March 27, 2023

Companion cube

I had occassion to spend one night at a hotel, and brought along my charging cube for the first time. For some reason, I assumed I would not be travelling with the cube, which in retrospect was very strange. A three-in-one charger looks neat and all on the bedside table at home, but charging three things with one cable is a major convenience improvement when in a hotel room.

And it still looks cool, of course.

The downside is that I feel like I should get some type of travel bag for the cube. A small, dense cube does not sit all that naturally in my backpack, and I assume I would manage to bump or scratch it one way or another much sooner rather than later. Cables do have an upside there.

Candy followup

I, of course, had some of that candy from yesterday very soon after writing about it. Plopp mint is not nearly as minty as it could have been. Plopp is usually slightly on the sweet side for my taste to begin with, so the mint was still an improvement over the regular version, it just was not as big as I had hoped for. I was hoping for a clean After eight-type mint cream kick, but what I got was a somewhat less sugary-feeling Plopp with a pinch of mint at the end.

2,5 out of 5, I think.

March 26, 2023

One little date

I added something to Bakery! It was less than two years since last time, so it is a surprising and scary increase of pace!

What did I do? Oh, printing of a post's publication date on the page of the post.

Move right along, no risk of adding features to the engine instead of writing this time either. I mean, I have even kept myself from adding any new styling whatsoever. We will see if the current style starts to bother me in some way …

I also need to take the time to re-upload all the pages, so that is also a pretty big project I can put off for another day. I mean, it probably means starting a file transfer which could last multiple minutes if I am really unlucky with connection speeds. (I sometimes am fascinatingly unlucky with those, which is just another small push for another long-term project: that of moving to some other type of hosting for this site. At this speed, it could happen any decade now!)

Otherwise, it has been a good weekend. Candy stores have been refilled to a worrying level, and my main hope is that I will somehow completely forget they are there, or that someone else will hide them from me in a smart way. I am no good at having candy around …

(No less so when there is mint chocolate in the haul, which nobody else really likes or cares that much about.)

March 25, 2023

Ylva Johansson: technology optimist

It took a while, but this morning I had worked up the energy to listen to the discussion between Karl Emil Nikka and Ylva Johansson about Chat control. Karl Emil did an excellent job, of course, being clear, concise, focused, calm, and getting a surprising amount said in way too short a time. I do not understand why SvD (the newspaper behind the podcast) decided they had to stick to exactly half an hour when there was so much to discuss.

Ylva did not budge an inch anywhere, as expected. She kept talking along her own lines instead of really answering any questions, as expected. She talked about limitations and how this of course will not mean mass surveillance, of course.

But at least she had a line of reasoning, one I could kind of understand. I am not sure I have heard a politician behind a new law discuss it before, because I was surprised at Ylva's clear and explicit ownership. It was all "I am suggesting", "I have added provisions for" and so on, not an abstract "we" of any kind. I feel some amount of respect for taking ownership like that.

What also struck me was that a lot of what she said and the reasoning she applied was in itself sensible, it was just not grounded in the reality of this particular situation. I associated with GDPR, simply because that is a directive I am at least remotely familiar with and did a bit of reading up about when it came into effect. GDPR had a lot of positive disconnect from specific technology - prescribing what to do with personal data, not how to do it with regard to technical solutions. The same thing, as far as I recall, when it came to what counts as personal data - giving guidelines and the like rather than trying to list all possible things and missing a lot.

Ylva tried to apply the same kind of argumentation about Chat control, which probably sounds reasonable and good to many people. Surely it is better to give guidelines about what to do? The difference here is that Chat control makes things sound possible which are not, and give guidelines to do things which are not technically possible.

I feel like she copied and pasted a whole line of reasoning and argumentation, but forgot to check if it at all went together with the area on top of which she tried to paste it. There was no glue strong enough to meld the two, but did she notice? Or did she think those pesky details can be worked out afterward, when the grumpy engineers just have to sit down and think properly about it?

I can almost make myself think that there could be a point in having laws be fully disconnected from technical reality. I can imagine someone else building a serious case for it. But I can not quite get there, and I do not believe that someone else would be able to convince me with their argument either. A law which can not make contact with reality simply does not work, and it will cause destruction and uncertainty as it collides with reality.

But in a way, is it not optimistic, idealistic even, to propose laws divorced from the troubles of reality? I am not saying it is good, or even a worthy pursuit, but the touch of idealism was new and interesting to my mind.

(Also, is there some kind of editing or fact check instance in the EU lawmaking process? Someone who could theoretically send laws back to the drawing board for being too poorly written or for not making coherent sense?)

March 24, 2023

Chat control courage

Listening to podcasts comes pretty easy to me. Chat control is a outrageous piece of privacy-violating (privacy-ending even, when it comes to online chat) leglislation which must be stopped. (How bad? Bad enough that it goes against the Universal declaration of human rights.) We made an episode of Kodsnack about it, and I have listened to several other podcast episodes discussing it in depth.

But this one, I suddenly find myself bracing for. It is the podcast episode I have been hoping for, one where Ylva Johansson - the driving politician behind this insanity - talks to someone with deep technical knowledge, someone who is also able to explain technical issues and their consequences in a fantastic way. That some one is in this case the excellent security expert and technology inspirer Karl Emil Nikka. Simply put, it is one of those dream cases.

"Surely, if Ylva just got to talk to the right person, she would understand the problem?"

That is rarely the case of course, and the podcast is much too short to have the time to dig into very many things at all. So I am excited to hear what and how Karl Emil says and how Ylva might respond, but I am also set up to be disappointed. Part of me just wants to dig in and wonder if Ylva actually believes the thing she is pushing for, if she has read and understands all of it, if she has consulted any technical experts before, and wonder if she has been handed this whole thing by someone with profit or power motives of their own.

But what good does that kind of thinking do me? Demonizing the person who disagrees you is one of the great problems of our times. So what to do instead? Listen more to people, I think. Stop bracing and start listening. And, in the ever-challenging step two, preferably start actually interacting with people of like and differing views. Do some part to get involved and, hopefully, nudge things a little bit in the right direction in a constructive way.

Stop bracing and start listening. Just half an hour, you can do it!

Then … find out how to leave feedback to some EU parliamentarian I guess? Make voice heard and all that.

Try to make the world a slightly better place.

March 23, 2023

The editor edits

While not yet at perfection, I eventually got my sound processing to a place I really liked yesterday. Beautiful silence where there previously was keyboard rattling and breath noises, beautiful lack of reverb where previously it was very clear. I think I can back off some more and get more natural sound, but this was a great start to something repeatable.

Pity I did not write down exactly what I did and which settings I used. Always a next time to improve things … But look, RX to the rescue again: the history panel tells me I simply ran dialogue de-reverb followed by dialogue isolate.

I also did some very quick searching and discovered that RX 10 seems to support batch processing and the like. This would be really perfect for me. I imagine feeding all my recorded audio through RX 10 as soon as I finish recording so that I have processed files just waiting for me as soon as I sit down to edit. Yes, look at that nice batch processing window. Who is a good window?

Nice vision, right? There are probably lots of strange twists to the path there, but I like having something to aim for. Plus, it could give my Mac mini some more real work to stretch its legs a bit more often.

A bonus I did not expect was that having nicely processed audio made editing more fun. I am not sure why, but it was definitely a thing. Perhaps it is simply the fact that much fewer edits are needed? I am quite aggressive about cutting little noises whenever possible, so I most likely did a lot fewer cuts than I otherwise would have. Or perhaps it was the pleasure of comparing the processed track to the unprocessed one I had sitting on a muted track just below it, making me notice just how great the difference was between them. Perhaps the fun of putting my machines to more work?

Anyway, episode 348 of Björeman // Melin // Åhs will probably be out by the time you read this, and I think it is a good one even without taking its sound profile into account.

(The new coffee was good too.)