1 month Ago
The Super Bowl takes place way too late on a school night for all but the most ardent fans on this side of the pond. This is not to say that there are no such fans over here. The Germans and British both had full coverage, with the British channel Film4 having gotten Terrel Davis and Mike Carlson to assist the Scottish announcer Colin Murray, who started off slowly but got steadily more hilarious as the game unfolded into a slaughter of Denver by Seattle. There were plenty of people willing to stay up until 04:30 in the morning to watch the Super Bowl. It might be nice if the NFL moved it to the afternoon so that more of us could watch it live. I recorded it and watched it on 23-hour delay.
The first snap set the tone for the Broncos. It sailed into the end zone and gave Seattle a safety in the first twelve seconds. Two interceptions and a fumble rounded out the first half. The second half opened with a Seattle kickoff return for a touchdown—again, within twelve seconds. Denver’s defense was ardent in the first half, but forgot how to tackle in the second, two times in utterly embarrassing ways that led to two touchdowns. Maybe they grew disappointed that Manning kept throwing the ball to the other team or that when he miraculously managed to get the ball to a teammate, he fumbled it. Demaryius Thomas certainly gave his all—-his was the only Denver name we heard in a positive light.
At every intermission , the coverage switched back to the booth to let the Scot lambaste Terrell Davis (former Bronco), who took the ribbing good-naturedly. Midway through the third quarter after the latest fumble by the Broncos, Terrell admitted that “there might be no saving this one” to which Murray replied that “Terrell was probably the last person watching the game to admit that”. Later, Davis was forced to admit that Denver was “being taken out to the woodshed”. At the end of the third, Murray glances sidelong at Davis and allows that it was nice that Denver “would not be the first team to be shut out in a Super Bowl” to which Davis could only reply that that was “something positive…good news…I guess”. And when it came time to start thinking about the game MVP, people were encouraged to consider “any number of players on the Seattle Seahawks”.
The British announcers only showed up during pauses in the game—of which there were enough; the in-game announcers are the same as from the video feed from the States (Troy Aikman and Joe Buck, I think?). The guys in Britain had some good analysis, saying the Aikin’s claim that Manning’s legacy is not damaged by this pummeling but, had he won, it would have been reinforced. Davis responded that “you can’t have it both ways like that” and Murry pointed out that this game just “underlines Manning’s post-season question marks”, which I found to be relatively trenchant and spot-on analysis.
I’d heard from a few people that the game was boring but I have a feeling that they were Broncos fans. Because, objectively, the game was pretty interesting for Seahawks fans and the unaffiliated. Seattle was really firing on all cylinders defensively and offensively. They were fun to watch, by all rights. Sure, it was a blowout (or a “washout” as the Brits kept calling it) but the action was pretty good, for a football game.
The other advantage we have on this side of the pond is that there were very few breaks in the first half and almost none whatsoever in the second. That alone made the experience much more enjoyable. This is similar to the way that Olympics coverage will likely be relatively unadorned by commercials whereas it is almost certain that NBC will ruin the Olympics as usual. This, even more than what will probably be near-constant references ot the US quick-exit plane on standby—because of supposed terrorist threats—or having moved US military presence into the Black Sea, because of same.
And speaking of military presence, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the Super Bowl coverage started with a few shots of troops in Afghanistan (because that has anything to do with football?) and the national Anthem ended not only with the by-now obligatory Blue Angels flyover but also a medley of Black Hawk and Apache helicopters hovering over the stadium, a move that must have engendered its share of flashbacks and PTSD horrors in many veterans. But the militarism stopped there, presumably because of the aforementioned lack of US advertising during the game. In previous years, there were nearly incessant ads for various branches of the US military or for movies bought and paid for by the Pentagon, like, say, Act of Valor.
To end on a positive note, the half-time show was not as bad as previous years and Bruno Mars was not as terrible as I expected. I thought the red Hot Chili Peppers were decent, especially for a half-time show. Kudos to Keidis and Flea for going out in the NJ cold shirtless.
The game ended in washout, with the final 10 minutes dribbling by scoreless, which comes as no surprise to anyone, with Denver having all but given up and Seattle just grinding out the clock, forcing another fumble—this time directly from Manning—but otherwise not doing much else of note. Other than being a stone wall to Denver. It was nice to see an outcome that went totally against predictions.
 Not that I expect anything from the NFL, a non-profit organization that ignored horrific injuries to its players for decades, pays its cheerleaders a pittance and constantly whine about municipalities not building them enough stadiums. Just recently, I heard that the NFL doesn’t pay a penny for the increased police presence required by the Super Bowl. Again, not a surprise. I don’t expect them to think about moving gametime to accommodate a market that enjoys football but doesn’t sell much advertising.↩
 Of course I’m going to mention it. This is earthli News. We don’t know how to ignore things and just enjoy them.↩
Though TypeScript has its weaknesses (it has technically not yet hit a 1.0 release), we eventually decided to go in that direction. The tool support in Visual Studio and ReSharper are both improving steadily and have gotten quite good. We’ve had quite positive results in one larger project.
Even with Dart in our wake, I am still curious to see how people are using it. I was surprised by the claims in the article Why Dart should learn JSON while it’s still young by Max Horstmann.
