Slime Mold Stercus

Having to make mods to FD SCP’s Winders box. Had forgotten what a proctoscopy it is. Where’s the five pound sledge?

Can’t do anything without having to reboot after.

I now have considerable insight into why some humans want to hurt themselves. Winders gives you that perspective.

And how slow Winders downloads. Like paint drying. In a rainstorm

5081 days

Out to the edge of week out. If I had known the air temperature is high enough I could have had constitutional. But I missed it and so I am the less. But I did run across another cartoon: [Link]

that brought back memories. One is that it was no problem to sleep in the computer center if one didn’t mind doing so on a linoleum or outdoor carpet (yuck!) floor. That was part of the society of mainframe computer centers in the punch card days, at least among the researchers. The ones I encountered working for Yankee government didn’t permit sleeping. In fact, they didn’t let you hang about. You just submitted your jobs at a window and came back later and checked if the runs were done. Come back too often pestering the clerk and your runs got “lost”.

The hard part was protecting the cards from the weather. Summer was worst. The humidity made them stick. Some folks powdered their cards but I just riffled them.

There was a special society that emerged after midnight: the truly serious. Some were just code fanatics but most were STEM nerds working on projects. Not the solitary stuff of desktops. Sleep was what you did while waiting for runs.

FORTRAN Forever

Into week out and "typical" weather persists. Minorly below the dihydrogen oxide phase shift temperature this morning. And no further insights from podcasts except don’t try Trisquel (sp?)

I ran across this cartoon: [Link]

and was rather bemused by it.

I keep getting encouraged to learn a new programming language. The most common mentioned is PYTHON since there is a scientific version of it. Complete with all sorts of libraries of maths routines that are singularly opaque and thus from my standpoint, not very trustable. I have even gone so far as to get a couple of texts on the language but so far not much progress.

I have to admit that I don’t do much coding. Maybe a couple of programs a month. They tend to be fairly simple but more complicated than I can crunch in a spreadsheet. That’s the only merit of MegaHard’s EXCEL. You could code in it. That took care of 0.9 of my needs. But when I switched to Linux after I retired, I found that the FOSS spreadsheets were singularly deficient and the PASCAL compiler environments decidedly unBorland. So I went back to FORTRAN. Took me a day to get back to coding after a twenty-something year lapse. That’s a strong selling point of the language.

I have decided that one of the reasons I am almost uninterested in learning a new language is because the types of coding that most people do these days are of negative appeal. I have no desire to code web pages, or GUI interfaces. My interests lie exclusively – almost – in crunching numbers. Of course I need to analyze those numbers but there are lots of quite useful and adequate plotting and analysis clients available in Linux repositories.

Clearly, being retired removes the motivation of employment. Not that I would make an employable coder. I am too much a product of my times. I am a nerd first and a coder second. I went through college when you couldn’t be a STEM nerd and not code. Maybe not as well as a coding geek but well enough to do research. And that I still do. And I pretty well know that anything I need in the way of maths routines in FORTRAN, I can code. And probably better than the geeks.

FORTRAN Forever! (Cue the pipes!)

Which Kind of Electrons?

The great stressor looms. Today is the last day of week out and then we enter the week of the worst stress of the year. Not good. And then winter sets in for real.

I feel old.

On which azimuth, my colleague Mass Momentum, posted this article [Link] on the FaceScroll. It is a fairly balanced (?) discussion of the grrr brrr about electronics versus pen/paper/books for note taking and learning. Its chief advantage to me was to offer some new perspectives on the problem. Happily these perspectives tend to support the hypothesis I have been developing for some months.

My concern is a bit larger than what is portrayed in these articles. My concern is about learning and composition. To me learning means not only what I get out of "books" – information sources – but also research, and composition includes note-taking but also report writing and the like.

We humans are visual folks. Comes of being hunter-gatherers for mega-years. We are not ASCII people. When we dream we don’t see written pages. All right, sometimes when I dream I do see written pages, or printed pages, but they are memories not mind constructed things. When we dream we mostly see images, maybe with sound and smell but definitely with images. This is the rationalization for video instruction.

The problem is that the computer/slab screen has too low resolution. That’s why the race to what is called a retina display. One to one mapping of screen pixel to eye sensor.

My hypothesis is that composition is all about mindfulness. That is, awareness. The opposite of this is called mindlessness – unawareness, if you will. I picked the names because I read a bunch of article about the benefits of mindfulness that screamed "STERCUS!" because it wasn’t balanced in terms of the down side of mindfulness and the benefits of mindlessness. There are some things that we cannot do if we are mindful of them but perform easily if we are mindless of them. This is patently obvious to most people so if you don’t get it, get assistance.

Anyway, the hypothesis is that for composition to work we have to be mindful of what we are writing (thinking) but mindless of the writing. Note that writing has two components here, one is the expression of the information of our thinking in ASCII (or diagrams or symbols…) and the other is the generation of a physical representation of the information – characters on paper, e.g. So we have to be mindful of the first but mindless of the second. Yes, I know that is simple but it’s still an hypothesis.

This reduces learning/note taking to two considerations:

  1. You can’t draw diagrams or maths with a keyboard; and
  2. You can’t be mindless of key presses.

Both of these are conditionals. The first is admittedly false but only for drawing programs unsuited for the ASCII component of note-taking. The second may be true for everyone but professional typists and/or GEN Ys. More work is needed on this. Film at Eleven.

