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[personal profile] osewalrus
Apparently, if you don't control the government, you worry about getting censored. Article here.
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
So there I was, about half-past midnight, when I get a text from an unknown phone number. It's a double length message from my next door neighbor (I guess he changed his number, but saved mine) asking to borrow a cup of wifi, explaining that he (and his gf) was moving out at the end of the month, and Comcast had prematurely cut off his internet, and he was trying to get things done for school.

I asked him to stick his head out the door, so I could confirm it was indeed him. We had a bit of a chat. He hadn't known (no reason to) that I was moving too. So this was all very serendipitous.

I am now going to be gnawing my finger nails to the elbow practicing radical acceptance of what comes reminding myself I can tether my computer to my cell phone and have an unlimited data plan, if it comes to that.

[tech] Comcast: huh

Feb. 20th, 2019 08:29 pm
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[personal profile] siderea
I just got the email confirming my move from Comcast, and it says my new bill will be substantially more than my old one.

I pull out the old bill to compare, and the difference is that "limited basic TV" was $8, but will be $21. :[

The only reason I have limited basic TV is because the discount on my internet is more than its price. I will have to have speaks with them. Not amused.

[law] Paging Anon Commentor K

Feb. 20th, 2019 05:18 pm
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[personal profile] siderea
Paging Anonymous Commentor K! You have email (two actually) from me. If you
don't see them, check your spam filter - Gmail hates me/my domain.

[domesticity] More Moving

Feb. 20th, 2019 05:06 pm
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[personal profile] siderea
Called both FedEx and UPS.

FedEx gave me a time window the driver was likely to deliver the rugs tomorrow, and is passing along my request to try to deliver between 1pm and 3pm (which is a subset of the likely time, anyway). The do not need a signature and volunteered to just leave the package, but I explained I needed them to bring the 50lb package all the way up to my apartment, for which I needed to be there to buzz them in. (Not strictly true, but I want to be there so they don't get abandoned in the mail room, leaving me to schlep them.)

UPS's agent was unable to add special delivery instructions to the order until the package was more or less here, and told me to call back tomorrow morning. I politely explained that was not possible, and was incredulous that that was how things were. She apologized that it was so. So I'll try to post a sign tonight.

In other news, I called Comcast to set up my move, and they were completely reasonable. I can change my plans with them at any time, I am eligible to self-move (so it's free), and the internet will be on in both places on the move day, so I can carry the router from one apartment to the other and everything should be fine. Fingers crossed.
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[personal profile] siderea
Today, a kind of wave of emotional exhaustion hit me. I'm not physically tired – I slept really well last night, though I've not yet burned down my sleep debt – but I just feel demoralized by the overwhelming scope of Things To Do To Move.

Probably the most demoralizing thing to do is clearing off my desk.

It has finally dawned on me, like in the last 15 minutes, that my desk is where Important Things I Don't Know What To Do With go to die.

Uncluttering my desk in a more durable fashion will entail figuring out some other way to handle things I don't know where to put. Perhaps part of that will be getting better at figuring out where they should be put in the first place.

In some cases that is challenging due to form-factor. I have two plastic accordian files here, which I can't figure out what they can fit in, to store them, e.g. In other cases it is challenging because I do, nominally at least, have a place something belongs, but there's something wrong with it. For instance, it seems my volume of business cards has recently exceeded the volume of my business-card box; inversely, I used to have a box I kept on my desk into which I put mailing supplies like stamps and envelopes, but when I reorganized my apartment in 2016, it stopped fitting on my desk and got moved somewhere else, so mailing supplies have gotten backed up on my desk. (The answer turned out to be, "Yes. Yes, as a matter of fact, I had not so long ago bought a book of forever stamps.") A few things on my desk are things with newly developed homes that hadn't yet moved in, e.g. I have ephemera which belongs in the new ephemera box I bought a few months ago.

But then there's other stuff. For instance, I found the large manila envelope which was shipped to me, containing what are basically SASEs for disposing of unwanted medications. I expect that momentarily that will be super useful, but if that envelope was sitting there since 2016, or was circulating my place for years before that, I wouldn't be surprised. I don't remember when it was I got it; I do remember receiving it, and promptly putting a few to good use, but then I had some left over and thought they were likely useful in the future. I have no idea where to store such a thing.

Hilariously, I now have a new category of difficult to handle paperwork: things that I know perfectly well how and where to file, but belong in files that.... are now in storage, thanks to the book mover. I'm starting a "File Me When We Get There" folder.
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[personal profile] siderea
The lawyer interestingly did not say that it's not a trick. Rather the lawyer said that legally handing over keys does not constitute surrendering the apartment, but (perhaps recognizing the possibility for he-said/she-said shenanigans) suggested that I write up a document to give with the keys stating that handing over the keys does not constitute my surrendering the apartment, which I think is a brilliant solution, if I tack on the bit where I demand that either the landlord or the agent sign the thing and keep it myself, while giving them a copy.

