Apr 08

On a more positive note

Now something a bit more positive.

I don’t mind the Mac’s Finder and how it works, but it can be much-improved to work better for someone like me who needs more capabilities.

XtraFinder is a great tool that adds a lot of those needed features.

I dislike remembering keyboard shortcuts as if I attempted to memorize even the most common keyboard shortcuts of all the applications, operating systems and tools that I use (I used ten different operating systems today alone*: Server 2012 R2, Windows 7, SUSE Linux, Linux Mint 17.1, Ubuntu 14.10 with XFCE (not Xubuntu),  Server 2008 R2, AIX 5.0, ESXi 5.5, Windows 8.1 and MacOS), it’d be somewhere north of 3,000 items to store — brain areas that are better-suited to actually-useful information.

So I’d prefer not to memorize things that don’t actually make me smarter or better.

XtraFinder makes it so that I have to recall fewer keyboard shortcuts on the Mac and makes me faster at the same time, so I really like it.

*Some days I use more in a single day. Record is probably 15-17. Yep, actively using. What happens when you have seen a lot in IT.

Apr 08

More beating the dead horse

Scientology and Fat Acceptance now vie for the stupidest, uh, mass movements out there.

Ribs showing when you lift your arms a sign of anorexia? Then nearly everyone in shape in all of history is anorexic. Hell, back when I could bench 250 pounds, run 12 miles without being tired at the end and do 130 push-ups without stopping I must’ve been just so anorexic* because my ribs (and abs) showed.

I hate the FA movement so much it’s not even funny because it’s so perfectly emblematic of everything that is completely fucked up in this country.

Oh, they aren’t the worst. No. That’d be our plutocrats and corporate overlords. But they take terrible to a very personal and unflinchingly idiotic level.

*Hint: You can’t do even one of those things and actually be actively anorexic.

Apr 08

Not bad

When there is any article about military life not rife with inaccuracies, I tend to cite it.

This one is pretty good.

The only major item the journalists got wrong is that the trainees are not using Vietnam-era M-16s. The rifles pictured are M-16A2s, which were not used in Vietnam.

The model used in Vietnam had a smooth stock; the A2 has a ridged stock for better grip. Fired one of those myself plenty of times.

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The regular Army did not adopt the M-16A2 until the late 1980s, and almost all of them have now been phased out in favor of the M-4 for regular-duty troops.

The red device on the end is an adapter so it can fire blanks properly. It’s called a blank firing adapter and allows the rifle to cycle correctly, prevents debris that even blanks throw out from hitting anyone and signals that the rifle in fact contains blanks.

Apr 07

Teach

Why would anyone choose to become a teacher now, at any level?

You’d have to be fucking crazy.

It’s always been a difficult, under-compensated job.

Now it’s a totally untenable one for anyone who has any other choice at all.

Apr 07

Mecha

I’ve been using mechanical keyboards again for about three years now, after having used them in the 80s and early 90s (that’s all there was then).

They are faster, more efficient and less tiring. They are a completely better typing experience. Far superior in every way.

This article covers the basics fairly well.

The browns are quieter than the article makes them out to be, though. They keyboard they’re in matters, too — I have two keyboards with brown switches and one is quite a bit quieter than the other.

I haven’t done any formal measurements other than a few probably-inaccurate typing tests, but my typing speed I’d estimate is 20-30% faster with a mechanical keyboard with probably 50% fewer typos.

Recommended in every way.

Apr 07

Evidential

Cumulative effects and predictive value of common obesity-susceptibility variants identified by genome-wide association studies.

I know these specialist-aimed paper can be hard to read and understand especially for people not used to looking at such things, but the basic conclusion is that all of the risk alleles combined only account for ~1% of BMI/weight variance.

All SNPs combined explained 0.9% of BMI variation, with an AUC of 0.574 (95% CI: 0.559, 0.590) for prediction of obesity.

The rest is due to other factors.

Like eating too fucking much. (That part is not in the paper.)

So nope, your genetics ain’t makin’ you fat.

Apr 06

Security vs. accessibility

Security and accessibility are at odds. They always will be.

Here I don’t mean “accessibility” as it is typically used as separate capabilities or facilities for disabled people. No, I meant it in a general sense, the sense that by definition something that is easier to use is more accessible.

I should point out however that making something more accessible for disabled people also almost always makes it easier to use, better and more convenient for everyone.

That said, lately in computing there has been the tendency to make things ostensibly more secure in user-hostile ways, such as by sandboxing processes, disallowing users to run their own OSes on their own equipment or all the other myriad methods lately that are claimed to prevent security breaches or virus infections.

While I do agree there is a marginal increase in security, the trade-off is just too high and is not done sensibly. And of course the true reasons for the greater security aren’t the ones you’ve been told. It’s mostly not to protect you from viruses or malicious actors. It’s to protect companies and their profits from you.

I don’t want to make this post too long (as I’ve noticed the longer a post, the fewer people read it in an almost linear relation), however if the concern were truly to protect you from malicious actors, all hard drives would come encrypted from OEMs and would have since the 1990s.

But back to accessibility. Windows 8 is a good example. It was a very difficult OS to use for blind and other disabled people due to the unpredictable mode changes it underwent, the inability of screen readers to deal with this, and its inherent non-standard and ever-changing interface.

Of course the security “features” of sandboxed processes also make it impossible to modify easily, so there is no remedy.

The more secure you make something, the more difficult it is to use. Just think of the sites that require two-factor authentication and 8+ character passwords with special characters. Easy to use? No one thinks so.

It’s even worse, though, as unlike the above most modern security capabilities are not aimed in any way at protecting you, but as with DRM and sandboxing are aimed at protecting large companies and their cash from you.

Apr 05

Office not friendly

Even nearly 10 years later, I cannot use Microsoft Office and its “ribbon” effectively.

That was really the first foray of any organization into user-hostile interface design and wow has it proved a real loser from a usability perspective.

I search for minutes for things back in Word 2003 I used to be able to find in 1-2 seconds.

Apr 05

Entrepreneurship

American Entrepreneurship Is Actually Vanishing. Here’s Why.

Claims this article.

But it’s wrong, at least for the reasons.

The economy is now sink or swim. Obamacare did nothing to ameliorate that. Taking risks does not pay off; in fact, it harms you.

Employers don’t see having worked for or founded a start-up (outside of very small bastions like Silicon Valley) as a real job. You will have problems passing background checks and therefore problems getting hired if you found or work for a start-up.

I know — I was contracting for a start-up for over a year where I did a lot of difficult technical things on my own, without the usual assistance (other team members, official vendor support, etc.) and no company I later interviewed with saw it as a real job despite it being more difficult than most of my “real” jobs.

And also there are no societal safety nets now. Student loans can’t be discharged in bankruptcy, therefore many people with them will not take the risk of crashing and burning and being unable to repay loans.

Health insurance is now mandatory, but not cheap, so yet another cost that dissuades entrepreneurship. (In the past, many would forgo health insurance and risk it. No longer an option.)

So the great risk shift in society has dissuaded entrepreneurship greatly.

That’s really what happened — another example of the Baby Boom generation accruing all the advantages, pulling up the ladder behind them and then blaming their kids and grandkids for failing.