Rubenerd Show 390: The Overnightscape Pegasus episode

Rubenerd Show 390

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

01:23:35 – A tribute to the last few episodes of The Overnightscape. Topics include wood veneer dishwashers and TVs, moving to Chatswood, when I started listening to The Overnightscape, Lunar New Year, abandoned cityscapes in the real world and in simulations, nostalgia for space, gift giving, Gateway 2000, gaming business models, Fate/Grand Order, and the Carlton Branch... plus Side B (at 01:03:56)... opening production credits for A Chinese Ghost Story (1987), The Computer Chronicles - Windows 3.0 (1990), Hypothetical Institute theme (2019), Clark and Dawe, The Front Fell Off (1991), Cantonese Golden Harvest bumper (1986), Digital Flotsam episode 54, baseballs and music (2004), tech5 episode 38 on early Microsoft magazines (2007), Prospects by Chris Juergensen (2005), Rising Bubbles sound loop from Apple Logic (2007), introduction to construction of the Sydney Harbour Tunnel (1992), and my first MadPlayer recording (2005).

Recorded in Sydney, Australia. Licence for this track: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. Attribution: Ruben Schade.

Released February 2019 on The Overnightscape Underground, an Internet talk radio channel focusing on a freeform monologue style, with diverse and fascinating hosts; this one notwithstanding.

Subscribe with iTunes, Pocket Casts, Overcast or add this feed to your podcast client.

Show

Remembering Le Cornu in Adelaide

While studying in Adelaide for a couple of years, I moved out of the student dorm and into a share house with some friends. We needed some furniture. The default IKEA option wasn’t there, so instead we went to Le Cornu, a sprawling complex just outside the city.

Their showroom was spectacular. Coming through the glass doors you were presented with a giant steel warehouse, complete with a piston aircraft handing off the rafters for reasons I never asked about. Mattresses were stacked along the wall, and furniture was laid in in neat grids, interspersed with miles of red carpet.

To the left were a series of dark corridors flanked by small showrooms featuring completed bedroom and dining room sets. The furnishings themselves were contemporary, but the layout hearkened back to the 1970s when it first opened. That time period was carried over to the staff’s red blazers, neon signs, and junk mail catalogues.

It was one of the more surreal places I’d ever been.

What struck me aside from the retro look was how empty it almost always was; often we’d be the only ones there. So it perhaps was no surprise the company was bought and wound down in 2016.

I bring this up because a friend shared this image taken by FloatingYourGoat and posted on the Adelaide subreddit:

Despite being closed for a few years now, the sign is still illuminated at night. It almost seems fitting.


Exporting data from closing web services

Glenn Fleishmann wrote a post for Macworld for exporting Flickr data. I opened my account in 2005, and while I never cancelled my autopay for Pro, I haven’t used it for years. So I’ll be looking to do this.

In the process, Glenn hit a meta point:

The bad part is that there’s no easy way to import this data into something else.

This is all too common an issue. When sites allow exports, they dump into a format that isn’t usable by laypeople. It’s worse on sites that are shutting down, because we’re left with a dump of data and none of the previous functionality.

It’s not an easy problem to solve; it’s not feasible to recreate features in an exported bundle. But surely there’s something better than parting with a data dump and a good luck. Maybe a parser or importer to another service would be a start.

But back to Flickr, I realised last weekend I even forgot to include the site in my Content-Security-Policy headers on the web server. I haven’t included inline images from it for years, but much of the early blog was bootstrapped from Flickr and Ourmedia assets; the latter of which no longer even exists.

The good news the Flickr data is exported with XML. I’m thinking I’ll batch process the images with Perl and ImageMagick, and make a static archive here.


Decentraleyes

This is one of my new favourite plugins for Firefox I found this morning. As in, I found it this morning, not that it’s one of my favourites that I found this morning, implying that I found many plugins this morning when I only found this one this morning, and its my favourite. Clear as mud.

Decentraleyes locally caches content that’s routinely hosted on third party CDNs and other “free” services. The developer Thomas Rientjes puts free in quotes, given you’re still paying with your privacy and data.

I stopped using NoScript a couple of years ago when the Internet reached a tipping point, and browsing without JavaScript became all but impossible. Blocking trackers with uBlock Origin partly solves this, but it’s still leaky.

Decentraleyes intercepts:

Google Hosted Libraries, Microsoft Ajax CDN, CDNJS (Cloudflare), jQuery CDN (MaxCDN), jsDelivr (MaxCDN), Yandex CDN, Baidu CDN, Sina Public Resources, and UpYun Libraries.

And hosts the following resources:

AngularJS, Backbone.js, Dojo, Ember.js, Ext Core, jQuery, jQuery UI, Modernizr, MooTools, Prototype, Scriptaculous, SWFObject, Underscore.js, and Web Font Loader.

