Death of a Thousand Cuts

Evidently when tech companies get to a certain age, they begin to kill themselves.

The subject of immediate interest is Mozilla. Firefox, the browser that broke IE’s back, has been steadily losing ground for the last couple of years. This is scant surprise. The marketplace is flooded with browsers, at last count I had a half-dozen installed because each had its strengths and weaknesses. So Firefox’s market share would naturally decline out of equipartition, if nothing else.

But Mozilla, as Mozilla too frequently does, panicked. They identified their chief competition as Chrome, which is indicative of how deeply the intelligence of Mozilla’s management has eroded. And what they didn’t do was bother to check on what features in Firefox contributed to its continuance among users. Another management fail.

So Mozilla went off and tried to make Firefox more like Chrome, which is probably the award winner for stupid technical mistake of the year. It basically reduces your user base to zero in the hope of building a whole new user base. Nice idea, typical of management school solutions but compromised by history that shows that it almost always fails.

Should we mention that Mozilla has already micturated the user population by its abandonment of Thunderbird?

So now Mozilla has rolled out a “NEW” Firefox that is almost totally incompatible with the old Firefox? And that users, including SCP, are busy migrating to clones of the Old Firefox? 

I have heard of shooting one’s foot off but it seems likely Mozilla has gotten all the way up the leg to their femoral. Blood guttering any time now. 

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi.


Memories of Schooldays 2

I ran across a New Yawk Times article [Link] entitled “Six Myths About Choosing a College Major.” I have to admit reading it because (1) I wanted to see how I had erred, and (2) gain some more insight into the current college population.

I found it a mixed bag: one-third abysmally wrong; one third maybe; and one-third accurate. The most important thing – I think – I learned is that too many people are concerned only with making money after college. Not once did the yahoo who wrote the piece – obviously a journalist – come anywhere close to any consideration of career satisfaction. In fact, the parts the author vertically copulated the most were due to that lack.

I’m not going to go into the list because it turns out to be rather uninteresting, mostly because it seems irrelevant to my own success, which developed along vectors totally missed by this paragon of Yankee journalism – maybe of journalism universal.

Back when I was a student at various campuses, I found there were two primary types of students: the listers; and the learners. I should probably comment that the former have nothing to do with the physician who one upped Semilweis (sp?) and has the world’s most disliked mouth rinse named for him. No, lister means a person who is controlled by a list. I think the latter is self-evident.

Listers were people whose whole college “career” (term of improvement may be better?) was driven by a list. The list consisted mostly of the things they had to do to matriculate with a few do-nots thrown in that would prevent them from matriculating. Appended to the list was a strategic plan for how and when they needed to implement all the do and don’t items. For example, which courses to take as soon as possible and which to defer as long as possible in hopes the rules would change or some patsy professor would teach the course. Everything these people did in college was oriented towards the list.

There were several sub-species of listers but the most notable were the hedonists and the greedies. The hedonists were the people who wanted their college stay to last as long as possible and be characterized by whatever they though was fun, mostly inebration and intercourse. These people played a trade-off game of when would the college authorities and their parents get tired of them? (And in my day, the draft board.)

The greedies were the folks who spent their spare time enumerating how much money they would make after they suffered the ritual punishment of college. Everything else about college was irrelevant other than obtaining the diploma and making lots of money. These are the people that the New Yawk Times thinks are now the solitary population of colleges.

The learners were just that. All they cared about was learning. A professor was judged solely on how much he/she would teach. A patsy professor was a traitor so far as these folks were concerned. These were the folks who ended up with double and triple majors and generally went on to graduate schule. They had little social life and didn’t care about much of anything except how to learn more.

And yes, I was one of the latter. And I found that if you get to do stuff after college that you enjoy, you will make money and get ahead. 

But that is beyond the ken of journalists and listers. 

Semantic Politics

What name attaches to people who are political supporters of pedophiles?

Could it be pedophilephile?

Only in Alibam can people who claim to be Christianists -vehemently – cast their vote for Pedophiles with pride and assurance.

Rather makes one wonder which is worse, the candidate or his supporters?

Memories of Schooldays Past 1

Six day. Been to gym. Listened to first half of episode of Linux Unplugged podcast. Discussion about problems with cutting edge CPUs and how to update microcode.

This is Linux. Whatever happened to extending the lifetime of “old” boxes. All I hear these days is fanbois nattering about selling off their last year CPU boxes for this year boxes. Sounds like the people who use FruitFones.

Off to Nawth Alibam’s Shinging City on the Hill for Home Coming at Huntsville (Alibam) U. AKA the Campus of the Tennessee. Gotta give a few micro-talks about how life was in the old days. Back when it was really a place of learning. Before it became another diploma factory.

Now I’m doing the Yankee Army thing – hurry up and wait – and time to reflect on an article I saw this morning at gym “‘Open the doors and let these books in’ – what would a truly diverse reading list look like?” The thesis of this article is that schule reading lists should reflect the diversity of society.

