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User Journal

Journal Journal: Here we go again. Damn! 7

The last month I've felt better than at any time since this last bout of depression started in the fall of 2014. And now it's creeping back. A month of feeling half-way decent in 2 years does not cut it. The ability to concentrate is gone again, sleep is crap, and I can't help but keep thinking that I made the wrong decision to fight it.

Oh well, I was warned that it would come back. So much for my latest plans to do something constructive or useful. The last few days, looking at my old code has seemed like such an impossible burden. I can't even work up real anger over it at this point. After all, what's the point?

Time to see what other miracle drugs and treatments my psychiatrist has to offer ... and I understand now why so many people resort to illegal highs and end up drug addicts - it looks better than the alternative.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Banks still not sanitizing user input. 16

(Note - also submitted as a story since this probably affects more than a few people)

Recently I tried once again to use my bank's mobile app. I had deleted it a couple of times in the past because I could never get it to work. The bank had all sorts of excuses - "Maybe your card hasn't been activated for online banking", "You need to download the latest version", "We'll need to reset your password", "We'll issue you a new card", etc. New card, password reset both did nothing.

Turns out that entering the card number as shown on the card will never work. The card format is 9999 9999 9999 9999 (spaces between each group of 4 digits). They failed Rule 00; sanitize input.

Entering the number in that format will always fail. In this case they failed to remove spaces before testing whether the card number was valid. The android code to remove the embedded spaces is pretty generic one-liner:

String cardNo = edittext.getText().toString().replace(" ", "");

Looking at the online forums, others have had the same problem for the app's entire existence.

Having figured that out, I was immediately locked out for "too many failures to answer the security question". Of course, it never presented a security question, because the bozo who wrote the program incremented some "bad answer" counter on every login attempt, even if they never got to the point of seeing a security question. It also locks you out of using web banking on the same account..

Locking someone out of their account is now easy as pie, because it also works if the user enters their name instead of their card number. (If you have 5 John Smiths, you'll lock them all out, since access is granted based on both the user name and password matching if the account number isn't entered). Just load up an android app for the bank (I won't disclose which bank until 45 days have passed since notifying them today), enter their name and a bogus password a few times, and every John Smith is locked out. And of course, if the so-called developers are failing to do such basic input sanitation, it makes me pretty sure there are other intern-level programmer bugs are awaiting exploitation elsewhere.

Adding frustration is that they cannot do a password reset over the phone unless you have already signed up for telephone banking. Now why would anyone sign up for telephone banking when an app or the web is supposed to be more convenient? The excuse I was given is that they need it to establish my identity. So why not just text me an sms or email code that I can enter when requesting a password reset?

Lets hope other banks didn't use the same app geniuses.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Always write passwords down! 6

Just recovered my original gmail account, dating back to the early invite days. FirstName.Lastname is good to have back, even if it had 3+ years of spam in it :-)

I was wondering if accounts would be expired after a certain time - now we know that they're good for at least 3 years after the last login. Makes sense, because you don't want anyone grabbing an old email address and getting someone else's email.

Eventually they'll have to expire the old ones, because it's going to be harder and harder to pick good ones - maybe a decade would be a long enough period?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Making the Internet (and other stuff) easier on the eyes 7

After a few days of thinking, and a few more days of testing, I've found something interesting that might be useful for others, even if you don't have a visual impairment.

Mixed-case fonts are harder to read. Plus, how do you tell the difference between a lower-case "ELL" and the number 1, upper-case "OH" and the number 0, lowercase "b" and the number 6, uppercase "ESS" and the number 5, lowercase letter pair "r n" and lowercase "m" (as in "bank of America" vs "Bank of Arnerica"? Lowercase letters are hard on the eyes. They also weren't around in the days of the ancient greeks; it took 1,500 years for that to happen.

This whole debate wasn't much of a big deal back in the days when we'd spend hours and hours typing code in marathon sessions of easy-on-the-eyes monospaced all-caps, but those days are gone. We're no longer using much assembler (and if we do, it's lowercase), BASIC, or DBASE, or Clipper (and they don't care about case either).

