Weeknotes: 068

Work

I spent most of the week (I was off on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday) continuing to work on getting our learning-to-rank training and deployment pipeline set up in Concourse and Amazon SageMaker, finally getting to the point where I have something which we can deploy and test. There’s been a lot to learn, and it doesn’t help that none of the AWS APIs document the permissions you need, so there has been a lot of guesswork.

I implemented a small UI change to disable the “most viewed” option when someone enters a search query. Yes, it’s not all machine learning and faffing around with clouds, there’s a never-ending list of small improvements we can make.

Finally, I opened an RFC about putting attachment data into content items, to enable more neat programmatic use of our content, both internally and externally.

Miscellaneous

I went to see the new Star Wars film, which was honestly a bit disappointing. It was entertaining enough, but there was a lot which wasn’t explained. The first sentence of the opening text was something like “Palpatine is back.” Did we learn how he came back? No, he’s just back. But at least we saw the Knights of Ren, who we’d not seen before despite Kylo Ren being introduced to us in The Force Awakens as “commander of the Knights of Ren”.

I got a couple of new games in the recent Steam sale:

  • Baba Is You: a puzzle game about manipulating the rules of the game, which are represented as blocks you can push around and change.

  • Call of Cthulhu: a Lovecraftian detective horror game with possibly a time-travel element (at least, judging from the vision my character had when he woke up at the start). I’m getting a Shadow over Innsmouth vibe from it so far, but that’s probably just because it seems to have some sort of ocean cult. There’s no evidence (yet) that there are fish-people too.

  • The Sims 3 plus a few bits of DLC: it’s fun, I can live out wild fantasies like “be a shut in but also rich”. Looking after pets is super hard though, and I’ve lost three to social services for neglect so far. Looking after babies is much easier, somehow. Unfortunately the game seems to have a resource leak of some kind, as after about 15 minutes it slows down quite a lot if I try to run it on higher speeds (regular speed is fine, but everything takes ages…), and the only fix I’ve found so far is to restart it. It wasn’t always this way, so it’s probably a problem with my save, but I’m not sure how to solve it.

I read a bunch of books this week, including finishing off the Wheel of Time series. I read:

  • Towers of Midnight and A Memory of Light (by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson), the final two books of the Wheel of Time. The ending was pretty good, nice and dramatic, with lots of plot theads being tied up. There were some parts which were a bit iffy though (hover to reveal text):

    • Graendal put the four great captains leading the Last Battle under Compulsion from Tel’aran’rhiod, making them subtly lose their fights. But if she can do that, why didn’t she just compel someone close to Rand (like Min or Rhuarc) to kill, harm, or mislead him? Rand shields his dreams, but does he also shield the dreams of everyone around him?

    • In his fight with Rand, Moridin’s trump card was killing Alanna. Her bond to Rand would drive him into extreme rage at her death, making him unable to act as carefully as he needed to. But did Moridin really think Alanna would choose the end of the world over just releasing her bond? It only makes sense if Alanna was a darkfriend who suddenly had a change of heart, but there’s no other evidence for that theory. Verin worked closely with Alanna, but nothing about Alanna was mentioned when Verin turned over her list of Black Ajah sisters, so if Alanna was a darkfriend Verin explicitly protected her (but why protect her and betray the rest?) or didn’t know.

    • When Rand created a vision of a world without the Dark One, everyone had the same look as someone forcibly turned to the dark: they had been forcibly turned to the light and lost some of their humanity. But unless the Dark One arises from the dark thoughts of man (which the mythology doesn’t support), there’s no reason men can’t be evil in a world with no Dark One. There just wouldn’t be a god of evil actively trying to corrupt people and destroy the world. Was that vision actually created by the Dark One to make Rand despair?

  • In the Court of the Yellow King (edited by Glynn Barrass), a collection of short stories in the King in Yellow mythos. They were all pretty different (covering vikings, Elvis, operas, drugs, and more) but all fit into the mythos. I don’t know what it is exactly, but there’s just something I enjoy about the setting: a dark god on a distant world reaching out to Earth by spreading books, plays, and music which, when you read, watch, or listen to them, turn you insane and open you to his influence. The King is very much a god of the empty spaces beyond man: but rather than a more traditional domain like the wilderness or the ocean, his domain is creative imagination.

I’ve started on The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, which I don’t think I’ll get through quite as quickly as I did the fiction.