Sunday, June 12, 2022

A chance to act, let's close the Boyfriend Loophole - the right way!

 Closing the "Boyfriend Loophole" could do a great deal to stop future mass shootings. Someone who can't handle their feelings around people close to them enough to avoid violence, shouldn't be allowed to own firearms.


This is THE BEST CHANCE we have at the moment, likely in the next year or two, for actually fixing some of the biggest problems facing our nation. The huge overlap between those who commit domestic violence, and mass shooters, is well proven.


I hope that we can push our representatives to do the right thing on this. Pretty much EVERYONE agrees that this legislation is needed, let's not let them f*ck it up.

Here's Beau explaining why the details matter.


Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Memex Rewind

In 1945, the person in charge of research and development, who oversaw most of the science that won WWII with the help of Logistics, wrote an article about the most pressing task facing mankind, the need to organize and access the ever growing flood of information created by all of this activity.

His vision was expressed in an article titled "As We May Think", which was eventually republished by Time Magazine. Many people credit it for the vision that eventually became the world wide web. I also held this view for a long time.

I no longer hold that view.

The web as we use it is about as useful as a picture of a box of tools, instead of the tools themselves. There was a vague notion expressed that you could gather up a huge canvas of inter-related thoughts and ideas, and freely associate them, and share the whole of that work effortlessly. We don't have it. I'm trying to use my time and effort to change that by making something that gets a bit more of that toolset into my hands, and hopefully into everyone's eventually.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Linux compared to Window 11 in terms of suckage

 I came across this comparison video, and it makes a comparison of features between Pop Linux and Windows 11 For the most part, they're equivalent.



Monday, May 02, 2022

How the Democrats kicked out actual liberals

 Krystal Ball lays out exactly how the Clintons sold out the liberal agenda.


Thoughts on writing


Nobody writes well written prose.

Everyone writes, then does a better or worse job of editing. Like code, prose tends to crystalize into smaller and higher quality pieces over time.

--- Process ---

Write all of your thoughts in a stream of consciousness flow, don't worry about how it looks, just get your thoughts out of your head, and into the storage medium of your choice. This frees up stack space in your brain.

Next - Iterate. Strategies you can use to help include:
  • Read it out loud to yourself. You'll immediately notice typos, grammatical and flow issues.
  • Walk away from it to gain some distance in time and space. When you come back you'll notice gaps or repetitions.
Repeat until you're happy.

Monday, March 14, 2022

An excellent response, that didn't answer the question.

 Ask HN: As you get older, do you see programming as merely a means to an end?


38 points by amichail 18 hours ago | flag | hide | past | favorite | 45 comments


That is, you become more interested in what your app does rather than the programming involved to get it to do that?


--- My Reply --- at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=30674662


Programming has gone through a weird path of effort/reward.  Initially, you had to invest time and a lot of money to build your own computer from a kit, debug any errors, and get to the point of having your own, personal computer. At that point, any working results were amazing, as there was a fair chance you were the first person to solve the given problem.


This lasted an amazingly long time. In the matter of less than a decade, the same amount of money, minus the time and effort of building and constructing, got you a computer, could be skipped. For the same amount of money, you got a computer with a display, floppy disks, and it just worked out of the box.


DOS, BASIC, Turbo Pascal, Sidekick, PKzip, and so many tools game flooding in to make those computers even more easier to program, and productive.


It was at THAT POINT, where I started really making money as a programmer.


A decade passes, Windows 95 / Macintosh come along, and we get Visual Basic / Delphi / Hypercard.  WOW... the amount of effort goes up just a tiny bit, but you can do amazing things, and that code will run reliably for most of your users without much tweaking on the programmers part.


Then networking, the internet, SQL as a layer, Email, Microsoft Office, etc. all boost productivity for the users. The table stakes remain remarkably stable.


Then the iPhone comes along, and with a lot of effort, and the approval of Apple, you can build a program that people can carry around in their pockets. Apple decides to limit the retail price of apps, and bottleneck things through the App store.  Programming gets harder, and more specialized. Ugh


Meanwhile, the web has grown popular, and the idea that a program should just work anywhere shatters the simplicity of a program running on a single computer,  directly talking to the OS that controls the display, and takes input. Again, programming gets harder, and more specialized.


Now we're at the point, where you're expected to make a program, sell it for less than a few dollars, support that program on any random phone, and hope that the two app stores don't arbitrarily change the rules and cut you off. The incentives go way up with audience size, and down with the giant filter of the app store.


OR


To route around the damage of the App store, you are expected to make your program available on a server on the web, deal with hackers, man in the middle attacks, wildly varying desktop and mobile web browsers, bandwidth and legal restrictions, to deliver results to a user that might be at a desktop with multiple 4K screens on a gigabit internet... all the way to a person using an phone with no keyboard, who pays for data transfer, and might lose connection at any moment, might rotate the screen, and wants to interact with video, multiple cameras, gps, and any number of other sources of input or output.


