Pixel Scroll 3/23/16 You’re on Canid Camera

(1) SUPERGIRLS. Carrie Goldman writes “An Open Letter To Supergirl Stars Melissa Benoist and Chyler Leigh, From An Adoptive Mom” in Chicago Now.

Her relationship with her younger sisters is complicated. They are our biological daughters, and this creates deep and unavoidable conflict for her. No matter how much we reassure her that we love her the same as the younger girls, she tests us.

During the scenes in Supergirl where Alex and Kara explore the painful aspects of their relationship as sisters through adoption, our whole family absorbs every word, every expression, because seeing this dynamic on mainstream television makes our family feel less alone.  The fact that both Alex and Kara are kickass, strong, smart, flawed, beautiful women who work hard, cry, laugh, yell, fight, and make mistakes has been an incredible model for all of our girls.

(2) READING RESOURCES. The 1000 Black Girl Books Resource Guide database includes several sf/f titles.

[From Marley’s Welcome.] Welcome to the #1000blackgirlbooks Resource Guide. I started this campaign because I wanted to read more books where black girls are the main characters. With your help we have collected over 4000 books; many of them are have the same title, but we do have lots of unique ones as well. This guide includes 700 of those books and more is coming.

I believe black girl books are really important because when you are young you want to read lots of books, but you especially like to read books with people that look like you. While I have books at home about black girls, the books at school were not diverse. Children do most of their reading in schools or because of schools. Teachers assign books that you must read. If those books are not diverse and do not show different people’s experiences then kids are going to believe that there is only one type of experience that matters. Also, if books are not diverse then kids will not learn about the experiences of other members in their community.

(3) BELGIUM CALLING. Nicholas Whyte checks in from Brussels, in “Losers” at From the Heart of Europe.

I finally made it to the office at 1022, those last two kilometres having taken me 90 minutes to drive, to find most of my colleagues gathered ashen-faced in the lobby, greeting me tearfully – I was the only person who was unaccounted for, due to my phone being out of order – and giving me the headlines of what had happened. It’s nice to feel appreciated, still more so when I logged on and saw many concerned messages from friends and family, and even more so when people responded to my posts confirming that I was safe. One of the great things about the interconnectedness of today’s world is that we can often catch up with our friends quickly – Facebook’s check-in system in particular is a source of reassurance.

The horror has hit very close to home. I have flown out of Brussels airport in the morning five times this year, and was originally due to do so again on Friday to go to Eastercon in Manchester (in fact my plans have changed and I’ll take the Eurostar to London for work tomorrow and travel on up by train). My wife was flew out on Monday for a funeral in England and was due to fly back last night; her flight was cancelled and she will now return by Eurostar this evening. Maelbeek metro station (the four-pointed star on my map) is in the heart of the EU quarter, and I go past it almost every day and through it several times a month; a former colleague was actually on the train that was bombed, but fortunately escaped without injury; another former staffer (from before my time) was in the departure hall of the airport, and is recovering well from minor injuries.

… This happened because they [the terror movement] are losing. Less than a week ago, a major figure in the terror movement was arrested in Brussels; perhaps yesterday was revenge for his arrest, perhaps it was rushed into because they were afraid he would start talking (or knew that he already had). On the ground, their allies and sponsors are losing territory and resources in Syria and Iraq. I wrote a week ago about violence as story-telling, in the Irish context. This is an attempt to write a story about the weakness of our interconnected world, attacking places where people travel and meet, where many nationalities and cultures join together and build together.

It is a narrative that must not and will not win…

(4) MIND MELD. SF Signal’s current Mind Meld, curated by Andrea Johnson, asks —

Q: What non-mainstream Scifi/fantasy Graphic Novels do you recommend?

The answers come from: Matthew Ciarvella, Sharlene Tan, Taneka Stotts (Full Circle), Stacey Filak, Carl Doherty, Myisha Haynes (The Substitutes), Pipedreamergrey, Christa Seeley (Women Write About Comics), Martin Cahill, Larry Gent, and Jacob Stokes.

(5) VERICON. Ann Leckie has captioned a set of photos of Ancillary cosplayers from Vericon.

It’s obvious what’s going on here, right? That’s Hamilton/Breq in the middle, and she’s recruited Agent Carter, Lieutenant Peepsarwat, and Translator Zeiat in her search for the Presger gun. That case Agent Carter is carrying?

(6) INHUMAN PASSENGERS. “More ancient viruses lurk in our DNA than we thought” reports Phys Org.

Think your DNA is all human? Think again. And a new discovery suggests it’s even less human than scientists previously thought.

