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  I guess I should attach a comic to the blogJan 16, 2018 8:28 PM PST | url | discuss | + share
Added 1 new A* page:I've been reading old Superman comics lately, and stumbled across a reference to an artist named Paul Cassidy, who ghost-drew for Superman co-creator Joe Shuster in many of the early comics. Turns out Cassidy is also the author of the first graduate-level American research paper on comic books, and his 1942 thesis paper cites a Gallup poll (or anyway, a poll by Dr. George Gallup : D) that examined how many people read the news and/or the "funnies" in the newspaper: 68% of men read the comics, and 47% read the news, while 71% of women read the comics, and 36% read the news.
... Which makes me wonder if writing a blog attached to a comic is a bit of a waste of time. ; ) Ah well, keeps me out of trouble. : P
  Commemorating MLK on MondayJan 13, 2018 8:05 PM PST | url | discuss | + share
Added 1 new A* page:I'll be off on Monday as here in the United States we take a day to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who was brave enough to speak out against racism, hatred, and bigotry.
  But what the heckJan 11, 2018 11:52 PM PST | url | discuss | + share
Added 1 new A* page:I didn't really get anything else done today. : P
  Clouds of Jupiter by Juno againJan 11, 2018 12:34 AM PST | url | discuss | + share
Added 1 new A* page:Hey I've done one of these before but it's late so let's do another (new) spectacular enhanced-color view of Jupiter's clouds assembled by citizen scientists using data from the Juno probe:
image by NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt/Seán Doran (source)
  I for one welcome our giant space overlordsJan 09, 2018 11:26 PM PST | url | discuss | + share
Added 1 new A* page:There was an article today by the BBC about a Japanese astronaut on the International Space Station who is worried about having grown 3.5 inches (9 cm) since arriving on the station three weeks ago. (Update 1/10/18: He actually grew only 2 cm.) The article explains that astronauts typically grow (temporarily) 2-5 cm in space, due to the spine expanding in the nearly weightless environment.
Even on Earth, you may be about a half-inch or so taller when you get up in the morning than when you went to bed, due to the spine being able to expand while you were lying down!
  Heavenly Palace to Spacecraft CemeteryJan 08, 2018 8:52 PM PST | url | discuss | + share
Added 1 new A* page:If you guessed that the oceanic pole of inaccessibility is the spot in the ocean furthest from land, you are correct! And because of that remoteness, space agencies not wanting to hit anyone with their de-orbiting spacecraft have turned that spot on Earth, in the southern Pacific Ocean (also known as "Point Nemo," "nemo" being Latin for "no one") into our planet's spacecraft cemetary: "more than 263 spacecraft were disposed of in this area between 1971 and 2016."
China, whose Tiangong-1 ("Heavenly Palace 1") prototype space station has in recent months been reported to be out of control and destined to crash down in an uncontrolled manner somewhere on Earth, now says that the station is *not* out of control, and that they delayed the scheduled September 2017 re-entry "in order to ensure that the wreckage would fall into an area of the South Pacific ocean where debris from Russian and U.S. space stations had previously landed"—which is the oceanic pole of inaccessibility, as we all now know. : ) Some western analysts are skeptical of China's claim of having the station under control; in this case, let's hope they can hit the bullseye! : o
  Trogs still gotta watch it : oJan 06, 2018 8:20 PM PST | url | discuss | + share
Added 1 new A* page:Regarding my blog yesterday about my PC being too old for newly uncovered CPU vulnerabilities, reader Walter Milliken rightly pointed out to me that my old Windows XP OS is nevertheless not the most secure these days, since Microsoft no longer supports it—and that I should change antivirus programs, since the one I've been using, having dropped its XP support, will no longer receive program updates. He also pointed me to this Ars Technica article, which does a great job of describing what the Meltdown and Spectre CPU vulnerabilities are. As to the threat they pose,

"The most vulnerable users are probably cloud service providers; Meltdown and Spectre can both in principle be used to further attacks against hypervisors, making it easier for malicious users to break out of their virtual machines. For typical desktop users, the risk is arguably less significant. While both Meltdown and Spectre can have value in expanding the scope of an existing flaw, neither one is sufficient on its own to, for example, break out of a Web browser."

And thanks to readers for keeping this comic clicking along by supporting my work on it directly through the A* Patreon campaign! : D They can get themselves little monthly rewards in the process; for instance, here's a sketch I sent to a reader for their support:
Thank you very much! : D I couldn't make this comic without you!
  Being a troglodyte...pays off?Jan 05, 2018 12:03 AM PST | url | discuss | + share
Added 1 new A* page:Security vulnerabilities in popular PC CPU chips—especially ones by Intel—were announced today, and patches rolled out to many systems. My new-ish Windows 10 laptop—I got that so I could stream my daily A* art-making : )—got a surprise update today. Supposedly the fixes—by design, apparently—can slow the system down, so uh hopefully I won't have to lower the detail setting of my streams or something, ew.
