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User Journal

Journal Journal: The Printer 5

(Illustrated version here)
        After buying copies of books from my book printer, finding errors to correct, and giving the bad copies to my daughter who wants them, rather than discarding them I realized I was stupid. It would be a lot cheaper to buy a laser printer.
        An inkjet wouldnâ(TM)t work for me. The printer is going to be sitting idle most of the time, and inkjet nozzles clog; Iâ(TM)ve had several, and all clogged if you didnâ(TM)t use them at least every other day. Plus, the ink dries out in the cartridges. Being a powder, toner has no such problem.
        So I went looking at the Staples site, and they badly need a new webmaster. This little four year old laptop only has a gig of memory, and a lot of people have far less. The poor little machine choked. That damned web site took every single one of my billion bytes!
        Or rather than firing him, make him design his websites on an old 486. Or even 386.
        So what the hell, I just drove down there; I didnâ(TM)t want to wait for (or pay for) it to be shipped, anyway, I just wanted to see what they had.
        Buying it was easy. They had exactly the printer I was looking for; Canon, a name I trusted since we had Canons and other brands at work, wireless networking, and not expensive. They had a huge selection of lasers; itâ(TM)s a very big store. I paid for the printer and sheaf of paper, and man, lasers sure have gotten a lot less expensive. I expected at least $250 just for the printer, maybe without even toner, but the total including tax and paper was just a little over a hundred.
        When I got home, of course I pulled out the manual like I do with every piece of electronics I buyâ"and it was worse than the âoemanualâ that came with the external hard drive I ranted about here earlier. Cryptic drawings and very little text. At least the hard drive didnâ(TM)t need a manual. All there is is a network port, a USB port, a power socket, and an on/off button. Plug it in and it just works. With the printer, I really needed a manual.
        Kids, hieroglyphics are thousands of years out of style and I donâ(TM)t know why youâ(TM)re so drawn to emoticons, but there was an obvious reason for these hieroglyphics: globalization. Far fewer words to be written in three different languages.
        I could find nothing better on Canonâ(TM)s web site. So I followed the instructions in the poor excuse for a manual for unpacking it and setting it up, as best as I could.
        I couldnâ(TM)t find the paper tray.
        Iâ(TM)ve been printing since 1984 when I bought a small plotter and wrote software to make it into a printer. Afterwards I had ink jets at home until now, and lasers at work. All the lasers were different from each other in various ways, usually the shape of the toner cartridge, but all had a drawer that held the paper no matter what brand of printer.
        I couldnâ(TM)t find it. Sighing and muttering, I opened the lid to the big laptop and copied the CDâ(TM)s contents to a thumb drive to install the printer on the smaller notebook. Thereâ(TM)s no reason to make two calls to tech support, because an installation screwup is never unexpected when youâ(TM)ve been dealing with computers as long as I have.
        And why send a CD? Fewer and fewer computers have CD or DVD burners any more. Why not a thumb drive? All computers have USB ports these days, and have had for over a decade.
        The installation was trouble-free but still troubling; I didnâ(TM)t think the wi-fi was connecting, as it said to hold the router button until the blue light on the printer stopped flashing. I held the button down until my finger hurt and was about to call tech support, but as I reached for the phone the light stopped flashing and burned steadily.
        Maybe it was working, but Iâ(TM)d have to find the paper tray to find out. But it had installed a manual, one I couldnâ(TM)t find. So I plugged the thumb drive back in and searched it visually with a file manager, and found an executable for the manual. Running it took me to an offline web page which wasnâ(TM)t too badly designed, but I would have far preferred a PDF, as I could put that on the little tablet to reference while I was examining the printer in search of where to stick the damned paper, instead of a bulky, clumsy notebook.
        I finally found it, and it wasnâ(TM)t a tray, even though thatâ(TM)s what the documents called it. I havenâ(TM)t seen anything like it before, and the documentation was very unclear. But I did manage to get paper in it, and sent a page to it, and it worked well.
        Meanwhile, I wish Staples would fix their web site, and Canon would fix their documentation.
        When did clear, legible documentation go out of style? Hell, the lasers we had at work didnâ(TM)t even need docs. Good thing, too, because IT never left them when they installed crap. Another reason Iâ(TM)m glad Iâ(TM)m retired! Work sucks.
        At any rate, a few hours later I printed the cleaned up scans of The Golden Book of Springfield so I could check for dirt I missed looking on a screen. I saved it as PDF and printed it from that. And amazingly, this thing prints duplex! It only took fifteen or twenty minutes or so to print the 329 pages.
        Iâ(TM)m happy with it. Man, progress... it just amazes me. But when I went to print from Open Office, the word processor Iâ(TM)ve used for years, I didnâ(TM)t try sending the print job to the printer, but it looked like Oo wonâ(TM)t print duplex.
        Then I discovered that they may stop developing Open Office because they couldnâ(TM)t get developers; the developers were all working on Libre Office.
        Damn. The last time I tried Lo it didnâ(TM)t have full justification, which was a show stopper when Iâ(TM)m publishing books. Iâ(TM)d tried it because someone said it would write in MS Word format. I was skeptical, and my skepticism was fully warranted. It could write a DOC file, but Word couldnâ(TM)t read it. Plus, of course, the show stopping lack of full justification.
        I decided to try it out again, since Oo may be doomed⦠and man! Not only does it have full justification, it has a lot Oo lacks that I didnâ(TM)t even know I needed. It appears to now actually write a DOC file that Word can read, even though when you save it in DOC the program warns you it might not work in Word.
        And it might⦠I havenâ(TM)t tested it⦠might arrange pages for a booklet. Iâ(TM)ll test it with this article⦠when itâ(TM)s longer than four pages, as it is now.
        This was all over the course of the last week as I was working on a PDF of the Vachel Lindsay book. The computer nagged me that the printer was running low on toner (it has a small âoestarterâ cartridge), with a button to order toner from Canon. I clicked it, and damn, the toner cost almost as much as the printer did.
        Then I ran out of paper, so I went back to Staples, where I discovered that the printer I had paid eighty something plus tax for was now twice that price! So I got the toner and five reams of paper.
        At any rate, I tried to print this as a booklet, and this is what came out:

