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Trey Harris has been shared in 62 public circles

You can see here the 50 latest shared circles.
If this is your profile, you can check your dashboard to see all shared circles you have been included.

AuthorFollowersDateUsers in CircleCommentsReshares+1Links
Frank Gainsford39,299A share of this circle within the public space will be appreciated as these are truly a great flock of influential and helpful folk, and the more places their profiles are found, the better the GOOGLESPHERE will become.A circle of people who are known and trusted for their advice and help in getting things done here in the Google sphere.If you are stuck and need some advice this is the team that can help you solve your problem.  These folk are all friendly, and active within the PLUSOSPHEREAdd this circle to your profile for a bunch of friendly and helpful advice on ALL THINGS GOOGLE with a very clear and distinct flavor of Google plus as the best social media platform to use for either social or business.PS you will not be added to this circle unless I have made personal use of a tip or advice that you have offered within your personal or business profile.  this is not a free for all circle, but a curated circle of those who have helped me, either knowingly or unknowingly with their  public posts being the source of the help I used.2014-08-27 11:11:30252425
Becky Collins13,434Mobile Operator Circle:Circle of very #social #engagerspeople and companiesTo be included in my shares (#sharedcircle), be so kind to:1 - Do +1 t the post2 - Comment the post and specify your "category" (job or interest) Ex: Fashion, SEO, Companies, Social Media Marketing, Sailing, Photography, Bloggers/Writers, Web graphics and design, Italy, Artists, Sport, Finance/Economy ...3 - include the circle among your circles4 - share the circle (include yourself)Improve your popularity, be social be cool !Keep yourself updated, enjoy the Shared Circles Hellenic Alliance, you can share your shared circles inside the upcoming Community:https://plus.google.com/communities/112552559573595396104  #socialmedia  #media  #circles   #circleshare   #circlesharing  #circlecircle   #beckyscircle   #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircles  #sharedcircleoftheday  +Becky Collins ?2014-07-24 05:16:124763112
Becky Collins10,282Mobile Circle :Circle of very #social #engagerspeople and companiesTo be included in my shares (#sharedcircle), be so kind to:1 - Do +1 t the post2 - Comment the post and specify your "category" (job or interest) Ex: Fashion, SEO, Companies, Social Media Marketing, Sailing, Photography, Bloggers/Writers, Web graphics and design, Italy, Artists, Sport, Finance/Economy ...3 - include the circle among your circles4 - share the circle (include yourself)Improve your popularity, be social be cool !Keep yourself updated, enjoy the Shared Circles Hellenic Alliance, you can share your shared circles inside the upcoming Community:https://plus.google.com/communities/112552559573595396104  #socialmedia   #media   #circles   #circleshare   #circlesharing   #circlecircle   #beckyscircle   #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircles   #sharedcircleoftheday  +Becky Collins ?2014-05-28 05:03:174777219
andi steven320please add me my profile in your circle,Reshare if you like! Please plus to tell me you have seen it! *There is no need to thank me, this is me thanking you! *1. Plus The Post2. Comment3. Add People To Circles4. Share The Circle!#circlesharing #circleshare #circles #circle #googleplustips #googleplus #indonesia #artists #artist #artistphotographeramateurorprofessional2014-05-09 04:02:2150111514
Gustavo Franco1,547I've started an experiment with my Google+ account disabling this circle (Googlers and Xooglers) from showing up on my home stream. I'll see how it will look like without my coworkers and former coworkers.In case you are wondering how to adjust and even disable the posts from a circle showing up in your home stream, read:https://support.google.com/plus/answer/1269165?hl=enI've moved the circle to be the 1st on my bar though so I still can easily peak at what folks are saying.  In case you are wondering how to do that, read:https://plus.google.com/113895942978964425455/posts/igWgAhX22qM2014-02-15 23:38:47324301
Ian Archibald16,093Circle of Google PlussersSo, I often get asked Who should I circle?  I say whomever strikes your interest. Find topics of interest and connect with those people who share that interest.I would very much like to share with you "my" circle of Plussers of whom I LOVE to engage with.  There are people in science, sports, networking, technology, comics, art and medicine found inside, and likely some others as well.  I've been spending the last couple years curating this list.I hope that you will connect with some of these folks!Have a great weekend everyone!2014-02-15 01:16:53326182225
Ian Archibald14,517Google PlussersThis would be my circle of other awesome people who I have connected with over the past couple years here on Google+. Some awesome people here!As the cool kids say, These kids are dopeI don't take requests to add to this circle. To be added, engage with me, and the others here. You'll be noticed, trust me.2014-01-27 23:35:29320221730
Justin Hart6,912Justin's Circle Share....quick circle I put together of people that engage and provide content to keep your circles humming! 1. Plus The Post 2. Comment3. Add People To Circles4. Share The Circle!#sharedcircle   #topsharedcircle #circleoftheday #sharedcircle #trustinme   #circlesharing   #circleshare  #circles         #circleoftheday #sharedpubliccircles  #sharedcircles  #share   #vipsnowballcircle #sharedcircleoftheday  #sharewithyou               #followme  #followers #followback #circle #googleplus #coolpeople  #circleshare #sharedcircles #sharedcircle  #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircles  #circleshare #circlesharing #fullcircleshare2013-12-17 03:07:5650011923
Ben Douglas0WE LOVE TECHNOLOGY! #circleshare   #sharedcircles   #technologytrends  2013-12-16 15:10:48500101
David Leonhardt2,546I built on the Sunday Circle by +Ian Archibald to spread it even further.Recommended:1. Plus the circle.2. Leave a comment3. Save the circle as one of your own circles (Click on "Add people" to do this).4. Share the circle as I am doing now (but don't forget to "Include yourself" when sharing).5. Get offline for a while, too.  :-).#circles   #circleshare   #sharedcircle   #circlesharing#followers #social #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircles  #circleshared    #sharedcircleoftheday #addmetoyourcircles   #awesomepeople   #circlecount  #newfollowers   #googleplus  2013-12-16 01:30:4323211213
Ian Archibald9,118Sunday Circle Share of Google PlussersThis is my top circle filled with some of the top Google Plussers, Engagers, and Educators.  You will also find some people you likely don't know, but should.You all know people like +Mike Allton +Michael Q Todd +Christine DeGraff and +Billy Funk who bring the awesome every day. But do you know +Rusty Ferguson +Milan Pavlovic +Steven Krohn +David Oldenburg or +Brandee Sweesy ?  All of whom are simply awesome people who have a lot of great content, and engage!.Add this circle to your own today.  If you have other Engagers, add them to the circle, share it out and tag me in your share. Always looking for more engagers!I would be honoured if you would +1, Comment and Share this circle.Hope you all have a fantastic week!!2013-12-15 14:08:26229231330
Ramón Sansone López436Awsome #sharedcircle #bestengagersComment, Do +1 and share it, you'll belong to one of my best #sharedcircles 2013-09-05 06:26:23501003
Don Dobbie3,342#sharedcircles  2013-05-29 19:26:154863212
AyJay Schibig16,440ECLECTIC CIRCLEFeel free to add  and re-share. this  Eclectic Circle of  G Plussers! Circles I am curating:21ST CENTURY PHOTOGRAPHERS (1&2), ALL KINDS, DISCOVERY, FULL CIRCLE,SOCIAL, ECLECTIC,ENGAGERS, AWESOME, NEW HORIZONS and BOOST#circleoftheday   #circleshare   #circlesharing   #circlesharingforthepeopleplc   #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircles   #sharedcircleoftheday   #sharedcircleday   #publiccirclesproject   #publiccircles   #publicsharedcircles  #sharedpublicircles   #circle   #circles   #circlemeup  #awesomepeople   #awesomecircle   #circleme   #sharedpoint   #sharewithyou     #ShareYourCircle2013-04-13 06:43:023024213
Justin Fournier534Tech Engage CircleHello Everyone just following the footsteps of +martin shervington  and attempting to circle share fully engaged circles with you.  Below I'm sharing a circle of definite Technology posters. If your new to this platform and needed a circle for sure fire tech news and help.  *Be sure to add and re-share this circle.*  Later Guys!2013-03-10 16:15:55296516
AyJay Schibig15,217ECLECTIC CIRCLEFeel free to add  and re-share. this  Eclectic Circle of  G Plussers! Circles I am curating:21ST CENTURY PHOTOGRAPHERS (1&2), ALL KINDS, DISCOVERY, FULL CIRCLE,SOCIAL, ECLECTIC,ENGAGERS, AWESOME, NEW HORIZONS and BOOST#circleoftheday   #circleshare   #circlesharing   #circlesharingforthepeopleplc   #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircles   #sharedcircleoftheday   #sharedcircleday   #publiccirclesproject   #publiccircles   #publicsharedcircles  #sharedpublicircles   #circle   #circles   #circlemeup  #awesomepeople   #awesomecircle   #circleme   #sharedpoint   #sharewithyou     #ShareYourCircle2013-03-02 11:23:44245206
AyJay Schibig13,588ECLECTIC CIRCLEFeel free to add  and re-share. this  Eclectic Circle of  G Plussers! #circleoftheday   #circleshare   #circlesharing   #circlesharingforthepeopleplc   #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircles   #sharedcircleoftheday   #sharedcircleday   #publiccirclesproject   #publiccircles   #publicsharedcircles  #sharedpublicircles   #circle   #circles   #circlemeup  #awesomepeople   #awesomecircle   #circleme   #sharedpoint   #sharewithyou 2013-01-10 07:15:50257003
AyJay Schibig12,717ECLECTIC CIRCLEFeel free to add  and re-share. this  Eclectic Circle of  G Plussers! #circleoftheday   #circleshare   #circlesharing   #circlesharingforthepeopleplc   #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircles   #sharedcircleoftheday   #sharedcircleday   #publiccirclesproject   #publiccircles   #publicsharedcircles  #sharedpublicircles   #circle   #circles   #circlemeup  #awesomepeople   #awesomecircle   #circleme   #sharedpoint   #sharewithyou 2012-12-21 06:26:433277010
AyJay Schibig12,080ECLECTIC CIRCLEFeel free to add  and re-share. this  Eclectic Circle of  G Plussers! #circleoftheday   #circleshare   #circlesharing   #circlesharingforthepeopleplc   #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircles   #sharedcircleoftheday   #sharedcircleday   #publiccirclesproject   #publiccircles   #publicsharedcircles  #sharedpublicircles   #circle   #circles   #circlemeup  #awesomepeople   #awesomecircle   #circleme   #sharedpoint   #sharewithyou 2012-12-12 04:23:1442210216
Ivonne García423This is my Geeks CirclePeople who share great content that only matters to us, technology geeks and people interested in the latest advances. :D Enjoy! #sharedcircle   #circles   #tech   #technology   #geeks   #geekcircle   #sharedcircleoftheday  2012-12-01 17:28:23332314
Cynthia Yildirim23,029New Google+ users might not have this circle yet of Google Employees on G+, I'm  not an employee, but going to include myself in the circle anyway. :D  #sharedcircles   #Google  2012-11-09 01:27:54213201
George Station1,600With the addition of +Google Cultural Institute as Number 100 this seems an excellent time for a fresh share of my Googlish Folks Circle.(Ah, round numbers in base 10! Thank you, Dogbert.)I note for the record:  Many others also enhance and improve my Google+ experience in specific interest areas such as "teaching & learning" or "social media and education." And I enjoy several very cool Circles that other fine G+ers have shared.But when I wonder "What Would G+ Do?" (which I'll bet does not quite align with what Google Proper would do)... I generally check the undamped, unfettered Stream of this Circle.2012-10-07 00:21:32100404
Tim Moore23,874My Go To Circle when I'm using +Google+ from my mobile --- which is a lot!IF you use +Google+ from your mobile device and want GREAT CONTENT, then this is a money circle for you.  All the guys and gals in here are fantastic and post very shareable items.Created for the circle when you want to reliably find and share great content quickly from your mobile!>>> Help your friends who may be new here to +Google+ - share this circle with them.  They will love you forever......... or at least until payday. :) #greatcontent   #sharing  +Shared Circles on G+ +Public Circles +CircleCount +Nothing but Circles  #sharedcircles   #circlesharing   #circleoftheday  +Shared a circle with you +Full Circle  #mobile  2012-10-02 19:10:48484723561
Tim Moore23,086My Shared Circle of the weekGooglers who are just #awesome . _Don't stalk, just talk, they won't bite_  #sharedcircles   #Google  2012-08-29 20:23:364492010
Tim Moore22,583My +Best Shared Circle of the week.These are my top quality +Google+ sharers.  I hope you find them as rewarding as I do.2012-08-08 15:57:01445451844
Kurt Smith122Google+ Power Users Circle ShareThis G+ Power Users group includes some really good people to follow and many whom will follow you back. Make sure you've got them in a circle. #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircles   #publiccircles   #publiccircleshare   #circleshare   #circlessharing  2012-07-28 17:08:3749918516
Tim Moore20,643Here is my #sharedcircleoftheday , it is around those who have helped directly with +Sparkstir or have inspired us in building it over the last year. These are not e-lebrities, but real people with vision on how to use +Google+ to help reach people globally with what they know and sharing it. We applaud them. We would also like to you join us - we've left plenty of room, so add yourself and pass it on to others anywhere in the world who want to help others increase their knowledge, quality of life and overall happiness and personal joy. #Sharedcircle   #sharedpubliccircles   #Sparkstir   #circleshare   #uniting   #circlesharing   #globalchange   #globalrevolution   #educationalresources   #education   #googleplus   #googlehangout   #hangouts   #peoplearoundus   #bettertogether  2012-07-10 14:52:1189929
Jessica Garcia156I am not sure who originally shared this but I know I pulled it from +Chris Brogan. If you want to change Google+ from a ghost town to a party just follow the circle. 2012-07-07 20:23:22499429
Tim Moore19,665Hi friends,Here is my #sharedcircleoftheday  I wanted to share this circle with you of Top Google+ Sharers - They may not all be E-lebrities, but they have embraced our +Google+ community and consistently contribute great content and do engage with one another.This is a quality circle that I know could have more folks added to it , so please 1) Save this circle. 2) Add some of your favorite G+Sharers, 3) If you'd like to include yourself, check the box at the very bottom of the Share circle dialog box 'Include yourself in shared circle', *4) Share with the world.Have a wonderful Friday my friends!  #GooglePlus   #sharedcircle   #PayItForward  2012-07-06 17:13:42247228430
matthew rappaport52,599500 Active +Hangouters for you to Chat with and Get to know . . Again this is just Part I, you were not "omitted" by me, if you feel bad you didn'tmake this +Shared Circles on G+!I feel like I +mention ed all of you yesterday... still working on it..https://plus.google.com/111048918866742956374/posts/hYTZsRoWZje+Tom Samacicio for instance is in this circle and he's great.. CIRCLE UP!Ask him about CB Radios!+Pearl Lombardo is a lot of fun too.. CIRCLE HER (she calls SHENANIGANS a lot!)Happy 1st #PLUSversary  week to you all! #sharedcircles  Enjoy your FRIDAY and see some of you tomorrow with +Vivienne Gucwa leading the +The Google + One Year Anniversary Photowalk in Central Park tomorrow12012-06-29 20:33:37500414543
Alister Macintyre7,169Here by request of one of the people in it, is my main circle of people who share G+ Tips from time to time.  It includes both people who generate them, and people who use them.  Also see this other related circle. https://plus.google.com/u/0/108007903544513887227/posts/XfV7Xek2XK3  People are in one or the other or neither.  Drop me a comment if you want to be in one of these circles.2012-06-13 03:13:14184102
Arvid Bux25,492Curated circle with English profilesFor my upcoming eBook release, I have curated several circles. This one contains 219 profiles of people who post mostly in English. These people will spice up your stream with all kinds of content, being it news, photos, links, videos, you name it! Apologies when you are not in this circle. Curation is done manually and thus I can make mistakes! Feel free to leave a comment so I can add you and people might see it and add you!#sharedcircle2012-06-11 18:29:4521927911
Jaana Nyström50,117My 8 circles of Googlers!This is just the beginning...I have found out that even Google employees are not really connected on Google+... This must be remedied!For Google employeesSo after many gruelling hours of collecting people and sorting out the circles here are the results.I will start with Google 1 by Jaana and also notify all the people in the 8 circles WITH THE POST YOU'RE IN so that you may get connected if you wish.The circle in +CircleCount:  http://www.circlecount.com/sharedcircle/?id=z12wdxwjttr3xxo0u22celljpvm0wvzfsLook for the other 8 circles, they're coming up soon.EDIT:  One or two mistaken identities or job changes have come up in all the circles so far, sorry about that. #Google   #circleshare     #Jaanatip  2012-06-08 17:49:159421224
Michael Kendle299Here's a circle of tech people. The circle is bigger but only lets me share 500. If you're interested in tech, this is a good place to start.2012-06-07 13:57:05501115
Jaana Nyström49,593I've been hoarding these peeps...My Googlers CircleGoogle employeesEveryone in this circle works for Google, been collecting the guys since July last year.Well, worked at the time of me adding them, anyway...Here it is in +CircleCount:http://www.circlecount.com/sharedcircle/?id=z13uvt3okqj2cxxvc22celljpvm0wvzfsVery international...  If you have some more to add that I've missed, please comment! #circleshare   #CircleSunday  2012-06-03 13:44:1447836829
Robert Pitt21,486[CIRCLE]Thought I would share my Googlers circle, enjoy and make sure you give feedback to these guys :)2012-04-16 19:51:00222114
Jack Durst484In honor of #FollowFriday Some of my favorite #technology experts on google+2012-04-13 18:31:53648518
Alister Macintyre4,949+rahul roy Here is my main G+ circle for G+ Tips. it includes both sources of tips, and people who like to receive them. I have not posted many tips recently, but if people are struggling with something, ask, and maybe we can help.2012-02-27 23:47:31179113
Jaana Nyström27,889#circlesharing #circlesunday My Google employees CircleHave you noticed that there is another circle sharing possibility: When you look at a certain circle's stream, there is a green button on the right saying Share this circle.That's what I'm testing right now. Works like a charm.I've been collecting this circle for a long time. Googlers from all over the globe.Enjoy! :-)#G+Tip #googleplustip #Jaanatip PING +The Best Circles on Google+ +Shared Circles on G+PS: Here's a Googler circle from +Natalie Villalobos with +58 peeps different from my circle. You might like to add this, too:https://plus.google.com/u/0/109895887909967698705/posts/VrfWQrgcVmUCombining the two circles is a good idea, that's what I did. Now it's a MEGA Googlers circle, have to share that later! :-)2012-02-05 10:04:22335221021
Chris Lang19,558+Michael Q Todd Suggested I share this circle as THE G+ Power Users Circle So Here Tis, The People That Bring Me The News I Need On G+That's the people I follow every day. Some of the IM profiles like +Ryan Lee and +Ryan Deiss are not active publicly. But the are the multi millionaires that dominate my world so there are in the circle.Lot's of just plain good peeps like +John Hardy and +Jannik Lindquist that usually disagree with me but have very good viewpoints on Google and the web.2012-01-16 22:09:3637013510
Chris Hoyt1,112Circle Back to GoogleLooking for people who work at Google? Here's a great circle that's a strong addition to any search you've already performed on Google Plus and that I'd include with any other search for Googlers that you've already conducted.What's interesting to me (and that I'm getting around to pointing out) is that whether you're just looking to expand your network as a member of Google+ or actively #recruiting and #sourcing online, I believe that you'll find infinite value from the proper care and feeding of Google Plus circles. In fact, if done correctly (and maintained) it's a fantastic way to filter your Google Plus stream and check the pulse of any company, organization or interest group.In the event you missed it, I did an article back in August that mentioned my interest in Circles and how I'd be exploring the management of them. (http://www.recruiterguy.net/recruiting-management-circles) So far, I've not been disappointed in the ability to really hone in on an area of interest by filtering my streams based on these circles and simply watching the conversation flow. Of course, being able to quickly see all of the updates from a particular company or interest group is just the start. The more proficient we get with our filtering, the easier it is to get the latest from fun entrepreneurs, CEO's, diversity interest groups, active and passive jobseekers and more - these are just a few of my own circles, mind you. You have the ability to filter by profession, seniority, geography, language, etc.The possibilities are endless!I'd love to hear how you, or others, are using circles to manage the information stream you've found in G+ so far.2012-01-04 20:07:36348211
Stephanie L Davis19,590I was asked by #SMMCamp attendees to share my "Googlers" circle. These are people who work for Google; community managers, engineers, developers, free-lancers; staff... etc. Cheers!2011-12-08 20:06:303648513
Jaana Nyström13,601All Googlers CircleThis is my Googlesphere with people and Pages: Did I miss someone?Their posts are not all about Google, but about life and stuff, too! :-)Did not include myself... Oh how I wish I could! Hahhahaaa! *wink *wink2011-12-03 15:10:281711238
Louis Gray71,017It's been a little while since I shared with you my Googlers circle. This circle includes a massive number of people working on the Google+ project, company execs, and a lot of sharp people working on many of the services you use every day, including +Blogger +Android +YouTube, etc. Now that we can share 500 at a time, have at it. But this circle isn't for everyone, so if you do add them, expect geekiness ahead.2011-11-22 19:13:55500623669
Raghd Hamzeh5,495#google #PublicCirclesI think it's about time I shared this circle of Googlers.. Over 680 people in it! (only 500 can be shared at the same time)Some of them are obvious, some of them you've met, some of them post on blogs, and some you have to hunt down!You will find an interesting insight on the people who power this juggernaut :)2011-11-20 21:15:53500101
Alister Macintyre43This is my Google Workers circle which I am re-sharing with Shared Circles on G+ page. These are people who are employed by the Google company. Some of them talk about the company's products, but most are just interesting people.2011-11-14 03:10:13168131
siam simte856For those who think Google Inc. employee must be Totally Circle ; Here's your chanceWhatever and however they're awesome thoughsiam simte shared a circle with you.2011-10-29 20:18:31473000
Dan Soto8,096Since the beginning, I've been collecting "Googlers" in a circle much like +Chris Pirillo collects Legos© . Anyway, here is a circle of close to 200 people that work for Google in some fashion. I've gone through it to remove accidental additions and am 99.99% sure all of these are legit.Enjoy ....Dan Soto shared a circle with you.2011-10-20 17:45:37187605
Kris Courtney2,408A great collection of talent - Bless you ...Kris Courtney shared a circle with you.2011-10-19 16:40:43475001
David Williams51GooglersDavid Williams shared a circle with you.2011-10-16 19:56:53344104

