Thursday, May 31, 2012
And now, dang it, I'm on my way into work at the office. What I'd really like to do right now is take about a month off :-)
Monday, May 28, 2012
My blog-girl Rachel Lucas on her visit to Normandy. Her experience echoes my own nearly exactly – the folks from Normandy treat Americans so differently than other French people that they seem like another country...
A nice collection of Memorial Day videos...
My all-time favorite quote for Memorial Day, from General George S. Patton:
It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.And finally, Tim McGraw's classic song for Memorial Day:
Sunday, May 27, 2012
I think of our fallen soldiers often; it's an occupational hazard of anyone with a keen interest in history. This weekend I will remember them in order to honor them; I hope you'll join me...
As always, it's very good to be back home...
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Right after the event, I hopped on an airplane for the U.K., where I'll be meeting with a bunch of our customers this coming week to talk about our Discovery and Runbook products. I arrived early Saturday morning, which means I had the weekend to decompress a little after Knowledge12. If you know me at all, you know that my idea of decompression normally involves walking and nature. I'm staying in Twickenham, which is just a few minutes by train from Kew Gardens, and that's where I've spent the bulk of the past two days. I brought my Fujifilm X100 over with me, and I took over 600 photos in the gardens. The rock gardens, alpine house, rhododendrons, azaleas, bluebells, and Paulownia collections were my favorite parts – though the entire gardens are so beautiful that it's hard to choose. Just a few of my favorites below...
|Note the peacock!|
|Geese are everywhere!|
Sunday, May 13, 2012
So this latest news about the deficit “rising” to $16 billion isn't really much of a surprise.
But, Governor Moonbeam, it does call for a public facepalm...
Too bad we can't go after it.
Oh, well. November is less than six months away...
|Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk|
Friday, May 11, 2012
And to answer a couple of emails I've received: yes, it's true that I'm not real excited about a President Romney. But it is simultaneously true that I'd vote for a rotten fish carcass if that were the only alternative to Obama. And I like Romney a whole lot more than that fish...
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Back in '08 we held the first Knowledge conference in our small (but beloved) Solana Beach office. For the lunches, we rented tables and ate out in our parking lot. I don't know the precise attendance figures, but my memory say that something like 40 or 50 people showed up. Our “presentations” and “labs” were, for the most part, in tiny conference rooms with just a few people packed in. I remember speaking to a group of perhaps a half dozen people about our Discovery product.
Every year the Knowledge conference has grown bigger and better. This year is no exception. There are many ways in which this Knowledge12 (or “K12” in our internal shorthand) has grown, but a couple stand out to me.
First, we have many customers presenting their successes with our products this year. In fact, I believe it's true that our customers dominate the presentor's list. That feels like a significant milestone to me – enough customers have been using our products long enough to have made major achievements with it, and to be interested in sharing their experiences with their peers.
The second standout item is really a silly little thing, but one that really stuck in my brain. A few weeks ago, we (in engineering) had a meeting with our IT folks to help them understand the bandwidth requirements for the conference. Until that meeting, it hadn't occurred to me that bandwidth might be an issue. The IT folks, though, did the math: well over 2,000 people crammed into a single facility, and every last one of them was going to be using at least one (and often several) WiFi-equipped devices. Furthermore, our demonstrations, presentations, and labs were all going to be completely dependent on quality Internet access – after all, we're a SaaS company, and our products are all out in the big old Internet cloud. The bottom line was that we were going to need a lot of Internet bandwidth, and in particular, a lot more than the conference facility had readily available. The IT folks had to scramble to find alternatives, and they didn't have a whole lot of time to do it in. In a few days we'll know if the IT team pulled it off!
One consequence of Knowledge12 is that my blogging will be quite spotty between Sunday and Thursday this coming week. I'm taking my camera, so hopefully I'll be able to post a few photos of the conference...
In a few months, barring some mishap, Opportunity will be joined on the Martian surface by a new rover, this one named Curiousity. This new rover is much bigger, longer-lived, and more capable than Opportunity – but for those of us who have been avidly following the adventures of Opportunity (and it's lost sibling, Spirit), Curiousity will be hard put to match its predecessors...
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
If you project political correctness forward, at some point it forces all thought to cease. The “thought death” of America.
Three perspectives from today's WSJ, from Naomi herself, from the editors, and from James Taranto.
Click here for the answer. I was off by about 50%...
