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When debugging, your attitude matters

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A while back I wrote What does debugging a program look like? on what to do when debugging (change one thing at a time! check your assumptions!).

But I was debugging some CSS last week, and I think that post is missing something important: your attitude.

Now – I’m not a very good CSS developer yet. I’ve never written CSS professionally and I don’t understand a lot of basic CSS concepts (I think I finally understood for the first time recently how position: absolute works). And last week I was working on the most complicated CSS project I’d ever attempted.

While I was debugging my CSS, I noticed myself doing some bad things that I normally would not! I was:

  • making random changes to my code in the hopes that it would work
  • googling a lot of things and trying them without understanding what they did
  • if something broke, reverting my changes and starting again

This strategy was exactly as effective as you might imagine (not very effective!), and it was because of my attitude about CSS! I had this unusual-for-me belief that CSS was Too Hard and impossible for me to understand. So let’s talk about that attitude a bit!

the problem attitude: “this is too hard for me to understand”

One specific problem I was having was – I had 2 divs stacked on top of one another, and I wanted Div A to be on top of Div B. My model of CSS stacking order at the start of this was basically “if you want Thing A to be on top of Thing B, change the z-index to make it work”. So I changed the z-index of Div A to be 5 or something.

But it didn’t work! In Firefox, div A was on top, but in Chrome, Div B was on top. Argh! Why? CSS is impossible!!!

I googled a bit, and I found out that a possible reason z-index might not work was because Div A and Div B were actually in different “stacking contexts”. If that was true, even if I set the z-index of Div A to 999999 it would still not put it on top of Div B. (here’s a small example of what this z-index problem looks like, though I think my specific bug had some extra complications)

I thought “man, this stacking context thing seems really complicated, why is it different between Firefox and Chrome, I’m not going to be able to figure this out”. So I tried a bunch of random things a bunch of blog posts suggested, which as usual did not work.

Finally I gave up this “change random things and pray” strategy and thought “well, what if I just read the documentation on stacking order, maybe it’s not that bad”.

So I read the MDN page on stacking order, which says:

When the z-index property is not specified on any element, elements are stacked in the following order (from bottom to top):
1. The background and borders of the root element
2. Descendant non-positioned blocks, in order of appearance in the HTML
3. Descendant positioned elements, in order of appearance in the HTML

This is SO SIMPLE! It just depends on the order in the HTML! I put Div A after Div B in the HTML (as a sibling) and it made everything work in both browsers.

better attitude: “let’s learn the basics and see if that helps”

This whole stacking problem turned out to really not be that complicated – all I needed to do was read a very short and simple documentation page to understand how stacking works!

Of course, computer things are not always this simple (and even in this specific case the rules about what creates a new stacking context are pretty complicated.). But I did not need to understand those more complicated rules in order to put Div A on top of Div B! I only needed to know the much simpler 3 rules above.

So – calm down for a second, learn a few of the basics, and see if that helps.

watching people who know what they’re doing is inspiring

Another area of CSS that I thought was “too hard” for me to understand was this whole position: absolute and position: relative business. I kept seeing (and sometimes using!) examples where people made complicated CSS things with position: absolute but I didn’t understand how they worked. Doesn’t position: absolute mean that the element is always in the same place on the screen? Why are these position: absolute things moving when I scroll like the rest of the document? (spoiler: no, that’s position: fixed.)

But last week, I paired with someone who’s a lot better at CSS than me on some code, and I saw that they were just typing in position: absolute and position: relative confidently into their code without seeming confused about it!! Could that be me?

I looked up the documentation on MDN on position: absolute, and it said:

The element is removed from the normal document flow, and no space is created for the element in the page layout. It is positioned relative to its closest positioned ancestor… Its final position is determined by the values of top, right, bottom, and left.

