• We Found Where Is The Republican Line

    It’s amusing and sad to finally see so many Republicans jump off the sinking ship after it hit the iceberg. All through the last four years my question to Republicans has been, what is your line that Trump could not cross? We found the line was literaly no less than an attempt to overthrow the government of the United States. And these are people who call themselves patriots? If they really want to do the right thing they should resign.

    The thing is, it doesn’t really matter now. What’s going to matter is when in four years and the Republican Presidential primaries start does the party push back against Trump and any who follow his playbook, or do they do all the same things again? It already started when Congress finally reviewed and accpeted the Electoral College results.

    At this point I think the lust for supremacy is what Republicans are all about. They could not take a principaled stand until literally forced to by an attempted coup. I for one right now cannot imagine how I can ever trust anyone who is Republican and desires the power of federal office. We cannot let Republicans re-frame the story in a way that does not make them culpable in what happened on January 6, 2021, for they built the platform upon which Trump and his followers spoke and acted, starting with birtherism.

  • Overclocking A Raspberry Pi 4

    I am using a Raspberry Pi 4 (daenerys) as my desktop personal computer during the work day, which I access from my work provided computer using VNC. By using this Pi 4 I can access the Internet from my desk without going through the corporate Internet proxy.

    I built daenerys in a Flirc case, which looks really nice and provides passive cooling, and it boots from a SSD in an Inateck case. The SSD gets power from the Pi and so under normal load I would see temperatures hover around 55 degrees celcius, which is well below the 85 degree threshold that causes the CPU to throttle down.

    Over the holiday I built another Raspberry Pi 4 (arya) in a MazerPi case that has a fan. The fan draws power from the GPIO pins and has two modes, high speed if plugged in to the 5v pin (PIN 2) and low speed if plugged in to the 3.3v pin (PIN1). To complete the picture, ground is plugged in th PIN 6.

    The MazerPi fan just stays on all the time, I am not aware of a way to control the fan so that it only comes on when a certain temperature threshold is past. I first plugged the fan in to one of the 5v pins and found it loud enough to be heard, although not terribly loud. When using high speed mode the CPU temperatures were in the mid to high 30 degree range under normal load. When I ran Octane 2 it then crossed 40 degrees.

    I decided to try the low speed mode, which is quiet enough to not hear unless one concentrates. Temperatures where in the 40 to 45 degree range, which is plenty good.

    At this point the thought occurred to me that it probably makes sense to use the case with the fan for the Pi that I am going to use every day rather than in one I am going to use as an accessory and thus I removed the SD card from arya and plugged in the SSD from daenerys and it booted right up. (BTW, note that in reality a computer host name is associated with the boot drive and not the actual computer, so daenerys is really the 250 GB SSD drive while arya is a 256 GB SD card.)

    Finally, I decided I wanted to try overclocking daenerys, which given the fan should be safe. Normal speed for this Pi4 board is 1.5 GHz, so I decided to overclock it to 2 GHz. Performance is noticably faster. At 1.5 Ghz daenery’s Octane 2 score is 8098 and at 2.0 Ghz the score is 9777. Neither score is fantastic, but good enough for the type of web browsing that I do.

    When you overclock a CPU it will run hotter and that can cause failures. In the MazerPi, with the fan in low speed mode, and the Pi 4 booting from a SSD and overclocked to a max frequency of 2 GHz and a minimum frequency of 1 GHz I am seeing temperatures ranging from 46 degrees to 55 degress, which is about the same as well using the Pi in the Flirc case but not overclocked.

    The net result is that have “upgraded” daenerys to a faster processing speed that provides better performance while maintaining a good CPU temperature and so far after one full working day it has been stable. The MazerPi case cost only $8 and is easy to assemble with help from a video I found on YouTube.

  • One Term Presidential Mirrors

    I think it’s interesting that CNN is airing a documentary about the first modern outsider elected President before Trump, Jimmy Carter. When I think back about Carter’s years as President I think what happened is that he showed us reality that we did not like very much. It’s no wonder then that he lost to a professional actor and that in many ways we have been living in a delusion that has been amplified by Trump.

    Why would the rock-and-roll set flock to a man who, as president, is remembered today as being a micro-managing, straight-arrow engineer who failed to inspire or understand leadership? The reason is that in his prime, Jimmy Carter was cool. He championed a kind of political populism that was extremely attractive to Americans disillusioned with Washington in the wake of Vietnam and Watergate. Sick and tired of elected officials who betrayed them, they found a refreshing change in Carter, a former peanut farmer who was seen as an anti-establishment outsider. As Bishop Michael Curry recalls in the documentary, “We were coming out of the Watergate era and looking …to be a country of integrity again.”

