Félix Saparelli

(about me)

a.k.a. passcod

Monthly update: Jan 2017

Posted on Jan 10 ‘17

This is a monthly-update

It has one parent: Blogging more and starting on new year resolutions early

Tourist

There’s been two chapters of Tourist this period, so naturally I’ve commented with my impressions on both: [1], [2]. Tourist is Saf‘s current serial novel about AI and asexuality and depression and it’s great! Not only do I love her writing, I love the themes and the way she explores them. There’s a few scenes which evoke a very particular feeling I’ve experienced, and it’s fascinating that Saf is able to make me remember how that feeling is like just through her words. The writing was perhaps a little hesitant at first, but it’s been getting better and better every chapter. The latest chapter is excellent.

New Keyboard

I finally caved and pre-ordered a Keyboard.io Model 01. This is an incredible-looking keyboard, carved out of solid wood, with an ergonomic split configuration, individually-sculpted keycaps, and all the trimmings. It’s a treat. I’ve been lusting over it for over a year, following their production newsletter. I’ve finally decided just before the new year (the “deadline” in the tweet refers to them giving away an extra keycap set if pre-ordered before the end of 2016) that I deserve to spend a bit of money on myself, so let’s go.

They’re hoping for a delivery around Q1 2017, I’m hoping to have it before May.

New laptop?

Not for me, yet. But my brother is looking into an upgrade before starting his second year at Uni (he got into med!) and was especially interested in the Surface Pro. One hitch: they’re very expensive.

We may have just found out a trick, though: by getting it through Amazon US and shipping it here, we save about $600 NZD off the in-NZ price, even if we get it at the cheapest source here. We’re looking hard to see if there’s a catch, but so far everything looks a-ok.

So if you’re looking for a Surface Pro…

Backup & Sync

I’ve been outlining and tentatively speccing out my “perfect” backup and sync solution. I briefly toyed with making it closed-source (to start with) but no, if anything comes out of it, it will be open-source just like everything else.

The ideas mostly come from missing a decent and modern syncing and backup daemon for Linux and other platforms. Something fire-and-forget, quietly working to provide the best it can without disrupting you. Something that can efficiently protect against ransom/encryption worms. Something that can be paused to save bandwidth yet still sync the most important things right now so you can work collaboratively on mobile connections and not have last night’s photos clog your upwards link. Or, even better, something that figures out that you’re on a slow connection and automatically prioritises syncs and backups without intervention at all.

Behind it, a library and utility that efficiently and correctly syncs a local and a remote, as a daemon and not just a single invocation (because Rsync already exists), that works on all major platforms, and completely handles that state may change on either side during its run. More than that, a library that does not mandate the actual transport or endpoints, so it can be used to power sync engines for not only my “something” above, but also Google Drive, Dropbox, etc third-party clients.

Rust

I’ve released Cargo Watch 3.1.1, a minor update to upgrade dependencies, notably the Notify library to version 3. That brought event debouncing, which should solve a few of the most common issues encountered.

Nonetheless, Cargo Watch has been more or less supplanted by watchexec, which I have to admit is a superior albeit more generic alternative. I’m debating retiring Cargo Watch, and focusing instead wholly on Notify. That, or making Cargo Watch into more of a development tool than it was, and integrating features such as port and socket management as first-class features, perhaps combining the essential functionality of Node’s nodemon and Ruby’s foreman into a single tool for the Cargo/Rust ecosystem.

🂻

(This isn’t new this month, but I got a question about it the other day.)

Not sure where I encountered this, but it’s a Jack of Hearts. (In case you can’t see, the title of this section is the Unicode symbol for that playing card.) Think “Jack of all trades”. It means (apparently, and that’s how I use it for me) “pan/bi-amorous and poly-amorous”.

Music

I didn’t listen to anything new until the New Year, as is my habit. During the year, all the music I like goes into a big playlist called “Sort”. Then at the end of the year I pick a name for my yearly playlist based on stars (first one was “Level Orion”, then came “Rain Stars”, “Llama Shepherd”, and this year’s “Carrier of the Dawn”), and go through the Sort playlist sequentially, either discarding or sorting into the yearly playlist and/or any of the few thematic playlists I maintain ("Music for Making" for writing/coding music, “Sing”, “Music Box” for songs I’d like to cover, etc).

