Monthly Archives: April 2015

Huh. I’m a hipster.

Just had a realisation. When it comes to tech, I’m something of a hipster. I can legitimately say things like “I had a smartphone before they were cool” and “I had a smart watch before they were cool”.

Probably because I saw something about an Apple Watch again, and was just kinda going “I’ve had a smart watch for two years”. We had a conversation at work about it and everyone was going on about what it could do and I was going “I’ve had a watch that could do that for two years with a better battery life”.

As I said above, I’ve legitimately had a smartphone since before they were cool as well. Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007. I had a Lobster 700TV in 2006 the best weight loss supplement. A phone with Windows Mobile on it, that let me watch TV and listen to digital radio wherever I happened to be.

Now kinda wondering what the next trend I’ll get into before Apple does.

[Requiem] Harpy Report, April 2015

“Jessie, fetch paper and pens – there’s work to do…”

Notables of the night, I bring news from Edinburgh.

On the 28th night of April 2015 anno domini, kindred gathered to discuss the formalities of reclaiming the domain of Edinburgh. Those of us with resources and foresight had acquired a building for the purposes of temporary shared have and Elysium. While in some need of maintenance and decoration[1], it is fit for purpose.

Kindred of all the clans and covenants had gathered: a mix of those contacted by House Umbra, The Murder, and those who were resident under the previous Court of Edinburgh. In order to facilitate the smooth reclamation of Edinburgh with a minimum of in-fighting, a document of intent and principle had been composed by Alder Umbra and this document was read out to the room before being analysed by interested parties. After some deliberation and modification, a ratified version of the document was agreed upon by all parties present. Alder Hawkwood is acting as notary for the final document and the associated Oath, and can be contacted for a copy of the final text.

While discussion of the wording of the Oath was ongoing, the combined knowledge of the status of the City, members of the previous Court, and those kindred who had attempted to reclaim the domain before was gathered, collated, and plotted on a map of the city where relevant. Madam Connie of the Circle of the Crone is particularly recognised for the depth and utility of the information she possessed.

Once available information was collated, and the Oath agreed upon by the kindred present, the determination of Primogen and Prisci (to represent the kindred involved in the reclamation effort as noted in the Oath) occurred in the fashions inimitable to each Covenant and Clan. Regarding Primogen, Alder Umbra now represents the Invictus, with Mr Mitchell representing the Carthian Movement, Mr Gregor[2]  representing the Circle of the Crone, Alder Dragosesti representing the Lancea et Sanctum, and Mr MacGregor representing the Ordo Dracul. Regarding Prisci, Alder du Montfort represents the Daeva, with Alder Mahon Stormcrow representing the Gangrel (not to be confused with Madam Alder Stormcrow), Mr Swift representing the Mekhet, Mr Darroch representing the Nosferatu, and Mr Levin representing the Ventrue.

Having chosen representatives, a concerted effort was then put into the investigation of previous domain locations and the retrieval of documents within. Despite complications, the Notary’s records were retrieved but the records of boons from the previous domain had already been removed by parties unknown.

Upon the return of the adventuring party, the meetings of the Primogen and Prisci Councils were held, the outcome of which was an initial set of proclamations and positions for the kindred resident in Edinburgh. The Primogen have appointed myself to act as their Harpy, Madam Gregor to act as Sheriff, and Alder Mahon Stormcrow to act as Hound. The positions of Seneschal, Master of the Elysium, and Herald were left vacant at this time, though it was noted that Alder Umbra’s ghoul would act as primary caretaker for the Elysium of Donaldson School for the interim period. The Prisci have currently declined to appoint a Harpy.