So things with position: absolute are positioned relative to their closest positioned ancestor! And you just use top/bottom/right/left to pick where! That’s so simple!

documentation that you can trust makes a big difference

I think another big source of my frustration with CSS is that I didn’t have the best grasp of where to find accurate information & advice. I knew that MDN was a reliable reference, but MDN doesn’t really help answer questions like “ok but seriously how do I center a div???” and I found myself reading a lot of random Stack Overflow answers/blog posts that I wasn’t 100% sure were correct.

This week I learned about CSS Tricks which has a lot of GREAT articles like Centering in CSS: A Complete Guide which seems very reputable and is written in a super clear way.

that’s all!

I don’t really know why I started to believe that it was “impossible” to understand basic CSS concepts since I don’t believe that about computers in general. Maybe because I’ve been writing CSS at a beginner level for a very long time but hadn’t ever really tried to do a more involved CSS project than “let’s arrange some divs in a grid with flexbox”!

But this attitude really got in the way of me writing the CSS I wanted to write! And once I let go of it and used my normal debugging techniques I was able to get a lot more things to work the way I wanted.

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Julia is so inspiring!
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Yet another novel I will no longer write

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So, some years ago I blogged a whole bunch of times about books I wasn't going to write for one reason or another.

Now, thanks to COVID-19, I can add another to the list.

Some of you have been waiting years (is it really a decade? Gosh!) for a third book in the would-be trilogy that began with Halting State and Rule 34. The third Scottish near-future police procedural kept getting put back and back because reality wouldn't sit still and behave itself: it's really hard to write something set 10 years in the future (or even 5) if you don't even know what the country it's set in is going to be called. I named the period starting in 2012 "the Scottish political singularity", because it made all near-future fiction set in Scotland problematic: first we had the referendum on independence from the UK, then a general election, then the Brexit referendum. Back in 2012 I thought things would have settled down by 2016 or so: alas, I was sadly disillusioned.

So around 2016 I hatched a Plan B.

(Had, past tense.)

Plan B was to make my near-future Scottish thriller so hyper-specific that the big political questions wouldn't impinge on the plot at all. And I had a good plot, and even wrote the first thousand or so words of the untitled novel as a story seed. I just needed to clear my desk, finish Invisible Sun (FX: sound of author weeping helplessly) and finish the new space opera ...

Well, you know what happened: delays due to people dying, an apocalyptic drum-beat of bad news in the background, and so on and so forth. But I thought I might finally get time to start writing the Scottish Novel in earnest, starting in mid- to late-2022 ...

Then COVID-19 came along.

You see, the third Scottish crime novel was to be a zombie pandemic novel.

I have several bees in my metaphorical bonnet—in fact, an entire angry swarm of them—when it comes to the standard zombie narrative in post-apocalypse fiction. The zombie myth has roots in Haitian slave plantations: they're fairly transparently about the slaves' fear of being forced to toil endlessly even after their death. Then this narrative got appropriated and transplanted to America, in film, TV, and fiction. Where it hybridized with white settler fear of a slave uprising. The survivors/protagonists of the zombie plague are the viewpoint the audience is intended to empathize with, but their response to the shambling horde is as brutal and violent as any plantation owner's reaction to their slaves rising, and it speaks to a peculiarly American cognitive disorder, elite panic.

Elite panic is the phenomenon by which rich and/or privileged people imagine that in times of chaos all social constraints break down and everyone around them will try to rob, rape, and murder them. To some extent this reflects their own implicit belief that humanity is by nature grasping, avaricious, amoral, and cruel, and that their status depends on power and violence. It's a world-view you'd expect of unreconstructed pre-Enlightenment aristocrats, or maybe a society dominated by a violent slave-owning elite. It's also fundamentally wrong. Usually whenever there's a major disaster, people look after their families ... and then their friends and neighbours, pulling together and trying to help.

