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Journal: weather.com's Faces of Death 1

Journal by Bill Dog

"Featured Videos" for just the afternoon of today included:

* (Something like "boy dies after stunning collapse", before I saw some of these others and noticed a pattern)

* "Boys Perish Soon After This Selfie"

* "Teen Dies While Attempting World Record"

* "Exchange Student Falls to Death"

<Goes there right now to see if there are any more>

* "Study Abroad Trip Turns Tragic" (the still for the video showing a young guy's face)

* "Cause of Death Released for Teen"

What the heck is it with their fascination for young people dying? I just wanted to see how fucking hot it was today (work on-site in fed. govt. bldg, and they don't give us A/C, in SoCal). I don't want to see death porn or whatever.

p.s. "Incredible Photos of People Laying in a Week's Worth of Trash" WTF?

User Journal

Journal: I'll bet the book is better

Journal by Bill Dog

So they're advertising a new movie coming out, starring then presidential candidate BHO's penpal, that explores the fascinating idea of given that we use only about 10% of our brains, what would it be like if we were to use 100% of them.

And apparently the answer involves lots of guns (and some knives), kung fu, car crashes, 'splosions, and gravity-defying flying across the room brought on by blunt force trauma, that curiously, for the amount of force that would be occuring, does not instead have a disintegrating or hole-punching result.

User Journal

Journal: private enterprise discouraged 5

Journal by Bill Dog

From some FA on the Hobby Lobby ruling:

"But the government points to a long line of cases holding that for-profit companies may not use religion as a basis for failing to comply with generally applicable laws."

Earlier this month we learned that the FAA decrees that it's legal to use drones for fun, but not for profit.

Why do I lose rights in America simply by virtue of trying to make money on my own time, or with my own association with others?

User Journal

Journal: why shouldn't it work both ways 20

Journal by Bill Dog

Stossel's show was irritating tonight. The topic was Conservatism vs. Libertarianism. As a Libertarian, Stossel misrepresented Conservatism, and various Conservatives were on appealing to the same things Lefties appeal to; the greater good, majority norms.

Stossel said he used to be a Liberal, so that explains enough of an inability to think straight about things to be able to be a Libertarian. But it's shocking how Conservatives seem blithely unaware that effectively saying it's okay to legislate morality, means then the other side can legislate its morality on us. (And where we're only for it in certain cases, the Left is for doing it all but a few cases. I.e. it's a patently dangerous idea, and used vastly more against us than in what we favor.)

I might journal about some of the topics later (maybe if I can find a refresher of my memory of it on youtube), but the show spurred a chain of thinking on a particular topic that led me to the following.

Let's say I'm a landlord, and I'm also bigoted against homosexuals (which I am, but not in the following way), and refused to rent to them. Most people would say the government should step in and force me to rent to them. I.e. Despite homosexuals offending my sensibilities, I should be forced to associate with them anyways. Because otherwise they could potentially have a hard time finding a rental place to live.

Now let's say that instead I'm a landlord, and I don't refuse to rent to them, but I'm a very outspoken disparager of them in the region, and the homosexual community knows it. And let's say the homosexual community represents a significant %-age of the region. What if I'm having trouble keeping the complex full all the time? Should the government force some homosexuals to live in my complex and pay me rent, despite my offending their sensibilities?

And what about quotas. Lefties say that if a community is 10% Black, then roughly 10% of the programming jobs in that community must be filled with Blacks. Else there's racial inequities.

Well janitorial jobs, at least around here, seem to be disproportionately filled by Hispanics. Should the government tell Black people in that area that 10% of them need to switch careers into the custodial arts?

It seems like either quotas are a good idea or they aren't. And it seems like if it's good to force association between parties when one desires not to do so, then it's good.

If it's one thing I can respect Libertarians for, it's at least they're consistent*

*Well, except for their being pro-choice, which flies squarely in the face of being for individual rights.

User Journal

Journal: TV idiocrisy is coming 2

Journal by Bill Dog

It started with the ability to show a network logo watermark. Networks would show a translucent version of their logo in the bottom corner for a few seconds, after resuming from a commerical break. Evidently someone who makes tons of money thought it was important that you be reminded where you're seeing the currently airing content.

