The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Weekend plans

Tomorrow afternoon I'm flying to Phoenix to visit Park #26. Fortunately, Chase Field is air-conditioned, because the forecast calls for 38°C at game time after a high temperature of 41°C earlier in the day.

Photos and a frank assessment of the weather conditions to follow this weekend.

Strong El Niño forming this year

Jeff Skilling at the Chicago Tribune updates us on the equatorial Pacific:

The current El Nino comes together against a backdrop of warming oceans and oceans which are growing more acidic as they observe mass quantities of CO2 produced through the burning of fossil fuels and the release of CO2 into the atmosphere this produces. More on the rate at which the planet’s oceans are warming here. It’s estimated that the warming which has taken place in the world’s oceans since 1990 is the equivalent of having exploded 5 Hiroshima strength nuclear bombs in the our planet’s oceans every second over the 25 year period. The warming oceans may be impacting the strength of the current El Niño. For more, click here.

What can we expect in the next few months? Most likely, increased precipitation in California, heavier than normal precipitation this fall and winter in the South, and a milder winter here in the midwest. However, with the ridiculously resilient ridge over the western U.S. and Canada, this year's El Niño could be completely different. Can't wait to find out.

Two jobs, both alike in dignity

Not a lot of time to write today because I'm spending most of the day as CTO and the rest of the day as Lead Developer. The context switches are horrible.

Tomorrow should be a little easier.

Ebb and flow

During the first half of 2015, I took four trips, slightly fewer than the 22 I took in the second half of 2014. As of today I have four scheduled in the next three months—still not a huge number by historical standards.

This coming weekend I'm restarting the 30-Park Geas. Then from mid-August to mid-September I've got trips planned to downstate Illinois, London, and San Francisco, the last one to attend the Dreamforce conference.

It's still murder on my EQM numbers. It will hurt in 2016 if I can't somehow fly about 11,000 miles farther than I have planned through the end of 2015. Once you've gotten platinum status, you never want to go back.

I can live with that

At the new Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters, we have Xfinity Internet provided by Comcast. In the last couple of weeks, citing competition from just about everyone, Comcast upgraded Internet speeds in many of their markets, including Chicago:

Comcast announced Monday that it is raising the speed of its Blast Internet service to 75 Mbps, at no additional charge. The 50 percent increase will benefit about half of the company's high-speed Internet customers in Chicago, effective immediately.

For customers who need more than "extreme" speeds, Comcast is also launching the previously announced Gigabit Pro service, which delivers 2 Gbps upload and download speeds. That is 4 times faster than the top Internet speeds previously offered in Chicago by Comcast. The service requires installation of professional grade equipment outside and inside the home, and costs about $299 per month, a big jump in price as well as speed.

Well, I don't have gigabit speeds, but I do have this as of last night:

Yeah, OK. That'll work for now.

Happy birthday, Fat Man?

Seventy years ago today, the United States detonated the world's first nuclear weapon:

On Thursday, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, part of the Department of Energy, will commemorate the 70th anniversary of its greatest scientific accomplishment: the first successful test of an atomic bomb.

The anniversary of that explosion, which happened about 210 miles south of here at a site named Trinity, will be marked in a low-key fashion at the lab. There will be a roundtable discussion in an auditorium.

Well, that sounds exciting. We're still the only country to have waged nuclear war, and we still have more nuclear weapons than anyone else except Russia. At least we're not still in the days of my childhood when we had over 10,000 bombs.

It's still debated whether the Manhattan Project saved more lives than it cost in 1945. (I think it did—and I'm very, very glad the Nazi nuclear effort went in completely the wrong direction, preventing them from getting the bomb first.)

Why software sucks, redux

I'm reviewing a book I read about nine years ago, Why Software Sucks...and What You Can Do About It by David Platt. It feels like re-reading Keynes in 2008: really much more familiar than one would want, because no one seems to have learned much. From Chapter 1:

As with many areas of computing, user interface design is a highly specialized skill, of which most programmers know nothing. They become programmers because they're good at communicating with a microprocessor... But the user interface, by definition, exists to communicate with an entirely different piece of hardware and software: a live human being. It should not surprise anyone that the skill of talking with the logical, error-free, stupid chip is completely different from the skill of talking with the irrational, error-prone, intelligent human. ...

Because they're laboring under the misconception that their users are like them, programmers make two main mistakes when they design user interfaces. They value control more than ease of use, concentrating on making complex things possible instead of making simple things simple. And they expect users to learn and understand the internal workings of their programs, instead of the other way around.

The book is a little dated (October 2006), so some more, ah, concrete thinkers may have trouble getting past the 2006-era examples. But just like the idea that government investment can get an economy out of recession, the ideas in the book are still relevant and timely. Unfortunately.