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Reading notes on the 2015 Hugo Awards

This is a slightly cleaned-up version of the notes I made for myself while going through the 2015 Hugo Awards voter's pack, set down here in case anyone's interested, what with the awards happening today and everything.

For every category not listed here, I either ran out of time and didn't vote, or my though process wasn't in-depth enough to be worth recording.

Possible spoilers ahead.

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Regarding the entries from the Puppies' voting blocs, most of them turned out to be poor to mediocre. If that's the very best SF&F that they deem ideologically acceptable, I can see why it hasn't previously had much success getting on the ballot. They've pretty much demonstrated, hilariously thoroughly, that it's crapness that keeps their approved works from getting nominated, not some shadowy radical-left cabal. There were a few Puppy entries that I enjoyed reading, to be fair, but nothing that clearly stood out as award material. I will, however, say that I reckon Kary English is capable of Hugo-winning writing, and I hope to see some of her work nominated in future years under fairer circumstances.



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(no subject)

(French lesson, 1993 or thereabouts)

Teacher: What is a return ticket in French, Paul?
Paul: Aller et retour, Miss.
Teacher: What is a single, Chris?
Chris: Er, just to there, Miss.




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The Horror of Pigeon Street

I think we need to talk about Pigeon Street. For anyone who wasn't a small child in early-80s Britain, Pigeon Street was an animated series about the various residents of the titular city street. It had a colourful cast of characters, such as Clara the truck driver, Mr. Jupiter the astronomer, William the window cleaner, Mr. Baskerville the detective, and all their friends and neighbours. The street had actual pigeons too, of course, who occasionally played some minor role in the plot but mostly just fluttered around making cooing noises.

Many of the characters had their own theme songs, which ranged from catchy to the kind of earworm that stays with you for life (I'm willing to bet that everyone of a certain age has had the "Long-distance Clara" song going around in their heads since the last paragraph). Each episode featured a couple of these songs woven into a connecting plotline. This would typically be a slice of everyday life, with a few of the characters going to work, helping each other out, and dealing with the little problems of human existence. Simple, charming little stories about a friendly urban community.

Here, watch a couple of episodes so you can see what it's like:

Episode 1: "All In a Day's Work"


Episode 6: "Pigeon Post"


And then...

And then there was the episode "A Light in the Sky". This one starts out normal. The pigeons fly around a bit. Reg the street sweeper has his leaf pile scattered by Watson the dog. There's a song about Mr. Baskerville and Mr. Jupiter. Then, a few minutes in, it takes a sudden swerve into the bizarre.

The residents are puzzled and disturbed by a twinkling, dancing light in the evening sky. They stare and chase after it. It disappears after luring all the characters to the top of a tower block. The next day, they show lingering confusion and strange behaviour. The light is never explained, even in the frankly creepy song that ends the episode. It's just some unknowable, sanity-challenging entity that human minds cannot comprehend.



It's not even as though this happened when the creators ran out of ideas. This was episode 2.

Let me tell you, it is distinctly unsettling as a pre-school child to have your cute cartoon show descend into cosmic horror. Decades later, I still can hear the weird piping sounds. The unearthly geometries still haunt my waking thoughts and seep into my dreams. What was the light in the sky? WHAT WAS THE LIGHT IN THE SKY?
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More computer bits!

I am definitely going to have to move out in a few weeks, as the landlady has decided she doesn't have time to deal with letting individual rooms in the house, and wants to get a letting agent to manage it for her. I don't want to rent a whole house or deal with some greasy wazzock in a shiny suit, so it's time to find somewhere else. Bother.

The following things have turned up during packing. They are free to a good home. Please comment if you would like any of them!
  • Bay Networks/Nortel 24-port Ethernet switch (BayStack 350-24T). I think I have a PDF manual for it somewhere.
  • A couple of PS/2 keyboards, untested.
And vintage CPUs galore:
  • AMD K6-2 350 MHz CPU (Super Socket 7).
  • Intel Pentium MMX 233 MHz CPU (Super Socket 7).
  • Intel Overdrive CPU (DX40DP100, replaces a 486SX). Built-in heatsink.
  • Intel 486DX-33 CPU with heatsink and fan.
Some of the stuff from my previous post is also still available, including the Unix workstation hardware. This entry was originally posted at http://pfy.dreamwidth.org/2943.html. You can comment there under your LiveJournal name by using OpenID (comment count unavailable comments so far).
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Free computers!

