July 1, 2016

Life continues to go on (, , , , , )

by fluffy at 12:28 AM

A summary for people who don't follow me on Twitter or Tumblr and have missed out on all of my GLORIOUS TALKING ABOUT MY LIFE:

  • Got rid of the Beetle, bought a new(!) Mazda3. It's a lot of fun.
  • Am getting better about driving on freeways again (it helps that the Mazda3 is so much fun to drive and has a bunch of safety features that make me feel way more comfortable with driving on the freeway)
  • Work is going great, except my wrists suck pretty bad and I haven't been able to draw or work on music very much
  • But work is trying to help me out and I'm taking two weeks off soon and if that's not enough I'll look into medical leave
  • For the first of those weeks I'll be in NYC for Song Fight Live, come see me at the Sidewalk Cafe NY on Sunday July 17! (probably, there's a small chance I might end up at the other show on the 16th instead but that seems unlikely, but the lineup as shown on the Sidewalk site is complete fiction right now)
  • Oh and accompanying me will be Spud (on bass) and Paul (on drums), and Paul is probably my oldest friend at this point (we go back to when we were like 12!) and we haven't performed together since a single what-were-we-thinking show back in (I want to say) 200...2? so that's pretty cool
  • One of my cats keeps on shitting on the carpet and I'm pretty sure it's Werner
  • Oh uh I finally came out to friends and family and coworkers and transitioned legally and changed my name and gender markers, I guess that's kind of big news?

November 26, 2015

This thing still on? (, , )

by fluffy at 1:17 PM

What's happened since June?

  • Album came out, sales were better than any other Sockpuppet album so far but still kind of disappointing
  • Started working with a couple of music placement agencies, but nothing's come of it yet (and I'm pretty sure the first one just took the money and ran, ugh)
  • The thing I'd been working on for a year finally shipped, and I changed teams to a more graphics-oriented R&D position
  • Gave up on trying to get my vinyl pressed via FeedBands, so I signed up for Qrates, where it's been one of their featured projects for quite some time (and I even got a nice note from them) but still isn't getting enough preorders to get made :(
  • My wrists still suck, and I haven't been working on comics. Except I have but it's been going very slowly.
  • I've been completely infatuated with Undertale since the day it came out
  • Still doing most of my blogging over on Tumblr.

December 26, 2014

Resolutions for 2015 ()

by fluffy at 6:40 PM
  1. Release at least one creative work (comic, song, etc.) per week
  2. Lose at least 15 pounds (the more the better of course)
  3. Be happy with the things I have
  4. Spend more time with friends

September 11, 2014

DAVE's not here, man ()

by fluffy at 4:07 PM

For quite some time I've been using Ikea's (sadly discontinued) DAVE laptop stand as a keyboard tray. It's nice and height-adjustable, and can even go up to standing-desk height.

Unfortunately, it's pretty stupidly deep — much deeper than I need for my keyboard and mouse — and as a result it becomes pretty unwieldy to use in a standing configuration. Lately I've been doing a standing configuration much more (as it helps my wrists), and I decided to finally do something about that.

October 30, 2013

Thought experiments regarding online child protection laws ()

by fluffy at 8:22 PM

There have been a number of news articles about criminal cases regarding entrapment regarding online sexual predators via online roleplay. Early on, many of the cases made some sort of sense - they'd have an undercover agent pretend to be a teenager online and proposition people adults for sex and arrange a real-life meeting, at which the adult would be arrested for sexual indecency committed upon a minor. There's a lot of nuance regarding how laws are being misapplied there (especially in cases where the target of the investigation had thought they were chatting with an adult who was roleplaying, and especially considering there's never any actual minors involved in the first place), and sometimes they go ridiculously far such as setting up a situation where the adult believes they are setting up a date with someone of the age of consent and is also browbeaten into maybe, possibly considering the vague notion of also doing something with an underaged sibling (who also doesn't exist).

But if the grounds for arrest are based on the possibility of it having been a solicitation of sex in a minor (when no actual sexual act was performed), what happens if the undercover agent happens to start up a chat with a convincing chatbot? Who is liable in that case? The programmer of the chatbot? The person hosting the server? The people who provided the training data that made it so convincing?

What if the chatbot is an anonymizing/randomixing conversation proxy (of the sort that randomly connects two people and then causes them to talk to each other without either one knowing what's going on)? What if the proxy were also designed to change key details of peoples' conversations, like turning "14/F/Delaware" to "18/F/Los Angeles?" Or even rewriting phrases like "I'm 14" or the like? From one perspective the conversation is ostensibly illegal, while from another it isn't.

