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Journal Journal: Fallout 2

Pretty interesting, that Reddit has been undergoing some grief over their policy changes. Many of their readership have jumped ship (to one extent or another) to, a site that has recently incorporated as an American entity in order to improve their chances of success. Factors in play (according to their announcement) include the ability to host in the US, ability to get financial support from the readers, and freedoms guaranteed under the US Constitution.

Reddit looks tired and old. Voat appears refreshing (mostly), though some of the attitude that drove Reddit is now driving Voat. By this, I mean the Hive Mind is active there, already able to "downvoat" points of view that they don't like.

I'm really hoping Slashdot improves again. The tales I've heard of Dice wanting to sell Slashdot might be a Good Thingâ, if it means that the buyer is willing to go back to Grass Roots.

User Journal

Journal Journal: How To Adapt To Climate Change

I keep seeing people, mostly out of fear of change, deep in climate denial.

But it doesn't have to be that way.

Is it hard to become energy efficient and reduce emissions while growing the GDP at twice the national rate? Sure. But we in the West have already done that. Just ask WA OR ID CA NV.

How? It's pretty simple. End fossil fuel subsidies. Not just the obvious ones, but end all the grandfather exemptions that allow old power plants to keep operating when they should either be retrofitted or retired.

Require 20-50 percent of all new energy built in a state to be non-fossil-fuel renewables. Currently, the cheapest are solar and wind. But look at a mix of energy, even for the West. It shows solar a small fraction compared to wind.

Why? Because we don't require solar as part of new building construction. Wait, Will, are you saying we have to put solar panels on every building? No. I'm saying use the most cost effective solar there is. Passive solar. Triple pane windows, curtains or blinds or polarized screens so you don't use energy cooling in the summer, but use solar in the day in the winter (and then close blinds). Using LED lights that turn off after an hour of no motion on a floor.

But no solar panels? No. Build new construction so it can support the weight of solar panels where it makes sense (south facing walls, or in valleys east or west walls) and be easily maintained. Cut regulations that drive solar panel costs to $7000 per panel (residential installation) so that it runs $300 per panel on NEW construction, so that the grid is designed to handle it. Make an earthquake interrupt switch so the solar kicks in to power critical systems if the grid drops for more than an hour. Wire in electric cars for storage.

It's not hard. We just have to think 21st Century, not 18th Century.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Chronicle: A little kayaking

On Sunday, i wanted to go kayaking at Kensington Metropark, which i've done in the past. I aimed to leave at 3 with a friend for the 20 minute drive, but we got there after 5. Regardless, they weren't renting boats due to high winds. So, off we went to Heavner Canoe & Kayak Rental, instead, which was on the way, and he had wanted to go to anyway. Specifically, Heavner is a route, we you go and come back or can be picked up. Kensington's Kent lake is just that, a lake.

We got there just after 6 and waited in line for a a few minutes. While that was going on, we reviewed prices and i used the outhouse for a moment. Unlike Kensington which has regular restrooms, Heavner has what seemed to be a plywood shack housing a toilet covering a hole in the ground. Nothing like the good outdoors. There was a man outside waiting for his son, making me comment "oh, there's a line," to which he responded, "there's always a line." At which point his son came out and they both left. After a minute or so, someone else tried the locked door and kept banging. I told him just a moment, and when i came out he apologized. I don't understand people.

Sticker shock then hit. At Kensington, it's $8/hour for a kayak, or $9 for a 2 person. At Heavner, all boats were $24/hour. We had about 45 minutes, so we took a 2 person kayak, knowing full well it'd be hard.

We must've pushed off at about 6:15, though in my mind it was still 6. We took a short oar and i long oar, i took front, as he is better than me, so him seeing me seemed better. It was a disaster. We splashed ourselves, we hit oars, we switched oars, we kept drifting and were unable to control it properly. The short oar was a really bad idea. We tried this and that, and finally got to the overpass. Ahead of us some people were swimming, and although it may have been fun, i decided to turn around. The time was 6:30, so in my mind, about a half hour, and i didn't want to perform so poorly with so many onlookers. We turned around and made it back at 6:45.

