Photo-a-Day, Sundry

Hospital Cafeteria

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2012/04/17/hospital-cafeteria/


The green beans were good.

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Photo-a-Day, Sundry, Testimonials

Daily Routine

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2012/04/19/daily-routine/


Daily Routine

In a hospital room, the Daily Routine consists mainly of waiting.

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Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2012/04/25/infrastructure/

Concrete and Electricity along a Canal

Concrete and Electricity along a Canal

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About Me, News and Reaction, Religion

Dan Savage Calls “Bullshit” On Parts of the Bible

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2012/05/01/dan-savage-leviticus-bullshi/

What sort of disturbs me is the Christians walking out. The religion says you have an obligation to spread the gospel, to preach The Word. That means you ought to interact with non-believers and skeptics, not leave the room as soon as some public figure challenges some or another point regarding your religious faith.

Jesus would have stuck around, and perhaps had some salient response regarding the morality of slavery, stoning, and tolerance of non-traditional sexual practices.

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Know When to Hold’m

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2012/05/05/stfu/

“If I were committed only to being right, I would go out and talk anyway, but because I’m committed to making a difference, I wait until I’m ready.”  –Julia Butterfly Hill

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JIRA, Technical

Work Note: Quarterly Reports from MySQL

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2012/05/08/jira-sla-sql-query/

I am not a DBA. I am but a humble SysAdmin who gets asked to figure out things like “how have we been at meeting our SLAs over time?” After I try to excuse myself I’ll inevitably end up say at the JIRA database running a query like this:

echo "Incidents (P3)"
mysql -u jira jiradb< <__id3q
select year(created) as "Year", quarter(created) as "Quarter",
    count(pkey) as "Total",
    sum(resolutiondate < date_add(created, interval x day)) as "Met SLA",
    sum(resolutiondate < date_add(created, interval x day)) / count(pkey) as "SLA %%"
    from jiraissue where pkey like 'OPS-%' and priority = 3
    and assignee != 'nagios' and issuetype = 26
    group by year(created), quarter(created) order by created;

That above is a fragment from a shell script. Shell scripts are great for complex SQL queries, I find. Set a value x at interval x day and the output looks something like:

Incidents (P3)
Year    Quarter Total   Met SLA SLA %%
2011    2       xxx     xxx     x.xxxx
2011    3       xxx     xxx     x.xxxx
2011    4       xxx     xxx     x.xxxx
2012    1       xxx     xxx     x.xxxx
2012    2       xxx     xxx     x.xxxx

The query does some things that are newer to my limited understanding of SQL. For me the magic bits are sum()ed columns and the availability of quarter() … you can do monthly reports just as easily with month(). I’d love to concatenate Year-Month into a string like “2012-05” but for the purposes of making my boss a little happier queries like this are good to have in the locker.

Some day I’ll be hip enough to convert things like this into JIRA widgets.

Oh yeah, and if your SLAs are measured in “business hours” or “business days” this will give you only a crude understanding of how well you have met your SLAs … an accurate measure would probably get embedded in a handler that gets called on issue close which can evaluate SLA fulfillment per issue priority and the local work schedule.

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FreeBSD, JIRA, Linux, Mac OS X, Technical

Strip Non-Ascii From a File

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2012/05/10/mysql-not-configured-for-utf8/

I have had bad luck trying to coax this out of Google, so here’s a Perl one-liner:

perl -pi -e 's/[\x80-\xEF]//g' file.txt

Where file.txt is a file you want to clean up.

Why this comes up is because we have a web application that was set up to hit a MySQL database, which is incorrectly configured to store text as ASCII instead of UTF-8. The application assumes that all text is Unicode and that the database is correctly configured, and every week or two someone asks me why they are getting this weird gnarly error. Typically they are pasting in some weird UTF-8 whitespace character sent to us from Ukraine.

Eventually the database will be reloaded as UTF-8 and the problem will be solved. Until then, I can tell folks to use the Perl command above. It just looks for anything with the high bit set and strips it out.

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Sundry, Technology, Testimonials

Way to go, Facebook!

