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Journal Journal: 1950s TV 1

If this won't render properly just go here

        A year or so ago, an executive from an electronics company (Apple, if I remember correctly) spoke of the lack of innovation in television sets since the 1950s, and my reaction was âoeHeâ(TM)s either stupid or thinks I am.â
        In the 1950s televisions had knobs on the set for changing channels. Remote controls were brand new, expensive, limited in capability, and used ultrasound rather than infra-red.
        The screens were vacuum tubes, and most were monochrome. Color television was brand new, and it was nearly 1960 before any stations started broadcasting in color. Rather than being rectangular, color sets were almost round; even black and white sets werenâ(TM)t true rectangles.
        They had no transistors, let alone integrated circuits; the IC had yet to be invented, and transistors were only used by the military. They were a brand-new invention. TVs didnâ(TM)t have the âoeno user-servicable partsâ warning on the back. When the TV wouldnâ(TM)t come on, as happened every year or three, the problem was almost always a burned out vacuum tube. One would open the back of the set and turn it on. Any tubes that werenâ(TM)t lit were pulled, taken to the drug store or dime store for replacement. If that didnâ(TM)t fix the problem you called an expert TV repairman.
        The signal was analog, and often or usually suffered from static in the sound, and ghosts and snow in the picture.
        There was no cable, and of course no satellite television since nothing built by humans had ever gone into space.
        However, there is one thing about television that hasnâ(TM)t changed a single iota: daytime TV programming.
        In the 1950s most folks were well paid, and a single paycheck could easily pay for a familyâ(TM)s expenses. Most women, especially mothers, stayed home. As a result, daytime TV was filled with female-centric programming like soap operas, game shows, and the like. Usually there were cartoons in the late afternoon for the kids.
        Today the rich have managed to get wages down so low that everyone has to have a job. The demographics of daytime television have radically changed as a result. Now, rather than housewives (of which few are left, and we now have house husbands), who can watch daytime TV? Folks home from work sick, both men and women, folks in the hospital, the unemployed, and retired people.
        Yet daytime TV is still as female centered as it was when I was five. Soap operas, talk shows with female hosts and female guests discussing topics that would only appeal to women, and game shows.
        Whatâ(TM)s wrong with the idiots running our corporations these days?

User Journal

Journal Journal: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress while listening to Time by ELO 1

Don't know why - but I really like that combination.

I've gotten off my schedule of reading Starship Troopers and TMiaHM every year - but I did just reread The Moon is a Harsh Mistress last week-end. My wife was in Ukraine and I was kind of bored but not motivated enough to do something that took effort.

I've outgrown RAH's politics but I still love the story.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Magnet Links from Chrome in Plasma 5 3

For some reason magnet links that I clicked in Chrome were opening the Transmission client instead of Ktorrent. I remember doing something in the past related to this - though I think the issue then was that chrome didn't know how to handle them at all.

So I started digging and founds all kinds of people who had the issue, different solutions and most of it was pretty old. The lowdown - as far as I can tell is that chrome uses xdg-open and I'm pretty sure that is what I set.

I looked in /usr/share/applications for ktorrent.desktop and it wasn't there. I did a bunch more digging, followed some rabbit trails and then finally got smart. ktorrent.desktop was in /usr/share/applications/kde4 and I copied it a directory up. Then all acted as expected.

I think in the upgrade this got borked.

Plasma 5 is mostly pretty much working for me now. I'd have rather stayed on 4 longer but I guess it is o.k. I really just need a new machine. They keep making stuff take more resources and my little Acer just can't keep up.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Ask Slashdot: What SF Magazines do you read? 2

I'm actually looking for two things: good magazines I haven't found, and good magazines to submit science fiction stories to. I also want to know where I can find your favorite magazines; I've been getting them at the Barnes&Noble in town, but they sell out quickly. Once all they had was three copies of F&SF, and I found it to be excellent. Another time I found five titles, but I haven't seen Asimov's there, and I always liked that one.

Analog was excellent as well, as they've always been. The British Interzone was very well designed, with excellent layout and large amounts of excellent artwork, but I didn't like any of the writing. It just didn't suit my taste.