Assuming I want to provide them keys. Lawyer didn't answer my question about what happens if I don't provide the keys, and whether the landlord can break in.

The internet seems to be saying it would take a court order to–

Aaaaaand I literally just got a txt message from the agent asking if I would be there to let her in tomorrow at 6:30pm. Which I was planning on being, anyways, so fine. It's not 24hrs notice, but I'll take it. She didn't try to strong arm me into providing keys, so a point in her favor.

Law 'n' order

Feb. 19th, 2019 09:11 pm
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[personal profile] bloodygranuaile
It's probably bad Black History Month praxis to decide to read a book on police brutality written by a white dude in February when I have a stack of actual Black history books by actual Black people sitting on my shelf, but I decided to read Chris Hayes' A Colony in a Nation anyway, for a few reasons. One, I really, really liked Twilight of the Elites, and two, at around 200 pages (and in size 14 type), it's significantly shorter than, say, Stamped From the Beginning.

While this did not blow my mind as much as Twilight of the Elites, it is still very good -- quite readable, covers a lot of ground, includes a lot of juicy American history that you don't always hear so much about in other places. Hayes spends a good chunk of the book discussing law and taxation enforcement norms in the leadup to the Revolutionary War, and why we have the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments that have been so completely gutted -- for certain people, anyway. He's also quite candid about his own privilege and his process of learning from others in a way that can be a bit inherently awkward simply due to the subject matter but which overall accomplishes its purpose, which is to bolster his argument that there are functionally two separate and parallel criminal justice systems operating in America.

I bought this book when I went to see Hayes do a panel discussion with James Forman Jr., author of the Pulitzer Prize winner Locking Up Our Own, about crime -- both actual crime as a real thing, and crime as tool of political rhetoric. Some of that stuff is covered in this book too, with an emphasis on the mid-crime-wave New York City that Hayes grew up in and its contrast to its current gentrified state.

A Colony in a Nation's extremely journalistic style also means it's got a great bibliography for something so brief. I have only read five of the works on it, so I guess I've got more reading to do.
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[personal profile] siderea
Le sigh.

Sorry, I just now heard about this. From CNBC, Jan 23, 2019: Patreon CEO says the company's generous business model is not sustainable as it sees rapid growth.
Patreon CEO Jack Conte said in an interview with CNBC that the platform will soon be facing the challenge of maintaining a profitable model as the company continues its growth.
Okay, so, this is kind of disturbing, not just for the obvious reason that, hey, I use Patreon to make a living, but because, you know, the way business models are supposed to work, when you have more customers, your profits are supposed to go up.

I am alarmed to be reminded of the old joke, from back around the turn of the millennium, in the dot.com boom, we told about the most half-assed web ventures: "We're losing money on every sale, but don't worry – we'll make it up in volume."

Now, this is not a huge surprise, because the Patreon fish swallowed the venture capital fish-hook. I suspect that what is not sustainable is the sort of growth their investor-predators want to see. Because I have trouble imagining that serving as a payment processor that's getting 5% is not actually quite lucrative and sustainable. Like, Paypal only gets $0.30+2.90% of transations it handles, and they're not crying about being in mortal peril. Patreon is not obviously providing more service, tech-wise, than Paypal, to explain why basically getting 2% more than Paypal does is insufficient to its operational needs and profitability wishes. And if Patreon's operational costs are half-again as much as Paypal's, well, presumably that's because Paypal has economies of scale on Patreon, and if that's the difference, Patreon's growth (in terms of customers) should solve the problem, not worsen it.

If the problem is that the investors are bleeding the company, then, well, it's not clear how doom could be averted. This is what happened in the 80s, the whole leveraged by-out craze: investors bought companies – profitable, successful companies – to eat them.

[domesticity] eeeeeeee

Feb. 18th, 2019 11:34 pm
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[personal profile] siderea
The rugs have shipped!

Overstock.com is saying they're estimated to arrive on Thursday!

And that they've been shipped by FedEx!

FedEx is saying they'll be here by the end of tomorrow! (Tuesday!)

ETA: FedEx has a way to sign up to schedule delivery times for a fee, but I can't get it to authenticate me. It suggests either having them mail me a confirmation postcard, yes, physical mail, which should take 3-5 days, or just waiting – I am not making this up – 30 days to try again. Also, their website is buggy and unprofessional in general, and they are trying to reduce customer service calls by having customers talk to a bot. This is my entirely unimpressed face.

