Nooooo Idea

So, running into computer problems. This looks like a good learning opportunity for looking at how the content of diagnostic tools and error messages are designed.

There had been some slowdowns and general weird moments, so I tried to run Disk Utility. First time, it seemed to freeze my computer. So I rebooted into Safe Mode, ran fsck -fy (just because) and saw:


Booted up, ran Disk Utility again, got:

Screen Shot 2017-10-25 at 6.44.57 AM.png

And I noticed that after that,  things like screen shots aren't showing up in the Finder, and when I try to delete items, I get:


So, what does any of this mean? How can a not-super-technical person make sense of this mess?

First, these issues seem to be unrelated, but I am only inferring that due to the omission of any mention of the two together. Can't blame docs for that. Also, digging in a bit, it seems the first might be related to Time Machine backups and a possible bad block, while the latter is a mystery nobody seems to know the cause for.

Unfortunately, both issues seem to involve rebooting and doing arcane things (the first, entering some precise text; the second, resetting PRAM which is usually the equivalent of shrugging "dunno"). If you don't hear from me again, this is why.

Sketchday Day 3

You've all been uploading such fantastic sketches. Is doing one a day helping? What do you go about doing to get the sketch? Is there anything you've learned that you want to share?

I started on sketching a shiny sink faucet today but totally turfed the curves, perspective, and how to show dark and shine. Funny how when you start to follow a line and then think, "there's no way this can exist in 3D space."

Welcome SketchDay Preppers!

Hi and thanks for joining us! Starting Monday the 17th of July, 2017, I'll be posting a sketch a day on a theme for two weeks (at the main blog level, not in this post). I hope you'll join in by posting yours in the comments below.

Basic rules, which you of course are free to ignore:

1. Pick a theme. In the past I've done kaiju and tools.

2. EVERY DAY. Leverage that obsessiveness. We want to build habits.

3. Don't spend too much time! Of course every design exercise says that, but really. We want to lower the trepidation, barrier, anxiety for those of us who feel we can't draw. Let's build the habit that it's not a huge commitment.

Thanks and I'll see you Monday!

Lookback: My Review of Deus Ex and a World that is Conspiracy

The following is something I wrote for the late, great Unfortunately, it's only archived sporadically on the Wayback Machine (get on that, Brewster, thanks). But it's probably not totally obviated, sad to say.

THE BAROQUE PLOTS and fetishistic icons of conspiracy theory -- the grassy knoll, unmarked helicopters, Roswell -- have, over the past few years, been moved from samizdat, passed between the trembling hands of true believers, into the common pop-cultural vocabulary. Oliver Stone followed the money in JFK; the WB populates Roswell with its regular cast of coifed and limpid-eyed teens; and, most recently, Deus Ex, a role-playing/action game from Ion Storm, mixes up a potent pop Molotov cocktail by linking together nearly every known paranoid fantasy, worldly or otherwise.

The vaguely cyberpunkish setting for the game is the near future, when a separationist movement has grown from its Pacific Northwest roots (the real-life land of both Microsoft and white separatists) to a national force, taking advantage of technological, ecological, and political breakdowns that have fractured the federal government. Since what's left of the government as we know it has its hands full managing a plague of mysterious origin, most civil control has been ceded to the United Nations and UNATCO, its antiterrorism unit. That’s where you get involved: in Deus Ex, you are a nanotech-augmented agent of UNATCO who discovers, in true paranoiac fashion, that All Is Not As It Seems. You spend the rest of the game navigating lies wrapped in half-truths wrapped in secrets. For example, in your first mission, the leader of a terrorist cell berates you for your political naïveté -- "Haven't you ever heard of the Trilateral Commission? Didn't you know the UN was built on land donated by the Rockefellers?" Later, the head of FEMA -- the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is, as all real-world cryptologists know, empowered to suspend the Constitution for such feeble excuses as tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes -- emerges as one of your arch enemies. Majestic 12, black helicopters, the Templars, Echelon, televangelism, the Illuminati, and Area 51 all turn up along the way, as well. (Thankfully missing are the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.) In the game, as in life, conspiracies are a fractal belief system: Examine one closely and you'll only find more jagged edges, more places for other, more fantastic theories to latch on.

It's telling, though, that Deus Ex guts one of the legendarily major players in the worldwide game of shadowy manipulation: the U.S. government. The game posits a world in which the federal establishment is not just shattered, but reduced to a tool of the real players: the conspiracies and covert governments. It's an alarmingly familiar echo of the attitudes so effectively fomented by post-Reagan pols and pundits, who tag government as inherently impotent (except when shackling industries with regulation) and clownishly inefficient.

Which is perhaps what makes Deus Ex such a compelling narrative: It marks the beginning of a new mythology. With the old order of monolithic geopolitical powers gone since the Soviet Union's implosion and the American political war against Big Government, we may be seeing the beginning of a new pop conspiracy cycle, one in which the feds don't even rate as evil conspirators.