I have yet to find any decent online mags, I'm sure you guys can supply me with that.

User Journal

Journal Journal: F21 - F22 Today 6

Support for Fedora 21 is coming to an end and so I decided to upgrade to Fedora 22.

I don't run the default Fedora install, I use the KDE spin. I realize KDE isn't the primary desktop for Fedora, but until now it's been alright. I use Fedora for a lot of reasons but mostly because it is the distro I know. I know it because it is the first distro I used on a regular basis for more than just messing around. I did that because at my work we got a new server running RedHat.

I've really been putting off this update. It's the move from KDE Plasma 4 to 5.

It's taken me all day but I think I have it working. I'm scared to reboot and the next time I have to run an update will probably suck. I had so many stupid things happen today trying to get this to work. The kicker is my second display. Everything is fine if I use the built-in intel graphics or my Nvidia card with one display. But as soon as I added the second everything went to crap.

There were times I could only log into KDE as root. Then - and I'm not sure how - I got it fixed. I mean there is still some weird stuff happening but it seems to mostly work. Both monitors are on and displaying at the resolution I want.

Maybe I can hang in there long enough for this stuff to get smoothed over. I made it through the jump from 3 to 4.

The kicker is though - if I log into Gnome it works without any issues. It's just that I hate Gnome.

I don't use RHEL any more - maybe I need to jump over to Suse or something.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Where's my fridge?? 24

I plan to buy a house next spring, so I'll almost certainly need a new refrigerator. There's a problem: they don't make the fridge I want, and never have. I can't figure out why.
        Refrigerators today are quite different than antique ones, using a different coolent because of the ozone layer, better insulation, the use of rare earth magnets in the motors, and other improvements.
        But they're still incredibly wasteful.
        The fridge I want has two vents outside, much like dryer vents but insulated. There is an electronic outside thermometer, one in the refrigerator, and one inside the freezer.
        When the temperature outside is above seventy fareignheight, the heat taken from the fridge is vented outside, so the air conditioner doesn't have to work harder to cool the hot air refrigerators let out inside the house.
        Under seventy the air is vented into, rather than outside, the house. If the heat is on, it doesn't work as hard.
        But most of all is winter. It's ludicrous that we pump the heat from our freezers with a lot of energy expenditure, while freezing air is right outside that could come in the intake hose and freeze and cool your food. At freezing, this fridge doesn't need the compressor at all and compressors take a lot of energy to operate.
        I don't know why nobody is selling those things.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Year of the Black Swan

I'm reading Anti-Fragile, a book by Nassim Taleb, who also wrote a book called the Black Swan. I haven't read that one, and I'm thinking I should now, although he talks a lot about Black Swans in Anti-Fragile. A Black Swan is a disaster of levels previously unseen. Things like the 2008 financial meltdown, the Fukushima nuclear disaster, or Hurricane Katrina. In most Black Swan cases, people are only prepared for what they have seen, or what lies along the mean of the normal distribution. They don't plan on outliers, even though outliers are what destroy lives.

I thought 2013 was a bad year, because I couldn't do a lot of the things I wanted to do because I had six weddings to be in, which essentially drained my vacation time and my bank account. I am a major opponent of weddings because of that year. Fuck your wedding. But more on topic, I didn't think 2014 could be that bad, but knew that if it was, I could endure it. But I made the mistake in the assumption that 2013 was the worst it could get. 2014 proved to be even worse due in large part to my girlfriend moving in and bringing her horrible attitude at the time with her (that was due almost entirely to her job situation). It was a year fraught with sickness, strife over a troublesome dog that she did not want to let go of, an apartment complex under construction for 7 months, complete with an unbearable drilling and jackhammering into the walls that made sleeping impossible for her, a few near-breakups, and more sickness.

And then when things started to clear up - she got into anesthesia school, we got rid of the dog, they finally finished construction - another Black Swan. She was diagnosed with Meniere's Disease. Something that could be devastating for not only her career but her life. We've been living with it, and managing it, and she got into school. But as the Black Swan principle dictates, the worst is yet to come.

