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Journal: Life is too short to engage with arrogant assholes

Journal by Fjandr

The Internet is full of assholes. Pretty much anyone who has used it for more than a day is aware of this.

Message boards, forums, and pretty much any method of interaction online brings out the inner asshole in so many people. I decided to post this so that such people on Slashdot can be aware of why I frequently do not respond to comments posted in response to my comments: life is too short to engage with arrogant assholes. Yes, sometimes I do engage, but frequently the tone of a reply to one of my comments instantly tells me that the poster is brimming to the top with confidence in their own superiority. Why should they stoop so low as to actually be polite? So much easier to just be an abrasive douchebag.

Often this sort of behavior is accompanied by a taunt that I won't reply because I'm wrong in, well, whatever it was I said in a given post. Standard Internet Tough Guy line, and one that is unfortunately just encouraged by a response (and is a means to stroke their ego even more if there is no reply). So, this is my general note to anyone who wanders through here. If I don't respond, it's either because I'm not paying attention to Slashdot, or your post clearly indicates you're a self-involved asshole and a reply is a waste of time. You can probably figure out which it is on your own.

User Journal

Journal: The tragedy of brain-dead apparatchiki entrusted with the care of children. 6

Journal by jcr

Earlier today, I read an account of a little girl getting a severe sunburn while on a school field trip, because of an unconscionable policy prohibiting children from possessing sunscreen while at school or on school activities. I looked up the name of the spokesman who had the nerve to try to defend this policy to the press, and wrote her the following e-mail:

Miss Chancellor, you and the pinheads you serve in the Northeast Indecent School District are a tragic example of the kind of abject incompetence that pervades American public schools in the past several decades.

I would urge you to resign and pursue employment in the janitorial services industry, but youâ(TM)re obviously too goddamned stupid to be trusted with cleaning supplies.

-jcr

Well, it would appear that Miss Chancellor was offended by my criticism, and she replied thusly:

Your comments do not warrant an intelligent response. Clearly - you do not have all the facts.

Now, it's rather unusual for an apparatchik in a shitstorm to bother to respond to any of the angry e-mails they get, so naturally I have replied:

On Jun 6, 2014, at 10:26 AM, Chancellor, Aubrey wrote:

>Your comments do not warrant an intelligent response.

Since youâ(TM)re entirely incapable of an intelligent response, that just works out fine and dandy now, doesnâ(TM)t it?

>Clearly - you do not have all the facts.

The fact is that when you screw up like this, the thing to do is apologize and promise the parents, the child, and the rest of the community that it will never happen again. You donâ(TM)t double down on your idiotic policy of depriving children of sunscreen.

When children are entrusted to you by their parents, your paramount duty is to ensure their safety and well being. it is NOT to sacrifice their welfare to your psychotic need for obedience.

-jcr

More on this as it develops. Start the popcorn.

User Journal

Journal: Throwing in the towel on Facebook. 7

Journal by jcr

Last post to FB:

In the time since I created this Facebook account in 2006, I found a bunch of old friends, met many new ones, wasted a whole lot of time, had some arguments that never would have happened in real life, and been frequently annoyed by the business decisions FB has made.

This post will be my last. I will delete this account 48 hours from now. Those of you who want to keep in touch can reach me as always at jcr@mac.com, which I've had for at least a decade.

All's well that ends. I wish you all peace, love and happiness.

It feels like leaving high school. There are people there that I will always care about, some that I love, some that I barely know, some that I have no idea how I met in the first place or why they're in my FB friends list.

A very smart friend of mine is working on changing social media from a site and a vendor that sells the users' info to advertisers, into a protocol that would operate on a peer-to-peer basis, with strong security to ensure that what we write goes to those we wish, and no one else. I hope he succeeds, and I look forward to making a fair bit of cash shorting FB when the writing appears on the wall.

  I will thank my friends who worked on FB, and every user there who ever shared a heartwarming, interesting, inspiring, or even outrageous bit of information that I wouldn't have found otherwise. Congrats to all the FB millionaires and worker bees, I wish them all the best.

I'll still be NSResponder here on /., on StackOverflow and Twitter. The internet is still a lot bigger than Facebook, and I'll see you all around.

User Journal

Journal: Well, that about wraps it up for e-trade. 2

Journal by jcr

E-mail to Neal Martin, E-trade's vice president of customer service:

Well Neal,

I doubt that this message will actually get to you personally, but what the hell.

After the fracas over the last few weeks in which e-trade failed to issue me a second ATM card, I finally got around to transferring the bulk of my shares to a competent broker.