I didn't mind that, at all. Stupid, but not really obnoxious. Then they moved onto the phase where they left that up all the time. I took me a while to train my brain to tune that out. Until I was able to, it annoyed the hell out of me.

Then they moved on to the next phase, of colored-in/opaque logos, that they leave up all the time. I.e. blocking part of the content (in that corner), all the time.

Then came promos for other shows on the network, after coming back from an ad break, that took up much or all of the bottom portion of what you're fucking trying to watch. I.e. all the commercials played, the movie has resumed, and you're trying to get back into it, and then here comes an overlay commercial, while the movie is still going. Sometimes it's animated, so basically you miss part of the movie they're showing.

So last night I'm flipping thru, and FX is showing some Ice Age or other cartoon animals movie (not at all my cup of tea, so I don't really know). Now I don't know if it had just come back from break or not, but it popped up an ad for the sequel to whatever it was, evidently now playing in theaters or coming soon.

I.e. they've taken the overlays from just promos for the network, to content-related adverts. I don't have for example a "smart TV", so maybe this has already started in other things.

I used to look forward to progress. When it meant a better picture, or more hp at an affordable price point, or easier and more advanced programming ways.

It's like standard of living is a bell curve. As technologies and advancement of capabilities has increased, our standard of living increased. But ever increasing capabilities doesn't seem to equal better quality of living, forever. My DVD player says "operation not permited by disc". WTF? Cars now have gadgetry to wrench the steering wheel from you or press the brakes behind your back. My dad can't go to a favorite finance site anymore, because it watched a few of his clicks and now doesn't show him general news but only the things relating the few topics it last remembers him clicking on. (I could try deleting cookies, as long as it's not fingerprinting him in other ways.)

So I don't think it's just old-fogeyism. I just like things that are better, not worse. And when you start running out of ways to make things better, I guess it's human nature to just keep on going, because the capabilities do. Didn't we used to be thinkers, or is that just another faulty assumption, about how the world works, of mine from childhood?

p.s. I have the flu, and feel miserable so I'm probably more babbling here than my normal level of babbling on.

User Journal

Journal: note to Slashdot

Journal by Bill Dog

You put "Microsoft Won't Bring Back the Start Menu Until 2015" on the front page on Monday June 02, 2014 @11:25AM. It got 407 comments.

Then you put "Windows 8.1 Finally Passes Windows 8 In Market Share" on the front page on Monday June 02, 2014 @07:10PM. It got only 78 comments.

See what you did there? You put up Microsoft flamebait topics _on the same day_. This is sub-optimal because all the little Slash spazzes were all tuckered out from whipping themselves into a mindless hate frenzy earlier.

To maximize ad impressions, it would behoove you to space these out to one per day. Thereby also giving Slashdotters a reason to visit each and every day; there would be no more slow news days!

And while you're at it, consider endowing the system with a set of canned posts, for convenience with such topics. Similar to how a greeting card store provides you with the known small set of ways you can say happy birthday, without having to come up with one yourself, Slashdot could for example provide all the typical variations of "The only thing Internet Explorer is good for is to download another browser".

Like the polls, the UI could be a simple list of radio buttons and a Submit button. Present a different list depending on the specific subclassification of flamebait topic, comprised of all the inevitable "insights" that would get posted. And might as well have them post already at +5, and Slashdot would attain new levels of user friendliness, saving the user base collectively a ton of time.

Contact me for my consulting fee amount.

p.s. One more hint: Flip the sign on the Redundant mod and it'll get more use.

User Journal

Journal: the morality of the profit motive 32

Journal by Bill Dog

I wrote in a post here today:

When in actuality what it really boils down to is whether one thinks that the death panel effect would be worse under the cost-cutting and profit motive of private healthcare, or the cost-cutting and social engineering motive of public healthcare.

I'm not about to say that capitalism is moral. I'm just saying it's more moral (or less immoral, for those who want it worded that way instead) than the alternative. I know that sounds lame in the sense that ideally we'd have something that's moral, but I'm just coming at this pragmatically here.

I have to assume that part of my preference for the system of unfairness that is the free market must be due to it being the only thing I've ever known. But I think most of it is that it is almost strictly predictable in the outcomes it leads to, and that I accept those outcomes. Sort of "better the devil you know...", but not exactly.