What happens if the conversation is between two undercover agents who each believe they are enacting a sting on the other?

I think it would be pretty funny if the FBI were to spend all their time tracking down the IP address of a sex offender only to storm some cloud computing data center. Then they subpoena all the connection logs of that node to see who was using it as a proxy... and find that the answer is, "Nobody."

October 4, 2013

Things that should exist: smart water heaters (, , )

by fluffy at 9:48 AM

Why keep heating a water heater to its peak need temperature all day when most of the time you only need a smaller amount of hot water? Why can't a water heater learn that you tend to use more hot water at 8:30 AM and raise the set point an hour or two in advance to anticipate the need, and then turn the set point back down to a more energy-efficient level later on?

Tankless water heaters try to solve this same problem in a different way (only heating the water as it's needed) but they have significant issues with TCO and maintenance, and they have a lot of lag between water being pulled and water being heated, meaning that it ends up wasting a lot of water as it heats up. They're also pretty limited in how much of a temperature delta they can produce, especially in electric models, and this can be a big problem in colder climates.

A hybrid approach (moderate-sized tank with a moderate set point, on-demand heating to get to the target temperature) might work better but it seems like it would bring in the worst of both worlds (even more maintenance, more space usage, more peak power, and still wastes a lot of energy all the time).

Obviously, a conventional water heater with perfect insulation would be great. If someone can figure out how to insulate it perfectly, that would be a start. (Remember, a lot of heat loss comes from the pipes that are connected to the heater in the first place!)

February 15, 2013

Power consumption results (, )

by fluffy at 10:18 AM

So, I finally got my next power bill. It was still pretty high, but not as high, despite my home being more comfortable during times when it was much colder outside, so I'm chalking this up as a win. Also, a huge chunk of that power consumption occurred during the week of lag between me being billed and be getting the bill, and it also took me a couple weeks to make all the improvements that went in.

The big lesson I've learned is that as soon as it starts to get cold, seal the windows. (Also, I should push harder to get the building's windows upgraded. At least on the alley side, where I live, and where the historical society doesn't care quite as much about maintaining the original fenestration.)

January 18, 2013

Power consumption update (, )

by fluffy at 12:10 AM

So, I replaced all the halogen and incandescent lights that I could with LEDs, I put plastic shrinkwrap on my windows, and I installed a new thermostat. And my power consumption for this billing cycle is already going to be even more than the last one. But that's probably because it's really freaking cold right now and the baseboard heaters can barely even keep the temperature inside at 64F, so imagine how much worse it would be if I didn't take all these measures.

One slight annoyance is that the LED PAR20 bulbs which replaced the halogens don't have quite the spread as I'd like (the overall spread was 40 degrees, a little wider than the halogens they replaced, but it was mostly concentrated in the centers), but I got some diffusion film and put it in front of the two lights that really needed spreading out, and that has improved the lighting in the kitchen immensely.

Anyway, dang it's cold here.

December 21, 2012

Happy new b'ak'tun! ()

by fluffy at 9:07 AM

Hopefully this one will be better than the last.

December 1, 2012

I love Seattle ()

by fluffy at 7:18 PM

Have I mentioned recently how happy I am to be back in Seattle?

It's like a really big small town. For the most part it feels like living in some sort of idealized 1950s sit-com neighborhood, except in modern times, with modern values, and in some alternate reality where people are sex-positive and gay-friendly and into random creative weirdness and appreciate each others' differences more than their similarities.

I have a real sense of place here. I love going to the corner drug store and buying random knick-knacks and having a neighborhood grocery store and a pet food store right across the street where they recognize me and genuinely appreciate my business, and I love that there's a drive-in burger shack only a few blocks away (that I don't go to very often of course) and that all these businesses are locally-owned and active parts of the comunity and there's just, you know. STUFF. And PEOPLE who aren't assholes to each other, because we're all in this small town together and just trying to make our ways in life.

November 14, 2012

Directions to my house ()

by fluffy at 11:45 AM

From the Pike Place market, keep walking up Pike street until you hit a hill. Then keep walking until you go past the occult bookstore, the sex toy shop, the bong store, the Mercedes-Benz dealership, the bespoke hardwood furniture workshop, and the LGBT research library. If you see a circus-themed bar-arcade you've gone too far. Don't try navigating based on coffee shops, scandalously-named sandwich places, or art supply stores, as they all sort of run together. Also, don't worry about the spontaneous superhero street fights; they're relatively harmless.

