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User Journal

Journal Journal: Thoughts on leaving the computer industry. 3

I got my first job writing code right out of high school, working on games for a cable TV company at a startup called Pegasus Systems in Falls Church, Virginia. That was in 1982.

Since that time, every couple of years I've carefully considered what specialty I thought would be most interesting to work in for the near future. In 1982, it was computer graphics. In 1984, it was the Mac. In 1989, it was NeXTSTEP.

I'm a far better coder now than I ever expected to be, and that's due to what I've been able to learn from the incredibly smart people I've worked with in this industry. Seriously, some of those guys are scary smart.

I've worked in businesses ranging from three-man startups to the most valuable company in the world, I've had some great bosses (and smattering of idiots), and learned a lot about management from them.

In my first stint at Apple, I was an engineer in a marketing department, and from what I can see, Apple's marketing is the best in the world, and I'm grateful for what I learned there, too.

So now, I have an opportunity to get into an entirely different line of work, developing technologies that will make a major difference in the amount of energy we all use for heating and cooling. I'm a complete beginner in this field, but once again I've got some brilliant colleagues to show me the ropes. 2017 is going to be an exciting year for me, and I can't wait to see how it turns out.


User Journal

Journal Journal: FizzBuzz in Swift

The following is my prepared answer for anyone who asks me this stupid fucking question in any interview in the future.

extension Int
  func modBool(modulus: Int) -> Bool
  return (self % modulus).boolValue
for x in 1...100
  print((x.modBool(3) ? "" : "Fuck ") +
    (x.modBool(5) ? "" : "You") +
    ((x.modBool(3) && x.modBool(5)) ? "\(x)" : ""))


User Journal

Journal Journal: Three years after Steve died... 1

I don't think I've written this down anywhere before, so here's my story about the first time I had a face-to-face conversation with Steve Jobs.

I was working for Richard Kerris in Apple Worldwide Developer Relations, on a group called the SWAT team. I was the Cocoa expert on that team, and I had colleagues who had expertise in UNIX internals, Windows development, and the Metrowerks tools.

Our role was to help third-party developers bring their products to Mac OS X, whether they were coming from Windows, Solaris, Mac OS 9, etc. We would look over their code, and consult with them on how to go about porting and/or rewriting their products for the new platform.

I went to Fred Anderson's retirement party which was held at Cafe Macs in Building four of the Infinite Loop campus. I saw Steve there, and I went over to introduce myself. I said "Hi Steve, I'm John Randolph. You may or may not recognize my name, but I used to flame you from time to time before I worked here." He asked me "Why did you stop?" I told him "Well, I work here now, and I respect the chain of command."

At the time we had this conversation, there was a big fight going on between the foot-dragging laggards who wanted to keep using the old Mac Toolbox API (which had been cleaned up considerably and put into a framework we called "Carbon"), and those of us who wanted to get everyone using the NeXTStep-derived "Cocoa" frameworks,

At the previous WWDC, Steve had started the keynote with a bit of theater: a coffin had risen up through a trap door on the stage, in the midst of a cloud of dry ice fog. Steve had opened the coffin to show a big Mac OS 9 box, and he praised OS 9 in a eulogy, to make the point that Apple developers should consider it dead and gone.

So getting back to our conversation.. I told Steve what I was doing on Richard's team, and I said "I know that you can't do this politically, but I wish you could have another coffin on the stage at the next WWDC...." and he said: "With Carbon in it?"

He was grinning. At that point, I realized that I could quit worrying about where Apple's development environment was heading. Steve knew what we needed to do, and in the years that followed, Apple has kept the best of NeXT's technology, and let go of what we didn't need.

We miss you Steve, but we're doing fine. Thanks for the things you made happen.


User Journal

Journal Journal: The tragedy of brain-dead apparatchiki entrusted with the care of children. 6

Earlier today, I read an account of a little girl getting a severe sunburn while on a school field trip, because of an unconscionable policy prohibiting children from possessing sunscreen while at school or on school activities. I looked up the name of the spokesman who had the nerve to try to defend this policy to the press, and wrote her the following e-mail:

Miss Chancellor, you and the pinheads you serve in the Northeast Indecent School District are a tragic example of the kind of abject incompetence that pervades American public schools in the past several decades.