Now she is failing school. If she can't find a way to pull her grades up, the $100,000+ gamble will have gone to the house and I possibility of getting out of debt in a swift few years on good anesthesia pay will have been but a fantasy, and I'll be paying off debt well into my 40s.

This is a lesson I will take with me for the rest of my life. The Black Swan is very real. And the fragility that I have subjected myself to, has made everything so much worse. I took out a $25k Upstart loan last year. I'm already through that money. So I took out a $20k 401(k) loan. That made things even worse. I can't quit my job (or lose it!) because I will owe that money immediately back. On top of it, I've stopped contributing to my retirement fund. Again, fragile.

I'm in such a bad position, and it is mostly because of this high stakes gamble. If she can't pull through, then we are more or less fucked. I still don't know what to do. I don't really have a choice anyway. I am trapped in this fragile nightmare, at the whims of the Black Swan. Yesterday, she got a nail in her tire, which I took into the repair shop, and of course, they didn't have her size. So, to avoid her having to ride with her classmates (she can't stand being around them), I rented her a car. I don't love spending that money, which essentially doubled the cost of the tire, but more so, I didn't opt for the insurance or adding a driver. My Black Swan mind scolded me the entire drive home. A wrecked car, with her driving would be the biggest disaster yet, which is the definition of a Black Swan. Yet I didn't stop to correct it before driving away. And this is how the Black Swan thrives. It preys on those who are not robust or anti-fragile. And so, until I return it hopefully later today, I have to hope that that gamble does not result in a disaster.

And then I have to worry about the bigger impending Black Swan. The fact that she has to get a 91% on her final in order to pass her anesthesia class. We are probably just fucked.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Pet Peeves of the Job Search

- Pushy recruiters with foreign accents so thick you can't understand what they are saying
- Who clearly have not read your resume and only found you on a keyword search
- Who cannot read a map and do not understand "I cannot relocate 500 miles for a temporary job, and in software, all jobs are temporary"

User Journal

Journal Journal: Sick of Being With the Sick

This won't be a very tech-y post. I just need to vent. I thought, maybe, JUST MAYBE, the end of 2014 would be the end of all of our problems. But then 2015 comes along and it turns out, it is trying to one-up 2014. I'm talking about illness. My girlfriend has somehow, since 2014, went from being completely healthy, to being one of the most fragile people I have ever known.

Let's break down the numbers.

2014-01-02: Gastroenteritis - ER visit
2014-03-02: Tamarind allergy discovered - ER visit
2014-05-11: Sick (cold or something)
2014-06-01: Sick (cold or something)
2014-08-21: Tamarind allergy from Mexican food - ER visit
2014-08-22: Bad reaction to steroids from Tamarind allergy - ER visit
2014-08-24: Still having reactions from the steroids, mistook it for thyroid problems - ER visit
2014-11-20: Began having Meniere's episodes, though didn't know what it was
2014-11-21: Began having Meniere's episodes, though didn't know what it was
2014-11-22: Began having Meniere's episodes, though didn't know what it was
2014-11-23: Began having Meniere's episodes, though didn't know what it was
2014-11-24: Began having Meniere's episodes, though didn't know what it was
2014-11-25: Began having Meniere's episodes, though didn't know what it was
2014-11-26: Began having Meniere's episodes, though didn't know what it was
2014-11-27: Began having Meniere's episodes, though didn't know what it was
2014-11-28: Began having Meniere's episodes, though didn't know what it was
2014-11-29: Began having Meniere's episodes, though didn't know what it was
2015-02-12: Meniere's episode
2015-04-11: Meniere's episode
2015-05-08: TMJ
2015-05-15: Swollen lymph nodes
2015-05-16: Swollen lymph nodes
2015-05-17: Swollen lymph nodes
2015-05-18: Swollen lymph nodes - ER visit
2015-06-01: Cold
2015-06-11: Meniere's episode
2015-06-25: Meniere's episode
2015-07-05: Meniere's episode
2015-07-09: Meniere's episode
2015-07-18: Meniere's episode and stomach ache
2015-07-19: Stomach ache
2015-07-26: Meniere's episode
2015-07-31: Meniere's episode
2015-08-02: Meniere's episode
2015-08-03: Meniere's episode
2015-08-09: Meniere's episode
2015-08-12: Meniere's episode
2015-08-14: Meniere's episode
2015-08-18: Meniere's episode and cold
2015-09-11: Meniere's episode
2015-09-12: Meniere's episode
2015-09-13: Meniere's episode and stomach ache
2015-09-14: Stomach ache - ER visit
2015-09-20: Meniere's episode
2015-10-06: Meniere's episode
2015-10-11: Stomach ache
2015-10-12: Stomach ache
2015-10-13: Stomach ache
2015-10-14: Stomach ache
2015-10-15: Stomach ache