Nineteen new pieces of non-human DNA—left by viruses that first infected our ancestors hundreds of thousands of years ago—have just been found, lurking between our own genes.

And one stretch of newfound DNA, found in about 50 of the 2,500 people studied, contains an intact, full genetic recipe for an entire virus, say the scientists who published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Whether or not it can replicate, or reproduce, it isn’t yet known. But other studies of ancient virus DNA have shown it can affect the humans who carry it.

In addition to finding these new stretches, the scientists also confirmed 17 other pieces of virus DNA found in human genomes by other scientists in recent years…

(7) LUNAR POLE DANCING. “Earth’s Moon wandered off axis billions of years ago, study finds” at Phys Org.

A new study published today in Nature reports discovery of a rare event—that Earth’s moon slowly moved from its original axis roughly 3 billion years ago.

Planetary scientist Matt Siegler at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, and colleagues made the discovery while examining NASA data known to indicate lunar polar hydrogen. The hydrogen, detected by orbital instruments, is presumed to be in the form of ice hidden from the sun in craters surrounding the moon’s north and south poles. Exposure to direct sunlight causes ice to boil off into space, so this ice—perhaps billions of years old—is a very sensitive marker of the moon’s past orientation….

“The moon has a single region of the crust, a large basaltic plain called Procellarum, where radioactive elements ended up as the moon was forming,” Siegler said. “This radioactive crust acted like an oven broiler heating the mantle below.”

Some of the material melted, forming the dark patches we see at night, which are ancient lava, he said.

“This giant blob of hot mantle was lighter than cold mantle elsewhere,” Siegler said. “This change in mass caused Procellarum—and the whole moon—to move.”

The moon likely relocated its axis starting about 3 billion years ago or more, slowly moving over the course of a billion years, Siegler said, etching a path in its ice.

(8) INDICATION OF TOR. John C. Wright still has one last book on the way from Tor – The Vindication of Man. Rather a dim-looking cover on the preorder page. The release date for the hardcover is November 22.


  • Born March 23, 1952 — Kim Stanley Robinson. The other great sf writer born in Waukegan!

(10) HE WRITES ABOUT THEY. Although John Scalzi’s post about gender-neutral pronouns is interesting, I found his personal demonstration in the comments even more so:

Also, for the record, my stance on pronouns, as they regard me:

He/him/his: My preferred set. Please use them in all things involving me.

They/them/their: Not my preferred set, but I don’t mind them being used for me.

It/it/its: This is a non-gender construction but generally isn’t used for individual humans (excepting, from time to time, infants), and is mostly used for animals and objects. Please don’t use them for me; if you do I’ll wonder why you are, and also wonder if you see me as an object, which would make me wonder if you’re a sociopath of some sort.

She/her/her: Not my gender! Be aware that in my experience when someone uses these for me, they’re usually trying to insult me in one way or another. So unless you want my default impression of you to be that you’re a sexist twit, please don’t use this set for me.

Other constructions: Really, no. “He” or “They” is fine. Thanks.

(11) DO YOU FEEL LUCKY? Claire Rousseau’s series of tweets ends on a rather optimistic note, considering the 2016 Hugo ballot isn’t out yet.


(13) A SELECTED QUOTE. Sarah A. Hoyt takes time out from moving to post at Mad Genius Club.

And after being selectively quoted by Jim Hines who pretended I was calling anyone not with the puppies worse than those who abetted the holocaust and the holodomor, by cutting out the part where I addressed those who destroy lives and reputations for a plastic rocket, we have at least established what Jim Hines is.  He’s not duped by those destroying reputations and lives.  He’s one of the principals.  I have only one question for him: But for Wales, Jim?

(14) PUPPYING WITHOUT UMLAUTS. Some of Declan Finn’s days are better than others. “The Evil of the Puppy Kickers” at A Pius Geek.

But last time I checked, Vox Day has really never dismissed his enemies as being subhuman. Nor has he suggested murdering any of them. Not even NK Jemisen, who has her own little war with Vox going that stretches back at least two years. He’ll still debate, or reason, or scream right back at her, but he’ll at least reply to whatever is thrown his way.

You may not like what he says, but he at least acknowledges that she’s someone worth having a fight with.

Can’t say that for the Puppy Kickers. They like being the ubermensch of their own little Reich, and it’s getting tiresome, really. The ones who are really in charge rarely, if ever, acknowledge any argument outside of their own little echo chamber.

(15) KEEP BANGING ON. Michael Bane, the producer of Outdoor Channel’s Gun Stories hosted by Joe Mantegna, announced Larry Correia will appear in an episode.