Oh, but don't jaywalk; the police take that very seriously.

October 8, 2012

One year on (, )

by fluffy at 8:40 AM

It's hard to believe it's been a year already, and at the same time it's hard to believe it's only been a year.

Chris was a very important person in my life. He helped me to feel a lot better about myself. He always encouraged me to do better and be a better person. At the same time he also encouraged me to just be myself. He loved the things that made me a unique individual, and gave me a safe outlet for expressing those things without having to worry about judgement from others. Above all else he just wanted me to be happy, even if part of it was based on something he couldn't understand.

He was a complicated person, himself, and he had a complicated love life to match. Some of that complexity — a part I didn't know about, a part nobody knew about beyond the slightest inkling held by his closest friends — was eventually part of his undoing. His last few days on this planet were marked by a sudden and drastic shift, and he must have been in such hell already that the end must have been a huge relief for him. All that anyone could ask afterwards was, "Why?"

Our relationship itself had its ups and downs. We usually saw each other on the weekends, but we lived and worked on opposite ends of the peninsula, and sometimes it was just too convenient for us to not feel like making the journey to see each other. In a lot of ways it was a relationship of convenience. Neither of us really wanted to make the big move to live together, mostly out of practical concerns.

Even two years ago I had wanted to move back to Seattle, but I decided that my relationship with Chris was too important for that, and so I saved the idea for a rainy day. I kind of forgot about it until a few months ago. As luck would have it, I would end up unpacking certain boxes of things in my new home two days before the worst anniversary of my life, and then see a widely-circulated article on the Internet that hit too close to home, and all these feelings I've been trying to deal with for the last year have bubbled over after being kept back too long.

I think it's fair to say that the past year has been the worst of my life, and I can only hope it will get better from here.

I miss him so much.

September 28, 2012

Effective cost of living ()

by fluffy at 11:37 AM

So, my condo sale in San Francisco just went through, and when all is said and done I got a pretty big chunk of change back from the transactions. This seemed like a good opportunity for me to work out how much my housing cost was, amortized over the last four years. (This is only counting the stuff that would have normally gone to rent instead.)

  • Down payment: 52500
  • Original mortgage + tax escrow: 2800*36 = 100800
  • Refinanced mortgage: 2100*12 = 25200
  • Escrow refund: -25000 (ish, I forget exactly)
  • Property taxes: 6500
  • HOA dues, first year: 275*12 = 3300
  • HOA dues, year 2-4: 335*36 = 12060
  • Insurance: 747*4 = 2988 (overestimate)
  • Kitchen remodel: 20000 (estimate)
  • Misc maintenance: 1000*4 = 4000 (estimated)
  • Cash out after sale: -167565
  • Sale prep: 6000 (not counting partial reimbursement by new employer)
  • Total: around $40783, over four years; amortized monthly expense: around $850/month

Obviously there's a lot of items that I don't know the precise value of but even at a worst case it means I was paying no more than $1000/month for a huge condo in a great neighborhood, compared to the previous tiny 1-bedroom apartment in a terrible neighborhood which cost $2500/month (and the rent was going up when I moved out).

Not that this works for everyone, of course; it depends a lot on market conditions and the ability for a home to appreciate in value (mine gained $90K, which isn't a lot over four years but it still beat the market in general. For comparison's sake, if I'd sold for the original purchase price then my effective rent would have been around $2700/month, which would have pretty much broken even with renting (but I'd have been renting a much less nice place).

It also requires being able to put a pretty big down payment (and I was fortunate that I bought when you could still put only 10% down) and being able to stick around for a while. I'd been planning on living there for much longer than just four years.

Still, it's something to consider, if you're renting but are in a situation where it would make sense to purchase.

September 15, 2012

The minuses to ownership ()

by fluffy at 8:54 PM

Home ownership can be very beneficial, both financially and lifestyle-wise, if things work out for you. Right now it's an especially good time. Of course, there's always the major caveats; the value can go down, you might have difficulty selling, simple maintenance can end up spiraling out of control, and so on.

This is also the first time I've run into another wrinkle, namely the joys of the house-of-cards effect on contingent purchases. In the past, I've always transitioned between owning and renting, because my rule of thumb has always been to rent in a city for a year before deciding if I wanted to buy. But this time, I knew I was going to want to buy again, and I didn't want to have to pay to move (or give up the lifestyle benefits of ownership, like being able to do whatever I want with a space and having better spaces available to begin with and so on). Since I was going from own to own, this meant doing a contingent purchase.

