Maxims, rules of thumb and other observations on human cognition and sociocultural affectations

This will be added to on an irregular basis...
  • What is said to humans directly is received with skepticism and considered with dubiousness while that which is heard in passing, especially that which most conforms to their mentality or prejudices, is readily believed.
  • Humans have a certain cognitive latency between exposure to new information or experiences and the ability to think dispassionately and intellectually about it.
  • Humans have a certain cognitive spectrum starting with the moment of exposure to new information or experiences and ending with some point at which the thing is effectively "in the past" for them.
  • This cognitive spectrum is linked to the emotional process often referred to as shock, anger, denial and acceptance.
  • The more and faster information or experiences are presented to people and the closer the quarters and the lesser the distance between people, the more their early reactions in the passionate emotional stage are reflected back to them in the manner of responses to those reactions from others in light of those responses.
  • The more outrages which are suffered without sufficient time to allow emotional bleed-off, the farther the bar for subsequent reaction and outrage are pushed, and the more further events must progress before reaction and outrage.
  • It is possible for serious detriments to eventually sit below this threshold for long enough for their damaging effects to build and multiply until their entire society undergoes some reactive convulsion.
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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Is this a bad sign?

if (salary_sucks) {
goto = dice.com();

The above is the code seen in a dice.com banner, made with Flash no less. If they're actively hiring coders who use goto despite every training course and book on the subject actively discouraging it, what does that say?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Inactivity Unintentional

     I will be posting something soon, sooner or later, but probably sooner rather than later. I’ve been dealing with a great many things which are stretching my patience very thin and taking a toll on my usual ability to jump past shock, anger, and denial to acceptance between apathy and indifference.

     In the meantime, I strongly recommend www.kingdomofloathing.com to amuse and obsess.

     See you later.

     (Oops, almost forgot completely. This was done in Microsoft Word 2002 thanks to Google’s Word plug-in. I wonder why Google is the darling of the Slashdot geeks when they still haven’t ported Google Earth or this plug-in to any flavor of *nix? Hmmm… Methinks their double and triple standards are showing…)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Vanity, but it's my blog...

This was from a /. posting I felt like saving for posterity's sake.

From the FA:

"""
There are other, smaller options like TCC that is a complete C compiler, but it's too geared to 386+ and Linux to be a good playground. Other open-source C compilers tend to be variations of Small C that, while understandable, don't implement the entire language.
"""


I think that was the entire point. We don't implement the entirety of the English language every day here where I live or in British universities for that matter and we're quite understandable. It might be different if to survive parsing by the listener not to mention quality review by the head of your department, that you had to squeeze in words like obsequious, vituperation, or Charles Schultz' favorite antidisestablishmentarianism.

Except... in programming it is inevitably that the words aren't big and things may reduce to cryptic things like () and ++ which kills the understandability. So sad that something so easily read as Dartmouth standard BASIC should be tossed aside in favor of things that make you want to beat on an IBM Selectric at random to see if it produces a legal string of Perl code.

Actually, chances are that it would and would win the code obfuscation contests, and if submitted to congress mistaken for the EPA's next budget and probably result in ten dozen public deconstruction readings in the local colleges finally being pontificated on in the editorial pages of the New York Post before being sued by Creators Syndicate for infringing on the IP of Johnny Hart as shamelessly stealing the conveyance of comic strip swearing, with three dupe postings in the YRO section of Slashdot.

All because we insist on languages that must be implemented in their entirety to get anything done but are as non-understandable as an obsequious and vituperative antidisestablishmentarian.
--
If my grammar and spelling are off, I am [distracted/tired/careless] (take your pick)

Post Morgage Depression

        I just picked up my check for what was left of the proceeds from my mortgage refinance and now that it is over and done, I feel so empty and hollow that it is almost frightening. Why? Well… after a two year build up to it, spending that whole time trying to arrange a new mortgage in the first place, for it to be over in the space of a couple of days seems anticlimactic.

