Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Coming Monday: "Tool of the Matriarchy" T-Shirts

02 May 2014

“Tool of the Matriarchy” is an expression mentioned in the series of John Scalzi’s tweets that led to the “Traitor to the Mens” t-shirts.
I’ve been working on getting the right look to try to communicate the intended tone with something that’d print well. I just haven’t been feeling really well (yay fibro), so I’m going to take the weekend off and have it ready Monday morning.
I’m really enjoying this t-shirt thing. Back in the day, I used to do abstract screen prints in like 5-10 layers and print my own shirts, doing all the photo separations myself. I’ve always enjoyed screen printing, though I haven’t done any in ages.
Then, once upon a time, there was a very limited series of Deirdre’s Pet Geek t-shirts.
I’ve designed other t-shirts, including a convention t-shirt for BayCon one year, and a couple of commissions over the years.

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Deviant Art's Dark Patterns: Ripping Off Indie Artists

02 May 2014

Rismo made this rather awesome piece and posted it on Deviant Art. Hot Topic started selling the t-shirt.
No one paid Rismo.
Did Hot Topic rip off Rismo?

No, Deviant Art did through a dark pattern.

See below for update.
Here’s DA’s Submission Policy.
Check out d:

the right to sublicense to any other person or company any of the licensed rights in the Artist Materials, or any part of them, subject to the terms and conditions of this Agreement.

and 6:

6. Payment Unless otherwise agreed between Artist and deviantART in a writing from deviantART, the license granted to deviantART under this Agreement is royalty-free.

Royalty. Free.
In other words, by uploading your artwork to Deviant Art, you allow them to sell to Hot Topic—and anyone else worldwide—and pay you nothing.
And there’s no way to opt out, at least not on my account.

Update: Deviant Art’s Response

We intend to employ similar methods to allow syndication of art work, like the daily top favorites and even the ability to stream your gallery to your personal website. We couldn’t do this and things like this without third party rights because RSS feeders, blogging services and the like are third parties.
So they say that it’s just for promotion of your work on DA via normal service-type operations that involve DA.
Fact is, though, they absolutely could do what was originally claimed if I’m reading the submission terms correctly.

Update 2: Deviant Art’s Denial of Art Sale to Hot Topic

Text here. Thank you to commenter Kira Spoons for finding it, as I hadn’t checked up on this topic today.
Still, 3d of their submissions policy is overly broad and appears to permit that royalty free.

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Programming Sucks & Why I Quit

01 May 2014

[![Why I Quit Programming](/images/2014/05/Fotolia_61026517_S.jpg)](/images/2014/05/Fotolia_61026517_S.jpg)[© RF Sole – Fotolia](

This “Why I Quit Programming” page is consistently one of my top ten web hits, partly because of its strong Google ranking.
This “Programming Sucks” rant has become one of my three favorite rants about software ever written.
The other two are Benji Smith’s “Why I Hate Frameworks” rant and Andrew Clover’s (bobince’s) extra special response about parsing HTML with regex.
Once upon a time, a former coworker had left software engineering entirely and was having money problems. I asked why not go back into programming? It had paid former coworker well.
Former coworker replied, “It’s not what I do after hours.” No interest in writing software outside the scope of a job.
I didn’t understand the idea. At all.
One of my life sayings is: “You don’t get to choose what you do (or don’t) care about. What you do get to choose is what you do about it.”
I vowed that if I ever felt the same way my former coworker felt about software, I’d give up writing it for a living.
I’ve been there for some time. For a while I thought maybe it was burnout, but it’s not. It’s a fundamental change. ## Programming Sucks: The Web Edition

One day, I walked into the break room and heard a coworker say, “The Web is an error condition,” referring to the deplorable state of code out on the Web. I think that was the end of the end for me, because it just depressed me. It depressed me not because it was untrue, but because it was so perfectly true.
Honestly, I miss the days when Netscape Navigator would just halt rendering in the middle of your page, saying, “No, I will not parse any more of your shit until you fix it.”
Then IE came out for free. Suddenly, the game of web browsers changed from paid apps to supported by advertising and search revenues. The only way to get users to use your browser (and thus get more money to develop with) was to parse all the shit you used to reject.
The web became a co-evolution of crap and trying to render crap. (It’s gotten more complicated since then, but because there’s been a habit of rendering crap, no one suddenly wants to stop.)
Don’t believe me?
Copy the URL to some web site who should be able to afford first-class web developers into’s home page just resulted in this crap:

Errors found while checking this document as HTML5!
Result: 349 Errors, 104 warning(s)’s home page just resulted in this crap:

Errors found while checking this document as HTML5!
Result: 605 Errors, 32 warning(s)

You don’t get that bad by accident. You get that bad by deeply not giving a fuck.
But, hey, it’s HTML5, right? No, they just dressed up the pig that was HTML 4.01 Transitional and still have crap that hasn’t been valid on any newer spec than the one published in 1999. Last Millenium. (No, I’m not counting XHTML, why do you ask? Okay, even if you grant that XTHML is a good thing, the reasons the above two pages don’t meet the HTML5 spec are also why they’d fail the XHTML spec.)
I’ve had code that flew into space that didn’t have 605 errors in its entire fucking lifecycle. Yeah, okay, it was a digital tape driver I had to squeeze onto a smaller PROM, but still. Can’t just send that sucker into space with that many errors.
I’ve been paid to program in twenty-six different languages. I’ve written code to reduce power plant emissions. Space and power plants I did before I was twenty, and continued the latter for several more years. I’ve written code to help manage whole blood inventory for anti-D injections (so Rh- mothers can safely have Rh+ babies).
I’ve done a lot of other things, too, from writing database apps for mailing list companies to writing commercial Mac software for calendaring to working on the Safari team at Apple to writing an App to help the Omidyar Foundation invest its money. I’ve worked on a Jabber client for Be, I’ve worked on the TiVo service, I’ve worked on software for companies big and small.
I’ve worked hard and had my vested shares undergo a million-to-one reverse split. Rounded up. At that point, it’s not worth sending me the damn paper that’s required. As Rachel Chalmers says in her excellent piece for Model View Culture, “No face-saving exits for them.”

The Biggest Reason Why I Quit Programming?

Quite a few years ago, I realized that I knew how to approach essentially any programming problem I cared about. It may not be the best approach or the one some other person would pick, but I could write a working implementation of anything I chose to.
The catch is, I kept choosing to do other things.
It’s not to say that I have no interest in software. Of course I do. I’m an introvert and a numbers geek, and it’s served me very well as a career for thirty-eight years.
What I mean is that I can’t do it for someone else the way I used to.
Instead, I need to pick projects that I care about and not spend long stretches of time on things I don’t.
I have some ideas of what I want to do software-wise, but I’m not ready to announce them yet. It’s got to fit in between my other plans.
Part of it will mean needing to do some real design work using stuff like Illustrator. In amongst all this software writing I’ve done, I’ve been putting off learning Illustrator since I opened the Illustrator ’88 box in, uh, 1988.

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What Passes for Excitement Around Here

01 May 2014

Plum Blossoms
We had the plumber in the house yesterday, and had him look at a side issue.
He said our toilets were installed weird, and that they’d continue to leak occasionally until we got new ones. Essentially, they’re mounted too high and they’ve always rocked a bit, so they don’t really seat on the wax seal right, and yada yada yada.
It was decided by His Benevolence that we should get new ones.

You guys are welcome to get two—and also to get WHATEVER you
think best. I plead for no scary Japanese AI-driven waterclosets, but
leave the choice to your joint discretion.

My response:

No washlets with heated seats?
What kind of cruel and inhumane husband are you? 🙂

To which Rick replied that Scary Japanese AI-Driven Watercloset is his next garage band name.
But then I remember accidentally setting the flush sound on a Japanese hotel room washlet—and the hilarity that ensued when I tried to fix it and hit the wrong buttons. Several of the wrong buttons.

