I Hope We Got A Good Price For It

Twitter erupts over Trump claim that the moon ‘is a part’ of Mars

While it is clear 45 mis-spoke, it is not the first time he has said something that is so bizarre as to make many Bushisms (Bush II) seem like logical, well thought out arguments, the truth of the matter is that 45 just is not articulate. And that is being polite about it.

Put aside for the moment that the United States does not have the scientific will to return to the Moon, much less stage a mission to Mars, it does not have the political will to do so. With so many tangible problems on this planet, I can appreciate not funding a lunar mission. However, if funding a lunar mission kickstarts scientific funding for other, viable projects on Earth, then let’s go back to the Moon!

Otherwise, I hope Marvin gave us a good price.

Greatest Opportunity of All Time

An open letter to all recruiters, past, present, and future. If you are serious about attracting top talent into hard to fill positions, you need to put as much effort into finding us as we put into finding our positions. It is not enough to have a catchy title, that title actually has to be meaningful. Most of us have been in the industry more than ten minutes so a headline like this is meaningless.

Greatest Opportunity Of All Time!

Even if it really is our dream opportunity, most of us will ignore an email with that title as junk because it means you have not done your homework.

Hello! I am a Sr. Technical Recruiter from an IT Staffing Firm, 1. I am reaching out in regards to possible job opportunities that we have in the area that match up very well with your profile. You have an excellent background and I know we can find the next best opportunity for you!

Again, I am skeptical. You did a keyword search, that’s good, but do I really match up? How?

We have a DevOps Lead specializing in Azure technologies in the Washington, DC area supporting the Federal Agnecy. US Citizens Required

Ah, you did not even do a keyword search. If you had, you would have discovered that I have zero experience with Azure, and I have never worked at the agency you are sourcing, and the law of averages says you should have hit my agencies, although I have neutered my profile and taken the agencies I have supported out of it.

If you are finding it hard to attract top talent, then perhaps you should review the tactics you are using to get their attention.

  1. I have removed all incriminating names to protect the guilty, but I get several of these a week with the same template.

Electric Cars, and the Distance Problem

What automakers aren’t telling you about electric vehicles | WTOP

There are two critical issues in play that are hampering the wide spread adoption of electric cars in the United States. First:

Cold weather can cut range significantly – by even one third…Lithium ion batteries are subject to temperature sensitivity. In California this is not an issue. In polar vortex conditions, these vehicles wouldn’t get far.

Secondly:

It takes nearly 13 hours for the high-voltage battery to get a full-charge when starting at zero percent …We are used to 5 minutes at the pump and going.

The United States is not a small country. When you consider the road network of North America, it is even bigger. Sure, not everyone drives through the hinterland of Pennsylvania every year, but a large number of people do drive more than 200 miles regularly. When you discount the need for temperature issues, you still have the problem of filling the tank. Several cities are starting to install electric charging stations, but they are one or two per jurisdiction, compared to hundreds of gas pumps. Worse, when you consider that the majority of vehicles are driven to and from work, you would expect that some companies would find it in their best interest to install charging stations. Sadly, most companies rent their space, which means that building management needs to install the chargers. And so far, there has not been a hue and cry requesting them, so they are not installed, which means that commuter has to be aware of their distance, their stop and go, and other features, like air conditioning usage, radio, lights, phone charges, etc. All take a toll on the life of the batteries, which means needing more charging.

Electric cars have some advantages, but so far, the negatives outweigh the positives for most people.

Can We Do Te Same For Pastrami and Bacon?

Industry wary of alternatives tries to protect a word: meat | WTOP

Nebraska lawmakers will consider a bill this year defining meat as “any edible portion of any livestock or poultry, carcass, or part thereof” and excluding “lab-grown or insect or plant-based food products.” It would make it a crime to advertise or sell something “as meat that is not derived from poultry or livestock.”

As more and more marketing people try to get the general public to fall for their new and improved usually faux healthy product, like nut water, or margarine, instead of milk, or butter, the blurring of the lines between what we know it is and what the marketing doublespeak wants us to believe it is will only get broader.

Even foods that should be clearly delineated, like bacon, seem to now come with qualifiers, and the qualifiers are rather odd. I have yet to encounter the full shift I have seen with coffee (you now have to explicitly say you want your coffee hot), but I do not think we are far away. When I order pastrami, being asked to define whether I want beef or turkey probably makes several in the smoked meat business cringe. Bacon now comes as pork (the so far default), turkey, or tofu (when you are eating something called tofu, bacon is the last thing that comes to mind).

