Passwords are the enemy of progress

I have a new laptop and a new cellular phone and this has forced a renewal of my electronic life.

There are many places I used to go that I am no longer welcome because of unrecoverable passwords.There are other places I am seeing anew because I can no longer rely upon encoded habits. It’s somewhat like cleaning out a storage room and finding relatively important things you forgot you had. But first, the hardware.

Let’s start with my brand new HP laptop.

THE GOOD: more capacity, bigger screen, a non proprietary HDMI port

THE BAD: The “improved” touchpad is actually less responsive (though that might be a learning curve issue).

The keyboard is smaller than it needs to be given the surface area available.

The primary purpose of Windows 10 appears to be the delivery of adware.

Oh, and memo to HP: The reason I don’t volunteer to give feedback or anything like that is your reputation for flooding any seem with adware – as demonstrated by your printer drivers. I bought the thing already. Back off.

win_20170118_22_43_17_pro

A picture from my laptop of me taking a picture of my laptop with my new phone.

I was actually happy with my trusty Kyocera Torque until I dropped it just the wrong way and shattered the face. I was eligible for an upgrade, but Sprint no longer carries the Torque or anything like it. I valued the Torque’s smaller size and relative durability – but I would have had to go all the way back to a flip phone. . Don’t despair – I have insurance.

The insurance could replace my phone with an equivalent – in this case the Torque XT, which is the same phone with more internal memory. Only we discovered they gained that memory by filling the SD slot with their own card. And the camera would launch. So I took it to the Sprint store

And they restarted it, as they do, it came back demanding a password.

I don’t assign passwords to anything if I don’t have to. This was a refurbished unit, and the encryption was left over from a previous user.

So now I have a second replacement device: a Kyocera Duraforce Pro, which is like 5x the phone it replaces. (Also larger and heavier – so it goes). I just got it activated minutes ago, so we may come back to this.

http://www.gsmarena.com/kyocera_duraforce_pro-8268.php

Not so much a review as someone reading the tech specs verbatim:

https://youtu.be/dNAd0VHvtMU

An actual review:

http://www.phonescoop.com/articles/article.php?a=18607

Cool as this is, there is the problem is getting into my various accounts from devices where those passwords have not been saved. In that regard, I am the reason your IT guy grumbles about the liberal arts.

Here’s what that guy knows that we don’t:

Password security is more about length than variety. Media Labs explains at length:

https://www.ymedialabs.com/password-security/

LifeHacker has similar advice with pictures:

http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2017/01/why-your-brain-naturally-sucks-at-password-security-infographic/
Now you know.

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Post Election Memos to my friends left and right

OK – Let’s get this over with. I am done trying to predict anything our presumed President Elect, Donald J Trump, might say, do or accomplish. I have been wrong at every turn. Now, I have not been alone in this, but at some point you have to stop touching the stove.

So I have been largely ignoring all the social media, bliggidy-blog pronouncements about what the future holds in store for our dear republic, because the only person who knows what Trump might do is Trump, and I can’t say with confidence that even he knows. This is a man who will contradict himself on policy within the same press conference, and then later, when asked to clarify, will offer a third, completely different policy, none of which will square with known facts.

I raise my hands and walk away.

A Memo to my friends standing to my left:

Protesting almost never works. How much did the Occupy movement really change anything? How much better is the Middle East after the Arab Spring? You have every right to do this, of course. But you do not have a right to be taken seriously, and no one who isn’t marching with you is taking you seriously.

(Before you start: MLK and his whole movement persevered for nearly a decade, organized politically, and did most of their real damage through strikes. You guys are nowhere near that level.)

If you want to influence the outcome of the game, you must actually play the game – and I mean politics. Right now, you’re just a bunch of rowdy fans in the cheap seats.

(Also before you start: Clinton beat Sanders by too many votes for that to be all DNC shenanigans. By the time Sanders realized he could win he was already too far behind, which sounds like nonsense, but that’s what happened.)

A Memo to my friends standing to my right:

What I can report with some confidence is that those who were hoping that our New Orange Overlord would wipe away all pretense of political correctness have it exactly backwards. If you are or have been a vocal Trumpster, the presumption is that you’re a racist, or are at least more willing to tolerate racism than the rest of society at large. If you don’t care, stop reading here.

