[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Wednesday, 2014-01-22

Alien Trespass

Filed under: Movies — bblackmoor @ 19:14
Alien Trespass

Just watched “Alien Trespass“. I almost didn’t, because the cover art and the title made me think it was probably yet another of those execrable Asylum ripoffs. (If that makes you think the Asylum films are terrible, you are mistaken: they are much, much worse than that. Seriously, do not ever watch one. They aren’t “bad” in an entertaining way. They are just plain bad.)

However, to my surprise, it wasn’t. It’s more in the vein of The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra´╗┐, although it’s played completely seriously, without even the deadpan humour of Lost Skeleton of Cadavra´╗┐. I confess I enjoyed Skeleton more, but I recommend Alien Trespass to anyone who has an affection for 1950s science fiction movies.

Wednesday, 2014-01-08

Pay attention, this is your life you are missing

Filed under: Fine Living,Friends — bblackmoor @ 18:57

Pay attention to the people around you. Your life is ticking away, minute by minute, and when they’re gone, you’re gone. Don’t waste your life staring at an object in your hand.

For myself, I am going to attempt to spend my time more wisely, with a greater awareness of who and what I am paying attention to.´╗┐

Tuesday, 2013-12-24

The true meaning of Christmas

Filed under: Family,Friends,Television — bblackmoor @ 20:07

How the Grinch Stole ChristmasIf I had to pick one Christmas special that sums up what I consider the “true meaning of Christmas”, it would be Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

“Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos, far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp, so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas Day will always be, just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart, and hand in hand.”

Sunday, 2013-12-01

ProFantasy Cartographer’s Annual: December

Filed under: Art,Gaming,Software — bblackmoor @ 10:41
ProFantasy Cartographer's Annual: December

I still haven’t taught myself to use Campaign Cartographer 3, but I really enjoy ProFantasy’s monthly special maps. Check out the December Annual issue for 1930s travel guide-style maps.

Grabbers and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

Filed under: Movies — bblackmoor @ 01:14

We celebrated the third day of our four-day weekend by watching a number of shows on Netflix. The best of these were from across the water: Grabbers (an Irish film in the tradition of Tremors and Shawn Of The Dead), and the first episode of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. These were both great fun. Grabbers, in particular, deserves to have wider recognition. As much as I enjoy the work of Simon Pegg, Grabbers was much more fun than The World’s End.

As for Miss Fisher, it reminds me a great deal of another mystery genre import, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. I wish they had made more episodes of that. It was a delightful show, and quite likely the first time I had ever seen Africa being portrayed as a place where people could actually live and be happy.

Saturday, 2013-11-23

Accounting for Kickstarter

Filed under: Gaming,The Internet,Work — bblackmoor @ 19:47

When it comes to accounting for the money raised through Kickstarter etc., most people seem aware of the 5% Kickstarter fee, the ~4% Amazon fee, the 1%-5% billing failure, and the potential for as much as 10% to be lost in chargebacks. What I don’t see many people mentioning is the amount of income tax the IRS is going to take of the amount raised (if you are a US citizen). In Europe, you may have VAT, which is even more complicated. Established businesses already know about this, of course, but since many people who start a Kickstarter campaign are hobbyists and startups, I thought this was a worthwhile thing to point out: keep taxes in mind when you are estimating how much you will need to raise to complete your project.

Wednesday, 2013-11-20

My opinion on the “minimum wage”

Filed under: Politics — bblackmoor @ 22:02
Monopoly money

Would a “minimum wage” be necessary in a libertarian society? No, it wouldn’t. But we do not live in a libertarian society. We live in a society where corporate interests are capable of distorting the market at the expense of human beings who wish to support themselves by earning an honest living.

Many, many people have erroneous beliefs concerning a “minimum wage”. It is true that a higher minimum wage would raise the cost of some items — but only those items which are currently manufactured or provided by people who are currently being paid less-than-subsistence wages, and only as much as the cost of that labor contributes to the cost of those items or services.

In reality, raising the minimum wage to a level that would actually permit a human being to survive through honest work would be a very small net loss to people who are currently paid more than the proposed “minimum wage” (whatever wage that may be), and a significant net gain to those those are currently being paid less than that amount. Yes, it is a transfer of wealth, but it is a countermeasure to the existing transfer of wealth that permits large corporations (not people, not small businesses — corporations, large ones) to use their economic power to artificially suppress wages.

No, a “minimum wage” would not be necessary in a libertarian society, but while we work toward that goal, let’s make sure that people suffering under the current far-from-libertarian regime can trade their honest labor to support themselves. When we do have a libertarian society, and a minimum wage is a quaint historical curiosity, then we can (and should) get rid of it. Until then, we have much larger problems.

Personally, I think the minimum wage should be raised to $15/hour.