Many people have decided to cut meat out of their diet. That is just fine. However, please, do not confuse your need to follow rabid diet models with the public’s need to be able to identify their food. Meat only comes from animals, milk from cows or goats, and keep your ground up nuts out of my water. I need them for my Chex Mix.

Is This The Beginning of the End of Social Media?

As we approach the end of 2018, only people that have not been around the Internet for more than a microsecond are not wondering what will become of social media. In case you have not been paying attention, we are down to two social media players. Failbook (and their associated properties) and Twitter. So that, ladies and gentlemen, is it. On December 17, the exodus from Tumblr, the last pseudo-independent platform began as Verizon ordered all adult content remove. Now Verizon owns three failed platforms – the remains of AOL, the bad parts of Yahoo, and Tumblr. Zuckerbergland is composed of Failbook, Instasomething, and Whywoudyouuseitapp. Twitter is hanging on by a thread, but it is skating on thin ice. Snapchat is circling the drain, and other companies like MeWe and Diaspora are trying, unsuccessfully to fill the gap. G+? Well, Google is shutting it down, and it was a ghost town anyway (at least according to the technical press) and with a second data leak, Google has announced that it is closing G+ by April, instead of later in the year as they had originally announced. Not that it matters, most of the G+ communities have already shuttered their circles and moved on to Plusporia and similar nodes.

So why the end of social media? Well, you probably were asleep when Australia announced it is demanding the ability to crack encrypted streams. They claim, at the moment, that they are not asking for backdoors, but as a member of Five Eyes, it is only a matter of time before the US asks for a similar ability. Then do you think any encryption is valid? Meaning that anything you post online, you might as well post on a postcard and send it to your nearest newspaper. Many have already been doing this of course, but if you are not a fan of walled gardens, then does it matter?

I am not, nor have I ever been a fan of walled gardens. So as we go into 2019, and my options are reduced to Zuckerbergland or … well, this site, I am choosing this site. My G+ ID will remain for a bit. I am debating closing that account, but I have begun the process of closing all my other online profiles, Twitter, and email accounts. I do not need them, and they do not offer any value beyond taking up bandwidth, so why maintain them.

A return to the real Internet may be just what the doctor ordered. What about you?

New Year, New Keys

When I first created my PGP keys, all those years ago, I created them with PGP. And for some reason, that I am not sure of, they were created as only 1024 bit keys. So as part of my new year clean up, I have revoked my keys and issued new ones at 4096 bit.

The revoked fingerprints are as follows:

For the ARRL account:

5C44 E28D 49FE 24D6 A9DA  1545 CD57 C291 0A53 3C19

For my Gmail account:

2428 CE82 2E0C E6B7 E1E3  8D84 85BD BF93 B6CF CE1B

The new fingerprints are:

For the ARRL account:

7AB2 2840 5C8F 7427 78E3  9105 9DCE F014 AE06 230B

and for my Gmail account:

1E01 F6F2 E5C7 9405 336C  4E89 4128 6E0B 102B 8367

As usual, the keys are at your neighborhood public key server or you can download them below. These keys were generated with GPG, but they will be usable in any PGP/GPG program.

ARRL:

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gmail:

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Apple’s TOCK upgrade

Yesterday, Apple announced the biggest iPhone ever, with stunning new displays. They also introduced a new watch that will read your EKG better, stronger, faster. Yawn. Sorry, what?

If this morning’s mullet wrappers (as an old boss used to call the tech press) are any indication, they are less thrilled then I am about the new Apple hardware. Lead on Computerworld this morning? A review of five digital whiteboards. Apple’s releases were the fifth bullet down behind Slack adds enterprise key management and How you can train for your MCSA and MCSE certifications (a house ad).

A couple of days ago, one of the luminaries in the Apple world asked Has Apple lost its shine? A valid question, especially related to the release yesterday. Sure, there are those that will go gaga over the new hardware, but those of us that have been in IT for more than a couple of months don’t pay attention to new processors unless we need a feature in that new processor. And when it is only a tock (speed, security) upgrade, we really do not get excited.