It's noteworthy that Zombie Apocalypse fic and Pandemic Dystopia fic overlap considerably, and people get both aspects right and wrong to different degrees. (I'd like to give a shout-out at this point to Seanan McGuire who, as Mira Grant, gave us the Newsflesh trilogy. Her zombies are, well, conventional media zombies (they shamble and they eat brains), but she put a lot of work into making the epidemiology plausible.)

I was planning a pandemic zombie disaster novel in which people behaved like human beings, rather than psychotic, heavily armed doomsday preppers. My zombie plague differs from most: it's a viral encephalitis, possibly an odd strain of influenza, which leaves a percentage of its victims with Cotard's Delusion, also known as walking corpse syndrome. The affected person holds a delusional belief that they're dead, or putrefying, or don't exist, or they're in hell. (It's associated with parietal lobe lesions and can also be induced by some drug metabolites: as a consequence of viral encephalitis it would be weird, but possibly no weirder than Encephalitis lethargica.) How does a society deal with a pandemic that leaves 1% of the population permanently convinced that they're dead? Well ...

I had a plot all worked out. TLDR: deep brain stimulation via implant. Rapidly leading to rental plans—because in our grim meathook privatised-medicine future the medical devices company who are first-to-market realize that charging people a monthly plan to feel like they're alive is a good revenue stream—but this is followed by hackers cracking the DRM on the cryptocoin-funded brain implants. The device manufacturer goes bankrupt, and their intellectual property rights are bought out by a Mafia-like operation who employ stringers to go around uploading malware to the implants of zombies who've stopped paying the rent, permanently bricking them. Our protagonist is a zombie detective: the actual story opens when a murder victim walks into a police station to complain that they've been killed.

And the whole theme of this untitled novel was going to be: this is elite panic, and this is disaster capitalism, and this is what really happens during a zombie epidemic, and these things are not the same—

And then COVID-19 came along and basically rendered the whole thing unneccessary because we are all getting a real world crash-course in how we deal with people suffering from a viral pandemic, and we do not generally deal with them using shotguns and baseball bats even if they're so contagious that contact might kill us.

Because—fuck my life—writing plausible near-future SF in the 21st century wasn't hard enough already.

Anyway, let me leave you with the WARNING very rough, first draft, unpolished only existing fragment of what was intended to be The Lambda Functionary before COVID-19 buried it at the crossroads with a mouthful of garlic and a stake through its heart.




CHAPTER 1: U R DED

You are an ex-zombie.

Most days, most of the time, you can ignore this. As existential states go, being an ex-zombie is a bit like being an ex-skier or an ex-patriate: it's bland, and anodyne, an absence of dread, the mental cavity left behind by a passing toothsome nightmare. The pulse of blood in your veins and the thoughts in your head and the warmth in your loins provide a constant reassurance that you are, in fact, alive and mammalian. Except every once in a while it leaps out from behind a lamp-post and screams death in your face like you're an alcoholic noticing the gaping door to a pub by your shoulder: and suddenly you are dead once more.

You're perambulating along the grey cobbled canyon of Hill Street that evening—it's early summer, the nights are drawing short and the tourists are flocking—when you pass a jumble of bony knees and elbows, the bowed bald dome of a skull leaning forward as if about to boak in the gutter. At first you think it's a regular jakey boy, or maybe a beggar: but there's no cup and no weatherbeaten cardboard sign, and that stomach's not held enough food to throw up for weeks now. It takes a few seconds for your stride to clatter to a reluctant stop, by which time you're about five metres past the silent, barely-breathing figure. Coldness wraps its dreicht, despair-stained phalanges around your heart and gives it a squeeze. You shudder and take a breath, remembering Ina and the boys in the happy time before the demic, and for a moment you see yourself there on the edge of the gutter, vomiting vacuum on the stony indifference of the capital's streets as the waste trucks whine past, canned voices braying bring out your dead. You don't want to look round. But you've been here before, and the guilt is suffocating, so you turn and you look.