A brief summary of the Primogen Council’s proclamations follows. Donaldson School is declared to be an Elysium and feeding in the surrounding area is strictly forbidden[3]. All of the previous Court’s locations are considered off-limits without permission of the Primogen Council. Local hunters are to be avoided where at all possible, except under mandate of the Primogen Council; violating kindred will receive no aid from the domain. Should a kindred unavoidably encounter hunters, the course of action decreed by the Primogen Council is elimination of the hunters rather than retreat; any such engagements should be reported to the Primogen Council at the earliest possible opportunity. All feeding is to be invisible, and any evidence to be disposed of without notice by any; any breach of this must be reported to the Primogen Council at the earliest possible opportunity. The Three Traditions are in full force. Breach of any of these proclamations will have dire consequences. Revelation of the location of Elysium to hunters or other enemies of the domain will result in one’s unlife being considered forfeit.

In addition, the sole representative of the Carthian Movement present was seen to be having a debate with himself regarding who should be Primogen for the Movement. Mr Mitchell also provided a note of levity to proceedings with a discussion on the taxation of recorded boons. Mr Byron of the Ordo Dracul is seeking assistance in the reclamation of his father’s estate from its current owners. Mr Levin has been most gracious in offering his assistance to his elders, and has distinguished himself in securing the position of Ventrue Priscus.

Amat victoria curam.

Charles Morganti
Harpy of the Thorns and First Estate

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. “Jessie, arrange with Theresa a plan for decorating the place – an Elysium should look like one.”
2. “What sort of name is ‘Tabs’?
3. “Set some of the dolls up in a hotel or something – somewhere convenient but out of sight.”

Hiding from Big Brother

I got pointed at CV Dazzle today. It’s fascinating how a bit of makeup or a hairstyle can make your face unrecognisable for computers.

Of course, LARPers already knew that – Facebook can rarely tell when someone in heavy makeup is a person, and the nose on some helmets functions in much the same way as a hairstyle in breaking up the face.

It’s not the first time I’ve heard of things like this. The common one I’ve seen is using a particular type of LED mounted around the face (in the brow of a cap or on glasses) to blind cameras by putting out light on a frequency that they’ll detect but other people won’t. I find the entire concept fascinating, and keep meaning to try some experiments with it.

My original thought about the makeup is that all they need to do is get a relatively clear shot and PhotoShop the annoying bits out. Of course the point isn’t to avoid that, but to avoid the automatic logging of your face and take control of your own privacy and when you get picked up by cameras – not to stop cameras seeing you at all.

That’s not to say it doesn’t have criminal potential. Blinding cameras so they can’t see your face (just a white blur where your face should be) certainly has criminal applications, but it also requires a degree of electronics knowledge, and is ultimately little more effective than a balaclava as people will look for the person who’s blinding cameras instead of the one in a mask.

Perhaps I should spend less time thinking about criminal opportunities, but I find it an interesting field to hypothesise in. As a thought exercise, there’s something compelling about finding ways around the Big Brother attitudes towards modern security from how to bypass airport security to how to stop computers recognising our faces. I’m not alone in this as both conversations with friends and the CV Dazzle and similar projects show.

Invisible was one of the other interesting projects that’s come out in recent years. It seemed to start off as an art project – something which worked but wasn’t meant to go commercial in any way despite the labelling like a product, but more recently it’s gone up for sale [1] and DIY guides have been published so you can make your own versions of the products. I was never that interested in it (interested enough to sign up for more information) but the concept of a product designed to erase your DNA samples was again something that intrigued me from the perspective of what can you do with it?

From a certain perspective, the idea that I’m in the public eye and being observed constantly has never bothered me. The idea that someone might monitor my emails (or this blog) for dangerous content and thus put me on some list bothers me a little more, but machine analysis of my life doesn’t intrinsically bother me or send me into fits of paranoia. I’m careful with what I do and what information I share but not to the extent of desiring these products as anything more than a curiosity. I am not a fantastic proponent of paranoid security, really, but I do see the advantages even if I don’t necessarily see the value in adding such to my own life.

This post has become rather more serious than I intended. Suffice to say that I enjoy finding out new ways to manipulate forensics and security systems, but I don’t particularly have a need for them outside of a hypothetical situation (except where it comes to LARPing, as my characters may be far more paranoid than I am).

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. limited run of 100, which reinforces the art project feel especially as it’s being sold by a museum

[Awakening] All My Life

All my life, I’ve been searching for something.