Either that, or use a probably non-optimized external library to serialize your object to JSON (likely using introspection, as JSON.Net does). I agree with the author of the blog that this is a red flag for using Dart in production projects. It’s strange that Dart doesn’t produce JSON without relying on external libraries. And the recommended library is, as of this writing, of pre-production/alpha quality—the version number is 0.1.0 and the TODO list includes a bullet point that exhorts the author to “Write tests!”.
So I’m still waiting to see what becomes of Dart, but the balkiness of the current solution for generating JSON not only makes it a bit of tough fit for many current web applications, but also makes us urge caution despite its having recently been released (1.0 came out in November 2013).
It takes full advantage of being evaluated at run-time to offer features that I haven’t seen in even other dynamic languages. Some of these features seem like they might be nice shortcuts but also seem like they would be difficult to optimize. Not only that, but they seem so obscure that they would likely will trip up even more seasoned users of the language.
The example below shows how that might work.
The language allows you to call methods from the “extends” clause. The example above creates an array of class names, then calls the
The example above is contrived and makes the feature seem like it’s only for the reckless. It’s clear that serious software would have to forbid or strictly limit the use of such a feature, but I can see where it would be useful.
For example, you may want to change your base class depending on deployment parameters. If you’re deploying to a testing or staging environment, you’ll use a base class that includes more logging, profiling and debugging code. For production, you switch to a base class that’s optimized. If the class interface remains the same, then using this feature wouldn’t be as dangerous as it initially appeared.
Still, ensuring quality and enforcing architecture in software written in such a language would require a strict development process and discipline and vigilance from all involved.
2 months Ago
I recently got a new laptop and ran into a few issues while setting it up for work. There’s a tl;dr at the end for the impatient.
Lenovo has finally spruced up their lineup of laptops with a series that features:
I recently got one of these. Let’s get it set up so that we can work.
Pop in the old SSD
Instead of setting up the hard drive that I ordered with the laptop, I’m going to transplant the SSD I have in my current laptop to the new machine. Though this maneuver no longer guarantees anguish as it would have in the old days, we’ll see below that it doesn’t work 100% smoothly.
As mentioned above, the case is well-designed and quite elegant. All I need is a Phillips screwdriver to take out two screws from the back and then a downward slide on the backing plate pulls off the entire bottom of the laptop.
At any rate, I was able to easily remove the new/unwanted drive and replace it with my fully configured SSD. I replaced the backing plate, but didn’t put the screws back in yet. I wasn’t that confident that it would work.
My pessimism turns out to have been well-founded. I boot up the machine and was greeted by the BIOS showing me a list of all of the various places that it had checked in order to find a bootable volume.
It failed to find a bootable volume anywhere.
Try again. Still nothing.
UEFI and BIOS usability
From dim memory, I recalled that there’s something called UEFI for newer machines and that Windows 8 likes it and that it may have been enabled on the drive that shipped with the laptop but almost certainly isn’t on my SSD.
Snooping about in the BIOS settings—who doesn’t like to do that?—I find that UEFI is indeed enabled. I disable that setting as well as something called UEFI secure-boot and try again. I am rewarded within seconds with my Windows 8 lock screen.
I was happy to have been able to fix the problem, but was disappointed that the error messages thrown up by a very modern BIOS are still so useless. To be more precise, the utter lack of error messages or warnings or hints was disappointing.
I already have access to the BIOS, so it’s not a security issue. There is nothing to be gained by hiding from me the fact that the BIOS checked a potential boot volume and failed to find a UEFI bootable sector but did find a non-UEFI one. Would it have killed them to show the list of bootable volumes with a little asterisk or warning telling me that a volume could boot were I to disable UEFI? Wouldn’t that have been nice? I’m not even asking them to let me jump right to the setting, though that would be above and beyond the call of duty.
At any rate, we can boot and Windows 8, after “detecting devices” for a few seconds was able to start up to the lock screen. Let’s log in.
I have no network access.
Checking the Device Manager reveals that a good half-dozen devices could not be recognized and no drivers were installed for them.
This is pathetic. It is 2014, people. Most of the hardware in this machine is (A) very standard equipment to have on a laptop and (B) made by Intel. Is it too much to ask to have the 20GB Windows 8 default installation include generic drivers that will work with even newer devices?
The drivers don’t have to be optimized; they just have to work well enough to let the user work on getting better ones. Windows is able to do this for the USB ports, for the display and for the mouse and keyboard because it would be utter failure for it not to be able to do so. It is an ongoing mystery how network access has not yet been promoted to this category of mandatory devices.
When Windows 8 is utterly incapable of setting up the network card, then there is a very big problem. A chicken-and-egg problem that can only be solved by having (A) a USB stick and (B) another computer already attached to the Internet.
Thank goodness Windows 8 was able to properly set up the drivers for the USB port or I’d have had a sense-less laptop utterly incapable of ever bootstrapping itself into usefulness.
On the bright side, the Intel network driver was only 1.8MB, it installed with a single click and it worked immediately for both the wireless and Ethernet cards. So that was very nice.
