Automatic For the People

This program and I are at odds over what “automatically” means. It says that the dataset is updated automatically, which is fine. Except they produce new data multiple times a day at the most frequent and every couple days at the least. The agent software is supposed to update every day. My dataset was 202 days old, so something was obviously wrong.

I decided to give it a kick in the teeth by doing a manual update. Just annoyed at it informing me that I don’t need to do this because it does it automatically. Obviously I did because it was not actually automatically doing it.

Now it is telling me that I need to reboot and giving me a 20 day countdown until it does.

I know Kung Fu!

(No, not really.)

What If We Could Upload Books to Our Brains?:

At this point [Neil deGrasse] Tyson interjected: Are you saying we could just upload “War and Peace”? Yes, Kurzweil answered: “We will connect to neocortical hierarchies in cloud with pre-loaded knowledge.”

There is a scene in The Matrix where the program for Kung Fu is uploaded into Neo’s brain. He proclaims, “I know Kung Fu!” He and Morpheus spar in the virtual dojo. Basically Kurzweil envisions something similar where we want to learn something, issue a command and poof, we have the knowledge. Currently, we have very easy access to information via the internet, we just need to bridge the gap of entering it into our heads.

As a technologist, I probably would take advantage of this a ton. I would download into my head computer languages, documentation, and implementation strategies for everything I need to know.

As a Luddite, I probably would still read paper books for pleasure. For me, pleasure of reading is not the knowledge imparted by the book. It comes from the process of reading, thinking about the contents, and integrating the information into my knowledge and wisdom.

Knowledge: facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.

Wisdom: the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.

Kind of like Kindle and paper books, just because a new technology exists and I use it, does not mean that I would not sometimes use the old one.

WIRED and Ad Blockers

I get it,  the site makes its money off the ads. I rarely read their articles anymore. When I see something interesting, it surprises me that I do not read it anymore, so I click the link. Then they interrupt me reading to complain about having the ad blocker enabled. Trying to be a good person, I change the settings to allow the ads like they want.

Here is the kicker, though, they interrupt me again to say “Thank you.” That… That makes me so angry that I revert the settings to block the ads and close the tab. At that point I remember why I no longer read the site. I came to read not get prevented from reading. Just let me read.

Unwritten Rules

A while ago, a baseball player coworker and I had a conversation about the unwritten rules of baseball. These are expected sportsmanship behaviors. When players are perceived to violate these moral guidelines, the other team may result in retaliation. Teams can end up in brawls on the field over the escalations started by someone violating an unwritten rule.

Apparently I left the impression that baseball is the only sport with unwritten rules. He sent me the unwritten rules of the gym.

Soccer has them too. In futbol (soccer),

  1. If a player is injured, then the other team should put the ball out of play or give the ball back to the team with the injured player when it restarts.
  2. Players who score against a former team return to the center circle to restart without celebrating.
  3. Offer a hand to help an opponent stand up.

There are unwritten rules everywhere. And we are expected to abide by these social conventions or we are jerks who deserve to be snubbed or attacked for failing to be a decent person. This like…

  1. Let others out of an elevator or train before you get in.
  2. Leave a one urinal buffer zone.
  3. Texting in the presence of company.

The problem I have with unwritten rules is the passive-aggressive escalation and retaliation aspect. Rules exist to set the expectations of behavior. Writing them down ensures everyone knows what are the expectations of behavior. The authorities (referee, police, HR) can punish people for failing to abide by them. Leaving them unwritten just means one party can take advantage and the aggrieved party breaking written rules in retaliation to feel even more upset they got unjustly punished.

WP Jetpack Publicize Expiration

WordPress.com makes the Jetpack. They strongly push self-hosted sites to use it, especially the Publicize feature. Publicize is how my blog posts show up on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and Google+.

WP.com also strongly pushes using the composition on their site rather than the one on the self-hosted site. It is cleaner and easier to use.

Part of that cleanliness, though, means features are not as… clear. On my self-hosted site, the Publicize informs me when I need to re-confirm permissions for Facebook and LinkedIn which both expire after x days [1]. The WP.com version, does not show when I need to re-confirm permissions. The “Sharing” options are collapsed and even if expanded do not show the errors. So, basically, posts stop getting shared for a while until I notice and fix it.

One would think that WP.com being the maker of Jetpack would ensure that users choosing to use their composer would ensure they are alerted to a problem ASAP.

[1] I think x is 30 days, but I am not positive.

Patriots’ Day

I watched the movie the other day. It made me realize that I know next to nothing about what the title is referencing. The synopsis I read about the movie made clear it was about the Boston Marathon Bombing, so it made it seem that the movie was about the heroic efforts of the Boston police to track down the bombers. After watching the movie, I still had no idea about the title of the movie.