Those are just the days I documented. There are countless others where she just didn't feel good because of Meniere's or whatever, and times she didn't even tell me she wasn't feeling good. But from just those days alone, since January 1st, 2014, she has been ill 7.5% of the time (see, at least I'm including a little data science in here). That is a horrible batting average. That's averaging out to be almost a month of illness per year. I'd be stoked if I got that much vacation time! And it is terrible quality of life. And just when she was adjusting to the Meniere's and starting to figure out how to somewhat control it, she gets hit with this GI thing. Of course the doctor's don't want to even try to figure out what it might be. They just mumble something about IBS and walk out. Fuck our health care system. I think we should start calling it a "health don't-care" system. They only things they seem to be concerned with is passing out antibiotics, operating on people for things that could have been prevented in the first place, and fixing erectile dysfunction, which, God knows, is the world's biggest problem. For fuck's sake.

The stress this brings on me is causing me health problems too. My hair has thinned out a lot in the last 2 years (though, some of that can be blamed on my line of work), and a gigantic cold sore just reared its ugly head. And lord only knows what I'm doing to my liver to cope with the stress. I don't know what I need. I briefly fantasized about buying a one-way plane ticket to the Virgin Islands and just disappearing. Why there? I dunno, first place I thought of that was far away and didn't need a Visa. Maybe I could be homeless for a while. Start with some manual labor, working my way up to owning my own business, and bang lots of tourists. And then the cold reality of my life slaps that fantasy out of my head. Plus, it would just make her life harder, and I would never want that. She deserves so much better than what she is getting.

I don't know what to do at this point. I'm running out of positive affirmations. For myself included.

Sorry for the personal garbage. I thought it might feel good to just get out in words, but I'm not sure if it is helping or just confirming what I already thought. Anyway. Off to a stupid meeting where more people will probably just piss me off.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Knowledge Transfer Time 11

What is your favorite Data Modeling Software that interfaces with SQL Server?

It looks like Microsoft has dropped Visio for Enterprise Architects, which is what I used the last time I had to do a massive knowledge transfer of a data heavy application.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Plutus' Revenge

It was the only life-bearing planet in the entire universe; the very first planet to have life. It was the only planet in existence to have the conditions necessary for biogenesis, including being a double planet, each orbiting each other. The double planet was one of the keys of biogenesis, because of the tides. The timing of orbits and gravities had to be perfect, as well as chemical and photonic conditions.

        Life has a hard time getting started. This was the first planet on which it was possible. It would be billions of years before any other planet had these conditions.

        In time, its rotation slowed as its sister planet Theia went farther away and took up an eccentric orbit around the star.

        It was a very rich planet. Rich in metals, rich in diversity of vegetation once life had evolved that far, vast riches of water, and very rich in hydrocarbons. It was rich in chemicals and conditions conducive to abiogenesis. One of the planet's fauna evolved to the point of sentience, then the arts, than the sciences, until their technologies were very advanced. By the time this had come about, though, the slightly smaller sister had wandered away. The Vulcans never knew of it.

        The Vulcans were a very religious people who worshiped Plutus, a god everyone could see and love. When the heretic prophet Ragnarok was twenty three, he warned them that Plutus had told him to inform everyone that he was commanding them to explore outer space, that there were vast riches there, and their very existence depended on it.