Apple will continue to promote its new devices. The iDevice market is a considerable part of their revenue stream so they really cannot do anything else. But when the most exciting thing is the camera (and I can buy better glass for my DSLR for less money then they will ever be able to stuff in a phone case), perhaps Apple really has lost its way.

One minor thing of note. In iOS 12, there will now be almost complete support for the reading of NFC tags. I say this is a slight note because the NFC people have been asking for this for more than a decade when it first appeared in Android devices. Thanks for joining the planet Apple.

Auto-start Auto-stop Engines

I recently had the opportunity to drive a car with these new auto-start/auto-stop engines. You know the type. You are standing next to an idling car, and suddenly the engine stops. In the old days, we called it a stall, but new engines are doing it for fuel savings and saving the environment. I am all for protecting the environment, but I am not a huge fan of these engines. Let me explain.

These were first seen in high-end Mercedes and BMW cars. Today, they are everywhere that is not a hybrid. The idea, as I said, is to reduce carbon emissions while at idle, something most cars do a lot of in urban environments. Idling creates a lot of carbon because the gas does not fully combust, unlike when the vehicle is in motion (not entirely sure why) and it also creates a pocket of concentrated CO2 gas, along with some other not so healthy gases. So anything that makes idling cleaner is a good thing.

The problem comes about when you need to actually get going again. Because the engine actually stops, there is a brief delay before it gets started again. This is a bad thing in certain situations.

For example, if you are anything but number one in line, the delay in getting the engine started, and the gears engaged (all of which is automatic) is not a big deal. The three or four-tenths of a second it takes is manageable and usually is accounted for by the car in the number one slot getting his vehicle moving. Not a big deal.

However, if you are in the number one slot, and the car behind you is not suffering from waiting for his engine to start, you are going to get honked at, at the very least. I had a couple of near collisions simply because it took that much longer to get the car moving off the line when the light turned green.

The second issue is safety. I was taught, when I learned to drive a stick shift, that you never ride the clutch. The engine should be engaged at all times. The problem is that the sensor that puts the engine to sleep when you are idling at a traffic light does not know the difference between idling at a traffic light and waiting to make a left-hand turn. I had the engine cut out just as I had an opening to make a turn and missed the opportunity because the engine was off and had to restart. Fortunately, there was no one behind me trying to make the light as well. This is not safe. The same is true with stop and go driving. I had the engine shut off just as I went to touch the accelerator.

Finally, a minor note. The engine shutting off also shuts off the air conditioner. It will kick back on, but I can see where hot climates will result in higher in-cabin temperatures, especially in stop and go driving, where the engine shutting off actually makes it more uncomfortable inside for the passengers. Again, I cannot see this as a win.

I am sure someone has done the math, and everyone is perfectly happy with the reduced emissions, while the safety issues are perceived as minor. As a driver, I do not find that these sorts of engines are good, or safe. Time will tell.

I Need A Specific Browser?

The only browser that the system supports is IE , Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. We recommend the most (sic) IE browser.

Excuse me while I check the calendar. Yup, it does say it is December, 2016. And yes, that is a message I received from a web site that I was having trouble entering data on. Data that is mission critical. Data, that is consumed by a python application on the back end where the servers that are serving the data are Linux based and the processing is done in an AWS environment. And yet, the code the browser is using is specifically written to run best on Microsoft Internet Explorer. And I wish I could say this is an anomoly. I am still encountering websites that require Flash, or versions of IE that are so old that their security risks have security risks. And yet that is the state of the art in a day when most people are making transations via the mobile devices, which are either on i-devices (which primarily run Safari) or Android devices, that primarily run Chrome. Sure you can load Chrome on to i-devices, or other browsers, but 99% of users do not, and for a good reason. Why would you?

I abandoned Windows completely about a year ago for Mac. Yes, I still have one laying around somewhere, but I have not turned it on in several months, and it would take hours to come up to speed with the 10,000 patches that probably need to be applied. But even I do not use my Mac that much anymore. For example this post is being written on my iPad. Yesterday I was doing a number of things in my AWS envrionment from this same iPad. And if I had a monitor handy, I could do it from my iPhone. Why do I need to carry a laptop anymore? Why do I need to have a specific operating system any more. I do not need a specific a browser to create this post, so why do I need a specific browser to type in data to a form on a web site! This is not 1999. If you are still restricting your broswers, it is time to upgrade your application development. Or you will lose customers. Or at least annoy them to the point that they will not be giving you good reviews on-line.