The programming languages we use today are case sensitive, particularly the two biggies - c/c++ and java.

Part of the solution is to switch to a small-caps font. Lowercase glyphs are just smaller versions of their uppercase glyphs. Using a mono-spaced small-caps font adds a bit more readability as well (though you might not think so at first - it takes your brain a while to get used to it).

No more worrying about mixing up lowercase "l" and the number 1, etc.

So then the question becomes - what about coding compatibility between those who don't use a screen reader and those who do (either on occasion or regularly)?

If you want to cursor through each letter, the screen reader will beep as it says each capital, but really, who wants to go letter by letter to differentiate between lowercase, uppercase, titlecase, and camelcase? What's needed is to use only one case, so that variables, methods, functions and classes are all written using the same set of lowercase letters. (Can't use all uppercase because preprocessor directives (#include, etc) in c and various declarations (packages, etc) in java need to be lowercase).

Obviously, anything that is not all-lowercase is going to need some shim code. It's a problem, especially in c, where convention is that macro definitions are in all-caps. But that's just a convention, and there's no reason not to be able to include shim code that redefines those macro definitions using lowercase and a few extra letters (sorry, leading and trailing underscores are reserved for the implementation, though this may only be the case for double underscores - check your header files).

Classes don't HAVE to have propercase names, and functions and methods don't HAVE to have camelcase names. These are just conventions.

Using existing code will still require shims to call it, but all-lowercase code does have a few advantages that outweigh the hassle. For one, fewer typos. For another, the shim code doesn't have to be a direct representation of the other code in terms of functionality - there's no reason, for example, not to create a java button class that works better than the Button class, with less verbosity and more built-in functionality (and eliminating the stupid get and set syntax). Why have button.getxy() and button.setxy(newxy) when button.xy() and button.xy(newxy) work just fine thanks to overloading, and can be chained just fine?

And lest you not take all this seriously, wait until there's a library of all-lowercase code available and someone files a complaint under the ADA because they're not being allowed to use it, if fewer typos and less eye strain isn't enough to motivate you.

NOTE: Chrome no longer lets you override font settings despite looking like it, but Firefox still does. Carrois Gothic SC (small caps) is a good font for browsing, and Latin Modern Mono Caps 10 works in code editors. Both are fully scale-able in size.

(The proof is in the pudding - this is the first time I've been able to use a computer for 4 hours straight in I don't know how long, despite having a cataract in one eye and blood clots floating around in the other. Not even any headache or nausea. Usually it's under an hour, than forget it for several hours or often the rest of the day, pop some tylenol, etc. I wish I had thought of this before.)

User Journal

Journal Journal: I changed history last week 7

And unlike in "All You Zombies", I didn't need a U.S.F.F. Coordinates Transformer Field Kit, series 1992, Mod II to do it.

As you can see from this excerpt from Wikipedia, the first country to pass a same sex marriage law was the Netherlands, in December of 2000.


21 December: Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands signs into law the first same-sex marriage bill in the world. It had previously cleared the country's Senate on 19 December in a 49â"26 vote and the House of Representatives on 12 September in a 109â"33 vote. The law came into effect on 1 April 2001.

Of course, Canada screwed that up just fine:


14 January: Two same-sex marriages are performed at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto in Ontario, Canada (2-1/2 months before the Netherlands law came into force). Although registration of the marriages was initially denied, a successful court challenge upheld their legality on 10 June 2003, thus retroactively making them the first legal same-sex marriages in modern times.

Not so fast there ... the first marriage of two same sex women that is legally recognized was in Quebec, April 1976 - a quarter century before the Netherlands. It gained legal recognition by the government as a same-sex marriage more than 40 years later, on July 15, 2016.

Now if that sounds totally f'ed up, then you know it has to involve me, and my 35 years of work trying to modify the name and sex on my birth certificate, running into one delay after another, and a very recent law change with totally unexpected consequences that has my kids and me laughing :-)

My application was pre-approved years ago, but I ran into lots of problems, and until just before Christmas last year, it was expensive - something I just couldn't afford because of all my health problems, and before that having to quit my job because my boss bounced a month's worth of pay cheques and then tried to make it look like I had agreed to work as an independent contractor, and too many other problems many of you are familiar with, so finalizing it kept getting put off.

