Snow Day

Snow Day

Saturday, Feb 13, 2021

Listening To: Liquids - Life is pain Idiot
Photo: Damn cat’s gotta photo-bomb everything.

Had a nice walk, took some pics. Hard to do when it’s overcast. Think a chair and lamp by this big window would be nice for reading.

No thanks world, not today.

Bonus Item: Pop music made on a warm summer day. In Spain: Russian Red - The Sun The Trees

1 minutes read
Updating A Rolling Release

Updating A Rolling Release

Tuesday, Feb 9, 2021

Listening To: Klaus Nomi - Total Eclipse (Video) - Another from Urgh! He once backed up Bowie on SNL performing “The Man Who Sold The World
Photo: Every night I go to bed with this inches from my face. Drooling.

The main boxes around here almost all run a Linux distribution called Manjaro. It’s based on Arch linux, one of a few base types about (Debian and Red Hat being the other two major options).

Manjaro is very much bleeding cutting edge, updating often with the latest (and presumably, greatest) packages. Which, while not leaving it unstable, leaves it sometimes prone to some niggles after any major release. Bugs happen and occasionally slip through when your OS is changing so quickly. Here’s how I update for safety’s sake:

  • Get notification of update. Do not initiate. Check the release notes (here for Manjaro).
  • Wait a day or two. Check the release notes again for any major stumbling blocks and solutions in the “New issues:” section (I had a run of them with an outdated Nvidia card at one point).
  • Make sure the system is backed up. We mainly rely on a snapshot tool called Timeshift but any way of restoring the system will work. I’ll often take this as a sign it’s time to image the drive off-site too.
  • perform the update. I prefer to watch things scroll across the screen, so use the command line (“sudo pacman -Syyu”). Parse the log for any major errors.
  • since the kernel is usually updated, it’s usually time for a reboot.
  • When the system comes back up, you’re usually back in business. If you do run into a major issue, you can either restore the entire system or fix the issue (often listed in the forum linked above). If it’s a single package you find misbehaving, simple downgrading that to a previous version often works for me (though this is rare)

This may all seem like a bit of a hassle, but in practice it’s usually a smooth ride. Just double checking your snapshot is current (which is usually automatic) is the only real step in the process. If that’s fine, you’re golden.

At least for this dork, it’s worth it to be able to access all the latest tools and resources. If that’s not for you, a LTS (long term support) version of a Linux distribution may indeed be a better option. And that’s what many will normally install for a non-technical user. There are so many, it’s not worth getting into here but I’d recommend something based on Ubuntu for most use cases. From Kubuntu to Elementary and Mint, there is something for anybody. All great.

If you do run into a problem you can’t solve, don’t panic. Most of “us” are super friendly and actually like helping. Reach out.

3 minutes read
Fighting Facial Recognition

Fighting Facial Recognition

Friday, Feb 5, 2021

Listening To: Destructos - Blast
Photo: A Tandy 102 portable computer (and Willy). Used by field reporters for many years as it ran up to twenty hours on common batteries and included a modem to file reports with. Still works!

The various Privacy Watchdogs of Canada just filed a report finding that Clearview AI’s facial recognition software use in Canada was not legal. It seemed obvious from the outset (scraping copyrighted images and using them without consent) but various corporate and government entities resisted and even denied using the technology until leaked documents exposed them.

Joint investigation of Clearview AI, Inc. by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, the Commission d’accès à l’information du Québec, the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia, and the Information Privacy Commissioner of Alberta

is the source but you can find both interviews and summaries from various media outlets. (TYEE) (CBC)

How to protect against this? The best thing an individual can do is familiarise themselves with the present privacy laws (Federal, Provincial (BC), Document Act) and have a good think before giving away any personal information. Especially to government and businesses who have proven not only to disrespect it, but often seem unwilling or unable to protect it. I worked with a woman who, several years after the Sony Hack, was still feeling the effects of identity theft.