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2012/05/22/fb-got-it-right/

I am skeptical of Facebook’s long-term prospects, but as a guy who has worked at his share of Silicon Valley startups, and as a guy who has taken a modest loss on FB by betting on an opening-day bounce, I have got to give them credit: their IPO “flop” means they got it right, and hopefully made the stock market a slightly better place:

1) By setting their price at, or in this case, above what the market will pay, the company’s investors make the most money off their stock. If there’s an opening-day bump, that means they left money on the table for the underwriting bankers to profit from.

2) By being such a “dud” hopefully they dampen future expectations that a hot IPO should “pop” on the opening day. The true value of the stock market is as a mediator of investment. Speculative trading is just white collar gambling.

And unless the company totally implodes before their lock out period, I am not worried about the rank-and-file employees either. In pre-IPO companies employees are typically awarded options at a very modest fraction of the stock’s future public price. Most Facebook employees are probably looking forward to some windfall in the near future; Some will become rich, many others will be able to afford a house on the peninsula, and more still will be able to zero out credit card debt, student or car loans.

Valley companies that want to succeed look out for their employees. Even at an old public company like Cisco, we get to purchase our public stock at a 15% discount, which means the employees get some nice equity action even in a down market. I won’t be crying a river for Facebook employees any time soon.

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Linux, Technical, Technology, Testimonials

Dear Ubuntu: Stop Asking me for my Password!

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2012/05/24/ubuntu-password-prompt/

I like Ubuntu. Or at least I liked it a few years back when you got a very nice functional desktop out of the box … but that is a different gripe.

I really like an OS that updates the software for me. Really, downloading and installing updates is for chumps! Way to go, Ubuntu!

But here’s a feature that has been bugging me for years: the system pops up a window saying “hey, I’m going to update the system software for you.”

And I’m like “sure, go ahead, be my guest!”

Then it’s like “okay, please give me the administrator password.”

And I’m like “well, okay . . . but . . .”

Each time the computer pops up a window unbidden offering to do me a favor in exchange for my password, I am wondering when some bastard will get around to writing a bit of malware that offers to do something nice for me in exchange for my password. Maybe a web site can launch a convincing-looking software-update window and prompt me for a password. It is going to be epic just how many users can be convinced to type their system passwords into a malware site.

If you are a part of the system that has access to do heavy lifting, please do not approach the user asking for a password. It teaches the user that “hey, its normal for your computer to pop up some window and ask for a password and when that happens you should totally humor the computer and give it your password.” You want to update my software? Great! You want to check with the person using the computer to make sure its a good time? Great, ask away, tell them your plans. But when they say yes, just fricking do it, and don’t ask them for their password.

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About Me, Technology, Testimonials

Dear Companies: Knock it Off, Please!

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2012/06/02/dont-force-tv-commercials-on-captive-audience/

E-mail feedback to esurance:

I flew Delta airlines yesterday. When the planes take off, after the safety video, the captive audience of passengers is subjected to a handful of television commercials. Personally, I take offense at being subjected to television commercials: I avoid gas stations and airlines that subject me to commercials. I don’t subscribe to cable TV, but pay to stream shows commercial-free online.

Yesterday one of the television commercials that was forced upon me was from esurance. Hey! I PAID for this insult! My desire to use esurance as my auto insurance provider was greatly diminished upon being forced to watch a television commercial.

As people continue to leave the commercial television system, cultural tolerance for commercial interruptions will decrease. This complaint is the tip of an iceberg that is growing before you. Please reconsider this practice of forcing your television commercials upon captive audiences before you alienate even more customers.


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Photo-a-Day, Politics, Sundry

Voting Day

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2012/06/05/voting-day/

Voters in Mountain View, CA

I haven’t done any research, but I figured I would put in a vote for the cigarette tax, as well as local school bonds for asbestos removal. At current interest rates, government borrowing just sounds like an obvious thing to do.

I also got to vote for Obama for the Democratic Presidential Primary. His was the only name on my registered-Democrat ballot.

I am also hoping that the Cheeseheads give Governor Walker the boot.

