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Shared Circles including Trey Harris

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Activity

Average numbers for the latest posts (max. 50 posts, posted within the last 4 weeks)

8
comments per post
1
reshares per post
3
+1's per post

3,752
characters per posting

Top posts in the last 50 posts

Most comments: 23

2015-05-08 17:10:12 (23 comments, 0 reshares, 0 +1s)Open 

Would you say, 'Okay, Brute?' or 'back at ya, Krzysztofie'?

Random linguistics question of the day....

If you speak a language with a vocative case or other non-nominative form of address (like Russian), and you're speaking English with other speakers of that language in mixed company, do you use the vocative address form when you say someone's name? Or do you follow English and stick with an immutable name?

A Greek acquaintance tells me that Greeks use the vocative even in English sentences. It just feels wrong to call somebody by their nominative name, I suppose something like how in English it would feel wrong to call a family member "Professor Jones", even if that is how he's addressed elsewhere.

Most reshares: 2

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2015-07-12 17:59:41 (5 comments, 2 reshares, 2 +1s)Open 

Reputable sources for data about generic drug biosimilarity?

For as long as substitutable generic prescription drugs have been available, there have been people who claim the generics don't work as well, to the point where "none of that knockoff crap, I've got the real name-brand stuff" has become a trope in fiction.

For most of that same time, though, the fact has been that experimental evidence has shown that the vast majority of most generics have been pharmaceutically identical. When production standards are sufficiently high, when the purity of the brand name product and the generic are within similar tolerances, the common complaint "the generic didn't work (as well) for me" has been idiosyncratic: either a psychosomatic effect or an idiosyncratic physiologic effect traceable to differences in the "inactive" ingredients. (For... more »

Most plusones: 27

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2015-04-30 02:28:09 (16 comments, 1 reshares, 27 +1s)Open 

I complained to +Lyft after they couldn't pick me up at the airport because their app said my phone number wasn't "valid".

Their responses are just getting more amusing with every email. The latest says they can't work with my phone number because "at the moment we are focusing on streamlining our app on Android and iPhone operating systems. Other operating systems may be introduced at a later date, however there are currently no immediate plans to roll out any new additional platforms."

Apparently my phone number is an operating system! Who knew?

They suggested that in the future I "have a friend or family member request a Lyft for you on their smartphone".

Latest 50 posts

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2015-07-20 20:29:37 (7 comments, 0 reshares, 3 +1s)Open 

This has been happening more and more recently it seems: I get a notification about post activity (in this case, from +Jimmy Kaplowitz ) but when I go to look at the post, the event that triggered the notification isn't visible.

Sometimes it appears after awhile, so there's some sort of eventual consistency, but sometimes not. Do others have this issue ever, and if so have you found a way to improve the issue?

(+Jimmy Kaplowitz +Steve S +Crístian Deives — I assume you wouldn't mind my posting your names since it would be public activity anyway, but if I was wrong about that, let me know if you'd like me to delete the image and replace it with a redacted one.)

This has been happening more and more recently it seems: I get a notification about post activity (in this case, from +Jimmy Kaplowitz ) but when I go to look at the post, the event that triggered the notification isn't visible.

Sometimes it appears after awhile, so there's some sort of eventual consistency, but sometimes not. Do others have this issue ever, and if so have you found a way to improve the issue?

(+Jimmy Kaplowitz +Steve S +Crístian Deives — I assume you wouldn't mind my posting your names since it would be public activity anyway, but if I was wrong about that, let me know if you'd like me to delete the image and replace it with a redacted one.)___

2015-07-20 19:27:08 (13 comments, 0 reshares, 4 +1s)Open 

My rules for reviewing cosmetic changes in patches

(Updated below.) It's not uncommon that I'll get a code review that consists of a mix of changes, some of which are functional (change the semantics of the program or potentially could do so, such as changing the name of a private variable throughout a file), and some are not (like reordering named arguments, or changing whitespace or indention in languages where that isn't significant).

Over the years, I've settled on the following rules, which I share with people whose code I'm reviewing. I have a macro set up for it, but here it is for public consumption for the first time. Do any of you coders have anything to add, or any quibbles?

1. First precedence goes to consistency: even if the coding style says to do X, if the file already does Y more than once¹, you should do Y in changes you... more »

My rules for reviewing cosmetic changes in patches

(Updated below.) It's not uncommon that I'll get a code review that consists of a mix of changes, some of which are functional (change the semantics of the program or potentially could do so, such as changing the name of a private variable throughout a file), and some are not (like reordering named arguments, or changing whitespace or indention in languages where that isn't significant).

Over the years, I've settled on the following rules, which I share with people whose code I'm reviewing. I have a macro set up for it, but here it is for public consumption for the first time. Do any of you coders have anything to add, or any quibbles?

1. First precedence goes to consistency: even if the coding style says to do X, if the file already does Y more than once¹, you should do Y in changes you introduce, unless the patch is entirely devoted to cosmetic changes, in which case it can fix all cases of Y to X.

2. For issues not governed by the coding style (alignment, grouping of parameters, blank lines between stanzas/paragraphs),  any pre-existing lines you change functionally, you're also free to clean up, provided you don't break rule #1.

3. In a functional patch, do not change any lines in a purely nonfunctional way, except for the cases mentioned above in #1 and #2. This applies even for egregious issues like useless line-terminating whitespace or incorrect newline type (for languages that can tolerate that). Your patch should only show lines you changed for functional reasons².

4. Non-functional-only cosmetic patches are always welcome and will be quickly approved (GitHub and most other code-review tools offera word-wise diff highlighting now, so it's easy for a code reviewer to ensure that a patch is, in fact, non-functional). Following up a functional patch with a cosmetic patch is especially good, since your reviewer will be familiar with the context.

¹  "More than once", because once can be written off as a previously-uncaught mistake, and in the diff it will be obvious why there's a single nonfunctional change. I'd still make a note of this in the out-of-band comments in the code review system.

²  If your editor makes such changes automatically, Make It Stop That (for Emacs' whitespace-fixing and reindention functions, for instance, there are versions and/or configurations that will keep the functions for touching otherwise-unchanged lines). Or get to know `git add -p` so you can exclude those changes from your patch before sending a pull request. (Then you can create a new branch and apply those other changes to a purely nonfunctional cosmetic patch, or just `git reset --hard` to clear away the fixes your editor made on lines you otherwise wouldn't have touched.)

Update, 19:32 UTC: Someone asked me about refactoring. Refactoring is a "nonfunctional change" if done correctly, by definition, but a refactoring patch shouldn't be used as a time to fix cosmetic issues, IMO, since the reviewer needs to make absolutely sure you've correctly refactored, and the fewer distractions the better. 

That said, there are things on the bubble, like using defaults or introducing explicit returns for procedures (subroutines that aren't used for their return values), where it's a judgment call. I still wouldn't make any changes like that in the same patch as a functional patch to lines I'm not changing for functional reasons. Depending on the scope, I'd either do a separate refactoring patch (so, yes, you might have three patches, one logic-functional, one cosmetic, and one refactoring), or put it in the cosmetic patch with a special note to the reviewer so they won't be surprised.___

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2015-07-12 17:59:41 (5 comments, 2 reshares, 2 +1s)Open 

Reputable sources for data about generic drug biosimilarity?

For as long as substitutable generic prescription drugs have been available, there have been people who claim the generics don't work as well, to the point where "none of that knockoff crap, I've got the real name-brand stuff" has become a trope in fiction.

For most of that same time, though, the fact has been that experimental evidence has shown that the vast majority of most generics have been pharmaceutically identical. When production standards are sufficiently high, when the purity of the brand name product and the generic are within similar tolerances, the common complaint "the generic didn't work (as well) for me" has been idiosyncratic: either a psychosomatic effect or an idiosyncratic physiologic effect traceable to differences in the "inactive" ingredients. (For... more »

Reputable sources for data about generic drug biosimilarity?

For as long as substitutable generic prescription drugs have been available, there have been people who claim the generics don't work as well, to the point where "none of that knockoff crap, I've got the real name-brand stuff" has become a trope in fiction.

For most of that same time, though, the fact has been that experimental evidence has shown that the vast majority of most generics have been pharmaceutically identical. When production standards are sufficiently high, when the purity of the brand name product and the generic are within similar tolerances, the common complaint "the generic didn't work (as well) for me" has been idiosyncratic: either a psychosomatic effect or an idiosyncratic physiologic effect traceable to differences in the "inactive" ingredients. (For instance, the name brand uses one bulking agent, the generic another, and some patients are sensitive to the difference even though the "active" ingredients are indistinguishable.)

But there have been cases where generics (often a generic from one particular manufacturer, not all generics for a given drug) have turned out to be quantifiably inferior to the original counterpart, and not just a result of a batch defect. Time-release drugs have been particularly prone to this, as the active ingredient can be exactly the same, exactly as pure, but the mechanism for delaying drug release can be completely different. (One reason is that tablets are generally cheaper to produce than capsules, so are attractive to generic drug makers, but the way a delayed-release capsule is designed is totally different from an extended-release tablet.)

We're about to (in the US as least) start seeing more and more substitutable generics for so-called "large molecule" drugs such as biologics, which are not "manufactured" so much as they are more like "grown", in organisms such as bacteria genetically engineered to produce the biologic drug. In these cases, it is literally impossible for the generic drug maker to produce an identical replica without access to the production line of the original drug maker—they'd have to steal the cell line to do that. So instead, the generic drug manufacturers are producing their own cell lines that make an active drug that (they hope) is pharmacologically identical, but because they're large molecules (like DNA) they may vary arbitrarily from the original drug in the part of the protein chain (or whatever) that isn't believed to be responsible for the therapeutic characteristics of the drug.

In other countries, these "biologic biosimilars" are already on the market. With conventional "small molecule" drugs, it's no different than choosing the store brand of an OTC (over-the-counter non-prescription) drug: the trademarked name of the original doesn't appear, but the active ingredient's chemical name stays the same. Think of one of the earliest examples, where the name-brand pill bottle says "Motrin (ibuprofen)" while the generic simply says "ibuprofen".

There's been a fight going on between the makers of biologics and biosimilars, where, for instance, AbbVie has argued that manufacturers of biosimilars for its arthritis drug Humira (adalimumab), one of the most profitable drugs in history, shouldn't be allowed to put not just the trademarked "Humira" on the label, but "adalimumab" either, because the molecule is not exactly the same, which was the rule for small-molecule generics.

In India, biosimilar adalimumab is already on the market under the name "Exemptia adalimumab". It differs in its packaging, with an innovative self-sealing pre-filled syringe which eliminates the need for a sharps container for disposal. (Humira comes in either a pen auto injector, or a conventional pre-filled syringe with a needle that must be disposed of like any other biohazardous sharps.)

But its slightly different drug molecule, until recently, would have categorically disqualified Exemptia from carrying the name "adalimumab" in the United States. The FDA has now already approved one biosimilar to carry the original's chemical name, and appears poised to do the same for others, including adalimumab.

So here's my question: you could always find anecdotal evidence for a generic's not working as well as the name brand, but if you wanted more scientifically valid information, you either had to wade through PubMed or hope that if the generic doesn't quite compare, the mainstream news would pick up the story (and publish it in a form other than business news or "health scare off the week"). Is there a better way to keep up to date on generics-efficacy news?