My philosophy on wealth as far as I can remember is that you're working to attain whatever levels you might be able to in life, for greater comfort in life and access to greater luxuries. You figure out how much you want to work and how well you want to live and figure out the balance that's right for you, factoring in the kind of brains, drive, and luck that you know yourself to have.

And then be happy where you are, when you reach that. I don't begrudge the richer man for having a better car than mine, because his fate in life is not mine. I feel sorry for the poorer man, but he probably makes worse decisions in life than I do. Or at least worse from my POV.

So I guess I'm okay with the inequalities inherent in life (like brains and luck) and that are a function of what each individual chooses for himself (like drive).

And consequently what I'm not okay with is forced, collective, man-made alterations to this. For example I'm okay with a rich man offering some kid a scholarship to college and possibly thereby altering his chances of attaining a higher wealth level in life than he normally would. But I'm not okay with for example Affirmative Action.

Firstly in the alternative, it can be more chaotic, being based on man's whim, for whichever kind of men are in power in that era. Today's members of a govt. death panel may decide to favor the young, but tomorrow's may favor the old. Whereas under the profit motive, directors can come and go but the goal stays the same. Profit is a uniting goal and one that's orthogonal to differences in politics/religion.

Secondly, but BD you may say, for now and the foreseeable future a federal govt. run anything will be entirely predictable; predictably Leftist. True in a way, and that's why it's not "...the devil that I don't know". But I also don't like many of the outcomes targeted, not to mention outcomes that I might like but never get achieved.

Capitalism has been very successful in raising standards of living. Leftism, not so much. (Granted, maybe it's in part a function of how corrupted that ism has been.)

In short, unproven political preferences has a large tinge of arbitrariness to me. And part of what's fair and right is that which you can count on.

User Journal

Journal: How do UNIX/Linux people make web applications? 17

Journal by Bill Dog

I'm trying to make sense of the dizzying array of languages/technologies purportedly used in the customer-facing portion of the HealthCare.gov site. I understand ASP.NET, JSP, and JavaServer Faces to be web templating engines, comprising 39 files. I don't see PHP or ColdFusion listed. And there's 1635 HTML files. It doesn't seem like all of these could be just static content.

It's possible a lot of them could get their dynamic data via AJAX, and maybe that's what a lot of the XSLT is for. But I think most people these days move JSON back and forth and not XML. But in any event, how are placeholders in the HTML files getting replaced? There's only 23 files between Perl and Python, and 248 Bourne shell files, so are they using [showing my age/what little I know] SED and/or AWK to do this? Or would the .sh's be calling the Perl and Python files?

User Journal

Journal: coding rules of thumb vs. monitor size 5

Journal by Bill Dog

I was perusing the comments under the article about a new ultra-wide 3440 x1440 monitor, and this comment sparked a side thought:

[...] I'd consider taking one of these displays and turning it 90 degrees so I can see more of my code at once without scrolling.

This made me think, as monitors have gotten bigger, maybe a certain couple of old programming rules of thumb need to be restated, in terms of something else that is:

1) Wrap your lines of code at 80 columns, and

2) A function generally should not be more than a screenful in length.

User Journal

Journal: MS continues really pissing me off lately 6

Journal by Bill Dog

(Aside from the normal level of pissing me off they do every time I have to go into Word or Project.)

1) In IE 11 they got rid of the ability to quickly test your web page with js disabled, by removing that feature from the browser's developer tools window. Now you have to drill down in menus and dialogs and past confirm prompts and change it like a normal user would in the regular browser UI. Why?!?

2) In Visual Studio 2012 they got rid of the ability to record a quick macro to for example play back a series of repetitive editing tasks, by removing the entire macros feature completely. In an IDE? Are you fucking kidding me?!? Now people are saying ya gotta get Notepad++ and copy and paste into that and back. I'm not familiar with that tool, but... WHY!!!!???

3) In Security Essentials for Windows XP they've programmed it to pop up nag screens several times an hour, ever since the OS has gone out of support. It doesn't just pop up once, and its window is always on top so it can't just be ignored. There's apparently no way to disable it and still have the protection aside from installing the previous version if you happen to have a copy of it laying around. So XP is out of support, so no more patches, but why basically force people to uninstall the security suite as well? To get XP machines pwned even faster? Why?!?

