near the middle

I just love the arbitrary changes that they launch here all the time. It's like bug hunting, but without bugs ever being resolved or any bounties for the people who find them.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Gimpy text and Mars

I use the Gnu Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) to design book covers. It's an excellent free open source program that has three weaknesses -- its menu structure is completely illogical (but can be gotten used to), I can't find a full spectrum palette, and its text handling is so poor as to be useless.

I have a workaround for the bad text. Open a word processor that will output a PDF file, choose your typeface and size, choose the text's color and write the text. Save it as a PDF and GIMP will open it as an image in as high a resolution you need. Just make the background transparent, situate it over your graphic, and merge the layers.

Speaking of books, I made a Mars, Ho! YouTube video. Yes, there is a pussy in it.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Table of Contents

I've spent the last three days working to fix the ePubs and AZW3s of Yesterday's Tomorrows. I had just ran it through Calibre and did a quick check, noting that the table of contents didn't display anything.

It took a lot of research and learning to fix the ToC, and while doing so discovered something even worse - some of the illustrations were covering up the text. Damn!

Trying to figure out the ToC I tried several things. One was installing the Write2epub extension to Open Office.

It really sucked, especially with this book. It had some ugly sans-serif typeface, and there were huge swaths large and bolded that I never told it to do. And there was still no table of contents.

While googling and reading and finding out that e'books were mostly based on HTML5, XML and a few other things, I got a little disheartened. This was going to take forever, because I had a lot I had to learn.

I ran across Google's e'book editor "Sigil" and installed it. I have no idea if it's any good, because there's no documentation and I can't make heads or tails out of it.

So I went back to Calibre and studied it some more, educated a little but not much by the internet, and saw a long string with an "and" in it, "h1 and h2" and recognised this from HTML and the rest of the garbage from programming for thirty years. Stupid Calibre was telling it to make everything part of the table!

It took a bit of trial and error to get the right parenthesis and brackets in the right spots that the conversion wouldn't crash with an error, but I finally got a working table of contents.

Now to address the obscured text. That took quite a bit of head scratching as well.

I finally just decided to make the input make the output behave, rather than trying to tweak the output itself. What finally worked was to load the offending images in GIMP and add a white space where it was covering the text. That worked.

So if you've already downloaded one of the e'books, you should delete them and download the new version.

ePub

AZW3

I think I'll take the day off tomorrow.

Republicans

Journal Journal: Another fine front page fail from Samzenpus 1

Our dear friend "failure machine" samzenpus is never hesitant to expose himself as a die-hard GOP loyalist, but today was a dramatic failure even for him.

Donald Trump talks about going to Mars was the article, but the hyper-editorialized summary is the real headline:

Donald Trump, the mercurial real estate tycoon and media personality who, much to the surprise of one and all, has become the front-runner for the Republican nomination for president

Samzenpus might be surprised that Trump is leading in the polls - likely because his party told him that he should be surprised by that - but plenty of other people are not surprised in the least.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Futurists...

I just uploaded the last item in "Yesterday's Tomorrows", a futurist essay by "the father of science fiction," Hugo Gernsback. In his essay, written in 1926, he describes the year 1976. Those of you who believe the guys who say the singularity is near or that death will be conquered within your lifetime should read it.

Futurists! Where in the hell is my flying car? Why are there no bases on the moon, like the futurists said in the 1960s we'd have by now? Why did no one see digital photography coming? Or phones in your pockets? Or the internet?

Gernsback sold electronic components, some of which he designed himself, yet didn't seem to understand "electricity, the mysterious fluid." He thought we'd be able to control the weather with it, and even more nonsensical things. He seemed steeped in the cult of Tesla, who had promised wireless delivery of electricity.

Coincidentally, Soylent News just mentioned a story about transplanting porcine hearts into humans, and the company's co-founder is a futurist. Of course, I left a comment about futurists.

I go into it in detail about futurism both in the book's foreword and the introduction to the Gernsback essay.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Yesterday's Tomorrow is now available!

It turned into a beautiful thing. It's full of illustrations, plus photos of the authors and covers of the magazines the stories were printed in. It has the first use of the word "astronaut", the cover story of the issue of Astounding that is said to have ushered in the "golden age of science fiction, A.E. van Vogt's first published science fiction, a few other firsts, and five stories that are printed from cleaned up scans of the magazines. There are biographies of all the writers in the book.

I usually encourage folks to read the stories online or check a copy out from their local library, but not this time. The printed book is head and shoulders better than the electronic versions.

There are stories by Isaac Asimov, John W. Campbell, Murray Leinster, Frederik Pohl, Neil R. Jones, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., A. E. van Vogt, Theodore Sturgeon, Poul Anderson, Phillip K. Dick, Frank Herbert, James Blish, Lester del Rey, Jerome Bixby, and a futurist essay by "the father of science fiction" Hugo Gernsback.

It will be a little while before the HTML version is available, since they're not done yet, but I'll post them as I finish them. Meanwhile, there is a PDF, an ePub, and an AZW3 posted for free download.

