Serving dozens since 1999
I've mentioned Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique stories before. In 1970 the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series collected them in a single volume, and while I have a lot of books in that series But I did end up reading Jack Vance's Dying Earth books, Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun and William Hope Hodgson's The Night Land. All these books featured earth at the end of its tether, a decadent humanity living under a blood red Sun. Or, in the case of The Night land no Sun at all. About 12 years ago I picked up a copy of the Ballantine edition of Zothique and later another paperback edition for a backup. After all 52 year old paperbacks are rather delicate. What I wanted was an ebook collection and yesterday finally got one.
I don't know why I like the Dying Earth genre so much but Mrs. Silverman once said I was, "the most pessimistic motherfucker I've ever met," so that might have something to do with it.
December 6, 2022
Patches of Sunlight
At nine Newton is still in middle age, but he's reached the stage where he'll sit or lay in patches of sunlight, not sleeping, just enjoying the warmth of the Sun. Jack got that way too.
December 4, 2022
Random Gaming Stuff
Last night I intended to post a brief movie of alChandler on his gliding dragon in World of Warcraft. It's not up because OBS, my video capture software, dropped a lot of frames and that sent me down a rabbit hole. As it turned out, the latest patch broke the program for a lot of people. When I rolled back to an earlier version, it worked fine. But instead of making a movie the last expansion for Assassin's Creed Valhalla dropped a week early. Eivor teams up with Roshan. She's the assassin who trained Eivor's buddy Basim. She's in England to kill a woman and Eivor is trying to find a man who's framing his clan for the murder of Saxons. There paths intersect and they team up. Roshan is voiced by Shohreh Aghdashloo and Roshan and Basim will both be in next year's Assassin's Creed Mirage. They had me at Shohreh Aghdashloo.
The rest of the expansion consists of Eivor saying his goodbyes before sailing to Vineland. He's aware that Odin is sort of sharing his body and he figures someone there can help him get a handle on that. So Eivor literally sails into the sunset.
Next year is looking pretty good for a person with my taste in games. Aside from Assassin's Creed Mirage there's Starfield, Greedfall 2, Baldur's Gate 3 and the System Shock remake. So they'll be a lot of things to keep me occupied in 2023.
December 2, 2022
Splinter Cell the Radio Drama
I didn't think it was a real thing but it is, the BBC is doing it.
November 30, 2022
I spend a lot of time on Twitter, even so I've tried to limit the number of Elon Musk posts here. But over the last few days stuff's been happening:
Musk is claiming that Apple has threatened to boot the Twitter app from its store. Apple hasn't commented and the thinking is that Musk is firing a warning shot at Apple. If Musk takes Twitter to a subscription model Apple could claim 30% of the revenue Twitter takes in from that.
But the EU is threatening Twitter. The EU warned that Twitter could be banned if it doesn't comply with the Digital Services Act. The DSA mandates that sites like Twitter have to boot hate speech. Musk indicated that he'll comply but since he's fired most of Twitter's moderators that might be difficult.
Finally, Gizmodo has an article that says the collapse of Twitter's ad revenue is even worse then we think.
I'm very interested in Twitter because it really reminds me of when I was on Usenet back in the 90s. But nothing lasts forever.
November 30, 2022
The Dark Tower
I started with this cropped image of Newton sitting in a box.
I ran it through Dream with the prompt, the cat waited in his fortress, and this is what it gave me.
As it turns out, Newton makes a pretty good Dark Lord.
November 30, 2022
I've been buying books from Amazon since the 90s and I've been buying ebooks from them since 2009. Amazon noted my transition from physical books to digital ones and its recommendations changed accordingly. But for all that, the recommendations were relevant. Amazon picked up two or three sales a year from suggestions it made. But Amazon's suggestions have ceased to have any relevance for me. Here's a screen shot from today.
Every one of those suggestions is a comic book. Amazon bought Comixcology, an online store, and folded it into their Kindle store. Amazon's algorithm seems to have figured out that while I may not buy a digital book every month I do buy digital comic books every month, and so it's pushing them. What it hasn't figured out is that I only buy certain comic books every month but my taste in fiction and nonfiction is more diverse. So rather then increasing sales, the push for comic books is costing Amazon some sales. A human would have noticed this but I'm sure Amazon's suggestions come from an AI. It's doing the best that it can.
And as long as I'm talking about Amazon, the Washington Post has an article called It's not your imagination: Shopping on Amazon has gotten worse. If it's tl;dr his suggestion is that if you're looking for product recommendations don't search on Amazon, do your research on Google and then go to Amazon.
November 28, 2022
Writing for Adolescent Boys
I was reading a review of The Fall of Númenor by J.R.R. Tolkien in the Guardian and I saw this line:
If there is anyone still convinced that Tolkien wrote only for adolescent boys (a common criticism at one time), this tale should give them pause. With its sharp social observation and trenchant dialogue, it could almost have been written by Ursula K Le Guin.
Tolkien was indeed writing for adults in The Lord of the Rings. Paradoxically The Worm Ouroboros by E. R. Eddison was written for adolescent boys, if only unconsciously. It's an adventure tale but it's an adventure tale written in Jacobean prose. The language lends a weight to the book that is unearned and (I think) unwanted by the author. And please don't think I'm being snotty about adventure tales. Robert E. Howard's Conan stories fall into that category and Tolkien wrote that he rather liked them.
November 27, 2022
Since Musk took over Twitter, companies like Ford and General Mills have pulled their advertising. It doesn't help that Twitter's chief marketing officer booked on 11/2/22. But Twitter needs revenue and ads still show up on my stream, it's just they're dodgy.
I know that ad looks like it's a satire from the Onion but it really turned up a couple of days ago. It turns out that it's hard to run a company without employees.
November 26, 2022
I just checked, Apple's Homepod Smart Speaker is going for $409 at Walmart. I'm sure Apple would love it if people bought that speaker and it became a gateway into the whole Apple ecosystem. But if a customer bought it just to stream music from their phone Apple is cool with that, they've made a profit on the purchase.
A couple of years ago I bought an Echo from Amazon, it cost $100.
Amazon was selling it at cost, the idea was that users would use their echo for shopping, "Alexa, buy two pairs of Levis jeans." Unfortunately people are using their echoes to listen to music, get the weather and as cooking timers. And that's why Amazon's echo division lost $10 billion, because people aren't using them for shopping.
Perhaps it might have been a wise idea to give away a bunch of the things to see how people were using them. After the results were in Amazon could have made a decision to get their money up front and my $100 echo might have cost $250. From what I gather Google also subsidized their smart speaker too, figuring it would become a shopping portal. It's not.
I like my echo and would be sad if Amazon shut down the servers. But it would be the same kind of sadness I'd feel if McDonald's went away, "Damn, I'm going to miss their fries." It wouldn't keep me up at nights, you know? I'd just go to Five Guys for fries. Not the level of engagement Amazon was counting on I presume.
November 22, 2022
Today I bought Zoe Keating's album Into the Trees. Bandcamp zips it for downloading and when I got it I just opened the folder and copied it into my music folder. This isn't any kind of new functionality in Windows , Windows ME added it in 2000. But I've been using WinRAR, and Winzip before that, to unzip files. I'm the 21st century equivalent of the old bastard still using a rotary phone in the 90s.
Boy, using Windows to copy and paste zipped files into the directory of your choice, with Windows uzipping them on the fly, is a lot easier then using WinRAR! By the way, if you're still into buying music, instead of just streaming it, the artists get more money from Bandcamp then they do from Apple Music of Amazon. Just saying.
November 21, 2022
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Logo courtesy of Mrs. Silverman.