What to do about identity theft.

September 20th, 2017

I’m not a tax guy but at this point it seems to me that we are forever more in our lives going to be the subject of id theft as soon as a thief gets around to us.

The information is available, it’s just that there are lots of people to thief from.
Eventually the smarter thieves will work out the most efficient ways of taking advantage of all of the information available to them, so the people with better credit scores will be targets sooner than people with bad credit scores.
So I suppose one idea is to have a lousy credit score.
Anyway. We talked about this at work and account freezes are a good idea. I’ve had freezes on my credit score accounts for a while now. (I’d recommend this for what it’s worth) which turns out to be little.
The security to protect the thief from unfreezing your account is a pin you get at freeze time.
You better not lose that pin or…. you’ll have to ask them to send it to you.
And all they require for them to send it to you, is the same information the thieves already have stolen. And to boot, somebody at work found the page and for experian at least, they’ll send the pin to any email address.
We’re all doomed.
So anyway, the point is to make it as hard as possible for the thieves so they pick on somebody else first, so freeze your accounts.
But back to my original idea.
One of the things thieves can do is steal your tax refund by filing before you do.
One simple way around this is to avoid having a refund.
Up your deductions, and start a savings plan with this newfound money so you can afford your tax bill. It may be annoying, but at least the thieves can’t get it.
And as the CPAs always say “You shouldn’t be giving the government an interest free loan anyway.”
Thoughts? Other suggestions?

Different base number set conversions.

September 3rd, 2017

My other kid is fascinated with numbers. So he asked me to make him a page that would convert numbers between any bases.

So I picked the reasonable base 2 to base 36 range.

http://deadpelican.com/calc.html

 

Accomplishments

September 2nd, 2017

If you dig a big hole, and then you take all the dirt you displaced and put it back in the hole, you’ve done a lot of work.

But you have accomplished anything? Have you improved anything?

 

Now let’s say you dig a big hole in somebody’s flower garden. Something pretty with rows of cutesy little flowers.

Then you take all the dirt you displaced and put it back in the hole.

You’ve done a lot of work. You can even say you’ve accomplished something. You’ve taken things a step back.

This isn’t progress, and it isn’t helpful.

 

 

Random letters

August 27th, 2017

My kid liked this page so much I thought it would be easier to run it on my server so it would load more quickly.

 

http://deadpelican.com/randomletter.html

 

Progress in 2017

August 19th, 2017

So it seems I’m not the only one who has this perspective on the software development industry and it is even more rare that he also calls it “progress” just like I do. Although I use the term sarcastically and he says we’re not really making progress, which is the same thing.

So as proof that there are other people who also see the constant churn of the same stuff over and over as a giant waste of time, I give you this guy, I guess his name is uncle bob.

The smackdown:

http://blog.cleancoder.com/uncle-bob/2016/07/27/TheChurn.html

The follow up:

http://blog.cleancoder.com/uncle-bob/2016/09/01/TheLurn.html

 

Unlike me however, he offers some good examples of ways to improve the lot.

I’m starting to think that we’ve reached peak-smart. Basically there’s some bar at which most programmers basically top out at, which is what makes them go redo everything over again in a similar but different shiny sort of way. And I think they do that, because that’s it. They’ve topped out. Getting into machine learning is HARD. Whereas learning yet another silly language syntax to regurgitate the same software is easy and comforting.

Obviously there are some above-the-bar guys because machine learning exists, but I expect these are the same guys who are working on the self driving cars and the voice recognition stuff.

So it makes sense that as problems get harder, fewer and fewer people are able to solve them, and the software developers who can’t, just fall back and find a new javascript library to draw neato webpages in.

Speaking of, I’m really out of date with the web world thank The Great CPU and I’ve been doing back end block device stuff which I love. So I was surprised to find out about AMP.

I think it stands for “we’ve finally made web rendering so bad it’s unusable, so we’re hacking in yet another layer of crap to try and make it perform tolerably well.”

Go ahead everybody, go learn your next javascript AMP compliant library. Have a good time.

 

 

It’s a good thing the roman empire died out when it did.

May 8th, 2017

The greeks too, now that I think about it. There’s a number of times in human history when people were on the brink of major technological progress. Maybe the timing was wrong, on the wrong people were in the wrong place at the wrong time, or maybe there were just too many stupid people.

But for whatever reason, the industrial revolution didn’t happen until fairly recently, and it’s a good thing.

If the romans had discovered electricity and figured out they could dig up oil for fuel for generators, and for running combustion engines, there wouldn’t have been any left for me now.

 

C++ should have been called ++C

May 8th, 2017

Except for the odd side-effect, in C, c++ is basically equivalent to ++c.

But in C++ the magnitude of those side-effects is far greater, so much so that in a bunch of stl cases where it matters, it is far more efficient to use ++c than c++. So it seems to me it would have made more sense to recognize this by calling the language ++C instead of C++.

 

Politics

October 15th, 2016

I don’t get into politics much, but this election season isn’t really about politics so I thought I’d say something.
All the trash about hillary is pretty normal dirty-politician stuff. The difference is that hillary got caught.
At first I just thought she was more incompetent than the rest of the politicians who lie cheat and steal, and just don’t get caught.
Then I realized, she’s just unlucky.
It doesn’t matter who was running for president now, they would have suffered similar humiliations as hillary. With the internet solidifying its place in our society as the source of all dirt, every presidential election from now on will be made more open and public because no server is safe from hacking and computers aren’t going away any time soon.

Droids make great beacons.

September 17th, 2016

I wrote this neat little program for my phone that uses bluetooth discovery to look for stationary devices. The idea is that when my phone detects one of these devices it can do something. I.E. it is location aware. When I go to my car, my phone can react to it, when I go home, my phone can react to that.

Works great. Or at least it used to.
See google is smarter than the rest of us, and they know better, so as a result, they improved their latest version of android (5.0) by changing the bluetooth settings so that it can no longer be set to broadcast its name all the time.

I have one moto-g that refuses to upgrade to 5.0 and works great, I go near it and my phone recognizes it. But alas I have another moto-g that updated itself and now it no longer works. I googled and googled, and that’s just how it is. I tried writing a program to just turn on bluetooth discovery all the time, but it causes a popup to display saying “xyz application wants to enable bluetooth visibility, ok?” which defeats the purpose, since I’m not going to be there to press OK.

It happens, however, that I have an old droid 1 lying around. These are really great machines. Actually the droid 3 is probably the best machine ever made, but the droid 1 isn’t too shabby either.
It requires little power, boots immediately when it detects power even from a dead battery (if say it’s been sitting in my car for a week). Some phones require the battery to charge for 5-10 minutes before it will boot, not this puppy.
It boots quickly, and best of all, it can be set to have the bluetooth discovery enabled all the time and never shut off.
And it will never get upgraded.

In short, the droid 1 can be had on ebay for about $10, and it makes a great bluetooth beacon.

A silly solution to the middle east problem.

September 2nd, 2016

Over the years I’ve had a number of silly ideas about how to solve the middle east problem, or various little bits of it. Surely none would work, but they were amusing to think about.

I was re-reading this article I wrote….

Transitioning to no money.

and I was reminded of one of them, speaking as I was of buying land.

For years and years lots of people have been upset with the idea of israel. They just don’t want it to exist or something. I’m not an expert in the field, I only remember dribbles of what I read and hear, but I know part of the problem is that lots of people believe that the land that israel inhabits is more special than other bits of land around it.

So there have been wars and terrorist attacks and other venting-of-anger activities.

What I don’t get is: Why, if so many people are so interested in owning the land israel occupies, they don’t just buy it.

Save up your money, don’t spend it on guns and military training, put it in a high yield investment of some kind, or start a crowdfunding venture called “Buy israel” and when you have enough money to buy some…. Buy it. Just like in the game monopoly.

Over enough time, if you buy more and more of it, you’ll eventually have the whole thing, and don’t worry, there is no plop of land so valuable that somebody isn’t willing to give it up for enough money.

 

In a barely related note, after the 1979 oil crisis (the fist one I remember) I had another idea how to solve another little part of the middle east problem.

Oil oil oil everybody wants oil. OPEC carries whims of the world on its finger based on what price they choose to sell oil at. Or at least they used to, to some degree.

For all the years I can remember, the effort was always ‘rely less on oil’ and ‘make cars more efficient’ and ‘do whatever you can to become less dependent on oil from the middle east’. As a long term solution that’s going to be a reality one way or another, but there’s a much more productive short term solution.

Use up all the oil as fast as you can. Buy that gas guzzler, keep the heat way up and turn on the air conditioning to compensate, get rid of those LED lights and get more manly incandescents.

The middle east countries that use oil as a bargaining chip can only bargain with it, if they have any left. If we use it all up, no more bargaining, no more chip, no more problem.

Of course it would get expensive near the end which would most certainly spur Mr. Science to come up with a solution to the lack of fuel for energy problem, but that’s going to happen anyway. With this simple technique we can rid the world of all those pesky people who fund themselves with oil money.

But the americans came along with their technology and fracked it all up. So that plan can’t work anymore. But maybe if we started doing it in the 70’s we’d have solved that problem by now, and could move on to new problems like self tying shoelaces.