Crazy in the Dark

Once more to the boundaries! Of week out that is. Air temperature markedly increased. Executed constitutional with only a light jacket and a glow-in-the-dark boonie hat. No, not a Daniel Boone fur hat, a jungle hat except it’s made of eye-burn-orange cloth that glows nastily in reflected illumination. That’s so I can be seen by any others, especially highly strung out young women with pepper spray. Or electron accumulator wands.

On the subject of crazy in the dark I ran across a few articles. First, an article about the maths knowledge/skills of biology graduates. [Link] The simple result is that they aren’t calculate. In fact, they’re something of order sub-high schule in such.Which isn’t a surprise to me since I have had to deal with biology acalculates for years. And yes, that is redundant. The distressing thing is they brag about it. Makes them almost as bad as bogs.

Almost.

Next, an article [Link] maundering about whether ‘digital’ magazines are dead? I find the adjective odious. The magazines are not themselves digital. A better designation would be eMagazine or some such but then one expects stercus from WIRED. What is worse is that the piece is an apology for eMagazines being slow. No wonder. Not many people want them. I don’t. I know that isn’t very sustainable but that’s it. Even though slablets satisfy Gullidge’s Manifesto that you be able to take the reading to the entropy cellar with you, I don’t find them utile. And I want something I can get back to and fundamentally, ePublishers come across as charlatans and carpetbaggers. And like everyone else I don;t want to pay for eContent.

I used to subscribe to WIRED. Found it has a pony to poo comprehension ration of less than 0.1. So I dropped the subscription. I still get them in the post. And put them in the recycling bin. Which is an improvement. Now WIRED is pretty direct that it isn’t looking to ORFs as its demographic. But its demographic, at least those among my colleagues, say it is eCrap. Or pCrap. Take your pick. So I have to wonder about the integrity of an eMagazine article by WIRED.

And lastly, an article [Link] proclaiming that the internet sleeps. Another WIRED article. Also fundamentally inaccurate. It turns out that what happens is that the internet gets disconnected – or deconnected? – during local sleep time. The humans turn off the physical equipment, the routers and boxes and such. To save money on electron potential difference flow.

What makes this interesting is other articles I have read about kids staying up all late hours to use the internet, No reconciliation. To be expected from WIRED?

I have been frustrated this week with the small screen. I now understand why GEN Ys spend all their time staring at their phones. It’s because the things have worse execution speed than an original IBM PC. Mine has turned blue with the different languages I have used to express my dissatisfaction with it. There really is a difference in screen size and speed. And the phones have neither.

In Praise of Stupid?

What do you call an organization that shoots itself in the foot with a thermonuclear device?

Adobe.

How did they do this?

By discontinuing the Abode Acrobat Reader for Linux.

Yes, Linux is a small part of the total market. Maybe only as much as 0.5. But it is the growing part. Apple is essentially static; MegaHard is shrinking. 

No one debates the value of the PDF. But Adobe has now surrendered control of the PDF to the FOSS community, specifically the folks who write the Linux clients that read and write PDF. By removing their support to Linux of their vision of the file format they force Linux users to use other clients that create and read and manipulate the files. 

And if the few, the increasingly few, who use other OS don’t comply with what the FOSS community does, the universality of the PDF is gone. And the people who use PDF can’t afford that. 

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi. 

Fall Timing

Despite all my efforts to disrupt linear time progression the season seems to be changing. Not that I like summer but rather that I should like a bit more fall before winter makes me a slave of its vagaries. I went this morning to park and executed my constitution and found myself at the ragged edge of ‘cold’. Cold is, of course, a sensation and not a thermodynamic observable but that seems to have scant effect on bogs and even on SCP. I find that courtesy of the physicians, especially the cardiologist and his prescriptions of blood thinners, that I have no comfort range any more. 

Tomorrow is foretold to be a bit better, at least in terms of early temperatures if not daily maximum but sundae is foretold to be less warm than today through and through. I find it emotional to bundle up in a thick coat and coverings while the young bogs strut about in scant attire. Except for the women lacking skin dirt. They are at least amusing.

I heard last evening on so-called news program that the Yankee government weather service foretells that the ‘polar vortex’ should not be a problem this winter. Since it has already struck and the promise is from the YG, I invest negative confidence.

On the subject of negative confidence I had a negation of such this week. Wednesday, one of my desk boxes, running SolydK presented to me that it needed to do a version upgrade. Actually it warned me on mundane day, which was a nice courtesy, so I had two days of dreading. So at 0630 on Odin’s day, I engaged the updater, a piece of software that has not engendered much satisfaction, and hence trust, in me, gather my gear, and motored off to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill from Gab and Grab. I did so with an incipient plan to replace SolydK with Nexus when the upgrade failed and I was presented with a need to do a ‘Nuke and Pave’ install. 

I returned at 1130 to find the process till running and muttered under my breath about the joys of Oneonta Telephone Company’s DSL service. Finally at 1430 the process completed, I rebooted – from the command line as instructed – and got back an operating desk box! To say I was shocked would have only implied a lack of electrons. This was quite contrary to my previous experiences – three in number – with Canonical *buntu distributions – that have all resulted in catastrophic failures followed by a couple of days of return to modality.

A very pleasant surprise indeed. 

It also occurred to me while walking this morning why Liinux is superior to Winders – another reason, at least – Linux can read Windows files/partitions but not the opposite. Is this a hubris thing? Or just incompetence? The World Wonders.