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My media diet for the past month

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Quick reviews of some things I’ve read, seen, heard, and experienced in the past month or so. As always, don’t take the letter grades so seriously. I’ve been watching too much TV and not reading enough books. I’m currently trying to get through Scale & Behave and listening to Superintelligence on audiobook and they’re all good & interesting, but I’m having trouble staying interested enough to actually pick them up in lieu of zoning out in front of the TV. I think I need something with more of a narrative.

The Vietnam War. Excellent, a must-see. (A)

The Matrix. Holds up well. I saw this in the theater in 1999, not knowing a damn thing about it, and walked out in a daze…”what the hell did I just see?” (A)

The Founder. There’s a certain kind of businessperson for whom the Ray Kroc depicted in this film would be a hero. Travis Kalanick, etc. Fuck those people. I stand with the McDonald brothers. (B+)

A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches. I aspire to this level of sandwich obsession. (B)

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. I should have stopped watching after 15 minutes but then I would have missed perhaps the worst closing line in movie history. (C-)

Inception. This might be my favorite Christopher Nolan movie. (A-)

american dream by LCD Soundsystem. I’ve never been able to get into LCD Soundsystem. Is there a trick? What’s the secret? (B-)

Basic Instinct. This movie is not great and hasn’t aged well. But you can totally see why it made Sharon Stone a star…she’s the only thing worth watching in the film. (C-)

Minions. *whispers* I kinda like the Minions and think they are funny and not as insipid/cynical as many others think. (B)

The Antidote. “Reread” this as an audiobook. I recommend this book to others more than any other book I’ve read in the past few years, save the Ferrante books. (A+)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. I enjoyed it the first time, but this movie is so much better when watching it with two kids who think that everything coming out of every character’s mouth is the funniest thing they have ever heard. Biggest laugh was “I’m Mary Poppins y’all!” (B+)

Everything Now by Arcade Fire. Gets better every time I listen to it. (B+)

10 Bullets. Neat little one-button game. There’s an iOS version (and sequel) but they don’t work on iOS 11. (B)

Dunkirk. Saw this again on a larger screen (not IMAX sadly) and liked it even more this time. (A)

Champlain Valley Fair. I love fairs. We ate so many mini donuts and saw a dog walking a tightrope! (B+)

Logan Lucky. I was somewhat lukewarm on this leaving the theater but thinking back on it now, I definitely will see this again. (B+)

Sleep Well Beast by The National. Meh? (B-)

War for the Planet of the Apes. I saw this 3-4 weeks ago and can’t remember a whole lot about it, but I enjoyed it at the time? I do remember that the CG is seamless. (B-)

Applebee’s Artichoke and Spinach Dip. Way better than it had any right to be. I will make a special trip to eat this again. (A-)

Blade Runner. Rewatched in advance of the sequel. The final cut version, naturally. I watched the original cut for about 20 minutes once and had to shut it off because of the voiceover. (B+)

Past installments of my media diets can be found here.

Tags: books   lists   media diet   movies   music   TV   video games
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huskerboy
7 days ago
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Apple's FaceID

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This is a good interview with Apple's SVP of Software Engineering about FaceID.

Honestly, I don't know what to think. I am confident that Apple is not collecting a photo database, but not optimistic that it can't be hacked with fake faces. I dislike the fact that the police can point the phone at someone and have it automatically unlock. So this is important:

I also quizzed Federighi about the exact way you "quick disabled" Face ID in tricky scenarios -- like being stopped by police, or being asked by a thief to hand over your device.

"On older phones the sequence was to click 5 times [on the power button], but on newer phones like iPhone 8 and iPhone X, if you grip the side buttons on either side and hold them a little while -- we'll take you to the power down [screen]. But that also has the effect of disabling Face ID," says Federighi. "So, if you were in a case where the thief was asking to hand over your phone -- you can just reach into your pocket, squeeze it, and it will disable Face ID. It will do the same thing on iPhone 8 to disable Touch ID."

That squeeze can be of either volume button plus the power button. This, in my opinion, is an even better solution than the "5 clicks" because it's less obtrusive. When you do this, it defaults back to your passcode.

More:

It's worth noting a few additional details here:

  • If you haven't used Face ID in 48 hours, or if you've just rebooted, it will ask for a passcode.