I would urge you to resign and pursue employment in the janitorial services industry, but youâ(TM)re obviously too goddamned stupid to be trusted with cleaning supplies.


Well, it would appear that Miss Chancellor was offended by my criticism, and she replied thusly:

Your comments do not warrant an intelligent response. Clearly - you do not have all the facts.

Now, it's rather unusual for an apparatchik in a shitstorm to bother to respond to any of the angry e-mails they get, so naturally I have replied:

On Jun 6, 2014, at 10:26 AM, Chancellor, Aubrey wrote:

>Your comments do not warrant an intelligent response.

Since youâ(TM)re entirely incapable of an intelligent response, that just works out fine and dandy now, doesnâ(TM)t it?

>Clearly - you do not have all the facts.

The fact is that when you screw up like this, the thing to do is apologize and promise the parents, the child, and the rest of the community that it will never happen again. You donâ(TM)t double down on your idiotic policy of depriving children of sunscreen.

When children are entrusted to you by their parents, your paramount duty is to ensure their safety and well being. it is NOT to sacrifice their welfare to your psychotic need for obedience.


More on this as it develops. Start the popcorn.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Throwing in the towel on Facebook. 7

Last post to FB:

In the time since I created this Facebook account in 2006, I found a bunch of old friends, met many new ones, wasted a whole lot of time, had some arguments that never would have happened in real life, and been frequently annoyed by the business decisions FB has made.

This post will be my last. I will delete this account 48 hours from now. Those of you who want to keep in touch can reach me as always at, which I've had for at least a decade.

All's well that ends. I wish you all peace, love and happiness.

It feels like leaving high school. There are people there that I will always care about, some that I love, some that I barely know, some that I have no idea how I met in the first place or why they're in my FB friends list.

A very smart friend of mine is working on changing social media from a site and a vendor that sells the users' info to advertisers, into a protocol that would operate on a peer-to-peer basis, with strong security to ensure that what we write goes to those we wish, and no one else. I hope he succeeds, and I look forward to making a fair bit of cash shorting FB when the writing appears on the wall.

  I will thank my friends who worked on FB, and every user there who ever shared a heartwarming, interesting, inspiring, or even outrageous bit of information that I wouldn't have found otherwise. Congrats to all the FB millionaires and worker bees, I wish them all the best.

I'll still be NSResponder here on /., on StackOverflow and Twitter. The internet is still a lot bigger than Facebook, and I'll see you all around.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Well, that about wraps it up for e-trade. 2

E-mail to Neal Martin, E-trade's vice president of customer service:

Well Neal,

I doubt that this message will actually get to you personally, but what the hell.

After the fracas over the last few weeks in which e-trade failed to issue me a second ATM card, I finally got around to transferring the bulk of my shares to a competent broker.

The automatic mail from e-trade notifying me of the transfer included this paragraph:

E*TRADE strives to achieve best in class service and is focused on meeting all of your financial needs. We would like to understand your reason for your transfer out and see if there are any improvements we can make to serve you better in the future. If you have the time to discuss, please call us at 1-800-ETRADE -1 (1-800-387-2331).

The fact is, after going around with your underlings a few times on my requirement for a second card, and having told each of them several times that this was a deal breaker, I know that the claim that youâ(TM)re âoestriving to achieve best in class serviceâ is nothing but marketing drivel. Indeed, my direct, personal experience has shown me that my business isnâ(TM)t important enough to get on the radar of anyone who would actually solve the problem.

I had already planned to find another broker, but the thing that made me hurry up and do so was receiving your oh-so-thoughtful gift of an e-trade gym bag. So, after refusing my very simple request, you apparently assumed that Iâ(TM)d be satisfied if I just got a bag to advertise an incompetent financial institution to my friends.

Looking at the transaction log, I see that e-trade has charged me $25 for the privilege of taking my property elsewhere. Now, Iâ(TM)m sure you have something in your fine print that allows you to do that, but itâ(TM)s still kind of shitty on your part. Given that youâ(TM)re not even capable of issuing two cards on one account (as you had done for the previous decade or so), waiving that fee is probably entirely beyond the capabilities of the fifth-rate keyboard monkeys in your so-called âoeIT departmentâ, so you can go ahead and keep it. Iâ(TM)m getting a nice welcome gift from your competition, which I didnâ(TM)t even ask for.

