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User Journal

Journal Journal: Filling in a DNR or Advanced Medical Directive is sobering. 9

With people living longer, and with the possibility to extend life even when doing so would be undignified, and distressing to everyone around you, eventually you should ask yourself "do I want to live like that?" Nobody wants to spend their last years unable to recognize anyone, in diapers, eating through a tube, and being the source of continual stress for friends and family.

I've seen people whose quality of life is pretty low and will never improve. I would never want to be like that, and neither do my sisters. So, figured I'd fill in a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) and Advanced Medical Directive - ot doing so is just too cruel to allow it to happen.

The forms are an eye opener - they make it real. And it's not a simple case of saying "No advanced measures if I'm going to be brain damaged." Gotta fill in a bunch of use cases, appoint someone who knows your wishes if a situation comes up that hasn't been anticipated in the directive, get it witnessed, give copies to several people, stick it in your hospital file, update the hospital's medical card to indicate that there's an advanced directive on file (and make sure they have a copy), as well as giving a copy to every doctor you deal with outside a hospital setting.

Most importantly, keep a copy on you so that EMTs won't do something that results in you receiving enough care to live, but not enough to live like a human being.

Only 14% of people who receive cpr in a hospital ever leave it alive, and only 2% in the field. It's not worth taking the risk.

Several articles to give you something to think about

User Journal

Journal Journal: Justifying not cleaning up code in a click-bait "agile" article 15

The reg has this incredibly stupid attention-seeking article justifying not trying to clean up dirty code that seems to be working okay.

âoeYou might have a complete disaster in code ... that hasnâ(TM)t been touched in four years, that is actually working pretty well now finally, even if it is being held together with duct tape and baling wire. And hopefully by the time I have to change it, itâ(TM)ll be so far out of date that I can throw it away.â

You know the code is crap, and you're willing to leave that technical debt until you HAVE to change it? In any other industry that would be called willful negligence. No wonder it's a good thing we don't build houses (or cars or airplanes) the way we build software. That code could be one reboot away from a disaster but hey, we won't fix it until we have to.

âoeThe purist in me would like to say you still need to clean it up because itâ(TM)s terrible. The pragmatist says ignore it, itâ(TM)ll go away.

Ignore it, it'll go away. Really? Here's a hint. The code is not self-aware. It won't fix itself, and ignoring it means that it won't go away. Only paying attention to it and doing a good review *might* make it go away.

Dirty code is a fact of life, and working out which software really needs changing and leaving the rest will help many IT organizations gain at least some of the benefits of going Agile, ThoughtWorksâ(TM) CTO told the Continuous Lifecycle conference today.

Just another consulting business trying to convince other businesses that it's better to wait until stuff craps out and then call in a consulting firm to fix it rather than keep people on staff who know the product and have a vested interest in making sure that the dirty stuff gets done before the turds hit the ventilator.

Their motto should be "Don't be proactive - be agile!"

Of course, if your bosses buy into this, you'll probably be out of a job when the company has an unrecoverable error and goes broke, if they haven't already fired you because maintenance of legacy code is seen as no longer needed.

Only more lawsuits over bad software will get rid of this attitude. And jail terms for bad software that results in injury or death. Bosses will only take quality seriously when their asses could be thrown in jail because of such willful negligence, or shareholders suing their asses into personal bankruptcy for loss of value.

User Journal

Journal Journal: No thanks, I don't want a mammogram. 3

The government came up with a new initiative to offer every woman a referral for a free program to screen for breast cancer, including followups and treatment. Got the invite in the mail Tuesday, and thought it was funny. I'm literally in the lowest-risk group.

Statistically, over a 20-year period, 73 cases per thousand will be detected, as opposed to 54 per thousand without screening. Makes sense. However, 10 women will be over-diagnosed (have a detected breast cancer treated that would have been harmless if ignored). Not so good. 1 in 100 over 20 years. Hmm.

Now for individual risk factors. There have been no cases of breast cancer in my relatives that I am aware of. That means that, while about 5-10% of the population of both sexes have the BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 gene, I almost certainly do not. Also, I don't have any of the "lifestyle diseases" that promote cancer.