But if you do, if you prefer to be thought of as civil , perhaps even tolerant, you were warned, even if you couldn’t recognize, that Trump has presented himself as the most openly bigoted serious candidate we’ve had since George Wallace ran on Segregation Forever in the 60’s. And you have approved that message – even if you voted for him for some other reason.

Now that doesn’t make you necessarily a bigot until … you post that one slightly bigotted thing on Facebook. You may have noticed, then, that anyone who is not also a True Trumpster reacted quickly and harshly, right?

If Trump actually carries through with his most extreme threats policies, it will become increasingly difficult to carry out a normal, peaceful existence unless you are a straight, white Christian male, ideally older than 40. For the rest of your friends – anywhere – these policies represent an existential threat to their ability to participate in society, if not life and limb.

That is a very different level of anxiety and discomfort than name-calling, which is what calling you a racist or homophobe, or islamophobe, or a general bigot amounts to.  And if you’re doing this on purpose, knowing that it will upset people, the name we use is asshole.

So if you openly endorsed Trump, and you don’t want to be considered a bigot by the majority of us who did not, then it is upon you to not be an asshole.

And so we’re clear, “Why do you say Trump is racist?” or “White lives matter too…” or “I don’t think I bigoted by my definition” or any of that tired, old crap will not work with anyone who does not agree with you already. (And if you’re claiming he didn’t mean any of that, I refer you to the top of the post)  The rest of us are exhausted in explaining this to you, and if you try to make us do it one more time, you’re being an asshole.

You live Trump down by being super cool – just as Jesus would want you to do anyway. There is no other path.

Nader’s warning

Normally, I would have forecast the presidential election months ago, and I have a pretty good record at that. I warned my tea-party friends sometime last March that if John Kasisch was not the Republican nominee, they need to get used to the idea of President Clinton again. But I never got around to writing that down. So you might take my word for it, but you don’t have to.

There’s who I think will win, and there’s who I want to win.

I’m kinda of fond of Ralph Nader’s  answer to BBC when they asked him who he would vote for. He didn’t answer the question directly, but insisted that the two major candidates were equally dangerous. The incredulous BBC guy pressed him, and he claimed that Hillary being clearly more competent made her even more dangerous. “Trump is so erratic that the Republicans will have to resist his policies to save their brand,” He said (I think – I’m paraphrasing a little) “At least until they find an excuse to impeach him.”

Clinton, meanwhile could do a lot more damage, by Nader’s reasoning, in small, reasonable increments. I hope he’s wrong, because she’s almost certainly our next president.

For the Trumpsters grinding their teeth about that, you can take some tiny comfort at this: history has not been kind to the same party successors of transformational presidents. That’s a tradition that goes all the way back to John Adams, and includes Martin Van Buren, Andrew Johnson,  William Taft, Herbert Hoover, Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, and Poppy Bush.

Maybe we should cut Johnson and Ford from that list. They were never elected in their own right. Teddy Roosevelt and Harry Truman are the only ones to buck this trend.

There is nothing about Hillary’s performance as a candidate or as an official that makes me believe she could follow Roosevelt or Truman. She has an insular, defensive management style. She lacks both vision and real charisma. She is too business friendly to become beloved by the left, and too not Republican to become beloved by business. This does not leave her a working coalition that will survive the Never Trump movement.

Republicans are already talking about impeaching her. Absent of a dramatic changeover in congress, I don’t think Ralph Nader has much to worry about.

Then I reflect upon Richard Nixon, one of the most qualified men to ever run, who initially lost to a charismatic junior Senator, but then learned from his mistakes, and ran an exceptional campaign against an erratic demagogue that failed to capture the support of his own party. Nixon had a an insular, defensive management style. He lacked both vision and real charisma. He was too regulatory to be beloved by the business community (he was the father of the EPA) and to not-a-democrat to get any help from the left.

He was re-elected in a historic landslide.

I’m still going to vote for her. As a radical moderate, I really have no better choice. She is, really, the paragon of Reasonable Progress in Due Course. (This has been a journey for me. I voted for Nader in 2000).

But Nader’s warning haunts me. It will be up to her to prove him wrong.

