Monday, 23 January 2017

09:29 – Yesterday was one of those days with a continuing series of problems. It started with the USPS Click-and-Ship website misbehaving while I was trying to print a label for a shipment to Canada. Ordinarily, I fill out the first page, which has me enter the total weight of the package. I filled in the correct weight, 5 pounds 8 ounces, and then clicked Continue. On the second page, I have to give details about the details of the shipment, including for some reason the net weight, which was 4 pounds, thirteen ounces. At the point, it told me that the net weight was more than the gross weight and refused to continue. After numerous retries, starting from scratch each time, I finally got it to accept that 4-13 was in fact less than 5-8. I then paid for the postage label and it displayed the label as a PDF, as usual.

So I put a sheet of half-page labels in the manual feed slot of my Brother HL-5250DN laser printer and told it to print. The label jammed, which made a real mess. So I cleared the jam, inserted a new label, and told it to print again. It jammed again. I cleared the jam and told it to print again, this time with plain paper from the paper tray. That time, the sheet of paper made it half-way out the printer and then jammed again. At least I had a usable label, after I forcibly pulled it out of the printer.

This obviously wasn’t working, so I disconnected the HL-5250DN and moved it out of the way. When we moved up to Sparta in December, 2015, I’d originally tried to install the newer Brother HL-3070CW laser printer, but it refused to connect with USB so I’d stuck it in storage, intending to troubleshoot it later. I never got around to that until now, so I set it up and used a new USB cable to connect it. Once again, Linux didn’t see the printer. Okay, it looked like the USB interface on the printer was dead. That printer also has an Ethernet interface, so I went downstairs, grabbed an Ethernet cable, and brought it back upstairs to try getting the printer working with a direct Ethernet connection.

The Ethernet cable wouldn’t fit into the jack on the printer. Huh? I was working in a very tight space, but we finally got the printer turned so that I could actually see the USB and Ethernet jacks on the back. Duh. I’d plugged the USB cable into the Ethernet jack. No wonder it hadn’t worked, this time or a year ago, when I must have made the same mistake. So I pulled the USB cable out of the Ethernet jack and plugged it into the correct jack. Linux recognized the printer instantly, and I was back in business.

So I proceeded to connect to the USPS site again to generate postage labels for US shipments. The postage didn’t look right for the first one I processed. Well, that’s because postage rates just went up as of yesterday. Duh, again.

I knew postage rates were going to increase, but after the huge increase a year ago, I was expecting a pretty minor jump. Not so, unfortunately. Since January a year ago, I’d been paying $17.09 to send a Regional Rate B box to the west coast. That had jumped from $17.09 to $20.41, a 19.4% increase. Fortunately, the rate for a Large Flat Rate box had increased from $18.75 to only $18.85, so I just put the RRB box inside a LFR box and paid the $18.85. Even so, that amounts to a $1.76 (10.3%) increase. Geez.

* * * * *

As I mentioned last week, doing a copy-edit pass on Franklin Horton’s latest book in his Borrowed World series got me to wondering, not for the first time, if I could write fiction myself. So I decided to sit down and give it a try.

Writing fiction turns out to be very different from writing non-fiction. The main difference is that I can just sit down and write fiction. It just flows. With non-fiction, I spend literally 50% to 95% of my “writing” time checking facts and researching stuff on the fly. I suppose that’s why Jerry Pournelle writes fiction in his Monk’s Cell, with no Internet access.

The most obvious difference is in word count. With non-fiction, I average maybe 1,000 to 1,200 words per day. My all-time record was probably 5,000 or 6,000 words, and that was working heads-down for 14 hours or so. And the days when I could write heads-down for 14 hours straight are long gone. Nowadays, I’m lucky if I can get in six solid hours of writing per day. Writing fiction, I can crank out a first-draft at about 1,000 words PER HOUR.

But no writer can judge his own writing, so I decided to let people look at my first fiction efforts. As I promised last week, I’ve converted what I’ve done so far to a PDF that I’ll send to anyone who wants to take a look at it and give me his opinion. Can I write fiction? Tell me what you think of my work on a 1 to 10 or A to F scale.

I’ll emphasize that this is very much a first, rough draft. I haven’t even read it, let alone done a first editing pass on it. It’s just a collection of chapters, and partial scenes. I’m sure there are lots of clangers in there. I probably even have characters changing names in mid-narrative. This document is at the level that I wouldn’t ordinarily let even Barbara see, let alone friends or editors.

I’m not looking for any kind of corrections, suggestions, or edits from anyone. All I want to know from anyone who takes the time to read it is whether or not I can write fiction.

If you’d like to take a look at it, send me email at thompson at ttgnet dot com with the subject line “your fiction book”. I’ll send you a PDF of the document. Please be completely honest in your feedback. You’re not going to hurt my feelings. I’m looking for brutal honesty here, not an attaboy. If the general consensus is that my fiction writing has potential, I’ll continue working on the book until it’s finished and then self-publish it on Amazon. If the general consensus is that I am to PA fiction writing what Zsa Zsa Gabor was to acting, I’ll give up on it.