The automatic mail from e-trade notifying me of the transfer included this paragraph:

E*TRADE strives to achieve best in class service and is focused on meeting all of your financial needs. We would like to understand your reason for your transfer out and see if there are any improvements we can make to serve you better in the future. If you have the time to discuss, please call us at 1-800-ETRADE -1 (1-800-387-2331).

The fact is, after going around with your underlings a few times on my requirement for a second card, and having told each of them several times that this was a deal breaker, I know that the claim that youâ(TM)re âoestriving to achieve best in class serviceâ is nothing but marketing drivel. Indeed, my direct, personal experience has shown me that my business isnâ(TM)t important enough to get on the radar of anyone who would actually solve the problem.

I had already planned to find another broker, but the thing that made me hurry up and do so was receiving your oh-so-thoughtful gift of an e-trade gym bag. So, after refusing my very simple request, you apparently assumed that Iâ(TM)d be satisfied if I just got a bag to advertise an incompetent financial institution to my friends.

Looking at the transaction log, I see that e-trade has charged me $25 for the privilege of taking my property elsewhere. Now, Iâ(TM)m sure you have something in your fine print that allows you to do that, but itâ(TM)s still kind of shitty on your part. Given that youâ(TM)re not even capable of issuing two cards on one account (as you had done for the previous decade or so), waiving that fee is probably entirely beyond the capabilities of the fifth-rate keyboard monkeys in your so-called âoeIT departmentâ, so you can go ahead and keep it. Iâ(TM)m getting a nice welcome gift from your competition, which I didnâ(TM)t even ask for.

Would you like the gym bag back?

-jcr

User Journal

Journal: Even less impressed with E-Trade. 3

Journal by jcr

Got this from some minion at E-trade, since the VP I wrote to was apparently too busy to answer a customer personally:

Good Morning Mr. Randolph,

We received your email inquiry to our VP of Customer Service, Neal Martin on 8/5/13. We regret that we are unable to accommodate your request for two ATM cards for your account. We appreciate your feedback and it has been shared with management and our product teams for review. If you have any additional questions or concerns feel free to contact me at [phone number deleted]

Thank You,

[Name redacted]
Corporate Support Manager
Alpharetta GA
E*TRADE Securities LLC
[phone number redacted]

Manager? Yeah, right. In a functioning company, a manager is someone who takes the initiative to solve a problem.

I left the VP's name because he fully deserves to have this come up when someone googles him in the future.

My response:

[redacted],

You might mention to Neal Martin that when a customer responds to an email message that has his name on it, itâ(TM)s rather poor form to pass the buck to someone else unless that other person is capable of solving the problem.

I was a more-or-less satisfied customer of E-trade for over a decade. I will be transferring my assets to another broker in the near future, as soon as I determine which of your competitors can demonstrate the competence that E-trade has abandoned.

-jcr

User Journal

Journal: Rather unimpressed with E-Trade today.

Journal by jcr

I've been a customer of theirs for over a decade, and I've had two ATM cards for the same account for many years. Recently, I needed to cancel one of the cards and instead of just replacing that card, they cancelled both of my cards. I just sent the following message to Neal Martin, VP of customer service at E-trade.

Neal,

I got a call from one of your employees this morning, Meagan something, who told me that after looking into it she wasnâ(TM)t able to find a way to issue a second card for my account. Her suggested workaround was that I should open another account, and get an ATM card for that account.

So, because of your IT departmentâ(TM)s refusal to fulfill a very simple request, E-tradeâ(TM)s âoesolutionâ is that I should give you MORE of my business, and incur whatever additional costs are associated with having a second account. Not to mention that using a second account means that if I lose a card while traveling, Iâ(TM)ll either be dead in the water for a day while funds get transferred to that second account, or Iâ(TM)d have to have money parked in that second account already.

Now, Iâ(TM)m a software engineer myself with a fair bit of experience in financial systems. In my Wall Street days, I worked at JP Morgan, Salomon Brothers, and UBS/Warburg. I know that there is indeed a way to solve the problem at hand, even if it requires manually editing a database to make it happen. If my business is important enough to you, youâ(TM)ll direct your IT department to do so.

In the meantime, I suggest your inform all of your employees in customer-facing roles that âoesecurity policy" is not an excuse for incompetence.

-jcr

The message above was a follow-up to this one:

Hello Neal,

I have been an E-Trade customer since 2002 or thereabouts, and I currently have about [redacted] in assets on deposit with e-trade.

Iâ(TM)ve got to say, Iâ(TM)m on the verge of taking my business elsewhere and itâ(TM)s because of something that should be trivial for you to solve.

