Today

Choosing an electoral system

Published by marco on in Science & Nature

Americans have, once again, noticed that the electoral college is odd. And undemocratic. And odd.

There are much more democratic systems out there. “First past the post” is not one of them. YouTube and CGP Grey to the rescue.

The Trouble with the Electoral College by CGP Grey (YouTube) and Re: The Trouble With The Electoral College – Cities, Metro Areas, Elections and The United States by CGP Grey (YouTube)
These two videos combine to explain how the electoral college works and how it’s undemocratic. That is, regardless of whether it... [More]

A tutorial for reaching across the aisle

Published by marco on in Public Policy & Politics

In response to a link to the article and video Why Trump supporters stand by debunked claim (CNN) and the ensuing comments, I posted the following discussion.

Initial remarks

The citations below are from the aforementioned comments.

  • “Ill-informed” <> Stupid
  • “Their feeling that they are getting screwed”: It’s not just a feeling, though, is it? Isn’t it more accurate to say that they *have noticed* that things are going from bad to worse. They understandably want to make things better. They grasp at... [More]

1 week Ago

President Trump

Published by marco on in Public Policy & Politics

I haven’t been asleep. I’ve noticed that Trump was elected president of the United States. I’ve been following the hyperbolic reactions and speculations. Predictions of doomsday have been loosed with abandon.

Most of this coverage comes from the same heedless simpletons who’ve failed miserably as journalists umpteen times. But this time, we should listen to them because what they have to say is important. Any opinion that lines up with their own is valid—regardless from whom it comes (i.e.... [More]

A Surfeit of C#/.NET IDEs

Published by marco on in Programming

For many years, the C#/.NET world has been dominated by a single main IDE: Visual Studio. MonoDevelop has also been available for a while, as an alternative for users on other platforms. Lately, though, there have been a few new contenders in the .NET IDE arena.

Visual Studio for Mac

We’ll get this one out of the way first: this is basically Xamarin Studio for Mac, rebranded as Visual Studio for Mac. This IDE is pretty and extremely well-integrated into MacOS, with a lot of animated editor... [More]

2 weeks Ago

Capsule Movie Reviews Vol.2016.12

Published by marco on in Books & Movies

These are my notes to remember what I watched and kinda what I thought about it. I’ve recently transferred my reviews to IMDb and made the list of over 900 ratings publicly available. I’ve included the individual ratings with my notes for each movie. These ratings are not absolutely comparable to each other—I rate the film on how well it suited me for the genre and my mood. YMMV.

Krull (1983) — 5/10
I saw this movie for the first time over fifteen years ago. It’s actually better than I... [More]

High-Rise by J.G. Ballard (1975) (read in 2016)

Published by marco on in Books & Movies

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]

The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem (1965; 1974 in English) (read in 2016)

Published by marco on in Books & Movies

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]

Numero Zero by Umberto Eco (2015) (read in 2016)

Published by marco on in Books & Movies

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]

Revenge: A Novel by Stephen Fry (2000) (read in 2016)

Published by marco on in Books & Movies

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]

Making History by Stephen Fry (1997) (read in 2016)

Published by marco on in Books & Movies

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]

The Hippopotamus by Stephen Fry (1994) (read in 2016)

Published by marco on in Books & Movies

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]

Definitely, Maybe by Arkady Strugatsky (1977) (read in 2016)

Published by marco on in Books & Movies

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (1921) (read in 2016)

Published by marco on in Books & Movies

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]

One Human Minute by Stanislaw Lem (1971–1986) (read in 2016)

Published by marco on in Books & Movies

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]

Finders, Keepers by Stephen King (2015) (read in 2016

Published by marco on in Books & Movies

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]

2 months Ago

Syria: Hillary’s lever to topple Russia

Published by marco on in Public Policy & Politics

In An Ocean of Misdirection, Vote Hillary or we’re all gonna die!, The left’s answer: blame everything on the Russians and Trigger-happy: Hillary Clinton vs. the World, I tried to organize my thoughts about the upcoming election, with dubious success. In this article, I focus more on the direct danger that a Clinton administration may be for the world, especially with her expressed intent in Syria.

Killing to Cure

 Ted Rall: July 29th, 2016The article The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks... [More] by Diana Johnstone (CounterPunch)

Trigger-happy: Hillary Clinton vs. the World

Published by marco on in Public Policy & Politics

In An Ocean of Misdirection, Vote Hillary or we’re all gonna die! and The left’s answer: blame everything on the Russians, I tried to organize my thoughts about the upcoming election, with dubious success. I discussed the intense propaganda effort behind demonizing everything that is not Hillary. In this article, I try to build a more solid case against that tremendous push.

Female Dissent

Taking on Clinton these days is not so easy, especially for those on the left. In the US of A, if you’re... [More]

The left’s answer: blame everything on the Russians

Published by marco on in Public Policy & Politics

See An Ocean of Misdirection and Vote Hillary or we’re all gonna die! for the articles and thoughts that led up to this one.

For those of us alive during the cold war, the current atmosphere in the U.S.—and, indeed, most NATO countries, if not all of Europe—is reminiscent of the cold war.

Everything—but everything—is Russia’s fault.

Did something bad happen? They say that Putin did it.

Do you have proof? They ask you, Are you now or have you ever been a communist?

McCarthyism is... [More]

Vote Hillary or we’re all gonna die! (i.e. Jill Stein hates your children.)