Did I mention that the MAIN MONSTER HUNTER HIMSELF, LARRY CORREIA, will be joining us on GUN STORIES WITH JOE MANTEGNA this season? The MONSTER HUNTER books are modern classics. I just finished reading SON OF THE BLACK SWORD, the first book in his newest series, and it was excellent.

(16) CROWDFUNDED CON. The Museum of Science Fiction in Washington, DC is running a Kickstarter appeal to fund guests for Escape Velocity, a convention it plans to hold July 1-3. At this writing, people have pledged $14,348 toward the $18,000 goal.

Something special is coming to National Harbor, Maryland – a science fiction convention on a mission. This July 1st to 3rd, the Museum of Science Fiction will be launching ESCAPE VELOCITY, a micro futuristic world’s fair where STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics) and science fiction will collide to create a geeky-fun, educational, and above all, fascinating spectacle for kids and adults alike!

A couple of the guests they expect to have are —

Rod Roddenberry, recently announced executive producer for the new Star Trek TV series for 2017 will make a keynote presentation to celebrate Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary and discuss his work with the Roddenberry Foundation.

Adam Nimoy, son of Leonard Nimoy, who played Mr. Spock on Star Trek, is coming to Escape Velocity to discuss his father’s legacy and his new documentary film, For the Love of Spock.

In addition to screening parts of the documentary, Nimoy will join Rod Roddenberry on an Escape Velocity discussion panel moderated by screenwriter and Museum of Science Fiction advisory board member, Morgan Gendel, who wrote the Hugo Award-winning Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, “The Inner Light.” “I’ve known both Adam and Rod for years and it’s fascinating to see how each has found a way to celebrate the work of their famous fathers,” said Gendel. “I expect the panel to be a very insightful look into the lives and legacies of two Trek icons.”

(17) BALLARD REMEMBERED. Malcolm Edwards will guest on The Guardian’s live webchat about JG Ballard on March 25 at noon (UK time).

Malcolm Edwards was JG Ballard’s editor for several years and worked with him on Empire of The Sun, among other classics. He should be able to give invaluable insights into Ballard’s working methods and the wonderful books he produced – and so is uniquely placed to talk about this month’s Reading Group choice, High-Rise, not to mention the recently released film.

(18) NOT WORTH THE PAPER THEY’RE NOT WRITTEN ON? Max Florschutz takes a deep dive into the value of ebooks at Unusual Things.

You don’t see articles from music sites talking about how MP3 downloads are worthless and shouldn’t cost more than ten cents. You don’t see game review sites asking how dare Steam or Origin have a digital game on launch day cost the same as its physical compatriots.

So why in the book industry is this such a problem? Why is it that a person will look at a digital MP3 download from their favorite artist and buy it without a second of remorse, but then look at a digital book from their favorite author and send them an angry message about how that ebook shouldn’t be more than a dollar?

I don’t actually have an answer to this question. All I have are theories based on what I’m reading and hearing from other people around the internet. Maybe you’ll agree with some of these, maybe you won’t. But all of these are things I’ve heard expressed in one way or another….

1A- Physical books have physical difficulties that imply value to their purchasers. Yes, this much is true. While the story inside the pages remains the same, the trick with an ebook is that it’s hard to compete with an observation of value when looking at one. A physical book? Well, for one, you can pick it up and feel the weight of it, which, to most people, does imply a value. But you can also flip through it, jostle it, check a few pages, see how long it is.

You know what’s interesting? We can do all these things with an ebook. You can flip through it and read a sample. You can see how many pages there are. You can even check reviews—something you can’t do at a bookstore.

And yet … people don’t value that either. And why? Because it’s easy. It’s fast.

(19) GOTHIC INSPIRATION. Paul Cornell starts watching all the Hammer movies in order: “My Hammer Journey #1”.

The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)

The first thing that strikes one is how much of a Val Guest movie this is, and how much, therefore, as a director, Val Guest establishes the Hammer ethos.  Guest’s forte is a kind of poetic modernist postwar British craft, a deceptive air of understated hard work that nevertheless not only gets everything right, but elevates, through the little details, the whole thing into art.  (Again, that reminds one of the best years of Hammer all in all.) ….

(20) FURY FURIOUS. This was new to me, although it has been making the rounds for several years…

[Thanks to James H. Burns, DMS, Mark-kitteh, Andrew Porter, Michael J. Walsh, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

275 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/23/16 You’re on Canid Camera

  1. I single-handedly banished Buwaya last year, but I’m afraid to use my power again. What if it spirals out of control and engulfs the world?

