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Tue, 9 May 2017

This too shall pass

— SjG @ 9:49 pm

Back in October of 2015, I started writing the following, and never finished or published it:

I upgraded the Mac to Yosemite a year or so ago. Yesterday, I wanted to do some development on a project that I’d been idly thinking about. Unfortunately, it required a dependency in a package I’d installed via Mac Ports. I tried to upgrade it, but got an error that I was compiling for the wrong Darwin version. This means I haven’t actually updated any of my Ports since upgrading to Yosemite! For shame.

Rather than fix Mac Ports for Yosemite, and then again when I upgrade to El Capitan, I decided it was time to do that upgrade and then fix it. I also thought … hey, there’re all these neat new container technologies and configuration tools. Maybe I should look into some of those, and save myself the agony next time around.

So I dove into some articles, and pretty soon had become a seething mass of quivering rage.

To set up my environment in Docker, I need Docker, and a VM. I could set it up using Vagrant, or, as some people recommend, Vagrant running Chef or Solo. Then, of course, I need to set up some replacement for vboxsf so I can access my files in the Virtual environment. Each of these requires its own configuration, of course.

Today, I was struggling with something similar. I’m building an iOS app. Years ago, I’d built a few native iOS apps, but I’ve forgotten everything I ever knew about Objective C, and I don’t know Swift. Plus, I need to publish for Android too. So, six months ago, when I started this process, I decided I’d be using Ionic Framework. It had the advantage that it was based on AngularJS, and I’ve done some work in Angular.

Now that I’m starting, I discover that Ionic 2 is the way to go — oh wait, not Ionic 3 was just released! And my AngularJS experience is ancient v1.2.x, knowledge which is largely obsolete. I’d be learning Angular 2 — no, we’re up to Angular 4 now — so better get cracking on that.

I remember, many, many years ago, how excited I was was there was a new version of Windows. I couldn’t wait to get all those 3.5″ floppies home so I could upgrade my machine to the latest and greatest. Now, I dread each year when a new version of Mac OS comes out, and I need to upgrade and track down all the things that broke, and rebuild my ports and and and… Not to mention when I installed a recent Linux on a VM to host some sites, and discovered to my chagrin that systemd has replaced all manner of things Unixy that I’ve been doing mostly-the-same for thirty years.

Well shit. There it is. I’ve become the grumpy old software guy. “Why are they changing things? Why can’t they just leave them alone?” The fact is, some of these changes are indisputably improvements. But so many of them seem to be changes for the sake of change. We have to have “new, improved!” all the time, even if it’s just changing the syntax (why, oh why, is *ngFor so much better than ng-repeat !?).

Part of this is struggling with obsolescence in general. It’s hard being middle-aged in tech. You can’t help seeing that look in the eyes of the youngsters: that old guy is so backwards. But it goes beyond that. My neighborhood is changing around me. Younger families are moving in, and suddenly I’m that guy who’s been in the neighborhood for a long time. I find myself navigating by past landmarks — it’s across from the Burger King, er, those condos, right by the Foster’s Freeze, er, Dunkin’ Donuts. The world is changing around me rapidly. The political world I grew up in has shifted. Every year, I see more obituaries for people I know, or whose names I know. Things that were true when I was a child are no longer true.

I have vague memories of hearing these thoughts expressed when I was younger by people I thought were old. I didn’t understand them then. I’m beginning to understand them now.

I just have to remind myself that change is constant, and not all bad. When I was a kid, there were no known exoplanets. When I was in my twenties, I’d come home from a night out, and I’d be stinking of second-hand cigarette smoke. We had to struggle with card catalogs to find books in the library. When trying to reach my friends, I’d have to leave messages on their home answering machines, and I’d have to call from a pay phone where I’d enter in a multidigit phone card number. If you were interested in obscure music or books, you’d have to read tiny ads in the back of magazines to track down sources or information. LGBQT people were all but invisible, and same-sex marriage was barely even in the realm of speculative fiction.

So, that being said, I’d like change to slow down a bit. Could I please just finish a project before all the constituent languages, libraries, and frameworks have a major version increment?


Mon, 7 Oct 2013

Dear Mr. Speaker

— SjG @ 8:02 pm

Dear Speaker Boerner,

I had thought that the current shutdown was simply obstructionism and petulance over the recent elections, but now I’m beginning to understand. You have realized that the hijacking of the Republican party by mad ideologues is untenable, and, for the good of the country, are euthanizing the party. It’s a good plan. At least you will leave a legacy of having taken decisive action, and putting the interests of the American People above petty politics. I congratulate you on your resolve.