This year the “Sort” playlist counted over 450 songs, and took me about two weeks to go through. The “Carrier of the Dawn” playlist now numbers 224 tracks.

While last year my listening was dominated by Blue Man Group, Eiffel, and Woodkid, this year I’ve enjoyed a lot of Jin Oki, Thomas Bergensen, Zero 7, Ásgeir, Hiromi, and some 19th century compositors like Chopin and Beethoven. Of course, the full list is much more varied than just these seven.

In the past 10 days I’ve started listening to new music again.

Fanfiction

All in reading order within their sections. Word counts are rounded to nearest 1 or 5k. I explored the Harry Potter fanficdom, all nearly exclusively rated M. Contains lemons. Content warning for sexual assault in at least half the fics.

  • {HP} Prodigy.

    Pretty good. I liked the modern take. A bit too prodigious perhaps, but that’s what the title announced so who’s complaining? Waaay crazy story. Do not read in more than one sitting, because there is SO MUCH SHIT HAPPENING and you’d end up horribly confused. Great stuff. {135k words}

  • {HP} 893.

    Great story, good writing. Unsure how accurate the Japanese/Yakuza details are (but it’s gotta be better than Rowling’s own attempts at representing asian ~~stereotypes~~ characters), and the large amount of Japanese words and phrases embedded in the text make it somewhat tougher to read than usual. {360k words}

  • {HP} Harry Potter and The Acts of Betrayal.

    Short and sweet. Graphic at times. Cathartic ending and skillful munchkin lawyering. The last author note illustrates well the utter ridiculousness and sheer contrarian nature of some of the cretinous parts of fandom. {78k words}

  • {HP/Dresden} The Denarian Trilogy: Renegade, Knight, and Lord.

    Good writing, great humour, manageable gore and satisfying battle scenes. Oh, and let’s not forget the lore and world-building of epic proportions. The finale in Lord was exactly what was needed. There are supposedly continuations, but do yourself a favour and ignore both Variation and Apocalypse. They’re unfinished, apparently abandoned, and reek of Bad Sequel Syndrome. The only worthwhile point of note is that indeed (rot13) Nznaqn Pnecragre unq n puvyq sebz ure rapbhagre jvgu Uneel. Fur’f anzrq Yvyl Pnecragre naq vf nccneragyl cerggl phgr. And with that, the last plot point of the series is concluded. {235k + 190k + 245k words}

  • {HP} The Firebird Trilogy: Son, Song, and Fury.

    Despite claiming, as is usual, that all belongs to Rowling, this fic really only uses the characters and some general elements of plot. The universe is one of the most original I have ever read. It is an utterly different world, and extremely well built and detailed. Not content to be defined over a few departure points, it is rich of several dozen centuries of history with a particular focus, due to the story, around Europe, the British Isles, and the Americas. But this world is dark and cruel and bleak, and that itself is a terrible understatement. Content warnings for sexual and otherwise abuse, exploitation, horror… and yet that feels like too little said. It is a very good work. It surpasses many original, published, novels I have read in the genre. But while it hooked me and wouldn’t let me go as I devoured it, each further installment shook me deeper. Even with an active imagination and few of the ’moral’ blockers on thought most my peers have, this world and its inhabitants shocked me in their depravity and casual evil, but most importantly, in the way it showed every single cause and character as believing they were in the right, even while performing and perpetuating wickedness, resulting in institutionalised malevolence in every situation and at every level of society. Even the heroes, the protagonists, the good ones, those trying to quite literally save the world from itself, are merely questionably good most of the time. It is a dark, dark work, but it is very, very good. It’ll haunt me for a while. If you at all can, read it. {170k + 150k + 170k words}

  • {Naruto} Life in Konoha’s ANBU.

    Interesting format, with distinct arcs corresponding to Naruto’s missions instead of a single continuity of plot. It makes the whole thing more approachable, and sets clear expectations around the progression of a particular writing stint. Unfinished, but not abandoned; there are long-term plot lines still in suspens (and I’m not talking about the canon plot lurking in the background, rather about the original plot lines that make it all interesting). {370k words at time of writing}

  • {HP} To Be Loved.