This information is going to become even more relevant—but probably even harder to find—as more large-molecule biosimilars make it to market. Given the astronomical expense of many of these drugs (a package of two Humira syringes retails for nearly $3000), it's a safe bet that most insurance companies will demand patients switch (even though, compared to the price differential between small-molecule brand-name drugs and generics, which is often orders of magnitude, the cost of producing a biosimilar biologic is so high that the prices are often 60% or more of the original).

So in the coming years, early—yet still reputable—data on comparative efficacy is going to be very important to patients with the chronic conditions these medicines treat.___

2015-06-28 18:39:04 (4 comments, 1 reshares, 9 +1s)Open 

Bug: "Posted wedding photo. Expected result: congratulations. Actual: fired from job and evicted." Closed: "Won't Fix/Working As Intended""

Bug: "Posted wedding photo. Expected result: congratulations. Actual: fired from job and evicted." Closed: "Won't Fix/Working As Intended""___

posted image

2015-06-20 21:58:55 (3 comments, 0 reshares, 8 +1s)Open 

The two most striking things about the Charleston shooter's "manifesto" were:

1. The detail he went into about how he would have killed roughly the same number of people had he not had a gun, and

2. The explanation that his motivation was against Christians, not blacks; the second-oldest black church in the South, 150 miles away from his home, was simply the most convenient one to shoot up, entirely coincidentally on the 193rd anniversary of the church founder's thwarted slave rebellion.

...or, wait. No, I must have been reading from a different manifesto. Oops.

The two most striking things about the Charleston shooter's "manifesto" were:

1. The detail he went into about how he would have killed roughly the same number of people had he not had a gun, and

2. The explanation that his motivation was against Christians, not blacks; the second-oldest black church in the South, 150 miles away from his home, was simply the most convenient one to shoot up, entirely coincidentally on the 193rd anniversary of the church founder's thwarted slave rebellion.

...or, wait. No, I must have been reading from a different manifesto. Oops.___

2015-05-30 19:05:19 (14 comments, 0 reshares, 2 +1s)Open 

There must be a reason that good saucepans and sauciers with oven-safe metal handles often—even from very reputable and expensive brands—are balanced such that empty or lightly filled, they do not sit flat on the stovetop, instead tipping toward the handle. What is it?

Obviously, once food is in the pot, for something like a sauté pan, a heavy metal handle is likely helpful for handling. But unless you're making popcorn, you don't usually need to handle a small pot often enough for that to make much sense.

(Update 6/31/2015 00:30 UTC: I've posted some photos at https://plus.google.com/photos/116222833568410151476/albums/6154824484752822721 with the pot backlit, so you can see that it isn't making contact with the flat countertop—except all the way over by the handle.)

There must be a reason that good saucepans and sauciers with oven-safe metal handles often—even from very reputable and expensive brands—are balanced such that empty or lightly filled, they do not sit flat on the stovetop, instead tipping toward the handle. What is it?

Obviously, once food is in the pot, for something like a sauté pan, a heavy metal handle is likely helpful for handling. But unless you're making popcorn, you don't usually need to handle a small pot often enough for that to make much sense.

(Update 6/31/2015 00:30 UTC: I've posted some photos at https://plus.google.com/photos/116222833568410151476/albums/6154824484752822721 with the pot backlit, so you can see that it isn't making contact with the flat countertop—except all the way over by the handle.)___

2015-05-12 20:42:58 (1 comments, 2 reshares, 5 +1s)Open 

Why you probably don't want to use Subversion-style $Id$ fields with Git

Almost all version control systems support the ability to have some metadata substituted into a file when it's checked out by replacing some special token. CVS and Subversion were among the VCS's that had such a feature, and the "$Id$" token was among the most used. It was replaced with the version number of the entire source tree at that time.

Git's version, at first blush, looks to be the same and just as useful; it even uses the "$Id$" style for the substitution tokens. But it isn't, and shouldn't be used that way.

To explain why, I've linked a document with sample code I wrote some time ago, but just put on Gist.

Why you probably don't want to use Subversion-style $Id$ fields with Git

Almost all version control systems support the ability to have some metadata substituted into a file when it's checked out by replacing some special token. CVS and Subversion were among the VCS's that had such a feature, and the "$Id$" token was among the most used. It was replaced with the version number of the entire source tree at that time.

Git's version, at first blush, looks to be the same and just as useful; it even uses the "$Id$" style for the substitution tokens. But it isn't, and shouldn't be used that way.

To explain why, I've linked a document with sample code I wrote some time ago, but just put on Gist.___

posted image

2015-05-12 18:52:24 (5 comments, 0 reshares, 3 +1s)Open 

Wow, do they make sugar-free fat, too?

(Yes, I know, structural ambiguity: it’s supposed to mean “this contains more protein than it contains sugar”. But I can’t help but read it as “this contains more protein than sugar contains protein.”)

Wow, do they make sugar-free fat, too?

(Yes, I know, structural ambiguity: it’s supposed to mean “this contains more protein than it contains sugar”. But I can’t help but read it as “this contains more protein than sugar contains protein.”)___

posted image

2015-05-09 22:17:03 (12 comments, 0 reshares, 3 +1s)Open 

What do you do with good gadgets you don't want anymore?

I've had a Parrot Zik 1.0 for about a  year now, and have liked it very much—I've had a lot of Bluetooth headsets, headphones, and adapters over the years, and this is far and away the best.

I liked it so much, in fact, that I want to upgrade to the newer 2.0  model released a few months ago (linked below), because it has a couple new features I like. First, a lower-power noise-cancelling non-Bluetooth mode would be nice for long airline flights, and second, a control in the configuration app lets you  pipe in an adjustable amount of outside noise (since I often use mine on the sidewalk in Manhattan, total noise-cancellation isn't always safe).

But I'm not sure what to do with the old pair. It's new enough and in good enough shape that I don't want to just recycle it. I'dusua... more »

What do you do with good gadgets you don't want anymore?

I've had a Parrot Zik 1.0 for about a  year now, and have liked it very much—I've had a lot of Bluetooth headsets, headphones, and adapters over the years, and this is far and away the best.

I liked it so much, in fact, that I want to upgrade to the newer 2.0  model released a few months ago (linked below), because it has a couple new features I like. First, a lower-power noise-cancelling non-Bluetooth mode would be nice for long airline flights, and second, a control in the configuration app lets you  pipe in an adjustable amount of outside noise (since I often use mine on the sidewalk in Manhattan, total noise-cancellation isn't always safe).

But I'm not sure what to do with the old pair. It's new enough and in good enough shape that I don't want to just recycle it. I'd usually offer it to a friend or coworker, but none of my friends are interested and since I'm telecommuting now, my coworkers are less viable options.

I know I could post a for-sale to Craigslist, or put it on Ebay, or list it on Amazon, or try one of those services (I refuse to call hem "apps", because, really, why is a service suddenly an "app" just because you use a mobile app to request the service? ) where they'll buy old electronics from you.

But in the past I've generally used these things for getting rid of very old stuff; I don't have any experience doing it with a gadget that's still very far from the scrap heap.

What do you do with gadgets like this?___

2015-05-08 17:10:12 (23 comments, 0 reshares, 0 +1s)Open 

Would you say, 'Okay, Brute?' or 'back at ya, Krzysztofie'?

Random linguistics question of the day....

If you speak a language with a vocative case or other non-nominative form of address (like Russian), and you're speaking English with other speakers of that language in mixed company, do you use the vocative address form when you say someone's name? Or do you follow English and stick with an immutable name?

A Greek acquaintance tells me that Greeks use the vocative even in English sentences. It just feels wrong to call somebody by their nominative name, I suppose something like how in English it would feel wrong to call a family member "Professor Jones", even if that is how he's addressed elsewhere.

Would you say, 'Okay, Brute?' or 'back at ya, Krzysztofie'?

Random linguistics question of the day....

If you speak a language with a vocative case or other non-nominative form of address (like Russian), and you're speaking English with other speakers of that language in mixed company, do you use the vocative address form when you say someone's name? Or do you follow English and stick with an immutable name?

A Greek acquaintance tells me that Greeks use the vocative even in English sentences. It just feels wrong to call somebody by their nominative name, I suppose something like how in English it would feel wrong to call a family member "Professor Jones", even if that is how he's addressed elsewhere.___

2015-05-01 19:40:18 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 24 +1s)Open 

Sorry, families visiting NYC: walk six abreast on the sidewalk with arms interlocked, and I'm not going to walk around you when you head right at me in the intersection. I'm crossing, not playing "Red Rover".

Sorry, families visiting NYC: walk six abreast on the sidewalk with arms interlocked, and I'm not going to walk around you when you head right at me in the intersection. I'm crossing, not playing "Red Rover".___

posted image

2015-04-30 02:28:09 (16 comments, 1 reshares, 27 +1s)Open 

I complained to +Lyft after they couldn't pick me up at the airport because their app said my phone number wasn't "valid".

Their responses are just getting more amusing with every email. The latest says they can't work with my phone number because "at the moment we are focusing on streamlining our app on Android and iPhone operating systems. Other operating systems may be introduced at a later date, however there are currently no immediate plans to roll out any new additional platforms."

Apparently my phone number is an operating system! Who knew?

They suggested that in the future I "have a friend or family member request a Lyft for you on their smartphone".

I complained to +Lyft after they couldn't pick me up at the airport because their app said my phone number wasn't "valid".

Their responses are just getting more amusing with every email. The latest says they can't work with my phone number because "at the moment we are focusing on streamlining our app on Android and iPhone operating systems. Other operating systems may be introduced at a later date, however there are currently no immediate plans to roll out any new additional platforms."

Apparently my phone number is an operating system! Who knew?

They suggested that in the future I "have a friend or family member request a Lyft for you on their smartphone".___

2015-04-28 15:02:23 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 3 +1s)Open 

Nice truncation on this notification: BREAKING NEWS: Chief Justice John Roberts says during same-sex marriage case oral arguments before the Supreme Court that gay and lesbia

I'm just imagining Roberts interrupting a colloquy: “Counselor, if I may: GAY AND LESBIA! That is all."

Nice truncation on this notification: BREAKING NEWS: Chief Justice John Roberts says during same-sex marriage case oral arguments before the Supreme Court that gay and lesbia

I'm just imagining Roberts interrupting a colloquy: “Counselor, if I may: GAY AND LESBIA! That is all."___

2015-04-22 20:09:39 (3 comments, 0 reshares, 2 +1s)Open 

Firefox on Android: URLs on NFC tags always launch Firefox. You can't fix it short of uninstalling.

This isn't exactly a #lazyweb  question because I can find answers by searching, I just don't believe them....

I was surprised today, when I attempted to launch a browser via an NFC tag that had only an https URL encoded on it, and Firefox loaded. I rarely use Firefox on Android and hadn't selected it as the default for anything. I checked the Apps Settings, where you can usually "clear defaults" so that Android will ask to select an application the next time the URL is triggered, but no defaults were set for Firefox.

I uninstalled Firefox, and the tag launched Chrome, as expected. I re-installed Firefox, and — without asking — Android went back to using Firefox for the URL.

