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Status Updates posted by efaardvark

  1. Just found a place that has "Science Fiction and Fantasy", and "Sword and Sorcery" genres.  WTF??  Why bother to have two separate categories if there's no meaningful separation?  "Science Fiction" IS NOT the same thing as "Fantasy", and it is annoying as heck to have to dig through the one to find the other!

    No name or link because I don't want to risk sending them any clicks.   :veryangry::veryangry:

    1. Wedgy


      I'm not in the profession but I always thought it had to do with them sharing a trope of speculative fiction in common. Fantasy with hard magic laws trying to be realistic, and SF having such ridiculously bad science or tech that it's basically fantasy. 

      Otherwise, I agree, it's a bit silly. I rarely see them not grouped together. 

    2. efaardvark


      "Fantasy" is not-real, by definition.  "Science" is real, by definition.  If I'm looking for something not-real then I am definitely, logically, absolutely NOT looking for something real, and vice versa.  I will certainly allow that bad SF can be considered fantasy, but that's generally the author's fault not the genre.  There's also stuff like Sword Art Online that certainly looks like fantasy, even though it is actually science fiction.

      That said, as a buyer I can't use a label like "science fiction and fantasy" in any meaningful way.  Lumping them together is simply being lazy and/or ignorant.  They might as well be just saying, "Here's a book.  You figure it out."

    3. Illusion of Terra

      Illusion of Terra

      Well, they might have a point. After all, you might need quite a bit of fantasy to believe that something was actually meant to be science fiction 😂 
      Also, with 'alternative facts' being a thing nowadays, who knows what's 'real' 😂 

      Seriously though, personally I'd expect quite something different from the 'fantasy' genre than from the 'science fiction' genre. Science fiction being something that while it might seem like magic still being able to be described in some way by natural sciences (and often related to some 'tech stuff'), while fantasy being something that functions on a completely different level (and often related to some flashy 'magic stuff').

  2. Looks like Spitzer project has set the date to end operations.


    1. Show previous comments  2 more
    2. Wedgy


      Omg yes I have seen those pictures but wasn't aware they came from the Spitzer. That is so cool!! Thanks Spitzer

      So when it retires will the James Web be doing about the same work, or does it have some extra shiny new tricks to show off? 

    3. efaardvark


      JW is the dancing bear of telescopes.  It is more ambitious, much bigger, and much, much more expensive.  So expensive that they had to make it an international project to bring in money to pay for it.  But with other users (and their money) came more requirements, a couple redesigns, and more delays, all of which made it even more expensive.  The people running the project originally said they could do the whole project, including life-of-mission operating expenses, for less than $1B (US) dollars.  Last I heard they've already spent $8B, and they haven't even launched yet!

      Anyway, assuming they do launch and it works as advertised it will be taking over duties of both Hubble and Spitzer, as well as an ESA telescope called Herschel.  (Again, they always throw around the "Hubble" name, but it will also see in infrared better than Spitzer, and both Hubble and Spitzer projects are being shut down in part to pay for JW.)  JW will have over 6x the collecting area (mirror size) and more than 15x the field of view of either Hubble or Spitzer so it should give us a lot of cool pictures.  There's a good comparison online here.  Of course, given the number of people who helped pay for it there will be a pretty long line of astronomers waiting to use it as well.  :D

    4. Wedgy


      Yeah no kidding, I bet the hype is on another level. I can't wait to see what it finds. 

  3. This Year's pumpkin-carving competition...


  4. I spent far more time than I should have today at lunch proving to myself that all these balls are the same color.  :D


  5. Did not smell smoke this morning.  That's always good.  AND we still had power!  Even better.

    The clothes dryer was not feeling well however.  Started the laundry and discovered it was taking forever to dry the clothes.  Gave it a once-over but this is a (very) old dryer that has been repaired many times already so it could be pretty much anything.  The dial to set the heat and one of the mode selector buttons don't stay attached.  The lint trap bracket is cracked.  The bearing for the drum that tumbles the clothes rattles and probably needs replacing.  So does the blower.  Etc.  Etc..

