mat's recent activity

  1. Comment on How the Hell Has Danielle Steel Managed to Write 179 Books? in ~books

    mat Link
    "To me your twenties and a good part of your thirties are about working hard so that you have a better quality of life later on." She is now in her 70s, a multimillionaire, and that "quality of...

    "To me your twenties and a good part of your thirties are about working hard so that you have a better quality of life later on."

    She is now in her 70s, a multimillionaire, and that "quality of life" she's put fifty years of toil into apparently means taking one single week off a year while spending most of the rest of her waking hours working. She's spent her whole life working in order to have a handful of months of not working in total (assuming she lives another 15-ish years). If she was working the hours she says she did, and I have no reason to disbelieve her, she missed her kids growing up. She missed most of her marriage. She missed most of her life.

    I get that she's doing what she wants and I'm all for people doing what they want to do, but what she wants is so alien and so unwantable to me.

    8 votes
  2. Comment on What niche/specialized version of an everyday thing is worth the time/money if you know what you're looking for? in ~talk

    mat Link
    You mentioned pens but I'd extend that to all stationary, especially paper. I don't do a lot of stuff on paper but I do like to sketch out ideas and designs for physical things that way. I use...

    You mentioned pens but I'd extend that to all stationary, especially paper. I don't do a lot of stuff on paper but I do like to sketch out ideas and designs for physical things that way.

    I use Maruman Mnemosyne notebooks in various sizes for various things. I used to think paper was just paper but Mnemosyne's paper is something else. It's so smooth, so nice to write on. Midori's MD paper is even better, but yikes you pay for it.

    I like a Tombow Mono pencil which are a bit extravagant but y'know, sometimes you need to treat yourself. Tombow make excellent brush pens as well, but the Kuretakes are great as well. My go-to pen is a Uniball Jetstream because I am left-handed and most ink pens tend to be a bit smudgy, but I can't smudge these even if I try.

    Three things I'll generally buy Japanese if I can: cameras, stationary and knives.

    2 votes
  3. Comment on You (Probably) Don't Need ReCAPTCHA in ~tech

    mat Link Parent
    The only bill I recall paying via a website is probably my car tax, once a year. Bill payments are 99% invisible to me - do you not have Direct Debits where you live? The thing is, if you care...

    The only bill I recall paying via a website is probably my car tax, once a year. Bill payments are 99% invisible to me - do you not have Direct Debits where you live?

    The thing is, if you care about such things, it's hardly that arduous to install a separate browser which you only use for those forms. I still don't get why tracking is bad though. People keep saying it is but they never say why. It doesn't affect me. So google know a load of things I look at on the internet - I'm completely unbothered by that. They don't care what I look at, all they want to do with that information is try to show me relevant adverts and if I'm going to have to see adverts (which I am, because I refuse to use an ad-blocker because people's jobs rely on me seeing some ads - content creation and hosting isn't free) I'd rather see ones which are at least somewhat related to things I like.

    How - and why - you manage using the modern internet with no Javascript is beyond me. But you do you, of course! Not judging your choice, it's just not one I'd make.

    2 votes
  4. Comment on You (Probably) Don't Need ReCAPTCHA in ~tech

    mat Link Parent
    I have friends who work at Google. The attitude internally is they have two customers. Users, and advertisers. Advertisers pay money for access to user eyeballs - and not, as many people assume,...

    I have friends who work at Google. The attitude internally is they have two customers. Users, and advertisers. Advertisers pay money for access to user eyeballs - and not, as many people assume, data about those eyeballs; that data is highly confidential because it's exclusivity is Google's main revenue stream (same at Facebook). Users pay by seeing ads in return for generally pretty high quality services at no financial cost. The text thing, btw, has meant countless previously undigitised books being available for public view. That's a pretty fair exchange for reading a few words if you ask me. Many hands make light work and all that.

    Nobody is really being exploited. It's not a secret how Google make their money. Everybody knows that really, "free" things aren't free. People choose to make that transaction, the same way they choose to watch commercial TV. This isn't a new arrangement by any means.

    I used to run my own email server. It was a pain in the ass and it cost me money and time. Gmail provides an excellent quality service with insane uptime and loads of storage, speed and reliability in return for me seeing a few ads which may be slightly relevant to the contents of my email. That's a fair deal as far as I'm concerned. Most Google services are a pretty good deal, I think. Nobody is making you do anything you don't want to do, you don't have to have Google in your life. If people are being "exploited" it's largely by choice and is that really exploitation?