  • If there are 5 failed attempts to Face ID, it will default back to passcode. (Federighi has confirmed that this is what happened in the demo onstage when he was asked for a passcode -- it tried to read the people setting the phones up on the podium.)

  • Developers do not have access to raw sensor data from the Face ID array. Instead, they're given a depth map they can use for applications like the Snap face filters shown onstage. This can also be used in ARKit applications.

  • You'll also get a passcode request if you haven't unlocked the phone using a passcode or at all in 6.5 days and if Face ID hasn't unlocked it in 4 hours.

Also be prepared for your phone to immediately lock every time your sleep/wake button is pressed or it goes to sleep on its own. This is just like Touch ID.

Federighi also noted on our call that Apple would be releasing a security white paper on Face ID closer to the release of the iPhone X. So if you're a researcher or security wonk looking for more, he says it will have "extreme levels of detail" about the security of the system.

Here's more about fooling it with fake faces:

Facial recognition has long been notoriously easy to defeat. In 2009, for instance, security researchers showed that they could fool face-based login systems for a variety of laptops with nothing more than a printed photo of the laptop's owner held in front of its camera. In 2015, Popular Science writer Dan Moren beat an Alibaba facial recognition system just by using a video that included himself blinking.

Hacking FaceID, though, won't be nearly that simple. The new iPhone uses an infrared system Apple calls TrueDepth to project a grid of 30,000 invisible light dots onto the user's face. An infrared camera then captures the distortion of that grid as the user rotates his or her head to map the face's 3-D shape­ -- a trick similar to the kind now used to capture actors' faces to morph them into animated and digitally enhanced characters.

It'll be harder, but I have no doubt that it will be done.

More speculation.

I am not planning on enabling it just yet.

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huskerboy
30 days ago
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chrisrosa
30 days ago
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some good info about Face ID on the #iPhoneX. i'm a bit more optimistic about the tech tho. the previous face recognition systems used on laptops were much more basic. the iPhone X has what amounts to an Xbox Kinect in it's front camera array. all that being said, i look forward to this phone hitting the streets and people trying to hack the system.
San Francisco, CA
SecurityFeed
29 days ago
Are you referring to Windows Hello? That's straight outta xBox. And Apple's track record on initial OS releases and authentication bugs isn't very good.
chrisrosa
29 days ago
Sure, but most laptops only have a webcam, w/o all the additional sensors the X has. by no means am I saying it's not hackable, but i'll bet that it's better.
SecurityFeed
16 days ago
It'll be good, I'm sure. In order to use Windows Hello, computers need to fully support for Intel RealSense specifications; most Windows laptops can't run Windows Hello, since it requires the extra sensors, just like the X has. Both will be better than the simplistic 2D face rec tech that Samsung has.

50 States of McMansion Hell: Hillsborough County, New Hampshire

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Hello Friends! Happy Labor Day (or as one of my college professors humorously called it, Socialist Christmas)! I hope you like freedom because this week’s McMansion definitely has…some of that!

This 1996 beauty features 4 bedrooms and 3 baths, but somehow ends up totaling almost 5000 square feet. For under $1.3 million dollars you’d think you’d get at least 5 baths. 

Onwards!

Foyer

Friends, I’ve found the Jaws theme window, and, of course it’s an awkward stairwell window. Best not slam the front door too hard, lest you send those vases tumbling to the ground, where they shatter into a million pieces coating the foyer in 21 years worth of dust bunnies. 

Gr8 Room

I will never not make a joke about Bullwinkle upon seeing a cruelly beheaded moose used as a centerpiece. Also that tiny little stove is negated by the tall ceilings and wall of windows. New England Winter: 1, McMansion: 0. 

Dining Room

(extremely Lemony Snicket voice:) If one spends a long period of time anxiously waiting in a particularly dreadful place, such as a dentist’s office or tucked away in a municipal post office crawling with several enemy spies, one fixates on the details of said place. In the case of the dentist’s office, one might seek refuse in a particularly bawdy floral painting, or, in the case of the municipal post office crawling with several enemy spies, the increasingly heinous price of postage stamps in a desperate attempt to distract oneself from one’s dire situation.

Sitting Room

Alexa can never truly replace the hole in Jerry’s heart left by his eldest daughter’s running off with an artist.