In short, WhyTF actually *remove* functionality? It costs virtually nothing to just leave it there.

p.s. I'm in no hurry to upgrade my XP-based netbook, esp. sans any real carrots from MS (and I don't respond well to sticks). So I'm not sure what to do about that, except not use it for anything serious on the WWW. Accepting all serious suggestions (from those who are visible to me here, that is). I don't have a portable optical drive with it.

p.p.s. So MS knew about a remote code execution vulnerability in IE 8 for at least 6 months, and chose to do nothing about it? Hmm, and IE 8 is the latest browser you can install on XP. Ya know, it's almost like they were dropping support for XP early.

User Journal

Journal: DRM in FF 2

Journal by Bill Dog

So nerd Lefties are getting their panties in a bunch over Mozilla supporting DRM content.

This is because to them DRM is like so-called "closed source" software, and what Mozilla has done is gone with a permissive license model instead of the GPL.

That is, zero tolerance for that which is opposed, no matter how much that marginalizes your entrant in the market, and therefore also how much you're in a position of power to effect change, does not seem to be the path for the Firefox folks.

Maybe like MS's "embrace and extend", it's "accept until it can be changed". The question is, when is it smart to compromise principles and when isn't it. (Where by "compromising principles" I don't mean "selling out" or something unseemly like that, but just biding your time and/or choosing your battles wisely.) Especially when they're very strongly-held principles.

User Journal

Journal: why I won't buy Windows 8.x 1

Journal by Bill Dog

First a parenthetical caveat: I plan on getting the Windows 8 *Phone* OS.

I've been on the lookout for a flagship-model Nokia Windows phone. I still have a flip/dumbphone, and at least for my first smartphone I want a top-end model, to explore, until I learn what I don't need/never use. A Nokia model because I was an adv amat photog in a previous (i.e. film) era, and their emphasis caters to that interest.

And I've been on AT&T (and its prior incarnations for my area) since I got my first, mini brick phone, and the call quality has always been borderline unusable. So it's going to be a Verizon smartphone, and they got a flagship Windows Phone model, the Lumia Icon, earlier this year.

So basically I'm just waiting a little longer until Nokia's "Cyan" software update gets pushed out to people with that model, which will include the OS upgrade from 8.0 to 8.1, and then I'll give it about a month and see if people are reporting success and if there's any problems.

And then I'm just hoping it won't be for mobile what I think is happening on the desktop. And that is, MS technically supporting unpopular OS versions, but not really working at it or giving a shit.

And this is what pisses me off. I bought a new PC (because I fried my previous one, and needed one) with the much-maligned Windows Vista OS, about the time SP 2 for it was being released. So of course I didn't have any problems with it. Yes I did it because I was in a pickle, timing-wise, and had to, but still, I got Vista x64 Ultimate, their most expensive version, at a time when they were probably hurting for sales.

And what thanks do I get? A shitty patch last month that screws my whole system. Works fine on all the Windows 7 systems that I've seen. So I believe the problem is that Vista is purportedly down to less than 3% marketshare, lower than even the paltry %-age that desktop Windows 8 and 8.1 have. I believe that, like Windows XP and IE 6 before that, MS wants Vista to just go away and be a mostly-forgotten bad memory.

Great, so I bought your product in good faith, and I get short-shrift support. I wasn't one of the ones decrying the OS. So what am I supposed to do then. It looks like one can no longer get Windows 7. And I'm sure as hell not going to get Windows 8.x, since people are stupid sheep and irrationally bagging on that bigtime, so MS will probably treat it like Vista as soon as Windows 9 comes out and all the morons flip-flop their tune.

So, there is no way I would get a new Windows version until 9 comes out (some time next year, is expected). That is, unless bad luck, such as an unrecoverable bad patch, befalls me again.

Luckily this one was recoverable, barely. I.e. I was still able to log in via the admin account. And while uninstalling the update didn't do anything, rolling back to the restore point it created before installing it did the trick. But I did a lot of fretting and Google searching, with no success, and was applying last month's patches individually after rolling the whole set back, to track down which one(s) was the perpetrator. I.e. a huge PITA way of spending my time that I don't need.

As it turns out, all just to fix an issue with paths that should be unreachable if someone tricks you into running a .bat or .cmd file off the Internet. I think I'll manage without this patch. I might have to set that update "hidden" in Windows Update, to not be bugged about it every month.

