Ice but no Cream

Ice Cream Day. Again the air temperature is below the solidification of dihydrogen oxide. So no constitutional in the park. But I did assay a spin (?) on the stationary recumbent while listening to much of the rest of that episode of “The Pen Addict”. Not a particularly useful episode but at least they didn’t blather on ala “fan boy” about small notebooks.

This is not to say that I do not have my preferences about notebooks but small notebooks are more for short memoranda (memory aides), rather akin to Tweets but of value and purpose, rather than real notes. To me a real notebook is basically 8.5 x 11 in^2 where I can actually develop maths and problems of interest. Alas, one cannot carry such in trouser or shirt pocket so there is a place in life for small notebooks, especially when FD SCP proclaims that I can’t drag a real notebook along since that means I will be more interested in doing work than attending to her.

Speaking of notes, it seems time to clean up a few tabs. First, I note an article [Link] entitled “Who Cares If Antivirus Works, As Long As It’s Low-Key”. Yes, this is an anti-virus article and hence one is moved to ask why a Linuxite cares about AV? Answer (simple) is that I don’t want to be a disease vector. So I have AV on my boxes. But I do have them scheduled to scan while I am somnolent. So I suppose I do care about loss of performance. 

The author’s natter is this. That people seem to care more about unintrusiveness than effectiveness. I have to question this. They have AV do they not. And presumably they use it? And so what if it is only two nines effective? Arguing effectiveness on almost all AV programs is like arguing effectiveness on children’s sanitary wipes. The microbes are gonna be back in an hour or so even if the kids are shut up in a clean room, which they aren’t. What counts is getting to herd immunity. It’s the same argument that vaccines don’t have to be 1.0 but everyone needs to vaccinate to keep everyone secure. It’s a social thing and a good one, possibly unlike social media.

So why my natter? Well I admit I don’t expect journalists to comprehend basic maths – differential equations and stability theory – but I do expect them to not be too superstitious either. Which this polemic is dangerously close to. Save that stercus for whatever day your sect observes as shabbat. And spare me the nonsense. 

On a related azimuth, I also noted an article [Link] for a surficant that reduces adhesion. It’s billed as a way to coat the inside of squeeze bottles so you can get all the contents out. Nice try. May work ok for Newtonian liquids but how about non-Newtonians and semi-liquids? Also no mention of health effects? But it did occur that one could  use this to make fleece linings of jackets more friendly. I have a raincoat I purchased from the Maine Guide Store. Impossible to easily and conveniently get one’s arms in or out of the fleece lines sleeves. In fact, this coat is an archetype of poor design. Which may be indicative of dementia among the management of the corporation. No wrinkle pants is another. Perhaps if they ingested this surficant it would improve the blood flow to their brains and reverse some of their madness?

Saturn’s Rings are Bumpy

Our discontent has returned. When I arose at 0415 – yes, I slept in; it’s Saturn day after all – the heat pump temperature sensor told me the external air temperature was 32 degF. And now at 0541, the Arab CCR weather station informs me the air temperature is 30 degF. 

So no constitutional in the park. I had to make do with a spin on the stationary recumbent. And I continued to listen to that episode of “The Pen Addict”. Diversion primarily. Cannot say that I am taken by a heated discussion of orange inks. Not that I dispute anyone’s use of them. In fact, I definitely don’t don’t contest it. They are more than welcome to my share. The furthest afield I go is red ink for editing and grading. And that tends to be fill the pen, do the work, and flush the pen. Carefully and thoroughly. My taste in ink color runs to dark blue through the so-called blue-black, which isn’t. Black that is. Black ink tends to be gummy. Makes a nasty mess if one doesn’t over-maintain the pen. Which is another source of problem. 

But this put me in mind of a couple of articles I had seen and offered some insight. First, an article [Link] entitled “Linux users alarmed over Windows 10 lockout”. The article is about how MegaHard has once more shown their grasping greed by implementing strong lock-out in Winder X under the guise of security. I hate to tell the author, who is apparently at least a bit of a MegaHard hack, that rather than being alarmed I am pleased. This will push a lot of mugwump users, those undecided between staying Winders serf or becoming a free citizen over the fence. And the ones who stay on the MegaHard are the ones we don’t want. The last thing the Linux community needs is a host of OS parasites.