Something never came, never led to nothing.

Nothing satisfies but I’m getting close, closer to the prize at the end of the rope.

That’s when I found her. She wasn’t the nebulous truth I’d been searching for, she was real and she became my world. I put aside the quest I’d never been able to explain and entered a new life with her. I’d found something real and I wasn’t letting go.

All night long, I dream of the day. When it comes around, then it’s taken away.

Until the accident. Highlands back road, middle of the night, all blind summits and sharp corners on thin country tracks. We were looking at wedding venues that weekend and we were on our way back to the hotel. I still don’t know what hit us or where it came from – there wasn’t anything there when I woke up again. But somehow I survived and she was… I couldn’t let it happen, wouldn’t let it happen, and something broke that night. I found what I’d been searching for, the nebulous truth, and it didn’t help. I made a working that night by instinct, desperately trying to bring her back, to make her whole. All I succeeded in doing was binding her soul here, connected to my own.

Leaves me with the feeling that I feel the most, feel I come to life when I see your ghost.

Ever since that night all I’ve done, all I’ve cared about was finding a way to restore her to life. No matter what it takes, no matter what secrets I must learn, I will find a way.

And I’m done, done, onto the next one.

Done, I’m done and I’m onto the next…

The ponytail equation

I was doing some hairstyle research[1][4] and I discovered the ponytail equation. I couldn’t actually believe this was real. I thought it must be an April Fools that got into a Wikipedia article. Then I realised that I’d seen some of it before.

It’s the phrase “Rapunzel number” that causes familiarity. I’ve heard it used before, and that triggered a vague memory of previously discovering hair equations – possibly even this one. It still seems a little ridiculous, but there are people who have calculated stranger things (I mean, have you seen some of the stuff Randall Munroe gets asked to figured out?[2]). Actually, it’s entirely possible that it was something Randall Munroe wrote that caused the Rapunzel number to come to my attention, or it might just be the massive news coverage it seemed to generate in 2012, or it could be one of the times I’ve found interest in a video talking about how they do CGI hair (the Monsters Inc CG team put a lot of work into making Sully look like he had real fur – it was a massive leap in the technology at the time[3]).

Anyway, I just thought that the idea of a ponytail equation was a bit ridiculous and thought I would share it, even though I can massively appreciate the advantages such an equation can bring to the CG world.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. I wanted to make sure the hairstyle I was mocking was indeed a reverse mullet. References disagree on how a reverse mullet should look, so I’m not actually sure. It was basically something like an undercut ponytail – long hair along the top gathered at the back into a ponytail with a short back and sides underneath. I do not understand why anyone would want this style unless it’s something like how you keep a devilock out of the way when you don’t want a devilock, but he didn’t look like the type to have a devilock so…
2. what if? by xkcd
3. VentureBeat article on Sully’s hair in Monsters University
4. I did a lot of hair research… considering I didn’t really intend to do any.

[Requiem] Comfortable lies

I was given the phrase “comfortable lies” to base a bit of fiction off of. What follows appears to be an excerpt from my Requiem character‘s mind, specifically regarding the creation of useful tools and servants. It doesn’t really go anywhere, but does bring up some of his notions about how the kine and ghouls should be treated.

Normally I would share this sort of thing across my social networks, but it’s almost a little too strange for me to want to do that, so I’ll just leave it here and point people at it later.

The human mind is a wonderful thing. Given enough of a push, it can come to believe anything – it can even lie to itself and twist truth and fallacy so completely they become indiscernible.

Push someone to their breaking point enough and they come to accept it as part of their life, they may even come to welcome it. They forget that things weren’t always like this and convince themselves that this is better; they come to welcome a brief respite as if it were a month-long vacation. They tell themselves that the lie is true, that they’re better off, that the respite is better than a holiday.

Push someone to their breaking point enough and they convince themselves that they’re unbroken while they remould themselves in the forge you present to them. There’s no challenge in breaking someone and reforging them; it’s a long process and you often have to start from nothing. Convincing someone that they remain unbroken, that they have chosen this path instead of being forced into it – that is a much more entertaining prospect.