        So now I am trying to figure out what to do. I mean, besides sniffing the check for $20,000. It’s as close as I will get to holding $20,000 of my money in my hand for a very long time. It essentially was not my money anymore even before I received it or the “buyer’s remorse” period finished. Beyond the liens whose debts were paid to clear them there are still enough outstanding debts to finish this money off.

        So easy come, easy go. Feels weird to hold $20,000 that will be gone tomorrow. Literally. All of it. Not a cent left over.

        *sigh*

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Am I prescient or just playing the odds?

In this Slashdot post of mine...

Is it just irrational hatred of Microsoft (Score:5, Insightful)
by suitepotato (863945) on Wednesday July 27, @04:55PM (#13179959)

that drives this neverending fascination with fluff non-news about where Linux is being used or is it to cover up and draw attention away from poor Windows skills, or both?

I think both.

I may use Linux but that doesn't mean I care to hear about every single place, thing, entity, etc. that uses some iteration of Linux. Nor do I need to hear endless fawning over Steve Jobs and Apple and OSX as if it was going to bring spiritual salvation.

Fer crissakes people, it's just an operating system. It's not giving you longer life, making you smarter, conferring beauty and handsomeness on you, or sleeping with you (although I'm sure there's some geeks looking to cyberneticize a real doll with Linux and report on it here). I really think we need to get a grip here at Slashdot when it comes to Linux.

I bet if my mother started using Linux at work and my company stopped using BSD it would get rave reviews and seven hundred replies in a day and a half. Meanwhile, there's actual apps being written that do amazing things running ON various OSes and we're too busy short-stroking to see the forest for the trees.
--If my grammar and spelling are off, I am [distracted/tired/careless] (take your pick)

...I made the observation as to artificial women and geek desire for same. So of course it follows that this very article should pop up right after, referring to this BBC article.

I think this is frightening. Not because I'm prescient, because it really is just good knowledge of geeks and Murphy's Law (support techs all know his law). No, I'm frightened because this is a step back in the progress of geeks. Next thing you know, you can have your own anime girl fuck toy. How much farther behind can furry animatronic mates be for furries?

Meanwhile in the real world...

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Kingdom of Loathing Power Up Trick

If you play Kingdom of Loathing, and you know of the money trick, you may not know of the power up trick which works very similarly.

For those who know neither, know this. On certain days, the legenday Ten-Leaf Clover is to be found in the old Hermit's possession. To get any of his items, as you should know from the beginner quest of the Toot Oriole, you need a worthless item from the sewer in the city and a hermit permit from the market in the city as well.

If you find a ten-leaf clover, trade for it and take it to the Cobb's Knob Treasury which is part of the full Cobb's Knob complex that opens to you when you reach level 5 and then visit the city council. Every time you visit the treasury with a ten-leaf clover, you automatically get a single Dense Meat Stack which sells for 1,000 meat.

Sell the dense meat stack and you get 1,000 meat with which to buy more Chewing-Gum-n-a-Strings from the market so you can adventure at the sewer for a chance at a worthless item. For every worthless item you get and mean to trade, you need one hermit permit. It's a one to one relationship for trading. Gather say ten of these pairs and you then trade them for ten-leaf clovers to then take to the treasury for dense meat stacks which would net you 10,000 meat.

Mind you, if you get other things, some can be useful. A ten-leaf clover and a Casino Permit brought to the Money Making Game at the Thatched Roof Casino on the Wrong Side of Town will get you a Rock. Make one Meat Paste for ten meat for each pairing you need to do and you can use the Seal-Clubbing Club and Seal Tooth from the sewer. First combine the rock and the tooth to get a Seal-Toothed Rock and then combine the seal-toothed rock with the seal clubbing club to get Bjorn's Hammer which is not a bad weapon at the lower levels.

Of course Spices from the sewer when cooked with Dry Noodles by sufficiently advanced Pastamancers who own a E-Z Cook Oven or a Chef-in-the-Box at their campsite get you Spicy Noodles.