After all of that discourse to set perspective. Yes, I find it amazing that it can be done at all. I'm saddened that Delphi on Windows XP was probably the most productive GUI build environment I'll ever experience as a programmer.


It's hard not to see the table stakes now as a huge barrier. For my own personal programs, it brings me joy every time something works. Every time I overcome a series of challenges, and my will becomes a tool... it amazes and overjoys me. I love programming. It's frustrating as hell, but I love it. I fail to see how anyone could stick with it if they didn't, at some level.

Friday, March 11, 2022

Here's what a "No Fly Zone" over Ukraine really means

a "no fly" zone involves acquiring and maintaining air superiority over Ukraine and neighboring territory. To do this we would have to destroy any surface to air radar and missile sites in or near Ukraine. We would also have to shoot down any enemy aircraft that violated that airspace.

In sum total, it would be a declaration of war against Belarus and Russia.

It would then be up to Putin to decide if, where and when he wants to deploy the worlds largest stockpile of ThermoNuclear weapons.

Likely it would take about 15 minutes to confirm any launch, after which there might be a few minutes left to let the public know to make peace with God.

Your personal outcome at that point, depends on preparation and luck:

A> You've felt the blast, and are going to die, maybe in seconds, maybe in days

B> You've seen the flash, and if you take cover soon enough, can survive the fallout, might survive and watch the total collapse of civilization.

Friday, February 18, 2022

In response to Doc's story of the Story

Doc Searls was at it again back in 2018 doing a Ted Talk. His story rhymes with his overall message, and the things he wrote back then. I think it's time to examine how events have evolved since then.

*This story is me revising and extending my reply on Facebook. (It's buried in the comments, don't bother)

Doc worried about the lost center in coverage of the news, and overall discussion. I too feel the loss. There's an old saying, "The Net treats Censorship as Damage, and routes around it". I think that it takes time in the world of atoms, but that John Gilmore was right.

Communications, Data Storage, and Compute infrastructure have grown exponentially with the commercialized internet. The physical costs of producing and sharing content have fallen to almost zero. It's not perfect, and there are some left out, but for the most part anyone can be online, and have a say in the world.

In response to the visible failure of advertising driven funding, crowd funding now is filling in the missing channel of support to keep those who wish to share on the internet going. A number of new journalists are arising. Some of them cover things traditionally called news. It's not perfect, and there are bits of censorship creeping in around the edges, but it is working.

For me, my most trusted news sources at the moment are spread across YouTube. It makes it possible for me to give authority to my choices, make them my authoritative sources. I'm filling in that lost center with the people who I think can best tell me what I need to know, and why others tell the stories they do.

Now, having a centrist view does make discussions with those entrained in the left/right thought bubbles frustrating at times, but who knows, maybe we'll all pull the center back together?

Here's how I approach news gathering in 2022.

I'd heard from the mainstream that leaks in via friends that there was a ruckus brewing over Ukraine. For this story, most trusted sources were Beau of the Fifth Column, Breaking Points with Krystal and Sagaar, and Robb Law.

To be really sure, I stuck with first hand imaging via a list of live webcams across Ukraine. It was fairly easy to be certain no invasion was feared by the locals as they went about skiing in Ivano-Frankivsk, walking across Sophia Square in Kiev, or Pysanka museum (also in Ivano-Frankivsk).

For practical advice, matters of instruction, the future is really here. You can learn all manner of technical facts and skills. There are some limitations I've noticed, for instance one channel on machining had a really great multi-part series on the intricacies of making a part of a fyre arm, which he was forced to remove. I have no desire to actually do that, but there were a number of creative methods used, like using a quill of a milling machine as a vertical broach, and this was an outstanding example of why you would do it. That knowledge is now walled off, and considered tainted by association.

I've long stated that our computers aren't safe because of a design flaw at their core. I now believe that this censorious tendency in the chain of payment is a similar danger.

It remains to be seen how we'll route around it.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Let's choose a better timeline

 I believe in this causal chain,

  • Computers are insecure
  • Which many bad actors find profit in exploiting
  • Which makes new web sites a risk
  • Which makes users prefer their known "safe" spaces
  • Which leads to walled gardens
  • Which then sell the "users" for profit to advertisers
  • Which incentivizes dark behavior of those walled gardens
  • Which then attract the rentier class
  • Which then leverage control for more power

I believe this causal chain can be broken by fixing computer security. The necessary research was done in the 1970s. The Bell-Lapadula model [1] in 1973 was one of the significant results.

The Principle of Least Privilege [2] was adopted in the Unix system in a weak form. The superuser (root) account was a special privilege, which administrators and code was supposed to use as little as possible.

There were (are???) implementations of a multi-level secure systems, which saw limited application in the military, and briefly elsewhere. However, for general use, the root/user separation was widely seen as good enough.