If you are refused a job, good or service because of your application of the privacy laws, there is a formal grievance process through the office of your local Privacy Commissioner. It can be considered a form of actionable discrimination. There is often a thirty day cool-down period for the parties to negotiate before the formal application can be made, but I found submitting the complaint documentation directly to the head office of the company you are dealing with makes for swift action.

Seems nobody wants a government privacy audit of their practices.

Funny that.

2 minutes read
Not The Whole Truth

Not The Whole Truth

Wednesday, Feb 3, 2021

Listening To: Sofia Portanet - Freier Geist (“Planet Mars” is perhaps my best find of 2021 so far).

Filed my first complaint against a major media organisation today. I won’t name them as the practice seems common and to their credit, they have now changed the article’s text to better reflect the present pandemic rules.

A number of published articles recently have included blanket statements such as:

British Columbia restrictions include a ban on gathering with anyone outside one’s household”.

This is not accurate.

If you read British Columbia’s Official Province-wide Restrictions document it states that this restriction applies to multi-person households. Single-person households have a limited exemption in that they are allowed to have up to two outside contacts (expand the “Core bubble” portion of the document linked above). There are also some exceptions for other cases.

Somewhere around four million Canadians over the age of 15 live alone and many either don’t work, or work from home these days. Expecting them all to completely isolate themselves 24/7 isn’t reasonable:

  • extended isolation has been shown to cause both physical and mental illness. (1) (2)
  • one may need to move for some reason. From escaping a abusive partner to being evicted or renovicted. (1) (2)
  • nobody knows when this will end. (1) (2)

The risk from a single person household who is obeying the pandemic rules can be very low. For instance: I generally work and live alone and only frequent businesses respecting the rules (grocery shopping off-peak, only buying take-out, wearing a mask outdoors when near others etc.).

Note that going for a “safe walk” is also within the current rules.

If you can, please get outside! Stanley could always use another sunny day walking buddy. Get in touch (top left site button) if you’re in need. Reach out to somebody if you’re struggling.

I have.

2 minutes read
The Cast - Willy

The Cast - Willy

Wednesday, Jan 6, 2021

Listening to: Primetime - Tied Down

Here he is rather disoriented from a recent move. His WTF?! pose.

I wandered into a animal rescue a decade ago, ready for another medical foster (the previous had been a doozy so we’d taken some time off).

“Wait here, we have an emergency that needs to get out today” was the reply. And a small beige box appeared before me along with medication and a sheet of instructions. The box let out one high pitched “mew!” on the way home. Sounded like a tiny cat although the box was rather heavy.

When finally opened a large forest cat uncurled itself and looked up. “Mew!”.

Willy was pretty much unadoptable. He was dying at the SPCA and after a large number of tests (barium series, the works) was, amongst some physical issues, diagnosed with a severe anxiety/abandonment disorder. If he doesn’t get enough love his body starts shutting down.

So he became the first of a number of “foster fails” over the years. He couldn’t go back into the system and not many people could (or would) be able to meet his various needs. Five homes was enough, he’d found his final one.

Life with him has not been without challenges. He’s a jealous thing who’s bitten partners and acted out when he doesn’t get enough attention. At one point I started playing console games so I’d stay still for at least an hour a day and recharge his batteries. He’s very affectionate and the:

BEST PANDEMIC BUDDY EVER!

2 minutes read
TV makes you a pasty mushroom

TV makes you a pasty mushroom

Friday, Dec 25, 2020

Listening to: Petrol Girls

What to do (on Christmas day) during a worldwide pandemic? Omnipresent rainfall. There are only so many movies, books and video games one can consume. The cat is gently snoring. Not a care.

TV turns you into a pasty mushroom (fight me).

The oven is clean. The cat is brushed. Dog got his Christmas morning walk. Finished my “box a day” unpacking from a recent move. Bathroom clean.

Let’s make a website.

Do it the hard way so as to use as much time as possible. Linux, Nginx, SSL certs, SSH keys, Hugo, Typora and markdown. It’s been a couple of decades since the last site.

NEED another cookie. The upstairs neighbour has been baking shortbread. Must politely beg for additional confections.

1 minutes read

About Me

A dorky artist living in Vancouver, BC.

email: flay@pm.me

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