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a book cover


alChandler's Halls

Serving dozens since 1999


July 26, 2021

Moon and I are still playing World of Warcraft together. This is her gnome mage, Lunariia with her armor. She looks like Li'l Sauron.

Firefox and FTP

I just learned that with Firefox version 90 Mozilla took out support for ftp, Mozilla considers it an insecure protocol. When I first got my internet connection in 1993, ftp was the way you transferred files and when I switched up to the Mosaic browser in 95 it had support for ftp. I used it for a bit but Mosaic didn't have the same functionality as the ftp client I'd been using on my old Unix dial up account. So I stated using Cuteftp, a dedicated ftp program. I used it for over 20 years because while ftp servers started shutting down, my web host still used it. Since I haven't used any web browser to ftp in over 20 years the news that Firefox isn't supporting it doesn't effect me. But I did learn that theaters transfer digital movies from one auditorium to another using ftp, that's kind of cool.

I have a sentimental attachment to ftp but I'm aware it's dying. I should probably ask OLM one of these days if there's another way of updating the site. Besides, I like having an excuse for having a ftp program on Kosh.

July 24, 2021

Mass Effect 2

From left to right that's Jack a whacked out biotic, think high powered telekinesis. Then there's Garrus, a former cop turned rogue bounty hunter. And in front is my character Sandra Shepard, a former agent of Spectre now considered unstable because she'll tell anyone who'll listen that giant robot sentient space ships are waiting tin invade the galaxy. And to add to the sketchiness of my crew there's the organization I'm working for, Cerberus. It's a humans first terrorist group that I skirmished with in Mass Effect. I'm working with them in Mass Effect 2 because the Alliance refuses to take the threat of the Reapers seriously. Strange alliances during wartime, the Mafia fought the fascists and aided American soldiers in WWII.

Mass Effect 2 was made by Bioware and it's considered one of their great games. I haven't played it in 11 years and it's nice to be able to play the entire Mass Effect Trilogy in one go. And while people tend to think that EA's acquisition of Bioware in 2007 was a terrible thing, games like Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age Inquisition were made post EA.

By the way, last year Electronic Arts released this teaser for Mass Effect 4. No idea how far along Bioware is on the game but it's nice that the franchise hasn't been abandoned.

July 21, 2021

A Memory Called Empire

Arkady Martine, author of A Memory Called Empire is the pen name of Doctor AnnaLinden Weller, a specialist in medieval Byzantine history. In her science fiction novel the Teixcalaan Empire is a mash up of Byzantium and the Aztec Empire with a touch of other cultures (there's a poetry contest straight out of The Tale of Genji).

The Empire is looking at Lsel Station, one of a series of independent space stations that would rather not be annexed Teixcalaan. The point of view character is Mahit Dzmare, the station's ambassador to Teixcalaan. It's her job to try to stop Teixcalaan from grabbing Lsel. A secondary concern is finding out what whether the previous ambassador's death was an accident or murder. This is actually a reread for me, I'm brushing up before I tackle the book's sequel, A Desolation Called Peace.

In a way the book reminds me of Dune. But unlike Dune not every character in this empire is a murderous monster. And I like the fact that the Teixcalaan Empire is partially based on the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantine Empire gets a lot of bad press that it doesn't deserve. Doctor Weller includes a passage written by Nikephoros Ouranos, a Byzantine general in the 10th century:

I would not have chosen life with Calypso rather then the smoke from Constantinople. I am absolutely possessed by the thought of the many sources of pleasure which are there on all sides: the size and beauty of the churches, the length of the colonnades and the extent of its walks, its houses and other things which enrich our image of Constantinople; gatherings of friends and conversation, and indeed the greatest of all-my gold-pourer, which is to say your mouth and its flowers--

The only other interstellar empire that Teixcalaan reminds me of is Asimov's. He based The Foundation Trilogy of Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire But while I enjoyed Asimov in my younger years, he's not a good writer. Arkady Martine is a very good one.

July 19, 2021

Clarence Larkin

My Mom had a copy of Dispensational Truth (or God's Plan and Purpose in the Ages) by Clarence Larkin a Baptist minister. The book was full of charts like the one I posted to give the conservative Christian a heads up on the afterlife and the end of the world. I never read the text but as a kid I thought the charts were awesome. The book has long since passed into the public domain and you can read it for free here in pdf format. I'm only bringing it up because I really got into his charts and I still have a loopy affection for them.

July 17, 2021

Hover Tabs

in March Google introduced hover tabs. When you mouse over a tab it gives a brief description of the page. If you're a person who has lots and lots of tabs open the feature is invaluable. But I don't have lots and lots of tabs open and I found hover tabs annoying, so I found out how to turn it off and went about my business. Then came Chrome 91, Google removed the ability to disable hover tabs. I searched for a solution, found none and so I switched to Firefox. Yep, I found Chrome's hover tabs that annoying.

To be fair Firefox has hover tabs too, but they don't immediately pop up when your mouse brushes over a tab, you have to linger for a bit, and Firefox's aren't humongous like Chrome's.

Here's the thing, I used chrome for so long because I found Firefox to be quirky. It still is but given a choice I'll choose quirky over Chrome's hover tabs. And please understand, I didn't want hover tabs removed from Chrome and I had no problem with them being turned on by default, I just wanted the ability to turn the little bastards off.