It's an https docs.google.com URL,so n... more »

Firefox on Android: URLs on NFC tags always launch Firefox. You can't fix it short of uninstalling.

This isn't exactly a #lazyweb  question because I can find answers by searching, I just don't believe them....

I was surprised today, when I attempted to launch a browser via an NFC tag that had only an https URL encoded on it, and Firefox loaded. I rarely use Firefox on Android and hadn't selected it as the default for anything. I checked the Apps Settings, where you can usually "clear defaults" so that Android will ask to select an application the next time the URL is triggered, but no defaults were set for Firefox.

I uninstalled Firefox, and the tag launched Chrome, as expected. I re-installed Firefox, and — without asking — Android went back to using Firefox for the URL.

It's an https docs.google.com URL, so nothing I'd expect Firefox to intercept. And in fact that URL isn't sent to Firefox if I invoke it any other way (a link in an email or a notification, for instance).

Searching seems to suggest that a) any Android app is free to respond to any NFC tag URL it wants, b) Firefox asks the OS to give it all NFC URL's while Chrome does not, so c) Android doesn't offer a choice when only one app has asked to respond to a given URL, and d) there's absolutely nothing the phone owner can do about this except for uninstalling Firefox or installing some other app that tries to similarly intercept all NFC URL's (since Chrome does not, installing another app won't help you, if what you want is to launch Chrome).

Is this all correct? I have difficulty believing it, as it suggests unusually anti-user and anti-security decisionmaking by Mozilla and Google.___

posted image

2015-04-20 20:19:21 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 5 +1s)Open 

A new search URL for the new Google Contacts

When I was migrated to the new-UI Google Contacts "preview", I had to change my site-specific search engine I'd mapped to the keyword contacts because the preview's URLs use a new scheme: 
https://contacts.google.com/preview/search/%s

As I've discussed before (see the link below), I love site-specific searches, which you can add to Chrome via the chrome://settings/searchEngines preference. Any website that has a variable content encoded in the URL, you can make quickly navigable simply by adding that URL with "%s" wherever the search term appears and giving it a keyword; from then on, open a new Chrome tab, type the keyword and a space or tab, and the search term, and Chrome will go directly there. (For instance, "http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Search&search=%s"... more »

A new search URL for the new Google Contacts

When I was migrated to the new-UI Google Contacts "preview", I had to change my site-specific search engine I'd mapped to the keyword contacts because the preview's URLs use a new scheme: 
https://contacts.google.com/preview/search/%s

As I've discussed before (see the link below), I love site-specific searches, which you can add to Chrome via the chrome://settings/searchEngines preference. Any website that has a variable content encoded in the URL, you can make quickly navigable simply by adding that URL with "%s" wherever the search term appears and giving it a keyword; from then on, open a new Chrome tab, type the keyword and a space or tab, and the search term, and Chrome will go directly there. (For instance, "http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Search&search=%s" will give you a direct search into the English Wikipedia, so you can skip the home page.)

At some point I'd imagine the "preview" will go away from the URL and I'll have to change it again, but it might be a long time, as evinced by the years that the new Maps UI had "preview" in its URLs.

On most websites, you can navigate to the site's home page, right-click in the search box, and select "Add As Search Engine..." Unfortunately, the new Contacts doesn't support this because of the way its search box is implemented. (Googlers, someone should open a bug on this.) Hopefully that will be fixed soon, but in the meantime, I thought I'd share this.

#chrometips  ___

2015-04-15 19:15:44 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 1 +1s)Open 

Expansion with string concatenation?

(I'm a little afraid of what the G+ comment markup is going to do to the legibility of this post, but I'll give it a try...)

I frequently use the postfix modifiers to do things like this:

# cd into the directory contaning File::Util; perldoc -l gives
# location of the library as an absolute pathname, (:h) modifier
# works like dirname
cd $($perldoc -l File::Util)(:h)


Another thing I frequently use in conjunction with this is to use a directory or filename to name something for another command. For instance, I may want to make a Git branch for editing a particular executable. I can get the name of the executable like so:

# Just one executable in bin/util.pl
# Create new branch called util-feature
git branch $(echo bin/*(:t:r))-feature

This works, but feels like... more »

Expansion with string concatenation?

(I'm a little afraid of what the G+ comment markup is going to do to the legibility of this post, but I'll give it a try...)

I frequently use the postfix modifiers to do things like this:

# cd into the directory contaning File::Util; perldoc -l gives
# location of the library as an absolute pathname, (:h) modifier
# works like dirname
cd $($perldoc -l File::Util)(:h)


Another thing I frequently use in conjunction with this is to use a directory or filename to name something for another command. For instance, I may want to make a Git branch for editing a particular executable. I can get the name of the executable like so:

# Just one executable in bin/util.pl
# Create new branch called util-feature
git branch $(echo bin/*(:t:r))-feature

This works, but feels like a gratuitous use of `echo`. Anyone know another option? I can make use of zsh's interactive expansion by typing `git branch bin/*(:t:r)⇥`, which will fill in to `git branch util`, which I can then finish with `-feature↩`. That's certainly the most straightforward way for this particular case.

But when I'm doing it programmatically, is there another way to skip the `echo`? (Give it a try before throwing out a possible answer; some that came to me like surrounding the expansion in braces or parens or something just didn't work.)___

2015-04-03 02:16:18 (6 comments, 0 reshares, 0 +1s)Open 

Looking for not-so-great headphones

After running dry in my own search, I'm looking for some recommendations for some decent inexpensive headphones for my boyfriend meeting the following criteria:

• On-ear or over-ear phones, not in-ear or earbuds

• Not noise-cancelling or heavily isolating (active noise cancellation that can be turned off would be fine, but probably doesn't exist at this price point)

• With a microphone that works on Android phones and Macs (he primarily uses them for podcasts and music on the go, but needs to make and receive phone and Skype calls as well)

• Wired, not wireless, with a cord that's detachable (for safety) and replaceable (for economy), because...

• ...not requiring batteries (or if rechargeable, still capable of being used even when the battery runs down) is a must.
• Output ... more »

Looking for not-so-great headphones

After running dry in my own search, I'm looking for some recommendations for some decent inexpensive headphones for my boyfriend meeting the following criteria:

• On-ear or over-ear phones, not in-ear or earbuds

• Not noise-cancelling or heavily isolating (active noise cancellation that can be turned off would be fine, but probably doesn't exist at this price point)

• With a microphone that works on Android phones and Macs (he primarily uses them for podcasts and music on the go, but needs to make and receive phone and Skype calls as well)

• Wired, not wireless, with a cord that's detachable (for safety) and replaceable (for economy), because...

• ...not requiring batteries (or if rechargeable, still capable of being used even when the battery runs down) is a must.

• Output sound quality is entirely irrelevant, but...

• ...the mic, on the other hand, needs to be good enough so the person he's talking to won't think he's on a perpetually bad connection (it's frustrating how many headphones' mics are in fact that bad).

• And last, but definitely not least, they need to be at an optimal point on the durable-but-expensive vs. cheap-but-fragile scale. He treats them roughly enough to where they will get broken at some point, so a very expensive pair lasts a little longer, but just makes him feel really bad when he finally does break them. Yet when he tried the cheapest acceptable ones he could find—on the theory that he could just treat them as disposable—they broke so quickly that it just felt even worse.

I'll be darned if I can figure out how to search for a product like this. Soooo... it's #lazyweb  time! Maybe you know of a pair that might fill the bill?___

2015-03-27 18:23:54 (10 comments, 1 reshares, 0 +1s)Open 

Any better Android TOTP choices than Google Authenticator?

My new job requires a slew of 2FA accounts and I'm getting annoyed by the lack of organizational features (and worst, the inability to reorder accounts like you can even on Google Authenticator for iOS).

Anyone have suggestions for a better one. (FWIW, I really would prefer one on the Play Store because of side-loading restrictions.)

Any better Android TOTP choices than Google Authenticator?

My new job requires a slew of 2FA accounts and I'm getting annoyed by the lack of organizational features (and worst, the inability to reorder accounts like you can even on Google Authenticator for iOS).

Anyone have suggestions for a better one. (FWIW, I really would prefer one on the Play Store because of side-loading restrictions.)___

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2015-03-26 19:14:52 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 2 +1s)Open 

Mr. Ciesielski, who is on disability, said he would think twice about taking on acting jobs this year to avoid the same predicament when he files his 2015 taxes.

This is why one thing that Keynesians and non-Keynesian free-marketers can agree on is that taxes should always phase-in and deductions and credits should phase-out. Setting thresholds (floors or ceilings) results in perverse economic incentives.

(Economists—aside from behavioral economists, anyway—tend to discount the cost of complex policy, though. It could be argued that any phase-in of penalties or phase-out of subsidies would seem so complicated that average folks would be completely bamboozled come tax time, and there was political need for the ACA, with all its requisite complexity, to be as simple as possible in its interface with ordinary taxpayers.

After all, there's evidence every election thatman... more »

Mr. Ciesielski, who is on disability, said he would think twice about taking on acting jobs this year to avoid the same predicament when he files his 2015 taxes.

This is why one thing that Keynesians and non-Keynesian free-marketers can agree on is that taxes should always phase-in and deductions and credits should phase-out. Setting thresholds (floors or ceilings) results in perverse economic incentives.

(Economists—aside from behavioral economists, anyway—tend to discount the cost of complex policy, though. It could be argued that any phase-in of penalties or phase-out of subsidies would seem so complicated that average folks would be completely bamboozled come tax time, and there was political need for the ACA, with all its requisite complexity, to be as simple as possible in its interface with ordinary taxpayers.

After all, there's evidence every election that many people love a flat tax, even though it will hurt them, simply because marginal tax is so hard for people to understand. The number of people who came forward on the news in the run-up to the 2012  election saying that they'd avoid taking a job or making an investment that might push them into a higher tax bracket shows how many people misunderstand marginal tax, even when it's vital to their own interests that they understand it.)___

2015-03-25 19:37:13 (4 comments, 0 reshares, 1 +1s)Open 

Smaller sit-stand desks?

I'm telecommuting in my new position with +Apcera  and I wonder if any of you could recommend a medium-sized sit/stand desk? Most I've found are either in the 65" range (way too big for my space, which is 50" wide) or are lightweight and inteded for use as a secondary desk.

Ideally, I could get one with a monitor arm and a keyboard tray.

Any suggestions about what to look at? Thanks!

(And please don't just point me at your favorite sit-stand maker as people have been doing to me in other fora without checking they have a narrower desk.)

Smaller sit-stand desks?

I'm telecommuting in my new position with +Apcera  and I wonder if any of you could recommend a medium-sized sit/stand desk? Most I've found are either in the 65" range (way too big for my space, which is 50" wide) or are lightweight and inteded for use as a secondary desk.

Ideally, I could get one with a monitor arm and a keyboard tray.

Any suggestions about what to look at? Thanks!

(And please don't just point me at your favorite sit-stand maker as people have been doing to me in other fora without checking they have a narrower desk.)___

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2015-03-21 21:14:15 (4 comments, 2 reshares, 6 +1s)Open 

Tabs Outliner: finally, a way to tame out-of-control Chrome tabs

I've used my share of tab and session management extensions over the years, but they've all been lacking in one way or another. This one, though, is head and shoulders above the others.