Then a few years ago, they said the procedure was being changed, and it would be both quicker and cheaper - just wait a year to pass the new law.

Of course, the new law took a lot more than a year to pass, and then everything was ready to go ---- and if you believe that bullshit, you'll believe anything the government tells you.

Add a couple more years leaving people in limbo because now they had to come up with the legal and other procedures for actually applying the law. A lot of people probably said to hell with the wait and went with the old procedure.

Finally, I saw that they were now able to take new applications, got the forms, gathered up all the stuff needed, and was just waiting on one of my sisters to sign an affidavit saying she knew me and I understood the seriousness of all this.

After weeks of "not today, maybe next week", she said to email the docs to her and she'd look at them. And after more weeks of "not this week, I'm busy", a second request to email them to her so she could look at them. Like I told my endocrinologist, it was pretty obvious she was avoiding it. Afterwards, one of my neighbors said she would have done it immediately, but I didn't want to impose on her. Oh well.

Finally she did, and I took the paperwork downtown, and was told it would take 4 months. Turns out that because it had been pre-approved all those years ago, they could skip part of the evaluation, so it took less than three.

Now if it had happened a year ago, 5 years ago, a decade ago, all that would have been changed was my name and sex on my birth certificate. The cover letter they sent said this:

Please not that the required changes were made to your act of birth and your act of marriage registered to the registrar of civil status. The change to your given names was also entered on the act of birth of your children.

So my marriage from 1976 - by the Catholic church of all places (no, I was an atheist even back then) is now legally recognized as being between two women, and my kids have two women as their parents - and all the documentation available shows this.

I cannot even ask for a copy without the changes. Neither can anyone else. My kids are like me - they find it hilarious.

BTW - here no church or municipality is in charge of, nor may they keep or issue, records of birth or marriage. So even the Pope can't claim that the Catholic church doesn't do same sex marriages.

And everyone who didn't run into these delays got screwed out of "first same sex marriage post."

It doesn't make up for the decades of problems, but it's something to laugh about, and we all need a good laugh once in a while. :-) Besides, zombies try to preserve the timeline. I'm not a zombie.

User Journal

Journal Journal: The USA in 50 years? 32

Anyone care to share their perspective?

I'm not giving it more than 50 years. Doesn't matter who is elected, once disparity between the top and bottom becomes to wide, once those in the middle see that no matter what they do, they're going to continue to risk being part of the bottom, and those on the bottom rungs realize that this is their lot in life, "citizen" is no longer a source of pride.

Add to that endless undeclared wars with no clear goals (the last time congress declared war was in 1942) and the racism that was a characteristic of the country even before it was founded, even after fighting a civil war over it, still being in the headlines daily, and the insistence on clinging to a 2nd Amendment that threatens the basic security and freedom from fear of citizens, and the US no longer being a world superpower that can dictate policy with impunity, challenged now by both Russia (who annexed the Crimea with no problems) and China (South China Sea, and about to replace the US as the world's largest economy), and something has to give. Ultimately, the USA is no more capable of stopping a bloc of states from seceding than it was in stopping Russia. 50 years maximum.


Journal Journal: Trump's Attack Lines On This Are Spot On 12

Trump's attack lines on this are spot on:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 7:01pm  12 Jul 2016

        Bernie Sanders endorsing Crooked Hillary Clinton is like Occupy Wall Street endorsing Goldman Sachs.


Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 7:03pm  12 Jul 2016

        Bernie sanders has abandoned his supporters by endorsing pro-war pro-TPP pro-Wall Street Crooked Hillary Clinton.

Those are valid statements. I find it hard to to argue with these.

User Journal

Journal Journal: An Ask Slashdot that actually provided useful information.

I posted this questionAnd SumDog replied with something that made me rethink things ...

worked at an all open source shop (religiously so even), yet their blind (completely blind) accessibility engineer was one of two people in the 200 person company running Windows. The other was a graphics designer that needed Photoshop and Illustrator.

