Sunday, 26 February 2017

CGI, Computer Crashes annd Chinese Cell Phones

The word of the week is gregarious.

Feb 20 – Hacking Receipts?

Now, this is the way to hack old-school: do no harm.

It seems that earlier this month, an ethical hacker decided to educate people on the dangers of leaving their Internet connected devices unprotected.

How? By printing out messages on the devices, like this one:

Love the message AND the mech!

Unlike modern-day hackers, who are all in it for the money they can make by digging into unprotected systems, this hack harkens back to the early days of hacking when hackers just did it for kicks or, in rarer cases, to educate those they hacked about the dangers of what could happen if electronic doors are left unlocked.

Makes me want to shake his hand, when it comes down to it....

I'm eating a minimum of one of these a day, plus 5 veggie portions...

Speaking of hacking, I have to figure out a way to gain some healthy weight. I'm still 15 lbs down from where I was before Christmas, and I don't feel that's good - at all. I feel... stretched out, like butter spread over too much bread, to paraphrase Bilbo Baggins. People at work have commented on how I look skinny, and not in a "Hey, I see that diet's working for you!" kinda way. Not having any fat whatsoever on me means that I'm even more sensitive to being cold, which also isn't good.

Time for some more research... which is time away from writing, damn it.

Feb 21 – All Good Things 3D

I do so love interactive CGI... it's just meant for spaceships!

And what better spaceship to display than the Enterprise-D? Have a gander at the version of the ship from the last episode of the ST:TNG TV series:

    by michaelwileyart
    on Sketchfab
love that the artist has so patently re-created not only the exact dimensions of the ship, but also has lovingly added all the circus details that really make the ship stand out. If you manipulate the controls, you can also push the camera into the interior, for an unusual inside-out view.

Feb 22 –Traveling by Proxy

How about a guest blog this week?

A local writer friend of mine has been traveling the world for some months now, documenting her experiences rather thoroughly, to my delight. She's not afraid to go places and see things off the beaten path, which is wonderful to see... and she's certainly more adventurous than I am:

Looks like a doggone good time to me!

She also gets to see parts the world that few of us would willingly venture into, such as the recycling zones of the African continent, where scenes like this are commonplace as discarded North American items are reused or recycled for parts:

Agbogbloshie - where you tech goes to die and live again

After checking in on her blog, and as I'm writing my own blog, I am reminded that everyone's life is an adventure. Some of us are more inwardly focused, while others kick caution to the wind and let it take them wherever it leads in our wonderful world.

I'm quite happy to watch from the couch, at least for now.

Feb 23 – Shaking Quakes

This week, we had several earthquakes happen nearby.

There were three magnitude four quakes this week in the areas around Vancouver island, which are strong enough to make walls creak and move loose objects around on surfaces:

Too close for comfort...

It's just another reminder that the area where I live isn't exactly stable, like the massive plates of bedrock that underlay most of North America. Pressure is always building along the fault lines on the West Coast, and at some point in the next 50 years there's going to be a massive quake.

What's worrying is that a recent study shows that almost one in three of Victoria's buildings are likely to suffer enough damage during earthquake that they would need to be demolished, which is rather shocking in my mind. I live in an older wood framed 4-storey building, which current building codes do not require to be siesmacally upgraded by the property owners... and the cost of that would be extraordinarily expensive as it stands anyway.

In the meantime, I've yet again looked into setting aside money for earthquake preparedness. At a minimum, will need to have a decent medical kit, as well as enough supplies to survive at least 72 hours, the minimum recommended time before substantial organized help will arrive from other areas of the country. As I've estimated the costs at around $300 for survival goods, it's going to take a while to assemble these by piece.

However, peace of mind is something that you can't really buy when it comes earthquakes.

Feb 24 – Y not?

After a friend and I had breakfast today( my day off! )we went to the Y.

It wasn't to work out, but just to have a look at the place, which I've walked past on my way to work for the last few years but haven't really thought about getting a membership at, until my friend talked to me today about the possibility.

We were given a tour of the facility by a friendly staffer, who took us everywhere within the building, including some locations by the back ways. I got to see the gymnasium, the various weight rooms, exercise machines such as the elliptical and Cycling arms and even yoga areas and the hard-to-find boxing room.