The lad in the gutter is indeed far gone in the post-viral zombie haze of starvation. He could be anything from seventeen to forty-seven, with the gaunt concentration-camp inmate's cheekbones and sunken eye sockets. His hair's fallen out, of course, his nails are cracked and ragged—clothes a mess, a holed hoodie and jeans that are little better than rags, muddy and shredded cerements fit to be buried in. He's still breathing, and nodding slowly every few seconds—a slow davvening, the prayerful rocking of the undead. Gums drawing back from yellowing teeth, he drools slightly. Behold, the living dead. You want to run away: he makes you cringe, feeling unclean. But instead, you crouch down beside him and, steeling yourself, you lay your right arm across his shoulders. "Hey," you say. The zombie doesn't reply, of course. They never do. But you can feel the jerky rise and fall of his ribs: he's hungry. He broadcasts raw starvation like an old-time radio station with kilowatts of fossil energy to waste, pumping angst out into the ionosphere. Behind him, a boutique's robot window display repeatedly enrobes an anorexic headless mannequin in an hourglass sheath of expensive fabric, then strips it off again to reveal the skeletal ribs of the dressform fabber beneath: but you know voluntarily embraced hunger lacks the killing quality of the starving undead. "When did you last eat?" You murmur in his ear, not expecting any response.

"Nuuuuh ..."

Shock almost makes you let go. He vocalized: that means he's not let go. Lights on, somebody's still home—even if the light's a fading flashlight. You tap your glasses and peel your eyes. "Matt here. Got a responsive shambler in Hill Street Backup, please." Then you hook one hand under his armpit and push yourself up off the floor. "Hey, kid. Let's get some food in you."

"Nuuuurr." He might be trying to say no, but you're not having it. You manage to get yourself up, and he's so light—skin and bones, really—that he comes with, doesn't try to put up a fight. Opposite the posh frock fab you see the frosted window and kitsch logo of a once-trendy pub. It's not your usual dive, but it's still mid-evening and the kitchen will be open, so you shoulder-barge your way through the swing-door with Dead Guy lurching drunkenly athwart behind, and bring him to the nearest empty table. " Ye cannae be bringing the likes of that in here—" The bartender is brassy and indignant, but you smile at her and she blinks and subsides as she kens that you're peeling tonight. "Aye, wheel, if it pukes on the carpet you're paying!"

Luckily there are no other customers cluttering up this end of the hostelry and liable to be discommoded by your Samaritan emergency: just a handful of sour-faced old regulars supping their IPAs by the brightwork at the bar. "I'd like a portion of cheese'n'chips and a bowl of chicken nuggets," I tell her. She looks askance: "soon as I get some protein in him the sooner I can get him out of here and into rehab," I add. "Peeling, ken?"

She nods tightly, face like a furled umbrella, and scoots for the til. The chicken nuggets aren't nuggets and have never been near a bird, but they're easily swallowed: ditto the chips'n'cheese. It's all soft, high carb/high fat sludge that used to get hammered by the sin tax during the war on obesity: now it's back on the menu as pub grub, and it's especially good for shoveling into a zombie who, after all, is dead and therefore utterly uninterested in matters gustatory.

Boney Jim—you've got to call him something, and he's not going to give you a name—sits quietly where you parked him on the bench seat. He's still davvening. The food comes (along with the drink you ordered to still your unquiet nerves) and you pick up a greasy hot chip and push it at his lips. "Eat," you tell him. For a miracle, he opens his mouth. You shove the chip in and get your fingers out of the way just in time. He chews and swallows, and you repeat the process with a nugget of deep-fried freshly printed avian myocites. Then some more chips. He is eating and swallowing what you place in front of his lips, even though his hands don't move and his eyes are a million kilometers away, staring into infinity, pupils fixed and dilated. Boney Jim, Zombie Jim. If you'd left him out there he'd probably have lasted a couple more days before starvation, thirst, or exposure got him. It's going to be necessary to track down whoever dumped him in the street like that: you add it to the to-do spike in your glasses. Eyes Peeled, as they say. You went through this yourself, in an earlier life. There's light at the other end of the tunnel, and it isn't necessarily the white light of eternity if somebody cares enough to get you to a clinic and rehab.

