Saturday, 2 November 2013

09:11 – Barbara had a nice, relaxing day off yesterday. She got home at 6:30, with a stromboli she’d ordered on her way back and picked up just before she got home. Al was released from the hospital yesterday. Frances called about 9:45 to say they were about to leave the hospital. I drove over to their house to meet them, and then sat with Al for a few hours while Frances ran errands and picked up groceries. Al seems to be doing fine, although he’ll be off work for the next six weeks.

26 thoughts on “Saturday, 2 November 2013”

  1. Good to hear that your BIL is doing well. Something about someone mucking around in your intestines just does not sound right.

    The wife had mastectomy with breast reconstruction using her belly skin eight years ago. Surgeon #2 (it was a 12 hour operation) had to stuff all of her intestines back into a very decreased area as they removed a section of skin 17 inches wide and 5 inches tall at the middle. There was so much skin removed that she could not stand up straight for about a month. And her intestines give her some troubles even today as I think that there are some extra loops and tight curves in there now.

    And, I have been labeled a whitespacer! Oh, the shame of it! But, there is a third way:

  2. The movie was excellent and very faithful to the book, but you gave it only 4 stars? Talk about your rough reviewer! How mind-blowingly fantastic would it have to be to get 5 stars?

  3. You whitespacers slay me.


  4. I must be a genius, too, because I can also read that text at a glance; maybe from past experience (or past lives, haha).

    And I guess I’m now dead to science fiction, books or movies; it just doesn’t send me. My reading now is mostly nonfiction, primarily history and political stuff, or serious literary fiction and poetry. Mrs. OFD mainly reads un-serious fiction because she needs a mindless break from the intensity of her job, but I’ve given up on that, too.

    On the second season of “Homeland” and I just do not like the main characters at all, and in real life would have long since canned them from the agency and promoted the youngsters. Next up: third season of “Justified.” “Sleeping Village” sucked.

    Winds have finally died down here and it’s back down to the fotties and overcast, back to nommul, in other words.

  5. I was fine with it until it ran off the right edge. Guess I’m not a genius because I just couldn’t read at a glance the letters that I couldn’t see.

    As for whitespace, that was of course a holdover from early typewriter days. These days, with word processors, TeX and other formatters, and even some HTML engines being smart enough to figure out what the “.” signifies, the One True Style is single space after the period.

  6. Actually, if you hang out with artists and graphics people enough, you find that most maintain that white space is much more important than the type itself, and depending on what typeface one chooses, the treatment of white space is what makes or breaks the success of the graphic design.

    Funny this is a topic. I just finished watching Gary Hustwit’s film “Helvetica” a couple days ago. Of course, dealing with graphic and art design and those who do it, was a major part of my work in TV. The movie was riveting for me. I suppose if you do not find yourself laughing in various parts, you are not close enough to graphic design.

    When you deal with mass appeal, one finds out that it is minute details that separate the not-objectionable workmanlike from the widely accepted transcendent achievements of the planet’s best work and artists. And there are measurable reasons why certain works achieve success. White space is one.

    You can find Hustwit’s film for rent on his website or at that place where most things are found for free.

  7. Relating to the big leafed trees, I can show some to you. In Google maps enter

    Mierendorffplatz, Berlin, Germany

    or try this link:,+Berlin,+Germany&hl=en&ll=52.5257,13.304781&spn=0.000643,0.00176&sll=52.52571,13.305184&sspn=0.000649,0.00176&oq=mieren&gl=us&hnear=Mierendorffplatz,+Berlin,+Germany&t=m&z=19&layer=c&cbll=52.5257,13.304781&panoid=_EoQT5i7oRse4d2RxW6SlQ&cbp=12,8.3,,0,1.32

    If you entered “Mierendorffplatz”, then using your mouse scroll wheel, zoom in a notch at a time until it switches to ‘street view’. At that point or if the link worked, you should be seeing the entrance to a park near Deutsche Telekom where I often had my bag lunch. Those trees lining the street are ones I was talking about. Not sure if the picture has good enough resolution to do any tree identification. You can see quite clearly by the unavailability of parking (most are local residents’ cars and resident stickers are required to park around there 24/7),—as is the case in most parts of the city—that driving into any part of the city is a useless exercise. Berlin was made for walking and there are many paths that do not run alongside streets that take you beside the Spree, canals, and through various parks and mini-forests that are just wonderful sites and very relaxing.