He was soaked, though not from me. I was wet, but not as much as he was. He made a comment to the person pulling us in how he couldn't get any wetter, or the like. To which he responded something between "oh yeah?" and "wanna see?". It was half funny. Anyway, we returned the oars and life jackets, came up front to pay. Another guy was there, who looked at the paper and expressed surprise over us only being out for 15 minutes. I told him it was more like a half hour, this wasn't our original destination, and i had to leave at 7. Although they do not charge for half hours, they do it anyway, but he was confused and asked me if he just charge the full hour anyway. I said sure, i paid and we left. On the way home, the usual 7:55 meeting was canceled. Whatever.

Some people there talked about having a coupon, and i saw there was some restrictions. A search finds them, but there is warning of knowing what it actually covers.

Overall, i had fun, even if it was for just a few minutes. I'm still debating whether it's worth paying 3 times as much to have a path to follow. But 2 kayaks next time. Definitely, 2 kayaks.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Let me get this straight 28

d_r and krustyjackwagon note that Senator Tom Cotton is in DC, and therefore is morally equivalent to everyone else there. Also, while a magna cum laude graduate of Hahvuhd, no cursory googling could turn up a transcript, so I guess Cotton's academic career is as faked as that of the No-Talent Rodeo Clown.
You guys are (a) the best, and (b) irrefutable. Keep Barabbas; chuck ol' Cotton. There is no alternative.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Yesterday's Tomorrow is now available!

It turned into a beautiful thing. It's full of illustrations, plus photos of the authors and covers of the magazines the stories were printed in. It has the first use of the word "astronaut", the cover story of the issue of Astounding that is said to have ushered in the "golden age of science fiction, A.E. van Vogt's first published science fiction, a few other firsts, and five stories that are printed from cleaned up scans of the magazines. There are biographies of all the writers in the book.

I usually encourage folks to read the stories online or check a copy out from their local library, but not this time. The printed book is head and shoulders better than the electronic versions.

There are stories by Isaac Asimov, John W. Campbell, Murray Leinster, Frederik Pohl, Neil R. Jones, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., A. E. van Vogt, Theodore Sturgeon, Poul Anderson, Phillip K. Dick, Frank Herbert, James Blish, Lester del Rey, Jerome Bixby, and a futurist essay by "the father of science fiction" Hugo Gernsback.

It will be a little while before the HTML version is available, since they're not done yet, but I'll post them as I finish them. Meanwhile, there is a PDF, an ePub, and an AZW3 posted for free download.

Yesterday's Tomorrows

User Journal

Journal Journal: OK, joke's on me 10

I have no business being surprised that the usual /. suspects are
as sheepish on how stupid the Iran deal is
as they are sheepish on Planned Parenthood
as they are sheepish on anthropogenic global warming
as they are sheepish on pretty much everything else.
Sweet lambs!
User Journal

Journal Journal: Belonging to a different era 1

Feeling a little nostalgic at the moment, but also beginning to sense a serious part of why I feel like a dunce today when it comes to computing when once I felt like a genius.

Quick wall of text on the Nostalgia bit

That article on Vector Graphics the other day reminded me a little of the S-100 bus, and the whole move to the PC ISA that came just before I really got into computing. The first computer I really touched was our school's RM 380Z, which was a proprietary CP/M based system, but exposure to that at school was mostly a "You can book 15 minutes to use it at lunchtime but otherwise the school maths teacher will use it to demonstrate things now and then." So the first computer I learned anything from was a friend's VIC 20. I then used a variety of cheap single-board-computers until my Amiga 500+, the most powerful of which was a Sinclair QL.

So... I never touched S-100. And I didn't really touch the PC until there was literally no other choice that was viable. S-100 was never an option for two major reasons: it was expensive, and it was crap. I mean, seriously, awful. S-100 survived because the home computing establishment's equivalent of the Very Serious People decreed it was Serious, and it was Serious because it was "standard".

A typical S-100 system consisted of the S-100 box itself - a dumb motherboard (very dumb, the only components on it were the edge connectors and a few capacitors and resistors to do all that magic EE specialists understand and I could never get my head around) enclosed in a card cage, plus a CPU card, a completely separate memory card or three, a completely separate disk controller, and a completely separate serial I/O card. The disk controller would be hooked up to a disk drive it was designed to control (yes, proprietary), which would be unlike around 90% of other disk drives out there - that is, if you were lucky. And the I/O card would be hooked up to a terminal that frequently was more powerful than the S-100 computer it was hooked up to..

Each combination of I/O and disk controller cards required a custom BIOS so you could run CP/M with it.

The bus itself was essentially the pins of an 8080 turned into a 100 line bus. So you were essentially wiring each card to an 8080, or something pretending to be an 8080, in parallel. This required quite a bit of hardware in each bus to make sure each didn't conflict with other S-100 cards.

Now, technically, you could get graphics (and maybe sound) cards, but that was unusual. Likewise, you could get more exotic CPUs - though getting software for them was a problem. But the typical S-100 system was text only with a Z80, and the typical S-100 system owner spent rather a lot of time trying to figure out how to order a "standard" CP/M application in a form that would run on their "standard" S-100 system, taking into account their disk drive that only 10% of the market used and their terminal that used VT-52 codes rather than VT-101 codes or (insert one of the other popular terminals here.)

Did I mention this is expensive? While the original Altair 8800 was $500 or so, it came with nothing but the card cage and motherboard, the CPU card, and a little bit of memory. And even on this, the makers barely broke even, expecting to make the profits on after sales. Useful memory, a terminal, an I/O card, a disk controller, and a disk drive, pushed up the prices considerably. Realistically, typical "useful" S-100 systems cost somewhere around $4,000.

Given all of that, it's not really surprising it got supplanted by the PC. Much is made of the fact IBM was taken more seriously by people outside of the personal computer industry in 1981, and that undoubtedly helped, but I can't help but feel that S-100 couldn't have survived for much longer regardless. You could buy a complete system from Commodore or Apple that was more capable for a third of the price even in 1981. The PC didn't need to be cheap, it had IBM's name behind it, but it was obviously more capable than S-100, and it was obvious that if the architecture was adopted by the industry, machines based upon it would be more standardized.

The "Feeling like a dunce" bit

So anyway, that was my train of thought. And it occurred to me that the fact I even have opinions on this suggests my mindset is still stuck there. Back then, even when you programmed in BASIC, you were exerting almost direct control over the hardware. You had a broad idea of what the machine did, what memory locations were mapped onto what functions, and every command you typed affected the computer in a predictable way. The computers themselves were (mostly) predictable too.

As time wore on, especially with the advent of multitasking (which I welcomed, don't get me wrong) you learned to understand your software would be only one party to how the computer behaved, but you understood that if you followed the rules, and the other programmers did too, you could kinda get your head around what was happening to it.

And you felt like a genius if you understood this. And I say "if", because it was possible.

At some point that stopped being possible. Part of it was the PC ISA, the fact an architecture from 1981 was still in use in the mid-nineties by which time it was long in the tooth and needed serious work. Its deficiencies were addressed in software and hardware. Intel essentially replaced the CPU, leaving a compatible stub there to start older applications, and the industry - after a few false starts - threw out most of the PC design and replaced it with the PCI architecture, again, like Intel leaving compatible stubs here and there to ensure older stuff would work. And Microsoft worked on making Windows the real interface software would use to access the hardware.

After a while, there were so many abstractions between your software and the underlying system, it really became hard to determine what was going on underneath. If I program, I now know there are rules I can follow that will reduce the chance of my application being a problem... today. But I don't know if that's the case for the next version of Windows, and all I know is how to reduce the chances, not how to eliminate them. I don't know if the Java I'm writing will generate a webpage that contains Javascript that will contain a memory leak that'll cause the part of the process managing the tab its in to bloat up an additional 100M or so. I can hope it won't, and use mitigation strategies to avoid things that might cause problems, but there are so many things outside of my control I have to trust now, it's just not practical.

Logically the right thing to do under the circumstances is to take back control, to use lower level APIs and simpler sets of rules, but in practice that's just not practical, and doing so means that my tools no longer fit inside the ecosystem with everyone else's. So it's not the right thing - it's actually the worst thing I can do, and if I tried to do it, I'd be shunned as a developer.

I was a genius once because I (mostly) understood the computers I was programming. I feel like a dunce today because that's just not possible any more.


