fallenpegasus: amazon (Default)
2017-10-17 03:12 pm

(no subject)

The following parable narrative never stops being appropriate:

===
Me: I don't want to take away dog owners' rights. But we need to do something about Rottweilers.
You: So what do you propose?
Me: I just think that there should be some sort of training or restrictions on owning an attack dog.
You: Wait. What's an "attack dog?"
Me: You know what I mean. Like military dogs.
You: Huh? Rottweilers aren't military dogs. In fact "military dogs" isn't a thing. You mean like German Shepherds?
Me: Don't be ridiculous. Nobody's trying to take away your German Shepherds. But civilians shouldn't own fighting dogs.
You: I have no idea what dogs you're talking about now.
Me: You're being both picky and obtuse. You know I mean hounds.
You: What the fuck.
Me: OK, maybe not actually ::air quotes:: hounds ::air quotes::. Maybe I have the terminology wrong. I'm not obsessed with vicious dogs like you. But we can identify kinds of dogs that civilians just don't need to own.
You: Can we?
===
fallenpegasus: amazon (Default)
2017-10-17 03:09 pm

On this day, in 2009

On this day in 2009, I took a long walk barefoot ankle deep in the water of the Pacific Ocean on the beach at Waikiki just after sunset, my last day there for that trip. That trip marked the beginning of the end of The Crazy Time that had consumed most of the previous year.
fallenpegasus: amazon (Default)
2017-10-02 10:49 am

On base knowledge surveys

When I was in college, one of my Research Assistant jobs was to do clerical and basic number crunching work for base knowledge surveys. It takes scrupulous and expensive controls to prevent roughly a third of the surveys from being randomly answered for the lulz. Even with the most scrupulous controls and careful interview technique, there is still roughly 5% noise.

In other words, any newspaper headline of a newspaper article that is a restatement of the abstract of some random paper from some random academic journal based on some survey, especially if its a prepub paper or open access journal, that is of the form of "ONE THIRD OF LILPUTIANS ARE STUPID, ACCORDING TO SURVEY", is rank bullshit, and is anti-knowledge, as in anyone who reads it is less informed afterwards than before.

Show me the survey questions, the interview technique, the responder selection process, the population size, the population demographics, the pre-survey stats oversight board approval, the post-survey stats oversight board signoff, and the raw data, and THEN we will talk.

(My lead researcher when I was a RA sat on several of those Stats Oversight Approval Boards. I got well schooled in several of the ways that a researcher could lie to themselves, knowingly and unknowingly.)
fallenpegasus: amazon (Default)
2017-09-15 11:13 am

The Dark is coming.

Where I live, today the sun rose at 6:47am and will set at 7:20pm. So it's morning twilight as I'm going to work, the sun is up when I get to my building, and it's still light into the evening.

Next week, the 22nd, is the equinox. Around the equinox, the days are getting shorter and the nights longer at the fastest rate. Around here, about 15 minutes a day, or 2 hours a week. Over the next 2 weeks, the day will shrink and the night will expand by 4 hours.

About the same time, historically, a cloud cover will form over the city, and with only occasional rare exceptions, will stay in place until March.

Then all the newcomers will discover, and the longer term residents will be reminded of one of Seattle's best known signature features.

The Dark is coming.
fallenpegasus: amazon (Default)
2017-08-09 09:02 am

(no subject)

E pur si muove
fallenpegasus: amazon (Default)
2017-07-08 11:16 am

What is the opposite of a "free range kid"?

What is the opposite of a "free range kid"?

A cage raised one.

I don't despair for the kids. Some of them will recover. I despair for the parents and enablers who built and enforce those cages. They will go to their graves smugly convinced they did the right thing, instead of wrecking so much of the future.
fallenpegasus: amazon (Default)
2017-07-08 11:07 am

Can anyone defend this?

In the latest news of overcontrolling busybody idiots who are terrified of imaginary threats, last Sunday the cops were called, and a mother arrested, for the crime for letting her 10yo son shop unsupervised in a Lego store.

I am curious, can any of my readers defend this sort of thing? (And "well, they were just following policy" is not a defense, it's an admission.)
fallenpegasus: amazon (Default)
2017-05-24 02:05 pm

Some thoughts on composing laying out ebooks:

Some thoughts on composing laying out ebooks:
- DONT put a separate additional title page at the beginning. The user just saw the title in the renderer's UI when they selected the book. Separate title pages are archaic: an ebook will never be stripped or rebound.
- DONT put the copyright info, publication info, "printing" info, legal disclaimers, boilerplate, colophon, etc at the beginning. Put it at the end.
- The only exception is you MAY put the ToC at the beginning.
- if there is a ToC, each line of the ToC MUST include the name of the chapter or section, and SHOULD contain a short (3 lines or less) description
- if the book has a ToC or an Index, each entry MUST hyperlink internally to the part of the book they reference.
- DONT put footnotes or notes or citations at the "bottom" of the "page", or at the end of the chapter, or worst of all, at the end in a "Notes" section.
- DO put footnotes, notes, and citations inline, and hint them to the renderer, so it can fold them, to be expanded at the user's touch.
- Hint to the renderer, that the first time the book is displayed, it SHOULD open to either the introduction, or to the starting text of chapter one.
- DONT try to force the renderer to waste pixels on margins. Let a renderer running on a mobile, eink, or small tablet run the text right up the side of the display. Let a render running on a desktop or large tablet use it's own margins. It *always* knows better than your art and layout editor.
- Renders SHOULD ignore, subvert, and frustrate attempts by the publisher's art and layout editor to force margins. The render and the user know better, always.
- DONT render body text or header text as an image, unless it's a visual poem (for example, the poems in "Alice in Wonderland"), but even then, see if you can hint it to the renderer instead.
- DONT render a drop capital as an image.
- If the book contains images, the image data SHOULD be the highest resolution and color depth the renderer can display. If you don't know what the renderer will be, the image data SHOULD be at least 1024x768.
- Each image data rectangle MUST be one and only one image or photograph.
- DONT put margins in the image rectangle
- Each image SHOULD completely fill the ebook display when rendered. Renderers SHOULD heuristically clip margins and rotate images to completely fill the display surface.
- Comic books and graphic novels will have a different set of rules and requirements, which I will write up another day.
fallenpegasus: amazon (Default)
2017-05-22 11:03 am

Is there an Android tablet that does not suck?

Is there an Android tablet that does not suck?

What I need:
* stock Android, latest OS version
* enough CPU that the UI does not lag
* enough main storage that I don't have to worry about it
* enough battery that it will run for at least a long afternoon
* standard power adapter, either microUSB or USB-C
* ok camera
* SIM & WIFI & GPS &etc

What I do not want:
* OEM UI "experience"
* OEM shitware
* out of date Android version
* slow security updates
* proprietary plugs, cables, adapters, or chargers
* the wireless internet locked to a carrier
* showing off how hipster skinny thin it can be. I need moar battery, not shaving 20 fucking grams of weight from my everyday carry.
fallenpegasus: amazon (Default)
2017-05-05 11:07 pm

A hardcore sprint

I remember being part of a discussion on rasfw back in the day, when we realized that it was actually possible for a standard unenhanced human to run a 50 meter dash, naked, on the Moon, wearing only a pair of shoes and a pair of tightly fitted swimmer’s goggles.

Stay in a low pressure pure oxygen chamber for a few days to vent out all the neutral gasses from your body, transfer to an airlock with the same gas mix, take your mark, hyperventilate a dozen breaths, exhale, and leap out from the starting block as the outer doors open, keep your mouth and throat from closing, and sprint in a straight line, into a waiting open airlock that snaps shut behind you and crash pressurizes.

It probably wouldn’t even be all that much more painful than the pain of running 50 meters at competition speed already is.

You will be in a world of lethal hurt, if you trip.
fallenpegasus: amazon (Default)
2017-04-17 06:23 pm

My theory: Bank of Apple

I have a theory, about Apple.

Apple has a quarter of a trillion dollars. In cash.

That is a ludicrous amount of money. That is so much money, that it is too much money. It is too much to deposit as passive cash, because a bank can no longer be a neutral unbiased 3rd party when there is an account that big. Not even a large nation's central bank. When you have that much cash, risks like counterparty risk, fiat currency problems, and government confiscation start becoming a significant amount of the risk profile.

The way that most very large companies waste very large amounts of cash is to buy other large companies. This almost invariably is a terrible idea. The buying company almost always overpays, especially when they start bidding against someone else. And companies on sale for a discount, are for sale for a discount for a reason. So called claimed "synergies" almost never are realized. Costs are always higher than expected. Big mergers and aquisitions almost always are a mechanism where the senior executives burn the investors money in order to make said executives seem or feel more important.

Steve Jobs never felt the need to do M&A to seem or feel more important, so Apple only did aquistitions to obtain specific skilled teams or specific technologies. And in his passing, Apple has generally continued this pattern. (I think the aquisition of Beats was very non-Apple, and was a mistake, and probably is seen as an expensive mistake and expensive lesson by Apple's current leadership.)

But so and still, Apple has Too Much Cash. What to do with it?

When you have a pile of cash that is so large that it in itself starts turning into a local economic distortion, there really is only one profitable thing to do with it: Wrap a banking license around it, and open a bank.

Think about it. Apple could run a bank, a very different kind of bank, with a much lower risks of fraud and loss. They already have secure cryptoprocessors... everywhere! They can use iOS devices as the secure terminals, both for customers and for merchants. They can use ApplePay for retail transactions. They can use what they know about your from user's iOS devices and their AppleID for KYC. They can push secure finantial messages around via the iMessage framework.

