bryant: (Maggie)

Still not the singer or Disney movie. Man, has it really been nine years since I went to the best genre film festival in North America? Too long! Thus I am going this year, for sure, because Susan and I have plane tickets and a hotel. Directly thereafter we’re going to Gencon. If we seem delirious at the latter, you’ll know why.

Fantasia just announced the initial wave of films. I want to see all of these, of course, but some of them look particularly interesting. In no particular order: Jeruzalem looks potentially insane and cool; Big Match could be the kind of high-gloss South Korean action film I dig; Deathgasm um we’ll see; The Demolisher seems like it has potential; I’m all over anything to do with Milgram, more for the myth of the experiment than the reality, so Experimenter yes (plus nice cast); The Golden Cane Warrior looks awesome; and They Look Like People has gotten very good reviews.

Booyah! Very excited. And as you know, Montreal is within driving range of Boston.

Mirrored from Population: One.

bryant: (Abbi)

I’d been using the Wirecutter-recommended Accell Home or Away travel surge protector for travel until recently. It’s really good, but it only has 2 USB ports and when I started traveling with an external battery, that was too few. One USB port for my phone, one for my tablet, and none for my battery? Sad. In theory maybe I stop traveling with my tablet but then I add in my headphones, which charge via USB, and I’m back where I started.

Plus I just got this watch, so.

Anker 6-USB Port Charger Thus, I picked up Anker’s 6 port USB charger. It’s not a hub; it’s a small brick around the size of a very full men’s wallet that plugs into a wall outlet and charges a bunch of USB devices at once. I don’t imagine it’d do great with six items plugged into it, but it’s fine for phone and tablet and external battery. Anker’s other gear has performed very well for me (cables, car USB adapters), and this seems similarly solid from one trip’s worth of experience.

Mirrored from Population: One.

bryant: (Maggie)

I’d been using the Wirecutter-recommended Accell Home or Away travel surge protector for travel until recently. It’s really good, but it only has 2 USB ports and when I started traveling with an external battery, that was too few. One USB port for my phone, one for my tablet, and none for my battery? Sad. In theory maybe I stop traveling with my tablet but then I add in my headphones, which charge via USB, and I’m back where I started.

Plus I just got this watch, so.

Anker 6-USB Port Charger Thus, I picked up Anker’s 6 port USB charger. It’s not a hub; it’s a small brick around the size of a very full men’s wallet that plugs into a wall outlet and charges a bunch of USB devices at once. I don’t imagine it’d do great with six items plugged into it, but it’s fine for phone and tablet and external battery. Anker’s other gear has performed very well for me (cables, car USB adapters), and this seems similarly solid from one trip’s worth of experience.

Mirrored from Population: One.

Badging

Mar. 15th, 2015 03:37 pm
bryant: (Abbi)

Platinum SpecOps I think I’m the first Ingress player in the Bay Area to hit platinum specops, which means I’ve done 200 missions. (Missions are player-generated mini-quests that can be as easy as interacting with 4 portals or as hard as figuring out a set of passphrases over multiple miles.) This was not super-hard to do, but it did require a lot of persistence and some planning.

My 200th mission was Climb Mount Davidson by Agent hiryu; it was a nice walk up to the top of Mount Davidson, which was not terribly strenuous but which rewarded me with a great view nonetheless. My longest one — probably Hike Mt. Wanda, in Contra Costa County, which was a couple of miles of hiking up a nifty trail.

Plat SpecOps Badges I completed eight missions at Walt Disney World a month before Niantic opened up mission creation to almost anyone. If I had taken that trip two months later, I’d have been able to do 100+ missions in that week with minimal effort. No regrets! I did 17 Disneyland missions on our last trip there. I have 16 missions from business trips to LA, and four airport missions (one of which overlaps with the LA mission count). I did more annoying “hack every portal on this downtown San Francisco street” missions than I want to think about.

I completed 45 missions in Contra Costa County in one weekend, thanks in large part to a very busy mission creator in Martinez. I completed 26 of those missions on┬áSaturday, a personal record that’ll stick until my next Walt Disney World trip. I then knocked off another six missions in San Francisco on Sunday, thanks in complete part to my own obsessiveness.

I completed a set of missions whose badges spell out “RESIST” and I completed a set of missions whose badges spell out “SMURF TEARS.” I was careful to do neither of them in order, because I think that kind of thing is a bit silly. My badges spell out “SISTER” and “MTRESAURSF,” instead. I didn’t take the time to figure out something clever to do with sad smurfs at the time, but if you need a good anagram, I’d recommend “FASTER RUMS” or “TSAR’S FEMUR.”

I don’t know that I’m going to hit onyx specops — 500 missions — any time soon. However, I’m not going to stop doing missions just because I got this badge, so we’ll see.

I will chatter on about any aspect of missions on demand, regardless of faction.

Mirrored from Population: One.

bryant: (Abbi)

Susan and I spent the afternoon hanging out at Point Bonita Lighthouse on the off chance that someone of the blue persuasion would drop by and try to do something interesting, in which case we had plans to dissuade them. As it turned out, we did get one visitor, but since our teammates had already done something larger and more interesting, there was no chance of tumult even if she’d had plans.