        Itâ(TM)s backlit; the picture on the top left and the grayer text on the bottom right are on the other side of the page.
        But a little fiddling and yes, it will print booklets. It isnâ(TM)t Libre Office doing it, itâ(TM)s the printer itself!

        I like this printer. Iâ(TM)ve figured it to about a penny per page, and I donâ(TM)t think thatâ(TM)s too expensive, considering a page is both sides.
        And then I had this document open in Libre Office, tried to insert a graphic (the second one in this article), and it simply didnâ(TM)t insert. Maybe it doesnâ(TM)t like JPG files, I donâ(TM)t yet know. A little googling showed me that Iâ(TM)m not the only one with this problem, and none of the fixes I found fixed it. I have Open Office open now.
        And here I was going to uninstall Open Office. Iâ(TM)d better not, I guess. Iâ(TM)ll need it if I want to insert a graphic; inserted in Oo they show in Lo. Puzzling.
        A week later and Iâ(TM)ve found that sometimes it will insert a graphic, but only if you go through the menu; using text shortcuts never inserts it. And sometimes it simply doesnâ(TM)t insert the picture, and sometimes it says it doesnâ(TM)t recognize the format when Iâ(TM)d just put the same graphic in another Lo document.
        Well, Iâ(TM)m not uninstalling Open Office yet, anyway. Not until Lo solves the graphics show-stoppng bug.
â¦
        I wrote that a few weeks ago, and have been using both. Libre Office has a horrible problem with keyboard shortcuts, and those shortcuts save a LOT of time. But except for its horrible bugs, itâ(TM)s a better word processor than Open Office. So both will remain installed.
        Itâ(TM)s possible I may uninstall Microsoft Office, depending on how well Loâ(TM)s spreadsheet works. I havenâ(TM)t even fired it up yet, but Ooâ(TM)s spreadsheet is almost useless.
â¦
        The above is several months old now. Lo does lack one important thing Oo has: controls to move to the next or previous page. Not good when youâ(TM)re writing books. Also, it still has graphics problems. Often, simply opening a document in Lo removes any graphics.
        After sitting idle for a month or so, I needed to print a return label. Iâ(TM)m starting to become wary of buying anything from Amazon. Iâ(TM)d bought a new battery for this laptop a year or two ago, and the battery came from someone other than Amazon, and it was the wrong battery. I got the right battery directly from Acer.
        Then I ordered a long throw stapler to make booklets with, and staples for it. The stapler came a week later; no staples. So I bought a box from Walgreenâ(TM)s. A week later, the staples came, again not from Amazon, and they had simply thrown the box of staples in an unprotected envelope. The box was smashed, the rows of staples broken.
        Then I ordered a DVD, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I watched the first six, put the seventh in the DVD playerâ"and it was region coded for the UK! Some company from Florida sent it. WTF is wrong with people? So I needed a return label.
        It wouldnâ(TM)t print; it just hung in the print queue until it timed out. After a little digging, I found that the router had assigned a new IP address to it.
        So after a lot of googling, I gave up and cringed; I was going to need tech support, which is usually a nightmare. I wind up on the phone talking to someone with an accent so heavy I can barely understand them, if at all, who is ignorant of the product and reading from a checklist.
        I found Canon was one of those few companies that actually care about keeping their customers happy. Support was over email, painless, and effective.
        I have to say, itâ(TM)s the best printer Iâ(TM)ve ever owned.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Javascript Frameworks are Broken 1