With all this in place they could undercut all of the existing payment networks and still make, well, bank.
fallenpegasus: amazon (Default)
2017-04-11 11:40 am

on the UA3411 incident, part 2. The Chicago Police Department.

I've been following the saga about the confirmed and seated passenger being dragged off United Flight 3411, and two details leap out at me. I'm going to post this in two parts. Here is the second part.

The Chicago Police Department.

The cops that dragged him off and then roughed him up were not officers of the Chicago Police Department, but were instead employees of the Chicago Aviation Police.

Completely different agency. The CAP are nothing more than cheap security guards who get to wear a fancy shirt, and are not allowed to carry weapons. Their remit ends at the end of the jetway, and they have zero authority on board an aircraft. If an airline wants to have a passenger forcibly removed, they have to call the real police.

But, that is not the actual problem I have here. The real problem is, right after this happened, the press mistakenly thought they were Chicago Police Department. (I don't blame them for this mistake, my first snap assumption was that they were CPD as well, because only real cops are allowed to forcibly remove a passenger).

So, the media called up the CPD for a statement.

What the CPD *should* have said was "The incident did not involve CPD officers. We have no statement about incidents that do not involve the CPD."

What the CPD said instead was a transparent lie about how the man "fell" and "hit his face". Think about that for a minute: the CPD has a set of go-to lies to vomit up, is easier for them to say, then it is for them to figure out that they are actually innocent!

Of course, that should be completely unsurprising, we are talking about the Chicago Police Department here. The spokesman probably tells that same lie 3 times a week.
fallenpegasus: amazon (Default)
2017-04-11 11:38 am

on the UA3411 incident, part 1. Airline vouchers are shit.

I've been following the saga about the confirmed and seated passenger being dragged off United Flight 3411, and two details leap out at me. I'm going to post this in two parts. Here is the first part.

It is being claimed that the compensation that can be offered to a "bumped" passenger is capped by law. Not true. What the law says is what the *minimum* compensation has to be. There is no rule against the gate agent manager offering more and more $100 bills until they get enough volunteers. That UA didn't was purely a company decision, made by the gate agent manager, and probably guided by a poorly written corporate policy manual.

On vouchers.

The gate agent manager offered "vouchers" "worth" $400 and then $800 to try to get volunteers. It is widely known by experienced travellers that airline vouchers are usually little more than a worthless joke. Vouchers expire, often in less than a year. They are good only for the fare, not for any taxes or "fees", which can be a significant part of the cost of a ticket. They have pages and pages of fine print of "blackouts", such that they are usually not good on in-demand flights or on in-demand days. When you try to fly with a voucher, often the flight is suddenly and mysteriously "full" or "not available". When when you do manage to buy a ticket with a voucher, and you do manage to make it to the gate, you are at the top of the list to get bumped AGAIN. I've received vouchers that I let have expire, because they were just too much of a pain in the ass to use. The first few vouchers I received were because I did volunteer, until I wised up to how shitty a deal a voucher is.

Vouchers are an even shittier deal for business travellers.

I would not have taken the $800 "voucher" to give up my seat either.
fallenpegasus: amazon (Default)
2017-03-21 09:59 am

I've never suffered under a PHB

I've never had a Dilbertesqe "pointy haired boss". I've never had a bad manager. Not even when I had teenager scutwork labor jobs.

I have encountered them, true, and dealt with the damage they do, from multiple levels above me, and in management chains next to mine, and in other companies and orgs. But I've never personally had to suffer under one.
fallenpegasus: amazon (Default)
2016-11-23 10:41 am

Every bad thing...

Every bad thing that has ever happened to me has, in retrospect, after enough time, turned out to have been for my benefit, or at the very least, made me more of what I like about myself.

I know that I am extremely lucky in this manner.
I also know that this streak of luck could end right now.
And I know that most people have terrible things happen to them that never result in anything more than misery.
I also know that memory is frail and is too easily rewritten.
I know that the human mind is particularly bad at accurately remembering pain and misfortune.
I know that it's not actually possible to accurately know "what might have been".
I also know that when I was going though bad times, if most anyone had told me then "you will be glad this happened", I would have reacted with nothing but hatred and rage.

Still, right now, I am grateful, both for all my blessings, and for all my past misfortunes.

#thanksgiving
fallenpegasus: amazon (Default)
2016-07-19 07:59 am

PokémonGo, and walks in the parks

Another evening was spent walking around Greenlake Park Walking Path and then Gas Works Park with Silver, playing Ingress and Pokémon Go.

