former IT prof @ RIT now back in Startupland, mobile tech junkie, old hacker. this is my personal account http://t.co/rjo9YOB7PO
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Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Life as a Berserker

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Hovertext:
On the plus side, the afterlife plan is pretty solid.

New comic!
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jsonstein
1198 days ago
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good idea
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zippy72
1201 days ago
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That's gotta be my favourite pun of the year so far
FourSquare, qv
francisga
1201 days ago
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Ikea what you did there
Lafayette, LA, USA

A Few Thoughts Post-Brexit

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In no particular order, as I’m writing them off the top of my head:

1. So, the pound has crashed to a 30 year low, trading was halted on the Japanese stock market, other markets are plunging, David Cameron is resigning, Scotland wants another independence referendum, Sinn Fein is pushing for Irish reunification, Nigel Farage went on TV and said, basically, “Hey, remember when we said we were gonna put that EU money into our health service? We lied,” and the EU is saying to the UK, you want out, fine, but let’s make this quick. Yup, welcome to Brexit!

2.If you want an inside view of this mess, I suggest Charlie Stross’ take on it. His opening line is “Okay, so the idiots did it; they broke the UK,” which as far as I can see is entirely accurate.

3. From the outside, I wish I could say it looks totally unfathomable, but it doesn’t, because, hello, Donald Trump is the GOP nominee for president over here. The same bigoted, emotional, don’t-need-to-know-facts impulses that powered the Brexit vote to 52% put Trump into general presidential race. The irony is that some of these UK voters are apparently surprised that they carried the day. News folk over in the UK are now telling us that a fair number of people who voted “Leave” didn’t really think it was going to happen, so what was the harm in voting for it. Cornwall, which voted to leave, is now saying the UK government must replace its EU subsidies. Good luck with that, Cornwall. Maybe get in line behind the NHS for that money.

It should be noted that all the horrible things that are currently happening because of Brexit were called by the very experts that Michael Gove asserted, correctly, alas, that voters were tired of. This  of, which does seem to suggest that perhaps, for future reference, experts might be listened to from time to time. Also that a protest vote is still a vote, and as Nader voters learned (or, sadly, didn’t), you shouldn’t protest vote if you’re not willing to live with the implications of your protest, the implications, having been outlined to you by, you know, experts. protest.

(This is where a few Nader voters spin up and whine that nuh-uh, they totally didn’t throw the election to Bush. Dudes, sit the fuck down, already.)

4. To make this about the US for a moment: Could the same bigoted, emotional, don’t-need-to-know-facts impulses that pulled Brexit over the line actually put Trump into the White House? They could, sure! It’s not likely, because a) the Democratic advantage in the Electoral College, b) Trump to date running the most incompetent general campaign in the modern history of US politics, but there still are relevant are lessons to be learned from Brexit. First and foremost, that it won because the people who voted for it the most were exactly Trump’s demographic here in the US: Older white folks from economically shaky areas — and they turned out in force, voting in substantially higher numbers than, say, the younger UK voters, who were overwhelmingly for remaining, but who didn’t vote anywhere near the numbers of older voters.

Which is the second thing, of course: folks, when it comes to politics, if you don’t vote, what you think kinda means dick. Here in the US, the people who love Trump are gonna show up on election day. 100% sure of that prediction. We know they will because they already did. And you can say, yes, but there’s not enough of them overall, and I will say to you, fuck you and your complacent ass, I want him to lose in a goddamn landslide. I want him electorally nuked from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure. Everyone needs to vote. It’s really that important.

With that said, it should be noted that Trump is currently blathering that he thinks that the Brexit, which is plunging the British economy into a trench and giving the global economy a haircut, is perfectly fabulous. He literally just said that he thinks Brexit is great because the pound dropping means more people will come to his golf course, which I think is the 21st century’s gold standard entry in the “fiddling while Rome burns” sweepstakes. So  And maybe, perhaps, the combination of economic implosion and Trump’s smug wanking about it will be the thing that convinces any fiscal conservative still holding out on Clinton to pinch their nose and vote for her in November, because she’s not in fact a raging cauldron of economic stupidity? November. Maybe? But probably not? We’ll see.

So yeah: Trump could take it. Brexit shows us how. Don’t get cocky. And vote, for fuck’s sake.

