A recent episode of The Incomparable reminded me that I've been meaning for years to rewatch Babylon 5. Since my wife is going to be spending four months over the summer working away from home, and B5 is the kind of show that I will never be able to convince her to watch, the time seems right to get stuck in.
Just for fun, I might occasionally post a bit about the episodes as I watch them.
When I'm asked (which does happen sometimes) I suggest that anyone coming to the show skip the pilot, The Gathering, because it's really not very good. So, of course, I watched it.
Even though it's years since I last watched Babylon 5, I felt right at home. The things that stood out to me:
- How archetypical the characters seem: Sinclair as the troubled war hero who tries to value right above himself; Londo and the Centauri as the diminished imperials trying to live on the memories of past glory; G'Kar as the warlike and menacing villain; Delenn the mysterious "old friend" of Sinclair, yet the representative of his wartime enemy; Garibaldi, the determined lawman with a checquered past. Yet one of the pleasures I remember of the show is how these characters and their relationships develop over the course of the five-year arc.
- The technology shown and not shown in 2257 - CRTs everywhere, passing information around on little laminated cards, broadsheet newspapers, communicator watches.
- The CGI hasn't aged well, but I remember how cool it was to a nerdy teenager that the first season's sequences were rendered on Amigas.
- Some truly terrible acting.
But actually, The Gathering was better than I remembered. Not good, certainly, but not so bad.
For now, I'm #stillwatchingbabylon5.
It turns out that if you're working on an OS X app that is sandboxed and you have reason (possibly frequent during development) to delete the app's sandbox container from ~/Library/Containers/ then attempts from within the app to write out to its defaults database might be failing silently. (A call to
-[NSUserDefaults synchronize] will even return
YES, giving the impression of success.)
This post on the Apple dev forums (login needed) indicates that on 10.9 the prefs system caches stuff really aggressively and is confused by you deleting the container. The workaround is to either restart the computer altogether, or to open a shell and restart the prefs daemon by running
killall -SIGTERM cfprefsd.
The whole point is you never put all your eggs in any one basket. So, if a company like Everpix goes down you shouldn't lose your photos because that should not have been the only copy of your photos, right? You should have your photos in multiple places and if all those places can be like fire-and-forget, all my photos are saved forever like you have them all on your computer, your computer is backed up with like Crashplan or BackBlaze or something like that, or it's backed up to a Transporter in your house and that Transporter syncs with a Transporter in your office like many many layers of backup. And all those you want to be as brain-dead simple, don't have to think about it, everything gets backed up automatically as you want, and if any one of them goes down, the hard drive dies, or your Mac dies, you should be able to get your stuff back from, like, your Time Machine backup. If your house burns down you should be able to get your stuff back from your cloud backup. If your house burns down and your hard drive dies you should be able to at least get your family photos back from Everpix or whatever other online service you're using to just store your photos. You need to have multiple layers and if any one of those layers goes out of business, burns down, breaks, you replace it. Replace Everpix with another service that does the same thing. Replace your online backup with another backup thing. Replace your house with a new house. Replace your Mac with a new Mac that works. Replace your broken hard drive. That's the whole point of backups. It's not that all these things are going to be around forever. It's acknowledging that every one of these things that you're backing up for will eventually not be around. Either the company will go out of business or the hardware will die. You should be able to replace it because that shouldn't be the only place that you have your stuff.
John Siracusa, ATP episode 38
I spent some time recently tracking down the cause of a verbose but unhelpful
set of errors in an app we were working on at my day job. I
wrote it up
for the company blog; I had trouble finding useufl information on the errors, so the info
is now out there for the searching.
Four year-old: Is the Earth like a really big magnet.
Me: Yes, it kind of is.
Four year-old: If you had a really, really, really big fridge, you could stick the Earth to the front of it!