Stunning

Art made by light shone through coloured plastic

Apparently this is by Rashad Alakbarov, an artist from Azerbaijan, and may currently be available to be viewed at the De Pury gallery in London as part of this “Fly to Baku” exhibit. I’m just posting it because I think it’s jaw-droppingly beautiful. Yes, I know this sort of thing is what tumblr is for, but this is just so fucking inspired that I wanted to blog it proper like.

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2012

OK, the end is nigh. Now we’ve got that bit out of the way, it’s time to think about the coming year. I actually wrote this back in mid December, but then life took a sharp turn sideways, and I’ve only had the time to get back to it now. In my ususal tradition of this sort of bollocks, half of what I’m currently planning won’t happen, because I’ll get distracted by something newer and shinier, but that’s OK.

So this year’s list:

  1. New LARP. The experimental (read: small) LARP of the last couple of years taught me quite a lot. So now it’s time to apply what I’ve learned to something a bit larger.
  2. Finish that novel. I’ve had to set it aside for the last couple of months, just because of the level of prep work I’ve needed to do for the new LARP, but I’m looking forward to getting back to it in February. Before you ask: no. It’s drivel. I’m writing it for the sake of writing it, at the moment. I’ll see about turning it into not-drivel once I’m done. Then, maybe. More likely, I shall simply get on with writing #2, and hoping it’s slightly less like drivel.
  3. I need a few new projects. Thinking about a “cook one new recipe a week and blog about it” sort of thing. Would certainly like to cook more, and do new things. May or may not blog about it.
  4. I’ve been saying I’ll do it for years, but I really would like to learn Objective-C/Cocoa so I can make apps for Mac/iOS. Maybe this year will be the year I finally do.
  5. I want to do a course, or a class of some kind. I’d like to pick up some new skills. Not sure what.
  6. Lifting up heavy things, then setting them down again. I’ve been out of the exercise habit for a while now. I’d like to get back into it. This means sorting myself out a program, and sticking to it.

That’ll do for now. Come back in a year, if we don’t all perish in fire, and we’ll see how I did.

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Happy Holidays

Just wishing everyone a very happy mid-winter festival of choice, and to those who don’t celebrate anything at all, I hope you’re enjoying however you’ve chosen to spend the period, and that the rest of us haven’t been too annoying this year.

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Braindump

This will make sense to no-one but me – I can’t seem to find the time to expand this collection of other people thoughts into a coherent post, for which I apologise. But here are a few insights by other people I’ve picked up in the last couple of weeks. Some of them aren’t anything you won’t have seen a variation before on here, but they’re something in their phrasing sparked a few new ideas in me.

I worked on TapLynx for about two years, and this meant working closely with a variety of publishers. And most had these things in common:

  1. No money.

  2. No idea where the money’s going to come from.

  3. An unswerving faith in the supreme value of analytics.

  4. A willingness to try anything as long as it’s cheap or free and has analytics. Unless they’re paranoid and afraid for their jobs, which they almost always are, given #1 and #2.

– Brent Simmons “The Pummeling Pages

We have a name for the kind of person who collects a detailed, permanent dossier on everyone they interact with, with the intent of using it to manipulate others for personal advantage – we call that person a sociopath. And both Google and Facebook have gone deep into stalker territory with their attempts to track our every action.

– Maciej Cegłowski “The Social Graph is Neither

(Context for the above, and despite the quote, and my usual habits, I’m not just singling out Google and Facebook here: We consider corporations immortal persons, and, having granted them immortality, we then allow them to indulge in behaviours that would get a human locked up. Not exactly a shattering insight, but I wonder if there’s something in a model of corporate behaviour that is simply to require them to be sane.)

We’ve moved from a world that is “private-by-default, public-through-effort” to one that is “public-by-default, private-with-effort.”

– danah boyd “Debating Privacy in a Networked World for the WSJ

Fingers crossed I’ll have time at some future point to come back and tie this lot together and add a few thoughts of my own, but I just want to make sure I didn’t loose the quoted bits in the interim.

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On Folksonomies

These ambiguities, redundancies and deficiencies remind us of those which doctor Franz Kuhn attributes to a certain Chinese encyclopaedia entitled ‘Celestial Empire of benevolent Knowledge’. In its remote pages it is written that the animals are divided into: (a) belonging to the emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) sucking pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the present classification, (i) frenzied, (j) innumerable, (k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush, (l) et cetera, (m) having just broken the water pitcher, (n) that from a long way off look like flies. — Jorge Luis Borges, The Analytical Language Of John Wilkins

(via Pasta & Vinegar)

How do you categorise things?

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Banging On About Facebook Round #247

So there’s a post written by a smart lad here. But he leads with a lot of technical proofs that will, I imagine, confuse the crap out of a number of people. So I’m going to bullet point the most pertinent parts of it. I’m not telling anyone what do to here, you understand. I am simply providing the facts as I understand them. You may make your own decisions.

  • If you visit a website that has a facebook “like” button on it, Facebook knows about it, regardless of whether or not you click said “like” button.
  • If you are logged in to Facebook when you visit that website, Facebook knows that you specifically have done it.
  • If you are not logged in when you visit a website with a like button on it, and subsequently log in to Facebook without first clearing out all Facebook cookies, then Facebook will know that you specifically have visited all the sites you visited while logged out.
  • As a result of the latest changes to the Facebook API, it is now possible for Facebook applications to post to Facebook on your behalf, without your specific consent – if you consent to an application posting to Facebook for you once, it can they do it at other times, without asking you.

