Meet you back here in half an hour.
What are you going to do?
What I always do - stay out of trouble... Badly.

Monday, November 07

Geek

Dammit, Scientists!

I always wondered why certain trans-Neptunian objects were classified as "cubewanos".  Where did that name come from?  There are plutinos (makes sense, planetoids similar to Pluto), classic and resonant Scattered Disk Objects (SDOs), Kuiper Belt Objects, and so on, which are mostly self-explanatory.  But cubewanos?

Turns out the first example found was classified as (15760) 1992 QB1.  Other similar objects were named QB1-os - as in spaghettios.  And that ended up being spelled cubewanos.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 11:39 AM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Sunday, October 30

Geek

An Awesome Kickstarter

Font Awesome is an icon font - that is, it's a font full of icons (kind of like Zapf Dingbats) specifically targeted for web and user interface design. Rather than uploading images or using vector graphics for your icons, you can just use text in a different font. Which is great.

Font Awesome is free and used by millions of websites. The current version is 4.7.

The Kickstarter in question is to fund the development of Font Awesome 5. The lead designer is planning to go back and re-create all the icons on a clean grid, to bring everything up to date and fix all the little inconsistencies that have crept in over the years.



(One significant problem I've run into with the current version is that the icons don't all line up - think of what it would be like if the text you're reading now looked more like this. Not as bad as that, but when you're trying to get a web page look just right, you don't want to have to stop and adjust the position of a single character. They're specifically addressing this in version 5.)

They're also adding a paid version called Font Awesome Pro. Right now, until noon EDT on Monday 31st, that's just $20. Through November 30, it will be $40 just $20. And after that, it will be at least $210 $250 and probably $300 or more.

I say that because one thing they've done to promote the Kickstarter is offer expansion packs of extra icons if they exceed their funding goal. Each extra increment will add a new themed pack (holiday icons, for example, or food icons), 10 to the free version and 40 to the Pro version. If you back the Kickstarter for the Pro version, you get those included; afterwards they'll be $10 each.

And they're now 1200% funded, and have unlocked 17 expansion packs. So the full collection post-Kickstarter will be $40 plus $170. Given that the project has a month yet to run (it's only been going five days so far), it could well double that total, pushing the price to around the $400 mark.

So, if you do anything web-ish, professional or just for fun, now is a good time to jump in; $20 will get you a license for at least 2000 icons whether you're an individual or a company with up to 100 employees.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 11:47 AM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Friday, October 28

Geek

Apple Takes Away, And Apple Takes Away

But mostly, they take away.

Samsung has been in the news recently for inadvertently setting fire to their customers, but Apple has its share of screwups as well.

With their new iPhone 7, Apple did away with the perfectly functional 1/8" headphone jack, and instead announced a proprietary Lightning adaptor and brand new bluetooth ear buds called AirPods.

Which are (a) ludicrously expensive and (b) quote not ready for customers unquote.

And their long awaited new Mac announcement consisted of two new Macbook Pro models, where the signature feature is that there are no function keys.  There's a touch strip instead.  And...  Nope, that's about it.

No, wait, they have DCI-P3 wide gamut displays.  That's a great feature; my iMac has the same and it looks amazing.  You don't realise what you're missing (unless you're looking at a screen with a severely restricted gamut, like the 2012 Nexus 7) until you see one in person, and realise that you're seeing colours that you've never seen on an LCD display before.  And if you work with video it's fast becoming an absolute necessity.

(And also Thunderbolt 3 - a year after everyone else.)

But it's a pretty underwhelming release overall.

Meanwhile, Microsoft, stodgy old Microsoft, has released their first desktop computer, and it's a thing of beauty.


The Surface Studio is the best desktop computer available today and you shouldn't buy one.  If you work in digital design your company should probably buy one for you, but that stunning screen is attached to hardware that is slightly dated and already needs a refresh.

Critically, it lacks Thunderbolt 3 or USB 3.1 support.  In an expensive all-in-one system you need the best connectivity you can possibly get to make sure that it lasts, because the alternative is buying a whole new machine.  Which, starting at $2999, is not an option for most of us.

My iMac lacks Thunderbolt 3, but it came out almost exactly a year ago, when Thunderbolt 3 was brand new.  The Surface Studio is a niche product that has obviously been in the works for some time - and it fills that niche beautifully - but if you're not in that niche yourself you're best off waiting for the Studio 2 or even 3.

Well, I'm hoping there's going to be a Studio 2 and 3.  Because I want one, even if there's no chance I'm going to buy one just yet.

(Back during the .com bubble days I would have pre-ordered mine buy now; expensive as it is, the sticker shock pales in comparison to the Sun Ultra 5 or the SGI O2 that now occupy the top shelf in my closet.  But unfortunately, fiscal sanity has taken its toll since then.)

