Older blog entries for Skud (starting at number 174)

Open thread, June 2012

Here’s an open thread where you can comment or talk about anything, including older posts whose comments are now closed.

Syndicated 2012-06-16 02:41:51 from Infotropism

Feminist SFF t-shirts

So, I finally discovered a website that will let me sell t-shirts that I would actually want to wear *. At long last, I can act upon all my suppressed t-shirt-making urges!

First up, and as a sort of trial run, I offer you the I-wish-I-could-have-been-at-Wiscon t-shirt:

Feminist SFF t-shirt: Russ & Butler & Tiptree & Le Guin

Feminist SFF rockstars t-shirt, available in fitted and straight-cut styles, including larger sizes.

If there were a superstar rock band of classic feminist science fiction and fantasy, the members would be Joanna Russ, Octavia Butler, James Tiptree, Jr. (alias Alice Sheldon), and Ursula K. Le Guin.

These t-shirts are 100% organic cotton, and are available in fitted and straight-cut styles up to 3XL (around 54″/135cm in circumference). The straight-cut style also comes in smaller sizes down to 18″/45cm circumference, for smaller people. They’re available in black, charcoal, navy blue, chocolate, and a dark olivey green.

There’s also a zippered tote bag, in black only:

Feminist SFF tote bag: Russ & Butler & Tiptree & Le Guin

Feminist SFF rockstars zippered tote bag.

Sorry, no other items (coffee mugs, etc) are available in this design; I was limited by what had a dark background for printing. If there’s enough demand, I might do a dark-on-light version which would allow for more of the items listed here, so let me know if that interests you.

Buy a feminist SFF t-shirt or tote bag now.

Shirt orders are fulfilled by Printfection.com. This is the first time I’ve worked with them, so I’m interested in hearing how people find the experience. If you have any problems with ordering or shipment you’ll have to deal with them to resolve it, but I’d like to hear about it too so I know whether this is working out okay or not.



* In other words, they’re available in sizes and styles that fit me, in dark colours, and in this case — an added bonus — they’re also organic cotton, all at what I consider to be a reasonable price. You might be surprised how many t-shirts don’t fit even the first criteria. For more information see T-shirts at the Geek Feminism wiki. Back.

Syndicated 2012-06-10 07:10:47 from Infotropism

Fresh links for May 31st through June 10th

  • Printfection – Looks like I've got a new favourite t-shirt supplier: Printfection has organic cotton Ts in fitted ("women's") sizes up to 54" in 13 different colours, and at $19.99 each which isn't too bad. They do zazzle/cafepress style fulfilment, though it looks like they're aiming more for a pro market than a hobbyist one. Fine by me! I think I'm about to start selling t-shirts! (I've been putting it off for years because I couldn't find tshirt stock I wanted to wear.)
  • Joshua Ellis revisits the Grim Meathook Future – This post pretty much reflects the contents of my brain when it comes to a) the fuckedness of the VC-driven tech industry, and b) dystopian futurism (or rather, presentism). Except for the bit where he blames technologists for the death of newspapers and record sales, because really, can't we share that with Murdoch and his musical equivalents? Anyway, a must-read on the subject of the grim, meathook, unevenly-distributed, venture-funded, watching-cops-assault-people-on-YouTube present and/or future.
  • Salon.com » The case for telling everyone what you make – This is something I believe in pretty strongly. I'd also love to see a buttload more salary transparency when jobs are advertised (yeah, dream on) but at least an increased culture of sharing this info should be good for websites like glassdoor where you can find salary info when you're jobhunting.
  • Popping the social media zit – sabreuse talks bucketloads of sense about those "share" buttons that are like acne all over websites.

Syndicated 2012-06-10 03:39:12 from Infotropism

Further thoughts on workflow

Further to My mostly-mobile digital workflow a couple of weeks ago. It’s had a little while to shake down, and I’ve come up with two real problems so far:

First, the exercise of replying to comments is tricky on mobile. Quite apart from the typing-on-my-phone issue is the problem that I can’t see the comment I’m replying to as I reply to it. This leads to me saying to myself, “I’ll answer that when I’m next at my laptop”, and then forgetting. Apologies to anyone who’s had belated or entirely absent replies lately. I think a semi-fix for this might simply to be to open the “reply” in a separate window from the comment I’m reading (in WordPress, I could have a reading copy open in Safari while replying via the WordPress app). It’s a bit fiddly though. Other suggestions welcome.