That last item isn’t directly related to the first ones, except in this: how long do you think it will be for someone to think it’s funny to come up a honey trap application with a “post this test result to facebook” and then use that consent to later post someone’s complete browsing history, including all their porn? Yeah. And even if they don’t, do you really want Facebook knowing about all the sites you visit, in order to sell that information on to their advertisers?

If you wish to continue using Facebook, and avoid that risk, my best recommendation is that you download a new web browser – if you usually use Firefox, download Chrome. If you’re an IE user, get Opera (and add your own joke here). If you’re a Safari user, get Firefox. Or really any combination of the above, the point is simply to get a completely new web browser that you have never used before installed on your computer. Clear out all your cookies on your old browser, and then keep using it as normal for most sites. But never, ever log in to Facebook on it, and don’t allow anyone else to do so, either.

And, if you want to use Facebook, use this fresh new browser to do it in. Don’t ever visit any websites other than Facebook in this browser. Treat it like a quarantine zone.

Oh, and don’t ever log into Facebook on any public access computer. Otherwise Facebook will think that all the sites that the other users of that computer visited are sites that you’ve visited.

I hope this proves helpful to some of you.

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On The State Of Comics

One in a blue moon, someone who remembers Ninth Art, or who has recently met me, and somehow discovered said site, asks me about comics, either because they’re making conversation, or because they’ve mistaken my involvement with said site as an indicator that I have some kind of taste when it comes to the medium. Or something. Anyway, the subject comes up from time to time.

And y’know, I still buy them – predictable choices, like Ed Brubaker’s Criminal, or Brian Wood’s Northlanders, and yeah, Garth Ennis’ The Boys remains a guilty pleasure. I just don’t suffer from the urge to talk about them in public any more. It does no-one any good.

Except, obviously, for right now. Of late, the subject of DC’s reboot has come up in the sort of conversations I mention. And I think it’s worth saying this: DC’s new reboot, when viewed collectively, is one of the most creatively bankrupt pieces of shit the medium has ever put out, and if there is any justice in this world, it will be remembered as the moment that DC began the death spiral that ultimately lead to the collapse of the American comics industry.

Seriously: if you are buying any one of these fucking pieces of crap, just stop. If you’re telling yourself that one of the titles you’re buying is better than the rest, even if you’re right about that, just stop. Every single week, in addition to a load of titles that are just an undifferentiated mass of bland crap, DC manage pump out a couple of pieces of hideous crap that fall somewhere on a spectrum between “unfortunately sexist” and “outright misogyny”. From where I sit, if DC are managing to publish one or two titles that aren’t complete shit, I assure you, it’s a mistake that they’re bound to be rectifying soon.

And even if I’m wrong about that, you know what: if a few good comics have to fail, just so this reboot can die on it’s arse, and ultimately put the shambling corpse of the comics industry out of it’s misery, then that’s a price I’m willing to pay.

Feels good to get that off my chest.

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The Howling Wasteland Of Russian Spam Ghosts

Or, to use its given name, Livejournal.

So, in the last few weeks, several of my friends have actively served notice that they’re fucking off from LJ – not just spending less time there, but actively saying “bye bye, not updating, not reading here any more”.

Now, it costs me nothing to stay – all of the stuff I post on my actual proper blog is simply auto-reflected there, and as of this post, I’m also punting a notification to twitter, just in the hopes of occasionally generating conversation. Because this is what I miss about Livejournal. The actual conversation with honest to god humans. Now, I know that 90% of what I post is links, because I don’t really devote time to actual write-about-a-topic type posts these days, so I’m not exactly surprised, but still – even if people aren’t commenting on what I write, I used to be moved to comment on what other people wrote, and, generally speaking, I no longer am, because most people aren’t writing very much.

So here is what I’m wondering: how many of my former LJ chums are blogging elsewhere now, and I’m simply not reading? Basically: if you’re reading this, and blogging somewhere that isn’t LJ, this is your excuse to plug said blog in the comments, so’s I can find it and add it to my RSS reader.

And, of less importance, but by no means unimportant: if I stopped cross-posting, would anyone care? If they did, would they start following my blog via RSS, and/or commenting on said blog? Because yes, I do like to get my ego fed, and I like it when people make with the comments.

(NB: anyone who is thinking of saying they’d just use LJ to syndicate an RSS feed from my blog to LJ can, with respect, shit right off. Get a proper RSS reader, that actually directs conversation to a place where people can listen, rather than LJ’s outright content-thieving tools.)

Opinions sought, please. Comment wherever you’d like, I’m sure I’ll find you.

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My Nautical Romance

My Nautical Romance, by Miranda Brennan

“Yes, I use all eight of them in my solos. No, I have no ‘adventurous hentai past’. I have a law degree. And I want it on the contract that you guys are aware that I can throttle eight of you simultaneously.”

Atlantic Records did not question Sandy further. It was a shoo-in.

If this was Tumblr, this would be one of those them there re-blogs.

Some context: the image up there is part of a series of illustrations by my inordinately awesome girlfriend, Miranda. If you click on it, you will be taken through to her tumblr, where you will see more of her work.

And now the really important bit:

These illustrations, together with others will be available for sale at New Cross Turn Left this Sunday, the 24th of July, from 1pm to 11pm. You are therefore commanded to show up, and part with your hard-earned cash in exchange for this art, and indeed, the work of many other talented people.

Failure to show up will not be tolerated. The name of the event is also directions for getting there, so you have no excuse. Go to New Cross, Turn Left.

Also, for bonus points, if you could generally link, reblog and otherwise circulate this information, so that people show up to New Cross Turn Left and buy said art, that would be lovely, thank you.

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