But I digress.

Once you can pull the money making trick, you might wish to try the power up trick. If you've managed to get Spooky Grow Fertilizer and a Spooky Sapling, you use the fertilizer and the sapling will grow in the Distant Woods to open up the Hidden Temple.

The Hidden Temple is a slightly risky way of building stats. No monsters are found there, but instead you have various challenges which are engaged automatically every time you adventure in the temple. Most of the time you will have a very good chance of winning and gaining 10 or more points to a sub-stat contributing to Moxie, Mysticality, or Muscle. You could also lose a number of Hit Points or Mana Points temporarily (until you rest at the campsite).

If you adventure with a ten-leaf clover in your inventory however, you always get three challenges, one for each category of stat, and you always win. Each adventure costs you one ten-leaf clover. So far, I've found that you get about one full stat point for every three ten-leaf clover adventures you do at the temple. As you may notice, the higher your level the more you need of your primary stat point to reach the next level. Therefore, on ten-leaf clover days in the game, provided you aren't hurting for money, you might want to instead build up clovers to use at the temple to build yourself towards the next level quicker.

Note that it doesn't necessarily mean you will summarily kick all ass. You still stand a good chance of monsters at the Friar's Gate and Catacombs beating you down fiercely and easily. But it will help you carry more powerful weapons as you find them or buy them from your clan with saved karma.

One other note. If while adventuring in the Spooky Woods to get the fertilizer and sapling you manage to get a lot of Wooden Stakes and Bar Skins, combine them using meat paste to get a bar skin tent and simply use it which will put it at your campground. It adds more hit points and mana points when you rest than the Newbiesport Tent from the market. You can also combine Spooky Shrunken Heads with Spooky Sticks to get Spooky Staffs which when combined with Wooden Stakes will get you a Scarecrow for your campground. So don't let things go to waste that you get while adventuring to gain entry to do these tricks.

Good luck, fellow adventurer.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Fedora Core 3 and Logitech QuickCam Chat

I bought a couple of these as presents for my wife and myself. Windows drivers were no problem. Linux on the other hand...

Well, after a lot of searching, I found exactly what I needed. If you use Fedora Core 3 and maybe even 4, I don't at this moment so I do not know, you can follow these simplified instructions to get this particular webcam up and running under Linux. Read the README file that comes with the following driver for a list of compatible cameras.

First, you need to go to this site.

Second, you need to get this package.

Third, you need to open up a terminal window.

Fourth, you need to be logged in as root or just act like it so...

[suitepotato@fedbox2 ~]$ su -
Password:
[root@fedbox2 ~]#

Now you need to unzip the file. If you're in Gnome then File Roller should do the job nicely. Extract the entire folder spca5xx-20050701 and then...

[root@fedbox2 ~]# cd /home/suitepotato/spca5xx-20050701
[root@fedbox2 spca5xx-20050701]#

Now you need to build it and install it. Plug in the webcam and so...

[root@fedbox2 spca5xx-20050701]# make
(insert a lot of stuff from the machine here)
[root@fedbox2 spca5xx-20050701]# make install
(insert a lot more stuff from the machine here)
[root@fedbox2 spca5xx-20050701]# modprobe spca5xx
[root@fedbox2 spca5xx-20050701]# modprobe videodev

Fedora Core 3 took the Logitech QC Chat model camera fine with just this proceedure and Gnome video conferencing now shows my ugly mug to me. Sweet.

Now if only Yahoo would port their webcam viewing goodness to the Linux version of their instant messenger...

*sigh*

Google Ad Whore? No, just basic opportunism...

So I added Google Ads to my blog. Why not? They host it, they should make some money too. And if I make a little bit on the side, would that be so bad?

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Are /. editors actually bots?


Sometimes, you have to wonder about things like this. It seems to be /. Dupe-A-Mania week. Either that, or the /. editors really are bots and we humans are, well, duped.

