Google v. Oracle, by analogy

Suppose Joe opens a restaurant. He hires a waiter who is really great at following directions, but speaks no English. Over time, Joe comes up with a way of working with this waiter that’s very precise and detailed. You can ask the waiter for things like “order burger plus cheese plus ketchup no tomato no onion” or “bring check” or “bring water”. However, you have to say things exactly the right way each time.

November 2020 Voting Guide

These are the notes I collected to determine how I’m going to vote on November 3, 2020. I’m posting this not to tell you how you should vote, but to share my reasons for why I’m voting this way. United States President Biden is the only serious candidate. Congress U.S. House California District 13 Barbara Lee (D, Incumbent) California State Assembly District 18 Rob Bonta (D, Incumbent) State Senate District 9 Nancy Skinner (D, Incumbent)

Staying away from WD NAS drives for now

Western Digital just admitted to Tom’s Hardware that they use a notoriously slow technology, shingled magnetic recording (SMR), in the WD Red drives they market for use in high performance storage devices. This is a very bad look for them. I just replaced my last 6TB Red with a Seagate IronWolf over the weekend (coincidentally; it had nothing to do with this). In my experience, Reds have a nasty habit in their old age of taking performance nosedives without reporting any SMART errors.

The Kansas City Wormhole

I’ve had one inexplicable thing happen in my life. I remembered it today and texted an old buddy about it, and his memory of it was identical to mine. One day after high school, 3 friends and I piled into my car and drove to Kansas City to meet up with some other friends who had moved there. They weren’t home when we arrived, and at some point we had the idea to go to the zoo to kill time because we thought it was free (and we were broke).

More apps lost to subscriptions

Two more apps I really like(d) have recently announced that they’re moving to subscription models: Fantastical and Paste. The Internet almost universally decided to stomp on the former’s announcement, but I’m not sure that the latter is widely popular enough to get a lot of people riled up. With rare exception, these moves are death knells for my usage of such apps. As I’ve written before, the bottom line is that apps have to offer good value to their users.

Commodore declared bankruptcy 25 years ago today

Commodore International declared bankruptcy on April 29, 1994, and pretty much sealed the fate of the Amiga. I couldn’t care less about Commodore, but I think we lost something special when Amiga died. My parents bought an Amiga 1000 shortly after it launched (and then, begrudgingly, a 256KB RAM expansion a month later because otherwise you couldn’t do much with it). It was a magical machine with true preemptive multitasking at a time when DOS was normal, and years before Macs could decently run multiple programs at once.

A standard for describing a site's password rules

There’s not a universal standard for what a valid password on a website must look like. Some sites allow you to use any four letters. Others require at least twenty characters, including at least one numeric digit and one “special character” (aka punctuation). Even when using a password manager, the process of creating a good one looks a lot like: Turn the password manager’s strength settings all the way up and generate a password.

Ringing the bird

I was on an early morning walk and came across a guy staring at the telephone wires. As I approached, I caught the distinct aroma of marijuana. I turned to see what he might be looking at, and he held a finger to his lips to quiet me. He whispered, “there’s a mockingbird up there. If you listen, he’ll ring like a bell.” Sure, buddy. So we stood there in silence, and then the little bird opened his mouth and sang chimes to us.

Heavy traffic is not a DDoS

Ajit Pai claimed that when the FCC asked citizens to comment on Net Neutrality, their website was attacked with a distributed denial of service, or DDoS. I’ve heard many of his defenders claim that an overwhelming number of people trying to use the website to comment was in fact a DDoS. This is a lie. It was not a kind of DDoS. Words mean things, and “DDoS” specifically means a coordinated attack.

Happy birthday to me!

I registered on July 2, 1998, so today is its twentieth birthday. We’ve had fun, little domain. Here’s to twenty more!