I find this intriguing for a couple of reasons. First, it comes into my attention space just after the twice elected, twice deposed, chief bigot of Alibam has been accused of pedophilia. Which two things seem to be natural. Especially since the state’s moral compass has announced that pedophilia is biblically approved. This latter from a fellow student at the Campus of the Black Warrior who spent more time at the Baptist Student Center than he ever did in class or studying.

One has to wonder if both fellows are throwbacks to Pre-Destination Baptistry of the first Great Awakening.

The intriguing part is whether the perverse side of human diversity should be included in schule reading lists? And who makes those decisions? The same politicians that I have just cited? Or their rebbes?

But the second reason has to do with my own experiences with readings lists. I have been subjected to reading lists most of my life. As an infant, my parents provided me with books they – via some salesperson or magazine article – considered appropriate. When I started schule, that instrumentality issued reading lists; initially for the summer but after primary schule for the sessioned period as well. In high schule, this propagated to individual courses and in college added seminars and testing programs such as qualifying examinations.

Everyone in authority, it seems, issues reading lists.

Now, I have to reveal the dirty little (?) secret: I pretty much ignored those reading lists. Not completely, but in the main. That is not to say I didn’t prospect the lists for good stuff, but most of it was boring and irrelevant. At least to a STEM Nerd INTRO.

The worst were literature lists, which pretty well – thankfully – died after my Sophomore year of college ended my classroom interaction with literature teachers.

This is not to say that the books on these lists weren’t great works or that they had nothing to teach. But by and large those books didn’t adhere to me and I couldn’t/didn’t learn from them.

As Chickenman sez, “good students are successful in spite of bad teachers.” If a book doesn’t communicate with you well, it’s a bad teacher. (SCP speaks.)

I admit that I know people who can read those books and have profited and learned from them. And I envy many of them. But it balances out. I can read and learn from STEM Nerd books and the majority can’t. And the story of reality is, in some ways, a lot better than the story of human society at some spatio-temporal coordinate set.

Those lists failed me, mostly because of a lack of diversity. I never got a high schule or college reading list with any science fiction books included. None. And SF was my staple escapism/mind clearing reading then. And I even learned stuff about science and society thereby.

Which I didn’t get from the reading lists.

Now, I am told that there are lots of reasons why reading lists are biased. One reason I enjoy is that of Literature teachers (sic.) They claim that inclusions have to be “great literature.” My question – unasked or ignored if asked – is ‘who decides these books are great literature?’ I suspect the answer is ‘Literature teachers.’

I also suspect the Literature teachers get away with this because the politicians who approve the textbooks don’t care. They want to make sure the children are not subjected to evolution or climate science but they don’t care if they are subjected to regicide or adultery.

When I went to work for the Yankee army, they gave me reading lists as well. And again, I picked what I could learn and found others not on the list. Some of which were written by once and future enemies.

I do have another thought on this. If the lists were truly diverse, then wouldn’t all the lists coalesce into a union of Book In Print and the catalog of the Library of Congress? And then how would we assure that all of our children are properly roboticized? (As in the Czech word for worker.)

Happily, this ignoring or selected sampling of reading is fairly common except in the most authoritarian of schules. I know several people who got through high schule on Classic Comic Books and college on Cliff Notes. Which is probably more compliant than I ever was.

I had occasion a few weeks ago to miss a luncheon of my graduating class of high schule. I had a conflict and found out after the fact that my senior year “English” teacher had attended. I was glad I was absent; I may not have learned much from her but she was honest and sincere and I would not like to have been honest in answering her questions. Especially about how and where I really learned sybtax and composition and “literature.”

And Heinlein trumps Dickens every day. For me. Understanding their commonalities is left as an exercise for the student.

Code Quackery

I ran across an article [Link] entitled “ScienceAlert Deal: 4 Essential Coding Languages You Should Know in 2018.” And I have to admit to some bemusement and head shaking.

This article purports to list four coding languages that are necessities for STEM Nerds. The credibility ends there.

With one exception the languages are all about GUI, not number crunching. How is this a necessity for STEM Nerds? Is this why science is becoming crap in Amerika? Because the STEM Nerds are spending all their time making web pages?

The exception is Python. I have to admit that Python is a useful language for a STEM Nerd. Not the best one, mind you, but a reasonable first language to grasp the idea of coding.

The most important language for STEM Nerds is the one whose name is not to be spoken. Or written. Yes, I mean FORTRAN. Why? Becuase if you’re going to do real number crunching on a “supercomputer”, then you have to know FORTRAN. 

And the article doesn’t mention FORTRAN. Why not? because the article is an advertisement for the products of a company that bribes the writer.

STEM Nerds don’t do GUI or web pages. They do number crunching. And that is best learnedd by doing and making mistakes and learning things capitalist pseudo-educationalists can’t teach. Like maths.