Report: All At Sea

It's a writer's memoir about joining up with a film crew hoping to document techniques by nomadic sailors based near Thailand. Things go off the rails and it's a road to muddled hell paved with good intentions. Anyhow, if you've ever thought When a ship's captain asks me if I know something, for safety's sake I should admit my ignorance but worried that you didn't have evidence to back that up, this book has a cringe-y anecdote for you.

Report: Silence on the Wire

It's a book with ways to indirectly find out info. E.g., to know whether visitors to your website also frequent the San Francisco SPCA website, display an image from that website and time how long it takes for that image to appear.

Some of these techniques are practical. Others sound like some grad students dared each other find the most bass-ackwards way to "leak" information from systems they alrea...

I drank some instant . But first I snapped photos because I didn't find much online about this tea. Behold: Platinum Myanmar Milk Tea.

Report: Ninth Step Station, Season 1

It's detectives fighting crime in a divided city. It's fun. There are fun bits of spycraft, drone walls, and the kinds of nasty side effects from extreme body modification that Mike Pondsmith told us to be wary of.

It's meant to be read as a serial. Thus, I ended up downloading 10 separate chapters onto my Kindle. But as long as this "Serial Box" outfit keeps publishing writers whose stuff I like, I can deal with such a nuisance.

I read a book. I won't report which book; I was researching a puzzle, so naming it would be spoiler-y. But but it was a rare excuse for me, a non-academic, to visit the San Francisco Public 's Special Collections room. I had to sign in, hand over my backpack, and fill out a form reporting how many pictures of the book I snapped. My mien was super scholarly.

COBRA Complete, the COBRA administration company that messed up about 2/5 of my automatic payments to them, just sent me a check with no explanation. I wonder which scenario is most likely:

☐ There was a good reason to send me this check.

☐ There was no good reason to send me this check.

☐ There was no good reason to send me this check, nor the other checks they will send me every month for the next few years until I can get someone on the phone to convince them to stop.

Report: Paper

Some months back, I learned that back in pre-USA days, the American Colonies had to import rags from the old country to make with. I thought that was weird. My mom noted that Mark Kurlansky had written a book about the history of paper which might clear things up for me. And it did. It turns out: everybody had a rag shortage everywhere. Paper-makers went out of business because they couldn't get cheap rags. It was a problem in the Americ...

Report: The Notebooks of Raymond Chandler

Speaking of heavily redacted documents: Raymond Chandler discarded most of his notebooks, but overlooked some. This little book has some excerpts. It's of interest only to the completist; there's not much here. But it's a quick read.

Were you excited to hear that I'd written a set of Puzzled Pint s, but on the evening in question you felt really lazy and you just stayed home? Yeah, me too. All is not lost: the excellent PP folks put those puzzles online for your downloading enjoyment: April 2019: Head to Head. This month's gimmick: all* the are laid out to be solved by folks sitting across the table from each other.

The building across the street from the Temporary Transbay bus Terminal continues to be constructed. Recently, the building-side facing the bus terminal got decorated. Basically, it's a dark wall with dots. Not sure if the dot-placement is Braille or if I only think it's Braille because I stare at coded messages too much.

Report: Sunburst and Luminary

It's a memoir by one of the programmers on the NASA Apollo project. Specifically, he wrote the programs that the astronauts used to land on the . This book is a real thrill ride for modern-day programmers.This was the best option they had at the time. But there's no way we'd trust astronauts' lives to it now.

E.g., by the time I graduated from high school, I had more computer programming experience than…

Puzzled Pint is coming up on Tuesday. I wrote this month's set, aided (a lot) once again by excellent Puzzled Pint editor Neal Tibrewala and excellent anonymous-to-me playtesters who I love even though they pointed out that the best joke was also the biggest red herring (and so it was only really the best joke if you already knew how the worked; dang).

Solve the location puzzle ( ) to find out which waterhole near you will have of puzzles to solve on Tuesday.

We're putting together an MIT Mystery Hunt. It's an MIT Mystery Hunt—not some generic puzzle hunt. There should be some MIT-specific goodness in there. I joked "This doesn’t just mean extra-engineer-y." And yet. And yet. Maybe "extra-engineer-y" would get you pretty close.

Consider the old Mystery Hunt Analogy Farm. It abounds with MIT lore. Beware, spoilers for a six-year-old puzzle ahead! It's got plenty of MIT-lore. hack, college, all of tha...

Holy moly. PC/GEOS, that OS I was documenting as my first "real job" out of school, is still kicking around… and its owners open-sourced it. Behold the news and the github repo . Thanks to Morgan Fletcher for spotting this.

Report: How Smart Machines Think

When Sean Gerrish isn't automating the creation of wordplayish portmanteaux, he wrangles artificial intelligence… or writes this book about it. It's a popular-science survey of modern . You find out why, e.g., a neural net might be a good system for finding faces in a picture; but you won't learn the details of how to code up such a thing. There's some nice summaries of recent history, with DARPA challenges and NetFlix.…

Report: The Fifth Season

This science-fiction novel depicts a cruel society, laying out some tragic consequences. It was a saddening read.

A new batch of Nordic LARP talk videos went up a few days back. One of these applies even to non-LARPers. At least, it applies to non-LARPers who collaborate on big, ambitious projects. Brace yourself, this talk has a naughty name: The Piss Room. (TL;DR: if you neglect taking care of yourself so that you can "burn the midnight oil" on your project, it can backfire: if you burn out then you will make your project worse.)

Report: Manhattan Beach

It's a novel. People enter the water, people exit the water. People change names, people change themselves. There's some WWII waterfront life bits, which were fun; and shipwreck raft survival which was realistic (but maybe not so interesting to me since I'd already read enough accounts of such?). There was some WWII criminal life bits, which were probably well-researched and well-written, but which I wasn't so interested in. Probably fan...

war crimes, uspol 

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