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Recently four researchers at MIT came up with a much, much faster way to compute FFTs when the signal has structure of some kind. That was certainly true of the signal I was analyzing! With just a software change, that piece of gear I built could have been much faster. Dang!
I actually have exactly this program on my list of “Maybe I should write this!” projects. I'll probably get rid of it now :-)
“Europe’s voters don’t know they’re committing suicide — or don’t care.”
Post title is about yesterday’s French and Greek national elections and is a quote from Arthur Herman at NRO. I can’t figure out which it is, either, even though I live in Europe. My main impression is more along the lines of, they know they’re being accused of committing economic suicide, but they just don’t believe it and don’t see it that way. It’s not really ignorance or lack of giving a shit, it’s denial.
Which is exactly what I think is also happening in America, a few years behind schedule but right on pace to catch up.
Anyway, this is all I’ve been reading about all day so here is my depressing Monday post that is really just a collection of links and quotes. You’re welcome.
The general idea is to provide an objective metric that reflects the totality of government-provided assistance of all types. There's an old saying in the business world: “If you can't measure it, you can't manage it!” – this represents the first attempt at an objective measure of something I (and many others) would dearly love to manage.
My first reaction to seeing this chart was this: that the index has increased by at least a factor of 15 within my lifetime. That factor is assuredly substantially higher, actually – because this chart leaves off the first decade of my life, and the most recent two years. Ouch! And no wonder the government's meddling seems all-pervasive to me when compared with our government when I was a youth.
My second reaction was this: how did the Heritage Foundation put this together? Fortunately for all of us, their methodology and supporting data is readily available on their web site. The article announcing this index is chock full of interesting (though often quite depressing) compilations of information.
I would love to somehow require everyone to read and comprehend this article before voting in November...
Monday, May 7, 2012
Here's an article about a still-living member of the ground crew on that fateful day, and his recollections of the event. One thing that caught my eye: he lives very close to my parents, in Charlottesville, Virginia...
This is such an obvious recipe for disaster that one hardly knows where to start. It's really a way of imposing the sorts of controls over compensation normally associated with unions on the rest of society – the productive part of society. The assumption underlying this act is that women are being paid less than men today for the same work. I don't doubt that there's some of this going on, but I also don't doubt that in certain workplaces and in certain professions, men are being paid less than women. The part of this that's very difficult to measure is the “same work” bit. In my own profession (software engineering), women are quite rare still. I don't know the exact numbers, but by my firsthand experience it's well under 10%. My profession's male skew is exactly the sort of thing that laws like this deal with stupidly. The assumption will be that the skew is prima facie evidence of underlying bias – and that pay differentials are the underlying reason.
Bottom line: if this law passes, eventually I will most likely be asked to take a pay cut. Because I am a male. Not because I'm incompetent, not because I've done something wrong. Just because of my genes.
We are roaring headlong down the road to cultural self-destruction. Remember that when you vote this November...
That's bad for France and Greece. Unfortunately, the effects of their low voter IQ won't stay within their borders – our markets are poised to open lower on the news, the trade impacts will be keenly felt, and – worst of all – the probability of sovereign debt default just jumped dramatically higher...
These are the sorts of things that happened in the runup to past European wars. Let us hope that's not the case this time...
Sunday, May 6, 2012
A little googling around the intertubes shows that I am far from the first person to make this connection. Late to the party, as usual!
- Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
- Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
- Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
- When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
- Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
- Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
- Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
- Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
- Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
- Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.
When your hammer is C++, everything begins to look like a thumb.
Steve Haflich in alt.lang.design, December 1994
Being really good at C++ is like being really good at using rocks to sharpen sticks.
Thant Tessman in comp.lang.scheme, December 1996
Of course SML does have its weaknesses, but by comparison, a discussion of C++'s strengths and flaws always sounds like an argument about whether one should face north or east when one is sacrificing one's goat to the rain god.
Thant Tessman in comp.lang.scheme, April 1997
As for C++ – well, it reminds me of the Soviet-era labor joke: “They pretend to pay us, and we pretend to work.” C++ pretends to provide an object-oriented data model, C++ programmers pretend to respect it, and everyone pretends that the code will work. The actual data model of C++ is exactly that of C, a single two-dimensional array of bits, eight by four billion, and all the syntactic sugar of C++ fundamentally cannot mask the gaping holes in its object model left by the cast operator and unconstrained address arithmetic.