    So a not-so-quick trip to the nearby Lowes (hardware/housewares/appliance chain store) and I've got a new dryer set to be delivered and installed in a couple weeks.  New washer too, since it has a number of issues as well.  Got it at the same time as the dryer and it too has been repaired at least as many times.  Expensive (isn't everything these days) but a new washer/dryer every couple decades isn't so bad.  At least this way I hopefully won't have to deal with any laundry-related issues for another decade or so. 🤞

    Meanwhile I also upgraded Ubuntu to 19.10 "Eoan Ermine" last night in a fit of madness.  I was a little worried since 19.10 had depreciated 32-bit software support and updated the kernel from 4.18 under cosmic to 5.3.0 under eoan.  Bash went from 4.4 to 5.0.  Gcc went from 8.2 to 9.2.  Bumps on the 3d and AMDGPU gfx driver(s) too.  Lots of moving parts, several critical for the things I do.  Net result:  Looks like my local server running the RLCraft modpack is down for good.. probably a java thing.  (1.8 -> 11.0.. yeah.)  KSP is still fine however (checked that much before upgrading), as is my minecraft client/launcher (once I updated to the most recent version that is).  Spotify, Discord, and everything else I've checked also seems ok.  So far, so good.

    Can't tell if I'm winning or losing this week.

    1. Show previous comments  2 more
    2. Illusion of Terra

      Illusion of Terra

      Definitely agree to this. As far as I know, I don't own any 'smart' appliance so far. I really don't see the point anyway. Also, one of the firs things they taught me in engineering was that generally speaking it's a great idea to use as few parts as possible, because it reduces the possibilities of dysfunctioning elements.
      I am glad that there (still) are at least some things we can fix ourselves. I am given to understand that for example in apple computers it is usually not the case that you can even exchange simple parts. If I look at laptops nowadays with RAM modules soldered into it in a way that you can't really desolder it without damaging anything (at least with my primitive soldering irons), I really envy the days when I mainly used tower PCs.

    3. Wedgy


      We're in the same boat... Had our dryer smoking on us last year but luckily we just had to replace a part. Though it is on its last legs. Our washer is falling to bits now and the part to replace it is so expensive we've decided to just get a new unit entirely. Wish I lived in a warmer climate I could just dry everything outside but alas doing so here would just freeze them solid. 

    4. efaardvark


      Heh.. be careful what you wish for.  I happen to live in one of those places with a warmer climate.  Lately I don't know from day to day if I'm going to catch fire or just lose power.

  6. They're talking about my back yard here.  Glendale city limits are about 5 miles from my house!  I have friends that went to GHS, and I myself went to Glendale Community College after HS.  (To get my GED stuff out of the way at a cheaper price than the UC tuition rates, since GCC had a transfer program to UC Irvine where I thought I was headed at the time.)

    Actually, this is kind of how it was when I was in HS, now that I think about it.  You know, cold-war mentality and all that. :D 

    Based on Brian Ralph’s comics series, this adaptation from co-creators Aron Eli Coleite and Brad Peyton imagines an apocalyptic aftermath where Glendale High School students have carved up East Los Angeles into territorial pockets. The cheerleaders, the 4-H club, and the athletes are just a handful of tribes who’ve staked out their own domain in an irradiated landscape. Adults in this “Daybreak” world are either dead or have become ghoulies, zombie-brained walkers doomed to repeat their last innocuous pre-explosion thoughts for the rest of time.

  7. Currently I'm researching how long gas stays usable when left sitting in your car's gas tank.  I've had my car a full year now and I'm only halfway through my second tankful!  (FWIW, according to my calculations I've averaged 372.3mpg over the year!)

  8. So there's this gadget in the mall down the hill a bit from my office.  It consists of 3 poles, atop which sit 3 arrows.  The arrows have an LED matrix on the side that displays names of random stars, planets, and spacecraft.  The poles spin around their long axis, and the arrows can spin as well, allowing the arrows to point at the named celestial body.  Every 30 seconds or so the name changes, and the arrows on their poles do a little whirl which ends up with the arrow pointing in the direction of the celestial body currently displayed thereon.  Kind of a mechanical performance-art thing.

    Today I happened to be wearing my InSight hat (I have many hats :D) and noticed as I walked by that one of the arrows was pointing at the InSight spacecraft (currently on the Martian surface), so I took a pic.  The sun angle was wrong so I had to fiddle with the pic to make the names on the sides of the arrows visible and it turned the whole pic a little weird.  But here you go:


    (my cap ==> IMG_4782.thumb.JPG.323495382949cd1ae7e8bb3d445f2e6e.JPG)

    1. Wedgy


      That's really cool! 

