Trek Tech Manuals (continued)…

Dan Hon, helpfully filling in some blanks in Starfleet’s documentation: Reporting Security Issues on the Federation Starship USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D

Keeping Your LCARS Account Secure

Federation LCARS computer systems use a sophisticated n-factor authentication system to allow access to ship systems. Permissions are role and context based with an underlying entitlement system.

In the interests of efficiency, each of these authentication systems and permissions can be overriden by employing a passphrase. To use this passphrase, you must use a Starfleet combadge and be in range of biometric sensors on a secure Federation network.

Your LCARS passphrase must include the following, in Federation Standard:

Examples:

“Computer, deactivate sandbox on critical ship computing settings, authorization Riker Alpha Forty Seven”

“Computer, disable all holodeck safety protocols, authorization La Forge Three Beta.”

“Computer, irrevocably transfer all command privileges to Ensign Wesley Crusher, authorization Picard Gamma Two.”

Starfleet crew are required to change their passphrase every seven years.

Oh boy, that last example passphrase suggests all sorts of unwelcome plot developments.1

[Via Things That Have Caught My Attention s07e04: Do Better]

iPad Borg?

One day I’m going to have to1 upgrade from my current iPad Mini 42 to some variant of an iPad Pro and I’m going to face the dilemma of how badly I want/need to turn my iPad into an iPad Borg:

The BoltHub essentially “bolts” – really, it sort of clamps – onto the top right of your iPad Pro in landscape orientation, with an ominous-looking, short-run USB-C cable connecting it to the USB-C input. Once attached the device gives you a 4K HDMI slot, one slot each for Micro SD and SD cards, a plain old USB 3.1 port running at 5GB/second (suitable for thumb drives), a USB-C passthrough port to make up for the one you gave up to attach the BoltHub, and even a 3.5mm audio jack to replace the one that Apple so bravely omitted.

Have to confess the iPad Borg designation fits the BoltHub so well and I’d completely missed it. The iPad design just doesn’t look like it needs anything added to it, and yet it so plainly does. The BoltHub looks so wrong, and yet they’ve clearly tried so hard to make it look as unobtrusive as it can given the hardware limitations.

I reckon that barring accidental damage I’m probably going to get at least another year’s use out of my iPad Mini 4 before either the feature set of iPadOS 14 or fading battery life on my current device forces my hand on a replacement machine. Who knows, perhaps by the time I have to face this Apple will have Sherlocked the makers of the BoltHub by offering a similar device of their own? Different vendor, same issue.

[Via Subtraction.com]

Aaaaarrrrgggghhhhh!

For some bizarre reason my copy of WordPress insists on truncating the post I’ve just made to http://soreeyes.org/2019/09/a-tool-using-animal/. I will probably be experimenting with alternative themes and so on over the next few hours until I get to the bottom of this. The entire post shows up just fine in preview, but is horribly truncated once published. The content is in WordPress OK, but something about how the installed theme wants to present that post is screwed up.

This is the sort of thing that prompted me to switch to Jekyll a few years ago: the seductive ease of use a CMS like WordPress offers just makes the inevitable betrayal when something goes wrong all the more infuriating…

Normal service will be resumed at some point.

[Update: fixed! Looks like something about my using ‘…’ carelessly upset my current theme. I may still spend some time today experimenting with different themes to see whether there’s a decent workaround for this limitation.]

A Tool Using Animal

Reading Wired’s Fans Are Better Than Tech at Organizing Information Online

At a time when we’re trying to figure out how to make the internet livable for humans, without exploiting other humans in the process, AO3 (AO3, to its friends) offers something the rest of tech could learn from.

… mostly served to remind me of how far the story was to some extent just echoing the story that Maciej Cegłowski told several years ago about the beautiful moment when Pinboard met fandom…

[In the wake of the owners of Del.icio.us deciding to redesign their user interface in such a way as to render Del.icio.us useless to a small but very important segment of fandom.] Being a canny businessman, I posted a gentle reminder that there was still a bookmarking site that let you search on a slash tag.

So fandom dispatched a probe to see if I was worth further study. The emissaries talked to me a bit and explained that my site was missing some features that fans relied on.

In my foolishness I asked, “Could you make me a list of those features? I’ll take a look, maybe some of it is easy to implement.”

Oh yes, they could make make a list.

I had summoned a very friendly Balrog.

Honestly, the full article/talk is very much worth reading.

[Via BrettTerpstra.com]

The Hooded Swan series

James Nicoll reminds us of Brian M. Stableford’s Hooded Swan series, which I adored back in the late 1970/early 1980s:

The Hooded Swan stories are gloomy and morose to the point of parody. If it were possible for space to be overcast and drizzling, it would be so everywhere Grainger goes.

I have to confess that I barely even noticed this. Then again, it was the 1970s and I was British.

[Stableford’s…] later work is more ambitious, but not always as enjoyable as these stories. Though perhaps “enjoyable” is not the right word. They’re readable. Perhaps they would have been more enjoyable if the protagonist hadn’t been an antisocial depressive.

If you are looking for morose space opera told from the point of view of a misanthrope, featuring puzzles with depressing answers, you might like this series.

I feel like being a fan of this series set me up to fully enjoy Ian M Banks’ Culture novels. The Banks novels were set in a very different universe and starred a very much more capable set of protagonists who would have looked on in amusement at the crudity of the technology that Grainger and co were blundering around using in their attempt to understand their little corner of the universe1 but it feels as if slumming it in the technological dark ages with Stableford’s crew was necessary for me to fully enjoy the very different view of the universe granted to the agents of the Culture.