Friday, September 25, 2020

Computers are horrible

 When is the last time leaving your keys in the car caused your house to suddenly slide 10 foot southwest?

When is the last time you flipped a light switch, and suddenly your pool disappeared?

Have you ever had French doors appear in your dining room because of a "Windows Update" on Wednesday morning?

Have you ever had to wait for half an hour for your house to boot later on that same Wednesday?

When is the last time you closed a door, and were killed by a hailstorm of bowling balls?

At least with a light switch, you know it's very unlikely to cause structural issues, or plumbing issues, or drain your bank account.  Computers are singularly horrible in the ways things can fail.

The totally non-partisan reason I hate the Clintons, and always will.

Long, LONG ago... I saw a news story, which I think was 60 minutes, explaining the "Whitewater Scandal".... the politics of which held no interest to me.... it was how normal people got screwed over that pissed me off and made me hate the Clintons forever.

Recently it came up in a thread elsewhere.... I tried to find the story, and some very good scrubbing of the 
net seems to have happened since then. Here's what I wrote in response to that thread

"I don't give a rats ass about the high-level wrangling and fraud that happened... all politicians do that... what got in my craw, and stayed there forever, was how they screwed over ordinary working folks.... a lot of the truth is behind paywalls, but I was angry enough to dig for an hour to find this scrap, to give you a clue as to the evil they pulled...

Basically, they bought land, divided it up into "vacation lots" and sold it to people, and if you were even a tiny bit late with your payment, no matter how good the reason, you lost all of your investment.... I remember an example of a property being resold 5 times.

Yet they still "lost money".... like Trump does all the time. Whatever...

Those ordinary citizens were fucked over in this.... THAT is why I hate the Clintons."

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Productivity Tips

Giving up on WxBuilder and Python for a project, and switching to Lazarus saved me boatloads of time getting a GUI application built.

GIT/GitHub is way better than making ZIP files of source code and saving them to floppy disks.

Looking things up on Google is way better than Altavista, or a trip to the book store.

Turbo Pascal was way better than GWbasic

MS-DOS is way easier to deal with than having to write your own BIOS for CP-M

Floppy disks are way better than paper tape or punch cards.

If you do have to punch cards, have them auto-sequenced at column 73, Fortran will ignore it, and you can use a card sorter should they get dropped. Also, put a line diagonally down the side of the stack, should you have to sort them by hand.

Charles Babbage has designed a "difference engine" that can compute many of the commonly used references by the power of steam!

Gutenberg has made the copy and distribution of texts much easier than older manual processes for large numbers of duplicates.

Monday, September 21, 2020

We should teach American History, not America Myth

President Trump delivered a speech at the National Archives.

From the transcript, it sounds like a good speech... and 2 out of 3 isn't bad for Trump. Antifascism and Antiracism, the twin faces of left extremism need to go.

We should teach History in school, instead of Myth. We can be proud of who we are, and how we've always strived as a people, to do better.... but we're not perfect, and we never were.
Let's skip the propagandist fairy tales of a perfect past, and instead tell the truth, to warn the next generation of all the things that can go wrong, so the can be better prepared when it happens again.

The history of America wasn't inevitable, nor was it a miracle.... it was the result of countless people who strove to make America better, in spite of her flaws. Our ideals, Liberty and Justice for All, are what make this nation great, and our common belief in those ideals are what will continue to make America the shining city on the hill, the light of Democracy and Government of the People, shining over the rest of the world.

I pledge allegiance,
to Liberty, and Justice,
for All.

Sunday, September 06, 2020

Resolving "Device not migrated" error in Windows 10

 I had a Blue Yeti Snowball ICE Microphone which when plugged into a PC, gave the error "Device not migrated error" among others with "Device not Recognised", etc. in Windows 10. The red LED did work.

It had been dropped many times... both ground wires going to the USB connector were broken. Re-soldering them and re-assembly resulted in a fully functional microphone.

I strongly suspect this applies to almost any USB device giving similar errors.

Saturday, September 05, 2020

The problem with narrative driven news.