84 thoughts on “Monday, 23 January 2017”

  1. Writing fiction turns out to be very different from writing non-fiction. The main difference is that I can just sit down and write fiction. It just flows. With non-fiction, I spend literally 50% to 95% of my “writing” time checking facts and researching stuff on the fly. I suppose that’s why Jerry Pournelle writes fiction in his Monk’s Cell, with no Internet access.

    This should help everyone understand why there is so much fake news. It’s a PITA to validate the facts.

  2. Robert, I read a lot of PA and would love to see what you have. My wife is a retired English Professor and a professional copy editor for romance and romance SciFi. I can let her look too if you like.

  3. The more the merrier, thanks.

    As I keep saying, don’t sugarcoat anything.

  4. Yuuup, my desktop died a year ago, my Canon printer several months ago, now with recent laptop and cellphone, everything here is tied together with WiFi, including Sling TV on desktop and laptop PCs and also on Sony HDTV.

    Well, Bob, maybe a new book: Building the Perfect Home WiFi System?

  5. I wish the USPS would get off their duffs and support Dymo Labelwriters on their web site. UPS supports Zebra’s, but it’s a PITA and only support Winblows. I use a Dymo with shipstation.com. An extra cost, but linking UPS, Fedex, and a free stamps.com account makes life simple for my shipping. I use all three methods a lot.

  6. “If the general consensus is that I am to PA fiction writing what Zsa Zsa Gabor was to acting, I’ll give up on it.”

    There’s something foggy here. I mean, what it’s your motivation for writing a PA fiction? If it’s that you LIKE it, then I don’t see how you could give it up no matter what somebody says.

    What is PA standing for? http://acronyms.thefreedictionary.com/PA

    I’ll read it but I’m not an avid reader of fiction.

  7. Hmm, my internet access has been down for hours and is scheduled to be down for three more. Wonder what happened? Guess I’ll do some outside work…..

  8. tRump signs EO:

    Trump Reverses Unpopular Obama Executive Action on Abortion by Reinstating Mexico City Policy

    That’s one way to stop funds flowing outside of the US. America First, biotches!

  9. The Redumblicans are emboldened by President tRump:

    A proposed House Resolution would set the stage for the United States to remove itself from the United Nations.

  10. “Duh. I’d plugged the USB cable into the Ethernet jack.”

    Yup. I learned that a while back in and out of IT jobs; very first thing you check is power and whatever cables. Same deal here at home, much more than once. Go from basic to esoteric, but I’ve found that most of the time it’s something basic. In the beginning I’d get busy on the terminal CLI and spend hours trying to determine causes; no more.

    Overcast again here so fah, high 30s. Off to various errands and chores. Mrs. OFD is is in Oklahoma City, this week, at an Air B&NB apartment in the Paseo Arts District, which would suit her just fine. Historic houses built in………1920. lol.

  11. Oh, and just for laffs; the process for my alleged candidacy for the sub-sub-contractor IT drone job for DHS is still going on! Yup. Got an email this AM from the recruiter accordingly; it started back in September.

  12. Dave Hardy: I almost bought a couple of the old Paseo (artsy district) apartment buildings in OKC a couple of years ago. Nice old buildings but I couldn’t get the numbers to work for me. I demand a very high CashOnCash return. Hope she has a nice time there.

  13. it started back in September

    Maybe they are hoping you will die before they make an offer. Probably boosts their hiring numbers even though no one is actually hired. Like hiring a disabled black female for government contractors. Gets three of the mandatory contract milestones for hiring satisfied in one person. Maybe you should have your gender changed, chop off your legs and tint your skin. Probably be hired in a heartbeat.

  14. We have been looking for places to retire. Zillow found us this nice looking place.
    3 bd, 3.0 ba, 1,904 sqft $129,900
    35 ‌Little ‌River ‌Dr ‌# ‌3, ‌Sparta, ‌NC ‌28675,
    Now if we can just persuade the Granddaughter to move with her munchkin to NC after she gets her Operating Technician Certification …

  15. “Hope she has a nice time there.”

    Thanks, Mr. Harold; she will. She brought some of her jewelry to work on, per usual, and will probably be checking out similar ops in that ‘hood while she’s there. She wear it on these gigs and always gets remarks and offers to buy it. It’s time-consuming and labor-intensive and she hasn’t had the time to build up an inventory to put on her Etsy site.

    “Maybe they are hoping you will die before they make an offer.”

    No kidding. The recruiter people have been apologetic concerning the frustration and couldn’t be nicer so far. As has been my experience previously when going for Fed contractor jobs. It’s the Fed process, even with a decorated war vet (probably a strike against me, per usual, now that I think of it). And there is just no way I could pass for a racial or ethnic minority; google up images for Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Huns, Vikings, Highlanders, etc. Ditto a gender change. Nope, WYSIWYG.