    Behind that park is the Berlin office of Coopers & Lybrand, which I watched become Price Waterhouse Coopers over the years following the accounting firms’ scandals.,+germany&ie=UTF8&ll=52.526405,13.306074&spn=0.002572,0.007038&sll=52.526690,13.305490&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&layer=c&cbp=13,329.54,,0,-6.22&cbll=52.526274,13.306044&hnear=Lise-Meitner-Stra%C3%9Fe+1,+10589+Berlin,+Germany&t=m&z=17&iwloc=A&panoid=mh4rNy-zeWhw14nVIVL9_Q

    Some nice-looking mommies and suit-and-tie accountants from what they used to refer to simply as “Coopers” until the name change, came out of that building to frequent the park at lunch in good weather for eating, smoking (high percentage of smokers in Germany), and texting on their phones (back then, calls were 50¢/min as opposed to text messages which were only 20¢/each.

    The Price Waterhouse building was typical of 6 story buildings that are pervasive in Berlin. With the Kaiser having mandated that no building top his residence in height, Berlin grew up as a skyscraperless city. Too bad that is being systematically destroyed by Sony and other huge conglomerates that WILL get their way in building sky towers.

    If you pan right in that picture, you can see a blurred-out building across the street from Price Waterhouse. Wonder what that is all about? There are more as you travel down that street to the right of Price Waterhouse, where you can also see a Lidl grocery that I often stopped in, on the way home to get things. As I have mentioned before, grocery stores are neighborhood plentiful and people usually stop frequently during the week to get things, rather than doing a weekly or bi-weekly shop like we do in the US–especially since all stores but restaurants, bakeries, and newsagents (newspaper stands) are closed on Sundays. That street runs along the right side of the park as we looked at it from Mierendorffplatz Strasse. It is called Lise-Meitner-Strasse. Oddly, I went to school with a Lisa Meitner.

  8. This regime wants to GET RID of the military? I think they would rather get rid of us!

  9. No, Chuck. Nobility always requires a lot of serfs. Whom else are they going to lord their power over?

  10. “This regime wants to GET RID of the military?”

    Obummer is building his own non-military “military” just like he said when he was campaigning. Watch, after the LAX shooting, the TSA will be armed to “protect us”. Federal grants for police to buy armored cars. All the federal agencies have armed branches. On and on.

  11. Oh no, everything will be just fine; this is a mighty country with infinite financial and people resources and we’re just going through a rough patch right now; soon all will be well again and we’ll have cheap domestic energy, as much as we want, and vast metropoles can still be supported forever. Not all jobs will be coming back or staying, of course, but hey, there’s always gonna be some pain for people who don’t gear up in time for these wonderful changes coming our way.

    And this mighty nation will rule the world, forever and ever, and soon we will be sending more missions into space and colonizing more planets with our wonderfulness, and our Democracy and our Diversity!

  12. I think I need to move to Vermont and get some of that Dreamsicle. Ben & Jerry’s is it?

    Meanwhile, I can’t thank you enough for turning me to Linux Mint. After hassling with Ubuntu, which actually gets worse with every release, Mint with the Cinnamon desktop is the closest thing to XP I have experienced in Linux. And the Mint people say that is their commitment: to offer an OS that is so similar to XP that it is immediately as productive as XP for everyone who learned and has used XP.

    So far, nothing in the Linux world is as good as what I have used in Windows, but then Windows has had at least 80% of the world’s development effort. The “xplorer^2” file manager for Windows is unsurpassed by anything, IMO, but Xfe in Linux comes close.

    After a couple of months, I am still in that middle seat of using Windows for half my work, and Linux for the rest. Having to crank out daily work while researching and finding acceptable Windows substitute programs and learning the intricacies of installation (just try something using WINE for the first time) takes lots of time. I still judge Linux to be at about the same standpoint as Win98. Sadly, many Linux projects have been abandoned quite a bit before they got close to a Windows equivalent. The Cinelerra video editor has not been updated in years now, and the editors I have worked with continue to say it never will equal Final Cut Pro or Sony Vegas Pro without much more work. Same is true for audio players. Nothing in Linux equals the flexibility, quality, and plug-in development of Winamp or the BASS engine, which can be made to accommodate the hundreds of Winamp plug-ins. And getting audio alone to work is a true nightmare in Linux with OSS, ALSA, and Pulse fighting each other. Audio in Windows is just plain easy—true plug and play.