5. To get personal for a moment, over on Twitter I was asked whether or not, as an American, Brexit was actually going to have an impact on my life. Yes, it surely does! For one thing, I sell books in the UK, through my UK publishers (Gollancz and Tor UK), and I get paid in pound sterling, which is currently being punched in the throat, in terms of exchange rate. For another, the UK economy is likely to plunge into a recession, which will make it harder to sell books there, so that’s not great either. I also sell in other territories around the world, particularly in Europe, and Brexit is a destabilizing force there, which is likely not good for me. And of course the US economy is itself likely to get some buffeting from it, too.

But wait, there’s more! I like many Americans have retirement stock investments, which look to take a 2008-sized pummel. I should also note that 2008’s global recession was pretty terrible for publishing, the field I’m in, and writers in particular got it high and hard, so if things go south in general, that also makes things more difficult for folks in my field.

So, yes, directly and indirectly, Brexit is going to have an impact on my life, as an American and also as a working writer. Thanks, UK.

The good news for me, such as it is, is that last year I signed long-term publishing contracts with Tor (for printed/electronic books) and Audible (for audio). Those contracts basically act as an economic hedge  buffer for me, which is a thing I entirely intended them to be when I signed them — not against Brexit, to be clear, but against general instability in the publishing world. But they work for Brexit, too, as well as any knock-on economic fallout that might come from it. So, yay, go me and my fundamentally fiscally conservative nature.

6. But let’s be honest, if the world economy goes to shit, my contracts aren’t going to save me any more than they’re going to save anyone else, they’ll just slightly delay my fall into the abyss. The best case scenario at this point is merely that the UK is screwed for a while, and the rest of the global economy routes around it. The worst case scenario is, well, a bit grimmer, economically and otherwise. I’m hoping for the best case scenario (sorry, UK). I’ll be financially planning for other things.

(However, people in the US, etc — please do not panic about your retirement accounts just yet, unless you are, in fact, just about to retire. The whole point of retirement accounts is you sock money away in them and then let them do their thing. There will be ups and downs. This is a down. There will, hopefully, be more ups to come.)

To my friends in the UK who have to deal with this directly: My sympathies. May the pain be relatively brief. You can come camp out on my lawn if you need to. To my friends in the US: Fucking vote in November, already.


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jsonstein
1261 days ago
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yup
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1263 days ago
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JimB
1262 days ago
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Learn from this USA. Don't get caught by the liars with the big hair.
acdha
1263 days ago
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QFT: “folks, when it comes to politics, if you don’t vote, what you think kinda means dick. Here in the US, the people who love Trump are gonna show up on election day. 100% sure of that prediction. We know they will because they already did. And you can say, yes, but there’s not enough of them overall, and I will say to you, fuck you and your complacent ass, I want him to lose in a goddamn landslide. I want him electorally nuked from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure. Everyone needs to vote. It’s really that important.”
Washington, DC
jepler
1263 days ago
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As a USAian I irrationally worry that brexit is a bellweather for the donald's possible success in november.
Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm
wmorrell
1263 days ago
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Vote.

Dumb's The Word

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Thank-you-word-cloud

Brent's latest software project contained a story for adding a word-cloud to a PDF report that was already being generated on a production server using Java. Instead of being handled by Brent's in-house team, the requirement was assigned—against Brent's wishes—to overseas developers whom the company had recently contracted to "add more horsepower" to things.

Being fairly technical, the product manager found an example word-cloud library, linked to it in the ticket, and commented, "The output should look something like this."

A month passed. Then, Brent reported into work one morning to find a new ticket in JIRA listed as blocking the word-cloud ticket. Its title was Having trouble launching Internet Explorer from Selenium on Linux servers (works fine locally on my Windows development machine).

Brent's confusion left him paralyzed for a few moments. Then he realized, this was probably just a testing ticket that'd somehow gotten linked to the story by accident. To make sure, he called up Bobby, his counterpart from the contracting firm, who'd been the one to file the ticket.

"It's not a mistake," Bobby explained. "The story really is blocked."

"OK, so, you're really trying to launch Internet Explorer on the production app server?" Brent asked. "You realize IE's not installed on that server, right? What do you need it for?"

"It's integral to the implementation I came up with," Bobby replied.

Brent was afraid to ask. "How?"

"I couldn't find a native Java word-cloud library, so this is what I have to do to fulfill the specifications," Bobby said. "First, I take the PDF report data and serialize it to JSON. Then, I import Selenium into the production codebase. Then, I generate an HTML page and a Selenium script. Once Selenium is started, the script launches Internet Explorer and opens the HTML page. Once the HTML page loads, Selenium captures a screenshot of it. With Java, the screenshot is opened, cropped, and then embedded into the PDF report."