According to Neowin, Google has received some negative feedback about the hover tabs and is playing around with the idea of allowing users to disable them. And I now have a new appreciation for the folks who design software. I mean, Goggle didn't just say, "Fuck the users, they'll learn to live with it." They did research and I'm sure the result was that there was no downside to taking out the ability to turn off hover tabs. Indeed, the number of people bitching about the tabs is probably very low, but just high enough to be noted.

For me the upside of all this is that I'm basking in the self righteousness that comes from using a browser other then Chrome.

July 17, 2021

Calming Down

Newton's good at calm, me, not so much. Over the last month I got new glasses, Rolf upgraded Kosh and my website was down for a week. But all that's sorted out and I love the new keyboard. Doing the news feed and updating here is fun again.

Meanwhile, it's 10:45 PM, the final episode of Loki drops at 3:00 AM. I had a three hour nap today because I nap. Still, I might not make it to 3:00. But if I try to go to sleep at, say, 1:00 AM I'll be tossing and turning for hours. In other words, the normal neurotic shit I deal with. It's nice to be back to normal.

By the way, I'm almost finished with Nightmare Scenario the book about how the Trump administration handled the pandemic (spoiler alert, pretty badly). There are three, three more books coming out about Trump's last year in office and how he tried to fuck with the election results. But fuck it, I'm not reading anymore about Trump. He was an asshole but I don't have to obsessively delve into the details.

July 13, 2021


In the 90s I used FTP all the time, because that was the way you got files on the internet. Web browsers took the place of stand alone FTP programs and you no longer had to understand what was happening when you downloaded a file, you just clicked and saved. Least you think I'm lamenting the passing of the old days, I'm not, simpler is better. By the late 90s I no longer used FTP although I still had a FTP program on Kosh.

In 2001 I registered and had it hosted on OLM. By then my working knowledge of how file transfer protocol actually worked was gone. Fortunately the folks at OLM talked me though the process of establishing a connection with my site. And that was that.

Twenty winters passed and I was moving to a new server over at OLM and it was a a mess, not because of OLM, because I hadn't changed a setting on Filezilla, my FTP client in two decades. It took two calls to tech support before things were resolved and it was somewhat embarrassing for me. But now that things are over, I'm hoping I won't have to deal with the behind the scenes stuff for for another 20 years, when I'll be 85 years young.

July 13, 2021


Over the last year or so it was getting harder and harder to write. After a year of this I came to the conclusion that I was having problems seeing the keys on my keyboard. I'm not a touch typist and have to look at the keys to write anything. So I bought a new lamp and that helped some but it was still difficult to see the keys. One trip to Best Buy later and I bought a $20 backlit keyboard. A good backlit keyboard costs more but I wanted to see if back lighting would help.

It helped a lot but the keys felt wrong, if you know what I mean. You pay $20 for a keyboard, you get a $20 keyboard. So I ordered a fancy $70 keyboard from Amazon, a HyperX Alloy Origins Mechanical Gaming Keyboard:

I haven't had a mechanical keyboard in ages and I had forgotten how good it feels.

July 12, 2021

I'm Back

So then, my web host migrated alChandler's Halls to a new server last Tuesday. Stuff happened and the long and the short of it is that I somehow blocked everyone, including myself, from reaching the site. I just got off the phone with tech support and they undid whatever it was that I did and now I'm back up and running. So now I'm gonna upload this and have another cup of coffee.

July 12, 2021

Migration Day!

I registered with Network Solutions back in 2001 and since then my only contact with them came when I renewed the domain. But I had to migrate from my old servers to the new ones and that involved much fumbling and fussing, starting with trying to recover my Network Solutions user name and password. After that the nice tech helped me navigate the company's control panel. But it's done, I was able to log into my site via ftp, and things are fine and dandy. After I post this I'll have to update my list of passwords to include Network Solutions and my updated login to aLchandler's Halls.

By the way, if you don't have a hard copy of your passwords, print one out. That will make your tech guru's life so much easier if you have a meltdown and they're trying to get you up and running again.

July 6, 2021

The Masters of Lunacy

I just finished an 862 page book on Victorian politics and social trends and I'm not going to lie, it was tough going. But towards the end I learned there used to be two officers of the English High Court called the Masters of Lunacy whose job was to look after the legal rights of those deemed mentally impaired. That knowledge made me so happy that I deem the month I took getting through the book as time well spent.

July 6, 2021

We're Back

Suffice it to say that if you get a replacement credit card from the bank with a new security code, it's a good idea to update the companies that you've given that credit card to for billing, like your web host, as soon as you've activated the new card. Or you can do what I did and just assume that things will work themselves out. That was not a good decision.

July 4, 2021

Testing, Testing, Testing

Is the mic even on?

July 4, 2021

AD&D Humor

I find the image of Legolas, Gimli and Bill the Necromancer hanging out together funny. But having spent a good portion of my life in a time when Tolkien and gaming were unknown to most people and dismissed as weird nerd stuff by folks who did stumble across either one, I find it wonderful that a joke like this is fairly mainstream these days. By the way, if you want to learn more about necromancy The Eldritch Dark is a great place to start, it has a collection of the stories and poems of Clark Ashton Smith.

July 2, 2021