The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Quick photo dump

I've had a few things on my plate this week, including a wonderful event with the Choeur de la Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Paris at Old St Patrick's Church in Chicago. We had a big dinner, they sang for us, we sang for them, and then some of us hosted some of them in our homes. Tonight I'm hearing their real performance at Alice Millar Chapel in Evanston.

Sunday night I saw comedian Liz Miele at the Den Theater. I'm totally crushing on her and highly recommend you catch her on this tour:

And naturally I have a few photos of Cassie that got imported into Lightroom this morning:

Real post later today, probably around the time the cold front hits.

Speaker Johnson

House Republicans have (finally) elected a Speaker, far-right Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), an election denier who tried to popularize the "independent state legislature" malarkey after the 2020 election:

Elected to Congress in 2016, Mr. Johnson is the most junior lawmaker in decades to become speaker.

He may also be the most conservative. An evangelical Christian, Mr. Johnson is the former chairman of the Republican Study Committee and sponsored legislation to effectively bar the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity at any institution serving children younger than 10 that receives federal funds.

He served on former President Donald J. Trump’s impeachment defense team, played a leading role in recruiting House Republicans to sign a legal brief supporting a lawsuit seeking to overturn the 2020 election results and was an architect of Mr. Trump’s bid to object to certifying them in Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.

Josh Marshall has links to Speaker Johnson's podcasts, just in time for Hallowe'en. They're scary.

Election day is 376 days away...

Why am I indoors?

It's 22°C and sunny right now, making me wonder what's wrong with me that I'm putting together a software release. I probably should fire off the release, but I'm doing so under protest. I also probably won't get to read all of these things I've queued up:

Finally, Stan's Donuts will open a new store just three blocks from the apartment I moved out of one year ago today. I might have to stop in soon. I will not, however, wash them down with CH Distillery's latest abomination, Pumpkin-Spice Malört.

Telerik responds

Yesterday I complained that some combination of factors had made it impossible for me to evaluate an expensive tool for my day job. The manufacturer responded overnight:

First, we want to express our apologies for experiencing login problem. This is really uncommon and is usually related to OS restrictions. We also want to thank you very much for your interest in Telerik products. We are sure you will be able to build beautiful applications with lots of rich functionality really easy with guaranteed support, demos and documentation, etc.

Back to the login problem. The trial installer is an application that provides web login flow. This means that when you click on Login, your default web browser will be launched landing on the login page. If your system is configured to block applications to launch the default browser, the flow will be interrupted. From the provided error, we can see that System.Diagnostics.Process.Start fails to launch the browser. This information, however, is insufficient to know what the exact reason for this failure is.

We did a quick research and found a solution for a similar problem - OpenWith.exe error. Could you please let us know if that resolves the problem on your side?

Well, then. That's helpful and articulate. They suggested a few options, one of which is simply to use their private NuGet feed, so I will try that first.

Do not prevent me from giving you money

For my real job, I'm evaluating graphics packages to report (informally) at tomorrow's sprint review which ones I think we should investigate further, so that at the next sprint review in two weeks, I can recommend which one we should buy. These packages cost between $1000 and $6000 per year to license. You would think that helping me choose would top the priority list of everyone involved in the demo and trial process.

With that preface, here is the bug report I filed with Telerik earlier today:

When attempting to install a trial version of the Blazor UI controls, I am unable to progress beyond the Login step. This is unfortunate as without the trial I can't make the case that my company should spend thousands of dollars on Telerik instead of, say, Syncfusion. I have to say this experience is not encouraging.