Sincerely,
Samuel


Thu, 24 Jan 2013

Conspiracy Theory

— SjG @ 9:58 pm

I don’t get these people who think Sandy Hook was a evil conspiracy on the part of Obama to take away their guns.

Clearly they didn’t listen to Henry Peterson, when he said “Follow the money, Earl, because that’s where it’s going to be.”

Anecdotally, after Sandy Hook (and Aurora, and … and …) gun sales were up significantly, as were NRA memberships, and ammo supplies have been slammed worse than they’ve been since the months immediately after the 2008 election1.

If there’s any conspiracy2, I’d be looking at the armaments industry, not at the President.

But then again, I prefer Occam’s razor to his bayonet.

1 Remember how, even well into 2010, it was nearly impossible to find .380ACP?
2 There isn’t. Let’s face it. We’re a violent culture, and an alienating culture. A lot of people are not only alienated, but depressed. Some people are mentally ill. Some are medicated. Some snap. There’s no conspiracy; it’s a structural problem.


Thu, 11 Oct 2012

Perplexing

— SjG @ 8:40 pm

I have to admit, this latest presidential election has me perplexed1. Why is there even a contest? The Democrats love Obama, and the Republicans should too. After all, the Obama administration is the apotheosis of traditional supply-side GOP ideals — a Republican wet dream. “Wait. What?” I hear you say. Turn off the partisan filters for a moment, and consider the following facts:

  • Corporate profits are at an all-time high.2
  • CEO salaries are the highest ever.3
  • Wall Street salaries are close to the highest they’ve ever been.4
  • The Stock Market is within a few percent of its all-time high.5
  • Interest rates are the lowest on record.6
  • Corporate Taxes are at the lowest effective rate ever (recording begun in 1947).7
  • Tax rate for highest earners is the lowest it’s been since 1931.8
  • The US Defense budget is at an all-time high.9
  • There are more deportations of illegal immigrants than ever.10
  • More terrorists / enemy militants killed per year than ever before11

So, given this list, why is the current administration so hated by the American Right and so loved by the American Left? We have, in essence, a pitched battle between two symbols, which we choose to take at face value. Never mind that the actuality is nothing like what it says on the label12.

1 OK, not really. But the phrase works better, rhetorically. This entire posting should be considered in that light.

2“Corporate Profits Just Hit An All-Time High, Wages Just Hit An All-Time Low”, Business Insider Magazine, 22 June 2012.
US Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis.

3“Historical Trends in Executive Compensation” (PDF), 1936-2003, Carola Frydman and Raven E. Saks, November 15, 2005.
“C.E.O. Pay Is Rising Despite the Din,” NY Times, 16 June 2012.
United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics survey for 2001-2010.

4“Wall Street Pay: A Record $144 Billion, Financial Overhaul Has Affected Structure but Not Level; Revenue-to-Compensation Ratio Stays Flat”, Wall Street Journal, October 11, 2010.
“The Giant Pay Gap Between Wall Street And Everyone Else Isn’t Going Anywhere”, Business Insider Magazine, October 10, 2012.

5The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 13,494.6 on 3 Oct 2012, the all time high was 14,164.53, so it’s only 4.8% down from the highest it’s ever been. The S&P 500 was 1,450.99 on 3 Oct 2012, the all time high was 1,576.09, so that’s a bigger gap, but it’s still only 8% down from the all-time high.

6“Mortgage rates now below even lows of early 1950s”, Associated Press, 30 Sept 2011.
National Bureau of Economic Research, Macrohistory: Interest Rates.

7St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, FRED® Economic Data, “Graph: Federal Government: Tax Receipts on Corporate Income (FCTAX)/(Corporate Profits After Tax (CP)+Federal Government: Tax Receipts on Corporate Income (FCTAX))”

8Historical Top Tax Rate, Tax Policy Center of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution.

9Government Printing Office, Budgets
US Census Bureau historical records

10“President’s Approval Rating Drops, but He Leads 2012 Rivals. As Deportations Rise to Record Levels, Most Latinos Oppose Obama’s Policy” PEW research, 28 Dec 2011.
Numbers may have been inflated by changes in how they’re counted; even so, deportations are still higher than Bush numbers. “Deportation statistics said to be inflated”, Washington Times, 23 August 2012

11“The Year of the Drone. An Analysis of U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan, 2004-2012” New America Foundation

12And just so you don’t think I’m picking on the Democrats alone, I only point out the one side as it’d take a whole additional posting to show that the Republicans are the “spend and borrow” party, etc.


Thu, 4 Feb 2010

Life in the Big City

— SjG @ 10:38 pm

Sometimes, I think I just ought to move out to the peaceful countryside… City life can be disconcerting.


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