If a graphics designer can figure it out, maybe I just needed to not get frustrated as quickly ... then again, at the time I was running linux, and the screen reader support was abysmal.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Also? 8

Where on EARTH is the /. UI for starting a journal entry? LOL!

I don't know how it's done, if you don't just know to navigate

User Journal

Journal Journal: Hey Musk - there's zero chances in a billion that we are a simulation. 3

Aside from the faulty "logic", there's also the problem that even if we were to convert every atom of many parallel universes into computronium, it just wouldn't work.

Unlike a rock that just sits there and a rain drop splashes on it, you would need to be continuously modeling the various particles that make up the rock, the rain drop, the environment, and the rest of the universe, AND their interactions. That's way more complex than a 3-body problem. The heat generated to do these computations would make the big bang look like cheap effects.

"Oh, so just slow it down!" Slowing it down enough means that the universes that you're using to do these computations, and the further universes that you are using to power them, would have already decayed to randomness thanks to entropy long before we get to now. And let's not forget that they would be so massive that they would have crunched into black holes long before that point, so forget about a stable computing environment that can be controlled from the outside, or even observed to fix anything.

Entropy - it happens at all scales.

User Journal

Journal Journal: PC privilege makes for lies 9

So now I'm a transphobic misogynist with internalized trandsphobia. Why? Because a few days ago I dared use the words "normal people" in a discussion, and "some people" - the majority in the lgbt-whatever alphabet cloud take that as a slur against trans-whatevers.

I was arguing that we should speak plainly if we want people to understand what we're saying and where we're coming from. Apparently, using "normal" instead of "cisgender" is a YUGE slur. Even though everyone understands "normal people", and cisgender only entered the vernacular recently, and the general population has an easier time grokking "normal."

Sure, defensive people who are quick to be offended for no reason whatsoever will be offended. They are the typical SJWs - using their perch of perceived holy political correctness to beat up on someone for whatever. Of course, I don't let crap like that stand, so I made a *lot* of enemies that day.

"Gender-speak" is continually modified to get further and further away from both reality and comprehension. Case in point:

  • originally it was called a sex change, and everyone knew (and still knows) what it means - but you're not supposed to use that term any more - because of whatever ...
  • then it was called SRS, for sex reassignment surgery. A bit cumbersome, but for anyone who couldn't figure out the meaning, the light came on when the person they were talking to said "sex change." But you aren't supposed to use that term any more either, because, like sex change, it implies that the person wasn't always that sex.
  • up next was gender reassignment surgery - which again has to be explained to the non-cognoscenti, who don't live and breathe this stuff, as "sex change." But you're not supposed to use that any more either.
  • Today it's gender affirming or gender-confirming surgery. (BTW: this person was an obvious mistake. After 4 months of saying they were happy with the results, they went from British Columbia to Quebec and back, just to set a fire because obviously it didn't lead to magical results - nothing would - and it's also not PC to say so), It implies there's no change going on - just positive affirmations, like a new-age cult. And again, when people don't understand what the heck you're talking about, whisper "sex change" ... just because, okay?

And they wonder why I use the term "normal people" when describing the rest of the population. Sheesh!.

So after a lot of exchanged words that remind me of so many trolls, I put aside all political correctness.

You're free to use whatever terms you want. So am I. If you have a problem with that, that's entirely your problem, so stop the insults and name-calling.

Cisgender woman is a made-up term of very recent origin that isn't understood by "normal people" all that much The terms biological woman, xx-woman, born woman, etc. are accurate in conveying meaning to the listener. When political correctness interferes with communication, screw political correctness.

Being hypersensitive to the truth makes us look stupid to normal people. I will not ever bow to political correctness at the expense of speaking plainly and making it clear what I am trying to get across - I'll leave that for the politicians and those who are ashamed of what they are.

We are not normal women. Normal women have a uterus. We do not. Normal women don't have to take estrogen because they have ovaries. We do not. Normal women don't have to undergo regular prostate checks, but they have to have pap smears. Normal women also have periods until they hit menopause; then they get hot flashes. We do not. We can't get pregnant - ever, so no birth control needed. No testes either.