    I am Old so I remember the fuss kicked up when it was announced (announced, not hidden away) that Gmail would "read" your email to show you relevant ads. I remember similar fuss being made for years before that and years after about similar "exploitations", and to be honest I used to agree with all the people complaining but you know what? Nothing bad has come of this arrangement. Google knows a lot about one particular subset of who I am, but what's actually bad about that? They show me ever so slightly more relevant adverts than they otherwise might seems to have been the only thing which has happened in 15+ years of them gathering my "data". Maybe I'm just too busy and too tired to care. Maybe years of experience has shown that whatever downside there might be, it's really not a problem for me. I don't know. I'm not trying to say your attitude is wrong, but more to explain why I no longer share it.

    7 votes
  5. Comment on You (Probably) Don't Need ReCAPTCHA in ~tech

    mat Link Parent
    Hi I'm a spammer and I have a huge network of zombie computers which I can run your workproofs on at no cost to me other than a little time. Thanks for not using effective spam protection! More...

    Hi I'm a spammer and I have a huge network of zombie computers which I can run your workproofs on at no cost to me other than a little time. Thanks for not using effective spam protection!

    More significantly, I have no idea how many times reCaptcha triggers in a day but I'd bet it's easily in the hundreds of millions. If you require 5 compute-seconds for every use, that adds up to a significant amount of power used every day, which (in most places) will mean CO2 emitted. That's not cool. Literally not cool.

    7 votes
  6. Comment on You (Probably) Don't Need ReCAPTCHA in ~tech

    mat (edited ) Link Parent
    Is (1) a significant problem? I've run recaptcha on my site for a long time and nobody has ever come to me saying they consistently failing to log in (users can still contact me without logging...

    Is (1) a significant problem? I've run recaptcha on my site for a long time and nobody has ever come to me saying they consistently failing to log in (users can still contact me without logging in, via multiple methods)

    When I'm logged into Google I only ever get the checkbox. When I'm not I get the checkbox sometimes and the image search things a bit more often. But not enough to make me think "I'll log into/get a google account just to make this go away", it's not like I'm hitting captchas multiple times every day. But I don't think it's immoral for a company to want to get users per se. You might, and I assume you do, disagree with some of their business practices but just wanting more customers by making customer's lives easier than non-customers isn't immoral in and of itself.

    Funnily enough the captchas I have most trouble with are the non-recaptcha ones. I still can't log in to Debian forums because whatever text-read-y thing they use is completely illegible.

    2 votes
  7. Comment on San Francisco says it will use AI to reduce bias when charging people with crimes in ~tech

    mat (edited ) Link Parent
    Oh, nice find! I casually googled around for an hour last night while watching the cricket but got nowhere. Thanks for the link, I shall read that later. edit: Read over lunch, really good! Also a...

    Oh, nice find! I casually googled around for an hour last night while watching the cricket but got nowhere.

    Thanks for the link, I shall read that later.

    edit: Read over lunch, really good! Also a bit too believable..

  8. Comment on San Francisco says it will use AI to reduce bias when charging people with crimes in ~tech

    mat Link Parent
    Wow, that's an amazingly unsearchable series of keywords, unless you're looking for bookshops' refund policy on Treasure Island. It's not helped by the fact that Stevenson also wrote a book called...

    Wow, that's an amazingly unsearchable series of keywords, unless you're looking for bookshops' refund policy on Treasure Island. It's not helped by the fact that Stevenson also wrote a book called Kidnapped so adding that into any search is arguably worse than not including it.

    4 votes
  9. Comment on What are you playing this week? in ~games

    mat Link Parent
    I have a character with pet pal, the problem is she said the wrong thing and angered the dog! If you guessed it was Buddy, you're right. :) I'm on a PS4 and I have the definitive edition. The...

    I have a character with pet pal, the problem is she said the wrong thing and angered the dog! If you guessed it was Buddy, you're right. :)

    I'm on a PS4 and I have the definitive edition. The journal is not terrible, I think it just needs some getting used to.

    Thanks again for the recommendation, I'm very much enjoying myself so far.

  10. Comment on What are you playing this week? in ~games

    mat Link Parent
    We went for the normal difficulty. Made it to Fort Joy and had a bit of a look around there but not much further - had a few power issues with one of the controllers, and then the baby kept waking...