Take that Canonical!

Let us face it. Winders serves a very useful function as the OS for the computationally impaired, the computer cripples, as it were, to steal an inappropriate paraphrase from that Agriculture secretary of years gone by. As a society we don’t object to industries that build products to make life bearable, even easier, for those with disabilities, do we? So why not for the acomputate? 

Further, this is a clear indication that MegaHard continues to run scared and its ‘make nice’ with Linux is maskarovka. From what I can tell WX is at best slightly less of a failure than WAte. And there are lots of better answers than a dual boot system. Although if you do have to dual boot the solution suggested by the author is good if it doesn’t trash the box. How deliberately setting that up helps MegaHard isn’t clear other than reign-of-fear.

I favor two such solutions. The first is to buy a WX tablet. They’re going to be almost given away since no one wants them and Android (and Fruit) control the slab marketplace. Then you can get a laptop with just Linux on it and either run W in a virtual box or not at all and move files to the tablet via stick. The alternate, which I practice is to hang onto that old WXP laptop for the W programs (program in my case) that is necessary and use the Linux box for all else. 

Yes, I hope MegaHard is giving themselves a lesson in floor painting. Or is it coffin painting?

Canoniacal Impropriety

Survived the expedition to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill. The most accurate comment I can make is that nothing screams robotic motorcar necessity as loudly as pickup truck drivers. 

But I survived. Despite these pickup truck drivers and the other crazy motorcar drivers in Huntsville, and returned to Greater Metropolitan Arab with only mental wounding.

And I went to gym this morning, last of the week, which is daunting since the weather beavers are foretelling No Constitutional this week out due to low air temperatures. Anyway the gym was delightfully sparse and the podcast, an episode of “The Linux Action Show” was provocative. This latter largely followed from an interview with Mark Shuttleworth. 

I am NOT a fan of Shuttleworth and the interview reminded me quite quickly of why. The fellow is singularly paternalistic. Too much of the interview was “the developers know what the user needs and I command the developers”. And “if you ain’t a developer, you’re slime mold”. So I thought it worthwhile to review why I don’t use Ubuntu any more.

I will mention, only in passing that my disillusion with Ubuntu came early on when the community – not Canonical nor Shuttleworth – abandoned Gnome 2. This led to considerable experimentation until I finally settled on KDE as my GUI/desktop of choice. 

But, and this is a Shuttleworth thing, in process I had to confront the Unity thing. I should mention that several years ago, when I first became a manager, I went to one of our mechanical shops and deliberate did a bit of work exclusively for people who are left-handed. I am right-handed but I wanted to experience the difference so I could better manage. 

Now, let me offer that, for me, using Unity (or trying to) is akin to working with those left-handed tools. I can use it but it is neither comfortable nor facile nor efficient nor effective. I recognize that it is more useful on the small screen but as for me, it is negative on the large screen.

That is not a show stopper. There are other desktops/GUIs, which come in their own sub-distros or can be installed in parallel. But I began to have a problem with a desktop organization who abandons its members for the sake of potential future members. 

But I also had a problem with the version updates. Here in the hinterland, internet connection is not always good. In fact, it is almost always mediocre to poor with the statistics strongly on the lower end. When I started using Ubuntu I could download a disk image of a version update disk. It might take a couple of tries but I could download (eventually), burn a DVD, and do the version upgrade. And only once was it a smashing (as in nuke-and-pave) failure.

Then the practice moved to internet preferred and then internet only version upgrades. And I have three failed version upgrades in a row. Three successive nuke-and-paves in eighteen months. So I gave up on Ubuntu. 

I run two desk boxes. One has Debian, the other SolydK. Both handle updates better than Ubuntu. I recognize that both are unsure from a futures standpoint but I do know that Ubuntu is going to have to get a whole lot MORE stable in its update process to bring me back.

Selah.

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.