I haven't had the most productive morning ever, but I should get back into coding after I take Cassie on her lunchtime walk. Meanwhile:
Finally, just look at this wonderful creature who got a bath yesterday. She actually climbed into the tub on her own, and seems to have figured out that getting a vigorous whole-body massage with warm water, followed by an equally-vigorous toweling off, actually feels pretty good.
It's only Wednesday? Sheesh...
- The Writers Guild of America got nearly everything they wanted from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (i.e., the Astroturf organization set up by the big studios and streamers to negotiate with the Guilds), especially for young writers and for hit shows, but consumers should expect more bundling and higher monthly fees for shows in the future.
- Josh Marshall suspects that the two competing storylines about the XPOTUS (that he's about to return to power, but he's also losing every legal battle he fights) are actually just one: his "current posture of bravado and menace – while real enough as a threat – is simply his latest con, concealing a weaker and more terrified reality."
- Jamie Bouie marvels that Justice Clarence Thomas (R$) wins the trifecta: "We have had partisan justices; we have had ideological justices; we have had justices who favored, for venal reasons, one interest over another. But it is difficult to think of another justice, in the history of the Supreme Court, who has been as partisan and as ideological and as venal as Thomas...."
- Melissa Gira Grant profiles US District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk (R-NDTX), a Christian nationalist who rose through the Federalist Society pipeline to a lifetime appointment where he will push his Victorian-era views on the people of Texas for the next 30 years or so.
- North Korea vomited up US Army Private 2nd Class Travis King, having used him for the little he was worth after the soon-to-be-dishonorably-discharged soldier illegally entered the kingdom in July.
- Kelli María Korducki worries that "in the age of AI, computer science is no longer the safe major," not realizing, perhaps, that the most effective programmers are and have always been liberal arts majors.
Finally, yet another fact that will make everyone I know feel old: today is Google's 25th birthday. And yes, the Daily Parker has been around longer trillion-dollar search company. We just haven't had our IPO yet.
Other than getting a little rained on this morning, I've had a pretty good day. But that didn't leave a lot of time to catch up on any of these before I started a deployment just now:
- Heather Cox Richardson examines US history through the lens of a never-ending conflict between "two Americas, one based in religious zeal, mythology, and inequality; and one grounded in rule of the people and the pursuit of equality."
- Josh Marshall ponders the difficulty of covering the XPOTUS's increasingly ghastly behavior in the "both-sides" journalism world we inhabit.
- James Fallows zooms out to look at the framing decisions that journalists and their publishers make that inhibit our understanding of the world. Like, for example, looking at the soon-to-be 4th time Republicans in Congress have shut down the Federal government and blaming all of Washington.
- Fallows also called attention to Amna Nawaz's recent interview with authoritarian Turkish president Recep Erdogan in which she kept her cool and her focus and he...didn't.
- Speaking of the impending Republican torching of the US Government (again), Krugman looks at the two clown shows in the party, but wonders why "everyone says that with the rise of MAGA, the G.O.P. has been taken over by populists. So why is the Republican Party’s economic ideology so elitist and antipopulist?"
- The Supreme Court has once again told the Alabama legislature that it can't draw legislative maps that disenfranchise most of its black citizens. Which, given the state's history, just seems so unlike them.
- The Federal Trade Commission and 17 US States have sued Amazon for a host of antitrust violations. “A single company, Amazon, has seized control over much of the online retail economy,” said the lawsuit.
- Monica Hesse dredges all the sympathy and understanding she can muster for XPOTUS attorney Cassidy Hutchinson's memoir. NB: Hutchinson is 27, which means I am way overdue for starting my own memoir.
- Chicago Sun-Times columnist David Roeder complains that the CTA's planned Red Line extension to 130th Street doesn't take advantage of the existing commuter rail lines that already serve the far south side, but forgets (even as he acknowledges) that Metra and the CTA have entirely different missions and serve different communities. Of course we need new regional transport policies; but that doesn't mean the 130th St extension is bad.
- Software producer Signal, who make the Signal private messaging app, have said they will leave the UK if the Government passes a "safety" bill that gives GCHQ a back door into the app.
- Molly White shakes her head as the mainstream press comes to terms with something she's been saying for years now: NFTs have always been worthless. Oh, and crypto scored two $200-million thefts this week alone, which could be a new record, though this year has already seen $7.1 trillion of crypto thefts, hacks, scams, and other disasters.
- After almost 20 years and a the removal of much of an abandoned hospital in my neighboorhood, the city will finally build the park it promised in 2017.
Finally, I rarely read classical music reviews as scathing as Lawrence Johnson's evisceration of the Lyric Opera's Flying Dutchman opening night last Friday. Yikes.