Ina cared enough to do it for you: but you weren't there to do it for her when the time came, and sometimes the shame and the guilt is worse than the disease.

You have been feeding your zombie for about a quarter of an hour when you realize that you're not alone any more. The Principles have sent you aid and comfort in the shape of a couple of Kindness Volunteers who—like yourself—are peeling tonight. She's a rosy-cheeked middle-aged woman in a tweed twin-set and cultured pearls, sensible shoes her only concession: he looks like a painfully earnest Baptist Sunday school teacher from the 1960s, stranded most of a century in his own future—a determinedly retro hipster look. Maybe they're twentieth century cosplayers who've escaped from the convention center for an evening of determined volunteerism. Or maybe they're the real thing. Either way you're grateful. "I found him outside," you explain, pushing another not-chicken not-nugget at Boney Jim's mandible. "Just sitting on the pavement. I think he's stage IVa, maybe IVb, but there's still some reactivity. Might be something they can work with at Greyfriars." They set up a receiving unit for zombies in the former graveyard, at the height of the demic. White dome tents mushrooming among the lichen-encrusted headstones.




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US edits National Stockpile website after Kushner claims it’s not for states

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President Trump speaking while Jared Kushner looks on at a White House press conference.

Enlarge / President Donald Trump speaks as Jared Kushner, senior White House adviser, listens during a Coronavirus Task Force news conference at the White House on Thursday, April 2, 2020. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

The Trump administration changed the Strategic National Stockpile website's description of the program yesterday after White House adviser Jared Kushner falsely claimed that the medical-supply stockpile is not meant to be used to help states. The description was changed to minimize the stockpile's role in helping states through crises like the current pandemic, but other portions of the official website still make it clear that Kushner was wrong.

Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law, claimed in a news conference Thursday that "the notion of the federal stockpile was it's supposed to be our stockpile, it's not supposed to be state stockpiles that they then use." Kushner made the remark while discussing ventilators and masks. (See transcript.)

Kushner acknowledged that the federal government is giving ventilators and other equipment to states, even though he argued that the stockpile isn't meant to be used by states. But the Strategic National Stockpile website homepage, maintained by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), previously made it clear that the stockpile is for the entire country. Before Kushner's remarks, the page said:

Strategic National Stockpile is the nation's largest supply of life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for use in a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out.

When state, local, tribal, and territorial responders request federal assistance to support their response efforts, the stockpile ensures that the right medicines and supplies get to those who need them most during an emergency.

All of that text, which you can see in an Internet Archive snapshot of the page from earlier today, was deleted sometime today after Kushner faced criticism for making the false claim. The new version of the page provides a vaguer description and stresses that states have their own stockpiles:

The Strategic National Stockpile's role is to supplement state and local supplies during public health emergencies. Many states have products stockpiled, as well. The supplies, medicines, and devices for life-saving care contained in the stockpile can be used as a short-term stopgap buffer when the immediate supply of adequate amounts of these materials may not be immediately available.

Stockpile is used to “resupply state... agencies”

If the goal was to completely remove all traces of the stockpile's role in helping states, the effort was not thorough enough. An "About the Stockpile" link on the homepage still leads to a fuller description that says it is supposed to "resupply state and local public health agencies in a catastrophic health event."

When contacted by Ars, the HHS said the website change was in the works for a week, even though it was just deployed today.

"This is language we have been using in responding to inquiries for weeks now," an HHS spokesperson told Ars. "ASPR [Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response] first began working to update the website text a week ago to more clearly explain to state and local agencies and members of the public the role of the SNS [Strategic National Stockpile]."

According to Politico, "A White House spokesperson had no comment when asked whether the White House ordered the change to the stockpile's webpage."