There are now efforts to fully extend operating systems so that they can provide tools so that the users can also use the Principle of Least Privilege. I believe that eventually it will be as easy to use these as more conventional systems.

In these systems, no default permissions are given when running a program, the allowed resources, also known as capabilities, must be specified. This is similar to deciding which bank notes you are going to hand to a cashier, instead of handing over your wallet. It is up to US to demand that it be as easy for any user to do so, in a transparent way.

It is my hope, that should this model be accepted, a new causal chain will arise

  • Computers will be made secure
  • Which users will grow to trust
  • Which will allow experimentation
  • Which allows new ways of communicating
  • Which don't require corporate sponsorship
  • Which doesn't require the rentier class
  • Which helps innovation
  • Which helps society

1 -  https://web.archive.org/web/20060618092351/http://www.albany.edu/acc/courses/ia/classics/belllapadula1.pdf

2 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_least_privilege

Sunday, February 06, 2022

My life's principle

 I just watched this --> Brett Victor - Inventing on principle. In this video, he demonstrates some things he's done with computers and programming that are quite impressive to me. He does this as an illustration of the idea of living according to a principle, or more correctly, causing a new principle to be brought into the world.  After explaining with the examples from his own work, he goes on to discuss some other notable people, and the principles they brought to the world.

Watching that video gave me a moment of clarity. I'm writing it up now, and I'll work on the wording over time, but here's a rough sketch of my principle that I intend to bring to the world.

No person should ever be forced to blindly trust a computer to do the right thing.  Computing shouldn't be either blindly trust the black box, or get nothing done.

Nobody hands over their wallet to buy an ice cream cone, you can just take the exact change out and pay.
It would be extraordinary for a competent adult to hand their wallet or purse to a clerk, and trust them to take the correct amount of money, and make the appropriate change.

It should be just as extraordinary to give a program you wish to run access to ALL of your files. You should be able just pick a file, or folder, source, destination, whatever resource you deem appropriate, and let the program have those resources, and nothing else!

You should be able to completely trust that nothing else was given to the program behind the scenes.

This is widely regarded as impossible to do. I intend to change that. I know it can be done. I have to convince everyone else.

I reject the Left and the Right

We, the people, in order to form a more perfect union, recognized that in order to have a well informed population, capable of intelligently governing itself, must have a freedom of the press, and freedom of expression.

We saw the dangers of Nazi book burning, and rightly teach in school that is something that open and free societies do not do.

We saw the dangers of an official press, such as Pravda, in the Soviet Union, and we rightly agree that a free press, and freedom of expression are a cornerstone of the American Identity. They are a foundation of our strength, and not a weakness.

Now I see friends who support one or the other of these forms of censorship. 

Conservatives support the banning of teaching students history and other truths that are hard for their parents to come to terms with.

Liberals who want to set up an official truth, a new American Ministry of Truth, with Fauci at its head, which must never be questioned, lest the plague caused by the unclean, sub-human, enemy be brought to the good, Covid fearing, Woke masses.

I reject both the Woke Left, and the Trump as Fuhrer Right.

Don't you dare call me either, this is MY Country, the United States of America. We're quite capable of sorting out shit on our own through fierce debate among free citizens. It is our duty to stand up, and call out those who would shackle us.

Saturday, February 05, 2022

My reply to a vital but boring Congressional Inquiry

This is my statement in response to 

https://www.regulations.gov/document/COLC-2021-0009-0001

-----

I am Michael Warot, a US Citizen residing in Munster, Indiana.

In regard to question 3:  It is my observation that "voluntary" copyright enforcement mechanisms are being used as a means of censorship by parties who wish to prohibit criticism of themselves or their content in a form.  The fair use exemption of copyright law requires careful consideration, and can not be automated, nor should it be.  

Therefor, as concerns question 7: I believe that legislation should be undertaken to prohibit the automation of copyright infringement claims. While it may be reasonable to automate a screening process, if content is deemed to infringe copyright, the name of a US Citizen who made the decision, their reason for the decisions, and the time/date of their decision, and if they are employed by a corporation to make that decision, the name and contact information of that superior should ALL be part of a public record, to be made available in bulk to the US public to help use provide oversight of the process.

Thank you very much for your time and attention.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

What's all this NFT stuff, anyway?

This is what a non-digital, non fungible token (NFT) looks like.  If you look closely, the serial number of the US Dollar appears in the image. This ties the image to a particular US Dollar note, it can't be swapped with any other dollar, it is now NON-fungible, and the dollar is the token.



With online NFTs, the Dollar is replaced with a small amount of cryptocurrency, which has a unique serial number as well. The picture is just a picture, with a signature including the serial number of the cryptocurrency embedded in it, off screen, in a way that can't be forged. Usually there's also a web site that displays the image so you can show your friends online.

Why someone would pay big bucks for an NFT is beyond me.