Book Beggings

Ice Cream Day. And happily quite different from last week. Air temperature in lower fifties degF. Quite a nice constitutional this morning although it has been long enough that I never quite could settle into a contemplative train of thought. But the obviousness of the immersion in Nature was quite pleasing.

I spent all of yesterday following FD SCP about the rest of Marshall county. Rather frustrating. I tend to be a hunter type of fellow, darting about till I find something that minimally satisfies my requirement, acquiring it, and dashing on, whereas FD SCP is a gatherer type who has to look at various instances of the same thing before selecting the optimal, which often is the one back at the first place visited. But it is good to do this periodically so that we may appreciate each others’ insanity.

But I was a bit struck by my winter ear problem and suffered some tension in my jaw as a result which was not painful but decidedly distracting. Which put me in a mode to be quite happy to return home in the late afternoon and collapse a bit. 

I did however, get to scan a few things on the internet and this cartoon: [Link]

which struck a bit of a resonance.

I am not a fan of audio books. Too many things wrong with them. First of all, how do you pause them in a functioning way? How do you carry them about with you? How do you keep them from annoying other folks?

And second, how do you retain the information? Or absorb it in the first place? 

I am one of those people who can keep visual images – of pages, e.g. – for a LONG time but can’t recall what I said five minutes ago much less what someone else said. So I am a barren auditory learner. 

I have some colleagues who listen to audio books. But they all do much like I do with podcasts. Use them as diversion/entertainment. They don’t want to learn, just be diverted from some unenjoyable activity. 

So I don’t even understand why this fellow is trying to buy an audio book at all. Unless he is also just looking for diversion which is given the collapse by the rest of the cartoon. As he notes, audio books are hideously MORE expensive – in most cases – in addition to their other faults. Yes, I agree they are wonderful for handicapped folks who can’t read visually, but modal people?

I won’t stray to the variant about eBooks. It’s just another natter on learning compromise.

Technology Trysts

Saturn’s Day. No constitutional today. Or likely tomorrow. Above the phase change temperature for dihydrogen oxide but below the cardiologist lower limit. So make do with stationary bicycle. No outside. No Nature. No uplift.

I ran across a cartoon: [Link]

yesterday that led to some cogitation. I have experienced this but I had not really explored the situation in depth. Now I am not completely technically illiterate. I can design most of a missile and even build some of the part myself although I don’t like to. I can make minor repairs on computer HW and SW. I could probably write a BIOS but again, I don;t want to. Nor do I want to learn how to do CUI coding. I am perfectly happy with comma delimited output.

But I am also not about to build a toaster or a television. At least not unless the apocalypse occurs and I am needed to restore civilization. I judge this eventuality to have probability O(0). But this does give some insight.

What I can handle in “hooking up” are tools but not appliances. Happily most appliances require no “hook up” beyond power plug and maybe time setting on a clock. The exception is TV stuff. When the cable tyranny went from analog to digital push and I had to upgrade, I tried seven (or nine?) times to follow the setup instructions. Complete failure. Finally called the office and had them send technician. Happily this was older fellow who shared that the instructions were “dead wrong bull shit” and fixed me up in ten minutes (two boxes to be set-up.) 

I am not too embarrassed by this. I have noted that the bogs are the opposite, which is probably why they exist. They can set up appliances but not tools. Much as I hate to admit CSPdatter has been known to buy new box rather than ask me to fix her old one. Otherwise she is a good person. Mostly. 

She is also a Winders person. But then so is FD SCP. Not everyone can be on the light side. To use a somewhat odious metaphor. But is still accurate. So I was not surprised to see an article [Link] entitled “No escape: Microsoft injects ‘Get Windows 10’ nagware into biz PCs” because it upholds my basic hypothesis that MegaHard is fundamentally stupid. Why do this? The last place you need to advertise is with corporate serf user organizations. But after a while it made some sense. Obviously, MegaHard has failed to sell WX to the corporate IT types. There is yet hope for civilization if this be the case!

I was, however, bemused by another article [Link] entitled “Microsoft finally has a proper way to opt out of Windows 7/8 to Windows 10 upgrades” which is highly confusing since it seems to contradict itself repeatedly and wander off as often. Probably the high standards of contemporary journalism. But I suspect that MegaHard may be backing off because too many of their serfs – corporate and individual – are running away to other OS. 

One has to be very sorry for MegaHard these days. After all Apple makes more money and LINUX has more installs. But we also felt sorry for Typhoid Mary even as we were putting her under glass. Those who spread evil, however innocently, cannot be permitted. Not that MegaHard is very innocent.

Makes me happy I run Linux. And sad that FD SCP doesn’t. And I have to care for her boxes.

Strange in the Mouth

I do detest winter. And while this is not nasty yet, it is biting and evil. And the nasty is supposed to arrive next week.