I was a little busy over the summer, so it took me a couple of months to finish adding Inner Drive Technology World HQ's Netatmo weather station to Weather Now. (Implicitly, the app can now read any Netatmo data to which the owner of the station has granted us access.) Netatmo weather stations upload data every 10 minutes, so that's how often Weather Now downloads it.
I had to change a number of assumptions throughout the application, as it has only used NOAA aviation weather since its origins in 1997.
The next updates to Weather Now will most likely include a fix to the way it displays on mobile devices, personal profiles, the annual core language update (to .NET 8) in November, and a massive expansion of the Gazetteer.
The v2–v4 Gazetteer had about 7.3 million geographical records in a huge relational SQL Server database. Since I uploaded most of that data in 2003, I'm going back to the agencies that provided the original data and grabbing all of the current information. And because of the way Azure Cosmos DB works, updating individual records will be far, far easier, even in batches, than it would have been with SQL Server.
My next big hobby project will be to replace this blog engine. But I've been saying that for 15 years now...
Three hours later, I've got Weather Now's Netatmo code integrated with the Function App that controls all of the automated background functions of the application. I now have to move the adobo to phases two and three (browning, starting the slow cook), then take Cassie out.
I might actually deploy this today. Except that I discovered that a decision I made about how the site would store weather at the start of the re-write in 2020 means the simplest thing that works requires me to change Netatmo's data into a METAR. Not difficult, but also not the most elegant solution.
Someday I might even import the entire gazetteer into Weather Now 5, too...
I have three goals today, to take advantage of the gray rainy weather. First, another stab at adobo, this time with a little less vinegar, fewer peppercorns, and a skosh* more sugar. It's marinating right now, so in about three hours, I'll brown the pork belly and then slow-cook it in my Instapot for another three hours or so.
Goal #2: Finish coding and deploy the update to Weather Now to use data from my Netatmo devices. Finally, I'll have actual IDTWHQ weather!
Goal #3: See if it's possible to build an Azure pipeline to deploy a 16-year-old .NET 4.8 application to an App Service. This is the first of several steps to get a very old client application to stay alive for another five or so years after Microsoft kills Cloud Services (classic) next August. Because the UI uses ASP.NET Web Forms, I can't upgrade it to .NET 7, which means I may have to write custom code to do things that .NET 7 provides out of the box. There is a possibility that I may even have to re-write the UI in Blazor, which no one—not me, not the client, not the users—wants at all.
All righty then, time to get coding. And in 6½ hours, adobo!
* TIL how the word is actually spelled, and why.
Inner Drive Technology WHQ cooled down to 14°C overnight and has started to climb up into the low-20s this morning, with a low dewpoint and mostly-clear skies. Perfect sleeping weather, and almost-perfect walking weather! In a few minutes I'm going to take Cassie out for a good, long walk, but first I want to queue up some stuff to read when it's pissing with rain tomorrow:
- A Wall Street Journal poll (which the XPOTUS funded in part) appears to have bad news for the Biden re-election campaign, not least because 52% of voters surveyed believe the laziest person to hold that office since Harding and the dumbest since...well, Harding..."has a strong record of accomplishments."
- The Wisconsin Republican Party has given up any pretense of respect for the voters by threatening to impeach the newly-elected Democratic state supreme court justice Janet Protasiewicz before she has even heard a single case. Says Jamie Bouille, "In the absence of national regulation — and against the backdrop of a federal Supreme Court that is, at best, apathetic on issues of voting rights — states are as liable to become laboratories of autocracy as they are to serve as laboratories of democracy."
- Molly White may not shed any tears for Sam Bankman-Fried's difficulties getting comfortable in prison, but our prison system really does create dangerous conditions for people who don't have armies of lawyers fighting for them.
- Elizabeth Spiers has had enough of men who double down on reprehensible behavior, and the other men who let them.
- The Chicago Tribune looks at Underground Railroad sites around the city.
- Charlie Warzel laments that "streaming has reached its sad, predictable fate." Vulture reached that conclusion back in June, when it reported on studio executives having reached that conclusion in March. And then the strike happened...
- The Economist's Bartleby column provides a how-to guide on "networking for introverts."
- James Fallows reviews former Naval Intelligence officer Michael McLaughlin's book on the cyber-war that you and I are already fighting.
- The UK set a new record this afternoon with its 7th consecutive day of 30°C temperatures, an unprecedented (at least since the 1880s) occurrence. "Before that, according to Met Office data, the UK has only had three consecutive days of 30°C weather in September on four previous occasions: 1898, 1906, 1911 and 2016," the Guardian reports. "Saturday was named the hottest day of 2023 in the UK with 32.7C recorded at Heathrow." (This is not normal.)