For the first time ever, in literally years of looking, I've finally found a way to recover in a sane and systematic way after I've opened so many tabs that the system is freezing up. Before, my only real choices were to:

1) Spend an afternoon reading and dismissing old tabs. This always sounds a lot more doable than it is, because invariably while reading I see a link I want to click, but if I click it, at best I've voided my progress in reducing the total number of tabs; usually I've made the problem even worse than before.

2) Methods I've heard others suggest, like reading tabs... more »

Tabs Outliner: finally, a way to tame out-of-control Chrome tabs

I've used my share of tab and session management extensions over the years, but they've all been lacking in one way or another. This one, though, is head and shoulders above the others.

For the first time ever, in literally years of looking, I've finally found a way to recover in a sane and systematic way after I've opened so many tabs that the system is freezing up. Before, my only real choices were to:

1) Spend an afternoon reading and dismissing old tabs. This always sounds a lot more doable than it is, because invariably while reading I see a link I want to click, but if I click it, at best I've voided my progress in reducing the total number of tabs; usually I've made the problem even worse than before.

2) Methods I've heard others suggest, like reading tabs one by one, deleting it if you finish the tab, but just stopping your reading and moving on to the next one (without deleting the current one) if you see a link you want to read, then looping back and opening a new tab for that link, then repeating until you've actually gotten the total tab count down. The problem with methods like this is they require discipline and a block of unbroken time long enough to visit every tab.

3) Just "declaring tab bankruptcy" and closing everything, just hoping you'll be able to find anything you need later.

Tabs Outliner is the solution I've been looking for. I can organize and re-organize my open tabs; close—without permanently losing—any open tabs¹; group together tabs, groups of tabs, and even windows topically and then activate, close and save, or close and forget them later; attach notes to any tab (or group or window); and much more.

It has a bit of a learning curve, and the author's English isn't perfect, but it's well worth it.

I'd just offer a few hints I'd wished I'd known about to start:

• I initially thought that windows and groups could only be named Window and Group, and was adding a note describing them to each. But you can rename windows and groups by clicking the pencil icon on the right side of the line.

• If you SHIFT-double-click a tab in the outline, it will open a new copy (whether the tab in the outline is open or saved). Since you can do this with groups too, this is a convenient way to have "hierarchical bookmarks" in a more powerful way than the "Open all" bookmarks command.

  If you just double-click on a saved tab, you'll also open the tab, but anything you do (clicking on links, opening new tabs, etc.) will change the entry in the outline. So: double-click ephemeral saved tabs you just wanted to save (once) for later, shift-double-click saved tabs you will re-open frequently (say, a window with both a web app and tabs for the documentation).

• To operate on a whole section of the outline at once, collapse it first by clicking the little dot on the left edge of the action popup. Then clicking the green X will close and save any and all open tabs within, and clicking the trash can will permanently close all those tabs. If you don't collapse the part of the outline you want to operate on first, you'll just act on a single tab.

• Middle-clicking or control-clicking a link on a webpage you're reading will, as always, open the link in a new tab. But it will also store the tab in Tabs Outliner as a child of the current tab. In other words, if you open the front page of a news site and middle-click all the articles you want to read, they'll remain grouped together in the outline automatically. (Here's where the utility of having to collapse before operating on a line becomes evident: say you open Slate magazine and open in new tabs five articles to read. In the outline, you can trash-can just the tab with the Slate homepage, but all the articles will remain open and grouped together. Collapse first, and they'll all go away.)

• Tabs Outliner doesn't replace "Reopen Closed Tab" for when you inadvertently close something. But it does replace "restore" after a Chrome or system crash. Instead of clicking Chrome's restore button, leave that new window open and open Tabs Outliner instead. Now you can restore and/or save just the tabs you want to.

This thing is great. Like I said, definitely has a learning curve, but very, very worth it.

¹ You can safely close any tab that doesn't have form or app data filled out and for which you don't care about losing history; Tabs Outliner will hold onto the URL and continue to let you manipulate the greyed-out "tab", restoring it whenever you wish.___

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2015-03-19 19:10:08 (21 comments, 0 reshares, 17 +1s)Open 

Yowza, I've been quoted at length in The New York Times as, "Trey Harris, a New York City reader". I feel like such a grown-up.

Yowza, I've been quoted at length in The New York Times as, "Trey Harris, a New York City reader". I feel like such a grown-up.___

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2015-03-18 19:29:46 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 9 +1s)Open 

+Nick Bilton and The Times should be ashamed of this article. It sounds cautious enough in tone, but it's a "teach the controversy" piece: it legitimizes the illegitimate unscientific claim simply by giving it "better safe than sorry" attention. Ugh, where do I begin?

The Style section is an inappropriate place to analyze a topic like cancer risk. Style and technology reporters and editors are not qualified to report what is science and what is quackery (pseudo-science):

Failing to explain true science: the article didn't mention two important factors in all such possible-cancer-risk studies. Studies like the ones the article relies on are unreliable, and must be repeated many times by different researchers before venturing a conclusion; and, by science's very nature, it is impossible to ever rule out any cause as definitively not a cancerri... more »

+Nick Bilton and The Times should be ashamed of this article. It sounds cautious enough in tone, but it's a "teach the controversy" piece: it legitimizes the illegitimate unscientific claim simply by giving it "better safe than sorry" attention. Ugh, where do I begin?

The Style section is an inappropriate place to analyze a topic like cancer risk. Style and technology reporters and editors are not qualified to report what is science and what is quackery (pseudo-science):

Failing to explain true science: the article didn't mention two important factors in all such possible-cancer-risk studies. Studies like the ones the article relies on are unreliable, and must be repeated many times by different researchers before venturing a conclusion; and, by science's very nature, it is impossible to ever rule out any cause as definitively not a cancer risk. 

Failing to recognize quackery, exhibit A: "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof." Unlike the sort of radiation we are usually concerned about, like x-rays or nuclear fallout, no mechanism is known to exist whereby cancer can result from non-ionizing radiation like that put out by cell phones. This goes unmentioned.

Failing to recognize quackery, exhibit B: A simple web search on the names of the two doctors quoted, Drs. Mercola and Hardell, reveals many questions about their research and possible conflicts of interest. (Mercola, specifically, is so notorious that I bet a number of Times science and health reporters felt sick simply seeing that name in print as a source.) A disturbing question arises: did Mr. Bilton and his editors not do such a simple fact check? Or were they aware of these doctors' reputation, yet chose to advance their claims without mentioning their controversial nature?

The one bone to critics, the line:
(Note that the group hedged its findings with the word “possibly.”)
is insufficient and incorrect: "possibly" has a very specific meaning in science. This note would be similar to a crime article reading, "the jurors hedged their not-guilty verdict with the words 'beyond a reasonable doubt'".

The Times's own Upshot contributor, Dr. +Aaron Carroll, has done a video on precisely this research. He entitled it: "Your Cell Phone Won't Give You Cancer" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6GYQyJEIeg). Mr. Bilton would have done well to call an expert closer to home before publishing this scaremongering piece.___

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2015-03-06 20:34:31 (1 comments, 1 reshares, 27 +1s)Open 

The auto-tuned fake-news fake viral video potential real viral video (parse that three times fast!) at the start of the great new Tina Fey comedy on Netflix, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, isn't a parody of the Gregory Brothers; it is the Gregory Brothers. Excellent.

The auto-tuned fake-news fake viral video potential real viral video (parse that three times fast!) at the start of the great new Tina Fey comedy on Netflix, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, isn't a parody of the Gregory Brothers; it is the Gregory Brothers. Excellent.___

2015-03-03 19:04:31 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 2 +1s)Open 

Not being able to use Google Authenticator (and, perhaps more arguably, Google Voice integration) in Android's Safe Mode makes it useless for any spontaneous reboot diagnosis, unless you already have a repeatable way to force the reboot.

Not being able to use Google Authenticator (and, perhaps more arguably, Google Voice integration) in Android's Safe Mode makes it useless for any spontaneous reboot diagnosis, unless you already have a repeatable way to force the reboot.___

2015-03-03 16:20:33 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 4 +1s)Open 

Bibi is, literally, giving Congress the whole Megillah. He invoked Haman, where's my rattle?!?

Bibi is, literally, giving Congress the whole Megillah. He invoked Haman, where's my rattle?!?___

2015-02-28 20:27:18 (18 comments, 1 reshares, 2 +1s)Open 

Do you know how to coil cables the "right" way?

This question is mainly for professional geeks who work (or have worked) with hardware, especially system and network admins, IT and data techs, telecom folks, and so on.

If you were lucky, you started out with a mentor who indoctrinated you in the mysteries of twisted-pair cabling:

• Don't wrap a cable around anything unless it was specifically designed for the cable to be wrapped around, like a spool or the flip-out tabs of a MagSafe connector¹.

• When disconnecting a cable, always pull on the plug's plastic jacket, not the wire or connector.

• Don't bend a cable beyond its minimum bend radius (use 5 cm (2") to be safe) — this one carried with it myriad consequences like if a cable got routed around a corner or into a cable run, tie it down on either side so itdoesn... more »

Do you know how to coil cables the "right" way?

This question is mainly for professional geeks who work (or have worked) with hardware, especially system and network admins, IT and data techs, telecom folks, and so on.

If you were lucky, you started out with a mentor who indoctrinated you in the mysteries of twisted-pair cabling:

• Don't wrap a cable around anything unless it was specifically designed for the cable to be wrapped around, like a spool or the flip-out tabs of a MagSafe connector¹.

• When disconnecting a cable, always pull on the plug's plastic jacket, not the wire or connector.

• Don't bend a cable beyond its minimum bend radius (use 5 cm (2") to be safe) — this one carried with it myriad consequences like if a cable got routed around a corner or into a cable run, tie it down on either side so it doesn't get bent when pulled on either end; a device needed plenty of clearance on its back so cables didn't get bent against a wall, and if it had oddly-oriented ports like side- or bottom-facing ones, you couldn't force it into a cabling scheme assuming all the cables terminated horizontally at the back.

• If using a cable-to-cable connection like an extension cord, both sides need to be locked down if any part of either cable has slack (in theater tech and carpentry they'll knot together two cables around the plugs so they won't disconnect if an end gets pulled on, and if they do it a lot, like roadies might, they'll sacrifice a couple feet of length to do an elaborate knot that won't cause any part of the cable to be bent beyond its minimum bending radius).

• Don't use tight cable ties or staples for staying or bundling just one or two cables; the compression can cause wear or even a sever. Instead, use flexible plastic clips or make a loop knot (with an appropriate bending radius) and a loose tie. Use tight cable ties for bundles of cables instead.

I'm sure I also learned some lore that was pure superstition. For instance, I was taught that you shouldn't leave a length of cable running along the floor connected to a device at one end because it could become an antenna and damage the equipment. This happens to be true of coaxial cable, if the core made contact with something that could serve as an aerial (and in fact, "leaky coax" signal distribution depends on this effect), but I can't see how unshielded twisted-pair could do this, certainly not in typical run lengths.