Kitschen

Did every rural working class family get one of these catalogs or was it just mine?

Also, in case you were wondering, they’re still around and they’re still selling the same stuff from 2001. 

Nook of Glory

This blog was looong overdue for one of my pithy generational political jokes. Also shoutout to my wealthier girl-friends growing up in the South who had to hear “how do you expect to find a husband when you [insert nonconforming behavior here]” as a method of policing deviation from the norm. 

Master Bedroom

Uncle Jerry is the guy who DVRs football games and doesn’t fast forward through the commercials. 

Master Bath

old twitter joke context:
https://twitter.com/pixelatedboat/status/741904787361300481?lang=en

The minstrelsy sun wins the worst ‘an art’ on mcmansion hell dot com award, one I think it will hold onto for a very, very long time. 

Bedroom 2

Imagine listening to The Cure in this room before answering the reader poll thanks

Basement

Folks, I’ve seen more inviting tax offices. 

Anyways, we’re coming to the end of the post, which means its time for our favorite part:

Rear Exterior

Time for a McMansion Hell Personality Test: Which “feature” window are YOU??

Left Window: you are passionate and intelligent, yet neurotic. Your friends worry that you won’t be able to handle the punishing amount of work you force yourself to do because you would rather be physically exhausted than have to spend ample amounts of time alone with your own insecurities.

Middle Window: You are confident and idealistic, yet neurotic. You think that your problems can be solved by yelling louder than the person you’re currently arguing with. You may have been poor at sports as a child and also have an energy drink dependency. 

Right Window: You are kind and dependable, yet neurotic. You enjoy spacing out while reading difficult books, liking but never reblogging, and earnestly avoiding cable news. You may have a penchant for emotionally unavailable romantic partners and ignoring your newly bought cookbooks in lieu of a good old-fashioned round of takeout (your fifth this week.) 

I got..all three of these, wow! 

That’s it for this week’s post folks! Be sure to stay tuned tomorrow for our special NEW JERSEY McMansion, and this weekend for another installment of Looking Around! 

OH AND ONE MORE THING

Are YOU in the Baltimore metro area?? Do you want to witness me give a live diss on McMansions and talk about my rad as hell politics in one of the 3 coffee shops I write this blog in? Well you’re in luck because Thursday, September 7th, I’ll be doing a McMansion Hell LIVE event at Red Emma’s Bookstore & Coffeehouse. More info here, if you’re up to it.

If you like this post, and want to see more like it, consider supporting me on Patreon!  Also JUST A HEADS UP - I’ve started posting a GOOD HOUSE built since 1980 from the area where I picked this week’s McMansion as bonus content on Patreon!

Not into small donations and sick bonus content? Check out the McMansion Hell Store- 100% goes to charity.

Copyright Disclaimer: All photographs are used in this post under fair use for the purposes of education, satire, and parody, consistent with 17 USC §107. Manipulated photos are considered derivative work and are Copyright © 2017 McMansion Hell. Please email kate@mcmansionhell.com before using these images on another site. (am v chill about this)

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huskerboy
44 days ago
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Looking Around: Some Common House Terms

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Hello Friends! Today, we’re going to look at some common house terms, specifically related to roofs, dormers, porches, (and a couple diversions, of course). These terms will give you a foundation for how to talk about everyday houses, and give you an idea of how to classify houses by their basic shapes. 

image

Even a very simple house like the one above can provide us ample opportunity to practice our terminology. This house has elements borrowed from “higher” styles, such as the decorative brackets commonly found in the Craftsman style, but ultimately it’s as common as a common house can get. Still, it gives us an opportunity to relearn terms we might have forgotten, like the different parts of a window

The easiest starting point for talking about houses is the roof, as roofs are a great way to group similar types of houses without relying on style. 

Roofs

Common Roof Shapes:

image

Sometimes roof terminology can get tricky. For example, the gambrel roof is a shape of roof, but there can be front-facing and side-facing gambrels (the example above is side-facing.) Center-gabled roofs are often confused for cross-gabled roofs. 

Uncommon Roof Shapes:

image

Shed roofs, while very common on dormers, porches, and additions, didn’t really come into vogue as a distinct roof shape like the example above until the 1960s. Hipped with Cross-Gable roofs are found usually on large Queen Anne-styled houses, though there are some exceptions (they are, of course, the prototypical nub). Mansard style roofs look different on rowhouses than they do detached houses, and in later houses look almost gambrel-like, such as the example above. 