  2. Tasha: the assumption that everyone who upgrades has a working device to copy from is a high level of privledge

    Rev. Bob: Um, I don’t think Alex ever proposed anything that assumed one would have multiple Kindles/iPads/etc. available. The suggestion sounded a lot closer to what I do quite regularly: when connecting your device to your computer of choice, take the opportunity to make a backup.

    I took Tasha’s meaning to be that a lot of people may only be able to afford one device. Having more than one device is a high level privilege.

    I have an Intel i5 desktop computer with 160 GB of storage. I also have a Microsoft Surface Pro and a Kindle DX. I’m fortunate to be able to afford a desktop as well as portable devices. If the Kindle was the only thing I had, I’d be screwed. If I had only a tablet and a Kindle, backup would certainly be difficult or impossible.

    A lot of people aren’t going to have a computer of choice to which to connect and make a backup. I can’t imagine being in that situation, and I have a lot of sympathy for people who are big readers of e-books but don’t have my options.

  3. @JJ: Random aside… how’s the Surface Pro working for you? It could potentially be a contender for my next work device.

  4. Oneiros: how’s the Surface Pro working for you? It could potentially be a contender for my next work device.

    I bought it right before Worldcon last year. My Kindle DX has basic web browsing and works great in a pinch for a quick lookup or check on something. But it’s got a push-button keyboard, so is shyte as an Internet device. I type 100 words a minute, so electronic keyboards are shyte for me as well. I have a smartphone as well, but can’t stand trying to do anything other than basic stuff on that tiny screen and tiny keyboard.

    I really like it. It’s fast and powerful. I dislike touch access and generally use the stylus, but it works well with either (though the stylus is better for anything with small e-buttons, where a fingertip is too big). I dislike that there’s no built-in place for the stylus (the sides are magnetized, so the stylus will attach if placed next to it, but is easily brushed off).

    I strongly recommend buying the matching keyboard/cover, which has a magnetized connection so is easily removable but snaps itself right back on if you get it within an inch or less. I hate touchpad mousing, so I bought a bluetooth mouse, which works really well for me (YMMV).

    One warning: the charging connector is proprietary and hella expensive. You can’t use cords from any of your other devices to charge it, and an extra will cost you plenty. But the connection is really slim and magnetized, so it stays well and the cord does not get in the way.

    There is also a docking station with ethernet, audio jack, and USB ports, which essentially converts the tablet into a sturdy desktop computer or TV stand for watching movies. The tablet fits into the docking station with a multi-pin connector stuck into the charging slot (much as an iPod fits into an iPod dock), and there is a charging cord which fits into the dock which may be one of the standard AC/DC charger connectors (I’m not sure).

    It’s also got a MicroSD port which is great for importing larger files (assuming you have available a desktop with an SD port for exporting), and you can just leave the card in all the time as part of your storage if you wish.

    All of the extras cost extra, of course. I bought mine in a bundle sale Microsoft was having, so I saved a little bit. 🙄 A one-year Office 360 sub came in the bundle, so I got that, but it will be $10 monthly after one year, so I may try to figure out how to load Office 2010 from my CDs (assuming that the tablet is powerful enough to handle it, which I think it might be).

    Internet Explorer has been deprecated and the Surface comes with Microsoft’s new browser Edge, which is pretty similar to IE in a lot of ways (unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get the rot13 bookmark to work in Edge the way it does on my desktop in IE). I’ve also got Chrome installed, but I hate using Chrome because while it’s a great browser with some really useful add-ons, it’s a CPU hog. One bonus is that you can install first-party and third-party apps from Microsoft’s app store and get rid of any of the default apps which you don’t use.

    I use the desktop most of the time at home, and I still use my Kindle a lot for Kindle books or pdfs, because I like the e-ink after spending all day on backlit monitors at work. But the Surface is great for reading Overdrive and epub books (and Kindle books and pdfs if I wish), and last night I set it in the living room in the dock and used it as a TV to watch the first 10 episodes of The Expanse (and I’m agreeing with the love for the series and for CQB).

    One caveat: make sure your Settings are “ask me before installing Updates”, because I paused in the middle of an episode last night to take care of several things, and when I came back the damn device had gone to sleep and when I turned it back on it spent a half hour updating Windows without asking permission, before I could get back to watching The Expanse.

    If you get one, you’ll want to go through the interactive tutorials, because there are a lot of differences in Windows 8 if you’re not using it already, and a lot of stuff is in pop-up menus which appear if you touch the right places around the edge of the tablet.

    Sorry for the epic ramble. Hope you find it helpful.

  5. ETA: I have a Surface Pro 3, but the Surface Pro 4 is out now. It’s the same footprint but a slightly bigger screen, a little more powerful, has biometric sign-in identification options, and apparently the keyboard is improved. For my purposes, there’s no reason to upgrade — the 3 is way more than adequate for my needs — but YMMV.

