December 13, 2011
If you live in the US and you use the Internet, you need to know about this. There are two proposed laws, SOPA and Protect IP, that would set up a system to block access to websites deemed to be “infringing,” in the name of stopping piracy. Of course, “infringing” could refer to the actions of one user on a large site, like, say, Facebook or Wikipedia. Imagine if someone at Warner Bros. filed a complaint about someone’s fan art on DeviantArt, and the government blocked access to the entire site. Sort of like shutting down an entire mall because one shopper was accused (not even proven!) of wearing a counterfeit Rolex.
Of course, once a system like this is in place, we all know it’ll never be abused, right?
And that’s not even getting into the technical implications of the bills, which would put an extra burden on tech startups and actually undermine efforts by the US government itself to make the internet more secure.
████, the ████ ████ █████ ██████ the ████████ ██████ the US in the ████ of ████████ ██████ (█████ it ██████’t), isn’t ████ yet. In ████, it’s █████ to a ████ ████ ████.
(Cross-posted from K-Squared Ramblings)
October 21, 2011
This weekend, I’m walking to raise funds for research and education in the FAAN Walk for Food Allergy. I have life-threatening allergies myself, and while my son hasn’t shown any signs yet, the medical community is still trying to determine what causes people to develop allergies. It would be great if they find a way to guarantee that he won’t inherit them, or at least to make life safer for him than it has been for me.
A huge thank-you to Damon, Devin, Greg, Jesse and Lia for sponsoring me after my first post about the event. It’s coming up this Sunday in Santa Monica, California (near Los Angeles), and FAAN has other walks planned across the country.
You can help with any amount down to US $10. If you’d like to contribute, please donate at my fundraising page.
As I write this, I’m $250 away from the #10 spot on the top 10 list for the Los Angeles walk. Anyone want to help push me into the top 10?
January 12, 2011
For the past decade, Phil & Kaja Foglio have been spinning the mad science/gaslamp fantasy adventures of Agatha Heterodyne in the award-winning comic book-turned-webcomic Girl Genius. Now they’ve stepped into a new medium, adapting the first story into a prose novel: Agatha H. and the Airship City.
The Industrial Revolution has escalated into all-out warfare. It has been sixteen years since the Heterodyne Boys, benevolent adventurers and inventors, disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Today, Europe is ruled by the Sparks, dynasties of mad scientists ruling over – and terrorizing – the hapless population with their bizarre inventions and unchecked power, while the downtrodden dream of the Hetrodynes’ return. At Transylvania Polygnostic University, a pretty, young student named Agatha Clay seems to have nothing but bad luck. Incapable of building anything that actually works, but dedicated to her studies, Agatha seems destined for a lackluster career as a minor lab assistant. But when the University is overthrown by the ruthless tyrant Baron Klaus Wulfenbach, Agatha finds herself a prisoner aboard his massive airship Castle Wulfenbach – and it begins to look like she might carry a spark of Mad Science after all.
The comics are great fun, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how they’ve filled in the details in the novel version!
Cross-posted from K-Squared Ramblings.
June 23, 2010
Big news: DC Comics has launched a digital comics program, starting with the iPad/iPhone and the Playstation network.
And by launched, I mean launched. As in, you can download the app and buy comics right now.
I’m really looking forward to the day when they expand this to more platforms (desktop PCs, Android and Windows–based tablets, etc) and start reaching into their back catalog. I’ve griped about the lack of Golden Age Flash reprints before, and the Bronze Age is also virtually invisible in reprints (though at least with comics from the 1970s and 1980s, you can usually find the back-issues at a reasonable price).
I haven’t had time to read all the interviews, but I’ll definitely be reading them tonight:
With Jim Lee so heavily involved in this project, I can’t help but think of a moment at WonderCon this year. Saturday was the day of the iPad launch, and the Apple Store in San Francisco is just a few blocks from the convention center. Jim Lee was conspicuously missing from the DC Editorial panel. He showed up partway through the panel and stood in the Q&A line, where he planted a few questions…and then pulled out the brand-new iPad that he had stood in line for that morning!
Sadly, judging by ComiXology’s new releases, DC hasn’t brought Flash to the iPad just yet. But I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.
Update: Comics Alliance has another article I won’t have time to read just yet, on why this is a big deal.
Cross-posted at K-Squared Ramblings
May 24, 2010
Remember the Battlestar Galactica cake? For last night’s LOST finale, my wife made an authentic DHARMA Initiative chocolate cake, and pizzas with the Swan and Orchid logos.