Hint for any advertising-supported blog or news site: Cut back on the number of your Javascript framework supported advertisements.

Yes, the average client computer has more than 4GB of memory nowadays, but that doesn't mean people's browsers can re-download the same framework elements 20,000 times and hope that the article they're trying to read will ever load.

Instead, use static, text and image based adverts. If you must have animation, use animated GIF. Stop abusing the memory resources of the viewers of your websites.

In the end, more page views will translate to more clicks, even with older technology.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Bar Bots

(If the text is borked, you can read it here)

Some highly paid people seem to not be very good at thinking straight... or at all.

Weâ(TM)ve all seen robot bartenders in movies: Star Wars episode one; The Fifth Element; I, Robot, etc. Ever notice that human bartenders often have a lot of screen time in movies, but robot bartenders donâ(TM)t? The reason is simple: robots are boring. Which is why we wonâ(TM)t see many robot bartenders in real life, and this real life robot bartender is going to go over like the proverbial lead balloon.

I suspect that the engineer who designed the thing doenâ(TM)t frequent bars, but likes science fiction movies, because nobody goes to a bar to drink. From my upcoming Voyage to Earth:

âoeIs Mars still short of robots?â

âoeNot since that factory opened two years ago.â

âoeIâ(TM)m surprised you donâ(TM)t have robots tending bar, then.â

âoeScrew that. People donâ(TM)t go to bars to drink, they go to bars to socialize; bars are full of lonely people. If thereâ(TM)s nobody to talk to but a damned robot theyâ(TM)re just going to walk out. I do have a tendbot for emergencies, like if one of the human bartenders is sick and we donâ(TM)t have anyone to cover. The tendbot will be working when weâ(TM)re going to Earth, but I avoid using it.â

Someone who doesnâ(TM)t visit bars inventing something to use in bars is about as stupid as Richardson in Mars, Ho! , who assigned a Muslim to design a robot to cook pork and an engineer who didnâ(TM)t drink coffee to make a robotic coffeemaker.

Just because it works in the movies doesnâ(TM)t mean it works in real life.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Holy Cow Apple are Total Fucks 6

So I'm playing with this antique iMac because whee shit and I'm trying to download the 1GB developer tools DMG and Apple sure makes it a gigantic pain in the arsehole, don't they? You can't just download the URL with wget without rigamarole which I haven't gone through yet. I can't actually load the site in Safari at all because of some kind of https error. And my download just failed somehow in the last seconds, which means I get to download it all over again. And then it may fail again. Other downloads are working fine, it's just Apple that's incompetent here somehow.

This is the kind of thing that convinces me that anyone who gives Apple money is either a moron or a masochist. Luckily, I got this machine for free, so all I'm wasting is time.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Sixteen: The Final Chapter 2

It's that time of year again. The time of year when everyone and their dog waxes nostalgic about all the shit nobody cares about from the year past, and stupidly predicts the next year in the grim knowledge that when the next New Year comes along nobody will remember
that the dumbass predicted a bunch of foolish shit that turned out to be complete and utter balderdash. I might as well, too. Just like I did last year (yes, a lot of this was pasted from last year's final chapter).

Some of these links go to /., S/N, mcgrewbooks.com, or mcgrew.info. Stories and articles meant to ultimately be published in a printed book have smart quotes, and slashdot isn't smart enough for smart quotes. Reviews for The Golden Book of Springfirld and Black Bead were front page articles at Soylent News only, and not a journal.