Yesterday's Tomorrows

Republicans

Journal Journal: Benghazi Conspiracy Summarized in Four Words 67

Conspiracy propagators tend to love bumper stickers. This bumper sticker is stricken with nearly more problems than words, though.
  • It claims that what was told was known at the time to not be true (ie, the definition of a lie)
  • It claims the wrong order of events (it would be essentially impossible to lie about something before it happens - if I tell you that the Boston Celtics will win the 2018 Super Bowl is that automatically a lie [even though the Celtics don't play football]?)
  • it implies that had something else been said, the four who died would still be alive
  • If it is a response to the "Bush Lied, Thousands Died" stickers that oppose the war in Iraq, it implies that the lie was told in order to promote an event or decision
User Journal

Journal Journal: The Kevlar Kandidate Waffles on Homosexuality 21

We might be able to start a "Kevlar vs Kevlar" list soon, in the same way that others had made "McCain vs McCain lists" showing how the latter was flipping his positions in the breeze. Team Kevlar might need to get a press release out to clarify this issue before people stop paying attention to him:

Source: CNN's State of the Union interview with the Kevlar Kandidate

Walker on if being gay is a choice: âoeOh, I mean I think - that's not even an issue for me to be involved in. The bottom line is, I'm going to stand up and work hard for every American regardless of who they are, no matter where they come from, no matter what their background. I'm going to fight for people and no matter whether they vote for me or not.â

Walker on if Boys Scouts of America should keep its ban on gay leaders: âoeThat's up to the people who run the boy scouts. â¦Sure. I said in this case that's what I thought. I thought the policy was just fine. ⦠I was saying when I was in scouts it was fine. You're asking what should the policy be going forward? It should be left up to the leaders of the scouts.â

Notice his very humble interview, in the back of his Winnebago. Don't you usually give media interviews in your decked-out Winnebago? He's just like everyone else, of course...

First Person Shooters (Games)

Journal Journal: The Kevlar Kandidate Channels Benghazi 4

Republican Doublethink on Mass Shootings: Scott Walker Edition

There is no shortage of popular conspiracies for Republicans to channel when looking to enrage their base against President Lawnchair. Barely a week in to his "official" campaign (which unofficially started at least a year ago), Scott "Kevlar" Walker reached for one of the most popular conspiracies in a recent appearance on Fox News:

Mr. Walker and the Fox host Megyn Kelly tut-tutted about the fact that President Obama did not immediately call the Chattanooga killer a Muslim terrorist. They had no idea at the time whether that was true, but the point of the exchange was to attack Mr. Obama. They used it to revive another favorite talking point â" that the president did not quickly label the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi as a terrorist attack

He also is testing the popularity of a conservative bill from not-too-long ago:

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who recently joined the Republican primary carnival in an âoeofficialâ way, says the government should reauthorize the Patriot Act in response to the murder of four Marines in Chattanooga, Tenn., by a 24-year-old gunman.

Which segues into another popular tack for that side:

And he suggested that changing a policy that stops military personnel from carrying weapons in certain civilian areas would have prevented the attack. Those policies âoeare outdated,â Mr. Walker said on Fox News, because the United States is âoeat war and radical Islamic terrorism is our enemy.â

User Journal

Journal Journal: Breaking News: Kevlar Kandidate Knows Only 30 States 18

At least, that is what the headline would read if this news article was spun the same way by the "mainstream news" as the one that generated the line that causes conservatives to cream their shorts endlessly about Obama suggesting "57 states":

"ACT scores are up and Wisconsin now ranks second in the country" - Kevlar Kandidate

"But the state's ACT college admission scores are not up, and it ranks second out of 30 states - not the entire country" - USA Today, after fact-checking his claim

Would the Kevlar Kandidate do better by only going after electoral votes from 30 states - particularly when 29 of them have worse average ACT scores than his? As I mentioned in a comment elsewhere, I don't expect him to last long regardless.

Republicans

Journal Journal: Kevlar Kandidate Makes it Official (and Surprises Nobody)

Yep, it's official, Kevlar for President. He already has had the ear of the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelstein. He's been spending a lot of time in Iowa and New Hampshire, and he looks oh, so good on camera.

Though he did decide to go rogue - only slightly, as he would - by waiting a little later into the campaign cycle to formally declare candidacy than his friend Teflon Tim did back in 2011. Unlike the Teflon Candidate, though, The Kevlar Kandidate has much higher name recognition and could afford to come in a little later. Now the problem he has is in taking his name recognition and building it into something useful, as he is surrounded by other candidates who are proposing the same policies.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Add this to your reading list - America's Bitter Pill 159

America's Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System

Conservatives won't like it because it supports the thesis I have been repeating for some time - that the republicans voted against the ACA not because they disliked the contents but because they didn't want Obama to get the credit for a health care reform bill.

Liberals won't like it because it shows how the ACA is just the next offspring of a long lineage of conservative bills that line the pockets of big businesses in the guise of improving health care.

Slashdot "libertarians" won't like it because it isn't a youtube video of Ron Paul

Smitty won't like it because I posted a link to it :)
It's funny.  Laugh.

Journal Journal: On Spam, Faith, and Bullshit

Last Monday we had a front page article asking about the "effectiveness" of ISP-level spam filters. I eventually responded with a rehash of my central thesis on slashdot, pointing out that spam is an economic problem and filters will never resolve it.

My comment was generally well received (as seen by the moderations applied to it), though clearly some people were confused by it. Note for example two anonymous applications of the standard form, neither of which showed good comprehension of my comment. Overall my comment fielded 13 replies, many of which seemed to struggle with my statement in one way or another.

However the one who really failed most dramatically was this comment claiming - based on nothing at all - that everything I said was completely wrong. I eventually challenged his faith in spam filters, which apparently caused him to take off the gloves and make it personal.

In fact, so personal, that he kept bringing the conversation back to himself. Eventually I got tired of trying to bring the discussion back to being about spam, and he apparently got tired of talking about himself.

Even for this crowd, that was an odd discussion. Something like 18 comments from him in ~5 days and possibly not a single fact across the lot of them.

Crazee Edeee, his prices are INSANE!!!

Working...