By refusing to highlight the differences, you let people draw their own conclusions or fall prey to rumors. And thanks to the LGBT continually trying to blur the distinction between us and agender, bi-gender, cross-dresser, drag queen, gender-queer, gender-fucked, etc., many think of us in terms of cross-dressers, gays, and lesbians. Bathroom bills are just the blowback from all this refusal to talk straight. We didn't have these problems 30 years ago. It wasn't on anyone's radar.

But keep refusing to be honest and open, and instead use wording that obscures what and why we are. Sounds to me like you're the ones with the internalized transphobia - you desperately want to keep your status secret, even though you say passing isn't important.

Nice quick way to get permanently blocked :-)

And of course the ass-hole throwing around many of the accusations was a gay ammo-sexual transman. Same as the last time. Before that, it was a couple of gay cross-dressers. It's always the self-anointed SJWs and the gays who want to tell us what we can and cannot say. It's the 2016 version of 1984's newspeak.

The proof is in the pudding

I'm for openness. I practice it in my personal life, and I see the consequences of doing otherwise. If someone was to slip on a lab coat and pretend they were a doctor, and give you a physical (it's happened) they would be charged with sexual assault. And yet cross-dressers don't get that when they grind up against and swap spit with some guy who doesn't know and isn't an informed participant (and as such cannot give informed consent), they're the ones screaming "hate crime." If all you got was a punch in the face, you got off easy. Better than a criminal record and an entry on the sex offenders list.

Instead of addressing the problem, every year there's a "trans day of remembrance." It's bullshit through and through. Transsexuals have a lower murder rate than the rest of the wold - even when you add in all the cross-dressers and other people who foolishly think they're immune to crossing boundaries and using others to get their link on. It's not a hate problem. It's a race problem. Non-whites are disproportionately over-represented. The average white transsexual is safer than a member of the general population - possibly for having the good sense of not doing stupid things.

Some will label this as victim-blaming. As George Carlin said, "you're full of shit." When a cross-dresser commits the felony of sexual assault, they've got to take the blame, same as anyone who commits a crime has to answer for all the fall-out, same as if you kill someone while driving drunk, even if you didn't expect or mean to kill someone, just have some fun. But it's not politically correct to say any of this, just like it's not politically correct to say that cross-dressers are not the same as transsexuals nowadays. No wonder people are confused and pushing bathroom laws.

More pudding

A few days ago new neighbors moved in. I talked with them for about an hour. The next day I dropped in on them to see how they were doing and one of the women (her mom was the other woman) said that she needed a hammer to remove a shelf or the fridge wouldn't fit - too tall.

Me: So I said "Okay, I'll get you a hammer. You'll also need a screwdriver."

"You have a hammer?"

"Sure. That's one of the advantages of a sex change - all that experience from my previous life. Hope you don't mind?"

"Oh, no, not a problem at all" etc etc.

I guess women aren't supposed to have a full toolbox ... (shrug). :-)

Today they came up to ask me if I had a key to the locker room for the cable guy. If they had any problems with me, they would have asked another neighbor.

By being open, I eliminated rumors and misinformation from others, as well as communicating that I'm not ashamed of who and what I am. Not like all those who want to hide reality because they, deep down, are ashamed no matter what they say on the net. Actions speak much louder than words.

User Journal

Journal Journal: The end of an era 17

I just found out that one of the transvestites who has spend most of the last 2 decades harassing transsexual women is dead. This is the same one who was fired after I complained to their employer about cyber-stalking and they called the police in to investigate.

In following up, I came across something his daughter wrote about the family's time together before her parents divorced, and how he never worked and spent her mom's paycheck even before she came home with it.

This is how the person who should be the closest to him will remember him. Spending the last decade on-line in a one-room bedsit for the homeless attacking transsexuals, with probably over 100,000 hate-filled posts (the count was 68,000 almost 10 years ago). What a sad waste of a life.

Almost can't believe that I feel sorry for him, but many of us will breathe a sigh of relief knowing it's finally over.

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