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Damn you autocorrect

TIL autocorrect will change the entirely correct “pin number” (referring to which pin on a connector to which a particular wire goes) to the entirely incorrect and redundant “PIN number”.

Every time.

Five minutes later, autocorrect was disabled.

Here might be the place to note that My Benevolent Employer’s new OS imaging and MDM policy breaks the wonderful Migration Assistant. Meaning that when the new MBP finally arrived (12 weeks after I paid an additional 25% to get it sooner), I had to set it up from scratch. Which took something that usually takes (an annoying to be sure) four hours and turned it into something that’s still got me frustrated two weeks later, and paying daily charges to keep the now-overdue old computer so I can figure out which settings I had.

Thanks, MBE!

Also damn-your-eyes, developers who don’t use the defaults of where preferences ought to be so they can just be copied from ~/Library/Preferences or ~/Library/Application Support.

Of course the time spent doing this comes out of project money, not some mythical I&T account for me doing bullshit work that I shouldn’t have to do. In other words, they’ve externalized the costs of breaking shit and pushing their job onto the end user. What do they care that it then costs days of productivity, since it costs their cost center nothing?

MBE also mandated that all gasoline-powered carts be converted to electric, but didn’t provide the funds to put in accessible outlets to charge them. Again, that money comes out of the account that ought to be used to pay for, you know, doing actual science.


I might have been in my fourth decade before I figured out that I had been taught to tie my shoes incorrectly. Pro-tip: It’s a square knot, not a granny knot.

It’s still a bit of a mental catch to tie the laces correctly, even though I’ve been doing it right for all of this millennium.

It’s one of the blessings of the modern age that shoelaces don’t break anymore (except Five Ten). However, one would have thought that shoemakers would not use the laces that won’t hold a knot. You know the ones, the slick 2.5 or 3mm accessory cord that is just too smooth to hold a regular shoelace knot, granny or square.

But I’ve purchased three pairs of shoes in the last couple of months that have the laces that won’t hold a regular knot.

You’d think that someone at La Sportive, Arcteryx, or Merrel would walk around in the greater-than-a-c-note shoes that they are selling to climbers – people who are pretty serious about their shoes – and figure out that smooth accessory cord shoelaces are not the way to go. Yeah, they might not break. But most shoelaces don’t break. I have shoes that go through multiple resoles yet the I pull the laces out when they are done and throw them in a drawer just-in-case but they’ll never come out again. Because shoelaces don’t break.

They will, however, get replaced because they won’t hold a damn knot. That’ll drive me to this real quick.

Of course, I know how to tie a shoelace knot that will never come undone. But I shouldn’t have to.

I never got in a race with Danielle to see who could tie their laces faster. Nor a typing race on either phone or computer – I’m fast, but a man’s got to know his limitations. I can’t beat a child who’s never known an IBM Selectric, or, the modern equivalent of rulers-across-knuckles, a manual Remington. Damn the teacher who thought we should do a semester on the manual typewriters “because I had to.” Damn her eyes. It should have been obvious to her even then that manual typewriters were buggy whips. It was just mean, and it slowed my typing for years.

I’d argue that the most useful thing I learnt in high school was how to touchtype, followed by algebra, and being suspicious of anyone being nice to me.

PotD 4 January 2017



PotD 3 January 2017



PotD 2 January 2017



PotD 1 January 2017





I wonder when the first firing based on monitoring the location of your phone will occur? Has it already happened? Were you really “working from home”, or were you out goofing off? Their ability to check and see if you were at home, and their ability to monitor keystrokes on your computer will give them all the ammo they need.


I had to be among the first to go completely wireless – not long after I got a cell phone, I quit paying for a landline. 1997? Ish.

Around 2002-3, my manager asked me why I didn’t have a work cell phone – in a manner that strongly implied I should have one. Not everyone had one, back then. It required approvals all up the chain. I felt special.

I kept my personal mobile for a while, but, like most of my colleagues, didn’t see the point in carrying two phones – more importantly, paying for a personal phone. Work paid for the one, and on the unlimited plan, who cared if you used the work phone for personal use? Nominally you weren’t supposed to, but what difference did it make? Unlimited is unlimited.