    We went for the normal difficulty. Made it to Fort Joy and had a bit of a look around there but not much further - had a few power issues with one of the controllers, and then the baby kept waking up so we got rather less play time than hoped! My friend gets one or two days a year for gaming so she let me take her character along in my party once she went home, and we'd picked up two other NPCs so it's a party of four now.

    I have an Elven Witch (Serillo, iirc) and my friend has a custom Lizard Shadowblade. I'll probably end up going down a mostly magic route, because I usually do in this kind of game, but I'm sure I'll make myself a tank and an archer elsewhere in the party.

    I love the combat! It's simple enough to dive into without any problems but there seems to be plenty of depth in terms of matching attacks to enemies, using and manipulating the environment and so on.

    The journal system could be a bit more straightforward. I'm getting a little lost keeping up with things but I'm sure I'll get used to it.

    What I really like so far is the story. It really feels like there's a whole world in this game, everyone I talk to has different things to say, different priorities and needs and wants. It feels deep and 3 dimensional in a way that games like Skyrim don't. It's not just the big, main characters who have backstory, it feels like it's everyone. This doesn't feel like a story on rails, it feels like a world in which I can explore and make my own story. I want to take time investigating everyone and everywhere because it's worth it. There's so much more to find than just a few crates with some gold in, I keep turning up whole quests (none of which, so far, have been "go and get my hat which I inexplicably left at the bottom of a dungeon full of vampires", a la Skyrim)

    Also I accidentally got in a fight with a dog and killed it and I feel terrible.

  11. Comment on What are you reading these days? #21 in ~books

    mat Link Parent
    Diaspora is by far my favourite. I like Schild's Ladder too although I get lost in some of the physics (as usual with Egan) but definitely check out Diaspora.

    Diaspora is by far my favourite. I like Schild's Ladder too although I get lost in some of the physics (as usual with Egan) but definitely check out Diaspora.

    2 votes
  12. Comment on What are you reading these days? #21 in ~books

    mat Link
    I've been, very slowly, reading The Eternal Flame by Greg Egan. It is, even by his standards, extremely dry. I have not been enjoying it very much but I've stuck with it because I want to know how...

    I've been, very slowly, reading The Eternal Flame by Greg Egan. It is, even by his standards, extremely dry. I have not been enjoying it very much but I've stuck with it because I want to know how the story resolves.

    However, last night I found out that Neal Asher has a new book out so I've started that instead. It's already more enjoyable. Asher is very rarely disappointing.

    I do like Greg Egan's ideas but he can be a little overly technical. That sentence is my entry for the 2019 understatement of the year competition.

    2 votes
  13. Comment on What are you playing this week? in ~games

    mat Link Parent
    Hey, it's been a while but I finally went and picked up a copy of DOS2 today. Got a friend coming over tonight to help babysit and we're going to local co-op it for a few hours inbetween keeping...

    Hey, it's been a while but I finally went and picked up a copy of DOS2 today. Got a friend coming over tonight to help babysit and we're going to local co-op it for a few hours inbetween keeping the little one fed and (hopefully) asleep. Really looking forward to this, thanks so much for the recommendation.

  14. Comment on "Recommend me a food for people who like _________ and want to expand their taste horizons." in ~food

    mat Link Parent
    Preserved lemons, in the Middle Eastern style. Sour, salty, so so tasty. Chop 'em up and put them in salads, or sliced on some lamb or even in a burger. For something sweeter, pomegranate...

    Preserved lemons, in the Middle Eastern style. Sour, salty, so so tasty. Chop 'em up and put them in salads, or sliced on some lamb or even in a burger.

    For something sweeter, pomegranate molasses. Delicious, sour, fruity goopy goodness. Put it on everything - cheese, meat, other fruit, ice-cream, anything. Even pizza. I'm salivating just thinking about it.

    5 votes
  15. Comment on What is your favourite programming language? in ~comp

    mat Link Parent
    I've never met a framework I didn't very strongly dislike. Except my own, of course. They're all fun and games while you're doing stuff that the framework designers envisioned but every single...

    I've never met a framework I didn't very strongly dislike. Except my own, of course.

