Put the knife down and take a green herb, dude.
One feller's views on the state of everyday computer science & its application (and now, OTHER STUFF) who isn't rich enough to shell out for www.myfreakinfirst-andlast-name.com
Using 89% of the same design the blog had in 2001.
FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!!!
Back-up your data and, when you bike, always wear white.
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|Saturday, September 05, 2020|
I don’t have much to add, but did wonder about this (quote from Macrumors):
Epic mentions that it's "likely to suffer irreparable harm" if Fortnite is not made available on the App Store and that "the balance of harms tips strongly in Epic’s favor," citing that daily iOS active users have already declined by over 60% since the app's initial removal from the App Store.
If the players use the same account cross-platform, there are two bits of information Epic needs to add:
In a competitive world, if those iOS Fortnite players were diehard Fortnite gamers, they’d get an Android phone and keep playing. It might take a while to move, though. They might play less for a while before they come around.
But if you force Apple to open back up, you kinda lose the chance to see if they’re a monopoly or not.
And if those players swap platforms permanently, you might actually get Apple’s attention.
(Actually I’d say you already have. There’s a reason Apple already has their own subscription game service running. That’s a preemptive move.)
posted by Jalindrine at 9/05/2020 08:52:00 PM
|Wednesday, August 26, 2020|
Facebook today warned advertisers that Apple's upcoming anti-tracking tools could cause a more than 50 percent drop in Audience Network publisher revenue due to the removal of personalization from ads within apps.
MacRumors quotes Facebook:
despite our best efforts, [privacy changes] may render Audience Network so ineffective on iOS 14 that it may not make sense to offer it on iOS 14 in the future.
I still think in 100 years we’ll feel weird if people don’t know where we are all the time, maybe even with video, but my reaction today remains QQ.
posted by Jalindrine at 8/26/2020 01:14:00 PM
|Monday, August 24, 2020|
The Times has published the worst news we could hear on COVID-19 today: You can catch COVID multiple times. This is no longer an anecdote, but someone whose two COVID exposures were confirmed to have genetic differences. They caught it twice.
There's some positive news mixed in there, but this is a pretty depressing milestone, even if the writing had been (anecdotally) on the wall for a while.
And that's because there are only so many end-games with COVID-19. Here are a few...
Akiko Iwasaki [an immunologist at Yale University who was not involved with the work but reviewed the report at The New York Times’s request, said] “It’s kind of a textbook example of how immunity should work.”
That's great, but it's clearly not chickenpox-style immunity. And, painfully, as the story continues, "People who do not have symptoms may still spread the virus to others".
This makes it sound like, without a vaccine, we're headed towards #4, maybe with some lucky reduction of the "nightmarish" qualifier. Even the best #3 (preventative action and contact tracing) to date has, in practice, not stopped transmittal and huge flare-ups outside of a few outliers. You know, like islands with carefully controlled borders. Most of us don't live there.
Now, again, #4 might not be the flu of your nightmares like I was afraid COVID might become. If, as this story quotes Iwasaski saying, "natural infection created immunity that prevented disease but not reinfection", then maybe COVID-19 gets folded in as "just another flu" rather than something that kills 300,000 Americans alone each year -- that is, the current COVID death rate seems to be about 10x that of the flu. Maybe with this immunity it drops to a fifth to a tenth of that. Though remember that it's in addition to our flu numbers, which is disheartening to contemplate.
And let me add this quick edit: The flu is nightmarish enough. Over 10% of the population contracts it badly enough to notice annually. Half a million a year are routinely hospitalized. And nearly ten percent of those people die. The flu is not child's play. It's deadly serious. We don't need two of them. We don't need one.
Flu numbers from the CDC
Still, if we all get this extra "preventative immunity" after our first scary-as-heck bout with COVID, perhaps the future, even without a vaccine, shouldn't be nearly as hellish as the world we live in now.
That said, though the smallpox infested blankets may not have been as evil in effect as their givers hoped they'd be in theory, smallpox and other European diseases were just as frightening for the Lakota, Cherokee, and other nations as you might now be able to appreciate. I'd like to say I can't imagine, but now, unfortunately, on some small level, we all can.
EDIT: Quick, only partially related update: Wearing a mask helps the wearer too.
This makes sense, right? I remember an answer from Fauci when he was asked if masks that weren't N-95 could help you, and he basically said, sure, the holes are big enough to let things through, but if you've got two big guys running towards the same door they're going to have a hard time getting through. Any protection is better than none, and if you're reducing the load in or out, well, that's a good thing.
So here's one article from a random source saying just that.
The amount of virus that you’re exposed to – called the viral inoculum, or dose – has a lot to do with how sick you get. If the exposure dose is very high, the immune response can become overwhelmed. Between the virus taking over huge numbers of cells and the immune system’s drastic efforts to contain the infection, a lot of damage is done to the body and a person can become very sick.