    “…better get ready for new neighbors.”

    Rut-Vegas, Vermont (Rutland) has already gotten 100 Syrians, but we are not allowed to know their sex, religion, actual refugee status, etc. Ima just gon go way out on a limb and figure very few Christians, if any, and mostly young males of military age, but I’ll try to check on it further. Importing wildly different peeps from foreign shit-holes has worked so well before here in northern New England.

    IIRC, there was nary a problem when we had German POW campus up here during the world wars. They mingled in with the locals pretty darn well. But both world wars kinda put a huge dent in the minority status of German-Americans here.

  16. @Lynn

    Their definition of “smaller cities” isn’t the same as mine. FTA:

    “it predicts an estimated 27 percent of the world’s population will be living in smaller cities of at least 1 million people by 2030.”

    One million is almost 100 times the population of our entire county. We’re not expecting any influx in the forseeable future (but see below …)

    @Harold

    “We have been looking for places to retire. Zillow found us this nice looking place.
    3 bd, 3.0 ba, 1,904 sqft $129,900”

    Yep, and only 2.3 miles/5 minutes from our house. We’re a couple miles south of Sparta, but the house you’re looking at would even be an easy walk to metropolitan downtown Sparta.

    If you are seriously considering influxing here, let me know before you visit the area.

  17. And there is just no way I could pass for a racial or ethnic minority; google up images for Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Huns, Vikings, Highlanders, etc. Ditto a gender change. Nope, WYSIWYG.

    The new rule is that you don’t have to pass, you just have to identify as your minority of choice.

    Back during our sentence -er- tenure in WA State, I worked briefly in Seattle as the only Normal engineer at a DoD contractor wannabe with a technical staff consisting mostly of Progs. They needed me to pee clean and pass the background checks to be able to install and field test the product on Air Force planes, something their long-time developers couldn’t pull off.

    After my second demotion in three months without any reasonable explanation, I walked out without notice one morning, cleaned out my temp apartment, and drove the 200 miles back to the cell -er- rental where we lived full time. I never really fit in there, and the regular staff didn’t talk to me beyond the minimum. My wife half-joked, “Maybe you should have tried dresses on Casual Fridays. You have the legs for it.”

    “Yes, but if that worked, I would have been stuck ‘finding something to wear’ every Thursday night.”

  18. Thanks for the laffs, Mr. Greg. Sounds like more fun than a barrel of monkeys doing that gig. Yikes. What about you gave you away to them? When I was at those universities long ago, simply being my usual self did the trick. They shoulda put up signs at their gates: Male Visigoths Not Wanted Here. (unless, of course, I was 18 and on a football scholarship). Maybe I’ll just ID myself as a Western Abenaki from now on; the ones currently doing it look whiter than me.

    “@OFD, was Princess at the Washington DC million woman march last Friday ?”

    I seriously doubt it; she may have been at some caper or other up in Moh-ree-all, though, I dunno. I’ll ask wife if she’s heard anything. Last I knew she was gonna be busy with harp performances up there all weekend. I know one of them was a benefit concert for the late Leonard Cohen.

  19. What about you gave you away to them?

    I wear a “Robert Culp circa 1980” haircut. They assumed the rest without even trying — typical Progs.

    They didn’t make it as a DoD contractor and are currently on another “pivot” in their business plan which is mostly “Get bought by someone bigger for our patents”.

    Uniumwifi.com

    Someone keeps giving them money in Seattle.

  20. “The Sparta Family Fun Center look interesting:”

    Yeah, I can’t remember if that’s the one that they burned down intentionally to give the FD some practice, or the one where someone making meth accidentally burned the place down.

  21. “Talk about timing.”

    Holy Chit; is that for real?? Looks like accelerants of some kind in there.

    “Someone keeps giving them money in Seattle.”

    Ah, the haircut did you in. If I keep mine, it will do me in, too. Somewhere. Probably somewhere I don’t wanna be, anyway. And I looked at the “principals” at Unium; they fit my own profile of typical virtue-signaling progs just seeing their pics.

    So glad I live in Retroville, and in a retro part of Retroville, too.

  22. Back on line. No idea what happened but it sure put a crimp in my morning. Good thing I didn’t have a bunch of auctions closing.

    n

    And thanks for the reminder on the postage increase. The last one caught me offguard and I lost money on shipping until I went thru a bunch of listings.

  23. “The Sparta Family Fun Center look interesting:”

    Yeah, I can’t remember if that’s the one that they burned down intentionally to give the FD some practice, or the one where someone making meth accidentally burned the place down.

    I finished watching “Breaking Bad” last night. I cheered when Walt White and the aryan nation boys died. It was appropriate when Walt died in a meth lab, his hand lovingly caressing a reactor vessel.