User Journal

Journal: there is no confusing; only ignorance 12

Journal by Bill Dog

Regarding this subthread:

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=5159777&cid=47006419

my sentiment boils down to:

Learn the language; don't be a lazy ass and whine about it.

If something's part of the language, but you're not familiar with it, that does not constitute it being "confusing".

Americans these days can't cognitively separate their perspective and the more general one. If I find something hard, then it just must be hard, right? I mean, a whole host of other people couldn't possibly have a completely different experience. That's unfathomable to today's human beings.

I've decided that I don't need to live in a big house. Therefore no one does. Therefore there's no moral problem with passing a law that forbids anyone from living in more than a 1032 sq ft abode (like mine). My experience must the universal one.

I should fucking market a line of t-shirts and baseball caps with "YMMV" with a red circle and slash over it. Because no one is capable of the concept donning on them anymore.

User Journal

Journal: Inequities 15

Journal by Bill Dog

Act I

A FA on the front page laments that more potholes have gotten fixed in wealthier neighborhoods in some city because their residents were more likely to own smartphones and download the report-a-hole app.

My thinking of course was, yeah, the squeakiest wheel tends to get the grease. That's just how it is, if there's not the gumption or resources to proactively/preventatively frequently attend to every wheel. Such as in city services.

I would think there'd still be a phone number to call to report them, since smartphones haven't always existed, and most everyone has at least a land line. So those who are bothered by them the most get them fixed first.

Doesn't sound terrible, but it's only a meant to serve (and does so very poorly) as just one example of a greater, overall concern: Data analytics could end up reinforcing inequities in housing, credit, employment, health and education.

Act II

I'm reminded of a popular, smarmy retort of the past to the accusation of Left-wing bias in the media: Life [itself] has a Liberal bias! The implication intended for conveyance, but not really believed by the utterer, of course, was that Left-wing slant in the content of reports about things in life was not actually injected, but innate. I.e. it's not a problem, it's what's normal.

Well, then: Life reinforces inequities.

Act III

But if all these naturally-occurring inequities are bad, shouldn't all naturally-occurring inequities be bad?

How about some we never hear about:

1) The number of news sources

The Left occupies 90-some percent of the news dissemination sources in the country, from news networks (like CNN) to non-news networks (like Comedy Central). Given that probably about 1/3 of the country is solid Left, that should be their quota on programming that distributes news. Or at most 2/3rds of all news-distributing media outlets, since you can also argue that the political middle has been lost to the Left.

2) Positions in (public) education

Leftism is grossly over-represented in academia. Why is diversity in the student body so important but not in the faculty?

3) Voter registration

At least in this state, even in so-called Republican areas the # of registered D's easily outnumbers the # of registered R's. And around here I've heard something to the effect that we've gotten rid of runoff elections being between the highest vote getting D and the highest vote getting R, to just the top two highest vote getters. Which will probably take that disparity and tend to make it even worse.

Maybe Democrat registration should be effectively capped at the current level of Republican registration in a district. For example lets say a city has 4 million residents with 45% registered D and 30% registered R. That's 1,800,000 expected D voters and 1,200,000 expected R voters. To make things more fair, shouldn't the number of D votes counted be stopped at 1,200,000? This still wouldn't guarantee equitable outcomes but it could be a start. Then it would be a matter of absolute turnout, on a level playing field.

4) Intelligence (that is, you never hear about this except from "racists")

Inherited wealth must be confiscated, for redistribution by the state, because it's too much of an advantage those of future generations. Well intelligence is passed down as well, and that's an even bigger factor. Maybe mandatory IQ testing should be performed at an early age, with forced dope ingestion in formative years to "equalize" the IQ of those more gifted.

5) Work Ethic

Cultural and home-life attitudes towards achievement also greatly factor in to outcomes in people in life. Jewish and especially Asian households are guilty of placing expectations and pushing their children to successes in life. Public school alone is insufficient in completely counter-acting this parental-instilled drive.

Maybe Child Protective Services' mission should be expanded. Not only do children need protection from their bad parents, but they need protection from others' good parents, who in raising their own children puts others at a disadvantage.