And then there's the only complete longitudinal study of more than 4500 subjects like me over a 40 year period, with only ONE case of breast cancer.

So, over the next 20 years I have less than a 1 in 4500 chance of getting breast cancer, and a 1 in 100 chance of a misdiagnosis resulting in unnecessary treatment. And those unnecessary treatments carry their own risks.

So I made a few jokes about it, and put the letter aside.

The next day was an appointment with my gp. You'd almost think there's a conspiracy going on. After an examination that found my lungs work fine, my heart doesn't make any weird noises, there's nothing in my guts that feels abnormal when palpitated, my blood tests are ok (and you'd kill to have my cholesterol numbers), my blood pressure is within norms, what does she want me to do "just as routine preventative care?"

A mammogram. A bone density xray. A test for colon cancer.

Since this is the first gp I've ever had (saw her for the first time a few weeks ago, and the waiting list is LONG), I kind of don't want to antagonize her, so here goes for the useless mammogram.

Of course, when you get quacks like Dr. Mercola saying to avoid it, why not go for it?

Note: This guy is such a quack. Here's just one example:

As little as ten years ago, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was believed to be safe, but has since been proven to drastically increase your risk of breast cancer.

One study made the startling discovery that HRT with either estrogen alone or estrogen-plus-progestin was associated with a 70 percent increase in breast cancer risk when the therapy was taken for five years within the six years preceding the cancer diagnosis!

This is also true for birth control pills. Theyâ(TM)re synthetic hormones which may even be worse than Premarin, so I strongly advise women to avoid birth control pills as well as traditional approaches to HRT.

Bioidentical hormones, which are a safer alternative, do not appear to contribute to breast cancer like its synthetic counterparts.

Who the hell still uses premarin (made from pregnant horse urine, cruelly obtained, not bio-identical, and containing some enzymes not found in human bodies)? The treatment of choice has been estradiol for a LONG time. HRT with estradial and without progestins lowers rates of breast cancer, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease, delays dementia, cognitive decline, Alzheimers, and takes at least a decade off your apparent age.

What's not to like?

And that advice at the bottom to sleep in absolute darkness? It's not natural. We didn't evolve for that. He seems to forget that there's these things called stars, and the moon. If sleeping in the dark is so necessary, how come we feel so refreshed, SO GOOD after an afternoon snooze, or sleeping under the stars with a sleeping bag?

He should team up with that other peddler of BS, Dr. Oz.

User Journal

Journal Journal: You seriously want us to respect you now? 46

Rioting after losing because YOU fucked it up by rigging the nomination against #FeelTheBern Sanders. Take responsibility for your own shitty actions. It wasn't misogynists - white women voted in almost as high numbers as men for Trump (but they didn't admit it to polsters, hence the surprise). It wasn't because Trump supporters are racist, Clinton failed to get as many votes in many counties as Obama had, and last I looked, Obama was at least sort of black. It was because your candidate was so shitty, so unelectable, so untrustworthy that people would rather vote for anyone else, even Trump, or just stay home.

And now that Clinton is out, her phoniness is exposed, and people can talk about it openly.

So stop being butt-hurt crybaby Clinton losers. Her and her husband Bill were not social progressives. Bill signed the Defense of Marriage act, and Hillary opposed same-sex marriage on Ellen and in the senate and outside the senate. What a bitch!

Don't blame anyone else - you rigged your convention, you didn't speak out against it, you rejected an easy win with Sanders and insisted on running a woman who was unelectable, tarring everyone who pointed this out as misogynists or racists or a traitor to women or whatever. Here's a clue - voting for someone based of their sex is just as bad as voting against someone based on their sex. Voting for her just to shatter the glass ceiling is no reason. Elizabeth Warren would easily have been able to do it, so it's not about sex or gender. It's a rebellion against bullshit as usual. Get over yourselves, stop your whining and rioting and look in the mirror - you made Donald Trump president, all you Clintonistas. It's all your fault.And it's worth 4 years of Trump just to get rid of you and your "public position and private position" lying mouth.

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.

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:

2001

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.

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