It's all a bad and apparently pretty thorny problem, and at least one vulnerability in many Intel CPUs remains. (That's "Spectre"; the "Meltdown" vulnerability is apparently easier for hardware and software makers to address.)
I was worried that my old, Windows XP-running desktop machine would remain a problem, since Microsoft doesn't seem to be in any hurry to put out a fix on that ancient operating system. Almost every article on the problem said pretty much any Intel CPU was vulnerable, with many saying "any made in the last 20 years" or something like that, but after some hunting around, I finally found a PCWorld article giving Intel's list of the affected CPUs...and apparently mine is so old and crusty (2006! woot) that its venerable architecture does not have the problem—if I'm deciphering that list correctly, anyway ("Intel Core 2" is different (and older) than "2nd generation Intel Core processors," as far as I can tell from the internet).
And to think, my friends made fun of me for running such an ancient machine and operating system. Haha! Er. And heck, even my free antivirus program raising a fuss about not being able to renew its authentication (in a free version? : o) yesterday, and apparently no longer officially supporting Windows XP, doesn't actually seem to have stopped it from functioning. So yeah, no problems here, no sirree! : D o_o
Update 1/6/18: Nevertheless, some important notes on XP security and Meltdown and Spectre in my next blog article.
  A* art show at Spin's in Wallingford!Jan 03, 2018 9:57 PM PST | url | discuss | + share
Added 1 new A* page:Big framed A* art prints for sale are coating the main wall in Spin's Barbershop just off N. 45th Street in Seattle's Wallingford district (map)! The show will run for three months—through the end of March—so you've got plenty of time to let your hair grow out a bit first, if you like to do that sort of thing, like I do. Thanks to mom and dad for, well, doing most of the work in getting the show together, and thanks to Spin for having us back for a third time! : )
Here's a shot of just a fraction of the 18 framed A* pieces there—plus two little birdie extras : ) :
  Old DC comic bonanza at ComixologyJan 02, 2018 10:53 PM PST | url | discuss | + share
Added 1 new A* page:Not sure how much longer it will last, but at the moment there's still a DC Holiday Superhero Sale on digital versions of DC collected comics editions on Comixology. I mention this in case any of you are like me, who didn't catch a whole lot of DC comics back in the olden days—I was a Marvel kid : P—and would kind of like to get up to speed on them; most of the collected editions in the sale—pretty much all are discounted to $4.99 each, from as much as $34.99, and run from 200 to 400+ pages—are stuff from this century, but I managed to dig up the following list of old ('30s to '80s) stuff I was interested in:
Challengers of the Unknown by Jack Kirby
The Demon by Jack Kirby
Mister Miracle by Jack Kirby
Justice League of America: The Silver Age Vol. 1
Justice League of America: The Silver Age Vol. 2
Justice League of America: The Silver Age Vol. 3
Crisis on Multiple Earths Vols. 1 - 6
Batman: Illustrated by Neal Adams Vol. 1
Batman: Illustrated by Neal Adams Vol. 2
Batman: Illustrated by Neal Adams Vol. 3
Legends of the Dark Knight: Alan Davis
Legends of the Dark Knight: Jim Aparo Vol. 1
Legends of the Dark Knight: Jim Aparo Vol. 2
Legends of the Dark Knight: Jim Aparo Vol. 3
Legends of the Dark Knight: Marshall Rodgers
Tales of the Batman: Alan Brennert
Tales of the Batman: Archie Goodwin
Tales of the Batman: Carmine Infantino
Tales of the Batman: Don Newton
Tales of the Batman: Gene Colan Vol. 1
Tales of the Batman: Gerry Conway
Tales of the Batman: Len Wein
Batman: The Golden Age Vol. 1
Batman: The Golden Age Vol. 2
Batman: The Golden Age Vol. 3
Batman & Superman in World's Finest: The Silver Age Vol. 1
Superman: The Golden Age Vol. 1
Superman: The Golden Age Vol. 2
Superman: The Golden Age Vol. 3
Supergirl: The Silver Age Vol. 1
The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl (1982-1984) Vol. 1
The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl (1982-1984) Vol. 2
Wonder Woman: The Golden Age Vol. 1
Wonder Woman by John Byrne Vol. 1
There's some overlap there, and I sure wish they had more "Silver Age" (1960s) Batman and Superman stuff, but eh I think I've made a decent start at things—although this would all be easier if DC just had their own subscription service where you could read old comics to your heart's content, like Marvel does with Marvel Unlimited. But anyway I now have hm I guess 10,000+ pages of old DC stuff to read; at my comic or two a day rate, that will keep me busy for...years (and will make a nice switch-off with my Marvel Unlimited chronological read-through—I'm up to 1966 : D)!
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