Iâ(TM)ve had two debit cards for my account for a decade or more, and Iâ(TM)ve just been told that I can only have one now. This doesnâ(TM)t work for me, because I travel quite a bit, and I like to keep one card in the safe in my hotel room, and have the other one on me. If I lose a card while traveling, I do not want to be stranded without a way to access my funds.

Yesterday, I spoke with a representative who told me that he had figured it out and was sending me an additional card, but this morning he called me back and told me that he couldnâ(TM)t do it after all. Just now, I spoke with another representative from your âoeCorporate Relationship Managementâ team, and heâ(TM)s looking into it.

Iâ(TM)ve generally been happy with E-trade up to this point, but if you canâ(TM)t issue me two cards as before, itâ(TM)s a deal breaker. I hope you get this figured out.

Also, donâ(TM)t put your name on an e-mail address that doesnâ(TM)t go to you directly. Itâ(TM)s insulting.

-jcr

The upshot is I did some shopping around and found that Scottrade's fees are lower than E-trade's. The first brokerage company I find that can issue two cards on one account will get my business.

User Journal

Journal: Another interesting stint at Apple. 5

Journal by jcr

For the last two years (almost), I was back at Apple working on the UI frameworks that the ProApps and the iApps use to give them their distinctive look. Interesting work, nice people to work with, and now I can say that there's some of my code in most of Apple's Pro and consumer apps on the Mac.

To everyone in PhotoApps, ProApps, Frameworks, and Dev Tools, thanks much! I enjoyed working with you.

-jcr

It's funny.  Laugh.

Journal: Sometimes you just have to laugh 6

Journal by Fjandr

Well hello there Slashdot Journal, long time no see!

Somewhat surprisingly, given the nature of Internet forums, I don't encounter too many people of this ... let's say ... caliber. At least not directly. I guess I caught Sexconker on what appears to be (at least from a perusal of their comments as they exist at this moment) a very rare non-dickish post. Well, there's still the ubiquitous swearing in it, but it was targeted at people who, to be fair, usually actually are assholes of some stripe or another.

The chain of posts starts here. It's actually fairly reasonable, allowing some license for what appears to be a decided lack of foresight. That is, until you get to the end. As a result of my disagreeing that a GPU can perform all operations available to the newer ARM processors (specifically access-controlled states and the use of specific cryptographic instructions), I "don't get it." As a result, I am worthy of nothing but the derision of a "lolbro you dumb."

The irony of that statement made me chuckle a bit. Sometimes, you just have to laugh...

Canada

Journal: My new career path. 24

Journal by tomhudson

More here.

As a bonus , I'll probably soon reveal the unbelievable story of how I acquired my legal knowledge - by doing something nobody else ever has, and which, until now, would be considered pretty much impossible.

I'd rather not, because there is some danger involved, but it's necessary to achieve my goals in an open and transperent fashion.

Advice and help sought and welcome.

Open Source

Journal: Yet another open source failure 14

Journal by tomhudson

Trying to print an envelope address in openoffice under linux? What a waste of time.

Do the people who code this sh*t actually ever use it? Or do they never use anything else, so they simply don't know that it's possible to do better?

Easy prediction - open source will never be competitive. When it's so bad that I'm tempted to throw a copy of XP (or even Wn95) on the box because linux on the desktop is still 2 decades behind the times anyway, there's a fundamental problem that obviously will never be fixed.

I really hate them, but my next computer is going to be a mac.

The Internet

Journal: Every browser is *still* broken. 17

Journal by tomhudson

After 15 years, we still don't have an un-b0rked browser. CSS 2.1 was done in 1997, and yet firefox, opera, chrome, arora - they all render differently for non-trivial layouts.

15 years, and they still can't get the basics right. It means that the problem is not the implementation, but the underlying concepts that are flawed in fundamental ways.

And there's no blaming Microsoft or Apple for this fiasco.

No, we did this to ourselves. We're all suckers. The people setting the standards did it wrong, and we didn't immediately stone them to death, salt their fields, enslave their families for the next 3 generations, and all that other "Carthage must die!" goodness.

So we have let ourselves become slaves to stupidity.

What a waste of time, energy, brain cells, and just general aggravation. Have fun with html5 + css3, folks - you'll never see it finished in your lifetime, not even if you live for another 100 years.

Apple has it right - apps, not a stupid one-size-fits-nada web browser. Just like they have it right about not releasing stuff until it's good and ready.

Stupid browsers. Stupid us.

Programming

Journal: NoSQL+ sprintf() == better. 7

Journal by tomhudson

Old technology doesn't die - it get re-implemented when newer ways get too bloated and turn everything it touches into Beavis and Butthead.