Kushner: States are asking for too much

At yesterday's press conference, Kushner said the federal government uses "a simple formula" based on utilization-percentage data submitted by states to determine where to send ventilators.

Kushner said that "all over the country, a lot of people are asking for things that they don't necessarily need at the moment," and he urged reporters to be skeptical of states' claims that the federal government isn't providing enough ventilators and other medical supplies:

I would just encourage you, when you have governors saying that the federal government hasn't given them what they need, I would just urge you to ask them, "well have you looked within your state to make sure that you haven't been able to find the resources."

Originally known as the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile, the stockpile was created in 1999 "to assemble large quantities of essential medical supplies that could be delivered to states and communities during an emergency within 12 hours of the federal decision to use the stockpile," another federal webpage says.

That webpage lists numerous instances of the stockpile being deployed over the past 20 years to respond to natural disasters and public-health emergencies. The page had already been updated for the current pandemic, saying that as of March 31, "More than 10,308 tons of cargo [has been] shipped to support US repatriation efforts and state PPE [personal protective equipment] needs" related to COVID-19.

Trump said at yesterday's press conference that the national stockpile has almost 10,000 ventilators. "The states should have been building their stockpile," Trump said, calling the federal supply "a backup." The federal government has already distributed half of its ventilators, The Wall Street Journal wrote.

The stockpile "has been overwhelmed by urgent requests for masks, respirators, goggles, gloves and gowns in the two months since the first US case of COVID-19 was confirmed," a Washington Post article said last week. The Post article said the stockpile "was never intended for an emergency that spans the entire nation." That doesn't mean it isn't to be used by states, but rather that it is stocked well enough for multiple regional emergencies.

"The response contains enough for multiple emergencies," former CDC acting director Richard Besser said. "Multiple does not mean 50 states plus territories and, within every state, every locality."

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Subscription drive, day 4: A pitch from “Comcast’s least favorite journalist”

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Illustration of Jon Brodkin's face on a poster that says

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

After eight and a half years working full-time for Ars Technica, it's time for me to write something totally unlike anything that previously appeared under my name: a sales pitch. I'm a journalist for good reason, as I'm too gruff and unfriendly to be in sales, so please temper your expectations.

As you probably gathered by now, we're doing a subscription drive this week. Every person who buys a subscription will help us get through a difficult financial time, as the pandemic and oncoming recession cause a predictable decline in advertising revenue throughout the media industry.

In addition to giving you some nice perks like ad-free articles and a YubiKey 2FA device, your subscription dollars help make sure that people like me get to keep writing for Ars. I've written more than 3,000 articles for Ars Technica, and I don't intend to stop any time soon.

You want broadband coverage? I have good news

Now, I can't promise to personally torture Lee Hutchinson in the name of journalism, even though I support and encourage all efforts to do so. But I do promise to write more of the articles that led the Daily Beast to call me "probably Comcast's least favorite journalist."

I've been a full-time journalist for nearly 20 years, and at Ars I have more freedom to write what I want to write than I had at any other news organization. That has led to deep-dives into Comcast's data-cap meter and the cable company's disputes with Netflix, coverage of Verizon throttling a fire department's "unlimited" data during a California wildfire, and many articles about bizarre fees—like AT&T passing along its property taxes to customers and Frontier charging for routers that don't exist.

Working for Ars has also let me write about the travesty of rural (and even urban) broadband availability and provide ongoing coverage of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai's long-term mission to stop regulation of essential broadband services while US residents suffer from a lack of competition, data-cap overage charges, unexpected bill increases, and bad customer service in general.

I haven't been anything but a journalist since college, and I cannot imagine working in an industry where you have to lie or selectively omit facts to sell a product instead of reporting and telling the truth. This is a business, but it's a business that works because people trust us to tell them the truth. There are people I work for who figure out how things get paid for, and if everything goes well I get to keep writing articles without considering whether hard-nosed journalism might offend a company that spends money on advertising.