There were Pokémon Go players everywhere. It was especially spooky at Gasworks, after sunset, in the darkness dimly skylit by the lights of the city on the other side of Lake Union, dozens and dozens little clusters of adults, tweens, and kids, faces dimly reflecting the distinctively colored light from a Pokémon Go screen, on foot, wandering back and forth across the grass, along the waterline, and around the titanic metal structures of the park.

This is starting to feel like one of those B-grade science fiction stories, one of the early warnings of the alien parasite invasion is that you notice everyone everywhere all doing the same thing, alone together.

What the hell, I don't care. Silver and I both are enjoying the exercise and each other's company.
fallenpegasus: amazon (Default)
2016-07-09 09:26 am
Entry tags:

Mark's Stories: The Accidental Supper Club

About 10 years ago, I was involved with something that completely accidentally suddenly turned into an unlicensed supper club. And demonstrated exactly why supper clubs strictly control their RSVPs and headcounts:

A dozen-ish of us started getting together weekly in a group geek house for a book and craft club. A friend of one of us liked to cook, and offered to cook dinner for us and our friends in exchange for we all throwing in cash for ingredients.

The next week, everyone brought all their SOs to share the dinner. The week after, also many of our other good friends.

Within a month, pretty much the whole larger circle of friends was coming.
A month later, the friends of friends, and the friends of friends of friends started showing up, because the word had gotten out that for about $5 cash you could get a large filling delicious home cooked dinner.

Came the day when the house was full of a couple of hundred people, most of them strangers to us, all of them demanding a meal.

That was the end of that.
fallenpegasus: amazon (Default)
2016-06-08 10:00 am

In defense of traditional units

A mile is a thousand strides of a marching soldier. A pound is a rock that fits in your hand. A cup is a good drink of water. A yard is one arm pull of fabric or thread. A bushel is one easily carried bundle of harvested food. An acre is the amount of land that one man can plow in one day. An hour is the length of time that can be easily snap measured by glancing at the angle of the sun. The traditional dry goods and wet goods volumes and weights are doubles and halves of each other, rooted in the smallest common food grain and the smallest possible pour of water. Inches, spans, cubits, feet, yards, are all derived from the human body, and let one use your own body to measure things out. Degrees F are a 100 unit scale from the lowest temperature to the highest temperature that will ever regularly happen were people could live before the invention of modern HVAC.

They all make sense, when you know their history, and are using them for what they are used for.

The metric SI units are useful doing... science. But not so much for living day to day.
fallenpegasus: amazon (Default)
2015-06-07 06:54 pm

I wonder about media leakers

I wonder about media leakers.

I'm not talking about whistleblowers, who reveal coverups by governments and corporations that are keeping secrets of bad or illegal actions.

I'm talking about people who "confidentially source" to the media details of business negotiations, media productions, and gossip of private heartache. Things that are private and confidential for a reason, will be revealed when they are properly baked, and that do nobody any good for being revealed early, except maybe for a burst of clickstream traffic for the "news" source that "scooped" it.

I know a fair number of secrets. Some of them are close friends' private heartaches, which are theirs to reveal, if ever. And some of them are business negotiation secrets incidental to my job, and a few of them part of my job to know. I actually go out of my way to avoid learning things I shouldn't need to know at my employer, just so as to firewall myself from even the appearance of impropriety.

Any of them, if I "confidentially sourced" them to the tech press, would do nothing but cost money that is not mine for no honest gain to anybody, possibly prevent good things that I would like to have happen not happen, and would betray my own principles I try to hold myself to.

So, why do other people do it?
fallenpegasus: amazon (Default)
2015-05-31 03:23 pm
Entry tags:

Mark's Stories: Anti-racist voting advocates

Long ago, almost two decades, which is a few eons in internet time, on discussion forums long since destroyed and passed away, I observed two different social justice zealots. This was before the term "social justice warrior" had been invented. (And as an aside, the term was invited and taken up by people who loudly described themselves as such. It was not, as they now claim, a term created as an insult by their "enemies".) Anyway...

There were these two social justice zealots. And each one claimed to be politically active in their local politics, each one of them working to undo a great racial injustice.

One of them, they were involved in a struggle to change the electoral rules in their city, to change it from at at-large vote for the entire city council, to instead divide the city up into districts, so that each geographic region of the city would have representation on the city council, as this was the way of racial justice, and any opposition to this could only come from wicked racists.

And the other one, they were involved in a struggle to change the electoral rules in their city, to change it from divided districts, one district per council member, to instead have an at-large vote for the members of the council, such that each ethnic group spread across the city could join in solidarity to back a candidate of their ethnicity, so that each ethnic group would have representation on the city council, as this was the way of racial justice, and any opposition to this could only come from wicked racists.

I was not the only person to notice this. However, despite some efforts, nobody was able to get the two of them to engage with each other.

I learned a number of important life lessons from watching this, all of them darkly hilarious.