    Surface Pro 4 vs. Surface Pro 3: Should You Upgrade?

  6. @Oneiros – @JJ: Random aside… how’s the Surface Pro working for you? It could potentially be a contender for my next work device.

    I’m not JJ, but I also have a Surface Pro and…it’s fine. I’ve had to go back to factory defaults twice in three months for reasons I don’t understand. It also tends to go into a coma when not plugged in and refuse to come out. I lost the stylus fairly soon, because it’s magnetized and easy to detach when taking it out of a travel case. Since I have the keyboard, it’s no big deal, but until I replace the stylus it’s fairly useless as a tablet.

    I use Outlook for email and wouldn’t recommend it, because the Surface Pro totally chokes on it and does weird things, including losing my settings on a regular basis and duplicating about half my emails.

    So, I won’t be getting another one, but it’ll be fine until it dies the horrible death all my electronics endure in fairly short order.

  7. No problem, thanks for the info JJ!

    Definitely useful – it sounds like it would fit my needs basically perfectly, provided I get the keyboard attachments with it (lots of typing in my work so on-screen keyboards are basically useless to me, especially as I type very nearly as fast as you). It sounds like there are no USB ports on the tablet itself (understandable) or on the keyboard attachment (also understandable) so I’ll need to treat myself to a bluetooth mouse then. I forgot my mouse one day last week and it was absolute hell going back to using the touchpad for a day.

    Probably the worst thing from my perspective is the proprietary charging cable – I have a useless Fitbit Charge HR sitting in my room right now as I lost its proprietary connector in one of the many moves this year. I can’t find a replacement locally and the post in Vietnam is bad enough that I doubt I’d receive a replacement before I left.

  8. @Nicholas Whyte

    If the Phantom ever gets around to saying something useful or fact-based, I may respond to it.

    Either you or he will be dead before that happens. 🙂

  9. Oneiros: It sounds like there are no USB ports on the tablet itself

    There is one (and an audio port as well). Since I have a bluetooth mouse, I generally only use that on a sporadic basis for a thumb drive to transfer files.

  10. @Hampus Eckerman: I’ve been very underwhelmed with comics on tablets, but I read a lot of webcomics (though some webcomic creators really need to rethink they’re layout and how huge a banner they have above the comic).

    ETA: I mean I read a lot of webcomics on my desktop computer at home. Sorry, what I wrote didn’t make sense, did it. Hopefully this is clearer.

    @Bruce Arthurs: LOL, that’s a great iPad cover.

    @JJ: It’s not just a Pupy attribute; a bunch of book bloggers used to say that as well (that the Hugos were broken because they didn’t like the ballot). But the Puppies certainly took it to an unseemly level!

    @Jake: (eyeroll) We’re capable of thinking and talking about more than one topic. This is a feature, not a bug. There’s no need to tell people what they should and should not discuss. Especially on this blog, where the comments range all over the universe (e.g., gardening was a topic).

  11. @Various: Ebooks have some unique features, and I’m surprised sometimes how they appear to be undervalued. But then, most electronic stuff is – it’s indispensable, but should be dirt cheap. Hmm.

    Searching is a nice feature. @Darren Garrison points out another favorite of mine, the tap-to-define feature.

    Bookmarking is nice, but jumping around sucks; the UI for how one interacts with bookmarks (and TOCs!) needs work.

    But I don’t have to worry about breaking the binding like with a mass market. I’m buying more ebooks for various reasons, including readability (tweak font size, easier to read in bed where there’s poor lighting on my side of the room, et al.). But I love a quality, attractive print book and I like hardbacks and trades just fine. I feel like the trade paperback is my sweet spot for print. But we own so many books, another reason for ebooks is I get less grief for it at home. 😉

  12. @JJ: ahh even better! I can just use my current mouses (mice?).

    Thanks JJ and Cheryl S for your opinions on the Surface Pro range. Seems like opinions are kind of mixed on it, but I’m still edging towards getting one anyway.

  13. Jake’s “Why are you talking about what these people have done in the *past*?” is a classic example of the Ricardian Device, from this handy list of trolling techniques Andrew Rilstone posted yesterday http://www.andrewrilstone.com/2016/03/appendix.html
    I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot of those in use over the coming weeks. It may be worth bookmarking that and just pointing out the tactics by name rather than engaging…

  14. I’m halfway through Sense 8 and I’m already certain I’m going to nominate something from this show for a Hugo.

  15. “Random aside… how’s the Surface Pro working for you? It could potentially be a contender for my next work device.”