Whatever the answer, one more question comes to my mind. Does this make /. look stupid because the geeks in charge can't even write a simple Perl script to search for duplicate subject material in the text of their archives or does it merely add to the charm? I guess we'll have to work on a new overused catchphrase for this phenomenon to join the "in Soviet Russia", "I for one welcome our new (insert subject here) overlords" and "1, 2, ,3 ,4, 5. Profit" staples.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

On we march towards Ghost in the Shell...

(One of the more lucid and insightful things I've managed to spit out even if it is simply IMHO and possibly at odds with yours, this was written in response to this article on Slashdot:
UK to lnstall Wireless Mics on London Streets

Posted by timothy on Sunday May 08, @05:47AM

from the no-sir-that's-not-at-all-disturbing-no-sir dept.

johnthorensen writes "Looks like parts of London may be seeing wireless microphones on the street sometime soon. At this point, they're looking to use them to monitor noise ordinance violations - if you call about a repeated disturbance, they'll mount one by your place to monitor noise levels for the next several days. The article also notes that they intend to locate them more permanently outside bars and nightclubs. The microphones apparently communicate via wireless Internet connection, although no real details are given as to the nature of said connection. Are London residents getting the boiled frog treatment?")

It seems like over time, we are getting more and more wound up in an us vs. them (whoever we or they actually are at the moment) battle every day. The biggest ongoing one is the one of the people at large vs. the government which is inextricably tied to the people at large by blood and friendship, neighborhood and planet.

Government is in all cases mob rule. Whether the mob is leashed by a king in a monarchy or stumbling like a mass of drunken sailors on shore leave in a democracy. Mobs don't think well. It's a testament to our perseverance and dedication to what's best in and for ourselves that the democratic republics we in the west live under work as well as they do. So I have to take that as a bright note of hope for the future.

Nevertheless, not thinking well, government fears o'ermuch as they once said, and overreacts. So we ratchet up the infringements as much as the courts will let them get away with and the people fight a subversive war both against the unnecessary intrusions of the government and their misbehaving brethren whom the government is overreacting about in the first place. It can get so bad we wonder if the cure isn't worth the disease and the law enforcement worse than the criminals.

That being said, we still make it work somehow so I am not worried about incrementalism taking us to the world of 1984. We're not given to simple jingoistic rhetoric and propaganda, being increasingly disaffected, estranged, and cynical by turns. And we the people at large are somewhat given to superstitious overreaction and propaganda amongst ourselves as well. Our governments are in the end reflection of our own natures. Given that we continuously put into power a succession of people that cold logic and experience tells us flatly will be not the best and brightest, we easily override our intellect and vote with our emotions, largely those based on the idea of "what have you done for me lately?".

And so it goes...

I would just add that acoustic scramblers have been used for point to point phone communications for years by businesses and governments long before the digital age. So will we fear so much as to fit such things into face-masks and be only intelligible to those with proper headsets we choose to give the codes to? I wonder how the governments we put in power will overreact to our overreaction...

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Java on Fedora made quicker than figuring it out yourself...

Beginner Linux user? Problems getting Java to work with Firefox on Fedora? Of course. I feel your pain. My drive is littered with RPMs and tarballs in testament to the frustration. Fear not, for there is a solution.

Pay no attention to the results of Google and your own intuition about changing about:config and so forth. No need to curse Fedora when Sun's idiotically packaged *.rpm.bin download causes it to refuse to work because it wants a file name change. Sure, you could open a terminal and just sh *.rpm.bin but why tear your nails out trying to make Firefox look at the Java that was just installed?

Dag Wieers, the one and only stop you need to make Java work right.

Choose the big j2re package you need and install as root. Then install the matching "mozilla" package right after. Suddenly, I can get VNC to work inside Firefox again.

