New York City Skyline During Easter 1956

The NYC skyline during Easter of 1956.
The NYC skyline during Easter of 1956. There would probably be an uproar today. ‪ #‎HeIsRisen‬.

See that photograph at the top of this here blog entry? It’s currently making the rounds through social media along with the caption below it. A fellow Dogger brought it to our attention. There was something about the image that didn’t sit well with him. We agree.

First things first. Yes, there would be some uproar if this happened today. The US is more diverse now than it was sixty years ago. There might be fewer gripes if they celebrated all religious holidays along with Easter. Although that might be even messier. If contemporary uproar is your concern, imagine what would happen if they displayed a crescent during Ramadan.

Second things second. It’s entirely possible that something like this did occur in 1950s New York. Your JoeDog used to live in Manhattan and he’s seen a wide array of light-oriented messages. It wouldn’t surprise him at all if Easter was crossy then.

New York City skyline 1950s postcard

Still, something doesn’t sit right. The tall building in the middle no longer exists but Your JoeDog found it in a contemporary postcard for sale on eBay.

We can see that structure here on the right. Of the three tallest buildings depicted here, the Chrysler Building is in the foreground and the Empire State Building (ESB) is to the rear. This means we’re looking at Manhattan over the East River from Brooklyn. Therefore the third tallest building in this group sits to the south.

In the photo with the Easter crosses, we find ESB on the left and Chrysler on the right. That means the crosses are north of us. Now consider the middle building. It’s north of both ESB and Chrysler. How is that possible? In the postcard it’s clearly to the south. Was the photo reversed? That’s possible but then buildings get taller as you near the river. That may have been accurate in 1956 but it’s not now.

So Your JoeDog isn’t sure what to make of this viral photograph. If the thought of a crossy New York puts a spring in your step, then who is he to harsh your mellow? At the same time, he wishes we would apply a little more scrutiny to items we pass through social media. It’s jungle of misinformation out there.



We’re Here, We’re Rainbowy. Get Used To It.

GitHub prideIf you’re the sort of person who gets fifty kinds of upset over boys marryin’ boys, then Your JoeDog has a helpful tip: don’t visit GitHub.com today. The company changed its logo background so it would be all rainbowy — OMG, that’s the queer color!!1! You have to be logged in to see it. The main page still contains a boring grey background.

The Pridetocat image — which appears in the upper left corner of this post — actually pre-dates Friday’s ruling. In early June, GitHub began selling Pridetocat t-shirts. All proceeds from the sales of those shirts go to Lesbians Who Tech, Maven, and Trans*H4CK (pronounced “transhack”). According to GitHub, those organizations help educate, connect and empower LGBTQ people in tech.

Now Your JoeDog is generally on top of contemporary anagrams but he never saw a Q in LGBT before. What does that stand for? According to a The USA Today article it can be either Queer or Questioning. At JoeDog Industries, we feel it’s not our place to decide which Q applies to any particular person. And who cares, really? We’re busy turning coffee into code. So back to hacking….



Some People Need Structure

Charleston ShooterEarlier this week a young white man walked into a black church in Charleston. His name was Dylann Roof and he sat down with a prayer group. The church welcomes all so the stranger was no cause for concern. After about an hour, he rose from his seat, pulled out a gun and started shooting into the prayer circle.

According to a survivor, someone begged him to stop. He responded to that plea like this: “No, you’ve raped our women, and you are taking over the country … I have to do what I have to do.” And he shot the young man. Nine people died that night.

You can call Dylann Roof a racist asshole. You can say he’s a monster. Or a craven little pussy. Your JoeDog won’t disagree. Here’s something else he was: misguided.

From the Washington Post we learn that Roof dropped out of high school in ninth grade. He drifted aimlessly. He laid around the house and dabbled in drugs. His parents implored him to find a job and he went to the mall and pestered store managers but it doesn’t appear that he left with any job applications.

