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Michael Bloomberg: You Can't Teach a Coal Miner To Code

userw014 Life transitions in middle age (578 comments)

While some people may think that any monkey can code, most such simian code is fraught with rotting banana peels. And most great apes who make such statements often have long since left their brown, oozing mass to some underling who had to rewrite it to make it work right.

Grumbling about the 1% aside, the real issues of drastic career (or life) changes in middle age are:

  • Learning a new set of skills
    • Where can you find instruction?
    • How can you afford instruction?
    • How much of your old skill-set can you apply to the new skills?
    • How can you afford to support your family and yourself while training?
  • Applying a new set of skills?
    • Who's going to pay you?
    • How much are they going to pay you?
    • Where you need to be for them to pay you?
    • What value does your fixed assets (home) have when you move?
    • Can to life where you need to move to?

    By middle age, you have a family to support - and your parents probably can't put you up anymore. (Mine were deceased.) There might be other prospects where more of your skills transition than going from a labor intensive, physically focused occupations to intellectual, mind-games focused careers.

    And I just don't see a coal-miner going to work riding a skate-board and wearing a backwards turned baseball cap.

about a week ago

Microsoft: Start Menu Returns, Windows Free For Small Device OEMs, Cortana Beta

userw014 Free Windows for the Internet of Things? (387 comments)

I'm worried that having Windows being free but not open sourced for "small devices" will lead to even more irresponsibly designed and supported devices by embedded device manufacturers. (As everyone ought to know it's pretty bad now.)

On the other hand, Microsoft's definition of a "small device" means that my 3,859lb Ford CMax Energi with My Ford Touch powered by Microsoft might qualify because the touch screen is smaller than 9". Ford, on the other hand, seems to want to move away from Microsoft given the difficulties it has had with MFT - so perhaps Microsoft is trying to convince Ford to stay.

about two weeks ago

Zombie Plants Help To Spread Bacterial Pathogen

userw014 Re:Cold/Flu makes us zombies? (38 comments)

The presumption of the article is that Zombies cause their host to permanently be no longer capable of reproduction, which the article mentions. That aspect of Zombiness is usually implicit (body parts falling off, etc.) in most Zombie stories. I certainly haven't heard of any stories where Zombie hosts are capable of reproduction, although the BBC series about cured Zombies seemed may have touched on that topic.

about two weeks ago

Linux Developers Consider On-Screen QR Codes For Kernel Panics

userw014 Obfuscation of a sort (175 comments)

How is using using QR codes any improvement over such dusty techniques as unique error numbers, like "ABEND 07235453" - other than it doesn't require any discipline in registering error numbers?

Wouldn't integrating the frame buffer into kernel oops messages be one (small) step into the MS/Windows disease of integrating user land GUI primitives in the kernel?

This seems to be a solution for desktop (or laptop) Linux only - so it shouldn't be the default.

Most of the time when I'm dealing with Linux, it's either as a tablet (android), a server (used to run 150 headless servers, now I run only about 30), or as an embedded device from the low-end (an internet camera or a WiFi router running DD-WRT) to high-end (research lab equipment supported by a vendor.) My work desktop (Ubuntu) already hides as many error messages as possible, and I don't expect any Linux desktops in an office/workplace setting to reveal such messages - whether they're text, QR code, or cryptic IBM-like ABEND number.

Yes, it'll help Linux geeks report kernel oops messages to the kernel developers better (provided they can capture the image). But for most uses of Linux, it's unnecessary complication.

about two weeks ago

Are DVDs Inconvenient On Purpose?

userw014 Re:Bandwidth limitations (490 comments)


Bandwidth in my household is often shared with other people gaming and whatever. (Also, the NetFlix streaming customer profile mechanism doesn't work well in a household shared devices.) Watching a DVD means I'm not impacted by by teenagers weird gaming addiction. It also gives me an excellent excuse to punt them off to the "family room" and leave me with the comfy couch.

Unfortunately for NetFlix, this fondness for physical media and unhappiness with their on-line profile mechanism (and unwillingness to spend any more time learning about it, after a couple of unhappy months a few years ago), combined with a general satisfaction with the local public library means I go to the library for my movie fixes - and often get a book too.

In any event, the DVD format is still valuable to me.

When I'm not yelling at the neighborhood kids to get the F off the lawn.

about three weeks ago

One In Ten Americans Thinks HTML Is a Type of Sexually Transmitted Infection

userw014 I showed up for the 20th Century (255 comments)

But I didn't like it and turned back.

about a month and a half ago

Ford Dumping Windows For QNX In New Vehicles

userw014 Re:That'll fix half of the problem (314 comments)

My Ford C-Max Energi (2013) with My Ford Touch has "Microsoft SYNC" stamped on the dashboard.

Microsoft can't escape being associated with SYNC.

My Ford Touch had very bad problems before summer 2013 when the most recent version came out. Now the problems are only bad. The problems I've noticed so far:

  • FM radio doesn't come back on when starting the car - and requires changing stations in order to make it come back on.
  • Configuration of MFT as WiFi CLIENT still present - even though there's no functionality gain there. And WiFi passphrase is limited to 10 characters.
  • Unplugging one USB device (iPhone) causes car to forget other USB device (flash-drive)

There's other issues I'd consider "documentation" issues too. The "Vehicle Health Report" requires that the internal combustion engine (ICE) be on for several minutes - but the messages only require for the car to be "On", something that isn't the same for a plugin-hybrid as it is for an ICE-only car.

about 2 months ago

Ford Dumping Windows For QNX In New Vehicles

userw014 Re:Obligatory (314 comments)

We're there, in more than the Start Button (I have a Ford C-Max Energi with My Ford Touch.)

My own exploration of My Ford Touch has led me to consider it a "good first effort. For high school."

Given that My Ford Touch is supposed to be the high-end version of SYNC, the fact that My Ford Touch can NOT support "apps" the way that SYNC does probably makes this an easier decision. The existing SYNC App infrastructure is already doomed.

about 2 months ago

Your Next Online Order Could Be Delivered To Your Car's Trunk

userw014 UPS Deliveries? No. Beer & Pizza? YES! (162 comments)

UPS deliveries to a car sound like a niche market for traveling consultants, lawyers, etc. who might discover they need some smallish thing while on-site.

But pizza and beer deliveries to the party on the beach (or in the park) sound like a much bigger market. Flying a drone-load of beer to ice-fishermen slowly floating out into the middle of one of the Great Lakes after the thaw hits would help make the wait for rescue by the Coast Guard much easier.

about 2 months ago

Why Your Phone Gets OTA Updates But Your Car Doesn't

userw014 Safety, Veracity, etc. (305 comments)

If automobile manufacturers made as few different models of their products as Apple makes of their products, then I might trust that the update process could be reasonably tested and verified.

However, with all the different models and packages and trim lines - combined with different revision levels of different parts from 3rd party manufacturers - that automobile manufacturers produce, I don't think verifying that it's possible to verify that an update that can't be verified and documented by trained people is going to do anything but cause problems from dead cars in garages (or wilderness camps) to dead people when something bad happens at highway speeds.

In short, modern cars are not just one large, lethal embedded system - but a NETWORK of embedded systems controlling a potentially lethal device. A system with an expected useful life of several decades.

The business of embedded systems is barely up to the job of designing for systems with a useful life of several years in a hostile, networked environment. Automotive systems are networks of systems from different vendors, any of which might go out of business at any time - all of which jealously guard their designs as proprietary.

Last fall, I bought a Ford C-Max Energi (plugin hybrid.) It turned out that it had problems charging from a Level 2 (220V) charger that didn't manifest until after I'd been charging for a few weeks - which I didn't do until I installed a Level 2 charger after X-mass. This was a problem documented in the online forums for the car but I never received notice of it.

There are continuing problems with My Ford Touch - although (according to the online forums) it's better than it was a year ago (before an update this past summer.) My Ford Touch interacts with the charging system, the engine, etc. It seems to do so in a passive way - but the whole design of the internal communication network in automobiles (CAN) is based on implicit trust that one system won't send false messages to another system. (And various researchers have already exploited this.)

about 2 months ago

Facebook Debuts New Gender Options, Pronoun Choices

userw014 Pronoun Hell (462 comments)

The English language isn't as strongly gendered as most Romance languages (not that English has more than a kissing-barbarian relationship to Romance languages) - but What About The Pronouns?

Our third-person pronouns are Male (singular), Female (Singular), Neuter (singular), and indeterminate (plural.)

I've thought for some time that we need additional pronouns for gender-unknown and gender-indeterminate (a sort of an equivalent to Pollster's "don't know" and "don't care".)

about 2 months ago

Kansas To Nix Expansion of Google Fiber and Municipal Broadband

userw014 Dorothy's not coming back (430 comments)

The Theory of Capitalism depends on Perfect Information about prices among all participants.

(I'll pause a while to give you time to stop laughing.)

I think that means that all political donations should be disclosed. After all, how would the market price for a legislator otherwise be properly determined.

Also, the Federal Gov't and most State Gov'ts have the power of Eminent Domain - where the State can take property for the common good. (Michigan abused this power by taking people's homes in order to hand the property over to GM - and lost the power, but other States still have it. And the power still exists for taking property for the Public Good, such as to build roads, bridges, dams, etc.)

It's time to apply Eminent Domain to the wired infrastructure.

about 3 months ago

White House Reportedly Dismissing Key Healthcare.gov Contractor

userw014 Re:Accenture? (284 comments)

Going from the incompetent and greedy bungler to the self-important, malevolent, and avaricious slave dealer.

Accenture could drive a kid's lemonade stand into multi-million dollar bankruptcy. With the staff "going postal" as a finishing touch.

about 3 months ago

I think wearable computing will take off...

userw014 Wearable Schmearable (254 comments)

Wearable computing per. se. will never take off, anymore than "Wearable mechanisms" or "Wearable electronics" ever did.

Certain "wearable" applications might come to be. We've had "wearable warmth" (clothes). "Wearable shields" (armor). "Wearable time" (pocket watches and then wrist watches).

For a while, it wasn't surprising for some of us to wear timepieces, pagers, calculators, games (pokemon), music players - and maybe carry a pocket camera. But we weren't using "wearable mechanicals" or "wearable electronics".

"Wearable computing" is a terminology suitable concerned with things at the same level as fabric manufacture - not clothing design.

about 3 months ago

Why Can't Big Government Launch a Website?

userw014 Re:The answer is SIMPLE (786 comments)

Actually, the simple answer is word processors.

In the pre-electronic days of documents, revising and adding to a document (a law, a regulation, etc.) was many ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE more expensive than now. It might take days to make a change to a document - and professional writers were involved in the reconcilation of the changes.

However, with word processors, every little narrow minded interest in Congress can get changes added or made to a document without anything to slow down the idiocy. The proliferation of laws has encouraged the bureaucrats to do the same thing to the rules and regulations the laws allow them to issue.

Ever look at books from the 1960s and before? They were SHORT. A novel was (maybe) 100 pages. These days, there's nothing preventing a writer from gassing on forever - 400 to 1000 pages of poorly reviewed writing.

about 6 months ago

Debian To Replace SysVinit, Switch To Systemd Or Upstart

userw014 Re:WWBD? (362 comments)

Why would FreeBSD change from their existing system?

  • "/etc/rc.conf" - to set enable/disable/config variables.
  • "/etc/defaults/rc.conf" - for defaults and documentation of base system services
  • "/etc/rc.d", "/usr/local/etc/rc.d", etc. for the scripts
    • "/bin/rc.order" that builds a dependency graph of services based on comments in the scripts.

    None of the nonsense of run levels and fixed numerical ordering as in the old SysVinit scheme.
    The init scripts can be simple or complex, use shared "sh" source files (or not.)
    Since the system already builds a dependency tree of services to start, it ought to be (relatively) possible to run init scripts in parallel - if the dependencies are laid out right.

about 6 months ago

Facebook To Overhaul Data Use Policy

userw014 Re:/etc/hosts jokes aside (216 comments)

I did something like that a long time ago as a first approximation of what I wanted - but I had to replicate it on every laptop & desktop in my household.
My goal was two-fold. I was using dial-up and I had young kids whom I didn't trust to not click on every link and button on a page. I wanted to prevent advertisements saturating my dial-up link and limit the amount of time spent cleaning up malware.
As I was using a *nix box as a home router (for dialup), I could use it's firewall functionality to block hosts and networks, and as I was using it also as a caching DNS server, I could also "poison" my view of the DNS too. Rather than using "localhost", I set up a pseudo-network on the *nix server that would always return an ICMP unreachable and had the domains point to that, as well as DNS servers that were being used by some of the shadier phishers/spamers/etc.
It works pretty well for EVERY device on my home network - game consoles, web cams, printers, blue-ray players, smart phones, iPods, as well as conventional laptops and desktops. It isn't something I can do with a conventional SOHO router, or even Linux based firmware on a SOHO router.
For a while, I tried using the SpamHouse DNS RBL stuff too, but it became hard to maintain. I thought about automating using the evidence generated by port-scanners attacking the SSH port on the linux box to add to the black lists too.
I don't have a complete solution yet for IPv6. DNS is a good first approximation for now.

about 8 months ago

John McCain Working On Legislation For 'a La Carte' TV Channel Packages

userw014 Why would I care? (614 comments)

I don't subscribe to cable TV or even watch broadcast TV anymore. And I don't even watch shows in the internet.

The effort of finding a show worth watching - and the suffering I would experience watching the advertisements that accompany these shows have discouraged me completely. Finding new shows on my own isn't worth the reward of some novel entertainment (discounted for the horrible, soul-crunching advertisements.)

Broadcast/Cable TV have lost to the internet - and the piss-poor internet service in the states make spending your time doing just about anything else more worthwhile.

about a year ago

Researchers Are Developing Ad Hoc Networks For Car-To-Car Data Exchange

userw014 not looking forward to this... (126 comments)

There's more than a few edge conditions that I worry about - and that's without even thinking about malicious actors.

Some edge conditions:

  • A big car transportation truck (double bottomed) with the car navigation systems left on.
  • Multiple, physically adjacent highways - with concrete barriers between them
  • Traffic stalls on multi-deck bridges
  • Bleed-over from service roads running parallel to highways.

Of malicious actors, I can think of:

  • Black-hat/vandals leaving false transmitters on the side of the road or attached to bridges.
  • Back doors (required by Homeland Security?) hacked to allow:
    • Self-important people (congressmen, lawyers, financiers) to force a favorable path through the hoi-poloi.
    • Black--hat/vandals creating obvious gaps in traffic - encouraging people to disregard the system

about a year ago


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