Brings back the old manual plugin configuration days when Netscape 3 wasn't even a gleam in anyone's eye. Of course back then, the raw visceral promise of the web made it worth your while to struggle with it until the coders were finally leashed in by the more reasonable people of the world and made to write proper intelligent installer applications. Not so now when Windows XP apps install with a couple clicks and they either do what Microsoft says should be done or they don't work at all. One standard to rule them all and in the darkness of closed source bind them.

Okay, so maybe you don't need open source because you really don't want to know all about the gory details of C and don't plan on trying to con some hapless coder friend into doing something with the source to make you happy. It's just nice for those of us who do. However, I suspect we probably wouldn't care a whole lot, at least not as much as we do, if the installers in Linux land worked as well as a modern Installshield installer does.

Scratch that. I know we wouldn't. We will just have to wait until the sensible and reasonable people whip and leash the technologists into making sense with Linux that way they did with Windows. After all, we only waited almost ten years out from Windows 3.11 to reach Windows XP. We can wait as long, right?

Do I hear crickets?

I therefore once again suggest we call the next great Linux installer initiative the WTF? installer in honor of the reaction of all the poor befuddled beginners convinced by geek friends to use it by conning them into looking at Windows XP as if it was DOS. Nothing could be further from the truth, but as long as FUD rules the day and the Linux camp does nothing to make it easy to use at all times from installation to de-installation and everything in between, they will be shooting themselves in the crotch and doing the platform and their credulous friends a grave disservice.

Sort of like massively hyping a band that could have been good but sucked and once you blow first impressions, you're fighting an uphill battle in a hurricane to get back the momentum you idiotically squandered.

Linux is doing that right now.

Editor's Note: The following recommendations were made by the blogger.com spellchecker. I leave the detection of irony to you.

Actual Suggested
RPMs --> raping
tarballs --> travails
Google --> googol
hyping --> hoping

Personally, in my mind, make install ---> make yourself insane...

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Musings...

Should we just get it over with, kill CSS, and release CFS 1.0? Cascade Failure Sheets would be more honest naming...

For that matter, maybe releasing CRS would be a good idea as well. It's not as though so many coders can remember anything. Wasn't that one of the points of high level interpreted languages in the first place?

Could the explosion of hacker theme books at your local Borders have any connection with the explosion of script kiddies and increase in the percentage of same who are getting better? Nah, of course not...

Does the fact that Linux distributions costing $70+, boxed with CDs and manuals are selling when they could be downloaded for free on the Internet illustrate the continuing lack of "getting it" on the part of a good portion of the Internet using public?

Was the leaving of the letter M out of BSD an accident or purposeful because it was felt to be implied?

Is someone trying to tell me something when rather than being advised to use a Linux based utility, I am directed to buy Partition Magic instead?

It would seem to me that there are certain requirements for every job and that one very important unwritten one in IT book design is skill with unintentional humor in choosing titles. It isn't just the Dummies and Complete Idiot books that have this tendency, either.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Unix-Hater's Handbook

It occurred to me that I might mention this, however irrelevant the mention.

By checking out Daniel Weise's old site of which only pieces remain since he left Microsoft, you can still download a copy of his work with Simson Garfinkel and Steve Strassmann which pretty clearly lays out a buttload of reasons to not just hate or loathe Unix, but the people who continue to purvey it as well.

More to the point, it is an excellent bit of bait to the blind zealots of Unix who in almost every review of this book, come back with rejoinders and dismissals so clearly illustrative of everything the book lays out. A book which takes Unix to task for its tool-set (bag of hammers) mentality (among other things) cannot be countered obviously with the glib jibe that such has been fixed with some other tool. The biggest tools in Unix seem to be many of its own users.