This amounted to a quite substantial monthly raise (mobile bill), with a yearly bonus (new phone).

And there was no way for work to monitor your usage, other than minutes and megabytes.

Back then, they didn’t even have the net-nanny software in place. You could surf porn at work (not that I did), but there was no capability to monitor, other than keeping your screen turned away from the door.

We had to battle the bureacracy to get a Razr instead of a candybar Sony-Ericsson. Aside from still being a very sexy design, the Razr was one of the first to have a decent interface. Then more battles to get the first iPhone.

Now iPhones are forced on everyeone, and approval is automatic. It’s the ones with real power who don’t have a mobile, at least one not listed in the directory, who don’t get called on weekends. VIPs have a landline only.

Technology has caught up. There’s no free ride anymore. The networks require passwords. You can’t even think about getting your personal device on the network. Though it’s not really necessary anymore with a personal device with LTE. Forget about being able to ssh from home without the two-factor authorization VPN. Though VPN mostly just works now, aside from weird German IT network setups and hotels. There’s a net-nanny. Though there is nothing stopping me from simply bringing in my own device and looking at the same site on that.

Policies strongly imply that you shouldn’t be using your work phone for personal use – hell, they say it outright. I look forward to someone getting canned because they don’t have two phones.

The latest phone came with the management software shown above.

Capability implies intent, as they say. Until a couple of years ago, I didn’t think they had the capability, based on talking to knowledgeable friends. That’s when I got my own personal mobile again. Taking the equivalent salary cut. One must assume that Echelon-type capabilities are available to Lockheed-Martin at this point. Even on the landlines, which are VOIP.

GSM is easily hackable, so you must assume that LM has the capability to listen to your phone conversations. Not that anyone talks on the phone anymore. Unless they want to be bored to death by the daily bi-continental telecons.

They’ve always had the metadata.

You could turn off your work phone, park it on your desk, not allow your work laptop to connect to your home network (fair is fair), or not even bring it home, but eventually you have to bring it back to work and put it back online, and the keystroke monitor will phone home then.

My work nominally involves a fair bit of staring off into space, at least on a good day. So at least for me, I could claim that I was putting pencil to paper. But most people’s jobs are pretty keyboard intensive.

(Of course it’s not going to matter that you worked weekends if they see that you were at Disneyland on Monday. That’s a ratchet only goes one way.)

The takeaway though, is that you will be monitored 24/7/365, not only by the NSA, but more frighteningly for most of us, by your employer.

It’s going to require some serious opsec to avoid getting fired if they are out to get you. As with most rules – the rules are not designed to keep you from doing the prohibited thing; they are designed to give a Cardinal Richelieu basis for getting rid of you if they decide they don’t like you anymore. Like the NSA. They can’t catch anyone, but they can provide evidence for the trial that will make you look guilty whether you are or not.

They won’t really care for 99% of the employees whether they were at Disneyland instead of “working at home”; they don’t want to lose half their workforce inside a year. But if someone there takes a dislike to you, it’ll be easy to find a violation of policy. There are so many. Policies.

They’ve given you a tracking device, and didn’t require you to carry it 24/7/365, but rather addicted you, and structured the job (and the economy) so that it’s mandatory to carry it everywhere. Your every move, every search, every web page, every email, can be monitored by your work-supplied device, whether you are at work or not.

Of course this applies the NSA too, if you carry any mobile device, not just the one that work requires. But the NSA, while evil, is just not that interested in me. Like Cthulu, it’s just too big. My employer, on the other hand…

I’ve seriously considered just leaving my phone at work at the end of the day. Or putting it in a Faraday shield at quitting time. Not having one is not really an option – aside from being just about mandatory these days for travel. One needs it for work – work has evolved so that this is a tool that is required.

PotD 31 December 2016



PotD 30 December 2016



The Big Read

It amuses me no end, that the people behind The Big Read of Moby Dick, predominately chose mostly people with English accents to read The Great American Novel.

Invasive species

Driving down the autobahn at 200 kph on a frosty wet morning, I was a bit nonplussed to get passed by a Porsche GT3 – for me, Porsche 911s are a car for sunny California roads.

Of course, the autobahn is the native ecology for 911s – wet, cold, icy, and no speed limits. It’s California where they are an invasive species, out of their environment on dry warm pavement with 105 kph speed limits.

