mat's recent activity

  1. Comment on What’s a safe way to discard a almost full can of lighter fluid that’s way past expiration date? in ~misc

    mat
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    I'm not sure butane can expire, can it? It's not food, it won't go off. I can only assume the expiry date was put there because things have to have expiry dates. Why your lighter doesn't work I...

    I'm not sure butane can expire, can it?

    It's not food, it won't go off. I can only assume the expiry date was put there because things have to have expiry dates.

    Why your lighter doesn't work I don't know. What happens if you shake the can, do you hear liquid sloshing around?

    5 votes
  2. Comment on Why Svelte is our choice for a large web project in 2020 in ~comp

    mat
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    Meh, frameworks. Never used one I didn't end up hating, and I always run into issues where the designer(s) haven't considered the thing I want to do, or worse and has happened several times,...

    Meh, frameworks. Never used one I didn't end up hating, and I always run into issues where the designer(s) haven't considered the thing I want to do, or worse and has happened several times, actively wants to avoid exactly what my client wants to happen. Then there are bugs. I'd rather create and solve my own than run into other people's (I once ended up spending hours on LKML after tripping a freakin' kernel bug from inside Django).

    My experience has always been that it's easier and - over the course of a whole project - faster to just write my own code, and that goes double for large, complex projects. Also frameworks always come with a huge performance cost and I hate that. Burning cpu cycles just for my own convenience seems like a dreadful waste.

    Bear in mind that I am (a) Old and (b) quite a few years out of the web dev game.

    7 votes
  3. Comment on Explosive Barrels in ~games

    mat
    Link Parent
    Haha yeah, ancient times. Imagine being so old you played most of the games he talks about when they came out. argh I am so old.... :)

    Haha yeah, ancient times. Imagine being so old you played most of the games he talks about when they came out. argh I am so old.... :)

    4 votes
  4. Comment on Explosive Barrels in ~games

    mat
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    That was excellent, thanks. I foresee a lot of time watching this guy's channel in my future.

    That was excellent, thanks. I foresee a lot of time watching this guy's channel in my future.

    1 vote
  5. Comment on What are some great songs from your homeland? in ~talk

    mat
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    I shall interpret 'homeland' to mean 'home city' because otherwise there's far too many choices in the UK. And with that in mind... Hot Pink by Lets Eat Grandma, one of their less experimental...

    I shall interpret 'homeland' to mean 'home city' because otherwise there's far too many choices in the UK. And with that in mind...

    Hot Pink by Lets Eat Grandma, one of their less experimental tracks but still very much their sound. Jenny and Rosa have been making music together since they were toddlers, but as they reach their late teenage years/early 20s they're really starting to come into their own. They feel very local to me. They're not loud or brash about what they do, just quietly creative and a bit different, which is very much how the city feels too.

    Somewhere Else by Sink Ya Teeth. Currently the biggest local band going (inter)national. Getting lots of airplay on BBC radio, they're a nice post-punk/synth/shoegaze sort of sound.

    2 votes
  6. Comment on A letter to other parents in ~life

    mat
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    I mean... I sort of agree with you, kinda. But my first thought is that you never know other people's situations. I've spent the last week or so hovering over my toddler whenever he's out and...

    I mean... I sort of agree with you, kinda. But my first thought is that you never know other people's situations. I've spent the last week or so hovering over my toddler whenever he's out and about because he's recovering from surgery and while he has no idea and just wants to run about - a fall could split his stitches. I'm not saying everyone doing that has reasons like mine but y'know. It might be more people than you think.

    The other thing is how sure are you that these parents are causing developmental issues? I know some kids who weren't potty trained by four, whose parents had some weird thing where they didn't ever tell them 'no' and a bunch of other apparently dreadful parenting things and now they're teenagers and they're lovely, social, pleasant kids. I have friends who have parented in all ways from 100% helicoptering to letting their offspring run entirely feral and all their kids have turned out just fine. Kids are super resilient and will become their own people despite (or because of) what their parents do. The social skills you think they're not learning now will come. So it might be a bit later than your kid, so what? All kids are different and do everything at different times.

