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User Journal

Journal Journal: Why I'm boycotting Earth Day 6

Earth Day - the day we're supposed to show our concern for the environment by turning off our lights for one hour between 8:30 and 9:30 pm - is just greenwashing.

It's still below freezing here, and I doubt than any of the people who will be turning out their lights will be pulling their main circuit breaker to also turn of their heat, fridge, etc. But if everyone did, it would actually have a negative impact on the environment, as everyone turning the heat back on at 9:30 will create a spike in demand - a spike that will have to be met via peak electrical generator units, which are less efficient.

And everyone driving to some place to hold a candle-light vigil? Come off it - unless you walked or biked you probably used more energy than if you sat at home with all your lights on at once.

The sun sets here today at 7:13 pm. I'm not going to be bumbling around in the dark for an hour like some poseurs. I'm greener than anyone I know. I walk everywhere I can - last Wednesday it was 13 km to go to the dentist and back the day after the 16" snowstorm. Next week it will be 19 km round-trip to the doctor's. I use public transit when I have to. I recycle. But my lights are going to be on tonight. I don't need to fake being green so I can feel like I'm doing something positive.

User Journal

Journal Journal: POTUS Emeritus Alfred E Neuman on Trump 7

Bush's comments came after a prominent Republican in Congress, Rep. Darrell Issa of California, called for a special prosecutor to investigate whether Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election and was in touch with Trump's top advisers during the campaign.

Bush said he would trust Senate Intelligence panel Chairman Richard Burr to decide if a special prosecutor is necessary.

But, Bush added, "I think we all need answers ... I'm not sure the right avenue to take. I am sure, though, that that question needs to be answered."

Indeed our world has now been turned upside-down. Not only does Trump make GWB look intelligent and well-spoken, he even makes him look presidential or diplomatic. While we already knew a while ago that the GOP took such a hard right turn that it would reject Reagan himself as a commie, now they've dove headfirst so enthusiastically into the loonie bin that Bush seems like a born leader and statesman.

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: So what was Milo's book Dangerous supposed to be about? 8

On my way home from work I couldn't seem to escape news coverage of the "conservative provocateur" having his book canceled after being recorded praising pedophilia.

What I couldn't seem to figure out for anything though is what his canceled book was actually supposed to be about. The Amazon entry for it only told me its length, title, and author; not a single word about its content - and that Amazon entry is now gone. Some of the news coverage was bragging about how well it was doing in pre-sales - did he really sell a huge number of books based only on his name and an exceptionally vague title?
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: 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: 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: 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.

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