Larry Hosken: New

SF folks, what excellent voter recommendations/endorsements am I overlooking? I'm looking for such that explain their thinking, not just say Yes on this, No on that. Here's the stuff I'm slogging through so far (or not, as noted): Bonus points for info on the Judge thing, for which the info I'm finding seems kinda skimpy. Is there some lawyer organization that does something for those?

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2016-05-19T22:19:21

Book Report: Dragnet Nation

In which a reporter explores preserving privacy, trying out tools and processes to keep governments and companies from learning about her. This book could easily have devolved into tinfoil-hattery, but the writer's pretty even-keeled. (I might not agree with all her choices. But this is quibbling along the lines of "Hrm, I disagree that you should be more worried about Google spying on you than about the NSA hacking into DuckDuckGo, but we'll probably never know who was right." rather than the usual "OMG this froot-loop read about a Panopticon once and hasn't slept since".) Since she is a reporter, this is higher stakes than you or I experience when thinking about privacy. If someone peeks at my emails, they find griping about computer programming and planning around burritos; I'm not a reporter. This book's author wants to protect her sources. She (correctly) anticipates that she can't live "off the grid" unless she's willing to put unreasonable time into it. So she tries some things and lets us know which seemed to work and which just couldn't be pulled off.

E.g., it's all very well to say you should use different phones when dealing with different people so phone connection metadata-miners have a tougher time mapping out your social network. But have you actually tried the logistics of juggling multiple phones? How much "privacy juice" do you preserve by leaving your mobile phone in a faraday bag most of the time (so that folks monitoring phone metadata don't know where you've been) versus the hassle that folks can't, y'know, call you because your phone's effectively off most of the time? No easy answers here. (Well, that's not exactly true. There are some things you can do. (Have you installed WhisperSystems Signal on your phone and made it your messaging app yet?) But they won't render you invisible via magical privacy fairy dust; they hide some things but not all.) But an interesting discussion of trade-offs.

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2016-05-19T14:22:40

Comic Report: The Twilight Children

I read this The Twilight Children collection that just came out, filled in the gaps for the issues I'd missed. It looked good. Rest in peace, Darwyn Cooke.

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2016-05-14T16:21:59

Sometimes the city doesn't break your puzzle.

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2016-05-12T23:20:57

…and the blood loss makes me pale, sympathizing with Kimmy's time trapped in the underground bunker.

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2016-05-10T23:40:01

Comic Report: Rebels

Happy Free Comic Book Day! If you want a comic book that's Free as in America (versus Free as in Beer), you can purchase the newly-collected Rebels. It's tales if the American Revolution. Mostly from the point of view of a woodsman under Ethan Allen. There are explosions and romance and grit.

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2016-05-07T21:28:07

Jotting Notes on Issac Kelly's Adventure Design Group talk

Issac Kelly has done technical things for Nonchalance and at some places I hadn't heard of. He's made gizmos and web sites. I was hoping to hear about those, but instead he talked more about project management. I guess he wanted a topic that everyone could enjoy? (Or maybe it's a topic he's had to impress upon some not-so-teamworky folks?) A couple of points used the motivating technical example of the Qwa͑̍̐z' Gallery wand dispenser, a highly specialized vending machine. The good news is that I found myself agreeing with this talk. The bad news is that I wasn't going to learn much from an introductory lecture about project management, having picked up that much from the school of hard knocks acquired when projects tumbled off the rails if I may mix metaphors and sorry what was the question? Oh yes. All in all an agreeable evening of nodding along. And it could have gone badly; my body's still halfway on Eastern time and it takes interesting topics to keep me awake so "late". Bonus: he used a big font size for his presentation. I'm still myoping around in my old-prescription spare spectacles, and apparently my distance vision changed a lot since they were made. But it was big text on a big screen, so I was able to read along as I nodded, and maybe the nodding even helped me to focus so there you go.

[Updated to add: link to video]

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2016-05-12T01:15:15

Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, even DC Metro

I am back from Washington DC. I have puzzler gossip. Folks there are organizing a series of afternoon hunts, a la BANG or SNAP or BAPHL. At the start of Washington DC DASH, Todd Etter and Evan Davis intro'd the idea to the crowd. They're looking for a name for this beast. I was going to suggest WAPHL, but then I thought that suggestions would best come from (a) locals and/or (b) people who like waffles more than pancakes if the name's going to be a pun on waffle sheesh. I guess I should write more, but wow I've been awake for a long time today see ya.

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2016-05-05T00:00:52

Photo: nerdy glasses, good griefBroke my glasses; hauled my spare pair out of storage. Can't remember whether I purposefully chose extra-nerdy frames to prompt swift replacement, but that's sure how it's working out.

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2016-04-25T20:48:38

Today I handed out puzzle pieces for Shinteki. If you're a SF-area puzzle nerd, you probably perked up when you read that and though Aw FOMO, I better not have missed a Shinteki event. Settle down: this wasn't a puzzle aimed at puzzle nerds. This was an activity for a TEDx event. There were hundreds of attendees, few of them puzzlers. The idea was that they'd collaborate on solving the puzzle. How do you design a puzzle to be solved by so many people? Now that I've watched the Shinteki folks in action, I have some idea. And I also know that isn't the only tricky part. In real time, they had to figure out which pieces of information to give the players. Players "earned" bits of the puzzle by carrying out tasks. Depending on how confident GC was that someone would solve this beast in time, GC could reward players with bigger or smaller bits of the puzzle. It sounds impossible, but after having watched them in action, I think I have some idea of how to read a crowd's reaction to a puzzle. It was kind of tricky since these weren't puzzlers, though. Some of them sounded pretty baffled, but it was just because they hadn't encountered something like this before. Once you told them they were looking for a secret message, they hunkered down. But some of them stayed baffled. What if they had all stayed baffled? I guess in practice that doesn't really happen for large crowds. Assuming you're not running the puzzle tent at the clueless circus, some members of the audience will pick up on what's going on. It's the law of averages or something.

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2016-04-25T03:25:23

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