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell what’s going on with a roof, like in the example below: 

image

In this example, while the gable is centered, it’s technically a cross gable because it is attached to a projecting mass from the main body - the two masses “cross” in a T-shape, making it a cross-gable. Were the entire front facade one mass instead of two, with the gable flush rather than attached to a projecting mass, it would be a center-gabled house instead. 

Eaves and other Decorations

image

Some of these are terms you can use to impress your friends (I know I definitely get some looks when I throw down the word ‘fascia’ at parties), but the key terms to remember here are rake and eave. The rake is the part of the roof that overhangs the gabled end, whereas the eave is the part of the roof that overhangs the side walls. 

image

The cornice is commonly referred to as the “trim”. The frieze is kind of like a baseboard but for the roof, and, like the cornice, is omitted on some more plain houses. 

image

When the eaves have a closed soffit (some eaves have open soffits, like on craftsman houses), they are called “boxed” or “closed” eaves. On newer houses, gutters often cover the fascia. 

image

On some common houses, some roofs are more ornamental, for example, on even the plainest of Craftsman bungalows, there are a lot of interesting details: 

image

Dormers

The names of dormers follow the shape of their respective roofs. A dormer with a gabled roof is a gabled dormer, for example. Some dormers earn their names for other reasons, however, hence this handy guide:

image

A few subtypes of common houses are recognizable by their dormers, such as the adorable twin gabled dormers of so-called “Cape Cod”:

image

However, it is important to note that the Cape Cod isn’t it’s own style, but rather a specific layout common to Minimal Traditional houses. Houses with gambrel or mansard roofs and split-level colonials (such as the example used for the “wall dormer” above) usually have embedded wall dormers above or through the cornice line. 

Some houses are notable for their lack of dormers. The rooflines of ranch houses, for example, are too low-pitched for any significant second story space - ranch houses, rendering dormers pointless:

image

Porches

Ahh yes, time for @porchrates favorite part of the post. Porches are commonly described by their height and how much of the house they take up:

image

A portico is another name for a covered entry porch. The gabled part of a portico is called a pediment, because on many classically styled houses (e.g. Greek Revival or Neoclassical), they borrow the proportions and pared-down details of the pediments found in usually Greek (but sometimes Roman) temple architecture.

A wrap porch (a porch that extends around to at least one adjacent side of the house) is often called a veranda, though this usually refers to porches that wrap around at least three sides of the house, such as the porches commonly found on Southern Colonial plantation homes and large, rambling Queen Anne houses. A porch that covers the full facade is called a full-facade porch. 

Full-facade porches are in some way integrated into the roofline (they may be interrupted by dormer(s), like in the example above). If there is a gap between the top of the porch and the eaves of the roof, the porch is sometimes referred to as a full-width porch rather than a full-facade porch. 

image

One last thing about porches: houses with very shallow porches (less than 4 feet) have either had the porch put on as an addition, or, more likely, the porch is decorative - a clear sign of a house built in the last 30 years. 

image

(Insert Joke™ about something something new houses something something shallow)

Anyways, folks, that does it for Round One of Common House Terms! Stay tuned for a special Labor Day week of McMansion Hell, with a New Hampshire McMansion tomorrow, a New Jersey (!!!) McMansion on Tuesday, and the next installment of Common House Terms: Materials and Windows on Saturday!!

OH AND ONE MORE THING

Are YOU in the Baltimore metro area?? Do you want to witness me give a live diss on McMansions and talk about my rad as hell politics in one of the 3 coffee shops I write this blog in? Well you’re in luck because Thursday, September 7th, I’ll be doing a McMansion Hell LIVE event at Red Emma’s Bookstore & Coffeehouse. More info here, if you’re up to it.


If you like this post, and want to see more like it, consider supporting me on Patreon!  Also JUST A HEADS UP - I’ve started posting a GOOD HOUSE built since 1980 from the area where I picked this week’s McMansion as bonus content on Patreon!

Not into small donations and sick bonus content? Check out the McMansion Hell Store- 100% goes to charity.