    The problem with the quote above from Bishop Curry is that I am not sure the United States has ever been a “country of integrity.” I think some of the founders had this aspiration but failed to see the log in their eye of supremacy is the forms of slavery and colonialism.

    To me the greatest irony of the Trump presidency has been that part of the campaign slogan, “Make America Great” is a good and right aspiration but demands a degree of introspection on what is greatness and who determines greatness.

    P.S. I observe that it seems all one term presidents of my life time became one term because that were a mirror reflecting ourselves that we did not like very much. Our egos much prefer the myths of our false selves than the reality of our true selves.

  • Vivaldi Day 2

    Today is the second day of using Vivaldi on the Raspberry Pi 4 desktop, and it continues to perform better for me than Chromium. I decided to run Octane 2 and Speedometer 2 to see how Vivaldi benchmarks against Chromium and I am surprised to find that it benchmarks slightly slower in both even though my practical use finds it faster. For example, Speedometer 2 scores 7.93 in Chromium and 7.614 in Vivaldi. For comparison, the Speedometer 2 score on the iPad Air is 201, fastest in the house.

  • Trying Vivaldi

    I use a Raspberry Pi 4 as a personal remote computer that I access using VNC during the work day, which enables me to keep my personal web access from going through my employer’s Internet proxy. It’s also an excuse of me to fiddle with the Raspberry Pi.

    I have been using Chromium for browing the web but grown frustrated with its performance on the Pi so this morning I decided to give Vivaldi a try. Vivaldi uses the same rendering engine as Chrome and I’ve found it uses the same extensions as Chrome, which is important because I need access to Lastpass.

    Installation was a little tricky because I am running a beta 64-bit version of the Raspberry Pi OS and so I needed to find the arm64 version of the installation package.

    So far I am finding that Vivaldi does run faster on the Pi4 than Chromium. One thing I did to speed things up is to turn off the drop-down, URL completion of the address bar so that I can quickly enter URLs. However, one function that I use to forage for new updates in the Federated Wiki verse does not work, for some reason, so for now I will need to use Chromium for that part of my daily flow.

  • The iPad, Magic Keyboard, and Me

    I am completing the first week of using my iPad Air and Magic Keyboard during my work day and I am happy with the result. Over the years I’ve tried using different keyboard cases with tablets and usually end up setting them aside because I found it too difficult to switch between hand-held and keyboard modes. The magnetic attachment of the iPad to the keyboard makes it easy to remove and re-attach the iPad to the case, so when I want to hold the tablet to read or write notes with the Apple Pencil, it’s no more difficult than picking the iPad up off the table and when I want to type notes it’s as easy as placing the iPad back on to the magnetic back of the case.

    The main negative of the case is that it adds a lot of bulk and weight, so there are times when I won’t want to carry both. When we get back to being able to travel around freely I will probably get Apple’s Smart Folio, which also attaches magnetically, to protect the iPad Air in those instances.

  • Beware Of The U.S. Theocracy

    Dana Blankenhorn wrote:

    When the nation state came to glory in the 19th century, it was as a bulwark against religion. The great threat of our time is the unity of the state and religion

    I wish citizens of the United States would think a bit more deeply about our history, particularly the context in which First Amendment was written. The world from 313 AD until when the U.S. Constiution was ratified was basically governed by a theocracy. You had the Holy Roman Empire and Rome ruling most of the western world, then came Protestantism and it’s alignment with kings and The Thirty Years War, and then, more directly you have the Church of England that emerged to consolidate power in England when Henry VIII wanted an annulment that the Pope would not grant.

    The founders knew how those who seek power, be they kings, dictators, oligarchs, and political parties, use religion to increase that power. After all, it’s one thing for a President to say something, it’s another when a preacher claims what he or she says is the literal word of god.

    So, while the first ammendment constrains the U.S. government of what it can do to religions, more importantly it is intended to prevent the merger of religious and political power.

    I agree with Dana’s warning about our real risk, which is the emergence of a religious-based rule in the United States. It started with Ronald Regan creating the snowball and rolling it down the hill to create the “Religious Right” under the pretext of a Pro-Life movement. It picked up more steam to elect George W. Bush that lead to a tremendous amount of lost life in wars authorized by national emergencies that are still not over. And finally in a mutal in-sincere but profitable alliance, enabled and put in place Donald Trump, and with him the breaking of everything Jesus taught.

    Please, if you call yourself Christian and find yourself agreeing completely with these claims of religions liberty, stop and consider the very real possibility that your actions are actualy enabling the very opposite of what you think will be the outcome. In the process you are handling over all your authority, necessary for people to even consider the Good News, let alone follow Jesus.