    In Windows, video is implemented via user, so I can set up one user for external monitors, and another for the laptop screen. In Linux, it is set up per machine, with all users stuck using the same settings. Yes, I could probably write some code that would change the settings globally, but why do I have to learn how to do that, when I don’t in Windows?

    I have not had a lock-up to hardware reset in Windows since XP SP3—and that is a long, long time. I regularly have gone for months of uptime in Windows, but Linux cannot make it through a week. Now admittedly I am currently futzing with configurations a lot, but why should any application be allowed to lock up the whole OS? Regular total lockups and reboots in Mint are all too common. Actually, I am trying to think of what is actually better in Linux than Windows, and the only thing I can think of is that I can easily format the date and clock display to exactly what I want in Mint Cinnamon without installing an add-on. Windows requires TClockEx just to display seconds, let alone make changes.

    The computer I am using has 24gb of SSD glued to the motherboard, but a minimal Mint installation is 36gb. Can’t use the SSD for the OS exclusively. Can do with Win8 (it came installed that way); only a little over 8gb needed for a basic Win installation, and my setup only uses an additional 4.6gb for applications I need.

    Not sure that the Linux foray will establish me in Linux permanently, but I will give a really good test shot to moving completely, and try to dispense with Windows altogether. I am still weeks away from abandoning the Windows machine, but I think I will get there. What is really frustrating at the moment is the lack of a means to change settings in Mint. For instance, at every bootup of the laptop, I have to manually dim the screen because it is too bright. Changing that setting does not stick past a reboot. I know I could probably find a configuration file somewhere, but why do I need to go searching for that? I don’t in Windows—set the display brightness and it stays put. No screensaver in Mint Olivia, either. What they call a screensaver is a clock with a message you can enter. Otherwise, Olivia just blanks the screen.

    Another one: I want a 24 hour clock and weeks that start with Monday. Easy thing to do in Windows, regardless of where I live. Mint is locked to the region, and when you choose US, you automatically get 12 hour AM/PM and the Jewish calendar with weeks starting on Sunday. I must have 24 hour, because the radio scheduling software we use demands that so AM/PM mistakes are not possible. And numbering weeks is different depending on whether the week starts on Sunday or Monday. Yet more configuration stuff for the user to figure out, instead of the computer doing it automagically like Windows does.

    This is the first time I have gotten this far, and it is due solely to Mint. Even after fooling around with CentOS I would have abandoned Linux by now—again, as I have done previously,—were it not for Mint.

  13. Whitespace and upper case are so different issues. I have to admit rejoicing when we moved from the 6 bit machines to the 8 bit machines and gained lower case characters. But we had all kinds of problems because the morons at IBM decided that integers and pointers would be four bytes instead of six bytes. That loss of 4 bits really hurt us in the calculational software business.

    “Ender’s Game” is a great movie but that is because I read the book. In fact, I have read the book several times since 1985 and the entire 14 book series. I feel that the movie should have been a trilogy but the economics of such were too hard apparently. The movie really moves quickly and I suspect that the unread get lost quickly. I am also hearing that Orson Scott Card is the main financial backer on the movie and I hope that he does not lose his shirt.

  14. BTW, here is an interesting chart on the lines of code in various pieces of software – IPhone app, Windows, obamacare site, and many more.

    I was surprised to see that the Linux 3.1 kernel is now 15 million lines of code. And that Windows 7 is at 40 million lines of code.

    There is no way that the Obamacare website is 500 million lines of code. No way! A code base like that would take decades to build. Of course, sounds like they skipped the debugging step and the code rollout step.

  15. Jeez, Chuck, I don’t know why you’re thanking me; sounds like Mint is more of a hassle than anything else. To be honest, as you know, Linux hasn’t been really great at the audio and video apps, which, you would think, developers might have spent more time on in the last twenty years. Besides WINE you might try PlayOnLinux:

    Other than, that I’d say if life and work that you have to do are so much easier with Windows, then why not just stick with Windows? In my experience, Windows 7 and 8 have been fine, no complaints. I ran 7 for two years with nary a problem until the mobo got fried by lightning and I would have kept it but by then 8 had come out so I’ve had that now for a year, and other than the aborted 8.1 upgrade Preview, it’s been fine. Of course I don’t put these machines through the paces that you do for your work.