In the dying days of the last century (awk! - how time flies) I used to do web cgi using c, same as a lot of people. Used malloc and sprintfs() to insert variables into a "template" and then printf()s to output. It was easy to track memory allocation for such cases, so the whole "OMG you'll leak memory" issue was a non-starter.

And then along came the attack of the killer web scripting "pee" languages - php, perl, and to a lesser extent, python. The concept of a "templating language" evolved and eventually we ended up with "templating engines" - megabytes of code to make up for the shortfalls of the approach.

For example, output buffering. php includes stuff like ob_start() because even one stray newline emitted will prevent you from setting cookies on the client. c/c++ cgi programs didn't worry about a stray newline being output by an #include file because only printf() and putchar() would actually write stuff to stdout - so as long as you were just sprintf()ing to your format strings you were all good. In php, even one space before the opening tag or after the closing tag in index.php and you're hosed for sending cookies (which is why you should always omit the closing tag - the spec allows it).

Another advantage was that the ONLY character you needed to escape in any file you loaded as a template as a sprintf format string was the % symbol. No worrying about single or double quotes, angle brackets, or whatever.

For user input, the only sanitation needed was the left and right brackets (to prevent someone from entering raw html, such as script tags) and, again, the % symbol. No "escape_string", no "real_escape_string", no "really_really_escape_string", since the data was stored and read w/o needing sql.

In terms of performance and memory use, sprintf() easily beats regexes. You really can't help but notice the difference. And it sure beats the so-called "compiled templates" produced by templating engines like smarty.

Yet another advantage is portability - any language that supports sprintf() can be used w/o modifying your template files. This means that if you need the best possible performance on some really really HUGE files, you can always do it directly from a shell in c, or if you're so inclined, java.

So I decided to re-implement my old approach from scratch yesterday in a couple of hours in php. The entire code - including for variable range-checking, reading and writing data (strings and arrays), meta tag files, html, reading and parsing config files, getting and setting cookies, posts and gets along with verification and using sane defaults and coercing the values to those default types, loading templates, creating those little "go to page 1 2 3 4" clickies for larger web documents and everything else, is under 9k, including the site's index.php file.

THAT is a lot more maintainable than the 1.1 meg download for smarty templates (and smarty doesn't do the reading and type coercion from the client or the minmax range checking or some of the other stuff).

So, +130 files for smarty, or 2 for the old way (and one is index.php,so it really doesn't count ...)? Oh, and the template files look a LOT cleaner. For example, no embedded program logic like {include file='whatever'} in the templates, so stuff like

<input name="first_name" value=$smarty.get.first_name> // no default values!!!
<input name="last_name" value=$smarty.get.last_name> // no type coercion!!!
<input name="address" value=$smarty.get.address>
<input name="city" value=$smarty.get.city>
<input type="submit" value="Save">
<input type="reset">

becomes:

<input name="%s">, etc ...

... so your template looks like this instead:

<input name="first_name" value="%s">
<input name="last_name" value="%s">
<input name="address" value="%s">
<input name="city" value="%s">
<input name="age" value="%s">
<input type="submit" value="Save">
<input type="reset">

and your index.php file looks like

<?php
$BASE = '../'; all files live outside of public_html space
include "$BASE/php/libfoo.php";

$HTML = read_tpl("test_page"); // read_tpl automatically prepends "$BASE/tpl/", appends ".tpl" extension.

$css="my_skin_2";
$js = "new_js_lib";

$head = read_tpl("head");
$meta = read_meta("test_metadata");
$desc = $meta[0];
$keywords = $meta[1];

// want to test a new skin, new javascript libs
$HEAD = sprintf($head, $desc, $keywords, $css, $js);

$form = read_tpl("junk");
// get, post, cookie, gpc_pg, etc all sanitize the %, < and > symbols.
// also use an optional default value, and coerce any entered data to that type,
// so, if you ask for an integer and specify -42 as the default, anyone entering "FOO" returns -42
$first_name = get('first_name', 'Enter first name here');
$last_name = get('last_name', 'Enter first name here');
$address = get('city', 'Enter address here');
$city = get('address', 'Enter city here');
$age = get('age', -1);

// do any additional validation, data manipulation, etc.
// no need to do output buffering ... it's all in memory until you do the next line.
$FORM = sprintf($form, $first_name, $last_name, $address, $city, $age);

$footer = read_tpl("footer");
$FOOTER = sprintf($footer, "have a nice day!");

//okay, now write the whole thing
printf($HTML, $HEAD, $FORM, $FOOTER);

There is zero programming logic in the template itself - and that's the way it should be. Templates like smarty fail in the "presentation should be separate from code" department.