With no schedule he wandered aimlessly. With no agenda, he formed his own, a refinement of bad ideas. With nowhere to go, his interactions became fewer, his views more esoteric. There are plenty of young men in this rut. Most refrain from killing others but that doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. In the best scenario, Dylann Roof would have accomplished nothing, helped no one and achieved nothing.  The worst scenario was on display in a Charleston Church.

Some people have lots of ideas. They have long todo lists and insufficient time to check every item. For them an unstructured life is a blessing. They can align their tasks by their daily moods. A flexible schedule allows them to create many great things. When their mood changes, it’s not a problem for these folks. There’s always something else to do.

That doesn’t work for people like Dylann Roof. People like that need structure. They need schedules and task lists provided by others. They need things to do. Guns aren’t going away – not in America, anyway. If we hope to stop this endless chain of horrific mass shootings, then we need to find a way to help people like Dylann Roof organize their lives.  We have to find them something to do. As tasks become increasingly more automated, that might become ever more difficult.



Things I Have In Common With Richard Stallman

Your JoeDog found Richard Stallman to be the same in real life as he is on the Internets: a complete pain in the ass. He’s not just the how priest of free software, he’s also the choir. For example, most of us understand that when you buy hardware it comes with proprietary firmware. He gets worked up about that. The dude will inconvenience himself rather than compromise his commitment to free — as in freedom — software.

Actually, he’s a very nice guy but I’m still surprised to learn we have a anything in common. Yet we do! For example, did you know we

  1. Both prefer console based editors although Stallman uses that god awful emacs.
  2. Think C++ is one ugly-ass language
  3. Think java is elegant although we don’t use it often.
  4. Both consider C our favorite language.
  5. Don’t care for 4Chan.

That’s about it, but it’s more traits than Your JoeDog would have thought possible. Click that and you’ll see what I mean. If the rich aren’t like the rest of us, then neither is Stallman. And that’s a good thing because the guy’s a treasure. (Even if he is a pain in the ass.)



The Facebook Effect (on real estate prices)

When Your JoeDog was in Palo Alto, he was thumbing through a real estate guide in the lobby of a hosting provider. A two-bedroom, 900 sq. foot post-war house caught his eye, not because it was nice but because it was listed for over a million dollars. That same house in the heartland would probably sell for one-tenth as much.

Now Tech Crunch tells us about the Facebook effect on real estate prices. Two years ago, the hoodied company announced it was moving from Palo Alto to Menlo Park. The effect on local real estate was astounding. Prices in Menlo Park increased 41.9%. In East Palo Alto — which is near the new fascility — the effect was even more profound. Prices in that neighborhood are up 75.6%.

There’s only one reason why real estate is so expensive in the Silicon Valley: it’s close to work. People are willing to pay a premium for a shorter commute. But why is this so important?

Tech guys have been selling the notion of telecommuting for at least twenty years yet they obviously demand that their own employees show up to the office. High housing prices in the Silicon Valley are testiment to the bullshit they peddle to the rest of us….



Internet Troll Hijacks A Sendmail Question

Your JoeDog wondered if he could throttle incoming email so he went to the google machines to search for an answer. Mike B had a similar thought. On Serverfault he asked, “How can I throttle incoming emails in SendMail for a specific recipient?”

Awesome! Let’s see what the internets has to say about this.

Andrzej A. Filip responded: Could you elaborate a little “WHY do you need it?”/”WHAT do you want to achieve?”?

Lookit Andrzej A. Filip drinking a tea with an extended pinkie finger. His time is so god damn important that he’s not answering shit unless he knows that’s person’s entire thought process.

Just consider his inflection. He loud-capped the first word. “WHY do you do need it?” That’s a question. Here’s another one: “WHY do you fscking care?”

Obviously Mike B has a goal he hopes to achieve or he wouldn’t have tossed that question to the internets so assholes like Andrzej A. Filip could hijack the thread with concerns about his underlying motivation.

It’s been a year and the question remains unresolved. Good job, Andrzej A. Filip. Good fscking job.



Modify It; Don’t Criticize It

Audi TFSIWhen Your JoeDog got a new car, the first thing he did was modify it. He added another 37HP with help from the folks at APR Tuning. Your JoeDog’s attitude toward cars mirrors his attitude toward software. If he owns it, then he should do whatever he wants with it as long as he doesn’t hurt somebody.