Guy L. Steele: Objects have not failed. OOPSLA 2002
The results of the talks were felt almost immediately. Khrushchev ordered the removal of the USSR’s advisers, overruling aghast colleagues who suggested that they at least be allowed to see out their contracts. In retaliation, on Khrushchev’s next visit to Beijing, in 1959, Taubman relates, there was “no honor guard, no Chinese speeches, not even a microphone for the speech that Khrushchev insisted on giving, complete with accolades for Eisenhower that were sure to rile Mao.”Suppose, just suppose, Mao had been welcoming to Khushchev in 1958. How would our world be different today?
Saturday, May 5, 2012
So did the University of Texas, and the University of Pennsylvania. With the impertinent jackanapes of the press querying the bona fides of Harvard Lore School's first Native American female professor, the Warren campaign got to work and eventually turned up a great-great-great-grandmother designated as Cherokee in the online transcription of a marriage application of 1894.Do go read the whole thing...
Hallelujah! In the old racist America, we had quadroons and octoroons. But in the new post-racial America, we have – hang on, let me get out my calculator – duoettrigintaroons! Martin Luther King dreamed of a day when men would be judged not on the color of their skin but on the content of their great-great-great-grandmother's wedding license application. And now it's here! You can read all about it in Elizabeth Warren's memoir of her struggles to come to terms with her racial identity, Dreams From My Great-Great-Great-Grandmother.
Alas, the actual original marriage license does not list Great-Great-Great-Gran'ma as Cherokee, but let's cut Elizabeth Fauxcahontas Crockagawea Warren some slack here. She couldn't be black. She would if she could, but she couldn't. But she could be 1/32nd Cherokee, and maybe get invited to a luncheon with others of her kind – "people who are like I am," 31/32nds white – and they can all sit around celebrating their diversity together. She is a testament to America's melting pot, composite pot, composting pot, whatever.
Just in case you're having difficulty keeping up with all these Composite-Americans, George Zimmerman, the son of a Peruvian mestiza, is the embodiment of endemic white racism and the reincarnation of Bull Connor, but Elizabeth Warren, the great-great-great-granddaughter of someone who might possibly have been listed as Cherokee on an application for a marriage license, is a heartwarming testimony to how minorities are shattering the glass ceiling in Harvard Yard. George Zimmerman, redneck; Elizabeth Warren, redskin. Under the Third Reich's Nuremberg Laws, Ms. Warren would have been classified as Aryan and Mr. Zimmerman as non-Aryan. Now it's the other way round. Progress!
A recently disclosed memorandum from then-CIA Director Leon Panetta shows that the president's celebrated derring-do in authorizing the operation included a responsibility-escape clause: "The timing, operational decision making and control are in Admiral McRaven's hands. The approval is provided on the risk profile presented to the President. Any additional risks are to be brought back to the President for his consideration. The direction is to go in and get bin Laden and if he is not there, to get out."The contrasts here with the famously different leadership style of Eisenhower and Lincoln are obvious, and (I hope!) familiar to most.
Shame and embarrassment. That's what I feel right now...
But a funny thing seems to be happening on the way to the November elections. The lamestream media is belatedly paying attention to this manipulation. A few newspapers and reporting organizations talking about this may not seem like a big deal, but...they haven't been doing so heretofore, and we're in the runup to the 2012 Presidential election. Somehow I don't think this is a good omen for Obama.
Which is just fine with me, of course...
Friday, May 4, 2012
Unfortunately for me, the Mac OS ports aren't yet released, so I haven't been able to actually try it...
FIFTY YEAR OLD MANURE SPREADER - $1 (WASHINGTON, D.C.)
Fifty-year old manure spreader. Not sure of brand. Said to have been produced in Kenya. Used for a few years in Indonesia before being smuggled into the US via Hawaii. Of questionable origin. Does not appear to have ever been worked very hard. Apparently it was pampered by various owners over the years. It doesn't work very often, but when it does it can really spread the manure and sling it for amazing distances. I am hoping to retire this manure spreader this November.
But I really don't want it hanging around getting in the way. I would prefer a foreign buyer that is willing to relocate this manure spreader out of the country. I would be willing to trade this manure spreader for a nicely framed copy of the United States Constitution.
Location: White House, Washington, D.C.
And here's yet another. Still up on Obama's campaign site is The Life of Julia. It's an almost unbelievably blatant piece of propaganda supporting the entitlement mentality state. The more I look at it, the angrier I get – and it's not just me. This deserves to be another ACME cigar, and I see some buzz building on it, so maybe it will.