Would you like the gym bag back?


User Journal

Journal Journal: Even less impressed with E-Trade. 3

Got this from some minion at E-trade, since the VP I wrote to was apparently too busy to answer a customer personally:

Good Morning Mr. Randolph,

We received your email inquiry to our VP of Customer Service, Neal Martin on 8/5/13. We regret that we are unable to accommodate your request for two ATM cards for your account. We appreciate your feedback and it has been shared with management and our product teams for review. If you have any additional questions or concerns feel free to contact me at [phone number deleted]

Thank You,

[Name redacted]
Corporate Support Manager
Alpharetta GA
E*TRADE Securities LLC
[phone number redacted]

Manager? Yeah, right. In a functioning company, a manager is someone who takes the initiative to solve a problem.

I left the VP's name because he fully deserves to have this come up when someone googles him in the future.

My response:


You might mention to Neal Martin that when a customer responds to an email message that has his name on it, itâ(TM)s rather poor form to pass the buck to someone else unless that other person is capable of solving the problem.

I was a more-or-less satisfied customer of E-trade for over a decade. I will be transferring my assets to another broker in the near future, as soon as I determine which of your competitors can demonstrate the competence that E-trade has abandoned.


User Journal

Journal Journal: Rather unimpressed with E-Trade today.

I've been a customer of theirs for over a decade, and I've had two ATM cards for the same account for many years. Recently, I needed to cancel one of the cards and instead of just replacing that card, they cancelled both of my cards. I just sent the following message to Neal Martin, VP of customer service at E-trade.


I got a call from one of your employees this morning, Meagan something, who told me that after looking into it she wasnâ(TM)t able to find a way to issue a second card for my account. Her suggested workaround was that I should open another account, and get an ATM card for that account.

So, because of your IT departmentâ(TM)s refusal to fulfill a very simple request, E-tradeâ(TM)s âoesolutionâ is that I should give you MORE of my business, and incur whatever additional costs are associated with having a second account. Not to mention that using a second account means that if I lose a card while traveling, Iâ(TM)ll either be dead in the water for a day while funds get transferred to that second account, or Iâ(TM)d have to have money parked in that second account already.

Now, Iâ(TM)m a software engineer myself with a fair bit of experience in financial systems. In my Wall Street days, I worked at JP Morgan, Salomon Brothers, and UBS/Warburg. I know that there is indeed a way to solve the problem at hand, even if it requires manually editing a database to make it happen. If my business is important enough to you, youâ(TM)ll direct your IT department to do so.

In the meantime, I suggest your inform all of your employees in customer-facing roles that âoesecurity policy" is not an excuse for incompetence.


The message above was a follow-up to this one:

Hello Neal,

I have been an E-Trade customer since 2002 or thereabouts, and I currently have about [redacted] in assets on deposit with e-trade.

Iâ(TM)ve got to say, Iâ(TM)m on the verge of taking my business elsewhere and itâ(TM)s because of something that should be trivial for you to solve.

Iâ(TM)ve had two debit cards for my account for a decade or more, and Iâ(TM)ve just been told that I can only have one now. This doesnâ(TM)t work for me, because I travel quite a bit, and I like to keep one card in the safe in my hotel room, and have the other one on me. If I lose a card while traveling, I do not want to be stranded without a way to access my funds.

Yesterday, I spoke with a representative who told me that he had figured it out and was sending me an additional card, but this morning he called me back and told me that he couldnâ(TM)t do it after all. Just now, I spoke with another representative from your âoeCorporate Relationship Managementâ team, and heâ(TM)s looking into it.

Iâ(TM)ve generally been happy with E-trade up to this point, but if you canâ(TM)t issue me two cards as before, itâ(TM)s a deal breaker. I hope you get this figured out.

Also, donâ(TM)t put your name on an e-mail address that doesnâ(TM)t go to you directly. Itâ(TM)s insulting.