In the main, though, it's the pool that interests me most.

If only this were the pool at the Y ...

At the moment, I really need to get some low impact flexibility exercises going, and the easiest way I can think of making that happen is to do so while swimming. I made sure to test the temperature of the pool water on the tour, and it was more than warm enough, which is a big factor considering how sensitive I am to the cold right now, being underweight and lacking body fat.

However, I think I'm going to wait at least another 2 months before getting a membership, in order to cut down on the possibility of catching a  bug from the pool water. Peak flu season generally runs from December to April each year, and anyone who is sick only has to take a swim to spread the germs throughout the pool. If I'm there at the same time, the chlorine may not act quickly enough and I can't risk that given my current lack of good health.

Which is a shame, as a warm daily swim in the winter sounds wonderful right now...

Feb 25 – Smoking New Cell!

As most of you well know by now, secondhand smoke is an issue that bothers me greatly. Living next to a neighbor for the last three years who is a heavy smoker hasn't been all that pleasant, but they're entitled to their choices as much as I am, despite the constant leakage of fumes from their apartment into the surrounding spaces which I feel that's an imposition on the health of other tenants.

However, a proposed change in smoking laws aims to change that dynamic in Canada:

Personally, I'm all for making rentals smoke-free, as the onus is on the tenants to meet the legal requirements that the Landlords are operating departments under. As for those people who own their own condos, it makes sense that it would still be the choice of the property owner whether they want to smoke or not, and if that bothers her neighbors then it would be a legal matter to take up with the strata board. Health Canada will happily take your feedback on the subject here until April 2017, several major voice heard, for yea or nay.

On an unrelated note, I finally caved in and ordered a new cell phone. My OnePlus One keeps losing the cell tower signals, and despite two factory reset this month it's still got other issues, so I'm throwing in the towel for this shiny new cell:

For $253 CAD shipped, it's better than what I have now, with good reviews!

I've been searching for the last 6 months for a cell I can live with AND actually afford, and I finally found one this week after waiting patiently. As you can see above, the phone is comparable to my current one, but for a far better price compared to the $475 I scraped together in 2014. It's an upgrade in terms of the CPU / speed, as well as a better screen and more RAM. Best of all I don't have to subsidize it with a 2-year contract( never again! )through Telus: it's my phone outright.

Mind you, it's doesn't exactly cost 50 bucks either, but with little help from my family this Chinese cell should be here in a month or so to replace my current Chinese cell and so alleviate the many little frustrations that I'm enduring daily with my phone.

Feb 26 – Crash, Loop and Boot?

Ah, tech: capable of such irony...

Thinking ahead, I installed a new backup program today, called Acronis True Image, to make better and more regular copies of my system in case of trouble.

Then, after rebooting, my Windows10 drive wouldn't work. At all.

insert colourful cursing here )

After spending a fruitless hour at repairs, I took time off and went out to a friend's for the afternoon to play a new game: Joking Hazard. Made by the good folks who put out the comi Cyanide and Happiness, it's a card game with a simple premise: make the funniest / most awful 3-frame comic and so win the round. Like so:

That's one of the LEAST offensive card combos...

As you can imagine, it's a ton of fun, and quite similar to the popular Cards Against Humanity, but with the difference that it has both visuals AND text. I played happily for a few hours, then visited my girlfriend at her poetry critique group over at Wild Cafe before heading home again... to deal with the ganked PC.

After another two hours of struggle, I happened upon several YouTube videos that suggested some processes to try that I hadn't heard before. Lo and behold, one of them works and my main computer booted up as though nothing untoward had happened -YES!

I immediately got to work on my blog and once I was done, I initiated a few different manual backups to ensure that should it happen again before I have a chance to do something more thorough, I'll still be able to recover the PC.

Whatta pain my tech's being this week... but I still rely on it. Onwards!

It was a pretty good week: work was busy but not crazy and I didn't have anything happen health-wise that I couldn't handle; even my digestion was untroubled, though I had a few after-meal moments that I think were related to rice of all things... so I'll have to eat less of that at a go.