Working at Ars—yeah, it’s pretty awesome

The other great thing about writing for Ars is being surrounded by smart people. I've often consulted with fellow Ars writers to better understand deep, technical topics, and this has frequently helped me write more informative articles. But when I say I'm surrounded by smart people, I don't just mean other writers and editors: our readers are much smarter than the average person, and they are prolific commenters. I'm always quick to read comments on my articles in case a reader brings up an obvious point I missed, asks about a topic I should have addressed, or points out a mistake I need to correct. (I'm a diligent fact-checker of my own stories before publication, but no one is perfect.) I can't think of another news organization where I'd be able to work with and write for so many smart people, all without leaving my house.

There was supposed to be a sales pitch in here somewhere, but I think you get the picture. I expect Ars to be strong for decades into the future, but the business realities that I thankfully never have to deal with ultimately determine how many full-time writers we can keep on staff. We're grateful to people who read our articles, but buying a subscription has an even bigger positive impact on our long-term viability.

We've got two subscription options:

Ars Pro ($25 per year) subscribers at the Ars Pro level get the following benefits:

  • No ads anywhere
  • No tracking scripts (though Twitter and other embeds have their own scripts we cannot control)
  • "Classic View"—a widescreen-optimized old-school Ars homepage layout
  • Access to subscriber-only forums where the real Ars graybeards hang out
  • Full-text RSS feeds of all our articles
  • PDF downloads of all our articles

Ars Pro++, currently discounted to $40 with the coupon code springPlusPlus20. Pro++ subscribers get everything from the Pro tier, with two additional benefits:

  • Your choice of a YubiKey 5 NFC ($45 value) or YubiKey 5C ($50 value), both of which add an extra layer of security to your computing experience
  • An optional "clean reading view" that strips Ars articles down to their essentials for easy consumption

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You buy. It's worth it.
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You asked, we answered: Free wallpapers, plus a subscription update!

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You asked, we answered: Free wallpapers, plus a subscription update!

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty)

Everyone at Ars is truly humbled by your support this week! Late last night, our subscription tracker crossed the 100-percent mark—and kept on going. We're going to continue the subscription drive through the weekend, and we're going to raise our goal by 50 percent because your support has been amazing.

When we started this drive on Monday, we picked a goal that felt out of reach; we wanted to shoot for the stars. You all have delivered more than we had expected, but the fact remains that each and every new subscription is a bulwark to securing our future at this incredibly trying time.

Thank you sincerely for being a reader!

And now a word from Ars Creative Director Aurich Lawson.

This community never ceases to surprise me. The outpouring of support and love this week has really been something else. I've been reading all your comments, and I know I speak for all of us at the Orbiting HQ when I say that I appreciate you all. I wanted to do up something special this morning for this post, and several people have been asking me for a custom wallpaper.

The Moonshark has been a bit of a long running joke at Ars. It started with a gag about water on the moon in the comments of a story. Now, Editor Moonshark has become our mascot and responds to people in the comments. I thought that in the spirit of Eric Berger's post about going back to space, I would do something to illustrate what it might be like if you could don a spacesuit and go to meet the Moonshark in person.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us all these years or is new to the subscriber family. If you're not a part of it yet—well, there's no time like the present!

In the meantime, this wallpaper is for everyone, subscriber or not. You can use the download links to grab the size closest to your screen; I exported the most common sizes.

Meeting the Moonshark - 5K (iMac Retina)
Meeting the Moonshark - 4K
Meeting the Moonshark - 1440p
Meeting the Moonshark - 1080p

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Roguelike indie Going Under puts its dungeons in a tech startup’s basement

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isometric view of cartoon characters in a cloud-of-dust fight in Going Under Going Under’s intern dukes it out with demons in the dun— er, basement of her tech startup. | Image: Aggro Crab Games

Coming to consoles and PC this fall

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