  • What To Do With Ideas

    I’ve responded to this question about “what does one do with ideas” with my wish for how products like Roam could be even better for me. In summary, I want an app like Roam that recognizes a string of text as the same as the title of an already existing page and automactically converts it to a link to that page without my having to specify it as such with square brackets.

    I think the challenge is putting the “new idea” in a place that is connected/related in a way that easily re-surfaces. A common practice is to put all ideas in to one bucket/tickler file and then continually reviewing that bucket/tickler file, which itself requires discipline.

    Roam has a nice feature that enables me to easily associate text to a future date so when that date arrives the app automatically displays that item. Roam isn’t unique in this feature and associating to dates is probably an easy problem to solve, but what I would like would be an automated way associate an idea to a topic that can re-surface whenever I search for or write about the topic.

    The closest example I can think of is glossary function in Fargo or wiki links in Roam but even those require remembering special functions, quotes for glossary, square brackets for wiki links. What I would love is to be able to tell software, whenever I write this string of text automatically convert the text to a hyperlink to this page of more information about it. For software to just do it for me it would have to constantly monitor my writing, like MS Word’s spell/grammar check.

    If memory serves, the closest experience I had to this was VoodooPad and WikiWikiWeb were you wrote in wikiwords like WhereIPutIdeas, that the software automatically converted to links, but that is flawed by the fact that one has to write in an unnatural way.

    I guess what I want is some form of natural language processing of all text I write that queries against a collection of previously written pages and automatically links to matches. Even the backlinking in Roam requires some thinking/recollection on my part, unless there is something in Roam I have not yet discovered.

  • Adding Titles In Drafts

    I use Drafts to write many of my blog entries and I use a Drafts Action to post what I write to micro.blog. Normally my entries do not have titles but occasionally I do want use one and for that I now have an Drafts Action that prompts me to enter the title before it posts it to micro.blog. Murphy willing, it will work with this entry.

  • Scapegoating Is Addictive

    On Saturday I wrote that I think the real root cause behind why so many align themselves with Trump is the lack of good paying jobs that don’t require a college degree. In his recent column for the New York Times, titled The Rotting of the Republican Mind, David Brooks pretty much writes the same thing.

    Under Trump, the Republican identity is defined not by a set of policy beliefs but by a paranoid mind-set….You can’t argue people out of paranoia. If you try to point out factual errors, you only entrench false belief. The only solution is to reduce the distrust and anxiety that is the seedbed of this thinking. That can only be done first by contact, reducing the social chasm between the members of the epistemic regime and those who feel so alienated from it. And second, it can be done by policy, by making life more secure for those without a college degree.

    In my opinion, while Brooks is putting the focus on Republican’s, I think the same challenge lies with Democrats. The problem is that Trump and the Republican party really haven’t done anything about the problem because they can’t see the root cause, which I think is a combination of corporate greed by way of profit margins and a long history of anti-inflation that has conditioned us to seek out the lowest price for items we buy. (Have you ever enjoyed the thrill of finding a bargain?) I don’t think either party is willing and able to do what is needed to address this issue.

    As a thought exercise ask yourself, why is it that so many of the products you use every day are manufactured outside of the United States? (If you can find a label, take a look at it to see whether I am right or wrong.)

    Many politicians of both parties will have you believe the problem is unfair trade practices by countries like China, which is the thinking behind Trump’s tariffs that really did not result in more manufacturing jobs in the United States. Trade is a problem, but it’s not the only problem.

    Corporations do not manufacture in the United States because it costs more to manufacture items in the United States and what does that mean? Higher costs result in lower profit margins and if corporations want to maintain margins, which shareholders want them to do, then they have to increase the price of their products, but the problem with that is U.S. consumers do not like to pay higher prices. It appears something has to give, either corporations take lower profits or consumers pay higher prices. (And equally important because nearly everyone who can save for retirement does with either IRAs or 401ks is that a good number of the shareholders demanding margins that increase stock price are consumers of the products being manufactured.)

    Can corporations and shareholders be convinced to live with lower profit margins for the sake of the country? Can consumers be convinced to pay more for items “made in the U.S.A.”? Can US manufacturing costs, a high portion of which is labor, be decreased?

    You see here then the issue, there is no silver bullet, instead there is a need for a comprehensive solution that requires compromise by all parties. Democrats have to be willing to decrease regulations that increase manufacturing costs and Republicans have to be willing to work toward removing corporations’ burden of providing healthcare to its employees, which also increases the costs of labor. Serious discussion needs to occur within corporations and their boards of what is a fair profit margin and not just what they can drive the market toward (the starting point might be, what is a fair wage for CEOs?) and there needs to be a significant and continuous, buy made in the USA, marketing campaign to try to influence consumer purchasing.

