The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

On Carly Fiorina, AKA “HP: Invent”

| August 29, 2015

So, this post by Larry Correia got me thinking about Carly Fiorina. I don’t know how she plays to the mainstream US, because I haven’t talked with people about it, but every nerd over 30 knows the legend of how she came to HP and layed off a ton of folks, destroyed long term R&D all the while changing the slogan to HP:Invent. Now, this may not be a totally accurate characterization of what happened, but it was the perception at the time, and likely persists to this day. Apparently, CNN money says this may be an issue as well. Heck, she leaves and the stock goes up 7% at the news…

On drunk driving

| August 29, 2015

Driving whilst drunk on beer is bad, and, even though it is very much illegal, people continue to do it.

Therefore, I’m going to propose that we ban beer.

Then, once we have banned beer, we can talk about how there are vastly fewer beer-related drunk driving incidences.

What’s that?

People will just drink other things?

Maybe so, but I’ve achieved my objective of stopping people from drinking beer!

(Replace “drunk driving” with “violence” and “beer” with “guns” and you perhaps begin to understand why banning guns is stupid. Most places that ban guns report a decrease in gun violence, but not of violence. Why? Because people who want to do you harm use something else. Meanwhile, you’ve denied the use of something to otherwise innocent people due to no crime on their part, merely because someone else did something bad with it some time.)

Windows 10

| August 29, 2015

So, I’ve upgraded to Windows 10. It’s sort of halfway between Windows 7 and Windows 8 in terms of all the Windows 8 crap they added. The multiple desktops are about the worst I’ve ever found, and dialog boxes raised to the top of the stack tend to disappear as soon as you move your mouse (the “new desktop” button does the same thing). You have to raise the dialogs by clicking their parent app on the taskbar, and you need to click and hold and then release and then click again in order to get to the new desktop button. This may be a bug related to my existing Win 7 install which I upgraded, but who knows.

Aside – Classic Shell is a decent add-on for modern versions of Windows to, most notably, bring back the old start menu. It does other things too.

So, yeah, 10 is worse than 7 as far as UI goes, but who the hell cares? If you’re using Windows to do real work, I’m sorry. It’s still only suitable for video games, and that’s mainly because you just run steam in fullscreen mode.

On the right to be free from guns

| August 21, 2015

I came across this article, in which the author states:

What’s needed is a long-term national effort to change popular attitudes toward handgun ownership. And we need to insist on protecting the rights of Americans who do not want to be anywhere near guns.

The anti-freedom crowd tried that starting in the 70’s. (Remember the National Council to Control Handguns which was renamed to Handgun Control Inc. and then later the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence?). It has failed. Your last victory was the federal assault weapons ban. The problem you have is that more and more people are getting educated. Black guns are not scary anymore. People realize that guns are fun, they are useful. Research, outreach and education efforts by the NRA, SAF, GOA, etc. are changing public perceptions on firearms. They also increasingly do not trust you, the police, or the government. They realize that the right to carry weapons for defensive purposes is core to the inherent natural rights of free people, the same as the rights of speech and assembly, and anyone who wishes to suppress such rights wants to control you and make you a slave.

On Amazon

| August 20, 2015

So, there’s been a lot of discussion about this New York Times article about Amazon. Before I give my take, I should mention that there are some replies:

  • from a guy who works there.
  • allegedly from Bezos.
  • a follow up NYT article. The interesting thing here is that I was aware of the stuff in the first article at least 10 years ago. I worked with a fellow Amazonian, and we were talking about uptimes and nighttime deployments, etc., and she said (roughly, it’s like 10 years ago): When I was at Amazon, we’d decide to not go live until, say, next Monday, and then you’d get a call that night at 11PM because the boss is calling everyone in because Bezos said he wanted to move the deployment up to 3AM tomorrow morning. My reply was pretty forthright – if it’s not an emergency, then I better not be getting calls. This is doubly true that there had been a decision to NOT ship and the CEO was there, and then changed his mind. In that case, I would have gone in and then handed in my notice the next day (or, now that I have kids and can be less loose cannon about this, I would have found something else and then left).

In the end, I ended up leaving that job, partially for that reason. I had to do several things that I considered to be unethical after being ordered to do so directly by the CEO (most notably, we sold insurance, and we changed references from TravelGuard to AIG when AIG bought TravelGuard. This was fine. However, then AIG got into trouble during the financial crisis, so we changed it back because we didn’t want to scare people. I was vehemently opposed to this because we can’t be perceived as a comparative insurance agency if we’re hiding the company which owns or underwrites the plans. I was told that he was the boss and I should just do it.) I left soon after. In hindsight, I should have just flat out refused and gotten fired.

Incidentally, the rest of the dev team left within two years, due to a variety of issues, most notably related to growing pains, which is hard for any shop. I mean, when you start out as one person in his basement, and grow to 50 people, and try to establish greater engineering rigor (code reviews, formal QA, real UI design, etc.) but are unwilling to accept that such things take longer, it’s basically an impasse and frustrates everyone. When you pretty consistently overrule your entire development team because you taught yourself to code and wrote the first version of the site.. well, that just makes your team leave because PHP sucks and we would have been better off refactoring the existing Perl code into something maintainable and paying down our technical debt.

One guy, the most brilliant of the group, got so fed up that he went and became a postman for a couple of years, before later returning to the industry. His issue is that he needs to work at a real engineering shop with good process, review, etc.

On Post Capitalism…

| August 19, 2015

I found this article to be interesting.. Some thoughts:

  1. As a general case, what he calls “post capitalist” I call “post scarcity”.
  2. He says

    It will need the state to create the framework – just as it created the framework for factory labour, sound currencies and free trade in the early 19th century.

    Why does the state need to even be involved at all, aside from staying out of the way and letting things progress in an organic distributed fashion? If you’re talking about not locking things up as property and focusing on sharing of data, then you don’t need state institutions to facilitate this – you have existing ones to handle resolution of disputes of physical property, but if data is to be open and shared, you don’t need this for the virtual. So, what is the role of the state in this?

  3. This is wrong:

    They have not yet had the same impact as the Black Death – but as we saw in New Orleans in 2005, it does not take the bubonic plague to destroy social order and functional infrastructure in a financially complex and impoverished society.

    Order broke down when the government swooped in and took away the guns that people were using to protect life and property. By disarming the folks keeping order, disorder followed. The government doesn’t keep order. The general citizenry, which has a respect for order and property rights, does.

    Further, legislation designed to protect people (by preventing “price gouging”) caused the government to stop supplies from flowing in to the affected areas (so people wouldn’t be taken advantage of) leading to supply shortages. Just allowing the market to respond would have resulted in goods moved to where they need to be.

Updated kids picture gallery

| August 11, 2015

Max and Miles – 2015

It’s now updated through August 2015, and has pictures of the Roger Williams Park Zoo.