The cake is chocolate, with homemade buttercream icing (vanilla for the background, chocolate for the design). The pizzas have an outer ring of sausage, with bell pepper strips for the I Ching. The Swan logo is cut from a bell pepper. The Orchid is cut from a tomato, and placed on the pizza after baking.
For more views, including in-progress pictures, close-ups, and making-of commentary, check out the LOST finale food photos on Flickr.
May 23, 2010
I’ve always been annoyed by the phrase “mental telepathy.” It’s just redundant, like “big giant” or “fast speedster.” Is there any such thing as non-mental telepathy?
So it was nice to see someone taken to task in this panel from a Flash story in Adventure Comics #459…all the way back in 1978!
The characters pictured are two of Barry Allen’s high school classmates at their fifteen-year reunion. The woman, Rachel has just picked up that one of their classmates is the Flash.
May 22, 2010
This Is True is a weekly newsletter rounding up weird news from around the world, summarized with witty comments by Randy Cassingham. It’s usually funny, sometimes sad, sometimes infuriating — but it always makes you think.
I’ve been a subscriber for years, and highly recommend it. One of the things I like about it is that he makes more effort to verify the stories than the typical “odd news” wire service that simply repeats something printed in a distant newspaper without realizing that it’s the local equivalent of the National Enquirer or Weekly World News.
Anyway, I could keep talking it up, or I could show you an example story using the True-a-Day service:
Cassingham also links to interesting news items on Twitter and on Facebook, though not the same articles as in the newsletter.
May 16, 2010
It’s a safe bet that your web browser uses at least one plugin, and probably several. Maybe it’s just Flash (the other one!) for viewing animations and video (think YouTube and Hulu). Maybe it’s Silverlight for watching Netflix, or Shockwave for playing games. You’ve probably got Java installed.
Just like your web browser, these plugins must be kept up to date or you’ll run into problems: missing features, instability, or (worst case) security vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, most plugins don’t update themselves.
Several months ago, Mozilla introduced a service called Plugin Check that will identify the plugins you have installed and tell you whether they need to be updated — and how to do it. At first it only worked on Firefox, but now it’s been expanded to all major browsers: Chrome, Safari, Opera, and even Internet Explorer.
It’s worth taking a few moments to check. Think of it as a pit stop for your computer’s web browser.
(Reposted from K-Squared Ramblings)
December 7, 2009
I’m pleasantly surprised that Comic-Con International and/or Travel Planners has gotten their act together for next year’s convention. Before attendance (and hotel rush) went completely insane, they used to send out hotel info with their fall newsletter or in a postcard around December (or maybe January), but over the last two years it’s been pushed later and later. For 2009, they didn’t even announce a date for hotel reservations until February…a month before they opened. The list of hotels went up even later — the day before, IIRC.
The fall newsletter, now an online magazine, went up today, and along with it not just the date for reservations, but a list of hotels…including distance, prices, and shuttle stops. Hotel reservations go online March 18, 2010.
Additionally, they’ve made some interesting changes that may help combat the craziness:
- Reservations will now require an immediate deposit of one night’s stay
- Deposits are fully refundable until May 14.
- From May 15 to June 17, there’s a $75 cancellation fee.
- From June 18 onward, deposits are nonrefundable.
With luck that’ll cut down on some of the “just in case…” extra reservations, now that there’s an actual financial commitment to it.
(Cross-posted at K-Squared Ramblings)
November 6, 2009
Absolutely floored that 4-day passes for Comic-Con International 2010 have sold out.
I mean, it’s the first week of November, and the convention isn’t until next July!
Tickets with access to Wednesday’s Preview Night sold out a few weeks ago, but at the time, CCI didn’t provide any information about how many regular 4-day passes were left. This Monday, they posted a progress gauge at 70%. The last time I looked yesterday, it was up to 89%.
Today? Sold out completely.
I can’t help but think it would have taken longer if they hadn’t provided a gauge to let people know just how scarce a resource memberships were going to be. There’s nothing like the fear of a shortage to get people to run out and buy up what’s available (and create a shortage). But I also can’t complain, because without that feedback, I might have kept putting off plunking down the $200 for me and my wife, and we might have missed our chance.
Single-day tickets haven’t gone on sale yet, so it’s still possible to go if you haven’t already bought your tickets. You can of course buy more than one, it just means standing in line each morning to pick up the next badge. (Even the more relaxed WonderCon doesn’t let you pick up a Sunday badge on Saturday, as we discovered last year.)
If you’re planning on going to San Diego next year, keep an eye on the website. Four-day passes went insanely quickly, and I would expect the one-day passes to do the same.
(Cross-posted at K-Squared Ramblings)