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Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2012/06/08/objectivism/

Someone for whom I have a decent respect is winding down his reading of Atlas Shrugged. While I haven’t read Ayn Rand, I basically get that her shtick is that “self-centered material greed is good because it maximizes economic efficiency. If you waver from this conclusion you are a Communist.”

A comment I left on Facebook:

“Rewarding people who work hard to build wealth” is a key argument for those who desire to rationalize ever-greater disparity in the material welfare of the wealthy over the poor.

“Rewarding people who work hard” is a core objective of Communism.

“A regulatory system that provides fair governance and an incentive for economic efficiency through competition in order to realize the greatest material benefit for society as a whole” is pretty much the desired end of free market capitalism. That’s got three parts: fair regulation, competition, and social good.

Objectivism, like Communism, is like saying “I hate it when a stool has three legs. Things would be better off if the stool had only one leg.”

I likes me some free market economics but it seems like many in our nation have this religious devotion to the idea that everything would be better if there were minimal governance and if we stopped fretting over social welfare. Fortunately there seems to be a counter-argument being put forth, at last, which explains that “wealthy people don’t create jobs unless they have so much consumer demand that they have no choice but to hire more folks” and that “wealthy people are wealthy in large part because the government has built an economy in which there is sufficient infrastructure and a sufficiently educated work force for economic activity to be conducted profitably, and a legal and enforcement structure which removes uncertainty over what rules there are how whether they will be followed.”

If you want to be a Libertarian, I would argue that Somalia is a Libertarian Paradise. There is no government! Strictly speaking, its Anarchy, and whenever I’ve tried to get a Libertarian to explain what parts of government are absolutely necessary the answer has always come out to “only those parts I need to get what I think I want.”

Anyway, I think that if the government can reasonably afford to do so, it ought to, among other things, provide a floor of basic material welfare for its people. And in the interests of promoting a vigorous market system, the government should make an effort to educate its citizens, provide clear and rational regulations and enforcement of economic activity, and if we can ever figure it out, get to a state of Keynesian regulation where we put more capital into the economy when it is weak, and replenish government coffers in times of abundance. All of that effort is rarely efficient and there are lots of opportunities for unfairness and injustice. The government isn’t perfect but it is what we’ve got. The nice thing about Democracy is that we put a value on transparency and fixing of government problems . . .

. . . I’ll take a modern welfare state over Somalia any day of the week!



Merge Multiple PDF Documents

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2012/06/09/e-pdfs-unum/

By the way, let’s say you have to print, sign, scan, and email back a document using the flatbed scanner attached to your Linux workstation. No trouble scanning in each page as an individual PDF document using XSane, but assembling the multipage project into one document proved a modest challenge last time I tried.

Solution? Install pdftk, and then the command goes something like:

pdftk AVID000*.pdf cat output AVID.pdf

That’s will merge all the documents named AVID0001.pdf, AVID0002.pdf, etc into AVID.pdf. Or to put it another way:

pdftk <a bunch of PDF files> cat output <target PDF file>


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Religion, Technology

The End IS Near!!

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2012/06/10/daves-galaxy-reset/

Folks clamoring for the Mayan Apocalypse this year can take some solace in a note I received this morning:


I’ve been making some changes to the game that
pretty much require a reset, I apologize for the
inconvenience, I don’t like to disrupt the game
in such an extreme way, but it will make things
much better, I think.

The 2 biggest changes are that I’m adding Nebulae
to the galaxy, and changing the combat system to
work better statistically.

If you have a question or a concern, or wish to
tell me off, send an email to xxxxxx@gmail.com,
I’m always willing to listen to concerns.

The last turn will run the morning of June 23rd,
and the new galaxy will be built on the 24th.

Have Fun!

Depending on how you look at this: everybody wins!

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Am I British?

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2012/06/12/am-i-british/

I think toast is an underrated pinnacle of gustatory pleasure, and I frequently put different types of food on top of different types of toast. I just figured, hey, that’s just me, but apparently there is an entire nation that thinks this is a great idea:

Imran Ahmad is shocked to discover that Americans do not put food on toast.

From Imran Ahmad’s memoir “The Perfect Gentlemen”

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