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Top posts in the last 50 posts

Most comments: 42

2014-08-14 14:49:19 (42 comments, 0 reshares, 3 +1s) 

A question (one I'm legitimately asking, not using to troll, as I don't know the answer): is a suspect's reaching for an officer's holstered handgun sufficient cause to use deadly force to subdue the suspect?

Retention (security) holsters are well-nigh impossible to work without training on that particular model, and the companies that make them take steps to make instructions hard to get. (I'm not saying instructions on removing a gun from a retention holster are harder to get than, say, bomb-making instructions. But you can't search YouTube for a quick how-to on how someone can remove a gun from a holster another person's wearing.) And knowing how one holster works isn't necessarily helpful in removing a weapon from another holster—in fact, most holsters are designed such that trying to remove the weapon using another common retention holster's unholsteringt... more »

Most reshares: 11

posted image

2014-06-19 17:40:10 (14 comments, 11 reshares, 19 +1s) 

#mactips  
Use the system /tmp dir to delete files for you when you're done with them

This one, it occurs to me, is totally obvious to folks with a Unix or Linux background, but probably is completely unknown to those who come from a PC background:

Unixes have always¹ had a filesystem² called /tmp that, as its name implies, is used for "temporary" stuff.

If you go in there and look, you'll see lots of strangely-named stuff with lots of random numbers and characters—because while programs often need to store short-term things like working-memory caches on disk, they don't want to inadvertently interfere with other programs trying to do the same, so they use crazy filenames like /tmp/launchd-7335.cSCeOm in order to make sure they're using a different name from every other program.

The thing about /tmp isthat... more »

Most plusones: 47

posted image

2014-08-23 17:31:09 (11 comments, 2 reshares, 47 +1s) 

Hah! I just noticed that Peter Capaldi voices Matt Smith's grunt at the one-minute mark in this scene. (Funny how you can even grunt recognizably in Scots.)

I'm optimistic about Peter Capaldi's Doctor. There's the obvious change: succeeding Matt Smith, the eleventh and youngest to play the alien time-traveller lead, Capaldi will tonight be the oldest to ever take over the Doctor Who lead role at 57 (even the first Doctor, William Hartnell, who played the character as if he were in his seventies—and looked it—was just 55). He's more than twice the age of Matt Smith when he took the part.

This is especially interesting because Matt Smith, particularly as his tenure went on, had an uncanny ability to seem older than any previous Doctor. Which in the story, of course, he was—not only was he the latest incarnation, but he was by far the longest-lived (claiming agesbetwe... more »

Latest 50 posts

2014-09-19 04:15:27 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 1 +1s) 

And BBC's called it No. #ScotlandDecides  

And BBC's called it No. #ScotlandDecides  ___

2014-09-19 03:06:15 (3 comments, 0 reshares, 2 +1s) 

If Scotland does end up going No, the question of federalism becomes all the more relevant. As several prominent Scottish MP's have said this morning, why in the world are they voting on how schools and health care in England are run, when the English MP's don't get a vote in the Scottish or Welsh Parliaments? But yet, having two separate Parliaments sitting in Westminster (or even in London) just seems odd, doesn't it?

As an ad-hoc solution, one I heard that seems interesting (I need to think about it a bit): English MP's—that is, English members of the UK House of Commons—could sit in Westminster as an English Parliament for short sessions in addition to sitting in the UK Parliament. This probably isn't a long-term solution, and it has some thorniness when it comes to ministerial and Cabinet positions, but as a transitional mechanism towards devolution andfed... more »

If Scotland does end up going No, the question of federalism becomes all the more relevant. As several prominent Scottish MP's have said this morning, why in the world are they voting on how schools and health care in England are run, when the English MP's don't get a vote in the Scottish or Welsh Parliaments? But yet, having two separate Parliaments sitting in Westminster (or even in London) just seems odd, doesn't it?

As an ad-hoc solution, one I heard that seems interesting (I need to think about it a bit): English MP's—that is, English members of the UK House of Commons—could sit in Westminster as an English Parliament for short sessions in addition to sitting in the UK Parliament. This probably isn't a long-term solution, and it has some thorniness when it comes to ministerial and Cabinet positions, but as a transitional mechanism towards devolution and federalism, it seems like it could be reasonable.___

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2014-09-19 02:40:21 (5 comments, 1 reshares, 18 +1s) 

Wow, that's close.

Wow, that's close.___

2014-09-13 19:12:11 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 5 +1s) 

Finding the Chrome tab that just made that noise?

The new¹ Chrome feature to show a speaker icon in tabs currently making noise is very welcome and useful, but lately I've frequently been wanting a slightly different feature: finding what tab just made a noise, but has now stopped.

Some website I perennially have at least one tab open to (a distressingly large list of sites, as it turns out) has started to make little notification sounds I don't recognize. I reckoned I'd eventually figure it out from context—I'd hear the sound just before I'd notice some change that might cause a notification—but so far, no such luck.

Has anyone seen a tool or method (for Chrome on Mac, if it matters) for tracking down sounds after the fact? I thought about trying to figure it out with Dtrace—since Chrome uses separate Unix processes for separate tabs²,"a... more »

Finding the Chrome tab that just made that noise?

The new¹ Chrome feature to show a speaker icon in tabs currently making noise is very welcome and useful, but lately I've frequently been wanting a slightly different feature: finding what tab just made a noise, but has now stopped.

Some website I perennially have at least one tab open to (a distressingly large list of sites, as it turns out) has started to make little notification sounds I don't recognize. I reckoned I'd eventually figure it out from context—I'd hear the sound just before I'd notice some change that might cause a notification—but so far, no such luck.

Has anyone seen a tool or method (for Chrome on Mac, if it matters) for tracking down sounds after the fact? I thought about trying to figure it out with Dtrace—since Chrome uses separate Unix processes for separate tabs², "all" I'd need to do was trace all the Chrome subprocesses until I found one that was making audio calls—but that turned out to be a bit difficult for a Dtrace newbie like me.

¹ Which has actually been around for a couple years, but was enabled by default just a few months ago.

² Up to a ceiling number of processes, at which point it begins bucketing multiple tabs per process; but even when that happens, the number of tabs per process is generally small enough to make it easy to narrow it down.___

2014-09-11 16:44:54 (6 comments, 1 reshares, 9 +1s) 

In President Obama's speech last night, he said early on (emphasis mine): "ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim." The emphasized words, I think, merit careful consideration.

I have only a small quibble with that phrase taken literally; no religion condones the murder of innocents. But nearly all do condone the killing of innocents in two specific cases: in war, and by accident.

Remember, "condone" is a word specifically meaning "to permit an immoral or offensive act to go unpunished"; since we usually see it in the negative, as in "we do not condone...", the distinction between condonation and approval can be missed. With that quibble called out, I'm going to proceed from here as if the president had actually said, "no religion condones them... more »

In President Obama's speech last night, he said early on (emphasis mine): "ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim." The emphasized words, I think, merit careful consideration.

I have only a small quibble with that phrase taken literally; no religion condones the murder of innocents. But nearly all do condone the killing of innocents in two specific cases: in war, and by accident.

Remember, "condone" is a word specifically meaning "to permit an immoral or offensive act to go unpunished"; since we usually see it in the negative, as in "we do not condone...", the distinction between condonation and approval can be missed. With that quibble called out, I'm going to proceed from here as if the president had actually said, "no religion condones the murder of innocents", as I suspect that was closer to the meaning intended. 

I think it's pretty clear that ISIL would claim to agree that their religion does not condone the murder of "innocents". Yet the issue, here, as with so many radical or fundamentalist religions, is exactly what their definition of "innocent" is. 

Traditionally¹, Islam considered the treatment of heretics² on the basis of a division into three major categories. The first are "People of the Book" (أهل الكتاب ‎ Ahl al-Kitāb), followers of what has in the 21st century increasingly been known as the "Abrahamic religions" aside from Islam, namely Christians and Jews³. These could roughly be classed as "innocents" under Islamic law. Mainstream Islam, even under various caliphates, has never supported the killing or forced conversion of Christians or Jews merely for being Christian or Jewish.⁴

The other two groups are definitely not considered innocent. Namely, followers of any other religion not yet mentioned ("idolaters", regardless of whether their religion actually involves idolatry) and—most importantly when considering the actions of ISIL—apostates⁵.

Here we hit the crux of the matter: within ISIL's religious doctrine (nominally Sunni of an insanely radical variety), it doesn't view its killings as that of innocents. Yezidis are idolaters. Shiites— all Shiites —are apostates. Even the two American journalists ISIL beheaded were "casualties of war" by ISIL's lights—innocent, perhaps, but not "murdered" any more than someone caught in crossfire.

Why do I think this matters? Surely the vast, vast majority of religious people—even the vast majority of observant Muslims, and including most Sunnis, who comprise at least 75% of the world's Muslims—would agree that ISIL is murdering "innocents", and that their religion condones no such thing. But when we consider forming alliances with other (especially Shiite) Islamic states to fight ISIL, we must keep in mind that in the view of a not-insubstantial segment of Muslims—not just ISIL—we're picking sides in a religious question.

Most Shiite clerics and ayatollahs consider all Sunnis to be apostates in much the same way ISIL considers all Shiites to be. They don't often actually issue fatwas or call for jihad against all Sunnis—the high-profile sheikhs and ayatollahs don't, anyway. But it's somewhat like asking some Christian fundamentalists about Jews: they do generally believe that it is a religious imperative to convert all Jews to Christianity; still, the more mainstream ones don't actually take much action in that direction because they know it would be politically disastrous.

Do I think that allying with Shiites in fighting ISIL would offend the entire Sunni world, all one-billion-plus of them? Of course not. But as a country we tend to be totally ignorant of Islam and especially of the differences between the denominations.

And I think most Americans are totally unaware to what extent our actions thus far have already looked like America picking sides, choosing Shia over Sunni Islam, to many of those "young [Sunni] men who have been radicalized", to use the narrative the media so loves. 
 
It wasn't our motivation in de-Ba'athification to purge virtually all Sunnis from government (and often from their communities as well). But regardless of our motivations, it had that effect, and today the military leaders of ISIL are former high-ranking officers of Saddam Hussein's military.

Forget our longstanding standoff with Iran; no one thinks their Shiism was a factor in our relationship with them—though their theocracy, independent of denomination, certainly was. If we actually put all that history aside and ally with them against ISIL, as some reports have suggested Iran has made overtures towards, I think the appearance of being on the side of Shia Islam against Sunnis is only going to intensify.

(I prefer ISIL over ISIS because I think it better reflects the group's previous name—before they became just "The Islamic State"—in Arabic (والشام‎ ad-Dawlah l-ʾIslāmiyyah fīl-ʿIrāq wash-Shām), which literally does not mean "Islamic State in Iraq and Syria", but "Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham", al-Sham being a term usually translated into English as the Biblical Levant, an area much larger than just Syria.)

¹ Here I'm writing about my understanding of history from the time of the prophet Muhammed's death in 632 through the First (Rāshidūn) Caliphate in 661, and in the several stable caliphates thereafter.

² I'm using the term heretic here in the colloquial English sense, not a precise mapping to one of the specific Islamic terms for various non-Islamic religious belief or apostasy from those claiming to be Muslims.

³ And technically also including the "Sabians", a grouping that is hard to identify today; several small groups in Iraq (or recently in Iraq; many have fled to Syria, Jordan or Iran) might have claim to it or might be described by some muftis as Sabians. But there is enough dispute, both inside and outside these groups, to confuse matters to where it seems unlikely that a group like ISIL would bother making distinctions. Traditional Islamic scholarship holds that a caliph should err on the side of accepting of people under its rule claiming to be People of the Book, but ISIL has not shown much of a bent for acceptance.