Those who survive the process are fit to serve – convinced by themselves that this is where they should be without the weaknesses of a broken mind. Perhaps they long for the day that they can strike back, but can’t imagine what they would do without you – it doesn’t matter as long as they serve; and the ones who think they deserve to end your existence will fight harder to stop someone else doing so.

Of course, the process also eradicates their candidacy for elevation, at least in the superior clan. The lesser clans may find their twisted nature compatible, but they lack the elegance required for our family.

Hath no fucks to give

<img class="wp-image-251 size-full" src="http://www.f291 additional” alt=”a barren field of fucks” width=”758″ height=”425″ />
Medieval tapestry contains great wisdom

I rather wish I could set this image up as auto-reply on every email I get at work some days. It wouldn’t really be appropriate to respond to clients with it, but sometimes they really seem to deserve it.

After all, I don’t care if you only just noticed after (approximately) three years that you couldn’t see a link on your website any more. If it was that important to you, maybe you should have mentioned that sometime in the last three years.[1]

And when the reason that the application I made for you is breaking is that you are doing the one thing you explicitly told me you weren’t doing when I asked about it, I really feel no obligation to fix it for you. No really, fuck off.

I am so glad I never ever have to meet these people. If I was dealing with them in person, heads might roll. Unfortunately, this is a relatively common occurrence as “keeping up with the times” is a phrase that doesn’t really apply to many of our clients.


Footnotes   [ + ]

1. The link, incidentally was still there, but you had to click through to another page to find it.

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Font Porn

Well that’s one way to start a post – give it a raunchy sounding title.

With over 800 font files installed on my computer, finding the right font for the job can be an interesting task. I recently decided that I wanted an image header on the blog, and so I set about making one.

The first thing to do was to pick a font. I wanted something light (but not too light), a bit light-hearted, and probably handwriting-based. So I put together a block of font samples and sent it to a friend for their opinion on which one to use.

font samples
Incidentally, the title for this post comes from their reaction to being sent a bunch of font samples

The fonts featured there are (left-to-right, top-to-bottom): Throw My Hands Up In The Air, Treefrog, Helvetica Neue, Daniel, Waiting for the Sunrise, Angelina, Rock Salt, Zag Light, and Designer Notes.

Having narrowed down some ideas, I then went looking for a graphic. Ideas were lacking, but I found something I could use – cup rings. Having found myself a thematic image, the idea of it being written on a napkin just seemed to flow, and it had to be a handwriting font. I started putting together sample images but none of them quite worked right. Obviously, it was time to get more fonts.

Sample header
Daniel was my friend’s initial favourite font. I was less convinced.

I downloaded five new handwriting fonts and tried out some other fonts that didn’t make the first cut. Eventually I had it down to two fonts: Estrya’s Handwriting (Jellyka), and dearJoe 5 Casual. I augmented the initial header design (above) with a caption circling the cup ring (“words by Yoda”) and that’s what sold it for me.

Because hot damn, that's some Y
Because hot damn, that’s some Y

Of course, once the header was done I needed a new theme to make it work. I’ve gone back to the 2013 WordPress theme for now, but I’m still looking for an alternative – I just can’t fault the coffee house vibe of the 2013 theme.


So I have all of these statistics available to me now about this site and one thing stands out: I get more visits when I publicise the posts on social media. Not just from a “well of course everyone clicks the link to see what I wrote” perspective, but I usually find that there are one or two other posts that people have a look at as well.

I’m also finding that I get a lot of visits directed from SEO websites which I have no connection with, and no real desire to visit. Places like “” and “”. Apparently you can be directed to my website from those links.

What it doesn’t tell me that I would find quite interesting is which of my domains people use to get here. The default location for my domains is this blog unless I’ve assigned it elsewhere, which means that,,,,, and all point to this blog.

I’m not going to publicise this post, so if you’re reading it why not tell me what domain you use to get here, and how you found it if you’re not one of those people who have known about this domain since I registered it.