    I’ve had two Surface Pro 2s now for a few years and this is my problem with them:

    1) The charger breaks kind of easily. It is the cable connected directly to the computer that is subject to tear. It has happened twice now.

    2) Once it happened in Brazil and thats where I found out the real problem. Surface Pro is kind of an unusual computer outside the western world. This means that it was impossible to find or buy a new cable anywhere. I tried in the four largest cities.

    3) The keyboard is also subject to wear, but not as much. I’ve only had to buy one new. The problem with the keyboard is the mousepad which is not very good.

    Otherwise, I like it. It is quick, the keyboard is easy to snap on. Has good enough perfomance for me to program on and still works good as a pad.

  16. @Hampus: 2) could become a real issue as I spend the vast majority of my time in SE Asia (with a bit of time in E Asia for variety).

  17. Oneiros: Thanks JJ and Cheryl S for your opinions on the Surface Pro range. Seems like opinions are kind of mixed on it, but I’m still edging towards getting one anyway.

    It’s my impression that as far as tablets go, it’s the (or one of the) most powerful. Now, that may be overkill for your purposes. It is for mine, but rather than spending shitloads of money every couple of years to upgrade things like cars, scuba gear, or computer equipment, I like to buy top quality (or fairly high end) with room for growth in my needs, then use the damn thing until it dies.

    My desktop before this one was a Gateway that was 10 years old, to which over the years I’d upgraded the CD/DVD R/W drive, added way more desktop memory, swapped in a gihugicGB second hard drive, and upgraded the OS and software — and it was a fabulous workhorse for me before the motherboard finally died.

    If you go with a Surface Pro, my advice would be to invest in a second charger cord (note that the dock uses a standard AC/DC charger cord); it’s a two-piece cord, so you would only need to carry 1/2 of the second cord with you in case of damage. I dislike that it’s a proprietary cord, but I really like how the connector is magnetized and keeps the cord out of my way when I’m using the tablet.

    I also invested in a both a snug padded sleeve in just the right size and a larger padded neoprene bag with a shoulder strap, which is large enough to hold the tablet in its sleeve plus has pockets for stylus, mouse, and cords — which I got on eBay and turned out to not be terribly expensive.

    The double layer of padding gives me piece of mind about it not getting crunched when I’m going places — but I can still just grab the tablet in its sleeve and go when I don’t need to drag along all the extra accoutrements.

  18. Gah! “piece” of mind… I’m killing myself here (and not in the amusement way).

    *peace of mind

  19. What if it spirals out of control and engulfs the world?

    Then Phantom’ll end up being a Space Ghost.

  20. Nigel: Or possibly Phantom MacSpaceface O’Trollington.

    Dammit! Now I’m going to have to detach my little Puppy gargoyles and torches and reattach them to a new keyboard.

  21. @JJ: The ridiculous specs are what drew me to it originally.

    My laptop prior to this one lasted me a good 4-5 years. Not the highest specs, but the most it ever needed to do was run Photoshop CS6 (which was admittedly rather laggy if my laptop had been on for a few hours). In fact the only reason I eventually threw it away was that the battery was lasting only 20 minutes on a full charge, which wasn’t very convenient, given that I tend to work in different locations and not all of them necessarily have a power socket for me.

    All that said, I’d love a second device that I can travel with a bit more easily. This laptop is still quite heavy, so if I could get something smaller, lighter and (almost) equally powerful that would be amazing.

    It’s so very tempting to just go through my business account and see if I’ve definitely got the money to blow $1600 on a tablet/laptop and send it to my UK address as a present to myself for when I head back there.

  22. @Oneiros

    FWIW I’ve had really good luck with Fujitsu. Back when I did a lot of business travel I got tired of lugging around the weight of a full laptop and switched to one of their (no longer made) ultra mobiles. It lasted forever.

    They have a line of detachable keyboard laptops I’ve been eyeballing for maybe my next personal laptop. No experience with those specifically just good experience with the brand. Since they’re out of Japan it might mean easier parts supply too. They are a bit proud of their name though and you’ll choke at the prices:


    On the Surface Pro: we have three of the 3’s for our after hours support team. They seem well liked and have done well for us. We’ve had one broken, and fixed under extended warranty, after a drop. Otherwise they’ve held up well. Bearing in mind they get a lot of transport but only light usage not daily like say JJ is doing.

  23. Although as I recall e-ink devices do not necessarily handle cold of the sort one might reasonably expect in Canada all that well. I recall a grumpy report of an ereader dying after being in an outside, uninsulated pocket during a stroll in Ottawa.

