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Entropy Arbitrage Newsletter, August 2020

Today is Tuxday, 25 of Shkumbe 4113. [4113.05.25]

…assuming you follow the Common Calendar, of course, but I assume you probably do not. Or should. Ahem. Newsletter!

Entropy Arbitrage welcomed visitors from Austria, Bolivia, Canada, Germany, India, Netherlands, Philippines, Spain, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and United States this month, which never fails to please me. Remember, all content is made available under the CC-BY-SA license, so if anybody needs to provide a translation, you don’t need my permission.

August’s Idle Thoughts

We made it to the second issue of the newsletter, so welcome again, subscribers new and old!

Power Outages

I’ve been lucky with electricity for many years, where I live, with a “long” outage lasting two days in the most dire circumstances, and often getting through major storms without more than a momentary interruption of service. The remnants of Hurricane Isaias, though—a minor tropical storm by the time it got to me—had my neighborhood in darkness for almost a full day with no obvious signs of damage.

Interestingly, I discovered that my aging laptop’s bettery can last close to twelve hours, if I disable the network and shut down all the programs that make periodic server requests. I wrote most of the Real Life in Star Trek Season 1 Summary blog post, that afternoon.

I did, however, discover that I needed a new UPS for the router and cable modem. The battery in mine is dead, so it’s now just a “the power glitched” shrieking alarm, which isn’t particularly useful.

eBooks on Linux

You can probably guess that I don’t buy many current books, with something of a Free Culture obsession. But once in a while, something catches my interest. Usually, I’ll decide to buy a hardcopy, though this time I decided that a physical book wasn’t worth the trouble of carting it around, so I went hunting for e-books and wanted to shoveling more money at Amazon.

It appears that there’s no such thing as a mainstream e-book that’s compatible with Linux (other than Amazon), which was the unfortunate end of that little adventure. I’ll need to buy the paper book or see what the library has to offer. But it would be really smart if someone could develop a compatible application or if online book sellers could at least normalize being clear that they’re not actually selling the e-book.

The Dumbest Game Show?

I have a soft spot for old game shows, in the sense that it’s something I can leave on in the background and not feel guilty that I’m not watching it as I work or read. Some of them are boring, but one stands out as an interesting idea that managed to sabotage itself with bad design: Body Language, a show that ran for a year and a half, starting in mid-1984.

Each team (a celebrity and a contestant) play charades on a set of words. Every word they get is an additional clue to the main word they need to guess. There’s more to it, but it’s a clever structure that makes better use of the television medium than a lot of other shows, since there’s an aspect to watch and a puzzle that can be solved at home.

Then it stops being clever.

There are four rounds in each game, with the first two worth $100 and the second two plus an optional tie-breaker worth $250, with the first contestant to earn $500 winning, which means that those first two rounds are completely irrelvant to winning the game. They’re just…there, and nobody seems to acknowledge that they’re useless.

I assume that the scheme exists to make sure the game runs a consistent length, but there must have been a better alternative, somewhere. Have any of you found a show with a more frustrating setup?

Media

In no particular order, here are some things I finished watching in August. No, I don’t remember when I started watching them, except (obviously) for the movies.

So, a mixed bag, this time around.

Blog Posts for August 2020

In case you missed one and don’t like RSS readers, here’s a round-up of the past month’s worth of posts.

Articles I’ve Been Reading

You’ve seen some of these already in Friday posts, but here’s more from the sources in my RSS reader that I thought were worth reading.

Web Pages That Caught My Attention

These are pages I bookmarked, basically. They might be old articles, non-articles, fiction, or any number of other possibilities. You’ve seen the web. You know what it’s like out there. And you also know that half the titles are probably bogus, because people are terrible at setting their page titles to something useful.

That’s it for this month. Stop by the blog and leave comments or contact me however else you see fit.

—John







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