    The irony in all of this is that there was a time when both Republicans and Democrats campaigned on jobs, and jobs/the economy is still the issue now more than ever. The reason why Trump is popular is that his rhetoric and scapegoating resonates with the fear many Americans, particularly those without college degrees, feel. Scapegoating is an addictive drug, one feels good about “sticking to it to the libretards,” but when/if one looks around for change they will find no change to be found. Consequently, the only option that Republicans seem to have embraced is to keep the rhetoric going so that everyone stays happy enough to keep voting for the people placing the blame, which is themselves.

  • First Impressions Of The Apple iPad Magic Keyboard

    I ordered an open box / reduced price Apple Magic keyboard from Best Buy that I just received. Normally I don’t order refurbished items, but I felt an accessory like a keyboard ought to be safe, and after combining the reduced price with some credit card reward points I got $100 reduced on the price.

    There isn’t much to the unboxing, cut through the shrink wrap, open the box and all you find is the keyboard inside. I was surprised, given that this was a refurb, that the “standard” protected plastic wrap was on the keyboard.

    There is literally no documentation in the box, I’ve had to use Google to learn about some of the standard keyboard shortcuts given that there is no function key row.

    I am sitting on a couch with the keyboard with iPad on my lap, typing as I would using any notebook computer. The keyboard is smaller, which is not a surprise given that this is the 11-inch model, but still, I can touch type just fine.

    A few things to figure out. There is one function key, a key labeled with a globe at the lower left, that seems to be for selecting emojis, surely there is a way to change that? So far I haven’t found one, although I have found some articles of useful information that I summarize below.

  • Damage Done

    The coup has been in progress for four years, and probably even for more years than that. It most recently started with an assault on facts, starting with the numbers of people who did not attend President Trump’s inauguration, continued through three years of assaulting the press, nearly one year of an assault on science and medicine, and now with the assault on the heart of democracy, the election.

    The risk is not who will be seated as President on January 21, 2021. The damage has already been done, going forward all elections will likely be questioned probably until someone comes up with the bright idea of just not having them.

    All of this is on the hands of Republicans. To those who say Trump has the right to have his day “in court” I say, when did elections become about courts? There is a phrase, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it. Do you not see the damage you are doing to our country? For now on tens of millions of people will no longer trust elections because you continue to sow the seed of doubt, and for what? So that you can retain power? Did Washington, Madison, Hamilton, and Jefferson fight for power? Did Lincoln give his life for power or did he do it to preserve the Republic? The party of Lincoln indeed.

    Here is a fact. What is common between Nixon and Trump is that they are both Republican. One resigned before being impeached and then pardoned, the other was impeached and could still be pardoned. The two most undemocratic Presidents of my lifetime, Republicans.

    And finally, to those Regan Republicans, most of whom are of my generation. The USSR had elections, in fact most socialist dictatorships have elections. In the USSR (and now Russia) the outcome of the election was assured before the first vote cast because the person in power could not lose. What makes democratic elections, such as the ones we claim to have in the United States, is that the person in power (the incumbent) can lose. It’s not just about a peaceful transition of power, it’s about accepting the will of the people.

    Republican actions right now are saying loudly, they do not accept the will of the people, and in doing they delegitimize their claim as a party of a free and democratic United States of America.

  • Lessons From The 2020 Election

    It should be clear that Democrats need to work on their strategy for Presidential elections. If one is willing to listen to me, I have the following observations.

    Simply getting out the vote will not work. It seems the conclusion drawn from 2016 is that Clinton lost because not enough Democrats voted. The thinking is based on the belief there are more Democrats than Republicans in the United States. The problem is, increating vote count only works in a pure democratic nationwide election, aka the popular vote, and we don’t elect Presidents in the United States by popular vote. (The founders feared a pure democracy.)

    Republicans have simplified the path to the White House: win rural votes by > 50% margin and if you get 30% of the urban vote, you win, and that strategy aligns to the electoral college. In short, Democrats have to get more rural vote, which leads me to the one overriding fundamental that Democrats have to understand..

    Fear of socialism trumps everything else!

    People are not really voting on issues, which I think is why polling is not working. People are voting on fear and mostly fear of the other side. The Republican message is simple, Democrats are socialists, socialism = communism = evil = unAmercan, so vote Republican to save America! A significant number of people are convinced they can never vote for a Democrat because that is a vote for Socialism. Add to that another significant number of people, call them evangelicals, who are convinced voting for a Demorat is a vote for killing babys and you have this result. And evangelials equate socialism to atheism which adds another reason why they fear Democrats. Then, sadly, add to the fact that there are too many who fear a vote for a Democrat is a vote for people of color over white people.

