Vulfpeck on whale feet

Play Darwin Derby by Vulfpeck

Music Monday time. Each and every Monday, except when I forget and blatently post on a Tuesday, I post a song I find delightful or otherwise thought-provoking, in the hopes it will delightfully provoke you. At least part of that sentence came out wrong.

From Darwin Derby by Vulfpeck:

Of all the creatures in the sea, my favorite is the bass
It climbs up all the rocks and trees
And slides down on its hands and knees
But why does the shark have teeth?
The shark has teeth to eat, I see
And why does the whale have feet?
Well it… I don’t know

This song is criminally funky.


Information war

Sam Harris’s podcast with Renee Diresta titled Information War should be required listening for anyone who uses the internet in 2019. It’s written in the context of Russian meme propagation in the United States, but could easily apply to anywhere.

On calling it information war:

Renee: Our adversary sees it as information warfare. We’re not doing ourselves any favours pretending this is some peace-time governance problem where social media could moderate a little better.

On using memes to infiltrate groups and spread thought:

Renee: They were going after people, and manipulating people … what do you do when you realise infiltrating activist communities is the whole goal [with these memes]? It’s been a goal of Russia since the Cold War, this is not a new tactic. It’s just now they can do it even more remotely. You don’t even need to send a spy and do it in person, you communicate over Facebook DMs.

On what a different threat it poses:

Renee: We thought cyber war was going to be attacks on infrastructure. There’s a sense of the rules of engagement that this won’t be tolerated. So the shift has been to these adversaries who recognise that we have a democratic society with freedom of expression. They can put stuff up on social media, and we’re so loathe to take any of it down without being 1000% sure it’s inauthentic and manipulative, particularly as they launder and amplify exisiting polarised American thought.

And on their effectiveness:

Sam: When you step away from how toxic all this is, it’s really not hard to empathise with these people and understand how much fun they were having doing this. They’re creating fairly clever, divisive, funny memes that are gaining traction and having their intended effect. Jesus wearing a Make America Great Again hat … the fact we can be so successfully gamed by this as a society is really troubling.


Some café quotes from this morning

Have some things I’ve heard in the last five minutes, as I sit here beveraging this coffee. I’m making beverage a verb, try and stop me.


Vortex Race 3 keyboard

For reasons that were not entirely my fault, my beloved IBM Model M4 compact keyboard bit the dust late last year. It was smaller, quieter, and arguably less tactile than my Model M, but it was also two-tone beige and matched my computer so well. eBay has more, but they’ve gone up in price steeply since I bought this a decade ago.

Photo of the Vortex Race 3 with the Windows key caps

So I’m looking for alternatives, and Dan Benjamin posted his handsome Vortex Race 3. It has the same two-tone beige colour, but I can get it with Cherry MX Clear switches. They’re no Topres, but this board’s interface could be used with a USB-PS/2 adaptor, which means I can use my PS/2 to AT adaptor for this vintage machine. Maybe.

It doesn’t have chintzy coloured LEDs, and has the all-important insert, delete, home, end, pig up and pig down keys which are important for DOS and other older OSs. A colleague noted the escape key doesn’t look standard, but given I’m buying it in part given it’s two-tone beige, I doubt I’d be replacing them anytime soon.

I might grab one when we’re back in Akihabara this year, assuming the Australian Dollar hasn’t slipped further in the interim.


SortedFood sandwiches

Play 3 First Class Sandwich Fillings To Make Lunch Great Again

The SortedFood gents had some great sandwich filling recipes which Clara and I are going to try this week. This is their tuna mayo sandwich filling:

And their egg mayo sandwich:

The celery and cayenne pepper look like the standout secondary ingredients. My sandwich fillings have tended towards the bland side. Nobody made them like my mum or dad could.


Sydney trains late, crowded

Matt O’Sullivan wrote this for the Sydney Morning Herald this morning, having received material from a state government freedom of information request:

Peak-hour delays due to Sydney Trains’ fleet surged by 41 per cent in the six months to June, compared with the same period a year earlier.

I can believe it. While he attributed the issues to reliance on older rail stock, that number popped up again in an article he wrote in 2017:

Some 41 per cent of trains passing through Central Station during the morning rush hour in March were overcrowded, compared with 25 per cent six months earlier.

Passengers begin to suffer from overcrowding when trains have loads of 135 per cent, which is the benchmark used by transport officials.

This is what underinvestment looks like.


Max’s apartment from Double Decker

Clara and I are halfway through Double Decker! Doug and Kirill and it’s already one of our new favourite series. The Japanese/Western style harkens back to Tiger and Bunny that many of the staff also produced. Only this time the art, costumes, and situations are even more colourful and fabulous.

I’ll save my review, but in the meantime I loved Max’s apartment. If I weren’t hellbent on going minimal, I’d want this.





Selectively disabling gohugo RSS feeds

The Hugo static site generator creates four types of RSS feeds, for:

  1. the whole site
  2. each section, such as posts and pages
  3. each taxonomy, such as categories and tags
  4. each taxonomy value, such as the weeb tag

You can disable all of them, but you can’t pick and choose. I’m not a Go developer, but if I were it’d be the #1 feature I’d request and help build.

I wanted feeds for my root site and for categories, but I didn’t want for tags. My blog is almost old enough to be a learner driver, so has accumulated thousands of tags, which means as many superfluous RSS feeds.

My terrible hack to spare CPU cycles is creating an empty template for the taxonomies I don’t want feeds for:

$ touch ./layouts/taxonomy/tags.xml

Hugo’s tag feeds will now be empty, save for an XML header. Then you can edit your web server configuration to 404 on these.

This one trick shaves between 10-15% off my build times.


TigerVNC on macOS Mojave

TigerVNC is by far my favourite cross-platform VNC client. Others try to shoehorn all these extra features, but TigerVNC presents you with a connection dialog. It’s not Retina/HiDPI, but nothing I’m connecting to is anyway.

But it stopped loading starting with macOS 10.14 Mojave. I tried the latest stable and nightly builds on two separate Macs, and both times the icon for the application would bounce once, then quit. Launching from the Terminal worked.

I filed a bug report, and one of the developers suggested I remove my ~/.vnc folder. I didn’t think to move that folder instead so I could check what was causing the problem.

Anyway, it worked!


Life advice

This was from @NyadolNyuon:

I was once given useful advice: never let anyone scare you into silence.

I forgot that one, too many times. My mum had a corollary: never give the bastards the satisfaction of knowing they’ve got to you. They’re not absolutes, and are often easier said than done, but I think they help.

Update: I misspelled life as live in the URL for this post. I like it.