  16. Mint glued to particular time/date settings? I can’t say you’re wrong, but that strikes me as really weird. Usually everything in every Linux distro can be configured, even if it required digging around in some configuration file.

    Week numbers are a terror – I really wish they would die. Parts of my school insist on using them, and this causes a mess around once a year. Maybe it’s because of what you said, week numbers depending on the week definition. Dunno, as I haven’t ever bothered to track it down. However, it’s happens that events get mis-scheduled by a week, for whatever reason. This is what we have dates for, you’d think. But no, the new semester start in calender week X.

    I haven’t tried Mint for a few years – based on your positive reports, I’ll have to give it another go, maybe early next year. In the meantime, I use Xubuntu – not perfect, but good enough for everything I seem to need. I am also a huge fan of encryption, and just recently ran across recommendations for EncFS: file-based encryption, which seems to me a better solution than whole-disk encryption. Better, because you can let the encrypted files sync with something like Dropbox – so your cloud data is also encrypted.

  17. Yeah, I’m sure if I poked around a lot, I could find the config files to fix the things that are problems. As far as week numbers go, people in Germany use those a LOT. For instance, I would get teaching assignments based on week numbers: start a class on week 36 and continue through week 49. I suppose that made some sense, because after establishing the weeks, then the day and time were worked out. After being with the Germans, I really detest how the US deals with dates and time. Subject to far more confusion than the German ways. There really is no excuse not to use a 24 hour clock for appointments. And I am actually surprised that Christians in America put up with starting the week on Sunday, when the Bible is super-clear that the day for worship is the LAST day of the week, not the first. Europeans make no big deal about Christianity like Americans who blab on about it at every opportunity, but they live it daily over there—and the weeks start on Monday and end with Sunday. And there you have it. In my business, we always used calendars that started on Monday and showed the weekends compressed and shaded as unavailable. In public television, money issues caused heating and air-conditioning to be off during weekends (excluding the begging seasons), except in the air-ops area where programs were actually sent out over the airwaves.

    Two things motivate my current methods and madness. XP’s demise next year has caused the volunteers who maintain the radio project computers to insist that we abandon XP at that time. Even for non-profits, it is a considerable expense and time consideration to install some new OS on a dozen computers, laptops, and tablets—especially when there will be no IT person on duty daily to help with hiccups, like in most businesses. So I am, in part, exploring whether we can use cheap Linux, instead of popping for 12 or more new Windows seats.

    I am also motivated by the fact that I can no longer make do with the super-reliable Asus S96J laptop I have depended on over the last 7 years. It is only capable of 3gb max of RAM, and has been hitting the swap file way, way too much during the last several years, as things like Firefox now want a minimum of 4gb RAM all to itself, or you take a big performance hit. That performance hit is now costing me in wait time, as the HD thrashes for 30 seconds and I can do nothing while things are locked up.

    It is an interesting learning experience, but having to adopt new methods noticeably hits my productivity. Unity and Aero are surely slowing productivity measurably anywhere they are being implemented. Why desktop users should suddenly be forced to adopt the same interface as a stupid Smartphone is way beyond my comprehension, but apparently makes perfect sense to Steve Ballmer and Mark Shuttleworth. Next thing you know, I will be forced to drive a car using a bicycle interface.

  18. “And I am actually surprised that Christians in America put up with starting the week on Sunday, when the Bible is super-clear that the day for worship is the LAST day of the week, not the first.”

    That was in the OT. After the resurrection the day of meeting and worship was changed to the first day of the week, ‘the Lord’s Day’.

  19. So the NT is just pages and pages of errata to the OT? Some of their editors need to get on the same sheet of music; the contradictory markup is distracting at best and in extreme cases might even lead a few people to question the infallibility of the bible.

  20. Both OT and NT editors are a little out of reach right now.

    And Holy Scripture is not infallible, at least according to Roman Catholic doctrine; mistakes and contradictions abound, as with humanity in general. It, like the Church, is a production of all too fallible, sinful and prone-to-error human beings. I realize, of course, that there are Christian denominations who believe in the ‘inerrancy’ of the Bible but we are not them.