    If you consider that Republican votes are mostly all about fear of what Democrats will do, I think you see how the Democrat primary and compaigns of 2016 and 2020 make the election strategy for Republicans easy because policies considered to be socialist AND politicians considered to be socialists (Bernie Sanders) dominated the campaigns.

    In short, I think Bernie Sanders created a lot of fear among voters AND was a easy target. Even after Biden secured the nomination Republicans simply claimed Sanders would have significant influence over Biden because Democrats do want the Sanders followers support. I think this is true, hard to dispute and personally frustrating to me because Bernie is not even a Democrat!

    Why does this matter? It matters because for extremism to be successful it needs an equally extreme opposite. The antidote to extremism is the middle and unfortunately that is shrinking rapidly. I think the only way the middle, call them moderates, can be recovered is via a third party but how we finance and run elections in the United States in the 21st century really makes it impossible for a viable third party.

    In summary, fear of socialism trumps everything. It don’t matter whether the Republican candidate is authoritarian, unqualified, and incapable of leading, it only matters that at Democrat doesn’t get power and destroy the country.

  • Accepting Deaths

    COVID-19 is the third highest cause of death in the United States from February to October of 2020. One of the problems we have is how people are viewing these deaths. Rather than viewing them as an “event” caused death, like 9/11, people are viewing as a disease caused death, like heart disease, cancer, and strokes. In this case they are thinking, hundreds of thousands of people die from disease every year and this is the same.

    The reason why this matters is that some people who view these deaths as similar to other diseases are more willing to view the 200K+ deaths as acceptable, but what they are not taking in to account is that all of the other diseases on the list have known preventative measures, treatments, and expected impacts, whereas we have none of these for COVID-19. The number of deaths of the other diseases would be higher each year if not for the years and years worth of science to lower the risk.

    Further, neither heart disease or cancer, which are the two higher causes of death so far this year, are something in which a health person contracts the disease and can die in a matter of days or even weeks.

    The point is that we should all be angry about the number of people who have died from COVID-19, particularly if we claim to place a high value on life. Surely, like all other places around the world, some people would have died no matter what, but nobody should view 200K+ deaths as acceptable and the problem is there is not true end in sight because there is zero leadership in the United States toward anything that resembles a plan.

    The closest to what appears to be the plan is to just let the disease run its course. Perhaps another 100+ or more people will die, and too many people are ok with that so long as they can go wherever and do whatever they want to do. Meanwhile other nations in the world took active measures and controlled the very same disease we seem unwilling to fight, and did so for the sake of everyone in their country!

    For people who want to put country over seemingly anything else, I don’t know how they can be proud of how we, the United States, is handling this crisis.

  • Here We Go Again Michigan

    It seems logical to me that the number of cases of COVID-19 will increase as the weather gets colder in the northern United States causing people to spend more time indoors without good ventilation. A report over the weekend appears to provide the statistical evidence, the R0, or rate of infection, has jumped to 1.12, you want it to be below 1. Daily new cases per 100,000 people is 11.7, a number above 10 is considered high. The good news is that ICU occupancy is low so for now hospitals appear to be capable of meeting demand, but an increase in the rate of spread increases the probability of people with pre-existing conditions who catch the virus need hospitalization. Lending further support to the “colder weather” theory is the fact that the new Michigan outbreak is in the Upper Peninsula.

    Given the Michigan Supreme Court’s decision that the Governor has over-stepped her authority with her efforts to contain the disease and the Republican party’s preference to not issue mandates, it is likely the spread will increase unless citizens self comply or take county and city health orders seriously. I expect the State Legislature to pass legislation to prevent counties and cities from issuing their own health orders.

  • Outlines, Wikis, and Wisdom

    I have a great deal of respect for the people who layed the foundation of the computer technology I use today, people like Steve Wozniak, Dan Bricklin, Ward Cunningham, and Dave Winer. I follow Ward and Dave the closest because they actively write and because I use their work every day.

    I am struck by the similarities and differences between Ward and Dave’s work. Ward created wiki, which is a tool he created to write and share pattern languages. Wiki’s emphasis is on easy writing and hyperlinking, which I think was the intended purpose of the Web. Dave also created writing tools, the outliner and blogs, that simplify publishing of writing on the Internet and he also created RSS to make it easier for one to keep up with the writing on the Internet. Dave’s original work is the conceptual basis for my stream while Ward’s original work provides the tools for my garden.