⁴ Though you may not agree with the definition of "innocent" here; basically, a caliph should allow People of the Book to follow these religions without harassment, but they cannot be accorded the full political or property rights of citizens, and while they can continue to worship in churches and synagogues already existing, they cannot build new houses of worship or even renovate or expand existing ones. And proselytizing or even allowing Muslims to convert is considered a crime whose punishment the guilty party's entire religious community must bear, by the destruction of their places of worship and the loss of their property.

⁵ Islamic jurisprudence has honestly made a complete hash of the distinctions between apostasy, heresy, blasphemy, hypocrisy, nonobservance, atheism, and unbelief. I use the term "apostasy" here because it's the one that most clearly cannot admit people following entirely different religions. In short, a Christian, Hindu or Yezidi can be guilty of blasphemy against Islam, but not apostasy within Islam. A Shiite is an apostate in ISIL's view.___

2014-09-09 20:23:51 (6 comments, 0 reshares, 0 +1s) 

Can authors disable searching Amazon Kindle books? I bought a book that I know is all text, it's reflowable and you can change the font, but all searches, even for words I can see are in the book, return zero results.

I'm wondering if this indicates a bug or unintended (or paranoid) action by the publisher or author.

Update: False alarm, the book was somehow corrupted. Deleting it off my device and re-downloading it fixed the problem.

Can authors disable searching Amazon Kindle books? I bought a book that I know is all text, it's reflowable and you can change the font, but all searches, even for words I can see are in the book, return zero results.

I'm wondering if this indicates a bug or unintended (or paranoid) action by the publisher or author.

Update: False alarm, the book was somehow corrupted. Deleting it off my device and re-downloading it fixed the problem.___

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2014-08-26 18:28:07 (4 comments, 1 reshares, 1 +1s) 

Surely I'm missing something. This help doc seems to imply that only photos that have automatically been marked Highlights can be put into albums. And sure enough, if I long-touch a photo under Highlights, there's an album icon, but long-touching a photo anywhere else, there isn't. (In fact, you can long-touch a photo in Highlights, switch tabs and Highlight another, and the album icon goes away. Remove the non-Highlight photo from the selection list and the option to save to an album returns.

I've got a screenshot I want to put in an album. No other shot will do, because... it's a screenshot. But it isn't a Highlight, probably because... it's a screenshot, maybe?

I'm totally flummoxed. Bad UX, bad!

Surely I'm missing something. This help doc seems to imply that only photos that have automatically been marked Highlights can be put into albums. And sure enough, if I long-touch a photo under Highlights, there's an album icon, but long-touching a photo anywhere else, there isn't. (In fact, you can long-touch a photo in Highlights, switch tabs and Highlight another, and the album icon goes away. Remove the non-Highlight photo from the selection list and the option to save to an album returns.

I've got a screenshot I want to put in an album. No other shot will do, because... it's a screenshot. But it isn't a Highlight, probably because... it's a screenshot, maybe?

I'm totally flummoxed. Bad UX, bad!___

2014-08-26 15:22:55 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 3 +1s) 

In comedy, timing context is everything

Comedy is about uncomfortable moments. Pushing the line to where someone could become angry, fearful or sad, but instead chooses to laugh. I'm not exactly making a new observation here, but most every joke (maybe aside from puns) could be pushed farther and eventually pushed too far. Answering whether it has gone too far turns on the context. And I think the context was the problem with the turntable display of Sofia Vergara last night during the Academy president's speech.

In the old Danny Thomas/Joey Bishop/Art Linkletter days (I wanted to write "Bob Hope days", but Bob Hope hosted the Oscars, not the Emmys), there were three parts of the awards shows that were taken Very Seriously: the memorials, the introduction of the accountants¹, and the speech by the president of the Academy. Any ofthe... more »

In comedy, timing context is everything

Comedy is about uncomfortable moments. Pushing the line to where someone could become angry, fearful or sad, but instead chooses to laugh. I'm not exactly making a new observation here, but most every joke (maybe aside from puns) could be pushed farther and eventually pushed too far. Answering whether it has gone too far turns on the context. And I think the context was the problem with the turntable display of Sofia Vergara last night during the Academy president's speech.

In the old Danny Thomas/Joey Bishop/Art Linkletter days (I wanted to write "Bob Hope days", but Bob Hope hosted the Oscars, not the Emmys), there were three parts of the awards shows that were taken Very Seriously: the memorials, the introduction of the accountants¹, and the speech by the president of the Academy. Any of the rest of the show could be spontaneous and were subject to ribbing and jokes, but those three bits were supposed to be solemn moments.

The accountants' introduction became fair game for poking fun decades ago. The reason for it even existing as part of the ceremony is almost lost to history¹, so it was an easy target—searching YouTube I found examples back as far as the 80's of the accountants being made fun of; it probably started even earlier. I think the memorials are probably permanently off-limits².

But the Academy president's speech has remained the yawner moment of every awards show. And for just as long as they've tried to gussy it up with slide shows or backdrops of recipients of the Academy's philanthropic work. Comedy's been tried before too, but all those I've seen have been pretty dreadful—though not so obviously vulnerable to the claim of offensiveness as last night's.

The problem, I think, with last night's bit was not that it wasn't funny given the correct context —it was—but that most viewers wouldn't have the correct context. Hollywood insiders, they'd get it—this is a boring part of the show, everyone's bored with it, as entertainers they'd like to just drop it, but since they can't they might as well try to make it entertaining. And how better to make a solemn but useless bit of ceremony entertaining than to skewer it with something completely ridiculous?

Acknowledging "we know you aren't going to listen anyway, so here's something to look at instead" is, in fact, funny. But most people watching the Emmys are not insiders, and they're going to take the president's speech at face value. You hear someone announced as the "Academy of Television Arts and Sciences President Bruce Rosenblum", you expect someone serious, and you expect them to be serious.

The fact that his speech itself ended up being a (too) slow-rolled joke about the point of Academy members' jobs being to get people to watch the screen would have been lost on most viewers.

And even for those it wasn't lost on? You see something almost inviolable in the acts of comedians who did "offensive" comedy well—Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, George Carlin: they told you they were about to be offensive before being so. George Carlin said he was going to tell you the words you couldn't say on TV. Then he said them. It's asking for consent: I want to do this thing that I think you'll like, but some people might not, so I need your permission first, okay?

Here, Rosenblum gives no explanation, but just tells Vergara to mount her rotating pedestal and begins giving what at first sounds like the every-year-yawner we expect. Insiders had the context to realize what's happening immediately and take it for what it was meant to be. But most viewers did not, and by the time the joke finally came in the last line of the speech, they'd already been offended without consent. Context's everything, and last night it was ignored.


¹ In a nutshell: at one time, if there existed an industry award, you could safely assume it was bought, sold and traded for influence (heck, that's true in many industry awards to this day), and above-board awards wanted to prove their bona fides by showing they had Ernst & Young or Price Waterhouse insuring there was no ballot box-stuffing.

² As a context for ironic pokes at the thing itself, I mean; of course when eulogizing someone from comedy, funny moments are welcome.

#emmys   #sofiavergara  ___

2014-08-23 18:43:29 (15 comments, 2 reshares, 7 +1s) 

As a linguist, I applaud how search-informed apps have taken natural-language software in a more prescriptivist descriptivist† direction. It's nice to know that, should I ever actually need to refer to the actress I think is named "Charlise Thieron", search-informed spelling correction can now easily tell me that should be "Charlize Theron".

But yet, but yet... I know that insisting on using the possessive-determiner form as the subject of a gerund is fusty, and I myself sometimes use the subject-nominative instead.

But please, Chrome, do not highlight "your" in, "I can recall once your sending your vodka on the rocks back..." with that grey grammar-and-usage underline and suggest a "correction" of "*you're"—not even the populist correction "you"!

Your "correction" is just wrong.Unles... more »

As a linguist, I applaud how search-informed apps have taken natural-language software in a more prescriptivist descriptivist† direction. It's nice to know that, should I ever actually need to refer to the actress I think is named "Charlise Thieron", search-informed spelling correction can now easily tell me that should be "Charlize Theron".

But yet, but yet... I know that insisting on using the possessive-determiner form as the subject of a gerund is fusty, and I myself sometimes use the subject-nominative instead.

But please, Chrome, do not highlight "your" in, "I can recall once your sending your vodka on the rocks back..." with that grey grammar-and-usage underline and suggest a "correction" of "*you're"—not even the populist correction "you"!

Your "correction" is just wrong. Unless I was starting a clause in the historical present tense ("I can recall once[, years ago,] you're sending your vodka back when you notice it's not even vodka but gin") or the habitual aspect in present-continuous tense ("I can recall [that,] once you're sending your vodka back, pretty soon you're demanding your next drink's perfection"). Which I was not.

It isn't the first time I've caught you¹ doing it. Your (yes, dammit, your) correcting this must stop².

I don't get my hackles up when an impetuous bit of software tries to hypercorrect me. But insisting a grammatical usage is wrong and suggesting an ungrammatical one to replace it is just plain irritating.

(I'm done now. Now back to your originally-scheduled programming, already in progress.)

¹ Both "you" and "your" would be acceptable here and are nearly synonymous; the first emphasizes that I caught you, the second that I caught the action of your doing it.

² Interestingly, you'll let "your", "you", and the quite-definitely-wrong "*you're" all go by in that sentence. What gives?

† Updated: Whoops! That was a thinko. I meant "descriptivist".___

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2014-08-23 17:31:09 (11 comments, 2 reshares, 47 +1s) 

Hah! I just noticed that Peter Capaldi voices Matt Smith's grunt at the one-minute mark in this scene. (Funny how you can even grunt recognizably in Scots.)

I'm optimistic about Peter Capaldi's Doctor. There's the obvious change: succeeding Matt Smith, the eleventh and youngest to play the alien time-traveller lead, Capaldi will tonight be the oldest to ever take over the Doctor Who lead role at 57 (even the first Doctor, William Hartnell, who played the character as if he were in his seventies—and looked it—was just 55). He's more than twice the age of Matt Smith when he took the part.

This is especially interesting because Matt Smith, particularly as his tenure went on, had an uncanny ability to seem older than any previous Doctor. Which in the story, of course, he was—not only was he the latest incarnation, but he was by far the longest-lived (claiming agesbetwe... more »

Hah! I just noticed that Peter Capaldi voices Matt Smith's grunt at the one-minute mark in this scene. (Funny how you can even grunt recognizably in Scots.)

I'm optimistic about Peter Capaldi's Doctor. There's the obvious change: succeeding Matt Smith, the eleventh and youngest to play the alien time-traveller lead, Capaldi will tonight be the oldest to ever take over the Doctor Who lead role at 57 (even the first Doctor, William Hartnell, who played the character as if he were in his seventies—and looked it—was just 55). He's more than twice the age of Matt Smith when he took the part.

This is especially interesting because Matt Smith, particularly as his tenure went on, had an uncanny ability to seem older than any previous Doctor. Which in the story, of course, he was—not only was he the latest incarnation, but he was by far the longest-lived (claiming ages between 907 and 2100), and it seems like Smith used this quite a bit in informing his character. In Smith's first few episodes, he maintained the boyishness of his predecessor David Tennant for the most part, and superficially exceeded it by being twelve years younger, but every now and again gave a hint of an old man carrying the weight of years. By the end of his tenure, Smith seemed to turn his Doctor's boyish zaniness into something more like grumpy doddering, sometimes trembling his lips, stooping and smacking his teeth, and sometimes having a private joke with a voice only he could hear.

Tom Baker is "my doctor" in being the first I followed, and I enjoyed Christopher Eccleston's and Tennant's turns quite a lot. Still, I think there's a strong case to be made that Smith may have been the most accomplished actor to really inhabit the role, and I base that almost entirely on the impossibly brilliant way he could make you believe he really was a centuries-old man whose lifetime, on balance, haunted him. Yet Smith's Doctor expressed delight in the humans he surrounded himself with, often professing his admiration of his companions or of the entire race out loud.

With Capaldi and his Doctor, I expect to see somewhat the reverse: an old man who shows flashes of youth, but is stern, pragmatic and wryly witty, rather than zany, yearning and surreal.

We've seen in trailers he redecorates his TARDIS with blackboards and musty bookshelves. Eccleston's Doctor called his human companion Rose "another stupid ape", and I think we may see some of that blithe superiority and impatience come back. The Doctor is superior, and he knows it, and only politeness keeps him from regularly mentioning it; if there's anything bridging Capaldi's many brilliant roles over the years, it certainly isn't "politeness".

I'm optimistic, but cautiously so. Capaldi's already signed on for a series (American "season") beyond this one, but if they really took the character where I would hope it could go, I'd think the BBC would be waiting to see fan's reactions. A show whose popularity, particularly in the States, skyrocketed just at the time it had its most young, hip and telegenic leads? Now switching to a 57-year-old actor who reportedly put it in his contract that his Doctor will be the first to speak with a Scottish accent, who himself wrote Whovian fan fiction as a kid? And to reportedly steer clear of the entire sexual-tension factor present between the all the prior "reboot" incarnations and (at least some of) his young female companions because of the "creepy" factor?

Really, I ask you: what's "creepier", a 1200-year-old played by a 24-year-old (Smith) romancing a 500-plus-year-old played by a 50-year-old (Alex Kingston), or a 2100-year-old played by a 57-year old (Capaldi) romancing a 28-year-old (Jenna Coleman)? But Smith and Coleman were about the same age, so that's all that mattered. Particularly to the hypothetical Mary Janes BBC execs are imagining. Remember, Doctor Who is the BBC's biggest money-maker, but is also, by far, its most expensive ongoing production. The risks are high.

There have been previous reports that during Smith's last series, the BBC pulled showrunner Steven Moffat back from some unspecified "more daring" places he wanted the show to go. (And indeed, as brilliant as Smith was, the last half of the final series, not including the final three 50th-anniversary extravaganzas, was some of the weakest of the entire Who reboot.) I fear that with Series 8 we may see the same kind of promise arrested by nervous network notes, which can be (alliteratively) deadly to a show like this.

But that's the "cautious" part. I'm mostly optimistic, and looking forward to tonight, and even more so to next Saturday, when they don't have so many introductions and loose ends to take care of and we can begin to find out if the Twelfth Doctor is, in fact, "a good man".

#doctorwho   #mattsmith   #petercapaldi   #petercapaldi12thdoctor  (Strangely, these auto-hashtags disappeared after I fixed a couple typos.)___

2014-08-21 18:00:44 (12 comments, 0 reshares, 1 +1s) 

I use the unicode-fonts package for unicode-fonts-setup, which makes glyphs not available in my default font (Liberation Mono) displayable using another available font containing the glyph. It works great—but I have to run unicode-fonts-setup manually and I can't figure out how to automate it.

I run Emacs in daemon mode, so when it starts up it's not attached to a GUI.  So running unicode-fonts-steup from my emacs.d/init.el at daemon startup is useless; it needs a GUI to query, so it really needs to run the first time I create a frame.

There's a before-make-frame-hook, but that's too early too. I could hook to load-file or any number of other hooks, but those would cause the function, which is pretty expensive, to run multiple times unless I do some dodge like having the hook contain a custom function that runs unicode-fonts-setup and then removes itself from theho... more »

I use the unicode-fonts package for unicode-fonts-setup, which makes glyphs not available in my default font (Liberation Mono) displayable using another available font containing the glyph. It works great—but I have to run unicode-fonts-setup manually and I can't figure out how to automate it.

I run Emacs in daemon mode, so when it starts up it's not attached to a GUI.  So running unicode-fonts-steup from my emacs.d/init.el at daemon startup is useless; it needs a GUI to query, so it really needs to run the first time I create a frame.

There's a before-make-frame-hook, but that's too early too. I could hook to load-file or any number of other hooks, but those would cause the function, which is pretty expensive, to run multiple times unless I do some dodge like having the hook contain a custom function that runs unicode-fonts-setup and then removes itself from the hook. And even that might not work properly since it's conceivable the first frame I'd open might be a tty frame rather than a GUI.

How can I make this run automatically, just once, but late enough to be useful?___

2014-08-19 22:39:37 (16 comments, 2 reshares, 33 +1s) 

It's come up several times in conjunction with #Ferguson stories but it bears repeating. There's no such thing as a "non-lethal shot".

Basic firearms safety 101: you never point the muzzle of a gun at something (or someone) you aren't trying to kill. Period. Police were wrong to do it to protesters, and those suggesting that today's shooting should have been a "leg shot" rather than a "kill shot" are wrong too. Maybe the officer should have used a taser in dealing with someone like that; but maybe he didn't have one or it wasn't at the ready or he was too far away.

This isn't a matter of training. At least, not in the way some seem to think it is. The cops who thought pointing guns at peaceful protesters was part of effective crowd control protocol could have used more training. But you don't train for... more »

It's come up several times in conjunction with #Ferguson stories but it bears repeating. There's no such thing as a "non-lethal shot".