    They're all fun and games while you're doing stuff that the framework designers envisioned but every single time I've used one I've ended up running into problems because the things I want to do either aren't possible, or trip all sorts of problems that the designer didn't plan for. I once triggered a freakin' kernel bug from inside Django. On Debian STABLE. Cost me a fortnight of work of increasingly awful hacking, dicking about on LKML, in the end I ended up hiring one of Django's original devs and even he couldn't fix it. Had to rewrite a whole load of code to run in a different, and much, much slower, way. Awful.

    I am not a frameworks guy. I get they save a lot of time for a lot of situations but for me they've been nothing but trouble.

    3 votes
  16. Comment on What is your favourite programming language? in ~comp

    mat Link
    PHP. Fight me. :) Not any more, really. But I spent a long time writing websites (back when they were web sites, not web apps) and php was great, in it's heyday. The days when if you wanted a...

    PHP.

    Fight me. :)

    Not any more, really. But I spent a long time writing websites (back when they were web sites, not web apps) and php was great, in it's heyday. The days when if you wanted a framework you had to write it yourself. And I did, several times. I still use it here and there for the few small projects I'm involved with, because why do I need to mess about with Rails or Django or node or any of that stuff for my little brochure site? It feels a bit like driving a classic car - you have to be a bit careful otherwise something might explode or fall off if you go too fast, but it's all there, the foundations on which so much that came after was built on.

    10 votes
  17. Comment on What is your favourite programming language? in ~comp

    mat Link Parent
    Solving problems in python these days is often just import solution problem.solve() Which is nice. I do love python for lots of reasons, and it's my go-to language as well. But I've had more fun...

    Solving problems in python these days is often just

    import solution
    problem.solve()
    

    Which is nice. I do love python for lots of reasons, and it's my go-to language as well. But I've had more fun in other languages. Fun isn't always the goal, of course.

    8 votes
  18. Comment on What's your favorite videogame? in ~games

    mat Link Parent
    I am not allowed to play MOO2. A year or two ago I found a zip with the game in I opened it up "just to check" and the next thing I knew it was getting light and I was still in a war with the...

    I am not allowed to play MOO2. A year or two ago I found a zip with the game in I opened it up "just to check" and the next thing I knew it was getting light and I was still in a war with the Klackons. I have a baby and a job. I can't be doing that.

    When I am old I shall sit on my porch smoking a pipe full of skunk and playing MOO2.

    3 votes
  19. Comment on What's your favorite videogame? in ~games

    mat Link Parent
    I recently bought Doom 2016 and a very odd thing happened. It's been many years since I played games on a PC (console peasant here...) and I've played plenty of FPS games just fine but something...

    I recently bought Doom 2016 and a very odd thing happened. It's been many years since I played games on a PC (console peasant here...) and I've played plenty of FPS games just fine but something about it being Doom (and it is Doom, it feels right) re-awakened old keyboard/mouse pathways in my brain. I wasn't a huge Doom player although I did enjoy it, I was mostly a Q2 guy, but I put my hours in with Doom. The weirdest thing happened, my hands, literally, started twitching in the ways they used to when playing Doom/Quake. It was so odd. Luckily the left mouse finger is still "kill" as it's on a shoulder button the dualshock, but my hand kept wanting to do mouse stuff.

    Once I got over it the game is extremely enjoyable.

    2 votes
  20. Comment on Ex-smokers, what did you do to help you stop? in ~life

    mat Link
    The real trick is, whatever approach you use, you have to want to give up. I've known so many people - myself included a few times - who have decided to give up because they thought they ought to....

    The real trick is, whatever approach you use, you have to want to give up. I've known so many people - myself included a few times - who have decided to give up because they thought they ought to. And yes, you ought to give up, we all know that - but if you don't want to, it's going to be extra hard to do because you're fighting yourself on all fronts.

    In the end, when I wanted it, I gave up one cigarette at a time, because there are two addictions - nicotine and the habit of physically smoking. Luckily I'm not very susceptible to nicotine addiction but I am a creature of habit and ritual. Trying to break both habits all at once had never worked for me, so I decided to wean myself off both slowly. First I gave up the cigarette on the walk to work in the morning. Sure, it was a hard habit to break (especially as it was the first one to give up) but I knew I could have one at half ten on my first smoke break, so that was something to look forward to. After a week or so I wasn't bothered by not smoking until mid-morning. So I gave up the mid-morning one. Rinse and repeat. By the time I'd given up all the smokes before my evening meal, I didn't even want the last few of the day.

    These days I can't be near smokers because the smell completely disgusts me. I won't give people shit for smoking but I'm completely untempted by going back.