Another thing occurs to me as I look at The Life of Julia: it's a great illustration of the gulf between those with the entitlement mindset and those without it. I'd be willing to bet you that a great many people read this and say to themselves “Yes, that's right! That's how it should be! I'm voting for that Obama guy, 'cause he gets it!” Other people (like me!) read it and say “What the hell is wrong with these people? Are they missing some essential gray matter or what?” People in the first group, with that entitlement mindset, dominate Greece today – and are majorities in other European countries. They don't yet dominate here in America. Whether they're the majority here or not will be measured to some extent this coming November...
This is one group of people I wouldn't think the Obama campaign managers would want to have agitating against them. But they've gone and pissed them off royally, and it's shaping up like Kerry's “SWIFT boating” all over again...
Thursday, May 3, 2012
The ice caps are back to normal total coverage. They've made this swing from low coverage to average coverage to high coverage a few times before. A few thousand times, that is.
After all that doom being forecast the past few years, you'd think that the near-miraculous, totally unexpected recovery of the ice cap coverage would be really big news, something to be splattered all over the news like the original forecasts of doom!, right? Well, don't hold your breath. So far, this news is only being reported in a few science blogs, on the NOAA straight data sites, and (of course) by the global warming skeptics. Nobody else cares. Doesn't fit the narrative, you know. Only doom! does that...
Here, one hopeful politician (nicknamed “The Sledge”) explains how his competitors learn...
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Generally speaking, the migration puts me into an environment that's incrementally better than the last one. The size of that increment varies, but it's usually not all that large. The last time I can remember the increment being large was way back in the late '70s, when I migrated from a floppy disk based system to one that had a hard drive. That made a huge difference in how my development environment worked.
This past weekend I migrated my development environment from a three year old Macbook Pro to a brand new one. You wouldn't think that would make a huge difference, but it did – but other factors were at work. The biggest other factor was moving from a hard disk to a solid state disk (SSD), a 512 GB model. In addition to that, my new Macbook has a 750 GB conventional hard disk, 16 GB of RAM, and a 2.4 GHz quad core processor. My old Macbook took about 50 seconds from powerup to a functional desktop; my new one is well under 10 seconds. My old Macbook used to run out of usable memory (resulting in thrash and the notorious spinning disk of death) many times a day, especially when running Firefox or VMWare Fusion; my new Macbook handles these with ease. My old Macbook took several minutes to search for arbitrary strings through our entire code base; my new Macbook does this in under a second. I could go on, but you get the idea: this migration was quite a large incremental jump in performance and general usability of my development environment.
Where is this all heading?
Tape is the new trash.
Hard disks are the new tape.
SSDs are the new hard disks.
Cheap RAM and ridiculously fast processors are enablers, both for crappy software and for entirely new possibilities (like useful VMs in a laptop)...
I never have actually thought about my memories as a consumer durable :-) However, I certainly have treated them in the way Mr. Jones recommends, and I've taken some heat for this over my life. Debbie and I have (very) freely spent on our vacations, our animals, and other cherished experiences – even when we couldn't really afford to do so. I've never regretted doing that (though I've often been criticized for it), and the main reason why – is precisely the memories Mr. Jones speaks of. We've had a great many adventures in our lives, and the memories of them (and of course the broadening experiences) are priceless to us.
As I write this, I can't help but enumerate some in my mind. The ones that jump out: walking on the rim of an active (and erupting!) volcano in Hawai'i, skydiving, scuba diving in the Philippines, our many companion animals over the years, two weeks on a motorcycle in the back country of Australia, four wheeling in the San Juan Mountains, touring through the Baltic islands of Estonia, four wheeling on Mauna Kea in Hawai'i with my parents and (separately) my mother-in-law, and exploring Costa Rica (especially Mt. Arenal and Monte Verde). Some of these adventures were almost 40 years ago – and Mr. Jones point about the time value of them is spot on...
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
THE DEBT CEILING
Democrats don't understand THE DEBT CEILING
Republicans don't understand THE DEBT CEILING
Liberals don't understand THE DEBT CEILING
NO ONE understands THE DEBT CEILING
SO - Allow me to explain...
Let's say you come home from work and find there has been a sewer backup in your neighborhood. Your home has sewage all the way up to your ceilings. What do you think you should do? Raise the ceilings or pump out the shit?
Your choice is coming in November. Don't miss the opportunity.