Clarke Kickstarted

The Kickstarter for the Arthur C Clarke Award is already fully funded, but now they’re pushing for a stretch goal.

What you get already is pretty good: an anthology of original SF stories of exactly 2001 words each, by a host of great names including past Clarke winners.

But the stretch goal adds a specially-commissioned soundtrack, which is a great idea.

Why are you still reading this? Go and sign up.

Lana, What?

Turns out Lana Del Rey was… mistaken? about Radiohead having brought a lawsuit against her. After me leaping to her defence. I’m very disappointed.

Amanda Petrusich, writing in The New Yorker, tells us:

Eventually, Warner/Chappell*, Radiohead’s publisher at the time of the song’s release, refuted her claim: “It’s clear that the verses of ‘Get Free’ use musical elements found in the verses of ‘Creep’ and we’ve requested that this be acknowledged in favor of all writers of ‘Creep,’ ” the company said in a statement. “To set the record straight, no lawsuit has been issued and Radiohead have not said they ‘will only accept 100%’ of the publishing of ‘Get Free.’ ”

Which seems fairly clear. Read the whole article, though. It’s interesting.

I love that, on Touch Bar MacBooks, you can set things up so that you use your fingerprint to authorise sudo in the Terminal.

I Never Thought I’d See the Day…

When Gmail launched several years ago offering a free gigantic storage plan of, I think, 1 gigabyte, it seemed impossible that anyone could ever fill that much space with email. Since then, of course, the free allowance has quietly grown and grown. So too has the volume of email, and the average size of individual emails.

Until today, when I see this:

Enlarge

Gmail showing 99% used of 15GB
Gmail showing 99% used of 15GB

99% of 15 GB. Whoops! Of course, seven years of using it as a repository for daily backups from WordPress will do that. (It’s not the most elegant of backup solutions, but it’s easy and it works.) I deleted everything before 2017 and now it’s down to 60%.

Crazy Copyright Claim

Gotta say I hope Radiohead (or their lawyers) lose this case:

Pop star Lana Del Rey says she’s being sued by Radiohead for copying their breakthrough single, ‘Creep.’

I’m not a fan of Lana Del Rey, but I just listened to her song, ‘Get Free,’ and the only similarity is the chord progression in the first verse. You can’t claim copyright in a chord progression. Or if you can, you shouldn’t be able to.

If the chords and the melody were the same, they’d have a point, but even then apparently they want 100% of the publishing royalties; don’t the words count? Del Rey has offered them 40%, and I think that’s way too much.

I’m amused that the album containing the song gets its title from a doubtless much better one by the same name: Lust for Life. There’s no copyright in titles, of course.

2017 in Bitface Blogging

Well hello. It’s been a while. That daily posting thing didn’t work too well in the latter part of the year, and was particularly weak in the last couple of weeks. Weak weeks.

In fact I posted 261 times in 2017. It’s surprisingly hard to find that kind of thing out from WordPress itself. I had to dig into the database and run some simple SQL:

select count(*) from devilgate_posts 
  where  post_status = 'publish' 
  and post_type = 'post' 
  and post_date_gmt like '2017%';

261 is 72% of the days of the year, which is not too bad. Certainly the most posts in any year out of the past fifteen(!)

Here’s the monthly breakdown:

Month Posts
Jan 32
Feb 33
Mar 33
Apr 18
May 27
Jun 15
Jul 21
Aug 17
Sep 18
Oct 18
Nov 23
Dec 6

A strong start, tapering off in the middle, with a rally in November and then a complete collapse in December. I suspect the last is from a combination of post-nano slump and the festive season.

If you’re interested, here’s the SQL that got me that table:

select 
  date_format(post_date_gmt, '%b') as Month, 
  count(*) as Posts 
  from devilgate_posts 
  where post_status = 'publish' 
  and post_type = 'post' 
  and post_date_gmt like '2017%' 
  group by date_format(post_date_gmt, '%m');

As to this year, we’ll see how it goes. I hope at least to keep the frequency reasonably high. And improve both code and table formatting.

Happy New Year from firework-drenched London Town.

Mouse Takes Fox

The news that Murdoch plans to sell 21st Century Fox and Sky TV to Disney is interesting for how it will reshape the media landscape. But it’s good from my point of view for a number of reasons, some relatively trivial and to do with content consumption; and one big.

  1. The X-Men and the Fantastic Four will come under the control of Marvel Studios. Just in time for Infinity War. Well, of course, far too late — even, I would imagine, for Infinity War Part 2. I expect that’s at least planned by now.
  2. Even more trivial, Lucasfilm can put the Fox fanfare back at the start of future Star Wars movies (and add them in to future reissues of the recent ones).
  3. It will become ethical to watch Sky TV. More of which below.

Above all: better Disney than Murdoch.1

Will Disney own too much? Hell yes. But see above.

On the ethics of watching — and paying for — Sky TV: see this blog passim for my thoughts on that. Like here and here. If Sky had not been owned by Murdoch we might conceivably have got it in the past. But I feel we’re highly unlikely to get it now. Buying a dish in 2017 would just be weird, and our side of the road is not cabled, by some odd historical aberration. But there’s the online version, which I think is called Direct TV. If we had had that I would have been able to watch the new Twin Peaks when it was actually broadcast, instead of now, on DVD, as is actually happening.

Loving it, by the way. And managed to hear no spoilers whatsoever, surprisingly.


  1. I mean, better almost anyone than Murdoch. []