The Rise of Vertical Farms (Infographic)

This….imagine if all of our useless skyscrapers could be converted to food production?!? -happy dance-

ALK3R

Bildergebnis für Vertical farmingVertical farming is letting us grow 100 times more food, in a green revolutionary design.

Here’s what you need to know:

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How to uninstall Intel Security Truekey when all else fails

Before I get to the ‘how-to’, a quick explanation: I downloaded the latest version of Adobe Flash, from the Adobe website. I was not shown an opt-out screen for the two applications bundled with Flash – i.e. McAfee and Intel Security Truekey. All three applications were installed on my pc as I watched in fury, unable to stop it from happening.

As soon as the installation finished, I immediately uninstalled McAfee via the Control Panel, but for some reason, Truekey did not show up at all, not as ‘Truekey’ and not as ‘Intel Security Truekey’. Yet there it was on my desktop, cosily installed on my pc.

I went online and found suggestions that did not work. If you are in the same boat here is what you do:

  1. Go online and search for Intel Security True Key support in your home country. In Australia it’s – 1 800 073 267,
  2. Ring, and when you finally get through to a tech, do not give them your email address – it is not necessary,
  3. Do not agree to remote access support. Remote access means that someone, somewhere is given permission to get into your computer to fix it. Never, ever allow remote access because you have no way of knowing whether that access has been permanently closed or not,
  4. DO ask to speak to a supervisor. It may take a few minutes but this is your right, especially if you did not want the application in the first place.
  5. If the supervisor doesn’t offer it, demand a link to their software removal application. You will have to download it and install it on your pc, but you can check it with your own anti-virus application before you run it. The application I was given is called: MCPR.exe.

I had to run MCPR.exe twice as the first attempt was not successful:

After the first, unsuccessful attempt, I was told to restart my pc and then run MCPR.exe again. I did, and finally managed to get rid of Truekey completely, but I wasted a lot of time doing it.

To say that I’m angry is an understatement. Apparently there is an opt-out screen on which you can uncheck both McAfee and Truekey, BUT that opt out screen doesn’t always display. I know, because I found a lot of other angry people who could not opt out either. You’d think a company as large as Adobe could get something like that right, wouldn’t you?

Apparently not. And then, to add insult to injury, my research revealed that I didn’t need Flash in the first place! The only site I use regularly that did use Flash, once upon a time, is Youtube, and it doesn’t use Flash any more. There may be certain games that still require Flash, but the whole industry is moving away from it because of the constant security issues. That in itself should be a red flag.

So, my advice is to stay away from Adobe products like Flash unless you absolutely have to have them. And if you do download one of Adobe’s products, and become the victim of an unwanted application installation, don’t just shrug it away. User apathy is one reason these companies get away with behaviour that is one, small step away from malware.

Right, I feel a bit better now. Time to go make the Offspring’s birthday cake.

cheers,

Meeks

 


The problem with capitalism…in a ball

Unless you’re a golfer, you probably don’t think about golf balls. But a new US lawsuit about these little dimpled spheres has an economics lesson for all shoppers, showing why consumers have cause for concern when companies use court for sport. Costco, the wholesale membership club, rocked the golf world in 2016 when it started…

via A lawsuit over Costco golf balls shows why we can’t have nice things cheap — Quartz

The practice of Capitalism is more people-friendly than say, Totalitarianism, because it requires people to be consumers, and that is something people are happy to be. But to work properly, Capitalism requires the checks and balances of a healthy, competitive marketplace.

Using the law as a way to get rid of the competition may be ‘legal’ and ‘clever’, but it’s also a bully’s scam. The law is meant to be an equalizer, not a weapon. Frivolous legal action should have punitive consequences. While it does not, the law becomes complicit in the scam.

Perhaps I’m naive. Okay, I know I’m naive, but I did not expect the companies being bullied to accepted the inequity of their situation without protest. Excuse me? You’ve just lost your company for no good reason, and you grudgingly admire the tactic that made you lose?

Is this really the way we want our world to run?

In Australia, we have something called the ‘pub test’. If the common man in the pub thinks something stinks, then the authorities need to take action, even if it isn’t strictly illegal, because there’s the letter of the law, and then there’s the spirit of the law, and we all know the difference.

Meeks


Another post about a perplexing WordPress.com ‘feature’

I’ve had issues with the WordPress Reader in the past, but this latest one has me scratching my head. Have a look at how many screens I have to go through to comment on a post from the Reader:

This is a screenshot of the Reader. Notice the function circled in red? Comments are definitely available.

So I click on the heading of the article to read what it’s actually about and get this:

 

‘Share’, ‘Comments’ and ‘Like’ are still available, as you can see, but if you click on the ‘Comment’ function, WordPress just refreshes the page you’re on without allowing you to:

  • leave a comment or
  • see what other comments there might be.

You can, however, click the ‘Like’ function.

Something not shown in the screenshot [because it wouldn’t fit] is a very small link in the top right corner of the screen that says ‘Visit page’. I didn’t notice that link at first, and assumed that I was already on the page. But no. To get to the actual page, I need to click again, either on the ‘Visit page’ link or on the heading of the article.

Then and only then do I finally get to the poster’s blog where…glory be…I can leave a comment!

And, of course, with all these clicks needed to simply leave a comment, you’ll have to click back just as many times. 😦

Is this a WordPress change-in-progress that isn’t quite there yet? I hope so because this layering is annoying and will probably stop all but the most determined reader from leaving a comment, and that is bad for all of us.

WordPress is not Facebook. It’s a blogging community that interacts via comments. That is its strength and beauty. Likes are all well and good, but we all know that it’s comments from friends and potential new friends that puts the joy into blogging. Anything that creates a barrier between members of this community should be avoided at all costs.

Let’s get back to a format where the Reader provides not only tasty samples but also a direct gateway to the main course.

cheers

Meeks

p.s. And after all that, you can read Chris the Story Reading Ape’s blog post here. 🙂


Sometimes I surprise even myself…

Apologies if I’ve been less visible of late, but I’ve started writing again, and that tends to give me tunnel vision. The story I’m writing is the long delayed, next chapter of the Vokhtah saga.

The story of my psychopathic hermaphrodites languished for four years while I wrote Innerscape, but now they’re back, and I’ve had to re-acquaint myself with their world all over again. Part of that process was to do a backwards outline of the original story, and that’s where this post comes in. I’d actually forgotten that I wrote this preface to the Vokhtan to English dictionary:

Due to the radical differences between Vokh and human physiology, this sound guide is an approximation only. Where humans speak by forcing air past their vocal chords and then shape the resultant sound in the mouth, the Vokh and iVokh use their mouths for eating only. Their lungs are located in their wings, and they inhale and exhale through hundreds of small cilia on the leading edges of their wings, by-passing the mouth entirely. Thus the sounds they produce are akin to the multiple sounds produced by a pipe organ. Even pure sounds have a resonance human speakers cannot match.

Adding to the difficulty of accurately representing the Vokhtan language is the native speakers’ habit of deliberately distorting their speech with ‘chords’, in order to convey tone and inflection. Harmonious ‘chords’ – like the major 5th in human music – denote agreement, pleasure, delight etc. Discords, on the other hand, can imply a range of emotions from disbelief to contempt. Yet despite the musical quality of Vokhtan, neither the Vokh nor the iVokh have ever developed the concept of music.

Vokhtan for human speakers is further complicated by the fact that the spoken language also includes an array of scent cues produced in glands at the base of each cilia. These scent cues are aspirated with certain audible sounds to form a combined sound/scent amalgam. For example, in the word ‘Vokh’ the ‘h’ at the end represents both the sound of the aspiration, and the scent denoting respect or admiration, something humans are incapable of reproducing.

Please keep these difficulties in mind when attempting to speak Vokhtan.

lol – I really did spend a lot of time thinking about the Vokh and the iVokh. From 2004 to 2012 to be exact. There was so much to discover about them. I mean, they all have sharp claws, right, even the much smaller, less aggressive iVokh. But sharp, pointed claws tend to get in the way when you’re not killing something, so how were the iVokh supposed to craft anything?

The ladies reading this post will immediately recognize the problem of nails that stick out half an inch past the end of your fingers. So how did the iVokh manage? By doing what we do, of course. They squared off the tips of their claws. But wait…how would they have cut their claws? Clearly they would need tools of some kind. Not scissors, no, but something like a small nail file perhaps. Except that nail files don’t grow on bushes. The iVokh would need Smiths to make the nail files, and the Smiths would need metal of some sort…

And so it went. Every idea came with its own baggage of pre-requisites, and each day of writing revealed some new discovery. It was an exciting time, but that was then. Now, I have to relearn all these tiny, yet important details so I don’t make any horrible mistakes, like saying that one iVokh punched another.

The iVokh certainly fight, but not with a clenched fist. Why? Two physiological reasons:

  1. Even with their claws blunted, striking with a clenched fist would drive the claws into their own palms, and
  2. Both iVokh and Vokh hands are quite weak in comparison to the rest of their bodies. They do have opposable thumbs, but they only have two fingers, and those fingers are long and spindly. A punch would probably break the whole hand.

And these are the little things that I have to learn all over again. If anyone’s interested, I’ve been trying to do a graphic of the hand. Still very much a work-in-progress, but here it is:

cheers

Meeks

 


Barcarolle by Offenbach

The Offspring and I were talking last night, about some of the loveliest arias in opera, and neither of us could remember the name of this one, so I looked it up [thank god for Youtube].

This glorious version is sung by two, young sopranos with amazing voices…and tiny waistlines! The days of girth are gone. 🙂

As you listen to this video, please bear in mind that this is a rehearsal….

The mezzo with the warm, deep voice is Elina Garanca. The soprano with the soaring upper register is Anna Netrebko.

So happy to have found two new [to me] opera singers.

cheers

Meeks


New genetic modification techniques – Australia

The following is a quote from an email I received today regarding the approval of new GM tech in Australia:

Next week Dr Michael Antoniou, Reader in Molecular Genetics at King’s College London School of Life Sciences will be visiting Melbourne. He is here to discuss his concerns with a range of new genetic engineering techniques that the Federal Government is currently proposing not to regulate.
If the Government deregulates these techniques anyone from amateur biohackers – to industry – would be free to use them to genetically modify plants, animals and microbes. And they could enter our food chain and our environment with no safety testing and no labelling. The results could be catastrophic.

The key phrase is ‘proposing not to regulate‘, closely followed by ‘no safety testing‘ and ‘no labelling‘.

Genetic modification is here to stay and we have to accept that, but we do not have to accept a wild, wild west style free-for-all. Surely an ethical approach is not too much to ask from our government, even the Liberals?

The ‘GM 2.0: What the Government isn’t telling you’ forum is being held next Monday:
6.30 (for a 7pm start) – 9pm, Monday 20th March
William Angliss Institute: Rm. A337, Building A, 555 La Trobe St., Melbourne

Please email Louise Sales <louise.sale@foe.org.au> for a ticket if you can attend [they’re free].

If not, please get people talking about this issue. Isn’t it time our opinions were heard? Corporations may stand to make a lot of money out of this, but you and I will be the bunnies who have to live with it.

cheers

Meeks


Alien 3 ending and music

I have always loved classical orchestral music – think Chopin, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky etc – so the soundtrack of Alien 3 was a real departure for me, and in many ways it paved the way for the music I love now.

My favourite piece in the whole soundtrack by Elliot Goldenthal is the Adagio. It’s the score for the final scene and it’s very powerful :

Part of the reason this piece had such a profound effect on me was definitely visual – the themes of The Cross and The Mother can’t help but resonate, even with an ex-Catholic.  But I believe those themes would not have been half as powerful without the music that gives them their emotional context.

And now for the reason I was reminded of this music in the first place. I’ve had the following track on repeat for over an hour. It’s by Max Legend, and it’s called Adagio for Strings:

The two tracks are nothing alike and yet…they are both beautiful and uplifting in a way I can’t describe.

Happy Sunday,

Meeks


Say hello to Max Legend!

In case there was any doubt, I’m in love with a new composer, and his name is Max Legend! Raw, driving, powerful yet lyric, ML’s music is not gentle. It doesn’t yearn, it stirs…no, it doesn’t just stir, it kicks arse. And that is the exact feel I’ve been looking for all summer.

Many writers use music to set the mood for their storytelling, but for me, music is not an optional extra, it’s a necessity. And not just any music. It has to be the right kind of music for the story I want to tell. Without it, I write words, but they’re not connected to my heart. Does that make any sense?

Yes? No? Maybe? This is why I dislike writing about the writing process. Every writer is different so something that makes sense to one person may make no sense at all to another. For me, music acts like a portal that carries me straight past the logic centres of my brain to the weird, messy, parts.

But the right music doesn’t just take me to my ‘creative side’. It also helps to translate all those messy, nebulous thoughts and feelings into a linear progression of words that end up telling a story.

No two people will ever experience a story the same way, and no two people will ever respond to a piece of music the same way. But sometimes, if I get it right, they may share a feeling, for a little while. To me, that’s what real communication is all about.

So…I’ve finally found my way into the next story. I won’t publish excerpts on the blog because I’ve learned not to make anything public until its well and truly done. But I will post the odd bit of music, and for the forseeable future it will all be from the brilliant mind of Max Legend. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

p.s. ML is another composer who writes for trailers, games and movies.

 


Extreme Weather: Storm Chaser Photography

Feast your eyes on some of the most beautiful, and terrifying, photos of storms I have ever seen. For my money, the one with the windmill is the most disturbing.

ALK3R

Jonas Piontek is a talented self-taught photographer, travel enthusiast, student and storm chaser from Grünberg, Hessen who currently based in Lich, Hesse, Germany.

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