And I think we had hints of this "larger viral load in means more severe sickness" from the earliest news we had on the virus. Remember when the most active doctors in China were dying? It's not because they were being careless. It's because a non-perfect level of protection times patient after new patient meant you had more viral load and more danger.
It's really important to limit not just your exposure to people in general but the time that you're being exposed and how much of your respiration is ingesting that exposure.
Labels: Other Stuff
posted by ruffin at 8/24/2020 06:45:00 PM
|Saturday, August 22, 2020|
That is the sorry reality of the bazaar Raymond praised in his book: a pile of old festering hacks, endlessly copied and pasted by a clueless generation of IT "professionals" who wouldn't recognize sound IT architecture if you hit them over the head with it. It is hard to believe today, but under this embarrassing mess lies the ruins of the beautiful cathedral of Unix, deservedly famous for its simplicity of design, its economy of features, and its elegance of execution.
posted by Jalindrine at 8/22/2020 02:42:00 PM
|Monday, August 10, 2020|
TL;DR: Gimme the Zeppelin playlist
If you're an Amazon Music Prime subscriber, but not Spotify, Apple Music, or Amazon Music Unlimited, let me introduce you to Zeppelin Remasters - (Free) Prime Covers, the best Zeppelin fix Prime members can stream for free.
Finding Zeppelin on Amazon Music Prime
If you've got Amazon Music Prime, you'll know you've got a pretty nice deal. You can stream an impressive selection of songs without paying more than you already pay for Amazon shipping, and the app works well, seamlessly combining the Prime streaming selection with albums you've AutoRipped and mp3s you've purchased from Amazon.
But there are downsides. Kind of like when Metallica and Tool weren't on any streaming platform and you had to load ripped mp3s for those bands to your phone "the old way", the Music Prime selection is lacking in certain specific ways.
And the worst hole in the Music Prime donut? There's no Led Zeppelin on Amazon Music Prime. (Well, almost none. There's one exception that proves the rule. But more on that later.)
Why is there no Zeppelin on Prime? Dunno. Amazon Music is pretty low on the artist payouts, but I can't find anywhere suggesting Prime streaming royalties are different than Amazon Unlimited's, so you'd almost think you'd rather have all of the Prime streams than only the Unlimited's, at least for older music that's harder to "discover". Maybe the band's hoping you subscribe to a service that pays higher royalties like Apple, Spotify, Tidal, or, surprisingly (in that I see this name at all and that they pay like they do), the top royalty rate payer, Napster.
Or maybe they wish you'd just buy the albums, since you could just buy the mp3s for Zeppelin on Amazon and, poof, problem solved. You're able to stream 'em anywhere you have the Amazon Music app. Larkin Poe went off of Amazon Music Prime, and now I've shelled out for three of theirs. But that's more of a reason to, as Larkin Poe did, put songs on and take them back off -- the first hit is free, but then you have to pay to satisfy your fix. Wash, rinse, repeat. Kinda like Disney's vault, in a sense. Not having a back catalog on Prime leaves money on the table.
Maybe Amazon doesn't want to have Zeppelin on Prime so they don't have to pay all those royalties? I mean, Prime Music doesn't make money directly. It only pays out. Hrm. :thinking: Still, you think they'd revolve like the Stones or Beatles do. (And the Stones, at least, do. I'm always chasing what albums are active on Prime. I usually only listen to them on my phone now, where I own tracks.)
Regardless, I'd already paid for my Led Zeppelin songs a looooong time ago and I'm morally opposed to paying again for some reason.
What should I do if I want to listen to a little Zeppelin? More importantly, what should you do if you need a Zeppelin hit?
Can we make a good Zeppelin Covers playlist?
Let's cut to the chase: I think we can create a good Zeppelin covers playlist. Because I did.
There are actually a fair number of Zeppelin covers on Amazon Music Prime. Some of them are good enough that you might enjoy listening to them.
I decided to recreate my first exposure to Led Zeppelin, a three-disc collection Columbia House slammed me with in the early 90s, the Led Zeppelin Remasters.
I was mad when I got them ("You're charging me for three CDs I didn't order, and only two have music?!") and cancelled my membership in Columbia House, as, if I counted the Remasters as two discs, I was finally through my required purchases.
If this slamming doesn't ring any bells, let's reminisce with that Slate article author...
(Or high schooler. Or older. But it actually wasn't that bad. You could even send the CDs back after they sent them to you. I'd done it at least twice by the time the Remasters showed up. But the multi-disc slam seemed patently unfair. Straw, meet camel's back.)
But then, years later, I finally listened to the Zeppelin CDs. Hello!
Grade A: Actual Led Zeppelin Tracks (
|Saturday, August 08, 2020|
I'm not sure why I haven't been exposed to this earlier in my life, but it's definitely a clear example of brillance. (Reminder: My definition of brilliance is any solution to a problem that, once seen, can't be unseen. And it makes you wonder why you never thought of that yourself. Which isn't to say you would've, but that the solution fits that perfectly.)
Let's cut to the chase: Studying analog computers today I ran into (via Wikipedia) an old Navy doc from 1944 describing an analog computer they used titled, Basic Fire Control Mechanisms, Ordnance Pamphlet (OP) 1140, which has been nicely scanned and presented in a pdf version. Lookit how these things work. Simplicity itself, but I'd never thought of making something like it.
Easy, right? If you want to multiply by 36, you have a gear where X teeth of movement (say just enough to move a dial so that what's in the output window changes from 1 to 2) turns a second shaft 36 times X teeth. Then you check the number that shows in the output window (also listed on a dial) that's regulated by that shaft.
In this case, the Navy wanted to set up a computer where sailors would enter the same number of specific variables for each calculation and have the machine compute the values needed to set and fire shells from their artillery.
That's pretty cool. No, more to the point, that's brilliant. No energy needed. Easy to repair, all things considered. Doesn't require any insanely specialized knowledge to work on or with. Not real flexible -- you're give or take doing the same calculation each time -- but in this case, who cases? As the OP says...
Now I have my doubts about how "lightning" the mathematician would have to be, since we're just doing an easily, if tediously, delineated set of multiplication/division/logarithmic (?) operations each time (how many math questions can you answer in "six or eight hours"? Um, lots), but point taken. Pretty cool.
But why [do you care]?
Why did I run into this today? One pastime I've been pouring waaaay too much time into recently is the study of DIY headphone amps and cassette players. And one of the important parts of any (well, most any) headphone amp is its "op amp". The op amp is the piece that, when fed a little juice, makes the tiny electric current that's created by the magnets recorded into [sic] your tape as they pass your cassette player's read head loud enough to hear.
If we read our canonical work, Op Amps for Everyone, we learn that the name "pop amp" is short for "operational amplifier", and they're, in a sense, a new twist on the shaft-based analog computers we just saw the Navy used for aiming shells in the Forties.
Does that make sense? You pass in a voltage and the operational amplifier -- which, it should be noted, requires a power source to perform its operation -- cuts it by two or multiplies by 7... or 36!... or whatever. It is, in effect, just a way of moving from one setting on one shaft through "electric gears" to another.
In an amplifier, we take in a current (?) and multiply it to produce more volume (or is that gain?). Different op amps, like different gears, multiply by different amounts. That multiplication here is measured in decibels, a logarithmic scale
Here's a list of op amps that work reasonably well in a CMoy DIY headphone amp (for more on the CMoy, sort of "the" famous DIY amplifier, read the original post here, learn to build here, buy a kit here, or learn about alternatives). Note that each has some measurements of the power you've got to put into the op amp to get a corresponding decibel gain for your sound; one this page, he's listed
Anyhow, that's a long-winded way of saying that your old cassette player was very likely a computer. An analog computer capable of just one calculation, but that's all you needed! From the docs for the Elenco Electronic's AK-200 Cassette Player Kit (or the per-soldered AK-250), we see what the goal of your player's integrated circuit was...
Emphasis mine, as usual.
Does that make sense? Because of limitations of the cassette tape medium, you need to boost some frequencies. That calculation is what all the innards of your player are for (aside from all the buttons and mechanics for engaging the capstan motor and all that): They're there to translate the feed from your tapes using the "NAB standard" formula for boosting the signal to a "flat frequency response".
Some more cMoy stuff:
Btw, hummingbirds chirp, sometimes when feeding. TILx2.
posted by ruffin at 8/08/2020 10:31:00 AM
|Saturday, July 11, 2020|
Here are some really quick first impressions of the eufy Security Indoor Cam 2K. Worth knowing I'm moving from a Nest cam and I'm using Apple's HomeKit Secure Video (HSV) for the eufy.
I think that's it. I feel a little better having Apple hold my video than Google, but the experience (in the UI) is clearly worse with HSV than Nest. The eufy cam, however, holds no blame for that. Its app seems great, video quality is high, and the HSV setup was trivial.
And I can't argue too much if I'm only paying $36 a year for cloud storage and it comes with an extra 150 gigs of unencumbered iCloud space. Guess Apple's services push got me. Going to $120 a year for five cameras on your iCloud account (but also required if you've only got two!) gets you a little closer to Nest's prices...:
... and Nest's 24/7 recording really is smooth. But, again, Apple's got the marketing on privacy down pat & you'd get two terabytes (?!!) of iCloud storage for your trouble.
At $40, the eufy Security Indoor Cam 2K provides a heck of low price of entry for the HomeKit Secure Video world, and the hardware & setup process both hit well above the price's weight-class. If you've wanted to experiment with HSV, this is your cam.
posted by ruffin at 7/11/2020 12:24:00 PM
|Monday, June 22, 2020|
Because driving on the road scares the crap out of you as you feel you're about to go rolling down the side of a cliff... and periodically sure enough, the road crumbles beneath your feet.
posted by ruffin at 6/22/2020 02:11:00 PM
Are you kidding me?
posted by Jalindrine at 6/22/2020 02:02:00 PM
|Friday, May 22, 2020|
Ah, what to do about music. I like music. I've joked that different companies I've worked for owe The Black Crowes or The Sounds or Metric or Halestorm -- or, in extreme periods of lethargy, Rob Zombie -- for 30% of my productivity while I worked there. I listen to music while working more often than not, and there's no perceivable detraction from my ability to be "in the zone". Music has been only a positive wrt productivity.
In other words, I consume music. Lots of music. Often lots of the same music. I have a "morning" playlist that I play through at least partially a quarter to a third of my working days.
Is a subscription right for me?
The Selfish Caveat
So look, there are lots of reasons not to carry a subscription. One is that the people who make the music don't seem to get as much of the dough from streaming as an outright purchase. That's bad.
You might also like supporting your local record store so that these experts can continue giving you good recommendations. Or maybe you just like 'em as people. Or maybe you really enjoy perusing physical artifacts. It's a particularly relaxing experience for some. Buying music allows your local store and employees to keep some cash too.
But I'm going to be really selfish below, ignoring these "altruistic" sorts of bonuses, for now.
Argument for buying your music
The argument against subscription is my "morning playlist" argument. If the music you listen to doesn't churn a ton, why not buy?
If you're spending less than or equal to a monthly subscription price on new music, it's a no-brainer.
If you buy your music, you're buying an asset... of sorts. Maybe you can't technically share it with anyone, but you have a never-ending license to listen to your music, and if you ever did stop your monthly buying, you still have your entire collection of favorite tunes.
Having a perpetual license for music without any ongoing fee is very good!
Argument for renting/subscribing
But what if you're buying is equal to or greater than a monthly unlimited music subscription every month? Now we've got an issue. If you're spending that much every month and you're absolutely sure you won't stop buying music for your entire life, well, a subscription makes sense.
There are, of course, risks.
What if your streaming service dies off?
Well, as long as any service is in business, you're fine. As long as both services are unlimited and the catalogs are essentially the same, all you really stand to lose are playlists, etc. That stinks, but you don't lose the music.
I guess at some point music subscriptions could go the way of the 8-track. It's a real possibility. That's a Worst Case for this choice, of course. Consider it.
What if the price goes up?
I don't find this super likely. If the services are $10 a month now and you're spending $15 a month on music, I bet both numbers go up at give or take the same rate. But this could happen. Spotify and Apple and friends could go to $35 a month in a cash-grab after feeling they'd killed off music purchases. It's a risk, though I wonder how likely.
What if I stop listening to new music when I'm old?
That's possible, and, like term life insurance, not whole, you don't get that subscription money back. It's burnt. You're not building an asset. You have to be into the subscription whole hog, for life, or you're potentially losing money.
But the counterargument is that you got to listen to so much more music than you would've if you'd purchased a small subset, your life was better for it. ;^) I mean, you have a copy of REM's Automatic for the People, but when's the last time you listened to it? (It's not that bad. Maybe you should. But you get the point.) If you're not going to listen to your old music and a subscription helps you discover new music with no serious opportunity cost (the opportunity cost being REM mp3s gathering dust bits on your cloud drive somewhere), well, who wins? (The subscriber, that's who. Probably.)
Oh, okay. Fine. I still buy music. But I cheat. I have Amazon Prime, and hog the single license to stream from there when I'm working, using it to discover new music. This has also suckered me into buying lots of my digital music from Amazon, as their player mixes purchases in well with their subscription service in the player, meaning I don't have any (many?) files on my work box, but can still access playlists via streaming. And I use Spotify with ads to listen to new music to see if I like a new album before buying if the music isn't on Prime.
But I'm probably getting close to wanting to buy three or four albums a month, and, at some point, maybe it's worth trading one album purchase a month to also have adless streaming. (The ads do kill my productivity a bit. And they're annoying.) Though, currently, knowing I have to stay under $10/month to easily justify purchases is probably putting a ceiling on those purchases... that may or may not total a little above $10 a month. I'm also a sucker for releases on cassette for some reason. Ah Bandcamp. You're killing me.
So trick question, I guess. The answer isn't buy or rent for me, it's buy and rent and listen to ads.
But this Circle K ad during a Green Leaf Rustlers album is making me reconsider.
posted by ruffin at 5/22/2020 10:56:00 AM
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