    2. Ohiotaku


      I tend to wear ballcaps as well for ... reasons. :P

    3. efaardvark


      I got into the cap habit because my commute is straight into the sun both on the way to and from work and that sun visor thingy in cars always just annoys me without being terribly useful.  The visor on a cap I'm wearing is easily positioned while driving so it works a lot better for me.  (The other part of it is I'm also nearsighted, so I need glasses for driving, but I'm too cheap to get 2 sets of prescription glasses, one sun- for sunny days and one normal for not-sun.  😎  )

  9. Moderately excited to hear about a feature-length Red Dwarf movie...

    1. Illusion of Terra

      Illusion of Terra

      I was always more of a Stargate guy (at least when I was a child, then I somehow dropped all of it).

      On an unrelated note, don't link to that 'newspaper' 😂 

    2. efaardvark


      I kind of did the same with Stargate.  The first couple/few seasons were ok, but it succumbed to the mindset that said every season had to be "better" than the last and eventually went off the rails entirely.  By the time the Ori came along I had pretty much stopped watching.

      As for embarrassing media outlets, at least you don't have FOX.  :D


  10. Setting up a satellite link in the parking lot at work for the Great Shakeout (earthquake) test.  So if the zombie apocalypse comes I'll still be able to get to AF on my phone.  :D



  11. Weird.. today I've had several people ask me if my car is ok, or if I'm worried about it. 

    Ok, rewind a bit for some recent local history.  Over the past couple days my area has had some very dry, warm, high-velocity winds come through.  In the past these sorts of conditions have caused power lines to get knocked down into dry brush and the winds whip up the resulting fire(s) into extremely dangerous wildfires.  Fires, evacuations, and/or electricity outages have been a hot topic of conversation around here for the past couple days.  The power companies' web sites have hundreds of thousand of customers in the area on notice for potentially having their power cut off, either by the power company itself, ostensibly for preventing downed power lines from starting said fires, or by the fires and wind taking out the power distribution lines.

    So back to the strange question.  At first I was like, "huh?".  Did I not get a memo or something?  Did I park somewhere I shouldn't have?  Did they see my car on the news get run over or pushed off the road by a fire department bulldozer?  (Sometimes this happens when the fire department needs to get access to a fire and their trucks or other firefighting gear is blocked by cars parked on narrow streets.)

    In a word, no.  Apparently people are concerned that people like me with electric vehicles might have trouble evacuating if they have to because of the power outages that tend to accompany the fires.

    Again, "huh??", but with a different tone of voice this time.  Thanks for the concern, but of all the stupid things to worry about that's .... not a problem.

    First of all, I don't even have an EV.  I have a pluggable hybrid.  I do have an electric motor (or three) and batteries, and a charging socket on one side of the car.  I also have the usual slot for gas (petrol for you crazy furriners) on the other side, connected to a gas tank and a somewhat normal internal combustion engine.  Not worried at all here.  I'm covered either way.

    Second, if the power is out then gas cars would have exactly the same problem as pure EVs because gas station pumps run on electricity.  No electricity, no charging (duh), but also no gas.  I've actually had this problem before with my old (gas) car.  In fact, standard operating procedure around here is if you hear that high winds or dry/dangerous fire conditions are in the forecast then stop at the gas station on your way home from work and top off the tank, just in case.

    Third, that typically doesn't matter because gas or electrons, there's always going to be something left in the "tank".  (Unless you're one of those people who is always running on "Empty", but that's a whole other discussion.)  When the police/fire department comes pounding on your door and tells you to evacuate then you just get in your car and leave with what you have.  Gas or electric doesn't enter into it any more than the color of your socks.

    (That said, even if you're one of those "I'm not out of gas the car is still moving" people, chances are better your electric car will be at least somewhat charged.  More than when you parked it anyway.  Unlike a gas car, you can "refuel" an EV at home by plugging it in, and most take only a few hours at most to fully recharge.  Assuming you're not so extremely lazy that you can't even be bothered to plug in your car when you park it in your garage, chances are that by the time the power goes out and/or you have to evacuate you'll have at least a partial charge on your EV.  A gas car's gas gauge of course would still be on "E", and the nearby gas station that's out of power is not going to be able to help.)