I examined the conversation between the installer and the mothership using Fiddler. The endpoint dle.telerik.com:443 responded with HTTP202 (Accepted) to this POST:

POST https://dle.telerik.com/metrics/v1/events/errors HTTP/1.1
Accept: application/json
Authorization: Bearer {snip}
Accept-Encoding: gzip,deflate
Content-Type: application/json
Host: dle.telerik.com
Content-Length: 1211

{"Type":"HandledError","SessionId":"f2ee3acd-37dc-487a-b5ea-1b2647a2eeb3","Source":"Installer","SourceVersion":"2023.3.1012.0","Timestamp":"2023-10-23T21:10:19.7047547Z","OS":"Windows 10 Enterprise 64-bit v.10.0 ","CLR":"4.8","MachineId":"6uI7wmYbX4Q9h0+vgpSj5xbBF4o=","Exception":{"OS":"Windows 10 Enterprise 64-bit v.10.0 ","CLR":"4.8","MachineId":"6uI7wmYbX4Q9h0+vgpSj5xbBF4o=","Message":"The system cannot find the file specified","Type":"Win32Exception"},"ErrorDetails":"   at System.Diagnostics.Process.StartWithShellExecuteEx(ProcessStartInfo startInfo)\r\n   at System.Diagnostics.Process.Start()\r\n   at System.Diagnostics.Process.Start(ProcessStartInfo startInfo)\r\n   at Telerik.Sso.SsoClient.MakeAuthorizationRequestInBrowser(Int32 port, String appProtocol, String appName, String productCode)\r\n   at Telerik.Sso.SsoClient.GetAccessToken(String appProtocol, String appName, String productCode)\r\n   at Telerik.CommonInstaller.DataAccess.RuntimeServiceClient.GetAccessToken(String appProtocol, String appName, String productCode)\r\n   at Telerik.CommonInstaller.Application.Services.AuthenticationService.Login(String user, String password, Boolean rememberCredentials, Boolean useRemembered)"}

HTTP/1.1 202
Cache-Control: private
Content-Type: application/json
X-Frame-Options: DENY
Strict-Transport-Security: max-age=31536000; includeSubDomains
X-Content-Type-Options: nosniff
X-XSS-Protection: 1; mode=block
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2023 21:11:55 GMT
Content-Length: 0

So, something is throwing an exception and keeping me from evaluating whether to give Telerik money.

One thing which may be important: the installer requested local disk access that required me to run it as a local Admin account. That account is not the domain account I used to register for Telerik. Not that it should matter; since the admin account has never seen the Telerik account, I would expect that the installer would ask for credentials instead of trying to use non-existent cached credentials.

It occurs to me that a better response to a login failure with cached credentials might be to ask for new credentials. Otherwise the end user might get frustrated and file a very snarky bug report.

Please advise. I'm expecting to give my informal evaluation to my team tomorrow at 3pm CDT/20:00 UTC. I'd hate to exclude Telerik from consideration merely because we couldn't load the free trial.

In other news, Syncfusion (which is more expensive but just requires a set of NuGet packages) and Infragistics (which is about the same cost as Telerik but lacks one feature we really need) have moved up in the rankings.

I'm naming the vendor because my tolerance for bugs in software may be higher than the average user's, but not when I'm trying to install the trial version. Then you get no mercy.

The cargo cult of happiness

Writing in the current Atlantic, Joe Pinsker points out that emulating the pastimes of happy cultures won't actually create a happy culture:

With the release of each [World Happiness] report, which is published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the question is not which country will appear at the top of the rankings, but rather which Northern European country will. Finland has been the world’s happiest country for four years running; Denmark and Norway hold all but one of the other titles (which went to Switzerland in 2015).

The rankings are reliably discouraging for Americans, who have never cracked the global top 10. We are merely in the upper middle class of happiness—respectable, but underwhelming for a country with our level of wealth and self-regard.

Taking forest walks and foraging for berries do sound delightful, but a focus on activities and habits reduces entire cultures to individual lifestyle trends and obscures the structural forces that make people satisfied with their lives. No quantity of blankets or candles is going to make up for living in an unequal society with a weak social safety net. The folly of fixating on local customs becomes even clearer if you consider the poverty and violence that are common at the bottom of the rankings: No lifestyle blogger is studying Afghanistan, the least happy country in this year’s report, and recommending that readers avoid Afghan pastimes and customs such as flying kites and going to communal bathhouses.