Peer Review Lessons from Open Source

Filed under: Programming — bblackmoor @ 09:43

I recently found an article in the Nov/Dec 2012 issue of IEEE Software that sounded interesting, “Contemporary Peer Review in Action: Lessons from Open Source Development“. (Rigby, P., Cleary, B., Painchaud, F., Storey, M., & German, D. (n.d). Contemporary Peer Review in Action: Lessons from Open Source Development. Ieee Software, 29(6), 56-61.)

The authors examined the peer reviews of approximately 100,000 open source projects, including Apache httpd server, Subversion, Linux, FreeBSD, KDE, and Gnome. They compared these to more formal methods of software inspection and quality control, traditional used in complex, proprietary (non-open source) projects.

The open source reviews are minimal, and reviewers self-select what sections they will review. This results in people reviewing sections of code they are most competent to review (or at least, most interested in reviewing). The formal code inspections for proprietary projects are cumbersome, and the reviewers are assigned their sections, meaning they are often unfamiliar with the code they are reviewing. The peer reviews are completed more efficiently and are more likely to catch inobvious errors, but they lack traceability.

As a result of their research an analysis, the authors have five lessons that they have taken from open source projects which can benefit proprietary projects.

  1. Asynchronous reviews: Asynchronous reviews support team discussions of defect solutions and find the same number of defects as co-located meetings in less time. They also enable developers and passive listeners to learn from the discussion.
  2. Frequent reviews: The earlier a defect is found, the better. OSS developers conduct all-but-continuous, asynchronous reviews that function as a form of asynchronous pair programming.
  3. Incremental reviews: Reviews should be of changes that are small, independent, and complete.
  4. Invested, experienced reviewers: Invested experts and codevelopers should conduct reviews because they already understand the context in which a change is being made.
  5. Empower expert reviewers: Let expert developers self-select changes they’re interested in and competent to review. Assign reviews that nobody selects.

The authors go on to make three specific recommendations:

  1. Light-weight review tools: Tools can increase traceability for managers and help integrate reviews with the existing development environment.
  2. Nonintrusive metrics: Mine the information trail left by asynchronous reviews to extract light-weight metrics that don’t disrupt developer workflow.
  3. Implementing a review process: Large, formal organizations might benefit from more frequent reviews and more overlap in developers’ work to produce invested reviewers. However, this style of review will likely be more amenable to agile organizations that are looking for a way to run large, distributed software projects.

To be honest, I don’t have enough experience to have an informed opinion on these recommendations as they pertain to complex, proprietary projects. Virtually all of the projects I have worked on have been distributed, open-source projects, and nearly all of those had less peer review than I think they should have. That being said, the author’s recommendations and the “lessons” on which they’ve based them seem reasonable to me, and do not contradict with my own experience.

Saturday, 2013-11-16

Cult Movie Night — Johnny Mnemonic/Tank Girl

Filed under: Movies — bblackmoor @ 00:15
Tank Girl

The theme for Cult Movie Night this month was 1995 Ice-T movies. It’s a very specific genre. The first movie was Keanu Reeves’ first foray into cyberpunk, Johnny Mnemonic, which starred Keanu Reeves, Dolph Lundgren, Dina Meyer, Ice-T, and Takeshi Kitano. Fun fact! This was Dolph Lundgren’s last theatrically released film role until The Expendables. Lundgren’s street preacher is actually one of the high points of the film.

The second movie was Tank Girl, starring Lori Petty, Naomi Watts, Ice-T, and Malcolm McDowell. Ice-T got second billing in this, but I do not know why: Naomi Watts and Malcolm McDowell both had more substantial roles. I am glad that we watched Tank Girl last. Lori Petty was perfectly cast as Rebecca, and the whole movie was really fun. And Naomi Watts has really nice teeth!

edit: Unfortunately, I made an error in the scheduling of this Cult Movie Night. The blu-ray special remastered “collector’s edition” of Tank Girl is released this coming Tuesday. So we watched the DVD version. Ah, well.

edit: The Blu-ray has arrived! I’ve watched all of the special features. I love the Lori Petty interview. She seems so fun! The Rachel Talalay interview is really interesting, too. Tank Girl was ahead of its time in so many ways. Shout! Factory has awesome extras on almost all of their DVD and Blue-ray releases. It really is worth buying.

Next month: a Patrick Swayze Christmas!

Thursday, 2013-11-14

Harry Potter review

Filed under: Books,Movies — bblackmoor @ 19:22
Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone

I liked the first Harry Potter book and the first Harry Potter movie. The whole setting is nonsensical, but it was fun to explore this wacky nonsense world, and Harry was a sympathetic underdog. I liked each successive book and movie less, as they became progressively less fun and more dreary, while remaining completely nonsensical, and while Harry became progressively less sympathetic.

Dreary, nonsensical, and unsympathetic is not a recipe for a good movie (or book).

My favorite character is Snape, of course.

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