“Do you see? Even I had trouble installing Linux, and I hung my machine about three times just because a standard install got confused.

“If I have trouble installing Linux, something is wrong. Very wrong.”

— Linus Torvalds on the state of the art

Can’t Unsee That, Windy City edition


She’s no Remo

The mayor of Chicago showed up at a news conference cosplaying a pack of Clorox wipes, as The Corona Destroyer.

“Who was that masked lunatic?”

Dear Reportlab…

When your product is a commercially licensed document-production Python library that costs a minimum of $1,705 per year (with a stripped-down open source version on the side), one would think you’d keep your own documentation current. Instead, I keep tripping over references to files that are either missing or misplaced, even after registering to download a trial of the commercial version.

Send $20 to avoid ripoffs…

Just got an email from Bank of America with the following subject line:

J, be alert. Hackers are targeting home networks like yours.

It contains a prominent hyperlink button labeled “Stop fraud now”.

Permit me to point out that this is exactly what a “hacker targeting my home network” would do…

(it was a legit email, by the way, with both the envelope headers and the body links all going to consistent BoA-owned domains; but how do I know that without careful inspection?)

China to Hong Kong to Taiwan to Alaska to Kentucky to California

Courtesy of UPS, my new laptop is getting more vacation travel than I’ve had this year. It’s still supposed to make it to my house today, despite having just arrived at Oakland at 5am this morning.

Um, Apple?

Why is this running on my Mac right after a reboot?

find /private/var/folders ! -name *SafariTechnologyPreview* -name *com.apple.Safari* -exec rm -r {} ;

I’d ask why lsd and tccd (and cloudd and SafariBookmarkAgent and suggestd and…) are chewing holes in the CPU for ten minutes after reboot, but that’s not a new problem.

(I will not be migrating my existing installation to the new one; this might improve things slightly…)

Reminder:

For the ghouls salivating at the thought of Trump’s imminent demise by Corona-chan, testing positive does not mean death, hospitalization, serious illness, or even sniffles. Most likely it just means that Biden’s handlers can cut back on the ritalin for a week or so.

Although it’s tempting to spread a rumor that Trump’s medical team believes that bathing in the blood of rioters and looters is a sure-fire Covid cure…

Smoke gets in my eyes

Oh, look, the wind shifted and Silicon Valley is covered in smoke and ash again. Thanks, California “forest management”!

Maidspotting

Pruning Dock Images


Anker PowerExpand Elite Thunderbolt 3 Dock

That Thunderbolt 3 dock I bought arrived before the new Mac (currently promised by Friday). Since it is fully functional (just slower) with a USB-C MacBook, I tried it out. The good news is that it’s much faster and more stable than any of the mini-docks I’ve used. Some of that is due to having a real power supply rather than relying on a standard Apple power brick, but it also runs cooler and has a better Ethernet chipset, avoiding the problem of random bus resets when you try to do something like rsync a USB SSD to a NAS, which was always annoying with the 12-inch MacBook’s single USB-C port.

The only downside so far is that Anker’s firmware updater only runs on a Windows machine with Thunderbolt 3. Which I don’t have, and likely won’t until the middle of next year. Hopefully they’ll release a Mac version soon, which they have for some of their other products. I suppose I could set up Boot Camp on the new Air, and just not bother activating Windows for the brief time I’ll be using it (although a Win10 Home license only costs me $24).

Second-most exciting Amazon order this week…

Okatsune Pruners. It might not excite you, but after struggling to prune bamboo with a pair of crappy hardware-store clippers, I sprung for the good stuff. I have a good pruning saw for thick culms, but it doesn’t handle the little dead branches as well.

Must be Thursday

Apple software update causing data loss (iOS/Watch edition)

October Surprise

Improve Your Word Power

So it turns out that transindifferentia is a perfectly good Latin construct for the reality of what’s falsely labeled “transphobia”. Modern activists need to feel oppressed because they can’t handle the reality that, by and large, society doesn’t really give a damn what they do or how they live. It’s their in-your-face demands for praise that provoke the negative reactions they then point to as proof that they’re hated and feared.

Transincuria works, too, and of course you can substitute other prefixes commonly spot-welded to -phobia.

“Thanks, I just had it stuffed.”

Is it wrong for a loli to pick up baked goods in a dungeon?


Legally Loli

Courtesy of The Volokh Conspiracy, I now have the perfect anime title:

Doli incapax is a common law presumption that a minor between the ages of seven and fourteen lacks the capacity to commit crime.

Bread: this should not happen

File under peculiar the fact that Corona-chan taught the local Safeway how to stop burning their french bread. (admittedly, grocery-store “french bread” bears only a vague resemblance to a real baguette in the first place…)

🎶 Good girls don’t…

Coming Real Soon Now (as in “this weekend”), season 3 resumes the saga of the divine ribbon.

