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Journal Journal: Back into Python 1

Okay... A couple weeks ago, I decided to take another look at Python-- the first such look I've given the language since around 1997.

So far, I have the basic stuff down. I've got a quick script down that provides functions to add ANSI colors to my output, so I have that going for me. :D

I have Python 2.x on a VM on my work system, but I'm using Python3 on my home system.

Now I need to look at learning classes and lambda (I know OF classes but I've only heard of lambda in passing), and that may take me a while.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Fallout 7

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 voat.co, 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.

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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. :)
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Journal Journal: Well, this should be fun... 3

I went to SlashCode.com and saw there was a link for the code that runs Slashdot (well, probably several versions ago). Fine. I have a file called Bundle-Slash-2.5.2.tar.gz . There's a link for instructions, BUT it's a dead link.

I wonder how long it will take before I have something useful?

If I can get it running, I'll let you all know... Pudge, if you're reading this... A little guidance would be greatly appreciated. :)

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Journal Journal: Two-Factor Authentication 2

Finally got TFA working on my home system. Trying to SSH into the box will require the PIN and the password. This will only present a problem when I'm using an SSH client from my phone.

Does anyone have personal experiences with this sort of thing? (I have professional experience with it, but this is the first time I've done anything like this at home.)

User Journal

Journal Journal: Undercover police cars 5

I was on my way to work today and saw a State Trooper's car on the side of the road. I knew it was a State Trooper not because of the distinctive two-tone blue that cruisers have (this one was black), but because it had several antennas and a radar gun on the driver's side.

It reminded me of the graphic that has gone around on Facebook with a picture of a police car in Europe (bright colors designed to attract attention) compared with an American undercover police car (designed to look like any other car and not stick out in traffic). It occurs to me that there are a few different reasons why American police departments (on the state and local levels) might employ cars with stealth-ish designs, one or more of which may apply:
  • The police department may not be able to afford the number of officers required to patrol all parts of their jurisdiction. Having undercover cruisers means the people are going to be more careful about their habits in an attempt to not get ticketed.
  • The police department is attempting to generate revenue for their {State|Community} by catching people off-guard.

In the first case, it would make sense, and it kinda works after a fashion. That isn't what bothers me.

In the second case, it's sneaky and underhanded. My train of thought (such as it is) went on to consider the fact that when people hunt, they have legal restrictions on what they are allowed to do to bag their prey. They cannot set certain traps or route their prey into certain areas for the purpose of killing them. If a hunter is found to have employed entrapment techniques, the Games Warden will likely take the kill and the hunter could lose his hunting license.

Why are police allowed to get away with the same sort of thing?

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Journal Journal: H2G2: The saga?

I was talking to someone at work about how some of the best political wisdom I've heard came from a Douglas Adams book, specifically the bit about how the ones who aspire to positions of authority are those least qualified to have said positions. The conversation then devolved into how the Beeb had created a site to act as a real-life Guide.

Out of curiosity, I set out to see if I could find my posts, and I did. The problem is that I hadn't posted there since April or so of 2000. I had no idea what my login was, no clue on the email address associated with it, and certainly not my password. I went back and forth with their "Gurus", explaining all this and how I would gladly answer any question they had in an effort to identify myself. I gave email addresses I used at the time, too. Next thing I know, they're sending me my login and my password via email, in cleartext.


Needless to say, I changed the password right quick.

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Journal Journal: Certification fun! 1

My employer pretty-well insisted that I get a certification. They went so far as to pay for the training and the first exam attempt.

To that end, I'm working on GCUX through SANS. So far, so good. It's pretty interesting.

From what I'm reading about how to prepare for the exam itself, it would be to my benefit to prepare a thorough index- something in the area of 30-50 pages long. O_O

Does anyone have any experience with that sort of thing? How does one know what should be in the index and what should not?

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Journal Journal: The more things change... 4

...the more they stay the same. I think.

A little over a year ago, I wrote about how I stopped playing WoW and took up ST:TOR. Now, I don't even play that.

Things have been a bit hectic at my house- My wife's computer died (constant, unpredictable reboots and a corrupted hard drive), so she's taken to playing WoW on my system. She raids often, now that she's found a guild that does that sort of thing in the morning. My sleeping period has me getting up late morning. By then, I have an errand or two to do before I start getting ready for work. Rinse, repeat.

I need a vacation.