Finally, my indoor Netatmo base station has picked up a funny mid-September thing: cicadas. The annual dog-day cicadas have only a few more days to get the next generation planted in the ground, so the remaining singletons have come out this morning instead of waiting for dusk. As you can see, the ones in the tree right outside the window closest to the Netatmo have been going at it since dawn:
The predominant species in my yard right now are neotibicen pruinosus, or "scissor-grinder" cicadas. But we also have our share of other species in Northern Illinois. And, of course, next May: Brood XIII comes out. That'll be fun (especially for Cassie)!
Via Molly White, thieves made off with data from LastPass containing the encrypted passwords from 25 million users. They still have to crack the vaults to get at the data, which takes a long time, but Brian Krebs worries they have already succeeded in cracking a few of them:
In November 2022, the password manager service LastPass disclosed a breach in which hackers stole password vaults containing both encrypted and plaintext data for more than 25 million users. Since then, a steady trickle of six-figure cryptocurrency heists targeting security-conscious people throughout the tech industry has led some security experts to conclude that crooks likely have succeeded at cracking open some of the stolen LastPass vaults.
Armed with your secret seed phrase, anyone can instantly access all of the cryptocurrency holdings tied to that cryptographic key, and move the funds to anywhere they like.
Which is why the best practice for many cybersecurity enthusiasts has long been to store their seed phrases either in some type of encrypted container — such as a password manager — or else inside an offline, special-purpose hardware encryption device, such as a Trezor or Ledger wallet.
[Security researcher Nick] Bax said the only obvious commonality between the victims who agreed to be interviewed was that they had stored the seed phrases for their cryptocurrency wallets in LastPass.
If you use LastPass, MetaMask's lead project manager Taylor Monahan urges you to update your credentials now:
According to MetaMask’s Monahan, users who stored any important passwords with LastPass — particularly those related to cryptocurrency accounts — should change those credentials immediately, and migrate any crypto holdings to new offline hardware wallets.
“Really the ONLY thing you need to read is this,” Monahan pleaded to her 70,000 followers on Twitter/X: “PLEASE DON’T KEEP ALL YOUR ASSETS IN A SINGLE KEY OR SECRET PHRASE FOR YEARS. THE END. Split up your assets. Get a hw [hardware] wallet. Migrate. Now.”
If you also had passwords tied to banking or retirement accounts, or even just important email accounts — now would be a good time to change those credentials as well.
Another idea: don't hold your assets in crypto, which, unlike real banking, has no protection against theft and few ways to recover stolen funds.
This morning, for the first time since the inbound Ravenswood platform opened August 1st (and therefore since mid-2011), I actually got to shelter from the weather while waiting for the train:
Rain was falling, but for a few minutes, none of it fell on me. We could stand under a roof and wait for the train to arrive. Of course, since the platform was designed to accommodate a 3rd mainline track some day in the future, we still had to stand in the rain for a brief moment to get on the train, but still. I stood outside on the train platform not cursing Bruce Rauner and seven generations of his descendants.
Oh, and note to self: bring spare socks to the office.
My home office sits at the top of my house as a loft over the floor below. I think it could not have a more effective design for trapping hot air. (Fortunately I can let a lot of that out through this blog.) This afternoon the temperature outside Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters didn't quite make 25°C, and it's back down to 23°C with a nice breeze coming through the window. Wednesday and Thursday, though, the forecast predicts 36°C with heat indices up to 43°C. Whee. (It gets a lot better Saturday.)
Meanwhile, in the more comfortable parts of the world:
- Jamie Bouie reminds everyone what I've said repeatedly: Rudy Giuliani has always been an unhinged and reprehensible character. Thanks for finally noticing.
- Speaking of authoritarians who hate the press, law professor Gregory Magarian digs into the Marion, Kansas, newspaper raid, which the Post says came about because the paper committed journalism on a corrupt police chief.
- Rolling Stone helpfully catalogues malignant narcissist Elon Musk's biggest lies.
- One of his lies, or at least one of his latest manifestations of abject incompetence at running a tech company, came earlier this week when he mused about ending the "block" feature on the app formerly known as Twitter, despite that move probably getting it kicked off the iPhone and Android platforms.
- A judge sentenced an Ohio teenager to concurrent 15-to-life terms for killing her boyfriend and one of his friends by driving her car into a brick wall at 160 km/h.
- American Airlines has sued Skiplagged, claiming the company tricks people into violating American's terms of service—and worse, doesn't actually save their customers any money.
Finally, a change to zoning laws in Auckland, N.Z., appears to have done what its proponents predicted: increasing housing and slowing rent increases. It's almost like single-family zoning was designed to keep those people out. Next thing, they'll start discover that zoning combined with redlining kept millions of credit-worthy people from ever building wealth for their families and led the US to an unsustainable pattern of urban development that will cost us trillions to fix. Crazy.