As usual, first, the yearly index:
Journals:
Random Scribblings
the Paxil Diaries
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015

Articles:
Useful Dead Technologies Redux
The Old Sayings Are Wrong
How to digitize all of your film slides for less than ten dollars
GIMPy Text
The 2016 Hugo convention

Song
Santa Killed My Dog!
My Generation 21st Century

Book reviews
Stephen King, On Writing
Vachel Lindsay, The Golden Book of Springfield
J. D. Lakey, Black Bead

Scince Fiction:
Wierd Planet
The Muse
Cornodium
Dewey's War
The Naked Truth
The Exhibit
Agoraphobia
Trouble on Ceres

Last years' stupid predictions (and more):

Last year I said I wasn't going to predict publication of Voyage to Earth and Other Stories, and I was right, it's nearly done. So this year I do predict that Voyage to Earth and Other Stories will be published. I'm waiting for Sentience to come back from Motherboard, who's been hanging on to it since last February. I may have to e-mail them and cancel the submission if it isn't back by this February
I'll also hang on to last year's predictions;
Someone will die. Not necessarily anybody I know...
SETI will find no sign of intelligent life. Not even on Earth.
The Pirate Party won't make inroads in the US. I hope I'm wrong about that one.
US politicians will continue to be wholly owned by the corporations.
I'll still be a nerd.
You'll still be a nerd.
Technophobic fashionista jocks will troll slashdot (but not S/N).
Slashdot will be rife with dupes.
Many Slashdot FPs will be poorly edited.
Slashdot still won't have fixed its patented text mangler.
Microsoft will continue sucking
And a new one: DONALD TRUMP WILL (gasp) BE PRESIDENT IF THE us!!! God help us all! (He can't possibly be worse than George H. Bush or James Buchanan, can he?)

Happy New Year! Ready for another trip around the sun?

User Journal

Journal Journal: 2016, the WOAT?

Was 2016 the Worst Of All Time?

Eh, that's debatable. I like to think of it as a finale, in a trilogy. 2013 was the preview.

2013 was mired in 6 weddings I had to either be in or attend. I hate weddings like I hate country music, or having a doctor touch your balls during a physical. So that year was awful. Work wasn't particularly great, though I did get an award out of it.

2014 was a horrid year. The Lady was working a job she hated, being treated like a slave. So she transfered that energy onto me. We had the dog. That was terrible. Then the attempt at other animals. She got into CRNA school, but was diagnosed with Meniere's disease shortly thereafter, causing massive disruption for the rest of both of our lives. The sex started dying out in 2014 too.

2015 was a lot of dealing with Meniere's and the drama of school. Combining the two was a nightmare as well. More stupid animal bullshit. But she did find yoga and meditation and became a better person. Still, not much sex. And she was also diagnosed with Celiac's. This was the year I started school too, so while I gained a sense of purpose, I forfeited probably a couple years off my life too. So it goes.

2016. That brings us to this year. While we've kind of been coasting, there have been bouts of wanting to quit school. Feeling like she can't and shouldn't be a CRNA. Lot's of sick days. Presidential election all year. Football team doing good enough to get my hopes up, but no good enough to make me proud. Trump winning the election. And one of the most stressful semesters + work projects in recent memory. So that's how 2016 went.

And just recently, I decided to try and upgrade Ubuntu from 14.04 to 16.04. Well, that crashed and burned. So I was left with the option to install a new OS or throw my computer away and never look at the internet again. While the latter was tempting, I decided to try installing Arch Linux. That took longer than I wanted and I was having some trouble. I would like to try again, when I have some time. Possibly after graduation. But I gave up and went back to my long-time favorite, Debian.

I had it up and running in no time, with a few minor tweaks. For one, I didn't get the wireless card's firmware installed so my CPU was going crazy looking for it until I got it installed after the fact. Now everything's happy. Except my screen resolution on XFCE kinda looks like ass and makes my eyes hurt. I don't know what to change it to though.

So anyway, that's my year.

But everyone posting the "Me at the beginning of 2016 vs. me at the end" memes... what's their point? Like 2017 is going to be any better? If anything, I can see 2017 being way worse. I'm really not expecting much. My money is on 2018. Because that's when I graduate and become a data scientist and also will be going on another metal cruise. So that year can't be all bad.

Anyway, that's all I got. Passed Bayesian Statistics and Intro to Data Sci. About ready to start Time Series Analysis and Data Viz. Also about ready to release my mobile app. Pretty stoked for that (once I get it working ffffffuuuuuuu------!!!!!!).

Ok, I'm going to continue setting up this new OS. grumble grumble grumble.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Santa Killed My Dog!