The obvious next step once I have connectivity is to run Windows Update. That works as expected and even finds some extra driver upgrades once it can actually get online.
Since this is a Lenovo laptop, there is also the Lenovo System Update, which updates more drivers, applies firmware upgrades and installs/updates some useful utilities.
At least it would do all of those things if I could start it.
That’s not 100% fair. It kind of started. It’s definitely running, there’s an icon in the task-bar and the application is not using any CPU. When I hover the icon, it even shows me a thumbnail of a perfectly rendered main window.
Click. Nothing. The main window does not appear.
Fortunately, I am not alone. As recently as November of 2013, there were others with the same problem (Lenovo Community). Unfortunately, no one was able to figure out why it happens nor were there workarounds offered.
I had the sound enabled, though and noticed that when I tried to execute a shortcut, it triggered an alert. And the System Update application seemed to be in the foreground—somehow—despite the missing main window.
Acting on a hunch, I pressed Alt + PrtSc to take a screenshot of the currently focused window. Paste into an image editor. Bingo.
Now that I could read the text on the main window, I could figure out which keys to press. I didn’t get a screenshot of the first screen, but it showed a list of available updates. I pressed the following keys to initiate the download:
Hovering the mouse cursor over the taskbar icon revealed the following reassuring thumbnail of the main window:
Lucky for me, the System Update was able to get the “restart now” onto the screen so that I could reboot when required. On reboot, the newest version of Lenovo System Update was able to make use of the main window once again.
 I’m making this sound easier than it was. I’m not so well-versed in cracking open cases anymore. I was forced to download the manual to look up how to remove the backing plate. The sliding motion would probably have been intuitive for someone more accustomed to these tasks.↩
In my searches for help, manuals and other software, I came across the following download, offered on Lenovo’s web site. You can download something called “Hotkey Features Integration for Windows 8.1” and it only needs 11.17GB of space.↩
Take a deep breath. Step back. Does that sound plausible? Is the mighty power of the atom, harnessed by decades-old technology, likely to be able to effect such mighty change?
Because the Pacific Ocean is huge. Like, really gigantic. It has 16 times as much surface area as the entire United States of America. Hell, there’s a Pacific Garbage Patch whose estimated size is about the surface area of the US of A and we can barely even tell it’s there.
The article True facts about Ocean Radiation and the Fukushima Disaster by Kim Martini (Deep Sea News) examines a few of the more extraordinary claims made about Fukushima in recent weeks as well as their supposedly corroborating evidence that comes in the form of superficially convincing false-color diagrams and maps.
Non-absolution for TEPCO and Japan
This is in no way to say that the Japanese authorities and TEPCO are not handling the situation in a poor, if not criminal, manner. Nor is it to provide support for the nuclear industry as we find it today in its corrupt and highly subsidized and under-regulated form. Nor do I wish to offer any opinion or particular hope that we could reap the benefits of nuclear power without the heretofore unavoidable corruption engendered by any business so reliant on government largesse.
This is to provide support to the facts and avoid misinformation that only does damage to a cause that has its heart in the right place but seems incapable of controlling itself when it comes to disseminating untruthful and deliberately manipulated propaganda.
Terms and units
Before you even start talking about radiation and its effect on humans, you have to be clear on the units.
The exact doses that are considered dangerous to humans differ based on they type of radiation as well. If you’re more of a visual person, then check out this Radiation Dose Chart by Randall Munroe (XKCD), which does a decent job of putting the relative numbers in perspective.
Pretty maps and charts!
I already wrote about one of these shenanigans in Radiation is everywhere! (And we’re all gonna die.). It included a link to Fukushima Emergency (Snopes), which debunks one of the fancy we’re-all-gonna-die charts that’s been making the rounds.
The article by Martini includes several more images, many of which I’ve seen posted on social-networking sites. As usual, the hyperbole is based on a grain of truth: “radiation probably has reached the West Coast but it’s not dangerous.”
Seriously, how bad is it? Am I gonna die?
Instead of thousands or millions times higher radiation, the conclusion is that:
The emphasis draws attention to the reality that radiation is everywhere, in one form or another. But it’s at such a low dose that we will die of old age long before it has an effect on us. Therefore, this so-called background radiation is considered harmless—because it will utterly fail to kill you quickly enough to prevent something more dangerous from doing so (like texting while driving, for example).
Even 300km away, the radiation levels caused by the meltdown at Fukushima are well below the level of background radiation. Even should you find yourself swimming off the coast of Fukushima, you’d be exposed to “less than 0.03% of the daily radiation an average Japanese resident receives.”
You can stay skeptical to keep those with vested interests from blowing sunshine up your ass, but don’t let that instinct lead you astray. Instead, apply a healthy skepticism for everything you hear on this complex topic instead of just the stuff that agrees with your predisposed view. Always check your sources and don’t believe every cover-up conspiracy you hear.
 I do not know who Kim Martini is, but I am encouraged by her inclusion of end-notes that include references to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Environmental Research Letters, the Journal of environmental radioactivity as well as references at MIT and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Her short bio at the end of the article states that “Kim is a Physical Oceanographer at the Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Ocean at the University of Washington.”↩