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User Journal

Journal Journal: Internet Dysphoria - if you don't have it, it's likely you know someone who does 5

Yesterday we read about how smartphones are contaminating family life. People are getting to the point where they feel anger or resentment towards the place the internet takes in so many people's lives, including their own. Here I propose both a formal diagnosis and criteria as a first step in helping those so affected.

Dysphoria is a psychiatric term for a state of unease or generalized dissatisfaction with life.

Gender dysphoria is the psychiatric term for the distress a person experiences as a result of the sex and gender they were assigned at birth not being congruent with who they feel they are.

Which brings is to Internet Dysphoria

Sense of dissatisfaction, unease, or distress with life on the Internet, esp. when the person is finding that, no matter how much exposure they get, the feeling just gets worse.

Symptoms can include:

  1. anger and frustration with the sheer volume of misinformation, outright lies, and manipulation by others, especially for profit
  2. an overwhelming desire to throw their phone against the wall or punch out their keyboard or screen.
  3. reminiscing about the "good old days" when you could talk to people without their phones constantly interrupting
  4. feeling like they, just by their very presence, are somehow inhibiting others from devoting their entire attention to the internet - especially true when visiting someone or sitting down for a meal and everyone else is glued to their phones. See Internet Alienation Syndrome.

The most likely viable treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy to help the individual realize that they are engaging in distorted thinking when believing that the internet should be such a fixture in their daily life, and to see the internet for what it has become - an echo chamber / rage machine / manipulator par excellence for profit at the expense of the users long-term autonomy, independence, and privacy.

Short-term solutions may include

  1. getting a data plan with crappy limits;
  2. "forgetting" your phone in the car;
  3. buying a Samsung Note 7 or Apple iPhone with touch screen disease;
  4. making mealtime rules such as fist one to use their phone at the table does the dishes, and first one to use their phone at the restaurant pays the bill.

More research is needed on this socially and emotionally crippling problem. Feel free to send me research grants, donations, chocolate and pizza, etc.

Note: This disorder is closely related to, but distinct from, Programmer's Dysphoria, which manifests itself in a growing feeling that coding is no longer enjoyable, that many projects are vapid or even evil, and that affected programmers wish they had gone into a different career and just kept coding as a hobby activity.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Mod points? I don't want fricking mod points! 7

I always feel obligated to use them. Just got rid of 5 yesterday, and today I have 15 more. With so much crap on the internet, including slashdot, it's like King Canute telling the tide to turn, or Sisyphus rolling that rock up the hill over and over.

I mean, what's the point. Nothing changes, because the internet is a vast echo chamber/rage machine/for-profit disinformation generator.

So instead, I'm going to talk about my dog Toby, who died a week ago after 13 years. At least that's grounded in reality (note: virtual reality is an oxymoron - get over it already). And it's something that people can perhaps relate to that is real and unhyped.

Toby was a good dog. He was dumped on me when I was asked to watch him for 10 days, and as a pup he got along well with my St. Bernard. At the end of the ten days, I called to ask when they were taking Toby back, and was told "He's yours now. I left his papers with you." Considering that Toby was chewing everything in sight, and would pee within a minute of my leaving, and poop within 5 (separation anxiety), I was a bit bemused. He was an ugly dog - his head didn't fit his body, all the parts were gangly and awkward. People would ask me what type of dog he was, and I'd tell them he was a fugly.

That changed as he grew up - people were still asking me what type of dog he was, but they were complimenting his good looks and his friendly character. The little kids in the neighborhood thought he was an over-grown world (he got big, just the way I like my dogs). Even dogs that tried to bite him, he would step back a pace and look at them as if to say "okay, NOW can we be friends?" Often it worked.

When I was told that I was going to eventually lose my sight, I trained him as a guide dog - without a harness. When my blood sugar went too low, and I couldn't tell what was happening but just wanted to get in my home, he pulled me past the entrance and to the next house (where we had never been). I woke up on the concrete porch, police, fire, ambulance, and doctor trying to figure out how to get to me because of the dogs (Bear #2, my second newfie, was there also), and I knew that there was no way I would have made it up 14 stairs if we had gone in. And that being indoors, nobody would have seen what happened.

I owed this dog big time. I also gave him a far better life than most dogs could hope for. We were good for each other, and in the end that's what counts.

This is the first time in decades that I haven't owned a big dog. What do I have left? Well, there's my neighbor's little shih-tzu mix who thinks he's mine (since he's been living here most of his life). Guess I'll get me some more of good old-time reality by taking him for a walk :-)

As for the internet? I'm not impressed.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Best simple SID to USB connection? 3

That may not be a good way to describe it but... I have a C64 I never use and I think I shall desolder its SID before consigning it to recycling since they are now officially hard to come by. What can I put it on that will let me use it efficiently?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Another TV season, another Transparent freak show. 14

What is portrayed on that show is not how it is for many of us in real life. Putting a man in a dress and having him portray a transsexual is not really going to capture it, except for the unpassable. But of course, that's what makes good TV. The truth is boring.

Of course, it IS more accurate in portraying the intersection between transsexuals and the LGB community - but only for those who believe that the LGBT community is also their community. If you're not a gay/lesbian/bi transsexual, it's an alien portrayal except for a few freaks.

But don't you dare say so - it goes against the "agenda."

One of my neighbors called me over to watch it, and she knew I was trans. At one point, "Maura" is walking into a restaurant for a date. I couldn't help but say "What the heck? The walk, the posture, that just screams man in a dress." She said that she was thinking the same thing. Come on, put at least a minimal effort into it. What I see there is parody. The hollywood/gay community's view of transsexuals is so full of shit compared to most straight transsexual's lives outside the "community." Assholes.

User Journal

Journal Journal: The lameness filter is broken (again) 13

Your comments "spectacularly brain-damaged suggestion" and "drug-fueled" are why I consider your post troll like.

The above quote rendered one of my comments unpostable...

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.

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C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas l'Informatique. -- Bosquet [on seeing the IBM 4341]