        But space exploration isn't cheap, and the Vulcans couldn't see any monetary payback, only expense. Space travel wasn't started.

        Fifty years later Ragnarok spoke of an evil that only Plutus could save them from, and said it was on its way, and called it Theia. He spoke before a crowd one day, saying Plutus had spoken to him in a dream. As they listened intently, he informed them that their god was angry because they had never left Vulcan and was going to destroy the Vulcans, and Ragnarok and his family were the only ones who would survive the cataclysm unless he told anyone of his dream, in which case he would die instantly and his family would perish as well. His blasphemy was met with a storm of stones, and he died there broken and bloody. The mob then murdered his family and set his house on fire.

        But Ragnarok was right. The rich are never satisfied with their riches, so poured more and more of their seemingly limitless hydrocarbon riches into industry and commerce, all worshiping Plutus with all their hearts. Technology brought wealth, and was developed to a very high degree.

        A century after the would-be savior Ragnarok was stoned to death, the Vulcan culture was already in decline. They developed space travel, but they never saw the signs of the decline. The denizens of a declining civilization never do. But space travel was developed despite its seemingly nonexistent to meager payoff, and a colony was planted on the next planet out from theirs, the third, and another on the fourth. The third planet was uninhabitable because of its almost completely nitrogen atmosphere, and space men and women had to wear oxygen masks and very heavy clothing outside. It was very cold there, having very low concentrations of greenhouse gasses. The planet was called âoeSchneeâ.

        Schnee was the reason space travel was actually developed on Vulcan. Vulcan had been much like Raj a few centuries earlier, but had gradually warmed, becoming hotter and drier. The area near the equator become a desert with fewer and fewer forms of life, and its oceans started shrinking, the water entering the atmosphere as vapor and staying there. Collecting this water was very expensive, so they started looking at Schnee for water. It was a hard life for the scientists and ice miners there, many of whom froze to death.

        The fourth planet, Raj, was much nicer. It had a nitrogen atmosphere with plenty of oxygen for animals to breathe, and carbon dioxide for plants to breathe and warm the planet, so had very comfortable temperatures near its equator. Scientists were there before too long, followed by rich tourists, followed by rich immigrants who went for its beautiful weather and the wonderful Marineris Ocean's seashores. As Vulcan became hotter, Raj became the star's ruling planet. All still worshiped Plutus.

        Vulcan was dying, but wasn't yet dead when Theia returned. It had been in its eccentric orbit for billions of years, its orbits often changed drastically by a gas giant and a ringed planet.

        Theia seemed to be headed directly to Raj! It came very close, its gravity from its larger mass than Raj's and its nearly all iron composition tearing away almost all of Raj's atmosphere. Animals, including the sentient Rajians whose ancestors had immigrated from Vulcan died in hours. Flora came to its end shortly later.

        Raj's gravity altered Theia's course, and it was now headed directly to Schnee. Vulcan had fallen so far that its meager population of Vulcans had no idea of the destruction that had hit Raj, now dead, and what awaited Schnee. It mattered not to them, for they knew that they were doomed. Ragnarok's prophesy was well on its way to being true -- but no one would be left alive to tell tales of the blasphemous prophet.

        The Vulcans on Schnee saw Theia coming, but were helpless to do anything about it. There were few of them left, as well.

        At first it was a white dot in the night sky that got brighter and brighter every evening, then bigger and bigger. Before long it was a huge circle. It hit Schnee with tremendous force, releasing tremendous energies. It made a giant splash of molten rock and metal, and steam from the suddenly boiled ice. Vulcans who still had binoculars could see rings around Schnee, but there were few Vulcans, let alone binoculars. They, the few animals, meager vegetation, and microbes in Schnee's atmosphere that had ridden to Schnee with the Vulcans were the only life in the entire universe.

        Plutus had his revenge, making Vulcan so hot anything combustible burned, and soon there were rivers of flowing lead. Schnee was covered in an ocean of magma, and Raj was hit by so many meteors that all traces of Vulcan activity were erased completely. Plutus had not only destroyed the Vulcans, but all evidence of their very existence.