I think this is one of the counter-intuitive benefits of the end of Moore's Law (or rather the end of Dennard Scaling; Moore's Law will survive for a few years yet).  When processor speeds where doubling every couple of years, you just shoved the parts in a plastic box and shipped it out.  It made no sense to carefully refine the industrial design and mechanical components of something that would only be around for a limited time.

Now that it takes five years for the core components of a desktop computer to start getting dated, it makes sense to make everything around those components beautiful.  The iMac is a very nice piece of engineering, and the Studio is even better.  I'm hoping to see this trend trickle downwards, because I want these things, but I'm not made of money any more.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 10:01 AM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Sunday, October 09

Geek

Azusad

Easiest thing to do turned out to be reset Windows entirely.  Azusa is working now.  And also suddenly has lots of free disk space.  

So, yay.

I'm not getting a signal on the HDMI port, but I'll wait for the post-install stuff to finish before I worry about that too much.

Edit: After poking around in the Intel drivers, I found the setting to re-enable the HDMI output.  This model  - a Dell Inspiron 15 7000, model 7548 - has dual graphics, integrated and dedicated, and switches between them dynamically.  It seems that resetting Windows caused it to forget how to do that.  Still better than the Black Screen of Death, but hardly ideal.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 03:59 PM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Geek

Git The Princess

This is 110% accurate.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 12:30 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Saturday, October 08

Geek

CursorSense + BetterSnapTool

And Apple, if you would kindly stop breaking essential functionality, I would appreciate it.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 07:12 PM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Monday, October 03

Geek

Crapware Live Blog, Part 71732

I managed to get the Xperia tablet to move apps to the SD card again.  The problem was not the size of the card, or the amount of free space, but the partition table.  The Android disk partitioning utility creates disk partitions that are incompatible with Android.

I partitioned it on my Mac (you can't partition SD cards on Windows (because fuck you, that's why) and the Mac Disk Utility doesn't work either, but you can do it from the command line.

Meanwhile, my Dell notebook got the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.  And now it doesn't work any more.  The Black Screen of Death - where the update kills both your display driver and your network driver.

And of course, updates are mandatory.

It should be straightforward enough to fix once I find the right drivers, work out how the hell you get Windows 10 into safe mode (shift-click the restart button, yeah, very intutitive that), and install them and reboot a few more times.

But seriously, Microsoft, you've bricked two of my Windows 10 systems with your crappy updates already.  If you're going to make updates mandatory, they have to work every single time.  Otherwise you can just piss off.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 10:37 AM | Comments (9) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Saturday, October 01

Geek

Android Adoptable Storage, A Review

Update: Most of the problems detailed below seem to be Sony's fault.  I've been testing with my Moto G4, and the problems for the most part simply don't arise.  So I'm back to blaming Sony again.
 


It's a complete fucking mess.

To update the earlier updates:

I criticised Sony for disabling adoptable storage on their devices.  Having used it, I now agree with them; the user experience is awful:
  • Some apps refuse to install to adoptable storage, and there's no practical way to know which ones this will affect.
  • Some apps install to adoptable storage, but won't run from it.
  • Some apps show that they are using adoptable storage, but when you check the details they are actually still on internal storage.
  • Some apps show that they are using adoptable storage even when you check the details, but when you add the numbers up, you find that they are still using internal storage.
  • Some apps that support storing data on normal (portable) SD cards don't work with adoptable storage.
  • If you format your card as a mix of portable and adoptable storage, you end up with two storage devices named "SD Card".
Plus (and this one is Sony's fault - it doesn't happen on my G4) the used storage numbers go negative.

There were three goals I wanted to achieve:
  • Store my SF magazine subscription on SD card instead of scarce internal storage. I've had a digital subscription to Analog and Asimov's since shortly after I got my first tablet, and have 39 issues of each.  They weigh in at 60-115MB per issue.

    This doesn't work.  The Kindle app shows that it's storing them on the adoptable storage, but this is a lie.

  • Move large games like Final Fantasy to SD card.  This doesn't work at all.  In one case I had Final Fantasy VI not showing up on either the adoptable storage or the internal storage.  It was actually on internal storage, and stays there no matter what.

  • Move many small games and apps to SD card.  This is mostly a failure.  All the Kairosoft games (I have 35 of them, everything they've translated into English) install on the adoptable storage, but only about a third of them will run that way.  They others either crash or request storage permissions that you can't grant.
And even when it does work, the Android storage functions are completely inadequate for working out what has been put where.

This is all on Android 6.01; maybe some of this has been fixed on the recently released Android 7, but I don't have access to Android 7 on any of my devices yet.