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Scalzi "Traitor to the Mens" T-Shirt & Prints

30 April 2014

Available now: dark background t-shirt, light background t-shirt, and prints, stickers, posters, and cards.
If you need a size bigger than 3x or don’t like American Apparel shirts, then I also put them on Zazzle, which is slightly more expensive than Redbubble. dark background t-shirt, light background t-shirt.
John Scalzi said: I think I’m going to make a t-shirt that says “TRAITOR TO THE MENS” on it.
I offered to do the design.
He replied: DO EEEET
So here we are. Here’s John Scalzi’s background story for the phrase.
I offered in part because the very night before I was on a graphics site and had skipped over a free mustache graphic element because, and I quote, “I’ll never use that.”
When Scalzi mentioned the t-shirt idea, of course, it was the first thing that came to mind. As it turns out, I didn’t use that one I’d seen, I used one in a font I had.
Plus, thanks to Design Cuts and their awesome graphics bundles, I had—no joke—twelve gigabytes of new graphics toys chomping at the bit waiting to be used. I really wasn’t kidding about collecting grunge textures.
I want to give credit to the designers for the elements I’ve used, top to bottom.

  1. Sunburst, from Outdoor Logos by Ian Barnard of Vintage Design Co. (Purchased as a part of a Design Cuts bundle.) Initially, I just wanted a sunburst as a design element, but then I realized the kind of people who think feminist men are traitors are just, well, puckery assholes. So there you have it.
  2. Fedora, from Shona Dutta’s Retro Hats collection. Hey, someone local to me!
  3. Veneer font, from Ryan Martinson of Yellow Design Studios. Purchased as a part of the Design Cuts Monster Creative Font Bundle which is a great deal. While it’s a past bundle, if you buy the current bundle, you can also buy this one if it floats your boat. I love this, so I’ll talk about it more below.
  4. Roverd font, from Dexsar Harry Fonts. (“to the”) Indonesia represent.
  5. Veneer Extras font, also from Yellow Design Studios. (This is the mustache.)
  6. Grunge texture is from Vintage Textures by Ghostly Pixels, used on the fedora and “to the.” (Purchased as a part of a Design Cuts bundle.)
  7. (paper goods only) See the chalkboard in there? No? That’s the beauty of textures. It doesn’t have to be obvious to add to the whole. From Bruno Maioral/BMachina.
  8. (paper goods only) The book-like texture is from Cruzine. (Purchased as a part of a Design Cuts bundle.) I tried a bunch of textures, but I liked the feel of this one.
  9. (paper goods only) The folded paper texture is from Simon Berkey Hartmann/The Shop. (Purchased as a part of a Design Cuts bundle.) Metaphorical nod to the well-worn arguments that follow only a few lines of thought.

Veneer and Why I Love This Kind of Font

Bottom type layer: Veneer, color white.
Middle type layer: Veneer 2, color yellow.
Top type layer: Veneer 3, color red.
Cool effect, huh? That’s just three of the six variations. That said, I didn’t think multiple colors worked as well for the t-shirt. Usually, you’d use colors closer together, too, but I was illustrating the concept rather than using it in a larger design.

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Music that Captures Travel Moments

29 April 2014

Last year, Rick and I took the non-stop to Frankfurt, where it took literally 1-1/2 hours to get from the gate we arrived at to the Lufthansa club nearest the gate we’d be departing from. Then we lazed about in amazing chairs for a while before catching our flight to Istanbul.
Our flight lands in Istanbul at 1:30 in the morning, though it was closer to 2 before we managed to pay our visa fees at the airport, get our passports stickered, and wander over to the immigration queue.
We took a cab to our hotel. The cab driver liked a genre I’m not generally into: light jazz.
Until the next song started. I remember driving along parallel to the Bosphorus, the famous bridge in the distance, mere days before the protests started up.
The song changed, and suddenly, I forgot where I was, completely involved in the music. I pull out my phone, launch SoundHound and ask it to figure out what song it is.
Yachts (a man called Adam mix) by Coco Steel & Lovebomb.

It had been used in the opening scene of Fairly Legal Season 2 and somehow I’d assumed it was incidental music written for the show. When we got to the hotel, I bought the song off iTunes.
Here’s part of that scene:

I started using SoundHound in 2011, and it’s really been great for finding songs that remind me of places and times. First song I bought after finding the tune with SoundHound? I was in New Orleans over the holidays.
Tootie Ma Is a Big Fine Thing by Tom Waits and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

When Rick and I were in Puerto Rico having a great dinner, SoundHound found a song playing in the restaurant, Gilberto Santa Rosa’s Amor Mio No Te Vayas.

So. Check it out. I especially like the fact that you can have it listen for a clip, then save that for later so you can search when you have bandwidth. Perfect for international travel on sippy cup (or nonexistent) data plans.