    I like outlines and find that I really like Federated Wiki and today I realized that the similarity between them is that both provide context to writing but in different ways. Outlines are hiearchical while Federated Wiki has a lineup that shows context between source and destination links in a horizontal and linear fashion. I think this ability to easily see context and connections is also why I like Roam and use it for my private notes.

    I am not sure that this matters much to others, but I think there is a relationship between context and history. History is the context of our lives and I think a great deal of our problems come from a failure to see meaning or to see what is really happening because we fail to know the context. Part of the problem may be that it’s too difficult to find the context of history, that’s where tools like oultliners might help, and because it is so difficult few people really take the time to seek out and understand context.

    Context is needed for true understanding, knowledge, and thus wisdom and today there is a huge deficiency of wisdom.

  • Not All Styluses Make The Same Point

    The Lenovo USI Stylus arrived today, giving me the first chance to try a Universal Stylus Initiative digital pen. Historically, digital pens only work with the tablets made by the manufacturer of the pen, and the pens are not portable between tablets. USI is a protocol intended to enable one to use a pen across multiple tablets. Thus, the Lenovo stylus I just got is supposed to not only work with the Lenovo Duet, but other tablets and notebook computers that support USI.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have another device that supports USI, but I can say that the stylus I received just worked with the Duet once I got the pen powered up, there was no pairing process. The problem that I have with this stylus is that its tip is too big and round and so writing with it is like writing with a used medium tip marker rather than like a fine point pen. The tip on the Apple Pencil and Microsoft Surface Pen is much more like a pencil or pen so that what you write on the screen does not look like big fat characters.

    The upside to the Lenovo USI is that it only cost me $31, which is considerabily cheaper than the Apple Pencil. However, even if it is cheap, the fact that one cannot really write digital ink that approximates a fine tip pen will hinder its usefullness.

  • Computing Is Art

    I’ve read two articles this week that make the case for treating Computer Science as something other than Computer Science. The one, titled, Why Computing Belongs With The Social Sciences, argues that we will not gain more ethical computing from college curricula that have “Computing Ethics” classes but only by moving Computing in to the Social Sciences. The author points to the increasing relationship between algorithms and power.

    Recommendation algorithms, automated sanctioning systems, reactive violation detection and prediction systems, and nudge architectures are replacing the human agency built into our legal and political systems with an architecture of unknowable black boxes allowing the one-way surveil and control of people without any corresponding contestation

    In an essay titled Hackers and Painters, Paul Graham notes that while he graduated with a Computer Science degree, he self identifies as a hacker, which is the likely image most people have of one who holds a CompSci degree. Graham says that hackers are like painters and writers because they make things. The following is for me the most important quote in the essay.

    Empathy is probably the single most important difference between a good hacker and a great one. Some hackers are quite smart, but when it comes to empathy are practically solipsists. It’s hard for such people to design great software [5], because they can’t see things from the user’s point of view

    Both articles resonate strongly with me. I graduated in 1989 with a Computer Science degree and have been working in the Information Technology industry for more than thirty years and I can say that I have never used any of the specifics of my computer science classes save for one, one Software Engineering. I also got a minor in secondary education and what gained from that part of my college learning I applied frequently throughout my career.

    In my experience computing is more art than a science and more about humans than machines and yet neither of these realities were part of my formal computer science education. Granted, much time has passed since I graced the college classrooms so I know curricula has changed, but yet given the “market” pressures on colleges I suspect the most focus on producing employable graduates, with life long skills a secondary benefit rather than primary focus.

  • Decision Making Matters

    Perhaps the most important skill we learn in life is how we make decisions. Too little time is spent reflecting on this skill in ourselves, and evaluating it in leaders. How we see the world influences the decisions we make. If everything that happens is viewed through the lense of how it affects me personally, for example, does this help or hurt my chances for re-election, then most of the decisions I make are for my own self interest. (Note that very, very few people do NOT make any decisions in their self interest. I am talking about degree)

    I suggest that over the course of history, those who history says are good leaders put common interest above their own in the moments that matter. For me the decision making process is a core competency of anyone who I consider to recognize as leader and who may gain my vote in an election.

    Incumbents have the blessing or curse of having demonstrated how they make decisions, and thus tend to have an easier or sometimes bigger hurdle to overcome.

  • Definitely a Random Mind

    I find it amusing how my mind recalls bits of things in certain circumstances. For example, during my morning walk I saw that the lawn care company was planting a shrubbery and I immediately said to myself, “I want a shrubbery, and a nice one too.”

  • Configuring A Raspberry Pi as a WiFi Hotspot and WiFi client

    In episode 308 of the MobileViews podcast Jon Westfall talked about a blog post describing how to configure a Raspberry Pi 4 as a USB-C accessory for the iPad Pro. The instructions configure the Pi so that you connect an iPad to the Pi using a USB-C cable. A video is also available that provides step-by-step instructions, and you can also watch another video in which the author answers questions that were left in the comments of the original video.