So we took a lot of pictures instead.

Golden Gate Bridge

Point Bonita Lifehouse

Coast North of San Francisco

Mirrored from Population: One.

bryant: (Maggie)

I’ve been playing a lot of Ingress recently. Short form: it’s Google’s augmented reality alien invasion PvP game; you physically go to in-game portals, which correspond with the locations of landmarks, public art, and so on, and perform various actions which lead to creating fields of influence over various areas. The two factions are competing to control the most minds; it’s literally scored in terms of mind units. Kind of sinister when you get right down to it.

The game interests me on a number of levels, so I’ll probably write a spate of posts about it before trailing off into inactivity again. The game design is perhaps accidentally interesting, the ad hoc social networks are totally fascinating, and it hits a sweet OCD spot for me in a way which has me exercising. I averaged around 5 miles a day of walking in December. Go me.

Oh, and the lore is written by Flint Dille. Old school tabletop gamers can be suitably amused at this juncture.

Here’s an excellent story about getting involved in the game. It’s what got me and Susan playing, and everything in it is entirely true. Except the bit about the scooter. I can’t attest to anything involving scooter play first hand. I have, however, had experiences analogous to everything else she talks about.

This is a pretty good primer on the game; it’s a little dated, since like any decent MMO Ingress has occasional updates, but on the whole it’s solid.

If you decide to play because you are reading this, you should play Enlightened. The most meaningful currency in Ingress is time. Skill matters some, but the balance is skewed way over towards time, particularly before you get to the tippy-top of the elder game. The only way to generate time out of thin air is to convince people to play on your side. So: play Enlightened.

Yes, the Resistance is the attractive spunky underdog group. Next post sometime this week I will provide you with a conceptual framework that explains why the Enlightened are the real underdogs, which hopefully will allow you to play Enlightened without feeling like you’re supporting the Illuminati.

Mirrored from Population: One.

13 Years

Sep. 11th, 2014 10:06 am
bryant: (Maggie)

As always and forever, thank you.

Mirrored from Population: One.

Bag-Bound

May. 10th, 2014 03:05 pm
bryant: (Maggie)

For nearly 20 years I didn’t have to do much business travel. These days life is different. When my trip frequency rose above once per month I evolved a bag strategy which is both imperfect and functional. It is also very heavy on the Tom Bihn gear, because I like his bags and I tend to stick with things that work well enough. Other companies also make great stuff; my former boss swears by WaterField bags, for example. Choice is awesome.

My general theme is simplicity. Painless packing is the single most important aspect of this whole thing so keeping it simple is important. Particularly when it comes to cables, I’ve often just bought an extra cable so I don’t worry about remembering to pick one up and carry it with me. This is useful to me because I’m really forgetful. I am, obviously, fortunate to be able to make that tradeoff.

Read the rest of this entry » )

Mirrored from Population: One.

bryant: (I <3 Cube)

Via Kottke: have a huge collection of nuclear reactor cutaway diagrams. I’m sure these would be useful in someone’s RPG campaign.

Mirrored from Population: One.

bryant: (Abbi)

The Hugo Awards have very few nominators and no barrier to entry to becoming a nominator other than money, which creates room for an engaged fan base to get just about anything on the ballot. This is not news. We’ve seen Doctor Who dominate the short-form dramatic presentation ballot for half a decade. We’ve also seen an acceptance speech get nominated for short-form dramatic presentation. That went relatively well because people liked the guy who gave the speech. This year, unlikeable people got nominated.

This doesn’t mean there’s a significant chunk of right-wingers rising up to retake SF fandom, despite what Vox Day would like to think. Let’s look at the numbers. References: the LoneStarCon 3 stats for the 2013 Hugos (PDF) and this year’s nominations. Also, the 2013 Hugos had 1,343 nominations.

This year, there were 1,595 nominations for Best Novel. Last year, there were 1,113 nominations. That’s 43% more nominations. This year, there were 728 nominations for Best Novelette. Last year, there were 616 nominations. 18% more nominations.

The Winter 2013 LoneStarCon 3 Progress Report lists 1,773 members as of November 22, 2012. The December 2013 Loncon 3 Progress report says they had 4,282 members as of November 18th, 2013. That’s 141% more memberships. The Hugo nomination campaigning probably isn’t the reason why more people submitted nominations; the increase in memberships purchased more than explains it. I’m not going to assume that the 100+ increase in Best Novelette nominations was all Day/Correia voters.

It took 38 nominations to get on the Best Novelette ballot last year. Apply the 18% adjustment: it probably took between 44 and 45 nominations to get on the Best Novelette ballot this year. That’s not block voting, that’s a mild wave in a fairly shallow wave pool.

(For any kind of rigor I would go back and perform a similar analysis for the last ten years or so, to see if membership purchase rates and nomination rates ever track well together.)

Edit: Liz notes that it took 69 nominations to get on the Best Novelette ballot this year. So much for rigor. Thanks!