    As for Chuck’s project of investigating Linux as an alternative to twelve or so Windows seats; ordinarily, if staying with the same family of o.s., i.e. Windows, Mac, or Linux, you’d back up all important data files, do clean formats of the various drives, and installs of the new o.s. from scratch or the upgrade. Then you’d reinstall the apps you want to keep and update those, too. Moving from Windows to Linux would present some issues, of course, if said apps won’t work on Linux, and at some point, after tweaking config files and playing with third-party stuff like WINE and PlayOnLinux, there has to be a decision as to diminishing returns.

    Depending on the hardware, I’d be inclined, in that sort of media and legal operation, to move from XP to Windows 7 and stop right there for now. Upgrade RAM wherever possible in the meantime. I haven’t looked, but presumably M$ has some kind of discount price for upgrading that path and for multiple licenses.

    If I was going to just go ahead and move to Linux, again, my choice for that sort of operation would for Mint, with the least amount of pain and suffering. YMMV.

  21. I agree that Mint is very familiar for former Windows users. One of the things that is relevant to the radio project is that it currently employs Winamp with just a couple of plug-ins for playout. That means it has to be fed manually every single day of the year, and really does not have the ability to schedule programs precisely—although you can schedule a task to start a new playlist immediately at specific times. That interrupts whatever is currently playing, but if the default Winamp fades are left in place, it is not at all jarring. Even for our hourly legal ID, we inject a timed announcement over whatever is playing in Winamp (that actually sounds surprisingly good about 99% of the time). So we really are a cheap-assed radio station.

    Automation by bonafide industry manufacturers starts at $4,000 and goes up to over $40,000 for turnkey systems. The original computer automation producer, Dalet, is still in business, and their turnkey stuff still goes for a fortune; what we used in Boston cost a couple hundred thousand just to feed one shortwave transmitter, and we had 4 to feed. Of course, that was back in the VAX days, before personal computing, so do-it-yourself was not yet possible. (There were hardware-only based ‘automation’ systems that date back to the ’60’s, using inaudible low-frequency tones to trigger the next event, but Dalet was the first to use computers.)

    There is only one FOSS automation program, and it runs only on Linux. Unfortunately, their forum is filled with folks whose installation just stops randomly, but I am playing with it anyway. $0 is a pretty attractive price to non-profits with just enough income to cover operating expenses. There are several European-programmed Windows alternatives, but they cost money—hundreds, not thousands, though.

    There is only one serious radio automation program for Mac, and it is really is not serious. It is built on the iTunes player by a developer who runs a Part 15 (neighborhood) radio station playing nothing but old-time radio shows. But he recommends it only for others who want to run a similar operation. Stream link:

    Right now, I mostly use Audacity for audio work and AviDemux for video editing. Both of those work in either Windows or Linux. At this point, the video editing is simple cuts—nothing more;—just removing unneeded content in a long interview. Nothing fancy; no special effects. If we need more, I go to someone who edits using Avid or Final Cut Pro, just like I have always done for the real TV shows I produced and directed. I have played around with both Cinelerra and Ardour. Not sure I can ever get used to their interface. It is for young people who have not yet encountered their first editing workstation. Not being able to just grab things on the timeline and move or mark them is totally non-intuitive to me.

    As far as Bible dictates go, whole cultures have been deceived by both Fearless Leaders and erroneous conceptions. After a lifetime of study, and paying attention to real research, it is outstandingly clear to me that the Bible is as fictitious as Ender’s Game. Only the element that allows mystery to exist along with science—ungrounded faith,—permits believing the utterly fantastic and irreconcilable stuff in the Bible. Which further, was written by a bunch of misogynous males—a really good reason to dismiss it altogether. I am with Phyllis Diller: no god created us, we created a god—in our image. Nothing makes one god any more correct or believable than the many gods of early Greek society. Neither is real or has power no matter how many times you close your eyes and click your heels. The fashionable dictates whatever passes for god, and that varies widely even within the same communities—to wit: the incredible number of religions with widely differing views who adamantly refuse to acknowledge the views of the others.

    Actually, I don’t care whether calendars put a sabbath first or last in the week, but the weekend should not be divided. It makes more sense to start a week on Monday, because for me and most folks I know, the weekend is an extension of the previous week and Monday is the start of a fresh new page with new and different demands. But if I did believe in the Bible, the OT Word of God would certainly trump a bunch of guys sitting around a supper table, kibitzing and changing what God said.

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