Meanwhile, the rug pads from my same order are coming by UPS, due on Friday, as two separate packages. I signed up with UPS to provide delivery instructions (it's visually ambiguous what is the "front door" to my new building, and there is definitely a right answer and a wrong one) and it turns out that UPS doesn't have a freetext field for delivery instructions. They have a pull-down menu with no choices relevant to my situation.

I suddenly have a great appreciation for what problem Amazon is trying to solve by having their own shippers, and doing things like having them photo your door when they deliver and asking for feedback when they get it wrong.

So right now I have no idea if I'm going to wind up with all three packages in limbo.

ETA2: Ah, apparently Overstock has a better idea of what's going on than FedEx does. FedEx is now saying delivery by end of day Thursday, which is what Overstock said all along.

Ghost spies and Germans

Feb. 18th, 2019 04:02 pm
bloodygranuaile: (plague)
[personal profile] bloodygranuaile
For my first non-YA fiction of the year... oh, god, it's mid-February already. This probably explains a lot about how I've been feeling lately, yikes.

Anyway. Trying again.

For the BSpec book club (whew, that's better), we decided on reading Mary Robinette Kowal's World War One spiritualist fantasy Ghost Talkers. I liked her Glamourist Histories books, and I also love me some World War One content, and who doesn't like wacky shit about spiritualism? And the best part is that as of right now it's a standalone, so I don't have to worry about getting hooked on another whole-ass series.

The premise, more specifically than "omg World War One and spiritualism," is thus: Our protagonist Ginger is an American heiress who is engaged to a British intelligence officer, and she is working on a very secret project for the British military called the Spirit Corps. The Spirit Corps is basically a bunch of mediums who gather intelligence by interviewing the ghosts of dead soldiers, who are trained on how to report in to the mediums at Le Havre before they go off to get shot at. Shortly into the plot it becomes clear that there is a spy in their midst who is leaking information about the Spirit Corps to the Germans, and also murdering people but making it look like an accident. Ginger, along with some other mediums and Ben, who has been murdered into becoming her Trust Ghost Sidekick a la Jemima Rooper in Hex, must now run around northern France trying to figure out who is the spy (or spies) while being alternately threatened and ignored by military dudes of assorted nationalities.

The way spiritualism is developed and applied in this book is a really big strength, which should be unsurprising if you've read the Glamourist History books. In this case, mediums can sense ghosts and people's auras, if they are touching them or projecting their soul out of their body enough to get it into their range. It's all described very physically -- the auras turn different colors and shapes like a light show, and the whole business of loosening up your soul and letting it outside of your skin sounds genuinely exhausting. But as a reader I found it very easy to acclimate to how this whole sixth sense was portrayed. It doesn't read as cartoonish in the book but would definitely make a great animated movie.

Kowal also has a great feel for witty banter, which makes her work always a delightful read even when she's dealing with heavier issues like the incredible pointless mustard-gas-ridden death toll of World War One. Also also, there is a brief celebrity cameo by one bookish young Lieutenant Tolkien, which might be the most obvious Easter egg in the history of fantasy Easter eggs but I still loved it. (I used to be a really big Lord of the Rings dork, OK?)

Anyway. It was fun, I liked it, World War One was a giant shitshow, and I will certainly read whatever Kowal comes out with next.

[domesticity] Slightly Hoist

Feb. 18th, 2019 01:20 pm
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[personal profile] siderea
So. On Friday old landlord's rental agent called me about showing my old apartment on Monday. Today.

There is, legally, nothing I can do about this. Landlord (or landlord's agents) can enter the property with 24 hours notice. I think (not sure) there may even be a statute that says that landlords can specifically enter an apartment in the last month of tenancy to show it.

The agent was at least nice about it. She wanted to show it at 6:30pm and asked if I would be there, or whether she should get the key from the landlord. I said that I would probably be working (I am booked to see a client at 6:30pm, but people do cancel), and she should definitely get the key from the landlord so she could let herself in, but that I'd appreciate a text 15 min before arrival in case I was home. (I also asked that she not arrange any showings before 2pm, and she said it wouldn't be a problem in the "I am so not a morning person myself" tone of voice.)

So, okay, fine. I should put away any valuables and lock the HIPAA cabinet before going to work today.

I woke to a text from the agent: the shitgibbon can't find the keys to my apartment. Do I have a spare set? Could I leave them under the mat?

I am, of course, like WTF.

And then I think about it.

And it dawns on me that the act of relinquishing a set of keys is the official act of giving an apartment back to a landlord and declaring it vacant.

