August 20th, 2009


Pennsic Purchases

Because as we all know, the main purpose of Pennsic is shopping, right? Here are some of the highlights that I picked up:

After years of being very cautious about wearing my period turnshoes (omigod, they might get *muddy*), I finally did the right thing about bought a pair of pattens for them. For those in the audience who haven't encountered them, these are more or less fancy wooden blocks that you attach to the bottom of your shoes -- the period version of a snap-on vibram sole. It took a day or so to get used to them, and I still tended to switch to my modern shoes when making the long walk to the archery field, but I did wind up using the period shoes a lot more this Pennsic than ever before. The pattens were quite the conversation-starter, and I wound up buying another pair of period shoes (in bright shiny red) to go with them.

Teribus did not, sadly, have a new disc out yet. (Although they promised that the next disc *will* have the kick-ass version of Amoroso that they were playing in the marketplace.) However, they have been joined by Avatar of Catsprey, one of the Society's better-known musicians, and they apparently all participated on *his* latest disc from Estampitta, so I picked that up. Haven't gotten to it yet (my listening time has been dominated by my current Discworld novel), but it's at the top of the pile to come next.

I only found one new dance CD this year: Shepheards Holyday by Wandering Hands. I've listened through it quickly: my initial verdict is that it's good, although not quite perfect. It's specifically a disc of first-Playford dances arranged for dance, focusing on less-performed ones, so it's rather useful. The musicianship is quite good throughout. My only complaint is that I find the mixing rather over-simplified -- a bunch of the tunes come out a bit muddy, and there are times when the woodwinds get a bit too piercing. Definitely worth adding to the Baronial dance collection, and I suspect we'll wind up using it a fair amount, though IMO they could really push to the next level if they spend more time on the mix on their next album.

Probably the single coolest item I picked up was the second edition of The Atlas of the Knowne World. This is just a bunch of SCA maps, but *what* a bunch of SCA maps. It has pages for every Kingdom, showing (as best he could figure out) the borders of every SCA branch -- for Kingdoms that need it (like the East), he did multiple maps at different scales. It has index pages giving the branch breakdowns and heraldry for every branch. Coolest of all, it includes onionskin overlays for every map, showing the mundane-world geography broken down by state and country, so you can really *see* the relationships between the SCA and mundane layouts. It's not all that period in style, but it is by far the most *useful* SCA map ever produced. It was the first thing we bought at Pennsic, falling under the "this might sell out -- must buy it now!" clause, and is going to occupy a favored place on the administrative bookshelves...

Facebook privacy controls

When Facebook started to really break out, one of the common complaints about it among LJ users was that its privacy controls were, to put it mildly, lacking. In comparison with LJ, they were laughable. At the time, that criticism was valid. But it's been improving dramatically over time, and a fair number of LJ folks have begun to make use of Facebook for their lighter-touch social network applications. (FB still largely sucks for deep conversation, but for most other purposes it's the place to go.)

So it's worth noting this article in Ars Technica last week -- Facebook privacy: a guide. It discusses the privacy controls available in FB, and how to use them, in some detail. The summary is that FB now has pretty deep privacy management, in many ways rather more powerful and granular than LJ's. They are *not* simple to use -- you have to manage custom friend lists, and the controls are scattered in a number of places -- but for the moderate-to-power user, there's a lot of fine-grained control available to you. It's not perfect yet, but they're certainly up to "good enough" for most purposes...