I don’t host any third party content, partly because I’m a human. My own site doesn’t either, but I’ve resigned myself to the fact that just makes me an old-fogey in 2019. For the rest of the web, we now have this plugin.


Airbus ending the A380

Airbus has announced they’re ceasing development of the world’s largest passenger jet after 2021, citing a cancelled order from Emirates, the type’s largest operator.

For family reasons that weren’t wonderful, we flew on the first commercial A380 from Singapore to Australia in its first year. I loved the huge staircase at the front, and how quiet the upper deck was. It seemed impossibly big. The 747 is objectively more beautiful at every angle, even the An-225 looks sleeker, but I’d admire the scale and engineering each time I flew on one of these behemoths.

The elephant in the room, visually is the A380. But the metaphorical one is the 787, and the A350 that was built in response. These ultra-efficient, composite planes have opened up new direct routes, and reduced the need for hub-and-spoke models for which the A380 is best suited.

But it’s not all good news. Airports around the world are reaching capacity thanks to smaller planes. There are many variables at play here, but even with added wake turbulence an A380 could carry far more people than a few smaller planes in the same landing slot. Australia and the US are increasingly flying small, narrowbody jets in an attempt to offer more times, but the overhead cost to airports and air traffic control is huge.

Speaking of the An-225, I’m surprised there wasn’t a cargo version of the A380; perhaps that could have saved them.

Photo of the Singapore Airlines A380 leaving Zurich by Rolf Wallner in 2011.


Pinterest’s CEO and his service

CNN Business published this video with Pinterest’s CEO. Warning, it’s autoplaying!

Founder and CEO Ben Silbermann explains why he hopes Pinterest will inspire users to eventually take their activities offline.

It’s a good message. The Internet and social networks originally held the promise of encouraging creativity and engagement with the real world. Think of sites like Flickr in the early days. Social networks today are all about monetising your attention, which necessarily means keeping you rooted to your computer or phone.

It’s also surprising and encouraging that Pinterest have been able to maintain their independence for this long. Too many of these sites are created to be bought, which invariably creates privacy concerns. With Tumblr now gone, this is even more important.

But Pinterest is itself a maddening service filled with dark patterns. If you’ve done any image search, you would have experienced landing on a Pinterest page that slowly covers the results with a pop-up you can’t dismiss, demanding you sign up. It’s the image equivalent of Experts Exchange from back in the day.

I’m researching plugins now that explicitly remove Pinterest from any search result, such is my frustration with encountering it.


The golden-headed cisticola

A photo of the golden-headed cisticola by JJ Harrison.

We haven’t had a Wikimedia Commons bird for a while. This delightful speciman on the English Wikipedia home page was photographed by JJ Harrison.

From the bird’s associated Wikipedia article, with my favourite section highlighted:

The golden-headed cisticola (Cisticola exilis), also known as the bright-capped cisticola, is a species of warbler in the family Cisticolidae, found in Australia and 13 Asian countries. Growing to 9–11.5 centimetres (3.5–4.5 in) long, it is usually brown and cream in colour, but has a different appearance during the mating season, with a gold-coloured body and a much shorter tail. It is an omnivore and frequently makes a variety of vocalizations. Known as the “finest tailor of all birds”, it constructs nests out of plants and spider threads. It mates in the rainy season. It has a very large range and population, which is thought to be increasing.

This post was originally set to be published yesterday, but Australian internet had other plans.

Media

Box doesn’t do Markdown

I attempted to preview a test.markdown file in Box:

We’re sorry, this file type is not currently supported.

I’ve come to just expect inline Markdown support in everything these days; it’s a surprise when a service doesn’t do it. NextCloud and Dropbox both do, along with login forms that don’t do this.

This post was originally set to be published yesterday, but Australian internet had other plans.


Digital Dark Age, even within sites

I got this error from CNET while attempting to view an old article:

RUH-ROH
404
You are here in error. Let’s not point fingers.
Instead, use your paws to check out some
amazing stories below.

I’m not here in error; CNET once had an article at that address. Either redirects aren’t set correctly, or the original article was deleted. And they would have got away with it if it weren’t for those pesky kids.

I’ve been seeing this a lot lately, from CNET to Microsoft. The Digital Dark Age was a warning about content disappearing when sites go offline, but even the latter still existing isn’t a guarantee now.

Archiving content and preserving our digital history are critically important. Archive.org does an important job preserving what they can with their Wayback Machine, but we should be doing it too.

This post was originally set to be published yesterday, but Australian internet had other plans.


Scott Morrison loses a vote

A sitting Australian government lost a vote in the House of Representitives for the first time since 1927, and for medical treatment for refugees no less. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has refused to call an early election despite the clear signal.

I can’t wait to vote these muppets out.