Cars and software run best when they run fast.

Well now here’s something that makes Your JoeDog want to down 10 bottles of Mad Dog and follow that with a codeine chaser:

Automakers are supporting provisions in copyright law that could prohibit home mechanics and car enthusiasts from repairing and modifying their own vehicles.

Did you get that? A Federal agency will determine whether or not tinkering with your car constitutes a copyright violation. When Your JoeDog saw that he thought, “Who do I have to nut punch and where does the line form?”

If you’re a nerd of a certain age, just about every outrage traces back to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. Well, guess what?

Since cars are now rolling computing platforms, manufacturers have asked the Copyright Office to determine whether or not the DCMA protects their intellectual property and prohibits people from modifying and tuning their own vehicles.

Assholes. It’s not like we’re going to Detroit, Wolfsburg or Ingolstadt to tell manufactures how to construct their vehicles (although that couldn’t hurt). As it stands, we’d rather just take delivery now and improve the car our god-damn selves. Don’t mess with that, Washington.

[H/T: Slashdot.org]



Troll! Troll! Troll! The Trolls Are Typin’

trollface-originalYeah, sure, this is a nerd-blog but that doesn’t mean we’re a bunch of pencil necked Poindexters. We’re all about a song, and a dance, a little seltzer down the pants….

Okay, where’s this headed?

A JoeDogger sent me an academic white paper from … why are you looking at me like that? Yes, it’s a PDF … what do you mean PDFs are against your religion? It’s an interesting read. You’re not gonna click it, are you?

No.

Alright, here’s the Reader’s Digest: The folks at Stanford have developed a tool that can identify internet trolls with 80% accuracy. The process by which they achieve this is described in the link you didn’t click. In short, this could be the most important paper of our time. We’re talking Nobels!

Consider this: last year someone posted a cake recipe to a Melbourne radio station’s website and all hell broke loose in the comments section. While that episode provided comedy relief for many of us, it had to be unsettling for those whose thing is cakes and Australian radio. Trolls and spammers are why we can’t have nice things.

Fortunately, we’ve pretty much mastered spammers. By “we” I mean people who-do-that-for-a-living. Your JoeDog tossed its hands in the air and gave up. We moved our mail to Google and our comments to Disqus. Hulk smash! Spam gone! Of course, so are the comments. Are you guys that afraid of change?

Trolls are many things — “assholes” comes to mind — but they’re not spam. They first appear as legitimate human beings. As their posting frequency increases, they become more vocal, push more emotional buttons, become increasingly anti-social until finally no one can stand them and a moderator is forced to yield his Hammer of Ban and eliminate them from the forum.

Thanks to the efforts of this team, it may soon be possible to filter trolls much like you would email or link spam: with TrollAssassin (copyright!!)



Standardize Testing

testingBureaucrats love standardized testing. And why not? To judge the effectiveness of a system, you need an universal means of testing and measuring progress. Your JoeDog understands why these tests are important; he tests systems all the time. Unfortunately, few people like this particular method:   “Another standardized test? Yeah!!!!!”, exclaimed nobody ever.

They suck and they’re expensive. According to a Brookings study, it costs $1.7 billion dollars to administer them annually. That’s about four percent of the total Federal budget. Your JoeDog has a more cost effective means of measuring the value of public education. Take the total number of annual email scam victims and multiply it by the number of what-were-you-thinking?

If teachers produce just one student who wires money to collect winnings for an Irish lottery he’s never entered, then there’s room for improvement. If this becomes the means by which we evaluate educators, then you can bet your boots there will be a class in That Nigerian Prince Who Wants To Wire You Ten Million Dollars Doesn’t Exist.  And what good is a Home Economics class that doesn’t impart this lesson: Your banking details don’t need to be immediately updated.

One more thing: It’s recently come to our attention that schools in the great state of Kansas are ending the school year early because the people voted themselves massive tax cuts. Tests or no tests, at the end of the day you get the education system you paid for.