Basic firearms safety 101: you never point the muzzle of a gun at something (or someone) you aren't trying to kill. Period. Police were wrong to do it to protesters, and those suggesting that today's shooting should have been a "leg shot" rather than a "kill shot" are wrong too. Maybe the officer should have used a taser in dealing with someone like that; but maybe he didn't have one or it wasn't at the ready or he was too far away.

This isn't a matter of training. At least, not in the way some seem to think it is. The cops who thought pointing guns at peaceful protesters was part of effective crowd control protocol could have used more training. But you don't train for "non-lethal shots".

Sharpshooters train for making difficult shots, and among the things they may train for is attempting a disarming shot when a weapon is in a hostage-taker's hand (because when you kill someone whose finger is on a trigger, they will often involuntarily shoot). But sharpshooters attempt that shot only as an absolute last resort, when killing both the target and the hostage is a less-bad alternative, since that's going to be the result as often as the perfect disarming shot.

And even so, most police aren't sharpshooters anyway. They train to shoot the center mass, because that's the biggest target. Their aim (literally) is to take the target down. That's it. They can't afford to get fancy, and people considering what "use of force" and "proportionate force" means need to take that into account. Pointing a gun and putting a finger on the trigger is a decision to kill. There are no halfway measures when a firearm is involved.___

2014-08-19 12:08:36 (8 comments, 0 reshares, 3 +1s) 

What does "tear gas" smell like?

Chemically, I would think tear gas (assuming what they're using in #Ferguson  is CS tear gas, and I think it is—more on that in a moment) would be completely odorless (and the authoritative sources on the chemistry I've found say the same). But watching the news reports from last night, I frequently heard reporters on the ground mention the "familiar smell of tear gas" right before feeling the effects.

Anyone know the real dirt here? A few thoughts off the top of my head:

The highway control commanders and spokespeople have frequently mentioned deploying "smoke" before they deploy "tear gas"—this is a very confusing term, and might be another confusion caused by the intersection of military technology with law enforcement, as the military distinguishes between "tear gasdeli... more »

What does "tear gas" smell like?

Chemically, I would think tear gas (assuming what they're using in #Ferguson  is CS tear gas, and I think it is—more on that in a moment) would be completely odorless (and the authoritative sources on the chemistry I've found say the same). But watching the news reports from last night, I frequently heard reporters on the ground mention the "familiar smell of tear gas" right before feeling the effects.

Anyone know the real dirt here? A few thoughts off the top of my head:

The highway control commanders and spokespeople have frequently mentioned deploying "smoke" before they deploy "tear gas"—this is a very confusing term, and might be another confusion caused by the intersection of military technology with law enforcement, as the military distinguishes between "tear gas delivery" (the sort of thing you'd do to an entire battlefield via modified artillery shells) and "CS smoke grenade delivery"—"CS smoke" is what most of us mean when we say "tear gas". (The difference between these terms may just be a legalistic one, as the use of tear gas on the battlefield is prohibited by chemical weapons treaties as a war crime, but nothing is said about "CS smoke grenades".)

Cannisters recovered from Ferguson show a number emprinted with "CS smoke" and some simply with "CS" or "tearing agent". One can imagine these police, not being fully trained on these chemical agents, might not realize that "CS smoke" is tear gas. That wouldn't explain the smell, though—CS is definitely odorless. 

They might be using military-grade smokescreen in cannister (basically, bigger grenade) form. This seems very unlikely to me, as smokescreen is very unsafe for inhalation—it would be a much more dangerous chemical agent than CS tear gas, and the way authorities have referred to it, they seem to be at least treating it as a less-drastic preliminary or alternative to tear gas—and isn't supposed to be used as crowd control, but rather as a way to hide (masked) troop, vehicle or armament repositioning.

So more likely they're referring to the "smoke" used in tear gas training exercises, which are generally deployed in grenades and cannisters identical to the ones CS gas come in (as with all such armaments, the same manufacturers generally supply these so that training can be done with feel-alikes and with the same launchers, etc.).

The law enforcement suppliers whose catalogs I've found on the web do not give the chemical composition of their (supposedly) non-bioactive grenades, just calling it "Safe Smoke" or "SafeTSmoke™" or the like. (I can't tell you how spittingly angry it made me to find one site, "Defense Technology"—I refuse to link to it here—has their full catalog online but puts their safety information behind a password wall.) So they could smell like anything. "Warm" theatrical smoke (the kind made from glycerol or the like—a vapor similar to what e-cigarettes use) has little to no smell. Carbon dioxide mist, or "dry ice smoke", has an unmistakeable smell but I wouldn't call it "acrid", and besides, you can't deliver dry ice smoke that way.

Would the odor from the propellants or incendiary agents (either from the CS grenades themselves, from the flashbang grenades that frequently precedede them, or from the launchers) carry and be identifiable? Again, going just from the chemistry I'd think this would be possible, and the only descriptive adjective I've seen applied to the smell is "acrid". No chemical agent or smokescreen agent has an "acrid" smell—camphor, vinegar, eucalyptus, or strong vegetal smells would be more expected, even if less common tearing or smokescreen agents were used. 

Flashbangs definitely carry an "acrid" smell that is said to linger in low wind, so my money's on the flashbangs that the police in Ferguson seem to be using in a protool immediately before tear gas. If so, hopefully they don't change up that protocol, or people (especially press) who may have started to depend on what they think "tear gas smells like" could get themselves into big trouble quickly.

I'd really like to know the answer, though.___

2014-08-16 14:30:37 (24 comments, 2 reshares, 19 +1s) 

I'm not going to defend the looters in #Ferguson  last night, and I think it's always necessary to remember that they were a tiny, tiny fraction of Ferguson residents and of people out on the streets last night; by all accounts, many more protesters were trying to stop the looting.

Still, I don't think this is that hard to understand, do you? The Ferguson police chief holds a presser (where he doesn't take questions from the press), and, along with the name of the officer who shot Mike Brown, drops a video showing Brown robbing a convenience store—a video he later says was completely unrelated to the shooting. In other words, he was sending young black men an unmistakeable message: "yeah, we may shoot you when you haven't done anything, but you deserve it, because other times you do shit like this."

Can you really blame some of the recipients of thatme... more »

I'm not going to defend the looters in #Ferguson  last night, and I think it's always necessary to remember that they were a tiny, tiny fraction of Ferguson residents and of people out on the streets last night; by all accounts, many more protesters were trying to stop the looting.

Still, I don't think this is that hard to understand, do you? The Ferguson police chief holds a presser (where he doesn't take questions from the press), and, along with the name of the officer who shot Mike Brown, drops a video showing Brown robbing a convenience store—a video he later says was completely unrelated to the shooting. In other words, he was sending young black men an unmistakeable message: "yeah, we may shoot you when you haven't done anything, but you deserve it, because other times you do shit like this."

Can you really blame some of the recipients of that message if they thought, "oh, yeah? Well fuck you then, if you're saying you may shoot me just because I'm the type of person who might steal shit from a convenience store, I might as well go to that convenience store and steal some shit. If you're going to assume it anyway, why shouldn't I get some sort of benefit?"

I don't know that's what they were thinking. That sort of thinking is obviously wrong and self-defeating. Some of them were probably just filled with inchoate anger. Some were just idiots. But I know it was what I was thinking yesterday after seeing the Ferguson police chief's despicably transparent attempt at character assassination. The Ferguson and county police just need to get the hell out of this situation. They've done nothing, at any point, but to inflame it and make it worse. ___

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2014-08-14 22:56:23 (23 comments, 8 reshares, 22 +1s) 

A must-read on what other police chiefs think about what's happened in Ferguson. Hint: it isn't good.

Watching the live feeds last night I repeatedly shook my head, asking myself what the hell are they thinking? Pointing sniper rifles at peaceful protesters who haven't even been ordered to disperse? Bringing dogs out to harass protesters? Lobbing tear gas at an Al-Jazeera truck, then after the reporters flee, methodically overturning all their equipment? Telling people they must leave a spot, while not allowing them to move in any direction, then arresting them for not complying? Arresting reporters for, it seems, no reason at all? Then trying to un-arrest them by tearing up the paperwork once the higher-ups tell them what a mistake they made?

What. The. Hell. But even as I was asking myself this, a small part of my mind was saying, "look,... more »

A must-read on what other police chiefs think about what's happened in Ferguson. Hint: it isn't good.

Watching the live feeds last night I repeatedly shook my head, asking myself what the hell are they thinking? Pointing sniper rifles at peaceful protesters who haven't even been ordered to disperse? Bringing dogs out to harass protesters? Lobbing tear gas at an Al-Jazeera truck, then after the reporters flee, methodically overturning all their equipment? Telling people they must leave a spot, while not allowing them to move in any direction, then arresting them for not complying? Arresting reporters for, it seems, no reason at all? Then trying to un-arrest them by tearing up the paperwork once the higher-ups tell them what a mistake they made?

What. The. Hell. But even as I was asking myself this, a small part of my mind was saying, "look, you've never been on that side of a situation like this, you can't imagine what's usual and what's not. Maybe, as distasteful and shocking as this is, it's just what happens." Maybe you were thinking something along the same lines. Read this. Read the words of police commanders who have dealt with large-scale protests, asking exactly the same questions about Ferguson.

+Radley Balko's piece is just incredible and deserves reading from beginning to end. You'll begin to get an inkling of where this mindset came from, and, just maybe, how we can hope to turn things around before "crowd control" really and truly turns into just a euphemism for dissent suppression, everywhere in the country.___

2014-08-14 14:49:19 (42 comments, 0 reshares, 3 +1s) 

A question (one I'm legitimately asking, not using to troll, as I don't know the answer): is a suspect's reaching for an officer's holstered handgun sufficient cause to use deadly force to subdue the suspect?

Retention (security) holsters are well-nigh impossible to work without training on that particular model, and the companies that make them take steps to make instructions hard to get. (I'm not saying instructions on removing a gun from a retention holster are harder to get than, say, bomb-making instructions. But you can't search YouTube for a quick how-to on how someone can remove a gun from a holster another person's wearing.) And knowing how one holster works isn't necessarily helpful in removing a weapon from another holster—in fact, most holsters are designed such that trying to remove the weapon using another common retention holster's unholsteringt... more »

A question (one I'm legitimately asking, not using to troll, as I don't know the answer): is a suspect's reaching for an officer's holstered handgun sufficient cause to use deadly force to subdue the suspect?

Retention (security) holsters are well-nigh impossible to work without training on that particular model, and the companies that make them take steps to make instructions hard to get. (I'm not saying instructions on removing a gun from a retention holster are harder to get than, say, bomb-making instructions. But you can't search YouTube for a quick how-to on how someone can remove a gun from a holster another person's wearing.) And knowing how one holster works isn't necessarily helpful in removing a weapon from another holster—in fact, most holsters are designed such that trying to remove the weapon using another common retention holster's unholstering technique will only result in locking the gun in place. (I know of at least one model of retention holster in which the obvious retention clasp is totally a decoy, and popping the snap locks all the other retainers so the weapon can't be removed until the clasp is re-snapped.¹)

The "bad guy grabs a holstered gun from a cop" trope is prevalent on TV, so people may think it's a simple matter of popping the clasp and lifting the weapon out, but it just isn't. (Retention holsters are designed such that the motions required to unholster the weapon involve pushing and twisting—so even a master pickpocket with full understanding of the mechanism isn't going to be able to remove the weapon unnoticed.) So a random guy reaching for a holster is, almost always, going to be doing something really about as dangerous as holding a butane lighter up to a block of plastic explosive: i.e., obviously showing deadly intent, but without deadly force to back up that intent.

Yet, with all that said: someone's reaching for your holstered weapon is obviously an incredibly provocative act, and a cop would have to treat that person as dangerous (and with deadly intent). But, in the absence of other weapons or other aggressive action, is that alone enough reason to use deadly force to subdue the perpetrator?

I know that an unarmed person can, in some circumstances, be convicted of offenses "with a deadly weapon" if they have the intent, since hands and legs and feet can kill. So maybe you assume that if they reach for the gun, their next move is going to be deadly even unarmed.

Still, I'd lay money that more suspects who reach for an officer's holstered weapon are mentally unstable than have cogent criminal intent. And so I think it'd worry me if deadly force were routinely used in response to a provocative but—in itself—ultimately undangerous action.

¹ I'm not a gun geek, but I'm a security geek, so retention holsters are something I've learned more about than the guns they holster.___

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2014-08-13 22:47:03 (28 comments, 3 reshares, 18 +1s) 

Sometimes I use crutches. Usually I do not. But even when I'm not using crutches, usually I can't negotiate a flight of stairs easily.

I have an elevator access card at work that lets me get off on any floor—the elevators usually stop every third floor, so getting to a particular floor can involve climbing one or descending two flights.

More than once, coworkers—people who have seen me with and without crutches—have made comments when I've used the card to go directly to my floor on days I'm not crutching. "You've got the magic card, might as well use it, huh?" or such.

I usually just let it go; I don't see any reason to have a confrontation. Sometimes I defend myself: "my arthritis can be bad enough to keep me from climbing steps before it gets bad enough to need the crutches."  But either way, it's humiliating andembarr... more »

Sometimes I use crutches. Usually I do not. But even when I'm not using crutches, usually I can't negotiate a flight of stairs easily.

I have an elevator access card at work that lets me get off on any floor—the elevators usually stop every third floor, so getting to a particular floor can involve climbing one or descending two flights.

More than once, coworkers—people who have seen me with and without crutches—have made comments when I've used the card to go directly to my floor on days I'm not crutching. "You've got the magic card, might as well use it, huh?" or such.

I usually just let it go; I don't see any reason to have a confrontation. Sometimes I defend myself: "my arthritis can be bad enough to keep me from climbing steps before it gets bad enough to need the crutches."  But either way, it's humiliating and embarrassing.

Some days, I'm in good shape so I take the stairs with everyone else.  Others, I probably could handle the stairs, but doing so could make it hard for me to get down into the subway later, so I skip it.

Sometimes I decide to climb a flight of steps I otherwise wouldn't when the elevator is far out of my way, or even if I'm chatting with someone and don't want to interrupt the moment—that's my choice. I've decided to make a tradeoff that works for me at that precise moment. (Sometimes I find I chose poorly, and regret it later.)

Standing still waiting for an elevator or other assistance can hurt even worse than a longer walk or a flight of steps, and what I need is to get to my destination and sit down as quickly as possible. So, for me, there's no contradiction in my climbing the four steps to the elevators—which I will then take directly to my floor—rather than walking all the way around the building to take the lift that lets me avoid those four steps.

Since minimizing the hurtful movement is usually my priority, my choices may look to you exactly as if I were choosing the laziest option each time. The point is, you can't know what I'm feeling, or how I'm feeling, today, or at this very moment. You aren't equipped to judge the tradeoffs I'm making, and I shouldn't feel under any obligation to give you enough information about my condition so that you will agree that my decisions—to climb steps or not, to use crutches or not, to take a longer flatter path or a shorter hillier one—are justified.

I shouldn't feel obligated to make you see that my decisions are justified. But I often do. So I try to explain, inadequately, and I come off as defensive, and I feel bad for that. Or I just shut up, telling myself I don't care what you think. But I do care what you think, you're my friend or colleague, and I don't want you to think of me that way, so I feel bad for staying silent.

At least 95% of the time, I don't feel any of this. I just do what I need to do to keep myself mobile and healthy, and I don't worry about anyone else's reaction unless what I need to do inconveniences them. But your big sigh when I press that elevator button, one floor before yours, helps remind me of your threshold for inconvenience.  Comments like those I've heard and images like this one help remind me that you—some of you, some of the time!—are inclined to assume that I'm "abusing my privilege" of using accessibility aids when you can't see how I'm feeling.

Do you know that old "Brady Bunch" episode where Carol gets into a fender-bender, and the other driver shows up in court wearing an "obviously phony" neck brace, and Mike drops his briefcase to the floor with a bang—exposing the fraud when the neck-braced driver turns his neck to see?

If I were using a neck brace (I haven't needed to in years; my spinal arthritis usually only affects the middle and lower spine, but who knows when I might again?) and you tried to "prove" I was "faking it" the same way, I'd almost certainly involuntarily turn my head at the noise, too—and then probably howl in pain. But you wouldn't have "proven" anything; all you would have done would be to injure me worse by making me suddenly jerk that joint I'd tried to immobilize so it would heal.

My neck brace wasn't a claim that I couldn't move my neck, and my skipping the stairs isn't necessarily a claim that I can't climb a stairwell. It's just my judgment that I shouldn’t do so lest I hurt myself worse. That people without disabilities show, again and again, that they feel both qualified and entitled to second-guess disabled people's judgment is perniciously hurtful.

And about the photo that started this: before I got on my current regimen—when my mobility was much worse than it usually is now—when I went grocery shopping, I'd borrow the supermarket's wheelchair, since grocery shopping with crutches is very difficult if not impossible. (If you doubt me, the next time you're shopping, pay attention and try to imagine doing it with crutches.) If I needed something off a high shelf, of course I'd just stand up and get it! The alternative—wheeling to the customer service desk, asking for help, wheeling back to the shelf, and waiting for someone to arrive and hand me down the item I wanted—was worse in every way, provided I was mobile enough that I could do this maneuver. Notice the woman seems to be holding on to another shelf for support. I'd do the same.

That there exist people who falsely claim disabilities I won't argue, any more than I'd argue that Carol Brady's accuser was unfairly maligned—he was written, after all, to be in the wrong. But this is irrelevant. In day-to-day interactions, you should give people the benefit of the doubt; no one needs you to investigate, let alone exact vigilante justice upon via public shaming, anyone you encounter you think might be misusing accessibility aids.

(And those commenters who like to argue that the image isn't mocking people falsely claiming disabilities, but rather mocking alcoholics? They aren't helping; they're just managing to disparage both people with real disabilities, and people with addictions, unfairly.)___

2014-08-11 15:28:57 (7 comments, 6 reshares, 16 +1s) 

STOP calling me and asking for my personal information, dammit!

Any hope of real protections of privacy requires that individuals protect their own private information, and that in turn requires that authorities with access to private information promote data hygiene. But all too often I see evidence that this just isn't happening.

Every good sysadmin I've ever interacted with automatically averts his or her eyes when someone is typing a password, even when they have full superuser rights on the system the person is typing a password for. If someone starts to give us their password "just in case you need it", we stop them and reiterate that they should never do that. It's just a sign of hygiene, a demonstration that we mean it when we say, "we will never ask you for your password".

But yet, on a weekly basis I get calls from banks,... more »

STOP calling me and asking for my personal information, dammit!

Any hope of real protections of privacy requires that individuals protect their own private information, and that in turn requires that authorities with access to private information promote data hygiene. But all too often I see evidence that this just isn't happening.

Every good sysadmin I've ever interacted with automatically averts his or her eyes when someone is typing a password, even when they have full superuser rights on the system the person is typing a password for. If someone starts to give us their password "just in case you need it", we stop them and reiterate that they should never do that. It's just a sign of hygiene, a demonstration that we mean it when we say, "we will never ask you for your password".

But yet, on a weekly basis I get calls from banks, healthcare providers, insurance companies, pharmacies, and the like, and the first thing they say, after they call me, is, "I need to verify your identity; can we start with your [birthdate/ID number/social security number/address/etc.]?" And  they always react with tones ranging from hostile to bewildered—at least suggesting this doesn't happen very often!—when I reply, as I always do, "no, you called me, so I'm not giving you any personal information. Is there an extension where I can reach you from calling the number on the back of my card?"

This is infuriating. I'm sure people get annoyed when they get the robots (and they're always robots, of course) calling them and telling them to "please call the number on the back of your card for an important message".

And I'm sure people have complained about the extra time it takes to do that. You know what? I don't care. While it's not true that security and convenience need always be a tradeoff (despite the mistaken impression that all too many soi-disant "security professionals" may give), in this case, you gotta jump through the extra hoop; you can't tell the difference between your bank calling you and someone pretending to be your bank calling you unless you call them back.¹ (And Caller ID doesn't count; it's trivial to spoof the well-known Caller ID of an institution.)

If the institutions asking us to entrust them with our private information are so cavalier with it that they get pissy when we simply ask that they enforce some modicum of that trust, is it any wonder that everything seems to be moving in a direction of less and less privacy for individuals, and more and more control for institutions?

¹ There could be such a way, like you could have security questions in your account file, not only that they'd ask you, but that you could ask them. The script would go:

Q: "Hi, this is Bank XYZ calling for Trey. Is this Trey?"
A: "Yes, speaking."
Q: "We have some information to share with you. Do you have a security question to verify our identity?"
A: "Yes: what does your logo remind me of?"
Q: "A porcupine sitting on a pineapple."
A: "Yes, that's correct."
Q: "And to verify your identity, I'd like to ask you... [proceed as before]."

Yet, as obvious as it seems, I've never actually run into this sort of "mutual authentication" being done in practice.

Maybe no one's ever thought of it, but I doubt it; mutual authentication is quite standard protocol in cryptanalysis. I'd suspect the issue is liability: one can imagine that, despite admonitions to never use the same "security reverse-question" for more than one institution, people would anyway, as they do with passwords.

So if a rogue employee took security questions with him out of the institution, he could use it to make a call to a customer to get personal information. He could do so posing as the same institution; that risk already presents and companies have mitigated the liability. But, knowing that many people would re-use their reverse questions just like they re-use passwords, the rogue could call and pretend to be some other institution, and have a decent "hit rate". That's a new risk that seems potentially open-ended in terms of liability, and corporate counsels never like potentially open-ended liability.

...and I see, searching around, that government and military institutions do, in fact, do something very like this for inter- or intra-agency key recovery and telephonic cert verification. But there you don't have liability issues, you just have silly things like tax fraud and national security to worry about; no problem!___

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2014-08-09 17:51:47 (6 comments, 0 reshares, 6 +1s) 

Nice! It's always annoyed me a little that I couldn't preview my Markdown exactly as GitHub renders it (complete with stylesheets and syntax highlighting) without committing and pushing—something I wouldn't want to do every time I saved since remote squashing is hard to impossible, and creating a branch just for Markdown editing (so you can delete the whole branch once done and merged) is a pain.

This is a sweet little node.js app that spins up a local webserver to preview your Markdown with GitHub rendering.

If you have npm installed, it's probably easiest just to install it that way (with npm install -g greadme).

Nice! It's always annoyed me a little that I couldn't preview my Markdown exactly as GitHub renders it (complete with stylesheets and syntax highlighting) without committing and pushing—something I wouldn't want to do every time I saved since remote squashing is hard to impossible, and creating a branch just for Markdown editing (so you can delete the whole branch once done and merged) is a pain.

This is a sweet little node.js app that spins up a local webserver to preview your Markdown with GitHub rendering.

If you have npm installed, it's probably easiest just to install it that way (with npm install -g greadme).___

2014-08-08 19:04:50 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 6 +1s) 

Heh. I just got a link-exchange request for my "blog". The "blog" being one of my Perl module's CHANGES files as displayed on MetaCPAN.

Guess if it's (on) a web page, and it has items displayed in reverse-chronological order with dates, ipso facto it's a blog? :-)

Heh. I just got a link-exchange request for my "blog". The "blog" being one of my Perl module's CHANGES files as displayed on MetaCPAN.

Guess if it's (on) a web page, and it has items displayed in reverse-chronological order with dates, ipso facto it's a blog? :-)___

2014-08-08 18:54:39 (3 comments, 0 reshares, 0 +1s) 

Is there any reason that a plug-in outlet extender (the kind with two plugs on one side and six outlets on the other, not the surge-protector kind with one plug and a centered grounding screw) wouldn't be safe to use on a bathroom GFCI outlet?

It would cover the test and reset buttons, obviously, but so long as you were aware of that (and occasionally removed the extender, plugged loads into the outlet, and tested it that way), shouldn't it be perfectly safe?

#DIY   #electrician  

Is there any reason that a plug-in outlet extender (the kind with two plugs on one side and six outlets on the other, not the surge-protector kind with one plug and a centered grounding screw) wouldn't be safe to use on a bathroom GFCI outlet?

It would cover the test and reset buttons, obviously, but so long as you were aware of that (and occasionally removed the extender, plugged loads into the outlet, and tested it that way), shouldn't it be perfectly safe?

#DIY   #electrician  ___

2014-08-06 17:12:25 (13 comments, 0 reshares, 0 +1s) 

A lighter light?

Anyone know if someone's compiled a database of high-efficiency lamps¹  that includes weight²?

I've had the Philips EnduraLED 12.5W A19 800 lumens lamp in a tension luminaire³ for some time and I love it—the output, color quality and dimmability are excellent. Except, the lamp's weight makes the fixture hang just low enough to where I bump my head against it.

It weighs 178 g (6.3 oz), which is about average for an 800-lumen LED (or was—the newest arrivals all seem to be lighter)—but the fixture was designed for incandescent bulbs, which typically weighed 30 g. An approximately150 g (5 oz) difference doesn't seem like much, but it's like putting five extra bulbs' weight into the thing as designed, and it makes it sag a full twenty centimeters (8") lower than it did before I switched to the LED.

Mostof the newe... more »

A lighter light?

Anyone know if someone's compiled a database of high-efficiency lamps¹  that includes weight²?

I've had the Philips EnduraLED 12.5W A19 800 lumens lamp in a tension luminaire³ for some time and I love it—the output, color quality and dimmability are excellent. Except, the lamp's weight makes the fixture hang just low enough to where I bump my head against it.

It weighs 178 g (6.3 oz), which is about average for an 800-lumen LED (or was—the newest arrivals all seem to be lighter)—but the fixture was designed for incandescent bulbs, which typically weighed 30 g. An approximately150 g (5 oz) difference doesn't seem like much, but it's like putting five extra bulbs' weight into the thing as designed, and it makes it sag a full twenty centimeters (8") lower than it did before I switched to the LED.

Most of the newest entrants are lighter. The most obvious choice as a replacement for this application, the Philips SlimStyle LED (http://goo.gl/fVmQTc), not only shares much of the output profile of the EnduraLED (despite its odd, hockey-puck shape), it weighs only 62 g (2.2 oz), which should make a real difference. However, this fixture is on a dimmer, and the SlimStyle lamp has gotten really bad reviews on its dimming range and noise output when dimmed (the EnduraLED has a near-full range and is virtually silent).

Rather than using an external dimmer with a dimmable lamp, I could try a self-dimming lamp (though I'm loathe to use one whose only control is via smartphone app). But I'm finding it even harder to find lamp-only weights for these, let alone in some sort of searchable form, since they usually come in boxes with peripherals and shipping weight is what sellers are concerned with. And most of the self-dimmers are in one automation ecosystem or another whose entire bulb-replacement lineup is A19, and most of the lights in my house are not A19⁴, so if I got one of those "smart" lights, it would probably be a one-off.

Anyone have either pointers to a good database like this (or perhaps a seller that lets you search by lamp weight?), or a suggestion for a lighter lamp for this application?

¹ By "lamps", I'm using the term for what's commonly called a "light bulb", i.e. something you plug or screw into a luminaire (which is the thing that provides voltage and on/off/dimming control to the lamp), a.k.a. a "lamp" or "light fixture" (which is the entire construction of the thing containing and holding the lamp(s) and luminaire(s) up).

² And by "weight", I mean lamp weight; it's easy enough to find shipping weight, but I don't give a damn about the packaging, and I've found that the packaging weight is variable enough that a package weighing 30% more can contain a lamp that weighs 5% less. In fact, that's not unlikely, since the lightest lamps probably tend to be less durable (the SlimStyle being an exception; despite its light weight, it feel like a solid piece of polycarbonate).

³ You know, what us rental-apartment-dwellers use to put an overhead light somewhere—the fixture sits on the floor in the corner and cantilevers the luminaire to the ceiling several meters away—since we can't drill into the ceiling.

⁴ In case you're wondering, I have a lot of E12 LED, J- and G-type halogen, and integral (i.e., non-replaceable) LED fixtures from the days before you could buy socketed replacements. The E12's might eventually get automated bulbs, but I kinda doubt the J- or G-types ever will—they're just so small and so specialized. The integral fixtures obviously never will.

This is a problem of the rapid obsolescence of a product category that's been designed for long life to promote cost amortization—every installation is frozen in the moment of time in which it was conceived.___

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2014-08-05 15:40:39 (5 comments, 0 reshares, 5 +1s) 

Guardians of the Galaxy is not a New York Times Critic's Pick.

But reading this review, which is just short of a rave, makes me think that the only reason the movie isn't a pick is that the editors are too stuffy to give the nod to a movie squarely in the intersection of all the genres they're least likely to give Critic's Picks to.

Guardians of the Galaxy is not a New York Times Critic's Pick.

But reading this review, which is just short of a rave, makes me think that the only reason the movie isn't a pick is that the editors are too stuffy to give the nod to a movie squarely in the intersection of all the genres they're least likely to give Critic's Picks to.___

2014-08-02 16:18:31 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 13 +1s) 

Oh, the miraculous blind spot!

The physiological blind spot is so weird. I was standing at my kitchen sink doing some dishes, glanced over my shoulder at the digital clock on the oven, and started because it read 1:11, when I thought it was still morning. I called out to Connor in the other room, telling him I didn't think it was so late, he said "it isn't", and I glanced back at the clock. Definitely 1:11, and I glanced up at the microwave clock above the range. Also 1:11.

I wiped my hands and turned to see how both clocks had somehow gotten the same wrong time (or, more likely of course, to prove Connor wrong!) and saw the clocks both reading 11:10. I saw what had happened and couldn't resist. Sure enough, placing myself back directly in front of the sink, glancing over my shoulder, I could not see the final digit of either clock when I looked directly at... more »

Oh, the miraculous blind spot!

The physiological blind spot is so weird. I was standing at my kitchen sink doing some dishes, glanced over my shoulder at the digital clock on the oven, and started because it read 1:11, when I thought it was still morning. I called out to Connor in the other room, telling him I didn't think it was so late, he said "it isn't", and I glanced back at the clock. Definitely 1:11, and I glanced up at the microwave clock above the range. Also 1:11.

I wiped my hands and turned to see how both clocks had somehow gotten the same wrong time (or, more likely of course, to prove Connor wrong!) and saw the clocks both reading 11:10. I saw what had happened and couldn't resist. Sure enough, placing myself back directly in front of the sink, glancing over my shoulder, I could not see the final digit of either clock when I looked directly at them.

But my visual perception system stubbornly refused to acknowledge I couldn't see it. I "saw" a blank spot in the clocks, throwing the same reflection as the rest of the panel. When I looked at the oven clock, I could see all four digits of the microwave clock, and vice versa, but only three digits of the clock I was looking at. The visual perception system simply won't allow one to directly perceive the blind spot. One can only perceive the blind spot through conscious, logical inference—knowing something is there but can't be seen. Fascinating.

(This little experiment also made me realize why the blind spot is so dangerous for drivers: throwing a glance over your shoulder and assuming you saw everything there was to see, when you in fact completely failed to perceive anything within a zone  _just_ large enough for, say, a passing SUV in the lane to your left just behind you to fit into.

(At the driving school I attended, they had a mock-up car in the classroom, and there was a metal sign with a yardstick on the wall behind its driver's side. They sat a student down in front of the class in the driver's seat, and told her there was a number missing from the yardstick—would she please glance back—quickly, of course, and keep your hands on the ten and two!—and tell them what the missing number was? The rest of the class would chuckle because there was no missing number, but the student, strapped in, would insist that one of the numbers was, in fact, missing. I remember the girl who performed this trick in my class adding, "but all the lines are there"—which is more of that clever perceptual system, "painting over" the blind spot with repeating patterns.

(Of course some of the students bragged that they wouldn't be fooled like that. So the teacher invited one of the braggarts to sit down in the driver's seat and strap in—and then twisted the mirrors so he couldn't see the yardstick. The teacher briefly showed him a magnet with the image of a green car, walked behind him, pulled another magnet with the image of a red car from behind the yardstick and slapped it on. "Glance back and tell me what color the car is," the teacher asked. "Green" the student replied, and all the other students roared.

(Any other braggarts were invited to repeat the experiment, and they all either failed to prove their remarkable lack of a blind spot, or were caught "leaning out the window".

(It was a fun game, but it really made an impression. To this day, when I'm driving on a passing road, I don't merge left until I've checked with a glance-back, mirrors, and another glance-back while merging, and I always follow the "situational awareness" routine of flicks of the eyes to the three mirrors every few seconds plus whenever I lose track of the positions of all the cars behind me.)___

2014-08-01 16:42:16 (3 comments, 0 reshares, 5 +1s) 

I just saw Telemundo anchor Neida Sandoval on José Díaz-Balart's program on MSNBC talking about her upcoming documentary on immigration issues. Speaking in English (with a marked L2 accent), she twice pronounced El Salvador as /ɛl sælˈvʌ.dɔɹ/  (El Salvádor, stress on the middle syllable), a stress pattern neither matching English's /ɛl ˈsæl.və.dɔɹ/ (El Sálvador) nor Spanish's /el sal.βaˈðoɾ/ (El Salvadór). She seemed to "compromise" between her L1 Spanish's stress on the ultimate syllable and English's stress on the antepenultimate syllable, ending up with her neophonism¹ Salvádor.

At first I thought it was an idiosyncratic quirk, and then I remembered something from college: my Russian teacher (a native, or at least L1 bilingual, Russian speaker from Chechnya) pronounced "Washington" as /wɔːˈʃɪnk.tən/( Washínkton),similarly compromising between t... more »

I just saw Telemundo anchor Neida Sandoval on José Díaz-Balart's program on MSNBC talking about her upcoming documentary on immigration issues. Speaking in English (with a marked L2 accent), she twice pronounced El Salvador as /ɛl sælˈvʌ.dɔɹ/  (El Salvádor, stress on the middle syllable), a stress pattern neither matching English's /ɛl ˈsæl.və.dɔɹ/ (El Sálvador) nor Spanish's /el sal.βaˈðoɾ/ (El Salvadór). She seemed to "compromise" between her L1 Spanish's stress on the ultimate syllable and English's stress on the antepenultimate syllable, ending up with her neophonism¹ Salvádor.