Using the L(whatever)S

About a year ago, while I was gallivanting around, and paying someone about three times too much to stay at my house and dogsit while they were renting their place out via AirBNB, my thermostat failed. In December. The day after Xmas.

Now this isn’t Buffalo. It’s not life-threatening. But having spent a cold winter shivering without a heater (Dirtbag climber dude thought process: “Ah, 52 F. That’s not that cold. I’ve been way colder than that lots of nights! I can make it through to spring!”), hanging out in a 52 F house wears on you. Especially if you are a skinny little actress. I would imagine. It was a long winter for me, and I am a big warm slab of beef, aside from my frost-nipped toes.

After that miserable winter, I had the 100 year old floor heater ripped out and a modern central air system put in, forthwith. I don’t use it much, but it’s very nice to have. When you want it, you want it.

With the nine hour time difference, and the basic incompetence of a $75/night housesitter, I spent a lot of nights in Spain standing in the dark or the rain where my phone had reception (cause the climber bungalow didn’t, but the clearing across the road did). After climbing, after dinner, and instead of sleeping, or hanging out, or having a drink on a cold night. Trying to mediate between a flaky person’s schedule and the HVAC company that just didn’t give a shit. Plus holidays. I should have been living it up with the other climbers over warm sangria and sleeping late, and instead I was lying awake at night wondering if my dogs were being taken care of by someone who was clearly not that together.

Eventually the HVAC people made it out to everyone’s maximal inconvenience, and I sat in a hotel room in Gandia looking up thermostat prices on Amazon (because they couldn’t tell me via email, or in advance (“gotta look at your system first”. “You installed it, why don’t you just look it up?” “Oh, we don’t keep records.”).

They wanted close to a grand to install a Nest or Ecobee – $500 for the $250-everywhere-else thermostat, and $400 or $450 to install it.

Clearly that was bullshit and not gonna happen.

So I went with the $67 el cheapo thermostat that they charged $250 for (believe me, I argued with them about this), and only $250 for installation that took less than an hour. I know because I was on the phone the whole time.

Truly a blue light special, this thermostat was lit by a blue LCD screen that I had to cover with a cardboard flap, as it lit up the whole house at night otherwise.

A few days ago, I saw that the Ecobee was on sale, and right next to it was a button that said “Amazon installation: $77”. Really?!? I pulled the trigger and said goodbye to the blue light special even though it had cost me $$$ and worked well enough.

It would have been easy enough to install the new thermostat myself, but there’s a lot to be said for someone coming in and doing in 30 minutes what would take me a couple of hours of reading instructions and looking at videos.

The Amazon contractor showed up at the beginning of the window, was polite and friendly, called and told me what time he would be there, then was!, and came in and got it done. $77 for 30 minutes work, $169 for the thermostat. Which seems about right. For what Air-Tro would have charged close to $1000.

Like the LBS and LHS, I would like for the local HVAC to stay in business. I want to use them to install a new system and do maintenance (for which they have jacked up the biannual price to $200/visit, for 45 minutes work, and for which they never show up on time, even though I arrange for the first appointment of the day). I want to be able to call them and get shit done. But for a reasonable price.

But I don’t see how, when the basic mode is rip-off everything you can get your hands on for all you are worth.

So good riddance, LHVAC. Go join the LBS and LHS in local business graveyard. I’ll be a bit sorry. But like the LBS and LHS (and taxis!), the grave you are digging is your own.


I have to give Apple credit for one thing in iOS 10 – they finally made the Maps “End” button bigger than one pixel, to either see, or hit.

They still haven’t figured out how to tell Siri to pronounce “LAX”, or the interchange between the 5/10 to get to the east side of DTLA (where only about a million hipsters live), or that I’m not going to take Orange Grove to the 110 no matter how many times I ignore it, or that sometimes it’s better to take the 405/134 even if it’s way more miles, or that there’s construction and no way for me to take the entrance Siri wants, so stop telling me to go back to it.

I’ll believe that we’ll have self-driving cars and AI when AI finally figures out how to get from one place to another. It ain’t happened yet.

PotD 15 November 2016



PotD 12 November 2016