    The lowest temps my e-ink reader has been exposed to is the upper teens Fahrenheit, but that had no real impact on the reader. Screen refresh is a little slower, but still a fraction of a second. Lithium batteries don’t like the cold very much, though.

  24. I got the 10″ Android Pro tablet, because its extra resolution makes it feasible for putting sheet music on it and playing right from it (on a piano’s music stand). I found after a while that the resolution was even good enough when I turned it sideways and had two pages on. Oh boy! Fewer page turns! I’ve been scanning like a fiend ever since, and am closing in on having my basic traveling set on the device (and backed up, of course). I’m also getting a lot of free public domain material from the incredible IMSLP. Archive has some too, as does the Eastman music library (which seems to be largely carried by the IMSLP, but maybe not exactly identical).

    I’ve enjoyed having comics on it, and don’t mind reading on its screen. I need to bookmark Comic Book Plus, come to think of it. There’s a match made in heaven.

    I’ve done a fair amount of book scanning, much of it before I even had the device. Some of that was optimized for my phone, which (for instance) could handle full-page scans of Bored of the Rings and The Pooh Perplex, both books I like being able to refer to.

    Additionally, I’ve done some ebookmaking of my own. One of the few books I ran out and bought for tablet reading was Kliph Nesteroff’s wondrous volume on stand-up comedians—offhand, I think it’s called The Comedians—and that prompted me to revisit the WFMU blog (now inactive, but still one of the best repositories of fascinating writing and audio material out there—or should I say Out There?) and download all the columns he wrote over roughly ten years that became the grist for his book. I found that converting them to .rtfd files (and changing the text and background to black on white) made them readable, and bulk-converting the .rtfd files to .pdf made them convenient for my purposes. I read them while treading and pedaling gym machines at the Y for several weeks.

    There are other things I’m finding worthy of reading this way. I’ve been reading logs from chat sessions I’ve been in recently. I’m up to 2005 in a chat session I started joining in in the late 90s. I don’t seem to have records before 2003 for some reason, but I’ve been amused by the banter, and enjoying the memories it brings back. For this, I haven’t needed to make PDFs. Just reading the .txt files directly works fine. Later, they’ll be .rtf as we change platform to a chatroom that allowed italics and different colors and sophisticated stuff like that.

    One of those times I can truly say to myself, “Nobody else in the whole world is reading this.” Those poor sods.

  25. @Kip W.

    Old chats! Reminds me of a long abandoned early Internet forum I came across years ago. Technically it had been deleted but the host provider had only removed the main page when they took it down. If you had the full sub name URLs you could still get there and it was still functional. Kind of eerie to peruse a long dead and hidden site and wonder whatever happened to the posters. It made for a nice semi-private (since you didn’t know who else would stumble on it) chat room though. Felt like being rats in the walls 🙂 Wonder if it is still out there though I doubt I could even remember the links now.

  26. On caring about what people did in the past: if you come to my party and kick my cat, puke on my rug, and spend the whole evening hassling my friends, I am neither going to invite you back next year nor answer your emails in the future. Same thing applies.

  27. Okay, I think maybe something I wrote went into moderation because I said a word that starts with a capital V and rhymes with Niagara. Let me just rephrase that:

    Weird. Three times I’ve tried to post this, and it just disappears and I go to the top of the page. This time, I reopened the post from scratch, expecting to see it posted eight times at the bottom, but it’s still not there, and it went a little

    Stoic cynic
    So it was still a functional chat room? Neat! Was there graffiti on the walls? Ads for Dr. Quack’s Happy Bone Pills, and some blasted idiot telling how much they made last year at their computer?

    Yep, that was it. Mike, if you’re reading this, there’s no need to release the other drafts from moderation. It will just make me look like a chump. Heh.

  28. @Kendall:

    It is weird that they chose book 1 for series except in one case (Rothfuss).

    Also Barrayar, which is very much a sequel to Shards of Honor. Weird. But these best-of-by-committee lists are always a confused mishmash.

  29. @Kip W.

    Not a whole lot of that. It died before spambots really became a thing and I don’t think it ever got indexed by any of them. A little bit of ‘Kilroy was Here’ type posts but not much else in way of graffiti. Full Internet drama: after I found the forum it eventually became a refuge for a splinter group from another forum burned up in a flame war. Said flame war following the splinter to another public forum then the splinter moving to the hidden site. Hmmm, reading that I’m thinking we LARP’d / stole the plot from BSG somehow…

  30. With apologies to BOC:

    You see me now a veteran
    Of a thousand Usenet wars
    I’ve been living on the edge so long
    Where the posts of flaming roar

    And I’m young enough to look at
    And far too old to see
    All the scars are on the inside
    I’m not sure if there’s candy left in me…


  31. I wanted to thank everyone who did the tangent on the Surface Pro. Every now and then we think about getting me one as my 17″ laptop doesn’t work well as an in bed machine. The iPad just doesn’t have enough umph and/or causes problems for some of the things I do. You’ve given me reasons to do more research and keep my eye on new technology. Thanks.