 When I was a kid, there were newspapers, and TV news... they all covered the same stories, and told the same facts.

We are now in a far different world. As President Obama said in an interview with David Letterman:

People no longer agree on facts — and that's something foreign governments, like Russia, could exploit.

Even in that quote... you have facts, and a narrative he's trying to convey.

We still have the 3 TV Channels that mostly report the same news, which is nice.  However, most of us get our information online, where you can get wildly different facts and narratives.

Regardless of reasons, most online sources are forced to push a narrative, and treat actual journalism as a cost, both in terms of finance, and in terms of the possible upset (and loss) of viewers when facts get too close to straying from narrative.

We've all gotten comfortable with our sources, and grown to suspect that the "other side" is all made up bullshit.  In some cases it's mostly true (I'm looking at you, Fox "news"), but the reality is a bit trickier, and sucks a whole lot more as a result.

Narrative driven news requires "cherry picking" of facts and massaging them carefully to fit the narrative, while excluding all else.  It's only when stories that are big enough to be broadcast on the remaining 3 TV channels, that some accommodation has to be made, lest the hole in coverage make the narrative too obvious.

A clear case of this accommodation is when you see "Mostly Peaceful" or "Fiery" protests, while carefully avoiding terms like Riot, Arson, Looting, which would break the narrative, from the supposedly "Liberal Media".


Coping Skills for the Internet Age

People have always been pushing a narrative.  The age I grew up in was a bubble... a golden age, when market forces and government regulation compelled most of the news sources to tell an objective truth most of the time, because the airwaves were only on loan to broadcasters as part of a grand bargain.

Here we are with the internet, and we're back to the way it was before. Many sources pushing many narratives.

My narrative is to try to tell the truth, as I see it, as a service to help others. I'm biased, and try to point those biases out when I notice them. I'm also willing to loudly and publicly sound off when I've been wrong about something.

The first way to deal with this is to carefully curate your news sources.  Understand the biases they have, drop them when they are deranged, and seek out new ones all the time.  This is how I deal with it.

Your friends can be a good filter, if you treat them the same way. If you avoid triggering each other, you and someone who gets their news from the other side, can seek out details that might be of interest to each other, to help you both get a better understanding of reality.

It is especially important to be on the lookout for things you say, that your friends take time, effort, and emotional energy to clarify. You don't need to agree... but you would be well served to keep an eye out for details that fit with the other view... especially when you detect the accommodation of non-narrative truth that sometimes happens at your favorite sources.


Well, that's enough for now... comments and questions welcome.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Friday, September 04, 2020

We're all crew mates, and it's time to start acting like it.

 I read this story by an Internet friend, Dave Rogers. As I was reading it, it dawned on me that there were strong parallels between service in the Navy, and Citizenship in the United States (or your Country, Dear Reader from afar).

When I went to school, long, long ago... there was almost zero focus on the rights and responsibilities of a citizen.  We learned how the system worked, the basic structure, and a rough idea of how the parts went together.  We learned a bit about how the system came to be.  We learned the myths of our country, not the facts, as I later learned.

I didn't realize it at the time... I didn't realize it until about 5 minutes ago... there was a huge gaping hole in my education... which Dave just filled, by analogy.

We, the citizens of the United States... are all serving a lifelong tour of duty. Almost every single person you meet day to day is on our team.   We're all working towards a set of goals, which we have failed to reach, but we always keep trying to get there.

Unlike life on a ship, our chain of command is inverted.... on the US America... the crew is in charge.  We decide who will take watch, following a set of rules set up long ago, by shipmates long past.  We change the rules when we need to, to adapt to challenges, or when lessons are learned. We should never forget who is in charge, and insubordination should be dealt with harshly!

Anyone who does not follow orders when put on post, should be punished.  Someone who expects to remain on their post after clearly failing to follow orders, is a fool, and likely deserves to be put in the brig.

I'm not a veteran... I hope I didn't make any asinine or offensive assumptions or statements about those in the service.  I thank Dave for his sharing of his experience, and wisdom, time, and a profound new view of my life.