But there's one thing that I've found even consummate professionals often never learned: how to correctly coil wire for storage. I suspect it's because, unlike these other things, you can't easily figure it out (or even realize it's an issue, necessarily) on your own, and it's not something that's typically done as part of where it really matters to your job, namely build-outs (of data centers or offices) so nobody's invested in policing it.

I think it's useful to resuscitate this knowledge given how many cables many of us pack and unpack every day as part of our comings and goings. Incorrect coiling can cause even worse wear than over-bending.

So I should tell you how to do it, right?

First, my poll. Here I'm asking specifically about the way you coil a cable, like around the MagSafe flip-out tabs or before putting them in storage, not the lore above. There is a wrong way—just wrapping and wrapping and wrapping like around a spool². There's also a right way (and no, I'm not talking about one of the "tangle-free" or length-shortening coils the DIY hack sites often feature—I'm talking about just a simple coil that will look more or less identical to the wrap-wrap-wrap coil. I'm specifically not saying what that coil is, I'll followup on that after the poll.)

I realize "I always do it" and "I don't bother" are a false dichotomy, but I have a 40 character limit and I just want you to pick which is closer to correct. Do you do it for cables you especially care about or as part of work? Choose "always". Do you not think the wear caused by incorrect coiling is as big a deal as people make it out to be? Say you don't bother.

I think a little looseness doesn't disqualify you from the "always" answer.
For instance, a typical thick USB 3.0 cable of the type you get when you're buying a USB cable (rather than getting a cheap one included with a device) has an outer diameter of about an eighth of an inch (30 mm) and USB cable generally has a minimum bend radius of 10×OD, so USB cables should be stored with a bend radii no less than 1-1/4" (3 cm). (For reference, that's the radius of a typical beer bottle. So try wrapping a USB cable around a beer bottle; it shouldn't be bent any more than that.)

I have a large but thin front pocket on my pack that is perfect for holding circular coils of cable, so I put expensive cables like Thunderbolt (which, incidentally, has an insanely small 5mm minimum bend radius², so strictly speaking keeping it in a circular coil isn't necessary) and a selection of backup and can't-easily-replace cables there. But that pocket's hard to get to and hard to find things in, so cables I need all the time are in a zippered "stuff pouch". And those—while coiled correctly, always!—get stayed with little bungies and smooshed into the pouch so that they undoubtedly bend a bit beyond the safe limit. I'm willing to shorten the life of these cables for the convenience.


¹ Only true for the DC (MagSafe connector) cable; the AC (wall) cable is not supposed to be wrapped around the power brick, lifehacking exhortations to the contrary.

² As i previously mentioned, the specific spools that a cable came on or were designed specifically for the cable in question are fine.

³ For the copper cables, that is. Counter-intuitively, both Apple and Corning claim (in their spec sheets!) that optical Thunderbolt and USB cables have a zero minimum bend radius. This is clearly impossible, so I take it to mean the actual minimum bend radius is tighter than the outer jacket can physically be bent. That's still pretty insane.

(In case you're wondering whether Thunderbolt ports unexpectedly have integral optical transceivers, like MacBook Pro headphone ports do, and are totally confused by the concept of an "optical USB cable": the plugs have optical transceivers powered by the devices. Since they have no copper end-to-end, they can't be used as power/charging cables, but they can stretch extremely long distances while still being thin and light, and apparently can be sharply bent as well. I would have gone squee! at seeing one of these when I was last regularly working with fiber, back in the FDDI days.)___

2015-02-27 12:22:14 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 0 +1s)Open 

Just as I'd expect, I see the white/gold when I've been staring at my (slightly warm) screen for awhile, but the blue/black if I look at it immediately after looking at my (neutral on average) room lighting or (rather cool) television.  (Though it's certainly a startling effect, so maybe "expect" is too strong a word.)

Just as I'd expect, I see the white/gold when I've been staring at my (slightly warm) screen for awhile, but the blue/black if I look at it immediately after looking at my (neutral on average) room lighting or (rather cool) television.  (Though it's certainly a startling effect, so maybe "expect" is too strong a word.)___

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2015-02-26 18:42:19 (1 comments, 1 reshares, 5 +1s)Open 

Probably the most ludicrous piece of technology I ever owned

I had one of these, a Pioneer PR-7820, a.k.a. the MCA DiscoVision. This was early 90's, so several years pre-DVD, and it was already over 15 years old at the time. I got it as a gift from a friend who was a LaserDisc enthusiast—it had been his first player, also a hand-me-down, but he'd since bought a more modern player and wanted to share the joy of LaserDisc with me. Blockbuster didn't carry LaserDisc, but almost all the other video stores still had small sections for disc rental. It was also pretty common to find entire boxes of LaserDiscs at garage sales and flea markets, often at pennies-per-movie.

This thing was brilliant. Brilliantly ridiculous.

First, as you can see starting at the 2:01 point in this (hilarious) instructional video, you had to mount it on a spindle, which lockedd... more »

Probably the most ludicrous piece of technology I ever owned

I had one of these, a Pioneer PR-7820, a.k.a. the MCA DiscoVision. This was early 90's, so several years pre-DVD, and it was already over 15 years old at the time. I got it as a gift from a friend who was a LaserDisc enthusiast—it had been his first player, also a hand-me-down, but he'd since bought a more modern player and wanted to share the joy of LaserDisc with me. Blockbuster didn't carry LaserDisc, but almost all the other video stores still had small sections for disc rental. It was also pretty common to find entire boxes of LaserDiscs at garage sales and flea markets, often at pennies-per-movie.

This thing was brilliant. Brilliantly ridiculous.

First, as you can see starting at the 2:01 point in this (hilarious) instructional video, you had to mount it on a spindle, which locked down with a satisfyingly loud thwack.

Unfortunately, the video doesn’t show you what's next: the smoked Plexiglas window in the lid let you see what was happening while the disc played. Unlike most players that had a moving pickup like a record player (and which enabled front-slot loading), the DiscoVision's laser pickup was stationary; the spindle moved. Which is why the thing is so huge; it had to have room within the chassis for the entire disc to move from edge to center. So you could look in and see the spindle and disc move, and you could actually see the laser pickup!

Two funny things about this technological monstrosity:

First, just as with pretty much every other home-movie technology ever developed, when this player was released there was a format war of sorts going. But compared to Beta/VHS, VideoCD/DVD, and Blu-ray/HD DVD, the LaserDisc format war was relatively mundane, as far as format wars go. Since these discs were double-sided like a record (each side held up to 60 minutes, so most movies required a flip and sometimes a second disc), it was just a disagreement over which side was the "A" side and which the "B". Vendors who wanted to put the laser pickup beneath the disc wanted the "A" side "down", i.e., on the opposite side from the label reading "side A". Vendors who wanted the laser pickup above the disc wanted side "A" to be "up".

This poor thing was on the losing team, so when you played a commercial LaserDisc, you had to put it on the spindle with the "B" label up, then flip it halfway so the "A" label was up. (The latest models had pickups on both sides so no flipping was necessary.)

The second funny thing was a result of the moving-spindle design, which meant the disc spun freely without resting on a turntable, and it spun fast (at one rotation per video frame, 1800 rpm). If the disc was locked to the spindle incorrectly with a bit of a tilt (not easy, but possible to do on an old machine) this nearly 30-POUND hulk would start shaking, and could easily walk itself off a table if you weren't paying attention. Remarkably, despite containing a precision motor, not to mention a frigging laser, it kept running even after hitting the floor from a height of a few inches. This thing was a tank.

The DiscoVision has its own Wikipedia page (http://goo.gl/sBPQvY). It totally deserves it.___

2015-02-21 03:08:42 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 3 +1s)Open 

Good lord, somehow I managed to change some setting in Yosemite so that the menu bar's reverted to the antediluvian behavior of menus only staying open if you hold down the button.

I remember Back in The Day that it was always funny watching a Windows person try to deal with a Mac as they clicked on the menu, released, and had the menu disappear, then tried again, totally befuddled. Now I'm doing it myself, and even though it's been going on for the better part of a day, I'm so habituated to the "new" way that OS X introduced that, every damn time, I have to have the menu go away once before I remember to hold the mouse again. (The fact that most pop-up menus on the web don't actually pop open until you release the button just makes this worse as I get conflicting habituation stimuli....)

I'm be darned if I can find the setting anywhere, and as usual... more »

Good lord, somehow I managed to change some setting in Yosemite so that the menu bar's reverted to the antediluvian behavior of menus only staying open if you hold down the button.

I remember Back in The Day that it was always funny watching a Windows person try to deal with a Mac as they clicked on the menu, released, and had the menu disappear, then tried again, totally befuddled. Now I'm doing it myself, and even though it's been going on for the better part of a day, I'm so habituated to the "new" way that OS X introduced that, every damn time, I have to have the menu go away once before I remember to hold the mouse again. (The fact that most pop-up menus on the web don't actually pop open until you release the button just makes this worse as I get conflicting habituation stimuli....)

I'm be darned if I can find the setting anywhere, and as usual Apple support forums are ridiculous, filled with people describing a problem and responders telling them no, what they describe isn't actually happening to them, because that would be broken, and the thing they're using is definitely not broken. Someone, anyone, please save me from this strange new hell.

(I've been pondering whether supposing screencaps were easily available and up/downloadable ten years ago, the Apple support forums might actually be useful, since "you're obviously doing it wrong" paroxysms could be nipped in the bud with a simple "video or it didn't happen" proof.)___

2015-02-20 14:41:03 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 4 +1s)Open 

Lenovo's #superfish  "uninstaller" is about like a cancer "treatment" of destroying all the records that say you have cancer.

Lenovo's #superfish  "uninstaller" is about like a cancer "treatment" of destroying all the records that say you have cancer.___

2015-02-13 18:00:35 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 1 +1s)Open 

Estimating totals based on novelty of samples?

Argh, I am so bad at remembering the names of algorithms, which makes it hard when I want to look them up, especially when they're in a rather crowded space, like this one, "estimation algorithms"... 

Suppose you are drawing random items from a bag of unique items that are replaced after selection. You can identify whether you have seen an item before (you keep a persistent record of samples seen). How do you estimate the total number of items in the bag, and your margin for error, based on how many new ones are recognizable to you? (Extra credit: if replacement does not happen immediately—perhaps you draw a queue of n items with the oldest going back into the bag—how do you estimate then?)

A pointer to a formal treatment (I have Knuth, Skiena, and the ACM Safari libraries available to me), or to animpl... more »

Estimating totals based on novelty of samples?

Argh, I am so bad at remembering the names of algorithms, which makes it hard when I want to look them up, especially when they're in a rather crowded space, like this one, "estimation algorithms"... 

Suppose you are drawing random items from a bag of unique items that are replaced after selection. You can identify whether you have seen an item before (you keep a persistent record of samples seen). How do you estimate the total number of items in the bag, and your margin for error, based on how many new ones are recognizable to you? (Extra credit: if replacement does not happen immediately—perhaps you draw a queue of n items with the oldest going back into the bag—how do you estimate then?)

A pointer to a formal treatment (I have Knuth, Skiena, and the ACM Safari libraries available to me), or to an implementation, would be preferable to an ad-hoc description of the algorithm.

