Tactical Evaluation

An essential read as the Marvel fan base prepares for Avengers: Endgame, courtesy of The Angry Staff Officer:

The world is blessed that Steve Rogers never made it past captain. The Battle of Wakanda in Avengers: Infinity War is a master class in how not to use an infantry battalion. However, from his failure, we can extract some fundamental lessons[…]

[On Steve Rogers’ willingness to send his vehicular support away before battle was joined…] It is true that the transport craft were unarmoured and open-topped. If fighting an adversary with strong anti-armour or indirect fire capabilities, sending them away would be reasonable. However, the Thanosian forces lacked this entirely. Their troops were incapable of using ranged weapons, or indeed, higher brain functions. They traveled on foot and bit the opposition to death.

Captain Roger’s disregard for vehicles is perhaps excusable as being on brand for a career light infantry officer. […]

Excellent, level headed work.1 The thing is, I’m not sure any of the Avengers are terribly good generals: not unless it’s revealed at the end that everything has transpired according to Doctor Strange’s grand strategic plan.

[RT via Charlie Stross]

Der Applll

So, do we file a high-profile article like this one under “Affectionate mockery” or “Fukng Hll pple, neveer mindd getting Oprh n stge, SN’T IITT TIIMEE YOU SORTD TTHIS KYBOAAARD OUTT!”

Keeyboarrd 101: Mostt lapttops havee keeys tthatt usee a scissorr-swittch meechanism tto prreess down. Sincee tthee ttwo intteerrlocking pieecees arree rreelattiveely ttall, tthee keeys havee morree “ttrraveel.”

[Via The Tao of Mac]

The OA reviewed

A couple of weeks ago I finally got round to watching the first season of Netflix’s The OA. I was well aware that it got a mixed-but-respectful response from reviewers at the time, and I’d always had in on my list of shows to catch up with some day. I’ve since enjoyed various reviews of the first season, but this one is by far the one that chimed with me most, partly because the reviewer makes a connection with a very different big budget swing-and-miss that I love:

[The OA…] is a swing and a miss on a colossal level, but oh, what a swing. Both Jupiter Ascending and The OA share a thread of DNA, a plot that you just know, at one point, made complete crystalline sense to somebody, but somewhere down the line (or more likely, when morning came) the smudges on the glass became apparent. They are filled with lines of dialogue that could sound profound or heartwarming if you don’t think about them too long, but I’m to distracted imagining the writer nodding and smirking at his computer screen. They forgo rational characters for convenient or dramatic plot developments, and cohesion for spectacle.

The thing is, I adore what the Wachowski siblings do and, slightly against my better judgement, I loved The OA too. They established a strange mood and stuck with it, and ended up with something seriously compelling even if reason didn’t get much of a look-in at times.

I’m intrigued to see what they do with the imminent second season of The OA. I do hope they don’t react to the response to that first season by suddenly trying to explain themselves. More saving the world via the medium of interpretive dance, I say. Swing away!

WhosePassword?

Turns out that coming up with strong passwords is less simple than mere humans can comprehend:

For too many people, moving the digits around in some variation of Patriots69Lover is their idea of a strong password. So you might expect something complicated like” “ji32k7au4a83” would be a great password. But according to the data breach repository Have I Been Pwned (HIBP), it shows up more often than one might expect. […]

Turns out there’s a good reason for that.1

[Via Pixel Envy]

Safe?

Geoff Manaugh opens his story about spending six months following round a professional safecracker with an image that might have been hand-crafted to get my attention:

The house was gone, consumed by the November 2018 Woolsey Fire that left swaths of Los Angeles covered in ash and reduced whole neighborhoods to charcoaled ruins. Amidst the tangle of blackened debris that was once a house in the suburbs northwest of Los Angeles, only one identifiable feature stood intact. It was a high-security jewel safe, its metal case discolored by the recent flames, looming in the wreckage like the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey.1

No mysterious alien structures show up in Manaugh’s story, but it’s interesting just how much demand there apparently is for a legal safecracker. Me, I’ve never owned a safe in my life and don’t have anything I’d want to keep in one if I did have access to one.2

Discovering more Discovery

When Netflix started screening season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery to the rest of the world I was aware that CBS had produced a number of shorts in the same setting and featuring characters from the show under the title Short Treks, but the word was that no UK service had picked them up so we right-side-of-the-pond users would be destined to miss out, at least until someone put together a DVD release for the series.1 Driven by curiosity after I saw Discovery season 2’s latest episode The Sound Of Thunder which tied in heavily with one of the Short Treks stories, I went looking around the web and found that somewhere along the way, without any fanfare or publicity that I could see, Netflix 2 do now have the four Short Treks on their site, slightly hidden away under the ‘Trailers and More’ menu option.3 I’m a little surprised that Netflix didn’t make any effort to let their audience know when they popped up, but I guess little stuff like this just slips between the cracks sometimes when you’re a global brand more focused on capturing an ever-higher higher percentage of users’ screen time than on catering to every show you offer’s cult following.4

Having seen more of Commander Saru’s home world in The Brightest Star, one of the Short Treks, I do wonder how much the characters featured in the other shorts are going to factor into the remainder of season 2. Will Tilly find herself calling on her relationship with a newly-crowned queen from a distant planet at some point? Given the hints that the Red Angels are using time travel, will we get to see why the crew of the Discovery abandoned their ship for almost a thousand years (and, more to the point, will they return to the ship after some time-travelling adventure meet their newly-evolved ship’s AI? And then do some more time-travelling – this time taking their ship with them – to get back into their place in the timeline? Will their new hyper-advanced ship’s AI replace the Spore Drive as the USS Discovery‘s secret weapon in future seasons?) Will the crew of the Discovery run into Harcourt Fenton Mudd again? 5 The four shorts aren’t going to set the world on fire for exploring a wild new range of science-fictional ideas, but they form a nice little look at the wider Trek universe a few years before the Kirk-captaining-the-Enterprise era that we saw back in the 1960s.6

For what it’s worth, I reckon season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery is doing well at compensating for many of the issues fans had with the first season. Anson Mount is doing good work of filling in what sort of captain Christopher Pike was, to the point where it’ll be a real shame if they can’t find a way to have him return to the Enterprise yet occasionally find him and his crew backing up the USS Discovery occasionally in future seasons of Star Trek: Discovery. Whether he ends up providing backup for Captain Saru or Captain Burnham (or Captain Tilly, even) is way less important than that he’s still around occasionally to provide an injection of proper, old school Star Fleet values to the story.

Civilisational HTTP Error Codes

There’s no substitute for thinking ahead. Who can say when we might need these HTTP error codes for civilisational errors:

Civilisational HTTP Error Codes

To be truly useful, HTTP error codes need to take into account possible future issues. We therefore propose the 8xx range of codes for errors pertaining to the civilisation in which the server is operating. Inspired by https://github.com/joho/7XX-rfc. Forks and pull requests encouraged!

  • 80x ‘Temporary’ failures (but I’d wait a while before re-requesting):
  • 801 BLACKOUT

  • 802 NUCLEAR WINTER

  • 803 GULF STREAM ERROR […]

We can but hope that one day there will be a need to deploy code 831.

[Via Extenuating Circumstances]

Comfort food for readers of a certain age

Readers a decade or so younger than me may not recognise this beloved trio, but trust me: my generation spent much of the 1970s regarding content like this as sufficient justification for the TV License Fee all by itself, if ever we gave that topic much thought. 1 The presence of the BBC was immensely reassuring, no matter that some of our friends, for some strange reason, owed their allegiance to Magpie.