Spent yesterday morning in company of dentist. Had a couple of teeth crowned, at least initially. Now my mouth is that of a stranger. This leads me to wonder about all these nonsense things like brain transplants (mind transfers?) into cloned bodies. With or without fixes. But even if the genetics is the same, the environment was’t. 

I also ran across this cartoon: [Link]

I have to admit that the first thing I did was to gooey this Simmons chap. Not impressed. If it had been one of the Kingston Trio or some other folk musician, perhaps, but after all these are entertainers and we don’t really care whether they have any real mentation or not. Talent, after all, is not the same as intelligence. Or smarts.

I had a computer as a child. An older child, I admit, but that was in the ’50’s and ’60’s. But I had an analog computer that I built myself. Had to learn how to solder. And it crunched numbers. Heck, all computers crunch numbers but most of that crunching these days is like this Simmons chap. Entertainment. Not smarts.

Low Temperature & Computer Shmek

Freya’s day. Air temperature way down. Greater Metropolitan Arab weather station reports 32.2 degF. On the liquid side of the phase change. So no constitutional. Just a period on the stationary bicycle. And the morrow is foretold to be a bit lower. 

I do so detest winter. And the holidays, since they are the entryway of winter. 

Where is my suspended animation unit? I want to be able to skip forward in time over winter and summer, just enjoying fall and spring.

Speaking of enjoying, I ran across an article [Link] entitled “Tips To Make Learning Programming Easy” The tips are – I think – 

  • Commit to one programming language
  •      Java
  •       PHP
  • Break your learning into smaller goals
  • Language basics
  • Web framework
  • Using tutorials efficiently


I say think because the headings are identically formatted but a couple don’t make sense as tips. But then, most of them are rather ambiguously tips.

I’m not at all sure the first – one language – is a tip. Only an overdriven polymath would try to learn several languages at once. (It sorta works for Romance languages but going at, e.g., Latin and Mandarin simultaneously is going to almost always make sure you fail.

So while I agree with the dictum/tip/nugget/idea I think it’s so obvious that it either doesn’t need to be said or it says something for the stupidity level of people trying to learn how to code.

I started out with FORTRAN. In a college environment. Lectures and labs. And I dragged that model along with me through C and ADA and PASCAL and FORTH. Not necessarily the classroom formality, although that helps for me. But definitely the lecture and labs part. Which is hard, since learning a programming language is definitely a Type II course in Chad Orzel’s taxonomy.

(Incidentally, Chad recently lost a close adopted member of his family. [Link] Since FD SCP and I are sitting the grandog this week out, the wee hund and I sat a bit of Kaddish last night. Since a lot of what makes us human came through our long association, it seemed meet.)

As previously, JAVA and PHP are ambiguously tips. They seem to be recommendations of languages to begin with but neither strikes me as good. What I know about JAVA is that it is a necessary evil and PHP is unknown to me. Neither therefore is a real programming language in the sense of being fundamentally about number crunching. Real programming is all about number smashing and data handling and FORTRAN at least does the former fairly well.

Again, I admit I don’t do GUI. Command line and text files are more efficient and effective. Don’t need a thousand lines of interface code to implement a ten line integration approximation.

I won;t say GUI grappling isn’t a good business kill what with making APPs for Bogs, but that’s not what physics is about.

OK, I amend that a bit. Manuscript writing is a lot easier with pseudo-WYSIWYG.And graphification is necessary. But making pretty point-and-click is not the same as figuring out some whacked quadrature geometry and implementing it. I don’t want to do the GUI grappling and others don’t want to do the number bashing.

That pretty much retires the rest of the “tips”. I am not sure how you can program without learning how to partition the task, and I have never seen a tutorial that was either efficient nor effective. They often seem to be when compared to non-academic programming instruction. I once went to a noted vendor of computer training and found the information density SO LOW that I stomped out on the second day and initiated legal action against them for fraud and misrepresentation. 

The tuition was refunded along with the cost of my time. And they were blackballed for five years by the local training authority.

After that I stuck to real academics, mostly the U of Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill and my own, independent study. I found I learned more on my own.

One of the things I find distressing about this is how hard it is portrayed. When I started out all we had was main frames. The only textbooks were on COBOL and FORTRAN. Computer manuals were hens teeth. Today every language has a text and we all have PCs we can write code on. Lab exercises on our own. Without long queues and key punch machines. And today is hard?

Fear boys with bugs.

Warmth and Frigidity

Freya’s day. Air temperature high. Thermostat reported external air temperature of 60 degF. So I lightly bundled and sallied forth to the park for constitutional. To discover that my headlamp batteries were almost depleted. And that a mist was falling/engulfing. The weather beavers will likely call this frawg but this is an area that they stand almost always in error.

To say nothing of the accuracy  of their minimum air temperature forecasts.

