Tulip Photos

I enjoy taking pictures of natural subjects, and flowers are so crazily photogenic that I often find myself shooting series after series of shots in the front garden. I’ve been trying to push myself to get creative with angles and lighting to add some visual interest to what usually turn out to be pedestrian flower shots, and as a result I was really proud of this backlit tulip macro that feels almost like a glowing landscape.

TulipFire

Book Review: The Circle

David Egger’s The Circle is a fun take on a fictional evil version of Google, a company obsessed with knowing everything to the point where it actively villifies privacy and anonymity. Our protagonist Mae takes a job at the tech giant and is slowly indocrinated into their crazy kool-aid corporate culture. The prose was snappy and the pacing was pretty great – it’s a very readable and clever take on privacy issues and how readily we’re willing to trade off our rights for security and service personalization. I really enjoyed this one and have recommended it to friends.

thecircleegers

Hard to have too much discussion about the mechanics of the book without spoiling things, but Mae is subjected to a kind of “slow boil”, where she’s willing to give up more and more of her privacy for nifty benefits like real-time healthcare monitoring and office prestige. At first the trade-offs are sneakily sensible, Eggers decribes cameras saving lives in conflict zones, and kidnap-proofing babies with microchips. By the third act she’s deeply embroiled in transparency culture, but I felt like Eggers lost me along the way – I had hoped he’d continue to rationalize away her resistance but at one point she chugs the kool-aid with such gusto it’s difficult empathise with her decisions through the rest of the novel. In fact, Eggers needs Mae to make a series of ridiculous decisions to let The Circle’s menacing master plan unfold, so I get why things unspool the way they do, but I think there was a missed opportunity to seduce the reader into playing along a little further than he did.

The only ‘voice of reason’ in the novel is her semi-paranoid survivalist ex-boyfriend, which I think was a clever calculated move by the author to make rational arguments feel a bit over the top and easy to dismiss. In fact it’s hilarious how insular and co-operative Egger’s world for Mae is – even the most innocent products offered by The Circle would have real-life modern-day privacy advocates storming the barricades with wirecutters to shut the whole thing down.

The book has inspired me to consider a bunch of privacy-themed art projects, but it’s been a busy summer – I’ll see if I can get any actually done. 🙂 Online privacy is something I think about often and there’s so many discussions we need to have about what we’re okay with as a society.

See-through Reptiles

I think cleared and stained specimens are really fascinating – this is collage from a tiny reptile that was in a jar on display at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto – it’s a bit morbid maybe but the organic shapes of the skeleton are so strange and alien. It’s amazing to be able to look into a creature and learn from it’s biology.

StainedReptile

Green for Spring

We’re getting snowed on again, March 31st. I’m not as sensitive to the weather as a lot of my friends, but I’m done with Winter and wish it would move along so I could get on with my garden plans for Spring. Just to keep our minds focused on the greenery of the near future – here’s a backlit Peace Lily picture I snapped.

PeaceLily

Setting the date on a Honeywell RTH7400 Thermostat

My Honewell RTH7400 somehow time-travelled a day into the future, and it turns out you have to “hack” it to fix the date on a hidden diagnostic menu. Full credit to Daniel from Bowerstudios.com for the solution. RTH7400

  1. Select System
  2. Press and Hold Fan
  3. Should see 0120 with setting 20 blinking
  4. Press next to 0130, this is the year
  5. Press next to 0140, this is the month
  6. Press next to 0150, this is the day
  7. Press Done.

I’ve also grabbed the PDF instruction manual for the RTH7000-series in case you find it handy!