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PotD 20201201

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PotD 20201129

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The roads must roll

In a past life, I worked on one of the first AI/ML/NN [1] processors for postal machines (also built one of the first CCD cameras for them, and one of the first NN ASICS [2]).

The most impressive part wasn’t the handwriting recognition (which wasn’t at that time any better than the hand-built emperically determined resistor network [3]), or putting said network in an FPGA (which was a new thing at the time, along with the onions in our belts).

No, the most impressive part were the huge machines that sorted the mail according to whichever camera and processor was bolted to the back to make decisions. These could be upgraded in perpetuity. The mechanical behemoths that sorted billions of pieces of mail, the rollers and belts and pulleys – those were engineering marvels. Hard to see how those could be replaced. Built by companies that no longer exist, by dudes (sadly, all old white dudes) who have long since retired or died.

To see them get thrown out on the street, never to be resurrected, was heart-breaking. Those will never get rebuilt, replaced, with something better.

They could be, of course. But like new roads, or keeping restaraunts, gyms, and theatres viable during a completely unforeseen pandemic [4], it’s not in the best interests of the deadenders to have a Post Office, as specified in the Constitution. Maybe there will always be something called the Post Office in the future. But a system that could deliver a handwritten envelope across a continent in a few days, for a pittance? That’s gone now, forever, because it being gone is in the best interests of a few.

 
 

[1] It’s AI when you’re selling it, ML when you budget for it, and linear algebra when you implement it, as the now old joke goes.
[2] Probably? 1986-ish
[3] But I guess that was pretty good for a first try. Problem was, it never got any better on the second, fifth, or tenth try. Then I went to physics grad school. I didn’t want to wait around for Moore’s law for 20, wait, no 30 years to get to the point where it was useful. But how useful is it if it takes the same amount of energy to solve a problem as it does to build a car?
[4] Oh wait, it was completely foreseeable, because it had happened before. And government plans existed to deal with it. And previous administrations implemented teams to plan for it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

PotD 20201127

What passes for autumn around here

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Everything Jared Diamond told me was wrong.

I’ve been listening to a bunch of, well, I’m not sure what you’d call them. History, archeology, anthropology? Podcasts. That’s what I’ve been listening to [1]. Anything that’s not about today.

And what I’ve learnt, from people who seem to be knowledgeable experts in their fields, is that all that time I spend reading Jared Diamond was a total waste. Basically he just made up Just-So stories, unsupported by much, if any, actual boots-on-the-ground research, and was completely off the rails. Collapse. Guns, Germs, and Steel. Basically not even supported by research that was current at the time.

 
 

[1] Also audiobooks. Ian McKellen should do more of these. The Odyssey was meant to be listened to, by someone like Mr. McKellen. I’d listen to him read the proverbial phone book, if phone books still existed. The Yellow Pages doesn’t even bother to piss me off by delivering them anymore despite my ticking that box.

PotD 20201117

PotD 20201115

PotD 20201113

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BITD

If everyone who told me that their dad had that car BITD really did, they would have sold a lot more than the 19,987 they really did from 1984-88.

PotD 20201111

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Exchange and the things people will believe

Why does Exchange show me the whole of the last month during the last week of the month, instead of this week, and the next month? Does anyone care what happened in the past month, versus what’s going to happen next month? I want to know what’s coming up.

In a related note, I had to take mandatory phishing training, and what I learned is that there is literally no horrible statement that you can make about Exchange that 15% of people will not believe, and click on the link.

This is supposed to tell me something about the gullibility of people, I think, but it really tells me that pretty much everyone has been trained by experience to believe that Exchange is capable of any horror.

And they’re not wrong.

RBG

Obama went to her when she was 77, and made the proposition that she should retire, and let him appoint someone younger in her place, because who knows what the future holds, and 77 years old and 20 years on the court is long enough. She replied “Who would you rather have on the court than me?” and refused. Well the answer is of course, some one 30 years younger.

Because now that’s what we get. Someone 30 years younger. Several someones.

Ditto Breyer, who was approached with the offer of an ambassadorship to France.

This is why Dems can’t accomplish anything.

Fuck RBG, and her selfish choices that no one else gets to make (most of us will not still be working when we are 77), and fuck Breyer too.

And also fuck Gore, for giving up, because that led to 1.2 million deaths (Iraq, Afghanistan, and COVID), and H. Clinton for running a crappy campaign, and shares part of that responsibility.

PotD 20201108

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Voicemail

I counted the other day. In 11 months, my personal phone had the following :

  • 67 spam, mostly
    • car warranty (my cars are 18 and 36 years old)
    • home warranty (107 years)
    • roof repair (10 years into a 30-year warranty)
  • 10 real – mostly from the vet or doctor

That’s why I never never never answer the phone anymore. Does anyone?

Things that are better than they were part IV in a series

On the list of things that are cool, and/or better than they used to be:

  • Bike radar – there are those who dismiss it, and those that have tried it. Game changer.
  • An affordable head’s up bike display (HUD) – goes with the previous. Not having to look down to see the radar or stats is also a game changer, for me. To the point where I almost won’t ride if the battery is dead. Almost. I don’t know what I’ll do when this dies, as Garmin discontinued it, and none of the other solutions are remotely affordable or give me any hope they’ll be around in five years.
  • Suspensions for road bikes – Next thing that will make me buy a new road bike will be an on-the-fly-adjustable suspension like Isospeed. Do you hear me, Trek? Stiff for climbs, soft for the crappy surfaces, changed without stopping?
  • DI2? – I really want electronic shifting, but not enough (yet) to spend an extra $1.5k on a bike for it. Or more realistically, $6.5k for it, cause it would involve a new bike, and the new old bike would probably rotate down to being the backup bike. Is electronic shifting a game changer worth buying a new bike for?
  • Home coffee makers – no more Mr. Coffee. There are really good machines that make a good enough cup without having to be a pourover obsessive.
  • Radar detectors – I’ve always had one, but the V1 is just head and shoulders above the old Escort. It’s not going to help you with a laser, but nothing will.
  • Music players – I hated having to choose which music would be on my 5 (10, 20, 50) GB iPod. Now it all goes on the 512GB iPhone, along with podcasts and movies, with room to spare.

Previously. Previouslier. Previouslier-er.