    So no, I'm not horrified or offended but equally I don't think we're going to be friends.

    fwiw I wish my kid liked screens. Little fucker won't sit and watch TV when I just need five minutes of him not enthusiastically exploring everything in sight.

    14 votes
  7. Comment on Finnish FA drops 'women's' prefix for league in push for equality – top football league to be called National League, not Women's League in ~sports

    mat
    Link Parent
    OK so if it's not a big deal then let's just rename the other leagues instead. We can have the Men's League for the fellas and the women can play in the Premier League. It's just football that can...

    OK so if it's not a big deal then let's just rename the other leagues instead. We can have the Men's League for the fellas and the women can play in the Premier League. It's just football that can only be played by men, right?

    See how that sounds a little, er, lacking in empathy? Lots of people would be upset by a change like that. So why should the women's game have to be in the same position? For the sake of a name change, which despite your concerns otherwise, I'm not convinced is really that confusing. I know football fans aren't traditionally seen as being all that bright but I'm sure even they can manage to get a handle on it. I mean, what's the worst that will happen - someone accidentally goes to a game with women in? argh! I'm not particularly a footballist but the women's games I have seen are generally rather more entertaining than the men's flavour (seems to be more skill and less brute force but that could just be me not really knowing what I'm watching)

    3 votes
  8. Comment on Finnish FA drops 'women's' prefix for league in push for equality – top football league to be called National League, not Women's League in ~sports

    mat
    Link Parent
    That's fine if it's on your local leisure centre's noticeboard for badminton or whatever, but we're not talking about casual leagues here, these are the top teams/players in the country, the main...

    That's fine if it's on your local leisure centre's noticeboard for badminton or whatever, but we're not talking about casual leagues here, these are the top teams/players in the country, the main national leagues.

    Perhaps I should have phrased it more as renaming a sport's elite leagues to "Men's League" (for men) and "Premier League" (for women)? Now you might well be happy with that but let's not pretend there wouldn't be many jimmies rustled among less enlightened fans. I'm not sure what country you're from but can you imagine the fuss made if it was the MFL rather than the NFL? Men's Baseball rather than Major League? I don't know what the hockey one is, but you get what I'm saying.

    Now imagine you're a woman and that's how things are already. Perhaps from that perspective naming leagues for the level they're played at rather than the gender of the players doesn't seem quite so stupid.

    4 votes
  9. Comment on Finnish FA drops 'women's' prefix for league in push for equality – top football league to be called National League, not Women's League in ~sports

    mat
    Link Parent
    I'm not sure it's particularly stupid. My understanding is that the reason they're doing it is the same reason we no longer have "women engineers" and "women comedians" and so on. It's just...

    I'm not sure it's particularly stupid. My understanding is that the reason they're doing it is the same reason we no longer have "women engineers" and "women comedians" and so on. It's just football, which in some cases happens to be played by women - it's not "women's football" as if the mere fact there are women playing it is worthy of note.

    If you want stupid, consider how stupid the "Men's League" sounds. Same thing.

    4 votes
  10. Comment on Why the GOV.UK Design System team changed the input type for numbers in ~comp

    mat
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    The GDS team are amazing at what they do. Few, if any, websites even approach the accessibility and usability levels of gov.uk and associated sites. I have a friend who worked on some of their...

    The GDS team are amazing at what they do. Few, if any, websites even approach the accessibility and usability levels of gov.uk and associated sites.

    I have a friend who worked on some of their stuff, she had to take the old copy and rewrite it with a target reading age of 9 years old, getting the information across using as few words and with as much clarity as possible.

    10 votes
  11. Comment on What creative projects have you been working on? in ~creative

    mat
    Link Parent
    My plan includes a plan to change the plan. :) I had an idea, planned out on paper, about how my workshop might end up, then figured out the minimum amount I need to start that process - I need to...

    My plan includes a plan to change the plan. :)

    I had an idea, planned out on paper, about how my workshop might end up, then figured out the minimum amount I need to start that process - I need to make two carts, where my initial designs had six or seven.