    While I found the concept intriguing there is no way I could implement it because it only works if you have the latest iPad Pro that has a USB-C port, which I do not have.

    Later I found another video done by the author of the original one showing how to install an application called RaspAP and configure it to be a WiFi hotspot AND a WiFi client at the same time. With this configuration you can connect any iPad, or any other device that has WiFi and then you can SSH in to the Pi from the iPad to have access to a Linux command prompt, from which you could run a number of different applications, programming environments, and utilities.

    It’s actually not too difficult to configure a Raspberry Pi as a WiFi hotspot (access point) and I actually had done so to a small Raspberry Pi Zero W that I have been using as a portable backup for a wiki I maintain of home information. The problem with how I have been using the Pi Zero is that it can only be either a WiFi access point OR a WiFi client, so when configured as an access point the Pi Zero can’t connect to my home network or the Internet.

    What makes RaspAP better is that it configures a Raspberry Pi so that it can be an access point AND WiFi client at the same time using the same wlan port! I am not sure how this is done because as you may know a “normal” WiFi access point must have a second wired Ethernet connection to connect to a cable modem and provide Internet access, in such instances the access point routes (or bridges) network traffic between two networks (different IP addressing), one being the WiFi network and the other being the wired network, each requiring one port.

    The installation of RaspAP does require connecting the Raspberry Pi to a wired network connection because there is a step that requires resetting the wlan0 interface that will hang if the port is in use. However, after installation, the Pi will connect to your home network and act as an access point for another network at the same time.

    Along the way I also found out that I can power the Raspberry Pi 3b+ using the Ravpower (Model RP-PB043) portable battery that I own, which means that I have a portable, wireless network between an iPad and and a Linux computer that will work anywhere.

    How might I use this set up?

    Let’s say I am working on a Nodejs program. I can have Nodejs installed on the Raspberry Pi and I can have all my code also on that Pi, perhaps cloned from a git repo. Let’s say I plan to be on a long flight and I want to carry a minimal amount of gear. I can pack my iPad Pro, Raspberry Pi, and the Ravpower in my carry on and when I am able, power up the Pi, leave it in the carry on, and connect to it via WiFi from the iPad. At this point I can then SSH into the Pi and use a text editor (emacs, nano, etc..) to work on my code and test it using nodejs. Of course, you can do this for any other programming environments or compilers that install on the Raspberry Pi and run via the command prompt. (Actually.. one should also be able to VNC into the graphical Raspbarian environment if you need to.)

    While I could do the above via the airplane WiFi, doing so costs money and service can be spotty, this network connectivity once configured is available nearly the same way all the time. The “remote programmer” scenario is just one idea off the top of my head, I am sure there are other uses cases for a configuration such as this. The developer of RaspAP is working to include OpenVPN to make the Pi a VPN endpoint that will provide all secured network communication for all devices that connect to it. You can find more examples for using RaspAP in this Github repo.

  • Micropub Editing Needs To Improve

    Today Dave Winer writes about simplicity of blogging, what he describes as Flow. The idea is to make writing a new blog post as frictionless as possible.

    For me it very quick to write and publish a new blog post, I click the OmniBear icon on the Chrome toolbar, write in Content field, and click Post. Boom, I have a new post on my blog.

    However, what happens next is a problem. To edit a post I have to go to the micro.blog site and click through many steps rather than see a simple Edit link on the post or the ability to open the post to edit in Bear.

    Editing appears to be a weakness of micropub, most likely because its origin is tied to Twitter which has no concept of editing. We need better ways to originate and edit blog posts.

  • Comcast Data Cap Is Not High Enough

    Comcast’s 1024 GB (1 TB) monthly data plan (data cap) does not provide enough data for an increasing number of people. The main reason is that an increasing number of services, like Netflix, are streaming video at 4K quality, and in the case of Netflix, it default is to stream at the highest quality. Comcast and I fundamentally disagree, in that Comcast says few people will actually be affected by the data cap.

    Last week I was shocked when I received an email notice from Comcast that we had consumed 90% of our 1024 data for the month. Why does Comcast default the notification to 90% rather than 50%? The higher data consumption appears to coincide with an automatic and “free” increase of our bandwidth to 100 Mbps last month. Comcast says an increase in bandwidth does not automatically lead to increase data usage, but given that Netflix, and I assume other apps, default to the highest quality video I suspect we ended up viewing more 4K video this month than we have in the past.

    Ever since receiving the email notification I have been closely monitoring our data usage, comparing network traffic stats to Comcast’s usage meter, and I think the usage meter is accurate, unlike an issue that occurred in October where the meter was wrongly indicating drastically higher consumption. In general, I think Comcast’s usage meter is insufficient in that it only shows a monthly total. If you have a cap and will automatically charge overages, I think you must at least provide daily stats. The worst part is that home owners don’t have a good or easy to use tools of their own to confirm Comcast’s data, leaving consumers at a disadvantage when trying to dispute Comcast’s data.

    Comcast’s Usage Estimate calculator says a HD stream consumes 1.7 GB of data per hour, where as Netflix says that 1 hour of HD consumes 3 GB. Comcast and Netflix agree that one hour of 4K video consumes around 8 GB per hour. Using Netflix’s rate that HD consumes 3 GB per hour, Comcast’s claim that you can stream 21 GB per day of HD video is not correct. At 3 GB per hour, that’s 11 hours per day for 1024 GB per month.

    Last night I watched 1 hour of CW Seed on my Apple TV that consumed 6 GB of data, suggesting to me that stream is UHD quality rather than HD and I don’t see a way to control the quality in the CW Seed app.

    If you only have one video stream in a house, 11 hours is probably enough, but if you increase that to two streams, you are down to 5 hours per day per stream and that is not hard to exceed, particularly if you unknowingly watch some video in 4K. If you stream all video at 4K you can only watch a little over 4 hours per day, which is tight for one stream, and impossible for two.

    You can control the quality of the video streams for some services, but you have to do so per application/service. For example, you can configure Netflix to only stream at Standard quality, but who wants to do that if they spent money on a HD TV? And, if you use more than one app, as many do with say Disney+ or Amazon Prime, you might not be able to change the video quality or you will have to spend a lot of time changing settings in indivdiual apps. And again… you spent good money on a high quality TV, you rightly expect to be able to see the best video!

    Comcast does provide an unlimited plan for an additional $50 per month. The current cap appears intended to drive more, if not most, home owners to pay that $50 more per month. (I personally don’t do online gaming, but I bet that can consume a significant amount of data per month). In my case, Comcast kindly increased our bandwidth to 100 Mbps at no additional cost…. but that’s not entirely true since I now appear to be in the position of having to pay $50 more per month!

  • Blowing Past The Comcast Cap

    I continue to monitor my home Internet data usage closely since receiving notice from Comcast that we are near the 1024 GB monthly cap. I enabled Traffic Stats on my home router so that I can compare that to Comcast’s usage meter. Traffic stats is an approximation because it doesn’t only show traffic coming in from the Internet but also traffic within my home network, but I think it can give me an indication of whether Comcast’s usage meter is accurate. (If caps are going to be a thing, Home Routers need a feature that shows download and upload traffic to the Internet.)

    After the first day, it seems the Comcast usage meter is accurate. If that is true, somehow we doubled our Internet data usage and the only thing I know changed is that our bandwidth jumped to 100 Mbps in the last month. The usage meter only shows data going back to June, so it looks to me like Comcast just started enforcing this data cap in our area, probably coinciding with the increase to 100 Mbps. Something doesn’t feel right, my usage as around 775 GB per month and with no other change other than the bandwidth increase I don’t know what we have been doing differently. It’s as if Netflix detected I have more bandwidth and decided on its own to use it and I don’t see an option to throttle it back to 1080 or 720.

    The data cap is annoying, and frankly I think the lack in detail in Comcast’s reporting is a problem that needs to be addressed by regulation. If you have a cap you can’t just report a monthly total, I think you have to at least show daily usage. Given that increase in streaming providers supporting 4K video, 1024 GB (1 TB) per month is really not enough.

    Comcast will be happy to remove the cap if I pay them $50 more per month. I will probably end up paying that for the benefit of not needing to constantly monitor data usage.

  • The Truth About Greatness

    The campaign slogan for Donald Trump was Make America Great Again, iconized by red hats. We ought to have substantive conversation about what is America and how it might be great, but we don’t.

    Here is a problem, greatness is not something one can self-declare. My constantly saying that I am great does not make me so, that makes me arrogant. Greatness is only determined by people other than oneself, and the same is true for countries. This is something Americans don’t seem to understand, but it is a truth.

    Unfortunately, I think most people add the words “for me” to the end of MAGA, which ironically is the exact opposite to a quote from a Democrat President, John F. Kennedy. A quote that frankly conservatives should recognize as their own rather than a liberal’s. Please think about that when you complain about entitlement.

    We ought to aspire to greatness, but that aspiration needs to be framed in the understanding of how greatness is truly determined.

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