Thu 23 June 2022
Sat 18 June 2022
The categories of certainty of knowledge are statistical and fuzzy.
In the course of everyday life, I don’t bother conducting experiments to see if gravity is still working (I haven’t received a bill in ages) or the atmoshphere is still breathable. I just assume that they are in more or less the same state as they used to be. Occasionally this is wrong, and I am surprised by a terrible humidity or excess pollen or dust, but it saves a great deal of deliberation time which can be used to think about other things, such as whether I have remembered to take the laundry out of the washer.
Sat 14 May 2022
I’ve had this idea for seven years and haven’t done anything with it, so I hereby release it into the public domain and hope someone will make it – preferably an open source version.
Live theater rehearsals rely on actors memorizing their lines. Historically, not everyone learns their lines at the same time. So, for rehearsals, people are walking around on stage clutching bundles of paper, usually with highlighter over their lines.
Fri 06 May 2022
Tue 03 May 2022
Last night Politico published an unprecedented leak of a Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v Wade, the decision that established a right of privacy and the consequent right to an abortion. The opinion of the court’s reactionary majority specifically includes reasoning to overturn the decisions about marriage equality, legal contraception, and general privacy of sexual behavior.
Assuming that the opinion is issued substantially as-is, I will make some predictions about 2023.
- ‘Red’ states will pass laws restricting basic civil rights.
- Corporations that rely on high-skill workers will not be able to hire them in those states.
- Those corporations will move out of the red states.
- The economies of red states are substantially worse off compared to blue states now. When the corporations move out, the tax base will be further reduced.
- When the Federal budget is roughly balanced, blue states subsidize red states. The Federal budget is running at a significant deficit in order to prop up the economy.
- Option 1: the attack on civil rights is enough to change Congress definitively to blue in November.
- The Supreme Court will be expanded to 15 or 17 justices.
- The Republican Party splinters.
- Option 2: Congress becomes red in November, or wishy-washy.
- The United States tends towards a Christian Fascist state.
Fri 25 February 2022
When something goes wrong, especially (but not limited to) at startup, you should log an error message that is as informative as possible. In particular, if your service has parameters that might conflict with any other running process –say, it wants to listen to a particular port– you should have the error message mention all of those details.
It’s even better if the failure does a little diagnostic and tells you what other process is using that port.
This message brought to you by the Campaign for More Informative Error Messages. -30-
Thu 17 February 2022
There are two kinds of smart home enthusiasts: the kind who buy into a particular cloudy ecosystem and need to buy all new stuff every few years, and the kind who spend all their time tinkering on their in-house systems. Fairly often the tinkers also end up buying all new stuff, but they get to do it in incremental steps where everything works (more or less) during the transitions.
I’m not an enthusiast: I want a return on investment in money, convenience or fun.
Thu 10 February 2022
Mon 20 December 2021
Sat 18 December 2021
When you believe in things that you don’t understand, Then you suffer, Superstition ain’t the way
– Stevie Wonder
Every time I write about the mechanical processes behind this blog, I stop adding entries to it. Recognizing a pattern is the first part of building a superstition. It’s also the first part of building a hypothesis, because the two processes are one and the same. Humans love to recognize patterns. We have special names for some of them – pareidolia, recognizing faces where they don’t exist. Paranoia, seeing enemies where they don’t exist. If you think of these as distortions of helpful evolved processes, then superstition is just a general phenomenon of seizing on the wrong explanation for an interesting pattern.
Wed 27 October 2021
This blog is created by Pelican, a static site generator that combines some text files that I write with a layout and some CSS styles to produce the HTML that is rsync’d over to the nginx webserver which answers your requests.
I just upgraded from 4.6 to 4.71, and also from an older python3 release to Debian’s current 3.9 release. Nothing appears to need to be changed, which is nice and relaxing compared to the last few upgrades.
Wed 29 September 2021
It’s hard to break the habits of a lifetime – or at least, those rooted decades deep.
Ever since I can remember, I always wanted to be a goodfeather. Sorry, wrong reference. As far back as I can recall, I have been wary of making changes to vi (later vim) settings out of a fear that I would become reliant on them, and thence unproductive when I had to work on a freshly installed machine.
There are several good arguments against this position.
Sat 11 September 2021
I just realized that I internalized the O’Reilly house style decades ago, and so I think it’s the proper way to write documentation.
Primary elements: the document, even at book length, takes the form of a precise, pedantic, but informal letter to the audience. The author might reference themself as “I” and tell brief anecdotes to contextualize the material, and frequently encourages the reader in the second person:
You can also reticulate the frobnitz with the ‘–frob-harder’ switch if that feels more natural to you.
As a side effect, this style of technical writing minimizes the number of gendered pronouns, which I always prefer because I don’t know who is reading the work.
Mon 16 August 2021
When you stop looking for ways to improve your sound reproduction experience and instead look for new music to listen to, you have begun to recover from audiophilia.
Or at least, I have.
Places in the house with acceptable sound systems:
- my bedroom
- the living room
- the den/theater
- the office
- the other end of the office
- the third system in the office
- two portable systems
Places in the house with marginal sound systems:
- the kitchen
- the dining room
Tue 06 July 2021