Stumbling Through LA Comic Con 2016

Welcome to LA Comic Con BannerWe’re ready to swear off going to cons at the LA Convention Center. We tried to spend Saturday at Stan Lee’s LA Comic Con (formerly Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo, formerly Comikaze Expo), but…well…

(TL;DR: Skip to the photos)

Getting There is Half the Fun^H^H^HDay

It took us as long to drive the two blocks past the off-ramp as it took us to drive into Los Angeles. I dropped Katie off so she could get in line while we spent the next hour looking for an open parking lot. (The only “try over there” parking signs were small and listed addresses, not directions.)

Continue reading

Newsflesh: Worst Case Zombies, Best Case Survival

Feedback, by Mira Grant

While reading Feedback, it occurred to me that Mira Grant’s Newsflesh series features the worst-case scenario of zombie design, and yet humanity survives with civilization mostly intact. That’s impressively optimistic.

I mean, look at the parameters of how zombies work in this setting:

Everyone who dies becomes a zombie, regardless of whether they’ve ever been near a zombie. This is fairly common, but there are settings where you can keep zombies out with a quarantine. Not this one.

Direct contact with a zombie is extremely contagious. Bites and scratches, sure, but imagine a zombie with late-stage Ebola. (A modified Marburg is one of the component viruses). Zombie drool landing on an open wound can convert you. The blood spatter from the zombie you’re shooting can get in your eye and convert you. The body of the zombie you just killed, lying on the ground motionless, is still a high-level biohazard that can convert you.

Anyone who goes out in the field must go through decontamination. Showers include a standard bleach cycle and won’t let you out until it’s done. Outbreak sites have to be hosed down with bleach, burned, or simply condemned.

Any blood that’s been outside the body long enough will trigger conversion on exposure, even if the person isn’t a zombie. Even your own blood.

Sometimes people spontaneously convert. It’s not common, but it’s been known to happen.

The newly-infected can be as fast as a normal person before their body starts decaying. (Yep, fast zombies and slow zombies in the same ‘verse.)

Any large mammal can become a zombie. Dogs. Raccoons. Horses. Bears. Cows. Red meat is now a biohazard.

Mobs of zombies can plan ambushes. Enough zombies together exhibit just enough rudimentary intelligence to set a trap. Even across species.

There’s a really scary twist in the virus’ transmissibility late in the second novel that I won’t spoil.

The only factor that isn’t maxed-out is their indestructibility. A zombie in the middle of the desert or at the bottom of the ocean will eventually starve.

Eventually.

And yet humanity survives the Rising and is able to rebuild civilization in many — not all, but many — parts of the world.

That’s…well, that’s kind of inspiring.

Walk for Food Allergy: Studio Edition

Today I joined hundreds of people at the CBS Studios in Los Angeles to raise money for Food Allergy Research and Education through the FARE Walk for Food Allergy.

We skipped last year and decided to join this year’s event at the last minute. Rather than walking along the shore at Long Beach, this year’s course ran through the CBS Studios lot. It started on what looked like a suburban New England street, and wound past production trailers, soundstages, prop storage, and even the Los Angeles river….

Walk for Food Allergy by the Los Angeles River

…such as it is. Other parts of the river are much nicer, even navigable at times, but this stretch is basically a concrete drainage ditch inside a bigger drainage ditch. It looks bleak now, but during flood years the channels fill completely, preventing the city’s streets from flooding instead.

Wait, Walk for What–Who–Why?

FARE funds studies to explore the causes of food allergy and develop new therapies. They run outreach programs to make it safer to visit restaurants, or just be at school or the workplace.

Food allergies can range from mild to life-threatening — yes, people die — and those of us on the far end of the range need to be constantly on the watch for hidden ingredients and cross-contact between foods we can eat and foods we can’t.

Continue reading

Finally pulled the HTTPS switch!

That took a lot longer than I intended.

But I’ve finally made all of Hyperborea.org run over HTTPS.

It’s been possible to view the whole site over HTTPS ever since I turned it on for the admin area of this blog years ago, but I left HTTP as the canonical URL and didn’t redirect anything until I updated the Les Mis section, and later this blog. Now, any page you visit on this entire site should load over an encrypted connection.

(Well, any page except for the old Dillo RPMs page, since that minimalist web browser still only has experimental HTTPS support.)

The problem is when you have decades of hand-crafted web pages to go through, it can take a while to make sure everything embeds only secure or same-origin content. Every image, every script, every video. I had to update lots of absolute links, remove some widgets and ads, update other widgets, embedded videos and metadata…and just a bit at a time in my spare time.

Finally I switched on the redirects this morning. Even that took longer than expected, because I’d forgotten that mod_rewrite rules in a directory override any parent directory’s rules, so I had to copy the HTTP-to-HTTPS rewrite rule to each folder that had its own rewrite rules. Then I had to fix the interaction between mod_rewrite and ErrorDocument that was causing custom errors to redirect to the error template instead of loading it behind the scenes.