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A Plea from a Programming Head

28 April 2014

For conventions that move around, you get to interact with people who you don’t know and see if they’ll fit into the program. It’s always an interesting process.
I keep seeing emails that reduce to the following:

Hi, I’m A and I’m a writer [most are, anyway]. I’d like to be a panelist at Westercon. I’ve previously spoken at X, Y, and Z [conventions whose programs I haven’t studied in depth and frankly don’t have time to].

Look, I don’t have time to pore over everyone’s site, nor do I want to make a snap decision because I’m frustrated trying to get a sense of who you are.
My job is to put people up on stage so they can have interesting conversations with one another. Or provide useful information. I have only limited information about them available, and I need to make the call based on that.

  1. Writer of what?
  2. What topics are you interested in speaking about? What topics have you spoken about?
  3. Please tell me there’s something you care about other than writing or publishing. What combination of things makes you unique in the world? I collect countries and grunge textures, not necessarily at the same time. You?
  4. There are reasons I keep a list of panels I’ve spoken on. Why? It’s not to be impressive or anything. It’s that I’ve been that head of programming trying to schedule people at 2 am, muttering to myself, “for the love of God, please think of a title for this panel.” Or, “I have these great people available at this time. What can I put them together for?”

Also, if you’re going to Westercon in Salt Lake City this year (July 3-6) and you’d like to be on programming, programming @ is the address. Danke.
I’d really like to see:

  1. More diversity. Please.
  2. More science types.
  3. More costumers.
  4. More people from the Westercon region. We have lots of local resources, and most of the people asking have been local.

Don’t. Make. Me. Beg.
I’m no damn good at it.

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Trip: Coda, Good News

27 April 2014

Mom’s accepted an offer (over asking price) on her place. It was on the market for less than a week.

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Trip, Day 9: Snow, Torrential Rain, Hail, and a Wild Turkey

25 April 2014

I hadn’t had coffee this morning when I looked out the window in Medford, Oregon and saw snow high on the mountains.
I thought, “Wow, it’s April and there’s still snow?”
When I lived in Vermont, the more obvious answer would have occurred to me: I didn’t notice it last night because the snow fell overnight.
As we began driving south, ascending toward Ashland pass, I was surprised to see snow hitting the windshield. By that time, I’d had two cups of coffee. The snow stuck on the trees, which was really pretty, so I’m glad I got to see it.
After we reached the summit, no snow. 🙁
We drove south to Yreka, where I found a pretty good drive-through coffee joint. However, not knowing if their coffee was any good, I decided to order a cinnamon latte.
South of Redding, storm clouds loomed. In colder times, they’d be snow clouds. These, however, were the “buckets of water” kind of clouds. It can’t snow in that kind of volume, actually. I have only seen this kind of rain in the tropics before.
We got all the way through the first storm front and most of the way through the second before the hail started.
Then, as we were approaching Vacaville on 505, not only did the rain stop, but we saw our first patch of blue sky all day.
Something was in the road. Something largeish. I slowed down.
I kid you not, a wild turkey crossed the road.
Since the only time I’ve previously encountered wild turkeys on the road, I was coming around a bend and hit them, I’m glad to say that today’s survived quite nicely.
Our next stop was in Vacaville, where we had uninspiring Mexican food.
From there, we proceeded south, then headed west before reaching Vallejo to cross around the top of the bay and go south in Marin. To me, the drive across 37 at the top of the bay is one of the prettiest parts. If you need to get to/from San Francisco to Sacramento on a nice day and you haven’t been that route, try it sometime.
I also love crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, though I don’t do it often. Such an awesome piece of engineering.
Then, around 6 pm, we finally arrived home. Sooooo glad to be home!
During my absence, the wrought iron guys finally brought the stair railing for the back. It looks great.
Oh, and it sounds like my mom may have an offer for her house already.

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Trip, Day 8: A Pretty Nice Day

25 April 2014

Got to say, though I’m normally not a Hampton Inn lover (because Hilton Garden Inn has better breakfast), the Hampton Inn in Dupont, Washington is awesome and very modern and trendy.
Had a beautiful day driving from there to Medford, Oregon, where we stayed at a more typical Hampton Inn.

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