(This is one of those intuitive algorithms we use all the time—"you never see the same one twice" is a way to say "we think the total number must be very large". Or we assume that if we pay the same cashier every time we go to a shop, that the shop doesn't have many cashiers in total. But as intuitive as it is, formalizing it is difficult. I'm pretty sure I could work from first principles and derive it in an hour or less, but I'd rather just look it up.)___

2015-02-11 03:59:29 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 0 +1s)Open 

#secondhandnews : Larry Wilmore is leaving The Nightly Show for the next six months, to do a stint as managing editor of the Daily News. 

#secondhandnews : Larry Wilmore is leaving The Nightly Show for the next six months, to do a stint as managing editor of the Daily News. ___

2015-02-09 19:43:42 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 0 +1s)Open 

Source for QWERTY/Dvorak replacement keycaps?

I once saw a set of replacement keycaps, for Cherry MX-style keyboards, that had both QWERTY and Dvorak lettering. I think it was QWERTY on the key tops and Dvorak on the key fronts. Anyone happen to know who sells these?

(I usually type in Dvorak, and can touch type both, but every now and then—usually when trying to learn a new keyboard shortcut in some application or another—I glance down, and it would be nice to not have to visualize myself typing a word containing the necessary character in order to find the correct key.

(I could pop the keys, and swap them all into Dvorak positions. But my boyfriend uses the keyboard too, in QWERTY. And anyway, if I swapped all the key caps, the homing bumps on the F and J keys would no longer be in the right place; the F bump would be on the top row where Y is on QWERTY whilethe... more »

Source for QWERTY/Dvorak replacement keycaps?

I once saw a set of replacement keycaps, for Cherry MX-style keyboards, that had both QWERTY and Dvorak lettering. I think it was QWERTY on the key tops and Dvorak on the key fronts. Anyone happen to know who sells these?

(I usually type in Dvorak, and can touch type both, but every now and then—usually when trying to learn a new keyboard shortcut in some application or another—I glance down, and it would be nice to not have to visualize myself typing a word containing the necessary character in order to find the correct key.

(I could pop the keys, and swap them all into Dvorak positions. But my boyfriend uses the keyboard too, in QWERTY. And anyway, if I swapped all the key caps, the homing bumps on the F and J keys would no longer be in the right place; the F bump would be on the top row where Y is on QWERTY while the J bump would be on the bottom row where QWERTY C is. Years ago I happened to have a broken keyboard I was throwing out, so I tried swapping all the keys and sanding down the bumps and adding new bumps to U and H with a dab of epoxy. It worked, sort of, but didn't feel right.)

This is one of those frustrating cases where the search terms one might use (QWERTY, Dvorak, key caps, keycaps, etc.) turn up lots of results relevant to the search terms, but irrelevant to the info desired.

#lazyweb___

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2015-02-07 22:11:08 (4 comments, 1 reshares, 4 +1s)Open 

Tracking down source of an iOS calendar invite?

This is a strange one... One of my doctors always sends me calendar invites when I make an appointment. This has always been nice—they were Gmail invites, so I had less paper and less fiddling to deal with.

But today I was just trying to figure out when my next appointment with him was—I knew it was late March or early April—and while I'd usually use my Google calendar, I happened to have my iPad close at hand, so I looked, and found it, on March 31 (see the first and second screenshots attached).

Since the appoitnment had no location and was named "trey harris" (useful for my doctor, but not really for me!) I wanted to fix these things, for which I grabbed my MacBook Pro. But I couldn't find it on my primary (Google) calendar (third screenshot). Weird.

I opened the OS X calendar(four... more »

Tracking down source of an iOS calendar invite?

This is a strange one... One of my doctors always sends me calendar invites when I make an appointment. This has always been nice—they were Gmail invites, so I had less paper and less fiddling to deal with.

But today I was just trying to figure out when my next appointment with him was—I knew it was late March or early April—and while I'd usually use my Google calendar, I happened to have my iPad close at hand, so I looked, and found it, on March 31 (see the first and second screenshots attached).

Since the appoitnment had no location and was named "trey harris" (useful for my doctor, but not really for me!) I wanted to fix these things, for which I grabbed my MacBook Pro. But I couldn't find it on my primary (Google) calendar (third screenshot). Weird.

I opened the OS X calendar (fourth screenshot), and once again, nothing there—my Mac does sync to my Google calendar, but checking my Internet Account Preferences, it did not sync to my iCloud calendar.

So I added the iCloud calendar sync, and there, the event appeared (final screenshot). But here's my questions:

1. How did the doctor get this onto the calendar in the first place? There's no corresponding invite in my Gmail, I don't use Apple mail and I only gave the doctor my Gmail address.

2. Is there some way to copy the event over from the iCloud (which I don't use for scheduling) to my Google calendar, or do I just have to reenter the information?

3. If you know what the doctor did to send the invite, whatever the doctor did this time is different from all the previous times. If it wasn't a fluke and I expect these non-Google invites to continue, is there some way I can get a notification (on Android or Gmail) of the invite? I don't carry an iPhone and my iPad usually stays at home, it's just a "player for iOS-only software", so iOS notifications are fairly useless to me.___

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2015-02-06 19:51:57 (6 comments, 1 reshares, 2 +1s)Open 

Brother P-touch label-printing scripting library?

Dear lazyweb,

Either this does not exist, or my search-fu is particularly bad today. Anyone know of a library in any of the major Unix high-level languages (preferably Perl, Python or Ruby, but I'm willing to go farther afield) to help automate the printing of labels for things like cable identification?

My label printer (a Brother P-touch PT-2700) is exposed as a standard printer queue, so I could experiment using standard raster generators, but really—a product that datacenter techs could use for organization purposes and no one's written a library for it in Perl, Python or Ruby? No, not possible. Therefore, it's my search-fu that's failing me.

Can someone, please, help me try to figure out why I'm so inept at searching for this and what I might do to rectify that?

(Note: Ia... more »

Brother P-touch label-printing scripting library?

Dear lazyweb,

Either this does not exist, or my search-fu is particularly bad today. Anyone know of a library in any of the major Unix high-level languages (preferably Perl, Python or Ruby, but I'm willing to go farther afield) to help automate the printing of labels for things like cable identification?

My label printer (a Brother P-touch PT-2700) is exposed as a standard printer queue, so I could experiment using standard raster generators, but really—a product that datacenter techs could use for organization purposes and no one's written a library for it in Perl, Python or Ruby? No, not possible. Therefore, it's my search-fu that's failing me.

Can someone, please, help me try to figure out why I'm so inept at searching for this and what I might do to rectify that?

(Note: I am aware of one program, B-Label, linked below, but it hasn't been updated in quite some time, is written in Perl but doesn't run except as a GUI application (!?! this is Perl, people!), and doesn't support graphics, which I need.)___

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2015-01-26 18:31:25 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 0 +1s)Open 

"The discrepancy in the New York metro is due to expected narrow bands of intense snowfall only a few miles in width, for which meteorologists haven’t yet evolved significant predictive skill beyond just a few hours in advance. We’ll know more details once the storm gets cranking."

A good reminder that while snow total forecasts are coming down from the worst predictions of last night, especially for NYC, that may indicate good news—but, as appears to be the case here, it may just indicate the models are less confident.

I'm waiting for the 2 p.m. Euro model; if it follows the NWS in substantially lowering the snow total in NYC, I'll feel more confident about the lessened snow forecasts.

In other blizzard news, Mayor de Blasio just finished a press conference in which he said only emergency vehicles are to be on the street after 11 p.m. tonight.Combi... more »

"The discrepancy in the New York metro is due to expected narrow bands of intense snowfall only a few miles in width, for which meteorologists haven’t yet evolved significant predictive skill beyond just a few hours in advance. We’ll know more details once the storm gets cranking."

A good reminder that while snow total forecasts are coming down from the worst predictions of last night, especially for NYC, that may indicate good news—but, as appears to be the case here, it may just indicate the models are less confident.

I'm waiting for the 2 p.m. Euro model; if it follows the NWS in substantially lowering the snow total in NYC, I'll feel more confident about the lessened snow forecasts.

In other blizzard news, Mayor de Blasio just finished a press conference in which he said only emergency vehicles are to be on the street after 11 p.m. tonight. Combine that with the likelihood of public transit shutting down around 9 p.m., and we have the closest thing to a curfew I can ever recall in New York.___

2015-01-25 20:55:07 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 4 +1s)Open 

"The blizzard watch is no longer in effect" seems like an unfortunate sentence to include in a blizzard warning that goes on to predict "possibly the worst winter storm in decades", seeing as that sentence is exactly long enough to be read in a glance on a typical weather streamer, with no other context. Puts one in mind of jokes with the setup being, "the doctor says, 'The good news is...'"

"The blizzard watch is no longer in effect" seems like an unfortunate sentence to include in a blizzard warning that goes on to predict "possibly the worst winter storm in decades", seeing as that sentence is exactly long enough to be read in a glance on a typical weather streamer, with no other context. Puts one in mind of jokes with the setup being, "the doctor says, 'The good news is...'"___

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2015-01-24 22:51:58 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 1 +1s)Open 

Disney withholding Blu-ray 3D in the U.S.?

I went to pre-order Big Hero 6 and found that while there's a Blu-ray, there's no 3D. I haven't bought a (non-Marvel) Disney disc since Tangled in 3D, so haven't previously noticed it, but apparently the same was true for Frozen and Brave — despite being presented in theaters in 3D, you can't get it on Blu-ray 3D.

Well, you can't get 3D on an American release, anyway. The weird part is the UK and Australia did get Frozen and Brave released on Blu-ray 3D—on region-free discs, so you can import them!

Anyone know if a 3D release of Big Hero 6 on disc has been announced elsewhere?

And does anyone know why Disney's doing this? Yes, I know that 3D HDTV's are less popular here than in other parts of the world, but other studios (including Disney's own Marvel Studios) releaseBlu... more »

Disney withholding Blu-ray 3D in the U.S.?

I went to pre-order Big Hero 6 and found that while there's a Blu-ray, there's no 3D. I haven't bought a (non-Marvel) Disney disc since Tangled in 3D, so haven't previously noticed it, but apparently the same was true for Frozen and Brave — despite being presented in theaters in 3D, you can't get it on Blu-ray 3D.

Well, you can't get 3D on an American release, anyway. The weird part is the UK and Australia did get Frozen and Brave released on Blu-ray 3D—on region-free discs, so you can import them!

Anyone know if a 3D release of Big Hero 6 on disc has been announced elsewhere?

And does anyone know why Disney's doing this? Yes, I know that 3D HDTV's are less popular here than in other parts of the world, but other studios (including Disney's own Marvel Studios) release Blu-rays of their 3D movies as a set with a non-3D Blu-ray and a DVD.

One could argue they're slow-rolling, hoping people will buy the 2D now and the 3D also later, but the global 3D releases of prior movies only a few weeks later than the US non-3D releases seem to belie that—not to mention that there's still no American release of either Frozen or of Brave in 3D, so if it's a slow roll, it's a very slow roll.

