Not Programming

Still rather shy at the gym. Strange? Quite low temperature this morning, at least for August. More like October. Omen of busted pipes?

I ran across this cartoon: [Link]

the other day and I took reflection on it. I have come up with the conjecture that DVRs (and microwave ovens and like appliances) are deliberately manufactured to be difficult for everyone to program. I asked several of my programming colleagues, the actually acomputate folk, and they all reported that they had problems with appliances. Not as much as the acomputate, but some. The consensus is that the “programming” interface is not designed but a hash constructed by someone who knows how the hardware works but has no idea how to interface with humans. From there the opinions diverge, ranging from the organizational klutz who cannot be permitted to interact directly with the hardware to an intern who is likely related to senior management but has no other credentials and must be given something that appears important but isn’t.

Regardless, the result is the same. An interface that is almost unworkable. The closest we could come up with was the programming interface for a nerd calculator, probably not RPN, but we all agreed this was a poor comparison by at least 10 dB. No calculator interface is as bad as the best appliance’s. 

So actually “programming” a DVR or other appliance is indeed bragging rights. Unless one is some form of idiot savant.

I was pleased to hear that one of the IT types had started a project to develop a way to connect appliances to computers and actually program them. Using real programming tools. Great idea. Won’t work for bogs. Good reason to proceed.

Scoundrels and Scalawags

It is still strange. Gym very shy this morning. Including educationalists. And schule, I am informed, is resessioned. At least the podcasts were amusing. The primary, the Guardian’s science podcast, dealt with superintelligent AIs destroying humanity. And claiming Asimovs laws to be rubbish.

Speaking of which, the recyclage was finally collected yesterday. Three days and then some late. And no communication from either city government or vendor. Complete moral and ethical failure. So perhaps it would be better if superintelligent AIs did extinguish humanity. It often seems we are nothing but a plague on the planet.

And politicians are the worst of the germs.

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Harsh Taskmaster

Back to week in. And maybe schule resessions this week? Anyway, the gym was decidedly uncrowded although there were less than a hand of educationalists there this morning and they were not noisy. As much as their want, at least. And the podcast, an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” was passable, dealing with Thucydides’ writings on the Peloponneseian war.

Last evening was sufficiently dire to make today seem promising. The Arab Electron Uncooperative did their favorite thing and go hide in a dark place once the first whisper of thunder could be heard in Greater Metropolitan Arab. And, of yes!, they took their electrons with them. So no potential difference nor flow for an hour and a half. Happily the precipitation had weakened since flooding nearby Stephen so that all we obtained was a cooling wetting. Albeit in the growing gloom. All thought of observing Luna were forgotten in a desire to restore operation to the paraphernalia of house. 

I noted this cartoon: [Link]

over weekend, and it seemed rather appropriate for the situation. “Reality is a harsh taskmaster” and that applies to Arab Electron Uncooperative as well as to all the rest of us inhabiting this universe. 

Now we await some indication of what happened to the collection of recyclage that occurred not over the week out. Government is still in disgrace for both violating trust and failing to communicate.

Right Back on Campus

One of my colleagues, Normal Angular Momentum, posted this on FaceScroll:

“Your All-Access Pass to the SEC is on Ch. 611

August 7, 2014

Beginning August 14, get all the Southeastern Conference coverage you can handle with the SEC Network. Available with the CHOICE™ package or above, it’s just what you need to feel right back on campus. You’ll get the best in SEC football, men and women’s basketball, baseball, softball, and so much more. Plus, you’ll get studio shows and original programming that you can’t find anywhere else.

Get all this starting August 14:

• The top football rivalries. With 45 live, exclusive SEC games all season long, you’ll see all 14 SEC teams play on the SEC Network.

• SEC hardwood action. Watch your favorite schools battle it out as they fight towards the tourney in March.

• Live in-studio programming. Catch historic games from yesteryear on SEC Rewind or get the SEC news of the day on SEC Now.”

The part that screamed into my consciousness was “it’s just what you need to feel right back on campus.” 