🎶 …but I do!

“NT; big difference”


I don’t think this one’s been written yet…

“Reborn in another world as a tentacle monster, I defy hentai stereotypes by living a quiet life as a potato farmer, rebuffing the unwelcome advances of every kind of horny otaku waifu.”

User workarounds for Apple’s failures

Oh, look, now iCloud’s down!

Apple’s really having a great week. Looks like all iCloud services went offline around 4:45 PM PDT.

Can I at least parry?

(sorry about that…)

Microsoft Loops

I bought the new, well-reviewed Flight Simulator, because it was half-price thanks to my old MS Alumni discount. If you’ve paid any attention to this launch, you know that someone thought it was a great idea to make the downloader play a short music clip, over and over and over while it downloads more than 100 GB of data. Even in the background. Even minimized. Fortunately you can use the mixer to silence a single app, so I was able to sleepwalk through the Diablo 3 campaign while FS downloaded the world (because I’d only finished it on seasonal characters from a now-closed season, so the progress didn’t count when they became “normal” characters).

On the bright side, at least their QA only missed something annoying, unlike Apple’s spectacular screwups with their latest Watch and Mac OS releases. (no comment about the massive Azure auth & Office outage yesterday… 😁)

A few years ago, someone acquainted with the relevant VP tried to share the spin he’d received from his friend about how well QA is handled at Apple. He simply wasn’t technical enough for me to explain how everything he was parroting was a bad idea. Honestly, I think the real reason they’ve moving the Mac to ARM is that they ran out of disposable 23-year-olds who know what the words “CPU architecture” mean.

Amazon Filing System

Using urban fantasy novels to navigate the real world generally doesn’t work out particularly well…

Toothpicks at Dawn

This is the sort of home decor that gets you banned from air travel.

🎶 There’s a ringin’ in your brain…

(classical reference (sadly-censored radio version))

Discount Epic Certs, etc


None Shall Pass

Pro tip: when your SSL-enabled LDAP query throws a java.security.NoSuchAlgorithmException error, make sure that your cacerts file isn’t completely empty. It’s always fun when an application startup error turns out to have been accidentally caused weeks ago, making it difficult to find the culprit.

Make Epic RPGs

So, the trailer for RPG Maker MV on Steam is narrated by Epic Voice Guy. I suppose that makes it an Honest Trailer. This is old news, but I only noticed it because MV is steeply discounted right now (both on Steam and Humble Bundle).

Watch that cart!

When I placed this Anker Thunderbolt 3 dock into my cart a few weeks back, it was $320 with Prime shipping. When I went to buy my cart today, I noticed that they’d selected Woot as the dealer for it. That seemed odd, so I went back to the product listing and discovered it was available for $250 with Prime from AnkerDirect. And there was a $20 instant coupon available.

So, um, yeah, I’ll take the $90 discount with no warranty issues, thanks.

Why a new Thunderbolt-3 dock? Because I’m replacing my 12-inch MacBook and its sole USB-C port with a new MacBook Air and its dual Thunderbolt-3 ports. This will likely be my last Mac, between the upcoming ARM shift and the fact that Catalina is about to be replaced while still in beta (most of my old environment will be migrated into a VMware image, so I have a stable OS that still runs 32-bit apps).

Work supplied a 16-inch MacBook Pro, so I don’t need a powerhouse Mac, just something portable that has a non-terrible keyboard. And I’ve got enough time left on the MacBook’s AppleCare that by the time I’m fully off of it, I’ll still be eligible for a keyboard replacement before giving it a new home, if necessary.

I came this close to buying an Asus ZenBook Pro Duo with a 10th-gen Core i9, 32GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD, but decided to hold off on upgrading the Windows side of the house until sometime next year. It is still 2020, after all, and I might need that money for whatever comes next.

Inspired by my purchases, you say?

I purchased a branded item as a gift, and now they think I drink the stuff straight.

One of these things is not like the others…

I’d been wondering what all those vaguely key-shaped items were that have been popping up online, and they turn out to be the latest in fear-of-doorknobs technology. The one-hitter hash pipe is apparently also used to relieve virus-based anxiety.

How about them apples?

It’s all Seg’s fault


Emacs should never refuse to start

Especially with an error like this:

Error in GnuTLS initialization: ASN1 parser: Generic parsing error.
Segmentation fault: 11

Come on, guys, it’s a text editor.

(fresh install of Emacs 27.1 via Homebrew on a machine that’s not crufted up with years of old software; literally the only Google hit for this error message is for Emacs 25.1 from four years ago on Debian GLU/Ninix)

One is never enough

I’m kind of glad Amazon can’t sell cars yet, because the moment you ordered a Toyota Corolla, you’d see:

  • Trending deals: BMW i3, Chevy Silverado, and Fiat Spider

  • Brands you’ve shopped with before: a Yaris, a Tacoma, and three Prius (Prii?)