(As an aside, this seems like a must-have feature for blogging platforms that have mobile apps. Why doesn’t WordPress have this? Anyway, consider it noted as a desired feature for any future Dreamwidth mobile app development.)

Secondly, I am missing an RSS reader. I switched from Google Reader to NewsBlur last year around the time of the kerfuffle that I won’t bother linking to, but I have one fundamental problem with NewsBlur on mobile: there’s no star/favourite/etc option on the mobile client, and I use that (or used to use it) heavily for “interesting, come back and deal with it later” articles: often recipes or knitting patterns from my various food and craft blogs that I want to do something with later, but don’t really want to go through the steps of bookmarking right now. That may sound incredibly lazy — how hard is it to bookmark something on the spot? — but opening a link to the article on its blog site, then clicking through to Pinboard, then zooming in and entering tags and all that, then saving, is a pretty heavy multi-step process for something non-urgent. I used to like just starring them all and then one night when I was in the mood for looking at recipes and knitting patterns, going through and dealing with them all as a batch.

The upshot of this, anyway, is that I’m not really using NewsBlur as much as I could be, and I wind up missing lots of posts by people I’d like to read. Or rather, I sometimes eventually see them, but usually after the comments have peaked and died, and so it’s more of an archival reading exercise than a live one. (See, eg., Charlie Stross’s meta post on comments, which — ironically yet predictably — I didn’t see til it had about 250 comments, after someone I follow on Twitter linked it.

I would actually like to see those things more or less as they’re posted. For those bloggers who automatically post on Twitter when they have a new post, I can do that. For those that don’t… *sigh*. I’m actually pondering setting up an RSS reader via Twitter, since that’s something I check nearly constantly. I could create an account for the purpose, and a set of RSS-to-Twitter ifttt recipes. Has anyone done something similar? The obvious pitfall I can see looming is that I’m not sure ifttt supports multiple Twitter accounts, so I might need a separate ifttt account as well. Ugh. Thoughts?

A final alternative: I’ve been using Flipboard a bit for random browsing, but could quite happily upgrade it to a more serious role in my workflow. It supports RSS but only via Google Reader. Don’t suppose anyone knows of a way to get RSS on Flipboard without Google?

Syndicated 2012-06-03 08:54:52 from Infotropism

Fresh links for May 24th through May 31st

  • How Headphones Changed the World – "A short philosophical history of personal music", at The Atlantic
  • Amanda Palmer And Steve Albini On ‘Piracy’: It Only Helps Musicians – Surprise! (NB: not actually surprising) Steve Albini "rejects the term piracy" and thinks sharing music for free helps musicians, especially those who tour and play lots of live gigs. BTW, if you've never read Steve's rant about where money goes when you sign with a major label (linked from this article) then you definitely should.
  • A respose to Tom Tom’s OSM FUD – Tom Tom (the satnav provider) tries to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt about OpenStreetMap; here's a great takedown of their claims. Via David Gerard.
  • Commodore 64 Bass Guitar by Jeri Ellsworth – A bass guitar made out of an old C64. Nuff said.
  • Internet Arbitration | Judge.me – I honestly don't know whether this is an excellent disruption of a broken system, or a sign that we're heading even faster into an SFnal dystopian future. The fact you can pay by bitcoin makes me think the latter's more likely.

Syndicated 2012-05-31 13:14:49 from Infotropism

Technology without fossil fuel

Okay, I polled the twitters and enough people said that musing about worldbuilding was more interesting than it was masturbatory. So, in that case:

Assume that I desire a world different from ours in tech, but quite advanced in its own way. Does it make sense for this world to not have fossil fuels, and thus not have (or have a very different, less dirty) industrial revolution? Could it get to a point where it has, let’s say, widespread electric (or similar) power, intensive agriculture, and advanced medical technology (or at least around our level)? What differences would be implied for their culture? What sort of lifestyle would they have?

Example: lack of fossil fuels implies fewer/different plastics, and thus not having cheap synthetic fabrics. Clothing would be less disposable, people would own less of it, and it would be made/repaired with greater care.

For extra credit: does the scenario change if a) their environment is physically/geographically constrained so as to limit growth, and/or b) the society did not develop independently, but was seeded by another high tech one (e.g. us) so that they started out already having reasonably good non-fossil-fuel energy sources.

Syndicated 2012-05-30 22:01:41 from Infotropism

How is story formed???

This morning in the shower (formerly my favourite place for musing about random shit, though rapidly being supplanted by my bike commute) I was pondering something a teacher said about XLR cables and gender changers, and I got to thinking about what sort of lifeform would be male at one end and female at the other, and if that existed, what role would something play that was female (or male) at both ends? Next thing I knew, I had a fairly complex society imagined, with line marriages and rites of passage and institutional oppression and all that good stuff* (* not actually good stuff). And of course I started thinking that I should write something. The problem is, I have this world but no story to go in it.

Last time this happened, it was a complex alternate history of convict-era Australia, where the French invade in 1802 and the resistance is formed of the former NSW Corps and some of my favourite bits of the Royal Navy. But, hilarious as it would be to make Macarthur and Bligh team up to fight crime the French, I don’t actually want to tell that kind of “yay! colonialism!” story, and so all my detailed worldbuilding sat and gathered dust for a good long while.

I can’t remember which of our summer house-guests it was (anatsuno?) who suggested that I simply tell another story — one that I wanted to tell — set in that world, with all the military invasion stuff as background rather than foreground. It was excellent advice, and the story that I subsequently started to write is definitely the better for it.

So, what about this world with the gender stuff I was thinking about? I’ve got the background, but what’s the actual story? I randomly wondered what a police procedural would be like, and started building something around that on the bike ride home. It’s turning out quite interesting in my head, but that was a genre chosen more or less at random, which seems like a rather hit-or-miss method.

Do any of you have this worldbuilding-first habit? If so, how do you find the damn story?

Syndicated 2012-05-29 07:30:20 from Infotropism

When Alice Met Bob

The night before last, I had a dream that O’Reilly Media were making a Hollywood film — a romantic comedy, to be exact — about public key cryptography. The lead characters were called Alice and Bob, and they met cute by bumping into each other on the street and dropping the USB thumbdrives that had their private keys on them.

I’m suspect you could actually make a good story out of this, albeit a bit of an over-didactic Doctorow/Stephenson-esque one, since you’d have to ram in quite a lot of techno-cultural exposition along the way if you wanted it to make any sense at all.

Syndicated 2012-05-26 00:59:25 from Infotropism

Fresh links for May 18th through May 24th

  • Plan a Trip Through History With ORBIS, a Google Maps for Ancient Rome – How come it took three weeks for me to hear about this mapping hack to help you understand travel routes and expenses in Ancient Rome? Maps, history, digital humanities — what's not to love? I only wish this existed for other time periods. Imagine how useful it would be for people writing historical fiction!
  • Criminal Creativity: Untangling Cover Song Licensing on YouTube – A few interesting things here, including the little-known fact that you need a (nearly impossible to get, if you're an ordinary person) synch license to post a cover song on YouTube, and that ContentID can now identify cover songs, up to and including drunk guys belting out "Bohemian Rhapsody" in the back of police cars.
  • Brodustrial: WWJD? – Via jwz: an industrial music performer discovers he's booked to play alongside some really nasty bigots. Asking, "What Would Jello Biafra Do?" he ends up calling out the racism and sexism of the other bands' lyrics, videos, and album art in a PowerPoint presentation — while opening for them. It's good viewing, but NSFW.
  • bootlegMIC | Open Music Labs – A better mic for your iPhone, inspired by the crappy sound of all the concert videos on YouTube. Sold as a kit, the bootlegMIC is a small electret mic that plugs into your phone's headphone jack. Gain adjustment is done by swapping out resistors til you find one that works for your phone and use case.
  • DJ Rupture’s Sufi Plug Ins – Great post about Western assumptions built into music software such as Ableton, and some plugins that challenge those assumptions.

Syndicated 2012-05-24 11:04:47 from Infotropism

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