    So I'm going to make the two (the one pictured isn't finished - I don't know if it's having more shelves, or drawers, or something else), then sell a bunch of tools I don't use, throw out a load of other stuff, re-arrange and tidy everything and I'll see where I am then. I have a potential end goal but goalposts are expected to move. It might even be that tools-on-carts doesn't work at all and then I'll have to lash them all together into some sort of frankenbench.

    I've found this is, in general, a fairly good way to approach making this sort of change. Plan big, act small and be ready to adapt along the way.

    3 votes
  12. Comment on What creative projects have you been working on? in ~creative

    mat
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    I'm not sure I'd entirely call it 'creative' but I suppose it is because I'm doing all the design, and I'm enjoying the fabrication bits and pieces - I'm respeccing my workshop. My biggest...

    I'm not sure I'd entirely call it 'creative' but I suppose it is because I'm doing all the design, and I'm enjoying the fabrication bits and pieces - I'm respeccing my workshop. My biggest workbench is being cut up and turned into a series of carts, to which each tool will be bolted or, without a tool attached, the cart will provide work and clamping space. Storage space will be under the carts, and they're designed to park neatly out of the way when not in use, which will allow me to reconfigure my limited space in whatever way suits whichever project I'm working on at the time. Eventually I'll pull everything out of the shop and skim the floor so it's lovely and flat but that needs better weather and a lot of tidying. It will also mean I can invest in one or two really good lights for my main work area and move the tools to the lights (and to the vacuum for dust management) rather than having everything sort of not very well lit.

    Also, and I didn't plan this, but my cart design provides a shelf which exactly fits a standard 400mm Systainer box although that does mean I feel like I should buy more Systainer stuff and even the boxes are horribly expensive, let alone the tools that come in them.

    4 votes
  13. Comment on A Couple Of Thoughts About Annihilation (2018) in ~movies

    mat
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    I assume you weren't aware the film is adapted from the book Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer? The movie missed most of the main thrust of the book and to be honest, the book wasn't even that...

    I assume you weren't aware the film is adapted from the book Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer? The movie missed most of the main thrust of the book and to be honest, the book wasn't even that strong to begin with. Vandermeer has some great short story ideas which he then turns into novels and they end up sort of meh as a result. The characters in the book aren't stupid but it's hard to convey just how mind-altering Area X is onscreen without doing lots of cheesy voiceover/narration and even that wouldn't work. I thought it was a very strange choice of book to try adapting.

    Overall I didn't enjoy the film much. It had a few moments but that was about it.

    4 votes
  14. Comment on How to handle encrypted text fields? in ~comp

    mat
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    I'm assuming you're talking about more than simple encryption of a text field in a database, so you want robust end-to-end encryption with verification of clients and so on - then in that case the...

    I'm assuming you're talking about more than simple encryption of a text field in a database, so you want robust end-to-end encryption with verification of clients and so on - then in that case the Signal Project has all their specs and some libraries available and that's where I'd start. No sense reinventing the wheel, especially with crypto. If it's the former then good old RSA or Blowfish would be fine. As far as I know most languages have some implementation of those.

    3 votes
  15. Comment on The Quest for Imperfection, or In Search of Wabi-Sabi in ~creative

    mat
    Link Parent
    Aww, thanks blushes

    Aww, thanks blushes

    1 vote
  16. Comment on What games have you been playing, and what's your opinion on them? in ~games

    mat
    Link Parent
    I was wondering about how necessary pixel art is for a low-resourced project, and I don't think it is. Very low pixel artwork is not significantly easier to make than slightly better looking stuff...

    I was wondering about how necessary pixel art is for a low-resourced project, and I don't think it is. Very low pixel artwork is not significantly easier to make than slightly better looking stuff (think Monkey Island or something), just like how the movement could easily be smooth rather than obviously on a grid of squares. I've played plenty of 2D games over the years that have been perfectly enjoyable and had a basic art style, but not many this basic. Heck, I've put hundreds of hours into text-based games. Undertale is, to my eyes, distractingly ugly though. Nobody made the dev choose those colours. 16 colour CGA looked bad enough when it was the only choice and it looks even worse now.