The upshot is I did some shopping around and found that Scottrade's fees are lower than E-trade's. The first brokerage company I find that can issue two cards on one account will get my business.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Another interesting stint at Apple. 5

For the last two years (almost), I was back at Apple working on the UI frameworks that the ProApps and the iApps use to give them their distinctive look. Interesting work, nice people to work with, and now I can say that there's some of my code in most of Apple's Pro and consumer apps on the Mac.

To everyone in PhotoApps, ProApps, Frameworks, and Dev Tools, thanks much! I enjoyed working with you.


User Journal

Journal Journal: Back to Apple... 8

I'm on my way back to Infinite Loop, and I'm starting on Tim Cook's first day as CEO. Wish us luck.


User Journal

Journal Journal: Relationship Change: Updated (2) 1

So, you've found my journal. Chances are, you're probably here because you're bored, and you noticed that I have a journal entry. I'm afraid you won't find much of interest here, but that's not why you're reading. You're reading this because you're interested to know why I'd be posting about the Slashdot relationship change notice you probably received because I have either added you as a friend or because I have culled you from my friends list and you would like to know why. Fortunately, it's really simple.

The Friends List is my User Bookmarks

It really is that simple. If you're on my friends list, you've probably made it there because you happened to have made an interesting, insightful, or humorous post that I enjoyed so much, I've decided to make you stick out like a sore thumb. I browse with friends set to +5, regardless of their modifier, so I will always see your posts no matter how ornery the moderators happen to be feeling. (Bonus: If you got moderated into oblivion, I have mod points, and you've put the time and effort into writing a good post, I might be able to get you out of it if I'm feeling charitable and want to mod you up.)

However: If you're on my friends list, it doesn't mean I agree with you. It just means I enjoyed a post you made.

If you've made it here, you've been selected as my friend exclusively for the reasons I outlined above. Chances are, you wouldn't like me in person--I'm generally politically conservative (with some socially liberal leanings, and I mean this in terms of the United States' political system), I'm religious but somewhat secular in my views, and I could probably outline a further 100+ reasons why you wouldn't like me regardless of your political affiliations (yes, I piss off even some conservatives). But here's the deal: I added you precisely because you shared a great post with the rest of Slashdot, made me laugh, or I disagree--but you made a good enough point that I think may have received an unfair shake from the moderators, so I'm watching out to make sure you don't get zinged again by someone who has it out for you (karma stalking).

That said, there are some exceptions to the rules I've outlined above. Specifically, I occasionally friend individuals I might otherwise call "flaming liberal nutjobs," because I happen to have some appreciation for the points or argument they're making. I probably disagree completely, but if that person happens to be arguing with someone who is quite clearly a total moron, I'll probably add them simply because they're the only party showing at least some signs of intelligence. I may also add people for various other reasons such as generally snarky behavior, a propensity for trolling idiots, playing devil's advocate, or because you won the lottery (not really--but you get the idea). In other words, there is probably a why behind, well, why you got added--and received the "relationship changed" notice--but it could be for any reason.

Two examples that come to mind are the users spun and tepples. Both of these guys are probably liberals, probably borderline crazy, and I know very well that they can get under the skin of other Slashdot users--and that is exactly why I like them. Both of these two characters have the tendency to get on the nerves of people who either have no sense of humor or, generally speaking, are exhibiting traits endemic to idiots. I seldom agree with either of them (spun for political reasons, tepples because of his occasional pro-Apple leanings), but because they go out of their way to make lesser beings look stupid, I applaud their efforts. Sure, they sometimes get a little out of line--don't we all?--but I think that the vast majority of people who become targets of their ridicule deserve it. Sometimes it isn't deserved, certainly, but oftentimes it is well-placed. They even occasionally post things that I enjoy reading.

Other individuals, like Opportunist, cayenne8, TheRaven64, and at least a dozen other people who may or may not have added me in return (see my fans list for a comprehensive rundown of most of these people--save for a handful--and sorry if I haven't expressly mentioned you) make posts that I greatly enjoy reading. Again, I may not always agree with them, but these individuals are typically very civil, respectful, and informative in the majority of their posts. Sometimes their posts are just outright entertaining.

Minor update: I should have added mcgrew to this list a long while back, because he's another one of the individuals whose posts I enjoy reading. Although, if I recall correctly, I had added him precisely because of a journal entry he had posted (either on mcgrew or another account) that I found very educational. mcgrew also continues to update his journal fairly regularly, so you should put some effort into reading it if you don't already. Yes, I'm guilty of not reading it as much as I should, too!

Of course, you could probably guess which of the two groups you fall into--or maybe you can't. Either way, you've done something I enjoyed if you're reading this.

Big Deal You Long-winded Baffoon! Why Should I Care that You Added Me?

Well, you shouldn't. There are some minor benefits, but in most circumstances, you shouldn't care. If you don't care, you probably wouldn't be reading this.

For the rest of you that have more time on your hands than I do (you are reading this, after all), here's what benefits you may (or may not) receive by being friended by me:

1) People on my friends list are more likely to be modded up whenever they make a good post.

- This means that if there's 2 posts I find really interesting and I have only 1 mod point left, yours gets priority. There is one exception to this (below).

2) Your posts will be visible to me, regardless of their rating.

- I browse with friends set to +5. That means you'll have at least an audience of one. This really only implies #1, but you get the idea.

3) If I catch a post hinting that you've been the victim of a karma stalker, I might (if I'm feeling charitable) look through your comment history for posts I feel were unfairly modded down. If I have the points, I may try to make what corrections I can to offset the damage to your karma.

As I mentioned, there is an exception to #1: If I have 1 mod point and you've made an interesting post, you will receive priority if you have friended me in return. Fans of mine receive priority over friends, so if you need a bit of a karma boost, and I feel you've made a good post, I'll probably throw you a bone karma-wise. I usually feel a bit more charitable toward people with whom I am both a friend and a fan.

Of course, your posts really do need to be worthy of a boost; if you post some inane one-liner (e.g. "in Soviet Russia..."), I don't care who you are. I'll ignore the post, and it won't receive any moderation from me. The one exception to this is that your meme usage--or whatever it is--has to be exceedingly clever. If it is, I may mod you funny. Of course, +1, Funny doesn't receive a karma boost, but if the post is something I feel worthy of karma (and it's funny), I might mod you +1, Insightful/Informative and let the other moderators sort out and puzzle over why a funny post got modded "incorrectly." I can't guarantee you'll keep the karma given the meta moderation, of course, but that's just how things are.

Okay, but You Removed Me from Your Friends List

I'm sorry. It happens. I don't read Slashdot incessantly enough to be a subscriber, so I'm fairly satisfied with my friends list being limited to 200 people. Unfortunately, this is a limit that I hit about a year or two ago, so I do occasionally need to cull my friends list. If you're reading this because I removed you, I'm truly very sorry. However, there are some ground rules I've set for people I'll remove, and if you're here, I removed you because you matched one of these rules:

1) Friends on my list must have at least one (1) post or one (1) journal entry made sometime within the last year or so. This means, for example, that since it is February 2011 as of the time of this writing, you'll be culled from my list if your last comment (or journal entry) was on or before February 2010. Yes, you may still browse Slashdot while not actively participating, but I have no way to tell the difference between someone who doesn't visit the site anymore and someone who just doesn't want to comment anymore.

2) You've marked me as a foe. This doesn't happen often (if at all), but someone who marks me as a foe will probably be taken off of my friends list. I might even add you as a mutual foe. I might just leave you neutral. Or, hell, I might just change my mind at random every day for three weeks. I figure that anyone who marks me as a foe either doesn't like something I wrote and can't handle a respectful or vehement disagreement (translation: you're being petty) or you're just in a bad mood--and that's OK! That's what I'm here for. I'm here to remind you that you might just have one last friend in the world. Or not. It depends!

3) Your account has been banned/deleted/disappeared. Okay, this doesn't happen (as far as I know), but there's nothing much else to say about it either way. :)

4) You're trolling (and not in the good way) or generally contributing to behavior that I don't like. Maybe you used a derogatory term toward someone inappropriately. Maybe you're starting to spam Goatse links. Maybe you're trolling in an exceedingly childish form. If that's the case, I'll remove you. I friend people exclusively because I enjoy their posts. If I stop enjoying them, I'll remove them very quickly.

5) I removed you because I felt like it. This hasn't happened yet (unlike #4 and earlier), but I do reserve the right to remove you for whatever reason I like.

In short, I need the room on my list, and your number came up. I'm sorry. I truly am. There is a silver lining, though: If you continue to make insightful posts, I may just re-friend you again.

Just remember one thing. You're on my friends list because your posts entertain me or maybe because I learned something from you. As such, if you continue to be fairly reasonable with others and continue to participate on Slashdot, you'll probably stay on my friends list indefinitely.

There is yet one more exception to the culling that I occasionally perform (like now) on my friends list. If you have added me as a friend, you're automatically immune to culling. I don't have a lot of fans, so I can't imagine that the number of fans will approach 200 users any time soon, and for the foreseeable future, if you've friended me in return, you'll never be removed from my list. Fans are slightly more likely to receive beneficial moderation than exclusively friends, but you do still have to make a worthwhile post.

Okay, I get it. Do You ever Downvote Friends/Fans/Foes?

Nope. I never downvote except in cases of obvious spam which is almost never. I will never, ever, ever, ever downvote anyone. Even if you've added me to your foe list and you hate everything I stand for, I will never downvote your posts. Modding posts down is, as far as I'm concerned, a filtration method for spam and clearly abusive posts. I realize some Slashdotters tend to resort to downvotes as a means of -1, Disagree, and I think that's wrong. That's why you'll never receive a downvote, even if I disagree with you 100%.

Of course, as I pointed out, you will probably receive upvotes from me for various reasons--much more often if you're a friend or a fan--and it's not because I agree with you. Upvotes are useful for increasing the visibility of quality posts, posts that correct the obvious errors of others, or posts that otherwise deserve to be made more visible.

Again, you're on my friends list because it's a useful bookmark to make your posts more visible to me. Nothing more, nothing less. There are some (rough) rules that I follow to maintain the quality of my "organic bookmark" system, and if you're here, hopefully you've learned a little about why you received that ominous note: Relationship Changed.


Journal Journal: Critics of Tea Party Movement Miss the Big Picture 8

Many commentators seem to believe that the Tea Party represents a net minus for the GOP because of the split between them and the existing establishment. This criticism seems oddly familiar to me. Many people predicted that the drawn out fight between Hillary and Obama would be the death of the Democrats in 2008. As it turned out, that extended fight kept them in the news for months and built up the ground networks that helped Obama carry the day in states that normally be out of reach for a Democrat. Take Indiana, where Obama carried the state by ~28k votes. Does that happen without the ground operation built for the primary and the name recognition/publicity gained from it? Impossible to say, but I think it's clear that the intra-party squabbling was a net positive for the Democrats in the end.

It seems likely to me that the Tea Party will have the same impact on the GOP. They may well prove to be a net minus in selected races (Delaware) but the enthusiasm they've generated and the new people they've brought into the political process will more than balance that out come November.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Here comes the tidal wave..... 1

Worked the NYS primary election today. We had higher turnout for this mid-term primary than I've ever seen -- more than we did for the Presidential Primary in 2008. I'm only one poll worker in a single district but I've never seen this kind of enthusiasm for a primary before. We had 44% turnout for our GOP voters and 30% for the Democrats.

Paladino looks to have crushed Rick Lazio. I called this race at 10pm -- Paladino ran up a much higher margin (93% in Erie and Niagara counties, all districts reporting) with his base than Lazio did with his (60-65% in Suffolk and Nassau counties, 60% of districts reporting) . Paladino beat Lazio in some downstate counties (Dutchess and Orange) that should have been more familiar with Lazio. He looks to have edged him out with 50-55% of the vote in most other upstate counties, though we'll have to wait for tomorrow for the final numbers.

With this kind of turn out for a primary I'm betting that November is going to be huge. It wouldn't surprise me if we beat our numbers for 2008 -- we had a 60% turnout that year.

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"Why waste negative entropy on comments, when you could use the same entropy to create bugs instead?" -- Steve Elias