So I fell back on one of my secondary hand lamps and trod the (highly cracked and uneven) walking path. Happily most of the christmas lamps were extinguished so I was not exposed to that horror very strongly. And the mist was no more than a minor nuisance compared to the protests of my legs – joints and muscles. Sometimes the promise of “Make Room! Make Room!” is attractive.

Meanwhile, I reflected – very briefly – on an article [Link] reporting that Winders Movable, aka MegaHard Cellular OS, is doomed. Seems they are at 0.022 of market and are projected to grow no more than to 0.023 by 2019. Not engaging. Happiness actually. If trustable, which given journalism probably isn’t.

More engaging is the question of whether MegaHard will put this discorporate equine on medical support just to maintain their fiction? I am of divided mental argument on this one so I will bide my time and watch. 

The bad part is that the “other” category is even lower. So unless some sweeping dynamic emerges we can weep for the likes of the FireFox and Ubuntu phones. Well, maybe not the latter. Except as a George to MegaHard and Gooey’s dragons? Especially since I heard this week that Canonical is scoping down the permissions in their phone implementation as compared to desktop. So much for their claims of the phone doing all. The wonder, however, is that anyone continues to do volunteer work for canonical, They have shown themselves to be as fascist and evil as “Adolph” the Trumpeter.

I am also a bit peeved at Mozilla. They seem to have cut loose Thunderbird.[Link] This indicates a serious mental deficiency on the part of their management. The closest comparison I can make, that is appropriate, is the Oneonta Telephone Company. The latter is a small rural (?) telephone company that provides service to Greater Metropolitan Arab (Mediocre service, but service nonetheless.) Some time ago they decided to contract out their ISP business and concentrate on land line. This despite their land line business steadily decreasing by o(0.1) per annum and ISP business increasing similarly. Classic case of business schule mismanagement.

The Mozilla situation is similar. FireFox has been slipping badly lately but Thunderbird is still a mainstay of the desktop client market. It has lost a bit but mostly due to Mozilla’s lack of support than market demand. The same cannot be said of FireFox which continues to lose against Gooey’s product. Not as nice a case study but still an apparently blatant example of mismanagement..

I suspect there may be some actual evil here. Since ThunderBird is a mainstay of the market it seems reasonable that the FOSS community may take it up and do wonders, once more proving how inept the IT SW industry really is. So is this actually altruism in action? The World Wonders.

And doubts. Mozilla may not be as evil as Canonical or MegaHard but it definitely is an organization on the dark side.

Not that I like Star Wars metaphors. Mostly because I disapprove of those who support slavery. But since this is a slavery thing it seems fitting.


Knights who say OS

Thor’s day. End of gym for the week. Sparse. Passable episode of “Linux Luddites”, the main detraction a totally boring interview with some fellow who has written his own OS.

So what? To bogs, writing an OS falls into the “What?” category. From what I can tell Bogs, or Ivory Soap of them, have no idea what an OS is. They think Windows and such are just brands. In fact they more strongly identify with then as brands than they do Dell or HP. Which is why hardware companies are having identity problems. 

Geeks, on the other hand, know what OS are but again, Ivory Soap fraction, would never try to do an OS. Geeks who write OS are divine. Or something like that.

Nerds, know what OS are. And if they can’t do something with their OS then they look for an OS that will empower them. And if they can’t find such, they write an OS. No fuss, no mess, just a learning and production process. 

Back when I walked to class five days a week, uphill both ways – at least part of the way – and occasionally (rarely!) through snow but through a lot of mown, wet, sticky grass much of the year, we all wrote an OS. Well, all the physical science nerds did. The real nerds. Not the fake nerds the Greek frats kept around to pull up their GPA and keep them in good (?) standing. You know the type: the ones who wear penny loafers with no socks even when they know they’re gonna get foot fungus and rot. And they did. As well as acid burns on their feet. Gravity.

Anyway this was in the days of IBM 360 mainframes, and JCL and FORTRAN 2. One step up from an HP-35 calculator that wouldn’t be available for several years. But a big step up from our ten inch K&E slide rules. Actually, the problem wasn’t the slide rules, it was the stopping and starting to write numbers down on paper. And this was before 0.5 mm pencils. 

But FORTRAN 2 was only wonderful in that it was easier to use than assembly language. (There were assembly language nerds but they didn’t bathe or shave and lived in caves – Nerdoldytes.) And it was infinitely better than COBOL which is like saying health is better than death. But it wasn’t number crunch friendly. Not really.

But what would make it friendly wasn’t something we could reach consensus on. So each of us wrote his own OS. And compilers. And kept rewriting. When we weren’t doing real work. 

If you see where D&D came from after computers and OS and compilers got better, you’re on top of things. Writing OS is sort of like being a D&D master. Sorta.

But better. 

But guys who wrote their own OS only talked to faculty and other guys who wrote their own OS. “Those who watch over Israel..”

Maybe they’re the rest? Film at Eleven.