They say that Santa's coming,
He comes 'round every year.
He comes he'll meet a shotgun slug
'cause he ain't welcome here.

Five years ago this Christmas
The fatass came around
With jingle bells and ho ho hos
And looking like a clown.

He came in for a landing
As I let out a yawn
My house is pretty little
So he landed on the lawn.

I didn't have the time to yell
As he came in through the fog;
He came in fast and and came down hard
And landed on my dog.

He looked around all furtive like
As I reached for my gun,
Then jumped in sleigh, yelled âoegiddie upâ
And took off on the run.

And so, that fatassed bastard
Better stay away from here
'cause ever since he killed my dog
I have no Christmas cheer.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Greetings, Comrade

Now that Donald Trump is our Supreme Leader, I guess I should start learning Russian.

Right now, all I know is Na Zdorovje. It's a start. On the bright side, I've always wanted to write a depressing 800 page novel. I'll find a silver lining to this election yet.

All kidding aside, that intro was just to bate the trolls into trying to bate me. Since my last journal was such a success with the anonotrolls, I figure just mentioning the DJT name will stir up a few. And notably, they don't actually read your post. They just comment, like turds. Probably because they're being paid by Russia. Anyway.

I'm currently running an MCMC for some real-world data. So that's kind of exciting, but I'm doing it on a p6-2330 dual core with 6GB RAM. It's crawling. I'm lucky I'm able to also use a browser. For this project, I've had to choose - do I want Chrome, or RStudio with my data loaded? Take your pick. Lately, I feel like I'm falling into despair. Not because of Trump (though that doesn't help), but because of this fucking hat trick I'm trying to pull off. Passing two classes (with style!) and my work project is teetering on the edge of failure for all three.

Not to mention, I feel like I'm not even myself anymore. I just stumble through the day, ticking off things that need to be done. Doing nothing I want to do, or need to do for myself, beyond drinking and eating and putting on weight.

Afer this shit is over, I'm defininitely getting back in shape. I'll do another Spartan Race. I hate being fat. Ok, I'll stop complaining. Time for the trolls to do their job. Annnnd, go. Aft
User Journal

Journal Journal: Trouble on Ceres 11

I'm not even bothering to paste it, since slashdot would render it unreadably, so I'll just sent you to mcgrew.info.

I really wish they'd fix that horrible bug...

User Journal

Journal Journal: Fuck 12

Donald Trump is President-elect of the United States. There, that explains the title.

I've been sucked into politics for the last year, mostly by design of the media machine that started this fucking godawful election back in 2015. They built this monster, but the Dems turned him lose. I really sincerely thought that Clinton was headed toward an easy victory and that Trump would tear the GOP apart. But instead, now the Dems are being torn apart and the GOP owns both houses of congress, the presidency, and at least one supreme court seat. So yeah. Fuck.

I'm going to lay down my predictions (based not off of data but purely gut, so take it for what its worth) and we'll see how I do in a few years:

1. Trump doesn't finish his presidency. Either by way of stepping down or impeachment, he doesn't make it 4 years.
2. He doesn't build a wall, doesn't scrap Obamacare, doesn't appoint a special prosecutor to jail Hillary, doesn't ban all Muslims and doesn't deport all current illegal immigrants. Also doesn't rebuild a bunch of factories and coal mines either. Mostly because none of that is really feasible.
3. He will get much tougher on immigration and make life harder for people who have moved her or want to move here.
4. He will make some economic and trade decisions that won't be felt until after his (hopefully less than 4-year) presidency.
5. He will ease regulations on the energy industry that will cause irreparable damage to our planet. But he won't be around to see the effects, as Florida, Louisiana, California, and New York are slowly submerged underwater.
6. Already happening: Racism, xenophobia, and bigotry have been given the thumbs up by putting the supreme leader of all of that into the highest office in the land.

The rest is a mystery and I don't think even the GOP knows what he's going to do. It'll be a watch and wait game, and it's a shitty game.

In tech news, I'm slogging through my project. I don't know if I'll get it done in time. I fucking hope so. I need a win. I haven't had a win in a long time.

Bayesian Statistics is a tough class, but I'm learning a ton. I feel like I still haven't quite wrapped my head around some of the foundational principles yet. I'm going to come back to this when I get more time though.

Really, that's about all I want to talk about. It's late and I need to get to bed so I can continue work on the mobile app. So much left to do.

Hope I'm not reading this from a camp in a few years!

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