    I didn't know it was short. I thought when I reached Torial's house I'd only done the tutorial level and the game proper was going to come after that. I'm still waiting for the supposedly good story/writing to start, because so far there hasn't really been anything (good or bad), and combat is currently feeling somewhat boring and repetitive.

    I don't really want to put it down because it was my one gaming treat I allowed myself to spend money on since probably November and I don't know when I'll have enough fun money spare to buy another game. Ho hum. It's how it goes I guess. Maybe it will get more enjoyable with some more time.

    4 votes
  17. Comment on It’s okay to leave your headphones at home in ~life

    mat
    Link Parent
    Same. I can't pay enough attention to audiobooks/podcasts to get anything from them if I'm doing something more complicated than driving; but music can often distract my conscious brain just...

    Music helps me focus. Not podcasts and not audiobooks: music alone.

    Same. I can't pay enough attention to audiobooks/podcasts to get anything from them if I'm doing something more complicated than driving; but music can often distract my conscious brain just enough to help nudge me into flow, which is the best way to do stuff.

    It rather annoys me that this means I can't listen to podcasts much because there is some really great content out there that I just can't fit into my day.

    2 votes
  18. Comment on It’s okay to leave your headphones at home in ~life

    mat
    Link Parent
    Can I just give a shout out to bone conduction headphones for cycling with. You can hear the traffic around you perfectly well, but you can also (in my case) hear the hard and fast goa trance...

    Can I just give a shout out to bone conduction headphones for cycling with. You can hear the traffic around you perfectly well, but you can also (in my case) hear the hard and fast goa trance music that helps you keep your cadence high as well. Sound quality isn't amazing but it's certainly good enough.

    I'd never wear traditional head or ear phones while riding, but I love my bonerphones. Ahem.

    6 votes
  19. The Quest for Imperfection, or In Search of Wabi-Sabi

    So, my background is in software, mostly but not exclusively web development. I used to do both front and back end stuff, as well as sysadmin things. I worked with graphic designers a lot, some...

    So, my background is in software, mostly but not exclusively web development. I used to do both front and back end stuff, as well as sysadmin things. I worked with graphic designers a lot, some amazingly skilled people from whom I learned the importance of getting things exactly right, visually. Exactly right. Every pixel has to be perfect, every aspect of a design thought through carefully and then polished to perfection. I'm eternally grateful for the things I learned from those people. Programming and systems admin adds a different dimension to the art of "Doing Stuff Right", that of every case being accounted for and every exception or problem caught before it happens. Beauty takes many forms, both in terms of visual design and in software too.

    This focus on detail, on perfection, has carried over into my current work in the physical realm. Making stuff that is machine-perfect isn't so hard. Especially when using machines (although I don't have as many machines as I'd like). Near-perfect radiused curves or dead-square edges are do-able by hand, and ultra-high mirror finishes leave exactly nowhere to hide on the finishing front. A single tiny scratch will show up on a mirrored ring like a beacon, a slightly mis-soldered joint will be visible from metres away. That's fine, and I'm getting much better at it. I like that I don't consider something finished until it's as perfect as I can make it.

    What I find hard, perhaps ironically, is wonkiness. Imperfection. It's partly due to my background via commercial design, partly due to my experience in programming - and I'm sure it's partly due to me just being rather uptight about getting things "right" (I don't see this as being too terrible a character flaw, if I'm honest..) I'm not saying everything I make is perfect, not at all - but it's what I aim for a lot of the time - everything smooth and square and tidy and "right."

    Japan has the idea of wabi-sabi, the concept of beauty in imperfection. It's a very hard concept to translate into words, yet strangely it's very obvious when you see it. "wabi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect."

    So I'm trying to be more wonky. This is the kind of thing I mean. (more, another example)

    These were formed by hand from modelling clay, then cast in pure silver. At first glance I'm not 100% happy with some of the textures and tool marks on the surface, nor with the not-mirror-smooth interior, but making myself uncomfortable is part of the point of this. Without stepping outside where I'm comfortable, how will I ever progress?