  24. Way back when I was in college, far into the last century, I decided to take a “Womens Studies” course as I was very interested in studying women. First day of class I was, of course, the only male in attendence. The instructor asked in a haughty tone, what I thought I was dong there. I said that as I was brought up in a family with only brothers I felt I needed to understand a womans perspective. She ignored what I thought seemed a reasonable reason and told me that I didn’t belong in her class but if I insisted on attending she would give me a failing grade. I got the hint and transfered to Acounting 101.

  25. “Yup. I learned that a while back in and out of IT jobs; very first thing you check is power and whatever cables. Same deal here at home, much more than once. ……”

    10-4, recalling the most frequent advice over on the old HardwareGuys forum: “Check the cables first; it’s almost always the cables”.

    Not counting the TWC cable into my house, I have only one cable, a Cat 5, connecting the modem/router to my WD My Cloud.
    https://www.wdc.com/products/personal-cloud-storage.html
    My desktop, laptop, Samsung phone and tablets all have WiFi and can communicate with each other and my printer and the My Cloud device. Additionally, I have Dropbox installed on those so that I may access files and work on them from those devices.
    https://www.dropbox.com/downloading

    After all: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54dNHUefbCs

  26. connecting the modem/router to my WD My Cloud

    I would advocate keeping the cloud storage box at a friend or family members house. Off your premises to give you some sort of backup of your files. I too have Dropbox but it does not provide enough space to store all my photographs.

  27. Well, after our six inches of rain last Wednesday ? Thursday ? and the very violent three inches of rain on Friday night, the large bayou to the east of us is starting to come down. That bayou, known to some as the Brazos River, went from 12 ft of elevation to 30 ft of elevation. Both of the ponds at the office and my swimming pool at the house overflowed. I am just hoping that we dry out a little bit.
    http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=HGX&gage=RMOT2

  28. “I got the hint and transfered to Acounting 101.”

    Sounds familiar. Also way back into the last century I was still an undergraduate and allowed to take day classes while I worked nights. I signed up for an English Poetry class (to fulfill a distribution requirement at the time) and reported in the first day. The prof was an older butch dyke type and gave me the fisheye when I sat down and then she launched into a sarcastic version of an early English poem and trashed it (it was a young man’s lament for his love and the western wind, etc.) and told me after class that she had no more room there for another student. I gladly got the fuck outta there and went to another English Poetry section taught by a guy who’d specialized in the Modernists and written books on Yeats, Eliot and Joyce. That is where I learned to read, listen to, and recite English language poetry, in the fall of 1980, and I haven’t stopped. I do it every day.

    And that’s the second or third time a teacher pissed on me and I went on and doubled down on what I wanted to do. Thanks, assholes.

  29. For offsite backup, I now use Code42’s CrashPlan service. Gives me unlimited, unattended, encrypted backup, and supports external drives, at $55/year.

    I used to use Carbonite, but their basic plan did not support USB/external drives, so changed to CrashPlan. Has worked well.

    My config is to run CrashPlan on a spare desktop, and use SyncToy to backup laptop files to desktop. That way, I don’t need to pay extra for extra computers (although CrashPlan offers those options at extra cost).

    I note that Mel Grubb (www.melgrubb.com ; he has some excellent Raspberry Pi setup/use instructions, which I used to set up a Pi media server) has noticed that the Linux CrashPlan version has some stability issues; I have not investigated those (he’s got a blog post about it). My desktop is Win10, and CrashPlan works well on that.

    Best part about my setup is the automatic backup of files from desktop to CrashPlan. I just have to remember to run SyncToy from laptop to desktop when needed.

    It’s probable that my setup wouldn’t defeat a ransomware attack, since I don’t have an off-line backup. For that, I am trusting my protection procedures and knowledge. But CrashPlan does have separate backups of my data, so I could recover from a ransomware infection without losing too many files. Most of my files are programming (PHP, etc) files, that can be recovered from the live web sites they run on. There are some picture files, but those are recoverable from alternate sources. Will require some effort, though, but wife and I are aware of proper prevention techniques.

  30. [snip] was Princess at the Washington DC million woman march last Friday ? [snip]

    Maybe she was at one of the huge marches in Riyadh, Damascus, or Islamabad.

  31. “Maybe she was at one of the huge marches in Riyadh, Damascus, or Islamabad.”

    She’d blow their little musloid minds; she’s six feet and over 200 pounds, about 44DD, with long light brown hair and blue-gray eyes. About as Crusader-female-looking as they come. Her brother is my height (6’5″) but probably 40 pounds heavier. Mrs. OFD is the runt of this family at only 5’10” and 180.

    WRS had an email/post last night/today about the hypocrisy of the musloid cult and their treatment of women but it was too nasty by the end to re-post anywhere. I think most of us get the picture of how rotten and brutal it is.

  32. Here’s a piece about fighting back against lefty scum who attack you:

    http://takimag.com/article/violent_disagreements_jim_goad/print#axzz4WYMtho2z

    Of course these events (see his links) all take place in:

    1.) Cities

    2.) Amid crowds.

    3.) At “events.”

    So the solution seems pretty simple: avoid those three things.

    But if you must or accidentally find yourself in such a situation, like he says; don’t throw the first punch but make sure you throw the last one. Some guy in a mask comes at me on the street I’m gonna paste him to the asphalt real fast because I don’t have the same tools anymore to engage in a long, drawn-out brawl.

    https://westernrifleshooters.wordpress.com/2017/01/23/query/

  33. DH, did you know tRump just signed an EO banning new government hires?

    If Princess went to one of the Wimminz rallies would she have to burn her bra? Tell her if she does to take it off first… 🙂

  34. RickH, what do you use for comparing drives to see what files they have in common? I used ABC something or other, didn’t really work.

  35. “…an EO banning new government hires?”

    I wouldn’t be a gummint hire; I’d be a sub-sub-contractor for a private consulting firm.

  36. If Princess went to one of the Wimminz rallies would she have to burn her bra? Tell her if she does to take it off first…

    Let me guess, you’ll be here all week ?

  37. From the New Hope and Change Department:

    http://thezman.com/wordpress/?p=9433

    Yup, regionalism. Coming to your AO soon. We hope.

    “Hello, IT! Have you tried turning it off and on again?”

    One of my former colleagues at IBM told me he and his family dug that show and told me about it; I watched a couple of episodes and then…meh. I wish someone had somehow produced a series featuring this guy:

    http://bofh.bjash.com/

  38. @Miles_Teg

    Regarding file compare software;

    If you are trying to get both folders (drives, whatever) synced so they both contain exactly the same files, with updated files on either ‘side’ synced with the other folder, then you might be able to use SyncToy.

    It has a ‘syncrhonize’ mode to get two folders the same:

    The synchronize action will make two folders mirror each other, keeping the latest changes made to the files in either folder. New and updated files are copied both ways. Renames and deletes on either side are repeated on the other. Folder Creates, folder deletes and folder updates are also propagated both ways.

    So that might be what you are looking for. There are some similar tools to SyncToy; I haven’t tried them lately. I just stick with SyncToy; it’s free and fast enough for me.

    Alternatives are the RoboCopy program, which might be faster; it can do multiple ‘threads’ of copying at the same time, rather than just one copy process. I recall using it at my last job, and it worked well. (Both are Win10 products.)

  39. https://refugeeresettlementwatch.wordpress.com/2017/01/23/is-there-a-refugee-placement-office-in-your-town-updated-list-available/

    Not in Saint Albans. Not yet.

    But they’re in Rut-Vegas and Colchester, which is just north of Burlap. And the “refugees” can be “resettled” within 100 miles of those offices.

    With all of these new refugee offices, has anyone noticed that the feddies are broke yet ? Not bankrupt, broke. Bankruptcy is next.

    Walks off muttering to himself about making it rain …

  40. Ah, the haircut did you in. If I keep mine, it will do me in, too. Somewhere. Probably somewhere I don’t wanna be, anyway. And I looked at the “principals” at Unium; they fit my own profile of typical virtue-signaling progs just seeing their pics.

    The CTO definitely. Current CEO and the company liar -er- lawyer? I put them in the “not sure” category. Typical Seattle.

  41. Harold, you should have ensured that your bigoted teacher was afforded the chance to get a woman’s perspective on being hit with a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit. Or else a woman’s perspective on being doused in gasoline and set afire.

  42. I took HomeEc in Junior High. 7th grade. 1970. In Mobile recently integrated Alabama. Why not? I wanted to learn how to cook. I think she was my first colored teacher, not sure.
    Anyway, it was a nice classroom. Maybe ten “kitchen sets” with GE pushbutton ranges at one end of the room. The rest of the room was desks and sewing machines.

    One day she’s spouting off how “these electric ranges have infinite power adjustment”. I piped up and asked how? The stoves here have eight push-buttons, my mom’s gas range is more adjustable. (My current range is a Whirlpool and it is infinite. I lived in an apartment with a GE range and what the heck, ya gotta set pots half off of the burner to control the heat.)

    I got sent to the office. For smarting off. Yeah, 1970, Mobile.

    She sucked for teaching cooking. Yeah, we fried some eggs and bacon. Made a cake and frosting with mixes we had to bring from home. That was about it. And fucking peanut butter cookies and your fork tine pattern had better be perfect.

    She liked to sew. Even while we were “cooking” she was on a sewing machine or hand stitching on something. Hell, I already knew how to do that. My mom used to make shirts and dresses for us four kids. Transfer paper and patterns and all that stuff. Put the straight pins in the right way… easy enough for an eight year old to do.

    One day she had a stitched up piece of something. With elastic thread. So it was all stretchy. Yeah, I got sent to the office. For messing with her underwear. I had no clue. It wasn’t underwear yet. Turned out to be the front of a girdle. She didn’t teach the class how to sew that.

    We had to do sewing projects. I made my mom an apron. That she never used. The we had to make something on our own. I made a backpack. With Marine tent fabric. Green cammo on one side, brown cammo on the other. I frenched the seams so the backpack was reversible. Yeah, the straps on which side was inside were sort of a pain, but hey, it was my backpack. I used it all the way through High School.

    Dang if she didn’t accuse me of cheating. I did all of the work in class. Never took a bit of it home. Never even knew of a thing called a french seam. I just figured it out. So I got sent to the office. I had them call my mom before they got to the paddling. Mom stomped them. I did pass the class.

    Don’t remember the teacher’s name. I remember what she looked like.

    And hey, my mom has a Singer sewing machine. Ok, I have it now. But, I read the owner’s manual and saved up and bought a tube of Singer grease with my allowance money. Had enough left for a candy bar, too. This was when allowance was a dime a week. I was maybe eight pushing nine. That makes the machine 10 at the time. I lubed the machine and what do ya know? Mom almost sewed through her fingernail the next time she used the machine. The really big WTF here is that the machine needs lubing and I have just enough of that same tube of grease to do the job.

    Who the hell hangs onto a little toothpaste tube of sewing machine for FIFTY YEARS?

    The next year at that school was Algebra. Mrs. Wilson. Kind of stout, very dark. Excellent teacher. Perhaps the best I had in 12 years of school. We started with whatever math, got into algebra and then the last few months of the school year we started using the tables in the back of the book. It was all just Algebra. Math. Right? Until about a month before school let out and she told up we had been doing trig and calc since February. I had been sort of thinking so…. but the rest of the class kind of freaked out.

    Fun times mostly.

  43. I seldom say much about my childhood and in particular school anecdotes. I will point out, however, that there’s a reason I’m a homicidal psychopath, and that reason is nurture rather than nature.

  44. “The CTO definitely.”

    Yeah, him I got right away. The tinted glasses and smug expression.

    “…there’s a reason I’m a homicidal psychopath…”

    Have you ever considered running for office?

  45. On the the one hand, I’m not qualified to hold office because I don’t want it at all and certainly not enough to run for office. On the other hand, that’s my single strongest qualification.

  46. It is a cruel dilemma, is it not?

    To know, on the one hand, that you could easily be elected and work your way up to the top, with your fingers on the nukular codes and red buttons, a chance to wipe out billions! On the other hand, you’re not really interested. It’s actually more fun to gut someone like a fish F2F or throw them from the top of a tall building.

    I’m not interested, either; I don’t dig having power over other people and ordering them around, or being ordered around myself. Live and let live, I say.

    But if somebody comes around and becomes a lethal threat to me or my family, or interrupts my NFL game when it’s tied with three seconds in the fourth quarter and a team is going for it on fourth-and-one, why, I’ll be more than happy to gut them like a fish or throw them from the top of a tall building, which is kinda problematic here, ’cause I think the tallest one is the town hall, and that’s only three stories. Most likely I’d have to finish them off with an ax handle or baseball bat. Like the one Negan carries around, lol.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRljxMsb-30

  47. The dimmer arrived today. It’s pretty much what I expected. Nice switch feel, fades smoothy up and down. Looks well made. By the brand, I expect to get 20 years of use. Which is about 10 years less than I expect to need.

    Heh, that’s a crazy way to buy stuff.

    The two lamps on the dimmer are plugged into a 3-way tap. That’s as polarized as the lamps. Just for the heck of it, I swapped out the Philips Slim Style 60w equivalent LED units for a couple of the same thing but 75w equivalent. Whoo!…. I gots me 26 watts load on a 300 watt max dimmer. A bit more light in the room, not all that much actually. Not enough more light to be buying new bulbs. But a bit more of a load on the dimmer. Fading is pretty much between about 1/3 to full. No “down to filament glow” happening. Then again, I’ve never had any of the Slim Styles on a dimmer so I have nothing to compare.

    I need to try the 3-way bulb lamp and see if 150w incandescent increases the fading range. Just to see. Or, maybe not.

    But the crazy part…. for the bathroom remodel I bought 3 75w equivalents. Yeah, nice if you want to look at the bulb. So I used the 60 watters I already had. One of the 75w went into the old pole lamp and one in the junk box with the 3rd unopened.

    I swapped, with the power off, the 60’s in the old lamps with the 75’s. I seem to have fried a 60w equivalent by walking from one room to another. It doesn’t work in the same socket where the 75w jobby did.

    Yeah, I know. White Man’s Burden. And all that. Raycess!!!! too.

    The bedroom is painted. Smells good. I like the smell of paint. Clean. My back didn’t get to “you are now a cripple if you fart” mode. Just sore. Probably waiting to give me a surprise. I’d best not eat any sauerkraut….

    Gah! I have spots that look I missed. No way. But the other wall day before yesterday looked like that. And it all smoothed/dried out but for a few spots. I have about 4 tablespoons of paint left, I’m hoping that’s enough.

  48. And I see that Yahoo is still getting hacked and cracked and my other emails report new sign-in attempts daily now; the most recent originating with IPs in Ukraine and Romania.

    And the St. Louis, MO library system got ransom-wared.

    A word to the wise…

  49. @ Mr Miles.. +1 For SyncToy version 2.1. Runs fine on W10. Very basic but gets the job done.

  50. Lynn wrote:

    “Let me guess, you’ll be here all week ?”

    Try the roast beef… 🙂

    In some ways Princess reminds me of James I of England… 🙂

  51. My company got hit 4 times by Ransomware. Backups saved all but a handful of files. I’m a jerk – I disabled running of unauthorized files. I also took admin privileges away from everyone (including me). Pissed off some higher-ups because they have to take extra steps to do things, but paranoia has prevented two more confirmed attacks since then. It’s still possible to screw things up, but it’s harder to do.

    I’d like to do to the ransomers what some have intimated they’d like to do to most politicians. Well, not really. What I’d like to do is put them in stocks in the public square and flog them. Make people AFRAID to do it themselves. Fear is a great motivator.

  52. “Just in case anyone in the Carolinas area hears my namesake being discussed on the nooz media as a murder suspect? ”

    Your real name is Shamoya McKenzie?

  53. Your real name is Shamoya McKenzie?

    Isn’t that the name of one of the killer whales at Seaworld ?

  54. I’d like to do to the ransomers what some have intimated they’d like to do to most politicians. Well, not really. What I’d like to do is put them in stocks in the public square and flog them. Make people AFRAID to do it themselves. Fear is a great motivator.

    Actually, one of the old KGB interrogation techniques might be better. A cattle prod up the rectum. Wait, you could do the stocks and the cattle prod !

  55. My company got hit 4 times by Ransomware. Backups saved all but a handful of files. I’m a jerk – I disabled running of unauthorized files. I also took admin privileges away from everyone (including me). Pissed off some higher-ups because they have to take extra steps to do things, but paranoia has prevented two more confirmed attacks since then. It’s still possible to screw things up, but it’s harder to do.

    Sucks to be you. I am amazed that we have not been hit. And grateful.

    Ok, what is an authorized file ?

  56. Unauthorized file – verbal shorthand for a file (in the AppData directory) that should NOT be executed, but is. Windows tried to “fix” the problem by forbidding “data” to run, but permitting “programs” to run. Then they backed off so apps like Dropbox can run (from the data directory, because they don’t want to “bother” users with updates.)

    So I added a policy that forbids the execution of anything from AppData. Breaks Dropbox (and some other utilities), but helped me confirm those two other instances of idiots clicking on things they shouldn’t.

    So “Authorized file” would be an installed program (in the programs directory).

  57. Unauthorized file – verbal shorthand for a file (in the AppData directory) that should NOT be executed, but is. Windows tried to “fix” the problem by forbidding “data” to run, but permitting “programs” to run. Then they backed off so apps like Dropbox can run (from the data directory, because they don’t want to “bother” users with updates.)

    So I added a policy that forbids the execution of anything from AppData. Breaks Dropbox (and some other utilities), but helped me confirm those two other instances of idiots clicking on things they shouldn’t.

    So “Authorized file” would be an installed program (in the programs directory).

    Gotcha. Doesn’t UAC (user account control) throw up a dialog when someone tries to execute a file in AppData ? Unless that person turns UAC off (bad! bad! bad!).

    And I am assuming that a file in the AppData directory would not be “installed”, it would be downloaded there. We have been fighting this battle with our software and seem to have finally gotten our software installation correct. It has been an effort though for this bunch of engineers.

    And we digitally sign everything now. Our setup.exe, all of our EXE files, and all of our DLL files.

  58. Pretty much yes to all.

    UAC is universally despised, so I deal with people that despise it.

    Digitally signed – yes, but only in the Program Files directories. As I said, DropBox fails, so it is NOT allowed to run.

    Yes, downloaded files. I have a shared installation folder on the network that we use for installations. Just Downloads now is not permitted.

    BAD users. Smack them with a newspaper. (On a tablet.)

    Microsoft put out GOOD guidelines years ago. They’re sometimes painful to follow (digital signing?), but they are like any best practice – they generally make it better for the good guys, and make it easier for the next guy to pick up.

  59. One of my programmers is a real computer engineer from TAMU. He has been the impetus in bringing us up to date. Digital signing, the correct directories, etc.

    Our software on PCs dates back to the AT/370 when we would install an IBM 370 on a full length board in your AT PC and 6 MB of ram on a second full length board. We had over a thousand of those installed at one point for our customers. So we always put our software in c:\designii unless the user moved it elsewhere. We did not change to c:\Program Files\designii until about ten years ago. Maybe eight years ago, I don’t remember.

  60. When I worked on the insurance software, the original was written in Business Basic. I don’t recall the installation directory, (VPro5, maybe?) but it most certainly wasn’t Program Files.

    When we migrated to Windows (complete rewrite), I was part of the faction that insisted on Windows standards, just because it would pay off later. Those that decided to go their own way (the “other” package we wrote) wound up moving everything after the fact.

    I think we were fortunate we did the rewrite when we did. It was a good time to get aligned with the standards

    I’ve never been a “big fan” of Microsoft, but I’ve been working with the platform for 30+ years, so I’m at least familiar with it. When I hear about a recommendation or standard, I pay attention, because it WILL affect me.

  61. Ransomware – I had one of “those” moments a while back, when my browser landed on a ransomware “you’re screwed, pay up” page. Turned out to be a false alarm – or someone hoping you’d pay just because you saw the page. Whew…

    While I have two different sets of automatic backups that should (“should”) be untouchable, restoring the whole network would be a total PITA. Offsite, disconnected backups don’t get updated nearly as often as they should, because “life”.

  62. WRT software,

    I use the “Portable Apps” version whenever possible. Lighter install, no changes to system files, no little bits and pieces scattered everywhere to be forgotten. No hidden dependencies, no changing installed library files, just cleaner all around.

    n

  63. I also use Portable Apps and keep several of them in EDC and go-bags. Along with Tails USB sticks w/persistence and backed up to them any important files. Plus several other uber-secure USB sticks.

  64. Our software on PCs dates back to the AT/370 when we would install an IBM 370 on a full length board in your AT PC and 6 MB of ram on a second full length board. We had over a thousand of those installed at one point for our customers.

    I’ve always wondered who the target market for those boards were. A place I worked had one in the area where the “mad scientist” programmers were. I did a quick job with one of them – he took a 2000 line IBM assembly language program and converted it to Perkin-Elmer 32 bit assembler. I helped him get it running – he had exactly 2 errors in it. It helped that PE assembler was very similar to 370 assembler, about 95% instruction overlap, but still that was impressive. I then took the program to a local Perkin-Elmer office and they turned over two of their new machines to me for an afternoon – they had to leave the room while I mounted my tape with the program, loaded and ran it, collected the printouts with the benchmark results, then ran a utility to wipe the hard drives and overwrite them 5 times. We were testing an important algorithm to our business to see if the new machines were as fast as they said.

    The programmer I worked with was interesting. He’d been in the Navy during Korea as enlisted, had Navy tats on both arms and swore like the sailor he had been. About every other sentence had an f-bomb in it. I don’t know if he had a degree, but he was paid about the same as a senior manager, just below VP pay from what I was told. He was one of the key designers for algorithms to do REDACTED for our REDACTED systems we built for REDACTED and REDACTED.

  65. Our software on PCs dates back to the AT/370 when we would install an IBM 370 on a full length board in your AT PC and 6 MB of ram on a second full length board. We had over a thousand of those installed at one point for our customers.

    I’ve always wondered who the target market for those boards were.

    The IBM AT/370 was a full mainframe in your AT. Our software required a 32 bit machine at minimum (we preferred the Univac 1108 with 36 bits). The only problem was that the maximum memory board held 6 MB of ram. So that was a fairly serious limit.

    And then Compaq 386/16 came out. Oh my goodness ! Wow, what a machine ! We bought the NDP C and Fortran compilers along with the Pharlap memory manager and, off to the races ! That IBM AT/370 never knew what hit it. And those AT/370 bad boys were $14,000 each with the full 6 MB of ram built using 64K chips if I remember correctly. I will bet that IBM sold a million of them.

  66. ech wrote:

    “I don’t know if he had a degree, but he was paid about the same as a senior manager, just below VP pay from what I was told.”

    Heh, I worked with a guy somewhat like that. He got a PhD in atomic physics in the Fifties, then worked in the then newly emerging area of computer research. He could debug NAD (CDC comms boxes) code in his head. He never returned phone calls – he figured if it was important you’d ring back.

  67. The best programmer I ever met had no college at all. Went into the Air Force in the 50s and ended up a computer operator. After the AF, he worked at an insurance company as an operator on, IIRC, RCA mainframes. He didn’t like the operating system. So he wrote his own. It was distributed via the user’s society and he came to the attention of IBM. Got hired to work on OS/360. Eventually ended up at EDS, where he was head of a team that went to data centers and figured out how to tweak the OS and the data storage layout to coax a few percent more performance out of the mainframes. He did similar work at EDS sites. After a while there, he and some other EDSers formed a startup doing medical lab automation and billing software, where he hired me. I was the second non-EDS person they hired, after the secretary.

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