 

It all depends upon expectations

Every 18-24 year old male in the United States will likely undergo that time-honored ritual wherein they wreck a car for no good reason. My son has just crashed through that rite of passage, and now we know that the waiting room at an impound yard is, in fact, the fourth circle of Hell.

We also learned that the daily storage fee was $32/day – not $15 a day like the Scottsdale police officer told my son. And getting it towed there – at police insistence – counted as his free tow under our roadside assistance plan.

Vehicular mishaps are excessively burdensome upon the working poor, because you can’t budget for them, and they have no other resources to re-direct. Consequently, the patient if bored folks behind the thick glass have to keep repeating the same sad litany of fines and documentation.

My son is technically working poor, but he has literally no other expense he has to worry about at the moment. So even though he thinks his life is over, this is actually a nuisance for us and not a crisis. Not everyone in that dingy, airless room was so lucky.  There was one party literally wailing.

Another guy, though, was super-stoked that no one at the impound yard stole anything out of his vehicle. “That’s the way to run a business.” he exclaimed loud enough for me to hear him some distance away. It all depends upon expectations, I suppose.

Business Insider reports:

After decades of stagnant wages, 73 million Americans — nearly one quarter of our population — now live in households eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, a benefit exclusively available to the working poor.

This is all in argument for raising the minimum wage:

We have been raising the minimum wage for 78 years, and as a new study clearly reveals, 78 years of minimum-wage hikes have produced zero evidence of the “job-killing” consequences these headline writers want us to fear.

A consume driven economy needs a large, viable consumer base or, you know, there’s a crash.

And now our friends the octopi – who are multiplying wildly, and no one knows why.

http://gizmodo.com/swarms-of-octopus-are-taking-over-the-world-s-oceans-1777790453?utm_campaign=socialflow_io9_facebook&utm_source=io9_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

Which leads to this:

 

And finally, over on Curious Continuity, Legends of Tomorrow is Breaking My Heart.

Now you know.

Vigilance against vermin

My dogs have ticks and my kids have lice and the internet isn’t much help.

On ticks, I’ve learned that anything you buy at the pet store for less than a month’s salary is fairly useless. We have not found a spray for less than $30/bottle that does not leave me pulling at least 6 ticks off the lab every time I pet him. The $40 stuff is coming – but its gotta wait for payday. (The healer, OTH, has been more effective at removing the ticks herself. I only find them in places she cannot reach.)

Ticks don’t live on dogs, they latch on to feed, hide and grow, feed again, and then lay 10,000 eggs. You’ll never find them in all the tiny cracks they can hide in, but cleaning the house  front to back seems to help. They all have to come to the dogs, however, and that is where I have concentrated my surveillance.

Brown dog ticks, which is what we have (I think), don’t feed on humans. They’ll bite though. At least a hundred have gone down my toilet.

I’d link to a website here, but let me save the time: Remove them carefully, buy some products, ask your vet.

The internet is similarly obvious about head lice: Remove them carefully, buy some products, ask your doctor. And wash everything with hot water.

This is what we’ve learned from other parents: If you put a pillow or stuffed animal in a garbage bag and leave it out in the summer sun for two days, that kills everything. Mayonnaise is just as effective a hair lubricant as conditioner, and a ton cheaper. What’s going to do the most good is removing the lice and eggs with a fine-toothed comb. We own the one that came with the lice shampoo, but flea combs (for pets) will also work well. Boil it all (combs, brushes, hair clips) afterwards. OTC shampoos and treatments are hit-or-miss. Some strains of lice are just resistant. The comb is a sure, if labor intensive, thing. The spray is for the bedding – don’t use it on the kids.

The lice I think we’ve beaten back. The tick wars go on.

A segway into politics seems too easy. Let’s just do some links.

Steven Pinker, writing in the Wall Street Journal explains that – despite the news – we are actually becoming more tolerant and less violent as a species.

“Believe it or not, the world of the past was much worse. Violence has been in decline for thousands of years, and today we may be living in the most peaceable era in the existence of our species. “

Feel better? Not so fast. Farhad Manjoo (real name) asks in Slate “Will robots steal your job?”

What I found was unsettling. They might not know it yet, but some of the most educated workers in the nation are engaged in a fierce battle with machines. As computers get better at processing and understanding language and at approximating human problem-solving skills, they’re putting a number of professions in peril. Those at risk include doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists, and creative professionals—even writers like myself.

But can they blog about urinals?

I updated Are We Lost Yet on my adventures up and down Mt Elden.

And finally something cool: (From APOD)

 

Now you know

 

 

Graphic displays of hope and fear (and some words for the writers)

From the NYTThe top bar is how wealth is actually distributed in the US. The middle bar is how (via survey) we commonly believe it is distributed in the US. The bottom bar is how we think (again via surveys) wealth should be distributed, given the choice.

That’s right – in reality, the top 20% of the income bracket owns 85% of the country while  the bottom 40% of us own nothing. When liberals whine that our defecit is at least partially caused by not taxing the rich enough – they actually have a case to make. But, as the New York Times article this was pulled from points out:

Why would the poor oppose taxes on the wealthy? Because many believe that they, or at least their children, will eventually be wealthy, voting for taxes on the rich may feel like voting for taxes on themselves. As a result, even the word “redistribution” has negative connotations.

So hope contributes to our national debt as much as fear. Good to know.

We’ll come back to hope. On the subject of fear – here’s the graphic truth about radiation levels courtesy of XKCD:

So you don’t take HP damage until you absorb a full Sv. And you don’t get that much accidentally.

What’s happening in Japan is pretty much a worse-case scenario about nuclear plant disasters. If this is all an 8.9 quake and a Tsunami can do to a coastal nuclear plant (so far, no one outside of the plant itself has taken harmful levels of radiation) – then its simply not that dangerous. How many people die every year mining coal?

Thousands (worldwide).

Vintage Russian safety posters – from English Russia. It translates “Don’t clean the cylinder while it’s in motion.”

Some links and notes (mostly words) from Writer’s Group – and elsewhere:

Join  or meet our gang at First Friday tomorrow night. Chaos of the Earth Cafe and Art Collective – 910 N. 5th Street (downtown Phoenix) – from 6pm to 10p.

One of our own – Greg Clifford –  has published a story in Golden Visions Magazine.

Literotica is a real thing – and NSFW.

A sample of Eudora Welty’s southern literate charm: Why I Live at the Post Office

Kelly and Kelly’s Moorea website. It was all true – with photos.

Finally, James Gleick explains to Wired magazine how everything is information and information is everything.

Now you know.

How I spent my vacation

I took some vacation to coincide with the kid’s spring break, and to get some work done on the house (still hail damaged) while the weather is good.

If you remove the ugly siding from my house, the turquoise cinderblock beneath  is even worse. BUT my backyard is now a more organized landfill with my new shed. If you build a pre-fab metal shed, you have to get it square and level, or the holes won’t line up. But after 8 hours, you really stop caring and just screw into the metal wherever you have to. It’s a shed. It keeps the rain off the lawnmower and the sun off of the plastic sawhorses. Relax.

That said, beer does not make the roof assembly go any easier.

I am studying for my ETCP rigging certification. Really. So I’ve been covering basic force calculation and remedial pythagoran theorems. to wit:

If you have a weight (some big stupid moving light) hung from a truss supported by two motors, and you want to know the weight held by a particular motor, the formula is:

F= D2/span x Wt

Where F is the force

D2 is the distance past centerline (or in this case, the point the weight hangs from)  opposite from the motor

span is the entire span between the motors

and Wt is the weight of the thing.

I won’t get into the algebra and the special cases and such, but a few things to remember:

This formula also works for bridles

Remember to include the weight for everything in the air

When figuring bridles, its helpful to know that they reduce themselves to triangles, and all sorts of remedial geometry applies.

When calculating a circumference, PIxDiamter = (2PI)radius. This isn’t a secret, I just never realized it.

For the writers:

Duotrope’s Digest lists “over 3325 current Fiction and Poetry publications” online and free and search-able.

One writer’s encounter with “gastronaughts” and blood pork.

And fat may help us live forever after all. This National Geographic article splits the difference between scientific journal articles and pop-news coverage.

(These topics all came up at our Thursday Night Writer’s Group)

Did I post this already?: Mike Brotherton’s hard SF resource page

And finally,

Neil deGrasse Tyson explains why religious fundamentalism is the opposite of progress.

You Tube teaser – if you don’t have time for the full talk:

Now you know