    But then, it turns out that the more I see it, the more I touch it's soft organic curves and see how the light reflects and scatters off it's slightly orange-peel-like surface, the more I like it. It's human, relaxing: it has a gentle, quiet serenity. Being made of pure silver rather than the harder sterling silver, it will pick up it's own textures and marks with wear, making each piece as unique as the person wearing it. Sometimes that isn't desirable in a piece of jewellery, sometimes it is. There's enough metal in these rings to not risk their structural integrity in wear (a standard wire-style ring in pure silver will bend and break very easily), so why not let it do it's own thing?

    "if an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi-sabi."]

    It looks a bit lumpy and perhaps a bit sharp and pointy in bits but it's polished to feel soft and gentle. It's comfortable to wear, it's everything that machine-perfect is not - not that machine-perfect is bad, but there's more ways to beauty than perfect accuracy.

    Another aspect to wonkiness that I'm trying to explore is that of lack of control. Making things the outcome of which is determined by factors other than me. With the clay-to-silver ring it's my fingers forming the clay, me (consciously or otherwise) guiding the shape. So I tried to find a way to take some of that control away.

    Obviously just throwing a load of precious metal into a vice or a crucible or whatever isn't going to work, so I tried to set up a system where I could allow randomness to be present, but still having someone attractive come out the other side. With some heavy copper wire wrapped at intervals in fine silver wire, I let the blowtorch do the work, let the silver flow where it would. Obviously I still have some control over the output - I can choose where to apply heat or where not to, but it's a start at least.

    With this technique, I made some bangles, seeing as I have a new bangle-mandrel (hey, I still need some machined help, right?). Here's how they came out

    Again, like the rings before - the result is soft, unique, unpredictable. No two bangles are identical and never can be even if I wanted them to be, yet they all share common features. Just like nature, like trees or waves, clouds or even people.

    I've noticed that I keep using the word soft. Metal isn't soft. Even polished metal isn't soft. It's solid, hard stuff. Why, then, do I keep going back to that word? It's because of the feeling these pieces evoke - machines are hard, people are soft. Emotionally, hard things are bad things, but soft things are nice. Nobody ever said "I can't wait to curl up in my lovely hard bed", and that's the kind of softness I think of when I look at these things. It's embracable, it's comfortable, it's like people or nature, not machines.

    Have I found wabi-sabi? Do I even understand it to be able to know if I have? I don't know. I do know I've made some beautiful things using techniques and styles I haven't used before, and I've learned some things along the way, and for now at least, I think that's enough to be going on with.

    Yeah, I guess this was a bit of a pretentious post. But I make jewellery. Some people even call it art (not me, but I am flattered and mildly confused when people say that about my work). I can be pretentious occasionally, surely?

    14 votes
  20. Comment on Boy Scouts of America file for bankruptcy due to sex-abuse lawsuits in ~finance

    mat
    Link Parent
    Just on the religious point - I got kicked out of the Cubs (pre Scouts, not sure if it exists in the US) for asking "difficult" questions about religion, and also about why we had to wear garters...

    Just on the religious point - I got kicked out of the Cubs (pre Scouts, not sure if it exists in the US) for asking "difficult" questions about religion, and also about why we had to wear garters on our socks. I was an awkward child on that front. By the time you reach the Scouts nobody cares because it's technically Church of England which isn't so much a religion as an excuse to have tea and biscuits occasionally. We were also supposed to do stuff like salute the flag and so on but it was all a bit embarrassing and after a while my troupe just sort of stopped doing it. Building fires and going on hikes we were excellent at though.

    Blows my mind that scouting isn't non-gendered in the US. I think the UK Scouts/Guides haven't used gender as an entrance qualification for several decades.

    It's hard to know how to fix the problems you describe because as you say, a lot of this stuff is entrenched at high levels. It's almost like a new organisation needs to be created which can inherit the positive points, not to mention the land and resources, of the old one. A new "Scouts of America" or something.

    3 votes