Journal Journal: Benghazi Conspiracy Summarized in Four Words 56

Conspiracy propagators tend to love bumper stickers. This bumper sticker is stricken with nearly more problems than words, though.
  • It claims that what was told was known at the time to not be true (ie, the definition of a lie)
  • It claims the wrong order of events (it would be essentially impossible to lie about something before it happens - if I tell you that the Boston Celtics will win the 2018 Super Bowl is that automatically a lie [even though the Celtics don't play football]?)
  • it implies that had something else been said, the four who died would still be alive
  • If it is a response to the "Bush Lied, Thousands Died" stickers that oppose the war in Iraq, it implies that the lie was told in order to promote an event or decision
User Journal

Journal Journal: FizzBuzz in Swift

The following is my prepared answer for anyone who asks me this stupid fucking question in any interview in the future.

extension Int
  func modBool(modulus: Int) -> Bool
  return (self % modulus).boolValue
for x in 1...100
  print((x.modBool(3) ? "" : "Fuck ") +
    (x.modBool(5) ? "" : "You") +
    ((x.modBool(3) && x.modBool(5)) ? "\(x)" : ""))


User Journal

Journal Journal: Trump vindicates damn_registrars 8

"Wisconsin is in turmoil," Trump told a boisterous crowd at a rally in Iowa. He pointed to the state's roads, schools and hospitals, which he said were all "a disaster."
Walker, who is leading polls in Iowa, remains one of Trump's biggest rivals in the race.
"I hear the only person beating me in Iowa is Scott Walker," he said. "I can't believe I'm in second place. Folks, will you please put me in first place so I feel better?"
Trump told the crowd Saturday that he had helped Walker win his race because he admired the candidate's "fight," but didn't know what he was fighting for. "I've been very nice to him," he said.
But after Walker's fundraising email went public, Trump declared: "I can finally attack."

I think Trump is a buffoon, but, if the Vichy GOP put up JEB, I'll cheerfully vote for His Donaldness.

User Journal

Journal Journal: GreaseMonkey scripts 6

I've been making use of GreaseMonkey for some time now. I found some scripts that i lie, namely Allow Password Remembering, Block youtube users, and Google Hit Hider by Domain. I've added a few of my own, Displaying Monk Levels and Checking Saint in our Book for ties, both for PerlMonks and now, Amazon Star percent to number.

I love Amazon Reviews, and those stars mean a lot to me. However, Amazon, in their great wisdom, decided to replace the useful numbers with useless percentages. Well, not useless, but compared to actual numbers, percents mean next to nothing. Who cares if 100% 5-star it, if that's only one person. I'd rather purchase a product with 80% 5-stars, but by a few hundred people. Sure, the number is on top, but who wants to do the math all the time?

To grab the number, the reviews page would have to be loaded for each star. So, i just did multiplication, which will be close enough. I guess the reviews page can get the actual number as opposed to multiplying, but this is good enough, and since it can be the same as the main product page which i did first, i'm not interested in putting in the effort to change it for the reviews page.

User Journal

Journal Journal: The Kevlar Kandidate Waffles on Homosexuality 21

We might be able to start a "Kevlar vs Kevlar" list soon, in the same way that others had made "McCain vs McCain lists" showing how the latter was flipping his positions in the breeze. Team Kevlar might need to get a press release out to clarify this issue before people stop paying attention to him:

Source: CNN's State of the Union interview with the Kevlar Kandidate

Walker on if being gay is a choice: âoeOh, I mean I think - that's not even an issue for me to be involved in. The bottom line is, I'm going to stand up and work hard for every American regardless of who they are, no matter where they come from, no matter what their background. I'm going to fight for people and no matter whether they vote for me or not.â

Walker on if Boys Scouts of America should keep its ban on gay leaders: âoeThat's up to the people who run the boy scouts. â¦Sure. I said in this case that's what I thought. I thought the policy was just fine. ⦠I was saying when I was in scouts it was fine. You're asking what should the policy be going forward? It should be left up to the leaders of the scouts.â

Notice his very humble interview, in the back of his Winnebago. Don't you usually give media interviews in your decked-out Winnebago? He's just like everyone else, of course...

User Journal

Journal Journal: Google, my Hero! 6

Yeah, I said that.

Many, many moons ago, anyone that knows me that long might remember me asking about where to find a two-page advertisement that Sun Microsystems had put out some time around 1998. It had a picture of Sally Struthers and a caption that said something like "Thinking of running your critical apps on NT? Isn't there enough world suffering?"

Well, it's been found in the November 23, 1998 issue of InfoWorld, on pages 8 and 9.

Needless to say, I'm very happy. :)

If God had not given us sticky tape, it would have been necessary to invent it.