Mirrored from Population: One.

bryant: (Abbi)

In Filmspotting’s most recent episode, the hosts went through their top five directors whose movies you’d want on a desert island. In other words, if you were stuck on a desert island with a TV and a DVD player, which five directors’ complete works would you want? This is a fun game and an interesting twist so I played along.

On the whole I was closer to David Gordon Green’s choices than to those of the hosts. He’s not listed at the link above, but he chose John Landis, Alan Parker, Robert Altman, John Ford, and Stanley Kubrick. I think Alan Parker in particular is a brilliant choice.

I’d start with Steven Soderbergh. He has huge range: this gives me everything from classic indie movies to weird experimental stuff to blockbusters, and all of it is beautiful. I could rewatch any of these movies again and again. He’s also directed 40 or so movies, so there’s a lot of watching there.

Next: Kathryn Bigelow. She’s only got nine movies under her belt, so I lose all the ground I gained with Soderbergh. Doesn’t matter. I’d probably have her on the list if she’d only directed Near Dark, Strange Days, and The Hurt Locker. Her movies are consuming, and I want that if I’m stuck on this island.

Third is the Coen Brothers. Like Soderbergh, but even more so, their movies will reward repeat viewing. They’re also where I’m getting most of my comedies — dark, cynical, sometimes sad comedies, but nonetheless you have to laugh somehow.

From there we’ll go international and pick up Kar Wai Wong. This feels like cheating since I’m also getting a ton of Christopher Doyle cinematography. If it’s cheating, I have no regrets. I couldn’t live without someone from Asian cinema and preferably Hong Kong, and while John Woo might be more accessible, Kar Wai Wong will be better. Plus I still get a couple of good martial arts flicks.

Finally, and stolen from Adam Kempenaar’s list, Howard Hawks. Since I am a poor excuse for a film student, I didn’t think of him at once, but he’s an obvious choice. He worked in every genre, he made a huge number of great films, and he provides a superb window into earlier film. This also means I get some lighthearted movies. A win all around.

Savage Steve Holland does not make my list.

Mirrored from Population: One.

bryant: (Default)

This probably isn’t the result of his recent exposure on HBO, but he’s directing another teen comedy! I am irrationally excited and will remain so regardless of further news.

Mirrored from Population: One.

bryant: (Abbi)

So saith Massively. I am not at all surprised given what I know about the engineering teams working on that title. I am, nonetheless, tickled pink by this paragraph:

From my 50-hours-of-playtime perspective, though, the launch has in fact been completely lag-free. It’s also been one of the more polished overall launches I’ve experienced in a number of years, though I wouldn’t say it’s number one (Lord of the Rings Online had fewer quest bugs out of the gate, which was all the more impressive since smooth MMO launches were unheard of in 2007).

Aw yeah. Champion and still #1, LOTRO launch!

Mirrored from Population: One.

bryant: (Default)

Well, nah, but this does give me a pleasing frisson down the spine. For those of us who are not obsessive fans of Sorkin’s early (or even his later) work, Josh Charles played Dan Rydell on Sports Night as inspired by Keith Olbermann. Thus, putting them together on Olbermann’s current show is funny. Or it was funny before I explained it. Maybe I should have skipped that bit.

“You think?”

Mirrored from Population: One.

bryant: (After Hours)

Not that I’m saying Billy Joel is one of the best artists of all time, but he’s a guy who can write songs and sing them and he cares about his work. Also important: Jimmy Fallon is completely sincere about the things he loves, which turns out to be what I wanted out of late night talk shows on the rare occasion that I watch them.

Mirrored from Population: One.

bryant: (Default)

Interesting survey of GMs from Reddit. Self-selected group, etc. etc. Savage Worlds is more popular than I’d have expected.

Mirrored from Population: One.

bryant: (Abbi)

I’d say you need more maps than this, but it’s certainly true that you don’t often get more.

Mirrored from Population: One.

bryant: (Abbi)

Many of us 80s children have fond memories of the first two Savage Steve Holland opuses, Better Off Dead… and One Crazy Summer. John Cusack’s amiable everyman teen demeanor was the perfect foil for Holland’s insane vision. His third movie, How I Got Into College had no John Cusack and generated few fond memories.

But it’s on HBO Go until May 1st. Corey Parker, Lara Flynn Boyle, and a pretty crappy script. Savage Steve didn’t write this one. Philip Baker Hall in a bit part? Nora Dunn and Phil Hartman cameo?

It does explain why Savage Steve Holland never directed another movie. (It’s OK, he has a career in kid’s television.) This is the real, actual, projected onto movie screens trailer that ran in cinema palaces across the nation back in 1989.

When I said “alert,” I meant “warning.”

Mirrored from Population: One.

bryant: (play it)

Yo, Unknown USA people! Were you aware of Anais Mitchell’s folk opera, Hadestown? It’s just a folk opera retelling of the Orpheus myth set in a post-apocalyptic version of the Great Depression, no big deal. Justin Vernon and Ani DiFranco are part of the cast.

I may be the last person to know about this.

Mirrored from Population: One.

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