At first I thought it was an idiosyncratic quirk, and then I remembered something from college: my Russian teacher (a native, or at least L1 bilingual, Russian speaker from Chechnya) pronounced "Washington" as /wɔːˈʃɪnk.tən/( Washínkton), similarly compromising between the Russian's ultimate-stress Вашингто́н /və.ʂɨnkˈton/ and English's antepenultimate-stress /ˈwɔː.ʃɪŋ.tən/ (Wáshington) and ending up with a penultimate stress found in neither language.

I've also heard L1 French speakers pronounce Paris in English with ultimate stress as something like /pæɹˈis/ (matching French's stress but not English's) or even as a spondee something like /ˌpæɹˈis/ or /ˈpæˌɹis/². I wonder if this stress confusion, is indeed a pattern? Given that the stereotypical way to do a "French accent" in English involves, among other things, moving stress around willy-nilly, the answer might be yes. Or is it limited to proper nouns (or even place names) or cognates in general?

There really is a problem for people learning English from L1's where morphological stress (i.e., where the stress pattern of a word is something we largely memorize rather than determining through systematic rules) is the exception. It's like my learning Japanese, where even though morphological tonality is not a major part of the language, it's there, so I have to pay attention and memorize something (tone) that I can do completely automatically with rules in my L1 English.

(That said, Russian does have morphological stress—for example, гла́зки, glázki, eyes vs. глазки, glazkí, peepholes. It's rather rarer than in English, though.)

¹ Okay, "neophonism" isn't a word. But if a term for this exists, I don't know what it is.

² Why does WebKit and/or Safari and/or OS X think that "ˈ" is a valid line break point? Oh, it's in the Unicode class SPACING_MODIFIER_LETTERS, which means it's considered a space. Which I suppose it is—internal to a word, since it's reasonable to line break between syllables in a phonetic gloss—but the slash before really shouldn't be breakable. I'm not sophisticated enough in Unicode to know whether you can fix that—there's a non-breaking space character, but there aren't non-breaking equivalents to every whitespace character. Anyone know?___

2014-07-31 18:41:38 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 7 +1s) 

Ever wanted to check the history on a GitHub repo, not of commits, but of activity? For instance, if someone fast-forwards their branch over a bunch of commits and pushes, you can't tell later when that happened unless there was an explicit merge commit—all you'll see are the constituent commits, and it's very possible that the person who pushed won't be the author of any of them!

The solution is found in the URL _https://api.github.com/repos/<user>/<repo>/events_. Chuck that into curl or a browser (replacing the <user> and <repo> parts, of course) and you'll get a JSON array with each event on the repo, irrespective of commits.

Ever wanted to check the history on a GitHub repo, not of commits, but of activity? For instance, if someone fast-forwards their branch over a bunch of commits and pushes, you can't tell later when that happened unless there was an explicit merge commit—all you'll see are the constituent commits, and it's very possible that the person who pushed won't be the author of any of them!

The solution is found in the URL _https://api.github.com/repos/<user>/<repo>/events_. Chuck that into curl or a browser (replacing the <user> and <repo> parts, of course) and you'll get a JSON array with each event on the repo, irrespective of commits.___

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2014-07-31 16:24:45 (0 comments, 1 reshares, 7 +1s) 

The New York Times on D.O. medical schools

Over the years, several times I've had primary physicians and specialists who have D.O.'s. And while I've frequently expressed skepticism of "complementary and alternative medicine" in posts here, I must say that I'd have no reservations at all about getting treatment from a D.O. instead of an M.D.

The osteopathic parts of the education (similar to chiropractic manipulation) may be quackish, but it's hard to be sure; RCT's (including patient-blinded ones) have been done showing benefit for certain conditions, especially lower back pain, but it seems near impossible to engineer a caregiver-blinded RCT. (Even though chiropractic and osteopathy are historically linked, D.O.'s today generally don't make the same sweeping claims about the ability of manipulation to cure medical conditions.)... more »

The New York Times on D.O. medical schools

Over the years, several times I've had primary physicians and specialists who have D.O.'s. And while I've frequently expressed skepticism of "complementary and alternative medicine" in posts here, I must say that I'd have no reservations at all about getting treatment from a D.O. instead of an M.D.

The osteopathic parts of the education (similar to chiropractic manipulation) may be quackish, but it's hard to be sure; RCT's (including patient-blinded ones) have been done showing benefit for certain conditions, especially lower back pain, but it seems near impossible to engineer a caregiver-blinded RCT. (Even though chiropractic and osteopathy are historically linked, D.O.'s today generally don't make the same sweeping claims about the ability of manipulation to cure medical conditions.)

And it's important to keep in mind that the osteopathic manipulation therapy (OMT) education is a small part of the overall D.O. training that's in addition to the standard course of medical training like what M.D.'s receive. And as this article points out, the few remaining barriers to D.O.'s receiving specialty training alongside M.D.'s in all the same fields are being quickly phased out.

From what I've heard, most primary-care D.O.'s don't even use OMT much, if at all, and non-primary-care D.O.'s in fields like dermatology or surgery have no reason to use it. I saw a D.O. as my primary-care physician for years, including when my spinal arthritis first was diagnosed. One would think that if a D.O. would ever be tempted to try OMT for a chronic illness on a patient, it would be on me! But he did manipulation on me exactly once—a day I came in with some excruciating sudden-onset back pain that was probably not rheumatological. He did it, asked if it helped soothe the immediate symptoms and restore flexibility (it did), and sent me away with a prescription for the same NSAIDs and muscle relaxers that any other doctor would.

(One can find lots of anecdotal evidence that D.O.'s may approach treatment in a more preventive fashion and by building greater relationships with patients—"holistic" by the non-quackish definition—and it seems possible given the training. It would jibe with my experience. But just some greater understanding that D.O.'s can be as good as M.D.'s is significant enough, IMO.)

#osteopathic   #medicalschool  ___

2014-07-28 16:27:42 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 11 +1s) 

I've watched a few Comic-Con panels over the past few days, and I really think they need to make it part of the code of conduct (you know, the one they apparently don't enforce anyway): "The panelists are not trained monkeys there to perform for you. If you stand in the Q&A line, ask a question. Demanding a personalized performance so you can get a recording of your favorite character telling off your ex is grounds for expulsion without refund."

I've watched a few Comic-Con panels over the past few days, and I really think they need to make it part of the code of conduct (you know, the one they apparently don't enforce anyway): "The panelists are not trained monkeys there to perform for you. If you stand in the Q&A line, ask a question. Demanding a personalized performance so you can get a recording of your favorite character telling off your ex is grounds for expulsion without refund."___

2014-07-22 17:56:02 (3 comments, 0 reshares, 3 +1s) 

Question to +Travis Wise and any other lawyercats who might be following me:

In science and technical fields, we distinguish between proximate causes and ultimate ("root") causes by noting that proximate causes are causes that, if they had not happened, the effect being discussed wouldn't have, either, but the ultimate or root cause is the one you generally seek to rectify, because it is the "wrong" thing that got the ball rolling.

For example: a technician is operating some dangerous computer-controlled equipment. He is presented with a dialog box: "Proceeding could cause injury! Proceed?" He clicks "No" because he doesn't want to cause injury. But days before, someone changed the text of the dialog from, "This could cause injury if anyone is in the work area! Is anyone currently present?" without changing the underlying code,... more »

Question to +Travis Wise and any other lawyercats who might be following me:

In science and technical fields, we distinguish between proximate causes and ultimate ("root") causes by noting that proximate causes are causes that, if they had not happened, the effect being discussed wouldn't have, either, but the ultimate or root cause is the one you generally seek to rectify, because it is the "wrong" thing that got the ball rolling.

For example: a technician is operating some dangerous computer-controlled equipment. He is presented with a dialog box: "Proceeding could cause injury! Proceed?" He clicks "No" because he doesn't want to cause injury. But days before, someone changed the text of the dialog from, "This could cause injury if anyone is in the work area! Is anyone currently present?" without changing the underlying code, so the "No" was interpreted as "no one is in the area, you may proceed" rather than his intended "no, I do not want you to proceed". Someone is injured as a result.

The technician's clicking No is a proximate cause, because if he had not run the machine, or had he clicked Yes (even though the text presented to him suggested that was the dangerous choice), the injury wouldn't have happened. But you can't reasonably assign any blame to him (assuming he otherwise performed the task correctly, carefully and innocently); blame goes to the person who changed the text to reverse its truth value without changing the buttons to match--their action is the root cause.

But someone just told me this isn't the way the term "proximate cause" is used in jurisprudence; the term does indicate an action that can result in blame (or rather liability).

Is that right? And if so, is there terminology for a "but for that, not" action whose actor is innocent?___

2014-07-22 14:07:22 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 0 +1s) 

tramp + ido, but not that question...

When I search the web, it seems like everyone wants to know how to disable ido over tramp, or how to limit ido's cleverness for faster response over tramp, etc.

I'm using tramp on a very fast LAN, so I don't care about that. What I do care about is that, when I run ido-find-file, to invoke tramp, I need to type /remote: but as soon as I type that colon, tramp adds a slash. This means for every host I have to remember "where are home directories on that machine? What's my username there?" I've got my .ssh/config setup so I don't have to remember that! Annoying!

A relative filename for tramp is relative to the remote homedir, but I can't delete the slash. A tilde works for tramp, but typing a tilde makes ido go back to my local home directory. I realize I could change the mapping... more »

tramp + ido, but not that question...

When I search the web, it seems like everyone wants to know how to disable ido over tramp, or how to limit ido's cleverness for faster response over tramp, etc.

I'm using tramp on a very fast LAN, so I don't care about that. What I do care about is that, when I run ido-find-file, to invoke tramp, I need to type /remote: but as soon as I type that colon, tramp adds a slash. This means for every host I have to remember "where are home directories on that machine? What's my username there?" I've got my .ssh/config setup so I don't have to remember that! Annoying!

A relative filename for tramp is relative to the remote homedir, but I can't delete the slash. A tilde works for tramp, but typing a tilde makes ido go back to my local home directory. I realize I could change the mapping for tilde to self-insert and that would probably fix it, but I do generally like the tilde behavior of ido.

Anyone got a solution? I'm surprised I haven't seen any complaints, but maybe "turn it off!" is enough for most people. (Or maybe my highly customized environment has somehow changed the behavior in a way I'm not aware of and others don't experience this? My setup, alas, isn't modular enough for me to test more complex bits like ido in isolation without loading up everything in my .emacs.d.)___

2014-07-18 15:16:38 (16 comments, 0 reshares, 8 +1s) 

Updated below. I'm sorry that I seem to use every crisis and tragedy in the news as an opportunity for media criticism... obviously, at times like these, journalists and broadcasters are stressed, operating on little sleep and trying to piece together complex events as they come in, and you have to give them a lot of credit for doing what they can. But there's also a responsibility at times like these to keep speculation as speculation, and facts as facts.

We usually home in on the cases where speculation becomes fact by fiat, or speculation gets more ink and characters and airtime than facts do, but there are also cases when actual facts get lost and demoted to just another meme whose veracity is suspect.

Here is fact: It is NOT the case, as reporters from several outlets have been saying, that we will "only get real answers once the black boxes have been... more »

Updated below. I'm sorry that I seem to use every crisis and tragedy in the news as an opportunity for media criticism... obviously, at times like these, journalists and broadcasters are stressed, operating on little sleep and trying to piece together complex events as they come in, and you have to give them a lot of credit for doing what they can. But there's also a responsibility at times like these to keep speculation as speculation, and facts as facts.

We usually home in on the cases where speculation becomes fact by fiat, or speculation gets more ink and characters and airtime than facts do, but there are also cases when actual facts get lost and demoted to just another meme whose veracity is suspect.

Here is fact: It is NOT the case, as reporters from several outlets have been saying, that we will "only get real answers once the black boxes have been recovered". It is a near certainty that the black boxes will tell us nothing we do not already know: that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down by a missile. We can infer it was a missile almost certainly of Russian manufacture, and given the altitude of the plane at the time of impact, most likely fired from a Бук (Buk) system, a mobile anti-aircraft integrated surface-to-air missile system, meaning that a system of six to ten vehicles together had radar, target acquisition and firing capability without need for external situational intelligence or command and control.

The existence of this system and its integration and independence means that the only question, really, is one that cannot be answered by the black boxes, and it's unlikely that the black boxes can provide any information at all even to help answer it: who fired it, and why?

Past incidents where commercial aircraft have been shot down and the black boxes have been recovered have shown this. The only information obtained from the flight data recorders is the (known) fact of catastrophic failure; the only information obtained from the cockpit voice recorders is the (known) fact of  the sound of an explosion without prior warning, then nothing. We will get no useful information from the black boxes. (That is not fact, that is inference, but one so likely as to be only the slightest degree removed from fact.) 

"We need the black boxes to get at what really happened" has almost become a stock phrase for reportage in airliner disasters. And this is an airliner disaster, so it's unsurprising that the stock phrases come up. But in this case it doesn't hold, and using the phrase is worse than elevating speculation to fact, it demotes fact to just another idea among the speculation. Stop it.

(Rachel Maddow made this point last night, somewhat forcefully. But she's an "opinion journalist", so she doesn't count. Those claiming the mantle of objectivity need to  adjust their thinking on this, too.)

Update, 12:06 EDT: And President Obama has just officially blamed the separatists, not Russia itself, from real-time spy satellite data showing the missile was launched from the separatist-controlled area of eastern Ukraine in the Donetsk oblast.___

2014-07-17 20:15:16 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 0 +1s) 

Whee! There was a transformer blown in my apartment building (a 45-story high rise) and there's been no elevator service for several hours. An email from the super says there won't be for several more.

I was just moments away from walking out the door when the notice came down—glad I didn't get stuck at ground level (or worse, stuck in the elevator), since my apartment's more than halfway up.

I feel bad for anyone who isn't subscribed to the email alerts and who found out when the doorman called to tell them they had an irate delivery guy waiting in the lobby and they had to trudge down a few dozen flights to pay the guy and get their food....

Whee! There was a transformer blown in my apartment building (a 45-story high rise) and there's been no elevator service for several hours. An email from the super says there won't be for several more.

I was just moments away from walking out the door when the notice came down—glad I didn't get stuck at ground level (or worse, stuck in the elevator), since my apartment's more than halfway up.

I feel bad for anyone who isn't subscribed to the email alerts and who found out when the doorman called to tell them they had an irate delivery guy waiting in the lobby and they had to trudge down a few dozen flights to pay the guy and get their food....___

2014-07-15 21:37:54 (8 comments, 0 reshares, 16 +1s) 

nymwars no more

Wow! Those of you who know how involved I was in this both before and after Google+'s launch know what a big deal this is to me.

According to +Yonatan Zunger, the workflow for name challenges has already been removed from the code, so it looks like this one's for real.

I'm very gratified.

When we launched Google+ over three years ago, we had a lot of restrictions on what name you could use on your profile. This helped create a community made up of real people, but it also excluded a number of people who wanted to be part of it without using their real names. 

Over the years, as Google+ grew and its community became established, we steadily opened up this policy, from allowing +Page owners to use any name of their choosing to letting YouTube users bring their usernames into Google+. Today, we are taking the last step: there are no more restrictions on what name you can use. 

We know you've been calling for this change for a while. We know that our names policy has been unclear, and this has led to some unnecessarily difficult experiences for some of our users. For this we apologize, and we hope that today's change is a step toward making Google+ the welcoming and inclusive place that we want it to be. Thank you for expressing your opinions so passionately, and thanks for continuing to make Google+ the thoughtful community that it is.___nymwars no more

Wow! Those of you who know how involved I was in this both before and after Google+'s launch know what a big deal this is to me.

According to +Yonatan Zunger, the workflow for name challenges has already been removed from the code, so it looks like this one's for real.

I'm very gratified.

2014-07-14 19:09:09 (4 comments, 0 reshares, 0 +1s) 

In Emacs on OS X, can I set a backup font for Emacs to use when the primary font lacks a glyph? I have Liberation Mono set as my primary, but I'd like it to fall back to Menlo for some of the more unusual Unicode characters Liberation Mono lacks.

In Emacs on OS X, can I set a backup font for Emacs to use when the primary font lacks a glyph? I have Liberation Mono set as my primary, but I'd like it to fall back to Menlo for some of the more unusual Unicode characters Liberation Mono lacks.___

2014-07-13 16:35:00 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 12 +1s) 

Please, +YouTube for Android, why can't you let me reorder items on the TV Queue after I add them? Just give me little handles on the edge of the items, or if you really must, a "move up" action.

My usual way of populating a "lean back" playlist is to find something I'm interested in, add it to the queue, then find something else in the Related videos or also in previous search results, and repeat, until I have enough videos to fill the time allotted.

But once I'm ready to play the first, I frequently find the order doesn't make thematic sense; I selected a middle video of a series before finding the rest of the series, or I chose a very specialized tech video before a general introduction.

Right now, my choices are to start each item in the queue manually—not much of a "lean back" experience—or to remove items thatare ... more »

Please, +YouTube for Android, why can't you let me reorder items on the TV Queue after I add them? Just give me little handles on the edge of the items, or if you really must, a "move up" action.

