Thur. July 19, 2018 – is it really

Already Thursday? Man I’m sounding like a broken record, but time is flying by.

79F at 6am and I think we’re looking at another test of Texas’ electrical grid…

It even made the news!

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5969119/Saharan-dust-storm-blazing-temperatures-making-Texans-miserable.html

Normally, I’d scoff, ‘cuz it’s hardly news that Texas gets hot, but it’s been HOT.

Time to get busy and start the day….

n

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38 Responses to Thur. July 19, 2018 – is it really

  1. JimL says:

    74°F and Sunny. High of 80º, right about the time I get to run a little 5k this evening. Should be fun.

    Finally moving on the replacement for the legacy SCO system. We’re going with a SQL Server backend, .html front-end system, relying on clever SQL and .js coding. I’m not TOO interested in the details. It’s not Java-based, it’s current technology, and the users are in favor of the move. So I’m in favor of it. No more relying on a 70+ y.o. COBOL programmer for help when things get sideways. Yay!

    6 months or more to get it this far, and another year of work to get it done, but it’s moving.

  2. Greg Norton says:

    Finally moving on the replacement for the legacy SCO system. We’re going with a SQL Server backend, .html front-end system, relying on clever SQL and .js coding. I’m not TOO interested in the details. It’s not Java-based, it’s current technology, and the users are in favor of the move. So I’m in favor of it. No more relying on a 70+ y.o. COBOL programmer for help when things get sideways. Yay!

    I’d be concerned about Node.js, the server-based Javascript that the cool kids like to use these days — another security hole popped up in the repositories last week.

    Node.js has always struck me as reinvention of the Tcl event-driven wheel with less consistent syntax and a utility library repository in need of better screening.

    Keep banging the rocks together, kids. Last week, I saw a paper on RISC-V power saving tech which was essentially reinventing the PA-RISC VLIW wheel.

  3. Greg Norton says:

    Something is definitely up at EBay. Amazon reselling is slow too in my experience.

    https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/07/17/ebay-chops-hundreds-bay-area-jobs-tech-economy-layoff/

    I wonder if we will see those cuts at their big facility in Austin. Zenga closed their building near my house within the last year.

    EBay has gone too far protecting sellers whose listings are mostly cr*p. Time for the pendulum to swing the other way.

  4. nick flandrey says:

    Amazon got into the swamp with ‘fulfilled by amazon’ letting all these grey market resellers just put up loads of used crap. They also don’t care about counterfeiting or the sale of fraudulent goods. I bought some Paul Mitchell shampoo that was clearly not genuine. Funny thing too, I recently saw the same bottles at my local HEB store so amazon buyers aren’t the only ones getting scammed.

    Ebay has made some changes, like requiring 30 day returns (if you offer returns), that upset sellers. NO WAY do I want to be on the hook for 30 days. They are also facing competition from apps that have local sales- merkari, offer up, etc, and Facebook groups are seriously cutting into their sales. They’ve made changes to their website that you can’t avoid (and I don’t like) that seem gratuitous. And they split from paypal…

    n

    added- the part stealing scammers have made ebay a wasteland for certain types of sellers too. Sell any popular current electronics, and you are likely to get a return after the guy swaps out whatever parts he needs. Then he’ll open a claim, tying up your money.

  5. Greg Norton says:

    Ebay has made some changes, like requiring 30 day returns (if you offer returns), that upset sellers. NO WAY do I want to be on the hook for 30 days.

    The EBay customer service freshers recently denied a dispute I had with a seller due to nitpicky language issues, and, for the first time *ever* in 15 years, I had to resort to Paypal to get my money back.

    As for selling, I went through several layers of management at the credit union to make sure the checking account I link to my Paypal login is firewalled from my savings at the same bank. I’m still not sure I’m protected from a unethical buyer, but it isn’t the bank we use for the mortgage payments.

  6. Greg Norton says:

    added- the part stealing scammers have made ebay a wasteland for certain types of sellers too. Sell any popular current electronics, and you are likely to get a return after the guy swaps out whatever parts he needs. Then he’ll open a claim, tying up your money.

    I weighed selling my Santa Rosa MacBook Pro via EBay, but I figured it would just be returned stripped of the good parts. I’m keeping it to run Snow Leopard occasionally.

    I don’t accept returns and list all of the caveats that I can think of with any item, but I’ve seen the scammers at work at the local ISD’s sales. Ethics isn’t their strong suit — the ISD temporarily stopped selling electronics at the surplus sales because of their antics.

    Given all the quirks with the Santa Rosa, I’m sure a scammer could find something to gripe about on the laptop which would result in a credit being pulled from my bank without any chance of appeal. Chances are the scammers and freshers in customer service both speak the same language.

  7. brad says:

    We use an eBay-like platform here, and there are a few questionable-looking offers. But things like part-swapping, and then doing a return? AFAIK, sales are final on this platform. I suppose a buyer could claim to have gotten cheated – maybe they get away with this once. Then what? Create a new account, to get away from the 1-star review?

    How does this work and/or what do you do to protect yourself?

  8. Ray Thompson says:

    At the Ford dealership getting the truck serviced. Nothing wrong, just normal service. Currently have 71,500 miles on the factory tires with probably another 5-6K before I get to tread wear indicators. Not too shabby for factory tires. I may have the dealer install the same tires when it is time to replace. Probably about the same cost as Michelin from Costco.

    Speaking of Costco, I bought a new UHD (4K) TV a couple of days ago. 15% discount if paid with the Costco VISA card. Also got the extended warranty, additional 3 years taking warranty to 5 years. Cost was $99.00 and if you bought it Costco took an additional $100.00 off the price of the TV. So basically free extended warranty.

    Only thing I have that is 4K is the Apple TV and one movie that I purchased is 4K. I have to say the picture is quite nice at 4K. Even the upscaling that is done by the TV from standard HD is really good.

    TVs have come a long way in the last six years.

  9. Chad says:

    As a buyer, eBay lost its charm to me long ago. It used to be a great AUCTION site, but now it’s mostly a retail store front. Most of what is being sold on there is being sold by businesses and not by individuals. Several other apps and services have stepped up to fill that gap, so I find eBay increasingly useless.

    My wife sells a lot of stuff and she sells most of it via Facebook Marketplace. Usually within a day or two of posting it. Buyers are always local. No packing and shipping hassle. She just meets them at a monitored parking location the local police department set up for such things.

  10. Greg Norton says:

    I bought some Paul Mitchell shampoo that was clearly not genuine. Funny thing too, I recently saw the same bottles at my local HEB store so amazon buyers aren’t the only ones getting scammed.

    The major brands have been reformulating without sulfates lately. Some of the bottles look weird on purpose to get the old stuff off the shelf. God knows who has liability if the trace amounts of sulfates enter the ecosystem.

    I once worked at a drug store with a stock of hair care products in the storeroom going back 20 years to the grand opening of the store. If the bottles don’t look significantly different, the people doing the ordering and stocking the shelves won’t notice.

    Also, HEB’s selection at my local store is down compared to what I saw in Publix and the Sanibel Eckerds-turned-CVS two weeks ago shopping for my daughter. Something strange is going on with HEB’s shampoo aisle … or maybe Florida’s buyers have more diverse brand preferences.

  11. lynn says:

    From BH in the Fort Bend Herald:

    “Fact #18.

    Donuts are a lot heathier than crystal meth.”

  12. Chad says:

    San Francisco is being inundated with homeless people and feces on the streets is a growing problem. This is despite spending about $37,300 per homeless person per year. Now they want to create a special tax on big employers (similar to Seattle) to help pay for the homeless problem. Is it bad that I lol’d?

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/07/19/san-francisco-continues-to-spend-big-in-fight-against-homelessness-but-is-it-working.html

  13. JimL says:

    It’s sad, really. I feel REALLY bad for these folks.

    But throwing thousands of dollars at each & every homeless person isn’t helping. A man has to WANT to get better for that to be effective. It’s cold, heartless, and mean. It’s also a reality.

    Some of those companies will likely be glad to pay. Others will probably start the moving process. Should have done that long ago.

  14. JimL says:

    And the fiber that our mail goes out on is cut. Sucks. So I had to dump the smarthost entry on Exchange and route traffic out the other connection. Upside? Mail will soon flow again. Downside? Some ISPs will block our mail out of hand because we’re not a trusted mail provider.

  15. JimL says:

    And I just got the third phone call from one of the co-presidents in the last 20 minutes. I’m working on fixing what’s broken. It’s not my fault they cut the doggone fiber. As SOON as everything is working again I’ll let everyone know. Via email. That they’ll get.

    And folks wonder why my blood pressure spikes when I come here.

  16. lynn says:

    6 months or more to get it this far, and another year of work to get it done, but it’s moving.

    Is that guaranteed or a quote ? Inhouse programmers or a contractor ?

    I hate to say this but 80% of all software projects fail. The reasons are legion but it usually is some variation on the user and the programmers not being able to communicate with each other in a productive manner.

  17. JimL says:

    I hate to say this but 80% of all software projects fail. The reasons are legion but it usually is some variation on the user and the programmers not being able to communicate with each other in a productive manner.

    Most of the work will be done by contractors. Contractors say 6 months. I say a year. I’m an optimist.

    And not to toot my own horn, but none of “my” projects have failed yet. I’m slow. Really pisses them off. But they get done right.

  18. lynn says:

    Dilbert: “Death By Ninjas Is Best”
    http://dilbert.com/strip/2018-07-19

    30 years in a cubicle would be torment.

  19. paul says:

    Kind of a dumb question here. …

    The air vents in my ceiling are about 6×12 inches. Plastic. 1982 vintage. Yellowed like a heavy smoker’s fingers. And we don’t smoke. The middle 5 inches blow through curved louvers. The outer 2.5 inches on each end blow to the left and to the right.

    Clear as mud. Yeah? I can upload a picture if any one wants.

    There are 4 plastic vanes in the vent. Eyeballing, about an inch of restriction plus turbulence. Is it worth it to take the vanes out? All vents in the house are wide open.

    I’m not trying to load balance the system from room to room, that seems to have been done well by whoever designed the layout of the ducts. Plus, what imbalance there is does seem to be favor the bedrooms over the living-room, dining room, and kitchen and I’m good with that.

    I could just replace all the vents with metal vents. For thinner louvers and vanes. For less restriction. But, pricey. Or remove the vanes on what I have, run what is left through the dishwasher and paint them.

    FWIW, the air handler is fitted for an 18×20 (I think) filter in the base. For a cheap house or lazy installation. I have the air handler on a box with a 20×25 filter. The door has a metal louver grill that is 25×25. On low fan, with the door open a foot, the system will suck the door closed. On high fan with the door opened 2 feet, it will suck the door closed and latch it.

    Just trying to tweak a bit.

  20. Greg Norton says:

    30 years in a cubicle would be torment.

    A cubicle is a step up from what is part of many “open” office floorplans used in the tech industry these days.

    I consider myself fortunate to have a half-height cubicle big enough (just) for my chair along with desk space for my laptop and two auxiliary displays. It is a step up from CGI which simply had groups of 12 desks separated by cube-style walls.

    CGI has a Dev Ops Linux position posting which sounds appealing, but I can’t go back to sitting in that office plan … or earning the kind of money they pay on the (hilarious) premise that living expenses in Belton are significantly lower in what is, increasingly, an Austin suburb.

  21. paul says:

    Oy. Just went to the potty and the thermostat said “I 10” for the high. “blink” 110F.

    But we be cool, it’s down to 107. 🙂 The attic is 100.6F. I like my off-white metal roof.

  22. lynn says:

    xkcd: “Software Development”
    https://xkcd.com/2021/

    Yup, that be the truth. Square peg, round hole, make it fit.

  23. Greg Norton says:

    I could just replace all the vents with metal vents. For thinner louvers and vanes. For less restriction. But, pricey. Or remove the vanes on what I have, run what is left through the dishwasher and paint them.

    The retro gaming community developed a process called RetroBrite to deal with fire-retardent plastics turning yellow over time. I don’t know if it would be appropriate for the plastic used in your vents, but I’ve seen the treatment work wonders on old computers.

  24. nick flandrey says:

    Or just paint them….

    I like the look of crisp clean new vents, I’ve washed and painted before, but it doesn’t look as good. Replace them one room at a time, and you’ll hardly notice the expense. Be sure to cut the paint around them before removing or you’ll have a bigger problem. Oh, and after new vents, you’ll probably want to paint the shabby looking ceiling. And it will look shabby with new vents 🙂 So just paint it while you have the vents off 😛

    WRT ebay scammers, sellers CAN’T leave negative feedback for sellers. You can only try to “Resolve an issue”. I’ve left “positive” feedback that listed the problems in detail however.

    Most buyers are not scammers, but certain items have more issues than others. Basically though, if the buyer files a “not as described” the ESL/ low reading comprehension ebay support staff will automatically side with the buyer. Scammers will always try the “not as described” because that lets them get money back even if sold “no returns/as is”.

    If the buyer has a legit issue, I cheerfully refund without any hassles. If I get a whiff of scam, I push back. Usually I ask for pics which they can’t provide if they are scamming. Then I file a complaint. For legit buyers I will ask, “does it have any value to you as is?” especially on untested electronic items. Often they’ll just ask for some money back. On the flip side, they can’t try to beat you up for money off. That’s a violation. I’ve been pretty lucky and have only had one item lost in the mail, one item lost by a freight forwarder (not my problem after I established the buyer was in china), and a few items that didn’t work or had hidden issues. I never believe shipping damage claims as I go out of my way to avoid them, double boxing, well padded, etc.

    n

  25. nick flandrey says:

    Check out 8bitGuy on youtube if you have any interest in retrobright, or restoring the color to yellowed devices. Or if you like 8 bit games and old computers….

    n

  26. lynn says:

    “Texas breaks power record – again”
    https://www.chron.com/business/energy/article/Texas-breaks-power-record-again-13089459.php

    “With triple digit temperatures gripping Texas’ major cities, the state broke its power use record for the second day in a row.”

    “Texas’ grid system hit peak demand of 73,259 megawatts for the period between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas or ERCOT.”

    “The peak use beat the previous record of 72,192 megawatts that ERCOT, the grid operator reported between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. Wednesday.”

    At some point, the peak energy usage will level off as many of the air conditioners are running continuously now.

    Hang on, Monday is coming ! Forecast of 110+ F across central Texas. We are forecasted at 100 F on Monday (we hit 98 F today here in the sticks of Sugar Land).

    ERCOT is hanging tough. I just pray that we do not get another Labor Day of 1999. 113 F in Sugar Land.

  27. lynn says:

    A cubicle is a step up from what is part of many “open” office floorplans used in the tech industry these days.

    I consider myself fortunate to have a half-height cubicle big enough (just) for my chair along with desk space for my laptop and two auxiliary displays. It is a step up from CGI which simply had groups of 12 desks separated by cube-style walls.

    We used to call those open office plans a bullpen when I was at TXU. Miserable. Somebody would get an “interesting” phone call and all the guys in the bullpen would stop everything to listen to them. Of course, that was before cellphones so they had to use the office phone so they could not take the conversation outside.

    You use a laptop for programming ? Yuck ! Do you at least have a real keyboard ?

  28. lynn says:

    I went and got my nuclear stress test for my heart today. Guess what, with afib you have to do the chemical stress test, no treadmill. If you have afib during the treadmill test it messes up the readings.

    The test was actually a lot shorter (maybe 5 minutes) but wow, the testing drug acted quick. The drug tech injected me and then ten seconds later the entire world got real “bright”. Then I started heading towards the nausea area and asked for the trash can. And then the weird stuff was over and I was ok, no hurling. Hah, I survived another stress test, this was number four. I will find out if I passed the stress test later. My ablation surgery is tentatively scheduled for August 27 now.

  29. nick flandrey says:

    Huh, Homeland Security has a working group to determine best practices for first responder agencies to counter wrong social media posts during a disaster or other event.

    https://www.dhs.gov/publication/st-frg-countering-false-information-social-media-disasters-and-emergencies (pdf)

    They mention Friendster starting in 2002. LONNGGG time ago in internet years…..

    n

  30. lynn says:

    At the Ford dealership getting the truck serviced. Nothing wrong, just normal service. Currently have 71,500 miles on the factory tires with probably another 5-6K before I get to tread wear indicators. Not too shabby for factory tires. I may have the dealer install the same tires when it is time to replace. Probably about the same cost as Michelin from Costco.

    My Expy is still getting the a/c evaporator replaced. The tech is putting the dash back on now. Maybe I will get it back tomorrow.

    What kind of tires are those ? My Ford supplied tires in 2005 were Continentals. I replaced them at 18,000 miles with Michelins. I have always gotten 35,000 to 45,000 miles from the Michelins. The mileage depends on the city to highway ratio. Because in the city, I drive it like it stole it.

  31. Greg Norton says:

    You use a laptop for programming ? Yuck ! Do you at least have a real keyboard ?

    HP Laptop. i7 16 GB memory. 14″ 2080p (IIRC) screen. Kaby Lake but no Thunderbolt. 🙁

    They give us a dock for the laptop, and mine connects to two 24″ monitors, keyboard and mouse. The 14″ display on the laptop runs email in the office.

    All software development is console mode Linux running either running on real hardware in the server room or VirtualBox on the laptop. Either way, I SSH to the systems using Putty.

    I can’t really complain about the PC. Even CGI gave us Dell Latitude 15″ machines. Most places issue laptops instead of desktops anymore. Hardware is cheap in contrast to our salaries … or parking (they cover our spaces).

  32. lynn says:

    “Extreme heat moves into Texas this weekend”
    https://spacecityweather.com/extreme-heat-moves-into-texas-this-weekend/

    It is gonna get even warmer. Just 100 F here though (forecasted). We were 106 F at our house in 2013. We were 113 F at our house in First Colony (also Sugar Land).

  33. lynn says:

    They give us a dock for the laptop, and mine connects to two 24″ monitors, keyboard and mouse. The 14″ display on the laptop runs email in the office.

    All software development is console mode Linux running either running on real hardware in the server room or VirtualBox on the laptop. Either way, I SSH to the systems using Putty.

    Gotcha. So the laptop is just for a terminal to the server(s). And you get to dock it with a real keyboard and umpteen monitors.

    I used to write software like this back in the 1989 – 1993 time frame. It kinda sucked. But I got vi down, even have a vi cheat card in my drawer.

    I guess that you are developing server side apps now.

    I need to get a 4K monitor and test our software on it. The customers are reporting issues. So far we have been telling them to turn up their text ratio.

  34. RickH says:

    Forecast for my neck of the woods (across from Mutiny Bay on the Puget Sound in WA) shows an upcoming heat wave.

    Temps are to get to 85F by mid-week next week. Which is warm for around here; most folks don’t have air conditioning. People will be complaining how hot it is.

    I just smile and agree with them. And smile more inside, having been in SLC and Sacramento, CA during the summers when the temps get into the 100’s.

    Enjoying my decision to move here in retirement, although the move was somewhat forced.

    Sympathies to those that might be sweltering…

  35. nick flandrey says:

    Worked outdoors and in the attic today. Attic hit 114. I started to get goofy- mis-stepping and dropping things, pretty quickly. Got out and cooled off, then went back up and finished the task. Rinse and repeat a couple times. Spent some time in the airconditioned areas, but had to finish up with the cameras outdoors too. Kept mostly in the shade, but it was still pretty dang hot. Drank a full gallon of gatoraid, several glasses of water, and some cold tea.

    Tomorrow, I should be mostly doing termination and config indoors. Gotta finish up and get paid.

    n

  36. nick flandrey says:

    Scanner has some team surveilling a drug sale, starting about a mile from my house, with the exchange in an Autozone parking lot a couple blocks from my house.

    When you look at the streetview for the dealer’s house, it looks well kept, and a guy is mowing the lawn. When you advance down and around the corner (about 50ft in real life) onto the cross street, the house is suddenly unkempt, with piles of trash and junk in the driveway. The streetviews are 2 years apart, with the junky one from 2017. I guess drug dealers don’t keep up the rental property.

    It was very weird to see the house from two angles and fifty feet difference, but separated in time by two years.

    (It’s a house and street I’ve driven by many times.)

    n

  37. brad says:

    @Paul: If I understand your question, you have some well-aged plastic vents, and you are concerned both about ugliness (yellowing) and possibly the air restriction.

    The air restriction isn’t really an issue, since you’re happy with the air distribution you have. So I would ignore that entirely.

    The yellowing is a sign that they used crappy plastic. We have a lot of 60’s era plastic in our kitchen, with exactly the same problem. And here’s the catch: the deterioration has also made it brittle. Even if you could clean them, and get paint to stick, you are likely to find random pieces breaking off. So: either leave the vents – ugly as they are – or replace them entirely.

  38. Greg Norton says:

    I used to write software like this back in the 1989 – 1993 time frame. It kinda sucked. But I got vi down, even have a vi cheat card in my drawer.

    I guess that you are developing server side apps now.

    I need to get a 4K monitor and test our software on it. The customers are reporting issues. So far we have been telling them to turn up their text ratio.

    I’ve been in and out of server side apps for 25 years. The weak spot in my career is that I’ve never learned much about .Net or GUIs. Plus, most of my 40s were lost to the Vantucky adventure and recovery from the employment gap

    Microsoft hasn’t managed the 4k transition as well as Apple did when they introduced the “retina” displays on their portable devices. Again, it comes down to my rule of thumb about the difference between the two companies — Microsoft will give you anything you want as long as there is sufficient money involved. Apple forces you to do things their way no matter how much money you offer.

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