Brent was stunned speechless.

"I got this to work on my local machine, but then I tried to test on a server and hit the error," Bobby continued.

That's what you were doing all month? Brent marveled. "Uh, OK ... listen, the implementation you just described is unacceptable. I don't see why we can't keep it within Java. We're coming up on our deadline."

Brent's eyes strayed toward the calendar tacked to his cubicle wall, showing him how few empty squares he had left to deal with this. He took a deep breath, composed himself, then donned his project manager hat to do the managerly thing.

"Leave this alone for now, all right? I'm going to speak with some of my developers and let you know what we decide to do from here."

"OK," Bobby replied.

Once off the call, Brent opened up Outlook and fired off a meeting request for the earliest possible time. A short while later, he looked upon his assembled developers within a dimly lit conference room, half of whom were more interested in their laptops than in the minor crisis Brent related to them.

"What can we do about this on short notice?" he begged. "Is there a native Java library that can generate word-clouds?"

No amount of Internet-hunting turned up anything useful. Brent tugged at his collar. He'd been hoping Bobby had been wrong about that, and that a solution would only require a download and a few lines of code.

"All right. How hard would it be to code our own implementation?" Brent asked.

Cheryl, who'd been typing furiously all meeting, finally let up on the keyboard and shoved away from the table. "Here, I just finished."

As it turned out, her keyboard exercise had not been in the service of bashing trolls in comment threads. Everyone gathered to peek over her shoulder at the PDF-embedded word-cloud it'd taken her minutes to code and generate, an accomplishment that'd eluded their contractors for a whole month.

"Meeting adjourned!" Brent cried in triumph.

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jsonstein
1261 days ago
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the Cheryls of the world are what keep us going
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1261 days ago
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Courtney
1259 days ago
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I'm married to a Cheryl.
Portland, OR
JayM
1259 days ago
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Heh. :)
Atlanta, GA
jepler
1262 days ago
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'Cheryl, who'd been typing furiously all meeting, finally let up on the keyboard and shoved away from the table. "Here, I just finished."'
Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm
glenn
1262 days ago
Sadly, having cleaned up what offshore teams have built, this story is completely accurate
jepler
1262 days ago
the team doesn't have to be offshore....!
glenn
1262 days ago
That is for sure! But I think I'm batting a 1000 where any project I see that involves offshore is royally borked
wmorrell
1262 days ago
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Mic drop, Cheryl. 👏

Universal Install Script

10 Comments and 23 Shares
The failures usually don't hurt anything, and if it installs several versions, it increases the chance that one of them is right. (Note: The 'yes' command and '2>/dev/null' are recommended additions.)
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jsonstein
1364 days ago
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one of them *has* to work, esp all running in parallel
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srsly
1369 days ago
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I appreciate the lines,

> apt-get install $1
> sudo apt-get install $1
Atlanta, Georgia
kimmo
1369 days ago
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Excellent idea to run all of these in parallel. :)
Espoo, Finland
kevjava
1369 days ago
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Don't forget to run as root!
toddgrotenhuis
1369 days ago
arghhhhhh
JayM
1369 days ago
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:)
Atlanta, GA
Cthulhux
1369 days ago
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Doesn't work on BSD since there is no bash by default. Pffff, universal!
Fledermausland
tante
1369 days ago
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Universal Install Script
Berlin/Germany
superiphi
1369 days ago
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Ha ha ha ha.
Idle, Bradford, United Kingdom
alt_text_bot
1369 days ago
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The failures usually don't hurt anything, and if it installs several versions, it increases the chance that one of them is right. (Note: The 'yes' command and '2>/dev/null' are recommended additions.)
denubis
1369 days ago
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This is terrifying.
Sydney, Australia
lamontcg
1369 days ago
This is my job

Tools

3 Comments and 12 Shares
I make tools for managing job-hunting sites for people who make tools for managing job-hunting sites for people who make tools for ...
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jsonstein
1426 days ago
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but of course, or cats... might have something to do with cats
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greggrossmeier
1427 days ago
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Yuppp
SF, US
Covarr
1427 days ago
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"I make tools"
"What tools?"
"The tools with the power"
"What power?"
"The power to make tools"
Moses Lake, WA

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Bloody Mary

1 Comment and 3 Shares

Hovertext: And let's be honest - walkin' around all protestanty like that, some of them were askin' for it.


New comic!
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Ten days to BAHFest London. OH GOD 

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jsonstein
1426 days ago
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not just a drink
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