My usual way of populating a "lean back" playlist is to find something I'm interested in, add it to the queue, then find something else in the Related videos or also in previous search results, and repeat, until I have enough videos to fill the time allotted.

But once I'm ready to play the first, I frequently find the order doesn't make thematic sense; I selected a middle video of a series before finding the rest of the series, or I chose a very specialized tech video before a general introduction.

Right now, my choices are to start each item in the queue manually—not much of a "lean back" experience—or to remove items that are too high in the list, find them again (if you found them via Related, this can be a lot harder than you'd think!) and re-add them.

Looking back, everyone writing about it at the time thought the first Chromecast-enabled release of YouTube—a year ago next week!—would rapidly gain more features, and queue reordering was one nearly always mentioned. It's way past time.

(Yes, reordering while playing has some annoying edge cases when you're dealing with two client devices and multiple services that have to coordinate, and it's pretty remarkable it works as seamlessly and with as little latency as it does. I'm going to make a guess, though, that the problem in seeing this feature is most likely either a) no one has had time to implement it because it isn't a priority or b) the bad UX it opens up has been judged intolerable.

(I can't say anything if it's a matter of effort or priority. But as for UX: I'm sure there's been a lot of argument about the case of a viewer, in the last seconds of one video, trying to move the following video further down so it won't play until later—unaware that it's already too late because of the nature of how the DIAL protocol works—with the result that the video they didn't want to see next plays anyway, and they just skipped over a swath of videos they did want to see next. This is a user experience that's likely to be so irksome that it's probably prevented some less sophisticated methods of queue reordering from seeing the light of day.

(Assuming this is actually the problematic issue, I might suggest at least two UI fixes, though: add a "pending" icon à la the now-playing icon to the following video once it's been requested, so that when you try to move it, you get a visual indication that the "pending-ness" of that video moves as well; or, lock the current and next videos together once the next has been requested, so that when you move the upcoming one you're also moving the now-playing one.)___

2014-07-07 16:46:09 (10 comments, 1 reshares, 4 +1s) 

The OS X approach to environment variables is infuriating. I would like programs that start up, not from a shell, but from other means (like Spotlight or Finder) to have my environment defined so that things like Emacs and other developer applications can have environment variables like I want them.

But in OS X Mavericks, your only option for setting environment variables (aside from PATH, which you can modify via files in /etc/paths.d) is launchctl. You can do this one of two ways:

1. Set environment variables in /etc/launchd.conf. The big advantage is this gets read before your login session begins, so all applications should get this part of the environment. But this has two huge disadvantages:
a) it's per-system, not per-user, so if you want to setup things like local::lib or Cabal paths in your home directory, you can't use it unless you're okay with setting it... more »

The OS X approach to environment variables is infuriating. I would like programs that start up, not from a shell, but from other means (like Spotlight or Finder) to have my environment defined so that things like Emacs and other developer applications can have environment variables like I want them.

But in OS X Mavericks, your only option for setting environment variables (aside from PATH, which you can modify via files in /etc/paths.d) is launchctl. You can do this one of two ways:

1. Set environment variables in /etc/launchd.conf. The big advantage is this gets read before your login session begins, so all applications should get this part of the environment. But this has two huge disadvantages:
a) it's per-system, not per-user, so if you want to setup things like local::lib or Cabal paths in your home directory, you can't use it unless you're okay with setting it for all users; and
b) it can't set environment variables to computed values, only literal ones. This isn't a huge issue since it's happening so early at startup—the biggest need for computed values is so you can append to rather than replacing values. But it's annoying nonetheless.

2. You can use the launchctl setenv command to set environment variables at runtime which will thereafter be available to any newly-starting well-behaved application. But if you start daemons (like I start Emacs) via launch agents, they will start too early for launchctl setenv commands in your shell startup files to have taken effect. You can create another launch agent that runs launchctl setenv (the easiest way: by running a command in a shell that takes selected variables from its own environment and runs launchctl setenv commands to set them up for launchctl as well), but that has its own problems:
a) Mac OS X doesn't guarantee any startup sequence for launch agents, so you have to make all your daemons' launch agents dependent on the environment-setting launch agent.
b) Now Terminal itself will start with that environment, so assuming you did things the most obvious way—running launchctl setenv based on your own shell environment—then the shell startup bits that append things to those environment variables will get double entries. This may usually be cosmetic in the case of searchlist variables like PATH, but one can imagine cases where it could cause issues.

Given all this, I think the best way to handle environment variables is to delegate it all to launchctl via an agent that your daemons are dependent on, and then have your shell startup not (re)set that part of the environment. But if you want to use the same shell startup files for OS X and, say, Linux, you'll have to have some logic to skip the parts of initialization already done by launchctl if and only if you're running under OS X.

The platform-independent approach of shell logic to try to figure out if a given environment variable is already set correctly and only if it is not to modify it is mind-numbingly painful, and more importantly, it forces use of a very non-standard mechanism to set environment variables—which is one of the main things shell startup files do, so having to deviate would be confusing at best.

So I think my approach will be to set a flag variable (like ENVIRONMENT_SET) and gate the whole kit-and-kaboodle, C preprocessor style, on that variable being set, and have a launch agent run a shell command which does the necessary launchctl setenv commands, including setting ENVIRONMENT_SET. But what a kludge! Older versions of OS X had user-local environment or launchd.conf files one could create. Mavericks removing it is just one big PITA.___

2014-06-30 22:25:13 (1 comments, 2 reshares, 8 +1s) 

Perplexing trend in web design #93: the Potemkin Feature

You check out the website of a service provider you're considering, often an old-school capital-intensive service (e.g. insurance, a hospital or doctors' group practice, a bank). You see that it seems to offer a breadth of useful online features. Maybe you even click one—say, "make an appointment" or "get a quote"—and you follow it right up to the point where you'd actually commit to something, then close the tab. You just wanted to see it, so that you'd know it was there when you need it.

Then later, once you are a customer/member/subscriber/policyholder, you actually try to use the feature. You go through that same process, and this time you click "submit" or "order".

...and, you get a page telling you that you must phone or email for the service. Ifyou... more »

Perplexing trend in web design #93: the Potemkin Feature

You check out the website of a service provider you're considering, often an old-school capital-intensive service (e.g. insurance, a hospital or doctors' group practice, a bank). You see that it seems to offer a breadth of useful online features. Maybe you even click one—say, "make an appointment" or "get a quote"—and you follow it right up to the point where you'd actually commit to something, then close the tab. You just wanted to see it, so that you'd know it was there when you need it.

Then later, once you are a customer/member/subscriber/policyholder, you actually try to use the feature. You go through that same process, and this time you click "submit" or "order".

...and, you get a page telling you that you must phone or email for the service. If you're lucky, you find out that the seemingly interactive form you just used actually just filled out an email form that it now offers to send. But often, it just let you go through the motions. It's a Potemkin Feature: it makes you feel good knowing it's there, and it looks alright; just don't go looking past the façade.___

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2014-06-30 14:19:01 (2 comments, 2 reshares, 7 +1s) 

The E3 trailers for "remastered" PS4 versions of PS3 games, like GTA V and The Last of Us, have really called my attention to something about the progress of computer graphics¹.

I've been around the highest high-end real time graphics since the dawn of my career (my first job working around the UNC Graphics Lab), and always, whatever the state of the art is at the moment, has looked to me like "one step short of photorealistic". Surely you can't get any better than this before it finally pops and is indistinguishable from reality?

But yet I go back and look at the best RT graphics in the early 90's through to now, and every generation, seen in hindsight, is an obvious step better than the previous one. In other words, each previous version was obviously worse.

I think this is the first time I've actually seen this (outside of, say, the... more »

The E3 trailers for "remastered" PS4 versions of PS3 games, like GTA V and The Last of Us, have really called my attention to something about the progress of computer graphics¹.

I've been around the highest high-end real time graphics since the dawn of my career (my first job working around the UNC Graphics Lab), and always, whatever the state of the art is at the moment, has looked to me like "one step short of photorealistic". Surely you can't get any better than this before it finally pops and is indistinguishable from reality?

But yet I go back and look at the best RT graphics in the early 90's through to now, and every generation, seen in hindsight, is an obvious step better than the previous one. In other words, each previous version was obviously worse.

I think this is the first time I've actually seen this (outside of, say, the Utah teapot or fields of grass): the same graphics rendered to the best possible standard on two successive generation of hardware.

And I think, looking at images like these and comparing them to the highest-end PC video game graphics (which are slightly better again than the PS4, though not by anything like the difference between PS3 and PS4), I might finally be starting to see the progress as more continuous. But damn, how can you look at a video like this and not think "that almost looks like a film?"

I wonder if this sensation is generational. I grew up at a time when there were basically three orders of resolution: film (definitionally "photorealistic"), television, and (first 8-bit, then 32- and 64-bit) video games. These were three hugely different resolution domains. I think that formative experience makes me highly attuned to resolution. I can instantly tell the difference between the same video rendered at 1080p, 720p, or 480i. When watching an old show on Netflix, I can even see the difference between an old pre-HD show remastered to HD from film or higher-resolution video (such as the first series of Prime Suspect from 1991—which is gorgeous, by the way) being down-rezzed back to something like its original resolution due to congestion, versus a never-remastered show being up-converted or down-converted.

But my boyfriend, on the other side of the millennial gap and having grown up with postage-stamp web videos, just can't tell. He hears me complain when network congestion downgrades a stream, but unless he's watching a video game stream and the text is getting pixelated, he doesn't care, or even notice. He even sometimes asks me if the resolution of a show is going to bother me, when it's pristine end-to-end 1080p, just grainy or gritty. He sees something funky about the video and guesses maybe it's that resolution thing I natter on about.

And the technology marches on....

¹ By "graphics" I mean real time animation, since at this point you can get a model arbitrarily close to reality given enough computer time. Rendering macroscopic scenes to the microscopic level isn't outside the realm of possibility these days; there was a SIGGRAPH paper not too long ago about directly modeling Rayleigh scattering as molecular interference!___

2014-06-29 20:24:11 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 0 +1s) 

Ho, my camels—

Have any of you recently compared the Perl module skeleton tools like module-starter, dzil, ShipIt, etc.? If so, do you prefer any one particularly?

My only slightly unusual demand is that I almost always have executable(s) in my modules.

Ho, my camels—

Have any of you recently compared the Perl module skeleton tools like module-starter, dzil, ShipIt, etc.? If so, do you prefer any one particularly?

My only slightly unusual demand is that I almost always have executable(s) in my modules.___

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2014-06-29 16:48:03 (9 comments, 0 reshares, 7 +1s) 

Have you ever noticed that reporters writing about science have a weird tendency to try to "put things in perspective" in precisely the way that makes the statement completely wrong? Emphasis mine:

the Earth-sized diamond discovered 900 light years from our planet.... Ultimately, while an exciting development, it would take 10 lifetimes traveling at the speed of light to reach this interstellar discovery, so don't expect an influx of those coveted clear jewels anytime soon.

Let's even give a pass to "traveling at the speed of light" and read it as "traveling arbitrarily close to the speed of light". Sigh.

Computing time dilation is hard¹. But knowing it exists should be a prerequisite for writing about astrophysics, I would think....

¹ Assuming a normal human lifespan, the traveler taking off at birth, andins... more »

Have you ever noticed that reporters writing about science have a weird tendency to try to "put things in perspective" in precisely the way that makes the statement completely wrong? Emphasis mine:

the Earth-sized diamond discovered 900 light years from our planet.... Ultimately, while an exciting development, it would take 10 lifetimes traveling at the speed of light to reach this interstellar discovery, so don't expect an influx of those coveted clear jewels anytime soon.

Let's even give a pass to "traveling at the speed of light" and read it as "traveling arbitrarily close to the speed of light". Sigh.

Computing time dilation is hard¹. But knowing it exists should be a prerequisite for writing about astrophysics, I would think....

¹ Assuming a normal human lifespan, the traveler taking off at birth, and instantaneous acceleration to a constant velocity, the hypothetical traveler would have to go at least 0.995 c to make it 900 light years in "a lifetime" (90 years), if I'm calculating this right. I tried to solve it as an optimization problem minimizing experienced time without resorting to props like "instantaneity", but my math's not that good.___

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2014-06-28 19:34:13 (0 comments, 1 reshares, 8 +1s) 

Hah! Some +Slate editor picked  a comment about my HuffPo drinking game (previously mentioned here last year in http://goo.gl/Bh2BYO) as the featured quote right now on the Slate Plus home page (http://www.slate.com/plus/home).¹

My endorsement of Slate Plus, the "not a paywall" membership program Slate's been running a few months now (an endorsement I promise was coming even before they quoted me; this just spurred me to do it now):

With Slate Plus membership, you get behind-the-scene articles like these, extra podcasts², reporter and editor chats, and discounts and special seating for live events. And as a premium version of the regular Slate content, members get commercial-free versions of the Slate podcasts, and single-page articles³ with in-page comments.

If you're a regular Slate reader, or someone like Stephen Colbert who follows the SlateGabfes... more »

Hah! Some +Slate editor picked  a comment about my HuffPo drinking game (previously mentioned here last year in http://goo.gl/Bh2BYO) as the featured quote right now on the Slate Plus home page (http://www.slate.com/plus/home).¹

My endorsement of Slate Plus, the "not a paywall" membership program Slate's been running a few months now (an endorsement I promise was coming even before they quoted me; this just spurred me to do it now):

With Slate Plus membership, you get behind-the-scene articles like these, extra podcasts², reporter and editor chats, and discounts and special seating for live events. And as a premium version of the regular Slate content, members get commercial-free versions of the Slate podcasts, and single-page articles³ with in-page comments.

If you're a regular Slate reader, or someone like Stephen Colbert who follows the Slate Gabfest podcasts each week, the $5/mo or $50/yr membership definitely seems worth it so far.

¹ They didn't quote me by name in the screenshot, but the click-through is to my comment. I've attached a partial screenshot below, since I don't know how long it'll stick. The Slate Plus home page, and the linked Slate Plus article about Slate's headlines, are part of the free preview, so you can see them even without membership.

² Podcasts such as the recent weekly Game of Thrones recap show with Willa Paskin and Dan Kois, as well as more "insider-y" podcasts like Dahlia Lithwick talking about what it's like to actually report at the Supreme Court.

³ I despise multi-page web articles, and Slate Plus membership switches all articles to single-page view, so that alone is nearly worth the cost for me.___

2014-06-27 14:49:42 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 7 +1s) 

In an exchange of concert nostalgia between barista and waiting patrons at a coffee bar, I blurted out: "Well, I saw Kurt Cobain play... when he was still alive!"

Excuse me, I'll just go hide under the counter now....

In an exchange of concert nostalgia between barista and waiting patrons at a coffee bar, I blurted out: "Well, I saw Kurt Cobain play... when he was still alive!"

Excuse me, I'll just go hide under the counter now....___

2014-06-26 15:33:13 (15 comments, 0 reshares, 1 +1s) 

Completely subjective question to the practical coders out there: if you wanted to throw up a quick-and-dirty personal database-backed website—think inventory of hobby collectibles, or record of personal athletic stats—what framework would you use?

If I were just making a gut decision right now, it'd probably be a tie between Ruby (easy and huge developer support) and Catalyst with a simple SQL db backend (I know Moose, DBIx::Class, and the other components). I've messed around with both to the "hello blog" stage. But I've been out of the loop in this area for years and don't want to waste effort if going with something else will get me there faster and let me play with something new.

My "specs", such as they are:

1. I'm expert in Perl, good at Ruby, and can function in Python. I've played with Scala enough to be dangerous.I&#... more »

Completely subjective question to the practical coders out there: if you wanted to throw up a quick-and-dirty personal database-backed website—think inventory of hobby collectibles, or record of personal athletic stats—what framework would you use?

If I were just making a gut decision right now, it'd probably be a tie between Ruby (easy and huge developer support) and Catalyst with a simple SQL db backend (I know Moose, DBIx::Class, and the other components). I've messed around with both to the "hello blog" stage. But I've been out of the loop in this area for years and don't want to waste effort if going with something else will get me there faster and let me play with something new.

My "specs", such as they are:

1. I'm expert in Perl, good at Ruby, and can function in Python. I've played with Scala enough to be dangerous. I'd rather not use a lower-level language than those. (I'm quite good at Haskell and like it, but I'm quite sure I wouldn't find the process of doing it in that language enjoyable.)

If you're answering based on your language preferences, please don't bother; I'm language agnostic here except so long as we're talking about a real VHL language. (I reject PHP on that basis. Also, languages that run on .NET are not very convenient for me. I'll likely develop and run this on OS X and Linux.)

2. I'm pulling data regularly of various record types from a CSV source; I'll then want to munge the data in various ways. That said, an RDBMS is not actually that important, as while there are relationships between the data types, they're mostly time-series relationships. If I do use an RDBMS, I will also use an ORM; I'd rather just write in one language for this project. (Okay, up to three, if you count code, HTML templating and CSS templating; the efforts I've seen for templateless HTML-outputting code have seemed like curiosities rather than being terribly useful. But my needs there are minimal. I just don't want to be writing SQL.) In any case, I'm willing to go with a noSQL option.