I 'm clearing out as much stuff as possible, because it looks like I'll need to move house soon. This means the following workstations and PC bits are all free to a good home:
  • Asus A7A133 motherboard with 1GHz Duron processor (with heatsink and fan). I can also give you a couple of PC133 memory sticks for this if you like.
  • 1.7GHz Celeron processor and motherboard. Needs a CMOS battery and a CPU fan, and is therefore untested. Has onboard sound and Ethernet. Comes in a mini tower case.
  • Matched pair of 1.7GHz Xeon processors (http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=27262). They're in a motherboard and tower case, but since it's some weird Dell server I'm not sure how much use it is.
  • About 50 floppies, with and without various bits of software on them. Relive the baffling mid-90s obsession with installing poorly-drawn novelty icons for your desktop.
  • Internal SCSI CD-ROM drive.
  • SGI Indy with 17" monitor. Needs a standard PS/2 keyboard and mouse, which I can probably supply if necessary. Currently running some old version of Debian Linux, I think.
  • Two DEC 3000 workstations. Half a gig of RAM each (which was jaw-droppingly impressive for 1993). No monitor, but will work fine with a serial console. Will run NetBSD fine, but Linux hadn't been ported to these things last time I checked. One has some sort of tape drive, the other has a caddy-style CD-ROM drive. I can provide tray-style CD-ROM drives that should work with these. I also have a PDF manual for them somewhere.
  • VT420 terminal. White phosphor. Could be a nice retro interface for one of the above DEC workstations! Has a cable to connect it to a standard 9-pin serial port.
  • External 5.25" floppy drive with SCSI connector.
  • External SCSI CD-ROM drive (untested).

All of them worked when last powered up, unless otherwise stated. Please offer them a home! This entry was originally posted at http://pfy.dreamwidth.org/2802.html. You can comment there under your LiveJournal name by using OpenID ( comments so far).
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Notes on TRON: Legacy

Notes on TRON: Legacy
  • It doesn't suck. It's not an all-time classic, but it's shiny and decently enjoyable. It's always a relief to get a sequel that is not facepalmingly poor.
  • Lots of references to the first film, some rather subtle (such as the hoarding above Flynn's arcade). I'm sure I missed some, not having seen the original for years.
  • Shiny.
  • Some of the references are purely for computer geeks ("Backus" and "Cray" as programs on the Game Grid?).
  • CLU is The Stig.
  • When the DVD comes out, I'm going to have to keep pausing it so I can read the computer screens.
  • Shiny.
  • It kind of ends before the plot starts.
  • They totally got the whole "beardy hippie free-software programmer as an action hero" idea from Richard Stallman's appearance in XKCD.
  • Did I mention the shiny?

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(no subject)

A leaflet got delivered to my house today. It was from the local council, announcing a public consultation about what services they should cut in order to fix an estimated shortfall of £65 million over the next four years. It looks like this:

Make Your Opinion Count leaflet

Hmm. Haven't I seen that design somewhere before?

Keep Calm and Carry On poster

I think someone is having a bit of a laugh, although at whose expense I am not sure.
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(no subject)

The BBC article "The Science of Optical Illusions" has a comments section at the bottom with the warning:
At no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws.
This comes the day after they reported the death of Benoit Mandelbrot, pioneer of fractal geometry.

Am I the only one who's now wondering if this means research has progressed a little too far on the Berryman Logical Image Technique?

(Hmmm, interesting, this link looks like it might have more inf`}ªÐ.ÿÿÿÿÿÿNO CARRIER

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Dreamwidth

Thanks to the estimable [personal profile] ses, I now have an account over here on Dreamwidth. If you're there too and I haven't found you yet, please come and add me!

I'll be crossposting everything to LJ for the foreseeable future, so if you don't have a Dreamwidth account, you'll still be able to see my woefully-infrequent updates.

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