Of course, we Americans have always tried to create happiness from fantasy, so perhaps missing the entire point of the World Happiness Report comes as naturally to us as a trip to Disneyland. I, personally, would experience more happiness if the United States had universal healthcare and more American cities had fast, frequent, and reliable public transit, but hey, I have nothing against your favorite professional sports team getting more points than the other teams they play.

The UN has made the World Happiness Report 2023 available free online, just in case you want to see which 14 countries ranked higher than the US in this year's report. Only one of them is an active war zone right now.

What else am I reading?

A person who reads The Daily Parker regularly asked me if I read any fiction, since many of my posts highlight news and opinion (non-fiction) articles I've read in the past day or two. And my annual statistics round-up have only mentioned the number of books I've read, not their names and authors.

So for the reader's benefit, and my own in posterity, here are some of the books I've read recently, in no particular order:

I'll post the complete 2023 list in my statistics roundup on January 1st or 2nd.

Chicken soup with rice

Last weekend I made approximately 5 liters of chicken soup due to an unfortunate decision midway through the process to add more salt. Given the saltiness of the soup I put in mason jars, I recommend a 3:2 ratio of soup to water, meaning I effectively made 8 liters of soup. Most of it is in my freezer now, in convenient 250 mL jars, one serving apiece.

Suffice it to say I have had chicken soup for lunch 3 times this week. It is, however, very delicious. Except for over-salting it (which is easily corrected and preventable in future), I know what I'm doing.

Elsewhere in the world, things are not so delicious:

Finally, today is the 50th anniversary of both the Sydney Opera House opening and Nixon's (and Bork's) Saturday Night Massacre. One of those things endures. The other does too, but not in a good way.

Why Americans like European cities

Travel writer Rick Stevens points out that European cities made deliberate choices to become walkable. American cities can do that too:

You know, it's funny, when Americans are in Europe, they marvel at the energy and the people friendliness of the urban cores. But oftentimes, they don't put it together. 

But you walk around these towns—you walk around Rome, you walk around Copenhagen, you walk around Amsterdam and Warsaw—and think, “Where are all the cars? There's just happy people.” I was in Copenhagen once when they were really getting into this: people were walking around the streets wearing plywood cut out the size and shape of a car. And they would walk down the sidewalks in the streets, walking, taking up as much space as a car to make the point. And now when you look around, you realize there's no traffic in Copenhagen downtown. Stop, where are the cars? No cars. Where are the vehicles? 200 bicycles. You stop anywhere, you can see 200 bicycles, but you don't even notice them. And that's how people got there.

I think we have the infrastructure, but the priority for the infrastructure is not people, it's cargo. For Seattle or Portland in Europe, there would be a train every half hour. I wouldn't need a schedule, I would know that at 10 minutes after and at 40 minutes after, there's a bullet train going from my town to Portland, and it would have maybe five stops along the way. It would go 100 miles an hour, and it'd be affordable, it would build community, it'd be sustainable. But what happens when I take the train to Portland from Seattle? It stops in the middle of nowhere for 20 minutes because it's waiting for a freight train to go by. So, our priority is that kind of commerce. I've given up on taking the train to Portland; now I drive. It's just because I'm not cargo: If I was cargo, I'd love to be on a train. But I'm a human being. So, I have to wait.

When [an American city] vacates at night, it becomes dangerous. You get afraid when there’s no people out, and it causes people to have to travel more, and spend more time in traffic to get in and out of work. It doesn't lend itself to a vital community. So, what do you have? You've got a situation where, after dark, the urban core is just a scary, depressing place, and in a lot of cases in Europe, it'd be a thriving place. It's pretty simple, isn't it? People live there. There's public transit, and it's not ruled by cars.

Will the US and Canada ever figure this out? I hope so, and in my lifetime. I grow less optimistic every year.