Author Archives: Kelson

Afternoon to Golden Hour: What a Difference 90 Minutes Makes

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The air has finally cleared up enough to see Downtown Los Angeles and the mountains. After several weeks of smoggy days, wildfire smoke, and occasional gloom, it’s nice to be able to see something other than a gray blur in the distance!

Also interesting: seeing how much the view changes from late afternoon to really late afternoon. These shots were taken at 4:22 and 5:52pm on the same day. Unfortunately I seem to have held my camera at two different heights, so the foreground jumps around, but the skyline and mountains are in nearly the same spots, and you can see not just different colors, but different details as the shadows move.

Letter to Governor Brown re: California’s SB 822 for Net Neutrality

I sent the following to the California Governor’s office, urging him to sign SB 822.

Dear Governor Brown,

I’m writing today to urge you to sign SB 822 into law and restore net neutrality protections within California. SB 822 goes further than the now-repealed FCC rules at protecting business competition, consumer choice, and freedom of communication over the internet.

As it stands today, we’re back to trusting the cable companies to have our best interests at heart. Competition won’t keep them in check. Many areas only have one or two ISPs to choose from.

Before the FCC stepped in, ISPs would do things like intercept and redirect search queries, block tethering apps, or block VOIP applications on their phone networks. Now that the FCC has stepped back, we’re already seeing cellular companies throttling service. In this era of increased consolidation, it’s not hard to imagine a cable company that’s part of a media conglomerate choose to prioritize data for their parent company’s streaming service over a competitor’s service. They could also legally slow down access to websites critical of the company, or sites that advocate political positions that the owners disagree with.

Net neutrality helps businesses. It helps start-ups. It helps consumers. It helps political activists. It helps *citizens*. And while the ISPs might tell you it will hurt them, they managed all right before the FCC repealed its rules. Abandoning net neutrality helps ONLY the cable and phone companies, at everyone else’s expense.

The effort to re-instate the FCC’s rules at the national level faces an uphill climb. If that effort fails, we can still preserve a free internet in California – and serve as an example to other states. If it succeeds, SB 822 will provide even more protection. With this in mind, I hope that you’ll sign SB 822 and restore net neutrality in California.

Thank you.

LOLSpam Returns as a Super-Simple Mastodon Bot

Back when I was comparing social media archives, I considered resurrecting my old LOLspam project as a Mastodon bot. I never quite got around to it, partly because I was able to do most of what I wanted to automate using IFTTT, so I stopped investigating that last 5%.

Last night, I threw together a quick and dirty bot to post a random item from a text file in about 20 minutes.

Then I spent three hours going through the Twitter archive for @LOL_Spam, pulling out jokes that are too dated or cringeworthy. (I hope I didn’t miss any. It was midnight by the time I finished, and I was really tired!)

This morning I modified the script to take a second file as a queue for new items.

  • I can add new items to the queue file as I find them.
  • It’ll post from the queue on a schedule (using cron).
  • When it uses up the queue, it returns to posting random posts from the archive.

If you’re interested in funny/odd spam subjects (and you’re OK with swearing and occasional lewdness), check out @LOLspam@BotsIn.Space. You can follow from any Mastodon or other Fediverse account.

The script itself is called fedbotrandom. I wrote it in Perl, using text files, so I could just put it in cron on any *nix box instead of worrying about language/database support or installing a runtime or DB engine. I’ve made it really simple on purpose, and while I do plan on writing some better error handling when I have time, It’s already more complex than I wanted it to be!

You can find me on Mastodon at @KelsonV@Wandering.shop.

A quick note on cameras and cons

I brought my point-and-shoot Canon Powershot to Long Beach Comic Con on Saturday, using it for most of the indoor shots, without the flash. This may have been a mistake, as those photos were all blurrier than the ones I took with my phone. So on Sunday I brought the bigger FujiFilm camera…and had the same problem.

I think we’ve reached the point that, aside from optical zoom, the sensors on phones are good enough and the software is able to overcome the limitation of the optics when compared to point-and-shoot cameras, even the bigger ones. If I want better photos, I’m going to have to step up and buy a better class of camera.

One of these days I’ll get that DSLR…

10 Years of Long Beach Comic Con! (2018)

Back in 2009, I attended the first-ever Long Beach Comic-Con, an event that filled the void left when Wizard World cancelled WWLA at the last minute. I had a good time, and it had a lot of support from the industry, but I wondered how long it would last.

Ten years on, LBCC is still going strong! It’s small compared to WonderCon or SDCC, but it continues to be much more focused on comics and art than most “comic cons.” Artists’ Alley is still the central focus of the main floor, with an outer edge made up of small press, comics and collectibles dealers, a wrestling ring, fan groups, Space Expo, and celebrity signing areas.

(If you’re in a hurry and just want the photos, head over to Flickr for the full set.)

Family Trip

Professors Trelawney and Mad-Eye MoodyAll three of us attended on Saturday. Katie debuted her Professor Trelawney cosplay, explored, and caught a panel on the science of Black Panther.

I spent most of the afternoon taking J. around. We picked up a few toys, played video games (he found the customization screen on a fighting game right away, and spent the time experimenting), and several rounds of laser tag. The Long Beach Public Library also had a great area for kids, with crafts, a 3D printing demo, a photo area and a floor maze.

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