Copyright Disclaimer: All photographs are used in this post under fair use for the purposes of education, satire, and parody, consistent with 17 USC §107. Manipulated photos are considered derivative work and are Copyright © 2017 McMansion Hell. Please email kate@mcmansionhell.com before using these images on another site. (am v chill about this)

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huskerboy
44 days ago
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davebelt
46 days ago
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earth dimension c-138

Knork Flatware Lets Parents Eat and Feed Kids One-Handed

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The following was produced in partnership with Knork Flatware and its line of modern, innovative products designed for how you naturally eat.

Plastic utensils are degrading not only to the environment but also to the people forced to use them. Plastic utensils are a particular pain for parents, who must try to cut, scoop, spear, and feed with twisting polystyrene. This never really works, which is a big part of why so many parents dread eating on the go and avoid impromptu (and potentially fun) picnics. It’s also why so many parents–and this seems, anecdotally, to be more of a dad thing–carry silverware. Forks, knives, and spoons that once lay peaceably in grandma’s silverware drawer keep steady time, knocking against laptops jammed in a million briefcases. It’s both a ridiculous problem and an eminently solvable one.

A more sustainable solution emerges from insight about what people actually need to eat macaroni at a picnic table. That boils down to forks and, more specifically, forks that can cut and are well balanced enough that a child can use one without it ending up in the dirt. But those aren’t the specification that typically guide flatware design. There’s really only one variety of fork that fits the bill. It’s called the Knork and it’s the sort of thing that happens when smart people sweat the details. It has a finger platform that allows for small hands to control it. It has curved tines and a beveled edge so that it can cut. It is, in short, the platonic ideal of the on-the-go utensil.

But that’s not the first thing you notice about the Knork. The first thing you notice is that it’s sleek. It stacks nicely. It comes in pretty antique copper, black titanium, or matte stainless steel finishes. It fits easily into that briefcase pocket you thought was just for pens. (It’s no small wonder that the knork is now the inspiration for a whole flatware suite; it’s got great lines.)

The most noteworthy feature, though, is the beveled tines that let you cut and spear food one-handed. This ingenious bit of design means you can eat while defending against sippy cup spills and that you can cut into and spear your grilled chicken breast and scoop up a bit of Mediterranean quinoa salad, then reach over and feed your kid some tupperwared macaroni. You don’t have to port around the silverware drawer anymore.

Thanks to its design, the Knork also represents a sort of training wheels version of the knife. With a Knork, parents can let their kids cut their own food with a piece of either child-sized or full-sized flatware that poses no physical risk. The beveling lets the Knork cut through food but not through skin. Because it is so carefully balanced, it can be wielded like an edgeless saber by kids as young as three.

With a Knork, it’s possible to turn an on-the-go meal into a special, memorable moment with all the attendant benefits (and side dishes) of a family dinner. Get the full Knork dinner set and you’ll end up carrying around the classic, OG Knork, which moonlights as a fork, all the time. Why? Because it will help you look like a grown-up even when you’re reaching across the table to eat some of your child’s meal and it will make your child feel like an adult when he or she is reaching back.

The post Knork Flatware Lets Parents Eat and Feed Kids One-Handed appeared first on Fatherly.

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huskerboy
48 days ago
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100 Great Works of Dystopian Fiction

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Dystopian Books

Vulture has compiled a list of 100 Great Works of Dystopian Fiction, “tales about a world gone wrong”. Entries on the list include some of the earliest examples like Mary Shelley’s The Last Man and The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, classics like Huxley’s Brave New World and 1984, modern classics like Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson and William Gibson’s Neuromancer, and some newer books like On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee and A Planet for Rent by Cuban author Yoss. Even Infinite Jest makes an appearance. As does It Can’t Happen Here, a 1935 novel by Sinclair Lewis that sounds particularly relevant right now:

As the old saying goes, “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme” — and Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here is proof. This 1935 satire chronicles the career of fictitious U.S. politician Buzz Windrip, a populist senator who wins the presidency. As it turns out, he’s a bit of a fascist, but more frightening than his actions is the speed — and eagerness — with which Americans join him in his authoritarian crusade. Lewis understood the American soul better than most, and he makes a compelling case that fascist tendencies would make a horrifyingly good fit for our polity if presented with the right amount of good, old-fashioned patriotism.

See also a reading list for the resistance.

Tags: books   lists
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huskerboy
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