Thankful Thursday

Apr. 27th, 2017 08:15 pm
mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)
[personal profile] mdlbear

Without much ado about nothing,

  • Selling our old house. The deal hasn't closed yet, but it seems unlikely that there will be any problems now that the inspection period has ended.
  • Getting closer to buying our new house on Whidbey Island. We could still turn up something fatal during our due diligence period, but we have decided to stay with Whidbey in any case.
  • A mortgage close to getting approved.
  • Enough income, even in retirement, to get a mortgage.
  • Good friends close by our new house.
  • Retirement. To be honest, I am not entirely thankful for this; I will greatly miss being surrounded by brilliant people. Ask me next week.
  • My family of choice. In which I include not only my sister of choice but my darling wife. Both of these amazing women have chosen to live with me. I'm not entirely sure why, but I'm going to shut up and enjoy the ride.

Downward Dog Video

Apr. 26th, 2017 03:22 pm
jesse_the_k: Macro photo of left eye of my mostly black border collie mutt (Default)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k
As my icons show, I'm a dog lover. This 12-minute video features an adorable mutt named Martin. He's played by a ~40 pound hound mix with expressive ears named Sadie. The video comprises seven brief episodes on topics of deep concern to Martin, including: Friendship, Walking, Driving and One Good Thing. The voice you hear is Martin's; the video's creators expertly manipulate the dog's mouth so I totally buy he's saying those things. To prove that the world is upside down, this web series is being transformed into an actual TV show on ABC (US) in May.
video includes dog illness, but no death )

Introducing WikiTRIBUNE

Apr. 25th, 2017 02:18 pm
maxomai: (mouse)
[personal profile] maxomai
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is launching WikiTRIBUNE, a new site of actual journalism designed to fight fake news. Quoting CNN:

The site will publish news stories written by professional journalists. But in a page borrowed from Wikipedia, internet users will be able to propose factual corrections and additions. The changes will be reviewed by volunteer fact checkers.


Which of course leads to a problem: what if a swarm of people who want to promote an alternative theory, not supported by the facts, takes over the discussion on WikiTribune?

Of course, Slashdot has a discussion.

Reading Tuesday

Apr. 25th, 2017 04:15 pm
jesse_the_k: Two bookcases stuffed full (with books on top) leaning into each other (books)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k

Past imperfect : history according to the movies edited by Mark Carnes

4 of 5 stars )

Truevine by Beth Macy

4 of 5 stars )

Chenoo by Joseph Bruchac

3 of 5 Stars )

A Life Discarded by Alexander Masters

3 of 5 stars )


  1. discovered in my Cumberbatch-completist mode ↩︎

Tuesday Miscellany!

Apr. 25th, 2017 09:14 am
maxomai: dog (Default)
[personal profile] maxomai
Medium doesn't work with my workflow, so it's back to LiveJournalDreamwidth for me. Here we go kids!

brainwane: My smiling face in front of a brick wall, May 2015. (Default)
[personal profile] brainwane
I saw Antitrust on an airplane in the summer of 2001. I didn't leave with a high opinion of it; it seemed campy fun.

I found a used DVD at a local thrift shop last weekend, so last night I watched it with my spouse.

It actually holds up better than I predicted on a technobabble level! We freeze-framed a lot and marvelled at how reasonable (mostly) all the command-line stuff was. And as mainstream fiction movies go, I think there still hasn't been a movie that takes the conflict between proprietary and open source software more seriously than Antitrust (I'd welcome corrections on this point).

details, including spoilers )

At some point in the future I will watch the special features and listen to the commentary. (One of the special features is a music video for the Everclear song that plays at the end of the movie. The music video includes clips from the movie. It's like Everclear made a vid!) I imagine I'll have more thoughts then.

Done this week (20170416Su - 22Sa)

Apr. 23rd, 2017 10:12 am
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
[personal profile] mdlbear

Another long month this week. Guess we're going to keep having those for a while. Didn't finish doing my taxes, but figured out an upper bound and filed for an extension. OK, that was the easy part.

Wednesday, on short notice, Naomi and I went to Whidbey Island to look at houses. The first was quirky and magical, especially the land, but it would have taken quite a lot of work to make it habitable. The second was move-in ready and a safe bet, but it's never going to be much better than what it is now. The safe one was going to be looking at offers Thursday, so we put in a bid for asking price. We got it.

Thursday, in addition to finding out that our bid for the Whidbey Island house had been accepted, we got the counter-offer from the buyers for our Seattle house. We now have the choice between getting the work done ourselves, which would get us more money but has some risk, and giving the buyers a price reduction. It may come down to cash flow.

Saturday, Colleen and I decided to go out for dinner... and found the elevator broken. You can read about that little comedy of errors (none of them ours) downwhen in my previous post. A few things stand out:

  1. An SOP that includes "call the fire department" for after-hours elevator maintenance is clearly wrong.
  2. If you're going to have maintenance people "on call" but don't have an SLA for them, you have a problem.
  3. If the only contact information on your website is a phone number, a twitter handle, and a facebook name, something that would otherwise result in an annoyed email is instead going to make you look stupid in public.

Still worried.

Notes & links, as usual )

Broken elevator, broken SOPs

Apr. 22nd, 2017 09:06 pm
mdlbear: (penguin-rant)
[personal profile] mdlbear

Email to our apartment manager. Or the leasing office -- it's not clear who the "info@" account is connected to.

<rant> )

</rant>

Penguicon in a little over a week

Apr. 20th, 2017 09:13 am
brainwane: My smiling face in front of a brick wall, May 2015. (Default)
[personal profile] brainwane
I'm one of the Guests of Honor at Penguicon, April 28-30 in Southfield, Michigan. Penguicon is a combination of an open source conference and a science fiction convention. Here's my schedule including some more funny bits and some more thinky bits. It'd be lovely to see some Dreamwidth acquaintances there!
brainwane: My smiling face in front of a brick wall, May 2015. (Default)
[personal profile] brainwane
My longtime friend Zack Weinberg ([personal profile] zwol) needs help in his research to measure Internet censorship. He's a grad student at Carnegie Mellon University, an sf fan, and a longtime open source software hacker.

The short version is: go to https://research.owlfolio.org/active-geo/ and hit the Start button on the map.

More details:

Zack's doing experiments in "active geolocation", which is when you try to figure out where a computer physically is by measuring how long it takes a packet of information to go round-trip between one computer and other computers in known locations. This has been studied carefully within Europe and the continental USA, but much less so elsewhere.

More specifically, Zack is trying to develop a technique for verifying that VPN exits are in the country that their operator claims they are. His larger research focuses on measuring Internet censorship, for which he needs network vantage points in precisely the countries where it's hardest to get reliable server hosting. He could go with the commercial virtual private network (or VPN) providers who say "sure, I have a host in Malaysia/Ukraine/Iran/etc. you can choose to use," but how can Zack know that they're telling the truth? Commercial VPN operators may prefer to locate their hosts in countries where it's easier to do business, and only label them as being in harder-to-access countries.

So Zack is looking for volunteers who can visit that page, which will run measurement scripts, on computers physically located all over the world. South America, sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and Oceania locations are especially helpful, but he can use data from anywhere.

Once you click "Start" on the map at https://research.owlfolio.org/active-geo/, the page will run a test/demo to see whether you could help. If you can, then you'll see the consent form below to ask for more information about your location and you'll see the CMU’s Office of Research Integrity and Compliance notice.

Here's more about the research questions he is investigating, here's how to help using a command-line tool in case you'd like to give him data from a computer that you only have remote shell access to, and

In case you want to spread the word about this request, here's a public tweet you can retweet:

I'm looking for volunteers to help with a research project: https://research.owlfolio.org/active-geo/ Especially want people outside Europe and North America.


And you can ask [personal profile] zwol for more info if you have any questions.

Thanks!

Jackpot in a Cemetery

Apr. 18th, 2017 07:27 pm
jesse_the_k: Dreamy photo of playground roundabout in rosy foggy light (lost youth)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k
On nice days like this Sunday, we visit cemeteries. There are always remarkable gravestones to be found, and yesterday we hit the jackpot.

Literally.

The pictured headstone features a detached engraving of a four-reel slot machine. )

Alternate Questions

Apr. 17th, 2017 09:16 am
brainwane: My smiling face in front of a brick wall, May 2015. (Default)
[personal profile] brainwane
Is it still in vogue for US tech companies to ask quantitative estimation/implausible-problem questions like "how many phone booths/piano tuners are there in Manhattan?" in hiring interviews, particularly for programming-related jobs? Fog Creek asked me one of those in 2005. There was even a book, How Would You Move Mount Fuji?: Microsoft's Cult of the Puzzle -- How the World's Smartest Companies Select the Most Creative Thinkers.* How many companies are still into that?**

I ask because I came up with a couple you could use, maybe for a digital humanities kind of position:

  1. How many people, throughout history, have actually been named "Flee-From-Sin"? I feel like you see this as a jokey Puritan first name in books like Good Omens or the Baroque Cycle, but was it a name that some non-negligible number of people actually had?
  2. Out of all the people currently within New York City limits, have more of them written a sonnet or a dating profile? What's the ratio?



* That's right, two subtitles. That's how you know you're getting a lot for your $16.00 MSRP.

** It's hard to tell these things sometimes even if you listen to lots of people discuss hiring and recruiting. "Five Worlds" and its decade-later ramifications apply to work culture, not just software development methodology. Stripe's engineering interview aims to "simulate the engineering work you'd do day-to-day" (link via Julia Evans) so I think you can expect your interviewer won't show up wearing a question-mark costume and screeching, "Riddle me this, Batman!" This software engineer, who's just been through scads of hiring interviews, doesn't mention puzzle questions. This level of detail ain't exactly on the "How to Become a Computer Programmer" page in the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the US Department of Labor -- but then again we already knew that the assessment vacuum in software engineering skills is a huge problem.

[Cross-posted to Cogito, Ergo Sumana. I'm doing this just now for new Dreamwidth followers, but usually I don't cross-post from there to here; check out [syndicated profile] sumana_feed if you want to follow that blog.]

Done last week (20170409Su - 15Sa)

Apr. 16th, 2017 05:42 pm
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
[personal profile] mdlbear

It's been a week. I accepted my retirement package. It's the same amount of money as if I kept going until my original target date; if the notice is too short, they should have thought of that earlier. They are going to have to do a lot of scrambling -- there's a lot left to do. My teammates are probably going to be shocked -- I think my boss was, too; he apparently found out about the deal only days before I did -- and I'm rather sorry about that. Not sorry enough to keep working for two more months without any financial incentive for it, though.

In other news, we got two offers on the house, and accepted the higher one (25K over asking price) with the second as backup. We will have to make some concessions; it looks as though there's some $30K worth of sewer damage. Hopefully it will still come out in the neighborhood of our asking price.

Notable among things that went missing during the move to the apartment were my Android tablets. I'd meant to pack the 7" Nexus, at least. And I packed at least two bluetooth tablet keyboards. Oh, well. With two extra netbooks (blackbird and purple), the mac mini (whitewood), the server (nova), and a spare laptop (raven), it's not as though I'll lack for compute power. Networking in the apartment is incredibly slow; not sure how much of that is interference, but both ethernet and the A band work a lot better. Unfortunately neither Cygnus nor Raven seem willing to talk 802-11a.

On the other hand, I found my missing ORCA card (in my wallet in the one compartment I had overlooked) and the missing tax forms (in a separate folder, so thin that I thought it was empty). Still missing at least one form, with the interest from my HELOC.

I finally (on Tuesday) started working on my taxes. For that I use my old Mac mini, in part because unlike the Windows 7 partition on my laptop it's still receiving updates. Next year is going to be something of a nightmare; I may finally have to send them to an accountant. For now, TaxCut works fine.

Yesterday we went out to look at houses again. Another dome -- I like them, but it was at the top end of our price range and would have needed another $50K to make it work for us. The other place, in Auburn, was perfectly respectable and undoubtedly the best we can find that close to Seattle. But do we really need to be that close?

I also spoke to a (different) lender - this one is a long-time friend of our realtor - about the change in plans around retirement. Looks ok -- my credit is excellent (for the first time in years, I think), and I'll be making somewhere between 70 and 80K/year. More if one counts N's contribution to the household as rent.

The major omission of the week was following up on C's humira -- they were supposed to have called me back Monday. I was also very late getting in a call to my financial advisor -- that will have to wait for Monday, since "Good" Friday was a holiday.

The idea of retiring is beginning to be a little less surreal, though I don't think I could actually call it real yet.

Notes & links, as usual )

Hijacking of Evidence Based Medicine

Apr. 16th, 2017 04:02 pm
jesse_the_k: Human in professorial suit but with head of Golden Retriever, labeled "Woof" (doctor dog to you)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k
Thanks to [personal profile] shehasathree for linking to this fascinating (if depressing) article about the unfulfilled promise of evidence based medicine.

http://retractionwatch.com/2016/03/16/evidence-based-medicine-has-been-hijacked-a-confession-from-john-ioannidis/ quote and more )

Dreamwidth communities

Apr. 14th, 2017 02:47 pm
brainwane: My smiling face in front of a brick wall, May 2015. (Default)
[personal profile] brainwane
I've been doing my own little bit to share lore and links in the comments of the latest Dreamwidth news post, and to welcome people coming to Dreamwidth in the wake of the latest LiveJournal change.

I've put a new book review, of Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad, in [community profile] 50books_poc, I've recommended several RSS feeds in [site community profile] dw_feed_promo, and I've suggested a couple of face-to-face New York City meetups in [site community profile] dw_meetups and [community profile] nyc. I've subscribed to [site community profile] dw_community_promo but haven't posted anything there yet; perhaps next week!
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