Plus, since most templates won't include variable names. they're pretty generic, again promoting template re-use. The footer, for example, could contain the output of several other templates instead of a simple message, and you'd never touch the main page template OR the footer template.

Operating Systems

Journal: Bad news for Windows and Linux 9

Journal by tomhudson

Remember how Apple captured a generation of users by concentrating on getting their computers into schools? You ain't seen nothin' yet.

One trend that I haven't heard a peep about is how mothers and grandmothers are using their iPhones and iPads to play with their kids. I'm not talking grade-school children, but babies under a year old. I have yet to see a parent do this (play with their baby) with a non-iOS device.

Cradle to grave, these kids are going to think a "computer" is something you buy from Apple, and anything else is a cheap knock-off (which is too true nowadays, btw).

Microsoft will still manage to hang on in the business world, but android? Not a very good future in either smartphones or tablets, unless you want to talk about the lower end. Androids' continued fragmentation problems mean Apple will continue to be the one to beat.

Android on TVs? Nobody wants a "socially networked TV". That's what they have their iPads and iPhones for. TV is for vegging out, for background noise when doing homework or housework, or for playing games. So even if/when android comes standard on most TVs, it's going to be like the clock on those obsolete VCRs - always blinking 12:00:00 because nobody bothers to configure it.

Medicine

Journal: Time to take on DrugCo (Merck) 4

Journal by tomhudson
Olmetec and Benicar (Olmesartan medoxomil)are a $2.5 billion a year industry. I was on Olmetec for 3 months, and let me tell you, the side efffects were nasty.

I stopped taking it a month ago, and am pretty much recovered from it, aside from still feeling like I want to take a nap once in a while, but at least the bone-crushing tired-all-the-time can't-stay-awake for more than 6 hours a day even after 6 cups of coffee feeling is gone, along with the other nasty side effects.

There are people who have reported similar reactions, but I suspect that shame keeps them from reporting the worst one - after a couple of months dealing with it, and the depression that it threw me into (another side effect that patients have reported that is not mentioned in the product monograph), I experienced the same suicidal ideation that a few others have reported. Now, considering that I've been through a lot worse and have never spent weeks in a deep dark funk thinking about offing myself, there's a problem with this drug - especially since when I stopped using it, those thoughts went away.

In my email to them, I asked what they proposed to do about this - and about the lack of warnings to either physicians or patients, esp. when there have been similar reports since at least 2009, along with reports of gradual short-term memory lost and other problems, and that two studies have shown that it also presents up to a 5-fold increase in sudden death from stroke in patients who are diabetic.

The argument from the FDA review of these deaths was that the benefits of reducing non-fatal strokes mostly outweighed the risks. That's like saying that you have a car with a steering wheel that will let you either walk away from an accident, but with a much higher risk that it will gut you instead, with no middle ground, and no, we won't tell you that it is much more likely to kill you. Or that for certain trips, maybe you should take a different vehicle. And that diabetic patients and their physicians should be looking at other options.

Their response was the usual corporate mumblings. Lots of words to avoid actually saying anything. I'll be posting it on the net sometime tonight or tomorrow, along with the ROADMAP and ORION studies, and the FDA response.

It's interesting that since the FDA review last year, some of those who said "overall, it's worth it" are now not so sure ...

And yes, I am certainly both upset and angry about this, now that I can see it for what it was.

User Journal

Journal: I guess I'm PMSing a bit ... 6

Journal by tomhudson

... or that I'm fed up that I went to check my email after spending most of the day away from the computer, and I get yet another SEO con artist from India sending more spam offering their crappy services - stuff anyone who can throw together a few meta tags and a sitemap.xml file can duplicate.

So corporatesales@web-seo-proposals.in got the following reply:

Hi:
Kindly go fuck yourself. Preferably with a dildo covered in barbed wire. Repeatedly.

It's rare that I swear, but I'll make an exception in their case. And cut-n-paste it into a few of the many others in the inbox.

They also operate under the name ethical-seo-comapany.com (no, the typo is not mine - they actually don't know how to spell company).

Just make sure you check the headers before doing anything similar to make sure the spammer isn't really someone pulling a joe job.

The rest of them got this enhanced versin:

Hi:

Kindly go fuck yourself. Preferably with an aids-infected dildo covered in barbed wire. Repeat until you remove yourself from the gene pool.

"Marriage is like a cage; one sees the birds outside desperate to get in, and those inside desperate to get out." -- Montaigne

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