        It was finally only the microbes in Schnee's atmosphere that lived, who had no way of appreciating the beauty of Schnee's rings. Which was a pity, as they were very beautiful rings indeed.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Back to coding, doing something I haven't done before 6

Does anybody know of a good Javascript, .NET, or HTML5 (or combination of the three) library for doing a user-customizable widget grid?

I've seen it done enough that this *should* be a readily available control, but I don't seem to be able to find one with my first three rounds of google searching, I'm probably calling it the wrong thing.

What I want is to be able to configure a user's home page on the website with their choice & order of several widgets.

Anybody know of a great tool for doing this? Worst case scenario is I roll my own with a three column table built up from a sub table off of the users.

Oh yeah, and mandatory technology for this project is SQL Server Database, Visual Studio .NET Webforms (yeah, after doing MVC the last 4 projects I'm thinking Yuck too with these code-behinds), intended for HTML5 browsers.

User Journal

Journal Journal: I Hope the World Burns

There's a scene from Nickelodeon's Salute Your Shorts I remember where Donkeylips and Spud were assigned to trash pickup duty and Donkeylips wasn't going to make weight to go to a wrestling tournament or something, and it all boiled down to him probably not getting to go eat some delicious lobster. I don't know why I remember this so vividly, but I guess it has always stuck in the back of my mind. In that scene, the trash bag rips open and all the trash they had collected starts blowing all over and Donkeylips says, "Garbage! My life is garbage!"

I feel like that lately.

This entire year has been nothing but rejections and watching my career sink. It started with not getting the architect job. I have since considered this blessing in disguise (not the paycheck part), as the action of that rejection caused an equal but opposite reaction in the opposite direction of Data Science. Now, while it is cool that I was spurred in that direction, there's literally nothing here helping me get there.

Earlier this year I felt like I needed a breadwinner of an idea. Something to cement my bonus. That idea was the automation of one of our accessorial billing line items, which I estimated could have brought in around $600k per year. I caught the ear of the guy who could have set that project in motion and then... nothing. I don't know what happened. If there was fear or trepidation in pulling a (slightly) bold move. But for whatever reason, the project never got initiated.

With that out the window, I was given the task of integrating systems with our partners over at R (names changed to protect the guilty). Since they suck at thier jobs and life, I knew this probably wasn't going to actually happen anytime soon, but I needed something to make the project pop. So I thought I would build out our entire portal as a B2B Hypermedia REST API. That is pretty much done and it is just sitting there waiting to move forward, and what's worse, I don't think anyone even cares. No one. I haven't advertised it yet, because nobody even seems to care that I'm literally doing nothing.

Today, I got my mind really hooked on this problem of predictive analysis. Since I'm in a Probability Models class, I successfully modeled one of our processes as a Poisson Process. I know that Asshat is already working ("working") on this with our Data Science team, but they're going to take supposedly months to get some proprietary 3rd party system up to do forecasting, and I know that I can have a crude but fairly effective model up in a week or less. So I took it to the big boss. But my pitch must have been off, because he just kinda said, "Cool!" and dismissed it like it was a neat little chart. FUCK. What do I have to do around here to get some important, thoughtful work?! Who's dick do I have to suck?!

So here we are, on the brink of the 4th quarter and I have nothing to show for this year. Unbelievable.

I literally don't even need to come in. I could have stayed home for 90% of this year. That's how far I've advanced my career in 2015.

My influence here is fading too. Our new architect doesn't clue me in on anything he's doing (but has made good friends with the other developers), my boss was let go, so now power-hungry Asshat has all the cool projects, my new boss doesn't really have a nose for strategic development, since his specialty is in improving and maintaining legacy systems, nor does he know how to do battle with Asshat. And as a symptom of all this, I'm starting to care less. Fuck it. If nobody is going to give me work or let me run with projects I think would be cool, I'll just do nothing. I'll do homework. I'll leave at 2:30. I'll learn things I want to learn, like R and Python.

I'm so frustrated. And I can't leave, because of my debt situation. Fuck this. I'm going for a run. Then I'll come back, but all I'm going to do is read my 100 pages of Markov Chains of class.

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken