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User Journal

Journal Journal: How the spammers almost nuked Rosetta@home

Not that they meant to. Just more of their collateral damage. Let me explain:

It seems that the DNS problem was ultimately due to increased security for domain registrations. The driver for making the domain registration process more secure is that spammers and various other cyber-criminals need domains to abuse. I'm going to lump all of them under the tag "spammers" because the spammers were the first cyber-criminals and because I really HATE spam. Also, I believe that spamming was the entry point (gateway drug?) for most of them, the first step in losing their souls, so to speak, as well as the source of most of their seed capital.

The abuse their domains in MANY ways. You probably know that 419 spammers like to use bulletproof domains to harvest their suckers. The anti-google PageRank attackers want vast networks of controllable domains for the links they can create.

However, in the case of BOINC the threat of a hijacked domain for ANY project is vastly greater. I know it's hard, but imagine there is a bug in the BOINC client. Imagine that bug allows a downloaded work unit to hijack (AKA pwn) the computer. Now imagine that the spammer hijacks the project's domain and captures ALL of the client computers for his zombie network. This spammer now "owns" the most powerful spam-generation system in the world and could probably DDoS attack the Pentagon with his spare cycles.

As a sort of sick joke, I sort of blame Al Gore. If he hadn't been so competent and effective in giving the nice creators of the Internet all that nice money, then maybe they would have considered real-world economics in the design. SMTP didn't have to assume the world is full of nice people who deserve "free" email. (No such thing, per my sig.)

Solution time? Really hard to get all of the worms and cats back into the bag now, but focusing just on email, I think there are two basic approaches. I used to advocate for a non-SMTP-based email system with tracking that would automatically slow down the spammers so their marginal costs would rise to infinity from the present zero, but now I think it's too much trouble.

Instead, what I would like now is an anti-spammer tool that would let nice volunteers donate bits of their human time towards breaking the spammers' economic models. Actually the same tool could be extended to fight against most kinds of cyber-crime, and I still think most people are nice, notwithstanding how much the spammers seem to outnumber us. One implementation would be as a "Fight spam" button added to an online email system (such as Gmail).

If you choose to be a good Samaritan, then it would parse your suspected spam and let you confirm the analysis in a webform. There would probably be several rounds of iteration, where you would adjust and correct the analysis and help select the best countermeasures and their priorities.

As the joke goes, lots of details available upon polite request. Even better if you have a stronger and more constructive alternative.

User Journal

Journal Journal: In response to a story about the google's AI to recognize objects in videos

Oh wait. The summary says it can recognize a dachshund. Proof enough for me! Everyone knows dachshunds are the most EVIL breed of dog.

Actually every article about the google tends to sadden me. Such a nice little child company grew up to be such a monster. Dare I say EVIL? Yes, notwithstanding finishing yet another book about the google yesterday amid all of the protestations of how much the google wants to be a good and friendly little boy. The tools remain as morally neutral as they ever were, but things have changed anyway.

The "Don't be evil" slogan has mutated to "All your attention are belong to us."

The mission of making all of the world's information accessible and useful has changed in a more complicated way. Information is overabundant, even super-abundant, so the google had to prioritize. Turns out the highest priority information is what the advertisers want to pay for YOU to see and the ultimate utility function became the corporate profits. Yes, they are still throwing a few crumbs at the residual humans who produce the content that carries the ads, but the big winners are all corporations. Ultimate victory of AI?

There are two problem with "shareholder value" as the sole criterion of goodness. The minor problem is that share price is a delusion. The major problem is that it defines an unsolvable problem, even if you don't call it greed. There is NO share price that represents maximum shareholder value. No matter what you did yesterday, the corporation has to work to make the share price higher today, even if it ultimately makes the corporation EVIL.

Speaking for myself, I can't call it super-greed because corporations are inhuman, notwithstanding SCOTUS. Only humans have such emotions as greed.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Reactions to General will 2.0: Rousseau, Freud, Google 1

Reactions to General will 2.0: Rousseau, Freud, Google by Hiroki Azuma (äèæå--2.0 ãfã½ãf¼ããfãfããfãããf¼ããf)

In summary, a tremendously provocative and rather interesting book, but too flawed and immature to be important or influential. It makes me feel like I have to start with rationalizations about the book's limitations. I think there're three kinds of problems that affected this book.

One is that the translation itself seems somewhat suspicious, Either because the material is so difficult or possibly because the translators own philosophies were brought into the picture, especially if either of them is a libertarian. In my page-based notes I will include a few specific questions about the translation, but I think there's more a general problem manifested in the confusion of proper nouns with generic usages. Quite frequently the book uses terms such as "general will 2.0" that should be capitalized and treated as proper nouns, but which appear in lowercase. It is barely possible that this reflects a feeling that the frequent capitalization would have made the book feel too heavy in some way, but I think it much more likely that it reflects the lack of capitalization in the original Japanese. (There are no capital letters in Japanese.)

The second problem could be described as a kind of trauma due to the disastrous earthquake and tsunami of 2011, immediately followed by the nuclear-power-plant disaster in Fukushima. My own trauma was relatively minor, just that I voided elevators for a few months, but perhaps the author had tighter connections to Fukushima or for some other reason felt the disaster more deeply. He gives the impression in the introduction that he was forced by the earthquake into rethinking many of the points raised in the book in ways that prevented him from merely polishing the original essays. His choices were to present them almost intact from the magazine serialization or completely rewrite the book.

The third problem can be described as a kind of forced extension beyond the original conception, especially as regards Rousseau. He is trying to rework the philosophy of Rousseau in a way that goes beyond the plausible implications of the original philosophy of the "social contract". I think it started as an interesting thought experiment, but he went so far that he at some point even the author understood that the connection to the original was overstretched. Even with the stretching, it's thought-provoking, but I felt it was not a mature conceptualization. There was some additional confusion caused by the layering in of later philosophers and thinkers, especially as regards Freud.

So here are my page-based comments:

On page vii I saw the first thing that made me worry about the translation. Near the bottom he says "I was able to assume the place ..." in a way that sounds quite pompous and assertive, even aggressive. I suspect the original Japanese may have represented a gentler conception that should've been translated into something like "I found myself thrust into a place ..."

On page xii he notes that it is September 11, 2011, which is exactly half a year since the disaster of the great earthquake. As an American I was struck but that the date was also exactly 10 years after the great and similarly traumatic disaster of 9/11 in America. It would have been even more striking as the double anniversary. (The 9/11 disaster was mentioned on page 60.)

On page 6 he talks about the Google's mission statement of organizing the worlds information. My main reaction was negative in light of my reconsideration of that mission statement in favor of giving priority to accessing the advertising information with the new utility metric of the paying advertisers' profits. I wonder if his generous and friendly interpretation was still plausible when this book was written?

At the bottom of page 11 was another sentence that made me wonder about the quality of the translation. It uses a very unusual word, "sublated", in such a way that it could not be clearly interpreted from the context. Perhaps a dictionary-based translation? Following the literal Japanese, but the result was not clear in the actual context. Better writing or a better translation should have made this concept clear. There are other examples in the book where free translation was clearly used. For example the "two heads are better than one" expression is used instead of a direct translation of the Japanese expression about the three men being wiser then Buddha. (ääåãOEãæ-æ®Sã®çY¥æ was referenced in a note.)

On page 53 there is a confusing note about the two Japanese forms of ææ and æå--, which are homonyms with closely related meanings. (One kind of åOEéYç義ã) However my main reaction to this footnote was to realize that all of the Japanese intrusions in the book would have benefited from the inclusion of proper Japanese. The use of Romaji was as usual ambiguous and confusing. If you don't already know the Japanese, then the Romaji is just gibberish, and if you do know the Japanese, then the Romaji is just intrusive.

On page 69 he's discussing the shallowness of conversations on the infamous Nichanneru (2ããfã"ããï¼Y). Reminds me again of Nicholas Carr's excellent book The Shallows.

On page 70 the second note is talking about the creator of the Google's Japanese input system, someone named Taku Kudo. One of my reactions was to wonder if he was might be related to the security expert Kudo-san at IBM Japan, but mostly I was curious about the extra features of Google Japanese input.

What struck me about page 73 was his essential confusion about the nature of freedom. However I think it helped to trigger me to think more about the meaning of constraints based on reality within the context of my own equation defining the most important sense of freedom. [#1 Freedom = (Meaningful - Coerced) Choice{5} â (Beer^4 | Speech | Trade) in my favorite sig.] Not sure if this is when I started wondering about some way to work the word constraint or reality into my sig, but it also reassured me about the usage of "Coerced" there.

My main reaction to page 79 was probably do to his apparent confusion about the you effective use of personal time. This is also another intersection with The Shallows.

Page 81 i talking about island universes from a libertarian perspective, but this is a concept I now map to do-it-yourself brainwashing.

Page 86 represents another other intrusion of libertarian fantasies. He's trying to rationalize minimizing government without considering the essential blindness of masses of people. The kinds of data he is collecting here are fundamentally incapable of revealing what should be done, incapable of dealing with the notion of change itself, but only capture the static conditions. I7m doubtful that the author understands that leadership requires unified vision, though this might be an overlaying of the libertarian conceptions. There's also some confusion with his use of the word "database" throughout the book, where he was probably thinking about something like "big data". Perhaps the use of big data came later, so he was forced to use the approximating word database?

I had two reactions on page 96. The main one was feeling his interpretation of Google PageRank was quite shallow and even inaccurate. I also had trouble with his interpretation of Freud here.

Not certain what caught my attention page 113, but perhaps that is where I realized the confusion between database and big data? The closing paragraph of that chapter was quite confusing to me, though that might be another translation problem.

Page 115 he had me thinking about reality-based constraints in relation to freedom.

On pages 136 and 137 he made me feel like he was confused about how the wisdom of crowds works, even though he refers to that book. The independent perspective of the individuals within the crowd is key to avoiding mob-based decisions.

The third note on page 139 made me think of time-based economics, although that general topic is clearly beyond his thinking in this book. I think that was the main problem that caught my attention on page 145, too.

On page 150 he's talking about the Japanese website Niconico, which has a real-time chat mode similar to YouTube's. He's talking about the problem of an overabundance of comments on the right side. This make me think about an obvious solution. Most of the comments should never be displayed, though perhaps they could be saved somewhere else for later reference. The displayed comments should be throttled to a slow speed to make sure they can be read. After each comment that makes it onto the display there would be some number and buttons. The first number would represent how many comments had been skipped before accepting the displayed comment. This would give a real-time indicator of the activity of the discussion. A thumbs-up and thumbs-down button would let the audience try to push the comment up or down the list, with a number for the net value. If the comment is accumulating a lot of positive reactions, then will tend to rise in the stack of displayed comments, but if it's getting negative reactions it will sink. There should also be a button for "the subject has changed". If enough viewers click on that one, then the comment will disappear to make room for a new comment. This system would then semi-automatically create a time-based list of the most important comments associated with each part of the video. More ideas and details available upon request, but that offer feels like a joke these days...

The discussion of Twitter on pages 182 to 184 was also thought provoking. It made me think of a new way to make Twitter much more interesting and useful. You should be able to sort and group the accounts you are following so that the different kinds of information appear in separate lists. On a large screen computer you would be able to display the lists side-by-side. For example the Twitter feed of your family members and close friends might be in the first column on the left side, while the second column might be for news sources and the third column for celebrities you are interested in. On a small screen device a sideways flick could switch between the columns representing your groupings. Another new idea of the sort I like to think about...

On page 204 he suggests that Google and Apple are influenced buy their shareholders. Seems to me to be a remarkably naÃve statement, based on my firsthand experience as an Apple shareholder and most starkly in a recent interaction with Sony. They are not interested in new ideas or any sort of "guidance" from shareholders. That's part of a more general problem and made me think his economic models are too naÃve by half.

Those are my page-based reactions to the book. They sound somewhat critical, but I'm still interested in many of the topics he raised. Not sure if I can actually recommend the book, but I'm thinking of visiting the coffee shop (or maybe it's more of a discussion salon) that the author manages.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Generalizable comments on Google+ 1

[Just the repost. Mostly relevant to Slashdot with the trivial substitution, but I don't think Slashdot is worth that much effort (and still wrapping up my affairs here before another hiatus).

Is it possible to have a civilized discussion using Google+? What are the rules for most effectively dealing with trolls and other rude people?

Just asking because it appears that the google has changed the rules again. I'm only sure that I don't fully understand the rules. However, I am also sure that I don't want to waste the time playing with trolls or even cleaning up after them.

My own preference would be to avoid seeing their mindless trollage in the first place. I still think that the best tool or feature for that purpose would be an age-based maturity filter. Should be an option, but I would set mine for about 2 months since I believe few sock-puppet identities last that long. A 2-month maturity requirement would render them invisible to me.

A bit of a diversion now, but if this topic has already been discussed (and I bet it has), then I was unable to find those discussions here. There is a search function, but it was not helpful. What if the google took the words and sentiments of my draft comment and used them to pop up relevant discussions for me to consider? Then I could see if my question had been answered, or even better, I could explain what was different about my problem and what parts of the answer didn't fully apply. (Going beyond that, the prior participants could be notified the topic had become active again.) Now back to our irregularly unscheduled discussion of how to have a "deep, thoughtful, and polite" discussion in Google+ (or anywhere on today's exceedingly messy Web of fake opinion).

In the unclear area is the question of long-lived trolls. I don't even know if Google+ has a block function or some kind of kill list.

I actually think the deeper solution would involve reputation-based filtering based on a symmetric relationship to each identity's contributions. If someone rates a comment favorably, then that favor should also accrue to the person who wrote the comment. I actually think it should have an option for higher dimension ranking, and most of the dimensions should allow for both positive and negative rankings.

Lots of details available upon request, but let me confess that I'm NOT anticipating a deep and thoughtful discussion here. Hoping for such, but all my hopes seem increasingly feeble these days.

User Journal

Journal Journal: ACLU T-Shirts... 11

The ACLU is selling T-Shirts with their logo that says "Dissent is Patriotic".

That's adorable.

Especially after telling us over the last 8 years that dissent was racist.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Interesting ... openSUSE in a VM to the rescue! 6

The last few years, I've been able to read again, but NOT program. Sitting in front of the computer trying to write code, I would just draw a blank. This was the second time - the first being after the whole flesh-eating disease thing a couple of decades ago.

Finally got off the antidepressants a couple of months ago (psychiatrist still wants me on them because I still show signs of anxiety and depression, but ...). This laptop is stuck with Windows 8.1, and there was no way I could get into coding - until I loaded openSUSE into a VM this weekend, on a hunch. I think I'm going to be okay (well, except for 20/300 vision in one eye, and 20/50 in the other, both because of cataracts* - but at least the retinal bleeding has pretty much stopped - no major hemorrhages in 8 months, though I now need cataract surgery and to see a glaucoma specialist).

Things I discovered over the last few years:

1. IDEs have gotten WAY TOO COUNTERPRODUCTIVE. The worst example is android studio. What a piece of shit. 1.6 gigs, downloaded an example program, wouldn't compile, clicked on "install missing libraries", over and over and over, rebooted, no diff. Reinstalled, no diff.

Eclipse isn't any better.

2. The old, simple ways worked, and if it ain't broke, why fix it? gedit/vim, make, and a few perl and bash scripts for versioning, etc. are all I need for c/c++ and java. At least when something doesn't work, I can find why quickly.

3. Which brings up a beef (well, another one) about Android. Material design is counter-intuitive. Horizontal on-off switches??? At least a checkbox, you can tell at a glance whether it's on or off. With a horizontal toggle, is left on or is right on? Takes up more space and is less intuitive. Yet another example of change for change's sake that ends up screwing up simple, already solved problems. We keep "solving" already-solved problems, and I suspect it's pushed by people trying to justify their jobs. Like usual.

4. Ageism. It's been real the last few jobs, and there's no way it's gotten better since I stopped working. Of course, the demand for c/c++/java programmers isn't that great here any more, and the demand for 60-year-old coders is probably zero. I could get away with chopping 10-15 years off my age (most people I've met are kind of shocked I'm that old - "you certainly don't look it!") - and there is NOTHING a potential employer can do if you lie about your age. Age is not pertinent to doing a job, and using that as a reason if/when they find out pretty much proves age discrimination, but what the hell - I'm not going to be looking for a regular job anyway, right? I remember the crappy working conditions - I'd rather work part time for minimum wage elsewhere than go back to working for schmucks. Or as one softie put it - "went lettuce picking."

5. That last point bears repeating on its own : I remember the crappy working conditions. It's just not worth it. Why waste your life explaining why $IDEA is neither great, new, earth-shaking, innovative, or worth pursuing. Or telling them to f*ck off about using Rails, Groovy, $LATEST_FAD_LIBRARY_FRAMEWORK.


The importance of being able to program again is mostly to restore my self-assurance that the last few years haven't caused any real damage, not to go back into coding.

Should be interesting ... same as the whole cataract surgery thing (not a big deal). I'll probably go the independent, semi-retired route. Spend more time with the little dog, neighbors, etc., and less time trying to justify my existence to the world :-)

* You probably can't blast lasers through the lens onto the retina 4-5000 times per eye without doing some damage to the lens as well. Oh well, (imitate voice-over from "$6 million man" - we have the technology) it sure isn't going to be anywhere near as bad as the vitrectromy.

User Journal

Journal Journal: This one didn't make it a day 1

Seriously, didn't even make it to 3 pm.


Resign now. Take completely compromised Pence with you and tell President Bannon he's going back into cold storage in Argentina again.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Like Owen Wilson in Armageddon 7

So the Fuckhead Of The United States is having literally the worst first month of a presidential term and his big idea is a 2020 campaign rally in fucking Florida this weekend?

Oughtta just nuke the whole country, it's the only way to be sure at this point. Fucking Yanks.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Is the google thrashing? 8

[Published elsewhere including the links, but the likelihood of constructive or even thoughtful reactions here on Slashdot is too small to worry about fixing it up properly.]

Is the google thrashing?

Why does the google appear to be thrashing? There are so many obvious problems to be solved, but (at least from the outside) it appears that the google has stopped moving towards those solutions because of the thrashing.

I do not think it's because all of the important innovations have been implemented. My current theory is that it's because the google has reached the limit of conventional money-über-alles economic models.

From an emulation of Laszlo Bock's head?

[Are the details available upon request?]

Okay, that's the 'teaser' I sent to a Googler of my acquaintance. More likely it should be described as a 'brain fart', but I'm going to try to flesh out some of the details here. Anyway, the 'teaser' has served MY purpose in that it got me to start writing this:

Starting from the back, perhaps this should be regarded as a kind of twisted and consolidated review of the google-related books I've been reading recently. Laszlo Bock's Work Rules! is the most recent, but among the 30 books I've finished so far this year, there is also How Google Works by two insiders and outsider Ken Auletta's book from 2009. I see Nudge and I remember recently reading a couple of other books mentioned in Work Rules! but I think he should have read Rework, too. (Considering the missing bits, he should have included the story about the three masons, too. (That's a weak version of the story, but I can't find a link for a version in which the third bricklayer understood he was glorifying god.))

Distracted again, but I can't help it. The world is overly connected and the solutions of the interesting problems are usually under-constrained. Imagine that the google wanted to create a happier-life search engine? Among other purposes, it would help people find satisfying and rewarding purposes for their lives, possibly even including gainful employment? Oh, wait. Where's the money?

Now I went and jumped a step, so I have to back up to the head emulation topic. (Unless you, the mysterious and unknown reader, have already read some of my writings on that topic?) In brief, a good writer creates mental models inside the heads of his readers. For example, Raymond Chandler can cause your brain to run an emulator of Philip Marlowe. (Serrendipitously, the centennial celebration of his character mentions "googol" on page xiv from a time machine in 1988. (Is the google thrashing again with this false positive? The copy I'm holding here only has 370 + xiv pages.) (This double parenthetic note now reminds me of The Shallows and how the Web tends to divert from deeper thinking.)) However, I think a really good reader does a sort of converse operation on the author's mind, so my goal in reading a book is to think like the author... To a degree, I hope I'm still thinking like Laszlo Bock, notwithstanding?

Okay, so now I can return to the solutions that the google has stopped pursuing. I think the Google Books project (that I've already linked to) is a good entry point. This project was certainly consistent with the google's original high "mission" (or goal) of making the world's information accessible and useful. From here it appears that the project mostly came to naught on the rocks of the publishers' unbounded greed. Their economic models DEMAND more money, and there is no limit on that "more". (This is actually an aspect of the larger problem of the distortion of copyrights, but I've already been diverted too many times this morning...)

The same kind of focus on getting more money has changed the google's perspective of the company's mission. Now the most important "information" that has to be made "accessible" is the paid ads and the ultimate metric of "useful" is the sales figures of the corporations that are paying for the ads. Even the google has to follow the money, and the delusion of the free lunch allows us to think we aren't paying for it. (Another diversion into "#1 Freedom = (Meaningful - Coerced) Choice{5} â (Beer^4 | Speech | Trade)" beckons, but...)