I am not a fanatic of spectator sports. I am not opposed to those who are so long as they are not evangelistic. If you lecture me on not watching televised athletics or tell me I am evil for not doing so, then be prepared to have your coffee sweetened with phenolpthalein. As Mr. Jefferson said (approximately) ‘If you don’t burden me with your beliefs I won’t trouble you with mine.’ But I have very good evidence that sports fanatics and christianists believe that the golden rule doesn’t apply to them harassing those who believe differently than they.

I have nothing against engaging in sports and athletics. I go to gym four days a week and walk the other three. I did a bit of sports as an undergraduate, but nothing that drew a crowd. Like fencing and target shooting and walking. But I find watching sports and athletics, even what I participate in, more boring than sitting in a medicalist waiting area. 

This goes back to my undergraduate days. I attended home, American football games because all but the most dedicated of loner does. My memories of games are: interminable wait for game to begin; abysmally dull progress of game mixed with distracting hollaring and an atmosphere almost saturated with ethanol; the hideous difficulty of herding drunks back to dorm before they get collected by the campus constabulary and sent home in disgrace; infantile celebrations/wakes in memory of the day’s game characterized by much noise, endangerment, and ritual regurgitation. 

Of all that happened on campus, football Saturdays were the ultimate in bad. 

The ultimate in good was: knowledgeable, engaging professors; thrilling lectures; learning; reading; successfully doing problems; reading new textbooks. Learning new stuff. Campus in summer term, less so in spring term; not so in fall term. 

There were parts of fall term that were good. Professor George Toffel lecturing in his Monday morning nursing organic course to a class of hungover, dehydrated, possibly pregnant coeds and using horrible jokes to try to rouse any reaction. Calculus class at 0800 every morning. The brief savoring of what was new in the dorm cafeteria but rapidly got bad. Learning the trajectories between classrooms and dorm. Rain. Leaves. 

But I doubt that’s going to be on that channel. And the part about being back on campus is corporate prevarication. But that’s OK. Because that campus isn’t there any more. 


City Cess Pit

Strange morning. Arose. Performed Ablutions. Attired. Motored to park for constitutional. Encountered a rather amusing, distracting, annoying haze. I don’t think it was quite a fog. Not quite thick enough. Visibility too great. But the salient characteristic of this haze was that the droplets were visible. Vary large. Easily seen, intrusive even, in the beam of my headlamp. And that distraction meant I stumbled rather more than a bit.

The podcast was the same episode of “Linux Luddites” but this morning the continued discussion of “The UNIX Hates Guide” brought to mind that the government of Greater Metropolitan Arab is bankrupt. No, not monetarily although that would not surprise me. No, the bankruptcy is moral and ethical. 

Simply put the government of Arab provides too many circuses and not enough services. And what few services they do provide are largely stuck in the 1950’s. The only information vectors are newspaper and radio. No responsive web site. They have one but its only purpose is advertising Arab. Queries seem to be ignored. And no announcements are posted. No text alerts. They have a loud speaker system that is only used to bad weather, has an error rate of 0.9 or higher, and is completely unintelligible. Rather like the Bill Cosby bus station shtick. 

They make grand announcements of paving roads and then do not. The city council is packed with real estate agents whose only interest is sales and hence the only citizens they are concerned for are those who do not live here yet. Service agencies are unresponsive largely because their heads are relatives of elected politicians. Many services are contracted out to contractors who do not bother to perform, nor seem to be held accountable. Like most governments in Alibam, the Arab city government is largely dedicated to collecting money from the poor and giving it to the rich. Hood Robin, if you will.

When I moved here the government was corrupt but the services were good, all performed by city employees. That has ceased. The schules were good with a solid local ethic. That has ceased. The town was run by the old families and while it was not democracy, it was effective. Now it is still not democracy but it is not effective. 

And I have little doubt it will get worse. 


One of the most wonderful and enjoyable things about buying a refurbished computer is powering it up, inserting a Linux DVD, booting it, and overwriting Winders Ate with a usable and enjoyable OS. 

Its rather like taking a horrible disease and making something wonderful and useful out of it. 

I think Temujin said something about this sort of thing?