    Interesting prompt, and although the latter plots were a bit simplistic, I liked the politics, as well as the occasional insight into Dumbledore’s thinking. {95k words}

  • {HP} The Bonds of Blood.

    I really like Darth Marrs’ writing. The emotions and complexity of every character are well-rendered, the plots are well-rounded, and the suspens is heart-wrenching. Yes, I have shed some tears and my heart has hurt. It’s not the best fic on this list, and it was a short fun read, despite all the feels, but it was pretty good. {190k words}

  • {HP} The Forgotten Contract.

    Yeah, yeah, yet another marriage contract story. What can I say? I like romance, and this is one of the most popular and least sappy romance genre in this fandom. I found the basis for the story interesting, and the resolution swift if perhaps a bit anti-climatic. But then again, the defeat of Voldemort was never the focus of the plot. The fic brushed on some thoughts I had while reading, namely on the influence Harry’s near worship for a decade, without having a real person to mellow it, would have had on society, particularly regarding standards of appearance and, to a lesser extent, behaviour. There was a strange consistent corruption to the spelling of some words, almost as if the text had been OCR’d: notably, various ‘I’ or ‘i’ letters had been replaced with ‘1’, but not all of them. {165k words}

  • {HP} To Fight The Coming Darkness.

    Jbern rarely disappoints. This was a fun story, but not a Humour story. Typical plot of Individual!Harry going against Dumbledore, but various atypical plot elements, mostly around making typically-always-good characters have questionable morals and make less-than-Light decisions, and making typically-always-evil characters be borderline good but forced in a bad situation. It adds an interesting realism. Few bad points, but one in particular (rot13): va gung lrf, gurer vf n cybg-rkphfr sbe ebznapr gb tb snfgre bapr Uneel naq Fhfna ner vaibyirq, ohg orsber gurer’f abg. Fb gung cneg bs gur fgbel srryf n ovg gbb snfg sbe gung ernfba. Good discussions and reasoning in dialogue, it changes from both naïve or overcomplex-in-hopes-of-sounding-smart plans and narration simply omitting planning and showing only the results. Including planning that actually feels intelligent is a great addition to any story. {340k words}

  • {HP} Pride of Time.

    This was really really good. I love Hermione time travel stories. I love when all the characters have their own flame, their own passions and thoughts and reasons and defects. I also really love stories that were planned out before they were written, and written before they were published, as they are invariably of better quality, simply due to having been revised and cross-written. Contains graphic sex, but gentle and hot and furious and real. Some scenes reminded me of sex I’ve had, see, that’s how good and real it was. Also contains instances of graphic violence, but not gore, and not deeply disturbing. It covers war (both of them) and terror and torture, but it’s not meant to shock and disgust. If you read nothing else on this list, I do recommend this one. {555k words}

  • {HP} Harry Potter and the Rune Stone Path.

    This list is getting way too long, but fortunately we’re two days before this update goes out and the next few fics I have queued are crackfics or small-length fics, so they should all make it into the short format list below. Well-written, and with a delightful amount of lesbian, gay, and bi characters, all presented positively, little prejudice in this regard all around. Also remarkably good with letting everyone be happy with their various religions, while calling out cultural misappropriation. No trans or enbies that I could find, but we’re getting there. I’ve noticed several possible references to HPMoR; generally I chalk those up to coincidence because the fics are HPMoR-antecedent, but this one is mid-to-late 2016, so it fits, and the references are multiple and fairly clear. Happy-ending fic, even more so than the other happy-ending fics I’ve read recently; this is positively Disney-esque in its epilogue. Although it’s certainly not Disney-esque in its contents, with sex à gogo, lots of innuendo, etc. There’s also violence and abuse present, this isn’t an all-rainbows fest. One persistent bad point: the cavalier way horrific fates are dished onto some antagonists. Sure, it might seem like karmic retribution, but cheerfully finishing off Malfoy by having him be taken by human traffickers intent on forcing him into prostitution still leaves a bad taste in. {520k words}

Also enjoyed, but no lengthy comment: