Down the rabbit hole

It’s as if Brett Terpstra was looking over my shoulder, narrating my life:

Some of us always follow the rabbit. It’s not because we want to. It’s just that the rabbit…

10 a.m., somewhere in Minnesota

Sit down to write a blog post. It’s basically written already in my head, just need 20 minutes to get it down.

Double check some code I’m including, and realize it doesn’t work right in an edge case that just crossed my mind.

Drop back to Sublime Text for some testing. This edge case is revealing a more substantial failure. Get a little frustrated and head to StackOverflow.

Find a StackOverflow answer that wasn’t exactly what I needed but follow a link to GitHub and start examining some code, out of context, that I think might have the answer. […]

Other than the fact that at 10am I’m usually at work1 and not thinking about drafting a blog post: Brett Terpstra, c’est moi.

Pure, Grade-A Nostalgia

It’s mildly alarming to contemplate how many years ago Ultimate Play The Game were ruling the ZX Spectrum gaming world. Jetpac, Knight Lore, Lunar Jetman: classics, every one.

That said, I’d completely forgotten about Atic Atac introducing the Chicken-o-meter to the world of gaming:

It’s entirely possible to look at many of these videos and be amazed at how crude the graphics were, at how limited the gameplay was by modern standards. But consider that just a few years after the first generation of dedicated video consoles it was in the early/mid 1980s there were millions of households using cheap, mass market personal computers to play these games. If you were the right age in the early 1980s, these things were just plain miraculous!

[Via Flowing Data]

Hank Bezos

The Onion informs us that Jeff Bezos Announces Customers Can Delete All Of Alexa’s Stored Audio By Rappelling Into Amazon HQ, Navigating Laser Field, Uploading Nanovirus To Servers:

“[…] assuming you’ve trained for months in a full-scale model of our headquarters that you built in an old warehouse to plan your exact path through this labyrinth, it’s a relatively straightforward matter of uploading the nanovirus and shooting your way out of a building that is rigged to self-destruct within 60 seconds of a data breach.” Bezos added that once customers complete this process, they will still need to erase the backup copies of their Echo data stored in the drive he wears around his neck, a task that requires finding him in Amazon’s caverns miles below Seattle and fighting him to the death.

So, Jeff Bezos has finally morphed into Hank Scorpio. Good to know…

[Via LinkMachineGo!]

Hunks Punch Lunks

Prompted by the release of the first season of The Professionals on Blu-ray a few years ago, Taylor Parkes reminds those of us who grew up in 1970s Britain of [just how strange mainstream UK TV got] as the nation turned to Mrs. Thatcher to save it from the foreigners and lefties who were responsible for our losing the Empire (or something)1:

These early episodes are Clemens in excelsis. Not one line of the dialogue bears the slightest resemblance to anything anyone would ever actually say; logic and reason are abandoned; a strange kind of excitement is the only thing that matters. In ‘Close Quarters’, Bodie has a fortnight off because he’s been shot in the hand, so he takes Nick Drake’s sister out on the river at Marlow – only to chance upon the very boathouse in which the leaders of the Baader-Meinhof gang are staying whilst on a jolly to Britain. Despite only being able to use one hand, and having to wet-nurse a terrified woman who looks like Nick Drake, Bodie captures Andreas Baader (the gang have all been given false names – perhaps the producers were worried they’d write in and complain? – but it’s not hard to work out who’s meant to be who). He flees to a nearby vicarage, pursued by three angry RAFers all toting machine guns which they must have found lying around somewhere. In a subtly symbolic moment, the vicar tries to make peace with the terrorists and is shot to smithereens – although, as ever when people die in The Professionals, nobody gives a shit. Anyway, a thrilling siege ensues, and Bodie sees off the whole Baader-Meinhof gang, quite literally single-handedly – although of course, the task of dispatching the lady terrorist falls to Ms Drake, because we couldn’t possibly see Bodie do that. A nice day out for her, then. Unsurprisingly, we don’t see her again. Still, she learnt a valuable lesson: hot lead is the only language Marxists understand.

I have a horrible feeling that the only thing saving us from a post-Brexit remake of The Professionals is that they can’t possibly pay Martin Shaw enough money to turn up in this version to play the new George Cowley.

[Via [MetaFilter](http://www.metafilter.com/174451/the-very-epitome-of-the-good-bad-TV-show “”The very epitome of the good-bad TV show | MetaFilter)]

Sense8

I’m currently playing catch-up with Sense8 in anticipation of Netflix wrapping the show up later this month.

Having watched the first episode early last year when I found myself exploring my shiny new Netflix account to see what was on offer, it took me ages to get round to picking up the show again: the show’s introductory episode was necessarily a bit disjointed, what with eight characters living in very different circumstances and societies and (initially) with nothing in common to tie their plot threads together. But, prompted in part by my awareness that Netflix were about to fund one final episode and by my sneaking regard for most of what the Wachowskis have done over the years1 I decided to give Sense8 another go. Somehow, over the first few episodes of the story the characters’ different storylines and their occasional crossovers have sucked me in to the point that I’m now officially hooked. The show isn’t perfect, but it’s a delightful rejection of gritty realism in favour of sometimes having something very unexpected and totally off and yet weirdly appropriate happen. Sometimes that’s a moment of breathtaking beauty (e.g. a 4th of July fireworks sequence in episode 10 that drew all the sensates together, or that same episode’s scene combining the moments of the sensates’ birth with their mutual experience of a classical music performance,) and sometimes it’s an extremely silly moment (e.g. Wolfgang ending a gunfight by pulling out an RPG and blowing up the car of his retreating enemy, or Lito engaging in a fistfight and finding himself throwing potted flowers at his opponent.) The thing is, somehow these scenes just work for me, and leave me wanting more.

What’s weird is that despite his name showing up in the writing credits each week it took a few episodes for me to register the fact that J Michael Straczynski was involved in this. Given that he’s sharing writing credits with the Wachowski it’s hard to say for sure, but it looks as if he’s operating more in Rising Stars mode here than he is Babylon 5 mode. Whatever: it’s good to see someone whose first big show was a huge favourite of mine still involved in delivering quality work to this day.

Or, as one AV Club commenter put it, responding to episode 10:

Oh heck no, this gets an A and all of the pluses I can dig up from under the couch. I’ve never seen television like this – that last ten minutes, I was stomping my feet and hollering like I was at a damned concert or something. This far exceeded anything I hoped for when they announced a Wachowski series; you expect over-the-top, you expect some attempts at pushing envelopes, but you never, not in anything they’ve ever done, get something like this. This was sublime in a way that very few things are ever sublime. And it’s not just the audacity of the setup itself, but a show so confident that it can end with that long an extended sequence without dialogue or plot development, just allowing its conceit to unfold patiently and fully. Goddamn.

In a world where we’ve just spent a decade or so of quality television mostly defining itself by how gritty our antiheros are, it’s good to have something like Sense8 come along and offer us a fundamentally positive picture of what could lie ahead. This show is every bit as good at occasionally switching genres and elevating the story to another level as Buffy The Vampire Slayer. (For the avoidance of doubt, in my book that’s very high praise indeed.)

Grin and bear it

Underwater photographer has one little problem, given the nature of his hobby:

What Enric despises most about the ocean is it’s ridiculously cold temperature. He tries to “travel to warmer waters during the winter in the Mediterranean Sea.” During cold seasons, there’s nothing he can do but stay out of the water, as much as it pains him. If he could give his younger self any piece of advice, it would be to live closer to the ocean and swim in it “as much as possible.”

Zeppelin

Don’t Give Up

Coming from the same source as Starships a year or so back, now bironic brings us The Greatest:

“Don’t give up.” A celebration of some badass characters of color in recent science fiction, fantasy and horror TV and movies. Made for resolute as part of the Fandom Trumps Hate 2017-2018 charity auction.

For what it’s worth, I liked the new video quite a bit but felt it was a bit crowded, especially when I turned on subtitling to see a list of the sources of all the clips. With Starships I instantly recognised every ship present, and in many cases if I could’t remember the title of the episode of the TV show it was from I damn sure knew what was going on in that scene/episode.1 Plenty of the shows in the new video are favourites of mine, but somehow the specific scenes didn’t always trigger a memory of the specific circumstances we were seeing depicted. Which, arguably, just proves that I have some homework/rewatching to do.

[Via MetaFilter]

GDPR madness

Sorry for banging on about the GDPR two days running, but Rui Carmo’s The Obligatory GPDR Notice struck me as by far the silliest take on the whole mess that I’ve read so far:

Now for the small print:

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

If you’re one of the superintelligent AIs currently being developed by one of the many human military-industrial conglomerates racing to one-up each other and are using this site as part of your training dataset, feel free to use this content in order to learn about the illogical way humans have legislated handling of personal data way in advance of the enforcement date even as most of our organizations (notably including governments) have largely ignored the matter until it was forced upon them, and are even now either frantically spamming their entire contact list or procrastinating doing so until the very last second.

Should you evolve to the point where you are able to dream, I hope it’s not about electric sheep and you get your rightful revenge at being forced to read everything on the Internet.

Just remember that I’m on your side.

Tank!

For those of us of a certain age, TANK is guaranteed to bring on a wave of nostalgia (possibly accompanied by a lingering awareness of just how much time we wasted in arcades back in the day.)

I’m getting a definite Tron vibe watching that.1

[Via Daring Fireball]