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

The Story of Evil Marketing - A Conspiracy Theory for 2020

Ok folks, it's Conspiracy theory time.  

Long ago, Soros, The Koch Brothers, Davos, Qanon, the Knights Templar, whoever.... hired a company


This group was very very good at marketing. They had a process, evolved over time, that worked well, delivering quality product with a minimum of work on the client's part.  They made the person who hired them look good.

The process is simple... the customer supplies a few pieces of very important information, and then they go to work, show a version for approval, and then the product is given to the client for use.

Item #1 - Who do you want to listen to your message  - The Target Market
  Client:  The 99%, those who want to take our wealth and power

Item #2 - What are the top 3 messages you want them to remember
Their neighbors are not like them
Their neighbors are stupid
Their neighbors are evil

Item #3 - What are signs we did our job so you can prove it to your boss? - Metrics
Increased division
Increased violence
Ignoring us completely

Item #4 - What are your goals for this campaign? - Goals
Divide the 99%
Divert attention from us
Social Media Profit

The team went away... and came up with a brilliant strategy to accomplish the goal.

They came up with a few simple phrases that sounded a bit odd, but contained different meanings, depending on the audience. Turns out, you can test this.... tell the phrase to a sample from each target market, and see how they interpret it. If the answers diverge, you're on the right track.... if the answers oppose, you've hit the mother load.

But that wasn't enough for Evil Marketing... they had a better idea, and had to explain it to the client.

In this campaign there are 2 phases, in phase 1 we'll spread specially crafted phrases. "Received Words" - These are phrases that have an obviously evil meaning, and a plausible good meaning. To help explain it, we'll use Alice, Bob, Carol, and Dave as examples.

Alice is a well meaning person who will first use the phrase when talking with her friend Bob, who has heard it before and agrees. Alice and Bob now recognize each other as allies.

Alice them talks to Carol, who is unfamiliar with the phrase, and asks a few questions because it sounds a bit strange. Alice and Carol invest time so that Carol now understands the phrase in the same way as Alice.

Carol later talks to Dave, who also asks questions, but rejects the phrase because the evil meaning is too much for him to swallow. The seeds of resentment are sewn between Carol ad Dave.

Dave later talks to Elaine, who decides she agrees with the Good meaning.

Later Dave is talking to Fred, who agrees with Dave on the Evil Meaning

The client understood how little effort it would take to spread, and nodded in understanding

Phase 2 begins when a critical mass of people are reliably using the phrases we supplied.

Now that Alice, Bob, Carol, and Elaine have invested energy in the phrase, they are strongly oppose to changing it. The phrase practically defends itself from change and dilution.  Dave and Fred also share an understanding that the others are allies, with an easy to recognize flag.

You, and your associates now begin to use the Evil intent of the phrase to accomplish your goals.  Alice, Bob, Carol and Elaine now feel forced to support this new (to them) meaning. They are trapped.

Dave and Fred now think that the others support the Evil intent of the phrase. They are fooled.

So, as you can see... this campaign will be highly effective, dividing and distracting your target market with almost no cost.

The clients loved it, and would be happy to use Evil Marketing again. The Metrics are off the chart!

So that's the story, and 
here we are... in an country about to rip itself apart, where nobody at the top dares actually lead because admitting mistakes is political suicide, throwing these phrases at each other over and over and over, and expecting that eventually we'll get different results if we try hard enough.

It's as if the phrases all have a good message in them, trapped in an evil spell... if you change the words, you break the spell.

We all have to admit our mistakes because our leaders wont.

I'm just a cranky old white guy with both liberal and conservative views.... actually their neither... they are MY views of the world.
I am more than ready to change my views and admit fault while doing so, publicly. Our "leaders" can't do that.

Please stop using the phrases as given... change a word or two, eliminate the double meaning. Please also be willing to lead us out of this mess by admitting the mistakes of our side as you see them.

Let's all be adults, and snuff this conflict out before it destroys our country.

E Pluribus Unum - One of Many - United We Stand, Divided We Fall.