Published by marco on in Public Policy & Politics

As described in a recent article, Ocean of Misdirection (earthli News), now that the election is only weeks away, Democrats are coming out as increasingly fervent. Everybody’s piling on the hyperbole. Hillary Clinton is not just the choice to make, she is a world-changing, peace-bringing successor to one of the best presidents America has ever had. Democrats will continue to fix America. Long may they reign.[1]

 Ted Rall: August 31st, 2016While I’m almost certain that Republicans are doing the same thing, their news sources are too... [More]

An Ocean of Misdirection

Published by marco on in Public Policy & Politics

A sea of propaganda covers the population of the U.S. For the most part, it goes unnoticed. Its greasy, tepid depths cover their heads in lazy, turgid swells. Ancient Greeks had but a river—Americans reside beneath a whole ocean of Lethe’s waters.

Just weeks away from the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the machinery of the ruling class has steadily increased a torrent of endless wealth to churn these depths. The surface heaves as powerful currents of brainwashing media bludgeon an... [More]

5 months Ago

Avoiding Planned Obsolescence with a MacBook Pro

Published by marco on in Tips & Tricks

Some friends of mine have an older MacBook Pro, from mid-2010. I recently helped them upgrade from OS X 10.6 to 10.11 (El Capitan). The following article grew out of instructions I sent them for taking the next step: upgrading some hardware to increase the longevity of their laptop even further. I added a lot more detail after I’d upgraded my own end-2009 iMac with a new SSD.

By jumping five OS versions, you’ve got lots of new toys—better mail and calendar integration, a new Photos... [More]

Showing Pictures on a Map in OS X Photos (2016)

Published by marco on in Tips & Tricks

This feature is quite nice, but less intuitive than I’d expected. When I upgraded a friend’s computer, I was unable to figure out how to get to the map that I knew I’d seen before. With a bit more time and a web search, I was able to figure out how this thing works again.

Usability

In iPhoto, there was a “Locations” view to which you could switch to show the world map with pins in it. While convenient, Apple never figured out how to make this feature scale to tens of thousands of pictures so... [More]

6 months Ago

Carnival Cruise Lines and Security

Published by marco on in Technology

tl;dr: Carnival Cruise and American Airlines both have appallingly unprofessional web shops. While nominally secure (main page is delivered via HTTPS), neither appears secure in modern browsers and the console is littered with warnings. Terrible.

The Carnival Cruise Lines web site has a lot of useful information. It’s reasonably easy to find answers to almost any question you might have.[1] Their security—and the security of partner web sites—is a mess, though. It’s not as bad as it could... [More]

New England in a Nutshell

Published by marco on in Quotes

“All the towns up here are just two dirty piles of snow connected by a covered bridge.”
Dan Egan played by Reid Scott (HBO's Veep S05E07)

Updated my Curriculum Vitae/Resumé

Published by marco on in Design

 I am in no way looking for a new job. I’m very happy at Encodo. However, I hadn’t updated my project list or resume format since 2002. I’d also seen a lot of resumes cross my desk when we were hiring last year, with some good ideas and some bad. I wanted to try out some ideas I had to improve formatting, legibility and information density/comprehensibility.

There were a few main areas that I thought I could improve in the “standard” resume format.

I’ve got a strong first draft, but I’ll be... [More]

Windows 10 Windows Update Malfunction

Published by marco on in Tips & Tricks

tl;dr: If Windows 10 fails to install updates several times, you may have a corrupted update database. Follow the steps listed here to fix things. It will take quite a while, but it works out in the end.

Several months ago, I upgraded to Windows 10 on my laptop. Things went OK[1] and I was basically able to continue working uninterrupted.

Windows Insomnia

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that my laptop was almost always “awake” in the morning and seemed to be quite busy doing stuff when I... [More]

Is America Psychopathic?

Published by marco on in Public Policy & Politics

I’ve just about finished reading The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson. He’s a humor writer with a penchant for interviewing odd people. In the book, he discovers a checklist for determining whether someone is a psychopath. Throughout the book, he notes which checklist items a particular conversation with an interviewee triggers, even when that person is clearly not a psychopath. He gets kind of carried away with it, which is pretty funny.

It’s kind of easy to start doing it yourself, too.

We’re... [More]

Because she’s a woman

Published by marco on in Public Policy & Politics

The article Democrats Will Learn All the Wrong Lessons From Brush With Bernie by Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone) includes this passage, right at the top.

“The arrival of the first female presidential nominee was undoubtedly a huge moment in American history and something even the supporters of Bernie Sanders should recognize as significant and to be celebrated.”

I can’t agree with this facile lip service to political correctness.

How can it be a huge moment when nothing has changed except for the genitalia? The ideas are the... [More]

ABD: Improving the Aspect-modeling API for Quino

Published by marco on in Programming

Overview

We discussed ABD in a recent article ABD: Refactoring and refining an API. To cite from that article,

“[…] the most important part of code is to think about how you’re writing it and what you’re building. You shouldn’t write a single line without thinking of the myriad ways in which it must fit into existing code and the established patterns and practices.”

With that in mind, I saw another teaching opportunity this week and wrote up my experience designing an improvement to an... [More]

7 months Ago

ABD: Refactoring and refining an API

Published by marco on in Programming

We’ve been doing more internal training at Encodo lately and one topic that we’ve started to tackle is design for architecture/APIs. Even if you’re not officially a software architect—designing and building entire systems from scratch—every developer designs code, on some level.

[A]lways
[B]e
[D]esigning

There are broad guidelines about how to format and style code, about how many lines to put in a method, about how many parameters to use, and so on. We strive for Clean Code™.

But the... [More]