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Journal Journal: These are the things in my head at night 7

Then-PFC, now-SGT Bergdahl may in fact have deserted his post. There are certainly credible accusations to that effect, and if so, then he should be tried and convicted for the crime. But it's a whole lot easier to investigate those charges with him here, and we don't let the Taliban mete out justice for us.

The military idea of "taking care of your own" has a lot of different aspects. Holding the line and leaving no one behind are obvious; less obvious, perhaps, is that our people are ours. Loon or no, deserter or no, even traitor or no, whatever else Bowe Bergdahl may be he is someone who raised his right hand and took the oath, and that means that whatever reward or punishment he receives is ours and ours alone to give.

It astonishes me sometimes, having at this point been out of the service several more years than I was in it, how strong and pure those ideas still are in my head: how much "us" the profession of arms still is to me, and I suppose always will be. I'm a civilian and happy to be one now, but both the infantryman and the medic are still very close to the surface. The latter is concerned mainly with bringing back the wounded--and the former is ready, willing, and perhaps even eager to kill anyone who stands in the way of that mission.

Whatever else we did, whatever else we may do, we had to bring him home.

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Journal Journal: This should be one of those "I told you so" moments... 2

...but I won't say it, even though I'd be justified in doing so.

I was just looking through the beta for Slashdot (which I don't like, by the way) and saw a "Hall of Fame" page. I looked at it and this was one of the most popular stories of all time. It was posted when Obama was elected the first time.

It's kind of depressing, in that people were saying that Obama would not change all the things he promised he would, and the lemmings tried to shout them down. I said "depressing" because so many people, all of whom should really have known better, bought into the ideals that Obama sold to them. They honestly believed (and I daresay still believe, even now) that Obama would have the power to bring about all the changes he promised.

Well, it's been six years in. I think I am safe in stating that none of his promises have been kept-- none of them that were of any substance, anyway.

I can only hope that the process that we have in place will work as it should, and Obama will not see the end of the current term. He can't complain: he has his phone, he has a pen, and he knows how to use them.

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Journal Journal: Lies, damned lies, and ... oh no, you're going there. 1

[cranky rant warning]

"Lies, damned lies, and statistics." It's coming up again with depressing frequency, being used as an argument instead of a snide observation.

Okay, here's the thing. Can you lie with statistics? Sure. Statistics is a branch of mathematics*, and math is a language; you can lie in that language as easily as in any other. Does this mean all statistics are lies? No more than all statements in any language are lies--and if you believe that, you've gone so far down the rabbit hole of anti-intellectual mysticism that you'll probably never find your way out.

Meanwhile, in the real world, and in the ever-expanding torrent of data we have about that world, statistics as a discipline is pretty much the only hope we have of understanding anything. The low-hanging fruit has been picked. The equations we learn in Physics 101 are as valid as they ever were, but they're not nearly enough. No matter how certain you think you are, no matter how many times you repeat your experiment and get the same result, if you don't do the statistical tests you don't actually know whatever it is you think you know. And if you do the tests--well, you may still be wrong, but you can at least quantify your uncertainty. And you have to do that, because you can always be wrong.

None of this is meant to defend the misuse of statistics, any more than as a writer I'd defend the misuse of natural language. People can and do wilfully misinterpret statistics, or cherry-pick them, or just outright make them up, and those are bad things. Guess what? They do that with every other kind of statement too. At least half of statisticians' job is fact-checking, and it's a charge we gladly accept.

So the next time you're tempted to say "lies, damned lies, and statistics," or "figures don't lie but liars figure," or "correlation does not imply causation" or any of its variants, or post the umpteen-thousandth link to "How To Lie With Statistics," and think you're being clever--please, just stop. Because one thing I am so sure of that I don't even need to put a p-value on it is that if you feel the need to resort to any of those lazy, thought-free responses, you don't know enough about the issue at hand to have an informed opinion, and the best thing you can possibly do for yourself and everyone else is to keep quiet.

*Opinions vary on this issue, but if statistics isn't exactly a branch of mathematics, we can at least say that math is the language in which it's written.

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Journal Journal: Updates from Chez Timex 5

Things are going fairly well, I think.

I gave up playing WoW. I started playing SW:TOR, but found I didn't have time to play.

The only game I've been keeping up with lately is Second Life.

I've also been getting into Ingress lately. Does anyone else play? I like it because it gets me out of the house (even in these cold northeastern winter days) and I occasionally meet new people.

Work expands to fill the time available. -- Cyril Northcote Parkinson, "The Economist", 1955