Now, I don't know that this isn't what it seems. The shitgibbon may have lost the keys ot my apartment again. He has done this in the past: lose the keys, accuse me of having changed the locks, and then found them.

Or, you know, this is a legal trick.

Meanwhile, the agent is nicely pressuring me to try to come up with some spare keys, or let her come by, take my keys out to be duplicated, and when can she do this and when should she reschedule the showing for? I confronted (in text) the agent about the giving-up-keys thing. And then texted that I don't think I want to do any such thing until I have spoken to a lawyer.

So, maybe this is totes legitimate, and just an unfortunate impingement on my time. Or maybe this is, yet again, the landlord doing something evil. Because I can't tell, they're not getting any keys. Serves him right.

ETA: I have, in fact, emailed my lawyer about this, but I don't expect him to be working on a holiday. So still interested if anybody knows the answer.

Meanwhile: you are not my lawyer, however: anybody know if this could be the trick I smell? (Jurisdiction: Cambridge, Massachusetts)

ETA2: Messages also left for the relevant person in Inspectional Services, Housing Department. Not that I'm planning on telling the landlord or his agent that. I don't expect they're working on a holiday, but it will be waiting for them when they get in tomorrow.

ETA3: Oh ho ho! Maybe I can refuse them entry:


A time capsule view of left revival

Feb. 18th, 2019 11:31 am
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[personal profile] bloodygranuaile
I liked Socialism: Past and Future so I figured I'd read some earlier Harrington. Selections at the BPL are limited, so I ended up reading Toward a Democratic Left, written in 1968. 1968 was around the time all the hopeful energy of the earlier '60s protest movements was souring into the weirdo hellscape that was the '70s, and Toward a Democratic Left represents an attempt to turn that sour turn around and channel it into something constructive. As with much of the Harrington I've read, there are certainly criticisms one can make, but it's hard to argue that wouldn't be much better off as a society if we'd collectively decided to take his suggestions instead of the Reaganites that we went with. 
A lot of the content is hugely dated, making the work an interesting time capsule if you're interested in the state of the 1960s urban housing crisis and how it differs from today's urban housing crisis. It's easy enough to see how the roots of many of our current political problems have roots in the failures to solve the last round of political problems, and in such detrimental developments as the rise of what Harrington calls the social-industrial complex, which is basically when big businesses decide they're going to fix all the social problems now because they're smart and successful, and we're all supposed to ignore that they're also the ones who got us into many of our current messes. It'd be interesting to do a side-by-side comparison of Harrington's predictions about the social-industrial complex and Anand Giridharadas' documentation of how it actually panned out, but I will have to give Toward a Democratic Left back to the library before Winners Take All comes in (there are like, 50 people ahead of me in the queue). 
Notably, Harrington did not predict the fall of the Soviet Union or the end of the Cold War, but he did predict that the main axis of world geopolitical conflict would pivot away from East vs West and mainly be about North versus South, with rich countries fucking up poor postcolonial countries in the name of aid and development. And lo, that trend did indeed continue. 
I do not get the sense from reading this that Harrington's predictions are genius works of fortune-telling, nor that they are particularly unique to Harrington. If you have a generally left worldview and do your homework, it is rarely shocking to conclude that the rich are behaving self-interestedly, and letting them throw their weight around is unlikely to do a whole lot to help anyone besides other rich people. Still, I think it's helpful to know that some of our current political woes are not surprises.
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[personal profile] osewalrus
One of our cats is felling neglected. It is not enough for her to jump on my lap. If I am typing, she will butt her head under my elbow until she receives appropriate massages.

[domesticity] Moving Further Along

Feb. 17th, 2019 09:17 pm
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[personal profile] siderea
Ow. I am very stiff and sore from being very out of shape and doing a lot of shlepping.

I hit up Target for some necessaries late-ish Saturday night - the new one in Porter Square – and decided to take the stuff directly back to the new apartment, so I could find out what it's like at midnight.

I lied on the floor. I didn't detect any vibrations.

The sound isolation between apartments seems very good. The sound isolation between building and the outside seems not so good – that is the windows aren't so great at sealing out sound. My window isn't right on MassAve, but the sound of traffic on MassAve through my window was loud enough to make me think, "Oh, hey, I should shut the window", but the window wasn't open.

The heat is steam heat, and it is abundant and very clangy. I have earplugs, so I assume this, and passing traffic, won't be an issue.

The hot water is very hot, and also abundant.