Some type of mandatory foster care in addition to public schooling might do the trick. Say state-run boarding schools, where you have to send your kids to go live 2 years for every 1 year they live with you, or whatever ratio is needed to eradicate the unfairness.

User Journal

Journal: Why I hate "business developers", part 1 2

Journal by Bill Dog

That is, "business developers" in contrast to "software engineers".

I'm at a place with them now, since returning to work after the Great Recession. (And I fear that I might be working with them, when I can find work at all that is, from now on.) I worked with them at my 2nd startup during the dotcom boom (a VB shop). During my time there I once overheard some of the senior developers talking amongst themselves and making fun of C/C++ devs for being nerds, and how in constrast they're "passionate about solving business problems", and not wanting to "get bogged down in the technology". I saw that again in the "about me" section of someone's blog years later, so I suspect it's an actual culture, that I've only bumped into a couple of times in my career so far.

They call themselves "developers", not "programmers". One person at my current shop felt the need to say out loud to the group once that she is definitely not a nerd. I concur. She's a mommie, not a technologist.

They talk about watching sports, and getting blitzed on beer. These aren't kids, some of them are early 50's, so they're not "bro-grammers", they're not the Jersey Shore of developers, they were just probably frat boys in college in their time. They're normals, not nerds They have zero awkwardness in speaking (they make BHO look like a stumbling, bumbling imbecile, in comparison, which he certainly is not), and always know what to do given the social situation.

They generally graduate with IS or MIS degrees as opposed to CS degrees. Or they get a CS degree but at one of the colleges in California's lower tier university system. Like I did*, but unlike me, they generally had to rely on a circle of friends/classmates to help them get through it. You couldn't help but notice these people; they were like wildebeests, always in proximity to their herd, for protection from carnivorous technical coursework trying to overwhelm and weed out the unfit.

*I transferered out of the upper tier system because I didn't want to pay that much/couldn't afford to (running up college debt wasn't what we did back then) . And I didn't want to work that hard, at that point in my life, since my thinking then was it was just to acquire the stupid token piece of paper to finally start my career and stuff of actual importance. (I don't totally agree with that now.)

I remember a classmate who I worked briefly with on a project I think in senior year. (At that school, sometimes larger programming projects were where you could optionally pair up with someone on it. But I never did, thinking that I'm going to have to be able to do this on my own in the real world. But some analysis & documentation assignments were sometimes mandatory pair or group assignments.) He was not a geek/nerd/pinhead/intellectual. He dressed well, spoke well, was smooth, he could be a CEO by now.

Now some people want to do something with computers in their career, not on computers. And that's fine, but they should go into QA or documentation on the way to management or whatever. For things like programmer, sysadmin, network admin, and DBA, that require real technical commitment to nerdy stuff to be able to excel at, the rest of us would appreciate if they'd stay away from those. So we can get our jobs done.

And some apparently have settled on working on computers, maybe giving up the aspirations of ever becoming a suit, but don't want to get too involved with them. A hybrid suit/developer, but 67/33 suit/programmer.

So you get what I have where I'm currently at. Managers love these people because they look and act and talk well, just like them. I hate them because I have to work with them, and on the code that they write (topics of part 2). So it's occurred to me, I'm not just a little out of place, I'm actually in a sense underemployed right now. Not as severely as if I was flipping burgers right now, but still.

In pay and also in what I can do. So I'll probably start looking in another year or so. There's a few more books I want to read to get myself at what I perceive to be a good foundation in this newer (to me) stuff I'm doing. The environment of the business developer has actually been a good place to start, as simplicity and just straightforward grunt it out coding is the rule, so it's good for someone coming up to speed in different tech for a somewhat career shift.

But like I said, since I'm doing web development in a managed language now, vice desktop development in lower-level more hard-core languages before, I fear that I'll never be working with what I consider to be my peers anymore.

Somehow, ideally, I need to find a C# shop where the propensity of them came from a C++ background and not just from Visual BASIC. And where they're not afraid of just a sprinkling of design patterns, and actual software engineering concerns like SOLID, DRY, and (gasp) OWASP. I need to think about a way of determining in an interview what kind of shop it is, without giving it away and offending in my question. (Any suggestions?)

"Summit meetings tend to be like panda matings. The expectations are always high, and the results usually disappointing." -- Robert Orben

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