Now I've popped the stack all the way back to the topic of thrashing... Hard to describe what it is... It's the internal chaos within the google that prevents deeper focus on the really hard problems? It's the diverting-but-shallow links that always beckon? (I've been fighting with many of them already...) It's the elitist closure that results from the googlers associating primarily with the tiny intersection of (1) extreme creatives, (2) super-productive engineers, and (3) money chasers?

Time for conclusions? I think there are a number of obvious problems that could be addressed, but I certainly wouldn't look to the google for solutions. At this point I can barely hope that their search results might lead in helpful directions. It also seems that the google itself has realized there is a problem and that they have reached their limits. At least that's my interpretation of the reorganization under Alphabet.

Wish I could go deeper, but my muse is already exhausted. Better luck next time?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Is Flexnet's Agent running on your computer?

Not the first time I've noticed this on Windows 10... In your Task Manager you may be able to find an agent.exe process that runs from time to time. It's identified as the Flexnet Remote Desktop Connection software. Uh? But I didn't know I was running a remote connection to my desktop. You?

How serious is this version of the Microsoft ppyware problem?

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.
        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.
        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: Seattle is Resistance 3

So, for those of you don't realize it, I'm a catalyst. I've fought against my basic nature for years, but it's what I do.

and right now, my job is saving America.

No pay, hard work, it's connecting stuff, using some ancient protocol builds that are in everything to bypass security that never did work, and providing little pushes that get things done.

Expect more. Just starting.

It's immaterial if you know I used to have a four digit slashdot account and spaced my old password from my old account at one of the first ISPs, or that I used to hack things before the USE*NET wars, or was there at the start of the events that created EFF and all that.

I just do things. Never for personal gain.

This is one of those times.

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: Gorsuch 6

When Gorsuch was confirmed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, he was done so unanimously.


So take the perpetually outraged, professional (ie, paid by Soros) Left's vitriol against him with a grain of salt.


Speaking of which... why is it that when the Koch Brothers donate money to candidates it's a grave assault on our democracy but when Soros pays minions to riot we get the lecture about how dissent is patriotic*?

* Dissent is treason when there's a Demonrat in the White House. Remember, when there's a Demonrat President THE OFFICE MUST BE RESPECTED NO MATTER WHAT!!

User Journal

Journal Journal: Shallow thinking hurts the google? 3

More precisely, is the google harmed by its own shallow-even-if-clever thinking? And what about Facebook, Amazon, Slashdot, #PresidentTweety, and you?

Let's start in Macedonia, eh? Already feels like ancient news, but:

Is it evil to further impoverish some desperate ex-shepherds just because they found a new way to make a living? (I confess I don't even know if they used to be shepherds, but it doesn't actually matter what legitimate jobs they used to have before they switched to the fake news business.) Is it their fault that the market demand for fake news was so skewed in favor of future #PresidentTweety?

Going a little deeper, I think they should be congratulated for seeing the market opportunity. The RoI for fake news was YUGE. Production costs are essentially zero. No research required, not even market research. Just throw everything against the wall and see what sticks, goes viral, and brings back those sweet, sweet, advertising dollars.

Surely the advertisers can't be blamed. They can't police the appearances of their ads or question the intelligence and gullibility of their potential customers.

Oh, so NOW the google (and Facebook) have realized that the crooked game had consequences, eh? Let's shut that barn door after all the cows have escaped!

Just reading How Google Works by Schmidt and Rosenberg, two hippos of the google who eagerly attack other hippos and their companies. However, in their description of the culture of their company they made the employees sound like gas molecules, or maybe plasma. Constantly bouncing around and interacting and doing things without any time for deeply thinking about the various mistakes or consequences that can probably be fixed later on.

Supporting fake news turned out to be a pretty massive problem. Later on turns out be be some years later. Assuming anyone is still around to google, eh?

There are times when deep thinking is called for. This used to be one of them?

I like to focus on solutions, and I have two to throw out. Details available upon polite request:

(1) A deep-thinking cap. For when you absolutely positively need a quiet place to think.
(2) A feedback form with a generalized "reporting evil" option. Now do something about it!

Me? I often think my shallow thinking often results in problems.

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