And finally, for some bizarre reason, even after reformatting the card back to portable storage, I can't use Sony's home-grown function to move apps to SD cards, because my card is bigger than 32GB.  I tried reformatting it down smaller than 32GB and it started working again.  So now I've reformatted back to normal and I'm filling it with my PDF archive.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 09:12 PM | Comments (8) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Thursday, September 29

Geek

Adopt-A-Blob

So, Android adoptable storage.

I stuck a cheap 64GB micro SD card in my Moto G4 Play, set it as internal storage, and it works.  Took a few seconds to set up.  Just works.

On my Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact, you have to enable it via adb over a USB cable, and once you've done that, it doesn't work.  Not at all.  Completely bloody useless.

The only thing wrong with the tablet is the limited internal storage, Google handed them a solution on a silver platter, and they deliberately fucked it up.

Update: So now I've reset my device twice, and it ain't got nothin' on it no more.  Fortunately I can sync it from my phone - apps, data, and settings.  But it takes a while.  Several whiles, really.

Update: And now, to add insult to injury, it won't use the SD card any more.

Update update update: So...  Since I couldn't move apps to the SD card any more, I tried enabling adoptable storage again.  It doesn't use it as adoptable storage, but you can move apps to it manually.  And - this is a big plus - the Kindle app actually uses it.  My Kindle library is about 6GB and wouldn't fit on the tablet before, so this is a win.

I have the card configured as 40GB adoptable and 80GB portable, which should be plenty.  If I run out I can get a 200GB card to replace the 128GB one.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 11:48 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Thursday, September 22

Geek

Moto G4 Play Plus Or Minus

My new phone arrived today - the Moto G4 Play.  It's not quite as physically impressive as the Xperia Z3 Tablet that showed up Tuesday.  The tablet is a premium device, and feels like it; it's just a premium device that came out in 2014.  The G4 Play is a 2016 release, but a budget model.

The back is removable to access the battery (replaceable), the two SIM cards, and the microSD card.  That's very practical, but makes the phone feel slightly cheap; there's just a little bit of give to the rubberised plastic rear cover.  (On the other hand, it's unlikely to slide off surfaces the way the glass-backed Nexus 4 does.)

In an expensive phone the plastic construction might be an issue, but at A$199 (US$149) I'm not about to complain.

As for use, so far: The screen is fine; only 720p, but that's enough for anything but VR, which doesn't really interest me.  It's IPS, but a cheapish one; there's a bit of a yellowish tint when viewed at a sharp angle, but it looks just fine when viewed at something approaching normal positions.  At one point I wondered why the screen was blurry, then I blinked a few times and that fixed it.

It uses a Mediatek chip with a 1.2GHz quad core A53 CPU.  This is perfectly zippy for basic functions - surprisingly so, about 60% faster than the Nexus 4, around the same as my late Nexus 5.  A high-end phone like the iPhone 7 or Galaxy S7 would three times faster than that, but that mainly matters if you're doing stuff I don't do on my phone - photo processing, videos, stuff like that.  If your phone is your main computer, it likely matters, but I have three desktop computers, two laptops, and four tablets to handle any serious computing.

The camera and speakers work - neither great nor awful.  Audio from the headphone jack is perfectly fine, and has a lot more volume than the Nexus 4 or 5 I used previously.  Maximum volume is far too loud on my Sennheiser PX-100s, instead of being the normal setting I use when I'm out and about.

It comes with Android 6.01 and about 11GB free of 16GB storage.  On a phone, that's plenty; the SD card will hold all the audio files I could want; a 128GB card equals about 2000 hours of MP3 audio.  (Okay, so I have about 2TB of MP3s piled up, mostly podcasts, but I don't need them all on my phone at once.)

Setup was dead easy.  I put in my WiFi and Gmail passwords, and it offered to import all my apps and settings from my Nexus 7.  I just needed to un-check Final Fantasy 1 through 6 and off it went.  That will take a while - it's about 100 apps - but that's a big improvement over selecting them all one by one in the Play Store.

Android itself is pretty much stock, with no layered cruft that I've noticed. I installed Nova Launcher - or rather, it installed automatically since it's on my Nexus 7 - and Paperland Pro, so it's set up just the way I like it.

I'm sure an iPhone feels nicer to user, more refined, but the current model starts at A$1079 and has only barely a higher-resolution display (1334x750 vs 1280x720), only supports one SIM card, doesn't believe that SD cards exist at all, and lacks even a headphone socket. (And don't even think about replacing the battery.)  So at more than five times the price it has inferior specs in several ways.

The only problem, if you want to call it that, is that now I've run out of microSD cards.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 01:13 PM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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