We went to Long Beach Comic Con last weekend…

We went to Long Beach Comic Con last weekend. Had a good time. Katie dressed up as Professor Trelawney, we found some cool art and hit some panels, and J. spent as much time as he could playing laser tag and looking at remote-controlled Astromech droids.

10 Years of Long Beach Comic Con! (2018) – K²R

Back in 2009, I attended the first-ever Long Beach Comic-Con, an event that filled the void left when Wizard World cancelled WWLA at the last minute. I had a good time, and it had a lot of support from the industry, but I wondered how long it would last. Ten years on, LBCC is still …

Eye(s) of the Tiger – K²R

One of the tigers we saw at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park last week, and some interesting facts about the link between eye shape and ecological niche. Notice that tigers and lions have eyes with round pupils, not vertical slits like housecats…

Eye(s) of the Tiger – K²R

The tiger was a lot closer to the fence than I expected, watching us tourists with a disdainful look as it lounged in the afternoon heat. The fence mostly blurred out of view, but I didn’t notice a dry leaf in front of its face to the left of its mouth, leaving a brown splotch …

On Facebook

And more photos from the trip, which included an elevated rope obstacle course through the trees, lots of walking, and yes, some animals too.

Lorikeets

Double the fun: Appearance of the 22° halo during a total solar eclipse – Halo Phenomena

Cool: A simulation of what a 22 degree halo *during* a total solar eclipse would look like. It turns out it’s not just the brightness that would differ, because the corona’s a ring, not a disc!

Double the fun: Appearance of the 22° halo during a total solar eclipse – Halo Phenomena

At the Arbeitskreis Meteore (AKM) spring meeting in March 2018, we discussed an observation made by Jörg Strunk during the “US eclipse” from August 21st, 2017: A 22° halo was visible in cirrus clouds around the sun up to around half a minute before the onset of totality. Similar observations…

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On Twitter

The Les Misérables Reading Companion

I found about this a few weeks ago, well into my current re-read of the book, and started listening to it during my commute. It’s fascinating – definitely recommended if you’re familiar with the book or interested in reading it.

The Les Misérables Reading Companion

The Podcast about Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. In each episode, I will comment on a section of the book, to make it a bit less daunting, and hopefully help you enjoy it a bit more. No knowledge of French of French literature required.

When algorithms surprise us

Exploiting floating point errors for free energy is a good one. And lots of cases where the problem wasn’t defined precisely enough, and the simulation solved it in a completely different way than was expected.

“Sometimes I think the surest sign that we’re not living in a computer simulation is that if we were, some microbe would have learned to exploit its flaws.”

When algorithms surprise us

Machine learning algorithms are not like other computer programs. In the usual sort of programming, a human programmer tells the computer exactly what to do. In machine learning, the human programmer merely gives the algorithm the problem to be solved, and through trial-and-error the algorithm has t…

What is Mastodon?

Mastodon is one of a newer crop of decentralized social networks that are trying to put the users first instead of building everything around ads, tracking, and attention-grabbing feedback loops.

It’s open source software run on a bunch of smaller networks, mostly volunteer-run, each with its own policies and moderators, that can talk to each other behind the scenes, allowing you to follow and interact with people across networks. Each instance has a slightly different community and flavor, and each is part of the broader community.

I’ve been on for a few months now. It takes a while to settle in, and it feels kind of like the early, optimistic days of Twitter, plus there’s an effort to learn from the past and make it better this time. You can find me at @kelsonv@mastodon.social (general discussion) and @kelsonv@photog.social (photography).

What is Mastodon?

The social network of the future: No ads, no corporate surveillance, ethical design, and decentralization! Join today: https://joinmastodon.org Or, some reco…

On K2R

April Fool’s pranks written by neural network

April fools’ pranks written by a neural network.

April Fool’s pranks written by neural network

On April 1, people play pranks on one another, and a well-designed hilarious-but-harmless prank is a true work of art. There are lists of pranks online for inspiration, but there are only so many of these, and what do you do if your target has already read the same lists? I train algorithms called n…

On Facebook

Facebook Container Extension: Take control of how you’re being tracked – The Firefox Frontier

This is pretty cool: Firefox has a new extension that isolates your Facebook session from the rest of your browsing. That way Facebook isn’t able to track you as you visit every website that happens to have a Like button or embedded FB comments.

Facebook still knows what you do *on* FB, but this cuts down on their ability to track you elsewhere.

Facebook Container Extension: Take control of how you’re being tracked – The Firefox Frontier

The Facebook container extension helps you control more of your web activity from Facebook by isolating your identity into a separate container. This makes it harder for Facebook to track your activity on other websites via third-party cookies.

Help save net neutrality in California before it’s too late

States are stepping in to fill the void left by the FCC deciding that it’s perfectly OK to let cable companies make decisions for you about how yo use the internet. Here’s info on California’s proposal & how to contact your state reps to support it.

Help save net neutrality in California before it’s too late

California has stepped up and proposed the strongest protections in the country. But the telecom lobbyists are going to try to kill it. Speak out now.

Twitter is not a public utility – Mastodon Blog – Medium

We rely on Twitter and Facebook for communication, but their incentive isn’t to help us communicate – it’s to keep us active on the platform…and negative interactions are *more* effective than positive interactions for that.

(Reposting this directly in FB since it seems to be hiding posts from Buffer. The original was *literally not present in my timeline* when viewed on the mobile FB site.)

Twitter is not a public utility – Mastodon Blog – Medium

Isn’t it a bit strange that the entire world has to wait on the CEO of Twitter to come around on what constitutes healthy discourse? I am…

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