(This is the sort of thing that Googles poorly—it turns up plenty of shopping links, a smattering of sites that just massage and repost press releases, and thousands of forum posts of people complaining about the same issue, but no informative sources.)___

2015-01-23 22:06:53 (5 comments, 0 reshares, 1 +1s)Open 

Something English has that I wished it lacked... uh... not?

At risk of getting my Descriptivist Card™ voided: I think I've stumbled upon one way that English is demonstrably worse than many other languages.

I was watching an anchor on the news who said something like (emphasis mine and rewritten from memory): "[The proposed path for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's suggested] elevated railway to LaGuardia goes exactly the wrong way for the total travel time to be longer than it would be for almost anyone in any part of New York City... to go shorter times, taking less time... to... go faster by... some other mechanism... uh... like the bus."

At the point of the italics, the anchor has made a common speech error, a mental slip substituting an antonym (longer) for the intended word (shorter). This error is common—and, despite the persistentmyt... more »

Something English has that I wished it lacked... uh... not?

At risk of getting my Descriptivist Card™ voided: I think I've stumbled upon one way that English is demonstrably worse than many other languages.

I was watching an anchor on the news who said something like (emphasis mine and rewritten from memory): "[The proposed path for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's suggested] elevated railway to LaGuardia goes exactly the wrong way for the total travel time to be longer than it would be for almost anyone in any part of New York City... to go shorter times, taking less time... to... go faster by... some other mechanism... uh... like the bus."

At the point of the italics, the anchor has made a common speech error, a mental slip substituting an antonym (longer) for the intended word (shorter). This error is common—and, despite the persistent myth, does not seem to indicate the speaker's subconscious views.

It's especially common in sentences with many dependent clauses—and utterances including the error often go completely unnoticed, even by copy editors in written speech, as pragmatics take over. If the anchor had just said, "[the] railway to LaGuardia goes exactly the wrong way for the total travel time to be longer than it would be for almost anyone in any part of New York City than just taking the bus", I suspect most listeners wouldn't notice the mistake, nor would they think the anchor was decrying the alleged speediness of the proposed ride as some sort of disadvantage.

But the anchor noticed the slip. And TV news people are trained on some things, like avoiding "um", remembering to look at the camera while narrating but not look at the camera when interviewing someone, and so on, with the relevant one here being "if something goes awry, just keep going". An correction on a mispronunciation or wrong word is often awkward. So the anchor tries to recover without explicitly admitting an error.

Sometimes recovery is possible; if the intended sentence were, "the President's proposal is to lower taxes on the middle class and pay for it by raising taxes on the ultra-wealthy", an anchor can recover from the slip, "the President's proposal is to raise taxes on the...", by flipping around the upcoming noun phrases, to "...ultra-wealthy, in order to pay for lowered taxes on the middle class"—at least, if the anchor is quick-witted enough.

But once, in linguistics terms, you have a "bound predicate", meaning you not only have a context-free relational expression—like "X takes longer than Y"—but have bound it to some context—like "a hoped-for trip takes longer than a current trip",—it's too late; in semantic terms, "a truth value has been obtained", and either the statement matches the real world (and the statement is true) or it doesn't (and the statement is in error or a lie).

In English, we can negate an entire complex sentence before it begins with things like, "it is not the case that...", we can negate clauses with a simple "not", and many adjectives and adverbs can take negative prefixes—though these prefixes are stubbornly unproductive¹, as clumsy attempts to make words like "non-private" (or is it "unprivate"?) show.

But English has a paucity of postfix negations. The postfixes –less and –free are even less productive than un- and non-. The only common clause-level postfix negation is the sarcastic "... NOT!"

At an even higher level, we have rhetorical negation in the form of quoting someone the speaker disagrees with—or, as seen frequently this week in the President's State of the Union address and its myriad responses, "quoting" a straw-man, as in, "some people say there's no point in even trying. I say they're wrong."²

So at the sentence level, the best we can manage is a strained retroactive straw-man quote, like "...is what an idiot might say."

So that's the sad state of English. But many other languages have productive, unremarkable postfix negations. Japanese, for instance, has particles (postfixes) to negate many parts of speech, including verbs and adjectives. (Japanese textbooks in English insist on referring to this process as "conjugation", giving fits to generations of Japanese-language students trying to figure out why they're conjugating the past tense of "green".)

SOV languages (where the typical word order is subject-object-verb, unlike English, an SVO language) allow the verb to be deferred so late that an entire clause or sentence can typically be negated at the last moment. Even free word-order SVO languages like Russian often allow a speaker, upon realizing an antonym-substitution error, to recover by negating a later phrase, using function-marking inflection to grammatically "move" it back up to where the error was.

So: here I posit that English is, by one objective measure, inferior to many (perhaps most in terms of speakers?) other world languages.


¹ "Unproductive" in the linguistics sense: a rule that works for one case (happy → unhappy) doesn't work for another it seems it "should" work with (sleepy → *unsleepy). When a rule is entirely unproductive, or when certain morphemes refuse to admit a productive rule (Mary → Mary's / you → *you's) we call its outputs "irregular". (Asterisks, following usual linguistic practice, mean the following expression seems to be ungrammatical.)

² It never ceases to amaze me how often politicians do this, given the ease with which an opponent's political ad can edit out the explanatory bits and make it seem like the politicians were actually making the statement they disagreed with.___

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2015-01-17 23:44:32 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 1 +1s)Open 

Not sure I agree with this bit about Jewish and gay inclusion in Harry Potter:

Seanan McGuire on Dumbledore:

“I do not consider Dumbledore to be successful representation. If you have to tell me after the fact that you should get credit for having gay content because this character, whose romantic life was never, ever, ever, never, ever, ever once mentioned, really liked the same gender—no, you failed. I love J.K. Rowling, I love Harry Potter, she does not get credit for that, any more than she gets credit for having Jewish inclusion because she recently mentioned that there was one Jewish wizard at Hogwarts. You know what? No. Show me the Jewish wizard at Hogwarts having serious philosophical issues with, ‘Can I cast spells on the Sabbath?’ Show me the kitchen dealing with the ramifications of preparing kosher food when you can’t bring a rabbi in but everybody else isgetting m... more »

Not sure I agree with this bit about Jewish and gay inclusion in Harry Potter:

Seanan McGuire on Dumbledore:

“I do not consider Dumbledore to be successful representation. If you have to tell me after the fact that you should get credit for having gay content because this character, whose romantic life was never, ever, ever, never, ever, ever once mentioned, really liked the same gender—no, you failed. I love J.K. Rowling, I love Harry Potter, she does not get credit for that, any more than she gets credit for having Jewish inclusion because she recently mentioned that there was one Jewish wizard at Hogwarts. You know what? No. Show me the Jewish wizard at Hogwarts having serious philosophical issues with, ‘Can I cast spells on the Sabbath?’ Show me the kitchen dealing with the ramifications of preparing kosher food when you can’t bring a rabbi in but everybody else is getting meat. It does not work. Dumbledore is not successful representation. … You do not get credit for Dumbledore. That is not even doing the bare minimum.”

I think I agree more on Jewish inclusion, but to the extent I disagree, it's for the same reason I disagree on Dumbledore.

On whether the Jewish inclusion is credible, I'm not sure Senan's questions are so vital. Everyone disagrees on what it means to be "observant" (as the old saying goes, for every two Jews you get three opinions), but I don't think observance, and specifically, keeping kosher or Shabbat is a terribly central question.

Keeping kosher can serve as a rough proxy for observance that can be reasonably compared between Jews in different denominations, cultures, and countries, if only because it's more objective than most other measures. Is a Jew who observes all the big holidays, but doesn't fully observe the Sabbath, and only keeps kosher for Passover more, or less, observant than one who observes the Sabbath and is kosher, but only bothers with Yom Kippur, Passover, and Purim (because it's fun)? It's so much easier to ask a survey respondent, "do you keep kosher?"

And maybe kashrut is more relevant in Britain—from what stats I've been able to dig up, it seems like maybe a third of British Jews self-report that they fully keep kosher (or at least would like to), about double the proportion of Jewish Americans. But one could reasonably presume that a hefty majority of Jewish Hogwarts students—assuming they're no more or less observant than British Jewish Muggles—wouldn't worry about the details Senan fixates on.

Sure, it's not terribly meaningful inclusion, but, really—in reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, when a Ravenclaw by the name of "Anthony Goldstein" is mentioned, could any Jew miss the hint? It may have been coded, token inclusion, but it wasn't retconned.

The same, but more so, goes for Dumbledore. Senan writes that Dumbledore's "romantic life was never, ever, ever, never, ever, ever once mentioned", but I think that's simply untrue.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has a subplot, in the form of quotations from Rita Skeeter's gossipy, unauthorized, posthumous biography of Dumbledore. I would think that anyone familiar with that style of celebrity gossip (especially the way that British celebrity journalism, without the exception to libel laws for public figures we have in the U.S., makes veiled insinuations) would immediately recognize the descriptions of young Albus Dumbledore's fraught relationship with young dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald as typical for a British gossip writer to insinuate homosexuality. (Even in 2007 when the book was published, alleging homosexuality was legally libelous in Britain, and it was most definitely so in the mid-90's when the book was set.)

I know in my reading the book when it came out—some three months before Rowling said Dumbledore was gay—I was disappointed the book left Dumbledore's gayness as mere insinuation, but I assumed either Rowling or her publishers decided that a children's book—especially one so widely translated and distributed into even the most anti-gay countries—couldn't be overt about it. But there was no doubt in my mind that Rowling had written, unequivocally, that Dumbledore was gay, and telling any readers capable of understanding the message. Doing a search limited to the period between the book's release and Rowling's Carnegie Hall appearance, I see many reviewers and fans also caught the message, and wrote about it at the time.

I may simply be suffering from selective memory, but I can't recall a case where any other character's background was delved into beyond what the plot required.

The only thing that surprised me when the headlines appeared in October 2007, after Rowling's answer to a fan in New York, was how long they'd taken. So here too, I think the inclusion was token and coded, but it wasn't retconning.___

2015-01-10 21:25:39 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 2 +1s)Open 

Apple ID two-step now supports Google Voice SMS?

For years now, I've had to make an exception to always using two-factor authentication when offered in the case of my Apple ID. Apple has only supported SMS codes and their "find my iOS device" service as second factors, and that was a problem for me because a) I don't have an iPhone (and don't carry my iPad around with me usually) and b) Apple wouldn't deliver SMS codes to Google Voice numbers.

The suggested workaround has been to use your phone's native number to receive the SMS, but I have SMS blocked by my carrier (aside from these infrequently-needed verification codes, the only SMS's I ever received to the native number were spam and wrong numbers).  So my Apple ID has been single-factor for far too long for my comfort.

I tried every few months to see if Apple codes to Google... more »

Apple ID two-step now supports Google Voice SMS?

For years now, I've had to make an exception to always using two-factor authentication when offered in the case of my Apple ID. Apple has only supported SMS codes and their "find my iOS device" service as second factors, and that was a problem for me because a) I don't have an iPhone (and don't carry my iPad around with me usually) and b) Apple wouldn't deliver SMS codes to Google Voice numbers.