March 26, 2012

The $15,000 dishwasher (, )

by fluffy at 8:36 PM

My kitchen is almost done being rebuilt. So I'd might as well write up why it took a kitchen rebuild to get a working dishwasher again.

November 11, 2010

Early literacy causes prosopagnosia? (, )

by fluffy at 4:20 PM
From Ars Technica, Literacy may have stolen brain power from other functions:
The decreased activity in response to faces seemed to occur in those who achieved literacy during childhood (it was one of the only differences between them and adult learners). The authors suggest that the area that responds to faces normally expands with age, and learning to read may limit this expansion by putting nearby brain areas to other uses.

This isn't to say that you're going to be worse with faces if you know how to read well, although the authors indicate they're going to look into that to find out. But it does indicate that literacy involves a new specialization in some areas of the visual system, which ensure that the centers involved with processing language become just as active as if they had heard the words spoken.

According to my mom, I taught myself to read at a very very early age (she says that at 18 months I got obsessed with letterforms and reading the cereal box and so on, and I certainly remember being able to read at the age of 3 and wondering why all the other kids needed the teacher to read storytime books out loud), and I am also profoundly bad at facial recognition. So, while an anecdote is no substitute for data, it's certainly something to think about.

Frankly, I feel that it's been a reasonable tradeoff for me.

November 8, 2010

Some gender-related stuff ()

by fluffy at 10:45 PM
deviantART, binarism, and transphobia: on LGBT Spirit Day, a user took dA to task for no longer allowing accounts to sign up with a gender set to "other/unspecified." The results were not good, and it ended up motivating a huge number of neutrois and neutrois-sympathetic users to disavow dA and leave.

One particularly nasty thread on the support issue also finally motivated several people (including the person who started all this) to start preferring "it" as their personal pronoun (as I have for years, at least in an online context).

October 15, 2010

The most evil bit of electronics ()

by fluffy at 8:22 PM
So, I've always had tinnitus, my whole life. Of course, sometimes it's better and sometimes it's worse. But for the last few days I've thought it was getting really bad, especially when I'm at home alone in my living room where it's generally pretty quiet. But there was something not quite right about it: it had a direction to it.

Tonight I finally tracked down where it was coming from: the transformer on the cheap PS3 Move charging station I bought. Which was especially maddening since I had it unplugged from the charging station itself (to turn off the obnoxiously-bright obligatory blue LEDs) which only made it even louder. And it's at pretty much the exact same frequency as my tinnitus, making it really hard to track down or even tell if there's a difference between it on or off (because if I plug my ears, of course the tinnitus gets relatively-louder).

Also, as it turns out, when I have the Move controllers docked on it with it unplugged, it drains the Move controllers' batteries. So much for convenience.

Basically, I can't really recommend the CTA four-port Move charging station, especially if you have really good treble hearing, a case of tinnitus, and an aversion to REALLY BRIGHT LIGHTS.

October 12, 2010

Mortgage scams ()

by fluffy at 10:16 PM
Anyone have any idea where I should go about reporting an obvious, transparent, and possibly successful mortgage scammer? Unfortunately, the Internet is full of information about the scams (which are, again, obvious and transparent) but I can't find any information about who to report one to.

October 6, 2010

Charity ()

by fluffy at 11:26 AM
I have an accumulation of Stuff that I should get rid of. In particular, my old TV, my old netbook, the XO I got from OLPC's "give one get one" program, and a few random perfectly-functional cellphones and iPods and such. Does anyone know of any good charities to which I could donate them?

My criteria:

  • Must not be faith-based (or if it is faith-based, must not use their charity as a platform for espousing rubbish)
  • Ideally would use the item directly rather than reselling it or recycling it for scrap or the like (so, for example, I'd rather donate my TV to a homeless shelter than to Goodwill, and cellphones to a charity which provides phones to the homeless than to the "cellphones for troops" things that just recycle the phones for pennies on the dollar)
  • Should be tax-deductible
  • For the TV, should be willing to pick it up themselves or be in San Francisco
Right now I'm leaning toward Compass, who I donated a bunch of stuff to last time I did this sort of cull, since I really like their mission and they satisfy all my criteria, but maybe someone else has better ideas? I don't think the TV or the XO are a good match for them, though, so I still need ideas specifically for those. (For the XO I did find Aspirnaut which is my first choice, if they get back to me.)

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