Myself, not being a Unix zealot but rather a realist, I most certainly do hate Unix and the people who continue standing in the way of the two inevitable choices of outcome: death or resurrection anew. No, Linux is not resurrection anew for all the fluff and eye candy of the latest Mepis disc. BSD even less so. In fact, the entirety of Unix might as well be referred to as OS/BDSM. If your critical systems run Unix you are in Bondage. You're forced to a Discipline of whimsical masters and mistresses not much more sane than those who sired Freddy Krueger. Sadism and Masochism are self explanatory for the love-hate relationship you share with a viral organic morass born of thousands of arrogant nobodies and a few supremely arrogant somebodies who all pretend to follow some standard while at the same time rewriting it as they think it really should be.

Death is the easy to understand first alternative and the easiest to give when emotions run high. Of course, when you realize the alternative is Microsoft Windows with its myriad bugs and total lack of interest in not shipping them in the first place or nothing, you have to consider something else.

Resurrection is the other solution and I mean the classical reforging into a new body, pure and unbroken; the current course in Linux of combining vampiric resurrection with your mother-in-law's sister's application of make-up by spackling trowel is obviously a faux solution.

A simple to understand picture would be to compare Windows for Workgroups 3.11 and Windows XP Professional. The former is what Unix still is under the fluff and eye candy of your favorite Linux distro and The latter is what Unix should be and we all very well know it.

Knowing it and actually achieving it through conscious effort are two different things as we can see from the path of progression from WfW3.11 to WinXPPro. However, Microsoft was obviously more about making that effort than simply wandering there haphazardly as the Unix crowd is presently doing.

If I had to offer an analogy, I'd say the state of Unix is presently right about the level of DOS and Windows for Workgroups 3.11 prior to Windows 95 being more than a brain fart: underlying OS and GUI are still totally separate and kludged, neither one is being improved upon by the exact same people and those who are working don't seem to talk to each other, and they don't work right out of the box the way you want except in a very small number of cases and require far more effort to make them work than you want to expend.

"Why can't it just work?"

What work means is of course variable in meaning but when it comes to end-users of software, it means the way they expect. If you can't produce something that even makes a farcical attempt at it, you shouldn't be even in software programming. If you do make a farcical attempt and stop there thinking it is "good enough" then you aren't any better than the majority of abandonware writers and pop musicians. A vast undertaking with half-vast ideas is fine at the start when you can be forgiven for not knowing in advance for certain what a folly you were pursuing (Edsel), fanaticism to refuse to acknowledge it and buy your own horseshit (Linux), minor idiocy to avoid acknowledging it openly but only in private (Microsoft, Bill Clinton), and maturity for working seriously to make good with a real and true rationale even if you are ultimately wrong (no one in IT that I am aware of which tells you something about maturity in IT). Silent slinking away from the disaster doesn't count.

As I said, the post is probably apocryphal in the minds of anyone firmly embedded in the anti-Microsoft world of Unix. This all just came to mind reading up on some ideas of the book in the Linux camp and reinforces my belief that they just don't get it in the way that comedian Jeff Dunham's Peanut would show with his trademark hand over the head swipe with the sound of a passing race car. Mmrrrrrrrroooooowwwww...

Thursday, March 31, 2005

So I'm this, huh?


I am a d8

Take the quiz at dicepool.com



Well this is news. I thought I was a 2.5d3.141592653... How disappointing.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Doctor Lives (the American radio one, not the British time travelling one)

This just in, the place to refresh your cherished memories of Doctor Demento. Welcome to tape trading in the Internet Age. Now if only we can archive every MST3K episode...

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Why do this?

Well, for starters... uh... because everyone else was?

Okay, I know. It's probably not the best of reasons. No need to drag out that tired mother-voice impression in screeching tones and answer with, "if everyone was jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, would you do it?"

"Uh, only if I had a bungee cord. Er... No, probably not even then."

"Go to your room."

I would, but it is in another city.

Stay tuned for anything that crosses my mind or catches my attention and... oooooh! Shiny!

Well, this will teach me...

...to rtfm. Or maybe rtfwarnings. Seems blogger.com has had a bad kernel and is being worked on. Lovely.

In the meantime, welcome to the start of my blogging experience.

Astronomy Picture of the Day