The suggested workaround has been to use your phone's native number to receive the SMS, but I have SMS blocked by my carrier (aside from these infrequently-needed verification codes, the only SMS's I ever received to the native number were spam and wrong numbers).  So my Apple ID has been single-factor for far too long for my comfort.

I tried every few months to see if Apple codes to Google Voice would start working, and lo and behold, this week it did! I don't see any announcements on the matter, so I'm not sure when it changed, but it must have been fairly recently. If you've been holding off on setting up two-step on your Apple ID for this reason, now's the time to fix that.___

2015-01-09 19:58:13 (0 comments, 1 reshares, 5 +1s)Open 

I've had a series of tests this week at New York Presbyterian/Cornell Weill, which is on the Upper East Side a twelve-minute walk from the nearest subway. Because it's hard to get there, I've had so many trips back and forth (two a day each way) and it's been so cold, I've used Uber for the first time. (I know, get with the times, right?)

Overall the service works nicely, and I especially like how you can set up a trip by starting with directions in Google Maps. But why, oh why, did they think it was a good idea for the Uber app to display a splash screen every single time you open it--even when just switching to another app then back?

If I'm standing on a street corner, waiting, of course I'm going to open another app while I wait. And of course I'm going to want to frequently switch back to check on my pickup. The splash screen, and the few... more »

I've had a series of tests this week at New York Presbyterian/Cornell Weill, which is on the Upper East Side a twelve-minute walk from the nearest subway. Because it's hard to get there, I've had so many trips back and forth (two a day each way) and it's been so cold, I've used Uber for the first time. (I know, get with the times, right?)

Overall the service works nicely, and I especially like how you can set up a trip by starting with directions in Google Maps. But why, oh why, did they think it was a good idea for the Uber app to display a splash screen every single time you open it--even when just switching to another app then back?

If I'm standing on a street corner, waiting, of course I'm going to open another app while I wait. And of course I'm going to want to frequently switch back to check on my pickup. The splash screen, and the few seconds' wait, does absolutely nothing but raise my blood pressure.___

2015-01-08 15:34:38 (4 comments, 0 reshares, 0 +1s)Open 

Android and Sheets app URL launching? (UPDATE)

Google Forms is a product whose relationship to... (bah, there are times I really want to use a Google-internal codename, because the marketing names just don't make any technical sense...) to Google Drive Sheets, as opposed to the old Google Doc Spreadsheets, has lately been somewhat diaphanous. But it mostly works seamlessly, so why worry?

An annoyance I can't figure out if it's even possible to fix, though: I have a Form whose post-submit "thank you" page has a link to the Sheet in question. But if I tap it on Android, it opens the sheet in Chrome, not in the Sheets app. This is bad because even small spreadsheets tend to hang Chrome on Android, and this spreadsheet isn't small. But I've tried resetting both Chrome's and Sheet's launch intents, and I still can't choose to go to the Form... more »

Android and Sheets app URL launching? (UPDATE)

Google Forms is a product whose relationship to... (bah, there are times I really want to use a Google-internal codename, because the marketing names just don't make any technical sense...) to Google Drive Sheets, as opposed to the old Google Doc Spreadsheets, has lately been somewhat diaphanous. But it mostly works seamlessly, so why worry?

An annoyance I can't figure out if it's even possible to fix, though: I have a Form whose post-submit "thank you" page has a link to the Sheet in question. But if I tap it on Android, it opens the sheet in Chrome, not in the Sheets app. This is bad because even small spreadsheets tend to hang Chrome on Android, and this spreadsheet isn't small. But I've tried resetting both Chrome's and Sheet's launch intents, and I still can't choose to go to the Form in Chrome without also going to the spreadsheet in Chrome.

Anyone have a solution? (And no, you can't open a Form in the Sheets app.)

Update, 9 Jan 14:30 EST: And randomly, it's working now, at least on my tablet.___

2015-01-07 22:20:37 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 1 +1s)Open 

I'm finally catching up with Serial (remarkably, I've managed to avoid spoilers, though I know Jay gave a post-Serial interview last week) and just listened to episode 10—a spoiler's coming up if you haven't gotten that far yet, but , really, what fan of Serial would still be that far behind? :-) 

I'm not naïve; I know Sarah Koenig is giving the listeners the slow roll. But the bit she drops into the last few minutes of episode 10 about Jay being furnished a lawyer by the prosecution was so jaw-dropping, "burying the lede" doesn't even seem to begin to describe it....

I'm finally catching up with Serial (remarkably, I've managed to avoid spoilers, though I know Jay gave a post-Serial interview last week) and just listened to episode 10—a spoiler's coming up if you haven't gotten that far yet, but , really, what fan of Serial would still be that far behind? :-) 

I'm not naïve; I know Sarah Koenig is giving the listeners the slow roll. But the bit she drops into the last few minutes of episode 10 about Jay being furnished a lawyer by the prosecution was so jaw-dropping, "burying the lede" doesn't even seem to begin to describe it....___

2015-01-04 21:11:48 (6 comments, 0 reshares, 0 +1s)Open 

defaults manager for OS X?

I know at some point I saw a project on GitHub for managing the defaults database on OS X, so that you could migrate your defaults modifications from Mac to Mac, version control them with your config files, and so on. But while I thought I'd bookmarked it, I guess I didn't.

Anyone know what utility I'm thinking of?

defaults manager for OS X?

I know at some point I saw a project on GitHub for managing the defaults database on OS X, so that you could migrate your defaults modifications from Mac to Mac, version control them with your config files, and so on. But while I thought I'd bookmarked it, I guess I didn't.

Anyone know what utility I'm thinking of?___

2015-01-03 21:24:01 (4 comments, 0 reshares, 1 +1s)Open 

CLI to list GitHub repo branches without cloning?

I feel like this is a dumb question I should be able to answer via manpages and, failing that, Google searches, but it eludes me...

I'd like to iterate over all the branches of all my repos on GitHub, without cloning them first. (By "iterate", I just mean I need a list of all of them and can take it from there.)

Neither the hub (GitHub's own official CLI overlay to the git command) nor the NodeGH (an independent node.js effort with different design goals) documentation suggests a way to do this.

I could write a crawler that parses the GitHub HTML (assuming it is designed in such a way that the info is attainable without user interaction or JavaScript); that would be fairly easy since gh re --list gives me the repo names and it's trivial to construct a github URL given the repo name.... more »

CLI to list GitHub repo branches without cloning?

I feel like this is a dumb question I should be able to answer via manpages and, failing that, Google searches, but it eludes me...

I'd like to iterate over all the branches of all my repos on GitHub, without cloning them first. (By "iterate", I just mean I need a list of all of them and can take it from there.)

Neither the hub (GitHub's own official CLI overlay to the git command) nor the NodeGH (an independent node.js effort with different design goals) documentation suggests a way to do this.

I could write a crawler that parses the GitHub HTML (assuming it is designed in such a way that the info is attainable without user interaction or JavaScript); that would be fairly easy since gh re --list gives me the repo names and it's trivial to construct a github URL given the repo name.

I could also do it by creating temporary local clones, and then I could interrogate each remote for its branches. But unless I'm mistaken, there's no way to do a git clone without pulling the code down.

So: anyone know a way to list all branches from within a script without cloning?___

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2015-01-01 22:48:20 (4 comments, 0 reshares, 3 +1s)Open 

This has been bugging me ever since I first started writing Go: the official +The Go Programming Language documentation pages (for example, the one for the math package below, at http://golang.org/pkg/math/) install a jQuery hotkey handler that intercepts all keystrokes.

The handler doesn't pass along keystrokes it doesn't recognize, it just silences them. So several Chrome extensions I like to use on pages like this are unusable unless they can be invoked some way other than hotkeys. The way this handler is written, even if the extension offers re-configurable hotkeys, you still can't invoke it since the page intercepts all keystrokes.

In the video I show this by setting keyboard event handler breakpoints, then returning focus to the page. I press slash (the invocation key for Quick Find, on the Chrome Store at http://goo.gl/b3ibwC). That results in the breakpointg... more »

This has been bugging me ever since I first started writing Go: the official +The Go Programming Language documentation pages (for example, the one for the math package below, at http://golang.org/pkg/math/) install a jQuery hotkey handler that intercepts all keystrokes.

The handler doesn't pass along keystrokes it doesn't recognize, it just silences them. So several Chrome extensions I like to use on pages like this are unusable unless they can be invoked some way other than hotkeys. The way this handler is written, even if the extension offers re-configurable hotkeys, you still can't invoke it since the page intercepts all keystrokes.

In the video I show this by setting keyboard event handler breakpoints, then returning focus to the page. I press slash (the invocation key for Quick Find, on the Chrome Store at http://goo.gl/b3ibwC). That results in the breakpoint getting triggered. As you can see, it's just a single line of code, and once you step past it, control returns—but the keystroke event is gone, no other handler can capture it.

I don't see a website contact on golang.org; it seems to just list contacts for issues with the language itself, and I didn't see a tracker category for website issues. If anyone happens to know who the maintainers of the website are, I'd like to pass this on.___

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2014-12-28 22:38:47 (22 comments, 0 reshares, 8 +1s)Open 

I've read some disturbing stories about the "churn score": people who made a habit of regularly treating "no obligation introductory rates" as if they, in fact, had no obligation, or who used promotions by competing phone or cable companies as opportunities to play providers against one another for the best deals, finding that they suddenly couldn't get service at all. 

I'm curious what my more ardent free-market libertarian friends make of this sort of development? It's seemed to me that the traditional libertarian arguments against commercial regulation become shaky when applied to the power imbalance of individual consumers versus large corporations offering nonnegotiable take-it-or-leave-it contracts, insisting on waiving rights of redress or due process through mandatory arbitration clauses or even, it now seems, the right to negotiate at all.
more »

I've read some disturbing stories about the "churn score": people who made a habit of regularly treating "no obligation introductory rates" as if they, in fact, had no obligation, or who used promotions by competing phone or cable companies as opportunities to play providers against one another for the best deals, finding that they suddenly couldn't get service at all. 

I'm curious what my more ardent free-market libertarian friends make of this sort of development? It's seemed to me that the traditional libertarian arguments against commercial regulation become shaky when applied to the power imbalance of individual consumers versus large corporations offering nonnegotiable take-it-or-leave-it contracts, insisting on waiving rights of redress or due process through mandatory arbitration clauses or even, it now seems, the right to negotiate at all.

(I concede that, if one could retcon the entire world into a utopian free market, where the forces that have impelled so many necessary services into oligopoly never happened, some of these gross power imbalances may have never existed. But I rarely if ever hear free-market libertarians support regulation even as a corrective to past regulatory mistakes; otherwise I'd think the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal would be constantly clamoring for antitrust action.)___

2014-12-26 21:56:44 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 6 +1s)Open 

Y'know, I'm really glad when we gave my boyfriend's little brother a PS4 for Christmas, we didn’t bother with any games on disc, because downloading games from PSN is so much more convenient. He's just had loads of fun playing with his new console since Christmas. #thingsthatdidnthappen  

Y'know, I'm really glad when we gave my boyfriend's little brother a PS4 for Christmas, we didn’t bother with any games on disc, because downloading games from PSN is so much more convenient. He's just had loads of fun playing with his new console since Christmas. #thingsthatdidnthappen  ___

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