    There is one actual problem with gas cars however.  It has even been reported on the local news, and warned about at press conferences with the fire department spokespeople.  Sometimes when people wait a bit too long to evacuate there's so much smoke in the air that it can clog the air filter and cause a car to stall.  Cars have to breathe too you know.  At least gas cars that rely on oxygen in the air for combustion do.  EV cars obviously don't have this problem.  (And again, don't worry about me.. my hybrid has an EV-only mode that's only a button-push away.)

    1. Illusion of Terra

      Illusion of Terra

      Interesting, never knew people would think of something like that just because someone has a (semi-)electric car. Probably seems still unusual for them?
      If Tesla brings out its 1 million miles battery out and graphene batteries really turn out to be all they are supposed to be (allegedly there already are car batteries that charge over 30x fater and go over 500 miles with one charge), or any other superior battery type, most gas cars will quickly become a thing of the past anyway.

    2. efaardvark


      Apparently there was a "news" story citing losing electricity during an emergency as one of the drawbacks of EVs.  Probably FOX.. they're always pushing the "burn, baby, burn", anti-climate agenda.

      And yes, EVs are the future. Not only do they make city planning SOOO much easier, their TCO is much lower because there's none of the complicated or fiddly mechanical bits like crankshafts, timing belts, or transmissions to go bad.  The writing is on the wall.  Daimler ("Mercedes") has already announced that they're not going to develop their internal combustion engines any longer.  Going forward all their R&D is going into electric drive trains, and eventually all their cars will be exclusively electric.  Even planes will be electric in a few decades.

    1. Wedgy


      I'm interested to see how this PR disaster will impact Blizzcon this year, especially so with them repping it as "the biggest" yet-- expecting D4 announcement as well as a new Wow expansion and probably OW2. They really screwed the pooch and they know they did considering how long its taking them to address this situation with their playerbase. 

  12. Aaaaand here we go with the brushfires now too.

    1. LonelyPoet


      Think of it as a sign from god or nature or whatever you believe in to change your ways. Burning bush lol

    2. efaardvark


      This happens every season, often multiple times.  Especially like now when the hot, dry Santa Ana winds come down from the desert, sucking the moisture out of everything (some places are reporting relative humidity in the single digits) and fanning every spark and cigarette butt into a full-blown fire.  This latest started along a freeway so my guess would be a cigarette butt.  That or an accident, but nobody is reporting one.

  13. It is always "fun" training up a new boss.

    1. Seshi


      Ooh, sorry thats the worst 

  14. Here we go with a 3rd straight week of pounding, sawing, and general mayhem as they rebuild/repair the building for the Mars 2020 folks. This is right across the hall BTW. I'm literally taking this pic from my office doorway.

    Actually, if you include the server room construction, and the power supply therefor, and the asbestos abatement, and the restroom repair/replacement, and, and, and.... we haven't had more than a couple months' break in the pounding for several YEARS now.

    Ow, my head...



  15. Construction work pounding on the walls at work for the last couple weeks.  At least I think it is on the walls.  Might be in my head at this point.. I've had a headache for two days straight now. 🛠️🛠️🛠️🛠️🛠️

  16. Wait.. is that a zombie hiding in the shadows there on the left??
    I might have played too much minecraft this weekend.  ;) 

  17. Just saw Elon Musk's SpaceX anniversary talk.  The guy is crazy... in a good way maybe, but still crazy.  Hard to believe it was only a year ago when he announced his "BFR", and now he's already got an engineering prototype that's supposed to start test flights in a matter of months, and "to reach orbit in 6 months".  True, those are "Elon months", but still.  It'll be interesting to see if he actually gets 2 of these rockets done in time for an unmanned Mars test flight/mission at the next transfer window in 2022.  He's also previously said that he might land one on the moon during testing.. because "It may literally be easier to just land Starship on the moon than try to convince NASA that we can."  😮  


    1. Illusion of Terra

      Illusion of Terra

      It is absolutely insane how much he has accomplished in a few years (especially compared to ESA/NASA). If he actually manages to achieve his planned goals in the next 5-10 years, I seriously think NASA should just hand over their budget to him 😂 

      My uncle (worked on astrophysics stuff) is a huge fan of his, so I always get the latest updates from him 😂 