  • Recommended items other customers often buy again: Mercedes S-Class

  • Inspired by your purchases: Kia Soul

  • Inspired by your shopping trends: Lexus GS

  • Books you may like: 1973 Dodge Dart owner’s manual

  • Recommended For You: “Buy it again in Cars” tile

How much to call me Ishmael?

One of the many Star Trek novels that were better-written than any generation of the shows, Barbara Hambly’s Ishmael was on sale for $0.99 for Kindle. A relatively small number of the usual OCR typos (“doom” instead of “Cloom”, etc) failed to mar the reading experience.

The problems with the Kindle edition of John M. Ford’s brilliant How Much for Just the Planet, also $0.99, were mostly with failure to add white space between the frequent PoV changes, causing the reader to resync at annoying intervals

🎶 If ya liked it then ya shoulda put a steak in it

Ruth Gatling Pluto


Not dead, not sick, still getting used to having a job again, especially the multiple daily Corona-induced Zoom meetings. On the bright side, the first check paid all my bills for the month, and that’s with a substantial 401K contribution. The next one will be smaller due to the ESPP contribution, but still quite healthy.

The Adventures of Pluto Nash

This showed up as something to stream on STARZ, and I remembered only two things from seeing it ~17 years ago: Rosario Dawson and the Big Reveal. Okay, three things: it’s cheesy as hell. To my surprise, I actually enjoyed watching it, largely due to it being one of Eddie Murphy’s more restrained roles. Also, Rosario Dawson.

Gatling

Most of the past week was spent building up a decent load test for our Jira cluster using Gatling. Easy to install, easy to set up basic recordings, heavily documented in slightly-awkward English, almost no online examples of how to really build useful scenarios.

For instance, Atlassian recommends it as a testing tool, but has nothing on how to use it with their products. Honestly, the most useful example I found was a screenshot embedded in a years-old presentation on Youtube. It was a bit fuzzy, but it cleared up a lot.

The recording functionality works great for capturing the info you need and replaying it multiple times to generate background load, but is so full of cruft that I gave up trying to scrub the 5,000+ lines, and extracted about a dozen that were useful.

I ended up with roughly 100 lines of code for a test that scales up to ~180 simultaneous users logging in and each browsing 50 random Jira issues selected from a CSV file, with small random delays between requests. Aiming that at a test instance pounded it just hard enough that 9 requests out of 28,000 timed out and failed, while interactive use from a browser was obviously impacted but still functional. The output is quite readable and useful (including things like finding particular issues that render very slowly even without load).

I worked a bit with Selenium way back when, and this was a much more pleasant experience. Except the looking-for-useful-examples part.

(ordinarily I’d end a rant about “no examples online” with a clear, commented one, but I need to double-check the various documents I docusigned about “code written on company time”…)

Supreme Court Follies

I have never previously mentioned Ruth Bader Ginsburg on this blog. It seems odd to do so now that she’s passed, so I will merely wish her family and friends well, and say that the timing of this sad event just made 2020 even crazier.

Further comment on that deferred for a few days.

Unicorn Chaser: Eri Tokita

“I pledge allegiance, to the flag, …”

(more here and here, sites obviously NSFW)

Unrelated

I am in the process of migrating my pantry storage from Oxo POP containers to Neoflam Smart Seal. I first spotted these at Safeway and tried one out, then bought some more online. I like the twist-seal better than Oxo’s push-button, which doesn’t seal as well and can pop up as you’re moving things around in the pantry. Neoflam bonus: people unfamiliar with your kitchen won’t just try to pull the lid off without releasing the seal. Also, the lids are much easier to clean.

Kitchen Sputter?


Okay, Amazon, ya got me on this one: Toribe Kitchen Sputter:

The box label does (fuzzily) actually say キッチンスパッター, implying a loanword sputter/spatter, and an Amazon Japan search for that string returns a mix of kitchen shears and fire blankets (“sputter sheets”), but a spot check of the shear listings doesn’t include the word スパッ ター anywhere, except for the exact same product.

Which leads me to think that the only reason other shears showed up in the results was because of this product. But why does Toribe call their scissors sputters?

And why does Amazon US include this in the listing?

(recommended because I recently bought a completely different brand of Japanese kitchen shears recently, naturally; scissors are like toaster ovens, apparently, in that you can’t have too many)

Unrelated

The air is rather chewy today. Thanks, Oregon; your forest management is as inept as California’s, although it looks like your fires are a more direct threat to major cities (leading to some suspicion as to how they started).

Of note to me is that the Mt. Hood Resort I spent a week at last year for a Kumihimo conference is in the “be ready to evacuate” zone, and so is the Timberline Lodge, along with a good chunk of Mt. Hood itself.

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”