Today (Sunday), [personal profile] tn3270 and I drove over a load of fragile stuff that can be put away, out of the way of movers, in the kitchen and the closets. So my booze, and my glassware, and my fancy dress clothes are all now moved in. Am now ready to party. I also brought over all the outerwear I'm not currently using (the spring and autumn weight stuff mostly and my summer sun hats, and my back-up winter coat) and populated the coat closet.

Getting my formal-wear and outerwear out of the closet under the water heater that's overdue to blow is a relief. I still have stuff in there to wisk away to safety, but... soon. Not right now. Were I not so sore, I would be tempted to call a cab and take a second load over tonight.

But I think I'm rapidly approaching the point – like maybe one car load more – where everything left is either something I will need here until the day of the move, or it is something that requires the rugs or the furniture to be there already to go on top of or in, or will be in the way of movers and so should go in the truck.
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[personal profile] siderea

So a million years ago last December, I decided I was Done with BoA, and signed up for a fresh business bank account with a new bank. This one is with Webster.

Not much happened in the account in December, what with the various challenges of setting it up (about which I have failed to regale you, o my readers), but starting with the new (fiscal) year, I converted over to using it.

So I just got what is effectively my first statement, covering the month of January. The first month in which I actually ran money through it.

Turns out, the way Webster accounts deposits made at ATMs is that it batches all the checks put in at once as one transaction, and it batches all the cash put in at the same time as another transaction.

So, if you you go to an ATM and deposit a check for $100, a check for $91 and $7 cash, it will appear on your statement as a transaction for $191 and a separate transaction for $7.

Oh hello, this makes my checkbook unbalanceable.

I, like a normal human, record transactions in my checkbook in one of two ways. Either all the money going into the machine at once is one transaction (e.g. of $198) or I break each of the checks out separately (e.g. three transactions: $100, $91, and $7). What I do not do is lump just the checks.

At first, as I started trying to use this statement to reconcile my account, I thought it was merely highly unfortunate. I had been using the batch-everything approach (which is how the previous bank did things), so I was having to add transactions mentally on the statement to figure out which things to mark as cleared in my digital checkbook. Having to do mental arithmetic to balance a digital checkbook is asinine - it's error prone and time consuming, and exactly what I am trying to avoid by having a digital checkbook in the first place.

Then I got to the last deposit I had made, on Jan 31st. The bank only registered part of it - the cash part. The checks I deposited? Don't appear at all. So now I have an entry on 1/31 for $459.00, of which $240 has cleared. I have absolutely no way to indicate that on my register – except to edit in two transactions, one for the cash and one for the checks.

I'm very strongly inclined to close this account rather than change how I keep my books to be compatable with this. I am completely aghast.

This is the first I've ever seen of this practice. Generally "first I've ever seen of this practice" in banking makes me think it maybe is illegal. Certainly it's ridiculous.

Anybody else's banks do this? Apparently I'm back in the business bank account market, and I'd like to know what companies to avoid.
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
Apropos of the previous, is the sheilding in coax good enough that you can wrap a cord of fairy lights around it, without impairing the internet-conveying functioning of coax or otherwise leading to unfortunate outcomes?

[domesticity, tech] Coax and Corners

Feb. 16th, 2019 03:52 pm
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
Okay, I could use some help on this one.

The first question is a terminology question. What is the right term for "cable TV and internet"? Because I don't do cable TV, I have cable internet. Consequently, I find myself referring to the coaxial cable which delivers my bits as the "cable internet cable", or, worse, "the cable cable". Or sometimes just "the coax" which bothers me because it is describing the service by one property its medium (and I'm guessing that there are actually multiple forms of coax.) I mean, I refer to "ethernet cable" when I'm talking about what one typically uses cat5 for, because I'm pouring ethernet down the cat5.

Okay, whatever the answer to that is:

As previously mentioned, the cable cable enters the main room of my new apartment in an unfortunate corner. I would like my networking system – at least my router – to be on my desk, which will be ~ in the opposite corner of the room. Call these cable-corner and desk-corner.

My desk, which will be in desk-corner, is where my cable modem and router currentlylive. I even have made a nifty shelf on my desk for the cable modem.

As I see it, I have three options:

• Put cable modem and router in cable-corner, and just use wifi for my devices. I do not want to do this. I want to be able to plug my laptop into a wired connect when at my desk, to (as [personal profile] tn3270 put it) make the cat videos load faster.

• Put cable modem in cable-corner and router in desk-corner, and cross the room with cat5.

• Put cable modem and router in desk-corner, and cross the room with coax.

Just, right here, before we get to the interesting part of the problem, I'd like to know if there is some reason to prefer crossing the room with either the cat5 or the coax.

But here's what makes this interesting. I have two design constraints that make this much more challenging.

Let's get our engineer on, shall we? [cut for length] )
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