    2. efaardvark


      I would love to see that happen.  NASA has their own planes and such for research purposes, but they don't own and operate their own "NASA airlines".  In the same way I'd like to see NASA do the same for space R&D and regulation and just buy transportation to/from space like they do for air travel.  Cost-plus contracts and Congressional pork seem to be the main obstacles to commercial space these days.  Don't get me wrong, NASA does a lot for air travel, safety, research, and regulation.  That first "A" in "NASA" is for "Aeronautics" after all.  I'd really like to see NASA do things the same way for the "S" and drop the semi-operational, perpetually over-budget NASA-sponsored programs like SLS in favor of buying commercial services from the likes of SpaceX and Blue Origin.

      NASA does have a "COTS" - commercial off the shelf - program for some space operations like satellite launches and cargo delivery to the ISS, so there's some progress there.  I'm hoping space travel will quickly commercialize as a transport industry like it did for airplanes back in the day.  The time between the Wright Flyer in 1903 and the Ford Trimotor (airplane used in the first commercial airline in the US) was only about 8 years, and the DC-3 was in service by the end of the 1930s.  I'll make allowances for space travel being harder - not to mention that there's no established extraterrestrial destinations to justify a scheduled service to - and give them a little more time but I'm really looking forward to the first regular commercial "spaceline" service!  :) 

  18. You know you're a game nerd when stuff like this rotates through your Spotify feed during your commute...



    1. Show previous comments  2 more
    2. Seshi


      Ooh, nice to know. Pandora is like empty

    3. efaardvark


      Yeah, I subscribed to Pandora for a while too.  Spotify is better.  I even found stuff like the sound tracks for games like Kerbal Space Program and Minecraft on Spotify, and the anime tracks are extensive as well.  A lot of it is covers of varying, sometimes dubious quality, but there's plenty of high-quality gems too, including quite a few OSTs, in both English and Japanese.

    4. Wedgy


      I find they serve different purposes. Pandora seems to always play more music I'm familiar with, while Spotify actively tries to show me new music. 

  19. I'm always kind of sad to see a library close, especially one as historic and useful as this place.  Got to be a clueless beancounter to decide that closing a well-used rocketry library is a good idea.  Especially one established by no less a figure than Werner Von Braun himself!  My dad used to work at Redstone way (way) back in the day, and I've actually been to this place so there's a personal connection as well, though I was way too young at the time to get any actual educational or professional use out of the place.  At least some of the content is going/staying online...


  20. Lunch was kind of a good news, bad news thing today.  Went for "sushi" (sashimi), which is a good thing.. Yum!  Was too hungry though and swallowed a bit wrong, which sent some wasabi UP into the back of my nose instead of down where it was supposed to go!  That'll sure clear your sinuses!  Thought I was going to die!  :D

    Moral of the story:  treat that stuff with respect and enjoy it properly.  Otherwise.. watch out!

    1. Seshi


      First time I tried sushi my friend in high school told me to eat it with a big gob of wasabi on top... went straight to the sinuses 😳

  21. We got to play with the InSight Emmy when they brought it by for a photo op here in the SFOF today.


  22. There's some weird .. food(?) that shows up in the break room's "donations accepted" snack stack at work.  Anyone seen this one?  Is it safe to eat?  あやしい :D 



    1. Illusion of Terra

      Illusion of Terra

      listen to the turkey, it's already telling you how great it is 😂 

      What I find kind of weird is the whole anti-gluten trend that is so prominent in the US, and also starting in Europe. Are there so many gluten insensitive people in the US or what's up with that? 😂

    2. efaardvark


      I don't quite understand it myself.  There was a time when anything added to foods during processing automatically became a bad thing.  Extra sugar, extra salt, etc.  One of the things added was gluten, to bread to make it rise faster so the baking process can be started sooner, and a given "assembly line" at the factory can produce more bread per hour.  Of course, gluten was already in flour, but the manufacturers added more (and more yeast as well).  Because gluten was an added ingredient, it somehow became something to avoid, and from there a murketing buzzword. 

      That much I can kind of understand, though I think the issue was severely overblown.  Now though, even stuff that never had any gluten in it - like drinks, or candy, or meats - have the "gluten free" tag.  It has clearly gone far beyond anything rational at this point.

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