So, I did some Googling.

Apparently Massachusetts, Maine, Wisconsin, and some other states honor the first battles of the American Revolution with Patriots’ Day. The battles took place on April 19th. For a few decades the third Monday in April is the day used for the state holidays. The Boston Marathon is run on Patriots’ Day. Thus the title of the movie.

Here in Georgia there is some hurt feelings over the governor dishonoring Confederate Memorial Day by changing it to:

Monday, April 24 — State Holiday (originally on April 26)

There was a bill on the agenda seeking to make April called Confederate Memorial Month and to officially re-instate the holiday. It looks like it never received a floor vote.

If the state wants an April holiday, then maybe Patriots’ Day fits the bill? It honors American valor and values. Georgia was one of the original colonies unlike Wisconsin.

Rote Loading

With this specific application, we can import data, but there are limitations due to its 2000-era handling of XML files.

  1. HTML forms uploading files have to…
    1. Have all the packets be received by the server.
    2. Process the file with the browser connection still open.
    3. The server has to tell the browser everything was received and is done.
  2. All this has to happen as one action within a 5 minute window.

A better method would allow just uploading the files to a page. Background processes would monitor that location and process the files independent of the browser. Notifications can be sent to alert the user the processing is done.

Or… recognize the echo XML file because you took too long and prevent it from being loaded or remove the data.

I ended up figuring out that if we split the files at about 5,000 records, then it should take about half the 5 minute window. I am pleased that for most I have seen that is true and about one in ten take so much longer that if I had cheated and gone with closer to the 5 minutes, I would be deleting duplicates. (This last is because some files are 50MB and others 100MB.)

The grumbling of this post is that I am on the 25th of 58 files. This is tedious. I am lamenting not creating a curl script to do this part for me. Automation is perfect for things like this.

 

List AD Group Members

Team lead of a group was curious which of his people have access to a certain system. I know the information is in an Active Directory Group. I knew where to find the group.

So, I pulled up the AD Users and Computer, found the group and was dismayed because I was looking at three screenshots to get the information because the Properties box is not expandable by size. That bothered me quite a bit. See, I would live with one

Enough so, that I decided it would be worth writing a Powershell script to dump the data. I am sure other coworkers have one. But, I did a quick Google and found something that looked way too easy. The last time I tried to do this, I had to script connecting to the AD server, searching through the forest, etc. This was one command. I added a couple options to make it better presentable.

Get-ADGroupMember <group_name> | Select-Object -exp name | Sort-Object

 

arzE

Ezra is a weird name. Reversing the letters does not really make it more or less weird.

Ezra vs Arze

There is a famous musician named Ezra Koenig (from Vampire Weekend). His Twitter account is @arzE.

His use of this name suggests to me he did the same thing as me, possibly also in his teens, of using arzE. I played around with it starting around eleven through high school. Also, playing D&D, I played around with names, including even a code to convert normal names into fantasy ones.

Wonder if people with other names reverse it?

Koenig also joined Twitter well after I did. I went with my usuals (first sneezypb and later ezrasf). Pretty sure if I’d not moved on, I might have registered that username before him.

P.S. I briefly made the title @arze which when the WordPress Jetpack posts it to Twitter probably would trigger the mention feature to alert him to this post. So, yeah, I am a chicken for not bringing it to his attention to get a response.

Thrawn

thrawn-zahn-tall-435x375In the 90s, Lucasfilm strongly pushed the Star Wars novels. Timothy Zahn wrote the Thrawn Trilogy. I probably bought as many as 50 Star Wars books wanting to read about what what happened next, before, and during the movies.

I suspect the strength of all our interest is what made Episodes I-III possible. And Disney seeing the continued strength of the brand made VII-IX plus Rogue One and the coming Solo movies appeared obviously good moves.

However, I dunno what to think about Thrawn.

When Disney bought Star Wars from Lucasfilm with the intent to make more movies, we fans in the early days thought “Heir to the Empire” starring Mitth’raw’nuruodo (aka Grand Admiral Thrawn) was not likely the next story because it took place five years after Return of the Jedi. That movie should have been released around 1988.  We figured back then on a Jacen and Jaina Solo (the force sensitive twins of Han and Leia) story. Then Disney dissolved all this material into the Legends. Fan theories show people still want to believe in the old material.

Thrawn is evidence why we continue to have faith some of the old Expanded Universe stuff is not permanently dead. Disney brought him back for the Rebels series foreshadowing and expanding on Rogue One. They have expanded his character so much they even tasked Timothy Zahn to write a novel chronicling his rise. First he was the future, then he was banished, and now he is back.

So… Bring back Mara Jade!