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lumpy pear-shaped goddess of sex!
When writing Rebuilding Rails, I noticed that the good-progress weeks were always the ones where I did something that viscerally bothered me. So far that trend just keeps on going. I suspect it will for a long time.

This has been a good month.

I'm now lifting weights. Only for, like, two weeks, but I'm already noticing that my workouts feel a lot better, even the short ones. So apparently that's a good thing. I'm mentioning it here more to get accountability than to brag. So you should totally ask if you see me, "hey, are you still lifting weights?" If I think you will, I'm way less likely to stop.

I finally signed up for an actual monthly expense for the business. It's not even for Rebuilding Rails, it's for my next product, which will be about deploying Rails apps and using all those newfangled deploy tools you're supposed to (Chef, Vagrant, Librarian, AWS and many more.) But, like, with minimal pain. You should see the prototype, it's actually pretty darn cool. It'll be even cooler by the time I'm charging a lot of people money for it.

Have I mentioned that I'm getting way more stomach acid happening than a $7.00 monthly expense is actually worth? I've been thoroughly paranoid about not signing up for any expenses that could swamp the profit of my product, which is a habit that eventually catches up to you. No, seriously, if I have to pay $500 or more to make a product that should make $10,000+, I just need to DO that.

My stomach is having none of it, but it's been overruled.

I have purchased pretty ebook templates in hopes that my next book will not look like crap. Except now I'm convinced people will consider me a Real Author rather than a Hapless Engineer That Sometimes Writes Shit and expect me to know something about, like, laying out books and possibly even non-eye-searing color schemes. Urgh.

This, too, is not my stomach's favorite.

I am, in general, comporting myself like I Do This Kind of Thing (i.e. making and selling products.) It feels weird, expensive, and like I will totally crash and burn on this, wiping out all previous products and leaving me with a bunch of classes and (billed-monthly) services that are then a reminder of my failure.

On the plus side, actual measurable progress is pretty good. So there's that.

What are the rest of you doing?

Oy vey.

beard 2013
Every so often, I locate a book (or other communication) that bothers, annoys and generally gets to me, but is clearly carefully-thought-through and full of good ideas.

Just such a book is Nassim Taleb's "Antifragile."

I am having to look up a lot of words to read this book. Okay. He often uses these words in nonstandard ways. Oy.

He is against academia in favor of actual practitioners. Okay. He believes that excuses him from justifying most of his (mostly good, accurate) ideas. Oy.

He makes a wide variety of obscure references with little explanation. Okay. He occasionally gives incorrect references (Tantalus had the water and fruit, not the rock.) Oy.

Reading this book without Google would be much, much more frustrating.

As is I'm having to be careful to not spend long on Wikipedia for each reference.

Flaneur. Bricolage. Apophatic. Joseph Tainter. Gladstone. Hormesis. Sarcopenia.

And a number of things I knew but I'll bet most people didn't like Mithridatization.

Der Spiegel and the NSA

beard 2013
Are you guys up on the latest round of Der Spiegel revelations about the NSA's activities? They're terrifying.

The kind of stuff you heard about with Russian embassies and the CIA mixing bugs into the mortar? They're doing that kind of thing, apparently broad-spectrum, to high-value targets, semi-high-value targets and those who might be adjacent to high-value targets.

And it's not just one or two terrifying things that have been used in a few cases. It's tens of programs, and devices that are apparently routinely shipped in the tens or hundreds of units. It's postal interception, broad postal interception to infect 'new' computers, total compromise of essentially all smartphones, infection of nearly all computing peripherals...

And this is all separate from things like working with RSA to compromise data security standards -- that is, making us all less secure so that they can break our passwords if they need to.

Interesting trade-offs in rights

beard 2013
You've probably seen Paul Graham put his foot in his mouth about how it's hard to find brilliant woman technologists because they don't start programming early -- which, statistically, they tend not to.

Paul Graham is primarily making an observation -- he's a venture capitalist, and he doesn't find that people who didn't start hacking early are the kind of technologists that make him a lot of money. That doesn't specifically make his comments good or bad, excusable or inexcusable. But that's where he's coming from.

There's a huge outcry, of course, from people talking about how you don't need to start hacking at 13 to be an amazing programmer (and you don't.) The implication behind these things is that a woman with fewer years of experience should be every bit as good as a man with more years of experience.

Speaking as an old guy, I have no idea where to go with this. Because the argument that goes "more years of experience don't make you better!" makes me look like a pretty bad choice of employee. I'm a lot finickier about working conditions than when I was younger with fewer years of experience, for instance.

To be fair, startups already tend to discriminate against old guys (Paul Graham and Y Combinator less than many). And getting more young women in startups would be good all 'round.

But it looks an awful lot like this argument is a straight-up tradeoff of their advantage for older workers'.

I have quite a lot of advantage, and I can give some up. But "we should discriminate less against women in tech and more against old people" is still kinda mixed, you know?


beard 2013
I feel like I squander a lot fewer of my opportunities lately.

It's exhausting. But lots of good stuff happens as a result.

Any Ruby programmers in the audience?

beard 2013
I'm starting to screencast some things, partly because I'm thrilled with my nifty new microphone :-)

Also, it's a chance to capture some of my slideshows in a fun way, and it helps me iron out some of my verbal tics.

Anybody feel like listening to me blather about Ruby and Rack for twelve minutes? Or less if you stop it sooner!

Sep. 14th, 2013

beard 2013
My wife rightkindofme compliments my new beard trim as making me look "ten pounds lighter" and "less like a crazed bulldog."

So that'll be a win, then :-)

Sep. 6th, 2013

face with goatee
MC Frontalot, the nerd rapper, wrote a remarkably in-depth analysis of Penny Arcade and the Penny Arcade Expos (PAX), and why he's still there and will keep going to them.

It is very well thought-out. It condemns a bunch of stuff it should condemn. It is basically just 300% better than anything else I've seen anybody else write about Mike's opinions and what that means about PAX and the comic.

It includes a lot of commentary on Mike Krahulik and 1) the Dickwolves comic and T-shirts and 2) the transphobia stuff. If you don't recognize either of those issues, and especially if "Penny Arcade" doesn't ring any bells you can probably ignore this post :-)

I also hadn't known that Mike contributed $2000 to the Trevor Project as part of his apology on the trans stuff, which makes it seem a lot more sincere.

Seven years already...

kissing krissy
Tomorrow (Monday), Krissy and I will have been married for seven years, and known each other for ten.

This past Wednesday, our younger daughter turned three. Shanna's five and change.

The years keep rolling by.

Ah, Fremont.

face with goatee
I got a fix-it ticket on a passenger-side brake light recently. Okay.

Got the brake light fixed. Got the ticket signed by an officer who agrees - my passenger-side brake light now lights up. Now I just have to mail in the ticket and pay a $25 fee.


Clearly I should not mail cash. The officer had no idea who the check should be made payable to. She said nobody has ever asked her about that. The ticket doesn't say who it should be payable to. The web site gives no clue. There's a "pay traffic tickets online" thing, but this isn't a traffic ticket and the citation number isn't in their system -- it says it may take six weeks to get into the system anyway, and this is required to be taken care of in a month.

("So I should make it payable to 'City of Fremont', then?" "No," said the officer, "definitely not City of Fremont." Well, okay, so that answer isn't right, even if there's no listed right answer.)

There's a phone help line (open 8:30-2:30, weekdays only) that could presumably help me with this. I've been on hold for about 45 minutes as it tells me repeatedly to use all these other methods that don't work to find this out.

Google seems to think nobody else has this problem. There's a Yahoo Answers page about several *other* problems people have had.

Does everybody just mail cash? There's no way to pay with credit card on the ticket itself. Are the Fremont police so overworked that I'm the only guy with a fix-it ticket in department history? Everything else they do is traffic tickets, robberies and murders?

I kid. Apparently I can go to the courthouse and hope somebody there is capable of helping me. But based on the police department, ticket, phone help line and various web sites, I'm not feeling hopeful.

As a desperate, Prius-driving criminal with a dubious brake lights, I know I deserve everything the criminal justice system can do to me. But I'd like to pay my debt to society. Society just needs to tell me who that debt is payable to. Or take a freaking credit card. Or let me use the web site that desperate criminals with a speeding ticket can use.