The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Post-posted

High above the North Atlantic, our hero reads the articles he downloaded before take-off:

  • Releasing to Production the day before a holdiay weekend? No. Just, no. OMFG no.
  • American Airlines just won a lawsuit started by US Airways that opens up competition in airfare consolidation—maybe. Bear with it, because this one article explains a lot of what's wrong with competition in any endeavor today. (I'll find a link to the Economist print article I just read on this topic when I land.)
  • The Washington Post helpfully provides 94 questions we Democrats are asking as we slouch towards a Trump presidency. Thanks, guys.
  • In the spirit of Christmas, Citylab remembers when Manhattan had the El. (How is this about Christmas, you ask? No El.) It's interesting to me that only now, more than 60 years later, is New York replacing the east-side transit options with the Second Avenue Subway.
  • Also from Citylab, an interview with Costas Spirou and Dennis R. Judd about their new book Building the City of Spectacle, how Mayor Richord M. Daley remade the city. (Note to self: buy their book.)
  • Finally, the Deeply Trivial blog compiles a couple of videos every Star Wars fan should watch. I know for a fact that the author was born well past the Ewok Divide, and yet seems to have a good bead on the Star Wars universe. Perhaps there is hope for the galaxy.

Today's flight is remarkably fast. We caught the jet stream off the Labrador coast, and with about an hour to go, we're hurtling 1,074 km/h off the west coast of Ireland. This could end up the fastest trans-Atlantic flight I've ever been on, in fact. Details later.

N.B.: Most of the entries on this blog since 2011, and a good number of them going back to 1998, have location bugs that show approximately where I was when I wrote the entry. Click the globe icon directly below and it will call up Google Maps.

If I write an entry at my house, I use a street intersection a few hundred meters away for an approximate location. In a city of three (or, in 1998, seven) million, I feel that's enough privacy. Otherwise, I try to be accurate, even going so far as to whip out my mobile phone to get a GPS fix in flight, as I've just done. Why, you ask? Because it's cool, I reply.

What languages do developers use around the world?

Via Deeply Trivial, the Stack Overflow blog comes up with some answers:

Here on the Stack Overflow data team we don't have to hypothesize about where developers are and what they use: we can measure it! By analyzing our traffic, we have a bird's eye view of who visits Stack Overflow, and what technologies they're working on. Here we'll show some examples of what we can detect about each city based on one year of Stack Overflow traffic.

When developers are using a programming language or technology, they typically visit questions related to it. So based on how much traffic goes to questions tagged with Python, or Javascript, we can estimate what fraction of a city's software development takes place in that language.

London has the highest percentage of developers using the Microsoft stack: while New York had more Microsoft-related traffic than San Francisco, here we see London with a still greater proportion. Since both London and New York are financial hubs, this suggests we were right that Microsoft technologies tend to be associated with financial professionals.

Just another reason why I think London and I should get more deeply acquainted.

One more thing for this horrible, horrible week

I could post about Krugman's "Thoughts for the Horrified," Deeply Trivial's explanation of how the polling failure wasn't what you think it was, or how much rats like being tickled. Instead, I give you twins born on either side of the return to Standard Time:

Emily and Seth Peterson of West Barnstable welcomed their sons in the early morning hours of Nov. 6 at Cape Cod Hospital.

Samuel was born 5 pounds, 13 ounces at 1:39 a.m., shortly before the 2 a.m. hour when clocks were turned back an hour.

Brother Ronan arrived at 5 pounds, 14 ounces 31 minutes later. Because he was born after the clocks fell back one hour, his official time of birth was declared 1:10 a.m. instead of 2:10 a.m.

Of course, the hospital, the Petersons, and ABC News all completely failed to understand that wall-clock time is not absolute time, but it's still a cute story.

Security expert: Don't blame the user

Bruce Schneier points out that we software developers have more responsibility to protect users than they have to follow all of our instructions:

The problem isn't the users: it's that we've designed our computer systems' security so badly that we demand the user do all of these counterintuitive things. Why can't users choose easy-to-remember passwords? Why can't they click on links in emails with wild abandon? Why can't they plug a USB stick into a computer without facing a myriad of viruses? Why are we trying to fix the user instead of solving the underlying security problem?

Traditionally, we've thought about security and usability as a trade-off: a more secure system is less functional and more annoying, and a more capable, flexible, and powerful system is less secure. This "either/or" thinking results in systems that are neither usable nor secure.

We must stop trying to fix the user to achieve security. We'll never get there, and research toward those goals just obscures the real problems. Usable security does not mean "getting people to do what we want." It means creating security that works, given (or despite) what people do. It means security solutions that deliver on users' security goals without­ -- as the 19th-century Dutch cryptographer Auguste Kerckhoffs aptly put it­ -- "stress of mind, or knowledge of a long series of rules."

I'm sometimes guilty of it, too. Though, I also feel that users can do really stupid things that ought not to be our responsibility. After hearing countless stories about fraud, why do some users give credit card numbers to complete strangers, for example?

Starting my day

I took a personal day yesterday to get my teeth cleaned (still no cavities, ever!) and to fork over a ton of cash to Parker's vet (five shots, three routine tests, heartworm pills, one biopsy, $843.49). That and other distractions made it a full personal day.

So as I start another work day with the half-day of stuff I planned to do yesterday right in front of me, I'm queuing up some articles again:

OK, my day is officially begun. To the mines!

Home sick

Here are some things that are occupying me while I figure out who delivers matzoh ball soup:

I also have a book or 50 somewhere. And I need a nap.

Dodged a fiery bullet

So, a couple weeks ago, I replaced my LG G4 with an LG G5. I thought about getting the Samsung Galaxy 7, but it was $350 more and didn't really have a lot of extra features. Turns out, it did have one extra feature that really my phone doesn't:

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says owners of the Galaxy Note 7 smartphones should turn them off and stop using them because of the risk that their batteries can explode.

The agency also says it's working with Samsung on an official recall of the phones "as soon as possible" and that it's trying to figure out if the company's replacement Note 7s are an "acceptable remedy."

Samsung last week began a global recall for the phone.

Yikes.

Stuff to read later today

It's fascinating how working from home doesn't seem to give me more time to, you know, work. So these have backed up on me, and I hope to read them...someday:

OK, so, that's going to take a few minutes...

Fun start to the month

I love getting an email at 7am because of a production bug. I love it even more when it's pre-release software, still in development and changing almost every day, that the client has decided to demo to a customer.

Parker is happy I'm still home, though he may be left all by himself for a few hours if I have to go into the office anyway.

Real blog entry later if I get a break.