  32. Jim Henley

    I single-handedly banished Buwaya last year, but I’m afraid to use my power again.

    I had long noticed his absence, but didn’t want to say the name in case it aroused him from his slumber.

    I actually just googled that name for the first time, and I gotta say, Jim, I think you went too far.

  33. @Tasha Turner: I had an iPad with the Kindle app on it. Amazon called it “David’s iPad”. Then its antenna for cellular data broke. As in your case, Apple gave me a new one. Unlike your case, I was able to register the new one to the same Amazon account; Amazon calls it “David’s 2nd iPad” and I have access to all of my old books with no problem. I’m not sure what the difference is between us or what if anything you should be doing differently.

  34. @Kip W–which music program are you using that will let you display two pages side-by-side? I have been using ForScore but it will only display one at a time; Iwould love to have the option of two-at-once.

  35. @David Goldfarb
    In the cloud we have access to all the books. It’s what downloaded/didn’t download to the device which was the problem. Your books all downloaded? Maybe it’s our family Amazon hates. LOL

  36. RedWombat on March 24, 2016 at 5:19 pm said: “It’s funny, but whenever we ask Phantom about backing up his claims about Valente, he vanishes again for a day. May I propose we keep this up? It seems to be effective troll repellent.

    One might almost start to suspect he was making things up out of whole cloth…”

    Or, if you think back to previously when I posted all manner of links regarding the business at Harvard, I got called a liar anyway. I don’t mind being told I’m wrong, I do mind being called a liar.

    So, if I’m to be called a liar, I see no advantage to doing a bunch of research that will be reviled and ignored no matter what it may be. The curious will go and make their own judgements, the rest will rage on regardless.

  37. Mike

    Re Hugos

    Resins are designed to break the hearts of people who use them in jewellery and other crafts. Years ago I did a metal working/jewellery qualification, and one of my pieces for the final – the art school actually had an exhibition of works which counted as part of our assessment – got a lot of attention and compliments, which was cool because I had literally sweated with my blow torch creating the silver brooch which held the resin, and the stones set in the resin. I had done at least 10 test pieces, and they sit in a drawer looking pretty good still.

    The identical resin in the brooch, with swirls of green and blue to surround the pearls, turned a murky brown a year after I finished it. Stick with metal because it’s far more likely to carry on looking the way the artist intended…

  38. Cat
    I’m using XODO, which is not a score reader but a PDF reader (and free, too). It lets me have two pages up, in either odd-even or even-odd order, and I can have a handful of tabs going as well. It has a scroll bar that shows up at the bottom if you touch the screen (of an Android tablet, in my case) just so, and you can then zip to a new location and even see tiny preview pages popping up. Also, I can crop pages individually or in mass, which means I can maximize how much music and how little margin I have on the screen. (This can be a temporary read-only crop, or else you have to save a new document, which can be a little inconvenient if you’re playing at the time.)

    I recommend it highly. I use it with the “pro” version of the 10-inch tablet, because the non-pro version has poor resolution, so that I don’t even see things clearly when they’re at full-page size.

  39. @Phantom ….so you’ve got nothing, then, and are weaseling?

    Really, did that sound like an effective argument in your head? Because wow, that is some weak troll-sauce. Even your friends you’re trying to impress with your mad truth-bomb skills have to find that one embarrassing.

    If you had enough information to believe your claim in the first place, surely you don’t need to do extensive “research”? And if you have to go do “a bunch of research” to make sure your claims about a person’s behaviors are true, why did you make that claim about their behavior in the first place?

    You know as well as I do that you’ve got no proof at all, were pulling stuff out of your ass, and now that you keep getting called on it, instead of being able to ignore your way out, you’re grasping at pitiful verbal straws instead of admitting you were full of it.

    But don’t worry. I’ll keep bringing it up.

  40. ….so you’ve got nothing, then, and are weaseling?

    Phantom has an established pattern of having nothing and then weaseling.

  41. @Phantom

    Or, if you think back to previously when I posted all manner of links regarding the business at Harvard, I got called a liar anyway. I don’t mind being told I’m wrong, I do mind being called a liar.

    …And what precisely does Harvard have to do with your claims about Cat Valente?

    You’ve moved those goalposts clear to the other end of the football field. Aren’t they getting heavy?

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