3. If this were eight years ago, there's no question I'd do this with Rails. My needs here are not very much above the "build a blog in 5 minutes" level. But I do want to have pages that can do interactive analyses of the database (including free-form queries) and triggered email firing when entries are added to the DB¹.

4. Easy access to easy-to-use statistical analysis and time-series analysis packages like NumPy or PDL are a big plus. Multiple easy-to-use visualizations libraries (so that if I want to do a plot, I can do a plot without fussing, but if I want to draw a timeline, I can do that too) also a big plus.

5. The less muss and fuss the better. It's not even going to be a multi-user system, it's just for me. So setting up TomCat and associated cruft (as I think the Scala choices require) or lots of futzing with Apache would be annoying to me, as would anything that assumes I'm going to use some integrated IDE/deployment thing—I happen to like working in Emacs and the shell and in OS X GUIs as parts of the task merit, so I appreciate modular parts and easy interchange; I don't like frameworks that insist on taking over my entire workflow.


¹ Not strictly "triggered"; polling is fine.___

2014-06-26 14:19:08 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 3 +1s) 

Just heard a Microsoft promo spot with the tagline: "One experience for everything in your life." This made me chortle for entirely too long, because I am seven years old.

...or maybe fourteen, since most of the positive feedback loop keeping me giggling like a madman had to do with my considering whether I'd rather experience everything in my life sexually or not. "Ooh, baby... look at those bills... all that minimum due... you want that, don't you baby, you really want it all, and you want it now... or by the first of the month, anyway.... Or what? What are you gonna do? Assess me a penalty, huh? Oh, yeah, baby, give it to me..."

Just heard a Microsoft promo spot with the tagline: "One experience for everything in your life." This made me chortle for entirely too long, because I am seven years old.

...or maybe fourteen, since most of the positive feedback loop keeping me giggling like a madman had to do with my considering whether I'd rather experience everything in my life sexually or not. "Ooh, baby... look at those bills... all that minimum due... you want that, don't you baby, you really want it all, and you want it now... or by the first of the month, anyway.... Or what? What are you gonna do? Assess me a penalty, huh? Oh, yeah, baby, give it to me..."___

2014-06-26 11:17:11 (8 comments, 4 reshares, 11 +1s) 

I'm getting really tired of this "the IRS is hypocritical for losing those emails when they expect the rest of us to hold onto everything" meme. No, they aren't hypocritical, not at all—not that the reason is anything even close to praiseworthy.

Haven't you ever noticed that the IRS generally expects paper records, and if you have electronic records you have to convert them into paper—or into "electronified paper" like faxes or static PDF's—to use them as substantiation for claims? If not, count yourself lucky, as it just means you haven't been audited or worked on corporate tax returns yet.

The IRS simply wouldn't—no, not even today—ever think of keeping anything that they expected to need retention for in purely electronic form. I understand some IRS top managers still have their admins print their emails out so they can respondto and fi... more »

I'm getting really tired of this "the IRS is hypocritical for losing those emails when they expect the rest of us to hold onto everything" meme. No, they aren't hypocritical, not at all—not that the reason is anything even close to praiseworthy.

Haven't you ever noticed that the IRS generally expects paper records, and if you have electronic records you have to convert them into paper—or into "electronified paper" like faxes or static PDF's—to use them as substantiation for claims? If not, count yourself lucky, as it just means you haven't been audited or worked on corporate tax returns yet.

The IRS simply wouldn't—no, not even today—ever think of keeping anything that they expected to need retention for in purely electronic form. I understand some IRS top managers still have their admins print their emails out so they can respond to and file them the "right way"—i.e., in a filing cabinet.

Lois Lerner's not doing the same printing-and-filing (for some of her emails, it seems—thousands of the emails provided Congress were actually copies of paper printouts!) is the breakdown of the system, as far as IRS internal processes go.

Now, answer seriously—if you took a job, and you saw a paragraph in your employee handbook telling you that document retention was very important and so your employer urged you to print and file things on your computer regularly, would you follow that policy to the letter? No? Better have a look at the legalese your company counsel spews out—pretty much every company has exactly such a policy, even today. (Okay, Google didn't, IIRC—but Amazon did, at least a few years ago.)

And if you start looking at the shadier recesses of retention policies, many companies essentially claim, to this day, that personal computer files are just scratchpads, and that employees by policy aren't supposed to use personal computers for anything important. Which is ludicrous, of course. But that's what they claim, so if they're caught with their pants down because files are lost, it's on the employee who didn't follow the policy that nobody follows.

The "paperless office" may sound like an almost quaint term, superseded by reality. But even now, document retention is a huge barrier to getting fully electronic processes at many companies. Does your company require reimbursement receipts in paper or paper-ish form? Can you modify your Form W-4 withholdings electronically? (You probably can now, because the major payroll outsourcers have recently converted. But you probably couldn't have a couple years ago.)

The IRS has huge problems with their IT. The entire federal government does. Most of those are structural and systemic, and caused by Congressional mandate requiring antiquated processes and specifications, not "federal bureaucrats" who don't know how to do the right thing. Most government IT folks I know would love to modernize. But they can't. It would either take far more money than they have or simply be flat-out illegal.

So, yeah, it's ironic that the IRS lost some records, given the experience that the public has with the IRS's demands. But it isn't hypocrisy. They'd never ask you to produce old electronic records—because, in their version of how the world works, electronic records aren't used for anything you'd need to keep around.___

2014-06-25 15:46:57 (3 comments, 0 reshares, 3 +1s) 

I'm having a test today that involves quite a lot of waiting, maybe hours as they check the preliminaries and see if they need anything else.

I remember reading Golden Age sci-fi as a kid, and thinking that some of the most arresting mundane, slice-of-life scenes were people spending time waiting by using their "do-anything pads". As a kid, of course I hated waiting more than anything.

So forget personal jet packs; I wanted the magic reading/game/communication/entertainment pad.

The future is now. :-)

I'm having a test today that involves quite a lot of waiting, maybe hours as they check the preliminaries and see if they need anything else.

I remember reading Golden Age sci-fi as a kid, and thinking that some of the most arresting mundane, slice-of-life scenes were people spending time waiting by using their "do-anything pads". As a kid, of course I hated waiting more than anything.

So forget personal jet packs; I wanted the magic reading/game/communication/entertainment pad.

The future is now. :-)___

2014-06-21 21:13:25 (10 comments, 0 reshares, 7 +1s) 

My boyfriend is flying back to NYC from a business trip in Silicon Valley today. His entire flight will be in daylight, but today's the summer solstice, so if he'd stayed in San Mateo he would have enjoyed a 14 hour, 45 minute day; if he'd been in New York all day, he'd have had 15 hours, 6 minutes of daylight.

But sunrise in San Mateo was at 05:48 Pacific Daylight Time, or 08:48 Eastern, and sunset in New York is at 20:30, so he'll only experience a 11 hour, 42 minute day. That's equivalent to the daylight in New York on March 10 or October 2!¹ So while the rest of us are having summer solstice, he gets only a mid-spring or mid-autumn amount of daylight.

The good news is that tomorrow will only be about two seconds shorter, so he can still enjoy the solstice sun².

If he'd travelled in the opposite direction, though, he'd have experiencedsun... more »

My boyfriend is flying back to NYC from a business trip in Silicon Valley today. His entire flight will be in daylight, but today's the summer solstice, so if he'd stayed in San Mateo he would have enjoyed a 14 hour, 45 minute day; if he'd been in New York all day, he'd have had 15 hours, 6 minutes of daylight.

But sunrise in San Mateo was at 05:48 Pacific Daylight Time, or 08:48 Eastern, and sunset in New York is at 20:30, so he'll only experience a 11 hour, 42 minute day. That's equivalent to the daylight in New York on March 10 or October 2!¹ So while the rest of us are having summer solstice, he gets only a mid-spring or mid-autumn amount of daylight.

The good news is that tomorrow will only be about two seconds shorter, so he can still enjoy the solstice sun².

If he'd travelled in the opposite direction, though, he'd have experienced sunrise at 05:25 EDT (02:25 PDT) and sunset at 20:35 PDT (23:35 EDT), giving him 18 hours, 10 minutes of daylight, a duration well beyond anything naturally occurring in the 48 contiguous United States.

That's about the solstice in Göteborg (18h 6m). I tried to find somewhere with 18h 10m on the dot, but the sun changes so much with so little change in latitude that far north (the daylight today in Stockholm is a full 65 minutes longer than in Copenhagen!) that it was hard to find a well-known populated place with a solstice daylight duration closer to 18h 10m.

I wondered if there was a time of the year during which it's impossible to fly directly from SFO to EWR totally in daylight. Turns out there isn't; even at the winter solstice, sunset in Newark is 6h 11m later than sunrise in San Francisco, and the flight is an hour and a half shorter than that. Going in the opposite direction, he could experience up to 12h 37m of daylight on the winter solstice—half an hour more than at the equinoxes.³

¹ Or March 9 or October 3 in San Mateo; that close to the equinoxes, daylight is less varied between the two latitudes.

² But a good thing he didn't stay; in San Francisco, the daylight this week is nearly 19 minutes less than New York's!

³ A hat-tip to Emacs' Calc, the best RPN calculator ever written; it makes calculations like this a breeze.___

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2014-06-20 17:31:11 (7 comments, 0 reshares, 1 +1s) 

A Stack Exchange question on an Android annoyance I think I've complained about on here before.

A Stack Exchange question on an Android annoyance I think I've complained about on here before.___

2014-06-20 16:39:35 (8 comments, 0 reshares, 5 +1s) 

When should you version-control? Always.

I find it amusing how often in Stack Exchange and Quora the question comes up, when should I use version control? or at what point has a project gotten complex enough to use version control? or how many programmers are the maximum you can have without version control?, or endless variants.

I use Git for just about everything. Not just code and configuration files; documents I'm writing, my c.v., anything that's a) mostly text and b) that I change from time to time. There are (I just checked) over a hundred Git repos in my laptop's home directory—and that's all personal stuff only, no work stuff! My usual routine for writing a "throwaway" or "one-off" script is:

1. Create a directory in ~/src/scripts and cd into it;
2. echo '#!/path/to/scriptinglanguage' > scriptname&... more »

When should you version-control? Always.

I find it amusing how often in Stack Exchange and Quora the question comes up, when should I use version control? or at what point has a project gotten complex enough to use version control? or how many programmers are the maximum you can have without version control?, or endless variants.

I use Git for just about everything. Not just code and configuration files; documents I'm writing, my c.v., anything that's a) mostly text and b) that I change from time to time. There are (I just checked) over a hundred Git repos in my laptop's home directory—and that's all personal stuff only, no work stuff! My usual routine for writing a "throwaway" or "one-off" script is:

1. Create a directory in ~/src/scripts and cd into it;
2. echo '#!/path/to/scriptinglanguage' > scriptname && chmod 755 scriptname;
3. git init && git add scriptname && git commit -m 'Initial rev'

(Actually, I have a shell function that does all this for me; I just supply the scripting language I'm using and the script name.)

Doing this has three immediate advantages:

1) "One-off scripts" have the tendency to become much more than that without your noticing. This way, I'm prepared for that and can transition; I don't have to make a decision at some point to "get serious", with all the futzing about that requires when up till now it's just been a random file sitting in ~/bin;

2) Creating branches for each thing you're doing, and commits when you have runnable code, helps you to return to it later and remember what you were working on, and it forces you to be a bit more methodical (ever realized after much craziness and cursing that you were using two different flag-parsers in a single script, or something equally fuzzy-headed that a moment's clarity would have avoided?); and

3) My editor is setup to do "WIP¹ commits" every time I save (yours probably can do the same), so it's trivial for me to see what happened when suddenly something unexpected goes wrong. ("Oops, I just past-bombed the contents of that chicken recipe into the middle of that function... it was legal Perl, though....") re vms, ltns!²

Heck, I even create Git repos in /tmp (to return to yesterday's subject) all the time! Typically that's when I have something even more ephemeral than a one-off: a sandbox to test some language feature. By putting it in /tmp, I'm committing to myself, straight off, that this thing is going to get deleted very soon, and I won't care. If I put it in ~/src, OTOH, I'm going to stumble upon it again in a couple years and spend a head-scratchingly long time trying to figure out why the heck I was writing self-modifying reentrant methods that claim to have something to do with cattle. (My throwaway test programs are all animal-themed, you see....)

So put me in the category of people completely befuddled by those who ask whether they should version control a particular project. It's like your asking³ whether you should touch-type a particular program—more likely a sign that you aren't very confident with it rather than an actual question.

¹ Stands for: "Work In Progress".

² If you get that, color me impressed. If you get it and you're under 30, please explain to me how that's even possible.

³ No, automatic grammar checker, that should not be "you're asking". Go away.

#git   #versioncontrol   #softwaredevelopment  ___

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2014-06-19 17:40:10 (14 comments, 11 reshares, 19 +1s) 

#mactips  
Use the system /tmp dir to delete files for you when you're done with them

This one, it occurs to me, is totally obvious to folks with a Unix or Linux background, but probably is completely unknown to those who come from a PC background:

Unixes have always¹ had a filesystem² called /tmp that, as its name implies, is used for "temporary" stuff.

If you go in there and look, you'll see lots of strangely-named stuff with lots of random numbers and characters—because while programs often need to store short-term things like working-memory caches on disk, they don't want to inadvertently interfere with other programs trying to do the same, so they use crazy filenames like /tmp/launchd-7335.cSCeOm in order to make sure they're using a different name from every other program.

The thing about /tmp isthat... more »

#mactips  
Use the system /tmp dir to delete files for you when you're done with them

This one, it occurs to me, is totally obvious to folks with a Unix or Linux background, but probably is completely unknown to those who come from a PC background:

Unixes have always¹ had a filesystem² called /tmp that, as its name implies, is used for "temporary" stuff.

If you go in there and look, you'll see lots of strangely-named stuff with lots of random numbers and characters—because while programs often need to store short-term things like working-memory caches on disk, they don't want to inadvertently interfere with other programs trying to do the same, so they use crazy filenames like /tmp/launchd-7335.cSCeOm in order to make sure they're using a different name from every other program.

The thing about /tmp is that storage there, unlike, say, your Documents folder, is not guaranteed to be persistent. The system is free to recoup space there whenever it likes. In practice, though, it cleans up by just deleting everything when you reboot, and it runs a sweeper through from time to time deleting old files if the system stays up for awhile.

So: the next time you download a file you're going to delete after using it (say, an installer image, or a PDF or image you're just downloading to briefly look at), instead of putting it in Downloads, put it in /tmp³ instead.

How? If it's the kind of download that you just click and the browser does its thing, it's going to land in Downloads unless you go into your browser settings (see the bottom of chrome://settings/search#download on Chrome) and change your default download destination—which will only work for you if you're fastidious about moving downloads you do want to hold onto to a different location. But you can also make it "Ask where to save each file before downloading", or right- (or ⌃-) click and select "Save Link As…". The point is, however you do it, you want a Save File sheet as below.

Now, press the Goto shortcut (⇧⌘G, shift-cmd-g) and type "/tmp". Press return, and you'll be set to save in /tmp.

To get to your file, use the download proxy icon⁴ to reveal it in the Finder, or open a new Finder window and use the same Goto shortcut (⇧⌘G, "/tmp", ↩) to browse /tmp, which is ordinarily hidden from view.

Use it normally, double-clicking install packages or opening it in an app, and when you're done… just close the window, quit the app, whatever, and forget about it. Since it's in /tmp, it'll be auto-deleted eventually.

You can use /tmp for anything like this, not just downloads. Messing with some data or image conversion and have intermediate files at each step of the process? Use /tmp. (For the intermediate files, I mean, not the source input or final output!)

Just keep in mind: treat /tmp as if it were an old-style "RAM disk"⁵ and your files could disappear at any moment. (They almost certainly won't, but a system crash is always a possibility, and anything you put in /tmp will be wiped after a crash.) If the price of losing a file is just another download or another batch run in Lightroom, don't worry about it.

So stop "cleaning up your Downloads folder" every now and again to free up space⁶; use /tmp and let the OS do it for you.

¹  Well, maybe not 41 years ago always, but it was there in the very first Unix manual mimeographs, so probably.

² Here, Mac OS X veers somewhat from its Unix brethren; /tmp is a directory in the root filesystem, not a filesystem to itself. OS X followed its Mac heritage by having its disks unpartitioned by default.

³ Actually, on OS X, /tmp is a link to /private/tmp due to the way OS X Server works with networked boot volumes. But don't worry about that, the name /tmp works just fine.

⁴  In the download-progress bar at the bottom of a Chrome page, once download has finished, click the disclosure triangle to pop up the menu, then select "Show in Finder". On Safari and Firefox, select Downloads from the menu and then select "Show/Reveal in Finder", or the magnifying glass icon, depending on version and skin.

⁵ On some OSes, /tmp actually is a RAMdisk.

⁶ Someone will probably chime in about how you can get a janitor program (the system's or a third-party one) to periodically scour your Downloads folder. Sure, but this requires no configuration and has no chance that through a configuration error you'll lose files you'd always intended to keep.___

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